Note #12. More than Kinetic Effects: Globally Integrated Operations in the Information Environment. Dr. Thomas A. Drohan, Brig Gen, USAF (ret.).

We are well into complex, hybrid, grey zone warfare that dynamically blends confrontation with competition. Victory in the form of relative advantages tends to be temporary, requiring a systematic yet supple all-domains all-effects approach. We have to be able to produce all of types of effects and in superior combinations to compete against other relatively-great powers.

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Paper #6. Advanced Analysis is a Mindset. Jeffrey S. Johnson, Colonel, USAF (ret.).

Since 9/11 intelligence analysis and its shortcomings have been widely discussed.  Military Services increased the amount of training in critical thinking and structured analytic techniques. The Army and Air Force created Advanced Analysis courses and OUSD(I) created the Information Environment Advanced Analysis course. All of this is good for moving toward the goal of improving the skill sets and capabilities of military intelligence analysts. But, more fundamental to an increase in courses and techniques, what is required to achieve a breakthrough in advanced analysis is a new or renewed mindset and an environment created to execute advanced analysis.

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Note #6. A Response to Paper #4: Situational Awareness, Leadership and Strategy. Dr. Thomas A. Drohan, Brig Gen, USAF (ret.).

The first plenary of the US National Defense University’s Asia Policy Assembly today noted the tendency of US grand strategy to react to threats. We can’t seem to mobilize sufficient political will until after big shocks. Reacting too late or with a short-sighted view (even if long-term) is particularly dangerous given the accelerating pace and broadening space of our strategic environment. Complex threats abound. Plenary discussants pointed out US vulnerabilities such as extended supply chains and undefended intellectual property. They called for policy makers to support market innovations, diplomatic adroitness, investments in education and defense-related technologies and competencies. Recognizing the […]

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Note #4. Planning to Win. Dr. Thomas A. Drohan, Brig Gen, USAF (ret.).

Winning is not a static end-state. It’s a continuous process of gaining and maintaining advantage through combinations of effects. The competition to produce superior effects involves relationships that are both cooperative and confrontational. Applying such a “coop-frontation” lens to Russia, North Korea, China and Iran enables reveals strategies that seek to persuade, compel, induce, deter, defend, and coerce. In authoritarian states, confrontation tends to not be a last resort, but rather an integral part of cooperation.   We can understand this aspect of complex warfare and complex competition in terms of different types of effects. In planning to win with superior […]

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Paper #2. The US National Security Strategy Needs Combined Effects. Dr. Thomas A. Drohan, Brig Gen, USAF (ret.).

Strategic leaders blend theoretical and applied thinking to realize goals. Competitive strategy is a creative process, one that rearranges ways and means to achieve desired ends. Superior strategy combines interactive effects. The National Security Strategy of 2017 (NSS) calls for such innovation. This Paper proposes a combined effects approach to complex competition and warfare. I begin constructively by interpreting the NSS primarily as a competitive security strategy rather than a political posture.

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Note #2. Strategy Leadership: Rearranging Ends, Ways and Means. Dr. Thomas A. Drohan, Brig Gen, USAF (ret.).

Too easy? It’s too easy to get distracted from thinking about how to lead the development of strategy, so let’s focus on two fundamentals of strategy. First, two definitional assumptions about strategy and leadership: (1) strategy is a process that links ends, ways and means at multiple levels of activity; (2) leadership is getting others to do what they otherwise would not do.

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Note #1. Theoretical Thinking and Applied Thinking: We Need Both. Dr. Thomas A. Drohan, Brig Gen, USAF (ret.).

Winning complex competition and warfare requires both theoretical and applied thinking. Thinking critically about assumptions, logic and evidence helps frame and anticipate threats to security. Particularly for adaptive threats that target vulnerabilities of thought such as entrenched assumptions, flawed cause-and-effect logic, and “not in my lane” job execution. 

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