GOOD LUCK WITH THE STRATEGY, MR. SECRETARY… IT’S A ‘RISKY’ UNDERTAKING

DoD strategy development and risk assessment cannot afford to rest exclusively on war plans that are never executed, scenarios that reinforce service biases, or nostalgia for competition as it once was, not as it actually is. It is time for the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a fresh risk perspective. Without it, 21st century threats […]

IRAN IN THE LANDS OF THE INCAS

Latin America is an important and appealing strategic partner for Iran – with its 626 million people and 33 sovereign nations, many with a strong anti-American foreign policy orientation. Iran’s foreign policy incursion into Latin America cannot be ignored by political leaders in Washington, D.C., given its serious national security implications for the U.S. Government […]

MAY THE FORCE RESOURCE YOU: A NEW WAY TO BUDGET

As daunting as the future threat is, it’s the current (and projected) fiscal environment, the partisanship, and the seeming inability of national leaders to address these concerns, that are the biggest issues the military faces. In a complex and dangerous world, the U.S. Army struggles with a persistent, strategic challenge: how to allocate limited financial […]

DIVERSITY AS POWER

The diversity of America’s Army is a source of power and influence, especially in the political aspects of war and competition. During the winter of 2007-2008 in Baghdad, I worked with an Iraqi armor battalion to try to improve its performance securing a major thoroughfare. While the tactical results were not memorable, I found the […]

THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD…DEFENSE? ON THE INADEQUACY OF CYBER-DETERRENCE

cyber deterrence is bad strategy and merely provides a false sense of security. The U.S. needs to focus on cyber defense, not deterrence. Recent events have led U.S. leaders to posit that we have entered a period of cyber war. The May 2017 “WannaCry” ransomware attacks certainly support the notion that cyber security is a […]

VALUING COST-CONSCIOUSNESS IN TODAY’S MILITARY CULTURE

cost-consciousness is not simply about cutting spending. Rather, it is about reducing excess and being a good steward of taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, the Department of Defense is not cost-conscious. Four years after the sequestration cuts of 2013, the Department of Defense must relearn a lesson which all frustrated dieters know well: unless desired values and […]

THE PRACTICE (AND PROBLEMS) OF MILITARY GHOSTWRITING

We need to encourage all officers to engage more directly in the generation of expert knowledge, and remove barriers to doing so based on rank or position. I have never forgotten this incident. I was a junior field-grade officer, and my boss — a senior flag officer — wanted to write an article but did […]

TRADING QUEENS

Just as a chess master with a positional advantage is willing to trade queens with his opponent, an adversary prepared to operate in a degraded electronic environment may be willing to do the same. The U.S. military’s technological advantage may also be its biggest weakness, as its reliance on technology has left it under-trained and […]

A.I. & THE ART OF (MACHINE) WAR

It is time to make the threat posed by artificial intelligence a permanent part of national security and military strategy. The “robot apocalypse,” in which a malicious artificial intelligence (AI) threatens humanity, is a common science fiction trope. The enduring appeal of AI in popular culture — from Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot book series, to […]

HUMPTY DUMPTY & THE CRACKED JOINT FORCE

As long as the U.S. military approaches the application of military forces from the fractured perspective of discrete domains, then true integration will be stunted. How do you effectively integrate military forces operating in the different “domains” (e.g., land, air, sea, etc.) of war? This question has obsessed the U.S. military for a long time, […]

RETOOLING THOR’S HAMMER: GETTING RECONSTRUCTION RIGHT

Successful international development requires the persistent, intelligent, and adaptive application of a broad set of government tools … and support from local populations. In Norse mythology, Thor’s hammer is a legendary weapon that crushes the enemies of the Aesir (the Norse pantheon), and protects Asgard. The U.S. military is a modern Thor’s hammer, able to […]

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 […]