Decisive Point Podcast Season 2

Select an Episode to Listen

Decisive Point Podcast

Season 2

Select an Episode to Listen

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Dr. Brian McAllister Linn – “Samuel Huntington, Professionalism, and Self-Policing in the US Army Officer Corps”

Released 21 September 2021. Drawing on Samuel P. Huntington’s three phases of self-regulation used to determine if an occupation qualifies as a profession, this article focuses on the third phase of policing and removing those who fail to uphold the standards set forth in the first two phases. It reviews how the Army implemented this phase following the Civil War through the post–Vietnam War years and the implications for the officer corps. Click here to read the article.

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Dr. Matthew Valasik and Dr. Shannon E. Reid – “The Alt-Right Movement and National Security”

Released 16 September 2021. Identifying the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol as an inflection point, this article analyzes the historical relationship between White supremacy and the US military from Reconstruction after the Civil War to the present. The article posits causes for the disproportionate number of current and former members of the military associated with White power groups and proposes steps the Department of Defense can take to combat the problems posed by the association of the US military with these groups. Click here to read the article.

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Gregory Aftandilian – “Hope versus Reality: The Efficacy of Using US Military Aid to Improve Human Rights in Egypt”

Released 16 September 2021. Using US military aid as a lever to achieve human rights reforms has proven only marginally effective. This article examines the approaches employed by the Obama and Trump administrations to US military aid to Egypt and proposes practical steps that can be taken by policymakers and the military personnel on the ground to advance US human rights values. Click here to read the article.

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Dr. Austin C. Doctor and Dr. James I. Walsh – “The Coercive Logic of Militant Drone Use”

Released 27 July 2021. While unmanned aerial systems can serve as a force multiplier for militants, these systems do not embody a transformation in modern insurgent warfare or enable militants to engage regularly in strategic coercion. Instead, drone use is consistent with a militant group’s relative capabilities and broader strategic objectives. Consequently, these groups are likely to employ drones primarily for theater and tactical military purposes. Click here to read the article.

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Dr. Robert Ehlers and Dr. Patrick Blannin – “Integrated Planning and Campaigning for Complex Problems”

Released 12 July 2021. Shortfalls and inefficiencies in traditional planning and campaigning have become increasingly clear in the current hyperconnected security environment. US military planners can mitigate these deficiencies by embracing integrated planning and campaigning approaches including the development of new organizational structures and processes. These improvements will give senior leaders increased options as the US military and US Allies and partners address complex problems with better effect and to greater advantage. Click here to read the article.

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Dr. Tongfi Kim and Dr. Luis Simon – “Greater Security Cooperation: US Allies in Europe and East Asia”

Released 7 July 2021. Growing Sino-Russian coordination necessitates greater security cooperation between US Allies in Europe and East Asia. US Allies in both regions face remarkably similar threats requiring similar operational concepts, capabilities, and technologies. Further, these Allies must hedge against the specter of US abandonment. An exploration of the links between the two geographically distant US Alliance networks illustrates the Allies’ perspectives on US extended deterrence and highlights opportunities to devise better policies for cooperation. Click here to read the article.

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