Strategy

Grand Strategy in the Age of Climate Change: A Theory of Emergent Grand Strategy

Grand Strategy in the Age of Climate Change: A Theory of Emergent Grand Strategy

Given grand strategy’s concern with advancing overall interests, typically in the context of a significant threat, there is a pressing need for articulating a new sensibility about grand strategy that deals seriously with the climate threat. In particular, as I show in this essay, this new sensibility must account for the possibility of new actors having the capacity as well as the interest to act in a grand strategic fashion and to do so in a way that challenges the conventional wisdom about the centralized, coordinated nature of grand strategic action.

Small State Strategic Thinking: The Case of the Netherlands

Small State Strategic Thinking: The Case of the Netherlands

The broadsides on America’s strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan are persistent given the indubitable lack of progress in both theatres for almost two decades. As both wars continue, not only are global powers like the United States still involved, but many small states remain engaged. Each keeps contributing to, and participating in, these ongoing conflicts. While the criticism of the American strategic effort is sweeping, and may be considered justified, this critique spills over as collateral to the small allied states who continue to contribute to both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Political Interference, Strategic Incoherence, and Johnson’s Escalation in Vietnam

Political Interference, Strategic Incoherence, and Johnson’s Escalation in Vietnam

The American experience in Vietnam defined a generation, spurring civil unrest and the degradation of trust in important political and military institutions. Spanning the course of two decades, the United States’ engagement in the conflict reflected the heightened global tension of the Cold War. American involvement in Vietnam began as early as 1950, initially in the form of assistance to the French during the First Indochina War. By the end of the Kennedy administration, the United States had begun to send American advisers and military forces to Vietnam, aiming to prevent the spread of communism to Southeast Asia.

Dissecting Strategic Decision Making: #Reviewing Leap of Faith

Dissecting Strategic Decision Making: #Reviewing Leap of Faith

In theory, policy, and strategy are the product of extensive analysis, detailed cost-benefit calculations, and rational criteria for decision-making. In practice, good strategy development is also about compromise and consensus building, resolving problems, mitigating uncertainty and constraints, and steering downstream through the fluid dynamics of international and domestic politics.

A Strategic Mindset

A Strategic Mindset

Without the right mindset, even the most tactically competent force becomes vulnerable to strategic missteps, and, in the worst case, strategic defeat. Although we can never predict the future with perfect accuracy, we can benefit by trying to understand the parameters and to build a mindset in the force that will help the future leaders address the challenges they will likely face. If soldiers can progress beyond learning what to think and how to think, and learn how to approach thinking, they will be better able to overcome the novel and complex adaptive strategic problems of that future, whatever they may be.

The Strategic Crisis in the American Way of War: A Global Discount Security Shop?

The Strategic Crisis in the American Way of War: A Global Discount Security Shop?

Why has the U.S. failed to see any conclusive strategic victories in any of its recent conflicts? Second, within the context of a changed global post-cold-war strategic order and a massive American globalized infrastructure in place to support military operations, is the inability of the U.S. to be successful a failure of the American way of war or a failure in strategy as it relates to the American way of war? Instead of trying to answer each puzzle, we seek to define the contours of it. We argue American strategy has become increasingly incoherent. This is the product of a stagnant American political system that led to an incredibly effective military, but one that is strategically incapable due to it being a global discount security shop.

#Reviewing The Future of Strategy

#Reviewing The Future of Strategy

Through Gray’s definition of strategy, the timeless application of Thucydidean motives, and an understanding of the immutable influences of geography and politics, any prospective student of strategy is well equipped to enter any debate on the future direction of the national interest.

Strategy and the Instrumental Role of Emotions

Strategy and the Instrumental Role of Emotions

Emotions are abundantly present in contemporary warfare, and various non-state actors, in particular, use acts of terror to invoke fear in target audiences. The same emotion is also central to the successes or failures of deterrence. Various intra-state conflicts in Central Africa are waged for the most emotional of causes, usually a mixture of greed and grievances. It seems the role of moral factors has actually expanded in modern warfare due to the influence of real-time mass media on public opinion. Despite their abundance, emotions are largely ignored by students of strategic studies.

Strategic Thought and the Military Officer

Strategic Thought and the Military Officer

In its complexity of ways, means, and ends, strategy is more than just another level of war. Perhaps this is why the record of strategy is so marked by error and failure. Failure in war is most often a failure of strategy. For the officer, this means all the effort, sacrifice, and success at the tactical and operational levels may well come to naught because of a flawed strategy.

Science Fiction and the Strategist 2.0

Science Fiction and the Strategist 2.0

Reading science fiction nurtures hope that there is a better future. While conflict, catastrophe, and climate change feature in many of these novels and movies, much science fiction is highly optimistic in nature…However, reading science fiction also allows us to consider a variety of negative potential futures…it is the first step in ensuring that they do not come to pass.

#Reviewing Oceans Ventured

#Reviewing Oceans Ventured

Secretary Lehman, awaiting the declassification of several key Cold War documents, recently published Oceans Ventured, meticulously documenting the Navy’s aggressive operations in the 1980s. Secretary Lehman’s readily accessible book tells the story as if you were having a casual conversation at the Black Pearl, listening to the reminiscences and sea stories of a well-traveled naval officer.

The Imperative of Waging Techno-Strategic War: Looking Back at #TechnologyInnovation

The Imperative of Waging Techno-Strategic War: Looking Back at #TechnologyInnovation

These essays represent ongoing efforts at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Defense Analysis Department to investigate operationally relevant emerging technology. These efforts must continue if defense officials are to create a competitive innovation landscape across the services. Producing a collaborative ecosystem that fuses emerging technology with multifaceted operational challenges is an excellent start.  

Technology Innovation Is Great, But Strategy Is Better

Technology Innovation Is Great, But Strategy Is Better

What’s missing is a strategy that accounts for latent and emerging technology-enabled threats and matches them with prioritized military requirements. Such a strategy would include an optimized mix of new and old technologies designed to exploit adversary vulnerabilities and minimize American weaknesses. There is reason for optimism in America’s potential to leverage technology for its own security as long as leaders make the hard choices around national priorities that will allow planners and strategists to engage technology with focus and purpose.