The new National Defense Strategy has paved the way for the most extensive revision of the joint force since the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a recent interview.
The changes will ensure that planning, force management and decision-making are made “at the speed of relevance,” Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said.
The chairman is a key part of these revisions, being named by Defense Secretary James N. Mattis as the global integrator for the joint force. The secretary’s memorandum detailing the chairman to the job calls on him to be “responsible for assisting in strategic planning and direction of the armed forces to ensure the effective conduct of operations.”
Dunford — and his successors — must work to speed senior leaders’ decision-making, integrate operations worldwide and deliver forces capable of competing and winning against any possible adversary.
That the speed of war has accelerated is a given. Actions in one part of the world are felt almost instantaneously around the globe. The cyber world is now a realm of combat and permeates all other realms. A video of a riot in Peshawar, Pakistan, may spark a response anywhere from Nigeria or the Philippines to Moscow or Beijing.
The inclusion of space and cyber realms as domains of warfare means the battlefield has expanded from orbit to the digital world, and has changed the character of war. As reflected in the recently signed Joint Concept for Integrated Campaigning, the old paradigm of “at war” or “at peace” has shifted, defense officials have said. Russian and Chinese military thinkers have “gone to school” on the United States and devised strategies to achieve their objectives short of open conflict, officials said.
The Russians and Chinese are playing a long game to threaten the international, rules-based order that has been so successful at maintaining peace since World War II, defense officials said. And they are doing this with actions below the threshold of armed conflict. They use information operations, troop movements, proxy fighters, propaganda, diplomacy, economic pressures and threats to coerce countries.