Métis: Strategic Sense for a Wicked World

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.

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Do We Still Have a Coalition of the Willing? Reinforcing National Security through Dedicated Cultural Training

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.

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Communications in Multi-Domain Operations: What Does the BACN Bring?

Communications are an important element of any military operation. A lack of infrastructure and rough terrain have hindered U.S. military operations in Afghanistan (2001-Present) and Iraq (2003-Present). The difficulties encountered in both countries initially led to several different ad hoc solutions for overcoming poor communications. Eventually a long-term solution emerged, known as BACN (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node) with two dedicated platforms, an E-11A and EQ-4B. This article provides new insights on the BACN program and its history, and considers the importance of E-11s providing BACN for future multi-domain warfighting environments. Finally, it encourages new ways of thinking on how to operate in a contested environment, proposing a “BACN-mesh” concept as a way of overcoming such a vulnerability with an adversary jamming the electromagnetic spectrum.

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Human-led Machine Learning & Advanced Threats: Case Method Inquiry and Visual Analytics Applied to COVID-19

In a pervasive and complex information environment, analytics are vital to understanding advanced threats. As we rely more on machine-learnt results, asking the right questions and visualizing deep analysis are key to grasping and solving problems. These skills are also vital 21st century leadership tools that can forge a common focus among otherwise stove-piped specialists.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents an urgent threat that requires both scientific understanding and decisive leadership. The cause of the disease is SARS CoV-2, a mutating virus that thrives in conditions difficult to control at scale. To counter this threat, this article demonstrates in detail the potential of human-led case method and machine-provided visual analytics.

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Terahertz Technologies and Future Security Environments

The terahertz (THz) frequency band is a fascinating and relatively unexplored part of the larger electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). THz can enable users to ‘see-through’ materials and structures and is now widely used in laboratory quality control testing, for non-destructive testing and transmitting information between servers in close proximity. However, because the transmitted signal degrades rapidly in the atmosphere, its application is limited to controlled settings. Soon, technological leaps will enable development of power sources that will prevent THz degradation in the atmosphere and at distance. When this happens, THz will be an exquisite tool to help the United States find and target items of interest. It will allow intelligence professionals and field operators to quickly discriminate targets based on composition, counter adversary concealment or deception techniques, and identify items of interest based on chemical resonance that is visible only through the use of THz imaging

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Artificial Intelligence in the Operational Information Environment: The Need for Proactive Doctrine

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.

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Modernizing C2 of ISR – Part 2: Breaking ISR’s Industrial Age Chains

Theater-level ISR C2 must be modernized to ensure the Joint Force is prepared for a complex future and can achieve multi-domain success.

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Lead, Think, and Communicate: Embracing Air Force Intelligence Officer Agility and Versatility

Air Force ISR is comprised of military professionals. We must train to think, lead, and communicate to be effective in future wars.

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Building Critical Thinkers To Win Tomorrow’s Wars: Changing The Training Paradigm

Air Force ISR is now a globally integrated enterprise. We must continue to focus on building critical thinkers to take us into the future.

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Lt Gen Deptula Remarks – OTH Speaker Series – Aerospace Power in an Age of Uncertainty

Retired Lt Gen David Deptula shares his thoughts on the future of warfare-in particular, aerospace power in an age of uncertainty.

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OTH Podcast 4: Exploring Cognitive Warfare

In OTH’s fourth podcast we examine the concept of cognitive warfare and what it means for the future security environment.

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Interview with Lt Gen (Ret.) David Deptula: Part 3

In an interview, Lt Gen David Deptula (Ret) shares his perspective on current and future challenges for USAF leaders and joint operations.

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Interview with Lt Gen (Ret.) David Deptula: Part 2

Lt Gen David Deptula (Ret) shares his perspective on the Combat Cloud, ISR, and the need for airmen to serve as joint warfighting commanders.

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OTH Interview of Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (Ret): Part 1

In an interview, Lt Gen David Deptula (Ret) shares his perspective on current and future challenges for the USAF leaders and the Joint Force.

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Drop Zone: OTH Interview with Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (Ret.)

In a candid interview, retired Lt Gen David Deptula, shares his perspective on current and future challenges for USAF leaders and the Joint Force.

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