Strategos Journal Fall 2013This is the eleventh issue of our online journal, Strategos. The journal is designed to stimulate discussion among the members on pertinent strategic issues and provide a venue for publication among practitioners and scholars. In this issue we offer a number of articles aimed at both broad and in some cases specific matters of interest to the strategist. Scott Smitson provides a brief but provocative analysis of U.S. strategy in the long war against radical Islamic terrorism. Smitson asserts that the U.S. has pursued a mismatched policy and strategy of annihilation and democratization and instead argues for marginalization of the increasingly fractious but persistent threats. Perhaps a new strategy cast more in line with aggressive or offensive containment is inevitable in a more resource constrained future. It would take only one sizable terrorist event, however, on U.S. soil clearly connected to overseas jihadists to quickly reshape such a restrained strategy.
PSYOPS was recently recast as Military Information Operations (MISO). Blair Williams suggests in his article on assessing MISO operations that the doctrine also needs to be recast. Unlike kinetic operations, where territory gained or physical evidence of destruction may provide some measures of effectiveness, influence operations provide entirely different challenges. Blair Williams’ article is a provocative blend of philosophy and operational research techniques attempting to better assess and utilize military information operations. It also seems part of a larger trend, at least in Army circles, to better understand military operations conducted in the human domain. The new Army Design methodology seems aimed at holistic understanding of the human context in which operations take place. Harnessing operational research techniques to support joint operations in this effort is certainly worthy.
Dale Eikmeier asserts that any useful definition of the center of gravity must be clear, logical, precise, and testable. One might also add useful. The tug and pull of the services over joint doctrine and the need for consensus may well help explain the frequent changes in definition over the last decade. The concept of center of gravity has certainly been challenged over the last ten years of counter insurgency operations. The addition of the concept of lines of effort has been specifically added to deal with operations at the lower end of the range of conflict where clear identification of a center of gravity may be difficult. Regardless, no doctrinal concept must be used slavishly or elevated to dogma—it must above all be useful.
Finally, the frequency and quality of Strategos is directly related to the number and quality of submissions. This online journal seeks to engage the interests of all those interested in strategy and provide an outlet for views not perhaps found elsewhere. I heartily encourage all members of the association to join this forum and keep up the intellectual fire.
Mike Matheny, Ph.D.
COL, U.S. Army Retired