The Department of Defense (DOD) faces a strategic choice: whether to focus on modernization for high-tech conflicts with China and Russia or expand forces and improve readiness to meet a superpower’s commitments for ongoing conflicts and crisis response. In their FY 2018 budgets, the services all complain that they are too small for the demands being put on them and hedge toward expanding forces and readiness. In the new DOD strategy being developed for 2019 and beyond, the services hope to pursue all three goals—expand forces, improve readiness, and increase modernization—but the fiscal future is highly uncertain, and they will likely have to make difficult trade-offs.
Before putting special operators in harm’s way, the makers of policy and strategy must give great thought to the factors that determine tactical and strategic outcomes. With the demand for special operations forces exceeding the supply, the new administration must determine where scarce special operations personnel can best be employed, and where other U.S. and allied capabilities can most profitably shoulder the burden.
The nomination of General James Mattis for Secretary of Defense brings a level of controversy. Though General Mattis is highly regarded he is ineligible to be Secretary of Defense within seven years of his retirement unless Congress provides him a waiver. This article provides a list of questions the Congress should consider proposing to General Mattis on his January 12, hearing.
Nations around the world continue to develop a growing range of ballistic and cruise missiles to asymmetrically threaten U.S. forces, allies, and the American homeland. Missile defenses have now become an essential part of U.S. defense policy and strategy, and their importance shows no sign of diminishing.
U.S. forces have been employing electronic warfare for over 75 years, using the spectrum to sense, outmaneuver, and engage our adversaries. Absent U.S. investments in dedicated electronic warfare personnel, training, and equipment, Russia and China are likely to meet or exceed U.S. capabilities. How should the U.S. maintain its superiority in this invisible battlefield?
Special Operation Forces (SOF) has had great success against al Qaeda. This success and continued demand for special operations have led to slightly increased personnel numbers and larger budgets. As demand for SOF increase, so does rates of deployment and concerns for SOF readiness. This paper addresses how the new administration should consider engaging with SOF in the future to ensure SOF is not overextended and remains effective.
Administrative and training requirements that have been levied upon the services, units, and service members are timely. These bureaucratic burdens can impact operational effectiveness and readiness. It is a common mistake among new administrations to improve inefficiencies by adding programs or processes, which often results in increased time burdens. This paper provides some recommendations for effective and realistic change.