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July 1, 2021

A Lesson from an Ancient: Facilitating Retreat and Desertion Among Insurgencies

Even in our modern age we look to old ideas for wisdom, but old does not mean obsolete, and old voices can offer counsel.

July 1, 2021

Linking Foreign Language Capabilities with Expeditionary Requirements

Whether combined forces are jumping out of airplanes together, turning wrenches side by side, or providing direct patient care as a clinical team, security cooperation activities must bridge the culture and language divides between our partner militaries.

July 1, 2021

Hydrocarbons and Hegemony

There is a widespread notion today that the United States inherited from Great Britain and defended a liberal world premised on the free exchange of goods and capital (particularly by sea). This article suggests we can better understand the origins of this system and its possible future by integrating hydrocarbons—specifically coal and oil—into our analysis.

July 1, 2021

Military Power Reimagined: The Rise and Future of Shaping

The belief that the U.S. military finds itself in a “complex environment”—one in which conventional war is rare, but Great Power competition has returned, coupled with the persistent threat of violent nonstate actors—is so commonplace that it can now be considered a truism. This article better conceptualizes a type of military operation that is often misunderstood and understudied and that has the potential to become one of the most frequent tools of interstate competition in the coming decades.

July 1, 2021

Improving the Battle Rhythm to Operate at the Speed of Relevance

The art and science of decisionmaking begin with the establishment of an effective, efficient, and agile battle rhythm. Combat and stability operations throughout the past 20 years have enabled commanders and staffs to execute real-world operations based on established battle rhythms. Unfortunately, current operational-level exercises to evaluate joint force commands and their components in the U.S. Armed Forces and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization increasingly observe battle rhythms that do not effectively provide the commander and subordinates with timely information to make decisions.

July 1, 2021

Fighting as Intended: The Case for Austere Communications

Modern command and control (C2) systems depend on connectivity to collect information, issue orders, detect changes in the environment, and exploit successes. While the United States focused on counterinsurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, competitors invested in technologies that can neutralize that connectivity.

July 1, 2021

Executive Summary

In many parts of joint warfighting, getting the right situational awareness (SA) is essential to success, especially to those of us in a position of military or civilian leadership. I must admit to a lack of SA in recent years as I, like many, have been drawn into an information cycle centered around less-traditional media sources. Because I live and work in the Nation’s capital area, I fully accept that I live in a “bubble,” where I may not have an accurate picture of events. But in recent years, with the rise of social media platforms—including active disinformation campaigns, both foreign and domestic—getting and keeping good SA is increasingly difficult. Where does one scan to find an objective view? As always, we look forward to hearing from you about what you think we need to do in the years ahead.

July 1, 2021

Joint Force Quarterly 102 (3rd Quarter, July 2021)

In many parts of joint warfighting, getting the right situational awareness (SA) is essential to success, especially to those of us in a position of military or civilian leadership. I must admit to a lack of SA in recent years as I, like many, have been drawn into an information cycle centered around less-traditional media sources. Because I live and work in the Nation’s capital area, I fully accept that I live in a “bubble,” where I may not have an accurate picture of events. But in recent years, with the rise of social media platforms—including active disinformation campaigns, both foreign and domestic—getting and keeping good SA is increasingly difficult. Where does one scan to find an objective view? As always, we look forward to hearing from you about what you think we need to do in the years ahead. 

June 23, 2021

Cyber Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction

For two decades, U.S. policymakers, military leaders, and analysts have drawn connections between cyber threats and WMD that demand attention from experts who work in both fields. While recognizing there are a variety of definitions for WMD in use today, the WMD Center does not believe classifying cyber threats as WMD is warranted or advantageous for the United States at this time.

June 14, 2021

Russia and Saudi Arabia: Old Disenchantments, New Challenges

The Joseph Biden administration can manage its recalibration of relations with Saudi Arabia without unwarranted fear that Riyadh will view Russia as a safe-harbor alternative to the United States on a myriad of state-to-state interactions that are most important to the Kingdom. While Russia’s transactional approach to foreign partners has at times given it advantages in some areas over the more value-based framework of U.S. foreign relations, there clearly have been limits to the Russian style of dealing with Saudi Arabia in this century.