Oct. 4, 2019

The Business Case for Terrorism

Two of the deadliest and most notorious terrorist organizations, al-Qaeda (AQ) and the Islamic State (IS), have boasted many of the same structures and utilized tactics common to organizations in the business world. While AQ (having existed and thrived longer) has gradually built a global network of operatives, IS has focused on rapid expansion. Circumstances have forced the two organizations to compete for influence, resources, and success. In this, article we will reconceptualize terrorist groups as business organizations and explore how such organizations can best be countered, based on insights from the business world.

Oct. 4, 2019

Temperature Rising: Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Wars in the Middle East

The academic literature on the IRGC, Iran’s elite force, has been rapidly growing. Nader Uskowi’s book differs from other offerings in the sense that the author does not claim objectivity. On the first page, the author dedicates the book to his father, a former major general in the Iranian Imperial Army—the military arm of the Pahlavi regime, toppled by Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. There is nothing wrong or unusual about taking one side in a political debate. The Islamic Revolution created a large number of both loyalists and opponents. Certainly, both sides have the right to make their case.

July 31, 2019

Five Conundrums: The United States and the Conflict in Syria

For the past 8 years, two U.S. administrations, the United Nations (UN), and numerous foreign governments have sought to end the catastrophic war in Syria and reach a negotiated political settlement to the conflict. Their efforts have repeatedly been complicated, even thwarted, by the highly contested and violent politics underlying the conflict, the sheer number of conflict actors inside and outside of Syria, and those actors’ diverse and often irreconcilable objectives.

July 29, 2019

Joint Force Quarterly 94 (3rd Quarter, July 2019)

What have you learned from the past? What future do you see? Why not write about it and share it with us?  Our Forum section in this issue opens with an interview of General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, USAF, commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. With arguably some of the most important responsibilities in the joint force, he discusses how his commands work to protect the homeland, defend the airspace above the United States and Canada, and how the joint force is working to achieve the Chairman’s Globally Integrated Operations challenge.

July 25, 2019

Can the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Avoid the Fate of the F-22 Raptor?

Has the US made the right choices in our defense industrial base for advanced combat aircraft? The author analyzes two major weapons systems—the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II—looking for ways to save money, improve interoperability, and enhance military-industrial cooperation between the US and its allies. The author’s analysis of the F-22 program raises questions that might be common to both programs. Why, for example, was the single purpose non-joint aircraft (the F-22) program cancelled after only 25% of the intended aircraft had been procured? Does the F-22’s fate offer any lessons for multipurpose joint aircraft?

July 25, 2019

Getting the Joint Functions Right

In July 2017, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced a special out-of-cycle revision to joint doctrine, adding Information to the joint functions. The significance of this policy change was highlighted by endorsement from the Secretary of Defense in September 2017, where he stressed that inclusion in the joint functions signaled an elevation of information throughout Department of Defense thinking and practice. This article is an historical overview of the joint functions, intended to overcome the long-standing reluctance to place the soft power elements of the modern battlefield on the same footing as hard power elements.

July 25, 2019

Global Risks and Opportunities: The Great Power Competition Paradigm

The great power competition paradigm outlined in the National Defense Strategy provides a way to think strategically about inter-state competition in a multipolar world. Both history and a survey of current events indicate we should expect great power competition throughout the 21st century between the US, China and Russia in Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Although information operations, economic diplomacy and espionage will be the primary weapons of statecraft, say the authors, military cooperation can catalyze greater regional integration, reassure our partners and allies, and support our whole-of-government efforts.

July 25, 2019

Twenty-First Century Nuclear Deterrence: Operationalizing the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review

America must maintain credible nuclear deterrent capabilities to convince potential adversaries and allies alike that the US will defend its vital interests and will employ those capabilities, all while hedging against an uncertain future. Despite the changing environment, America continues to view nuclear deterrence largely in Cold War terms. The continued reliance on obsolete deterrence concepts exposes a gap between policy and practice. The US must eliminate this gap, say the authors, by developing a tailored and flexible deterrence posture, which will give the Joint Force a broad spectrum of nuclear deterrence capabilities.

July 24, 2019

Joint Integrative Solutions for Combat Casualty Care in a Pacific War at Sea

US maritime forces currently conduct theater security operations through rotating carrier strike groups in the Western Pacific. Although current engagements and interactions with our competitors in the region fall short of open military conflict, a war at sea may be unavoidable. Some of the most significant deficiencies within the current combat casualty care system occur within this contentious maritime environment. To improve readiness, the authors recommend joint integration of medical capabilities such as incorporating forward resuscitative and surgical platforms, enhancing our medical airlift and sealift evacuation capabilities, supplementing Mercy-class hospital ships, and implementing a medical command and control system.

July 24, 2019


Brett Swaney reviews LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by Peter W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking. The authors examine the role of social media in reshaping the character of war and politics. The result is an insightful overview of the new information battlespace for national security professionals.