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Thread: The National Defense Strategy is Not

  1. #1
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    Default The National Defense Strategy is Not

    https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/201...rategy/156068/

    The National Defense Strategy (NDS) Is No Strategy
    The author starts by attacking the National Security Strategy (NSS). Overall I agree, both the NSS and the NDS are hyper conventional based on outdated Clausewitzian influence that both McMasters and Mattis embraced to a fault.

    Let us first dispense with the notion that there exists a White House National Security Strategy that describes an overall national-security approach in which the NDS plays a part. The 2017 NSS document, a modest, carefully navigated bow to conventional thinking perpetrated by National Security Council staffers under then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, was largely irrelevant from the start.
    He points out that the NSA Bolton has dismissed the NSS.

    Listening to the NSC staffers who produced the NSS leaves one with an impression of freshly minted international relations graduates whose grasp of statecraft is limited to buzzwords like ends, ways, and means; DIME; soft power; and such.
    True, but unfortunately a lot of the authors were relatively senior.

    Most importantly, it is the enduring, intellectually stultifying legacy of James Mattis’s reign as defense secretary, perpetuated and institutionalized (to a degree perhaps not seen since NSC-68) by true-believing disciples and acolytes.
    We know where he stands on Mattis, who perhaps like any other person held in high esteem is a good person, but still overrated.

    The following point I agree with. The strategy dismisses anything beyond the 2+3 threats (China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and VEOs). Yet wishing these threats away doesn't make them disappear. On the other hand, our hyper focus and ineffective approach to counter VEOs did largely blind us the rise of both China and Russia as significant threats to our interests, and to compete and deter against these actors requires investing resources and time into different capabilities. Yet, not at the expense of other threats.

    All else – e.g., failing states, climate change and environmental degradation, arms proliferation, sundry forms of illicit trafficking, pandemic disease – is ancillary and peripheral, unworthy of more than passing attention because such things don’t warrant legitimate military response.
    Finally, many of us wrestle the with the tactical focus on increasing lethality, which sadly still the preferred way of war for America. Move a heavy force to the battle area to engage in direct force on force combat and devastate the adversary with our advanced weapons. The focus on lethality limits the focus on innovation to weapons systems, despite claims to the contrary. Great for the weapons industry, not so great for the nation seeking to advance its interests in the 21st Century.

    Trumpeting lethality – deadliness, killing power; a term used some 13 times – is pure Mattis: tough-guy rhetoric one might expect from a Chesty Puller or a George Patton, good perhaps for motivating the troops and being “colorful,” but to others nothing short of arrogant, hyperbolic, inflammatory, and strategically counterproductive.

    To suggest that lethality will sustain influence is less persuasive than the argument that it could diminish influence through disaffection with our bellicosity and militarism. To suggest that it will ensure favorable balances of power is to ignore the likelihood of provocation, insecurity, and reciprocal escalation.
    We're unlikely to see a redo any time soon.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/201...rategy/156068/


    The following point I agree with. The strategy dismisses anything beyond the 2+3 threats (China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and VEOs). Yet wishing these threats away doesn't make them disappear. On the other hand, our hyper focus and ineffective approach to counter VEOs did largely blind us the rise of both China and Russia as significant threats to our interests, and to compete and deter against these actors requires investing resources and time into different capabilities. Yet, not at the expense of other threats.



    Finally, many of us wrestle the with the tactical focus on increasing lethality, which sadly still the preferred way of war for America. Move a heavy force to the battle area to engage in direct force on force combat and devastate the adversary with our advanced weapons. The focus on lethality limits the focus on innovation to weapons systems, despite claims to the contrary.
    I’m just a Reserve NCO, but in recent months I’ve been stuck on the following thought:

    Innovative Strategy > Innovative Technology

    And I get the feeling that the US led 5 Eyes/Coalition have this backwards.

    Having had some solid exposure to US and 5 Eyes defence innovation, I’ve seen some really impressive strides.

    Necessary strides that have saved lives on combat operations(Pete Newell’s slide on IED incidence/casualties/launch of Rapid Equipping Force should be printed and framed).

    But that tactical/tool level innovation at the coalface doesn’t seem to be matched with any real innovation in the overarching strategy.

    As a Reserve NCO, military strategy is clearly “not my job” by trade or training.

    But I have a growing interest in it, as well as experience with strategy in the commercial sector(early stage Amazon.com, Stanford GSB, startup mentoring, and angel investing).

    In my personal anecdotal engagements with US and Australian Defence, I think they really “get” Moore’s Law and it’s implications for Defence.

    But I’m beginning to wonder if Metcalfe’s Law of Network Effect, most readily seen in FAANG+(Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Juniper) and BATH(Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei) international digital platforms, will shift to more of a core consideration in our hybrid digital future.

    Geodigital =/> Geopolitical

    However, I get the feeling the US led west may need 3 distinct strategies to counter 3 distinct, but overlapping, competitors/adversaries

    1) vs China: competition between “global geodigital operating systems”
    2) vs Russia/Iran/North Korea: long term adversaries that are evolving as globally disruptive threats
    3) vs Islam: ideological competition between fundamentalism and consumerism, one sided ideological fight

    Thoughts?

    Am I way off the mark?

    Feel free to chop it to pieces Bill.

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    The younger folks who are fighting the current fight are not concerned with dogma and Clausewitz, they have real problems they need to solve and they're tested almost daily in combat. Tactical innovation as you pointed out is not strategic innovation. I was going to make the excuse that we haven't been forced by reality to force innovation in strategy, but frankly, that isn't accurate. Whatever we call the war on terror now, it has been a tragic failure at the strategic level. There has been limited innovation at the strategic level, we clung to a failed strategy for way too long. Instead of innovating we're more likely to quit. Furthermore, China and Russia have made impressive gains with their gray zone strategies, and our response is to develop a more lethal force? A more "effective" force is certainly required to deter an adversary from pursuing nuclear and conventional options that threaten our interests, but it does nothing to reverse the setbacks in the gray zone. Since I'm on a roll, our innovation has largely been innovated to technology, seeking that third off-set technical advantage, but little innovation in the realm of strategic and operational approaches.

    However, I get the feeling the US-led west may need 3 distinct strategies to counter 3 distinct, but overlapping, competitors/adversaries
    1) vs China: competition between “global geodigital operating systems”
    2) vs Russia/Iran/North Korea: long term adversaries that are evolving as globally disruptive threats
    3) vs Islam: ideological competition between fundamentalism and consumerism, one-sided ideological fight
    First, we need an overall strategy that describes where we want to be in the future as a nation, and that includes some internal issues such as our education system, infrastructure, economically, environmentally, internationally, and so forth. Once we have an idea of where we are steering, the threats and opportunities become clearer and more rational.

    China, Russia, and Violent Extremism are critical threats to our interests, but as you pointed out each requires a deep understanding of all the strategic factors including the culture of each country (and its subcultures), political, economic, military, paramilitary and other factors to determine how to gain advantage. We have a habit of driving blind and focus on so called decisive combat operations as the answer to everything when more often than not the decisive work is done before the fight if there is even a need to fight. Increasing lethality as the author of the article above notes is not a strategy. The reason we haven't seen innovation to challenge these threats short of conventional armed conflict is largely due to our bureaucratic structure which has shaped our strategic culture. It's the hammer-nail thing. While we have other tools, each tool is in a separate toolbox with it owns authorities and associated funding, and that tool will seek to protect its turf. The hammer can only envision a conventional war paradigm, even against VEOs.

    China seeks to change the international order that we and many other countries depend upon for our security and prosperity. They have a multiprong sophisticated strategy for achieving this. Help me connect your idea to protecting the international order? You'll need to explain the global geodigital operating systems to me because I think we already have those in spades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    The younger folks who are fighting the current fight are not concerned with dogma and Clausewitz, they have real problems they need to solve and they're tested almost daily in combat. Tactical innovation as you pointed out is not strategic innovation. I was going to make the excuse that we haven't been forced by reality to force innovation in strategy, but frankly, that isn't accurate. Whatever we call the war on terror now, it has been a tragic failure at the strategic level. There has been limited innovation at the strategic level, we clung to a failed strategy for way too long. Instead of innovating we're more likely to quit. Furthermore, China and Russia have made impressive gains with their gray zone strategies, and our response is to develop a more lethal force? A more "effective" force is certainly required to deter an adversary from pursuing nuclear and conventional options that threaten our interests, but it does nothing to reverse the setbacks in the gray zone. Since I'm on a roll, our innovation has largely been innovated to technology, seeking that third off-set technical advantage, but little innovation in the realm of strategic and operational approaches.





    First, we need an overall strategy that describes where we want to be in the future as a nation, and that includes some internal issues such as our education system, infrastructure, economically, environmentally, internationally, and so forth. Once we have an idea of where we are steering, the threats and opportunities become clearer and more rational.

    China, Russia, and Violent Extremism are critical threats to our interests, but as you pointed out each requires a deep understanding of all the strategic factors including the culture of each country (and its subcultures), political, economic, military, paramilitary and other factors to determine how to gain advantage. We have a habit of driving blind and focus on so called decisive combat operations as the answer to everything when more often than not the decisive work is done before the fight if there is even a need to fight. Increasing lethality as the author of the article above notes is not a strategy. The reason we haven't seen innovation to challenge these threats short of conventional armed conflict is largely due to our bureaucratic structure which has shaped our strategic culture. It's the hammer-nail thing. While we have other tools, each tool is in a separate toolbox with it owns authorities and associated funding, and that tool will seek to protect its turf. The hammer can only envision a conventional war paradigm, even against VEOs.

    China seeks to change the international order that we and many other countries depend upon for our security and prosperity. They have a multiprong sophisticated strategy for achieving this. Help me connect your idea to protecting the international order? You'll need to explain the global geodigital operating systems to me because I think we already have those in spades.
    Thanks for the response Bill.

    Last week I submitted an article for the US Army Mad Scientist 2030 writing competition that covers “geodigital strategy” in a fictional scenario against “Donovia” used as a proxy for China.

    I’m happy to send thru a copy(although about 4500 words) if you’re interested.

    But in short:

    GeoDigital Strategy: A fictional subfield of geopolitics. Foreign policy guided by factors that are unique or significantly magnified in the digital environment. The geopolitical application of Metcalfe’s, Moore’s and Zipf’s Laws.

    Superplatform: A digital platform of global geodigital significance.

    One Platform, One Network(OP/ON): One Belt One Road applied to geodigital networks. A fictional development strategy extension of OB/OR to expand the integrated China/BATH superplatform into the ubiquitous global operating system.

    FAANG+(Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, Cisco/Juniper)

    BATH(Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei)

    The entire fictional exercise actually rose from a post I made here in response to one of yours where I mentioned the disturbing rise and total dominance of WeChat in China.

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...l=1#post212826

    I view China/BATH as an integrated “operating system” akin to government developing and directing strategy executed in combined arms operations by an interoperable Army, Navy, and Air Force.

    I view the US/FAANG+ “operating system” as the “geodigital” equivalent of a government in open conflict with each and every one of its superplatform “armed services” who are also concurrently in open conflict with each other.

    Having grown up during the 90’s gen1 Internet boom and the silly valuations put on scaling user bases(first common use of Metcalfe’s Law in tech media lexicon). Then again in the last decade long boom.

    It has me thinking Metcalfe’s Law and Zipf’s Law may apply to government/commercial hybrid networks that are globally and geopolitically significant.

    Hope that helps clarify it?
    Last edited by flagg; 1 Week Ago at 08:45 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flagg View Post
    Thanks for the response Bill.

    Last week I submitted an article for the US Army Mad Scientist 2030 writing competition that covers “geodigital strategy” in a fictional scenario against “Donovia” used as a proxy for China.

    I’m happy to send thru a copy(although about 4500 words) if you’re interested.

    But in short:

    GeoDigital Strategy: A fictional subfield of geopolitics. Foreign policy guided by factors that are unique or significantly magnified in the digital environment. The geopolitical application of Metcalfe’s, Moore’s and Zipf’s Laws.

    Superplatform: A digital platform of global geodigital significance.

    One Platform, One Network(OP/ON): One Belt One Road applied to geodigital networks. A fictional development strategy extension of OB/OR to expand the integrated China/BATH superplatform into the ubiquitous global operating system.

    FAANG+(Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, Cisco/Juniper)

    BATH(Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei)

    The entire fictional exercise actually rose from a post I made here in response to one of yours where I mentioned the disturbing rise and total dominance of WeChat in China.

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...l=1#post212826

    I view China/BATH as an integrated “operating system” akin to government developing and directing strategy executed in combined arms operations by an interoperable Army, Navy, and Air Force.

    I view the US/FAANG+ “operating system” as the “geodigital” equivalent of a government in open conflict with each and every one of its superplatform “armed services” who are also concurrently in open conflict with each other.

    Having grown up during the 90’s gen1 Internet boom and the silly valuations put on scaling user bases(first common use of Metcalfe’s Law in tech media lexicon). Then again in the last decade long boom.

    It has me thinking Metcalfe’s Law and Zipf’s Law may apply to government/commercial hybrid networks that are globally and geopolitically significant.

    Hope that helps clarify it?
    Great thoughts, and we're potentially already seeing the One Platform, One Network with Huawei. Perhaps digital hegemony enables economic and political hegemony?

    Regarding Zipf’s Law, I add to look up the definition and just reading the definition wasn't helpful. I'll attempt to study it a little more over the weekend to understand its relevance in your argument. Copy on Metcalfe's law, and maybe a passing thought, can we reverse engineer it from a value proposition to a destructive proposition. Rough thought, but turn all the connected nodes against a particular actor. Not sure where I'm going with this, sounds like something your generation could explore more effectively than mine. Keep the ideas coming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Great thoughts, and we're potentially already seeing the One Platform, One Network with Huawei. Perhaps digital hegemony enables economic and political hegemony?

    Regarding Zipf’s Law, I add to look up the definition and just reading the definition wasn't helpful. I'll attempt to study it a little more over the weekend to understand its relevance in your argument. Copy on Metcalfe's law, and maybe a passing thought, can we reverse engineer it from a value proposition to a destructive proposition. Rough thought, but turn all the connected nodes against a particular actor. Not sure where I'm going with this, sounds like something your generation could explore more effectively than mine. Keep the ideas coming.

    Agreed on digital hegemony perhaps allowing economic/political hegemony.

    If given a choice of digital, economic, or political monopoly, I’m increaisngly leaning towards digital as my vote for most valuable.

    Zipf’s Law applies to frequency of word useage, regardless of language.

    With the most frequently used word being used at roughy twice the rate of the 2nd most frequently used words, etcetera.

    I think it can be roughly applied to operating systems such as:

    Cloud computing:
    Amazon #1
    Microsoft #2(half of #1)
    Google #3(half again of #2)

    Mobile OS:
    Android #1
    iOS #2 (well less than half of #1)

    Desktop OS:
    Windows #1
    macOS #2(well less than half of #1)
    Linux #3(half of #2)

    Where I think it may apply here in a geodigital Cold War between opposing superplatform operating systems is that in commercial cases there seems to be far more in the way of dominance than equilibrium.

    My thoughts are that Zipf’s Law, if it applies, may be something akin to Thucydides Trap for geodigital networks.

    In my fictional scenario, I refer to an “OD-X” partnering with OGA combined under Title 50v2 focused on counter network effects operations.

    I find out by the end of the month if US Army Mad Scientist will publish it or not.

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    GeoDigital Strategy: A fictional subfield of geopolitics. Foreign policy guided by factors that are unique or significantly magnified in the digital environment. The geopolitical application of Metcalfe’s, Moore’s and Zipf’s Laws.
    The evolution of globalization and information technology facilitates the ability to share information instantaneously around the globe in multiple forms. These messages frequently become memes that individuals identify with (note the recent criminal act in New Zealand). The power of information to shape the geopolitical space is profound. The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) states “the rapidly accelerating spread of information is challenging the ability of some governments to control their populations and maintain civil order, while at the same time changing how wars are fought and aiding groups in mobilizing and organizing. It is this globalization of information that blurs the distinction between local and global affairs in the social, political, and economic spheres. Metcalfe’s Law indicates this geodigital space will increase in significance exponentially.

    I think we have a fair understanding of how violent extremists leverage the digital environment to pursue their ends, which includes expanding their operational reach globally, or at least to the connected the portions of the world. We have only recently begun to appreciate how state actors compete in the geodigital domain. It is Net warfare in the 21st Century, but in traditional parlance, it is political warfare with new means (weaponizing the digital space).

    The digital domain enables more than information/influence dominance, it will enable economic dominance, and perhaps security dominance. Collectively this unfortunate, because it has so much promise to change the world for the better. Norming the use of the digital domain globally is desirable, but I question if it is possible?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    The evolution of globalization and information technology facilitates the ability to share information instantaneously around the globe in multiple forms. These messages frequently become memes that individuals identify with (note the recent criminal act in New Zealand). The power of information to shape the geopolitical space is profound. The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) states “the rapidly accelerating spread of information is challenging the ability of some governments to control their populations and maintain civil order, while at the same time changing how wars are fought and aiding groups in mobilizing and organizing. It is this globalization of information that blurs the distinction between local and global affairs in the social, political, and economic spheres. Metcalfe’s Law indicates this geodigital space will increase in significance exponentially.

    I think we have a fair understanding of how violent extremists leverage the digital environment to pursue their ends, which includes expanding their operational reach globally, or at least to the connected the portions of the world. We have only recently begun to appreciate how state actors compete in the geodigital domain. It is Net warfare in the 21st Century, but in traditional parlance, it is political warfare with new means (weaponizing the digital space).

    The digital domain enables more than information/influence dominance, it will enable economic dominance, and perhaps security dominance. Collectively this unfortunate, because it has so much promise to change the world for the better. Norming the use of the digital domain globally is desirable, but I question if it is possible?
    I believe the voluntary reach of commercial network platforms, if working in granular partnership with government, could be easily pushed beyond just majority and towards ubiquity with preferential treatment towards specific commercial networks and diplomatic/political/legislative nudging behaviours.

    Expanding hybrid digital network influence across international borders may be achieved using the same political, economic, and diplomatic TTPs as One Belt, One Road.

    However, I very much believe coercive debt trap diplomacy only gets a network so far.

    A competitive value proposition is still required.

    For both “citizen users” to enhance their opportunity as well as “sovereign government users” to enhance their continuity.

    Just in the last two weeks, Italy became the first Group of Seven or NATO country to sign up to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative along with Germany’s decision to NOT ban Huawei 5G from Germany’s next gen network are both related to my argument of a possible One Platform, One Network future.

    I’m left thinking that the US is currently facing a much more dangerous digital analog to the Trans-Siberian Pipeline Crisis where President Reagan placed considerable political pressure on some of the US’s closest allies to disrupt Soviet economic opportunity and political leverage.

    Creating, capturing, distributing, and monetising economic value.

    But I see it working as a velvet gloved, iron fist.

    An economic hand up, combined with a political punch in the face if you oppose it.

    Global economic, political, and social “networkism” with Chinese characteristics.

    I don’t view the possibility as a singular dominant network/platform, but I do see it as having potential to be the world’s largest.

    But my concern is that instead of seeing some form of Cold War-esque balance, equilibrium, or homeostasis we may see Zipf’s Law apply with vastly uneven distribution between the most commonly used network and the 2nd most commonly used network.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    The digital domain enables more than information/influence dominance, it will enable economic dominance, and perhaps security dominance. Collectively this unfortunate, because it has so much promise to change the world for the better. Norming the use of the digital domain globally is desirable, but I question if it is possible?
    Further to my last Bill:

    The Xuexi Qiangguo “Study the Great Nation” app is now the most downloaded item on Apple’s App Store in China(More than WeChat and TikTok):

    https://www.scmp.com/tech/apps-socia...inping-thought

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...to-your-pocket

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...-a8859511.html

    Seems like Mao’s Little Red Book(published by PLA General Political Department) mashed up with behavioural economics “nudging”, likely observed by tireless evolving AI/ML Google Analytics-like tools of State Security.

    Probably more George Orwell’s “1984” than Shoshana Zuboff’s “Age of Surveillance Capitalism”.

    I tend to think our potential digital future is a blend of the two, with the spoils going to the network/platform that iterates the best value proposition for both citizen “users” and government “enterprise/admins”

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