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Publications

June 20, 2017

Leave Mountain People Alone

We have over 4,000 years of recorded history of human conflict. As Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has noted “There is nothing new under the sun.” And from this wealth of experience, a number of rules of thumb for military operations have evolved. Perhaps the most famous is “Don’t get in a land war in Asia.” Interestingly, I have never seen a similarly obvious rule – “Leave mountain people alone.” Yet even a brief historical survey shows that campaigns against mountain people rarely pay off. Afghans, Chechens, Kurds, Montagnards (which literally means “mountain people” in French), Scots, Welsh, Swiss, Druze, Maronite Christians, and West Virginians have all repeatedly seen off outsiders.

May 24, 2017

Another Week; Another Missile Test: Inching Toward a Freeze – With Eyes Wide Shut?

On January 20, North Korea became the responsibility of the new Trump administration. After eight years of “strategic patience,” North Korea, as President Obama advised his successor, now poses the greatest threat to the security of the United States.

May 22, 2017

Like, Comment, Retweet: The State of the Military's Nonpartisan Ethic in the World of Social Media

Past research contends that with the exception of voting in presidential elections, military officers’ political participation is fairly muted. Moreover, most allegations of political outspokenness tend to be levied at retired officers, not those on active duty. Department of Defense directives provide guidelines on permissible but traditional forms of political expression for active duty members of the military, but largely neglect social media as a forum for political activity. Through a survey of more than 500 military elites attending the United States Military Academy and National Defense University, this project seeks to establish the nature and extent of political expression by members of the military throughout social media and whether or not such expression is in keeping with the norm of nonpartisanship.

May 15, 2017

Developing an Innovation- Based Ecosystem at the U.S. Department of Defense: Challenges and Opportunities

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is looking at new ways to spur entrepreneurship and innovation among its stakeholders and related constituencies.

May 2, 2017

Tell-Tale MRAPS

A recent article in the Washington Free Beacon, “Biden Used False Data to Smear Marine Corps over Armored Vehicle Request from Iraq,” accomplishes the rare feat of politicizing a bipartisan issue; blackguarding both parties erroneously; and unnecessarily embarrassing Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. The April 24, 2017 article by Bill Gertz reports on a new unpublished study by retired Marine, Steve Chill. Chill participated in Marine Corps decision making on the Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles used to protect servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chill wrote his study to “correct the record” and prove the Marine Corps did not “drag its feet” in deploying MRAPs. Gertz and Chill get the story wrong, and thus obscure the lesson the Pentagon should have learned from the MRAP experience, which is that its decision making processes need reform.

April 21, 2017

The Armed Forces Officer

In 1950 when he commissioned the first edition of The Armed Forces Officer, Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall told its author, S.L.A. Marshall, “that American military officers, of whatever service, should share common ground ethically and morally.”

April 12, 2017

Vice President Pence in Indonesia: U.S. Interests in the South China Sea

If the past decade is prologue, sometime in the next four years developments in the South China Sea will again call into question U.S. interests and commitments in Southeast Asia. The mid-April visit of Vice President Pence to Indonesia and Australia offers an opportunity to define U.S. policy toward the region.

April 11, 2017

Joint Force Quarterly 85 (2nd Quarter 2017)

What do you see happening in the joint force today? Are we a better fighting force 30 years after Goldwater-Nichols? What do you see as the important issues today and going forward? Our JFQ audience wants to hear what you have to say. You have made JFQ “one of the most thoroughly read and influential journals” in the military profession, as General Powell had wanted. Only you can continue to let leadership know what you are thinking. JFQ is here to help you do just that.

March 21, 2017

Chinese Military Reforms in the Age of Xi Jinping: Drivers, Challenges, and Implications

Chinese military modernization has made impressive strides in the past decade. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has achieved progress in key technological areas, ranging from precision-guided missiles to advanced surface ships and combat aircraft; PLA personnel are more highly trained and skilled, capable of carrying out increasingly complex operations near to and farther away from China’s shores; and Chinese military doctrine and strategy have been updated to emphasize modern, joint maneuver warfare on a high-tech battlefield. This progress has been supported by significant increases in Chinese defense spending every year since 1990. Taken together, these changes better enable the PLA to fight what the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) describes as “short-duration, high-intensity regional conflicts.”

March 14, 2017

India-Japan Strategic Cooperation and Implications for U.S. Strategy in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region

The emerging strategic relationship between India and Japan is significant for the future security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It is also a critical emergent relationship for U.S. security objectives across the Asia-Pacific. India possesses the most latent economic and military potential of any state in the wider Asia-Pacific region. Therefore, India is the state with the greatest potential outside of the United States itself to contribute to the objectives of the “Rebalance to the Pacific” announced by Washington in 2011. This “rebalance” was aimed at fostering a stable, prosperous, and rules-based region where peace, prosperity, and wide respect for human rights are observed and extended. Implicit in the rebalance was a hedge against a China acting to challenge the existing post–World War II rules-based international and regional order.