IS THE “CHAIN OF COMMAND” STILL MEANINGFUL?

In the face of so much change in the private sector, continued adherence to formal structures in the military seems old-fashioned. Without a doubt, the chain of command is one of the most durable concepts in military organizations. From Roman times until present, the chain of command fixed formal authorities and accountability from the highest […]

THE INFORMATION APOCALYPSE … IS ALREADY HERE

This is the real danger: that people become numbed by the daily dose of news disguised as outrage. “We are careening towards a future where the ability to distort reality shakes the foundations of democracy.” —Aviv Ovayda via Twitter No, there aren’t any zombies. But there are bots and trolls, hackers, hijacked accounts, propaganda, and […]

WHITEBOARD: IS THE US MILITARY TACTICALLY PROFICIENT, BUT STRATEGICALLY DEFICIENT?

It is striking how much difficulty the United States has had converting its tactical advantages into clear strategic ‘Wins’ in the post-Cold War period The next Whiteboard tackles a thorny issue where there is much disagreement. We polled faculty, students, and academics from around the country for their views about the U.S. military’s proficiency in tactics […]

WHITEBOARD RESPONSE: SHOULD THE US MILITARY SECURE THE BORDER?

the problem at hand is one of enforcing laws rather than of imposing political aims by force. We thank everyone who submitted responses for our second Whiteboard! Below (in no particular order) were the best responses to the following question. What roles, if any, should the military have in policing the U.S. border?   1. Lieutenant […]

WILL THERMOBARIC WEAPONS OVERWHELM THE MILITARY HEALTH SYSTEM?

Thermobaric weapons in high-intensity conflict dramatically change the quantity and severity of blast injuries In April of 2017, in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, the US used a Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb against a subterranean network of fortified tunnels and bunkers. Accurate casualty totals were impossible to calculate, because any living thing close to the […]

INVESTING IN THE MILITARY’S FUTURE THROUGH STRATEGIC RESEARCH

Leaders both inside and outside the professional military education system are often skeptical of basic research. It is inefficient by nature. Should military institutions pursue research that is not directly tied to immediate organizational needs? The case for applied research is clear, since it seeks to solve defined problems. But what about basic research, which […]

BIAS: THE HIDDEN FIGURE IN DIVERSITY

Diversity alone, without a climate that fosters it, does little to root out latent racism, sexual harassment, and other manifestations of bias There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. There are not more than five primary colors, yet […]

GRAHAM CLEARS THE DOORWAY

Perhaps the most significant example of the tension between federal obligations and state loyalties in National Guard history occurred fifty-five years ago in Alabama. On the ABC television series Designated Survivor, a bombing kills nearly every leader in the three branches of the federal government, and the executive branch’s designated survivor, the soon-to-be-replaced HUD Secretary, […]

WHITEBOARD: SHOULD THE US MILITARY SECURE THE BORDER?

when the “threat” along the border grows … to an intersection between transnational organized crime and transnational terrorism, the clear distinctions we prefer may become clouded. For this Whiteboard, we polled members of the faculty who specialize in domestic security. They include reserve component officers, a visiting professor from the Department of Homeland Security, and […]

WHITEBOARD RESPONSE: HOW WELL DOES THE ARMY DEVELOP STRATEGIC LEADERS?

U.S. Army strategic leaders must be ‘War Winners,’ not ‘War Managers.’ The responses to our first Whiteboard were overwhelming! Thank you to everyone who submitted. We received a large number of strong responses. The second Whiteboard launches 20 July, and we will be running these exercises regularly. Stay tuned. Based on the judgment of the editorial board, […]

GOOD TOOL, WRONG TASK: ARMED FORCES IN LAW ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS

Employing the military to supplement civil law enforcement can be risky. Consider the following vignette. A mobilized National Guard squad patrols the U.S.-Mexico border when they encounter a group of taunting teenage boys across the chain-link fence. Tension escalates, and one of the Mexican nationals begins climbing the fence to taunt the soldiers more. As […]

FROM BETWEEN THE HAMMER AND ANVIL: MONGOLIA’S NEW DEFENSE POLICY

Mongolia always will be sensitive to its location and attentive to the influence of its powerful neighbors [, Russia and China.] Mongolia, located in Northeast Asia, has felt itself sandwiched between Russia and China since the end of seventeenth century. Historian Thomas Ewing described Mongolia’s geostrategic situation as “between the hammer and the anvil”, while […]

OUR ARMY: RUN BY ENGINEERS, PREOCCUPIED WITH PROCESS?

Process and organization are merely the context within which the real, human, work of leadership occurs. West Point was the first U.S. school to offer instruction in civil engineering. West Point’s influence over the Army is debatable, but it certainly seeks to influence our young leaders. Graduates have and do make up our core cadre. […]

MY LAI: A STAIN ON THE U.S. ARMY

we must revisit such terrible episodes in the Army’s history, however painful; remembering My Lai may help us avoid repeating it elsewhere. From March 16-19, 1968, U.S. Army troops killed at least 175 noncombatants at My Lai, South Vietnam (the precise number will likely remain unknown but some estimates range above 400 dead).[i] The stain […]

WHITEBOARD: HOW WELL DOES THE ARMY DEVELOP STRATEGIC LEADERS?

Whatever roles military strategic leaders play… they do so as experts in the fighting and winning of wars. Welcome to the inaugural edition of WAR ROOM’s Whiteboard, which invites contributors to  comment briefly on an issue relevant to national security, defense, and military leadership. Each whiteboard will be followed 3-4 weeks later (pending reader submissions) by […]

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 […]

MORE IS NOT BETTER: FIXING SECURITY COOPERATION

One point is unequivocal: U.S. engagement had not adequately facilitated Mali’s security abilities During a visit to Mali in early 2011, a senior official from United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) asked a group of U.S. trainers, “We’ve invested millions of dollars here, why are we not seeing any real progress?” In response, a U.S. Special […]

TOO MUCH WAR, NOT ENOUGH COLLEGE

Army leadership should inject more ‘college’ in the War College by hiring more civilian academic instructors. When I arrived at the U.S. Army War College in August 2017 as the Harold K. Johnson Chair in Military History I walked into an institution debating its future.  During my first weeks at the War College, I met […]

AMERICA’S BYZANTINE STRATEGY

The U.S. can do worse than emulate the strategy of an empire that survived for a thousand years. The Roman Empire was the longest-lasting empire in world history, enduring more than fourteen centuries. Throughout its republican and imperial history, Rome relied heavily on military power, using conquest to expand the empire. As Luttwak observes in […]

THE DEATH OF THE CYBER GENERALIST

DoD will continue to struggle to develop and employ effective cyber capabilities if it continues putting old wine in new bottles – applying a bad personnel model to the cyber force. The Department of Defense (DoD) must abandon its “up-or-out” promotion model for cyber forces. It should let competent officers hold their positions longer. Applying […]