War Machine is a welcome (if failed) satire that will undoubtedly become politicized by those with no skin in the game. At the same time, it will be understood (if not agreed with) by those who have served overseas. This movie brings satire back to institutions that demand it, reminding us that questioning the powers that be is not only right but necessary.
In 105 days the Finns defeated a Soviet force ten times as large and with orders of magnitude more tanks, artillery and airplanes. The tactical and operational victory by the Finns demonstrates that a weaker force can defeat a stronger one, but only by fighting and operating differently and not simply fighting in the traditional, accepted ways.
To understand Patton, you have to look at what he wrote and what he read, and it is there that you will find the man. Besides Patton’s well-known journals...Patton also wrote essays on military technology, history, leadership, and strategy. Many of these are now reprinted in the 21st Century Patton: Strategic Insights for the Modern Era.
Chess may be good to sharpen the tactical mind, but strategy requires setting conditions beyond the battlefield, identifying comparative advantages by analyzing adversarial interactions, seeking positional advantage in the physical, informational, and electromagnetic environments, and contributing efforts to achieve political objectives. By recognizing what drives our adversaries’ actions we can more accurately apply diplomacy to keep the peace, but when required out think and outmaneuver enemies in times of war. We can use tools like the Operational Variables to identify conditions and interactions, the “Five Whys” to perform root-cause analysis ensuring we are solving the right problems, and game theory to improve our strategic empathy. The tacticization of strategy must be reversed.
Despite demonstrating excellence in their own fields, agencies and departments within the U.S. national security enterprise lack a cohesive structure to bind their efforts together. Today’s challenges require a single unified approach and by restructuring the national security enterprise, the U.S. can be more effective at addressing its national interests in today’s complex world.
The Vicksburg Campaign yields a number of lessons for tacticians and strategists. Grant was a talented commander to be sure, but the most important reason for his success was the Union Navy under the able leadership of Admiral Porter. Not just its presence, but the tight coordination between the two allowed one to support the other and vice versa. Land and sea are too intimately connected during amphibious campaigns for the typical supported/supporting relationships to work, there must be symbiosis.
In this decision game, you play either a Joint Task Force (JTF) tasked to seize a lodgment in Lebanon or a Lebanese Hezbollah unit tasked to defend the area. The game is designed to help you think through 21st century Joint Forcible Entry (JFEO). Get creative and experiment with Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT), seeing where you could either use an optionally-manned vehicle or add a new unmanned system (but think cheap and off-the-shelve vice exquisite and expensive Terminators).
Violence remains an uncomfortable if necessary part of the profession of arms. As the United States has shifted to more limited ways of conducting war, so too have our views on the appropriate application of force. Seminal works like On Combat and On Killing by David Grossman began the discussion of how soldiers are trained for war and killing, and offer an organizational perspective on how individuals can be trained for violence. These books operate on the questionably documented assertion that humans are inherently reluctant to engage in violence.
Man, since creation, has had to kill and pillage in his quest for security and survival. Our complex characteristics such as greed, ambition, and lust have led us through generations to bear the teeth and spear against our kind in order to keep land, power, and wealth. War and the art of it has therefore been a handy tool for man to either destroy or rebuild.
Professional Military Education (PME) covers a wide range of activities. In one sense it refers to a plethora of training, continuing education, and other activities designed to provide development to members of the military at various points in their career and to prepare them for the next level of responsibilities. The U.S. military requires professional education for both officers and enlisted personnel and its form, content, and objective varies across rank, service, and military role. But what is its overarching purpose? Why do we invest so much in this effort?
Before considering the terms of a revised NAFTA, one should consider the thought-provoking insights of international relations scholar Parag Khanna. Khanna notes how outdated political boundaries serve as a constraint on the American economy because they prevent the integration of social, economic, and industrial components across state lines. He concludes that by redefining the American political map, that is, rethinking our current state borders, the economy will be better positioned for the future. This change of perspective, more so than a grand military strategy, will enable the US to remain a superpower. Renegotiating NAFTA must be viewed through this strategic lens.
War and violence decoupled from strategy and policy—or worse yet, mistaken for strategy and policy—have contributed to perpetual war, or what has seemed like 15 years of “Groundhog War.” In its wars since 11 September 2001, the United States has arguably cultivated the best-equipped, most capable, and fully seasoned combat forces in remembered history. They attack, kill, capture, and win battles with great nimbleness and strength. But absent strategy, these victories are fleeting. Divorced from political objectives, successful tactics are without meaning.
Russia’s power politics, demonstrated through its nationalistic tendencies, have the biggest influence on Estonia’s national security. Russia maintains a capability to influence a quarter of Estonia’s population who speak Russian, most of whom are disenfranchised by the government and are highly susceptible to Russian coercion through modern mainstream media emanating from Moscow. Due to these circumstances, Russia is in a position to cultivate Russian nationalism and influence Russian speakers in Estonia, who can elect leaders that will return Estonia back to Russia’s sphere of influence and undermine the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance. An alternative view is that Estonia’s NATO membership provides enough security to dissuade Russia from exerting its influence in Estonia. In rebuttal, I offer that Russia’s potential to leverage Estonia’s democratic process to enact laws and policies sympathetic to Russia, renders Estonia’s membership in NATO irrelevant and incapable of mitigating this threat.
Leveraging common principles found in different religions forms a foundation to undermine those using religious differences as a weapon. Expressing a deeper sense of religious understanding paints the U.S. as a pluralist society in a world where “more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group.” Some assert Samuel Huntington prophetically warned about a pending “Clash of Civilizations” citing religiously inspired violence ranging from organized terror groups to “lone wolf” incidents as evidence of a world bound for a cultural collision. Although terrorists represent only a small portion of a religious population, their ability to project global influence indicates the current international framework of nation-states is reaching a tipping point.
After 70 years of domination by the Wilsonian and Hamiltonian schools of thought, the Jacksonian and Jeffersonian traditions are emerging once more. President Trump’s non-conformist policy suggestions have raised concerns regarding the stability of the liberal international order. The rupturing of the internationalist order is not merely rooted in domestic realities however; it is also a consequence of the shifting tectonic plates of geopolitics. This article maintains that the liberal international order, and the grand strategy accompanying it, will have to evolve in response to both the changing dynamics of the American polity and the geopolitical fault lines overseas. This transitional period, in the words of Robert Osgood, is one of “limited readjustment…without disengagement after which America could establish a more enduring rationale of global influence.”
Instead of simply meeting budgetary recommendations, an analysis of small state security potential and funding of smarter, more cost-effective contributions to the alliance is needed. Furthermore, using a few of NATO’s “minnows” as examples of how to make limited means count in the face of an expansionist Russia, it becomes apparent that the continued existence of the alliance is of paramount importance. Ultimately, conventional “hard power” alone is not an effective strategy for combating current Russian security challenge facing Europe. For the small, frontline states on NATO’s eastern flank, a focus on special operations forces and intelligence are a better use of limited resources.
The origins of U.S. Military Intelligence is the story of the efforts of two men, Dennis E. Nolan and Ralph Van Deman. Nolan, an aspiring teacher and decorated veteran of the Spanish-American War, caught the eye of General John J. Pershing while serving as his adjutant. That contact with Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, would lead to his selection as the first Intelligence Officer (G-2) on an American General Staff in the field.
As the U.S. and China compete to innovate in this domain, the relative trajectories of U.S. and Chinese advances in artificial intelligence will impact the future military and strategic balance. China’s ability to leverage these national strategies, extensive funding, massive amounts of data, and ample human resources could result in rapid future progress. In some cases, these advances will be enabled by technology transfer, overseas investments, and acquisitions focused on cutting-edge strategic technologies.