Jan. 9, 2020

Cyber Physical Systems: The Coming Singularity

At this moment, a subtle but fundamental technological shift is occurring that is uniting our digital and physical worlds at the deepest architectural and operational levels. This technological shift will alter the global business, government, military and intelligence ecosystems. It is nothing less than a technological singularity and this technology will forever change our world—it is called Cyber Physical Systems (CPS).

Dec. 4, 2019

Mercenaries and War: Understanding Private Armies Today

Mercenaries are more powerful than experts realize, a grave oversight. Those who assume they are cheap imitations of national armed forces invite disaster because for-profit warriors are a wholly different genus and species of fighter. Private military companies such as the Wagner Group are more like heavily armed multinational corporations than the Marine Corps. Their employees are recruited from different countries, and profitability is everything. Patriotism is unimportant, and sometimes a liability. Unsurprisingly, mercenaries do not fight conventionally, and traditional war strategies used against them may backfire.

Dec. 4, 2019

Fentanyl as a Chemical Weapon

Fentanyl is a major topic in the news these days because of its significant contribution to the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States. It clearly is a major counternarcotic challenge. But there also has been some reporting, including about congressional interest, as to whether fentanyl additionally should be considered a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) and whether U.S. Government chemical defense efforts should place greater emphasis on it. This paper provides some perspective on fentanyl as a chemical weapon.

Nov. 22, 2019

Joint Force Quarterly 95 (4th Quarter, October 2019)

Our world is in constant motion, and as a result change is what we must always seek to adjust and improve our situations. If you have a setback, a delay, or a loss, you do as the unofficial slogan of the U.S. Marine Corps suggests—you improvise, adapt, and overcome. I would add that we need to be constantly learning both from what we see and from what others experienced. As former Secretary James Mattis asked our professional military education (PME) institutions to do, developing our critical thinking skills and testing our intellectual limits in new and engaging ways are no longer options for a select few. To that end for the joint force, Joint Force Quarterly continues to offer discussions about past conflicts and current issues and to frame future concepts and issues in ways that hopefully help each of us better use our minds. With that as a goal, we offer a wide range of ideas to help you keep your intellectual edge. Hopefully, you will read them and send us your best ideas on how to keep improving the joint force.

Nov. 18, 2019

Joint Doctrine Updates

Joint Doctrine Updates

Nov. 18, 2019

Unmasking the Spectrum with Artificial Intelligence

This article examines the potential of artificial intelligence to improve joint electromagnetic spectrum operations along three lines of discussion. First, current doctrine and process limitations may impact a Joint Force commander’s ability to visualize and understand how Joint Forces are operating within the spectrum. Second, artificial intelligence and specific learning models can help understand how the electromagnetic spectrum connects military forces. And finally, the role of data can fuel machine learning despite the associated risks. Artificial intelligence can improve Joint Force understanding and visualization, say the authors, and help commanders make more accurate and timely decisions.

Nov. 18, 2019

Subordinating Intelligence

Long interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations have resulted in increased scrutiny of civil-military relations and the interagency intelligence community. Subordinating Intelligence analyzes the evolution of civil-military relationships with an emphasis on the post–Cold War era. This book identifies the barriers to cooperation, but also identifies the factors that made a difference where integration was achieved. Given that interagency alignment is a prerequisite for success, both military and intelligence professionals would be well served to read Oakley’s excellent book to find examples of what can go wrong, but also what can go right.

Nov. 18, 2019

Sailing True North

While the emphasis is on naval leaders, Sailing True North provides insights relevant to the entire Joint Force and beyond. This book is for anyone who wants to understand the essential questions of character and leadership under stress. The author is supremely well read, and provides an invaluable distillation over a vast span of history. This book encourages self-examination as the author challenges you, and asks you to identify your heroes and the qualities you admire. Given the author’s leadership experience at the most consequential levels of command, his scholarship on this topic is recommended reading.

Nov. 18, 2019

The Lessons of Tragedy

Colonel Joseph Collins, USA (Ret.), PhD reviews The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order by Hal Brands and Charles Edel. In this excellent book, the focus is on great power politics. And the centrality of survival and security supports this approach. However, the international order has a number of important aspects beyond interstate security politics. The issues of international political economy, trade, globalization and regional/global organizations are a big part of the story. If you can read only one book on world order, says Collins, you would do well to read Lessons of Tragedy. Aristotle would salute your prudence.

Nov. 18, 2019

Wolfe, Montcalm, and the Principles of Joint Operations in the Quebec Campaign of 1759

Analysis of the 1759 French and Indian War Quebec Campaign demonstrates that Britain achieved victory because it adhered to the principles of joint operations better than the French did. This historical case study examines the commanders’ uneven application of joint operating principles given contemporary technology and the physical environment. While the British lacked formal doctrine listing the principles of joint operations, the thought process and underlying concepts of current doctrinal principles shaped their military decisions. It is important that our joint leaders can do likewise, to learn from history and use their creativity to apply joint operating principles in combat.