INTELLIGENCE & RISK: VICKSBURG, GUADALCANAL, IRAQ

to use intelligence properly, commanders must exercise the operational art to integrate ends, ways, and means, while considering risk. There is no substitute for reflective judgment. It would seem obvious that misinterpreting intelligence and underestimating threats can lead to catastrophic operational consequences. And yet such errors by commanders occur all too often.  Commanders ostensibly use […]

BRING A LONG SPOON: THE KOREAN DEAL

Reduced to its raw essence, foreign policy is still about the calculation of power. No more euphemisms. Blunt words backed by blunt power have to be the order of business from now until a real deal is reached. Historic, undoubtedly. Historical, undetermined. The April 27, 2018 summit between South Korean President Moon Jae In and North Korean […]

COMPLECTE ABYSSUM: NEW TRICK FOR OLD DOG OF DETERRENCE

Traditional deterrence is transparent, certain, and rational. … The new approach to deterrence … embraces the chaos. The world is in chaos. Many ignore it; others seek to tame it in these volatile and uncertain times. We face complex, ambiguous situations and yet Chaos Theory encourages us to acknowledge the bedlam; to accept what we […]

GAME ON OR GAME OVER: HYPERCOMPETITION AND MILITARY ADVANTAGE

The National Defense Strategy is explicit in its recognition that U.S. strategic advantage is eroding. Competition does not always mean hostility…an America that successfully competes is the best way to prevent conflict.        – 2017 National Security Strategy Washington, We Have a Problem In drug addiction, the first step to recovery is admitting the […]

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 […]

THE ART OF GAMING: STRATEGIC EDITION

Gaming is a useful method for educating Army strategists. … Command and General Staff College [has] already started to use simple gaming in their instruction. Would it surprise you that Monopoly can help teach accounting principles? Or that chess players build their critical thinking and strategy skills? Games are known to be useful as educational […]

ART OF THE KOREAN DEAL: THREATS AND OPPORTUNITIES

So far, President Trump’s Korea strategy seems to be working: Kim Jong Un has moved from recalcitrance to a willingness to negotiate. When then-businessman Donald Trump released his 1987 book on negotiation, The Art of the Deal, he could not have foreseen that approximately 30 years later he would be leading a critical negotiation to […]

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 […]

WHY DO WE CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARIES?

Sadly, historical events seem to require a round number of years to draw attention from the public, especially as first-hand memories of the event fade. Isn’t it funny how a birthday, anniversary, or other milestone can make you reflect? On the 1st of May, WAR ROOM turns one year old. Hard to believe how we […]

THREE QUESTIONS TO FIX ARMY MANDATORY TRAINING

Money, time, and resources are not the only casualties of an organization drowning in mandatory administrative training. I want to verify our military personnel policies also support and enhance warfighting and force lethality.  – Secretary of Defense James Mattis We must make difficult choices and prioritize what is most important to field a lethal, resilient, […]

DISRUPTING PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES THAT SUPPORT TERRORIST ACTS

The same psychological processes that allow lying and cheating to be commonplace can also work for terrorism. Thank you, Chief. All I’m saying is…that until we understand that our enemies are also human beings…we will never defeat them. Yes, they are bad guys, but that is what they do, not who they are.  ~Maxwell Smart […]

HYBRID WAR: ATTACKING THE ‘CIVIL’ IN CIVIL SOCIETY

Western military leaders have been operating “in the blind” because they never thought their liberal democratic societies with their firm legal basEs could be turned against themselves. While Western leaders were worried about hybrid warfare on their flanks, they have been blindsided at home. Civil society is under assault. The military characterizes hybrid warfare as a […]

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN: STABILIZATION LESSONS FROM RECONSTRUCTION

Stabilization is … an essential step in translating military success into political victory. Picture the scene: widespread famine, millions displaced, towns destroyed, transportation and sanitation infrastructure ruined, agricultural land and property abandoned, livestock rotting, violent insurgents and dangerous brigands roaming the landscape, education and healthcare nonexistent, and corruption flourishing. Where is this? When is this? […]

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 […]

ERIN GO BRUSSELS: TREATY OF BRUSSELS AT 70

Five allied powers … set out a bold program of cooperation in areas ranging from cultural and economic cooperation to mutual security. … Most of these ambitions have come to fruition. On March 17th, 2018, millions will celebrate the Feast of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. However, another significant historical event will pass […]

MULTI-DOMAIN BATTLE, 1781: THE LESSONS OF YORKTOWN

America’s strategic position today bears a stronger resemblance to that of Great Britain in 1781 than to any other actor in the Yorktown campaign. Today’s U.S. military professionals grew up in an era when their nation’s forces enjoyed nearly unfettered freedom of action in every domain: on land, in space, and especially in the air […]

HOPE IS NOT ‘A’ STRATEGY: IT’S THE ONLY STRATEGY

Hope … is at the core of the most successful components of American grand strategy over the last seventy-plus years. “Hope is not a strategy” is the ultimate morsel of accepted certainty, an effective way to shut down an argument with someone who dares utter the word “hope” in a national security strategy debate. When […]

GAME ON: GETTING AMERICAN POWER BACK IN THE FIELD

With William “Trey” Braun, Albert Lord, Jr., Lieutenant Colonel Michael Hatfield, Lieutenant Colonel James Hayes, and Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Ulmer. A real erosion and profound vulnerability of U.S. position and influence are inescapable conclusions of three successive U.S. Army War College studies. Hypercompetition and Reluctant American Great Power In July 2017, the United States Army War College […]

NEW RECRUITS GET TWO BLANKETS; MOBILIZING RESERVISTS, ONE

That there should be a connection between unit morale and combat effectiveness seems perfectly obvious. Why, then, do we treat our mobilizing soldiers so poorly? That there should be a connection between unit morale and combat effectiveness seems perfectly obvious. Why, then, do we treat our mobilizing soldiers so poorly? I am in the midst […]

SYNTHETIC READINESS: THE REMEDY FOR FUTURE JOINT READINESS

Unit readiness—especially for the Army—hinges on rotations to Combat Training Centers. This is both inefficient and unimaginative, and it needs to change.