Even if universal in human activities, uncertainty is often absent from weapons procurement studies. Despite pioneering works of Scherer and Peck that recognize uncertainty as a main characteristic of weapons acquisitions, academic works that follow often do not investigate this feature in depth. Indeed, weapons procurement studies generally do not consider uncertainty as a crucial factor in explaining why weapon programs fail completely or encounter costs overrun, delays, and deficiencies in delivered capabilities. Explanations range very often from technologically overly ambitious military service’s technological over-ambitions to the deficient procurement strategies of their respective bureaucracy’s deficient procurement strategy. In this paper, we will go further in explaining why some programs fail to produce new weapon systems with in terms of costs, delays and capabilities. As the majority of academic works about weapons acquisition consider the U.S. case, we will bring some change by focusing on the French military establishment.
Thucydides, who authored the definitive account of the Peloponnesian War, started writing as soon as the conflict began, “...believing that it would be a great war, and more worthy of relation than any that had preceded it.” His account has also proved valuable for evaluating ensuing conflicts through to the present day. As Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote, the Peloponnesian War showed that “strategic problems remain the same, though affected by tactical difficulties peculiar to each age.” The Athenian invasion of Sicily and the American experience in Iraq were not identical, but no two wars ever are. Instead, we must look at the overarching effects the military campaigns had on political objectives.
The trinity is a useful tool to conceptualize the chaos of war and has been described as the tension between three fundamental elements of war: the government, the people, and the army. The legal discipline, whether intentionally or not, reflects this trinity in the development of the modern day law of war. Contemporary law of war reveals a sort of legal trinity in which legal documents seek to regulate each point of Clausewitz’s paradoxical trinity. In the legal trinity, the Charter of the United Nations holds the position of the government, the Geneva Conventions represents the people, and the Rules of Engagement cover the military.
Conventional Warfare is officially dead. This has become an obvious trend with innumerable adversaries engaging the American military and her allies in unconventional ways and means. The long-held notion of the ‘decisive battle’ that brings the combat power of two nations against each other for a winner-take-all slugfest lies in the next grave. Even ‘wars of attrition’, in the model of the American Civil War, First and Second World Wars, and Korea are gone. If America hopes to remain strategically significant, its political and military leadership must adapt to the new reality that no adversary wants to fight the United States (U.S.) in a symmetrically conventional fashion.
Technology and military organizations exist in a paradoxical relationship. The relentless march of science creates pressure on strategists and their organizations to adopt novel technology and adapt their doctrine. This pressure can derive from technological innovation by one’s own scientists as well as the fear of what a potential enemy is developing on its side. Yet, as political scientist Stephen Rosen points out, organizations, and especially military organizations, have difficulty changing because “they are designed not to change.” A bureaucracy is organized to perform established tasks with uniformity and regularity. This inherent attribute presents the strategic innovator with a dilemma; a military organization must innovate to survive, but it resists innovation by its very nature. This problem is exacerbated by the reality that the direction and timing of optimal innovation is often ambiguous in the moment and only clear in hindsight.
Thucydides’s account of the Peloponnesian War provides for a range of lessons about the nature of strategy applicable to a wide audience. The period demonstrates the inherent complexity in understanding the concept of strategy, a concept that remains devoid of a coherent, agreed, and universal definition. What the Periclean strategy does provide, however, is insight into the importance of understanding the implications of the political objective, strategy and military culture, and geography and operating environment and their influence on the nature of strategy.
National and multinational defence colleges have long provided a significant method of enhancing the strategic thinking skills and inter-cultural networks of national leaders, to better prepare them for developing and implementing national security doctrines and policies, and coordinating crisis management and informal diplomatic efforts. The creation of a pan-Arab security and defence college could provide a mutually-beneficial means for Arab nations to deliver coordinated, strategic-level education for a community of future Arab leaders and allied officers with regional influence.
Understanding Western precepts of Just War Theory, analogous concepts within Islamic jurisprudence, and analyzing militant Islamic movement actions against them may offer strategists and policymakers philosophical means from which to attack the legitimacy of militant Islamic movements and thereby weaken their critical popular support.
After the humiliating defeat during the 1967 Six-Day War, Sadat sought out to restore Arab self-confidence, shatter the Israeli myth of invincibility, and bring Israel to the negotiating table.While Sadat ultimately achieved his objectives, his strategy was risky, and one could argue his political gains were a result of sheer luck and mistakes made by his adversary. Despite ultimately signing a long-lasting peace treaty with Israel, Sadat isolated Egypt and himself, with many Arab nations calling him a traitor. Nevertheless, much can be learned from Sadat’s decision making process. With clear, attainable objectives, Sadat’s strategy during the 1973 October War is perhaps a perfect example achieving political gains through limited war by exploiting an adversary’s weaknesses and simultaneously employing clever, diplomatic means.
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.
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.
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.