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April 14, 2022

What Is JSOU? Then, Now, and Next

The Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) was formally organized in 2000 as a Department of Defense applied learning educational activity modeled after corporate universities. JSOU’s mission is to prepare special operations forces (SOF) professionals to address strategic and operational challenges, arming them with the ability to think through problems with knowledge, insight, and foresight. JSOU’s genesis came only 8 months before the tragic events and watershed moment of September 11, 2001.

April 14, 2022

Making the Case for a Joint Special Operations Profession

This article seeks to introduce for consideration and debate this question of whether there is now a need for a formal joint special operations forces (JSOF) profession. Claiming a jurisdiction within the context of international competition will place SOF in a better position to build trust and assure autonomy. Doing so will require clarity on what counts as expert knowledge (as opposed to skills and tasks) and the necessary institutional development to certify SOF professionals in the application of this knowledge.

April 14, 2022

Rediscovering the Value of Special Operations

Today, America’s special operations forces (SOF) face a moment of strategic inflection and identity reflection at the threshold crossing of two fundamental questions: How has the character of global geopolitical competition changed? What are the implications for the future roles, missions, and force structures (that is, future utility) of SOF for the 2020s through the 2050s? Even as the United States enters this age, this new era brings new demands of striking a rebalance from its focus for the past two decades on countering terrorism, violent extremist organizations (VEOs), and insurgencies to coping with threats of confrontations between so-called Great Powers. Tomorrow’s special operations and SOF must adjust accordingly.

April 14, 2022

An Interview with Richard D. Clarke

When I came into command, I had some thoughts about priorities and where to take the command, having just come from the Joint Staff. I was also given some great guidance from Secretary [James] Mattis who put me in the position. I sat down with all the commanders and the senior enlisted leaders, and we set the priorities. Those priorities have largely remained unchanged: compete and win for the Nation, preserve and grow readiness, innovate for future threats, advance partnerships, and strengthen our force and family. While I would argue that the operating environment has changed in those years—and it’s now clear that China is our pacing threat—these priorities are timeless for SOCOM going into the future.

April 14, 2022

BeiDou: China’s GPS Challenger Takes Its Place on the World Stage

Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) provide a service many people take for granted. The GNSS applications people use fall into five major categories: location, navigation, tracking, mapping, and timing. Today, four countries operate GNSS: the United States has GPS, Russia has GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS), the European Union (EU) has Galileo, and China has the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, usually referred to as “BeiDou.” A careful analysis of BeiDou and the multi-GNSS environment reveals that, although BeiDou does not represent a technological coup for the Chinese, it does constitute an incremental erosion of American technical prestige by presenting a viable alternative to GPS in an important sector that billions of people around the world use every day.

April 14, 2022

Fog of Warfare: Broadening U.S. Military Use-of-Force Training for Security Cooperation

This article examines the nature of contemporary conflicts from two perspectives: the legal references that guide operations and the rules on the use of force. It describes the key differences between military and police tactics on the use of force. These contrasts are particularly important for security assistance efforts that U.S. forces conduct with dozens of partner nations each year. For legal and operational alignment with its partners, the United States should broaden its doctrine and revise its policy on the use of force during security cooperation activities to include police tactics governed by criminal and human rights law.

April 14, 2022

The Quantum Internet: How DOD Can Prepare

The future viability of a quantum Internet could shape the strategic environment for U.S. military forces. This environment comprises the critical operational areas in which DOD finds itself during competition, conflict, or combat. These operations are known, sometimes interchangeably, as multidomain or all-domain operations (MDO/ADO). As DOD and the U.S. Government invest in developing a quantum Internet or securing their access to it, they will witness a growth in their cyber domain capabilities, which, due to the interwoven nature of multidomain or all-domain operations (MDO/ADO), will translate to gains in the other warfighting domains.

April 14, 2022

Executive Summary

On a rainy spring day here on the Potomac, the war in Ukraine rages on, and what can be done is being done. Ukrainians are showing the world what real courage is as Russia wages a brutal war against them. While Thomas Hobbes told us that life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” war is certainly all those things and more. The pain of war spreads out widely in the obvious ruins of lives lost, cities leveled, homes and businesses destroyed, and futures denied. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on February 24, 2022, will be remembered by millions of people, like some of us remember 9/11 or December 7, or the fateful early July days of 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

April 14, 2022

Letter to the Editor

It is time for a thorough review of our PME taught by all the Services with the thought of improving the academic and practical approaches to winning the next battle. I recommend that NWC and all war colleges be required to take a time out to consider what is happening now and be compelled to write a way ahead that will improve race relations in our Services and society. Unless they do, the foundation of our national security will erode precipitously.

Feb. 24, 2022

The Geography and Politics of Kenya’s Response to COVID-19

On 12 March 2021—the one-year anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 in Kenya—its President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke to the Kenyan people about the past year’s events, discussing the highs, the lows, and everything in between. He recounted the loss of 1,879 Kenyans due to COVID-19 and referred to the struggle with the pandemic as a “fog of war,” an enemy unseen and undefined. He discussed both the political and the economic challenges that Kenya experienced and might continue to face in the future. In a measured address to the Kenyan people, he ended on a realistic note: “I must remind you that Government will do its part to protect Kenyans; but the first line of defence against an invisible enemy like Covid is the people. If we exercise civic responsibility and act as our ‘brother’s keeper,’ we will have won half the battle against this pandemic.”1 As with most, if not all, political speeches, Kenyatta’s words and sentences were filled with both truths as well as partial truths. This article aims to fill in the gaps, adding much needed perspective to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya, its impacts and effects on the political, security, and strategy dimensions of the country.