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Pursuing a Strategy for Yesterday’s War

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Pursuing a Strategy for Yesterday’s War

Jeremy D. Lawhorn

“We must come to terms with the fact that following yesterday’s rules of war will not lead to today’s (or tomorrow’s) successes-that awareness can save lives.”

-- Gen. Stanley McCrystal (Ret.)[i]

Introduction

In his treatise, The Art of War, Sun Tzu explained that a “skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; [and] he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.”[ii] Recent events, like the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and the deliberate attempts to create social upheaval, demonstrate that America’s adversaries, using deliberate influence strategies that create and amplify divisive issues, have fully embraced this 2,500 year-old strategy. Exploiting America’s openness and diversity, various state and non-state actors have encouraged large segments of the population to mobilize against one another and the government to address a wide range of social and political grievances. These efforts have increased civil unrest and created extensive polarization that now defines the American social and political landscape. Not only have they effectively chipped away at any semblance of national unity, they have created conditions that make it socially and politically unacceptable to cooperate or engage in meaningful dialogue with people who hold opposing views. To create these conditions, they have used and continue to use deliberate influence campaigns to eliminate any possibility of centrism or pragmatism by popularizing extremist views, effectively forcing everyone to choose a side while simultaneously demonizing people on opposing ends of the social and political spectrum. The fallout from these actions demonstrate the effectiveness of employing social movement and influence strategies to execute unconventional warfare in America. Whether their goal is to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow the U. S. government, their success thus far demonstrates the overwhelming power of this indirect approach to warfare.

While America’s adversaries have acknowledge this power and developed strategies that leverage indirect approaches, there is a growing fear that America remains committed to antiquated means for pursuing national security objectives. University of Cambridge Professor Stefan Halper highlights that U.S. war colleges, military research institutions, and the current strategy continue to emphasize kinetic exchange, the positioning and destruction of assets and metrics that measure success by kill ratios and infrastructure destruction.[iii] While the NDS acknowledges the need to “counter coercion and subversion” in the competition phase short of armed conflict, the number one priority, focuses on the need to “Build a More Lethal Force.” [iv] By focusing America’s security posture primarily on conventional military strengths, physical dominance, and “lethality,” America may be overlooking a much more critical consideration for national security, the social and cognitive aspects which drive all outcomes along the conflict continuum. Focusing solely on the most dangerous course of action (i.e. conventional military conflict) while forsaking the most likely course of action (manipulating the population), could have disastrous consequences for U.S. national security.

Prioritizing lethality, especially in the information age, demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the current operational environment and the overarching purpose of strategy. Strategy is the prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives.[v] As the instrument of national power charged with defending the nation, the Department of Defense provides military forces with the responsibility to do everything from deter war to prosecute war. Within that spectrum, it is important to note that the U.S. Army doctrine explains that the primary objective of war is to change human behavior[vi].  Because the purpose of war is to change behavior and the Department of Defense’s mission is to protect the United States up to and including war, military strategy should focus on how to most effectively change human behavior in order to deter war, preserve peace, and ultimately set conditions when war is required.

With this understanding of strategy, solutions should be human-centric, focused on how to change behavior within the current environment without automatically assuming that increasing lethality will generate the desired results. Placing lethality at the center of the security calculus represents a skewed approach to effectively aligning ends, ways, and means. In this case, “ends” are as noted above deter war, preserve peace, etc., the “ways” are change/influence human behavior, and the “means” are among other things a wide range of lethal and non-lethal options. One apparent issue is that America has become fixated on one of the “means” (e.g. lethality) without considering the “ways” (influencing behavior). The guiding assumption is that having a dominant lethal force will deter aggression while simultaneously placing the United States in a strong position should deterrence fail. Concluding that lethality is the most effective strategy results from what improvement scientist call “solutionitis.” In his book “Learning to Improve,” Tony Bryk explains that solutionitis is a form of groupthink, in which a set of shared beliefs results in prematurely jumping to a solution before conducting a complete analysis of the problem to be solved.[vii] When decision makers see complex challenges through their narrow lens of past experiences, combined with the pressure to develop rapid solutions, solutionitis can lure them into unproductive and ineffective strategies that fail to consider other potential alternatives.  In this case, solutionitis can lead to wasted resources, misalignment of force structure, a search for the war America wants to fight, and a potential security posture mismatch that favors America’s adversaries. Writing in the 1920’s, the Soviet military scholar Aleksandr Svechin provided a critical warning to his own people that could prove useful For America’s decision makers today. He wrote that, “it is extraordinarily hard to predict the conditions of war. For each war it is necessary to work out a particular line for its strategic conduct. Each war is a unique case, demanding the establishment of a particular logic and not the application of some template.”[viii] For America, that template is the continued reliance on lethal conventional military capabilities. General McCrystal recently wrote that “we have, for too long, expected the world to play by our rules. In doing so, we failed to ask ourselves what would happen if these rules were incompatible with reality.”[ix]

The disconnect between operational realities and America’s fixation with “lethality” could be grounded in an archaic understanding of warfare. The days of amassing large armies on the battlefield to destroy enemy objectives and to seize and hold key terrain does not fit neatly in the current environment. America’s adversaries understand this reality and have aggressively pursued asymmetric capabilities that render the pursuit of “combat overmatch” or “lethality” nearly irrelevant. Additionally, by focusing primarily on “lethality” for lethality’s sake, rather than how to affect behavior, America may unintentionally don conceptual blinders that prevent it from developing comprehensive solutions to achieve strategic ends. It is natural to default to one’s strengths (e.g. building massive combat power, focusing on lethality) and much easier than engaging in the painstaking process of venturing into the complexity of the less familiar (e.g. the cognitive space), but this tendency can ultimately lead to complacency which contributes to societal decay. General McCrystal notes that “clinging to the status quo is, in the short-term, an easy course of action, but it is also a dangerous one.”[x] Future scholars will write about this critical juncture in America’s history as a time when policy makers adopted appropriate strategies to address these conditions, or a point in history where leaders failed to adapt to these threats thereby precipitating America’s decline. General McCrystal further warns that “we must begin to grapple with the consequences of the new rules of war, if not, we will all be left behind.”[xi]

Acknowledgement the Threat

In his 2017 National Security Strategy, President Trump acknowledged that the “United States faces an extraordinarily dangerous world, filled with a wide range of threats that have intensified in recent years.”[xii] Echoing President Trump’s sentiment, Secretary of Defense James Mattis pointed out in the 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS), that “it is now undeniable that the homeland is no longer a sanctuary. America is a target, whether from terrorists seeking to attack our citizens; malicious cyber activity against personal, commercial, or government infrastructure; or political and information subversion.”[xiii] Expanding on these points, General Townsend recently explained that the contemporary operating environment is characterized by persistent competition and that success in competition will not be accomplished by winning battles, but through executing integrated operations and campaigning.[xiv]

Russian military leaders also view the world through a competitive lens, albeit a much more aggressive form of competition. Describing what the call a “new form of warfare” Russian leaders explain that war never stops. It is a continuous condition consisting of preparation for war with varying intensity and centers of gravity.[xv] Major General Alexander Vladimirov characterizes this new war in a way that intentionally obscures the distinction between peace and war between nations, creating the idea of a permanent state of war as a natural part of a nation's existence.[xvi] In this state of perpetual conflict, or what American military leaders refer to as the “competition space,” America’s adversaries rely on indirect activities to achieve their objectives.[xvii] Their use of information warfare including influence, propaganda, and misinformation is part of their strategies to achieve their objectives by employing low-cost, high impact, indirect means. America’s adversaries understand that engaging in traditional warfare against the United States is impractical. Forced to adapt to this reality, they focus their efforts on asymmetric or indirect approaches that target easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities. These approaches serve to weaken, wear down, exhaust or at least distract America so that America’s adversaries can pursue their own interests. Capitalizing on these indirect methods in the competition space, America’s adversaries are able to cause internal friction between disparate groups, cause distrust in government institutions, and create general instability, at a low cost and with a minimal threat of repercussions. America’s adversaries appear to have a functional understanding of how to operate successfully in the competition space by relying on indirect warfare. Whereas U.S. efforts to compete in this space have been defined as tepid, fragmented and generally unsuccessful.[xviii]

Embracing the Indirect Approach

Some forward-thinking leaders are calling for alternative approaches to American strategy, but they are still in the minority. For example, the current NORTHCOM commander General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy and his colleagues, Matthew D. Strohmeyer, and Christopher D. Forrest have argued that the military should shift its coercive strategy paradigm from one that is focused on attrition to one that focuses on cognition.[xix] They argue that U.S. strategy should focus on adversary beliefs and perceptions and then consider the appropriate operational capabilities needed to affect the desired changes. While this is the minority view in America, it appears to be the centerpiece of America’s adversaries approach. While America’s adversaries, especially its near-peer competitors, do maintain large standing militaries, they are increasingly focused on new operational concepts and niche capabilities that rely heavily on indirect methods to create asymmetric advantages against U.S. vulnerabilities. To achieve their objectives, they focus less on the physical domain and much more on the cognitive domain.[xx] These action demonstrate that they are moving beyond mere lethality. Russian military leaders acknowledge that frontal engagements of large formations of forces are gradually becoming a thing of the past. They have adopted the term “contactless” actions to describe their long-distance operations used against their enemies. They view contactless warfare as the primary means of achieving combat and operational goals for future conflict.[xxi] Russian military leaders have acknowledged that the “rules of war’ have changed, as such they have adapted their strategy to account for those changes. They have also acknowledged that the role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, have exceeded the utility and effectiveness of conventional weapon.”[xxii]

Not only have America’s adversaries acknowledged the need to adapt their strategy, they are not hiding their intent for developing these capabilities. They have openly expressed their desire to pursue capabilities that allow them to operate effectively below the threshold of war, using indirect actions, to achieve strategic goals.[xxiii] Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces General Valery Gerasimov stated that, “we must not copy foreign experience and chase after leading countries, but we must outstrip them and occupy leading positions ourselves.” He goes on to explain that “no matter what forces the enemy has, no matter how well-developed his forces and means of armed conflict may be, forms and methods for overcoming them can be found. He will always have vulnerabilities, and that means that adequate means of opposing him exist.”[xxiv] Russia has identified America’s population as that main vulnerability. Russian military officers Colonel Sergei Checkinov and Lieutenant General Sergei Bogdanov explained that strategic information confrontation has a major role that can be used to disorganize military control and governance, incite anti-government protests, delude adversaries, influence public opinion, and reduce an opponent’s will to resist.[xxv]  The Russian view of modern warfare is based on the idea that the main battlespace is the mind and, as a result, new-generation wars will be dominated by information and psychological warfare.[xxvi] Just as General O’Shaughnessy and his colleagues recommended, the Russians have placed influence at the nexus of their operational planning considerations. In doing so, they use all possible levers to achieve overmatch in the cognitive space. They employ skillful internal communications; deception operations; psychological operations and well-constructed external communications.[xxvii]

To support this new form of warfare, the Russian military is focusing on the following techniques to improve operational capabilities by 2020. (1) They are shifting their strategy from direct destruction of the enemy, to direct influence; (2) shifting from direct annihilation of the enemy, to focus on its inner decay; (3) shifting from a war with weapons and technology to a war that focuses on culture; (4) from a war with conventional forces to specially prepared forces and commercial  irregular groupings; (5) from the traditional (3D) battleground to information/psychological warfare and war of perceptions; (6) from direct clash to a contactless war; (7) from a superficial and compartmented war to a total war, including the enemy’s internal side and base; (8) from war in the physical environment to a war in the human consciousness and in cyber space; (9) from symmetric to asymmetric warfare by a combination of political, economic, information, technological, and ecological campaigns; (10) from war in a defined period of time to a state of permanent war as the natural condition in national life.[xxviii]

Russia is not the only adversary pursuing indirect methods to counter the United States. China is also developing its indirect approach in pursuit of political and strategic objectives. China has adopted a strategy focused on informatized warfare. Informatized warfare is based on the understanding that war is won by the belligerent that can disrupt, paralyze, or destroy the operational capability of the enemy’s operational system rather than the annihilating enemy forces on the battlefield. These systems include everything from the technical infrastructure to the individual human operating the technical platforms. To build these capabilities, China is investing billions of dollars in artificial intelligence and other related technologies to gain a competitive advantage in the information space. China is determined to become a global leader in this sector by 2030.[xxix] 

China’s focus on the indirect approach is nothing new, in 2003 the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Central Committee, and the Central Military Commission (CMC) developed the concept of the “Three Warfares.” The intent of this concept was to enable China to precondition key areas of competition in its favor.[xxx] The basis of the “Three Warfares” concept consists of “psychological” warfare, “media” warfare, and “legal” warfare. China uses psychological warfare to undermine its enemy’s ability to effectively conduct combat operations or engage in operations that are contrary to China’s interest.[xxxi] Specifically, China uses psychological warfare to target opponents by creating doubt, fomenting anti-leadership sentiments, and ultimately diminishing the opponent’s will to fight.[xxxii] China uses media warfare to influence both domestic and international public opinion to generate support for China’s actions and dissuade adversaries from pursuing actions contrary to China’s interests.[xxxiii] China sees media warfare as a precondition for the successful execution of both psychological and legal warfare.[xxxiv] Also referred to as “lawfare,” China uses legal warfare to manipulate international and domestic law to assert Chinese interests.[xxxv] The central concept of lawfare is a to justify China’s actions as legal in order to generate psychological effects such as creating doubts among adversary, neutral military and civilian authorities about the justification of an opponent’s actions against China.[xxxvi] This type of non-contact warfare stymies U.S. planners because it doesn’t fit neatly into U.S. conventional understanding of war.[xxxvii] The National Defense Strategy characterizes this as “competition below the threshold of armed conflict,” but fails to consider how a more lethal force can confront it.[xxxviii]

The Use of Information Warfare to Conduct Unconventional Warfare

By understanding the realities of the current operating environment, the power of information warfare, and creating deliberate strategies centered on harnessing indirect capabilities, America’s adversaries have been able to conduct unconventional warfare in America. U.S. Army doctrine defines Unconventional Warfare as activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area.[xxxix] These operations are normally long duration, predominantly conducted through, with, or by indigenous or surrogate forces who are organized, trained, equipped, supported, and directed in varying degrees by an external source. America’s adversaries appear to be in the initial stages of unconventional warfare. They have been conducting psychological preparation to unify segments of the population against the established government while simultaneously turning segments of the population against itself. By exploiting rifts among the population as well as popular grievances against the government, America’s adversaries have been able to penetrate America’s boundaries by infiltrating the cognitive domain, while limiting their exposure and risk. Using social media and other information-related platforms, America’s adversaries have expanded their access and ability to affect conditions within the U.S., specifically focusing on increasing divisive conditions. Doing this, they have caused major disruptions across the country by creating doubt, distrust, and chaos, inspiring lone-wolf attacks, and otherwise distracting the country so that they can pursue their own objectives. For example, Russia used false online personas with state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, paid social media users and fake bots to artificially increase the prevalence of divisive norms that achieved disastrous effects in the information space.[xl] The New York Times reported that Russian agents disseminated inflammatory posts that reached at least 126 million users on Facebook, published more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and uploaded over 1,000 videos to Google’s YouTube service.[xli] Facebook also said it had found and deleted more than 170 accounts on its photosharing app Instagram; those accounts had posted about 120,000 pieces of Russia-linked content.[xlii] In addition, Twitter identified more than 36,000 automated accounts that posted 1.4 million election-related tweets linked to Russia over a three-month period. Those tweets received approximately 288 million views.[xliii]

Russia’s actions preceding and following the 2016 U.S. presidential election provides evidence of their sophistication and successful execution of activities inside America which effectively manipulated millions of Americans and created the greatest political polarization since the American Civil War. The fallout from those activities continues today as people routinely engage in incendiary attacks online and conduct mass protests and demonstrations across the country. While groups and individuals in America believe they are engaged in a personal struggle for their own goals, they are being systematically manipulated by external agents. Although these affected groups may not explicitly support the external agents and they are not under these agents’ direct control, the instability created by their actions directly supports America’s adversary’s strategic goals. By using information warfare, America’s adversaries are creating unwitting surrogate forces to achieve their interests inside the United States. Russia’s success in weaponizing information during the 2016 U.S. election is just one example of their ability to take full advantage of indirect approach, resulting in a utterly polarized a nation.

America’s Current Strategy

While America’s adversaries, specifically China and Russia, continue to develop their capabilities to conduct indirect attacks against America sowing discord inside the United States, creating fissures between Washington and its allies, and undermining U.S. influence around the world, America continues to focus on developing conventional means to counter threats. The recently published National Defense Strategy demonstrates how the United States is still committed to pursuing a lethal capabilities-based approach. The current defense strategy is grounded in what the 2017 National Security Strategy defines as “principled realism.” Principled realism views peace, security, and prosperity as product of strength. For the traditionalist, the easiest way to understand strength is by primarily focusing on physicality thereby placing the priority on building a more lethal force. This concept is derived from the Latin adage, “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” If you want peace, prepare for war.  The hope is that developing a lethal force will act as a deterrent to prevent war and when necessary, guarantee success in war. The reemergence of the near-peer competition has increased the desire to develop strategic lethal capabilities, however, these lethal capabilities are of limited value against today’s near-peer adversaries who fight primarily with information and disinformation.[xliv]

Not only have America’s adversaries embraced the indirect approach in their acquisitions process, they have also fundamentally shifted the way they view leadership and the prosecution of warfare. They view the ability to operate using an indirect approach as a sign of superior leadership because of its utility and appropriateness for today’s operating environment. [xlv] The United States, on the other hand, still views superior leadership as the ability to conduct maneuver-based warfare. This is reflective in who is selected and promoted to the most senior military positions. For example, with rare exceptions, the majority of the Joint Chiefs and Geographic Combatant Commanders have been either infantry or armor officers for the Army, pilots for the Airforce, or submarine and surface warfare officers for the Navy. This demonstrates a proclivity that favors conventional force maneuver above other forms of strategic and operational applications. Dr. Sean McFate explains that “one of the most serious obstacles today is that we do not know what war is, and if we do not understand it, we cannot win it.”[xlvi] This is the reason that we continue to promote conventional minded leaders and develop advanced capabilities and strategies for yesterday’s operational environment.

Dr. McFate further explains that “Western militaries have become paradigm prisoners of something called “conventional war” strategy. It’s modeled on World War II, but it has devolved into this: Deliver munitions into the enemy, who absorb it passively and the treat home. Whoever kills the most enemy troops and captures the most territory wins.”[xlvii] The problem remains that this is not the way of way today, at least not the initial phases. But this understanding is what is driving today’s strategy against near-peers that are not willing to play by the traditional rules of war. The paradigm trap also encourages leaders to focus on developing lethal options because the delineation between war and peace in Western does not accurately describe today’s environment. According to Army Doctrine Publication 1-01, war is a socially sanctioned violent clash between two or more forces to achieve a political purpose. Army doctrine states that it is the use of violence to achieve political purposes that distinguishes war in the military context from other human activities. This narrow view of war prescribes the need for lethal capability to prosecute war, but it ignores the primary objective of war, which is changing human behavior. Rather than focus on the main point, changing human behavior to achieve political objectives, an emphasis on “violence” and “clash” leads to a default assumption that building lethal capabilities will lead to success. This binary view of war also leads to the mistaken assumption that the absence of “violence” equates to the absence of war. Pursuing capabilities that fit within the known paradigm of war ultimately leaving America vulnerable to the contemporary operational environment. Echoing Dr. McFate’s point, General O’Shaughnessy and his colleagues argue that Western powers are focused on a Clausewitzian model of war which focuses on violence, therefore without violence, a nation is believed to be at war. Continuing within this “paradigm shackles military to a myopic search for the war it wants to fight rather than the one its competitors might present.” [xlviii]

The Soviet military scholar Aleksandr Svechin wrote, “it is extraordinarily hard to predict the conditions of war. For each war it is necessary to work out a particular line for its strategic conduct. Each war is a unique case, demanding the establishment of a particular logic and not the application of some template.”[xlix] For America, that template is based on a conventional form of maneuver where militaries mobilized, massed and destroyed each other on the battlefield. Uninhibited by traditional templates or prescriptive distinctions between war and peace, America’s adversaries leverage indirect approaches that fall below the traditional threshold of war to achieve their objectives. They do not wait for a declaration of war, for them, war is a persistent condition that requires active engagement. On the other hand, America has remained committed to the physical “template” of war. By doing so, America has provided its enemies the time and space necessary to gain strategic advantages. Employing these indirect strategies designed to manipulate the American population, America’s adversaries have demonstrated their ability to harm America from within. By doing this, America’s adversaries avoid direct confrontation thereby rendering America’s physical military superiority meaningless.

End Notes

[i] McCrystal, Stanley. Forward.  The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder. By Sean McFate. HarperCollins Publishers: E-Book, 2019, New York.

[ii] Tzu, Sun. Art of War. Translated by Lionel Giles, Chiron Academic Press, 1910, www.gutenberg.org/files/17405/17405-h/17405-h.htm.

[iii] United States, Congress, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Stefan Halper. “China: Three Warfares.” China: Three Warfares, 2013, pp. 1–559. www.cryptome.org/2014/06/prc-three-wars.pdf.

[iv] United States, Congress, Mattis, James. “Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge.” Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge, 2018. www.nssarchive.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf.

[v] Joint Publications 3-0 Joint Operations. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2018, Washington D.C https://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp3_0.pdf

[vi] Army Doctrine Publications 1-01 Doctrine Primer. Headquarters Department of the Army, 2014, Washington D.C. https://armypubs.army.mil/ProductMaps/PubForm/Details.aspx?PUB_ID=104600

[vii] Bryk, Anthony S., et al. Learning to Improve: How Americas Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better. Harvard Education Press, 2017, Cambridge.

[viii] Coalson, Robert. “The Value of Science Is in the Foresight New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations.” Military Review, 2016, pp. 23–29. usacac.army.mil/CAC2/MilitaryReview/Archives/English/MilitaryReview_20160228_art008.pdf

[ix] McCrystal, Stanley. Forward.  The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder. By Sean McFate. HarperCollins Publishers: E-Book, 2019, New York.

[x] Ibid., McCrystal, 2019

[xi] Ibid., McCrystal, 2019

[xii] United States, Congress, Trump, Donald. “National Security Strategy of the United States of America.” National Security Strategy of the United States of America, 2017. www.nssarchive.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2017.pdf.

[xiii] Ibid. United States, Congress, Mattis.

[xiv] Townsend, Stephen. “Accelerating Multi-Domain Operations: Evolution of an Idea.” TRADOC News Center, 24 July 2018, www.tradocnews.org/accelerating-multi-domain-operations-evolution-of-an-idea/.

[xv] Vinogradov, V, A. “Trends in the Conduct of Operations in Major War.” Military Thought. 2013, No. 4 http://www.baltdefcol.org/files/files/JOBS/JOBS.01.1.pdf

[xvi] Vladimirov, Alexander, General Theory of War. 2013, http://www.baltdefcol.org/files/files/JOBS/JOBS.01.1.pdf

[xvii] United States, Congress, Mattis.

[xviii] United States Congress, Trump.

[xix] O’Shaughnessy, Terrence J, et al. “Strategic Shaping Expanding the Competitive Space.” Joint Force Quarterly, July 2018, pp. 10–15., ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/jfq/jfq-90/jfq-90_10-15_OShaughnessy-et-al.pdf?ver=2018-04-11-125441-307.

[xx] Grace, Abigail “China’s Influence Operations Are Pinpointing America’s Weaknesses,” Foreign Policy, October 4th, 2018. Retrieved from https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/10/04/chinas-influence-operations-are-pinpointing-americas-weaknesses/

[xxi] Coalson, Robert. “The Value of Science Is in the Foresight New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations.” Military Review, 2016, pp. 23–29. usacac.army.mil/CAC2/MilitaryReview/Archives/English/MilitaryReview_20160228_art008.pdf

[xxii] Ibid. 2016

[xxiii] Checkinov, Sergei G., and Sergei A. Bogdanov. “Asymmetrical Actions to Maintain Russia’s Military Security.” Military Thought, 2010 (1) 1-11.

[xxiv] Ibid. 2016

[xxv] Ibid, 2010. p. 7.

[xxvi] Berzins, Janis. “Russia’s New Generation Warfare in Ukraine: Implications for Latvian Defense Policy.” National Defence Academy of Latvia Center for Security and Strategic Research, no. 02, Apr. 2014, www.sldinfo.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/New-Generation-Warfare.pdf.

[xxvii] Ibid. 2014

[xxviii] Ibid. 2014

[xxix] Lee, Kai-Fu. AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. New York.

[xxx] Walton, Timothy A., “China’s Three Warfares.” Delex Special Report. 18 Jan. 2012, pp.1-12., www.delex.com/data/files/Three%20Warfares.pdf

[xxxi] United States, Office of the Secretary of Defense. “Military and Security Developments involving the PRC 2011” Annual Report to Congress, 06 May. 2011, pp. 1-84., https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2011_CMPR_Final.pdf

[xxxii] United States, Congress, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Stefan Halper. “China: Three Warfares.” China: Three Warfares, 2013, pp. 1–559. www.cryptome.org/2014/06/prc-three-wars.pdf.

[xxxiii] United States, Office of the Secretary of Defense. “Military and Security Developments involving the PRC 2011” Annual Report to Congress, 06 May. 2011, pp. 1-84., https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2011_CMPR_Final.pdf

[xxxiv] Cheng, Dean. “Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Public Opinion Warfare and the Need for a Robust American Response,” Heritage Foundation: Backgrounder Number 2745, 21 Nov, 2012. p.4.

[xxxv] United States Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Military and Security… 26.

[xxxvi] United States, Congress, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Stefan Halper …13.

[xxxvii] Coalson, Robert. “The Value of Science Is in the Foresight New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations.” Military Review, 2016, pp. 23–29.

[xxxviii] United States, Congress, Mattis,

[xxxix] Joint Publications 3-0 Joint Operations. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2018, Washington D.C https://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp3_0.pdf

[xl] Walker, Shaun. “Russian Troll Factory Paid US Activists to Help Fund Protests during Election.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 17 Oct. 2017, www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/17/russian-troll-factory-activists-protests-us-election.

[xli] Isaac, Mike, and Daisuke Wakabayashi. “Russian Influence Reached 126 Million Through Facebook Alone.” The New York Times, 30 Oct. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/technology/facebook-google-russia.html.

[xlii] Ibid. 2017.

[xliii] Ibid. 2017.

[xliv] Jones, Seth. “Going on the Offensive: A U.S. Strategy to Combat Russian Information Warfare.” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1 Oct. 2018, www.csis.org/analysis/going-offensive-us-strategy-combat-russian-information-warfare.

[xlv] Ibid. Checkinov and Bogdanov, 7.

[xlvi] McFate, Sean. The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder. HarperCollins Publishers: E-Book, 2019, New York. p. 5

[xlvii] Ibid. p. 5

[xlviii] O’Shaughnessy, Terrence J, et al. “Strategic Shaping Expanding the Competitive Space.” Joint Force Quarterly, July 2018, pp. 10–15., ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/jfq/jfq-90/jfq-90_10-15_OShaughnessy-et-al.pdf?ver=2018-04-11-125441-307.

[xlix] Coalson, Robert. “The Value of Science Is in the Foresight New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations.” Military Review, 2016, pp. 23–29.

Categories: strategy

About the Author(s)

Major Jeremy Lawhorn is an active duty Psychological Operations Officer with over a decade in Special Operations. He has served in the United States Army for over 18 years in a variety of leadership and staff officer positions, both domestically and internationally. His academic interest is primarily in military strategy, especially during the competition phase. His current research focuses on the importance of addressing grievances and looking at how unresolved grievances can destabilize countries as resistance movements emerge. He currently holds a Masters Degree from Norwich University, Duke University, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Comments

Jeremy, very well written and agree with everything you stated. At the end, we can't let the tactical wins overshadow our strategic goals.....which happens more than often...

From near the bottom of our article above:

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"According to Army Doctrine Publication 1-01, war is a socially sanctioned violent clash between two or more forces to achieve a political purpose. Army doctrine states that it is the use of violence to achieve political purposes that distinguishes war in the military context from other human activities. This narrow view of war prescribes the need for lethal capability to prosecute war, but it ignores the primary objective of war, which is changing human behavior. Rather than focus on the main point, changing human behavior to achieve political objectives, an emphasis on “violence” and “clash” leads to a default assumption that building lethal capabilities will lead to success.

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In this regard -- and for comparison -- let us look at how "war" was perceived of during the Old Cold War:

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The United States and the Soviet Union face each other not only as two great powers which in the traditional ways compete for advantage. They also face each other as the fountainheads of two hostile and incompatible ideologies, systems of government and ways of life, each trying to expand the reach of its respective political values and institutions and to prevent the expansion of the other. ... Here is the dynamic force which has led the two superpowers to intervene all over the globe, sometimes surreptitiously, sometimes openly, sometimes with the accepted methods of diplomatic pressure and propaganda, sometimes with the frowned-upon instruments of covert subversion and open force.

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Bottom Line Questions -- Based on the Above:

As Morgenthau notes above, our political objective, during the Old Cold War (and, indeed, until the election of President Trump?), has been/was to -- via such things as "expansion" and "containment" --

a.  "Convert the heathens" (as per market-democracy).  And to: 

b.  Not let ourselves -- and/or our "significant others" -- be converted to something else (for example, to communism).     

(From this perspective, and as clearly identified by Morgenthau above, neither the U.S./the West, nor the Soviets/the communists, believed in, aspired to, and/or tollerated/allowed such things as political, economic, social and/or value "equality," "diversity" or "sovereignty.") 

Moving on now to this odd New Cold War, one which finds:

a.  Such entities as Putin and Xe returning to this such "expansion" and "containment" effort.  But:

b.  President Trump -- in his 2017 NSS no less -- (a) not following suit and (b) formally embracing such things as political, economic, social and value diversity and sovereignty instead.

This begs the question: 

If only one side has a true political objective -- and thus only one side is acting in a manner so as to achieve its such political objective -- then, in those circumstances, how can/when will there be a "war?"

(Possibly this explains why the U.S. might focus on such [singular and unrelated?] things as "lethal capability" today.  Whereas, our enemies might today -- as Morgenthau both noted we and the Soviets/the communists did during the Old Cold War -- focus on a "suite" of things; such as, diplomatic prowess, propaganda prowess, covert operations prowess and open force?)