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May 29, 2024

Parameters | Summer 2024

Download the Full Issue of Parameters | Summer 2024
Parameters | Summer 2024
From the Editor in Chief
Antulio J. Echevarria II 

Welcome to the Summer 2024 issue of Parameters. We open this issue with a special “In Memoriam” by General Charles A. Flynn, Commander US Army Pacific, honoring the life and legacies of our director and consummate colleague, Carol V. Evans. We dedicate this issue to her. General Flynn’s memoriam is followed by an In Focus commentary on China’s Belt and Road Initiative. We then feature three forums covering the Russia-Ukraine War, the Middle East, and Professional Development. This issue also contains special essays on the role of professional writing, the US Army War College’s Civil-Military Relations Center, and a reflection on the evolution of the study of military and society by the Editor in Chief of Armed Forces & Society for the journal’s 50th anniversary.  

Keywords:  China, Belt and Road, geopolitics, fragmented authoritarianism, debriefing, resilience, combat stress, psychology, recovery, Russia, Ukraine, information operations, disinformation, information literacy, retrenchment, decline, Middle East, grand strategy, US foreign policy, Iraq, Ministry of Interior, institutional reform, SSR, NATO, artificial intelligence, Afghanistan, military intelligence, innovation, culture, STEM+M, education, technology, human capital, higher education, bureaucracy, fundamentals, policy, politics, strategy, Harding Project, professional discourse, General Randy A. George, Michael R. Weimer, civil-military relations, General Charles Q. Brown Jr., General Randy A. George, Christine Wormuth, National Security Strategy, military and society, asymmetric war, Afghanistan war, small wars, all-volunteer force, Morris Janowitz, postmodern military 


Dr. Carol V. Evans
General Charles A. Flynn


What American Policymakers Misunderstand about the Belt and Road Initiative
Zenel Garcia and Phillip Guerreiro

American accounts of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) contend that it is a coherent grand strategy that reflects Beijing’s geopolitical ambitions. These accounts ignore the BRI’s fragmented nature, whereby Chinese provinces have been pivotal actors in its development and implementation. Furthermore, these accounts disregard the agency of participant countries and their capacity to shape the BRI. This article illustrates this fragmentation and agency by studying the Yunnan province and its domestic and international neighbors. It contends that these dynamics indicate that the BRI lacks coherence and that Beijing’s capacity to extract geopolitical benefits will remain limited. 

Keywords: China, Belt and Road, fragmented authoritarianism, geopolitics 


The Combat Path: Sustaining Mental Readiness in Ukrainian Soldiers  
Oleh Hukovskyy, James C. West, Joshua C. Morganstein, Eugene F. Augusterfer, David M. Benedek, Oleg Boyko, Robert J. Ursano, and Amy B. Adler 

In Ukraine, soldiers’ psychological resilience is of paramount concern. The Armed Forces of Ukraine have, therefore, developed a new intervention, Combat Path Debriefing, designed to address combat stress and promote unit readiness for soldiers returning to combat. This article outlines the components of Combat Path Debriefing and discusses how it is rooted in principles of combat and operational stress control and the unique characteristics of Ukrainian military life. This perspective offers US and allied leaders real-world experience that can inform future efforts to support soldiers’ mental health and combat performance.

Keywords: debriefing, resilience, combat stress, psychology, recovery

Understanding Russian Disinformation and How the Joint Force Can Address It
Michael J. Kelley

Russia will dominate information warfare if the United States does not treat disinformation as central to Russian strategy. This article examines the vital role disinformation played in post–Cold War Russian strategy, including its strategy in the current Russia-Ukraine War, and in a departure from previous scholarship, this article observes that US defense leaders are aware of Russian disinformation but have failed to assess its impact or sufficiently negate Russian influence. The article also reviews current US efforts and suggests proactive ways to counter Russia’s disinformation strategy.

Keywords: Russia, Ukraine, information operations, disinformation, information literacy


The Dynamics of US Retrenchment in the Middle East
Paul K. MacDonald and Joseph M. Parent

This article argues that conditions favor American retrenchment from the Middle East because the United States can shift burdens to capable states in the region, there are few areas where US commitments are interdependent, and the local conquest calculus favors defense. Forward military deployments do not positively influence potential threats in the Middle East, and maintaining deployments there will detract from meeting challenges from China. Through comparisons to prior cases of great-power ordinal decline, this article puts America’s modest decline in historical perspective and finds that retrenchment policies will likely have positive consequences. 

Keywords: retrenchment, decline, Middle East, grand strategy, US foreign policy

Iraq’s Ministry of Interior: NATO, Capability Building, and Reform
Andrea Malouf

The ongoing, 20-year effort to reform Iraq’s Ministry of Interior through capability building is an underreported but critical aspect of NATO’s mission. This article identifies 10 strategic errors or “lessons” from this mission related to ends, ways, means, and assumptions. NATO’s involvement was flawed from design to delivery, including its myopic focus on training, systemic disregard of politics, relegation of civilian expertise, and inadequate measurements of its effects. As a result, police legitimacy in Iraq eroded, potentially exacerbating instability. Capability building is becoming more attractive as a non-kinetic tool; the success of future NATO missions—in Iraq and elsewhere—will, therefore, rely on avoiding similar mistakes. 

Keywords: Iraq, Ministry of Interior, institutional reform, SSR, NATO

Raven Sentry: Employing AI for Indications and Warnings in Afghanistan
Thomas W. Spahr

This article examines Raven Sentry, a project that employed artificial intelligence to provide advance warning of insurgent attacks in Afghanistan. During 2019 and 2020, the Resolute Support Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (J2) benefited from a command culture open to innovation, the urgency created by the US drawdown, and a uniquely talented group of personnel that, aided by commercial sector experts, built an AI system that helped predict attacks. The war’s end cut Raven Sentry short, but the experience provides important lessons on AI and the conditions necessary for successful innovation. 

Keywords: artificial intelligence, Afghanistan, military intelligence, innovation, culture


Closing the Gap: Officer Advanced Education STEM+M (Management)
Leon L. Robert Jr. and Carl J. Wojtaszek

The Army has made insufficient progress in arming its officers with science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and management (STEM+M) knowledge. The contemporary battlefield is faster paced, technologically enabled, and data driven, requiring officers to possess more skills, knowledge, and experience. We examine the Army’s history with STEM education and show that, in terms of education, the current Army officer corps has fallen behind its requirements for technology-enabled forces and modern society. We conclude with recommendations on how the Army can close the STEM+M education gap through advances in higher education and adopting talent management practices. 

Keywords: STEM+M, education, technology, human capital, higher education

Operating Successfully within a Proposed Bureaucracy Domain of Warfare: Part One
Jeff McManus

Policymakers in the defense community should approach bureaucracy as a sixth domain of warfare because, in doing so, they can successfully handle its processes and procedures. Part one of this two-part article discusses the first three (of 10) fundamentals these professionals must develop to navigate the bureaucratic domain and address and balance the complexities of the policy-making process for the overall benefit of US national security.

Keywords: bureaucracy, fundamentals, policy, politics, strategy


Professional Discourse Is Shaping the Force
Brennan Deveraux

The Army is transforming. While today’s senior leaders have set the service on a modernization path, future problems belong to the next generation—and we must own them. Professional writing is a way to do so, a tool enabling leaders of any rank to influence change at the macro level by contributing meaningfully to Department of Defense (DoD) conversations. Those embarking on this challenging adventure are not alone; writing is a team sport. The journey is as important as the destination, and most who take up this charge find participation in professional dialogue highly rewarding. 

Keywords: Harding Project, professional discourse, General Randy A. George, Michael R. Weimer


Introduction to the US Army War College Civil-Military Relations Center
Carrie A. Lee

The United States is experiencing an era characterized by civil-military tension and conflict. From the increasing politicization of the military, to declining public trust in the military and recruiting crisis, to the erosion of norms meant to protect civilian control, to a perceived lack of accountability within the profession; healthy civil-military relations in America today are under assault. In response, the US Army War College established the Civil-Military Relations Center (CMRC) in summer 2022 to “sponsor and promote the development of a healthy, sustainable relationship between the American military, society, and political leaders through education, research, and outreach. 

Keywords: civil-military relations, General Charles Q. Brown Jr., General Randy A. George, Christine Wormuth, National Security Strategy


Exploring the Nexus of Military and Society at a 50-Year Milestone
Patricia M. Shields

There is an ongoing dependence and tension between the military and the society it protects. This article examines the relatively new “military and society” field using the 50-year anniversary of the journal Armed Forces & Society as a focal point. This dynamic field is influenced by world events, cultural trends, and politics. Civil-military relations is at the heart of the discourse. An international and interdisciplinary journal, Armed Forces & Society reflects the changing nature of the field over the last 50 years. I have edited the journal since 2001 and bring this experience to the discussion. 

Keywords: civil-military relations, Morris Janowitz, Afghanistan War, all-volunteer force, postmodern military