Decisive Point

A podcast channel of the USAWC quarterly journal, Parameters

Released 26 March 2021.
Colonel Jason P. Clark: “US Army Reforms in the Progressive Era” —  A look back at F. Gunther Eyck’s assessment of reforms enacted under US Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson may reveal as much about the historiography of the early 1970s as it does about Stimson’s reform efforts themselves. Eyck’s 1971 evaluation, among the first in a decade of scholarship examining successes and failures of Progressive Era Army reforms, raises important issues but avoids broader considerations of the sociopolitical realities of the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. Click here to read the article.

Released 25 March 2021.
Dr. Robert Hamilton: “Soviet Reform—Surprisingly Prescient” —  Writing in 1971, economist Dr. John P. Hardt assessed the trajectory of the Soviet economy arguing the need for reform and evaluating the willingness of key actors in the Soviet bureaucracy to support such policies. Fifty years later, Hardt was remarkably prescient with regard to structural difficulties such reform posed and the costs of delay. The pervasive role of internal and external security concerns in the following decades, however, resulted in economic decisions that defied traditional economic analysis. Click here to read the article.

Released 23 March 2021.
Dr. Michael Neiberg “Coalition Warfare—Echoes from the Past”— The dilemmas posed by coalition warfare were a subject of academic interest in the inaugural issue of Parameters in 1971. Lieutenant Colonel James B. Agnew examined the unified command model pursued by the Allies during the First World War. Agnew’s assessment of the challenges faced by French Marshal Ferdinand Foch speaks to challenges NATO faces today including questions of national sovereignty, national security goals, and developing a joint strategy. Click here for the article.

Released 19 March 2021.
Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff and Julia L. E. Pfaff: “Academe and the Military” — Differences between the academic and military communities and the dysfunction that occurs when these communities comingle can have disastrous consequences for foreign policy. Donald Bletz, writing on the subject in 1971, details this dynamic as it related to the Vietnam War. His observations can be applied to wars since and suggest the need for a balanced relationship characterized by independence and mutual respect. Click here for the article.

Released 4 February 2021.
Dr. Leonard Wong and Dr. Stephen Gerras: Veteran Disability Compensation and the Army Profession: Good Intentions Gone Awry — Today, two-thirds of soldiers depart the US Army with a disability rating. Unfortunately, some soldiers are exploiting a generous disability system overextended beyond its original purposes and potentially damaging trust in the military, jeopardizing Army readiness, and encouraging a culture that erodes the Army’s notions of selfless service. Click here for the monograph.

Released 3 February 2021.
Dr. Christopher J. Bolan, Col. Jerad I. Harper, and Dr. Joel R. Hillison: Diverging Interests: US Strategy in the Middle East —The novel coronavirus is only the latest in a series of global crises with implications for the regional order in the Middle East. These changes and the diverging interests of actors in the region have implications for US strategy and provide an opportunity to rethink key US relationships there. Click here for the article.

Released 22 January 2021.
Dr. Andrew  Bell: Civilians, Urban Warfare, and US Doctrine — The US military must prepare for the realities of densely populated areas as it plans and conducts campaigns. This planning must include considerations of soldiers’ health and wellbeing. An engaged analysis of urban battlespaces in the midtwentieth and early twenty-first centuries highlights the need for essential updates to US military doctrine and training, particularly in the areas of civilian mass casualties and civilian noncombatants in the urban battlespace.  Click here for the article.

Released 4 January 2021.
Dr. Raymond A. Millen: Stability Operations in WW II: Insights and Lessons — The stability achieved by the US military in the European Theater of Operations after D-Day was the direct result of good military governance concurrently deployed with combat operations. The role of civil affairs in securing this stability has been under-emphasized in analyses of these operations. But an examination of the historical record of these events reveals the necessity of a skilled, effective civil-military effort through civil affairs/military government detachments, civil affairs specialty pools, and G-5 staff sections. Click here for the article.

Released 15 December 2020.
Mr. Jody Prescott: Gender Blindness in US Doctrine — US military Joint and Army civil affairs doctrine have failed to consider the operational relevance of gender, posing a risk to mission accomplishment and force protection. A comparison of NATO and Australian Defence Force doctrine reveals gender considerations have been included in Allied doctrine in recent years. US land-force operational planning can provide an example of how a focus on civil affairs doctrine could jump-start the process to address the larger doctrinal gender deficit quickly and effectively. Click here for the article.

Released 11 December 2020.
Dr. Tim Hoyt and Pamela M. Holtz: Challenging Prevailing Models of US Army Suicide — Statistics behind reported suicide rates in the military are often insufficiently analyzed and portray a distorted picture of reality. Several models for identifying individuals at risk for suicide have been proposed but few show adequate predictive power to be actionable. Instead, a collaborative and consistent effort to address core drivers at the individual level may be more useful. Click here for the article.

Released 25 September 2020.
Michael J. Eisenstadt and Kenneth M. Pollack: Training Better Arab Armies — US security force assistance missions to Arab partner states have had limited success, due in part to a tendency to impose American doctrine, which embodies American cultural values and norms, on Arab armed forces. Accordingly, US security force assistance missions should train Arab partners to fight in a manner better suited to their own cultural preferences and operational requirements. Click here for the article.

Released 23 September 2020.
Douglas W. Bristol Jr.: Two Worlds: African American Servicemembers, WWII and Today — The theory of social stigma provides a context for the subjective experience of African American servicemembers in World War II. Those experiences reveal the paradox the military faces when addressing racial discrimination. An examination of these experiences suggests only a collective response by African American servicemembers will solve this problem.  Click here for the article.

Released 21 September 2020.
Audrey Kurth Cronin: Technology and Strategic Surprise: Adapting to an Era of Open Innovation — Technological revolutions affecting state power are either open or closed. The precursor to the digital age is not the twentieth century, with state-controlled programs yielding nuclear weapons, but the late nineteenth century, when tinkerers invented the radio, airplane, and high explosives—all crucial to subsequent wars. To avoid strategic surprise, the US government must take a broader view of how today’s open innovation is changing society, and adapt. Click here for the article.

Released 14 September 2020.
Nina Jankowicz and Henry Collis: Enduring Information Vigilance: Government after COVID-19 — The framework of Enduring Information Vigilance will help ally and partner governments deny advantages adversaries gain through their use of information operations in our new global perpetual information environment. This approach recognizes the persistent threat, unifies responses within and between governments, and resolves societal fissures toward a more global democratic information environment. Click here for the article.

Released 08 September 2020.
Jacqueline Deal – Disintegrating the Enemy: The PLA’s Info-Messaging — The DoD can exploit weaknesses in Chinese military attempts at political warfare, or “enemy disintegration,” most recently observed in PLA media on the subject of the pandemic. Targeted information efforts will signal the United States’ refusal to be intimidated, expose untruths in Chinese government messaging to its citizens, and reassure relevant third parties of US military resolve. Click here for the article.

Released 04 September 2020.
Jason Healey: A Bizarre Pair: Counterinsurgency Lessons for Cyber Conflict — The lessons of counterinsurgency have deeper implications for cyber conflict than previous research has identified. Two decades of experience in Iraq and Afghanistan provide insights into the cyber strategy of defending forward including treating major cybersecurity and technology companies as host-nation partners and focusing on winning the hearts and minds of global netizens. Click here for the article.

Released 01 September 2020.
Ryan J. Scott, Odelle J. Means, and Patricia M. Shields: The COVID-19 Enemy is Still Advancing — The US military has a historical precedence for dealing with a pandemic while simultaneously conducting largescale combat operations. Two twentieth-century examples assess the extent to which the military adapted operations following an influenza outbreak, and make clear military and civilian leaders must balance strategic objectives when facing threat multipliers such as COVID-19. Click here for the article.

Released 28 August 2020.
Danelle R. Gamble: Toward a Racially Inclusive Military — Racialized structural inequalities and related social biases in US society and replicated in the military hinder diversity and inclusion efforts necessary to maintain a ready force. Examining the history of Blacks in the military through a social science lens helps explain this challenge and reveals the military must both promote relationships that challenge power imbalances and assess the impact of cultural imperialism on standards and evaluations. Click here for the article.