Countering the NATO Threat: A Look at Russia’s Military Advancements and Challenges to Future Defense (Part 1)

Alarmed by Russia’s invasion into a sovereign nation in 2008 and again in 2014—coupled with a land-grab of the Crimean peninsula, NATO has moved to a heightened alert posture. Part 1 details the Russian build up to 2018 and Part 2 discusses NATO’s response

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Russia-US Relationship: A Round Table Discussion

Approximate reading time: 20 minutes Editor’s Note: OTH sat down with three professors from Air University to discuss the Russia-US

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US-Russia Relations: Implications for the South Caucasus

An Armenian perspective on the dynamics of US–Russia relations and their implications for the South Caucasus.

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The Power of Truth: How to Compete with Information Warfare

Abstract: The United States Air Force (USAF) must leverage truth to defuse adversarial claims to plausible deniability. A fictional scenario of an RC-135 shootdown by a Russian private military company (PMC) conveys the implications of failure with information warfare (IW). Today, the USAF lacks the ability to counter plausible deniability in the information environment with the tempo and speed required to outpace and outthink its adversaries. Three recommendations are offered. First, the USAF should operate outside of current geographic constraints. Second, the USAF should shift to a problem-centric strategy independent of intelligence collection platforms. Lastly, the USAF should shift its information warfare posture from reactive to proactive in today’s dynamic information environment.

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Ideologies, Cults of Personality, and the Center of Gravity

Abstract: The broad doctrinal definition of Center of Gravity (COG) currently allows an array of considerations for the strategic COG, including individuals, locations, ideologies. While this may appear to be a prudent allowance by doctrine writers, the full gamut of options can lead strategic planners to red herring target(s). This article examines the fallacies associated with an intangible strategic COG and advocates for the adoption of Dale’s Eikmeier’s COG definition.

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Defining the Cognitive Domain

Abstract: The ubiquity and automation of social networks now makes it possible for public discourse to be manipulated at machine speed. The Battle for Hearts and Minds in the next war could be won or lost without a shot being fired, before even the vanquished party recognises that their interests are threatened. However, there is little consensus among Western scholars or security officials particularly about location and characteristics of the battlefield. This gap in the literature precludes the development of policy, strategy, and capability to prevail on it. This article situates the battle in the hive minds of audiences — the collective perception of a situation held by a group, defined as the cognitive domain. Finally, the article asserts that the cognitive domain is both threatened and vital ground and therefore should be considered a warfighting domain in its own right.

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Supply Chain Competition and All-Effects Warfare: Achieving Strategic Advantage (Part 2 of 2)

Executive Summary: Our previous article on supply chain competition and warfare explained how political, economic, and security issues unleash and restrain strategies of competitive advantage. China is waging all-effects warfare. Meanwhile, democratic states and the US compete with a self-imposed disadvantage: inferior operating strategy at the strategic level of significance. How can we compete and when necessary, wage superior complex warfare in kind?

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Supply Chain Competition and All-Effects Warfare: Fundamentals of Strategic Advantage (Part 1 of 2)

Executive Summary: In the hands of authoritarian powers, supply chains are systematically weaponized into broad warfare that subsumes democracies’ traditionally narrow military approach. This series analyzes supply chain competition, warfare, and strategy in two parts. Part I discusses fundamentals that set strategic parameters for achieving an “all-effects” advantage: globalization and protectionism; strategies of national security; incentives and risks; and political and technological change. This broad perspective on competition and warfare is necessary to implement the cooperative and confrontational competition prescribed in the US National Security Strategy. Part II identifies decisions and makes recommendations to combine superior “all-effects” using diplomatic, informational, military, economic, and social instruments of power. This integrative perspective is necessary to synergize strategic advantages derived from the US National Defense Strategy and sixteen other national security-related strategies.

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Connect to Divide: Social Media in 21st Century Warfare

In 21st Century warfare, social media fuels influence through “likes,” “shares,” and “tweets” driving narratives that blur the lines of politics, law, war, peace, elections, and freedom of speech and press, creating an information crisis. The current lack of an adequate United States (US) response to this crisis threatens its democratic institutions and national security. Bolstering this emerging threat are social media platforms rewarding users for engaging as fast thinkers without regard for bias or manipulation that is being exploited by hostile state and non-state actors to create narratives resulting in the decay of truth. Compounding this problem is social media’s ability to transition influence from institutions and governments to the individual. Though social media-enabled information warfare alone may not be decisive in current and future conflicts, nations must prepare to counter its effects across all instruments of national power: diplomatic, information, military, and economic.

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Winning Wars of Cognition: Posturing the Air Force for the Tactical Information Fight

With the return of Great Power Competition, the United States (US), Russia, and China are engaged in a persistent fight within the information environment. Each branch of military service within the US Department of Defense are developing concepts to fight within a contested information environment. Recently, the US Air Force established a new warfighting organization focused on Information Warfare (IW) based on a narrow definition that integrates Cyberspace, Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS), Information, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance operations. Within this article, the author sets out on four objectives: first, to differentiate Information Warfare (IW) at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war; second, to describe offensive and defensive IW considerations for the US Air Force; third, to describe the relationship between tactical IW and support to the Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC); and fourth, to provide initial recommendations regarding the USAF’s re-organization efforts.

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The Future of Fake News

Today, we have a new name to an old face: fake news. It seduces us for a variety of reasons: authority bias (considering information to be correct if given by an authoritative figure or organization), the third-person effect (perceiving ourselves as less likely to be swayed by the mass media or our own biases), confirmation bias (tending to look for information confirming our own preconceptions), etc. However, two recent developments, enabled by failing academic standards and artificial intelligence, are making it even easier to succumb to . . . while fake news continues its literal warpath, it is critical to look out for research misconduct and deepfakes.

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An Approachable Look at the Human Domain and Why We Should Care

Within the context of multi-domain operations, the human domain is arguably the most important domain, but it is often the most overlooked. This article proposes implementation of the domain through the use of planning for desired behaviors prior to conflict. It also discusses how Russia views information warfare, their practices, and a case study of its importance in the Crimean Annexation.

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Designing for the Future of Defense and Security (Interview Part 4)

This is Part 4 of a 4-part series interview between IBM and the JSOU SOF Design and Innovation Program Director, Ben Zweibelson.

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Publicly Available Information: The Secret to Unclassified Data, Part I

This article focuses on awareness of what PAI is, and what it is not, within the Air Force ISR Enterprise and determine its value to solve our most challenging problems.

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Quanta of Competition: Quantum Mechanics, Multi-Domain Battle, and the Gray Zone (Part I)

Thinking about conflict in terms of quantum mechanics rather than Newtonian physics will produce more comprehensive grand strategy.

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Reflexive Control By Design: Crafting Emergent Opportunity in Complex Systems

Reflexive control theory encourages patterns of strategic thought that increase a leader’s ability to shape environments and defeat an adversary’s strategy.
By Wilford Garvin

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