This is an important study that dramatically advances our understanding of innovation and the importance of non-technological factors, particularly the development of learning systems, in successful innovation. It will be of use to scholars of both innovation and the U.S. Navy, as well as those with a general interest in those subjects.
Once exclusively the purview of unconventional warfare and special operations forces, by, with, and through has gone mainstream, but it is not yet found in joint doctrine for conventional warfare. The evolution of the phrase and its individual elements has increased the lack of clarity because of inconsistencies in messaging and understanding of the definitions, responsibilities, progression, and ultimate goal of the approach.
Doctrine, in its modern form, consists of series of written manuals that, together, are representative of a military’s institutional belief system. For all that I have learned about doctrine over the past decade, the most important thing is that whatever the pros and cons of doctrine itself may be, the belief system underlying it and the broader context in which the doctrine exists are much more difficult to perceive, study and understand; yet both are also much more important. No study of doctrine can be complete without taking these factors into account.
Insurgency is an old concept. If you were to travel back to Iraq between 2334 and 2279 BC, you would find a man called Sargan. Sargan ruled a vast empire spanning from Southern Iraq to Southern Turkey, enforced by overwhelming military power. His Akkadian hordes, armed with high-tech composite bows and sophisticated logistics, laid waste to all before them. Their strategy was a simple one; ‘mass slaughter, enslavement, the deportation of defeated enemies, and the total destruction of their cities.’ For years their technological edge and brutal strategy allowed the Akkadians to dominate. When they inevitably fell, however, they did not fall to a superior empire. They were victim to a new phenomenon: a tireless, guerrilla-style attack from the unsophisticated barbarian hordes all around them. In 2190 BC the city of Akkad, near modern Baghdad, finally fell.
For the past several decades the Army has promoted agile and adaptive leadership. This type of leadership is good when you are the strongest Army in the world and you’re focused on rapidly adapting to dynamic situations during operations. However, an entirely different type of leadership is necessary if you intend to transform the organization from the way it is today to the way you want it to be in the future. In the years ahead our Army needs transformational leaders who will shape our culture to one that demonstrates cunning, embraces asymmetry, generates unforeseen problems, and takes risks in order to win decisively.
The United States faces a changing and more uncertain military future. The military dominance that the United States easily assumed following the end of the Cold War – and demonstrated in the Gulf War – is no longer so assured. Potential American adversaries are developing capabilities to challenge American strengths. The American military must develop new concepts and capabilities to continue to guarantee the military supremacy Americans expect. Multi-Domain Battle is an effort to develop these necessary concepts and capabilities. It will provide the means to counter adversaries who seek to break the current American military system. Multi-Domain Battle will deepen and expand current joint doctrine. It will allow the services to move beyond synchronization and converge their capabilities in their respective domains to open windows of relative advantage in a domain or several domains to gain the initiative. The concept also specifically challenges land forces to adapt and prepare for situations in which the complete American control of the air, sea, cyberspace and space, formerly a forgone conclusion, is no longer. This fictional depiction describes how the United States military might apply Multi-Domain Battle as a concept to defeat a near peer threat. The story does not describe any real potential adversary. The majority of geographic locations are fictional. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to any real individual is accidental.
Over the last eighteen months, the Australian podcast the Dead Prussian has asked each of its guests a simple yet deeply contested question: “What is war?” Answers have ranged from Professor Hal Brand’s insightful “war is a tragic but inescapable aspect of international politics” to my own citation of John Keegan’s “war is collective killing for some collective purpose.”Nobody so far has said that war is a “game”. Thankfully this isn’t surprising; anyone who has fought in war, or just studied it, will be aware that this would trivialise the destruction that can lie within. But it is also of note that nobody so far has labeled war as a duel.
For 70 years now the United States has fielded the most powerful military forces in the world. This has led to the US military staying physically, mentally, and culturally in their comfort zone, unwilling and largely unable to think the unthinkable; in a few decades the US Army may be in the position of those armies and non-state enemies we have fought since World War II, struggling to cope with deficits in forces, materiel, technologies, and personnel. In DOD terms we may very well be the “near-peer competitor;” smaller, technologically weaker, with older and less capable systems than those against whom we are called to go to war. In strategic terms, such a future scenario is plausible, possible, and, increasingly probable.
Through the following short essays, we intend to...[open] a dialog on risk that is long overdue. From doctrine to education, from tactics to strategy, the influence of risk has never been greater, yet receives far less attention that is rightfully necessary. If we are to regain the elusive “winning edge,” it begins with a deeper understanding and dialog on risk. It is time to bring risk out of the shadows and into the light where we can all see it, discuss it, and understand it.
Much has been written about the transformation of the United States Air Force between the Vietnam War and Operation DESERT STORM. In his classic book Sierra Hotel, C.R. Anderegg documented the revolution in training that occurred at the Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base during this era, led by the so-called “Fighter Mafia” of Air Force legends such as John Jumper, Ron Keys and Moody Suter. Steve Davies opened the door to the secret MiG program known as “Constant Peg” that occurred during the same time period in his book Red Eagles, while former Red Eagles Squadron Commander Gail “Evil” Peck gave his unique perspective on this historically significant squadron in his book America’s Secret MiG Squadron.