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March 31, 2021

Accelerating Adaptation on the Western Front and Today

In wars, militaries rarely start out perfectly suited for the challenges they will encounter. Their organization, tactics, and weapons are not optimally matched to their environment or their enemies. The ability to adapt more quickly than an adversary gives a force a significant advantage. The growing role software plays in military technology could augment the speed of adaptation, but to capture such advantages, the joint force must invest in its digital workforce and infrastructure.

March 31, 2021

Embracing Asymmetry: Assessing Iranian National Security Strategy, 1983–1987

The success of Iran’s asymmetric warfare in advancing its objectives in Iraq in the 2000s likely reinforced the wrong lessons about the coercive power of asymmetric warfare and colored the country’s analysis of the Iran-Iraq War. Given the lasting impact the war has had on Iran’s military actions, examining the country’s experience during the conflict offers a unique window into Iranian decisionmaking today.

March 31, 2021

Sustaining Relevance: Repositioning Strategic Logistics Innovation in the Military

Military organizations tend to think about their overarching strategy in two ways: how their organization will remain relevant and which future operations they must be able to conduct. In the information era, military organizations struggle with the “design capabilities that will offer . . . credible strategic options and then the ability to win, through fighting smarter.” Building on the revolution in military affairs programs, a new era of digital innovations in the commercial realm underpins the U.S. National Defense Strategy and Third Offset Strategy to explore the use of new technologies for the military. While new operational concepts such as hyper war and kill webs are emerging, attention to the strategic element of innovation seems difficult to realize regarding military logistics. Strategic innovation concerns processes of proactive and systematic thinking about gaps that an organization can fulfill by developing new game plans.

March 31, 2021

The Future Joint Medical Force Through the Lens of Operational Art: A Case for Clinical Interchangeability

The joint health enterprise (JHE)—commonly referred to as the military health system (MHS)—has been key in driving recent combat casualty rates to the lowest in the Nation’s history. However, with the advent of a new, uncertain future security environment, the JHE faces potentially overwhelming obstacles that threaten a reversal. It therefore must contemplate national strategic redirection through novel and innovative means.

March 31, 2021

Flawed Jointness in the War Against the So-Called Islamic State: How a Different Planning Approach Might Have Worked Better

Not long after the first round of anemic air strikes against the so-called Islamic State (IS) on August 8, 2014, it became clear to most that the initial effort ordered by President Barack Obama and undertaken by U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) lacked an overarching strategy based on a well-founded understanding of the enemy and on a weighing of the full spectrum of available response options. Instead, USCENTCOM’s leaders fell back on their familiar past experiences and assessed IS as simply a resurrection of the recently defeated Iraqi insurgency rather than as the very different and ambitiously aggressive state-in-the-making that it actually was. As a result, they opted to engage the jihadist movement with an inappropriate counterinsurgency (COIN) approach that misprioritized rebuilding the Iraqi army as its predominant concern rather than pursuing a more promising strategy aimed at not only addressing Iraq’s most immediate security needs but also attacking the enemy’s most vulnerable center of gravity in Syria from the first day onward.

March 31, 2021

Conquering the Ethical Temptations of Command: Lessons from the Field Grades

Ethical lapses committed by senior business leaders are reported almost daily. Unfortunately, similar reports about military leaders also frequently appear; browse almost any contemporary military publication, and there is usually an article discussing an ethical failure by a high-ranking Servicemember. Although Department of Defense figures attest that the actual number of these failings is statistically small, they garner disproportionate attention. The critical nature of the U.S. military mission makes it incumbent on leaders to possess not only great technical competency in their jobs but also great character and integrity. Because of this demand, the U.S. military has high formal standards for ethical leadership behavior.

March 31, 2021

Educating Our Leaders in the Art and Science of Stakeholder Management

This article seeks to bridge a perceived knowledge gap with leaders and their executive communication skills by introducing them to a more disciplined, formal approach of identifying, prioritizing, and engaging stakeholders. This article suggests new and creative ways to conduct stakeholder management (identification, prioritization, and engagement)—techniques borrowed from practices employed in the private and commercial sectors.

March 31, 2021

Gray Is the New Black: A Framework to Counter Gray Zone Conflicts

Gray zone conflicts are difficult to address through traditional combat power. In today’s complex and competitive international environment, some states may appear to pursue the status quo, particularly in areas of benefit to them, while also seeking to amend other circumstances in their favor. To deter these aims, joint doctrine must address gray zone conflicts and incorporate strategies for countering these approaches into planning for steady-state activities and all phases of theater campaign planning. To do anything less is to relinquish the advantage.

March 30, 2021

Buy Now, Get Paid with Diversity Later: Insights into Career Progression of Female Servicemembers

The Department of Defense (DOD) recognizes the value that diversity brings to the joint force. The notion that diverse teams provide more creative and innovative solutions to problems is well researched and supported. To reap the full benefits of diversity, DOD must foster intentional inclusivity. There are, however, hurdles yet to clear. DOD must address tangible and intangible program costs to develop an environment of inclusivity. Integrating women into typically male-dominated career fields requires resource investment in equipment, facilities, and processes. Decisionmakers must implement these accommodations now to build tomorrow’s gender-inclusive leadership team.

March 30, 2021

Design Thinking

Iraq, Afghanistan, and, to an extent, Syria are all recent examples of situations where U.S. military involvement “solved” some elements of perceived problems but consequently created other issues. Following the invasion of Iraq in 2006, when the initial assessments seemed wrong and the situation was deteriorating simultaneously in Afghanistan, the Army began investigating alternative approaches to conceptual planning. Design methodology, now validated in joint doctrine, is the result of that inquiry. Using the methodology will not guarantee a successful outcome and is not a panacea for solving pandemics or complex problems. It does, however, provide a general framework, supported by an underlying logic, for discussing problems and developing approaches.