Small Wars Journal

Towards a Fourth Offset Strategy

Thu, 08/11/2016 - 9:36am

Towards a Fourth Offset Strategy

Edward J. Horres

The Department of Defense has launched the Third Offset Strategy to increase our completive advantage by a much-needed effort to restore technological superiority.  But is it really strategy?

The Secretary of Defense recently launched the Defense Innovation Initiative[1] and the Corresponding Third Offset Strategy[2] to restore U.S. technological superiority and offset its shrinking military force structure in a new era of great power competition.  It is modeled on two previous endeavors: in the 1950’s it leveraged the overwhelming advantage of the United States’ nuclear arsenal; the 1970-80’s offset focused on the development of precision-guided munitions, stealth, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).[3]  Both aimed to counter the numerical superiority and improved technical capabilities of Warsaw Pact military forces in Europe.  Both also were anchored by the decades-long strategy of containing the Soviet Union.

Most pundits agree on the need for new ‘things,’ and there is a nascent call for a parallel effort in new ‘thought’ aimed at developing corresponding operational concepts.  That said, to date little attention has been given to strategy.  This paper seeks to initiate such discussion by proposing that the quest for new capabilities and concepts should be integrated within, and thus guided by, an overarching strategy.  It further proposes, with regard to the future operational environment, what such a strategy should entail.

But First a Brief (But Necessary) Digression: What, Exactly is Strategy?

Defining strategy would seem a simple task, and many believe it is.  But it isn’t.  The evolution of Western governance required changing the meaning of ‘strategy’ in order to conform to its changing relationship with policy.  Thus so, one’s individual interpretation is formed and shaped by the breadth and depth of their reading and research.   In short, discussions about strategy are confusing most often due to the dating of its entomology – even the official definition lacks clarity in distinguishing strategy from policy.[4]    

Military theorist and historian B.H. Liddell-Hart addressed this confusion in his classic opus, Strategy.  While a full discussion of his thoughts on the topic goes beyond the limits of this paper, a review of a few key points help bring clarity. The first is that he distinguished three levels of strategy:

  • Strategy, per se, is “the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy.”[5]  Today, this level encompasses Regional Component Commanders’ responsibilities for campaign and war planning through the application of operational art.[6]  It is conventionally referred to as ‘military strategy’ (as it will be throughout the balance of this paper).
  • Tactics, the lower level of strategy, is “the application of the military instrument as it merges into actual fighting.”[7]
  • Grand strategy, or high strategy, is the coordination and direction of “all the resources of a nation, or band of nations, towards the attainment of the political object of the war—the goal defined by fundamental policy."[8]  He further specified that:

It must calculate and develop the economic resources and man-power of nations in order to sustain the fighting services.  Also the moral resources—for to foster the peoples’ willing spirit is often as important as to possess the more concrete forms of power.

Grand strategy must also regulate the distribution of power between the several services, and between services and industry. 

Moreover, fighting power is but one of the instruments of grand strategy – which should take account of and apply the power of financial pressure, of diplomatic pressure, of commercial pressure, and, not least of ethical pressure, to weaken the opponent’s will.[9]

Liddell-Hart also recognized that grand strategy was not limited to the movement of forces but also needed to be concerned with the intended effect:

The object of war is to obtain a better peace – even if only from your point of view.  Hence it is essential to conduct war with constant regard to the peace you desire.  This is the truth underlying Clausewitz’s definition of war as a ‘continuation of policy by other means’ - the prolongation of that policy through the war into the subsequent peace must always be borne in mind.[10]  

Furthermore, while the horizon of [military] strategy is bounded by the war, grand strategy looks beyond the war to the subsequent peace.  It should not only combine the various instruments, but so regulate their use as to avoid damage to the future state of peace—for its security and prosperity.[11] 

By broadening of the definition of the term, he exposed strategy’s multilayered complexity, thereby distinguishing it from the strictly operational levels of strategy concerned with winning battles and campaigns.[12]  Liddell-Hart recognized that grand strategy, as defined, was subject to confusion or conflation with policy, a condition that continues to the present.  To clarify the distinction, he described grand strategy as "policy in execution," stipulating that the application of military strategy at this higher level should inform policy but never infringe upon its primacy.[13]  He further counseled that "while grand strategy should control strategy, its principles often run counter to those which prevail in the field of military strategy." [14]

It is the potential neglect of this higher level of strategy – grand strategy – that causes one to question whether the Third Offset Strategy will be, in fact, strategic. 

Grand Strategy and the Third Offset

Successfully fielding – and then maintaining – an effective Third Offset will require a sustained effort, one that will face countless obstacles.  The surest means of achieving such success will be by fostering and sustaining national buy-in through development of an overarching grand strategy.  This is because change, no matter how necessary, stimulates resistance, and its mitigation depends greatly on the value of the end result.  

The first obstacle is the matter of sustaining the necessary funding, especially in light of the prospect of an extended period of fiscal constraint.  The Services are already straining to balance current readiness and much-needed modernization.  Defense budgets face the prospect of further constraints as both revenues and outlays conform to long-term economic stagnation as well as to the significant increase in aging, retired Americans.  Further, continued deficit spending will continue to increase an already staggering national debt, a condition that likely will need to be addressed during the Third Offset’s long pathway, hopefully by proactive vice more drastic reactive measures.  

There will be concerns over repeating historical cases in which efforts to advance technologies failed in their promise of producing game-changing capabilities.  Defense leadership is endeavoring to mitigate such risks by managing a more evolutionary, incremental approach to innovative modernization as well as risk-shared collaboration with the private sector.[15]  This approach recognizes that by its very nature innovation carries significant risks, but ultimate success comes by failing early, learning from mistakes, and resolutely moving on.  However, such patience will be continually tested by funding competition, and especially so with each subsequent change in political administrations.

As previously mentioned, there are growing concerns that the much-needed quest for “new things” will overshadow the correspondingly equal need for ‘new thought.’  Should this happen, the Third Offset would be diluted by the wasted cost of unnecessary redundancy.  More importantly, it would risk undervaluing the collective value of restoring our technological advantage if new capabilities are simply added to extant concepts and military strategies that do not translate well into the future operating environment.  This, then, becomes the strongest argument for adopting a grand strategic approach.

Herein lays a very big problem: it seems that since the end of the Cold War we have lost our capacity for grand strategic thought.  In its place we develop national strategies comprised of broad objectives and projected outcomes that do not address the obstacles that impede achieving such goals and how they might be overcome.[16]  They do not explain why some threats attain priority, nor propose executable remedies and explain why they may work.[17]  They universally reiterate that the future will be fraught with great uncertainty and complexity without any semblance of recognition that it has always been so – that even the near future is inherently uncertain and complex.  For proof, look no further than recent events such as the 9/11 attacks and the 2008 financial meltdown. 

In short, these documents lack the directed guidance and necessary prioritization to prepare for future conflict.  Consequently, we have become reactive.  Continually driven by the news, our constant focus on the urgent leaves no time for the important.[18]  We seem only capable of fighting ‘the American way of war’[19] all the while lamenting that we face ‘thinking,’ ‘adaptive,’ and/or ‘asymmetric’ adversaries – thereby falsely surmising that all previous enemies were blithering idiots.  Failing at innovation, we thus consign those we send in harm’s way to adapt while under fire – only to ultimately ponder why the application of military force alone cannot achieve political objectives. 

Our enemies, past and present, do not seem to share this problem.  To wit, over the last fifty years, the United States has been fighting against enemies that were armed with considerably lesser technology, only to achieve stalemates before ultimately withdrawing.  We have failed or chosen not to acknowledge that they were instead armed with superior strategy.  This strategic imbalance was clearly addressed by Andrew Mack’s superb summation of the decade-long stalemate and eventual loss of the war in Vietnam: the external power is not facing existential threats, that is, they do not have their complete survival on the line – unlike the guerillas who have everything to lose; the guerillas do not have to win but only outlast the big nations, thus they fight only to exhaust the external powers’ political will; and war for the guerilla is “total’ while for the external power it is ‘limited.’[20]  

We have yet to address how to offset these grand strategic disadvantages, opting to limit our focus only on how to get better at what we’ve been doing (often through even better technology) without ever stopping to consider whether we should stop doing it and take a fresh approach.  It is as if strategic thought is moribund, or canonically linked to the gospels of long-dead military and geopolitical thinkers.  At best this reflects poor strategic acumen; less diplomatically, it reflects neglect.  One might rightly conclude that because the conflicts in which we have fought during this time period were not existential and could be financed through the largess of the world’s primary superpower, the outcomes were unfortunate but geopolitically ‘affordable.’  Regardless, in any case it is no longer abiding.

A mere twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. stands at the threshold of losing its status as the sole superpower.  As we return to a multi-polar world replete with great power politics, one could easily conclude that we squandered this ‘American moment’ by violating an unwritten geopolitical law: Keep an eye on multiple challenges to avoid exerting finite resources on any single problem.[21]  For as the entire U.S. defense establishment focused on the war on terrorism,[22] rising and revanchist regional powers were busy thinking about future conflict and taking actions to prepare for it. 

And they have made great strides, not only by focusing on perceived U.S. weaknesses as they modernize operational capabilities and concepts, but also by simultaneously leveraging these improvements into “new generation” strategies that aim to degrade, if not outright defeat, our decades-long advantages in globally projecting all aspects of national power.  Incorporating a whole of government approach, they focus on “gray zone” operations that fall in the crack between peace and war, betting on economic, diplomatic, and military coercion to achieve regional objectives, striving always to remain below the threshold of endangering direct military engagement with the United States. 

Still yet, such “gray zone” operations are abetted by the threat of rapid and massive escalation, both kinetic and non-kinetic (i.e. cyber and electronic warfare).  In doing so, our enemies recognize that these new strategies capitalize pre-existing operational advantages, such as their abilities to concentrate while U.S. forces will be spread out to manage multiple global threats and corresponding commitments.  They also recognize the benefit of operating ‘at home’ within interior lines while the U.S. will be playing ‘away games’ with significantly more vulnerable exterior lines.  These benefits provide them with very favorable attack/defense cost benefit ratios.  

They also recognize the fragility of interconnected cyber and electromagnetic networks. In doing so, they have evinced both the capabilities and willingness to disrupt military C4 and ISR networks as a means of strategically and operationally “blinding” us as a preliminary to direct combat.  They could also be used to disrupt critical civilian and commercial networks, thereby causing significant damage to financial, economic, power generation, transportation, and other essential infrastructure.

All together, these advantages establish a playing field that induces operational and ultimately strategic pause, if not absolute paralysis, as decision-making increasingly becomes hobbled by considerations that the cure (our response) may be more harmful than the disease – or worse yet, our systems and capabilities may fail due to the enemy’s release of operational ‘antibodies.’[23]  This could ultimately devolve into self-deterrence, thus enabling opportunities for our enemies to achieve faits accompli.  

In itself this is nothing new.  Military planning has always considered risk – the Cuban missile crisis serves as notable example.  What is different is that we have never faced the possibility that our entire arsenal could be rendered inoperable through cyber and electromagnetic attack.  In essence, an analogical gunfighter facing an opponent at high noon in the old west never reasonably had to worry if his trusty six-shooter would properly function on demand.  He might miss, but the gun would discharge, the bullet would follow the direct path in which it was aimed - and if truly aimed would not bend around its target.  Nor would he freeze in pulling the trigger as his target disappeared or multiplied into any number of decoys.  Today’s gunfighters do have to worry about such things. 

All of this combines to expand the uncertainty and complexity resident in the current global strategic environment: that the uncertainty and complexity that hinders our ability to assess what, where, and when a geopolitical crisis will occur has been compounded by the introduction of debilitating delay – if not paralysis – due to the need for time-consuming consideration of the unintended consequences that could result from our operational response, coupled with concerns that our capabilities may not work on demand.  From this, one can make a strong case that grand strategy is most important when facing uncertainty and complexity.   

This is hardly a playing field that instills confidence.  In fact, it is a fundamental change in the character of war, one that is certainly operationally-oriented but, more importantly, clearly strategic in nature: the possibility that the sum of our investment in national defense could be rendered at least temporarily inoperable during a crisis, as well as the credible risk of losing the critical network-managed civilian infrastructures that support it.  Our enemies have leveraged technological modernization and critical, strategic thinking into crafting game-changing means that rival more conventional U.S. methods and capabilities.  In short, they have created technology with grand strategic purpose

There will be many more physical and cognitive challenges to achieving an effective Third Offset.[24]  The best and perhaps only way to collectively overcome them will be for Defense and Service leadership to integrate and coordinate the quest for new capabilities and concepts through a dedicated and overarching effort that guides their development by similarly focusing on strategic purpose.  Indeed, as we strive to restore technological advantage we should perhaps consider a corresponding effort to simultaneously address these concerns – a ‘fourth offset’ to develop an overarching grand strategy. 

21st Century Factors for Consideration

There are many factors to be considered in developing a grand strategy for 21st Century warfare.  Perhaps the foremost of these is in recognizing the dangers of strategic exhaustion.  Once again, B.H. Liddell-Hart’s offers sound guidance (which has been echoed by more current prominent historians Paul Kennedy, Barry Posen, and Niall Ferguson):

A State which expands its strength to the point of exhaustion bankrupts its own policy, and future.  If you concentrate exclusively on victory, with no thought to the after-effect, you may be too exhausted to profit by the peace [25] 

Victory in the true sense implies that the state of peace, and of one’s people, is better after the war than before.  Victory in this sense is only possible if a quick result can be gained or if a long effort can be economically proportioned to the national resources.  The end must be adjusted to the means. [26] 

Avoiding strategic exhaustion led Liddell-Hart to also address, albeit indirectly, the benefits of deterrence in his advocacy for negotiating for peace upon the condition of equally-matched enemies:

Failing a fair prospect of such a victory, wise statesmanship will miss no opportunity for negotiating peace.  Peace through stalemate, based on a coincident recognition by each side of the opponent’s strength, is at least preferable to peace through common exhaustion—and has often provided a better foundation for lasting peace.[27]

It also insists the new grand strategy address the nexus (or tipping point) between irregular and conventional warfare, both of which will be complemented by the use of non-military means, as future conflicts are likely to incorporate this fusion.  This will certainly require a reconciliation of Eastern and Western warfighting models, as advocated by historian John Keegan:

Oriental warmaking…is characterized by evasion, delay and indirectnessto withdraw when confronted with determination and to count upon wearing down an enemy to defeat rather than by overthrowing him in a single test of arms …

Western warfare adopted the practice of face-to-face battle to the death…and sought to bring the issue to the test of battle; … [and] invested in the need for an ideological and intellectual dimension and rapid assimilation of new technology. 

The style in which [warriors] fight for civilization – against ethnic bigots, regional warlords, ideological intransigents, common pillagers and organized international criminals – cannot derive from the Western model of warmaking alone. [28]

A corollary to this discussion is that our exotic capabilities of speed and maneuver must be recognized as means, not an end.  Quick and “bloodless” wars have proven inconclusive – or worse.  As per Frederick Kagan: You can destroy the enemy’s ability to fight and not set the preconditions for political success – and that has been a key failure of transformational policy. [29]    

Joshua Cooper Ramo delineates four key factors aimed at building a foundation for such grand strategy in his advocacy of ‘deep security:’ [30]

  • Looking at the world holistically instead of narrowly.[31]  This recognizes that constant change is a given, thus we never will have all the answers.  Yet we tend to see the world as we want it, not as it is and thereby fail at understanding our enemies.  We also fail to consider aspects of national power that fall outside what is generally considered to be the military’s direct responsibilities for national security, thereby failing to recognize that what is likely to cause big shifts in systems are not fast changes in variables but slow changes; the things that linger longest often have the most profound affects because we ignore them since they in fact move so slowly.
  • Focusing on our own resilience.[32]  The more efficient our networks, the more vulnerable they become and thus the faster they spread danger.  In short, the more tightly we are bound, the less resilient we become.  We must press to make our societies more resilient so that we can absorb whatever strikes us.  We must also seek ways to capitalize these same vulnerabilities resident in our adversaries’ networks.
  • Incorporating Robert Jervis’ seminal work on the ‘security dilemma.’[33]  In short, Jervis argues that every state wants to feel secure, but is doomed at this quest because every step to do so makes other states feel less secure.  His theory is to couch national security more-or-less in terms of national defense – without being limited to static defense, what B. H. Liddell-Hart describes as a “dangerously brittle method on which to rely.”[34]  It also incorporates the modern Chinese version of “active defense” as manifested in their development of robust anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategies, concepts, and capabilities which most assuredly combines a “defensive-offensive method, based on high mobility that carries the power of quick riposte.”[35]   
  • Augmenting our instinct for the direct approach by incorporating more indirect approaches.[36]  This is appeal relates directly to Liddell-Hart’s indirect approach treatise: adjusting ends to means; choosing and exploiting the line of least resistance; keeping your objective in mind while taking a line of operation that offers alternate objectives thereby posing enemies with multiple dilemmas; ensuring that plans and dispositions are sufficiently flexible to adapt to changing circumstances; not throwing your weight when your opponent is on guard; and not renewing operational strategies once they have failed.[37]

Adopting these guidelines would form a strong foundation for developing a grand strategy that is conducive to meeting the challenges and conditions we will face in the future operational environment.  The United States could plausibly claim that the Third Offset is not offense-oriented power-projection, but purely defensive – just as our adversaries describe A2/AD as active-defense.  We would be holistically seeking out our adversaries’ weaknesses, just as they do ours, while broadening recognition of our own.  We would be transferring time-consuming doubt and indecisive pause to adversaries that have crafted similar strategies against us.  It would provide us opportunities to operate within “gray zones” of our own making, in which we have abilities to manipulate our adversaries, just as they do us.  Above all else, a grand strategy based on resiliency would provide much-needed additional operational and strategic maneuver space, thereby reinforcing the overarching confidence needed to effectively address the chaos and complexity inherent in each forthcoming individual crisis.[38]  It would also strengthen our conventional deterrence capabilities, a critical dynamic for a future operational environment in which the conventional-nuclear disruption/destruction gap is rapidly shrinking.  The key would be to turn the tables by transferring risk and doubt to our enemies.  The goal would be to consistently convince them that we can in fact do that which they think we’re incapable.

A Proposed Foundation for a New 21st Century Strategy

How then does one cobble together these guidelines into a credible grand strategy, one that meets the challenges of the future operating environment?  The answer lies within yet another question: If the dangers we face seem to hit us where we are least prepared, is there some way to do the same to our enemies?[39]  If we can understand and master our adversaries’ operational environment, we can manipulate them more effectively than through persuasion – and with less risk of direct conflict.[40]  Thus, rather than ask the question “How do we handle an enemy’s belligerent plans” we instead ask “How do we create an environment that gives us leverage in order to manipulate him.”[41]  To do this we must seek to restore our warfighting edge by harnessing new technologies in ways that target our adversaries’ military and non-military weaknesses using a mix of direct indirect techniques.

Let’s start, ironically, by invoking the operational ‘seeker-hider’ principle that presently governs modern warfare, ‘Anything that can be seen can be engaged and killed’ together with its lesser known corollary, ‘but one can only kill what can be seen and engaged.’[42]  Adapting this to grand strategy requires asking one last question: What if we can defend against and/or absorb virtually whatever attacks our adversaries throw at us as well as gain the abilities to counter-attack both kinetically and non-kinetically with relative impunity? 

Herein lay the inherent advantages of warfare in the Information Environment.  Information Operations “integrates the application of force and the employment of information with the goal of affecting the perception and the will of adversaries.”[43]  It includes both Electronic Warfare (EW) and cyberspace operations, among other capabilities.[44]  Both offensive and defensive information-related capabilities are discreet, thus would be extremely difficult to see, engage, and be stopped.  Ergo, mastering the Informational Environment would enable us to achieve such immunity. 

We must start by recognizing that every current and future capability in the U.S. arsenal depends on the Information Environment.  Therefore, it clearly stands to reason that our first priority should be to master it – to achieve information dominance.  The first step would be to incorporate resilience throughout our entire arsenal in order to ensure that it faithfully works on demand.  P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman describe resilience thusly:

Resilient systems and organizations are prepared for attacks and can maintain some functionality and control while under attack. “Intrusion intolerance … Must assume that intrusions have happened and will happen.  We must maximize the probability that we can tolerate the direct effect of those intrusions, and that whatever damage is done by the intruder, the system can continue to do its job to the extent possible.[45]

There are three elements behind the concept.  One is the importance of building ‘the intentional capacity to work under degraded conditions.’  Beyond that, resilient systems must also recover quickly, and, finally, learn lessons to deal better with future threats.[46]

Not only must resilience be incorporated into DOD cybersecurity and cyber operations but also into civilian networks that manage critical national infrastructure.   This provides opportunities to cooperate with the private sector as it ultimately address the need to maintain public faith in e-commerce and the nascent Internet of Things.[47]  Such passive and active intrusion defenses most certainly must be incorporated into EW capabilities as well. 

Given the speed of technological advance, it would be a fool’s errand to endeavor to create impenetrable information fortresses.[48]   But we should be able to prevent an information-related Pearl Harbor or a situation in which our adversaries can read our communications comparable to the Allies ULTRA/MAGIC success in World War II.[49]  As well, we should be able of develop abilities to facilitate rapid detection and of cyber and EW intrusions that also build-in artificial intelligence technologies that can counter them or provide false information to confuse the originator.   The central idea would be to develop capabilities that cause adversaries to doubt the effectiveness of their own.

But a strategy bound in mastering the Information Environment must go beyond this purely defense-centric aspect, as a fort without guns isn’t much of a fort.  It must also include scalable offensive capabilities to degrade, destroy, or gain control of our adversaries systems. Thus this new strategy must guide and press for the development of offensive and active-defensive electromagnetic capabilities, including direct energy and electromagnetic weapons along with other capabilities such as hyper-velocity weapons, to increase the range, effectiveness, and lethality of proposed active defense systems, thereby exacerbating the creation of doubt by fomenting the aura of attacking with impunity. This would include abilities to affect both state and non-state adversaries’ network-managed infrastructures.   Further, such capabilities would complicate our autocratic adversaries’ endeavors to control the flow of domestic information, creating vulnerabilities to regime survivability that compel inward focus.[50]

The Informational Environment Does Not Support War, It Is War

Achieving the Third Offset is essential, but merely restoring our technological edge will prove insufficient unless this catch-up is successfully translated into purposeful grand strategy that addresses both general, wide-ranging geopolitical uncertainty and the more specific security threats posed by powers seeking regional hegemony in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East – as well as address the increased threats posed by increasingly technology-empowered non-state actors.  Continued efforts at operational transformation based on speed, precision, knowledge and jointness may yield “a truly exquisite military machine.  However, that machine will not necessarily be able to overcome strategic mistakes and generate success.  In other words, transformation of the U.S. military cannot replace strategy.”[51]

Logic dictates that we base the foundation of such a strategy on mastering the Information Environment, if for no other reason than to protect the sunk costs of our current and programmed defense investment.  But, most importantly, doing so would form the basis of establishing credible long-term strategy that ensures our national security throughout the future operating environment.

Any initiative this large begs for up-front coordination and top-down change advocacy that can only come from senior leadership.  Otherwise we once again risk fostering a change environment in which many disparate and competing groups try to build an airplane while it’s in flight.  Further, as the future operating environment promises an extended period of competition, it will not be a one-time fix.  Nor will we ever achieve ‘perfection,’ but we certainly can achieve and maintain “good enough.”  Finally, we must recognize that it will not be easy, for as hard as it is to manage development of physical capabilities, harder yet is implementing cognitive change, which encompasses fewer measurable variables and a great many more obstacles, ranging from bureaucratic tribalism to cultural ethics.  But it is in the cognitive realm that the magic resides: true innovation comes from how one actually harnesses technological advances – as with joint combined arms warfare, the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts. 

If we indeed sense the approach of an inflection point that fosters threatens a fundamental change in the character of warfare, we must clearly change, regardless of how radically disruptive the pathway.  The rapidly approaching future operational environment so dictates.

The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author, and may not represent those of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, U.S. Army, or U.S. Army TRADOC.

End Notes

[1] Chuck Hagel, “Secretary of Defense Memo: Defense Innovation Initiative,” 15 November 2014

[2] Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, “The Third Offset Strategy and its Implications for Partners and Allies” (speech, Washington, DC, January 28, 2015), Department of Defense,

[3] Ibid.

[4] The Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Joint Publication 1-02) defines strategy as: “A 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.

[5] B.H. Liddell-Hart, Strategy, Rev ed.  (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1967), 335  

[7] Liddell-Hart, Strategy, 335

[8] Ibid., 335-6

[9] Ibid., 336

[10] Ibid., 366

[11] Ibid., 366

[12] Paul Kennedy, Grand Strategy in War and Peace, Rep. ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 4

[13] Liddell-Hart, Strategy, p 335

[14] Ibid., p 366

[15] Work, “The Third Offset Strategy and its Implications for Partners and Allies”

[16] Andrew Krepinevich, 7 Deadly Scenarios : A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century. (New York: Bantam, 2009), 291

[17] Barry R. Posen, Restraint : A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015), 1-2

[18] Fareed Zakaria, “Wanted: A New Grand Strategy,”  Newsweek (November 28, 2008)

[19] Antulio J. Echevarra II, “Toward an American Way of War,” U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute (March 1, 2004)  “A ‘new’ American way of war replaced depending on overwhelming force, mass. and concentration with ‘speed, maneuver, flexibility, and surprise’ to launch a series of precise, parallel strikes at an enemy’s center of gravity in order to inflict strategic paralysis – a very airpower-centric approach.”

[20] Andrew Mack, “Why Big Nations Lose Small Wars: The Politics of Asymmetric Conflict,” Johns Hopkins Press, January 1975

[21] Patrick M. Cronin, “U.S. Security Policy in a Changing WorldJulian E. Barnes, “Win Today’s War, Gates Says,” American Foreign Policy: Regional Perspectives, Ruger Workshop, Number 4, (U.S. Naval War College May 13-15 2009), 41-45

[22] Krepinevich, 7 Deadly Scenarios : A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century, 299; also Julian E. Barnes, “Win Today’s War, Gates Says,” Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2008 ;

[23] Mr. Nathan P. Freier, et al. “Outplayed: Regaining Strategic Initiative in the Gray Zone,” A Report Sponsored by the Army Capabilities Integration Center in Coordination with Joint Staff J-39/Strategic Multi-Layer Assessment Branch, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College (June 2016)

[24] Krepinevich, 7 Deadly Scenarios : A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century, 302-317 

[25] Liddell-Hart, Strategy, p 366

[26] Ibid., p 370

[27] Ibid.

[28] John Keegan, A History of Warfare, (New York: Knopf, 1994), 387-392

[29] Frederick Kagan. Finding the Target: The Transformation of American Military Policy. (New York: Encounter: 2006)

[30] Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It. (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009). 106-110

[31] Ibid.  180-181

[32] Ibid.  172-179, 190-191, 197

[33] Ibid., 92-97; Robert Jervis, “Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma,” World Politics, Volume 30, Issue 2 (January, 1978) 167-214

[34] Liddell-Hart, Strategy, 355

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It, 203

[37] Liddell-Hart, Strategy, 348-349

[38] Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It, 10-11

[39] Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It, 209-213

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Patrick M. Cronin, ed. Global Strategic Assessment 2009 : America’s Security Role in a Changing World. (Washington, DC:  Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University: 2009), 159

[43] “Department of Defense Strategy for Operations in the Information Environment,” (June 2016), 3.   

[44] Ibid.  Defines Informational-Related Capabilities as: tools, techniques, or activities employed within a dimension of the information environment to create effects and operationally desirable conditions.  IRCs historically include, but are not limited to operations security (OPSEC), military deception (MILDEC), military information support operations (MISO), electronic warfare (EW), cyberspace operations (CO), and special technical operations (STO).

[45] P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar : What Everyone Needs to Know. (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2014), 170-172

[46] Ibid.

[47] Bruce Schneier, Secrets and Lies : Digital Security in a Networked World. (Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing: 2004), xii  “As a result, today computer security is at a crossroads.  It’s failing, regularly, and with increasingly serious results.  CEOs are starting to notice.  When they finally get fed up, they’ll demand improvements.  (Either that or they’ll abandon the Internet, but I don’t believe that is a likely possibility) … For this reason, I believe computer security will improve, eventually.  I don’t think the improvements will come in the short term, and I think they will be met with considerable resistance.  This is because the engine of improvement will be fueled by corporate boardrooms and not the computer science laboratories, and as such won’t have anything to do with technology.  Real security improvement will only come through liability: holding software manufacturers accountable for the security and, more generally, the quality of their products.  This is an enormous change, and one the computer industry is not going to accept without a fight.”

[48] James Young, “To Rule the Ether… ,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, July 2016, Vol. 142/7/1,361

[49] Ibid

[50] Robert J. “Jake” Bebber, “Take on the Cyber Dragon,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, July 2016, Vol. 142/7/1,361

[51] Patrick M. Cronin, ed. Global Strategic Assessment 2009, 159


Categories: Mad Scientist

About the Author(s)

Edward J. Horres is a strategic futures analyst with InCadence Strategic Solutions supporting the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (DCS G-2) at Headquarters, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.  He holds a B.S. degree from the Citadel, an MBA from Brenau University, and an MS from the U.S. Naval War College.  He transitioned from active service in the U.S. Navy at the rank of Captain.



Mon, 05/31/2021 - 11:33am

The technology has changed the way of providing security systems! There is a lot of opportunity for having a megaporn for enjoying their online browsing time. I like this fourth offset strategy and love the way of thinking towards the improvement.

Bill C.

Thu, 08/11/2016 - 12:11pm

The central underlying problem for the U.S./the West today -- and re: our "transformational" goals for the Rest of the World; this is much the same as the central underlying problem of the Soviets/the communists during the Old Cold War -- and re: their "transformational" goals for the Rest of the World back then.

In both cases, this central underlying problem was/is the desire of the populations of the Rest of the World NOT to be "transformed" (along communist political, economic and social lines back then; along modern western political, economic and social lines today).

This such exact understanding of the central underlying problem, in fact, (a) being pointed to in a current SWJ Journal article entitled: "Partnership Instead of Alliance: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a Mechanism for China’s Growing Influence in Central Asia" and (b) specifically being expressed as follows:

"However, any financial assistance offered with strings attached to human rights, democratization, or combating corruption will be met with resistance, and will likely hinder the development of close political ties and alliances within Central Asia.[17] This rejection seems irrational, but what is important to remember is that the people of Central Asia are tied together through ancient tribal cultures, oral traditions, and a shared history. The people simply do not want western democracy, preferring the status quo instead."… )

In the strategic environment outlined above, to wit:

a. One group of great nations seeking to alter the current "status quo" -- by transforming the Rest of the World along its alien and profane (think, for example, "secular") political, economic and social lines (think the Soviets/the communists in the old days, and think the U.S./the West today) and

b. The Rest of the World not wishing to be so transformed and thus working hard to retain the "status quo."

In this such strategic environment (wherein, the Rest of the World nations seek -- via such things as "containment, "roll back" and "hybrid warfare" employed in their name -- to thwart the "transformational" goals of their great nation adversaries), these Rest of the World nations would seem to have (1) the easier job, (2) the strategic advantage and, thus, (3) the strategic "high hand."

This would seem to have been the case with the U.S./the West and the Rest of the World's "resistance to transformation" status and endeavors in the Old Cold War of yesterday.

And this would likewise seem to be the case with Russia, China, Iran -- and the Rest of the World's -- similar "resistance to transformation" endeavors and status in the New/Reverse Cold War of today.

Accordingly, then might we agree that THIS such exact understanding of the "central underlying problem" (the present desire of the populations of the world NOT to be transformed more along what they perceive as the alien and profane political, economic and social lines of the U.S./the West) is:

a. The very matter that "The Information Environment" is best designed to deal and, thus,

b. The very matter that such thinking as "the Fourth Offset Strategy" and "The Informational Environment Does Not Support War, It Is War" must be applied to/must immediately get after?

(In this specific regard to consider COL Slavko Bjelajac's thoughts in his 1960's "Unconventional Warfare: American and Soviet Approaches" paper -- as follows:

"It must be understood that the success of the revolutionaries is not due to the application of new principles of warfare, or psychological warfare, or to the technical efficiency of the revolutionary forces and their tactics, or to the terrain, in spite of their importance. These factors, no matter how favorable, would not be sufficient for success. The number of warriors armed with rifles and hand grenades also is not the decisive factor. The decisive factor is more in the nature of power. And the success of the revolutionaries, in this regard, can primarily be attributed to two extraordinary factors, namely, their closeness and appeal to the populations -- that is their ability to win over the populations -- and their ideological conviction."

From COL Bjelajac's perspective, therefore, to suggest that forward-deployed, talented, dedicated and committed "missionary preachers of market-democracy" are what is required of the "Fourth Offset Strategy"/the "Information Environment?" This, so as to overcome the current reluctance of the natives -- who today are not adequately convinced and/or inspired -- to "convert" to our strange way of life, our strange way of governance, etc.?)