WILL ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE SOLVE OUR NATIONAL SECURITY PROBLEMS, OR CREATE THEM?

We should focus [artificial intelligence] in assisting and helping us make more timely and effective decisions Artificial intelligence (AI) is making a lot of noise today, what does its continued development mean for national security? Will AI solve problems, or are there important limits to the technology that AI is unlikely to overcome? What should […]

HOW MEMORIES OF MY LAI INFLUENCED MILITARY PROFESSIONALISM

There is one thing for the event to occur; but the manner in which it was handled was more institutionally damning. In a follow-up to his article published in WAR ROOM in June, Richard Lacquement sits down with WAR ROOM Editor-in-Chief Andrew A. Hill to go over the aftermath of My Lai as it continues […]

IS “VUCA” A USEFUL TERM OR IS IT ALL “VUCA’ED” UP?

To treat our own time period as though it is somehow exceptional feels intellectually and morally wrong. Do we need a new lexicon or do we already have the right words that we are misapplying? For a quarter century, a popular term to describe the modern strategic environment has been “VUCA,” an acronym meaning “Volatile, […]

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! — INTRODUCING WHITEBOARD

We invite you, our WAR ROOM readers, to join in the conversation and add to the Whiteboard. If you were faced with a vexing complex problem, how would you start solving it? …After the fear, procrastination, and panic, that is. You would do a little research, assemble your initial thoughts, and reach out to some […]

“STAR WARS” AS A LENS FOR GRAND STRATEGY?

Instead of what the Melian dialogue tells us, which is that ‘Might Makes Right,’ … when it comes to Supreme Command, ‘Right Makes Might.’ Whoever has the superior decisions wins. Science fiction has a long history of helping provide simple explanations for complex phenomena. Few phenomena are as complex, and as elusive, a grand strategy. […]

THE CHALLENGES OF SENIOR LEADER COMMUNICATION

30 years ago, we still talked about deterrence a lot in this country. We still talked about nuclear weapons in this country. Today, the broader population does not, and therefore part of my job is to make sure that that becomes part of the dialogue again. What happens when an important strategic message is simply […]

THE SENIOR NCO AS A STRATEGIC LEADER

If they come out with an after-action review or lessons learned from Iraq and all it talks about is how officers executed the war, then you know the Army missed an opportunity. WAR ROOM welcomes Command Sergeant Major Christopher Martinez who retired from the U.S. Army after culminating his career as Command Sergeant Major of […]

DO ETHICS MATTER IN WARFARE TODAY?

People say, “Well, people break the rules of warfare all the time, so why should we have rules?” Is there an absolute moral and ethical framework that guides forces in war, or is it no more than the rules chosen by the powerful to justify their actions? What is the benefit of such frameworks in […]

FROM POLICY & STRATEGY TO CAPABILITY & CAPACITY: THE DEFENSE MANAGEMENT PRIMER

In an organization in which … ‘manageR’ is an insult, it is not easy to convince people that defense management is valuable. We are pleased to announce the publication of Defense Management: Primer for Senior Leaders, by the U.S. Army War College’s Department of Command, Leadership, and Management. (Download the primer here. Listen to a […]

IN PRAISE OF ANNOYING MAJORS

There is something to the saying, … ‘to be young and conservative is to have no heart; to be old and liberal, to have no brain.’ Majors apparently stand at the heart-brain intersection. In my seven years working for the U.S. Army, perhaps the most surprising characteristic of the Army – surprising at least to […]

BELIEVING IS SEEING: ON STRATEGIC IMAGINATION

American national security strategy is generally unimaginative. It is too often constrained by a rigid, unimaginative pursuit of optimal objectives… It needs the constructive, creative impulse that characterizes great strategy. On May 7, 1864, the battle-weary soldiers of the Army of the Potomac awoke expecting to retreat north (yet again) from their nemeses – the […]

HOW DO GREAT STRATEGIC LEADERS DEVELOP OTHERS?

How do you really make a difference to inspire people around you? WAR ROOM welcomes special guest Major General John S. Kem, the 51st Commandant of the U.S. Army War College to discuss leader development. Who does it well, and why is it so hard to do in the Army? What principles can leaders adopt […]

GEORGE WASHINGTON: THE LESSONS OF FAILURE (GREAT CAPTAINS)

Washington [will] realize early on that he is playing a losing hand and has to change how he plays that hand. This inaugural episode of the Great Captains series focuses on George Washington from his early career aspirations as a colonel in the British (!) Army to leadership of the American Revolution. Throughout, Washington’s ability […]

WHY IS THE VIETNAM WAR EXPERIENCE STILL RELEVANT?

The 2017 release of a television series on Vietnam War from director Ken Burns has renewed interest and controversy surrounding the purpose of the war and its effects. In this podcast, military historian, retired U.S. Army War College professor, and Vietnam veteran Len Fullenkamp presents his perspective on why the U.S. became involved. He also discusses the social and political change that happened at the same time, and how institutions such as education and political structures changed as a result. What does the Vietnam experience teach us about matters of national security policy today? What should military leaders learn from Vietnam so they may better render best military advice to their civilian overseers?

LEARNING STRATEGY BY WALKING THE GROUND

In this podcast, military historian Len Fullenkamp reflects on the importance of immersing oneself in the minds of strategic leaders facing dynamic and complex situations. One tool is the staff ride, an opportunity to walk a battlefield and understand the strategic perspective of the leaders prosecuting a campaign. What was the decision made then and what can it teach us about strategic decisions now?

THINKING CRITICALLY ABOUT CRITICAL THINKING

In this War Room podcast, War Room Editor-in-Chief Andrew Hill sits down with Professor of Behavioral Sciences Steve Gerras to discuss critical thinking, a key skill that senior leaders should develop. Gerras argues that it is, indeed, possible to improve one’s ability to think with training and practice—even while recognizing that doing so can be counterintuitive, unappreciated, and difficult. Gerras and Hill discuss the problems of confirmation bias, fake news, and clarified concern, and how we can learn to combat these problems by seeking out disconfirming information, using Wikipedia and the Internet to our advantage, and thinking more deeply about problem design and construction.

WHY WAR COLLEGES?

In this War Room Podcast, “Why War Colleges?” Andrew A. Hill interviews the 50th Commandant of the U.S. Army College, U.S. Army Major General Bill Rapp to discuss the history, roles, and responsibilities of war colleges to develop future strategic leaders, both military and civilian, and to develop ideas that address current and future needs of the defense enterprise. They explore why the Army’s performance during the Spanish-American War necessitated the Army War College’s founding, and how it has evolved in the century since.

BLACK SWAN, RED BEARD: RECOGNIZING THE UNEXPECTED

The real challenge with black swan events is not accurate anticipation, but timely recognition. It is useful to remind ourselves regularly of the capacity of human beings to persist in stupid beliefs in the face of significant, contradictory evidence. On 22 June, 1941*, the Third Reich launched Operation Barbarossa, a massive invasion of the Soviet […]

RETHINKING STRATEGIES FOR DEFENSE MODERNIZATION: A PODCAST

The defense acquisition system has been the subject of much controversy and criticism. From the “Sisyphus Paradox” to more recent studies on defense acquisition reform, critics have complained about the process of acquisition being too slow and cumbersome. But far less attention has been given to the strategy of acquisition. How should defense leaders make investment choices that address shorter-term needs while preserving long-term opportunities? Mark Kappelmann and Andrew Hill provide analysis and offer ideas and recommendations in this War Room Podcast.

Watch Colonel Mark Kappelmann in a panel discussion on military innovation at the Center for New American Security.

THE DODO’S PROBLEM (AND THE REASON FOR WAR ROOM)

Peacetime military thinking is often isolated from the refining forces that arise from real, immediate competition. Millions of years ago, ancient pigeons flew from their southeast-Asian home and settled on islands scattered across the Indian Ocean. Some of the birds eventually landed on Mauritius, a volcanic island east of Madagascar. For thousands of millenia, they […]