Small Wars Journal

national security

A Memo for the President: The Path 2000 to 2060

This essay is a fictional memo set in the year 2060 written by a future U.S. national security advisor to a future president that recounts the preceding four decades of U.S. military involvement. The memo follows the post-mortem assessment used by LTC Matt Cavanaugh, itself an homage to retired Major General Dunlap’s essay. Unlike those pieces, however, this essay presents a more optimistic view based on a defense & intelligence community that made hard decisions and difficult investments in the 2020s which allowed the U.S. armed forces to prevail in contested conflicts throughout the rest of the century.

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Towards a More Comprehensive Understanding of Lethality

This article argues that a more comprehensive understanding of lethality is necessary to improve US strategic performance in present and future wars. We argue that central to lethality at the strategic level is influence. LtGen (ret) James Dubik emphasized foreign influence operations as the #1 strategic-level preparation civilian and military leaders must make for the next war. To view lethality only through a physical lens limits its full potential. Take the example of the Vietnam War.

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The Crisis State: A Critical Juncture in American History

What America is experiencing today is a perfect storm: the convergence of a domestic political environment that is motivated by self-interest, revenge, and sabotage; a national media that is more concerned with sensationalizing crises than reporting facts or helping solve problems; the awakening and empowerment of underrepresented and otherwise traditionally marginalized peoples; and the interference of adversarial agents who aim to not only discredit democracy, but ultimately destroy America. It is becoming increasingly apparent that American policy makers are either unaware of this crisis or more concerned with their own political agendas, either way, this political and social division represents a fundamental crisis that threatens to rip the country apart. If recent failures to identify problems and generate bi-partisan solutions are indicative of the future, this crisis will continue unimpeded.

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Building Partner Capability and Capacity Post-NDAA 2017: A Practical Approach

If DoD is serious about building viable partners, it must step back and reevaluate how it is currently viewing the future state of those partners and developing plans to move that partner towards the desired future state. SC is no longer a side mission, the mission in-between wars to shape, it has moved to the steady-state across the Range of Military Operations and is now a critical strategic tool that can provide us advantages over our adversaries if applied correctly.

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