The long-term consequences of allowing the Kim Il Sung dynasty to continue are likely to be grave, however, possibly worse for the United States than the consequences of the failure of the first opportunity to eliminate it. Moreover, with Seoul certain to bear the brunt of any near-term hostilities with North Korea, the Republic of Korea’s consideration of assassination as a third option deserves particular weight. As in 1946, it will entail almost certain death for those selected to carry it out, and it may result in wider hostilities, but it may be the least costly option with the most positive outcome for both the United States and the Republic of Korea.
Effects-Based Operations was the last overarching airpower strategy embraced by the USAF, but its influence has waned over the last decade, and no airpower theory has taken its place. This has had very real consequences; Airmen have come to believe airpower exists simply to support ground operations, as opposed to a mechanism to deter, shape, and win conflicts. The USAF is desperately in need of an overarching airpower strategy to explain to itself, and the joint and coalition community, what airpower is capable of, and how it will be employed in current and future conflicts across the realm of military operations.
The present-day Islamic Republic of Iran and the former Imperial State of Iran are organized according to completely different political arrangements. The first is a theocratic regime, based upon the ideals of the Islamic revolution with an all-powerful clerical Supreme Leader. The second, the Imperial State, was a secular, absolute monarchy. The Shah’s Iran was a stable, respected power in a vital region. The Islamic Republic is an international pariah that openly flouts global norms. Yet, the Shah’s Iran and the Islamic Republic of Iran are very similar indeed in terms of aspiration. If we look at the ends and ways to expand or maintain influence, there are more similarities than differences.
In a year when the breadth, extent, and impact of cyber attacks continues to expand as geopolitical tensions escalate, the creation of norms remains essential to shape behavior in cyberspace and identify which targets are off limits. However, as these latest attacks may demonstrate, absent any coherent cybersecurity strategy and response framework, adversaries will disregard norms as long as they can attack with impunity.
It was not that long ago that the revolution in military affairs of the late 1990s was advanced as a transformative event that would assure U.S. dominance over all rivals. Instead, it resulted in a technology-centric way of fighting that defied the enduring nature of war and resulted in a lessening of U.S. combat power for the wars the nation had to fight. The U.S. military may not suffer the same fate from Multi-Domain Battle. It is advancing at such a pace, however, that there has been little time to unpack all of the challenges its implementation may face, as well as the second order effects its employment will generate.
For all the changes in naval warfare—from non-state actors to precision-guided missiles to the inevitable small, autonomous, unmanned craft tactics—the maritime world is exactly how Alfred Thayer Mahan described it a century ago. This doesn’t mean naval tactics, and therefore naval warfare, will be the same as described in his works. That won’t be the case. Whatever character littoral naval warfare takes on in the future, its north star will always be sea control.
To read Clausewitz on war is akin to reading John Muir on forests: each understood the particulars of his subject uncommonly well, but gained immortality for his insight into the nature and function of the whole. Scales on War, by contrast, is like a field guide to trees: full of interesting detail on the parts but with little to say about the entire ecosystem.
While the United States is currently considered the world’s hegemonic power, several other states possess the potential to be superpowers in the making, such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the so-called BRIC countries). Assuming these great powers desire to better their positions, their respective strategies may either propel them into a leading international role or act as a hindrance to their ascent. The examples of China and India, in particular, serve as interesting cases to explore due to their potential to become superpowers as well as their vastly different approaches in world affairs.
Leaders in the national security community must remedy the incapacitating risk aversion which has permeated both the civilian and military ranks of the defense establishment if they are to successfully respond to the inherent uncertainty of future conflicts. Risk aversion stifles creativity, cedes the initiative to our adversaries, and presents a real, significant, and imminent threat to American national security. However, with the proper application of existing tools and an appropriate organizational comfort with uncertainty, strategic leaders can overcome the challenges posed by an increasingly complex world.
Operational and strategic level leaders cannot get caught in the rapid pace of tactics, but neither can they ignore the fact that decisions at the tactical level must proceed at the pace demanded by the situation. When operational and strategic leaders increase the pace of decision-making, it can lead to a chasing of the bright and shiny object mentality. Decisions in these orbits include a set of dialogues and tend to be iterative. Further, leaders at all levels must consider the complexity of decision making at each level above and below them.
Good military advice flows out of trust relationships, and the candor that good military advice requires depends on mutual trust. Yet Huntington’s theory has created the lasting impression that civilian leaders must implicitly trust, and grant autonomy to, military leaders. Autonomy is not—and should not be—mechanistically or automatically granted; like trust, autonomy must be earned and re-earned continuously through the daily demonstration of character and competence, and the commitment by members of the profession to police themselves and hold one another accountable. So, after more than sixteen years of inconclusive wars, it is time for military officers to step out of Huntington’s shadow and improve the quality and nature of the military advice they provide.
The Obama Administration’s approach to the problem of North Korea has been termed strategic patience, and is in fact the same approach employed by previous administrations. At the heart of strategic patience is a belief that the status quo, while less than ideal, is better than many possible consequences of taking action. The premise of this argument is incorrect. What we see in North Korea is not a status quo, similar today to what it was decades ago, but rather a situation worsening at an exponential pace.
Traditional warfare has long used information and technology to gain a competitive advantage over opponents. The shift is that more of these activities are now occurring in a place visible to the public –– online –– and is now being directed at civilians. As the ever-growing volume of literature on this topic illustrates, we are currently observing the great value in sustained disinformation campaigns. The low cost and high effectiveness of these non-military measures combined with few counter-measures as well as strong drivers of change (such as automation) increasing their effectiveness, indicate their use will continue to increase. This has significant implications for policy makers, analysts, and defence personnel.
The Arctic has always been important to Russia, and global warming has made previously unreachable natural resources like oil and gas accessible. It has also opened up new shipping routes thereby increasing the importance of the region. This article argues that even though Russia has emphasized international cooperation to promote economic development in the Arctic the last few years, it has simultaneously increased its military capabilities. Russia is thus preparing for future development in the Arctic that could include both international collaboration and conflict.
When strategies come into conflict with one another...to assume this is due primarily to different cultures risks missing the forest for the trees. Rather than asserting what Chinese culture tells U.S. policymakers about how Chinese strategy may operate, the focus of American strategic planners should be on how Chinese strategy actually operates.
All strategies have origins; none are conceived wholly from scratch. This axiom holds true even for states’ most fundamental strategies; indeed, the grander and more foundational the strategy, the more deeply rooted its historical and cultural origins. Yet it can sometimes appear otherwise: new strategic realities can emerge, if not overnight, then in the space of, say, a fortnight, a month, or a year, and states can be left scrambling to articulate a coherent response. The advent of nuclear weaponry was one such instance. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki stand as a watershed to which historians and policy-makers are inexorably drawn. What came before stands as pre-history; what follows is a brave new world, demanding brave new strategic visions. So runs the logic.
Officers need not be saints, but they must be people who are willing to confront the unavoidable ethical questions that are running through the decisions they make and the example that they set. An officer’s education and practical experience give her an instinct for prudence, but like other virtues that may be partly innate or existing it should be cultivated. Military officers should also teach prudence to those they instruct,lead, and advise. This is even more critical in times like these, when brinkmanship and imprudence amounting to impudence seem to be the orders of the day.
We live in an era of instant connection and instant communication. For instance, when news of a military incident breaks, within seconds it can be rebroadcast around the world. Within minutes commentators demand that something must be done. Yet the speed at which the news breaks means that in an era where information flow has made it is easy for a military’s higher headquarters to be kept abreast of every tactical incident, we forget that the flow of information vastly outpaces than the speed of military deployment.