USAWC professors and esteemed guests discuss topics ranging from military strategy to geopolitical issues.
The US Army War College Press produces "Decisive Point" as a companion series to the quarterly journal "Parameters".
In "SSI Live," professors discuss wide-ranging military topics.
Michael J. Dziedzic for Leonard R. Hawley (posthumously) – “Crisis Management Lessons from the Clinton Administration’s Implementation of Presidential Decision Directive 56”
Released 12 October, 2021.
PROLOGUE: In the wake of the Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, on October 3-4, 1993, in which 19 American servicemembers were killed and 73 injured, I was tasked to lead an effort to discern the strategic lessons to be learned from the ill-fated US intervention. The study highlighted several shortfalls: the absence of a clear US strategy and whole-of-government plan for the operation, the onset of mission creep as the operation evolved from a humanitarian mission into a manhunt for a notorious Somali warlord, the lack of coordination across the US government agencies and other coalition partners involved, and the failure to maintain proper oversight of execution as one presidential administration transitioned to the next. The study’s recommendations, which were briefed to the secretary of defense, the national security adviser, and other key participants, ultimately led to a more integrated US approach to planning for US operations in Haiti in 1994 as well as a new Presidential Decision Directive 56 (PDD-56), Managing Complex Contingency Operations.
In this context, Len Hawley, a retired Army colonel, who as a civilian served as the director of multilateral affairs, became the National Security Council’s (NSC) point person to lead the implementation of PDD-56. Throughout his tenure in the Clinton administration, Len oversaw the drafting of more than 40 political-military plans for contingencies ranging from East Timor to Kosovo. These plans sought to incorporatethe costly lessons of Somalia in an effort to improve the outcomes and reduce the risks associated with US contingency operations overseas. After 25 years in the Army, Len continued to serve his country as a civilian leader in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the NSC staff, and the 9/11 Commission staff. This article is the last piece Len wrote before he died of complications from leukemia in 2020. It is full of the insights and wisdom of an unsung hero who was an extraordinary public servant, strategic thinker, and beloved mentor and colleague to many. Click here to read the article.
Michèle FlournoyCofounder and Managing Partner of WestExec AdvisorsChair, Center for a New American Security Board of Directors
Col. Everett Spain, Dr. Gautam Mukunda, and Col. Archie Bates – “The Battalion Commander Effect”
Released 7 October, 2021.
Statistical evidence suggests that Army battalion commanders are significant determinants of the retention of their lieutenants—especially high-potential lieutenants. Further, this so-called Battalion Commander Effect should be included in brigadier general promotion board assessments and used to inform officer professional military education curricula. Click here to read the article.
Col. Wade A. Germann and Dr. Heather S. Gregg – Assessing Risk at the National Strategic Level: Visualization Tools for Military Planners
Released 6 October, 2021.
The reemergence of great power competition, conflict with near-peer competitor states below the level of armed conflict, and persisting threats from nonstate actors with transnational ambitions and global reach pose challenges for strategists planning, executing, and assessing military operations and strategy. Building on current visualization tools, two proposed models—the National Strategic Risk Abacus and the National Strategic Risk Radar Chart—address these challenges and better depict how the US military may inadvertently contribute to risk at the national strategic level. Click here to read the article.
Michael W. Wissemann – Great (Soft) Power Competition: US and Chinese Efforts in Global Health Engagement
Released 1 October, 2021.
Global health engagement, an underutilized strategy rooted in the strengths of soft power persuasion, can lead to more military-to-military cooperation training, help establish relationships that can be relied on when crises develop, stabilize fragile states, and deny violent extremist organizations space for recruiting and operations. Examining Chinese efforts worldwide to curry favor and influence and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this article shows health as a medium is a very compelling and advantageous whole-of-government approach to national security policy concerns. Click here to read the article.
Dr. Ilmari Käihkö – “The Evolution of Hybrid Warfare: Implications for Strategy and the Military Profession”
Released 29 September 2021.
The concept of hybrid war has evolved from operational-level use of military means and methods in war toward strategic-level use of nonmilitary means in a gray zone below the threshold of war. This article considers this evolution and its implications for strategy and the military profession by contrasting past and current use of the hybrid war concept and raising critical questions for policy and military practitioners. Click here to read the article.
Dr. Jason W. Warren and Dr. John A. Bonin – “Reversing the Readiness Assumption: A Proposal for Fiscal and Military Fitness”
Released 27 September 2021.
Looming budget cuts will necessitate adept management to retain a military capable of competing and winning by avoiding the mistakes made in prior drawdowns. This article presents a framework for government and defense leaders to prepare for the coming drawdown and plan for the necessary capacity of tomorrow across the diplomatic, information, military, and economic framework. Click here to read the article.