Senior military leaders, primarily U.S. Army generals and their individual abilities to lead, were recently examined by the award-winning journalist Tom Ricks. Some leaders, in Ricks’s view, were highly successful, others not so much. I believe that the one critical trait all great military leaders share is that of continuous study and mental development. Great American captains—ones most of us would call geniuses—worked hard to strengthen their mental muscles: Washington, Dewey, Pershing, Marshall, Eisenhower, Nimitz, Arnold, Bradley, Vandegrift, and more. My personal favorite of the World War II generation is George S. Patton, Jr. As the man who would literally write military fighting doctrine and history simultaneously during the campaigns of World War II, General Patton was a voracious reader of a wide range of works.
According to one of his biographers, between the wars, Patton had read or was acquainted with the concepts “of nearly every significant writing on mobile warfare that had been produced in English,” regardless of the advocating writer’s subject, including works on infantry, cavalry, air, or mechanization. By the time he would enter into combat in World War II, Patton was without doubt “America’s most effective advocate of a daring armor doctrine.”1 Given that it took Patton three tries to complete a military academy education (once at Virginia Military Institute and twice at West Point), due in part to his dyslexia, we have to respect Patton’s sheer force of will and determination to learn all he could about his profession.
In 1935, as a lieutenant colonel at the age of 50, Patton was found by his wife, Beatrice, weeping one evening as he was reading about past heroic commanders, all younger than himself. But study on he did. Many can remember George C. Scott’s portrayal of Patton in the 1970 film that won an impressive seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In one memorable scene, one of Scott’s lines says it all: As Patton surveys the positive results of the battle in progress between Allied forces and the Nazi army in northern Africa, he proclaims, “Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!”
The Rommel book in question was actually about infantry tactics in World War I, and Patton, in his memoirs, refers to reading it during the Saar Campaign of November 1944—far after the portrayed cinematic moment. But the point about reading and study is made just as well by the fact that Patton continued to think, read, and assess his progress, never satisfied with what he knew at the moment—even while engaged in the ultimate test of his leadership in combat. In the flying business, pilots rightly believe that death quickly follows the moment one stops learning. Joint Force Quarterly is constantly searching for new ideas as well as reminders of past events that may yield a path to future successes for our readers.
Every platform in the expanding media needs two basic ingredients to succeed: authors and readers. Based on the increasing amount of submissions I have been receiving in recent months, JFQ has a growing source of new and interesting ideas to publish each quarter. Also, on the reader side, our last edition, JFQ 68, set another record for online viewers. While popular media continue to suggest that platforms such as print magazines are failing, the truth is likely less pessimistic. JFQ continues to thrive in both printed and online forms, and while we are considering ways to update the look of the journal in coming months, the one thing we will continue to do is provide a voice for the best ideas to inform, promote, and improve the joint force.
In line with the theme of study as a means to improve the mind, this edition’s Forum presents an intellectually challenging set of articles that should assist anyone seeking to find new insights to consider for the future of the military. Professor Beatrice Heuser offers an interesting discussion on a forgotten set of beliefs regarding what should follow war. She suggests that these beliefs date from before Napoleon and that Clausewitz overlooked them. But they were rediscovered by B.H. Liddell-Hart after World War I: the trinity of victory, peace, and justice. As our national security requirements have evolved to encompass a wider interagency effort, cultures have clashed, and reaching shared solutions has been difficult for leaders and organizations. Anthony DiBella suggests that part of the problem is a lack of understanding about how organizations operate and that a more thorough understanding of the cultural differences of these groups could lead to more effective cooperation. In another avenue of discovery for organizational improvement, crowdsourcing has been an increasing focus of how organizations might seek to better operations, especially in industry if not government. Jesse Roy Wilson presents a corporate case study that provides an important lesson that could improve the U.S. Intelligence Community. Next, with the recent headlines of sexual misconduct in basic training, Lindsay Rodman argues that Department of Defense leadership has good intentions to deal with these delicate but serious matters. She suggests that policy may not always be guided by available facts and analysis.
Our Commentary brings updates on regional and communications issues from how transnational organized crime should be confronted to whether years of permissive environment operations have dulled our ability to communicate in future combat. Former U.S. Southern Command Commander General Douglas Fraser, USAF (Ret.), and Renee Novakoff recommend the development of analysts who can better interpret a mix of traditional intelligence, law enforcement information, and open source data to deal with transnational organized criminal activities. In her essay from the 2012 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategic Article contest, Diana Holland believes that U.S. efforts to promote democracy in the Gulf region of Southwest Asia should start with Oman, as conditions there are right for a peaceful evolution to a more liberal form of government. Lawrence Brown, in his 2012 Secretary of Defense National Security Essay, argues for a rapid reversal of the continuing rift between the United States and Brazil. Next, one of the long-established joint organizations, the Joint Communications Support Element (JSCE), has a storied if unheralded service record dating back some 50 years. With first-hand experience leading this unit, Kirby Watson outlines the broad range of missions that JCSE is ready to support with leading-edge joint communications capability. Even with our best efforts to keep military communications robust and technologically up to date, however, Ronald Wilgenbusch and Alan Heisig demonstrate that the U.S. military’s overreliance on commercial communications has created severe vulnerabilities in future combat, especially from an old foe of the Cold War era, jamming.
In Features, we present an interview and an interesting mix of articles that include a discussion of the U.S. “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific, recommendations for the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), suggestions on how to leverage Alfred Thayer Mahan for cyber strategy, insights into how to create U.S. joint landpower, and rethinking how to properly locate and neutralize individual strategic enemies. As we consider how best to execute a rebalancing of our military assets into the Pacific, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, USN, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, sits down with JFQ to discuss his views on how his command will response. Next, looking at NATO’s Strategic Concept, entitled Smart Defense, Dean Nowowiejski cautions that the means to meet Alliance ends may require a lowering of expectations going forward because of an all-encompassing austere budget environment. In a truly joint thinking article, Kris Barcomb channels Mahan and describes a “tailored expansionist strategy for cyberspace” that leads to better economic and physical security for the United States. Seeing an opportunity to leverage the likely future security environment to meet an enduring requirement for engagement with land forces, Kevin Stringer and Katie Sizemore recommend a mix of U.S. special operations forces, primarily from the U.S. Army and Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs), that would allow mission accomplishment with fewer troops—the expected constraint going forward.
In an impressive primary document–based historical case study from World War II, Richard DiNardo takes us to Romania as the Germans worked with local forces in preparation for Operation Barbarossa, Hitler’s invasion of Russia. In this Recall article, we see security assistance, of a very different kind, playing out with many of the same issues modern efforts still face.
In the Doctrine section, Carmine Cicalese, former director of the Joint Command and Control Information Operations School at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, helps us understand the important differences between strategic communications and information operations, as well as finding a path to achieving success in military decisionmaking supported by these efforts. Rounding out this edition are a joint doctrine update and three well-written and engaging book reviews.
As an editor and educator along with our NDU Press team, I am “zeroed in” on delivering the highest quality content every way possible, so that my battle buddies, shipmates, and wingmen on joint professional military education faculties around the world have the intellectual ammunition they need to develop critically thinking, adaptive leaders for the 21st-century joint force. Let us know how we are doing. JFQ
—William T. Eliason, Editor