There has been a myriad of discussion, discourse, and symposia about the impact of technology on military oriented strategic agility, be it for units, theater operations, or allied operations across theaters. Seldom do we come across a compendium that doesn’t of itself, in some detail, provide further insight; but rather one that solicits insight from the leadership and operators of the types of technologies and tools allowing strategic agility. Approaching the subject from this direction allows range and maneuver space which mirrors the concept of strategic agility.
Discussion about deterrence and dominance are exciting, yet from the perspective of the national decision makers, so much is presumed, and under some conditions modified based upon insights from think tanks and behavior of their allies. But as Secretary Rumsfeld was often quoted as saying “you go to war with the weapons you have, not the weapons you want.’
What was left out of this notion was the one that operators performing the missions assigned have a tendency to extract more performance, and even use the weapons they have in unique and different ways to essentially extend the lifetime and usage potential from systems in hand. It is quite refreshing to hear from the performing team how they see their role in providing the support, and fact-based evidence to bolster the quality of national decisions. My hat is off to the author’s herein that go where defense writers seldom go; that is into the fields of training, techniques tactics and procedures and asks for an honest assessment as to the quality of the combined forces.
The authors and I have had many a cup of coffee concerning the betterment of joint operation by allowing and in fact encouraging distributed battlefield information as well as battlefield damage data. We talked of minimizing weapons requirement, by yielding weapons employment across the theater of operations. We even opined as to the separation of sensors and shooters, such that sensors could guide to a target a distant fired munition, or system, and it is here somewhat pleasing to note that the emergence of manned or unmanned sensors being asked to perform this very duty. We were necessarily neutral as to the impact of technology on allies’ decision making.
However, one of the most promising areas of analysis found here is a concept that was expounded by the then Vice Chief of the Joint Chiefs, Michael Mullen, who spoke of a thousand ship navy, and in that pronouncement cited evidence of allied combined force structure across a wider naval enterprise. This concept has taken on additional meaning with the expansive export of the F-35 fifth generation weapons system.
By itself it has essentially force multiplied across many potential flash points in the world. But herein, the reader will find some evidence through personal of leader and unit training, together with an underlying expansion of the integration aspect, treating the entirety of the battle space as an integrable space. Exactly as Admiral Mullen had hoped would occur. This took not just vision, but lots of talented and diplomatic serving military leaders inside U.S. forces as well as inside allied forces, and then the requisite training and even joint battle exercises of the disparate national forces to work compatibly.
Each of these actions and activities, though good by themselves, cannot thwart a bad political decision, or the belligerent action that might separate a former ally into a neutral party, or a detriment to what could have been a formidable alliance. This part of the general discussion has two elements, first the diplomatic character of the relationship must deteriorate, and second the peer competitor must act to establish a different relationship using what the United States describes as a whole of government approach to diplomacy.
As some of these interviews might point to, there is a deepening suspicion as to the fealty of some nations as to treaties. This is forcing nations to determine separate strategies and perhaps more concentrated defenses. As some might say, the content of these articles and discussions may prove to be disturbing as they might differ from established narratives.
The fascination that comes through this compendium is the clear approach taken by both serving military leaders, and political leadership that is willing to foresee the distinct possibility of a miscalculation on one or both sides of conflict. Whether due to distraction by differing levels of crises; or due only to a separable need internal to their nation; the historical miscalculation takes many decades, if ever to right themselves. Once while in Hungary, I was in a discussion with a learned source, and he said, “in the run up to World War One, we made a bad choice, and then watched as Germany lost the war, and we lost our Empire.”
Such can be the impact of bad national decisions. Thus, the management of escalation may be the natural follow on to mismanagement of deterrence and dominance. Clearly, in the age of nuclear weapons, the definition of limited war gets fuzzy.
The book’s artoc;es, organized as they are by natural topics, will undoubtedly enhance the reader’s understanding as to just how weapons and information technology and the distribution and relationship knowledge have affected and impacted the age-old concept that military action is simply an extension of diplomacy by other means
Michael W. Wynne, 21st Secretary of the U.S. Air Force
Note: Defense XXI: Shaping a Way Ahead for the U.S. and its Allies has just been released in e-book form and will be published as a paperback next month.
The e-book sells for $7.95 and in paperback for $19.95 but the paperback can be purchased from our website at a 30% discount if the coupon Defense is used.
And here is the link on our website which describes the book, provides the TOC and the links to buy the book itself.