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Jan. 16, 2023

Beyond a Credible Deterrent: Optimizing the Joint Force for Great Power Competition

The Department of Defense’s (DOD) current preparation for conflict centers on outdated premonitions of war, with adversaries exploiting fundamental U.S. misconstructions to their advantage. In the era of Great Power competition (GPC), there will be no neatly declared war between nation-states, and all hybrid conflicts will range from violence by proxy to the use of conventional forces. Moreover, DOD is facing fundamental changes to the character of war with technological advances in precision munitions, information technology, hypersonics, cyber warfare, robotics, and artificial intelligence. The country that masters new technology and considers ethical implications for proper legal authority will have a decisive advantage—at least initially—for all future conflicts.

Jan. 16, 2023

America’s Special Operations Problem

From modest beginnings, the U.S. special operations forces (SOF) community has become a juggernaut, operating largely independently and consuming resources disproportionate to its strategic contributions. Accordingly, national leaders should rigorously assess current investments in SOF and rationalize these decisions against other important priorities. There is an important, and indeed essential, place for SOF in the national military establishment that must be preserved. But strategic balance must ever be the goal. Today, that means a streamlined SOF, less bloated and more responsive to joint force commanders and better integrated with the entire joint force.

Jan. 16, 2023

Security Cooperation for Coastal Forces Needs U.S. Coast Guard Leadership

The third decade of the 21st century has opened with an array of potential maritime threats laid out against the United States and its allies, including near-peer-level competition with China and Russia and regional hotspots in almost every navigable waterway of the world. U.S. maritime forces must effectively and efficiently utilize the tools at hand and place the best assets in areas that they are best suited for. This confluence of events provides the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) a unique opportunity to define a specific role within the defense mission set and to fill a critical niche that is currently devoid of leadership. The USCG is the best asset to take point as the U.S. maritime leader for coastal force security cooperation.

Jan. 16, 2023

Cultural Change, Tuition-Free College, and Comprehensive Health Care: Emerging Challenges to National Defense?

Since the inception of the all-volunteer military in 1973, recruiting has been an essential task in maintaining U.S. military staffing. Although recruiting efforts have kept staffing on pace with requirements, overall interest in joining the military is decreasing. The number of applicants has decreased faster than military staffing needs, resulting in higher acceptance rates. Maintaining a robust and ready military is critical for the United States to be able to provide constant protection to its people and interests while maintaining military superiority over its rivals and navigating global threats.

Jan. 16, 2023

Choosing Your Problems

Current best practices motivate decisionmakers and planners facing complex competitive environments to focus energetically on problem elimination. Practitioners are inadvertently encouraged to frame their goal as an endstate—a set of desired conditions without problems—and to conflate endstate with vision. This problem-elimination thinking creates a situation where real outcomes are confused with idealistic vision. Shining light on cognitive bias in decisionmaking and pushing back against problem-elimination thinking may help decisionmakers avoid the costly decisions and unproductive pendulum swings famously plaguing strategic and policy decisions.

Jan. 16, 2023

The Narrative Policy Framework in Military Planning

It has been stated that in the modern operating environment, whose narrative wins is more important than whose army wins. Additionally, it is posited that now, more than in the past, and especially since the end of the Cold War, “political struggles occur over the creation and destruction of credibility.” If these claims are true, how do planners understand, analyze, and derive successful narratives and incorporate them into military plans?

Jan. 16, 2023

Havana Syndrome: Directed Attack or Cricket Noise?

Havana syndrome cases have been investigated by the CIA, the State Department Medical Branch, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and DOD, among others. There has been less than total information-sharing across the agencies involved. Until there is consensus as to the precise cause of and methods to prevent or treat Havana syndrome, it will likely remain an enigma and health concern for diplomatic, intelligence, and military personnel globally.

Jan. 16, 2023

Assessing the Trajectory of Biological Research and Development in the Russian Federation

In this troubling environment, it is important to understand the range of advanced biological research and current biotechnology investments by the Russian Federation in legitimate areas of biological research and biotechnology development in order to inform an assessment of the sophistication of Russia’s alleged biological weapons program.

Jan. 16, 2023

Executive Summary

The joint force recently lost a quiet giant who not only was one of our nation’s most decorated fighter pilots and generals but also a lifelong learner and teacher of national and international strategy. Founding Joint Advanced Warfighting School Strategy Department Chair, Lieutenant General Charles “Chuck” Cunningham, USAF (Ret.), DBA, flew west, as we aviators say, in November. I am proud to say I was one of Chuck’s wingmen as I throw a nickel on the grass in honor of him.

Dec. 22, 2022

Averting Escalation and Avoiding War: Lessons from the 1995–1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis

This study assesses information-sharing, communication, and policy coordination between U.S. and Taiwan decisionmakers in the 1995–1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, derives key lessons, considers the implications for a future crisis, and makes recommendations to policymakers.