Abstract: The U.S. defense community regularly acknowledges changes in the character of modern warfare. These observations are often coupled with a variety of recommendations, such as creating more strategic thinkers and cultivating more agile service cultures. This article highlights the tangled interactions between these two challenges as well as a third: harnessing the power of storytelling. First, stories both reflect and influence an organization’s culture, and are therefore a useful tool for strategic thinkers. Second, when it comes to strategic thinking, the typical descriptions and illustrations used by defense professionals are incomplete and biased. Missing from this list of examples, for instance, is someone from the origins of Western civilization who personified the wisdom to convert “insight into a decisive asymmetry.” This ancient role model not only exemplifies the strategic sense necessary to prepare the joint force’s culture for modern operating environments, but is also closely linked to the third element of this trinity – storytelling.Read more
The U.S. has been working with collation partners for decades to address matters of global and national security. Alongside over 80 partner nations, the U.S. has accomplished milestones in the Global Fight against ISIS, which would not have been possible without such a combined front. Part of these successes are due to the DoD’s shift a decade ago to incorporate partner nations in our military processes to fuse holistic intelligence for decisionmakers through multiple coalition intelligence cells around the world. As the battlespace continues to shift from years of counterinsurgency to face revisionist powers and rogue states, the personnel identified to fill critical positions that interact with coalition members will determine the successes of future conflicts. This essay will describe some recent advances the US Air Force has made toward improving coalition intelligence operations and recommend ways to improve selection and training programs in the future.Read more
Editor’s note: The following article is the third of a three-part series discussing necessary advancements which will best enable the Department of Defense to continue to lead during current and future periods of competition. Part I focused on the history of the current threats, Part II outlined areas of defense and civilian research which must be pursued, and Part III delves into the path forward for cohesive, joint application of technology and research.Read more
Editor’s note: The following article is the second of a three-part series discussing necessary advancements which will best enable the Department of Defense to continue to lead during current and future periods of competition. Part I focused on the history of the current threats, Part II outlines areas of defense and civilian research which must be pursued, and Part III delves into the path forward for cohesive, joint application of technology and research.Read more
Editor’s note: The following article is the first of a three-part series discussing necessary advancements which will best enable the Department of Defense to continue to lead during current and future periods of competition. Part I briefly reviews threats America has faced thru history and those which it currently faces across all domains. Part II outlines areas of defense and civilian research which must be pursued, and Part III delves into the path forward for cohesive, joint application of technology and research.Read more
Joint operations doctrine omits the agency of artificial intelligence (AI) in the operational information environment, which is a problem. This commentary discusses why, and recommends effective changes. Key points are as follows. AI is becoming an autonomous cause of unanticipated effects. Humans are not the most effectively intelligent actors in all environments, yet our doctrine draws lessons from the past rather than anticipating emergent futures. Machines currently excel in experience-based learning and can discover relationships in data that we cannot discern. Humans can intuit, deceive, somewhat control, and manufacture and destroy machines. In time, AI will be able to perform those cognitive, informational and physical functions as well. As out-thought becomes out-fought, we need proactive doctrine now.Read more
Retired Lt Gen David Deptula shares his thoughts on the future of warfare-in particular, aerospace power in an age of uncertainty.Read more
As part of our anniversary celebration series, we present the third most read article of 2017.Read more
Welcome to OTH’s second podcast! For this episode we’ve brought together a group of experts to discuss two topics that have consumed Defense policy and academic conversations over the last few years: Multi-Domain Operations and Gray Zone Conflict.Read more
Sustaining operations in the hypothesised dispersed and deadly conflict zones of the present and future creates especially acute problems for land forces in multi-domain battle.
By David Beaumont
Innovation continues the quest to provide more perfect information and decrease the risk of making an incorrect decision.Read more
It is incumbent upon commanders to develop purposes for subordinate operations first and subsequently build the tasks. The “why” trumps the “how” both in importance and in priority.
By Tom Flounders
The Future of Mission Command: “We conceived a system in the 1990’s that is based on 1980’s technology. There is a groundswell of folks that are saying we need a new approach.”Read more
Our Services need to mature and lead the drive to Jointness, both across the DOD and the complex American alliance systemRead more
Future jointness demands fundamental changes to organizing, training, and equipping the joint force to meet combatant commander multi-domain requirements.
By Mike Benitez
Irregularity in terms of non-uniformed forces and indirect force application describe how the war is fought, not why. While this may seem like academic semantics, it is not.
By Joe Brown
True victory in military operations arises through the acceptance of defeat by one of the antagonists. Despite this, military decision making frequently devolves into analysis of things over thoughts. Grant demonstrated mastery of this concept at Vicksburg.
By Wilford Garvin
History may not easily divulge its true lessons. But by objectively analyzing past wars, we can begin to see the commonalities that commanders can exploit to achieve success.Read more
The United States Air Force’s definition of airpower is merely a description of all Air Force activities and is incorrect.
By Tom Flounders
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
Reflexive control is a term that has recently surfaced as a description of Russian strategic and operational planning and goals. However, as a concept it has been around for ages. More coming on Monday.Read more
Design, as a multi-disciplinary concept for normative approaches to human decision-making, emphasizes ‘what is possible’ and ‘how a military ought to function’ rather than a highly descriptive and conforming model (termed positivism) where militaries seek to predict future system behavior through past experiences, reductionism, and mechanistic logic.
By Ben Zweibelson