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 […]

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 […]

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.

THE NEW NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY: DEGRADING THE U.S.’S ABILITY TO MOBILIZE?

Woody Allen once said, “80% of success is showing up.” The U.S. government has a “big stick” in the U.S. military, a force with unsurpassed capabilities on land and sea, and in the air and space. Yet a big stick is only useful if you can carry it abroad. The new National Security Strategy that […]

WHAT THE U.S. MILITARY CAN LEARN FROM THE CHINESE DRONE STARTUP ECOSYSTEM

By relying on large platforms built by large contractors, the U.S. military lacks the small business integration that has given Chinese-based organizations an edge in UAV development. The U.S. military is at risk of missing a huge wave of innovation in unmanned aerial vehicles. The unmanned aerial system/vehicle (UAS/UAV) market has experienced intense growth in […]

MILITARY CONTRACTING: HOW OTHER NATIONS DO IT

We may prefer not to rely on commercial services to support military operations, but we would be foolish not to think creatively and systematically about how the private sector can help bridge capability and capacity gaps in the future. From Xenophon’s 10,000 hoplites to the Flying Tigers, one of the most enduring solutions to the […]

THE MERITOCRACY MYTH: CHALLENGES TO ARMY OFFICER CORPS DIVERSITY

Increasing minority and female representation in combat arms branches is necessary—but it is not sufficient to improve diversity at higher ranks in the Army. In other words, the concept of the Army as a meritocracy is a myth. Despite substantial progress integrating minorities and women in the Army, any claim that the Army has reached […]

HOW TO WIN AN ARGUMENT IN THE PENTAGON

How do action officers (or anyone below the executive level) get their principal’s priorities on a final list of recommendations for the Secretary of Defense’s approval? Faithfully, even forcefully, presenting the message is not enough. You can learn a lot about an institution by listening to its arguments. Not so long ago, a disagreement in […]

THE DRONE ELEGY

The Air Force’s approach to developing unmanned aviation falls well short of the potential of autonomous systems. Its programs still struggle for resources amidst massive investment in modernization of manned tactical fighters and strategic bombers. The Air Force has an unfortunate tendency to confuse the ends and means of war. For more than a decade, […]

KILLING THE ‘CULMINATING TRAINING EVENT’ CULTURE

General Milley has repeatedly declared that ‘Readiness is #1, and there is no other #1.’ And yet, a self-imposed cultural problem is inhibiting the sustainment of unit readiness over time. The Culminating Training Event Culture is a problem in the US Army that prevents units from sustaining higher states of readiness. It also hampers units […]

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.

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]