The Army’s force posture is out of balance, with a greater percentage of troops stationed in the United States than at any time since the late 1940s. This has forced an over-reliance on lengthy, continuous rotational deployments to achieve deterrence and assurance in theaters such as northeast Asia and Europe. This finding is based on a 9-month study assessing the costs and benefits of rotational deployments and forward stationing. The analysis reveals that in terms of fiscal cost, training readiness, morale and family readiness, and diplomatic factors, the United States could likely achieve deterrence and assurance objectives more efficiently and more effectively with increased forward stationing. The recommendations address what kinds of units would be best suited for forward stationing, where forward stationing would be most efficacious, and how the Department of Defense should go about rebalancing Army force posture.
Leadership receives a tremendous amount of attention, but what about the day-to-day command challenges that confront O-4s, O-5s, and O-6s in today’s war zones? What has command entailed over the past decade and a half for special operations force (SOF) commanders who have deployed to Afghanistan (and Iraq) either to lead or to work under Special Operations Task Forces (SOTFs) or Combined Joint Special Operations Task Forces (CJSOTFs)? In both theaters, officers have had to contend with various competing hierarchies and significant churn. What then might the Army and military do to obviate or mitigate these and other problems? The contours of a potential solution are described and its benefits discussed.
Clausewitz famously observed that war has an enduring nature and a changing character that evolves over time as technology, society, economics, and politics shift. This observation also applies to strategic leadership: it too has an enduring nature and a changing character.
Armed robotic systems—drones and droids—now emerging on the battlefield portend new strategic realities not only for U.S. forces but also for our allies and future potential belligerents. Numerous questions of immediate warfighting importance come to mind with the fielding of these drones and droids that are viewed as still being in their experimental and entrepreneurial stage of development. By drawing upon historical weapons systems life cycles case studies, focusing on the early 9th through the mid-16th-century knight, the mid-19th through the later 20th-century battleship, and the early 20th through the early 21st-century tank, the monograph provides military historical context related to their emergence, and better allows both for questions related to warfighting to be addressed, and policy recommendations related to them to be initially provided.
In the wake of two extended wars, Western militaries find themselves looking to the future while confronting amorphous nonstate threats and shrinking defense budgets. The 2015 Kingston Conference on International Security (KCIS) examined how robotics and autonomous systems that enhance soldier effectiveness may offer attractive investment opportunities for developing a more efficient force capable of operating effectively in the future environment. This monograph offers 3 chapters derived from the KCIS and explores the drivers influencing strategic choices associated with these technologies and offers preliminary policy recommendations geared to advance a comprehensive technology investment strategy. In addition, the publication offers insight into the ethical challenges and potential positive moral implications of using robots on the modern battlefield.
Urbanization is one of the most important mega-trends of the 21st century. Consequently, the possibility of U.S. military involvement in a megacity or sub-megacity is an eventuality that cannot be ignored. After elucidating the nature of urbanization and developing a typology in terms of smart, fragile, and feral cities, we give consideration to the kinds of contingencies that the U.S. military, especially the Army, needs to think about and prepare for. Understanding the city as a complex system or organism is critical and provides the basis for changes in intelligence, recruitment, training, equipment, operations, and tactics.
One of the key takeaways is the need to understand the urban environment and the need to work with (instead of against) the flows and rhythms of a city. Without such an approach, the results of military involvement in such a formidable environment would likely be disastrous; with it, the prospects for success would at least be enhanced.
Foreword by Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster (USA) Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center and Deputy Commanding General, Futures, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command The case studies and analyses in this volume make clear that understanding the dynamics associated with illicit power and state weakness is essential to preventing or resolving armed conflict. These case studies also point out that confronting illicit power requires coping with political and human dynamics in complex, uncertain environments. People fight today for the same fundamental reasons the Greek historian Thucydides identified nearly 2,500 years ago: fear, honor and interests.
What does the Department of Defense hope to gain from the use of autonomous weapon systems (AWS)? This Letort Paper explores a diverse set of complex issues related to the developmental, operational, legal, and ethical aspects of AWS. It explores the recent history of the development and integration of autonomous and semi-autonomous systems into traditional military operations. It examines anticipated expansion of these roles in the near future as well as outlines international efforts to provide a context for the use of the systems by the United States. As these topics are well-documented in many sources, this Paper serves as a primer for current and future AWS operations to provide senior policymakers, decisionmakers, military leaders, and their respective staffs an overall appreciation of existing capabilities and the challenges, opportunities, and risks associated with the use of AWS across the range of military operations. Emphasis is added to missions and systems that include the use of deadly force.
While supporters claim that drone warfare is not only legal but ethical and wise, others have suggested that drones are prohibited weapons under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) because they cause, or have the effect of causing, indiscriminate killings of civilians, such as those in the vicinity of a targeted person. The main legal justification made by the Barack Obama Administration for the use of armed drones is self-defense. However, there is ambiguity as to whether this argument can justify a number of recent attacks by the United States. In order to determine the legality of armed drone strikes, other factors such as sovereignty, proportionality, the legitimacy of individual targets, and the methods used for the selection of targets must also be considered. One justification for the ethical landscape is the reduced amount of collateral damage relative to other forms of strike. Real time eyes on target allow last-minute decisions and monitoring for unintended victims, and precise tracking of the target through multiple systems allows further refinements of proportionality. However, this is of little benefit if the definition of “targets” is itself flawed and encompasses noncombatants and unconnected civilians. This monograph provides a number of specific recommendations intended to ensure that the benefits of drone warfare are weighed against medium- and long-term second order effects in order to measure whether targeted killings are serving their intended purpose of countering terrorism rather than encouraging and fueling it.
The Human Terrain System embedded civilians primarily in brigade combat teams (BCTs) in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2007 and 2014 to act as a collection and dispersal mechanism for sociocultural comprehension. Set against the backdrop of the program’s evolution, the experiences of these social scientists clarifies the U.S. Army’s decision to integrate social scientists at the tactical level in conflict. Based on interviews, program documents, material from Freedom of Information Act requests, and secondary sources, this book finds a series of limiting factors inhibiting social science research at the tactical level, common to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Complexity in integrating civilians into the military decisionmaking cycle, creating timely research with a high level of fidelity, and making granular research resonate with brigade staff all contributed to inhibiting the overall effect of the Human Terrain System. Yet, while high operational tempo in contested spaces complicates social science research at the tactical level, the author argues that there is a continued requirement for a residual capability to be maintained by the U.S. Army.