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Author's Note: Any opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent the Joint and Combined Warfighting School, Joint Forces Staff College, National Defense University, or the Department of Defense.
Each of you should look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Protecting the United States and its allies from attack is a difficult task in and of itself. Throw in the additional requirement of providing security for the world and resources that are already stretched to their limits reach their breaking point. As if this global security task was not daunting enough, transnational dynamics that leverage globalization and technology across social, economic, political, and cultural boundaries add significant complexities that would challenge the U.S. even in the best of fiscal environments. With decreasing resources the reality for the Department of Defense, the need to collaborate with allies and partners has never been greater. These partnerships must take on a new tenor from past relationships—the U.S. must truly collaborate with partners leveraging common interests and viewpoints to share costs and responsibilities (Panetta, 2012). This collaborative approach to global challenges requires local or regional solutions that are acceptable to the U.S, its allies, and partners alike.
The complexity and dynamicity of these multiple challenges and stakeholders demands a creative approach. Creative solutions are often found using alternate domain perspectives to see in new ways and to enhance understanding (Vidal, 2009). With that in mind, this essay proposes using the historical example of the Apostle Paul, whose strategy and principles were instrumental in spreading and establishing the Early Christian Church, as an example of alternate domain knowledge to develop an approach for the Joint Force’s globally integrated operations concept. To support this proposal, a short review of the strategic environment and the Joint Force’s globally integrated operations concept is presented. Next an analysis of the First Century Roman world and Paul’s strategy for the Early Christian Church is discussed. Finally, Paul’s principles are applied to globally integrated operations providing insights into developing a strategic approach for operating in today’s global environment.
The Strategic Environment and Globally Integrated Operations
Transnational dynamics that exacerbate U.S. security challenges characterize the global environment. These challenges, such as transnational criminal activity, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, violent extremism, resource competition, the rise of modern competitor states, and global warming will globalize what were previously local or regional issues. In the globally integrated operations concept, the dynamics of each specific challenge are inherently unique requiring small Joint Force units capable of forming for a specific mission on short notice, adapting to environmental demands over time, disbanding upon mission completion, and capable of reforming again in a different structure for a potentially wholly different mission set (McCauley, 2012). “Globally integrated operations place a premium on partnering” (Dempsey, 2012a, 6), which requires the Joint Force to develop a partnering strategy with those nations and organizations they will work with most often. These strategies must be flexible enough to apply in multiple local contexts while maintaining core U.S. principles. Thus, the burden falls on the Joint Force to develop a clear global vision and guiding principles for the development of a strategic approach that spans global, regional, and local domains.
The First Century Roman World and Paul’s Strategy for the Early Christian Church
To develop recommendations for globally integrated operations leveraging the Apostle Paul’s framework, an understanding of the method of analysis and the context within which he lived is essential. “Socio-rhetorical criticism is an approach to literature that focuses on values, convictions, and beliefs both in the texts that we read and the world in which we live” (Robbins, 1996, 2). One way to develop contextual understanding is to perform ideological analysis, which “extends beyond social and cultural location into particular ways in which people advance their own interests and well-being through action, emotion, and thought” (Robbins, 1996, 96). Given the small group focus that globally integrated operations advocates and the dependency on global partners for support and execution, the following analysis is limited to the role that groups play in the environment.
There are seven types of groups that are a helpful guide to socio-cultural taxonomies: “cliques, gangs, action set, faction, corporate body, historic tradition, and multiple historic traditions throughout the world” (Robbins, 1996, 100). The three groups most applicable are the action set, which is “a group of people who join together as a coalition to coordinate their actions to achieve a particular goal;” the faction, which is “a coalition of persons recruited personally according to structurally diverse principles by or on behalf of a person in conflict with another person or persons with whom he or she was formerly united;” and the corporate group, which is “a body with a permanent existence, a collection of people recruited on recognized principles, with common interests and rules fixing rights and duties of the members in relation to one another” (Robbins, 1996, 101).
The relevant historical context is the First Century Roman Empire that spanned parts of Europe, Asia Minor, the Mediterranean coastlands as far east as the upper Euphrates River and the Arabian Desert, and west to include North Africa (Curtis, 2011). The social-political situation was marked by a rigid hierarchical system with the emperor and his Roman rulers at the top of the social-economic pyramid. Although the Romans encouraged their own religion, they remained tolerant of other religions throughout the empire even leveraging the practices of other religions to advance their own interests (Porter, 2007).
The movement of people characterized the world in which Paul lived. Particularly germane to Paul’s mission strategy were the large Jewish communities dispersed throughout the civilized world. For example, the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Romans took Jewish captives to their respective nations. In addition, Jewish settlers voluntarily emigrated to countries bordering Palestine, and to all the major towns and cities of the civilized world, primarily for trade (Franklin, 2006).
Within the complexities of the First Century Roman world, Paul designed a strategy intended to produce a worldwide missionary movement. This strategy relied upon a universal vision that was simultaneously global and local, and addressed the traditional Jewish corporate body (as described in Acts Chapters 2, 3, and 4), and Gentiles outside the corporate body who had no familiarity with Jewish scriptures (as described in Acts Chapters 14 and 17) (DeSilva, 2004). Non-negotiable principles underpinned Paul’s approach, but application and execution of the approach was flexible providing mission teams the latitude necessary to adapt to the unique local conditions (Kanagaraj, 2008).
Given the expanse of the Roman Empire, Paul realized he could not shoulder the entire burden of mission work alone; he needed a faction of Christians within the resident corporate body of Judaism to facilitate the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Within the Christian faction, an action or missionary group was needed in the field to foster the establishment and sustainment of Christian churches. Paul, demonstrating a keen understanding of the operating environment, collaborated with and directed his action groups to leverage three key systems: the global economic, social, and political structures; the existing Jewish religious infrastructure; and local leadership.
Paul’s strategy focused his efforts in those areas that would have the greatest effect and potential for growth. In hostile or even benign environments, speed matters and urban centers, as focal points for economic, social, and political activities, was a natural place to start. Cities were recognized as flashpoints from which the gospel could spread out to the surrounding rural areas. Paul established missions in cities and towns at every opportunity. He made a point to visit major metropolitan cities, such as Philippi, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Macedonia, and Rome, in each region of the known world. Each city was on a Roman road or next to a major seaport and these locations attracted immigrants from all over the world (Ugo, 2012). Paul leveraged this multilingual migrant and migratory population to radiate his message outward like spokes on a wheel to the countryside (Siemens, 1997).
Within each of the cities and towns, Paul deliberately leveraged the existing Jewish synagogues. The synagogues were recognized as legitimate centers of religious, social, economic, and political activity and thought. Paul knew the importance of these centers as they meant communication could spread quickly to the surrounding areas and beyond (Franklin, 2006). The use of the synagogues enabled Paul to address two audiences simultaneously: the Jewish community, or the established corporate body, as well as the non-traditional or Gentile populations, or the faction external to the establishment. For Gentiles, connection to the synagogues provided a historical link to antiquity and the legal status granted by Rome to Judaism. This idea of corporate inclusiveness also provided the external faction an internal sense of legitimacy, which is often more important than being regarded as legitimate by others (DeSilva, 2004).
The initial cadre of missionaries available to Paul were insufficient to resource his strategy with the speed necessary for success. Recognizing this shortfall as well as the legitimacy local leadership provides to a foreign actor, Paul realized that developing local leaders and teams were essential to his strategy. Paul understood that local cultural contexts or worldviews must be used to frame the principles of his broader, universal message. Contextualization built the bridge needed to connect the message to the local audience. By adjusting his message to fit the needs of his audience, Paul and his missionaries gained instant credibility by showing an understanding of the local belief system (Ugo, 2012). To ensure local leadership shared his vision, Paul appointed leaders and elders from local communities and helped to mentor them. He often invited them to travel with him on his journeys to develop understanding, intent, and trust (Kanagaraj, 2008).
Paul’s Principles Applied to Globally Integrated Operations
Paul was an independent thinker, and he exploited opportunities as they arose. He was not interested in uniformity of behavior in others and adapted his methods to match the challenges raised by new circumstances. His thinking and practice were contextual—shaped by and for each new situation (Strom, 2006). Paul’s thinking is an example of the creative thinking required of today’s Joint Force leaders: “adaptive, innovative, and critically thinking leaders capable of operating in complex and unstructured environments” (Dempsey, 2012b, 5). This type of thinking serves as the cornerstone for globally distributed operations.
Using Paul’s mission strategy as an example, the U.S. Joint Force serves as the faction within the corporate global security body that takes responsibility for underwriting global security (NSS, 2010). Operating as small, globally distributed forces, the Joint Force, in collaboration with global allies and partners, serve as the action groups implementing and enforcing corporate security interests. With the vision provided in the National Security Strategy (2010): “…a world in which individuals enjoy more freedom and opportunity, and nations have incentives to act responsibly, while facing consequences when they do not” (2) a framework for action can be developed. Underpinning this framework are the guiding principles outlined in the strategy: security, prosperity, values, and international order. With these principles as guides, globally integrated operations must incorporate the three pillars of Paul’s mission strategy:
1. Understanding: an extensive understanding of the local and regional economic, social, political, and cultural systems to determine decisive mechanisms or flashpoints through which the Joint Force and local action teams can execute operations. This comprehensive understanding can leverage the systems’ synergistic effects to spread the U.S. vision rapidly as shaped by local conditions.
2. Legitimacy: the identification and use of legitimate local centers of religious, social, economic, cultural, and political activity and thought to appeal to groups internal and external to the current power structure.
3. Local leadership: the identification and development of local leadership and action teams must be a primary focus of any effort to provide local credibility, to inform and educate decision makers, and to enhance shared understanding. In addition, local cultural systems and practices must inform the development of an operational approach.
A new world order requires a new American strategic approach to promote its universal values. Gone are the days of “putting a local face” on American operations to promote American values—today’s world is multi-polar whose actors are not relegated to the simplistic choice of the “good versus evil” approach of the bygone Cold War era. This multi-polarity environment demands a creative approach—a strategic approach that is global and local—to implement the Joint Force’s globally integrated operations concept.
The historical example of the Apostle Paul is an example of alternate domain knowledge that can inform the development of strategic approaches to manage U.S. security challenges. Today’s globally integrated operations require a strategic approach that promotes American values molded by local or regional cultures. Paul’s approach relied upon a clear global vision supported by principles and executed through local leaders and teams. Paul leveraged existing infrastructure and systems (synagogues and Judaism), cities (major economic, social, and political thoroughfares), and local leadership to establish the Early Christian Church while maintaining sensitivity to local conditions, customs, and culture. The Joint Force must develop an equally flexible approach for implementing globally integrated operations.
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