James J. Wirtz Winning Left of Battle: The Role of Analysis Keith Nordquist The Military Strategist’s Flux Capacitor Benjamin "BJ" Armstrong Mahan Versus Corbett inWidth, Depth, and Context David Betz Fortified Strategic Complexes Eado Hecht Drones in the Nagorno-Karabakh War: Analyzing the Data Davis Ellison The Screenwriter’s Guide to NATO Civil-Military Relations WINTER 2022 Linking Ends and Means VOLUME 7, ISSUE 4
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Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 2 For whatever reason, the Gods of Strategy and academia seem to have blessed us with an excellent issue which I can only, and predictably, commend to our readers. Of course, all Military Strategy Magazine (and past Infinity Journal) editions have been excellent. Still, this edition stands out in that the submissions cover a broader and more eclectic approach to the subject matter without drifting into the abstract philosophy of the strategically confused, which is today so common. It would be unfair to pick out which articles I think are worthy of note. As is well known, I have strong and oft-lamented views on what does and does not conform to a useful discussion on Strategy, so I will avoid describing articles as to where I see their merits or even, in some cases, shortcomings. Still, I am optimistic because the articles herein cover a broad and deep approach to our subject matter. This should provide some hope for future writers. Strategy is about “the use of engagements to attain the object of the war.” – or “for the purposes of the war” depending on which Clausewitz translation you beat people with. The use of engagements gives any sound writer a vast remit to play with, providing they do not drift into the conduct of the engagement, which is taught via tactics. Anything that speaks to why, when, and where the engagements occur speaks to strategy. This does include force development, which dead Carl so notably dismissed to the crafting of the sword albeit in the context of raising armies, but you raise armies to conduct engagements. As the Nagorno-Karabakh War showed, you can get that very wrong if not collecting a massive butcher’s bill matters. Do you want to build Yamato? This does not mean we want articles arguing that the Army needs to bring back the M-113 or select a 7.62mm battle rifle. Nor does it necessarily mean that self-serving articles about doubling the size of the US Marine Corps are welcome or that we all need to be convinced about Cyber and information ops. If you can say something interesting and insightful about amphibious forces or cyber, then great, but it must be insightful and relevant to strategy. If nothing else, this edition clearly shows that there is substantially more latitude in terms of strategic subject matter than we as editors and publishers might have allowed in a bid to avoid “Strategy” becoming a bucket for any military or policy opinion someone wanted to give vent to. Enjoy this edition. Do not accept all that is said uncritically, and if you feel compelled to rebut or dispute things written, then put fingers to keyboards and let others know. William F. Owen Editor, Military Strategy Magazine January 2022 A Note From The Editor
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 3 Winning Left of Battle: The Role of Analysis 4 James J. Wirtz The idea of winning the battle before the war involves using operations research, modeling and simulation, wargaming and qualitative analysis, to understand outcomes before they unfold in combat. U.S. Navy officers have much experience in this regard, but as this brief story of their response to the battleship Yamato demonstrates, it might be easier to develop left of battle insights when dealing with known technologies. When novel technologies and weapons are involved, left of battle analysis is less compelling. The Military Strategist’s Flux Capacitor 10 Keith Nordquist Military strategy in the twenty-first century must better appreciate nation-states as systems in flux. To create advantages in such a system, strategists must more intentionally consider time by thinking “fourth-dimensionally.” A conceptual flux capacitor aids such thinking because it contextualizes the uncertainty of nation-state flux as the interaction of choice, cognition, and consequence. Mahan Versus Corbett inWidth, Depth, and Context 16 Benjamin "BJ" Armstrong Today's strategic teachings tend to cast the maritime strategists Alfred Thayer Mahan and Julian Corbett as creating different schools of thought which are in competition with one another. This approach encourages strategists and naval officers to think of themselves as "Mahanian" or "Corbettian." However, this is a false choice. By examining Mahan and Corbett in width, depth, and context we see that understanding the history of the two men and the era in which they lived is vital to a clear assessment of their strategies and theories. Fortified Strategic Complexes 23 David Betz This article explains the surprising degree to which contemporary warfare revolves around fortifications. Fortified strategic complexes, as they are defined here, are central to the military operations of many states across a range of strategic contexts. Drones in the Nagorno-KarabakhWar: Analyzing the Data 31 Eado Hecht The 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War aroused a lively debate on the utility of drones and what they presage for future wars. However, the debaters generally neglected to provide factual data from the war to base their arguments. This article, within the limitations of availability and reliability, attempts to correct this lacuna. The Screenwriter’s Guide to NATO Civil-Military Relations 39 Davis Ellison Not unlike its treatment in film and in literature, NATO has been a neglected topic in civil-military relations,. This article adds to both the civil-military relations and history of NATO literatures by providing a more coherent approach to its institutional history and offering a guide through its specific focus on the dynamics between NATO's political and military organisations. Contents
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 4 Winning Left of Battle: The Role of Analysis James J. Wirtz - Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey About the author James J. Wirtz is a Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He recently completed coediting the 7th edition of Strategy in the Contemporary World (Oxford 2022). Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not reflect the position of any government or government agency. When the battleship Yamato was launched in August 1940, the Japanese Empire possessed a weapon that was designed with one target in mind, the battleships of the U.S. Navy. At 70,000 tons and armed with nine 18-inch guns, the largest caliber naval rifle ever deployed on a warship, the Yamato was actually intended to take on several comparatively lightly-armed and lightly-armored American battleships simultaneously in a climatic battle for control of the Western Pacific. That battle never occurred – the Yamato was sunk by more than four-hundred U.S. carrier aircraft during what amounted to a suicide mission to attack the U.S. invasion force at Okinawa in April of 1945. Nevertheless, both the Japanese and U.S. navies worked throughout World War II to bring their opposing battle lines To cite this article: Wirtz, James J., “Winning Left of Battle: The Role of Analysis,” Military Strategy Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 4, winter 2022, pages 4-8.
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 5 into contact. No less than 6 U.S. battleships (Massachusetts, Indiana, New Jersey, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Missouri), 7 cruisers (including the brand new battle cruisers Alaska and Guam) and 21 destroyers were dispatched to meet Yamato just in case the aviators failed to find their target. Although the demise of the Yamato in such a lopsided victory was welcome from the American perspective, it was not preordained. The Yamato was the superweapon of its day, it threatened the U.S. battle line and even the outcome of the anticipated climatic naval battle for mastery of the Pacific. U.S. planners recognized Yamato as a problem and they subjected that problem to mathematical “analysis” to understand its nature and to devise cost-effective ways to mitigate the threat. U.S. Navy planners worked to find a solution to this Japanese superweapon “left of battle,” so to speak, long before Yamato sailed for Okinawa. Today, everything from hypersonic vehicles, cyber intrusions, autonomous vehicles, and 5G networks are identified as emerging superweapons that threaten the U.S. Navy’s prospects in the western Pacific. Nevertheless, as these various technologies wax and wane along the Gartner hype cycle, evaluations of potential applications, net assessments, and mathematically informed analysis rarely inform debate.[i] What follows is not just a call for today’s Navy to “think about things more,” but to instead employ the full panoply of mathematical analysis, optimization techniques, systems analysis, modelling and simulation, and even qualitative assessment to better understand how to employ weapons based on new technologies and their potential impact on some future conflict. A look back on the Yamato problem can help us understand why today’s officers will find it difficult to assess the new technologies that are touted as the source of the next superweapon at sea. Few would disagree that officers need to embrace a longstanding naval tradition by using analysis now to win the next battle, thereby bolstering deterrence and reducing the likelihood of war in the future. What is less understood is that when it comes to assessing new technologies, analysis appears less compelling “left of battle,” that is, before wartime experience resolves questions about weapons based on novel technologies. Sizing Up Yamato Although the Yamato’s 18-inch guns could loft a shell about 46,000 yards, a bit more than the 42,000-yard range of the 16-inch guns deployed on the newest Iowa-class battleships that were entering the U.S. fleet at the start of World War II, effective engagements at sea would occur at less than maximum range. Both types of battleships could also fire a salvo at about thirty-second intervals. The Yamato, however, did possess a significant edge in the overall weight of its broadside (about 29,000 pounds) to the Iowa (24,000 pounds), giving the Yamato a distinct twenty percent advantage in a “slugging match.” Yamato’s thicker armor amplified that advantage. U.S. planners first seemed to gravitate towards a “more of the same” solution to compensate for the lighter broadside and armor of their capital ships. Japanese ship construction could not compete with American industry – the Japanese would only manage to launch the Yamato and her sister ship Musachi by the end of the war. By planning for the construction of six Iowa-class battleships, the United States might be able to avoid a “fair fight,” so to speak, so that multiple Iowa battleships could engage a single Yamato. A 3:1 engagement would then subject a Yamato to nearly 150,000 pounds of shot each minute, while each Iowa would only be subjected to about 19,000 pounds of ordnance in return. Ceteris paribus, U.S. battleships would quickly win such an encounter. In a sense, what analysis revealed was that quantity has a quality all its own; building a larger number of relatively inferior weapons can sometimes defeat a smaller number of superior weapons. Because it was impossible to guarantee that the United States would enjoy that firepower advantage when an encounter occurred, naval architects went back to the drawing board to see if they could design a U.S. battleship that would be superior to the Yamato. A more sophisticated analysis went into the design of the new Montana-class battleship, which would be built on hulls designed for the Iowa-class. Instead of attempting to increase the size of the big guns on the Montana to exceed the 18-inch cannon on the Yamato, U.S. naval architects increased the number of 16-inch guns on the Montana to twelve, up from the nine 16-inch guns carried by the Iowa-class. As a result, the Montana’s broadside would enjoy about a ten percent advantage (32,400 pound vs. 29,000) in throw weight over the Yamato. More importantly, its twelve cannons would also possess a greater probability of actually hitting the target than Yamato’s nine larger guns. If each round had about a 10% chance of hitting a target, then the likelihood of a Montana achieving three or more hits with a 12-shot salvo was 11%, while Yamato had only a 5% chance of achieving three or more hits with a 9 shot salvo. Roughly speaking, a Montana could score three or more hits for every 2 or more hits scored by a Yamato, giving the Montana about a 20% advantage in firepower, the same advantage enjoyed by the Yamato over the Iowa. The left of battle analysis behind the Montana revealed that increasing the firepower of existing platforms – an evolutionary improvement -- was a costeffective way of besting the opponent’s superweapon. Data gleaned from the first six months of World War II combat in the Pacific, however, led the Navy to adopt a far more radical response to the Yamato. Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the Japanese victory at Pearl Harbor, some Navy strategists wanted to reserve judgment on the future of the battleship in the face of obviouslyeffective carrier aviation.[ii] Following the carrierdominated battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, however, Winning Left of Battle: The Role of Analysis James J. Wirtz
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 6 it was no longer possible to avoid that judgment. What the air battles demonstrated was that the aircraft carrier could engage a battleship literally hundreds of miles before the battleship could be brought into effective range (about 20 miles with radar guidance and somewhat less than that with ship-based optics). The important measure of effectiveness was no longer weight of fire, or speed of fire, or even the probability of scoring a hit, it was the range at which a target could be engaged. By broadening their analytical aperture to include aircraft, officers recognized that an asymmetrical weapon had transformed the superweapon Yamato into a target years before the first Montana would have plied the world’s oceans. Battleships would no longer be the dominant weapon in naval warfare. It might be tempting to attribute this apparent technological myopia to the battle between battleship admirals of the socalled “gun club” and pioneering naval aviators. That would be a misreading of the Yamato story – by working a series of Fleet Problems during the 1920s and 1930s, naval aviators began to gain an accurate perception of the potential of the aircraft carrier. Nevertheless, as the work of the naval historian Craig Felker suggests, these promising findings were undermined by concerns about the frailty of aircraft and the ability to conduct effective aircraft operations in an unforgiving wartime environment at sea.[iii] Indeed, the death of Admiral William A. Moffett, the most effective pioneer of the naval aviation, in the crash of the airship Akron in 1933 did little to undermine the perception that aircraftwere too unreliable to be counted on inwar.[iv]What is especially revealing is how many issues the Navy actually worked out in the interwar period – carrier operations, amphibious landing, underway refueling – without having a fundamental impact on procurement strategies that would shift the balance between guns and aircraft in the Fleet.[v] By July 1942, the Navy revised its priorities, placing submarine construction first and relegating battleship construction to the back burner as sixth in priority.[vi] In a move accelerated to the speed of wartime, the U.S. Navy ended its battleship program by July 1943, cancelling plans to build Montana-class battleships.[vii] The end of the battleship era had come, an end sealed by the fate of the Yamato two years later. Where is the Analysis? Today the Navy faces a technological tsunami. A growing list of potentially disruptive technologies, if not potential superweapons, compete for consideration. Artificial intelligence, the emergence of 5G networks, additive manufacturing, quantum science, new energetics, synthetic biology, and new types of “systems of systems” in naval warfare appear to be within reach of friend and foe alike. The Navy is also working hard at innovation. Nevertheless, Navy planners at times appear overwhelmed by these emerging technological opportunities and seem unsure about which technologies and operational concepts to pursue. Motivating this concern about new technologies and the slow pace of innovation is the fear that one of these new technologies might constitute a disruptive approach to naval warfare, an asymmetric response to the carrierdominated U.S. Navy. Ironically, despite all of the technological rhetoric, we face a situation today not entirely dissimilar to the one facing the U.S. Navy on the eve of WWII. Recent advances in antiaccess and area-denial technologies, strategies, operations and tactics by emerging peer-competitors largely have one target in mind, the carrier battle groups of the U.S. Navy. Admittedly, many of these advances are more formidable on paper than in reality, but these tactical threats can have operational and strategic consequences. From an institutional perspective, these developments also threaten the bureaucratic dominance of the aviation community, much in the same way the interests of battleship admirals were threatened by both the Yamato and aviation in the interwar years. Because the U.S. Navy’s current array of high-performance aircraft and multi-mission warships are so expensive, the qualitative edge produced by quantity is likely to be enjoyed by our peer-competitors. In other words, the “more of the same” response embodied in the Iowa-class building program is not a promising option for the today’s Navy. Increasing the firepower of individual platforms might be a viable solution to the anti-access and area-denial problem, but without analysis to identify and mathematically model specific threats, it is impossible to knowwhat improvements are likely to make a difference in combat. Solutions might be available, but someone has to provide a net assessment of the problem as a starting point. This leads to the possibility of an asymmetric, disruptive response to the anti-access and area-denial problem. Nevertheless, the history of disruptive technology and the battleship is not reassuring – asymmetric, disruptive technologies are difficult to assess before they are demonstrated in combat. When the Yamato, Iowa and Montana were designed, for instance, the offensive potential of carrier aviation was a matter of some conjecture. The Navy’s first carrier monoplane, the Brewster Buffalo (F2A), still only existed in artists’ renderings and it remained an open question if aircraft possessed the range, payload, and structural integrity for sustained combat. By the early 1930s, aviationenthusiasts believed that the pulsedfirepowerof the aircraft carrier could outrange and outgun battleships, but their models and analysis appeared to be largely conjecture to their more battleship-minded colleagues. Unlike the “left of battle” analysis that influenced the development of the Iowa-class and the Montana-class, the decision to abandon the battleship in favor of the aircraft carrier occurred “right of battle,” after the definitive evidence gathered at the Coral Sea and Midway was subject to analysis. Today, waiting for a “proof of concept” demonstration of one of the host of Winning Left of Battle: The Role of Analysis James J. Wirtz
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 7 potentially disruptive technologies on the horizon seems like a recipe for disaster. Left of Battle, or Right of Battle? The story of the response to the Yamato highlights the role of analysis as a tool to conduct a net assessment of competing weapons systems, to explore doctrine and to a certain extent strategy, allowing officers to gain some foresight into likely combat outcomes. While it cannot predict the future with accuracy, analysis can identify the factors that are likely to drive battlefield outcomes in certain directions. In other words, analysis would allow one to predict not only that the Montana would defeat the Yamato, it also would have predicted that an aircraft carrier could have accomplished the same feat without suffering any damage in return. By the late 1930s, Navy-shipbuilding plans called for the construction of no less than 17 new battleships in four progressively larger classes and a six new battle cruisers to boot – the plan to build 23 new capital ships was the Navy’s answer to the looming threat of war in the Pacific.[viii] What is remarkable is how quickly the Navy abandoned the battleship and how quickly the locus of bureaucratic power in the Navy shifted from the battleship admirals to the aviation community. Current U.S. Navy efforts to outpace the growth of peer competitors’ increasing anti-access and area denial capabilities loosely parallel earlier efforts to trump the Yamato. The Navy, for example, is looking to increase numbers quickly. The Pentagon has been upgrading amphibious assault ships to carry about 20 F-35s each, increasing the number of platforms that carry aviation strike assets.[ix] The Navy also is looking to increase the effective firepower of existing Nimitz-class aircraft carriers by equipping them with new MQ-25 Stingray autonomous tanker aircraft, a move which should increase the strike range of the carriers’ air wings. In a manner that also is reminiscent of the early days of carrier aviation, the Navy also is experimenting with a several new technologies, for instance, the Sea Hunter autonomous vehicle, to gain operational experiencewithapotentiallydisruptiveweapon. So far, an “Admiral Yarnell” has not emerged to provide an innovative demonstration of one of these technologies, but eventually some new technology will emerge as a frontrunner in the race to develop an asymmetric, disruptive weapon. History also suggests that Navy officers will be aware of this new technology because they will be involved in its weaponization. As one anonymous reviewer also observed, given the myriad of existing commands, Pentagon bureaus, and surface ship, aviation, and submarine warfare “barons,” it is difficult to believe that the left of battle problem involving new technology is not being addressed by the U.S. Navy. Indeed, the element in the Pentagon’s Navy staff charged with conducting analysis – OPNAV N81, the “Assessment Division” – is filled with some of the best operations analysts in the world. Nevertheless, many of these activities, especially in the Pentagon, use analysis to justify budget requests or programmatic decisions to Congress, they focus on optimizing effectiveness and minimizing cost across systems that have already been selected for production. [x] Additionally, as Thomas-Durrell Young has noted, the Navy lacks the organization and staffing to direct all of this analysis towards agreed upon end states or to identify and present strategic choices to senior Navy officers.[xi] In a sense, N81 possesses an unparalleled capability to demonstrate budget optimization, but is less likely to offer tactical, operational and strategic assessments of novel technologies or experimental systems. More than one Navy admiral has noted that analysts often fall in love studying a problem without devising workable solutions to their object of affection. Nevertheless, the “left or right of battle” issue needs to be better recognized by Navy strategists and planners when it comes to the art and science of selecting weapons and platforms. When employed to assess known technologies in specific strategic, operational, and tactical contexts, analysis can highlight cost-effective ways to defeat opposing systems long before battle occurs and planners will be willing to integrate these solutions into the Fleet – winning “left of battle” is an obtainable goal. The important caveat here is that analysis is often wielded by bureaucratically dominant elements of an institution in a way to preserve the dominance of their preferred weapons and practices. When asymmetric, disruptive technologies and weapons are involved, analysis carries less weight because it appears grounded in unrealistic or unproven strategic, operational, or tactical assumptions. Analysis of asymmetric, disruptive weapons can still carry the day, but analysis appears to hold sway “right of battle,” when recent experience makes analytic findings appear not only cut and dried, but a bit overtaken by events. The Yamato case demonstrates that left of battle victories can be achieved when they involved relatively symmetrical technologies in well understood weapons systems. Nevertheless, it also suggests that analysis faces a much tougher right of battle problem – the last obstacle confronting the integration of new weapons derived from asymmetric, disruptive technology. Solving the right of battle problem can govern which opponent delivers a proof of concept demonstration in the next battle at sea. Failing to solve the problem can undermine deterrence, especially if risk-acceptant opponents are willing to gamble on new weapons to upset the balance at sea quickly. Winning Left of Battle: The Role of Analysis James J. Wirtz
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 8 References [i] The Gartner hype cycle is a tool used to describe the maturity, adoption and social impact of emerging technologies and applications see Ivy Wigmore, “Gartner Hype Cycle,” TechTarget, October 2013. https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/ Gartner-hype-cycle [ii] Robert O’Connell, Sacred Vessels: The Cult of the Battleship and the Rise of the U.S. Navy (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991), p. 316. [iii] Craig C. Felker, Testing American Sea Power: U.S. Navy Strategic Exercises, 1923-1940 (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2007). [iv] William F. Trimble, Admiral William A. Moffet: Architect of Naval Aviation (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2007). [v] Albert Nofi, To Train the Fleet for War: The U.S. Navy Fleet Problems, 1923-1940 (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 2010). [vi] O’Connell, Sacred Vessels, p. 316. [vii] William Garzke and Roger Dullin, Battleships: United States Battleships 1935-1992 (Annapolis: Naval Instuture Press, 1995), p. 165. [viii] O’Connell, Sacred Vessels, p. 306. [ix] David B. Larter, “US Navy upgrades more ships for theF-35 as the future of carriers remains in flux,” Defensenews June 1, 2020. https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/01/01.yus-navy-upgrades-more-ships-for-the-F-35-as-the-future-ofcarriers-remains-in-flux/ [x] For an example of this type of analysis sponsored by N81 see Edward G. Keating, Sarah H. Bana, and Michael Boito, Cost Adjustment Sheets and the Flying Hour Program (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2012). https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ ADA568695.pdf [xi] Thomas-Durrell Young, “When Programming Trumps Policy or Plans: The Case of the U.S. Department of the Navy,” Journal of Strategic Studies Vol. 39, Iss. 7. 2016. 938-955 Winning Left of Battle: The Role of Analysis James J. Wirtz
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Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 10 The Military Strategist’s Flux Capacitor Keith Nordquist - U.S. Air Force About the author Keith Nordquist is an airpower strategist for the U.S. Air Force and holds a Master of Aeronautical Science, a Master of Military Art and Science, and a Master of Arts in Military Operations. His background includes operational assignments as a mobility pilot and staff assignments as a major command, combatant command, and service-level action officer. Keith is a distinguished graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Air Force Squadron Officer School, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Officer School, and the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies. Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed or implied are those of the author and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, or other agencies or departments of the U.S. government. You’re just not thinking fourthdimensionally! —Dr. Emmett L. Brown, Back to the Future Today, Western militaries consult doctrine, craft objectives, and measure means to impose clarity upon complexity. Their strategists praise clear context like the unambiguous purpose of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, To cite this article: Nordquist, Keith, “The Military Strategist’s Flux Capacitor,” Military Strategy Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 4, winter 2022, pages 10-14.
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 11 and Desert Farewell.[i] Unsurprisingly, US policymakers attribute the 1991 campaign’s success to such clarity.[ii] And the sentiment reverberates in current US national strategic guidance: “military force should only be used when the objectives and mission are clear.”[iii] But this view acclimates strategists and policymakers to expect certainty from military options. Certainty is untenable when the international system’s ambiguity accelerates nationstate volatility.[iv] Today’s complexity necessitates a more adaptable approach to clarity, one which also embraces the uncertainty of a “world in flux.”[v] Classical physics describes “flux” as the electromagnetic flow through a three-dimensional object. Electrical current passes through the object’s height, width, and length over time, the fourth dimension. In military strategy, flux is a notional term about contextual fluidity. A nation’s depth, breadth, and span change and are changed by the international system’s choices, cognition, andconsequences over time. Fortuitously, science fiction offers a pertinent tool to conceptualize flow and change: the flux capacitor. In the Back to the Future film series, the flux capacitor allows one to manipulate time by interacting with the flow of history. Accordingly, a conceptual flux capacitor allows a military strategist to manipulate time by framing system interactions within the flow of history. Artful strategy changes flux by exploiting and exploring systemvariation to create advantage.[vi] Therefore, a conceptual flux capacitor helps the military strategist think in four dimensions and adapt to the twenty-first century flux of choices, cognition, and consequences. Thinking Fourth-Dimensionally Contextual flux in military strategy is not about a system changing but about the value of the change. The current global security landscape defines valuable change as forging and extending strategic advantage.[vii] This means operations are strategy’s tools to manipulate context beyond the finite space and compressed time of operations themselves.[viii] Four-dimensional thinking is a way to consider the creation of strategic advantage more explicitly for operational planning. The four conceptual dimensions for a military resemble the height, width, length, and time of physics. “Height” is depth in echelons and alliances, “width” is breadth in jointness and domains, and “length” is span in whole-of-nation capability. “Time” or flux exists in the dynamism and ambiguity of change across these dimensions. Concerning depth, echeloned formations create flexible options. Size gradations empower operational adaptation akin to the Napoleonic-era innovation of semiautonomous corps.[ix] Alliances and diplomacy expand this adaptability. Mutual defense treaties, offensive aid agreements, and neutrality preservation pacts appreciably control uncertainty by shaping geopolitical decision-making.[x] Military breadth leverages this depth with unique service expertise and jointness. The branches of a military form additive wholes for cross-domain successes, much like the capture of Vicksburg in the American Civil War[xi] or the amphibious assault on Inchon in the Korean War.[xii] In the twenty-first century, a military’s whole extends to multi-domain effects too. For instance, the US Army’s “Multi-Domain Operations” concept seeks advantages across domains to seize and sustain the initiative, expand the competitive space, and credibly demonstrate capability. [xiii] Still, it takes an entire nation to grow the span of a military’s depth and breadth over time. The United States demonstrated this in World War Two when industrial production and logistical distribution advantages converged to expand capability.[xiv] Today, span also includes reconciling authorities and effects across real and virtual spaces.[xv] Length further extends into economic and informational spheres of influence, making wholeof-nation considerations more expansive. Fortunately, thinkers like Carl von Clausewitz, John Boyd, and Venkatesh Rao offer compelling ideas to appreciate flux across all three dimensions. Respectively, they identify key system variations within war, warfare, and narrative. By thinking fourth-dimensionally about their ideas, strategists can imagine “outside the box” and ponder how flux affects depth, breadth, and span to create advantage (Figure 1). Figure 1. Thinking Fourth-Dimensionally. Created by author. Frameworks for Flux Clausewitz offers an enduring description for flux inwar. He posits a “paradoxical trinity” best captures the fluctuations of state-level conflict where war is a constant interplay of passion, reason, and chance. For Clausewitz, the flux of war allows leaders to exploit the dynamic yet discontinuous interaction of peoples, governments, and militaries. This understanding originated from Prussia’s decisive defeat in 1806 at Jena-Auerstädt.[xvi] Exploiting Prussia’s rigid The Military Strategist’s Flux Capacitor Keith Nordquist
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 12 structures and doctrine, Napoleon Bonaparte disintegrated Prussian armies by emphasizing reaction to uncertainty rather than trying to control it.[xvii] Clausewitz shows the four-dimensional thinker how war is about interaction and perceiving states in flux. Regarding warfare, Boyd outlines how speed affects military coherence and sense-making. He argues advantage comes from action where warfare is responsive activity across moral, mental, and physical dimensions. In essence, he saw Clausewitz’s uncertainty as leverage over an adversary. For Boyd, the flux of warfare allows faster and more fluid militaries to gain asymmetric advantages. This understanding came from voluminous study framed by Nazi Germany’s multi-dimensional maneuver warfare. Plans succeed by magnifying ambiguity and exploiting systemic chaos.[xviii] Boyd shows the four-dimensional thinker how warfare is about fast transients when adapting to uncertainty with states in flux. Linking war and warfare together, Rao believes narrative structures their meaning. He proposes planning is a subjective act of reasoning where narrative combines the emotion of peoples, the rhythm of decision-making, and the energy of patterns. Rao thus reveals the flux of narrative is rational yet interpretative, a process of planners enacting strategic perceptions.[xix] This mirrors lessons from the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict. Initial Israeli hesitancy to adjust after Egypt and Syria’s early invasion successes was a product of poor perception and worse enactment.[xx] Rao shows the four-dimensional thinker how narrative is about epistemologies which anticipate and operationalize a state’s flux. A Flux Capacitor For operational art to remain practicable as a cognitive approach in creating advantage,[xxi] strategists must better appreciate flux across war, warfare, and narrative. Clausewitz reveals war’s flux requires a quick recognition of truth to overcome uncertainty, not a narrow pursuit of clear context.[xxii] Additively, Boyd recognizes warfare’s flux requires adaptation to disrupt enemy perceptions, not slow searching for certainty.[xxiii] Finally, Rao asserts narrative’s flux requires a sense of momentum and context-switching, not a dogmatic set of beliefs to impose clarity.[xxiv] Combining these considerations together, a conceptual flux capacitor emerges to create contextual advantage. This context exists at the intersection of choice, cognition, and consequence. Clausewitz’s passion, Boyd’s moral dimension, and Rao’s sense of emotion structure a logic for choice. For states in flux, choice is a nation’s agency and capacity to affect the international system.[xxv] Byrecognizingnational character in decisions, strategists better consider how feelings and behaviors guide a state’s volition. Further combining Clausewitz’s reason, Boyd’s mental dimension, and Rao’s description of rhythm yields a better understanding of cognition. In a disordered world, cognizance is the convergence or divergence of truth and knowing within a system.[xxvi] By elevating ontological thought, strategists better contemplate their perceptions and those of other states. Finally, the combination of Clausewitz’s chance, Boyd’s physical dimension, and Rao’s discussion of energy outlines the importance of consequence. Outcomes have significance based on what they mean to others, not just those acting.[xxvii] By embracing uncertainty in meaning, strategists better examine holistic effects from a system’s changes. Taken together, each thinker’s ideas cohere flux for military strategies in space and time. Expressed as flux capacitors, one can begin to apprehend howwar, warfare, and narrative affect context for nation-states. Critically, Clausewitz, Boyd, and Rao do not argue for balance. Rather, they focus on the interactional flux of their subordinate considerations over time. Advantage comes from manipulating and adapting to these interactions so operations stay relevant under uncertainty.[xxviii] Therefore, a flux capacitor for choice, cognition, and consequence shapes and cultivates a deeper sense of a changing world.[xxix] Appreciating flux means thinking fourth-dimensionally about tomorrow’s advantages to craft better strategies today (Figure 2). Figure 2. The Military Strategist’s Flux Capacitor. Created by author. States of Flux The global context of 1991 did not require four-dimensional thought. The United States had 161 days to mobilize for war as the Soviet Union dissolved and China retreated following the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Consequently, the U.S. military enjoyed the aberration of an already advantageous context. But this means the campaign to liberate Kuwait was not a clarion call for clarity to bring military success. [xxx] America is unlikely to find another enemy willing to The Military Strategist’s Flux Capacitor Keith Nordquist
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 13 fight a war away from US shores or another world so willing to accept US strategy and purpose. Clear context is not a military’s norm nor should it be a policymaker’s goal for a world in flux. Twenty-first century military strategy is about thinking fourth-dimensionally to appreciate an unclear and uncertain context. Future strategies must leverage this system complexity as a catalyst to create advantage. A capable strategist only needs a conceptual means to consider time, a contextual flux capacitor. The implication for Western militaries is to become more mindful of nation-state flux and the flow of history beyond the confines of an operation. In science fiction, the flux capacitor makes flow conceivable. In military strategy, understanding states of flux makes advantage imaginable. The Military Strategist’s Flux Capacitor Keith Nordquist References [i] John S. Brown, “The Maturation of Operational Art: Desert Shield and Desert Storm” in Historical Perspectives of the Operational Art, ed. Michael D. Krause and R. Cody Phillips (Washington, DC: US Army Center for Military History, 2005, 439475), 473-475. [ii] William A. Reese, “The Principle of the Objective and Promoting National Interests: Desert Shield/Storm--A Case Study,” research monograph (Washington, DC: National Defense University, 1993), 31-34. [iii] Joseph R. Biden, Jr., “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance” (Washington, DC: Office of the President of the United States, March 2021), 14. [iv] National Intelligence Council, Global Trends: Paradox of Progress (Washington, DC: Chairman, National Intelligence Council, 2017), ix-xi, 6. [v] Johan Verbeke, “A World in Flux,” Egmont Institute Security Policy Brief, no. 92 (30 November 2017), 1, 6-8. [vi] Robert Axelrod and Michael D. Cohen, Harnessing Complexity: Organizational Implications of a Scientific Frontier (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 32-45. [vii] Biden, “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance,” 7, 17. [viii] Everett C. Dolman, Pure Strategy: Power and Principles in the Space and Information Age (New York: Routledge, 2005), 5-17. [ix] David G. Chandler, “Napoleon, Operational Art, and the Jena Campaign” in Historical Perspectives of the Operational Art, ed. Michael D. Krause and R. Cody Phillips. (Washington, DC: US Army Center for Military History, 2005), 27-39. [x] Brett A. Leeds, “Do Alliances Deter Aggression?” American Journal of Political Science, vol. 47, no. 3 ( July, 2003), 427-439. [xi] Charles R. Bowery, Jr., The Civil War in the Western Theater, 1862 (Washington, DC: US Army Center for Military History, 2014), 30-33, 61-62, 70-71. [xii] Allan R. Millett, The War for Korea, 1950-1951: They Came from the North (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2010), 239-251. [xiii] US Army, TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, The US Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028 (Fort Leavenworth, KS: US Army Training and Doctrine Command, 6 December 2018), v-xii. [xiv] US War Department, Logistics in World War II: Final Report to the Army Service Forces (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1947), 244-252.
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 14 The Military Strategist’s Flux Capacitor Keith Nordquist [xv] Joshua C. Ramo, The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks (London: Little, Brown, 2016), 84-92. [xvi] Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), 75-89, 154-155, 240-241. [xvii] Martin van Creveld. Command in War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), 96-102. [xviii] John R. Boyd, A Discourse on Winning and Losing, ed. by Grant T. Hammond (Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air University Press, 2018), 57-59, 104,-106, 132-137. [xix] Venkatesh Rao, Tempo: Timing, Tactics, and Strategy in Narrative-Driven Decision-Making (Los Angeles: Ribbonfarm, 2011), 17-22, 39-48, 65-71. [xx] George W. Gawrych, The 1973 Arab-Israeli War: The Albatross of Decisive Victory (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press, 1996), 1-3, 33-34, 40-44. [xxi] Department of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 3-0, Joint Operations (Washington, DC: Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 17 January 2017, incorporating change 1, 22 October 2018), I-13; US Army, Army Doctrine Publication 3-0, Operations (Washington, DC: Army Publishing Directorate, July 2019), 2-1. [xxii] Clausewitz, On War, 100-103, 117-121. [xxiii] Boyd, A Discourse on Winning and Losing, 24, 196-207. [xxiv] Rao, Tempo: Timing, Tactics, and Strategy in Narrative-Driven Decision-Making, 52-54. [xxv] G. John Ikenberry, AfterVictory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of OrderAfterMajorWars (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 3-7. [xxvi] Mary Jo Hatch, Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic, and Post-Modern Theory, 4th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 13-20. [xxvii] Klaus Krippendorff, The Semantic Turn: A New Foundation for Design (Boca Raton: CRC/Taylor & Francis, 2006), 1-7, 20-22, 56-57, 75. [xxviii] Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (New York: Doubleday, 2006), 1-14. [xxix] Ramo, The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, 7-10, 29-30. [xxx] Daniel P. Bolger, “The Ghosts of Omdurman,” Parameters 21, no. 1 (Autumn 1991), 34-38.
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Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 16 Mahan Versus Corbett in Width, Depth, and Context Benjamin "BJ" Armstrong - US Naval Academy About the author Benjamin ‘BJ’ Armstrong is an Associate Professor of War Studies and Naval History at the U.S. Naval Academy and currently serves as Associate Chair of the academy's History Department. He is the author, co-author, or editor of four books including Developing the Naval Mind. Armstrong is the recipient of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement and the Lyman Book Award from the North American Society of Oceanic History. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are offered in the author’s personal and academic capacity and do not reflect the positions of the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Navy, or any government agency. Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan and Sir Julian Corbett are the two most wellknown naval strategists and naval educators. Their writings and theories are often taught at war colleges and staff colleges, and they lie at the foundation of most naval strategic writing and teaching even one hundred years after their deaths. In our contemporary lessons on naval strategy and maritime affairs, the ideas of Mahan and Corbett are often offered as separate “Schools of Thought,” encouraging students to identify as either “Mahanian'' or “Corbettian” and to see the two men and To cite this article: Armstrong, Benjamin ‘BJ’, “MahanVersus Corbett inWidth, Depth, and Context,” Military Strategy Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 4, winter 2022, pages 16-21.
Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 2022 17 their ideas in opposition to one another.[i] This caricature is likely offered because highlighting differences appears an easier pedagogy than explaining similarities. But the result of this is a general understanding that the two strategists disagreed and sets up the need to choose between them. However, this is a historically and conceptually flawed way to approach them and their naval thinking. By examining the two men in width across their published work, in depth through their biographies, and in context by acknowledging the time and audiences which they wrote for, we can help explain the differences between the two men and understand the significance of the fact that in general they came to the same or similar conclusions.[ii] Looking at them and their writings through these historical lenses rather than via a focus on theory offers a different perspective. This more historically informed approach demonstrates that the most important part of a comparison between the two men and their writing is how, despite the differences in their background and methods, they largely agree on the key elements of naval strategy. Almost all the staff colleges and war colleges in the modern world, including those in the People’s Republic of China for more than a decade, teach about what Mahan and Corbett wrote.[iii] Yet few of them appear to spend much time teaching about who they were. For historians engaged in strategic studies this presents a problem. In learning only about theory, only about selective excerpts of what these strategists said about sea power and strategy but ignoring who they were and where their ideas came from, we are only presented with a theoretical foundation. This does not help us comprehend how they themselves meant their ideas to be applied. Theory alone is useless. As Corbett himself wrote, it’s only useful to naval professionals if they understand how to adapt that theory, to modify it, to think about it, within their modern or contemporary context. [iv] For strategic scholars and historians the same rule of thumb applies. Theory is valuable as an element of study that informs analysis, but it cannot be the only element, and we must recognize the unique nature of every historical event. Width - One Book or Many Both Alfred Thayer Mahan and Julian Corbett were hard working and prolific authors. Despite this fact, nearly every discussion of their work, and in particular the surface level comparisons of the two men and their strategic ideas, focus entirely on their single most famous book. Some professors have insisted that this is the proper way to assess them, telling us that “although both authors published numerous other works displaying nuanced views on seapower and world affairs, for better or worse, great strategic thinkers are judged by their masterworks.”[v] However, at the very least some historians might suggest that a brief look at what those “other works” entail may be in order. The vast majority of those who say that they “have read” Alfred Thayer Mahan seem to have focused on a very limited number of pages. In fact, it most often seems that their quotations and citations come from roughly the first eighty pages of The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783. These are the pages of the preface, the introduction, and the portion of the first chapter where Mahan lays out his definitions and conceptual ideas. For example, this section contains his “six elements” of sea power. Mahan, however, wrote or contributed to twenty books. A skim through John Hattenforf’s bibliography of Mahan’s work demonstrates the daunting nature of how voluminous his historical and international affairs writing was.[vi] There are over 160 articles, but if we start including the letters to the editor and interviews done with New York newspapers and others we start to get closer to 300 pieces. Almost all of this, save for one book and one article, came after he published the Influence of Sea Power Upon History. In this way Mahan differs from that other oft-quoted great strategist, Carl Von Clausewitz. Clausewitz’s Vom Krieg, or On War, was written closer to the end of his life. It was his magnum opus, the sum total of his knowledge about war and warfare. He did not even finish the book and his wife Marie had to complete the editing and publication for him.[vii] As opposed to the end of his career, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History was arguably written at the start of Mahan’s career as a naval thinker and as a strategist. When we consider Mahan in width, a historian or strategist today might ask whether a book written at the start of his career should be the one that we are using to represent the totality of what he thought. It seems unfair or incomplete to ignore where he may have changed his mind, like in his understanding of the Battle of Tsushima, or where he broadened or added nuance, as in his discussion of the determinative links between naval power and a merchant marine. Scholars of strategy should be nervous about those who tell us to limit our sources, those who suggest that a single book, or worse an eighty-page excerpt from that book, is all that is needed for understanding. As Geoffrey Till wrote in his book Seapower: A Guide for the Twenty-First Century, “who wrote what” does matter if we are going to understand the subject.[viii] Considering Corbett in width is a similar, but also slightly different case. For Corbett, the book on which theoretically focused scholars place all their attention on is Some Principles of Maritime Strategy. In many ways, this is fair when compared to thinking about The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, because Corbett published it roughly twenty years into his career as a writer and historian, and ten years after he started teaching at the Naval War Course at Greenwich. Yet, there was still another decade of Corbett’s writing after Some Principles was published, and this included nine additional volumes.[ix] Corbett’s output was similar to Mahan’s. He published over twenty books and dozens of articles during his time Mahan Versus Corbett in Width, Depth, and Context Benjamin ‘BJ’ Armstrongwww.militarystrategymagazine.com