Small Wars Journal

CJCS General Joe Dunford Discusses Strategy, Threats at Brookings Event

CJCS General Joe Dunford Discusses Strategy, Threats at Brookings Event

Jim Garamone

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

Countering the threats posed by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea -- and countering violent extremism -- is still the correct way to benchmark what the Defense Department must do to prepare the joint force, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the Brookings Institute today.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford spoke generally about strategy and specifically about Russia and Syria during a session with Brookings Fellow Michael O’Hanlon.

“If you look at the capabilities presented by those four-plus-one threats … it gives you the full spectrum of the challenges we may face,” the chairman said.

Dunford hastened to add that he does not anticipate fighting any of these nation states, but they present the capabilities that the U.S. military would have to overcome should deterrence fail.

Existential Threat

Russia is an existential threat to the United States, he said. The nation is modernizing its nuclear enterprise, cyber capabilities, land, sea and air forces and space capabilities. And Russia has a strategy that uses information, cyber, diplomacy and military capabilities short of war to accomplish strategic goals, Dunford noted.

“What they seek to do in all of that is to undermine the credibility of our ability to meet our alliance commitments to NATO and then [operating against] the cohesion of the NATO alliance would be would be an objective of Russian activity,” he said.

Dunford reiterated U.S. support for NATO and said the United States is fully prepared to meet Article 5 commitments to NATO allies -- an attack on one nation is an attack on all. He also reiterated his earlier statements that NATO nations need to meet their agreed-upon goal of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense. Only five nations do so now.

It is also important that the alliance continue to transform, “to be relevant for the threats of today and tomorrow,” the chairman said.

Gerasimov Meeting

Dunford said his recent meeting with Russian chief of defense Gen. Valery Gerasimov in Baku, Azerbaijan, was a chance to keep the lines of communication open to minimize chances of misunderstandings between the two nations becoming incidents.

The U.S. military cannot, by law, cooperate with the Russian military, he noted, but that does not and should not preclude communications. The chairman said that U.S. and Russian officials communicate at the purely tactical level to ensure there is no conflict between the two sides over Syria.

In discussing operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Dunford stressed that the 30-day review that President Donald J. Trump ordered is a political-military plan. “In the development of the plan, we have been engaged at every level of the State Department,” he said. The intelligence community and the Treasury Department have also been full members in forming the plan.

“Anything we do on the ground has to be in the context of political objectives or it is not going to be successful,” the chairman said. “We are in the business of providing integrated options to the president to deal with the challenge he has articulated. It will be a whole-of-government approach.”

Transregional Threat

The threat that needs to be addressed is not contained within Syria and Iraq, Dunford said, it is transregional. “In this particular case, we are talking about ISIS, but it’s also al-Qaida and other groups that present a transregional threat. When we go to the president with options, it will be in the context of a transregional threat,” he said.

The plan needs to cut the connective tissue between the groups that now form the threat, the chairman said. “Then, working in cooperation with local and coalition forces, drive the threat down to the point where local law enforcement and security forces can deal with that threat,” Dunford said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

Comments

Bill C.

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 11:34am

From our article above:

BEGIN QUOTE

"Anything we do on the ground has to be in the context of political objectives or it is not going to be successful,” the chairman said. “We are in the business of providing integrated options to the president to deal with the challenge he has articulated. It will be a whole-of-government approach.”

END QUOTE

Re: "political objectives" -- both ours and those of our opponents:

If we consider that the U.S./the West is, today, trying to do what the Soviets/the communists were trying to do during Old Cold War; this being, to advance one's unusual and unique way of life, one's unusual and unique way of governance and one's unusual and unique values, attitudes and beliefs throughout the world. (Herein, these such modernizing "expansionist" nations appealing to their "natural allies" -- the more-liberal elements of the populations.) And

If we consider that such entities as Russia, China, Iran, ISIS, AQ, etc., today are trying to do exactly what the U.S./the West tried to do during the Old Cold War, to wit: prevent, thwart, contain, roll back, and/or otherwise "throw monkey wrenches" into their opponent's such expansionist efforts and designs. (Herein, these such "resisting" nations appealing to their "natural allies" -- the more conservative elements of the populations.)

Then, given this such "role reversal," what kind of strategy might the U.S./the West employ to:

a. Effectively deal with and overcome the massive "resistance" threats posed by our diverse opponents above and

b. Achieve, in spite of same, our "expansionist" political objective and designs anyway?

(Such things as "Resistance Science" -- as being discussed in the current SWJ thread linked below -- to be understood as [a] an acknowledgement of the "role reversal" conflict environment I have outlined above and [b] the massive "resistance" challenges presented to the U.S./the West's "expansionist" political objective in such a conflict environment?)

http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-science-of-resistance