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    Decisive Point Podcast – Ep 3-35 – Dr. Thomas Bruscino and Louis G. Yuengert – The Future of the Joint Warfighting Headquarters: An Alternative Approach to the Joint Task Force

    Decisive Point Podcast – Ep 3-35 – Dr. Thomas Bruscino and Louis G. Yuengert – The Future of the Joint Warfighting Headquarters: An Alternative Approach to the Joint Task Force

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    Audio by Kristen Taylor 

    U.S. Army War College Public Affairs

    The US military must create standing, numbered, and regionally aligned Joint warfighting headquarters— American Expeditionary Forces (AEFs)—around a command council and a staff organized into Joint centers and cells. Calls for standing Joint force headquarters are not new, but the demonstrated military effectiveness of the Joint Task Force (JTF) model coupled with increasing service-specific resource requirements and tightening fiscal constraints have resulted in little evolution in joint force headquarters construction since the end of World War II.

    Analysis of the historical record has shown that joint warfighting is best conducted with a Joint warfighting command subordinate to the geographic combatant commands. However, the Joint Task Force model is problematic because the ad-hoc, post-crisis activation of JTFs, along with their antiquated command and control structure, inherently puts the United States at a strategic and operational disadvantage. In the future, the US military will primarily maintain its competitive advantage, especially in great-power competition, by being a superior and sustainable joint force sooner than its adversaries. The proposed AEFs draw on generations of hard-earned experience to maintain and grow American supremacy in Joint warfighting in an increasingly dangerous world

    Read the monograph:

    Episode Transcript: The Future of the Joint Warfighting Headquarters: An Alternative Approach to the Joint Task Force
    Stephanie Crider (Host)

    Welcome to Decisive Point, a US Army War College Press production featuring distinguished authors and contributors who get to the heart of the matter in national security affairs.

    The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are those of the podcast guests and are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army, the US Army War College, or any other agency of the US government.

    Decisive Point welcomes Dr. Thomas Bruscino and Louis Yuengert, coauthors of The Future of the Joint Warfighting Headquarters: An Alternative Approach to the Joint Task Force, with Colonels Eric Bissonette, Kelvin Mote, Marc J. Sanborn, James Watts, and Commander Matthew B. Powell. Bruscino is an associate professor of history in the Department of Military Strategy, Planning, and Operations at the US Army War College. He holds a PhD in military history from Ohio University. Yuengert is a retired Army colonel and an associate professor of practice in the Department of Command, Leadership, and Management at the US Army War College. He holds a master’s degree in operations research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the US Army War College.

    Welcome to Decisive Point, gentlemen.

    (Thomas Bruscino)
    Happy to be here.

    (Louis Yuengert)
    Yeah, it’s great to be here.

    Great. Let’s just jump right in here. Your work offers an alternative approach to the Joint Task Force for Joint warfighting headquarters. Give our listeners some background. Why the need for change?

    So Stephanie, Tom and I were teaching—this was two years ago—in the Carlisle Scholars Program. And in the scholars program, there’s a requirement that the students do two additional research projects. The reason we have the program is so that they have the space to do that. And in this case, one of the student committees for the Military Strategy and Campaigning course that Tom teaches identified that how we are organized for Joint warfighting was a vulnerability—and, especially, in near-peer competition. And so they asked Tom if they could explore this further after they had given their presentation as part of their research. And this paper was the result of that research effort. So, Tom, if you could talk about the need for change?

    Yeah, so the work they did was they had multiple committees. And they had worked on Joint Task Forces and the formation of one, and they sort of got into the problems that are inherent in that: extensive delays in getting our warfighting headquarters; a lot of disorganization; some off-cycle training cycles; the need for what we have in the Joint Force, called the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, which has to go and flies all over the world, filling in gaps. So they saw all this need with this.

    Another committee was doing the Joint planning process, sort of looking at how we do the fighting, planning for fighting. And a lot of the Joint planning process is focused on sort of the day-to-day activities, the competition activities, campaigning activities of combatant commands and maybe doesn’t apply as well to the dilemmas of Joint Task Forces or Joint warfighting commands.

    So this really kind of drove the thinking and the kind of the problem set that they were looking at, that we were looking at when we started researching and developing this monograph.

    Yeah—just to add to that, we encourage the students as part of their research, if possible, to write something that could be published to have an impact. Either do it for a client—in this case, we did not enlist a client—or to do it so that it could be published and have some kind of impact. And in this case, I think it will.

    And what you all came up with was American Expeditionary Forces (American Expeditionary Force). What would this look like?

    Yeah, so, American Expeditionary Forces: We chose that one because it has historical resonance, right? So, in World War I, it was American Expeditionary Forces (American Expeditionary Force) that General (John J.) Pershing commanded; World War II, it was Allied Expeditionary Forces (Allied Expeditionary Force). And our idea was we’re going to focus on this sort of American and Joint aspect of it, with an idea of if we can get that better, it can become combined down the road and work with allies. And then maybe it would transition to becoming an Allied Expeditionary Force. Either way, that was the idea of it. Now what distinguishes this is that there have been lots of calls for—and there used to be, and sometimes there still kind of are—standing Joint Task Forces.

    But we felt like that wasn’t quite sufficient. We needed something that was a little more regionally aligned. We needed something that was more flexible and allowed to deal with the sort of the problems that have always gotten in the way of standing Joint Task Forces working. We don’t flesh out the exact examples of what these would look like in this. We talk about sort of what they would look like generally in any sort of combatant command region, the geographic regions where they’d be.

    But the idea would be, sort of, we do have forces that are regionally aligned already in all of the services or literally in the regions. And the idea was that we would build the (American Expeditionary Force or) AEF headquarters out of the commanders and some key staff out of those to build these sort of standing AEF headquarters. Kind of have to read it to get into the details of what that looks like. We certainly hope people do that. But it doesn’t require as much sort of force generation as standing Joint Task Force headquarters do.

    So it’s a little bit more flexible. And one of the sort of major innovations in it is kind of a callback to sort of the way we’ve often ended up doing things, which is that the AEF headquarters is run by the AEF commander but not really run by the commander with the staff, but run by the commander with the different component commanders as part of what we call a “command council.”

    And so we sort of set up a whole bunch of ways that they could operate and they could do the detailed planning in each of the components and that a lot more of the conceptual ideas of how they’re going to operate as a Joint Force allow for better interoperability will happen because the conceptual stuff will be happening among these commanders who are thinking about this sort of bigger picture. And they’re really working together and knowing what their components are specifically able to do. It’s very difficult—and we say this in there—it’s very difficult for even the best, most Joint-educated Army officer or (US) Air Force officer to know how an Air Force wing operates if you’re an Army officer or how an Army corps operates if you’re an Air Force officer. And throw in fleets and (Marine Air-Ground Task Forces or) MAGTFs and all of that, and you can see how confusing it gets. And it’s only going to get more. So when we start bringing in (US) Space Force assets, cyber force assets, we need the people who do that for their business to be able to sort of talk to the commanders and think about how they’re going to work together instead of having a sort of spun-up Army staff become a Joint Staff and try to run these formations.

    How would this concept increase the likelihood of Joint Force interoperability and enable effective maneuver in all domains, including, like you mentioned, operating environments like space and cyberspace?

    Well, Stephanie, I think some of the things that Tom talked about and the fact that the AEF would be a standing task force within each combatant command . . . so it would be regionally aligned; it would have the service component commands that are important to that combatant command. So, in (United States Indo-Pacific Command or) INDOPACOM, the (US) Navy staff of that component command is very robust because it’s mostly a Navy headquarters. So they would have those capabilities within the service component command. And the fact that the service components, the people who own the forces, have such a robust staff—they would be able to do, as Tom said, the detailed planning that came into any concepts for an operation that the command council would come up with because those commanders and some key members of their staff would be part of that command council in the first place. And so I think that the standing nature of the AEFs coupled with the opportunity to exercise it during Joint concept development, Joint war games, and experiments would help to solidify that concept of the AEF and the teamwork that those combatant commands and those staffs would have to do.

    One of the things that is highlighted in the paper is that currently, there is no Joint headquarters that is, in the concept development, there to test out Joint concepts very well. And you take a service headquarters or you throw together a Joint headquarters that doesn’t usually work together to test those concepts, and now you would have a Joint headquarters that was used to working together that could come together. There’s no ad hoc nature to it, which is one of the major problems with the current concept. I think that as we mature and we have space forces that have their own component commands for combatant commands and a cyber force that has some plug into a combatant command staff, we’ll have the expertise in those domains to do the same kind of thing that we’re used to doing in the more traditional domains.

    Yeah. To build on that, as it stands right now, when it comes to sort of the warfighting concepts, we try to figure out great-power competition, large-scale combat operations, what those would look like. The individual services are all doing their own concept development, and those are not necessarily aligned as well with the Joint concept. So, being kind of forced together, what’s great about this idea is that there’s good reason for the services to develop their own concepts because the dilemmas in the land domain are different than what’s in the space domain and different than what’s in the air domain, what’s in the maritime domain. And they should develop their own concepts.

    What this allows is for us to sort of sort and stack, have a better idea to go and exercise those things and work on those things and then say, “Hey, what really fits together and what doesn’t? What should a Joint concept look like that actually has real buy-in from the different services because they’ve worked on it together, and they see the importance of doing it together?”

    There’s an additional aspect of this, too. To the degree that we test Joint concepts—and we do—to the degree we test them, it’s sort of they’re temporary, kind of ad hoc. Like we say, almost all of this is ad hoc. We describe our Joint warfighting as it’s mostly done with pickup teams. And hey, they’re really good pickup teams. It’s a whole bunch of all-stars. It’s a whole bunch of all-pros, really. Our services are great at what they do, and so we can get by with that. But we could do so much better, especially as competitors get better themselves. And we should always be trying to get better. We could do so much better if we’re working together in these headquarters.

    And then part of this, too, is that not only do they exercise it together, they’re gonna be the ones who fight it together, if necessary. This is extremely powerful, just on the most basic sense of having already well-developed relationships, standard operating procedures. We allow for room in this; it’s not a very rigid concept that we’ve developed in here. We allow for a lot of room for them to develop their own best practices. And we would imagine those would be tailored to the particular domains. There’s gonna be a different dilemma in INDOPACOM than there is from (United States Central Command or) CENTCOM, than there is for (United States European Command or) EUCOM. That was our sort of major focus on this, and we think it’s very important because it has all kinds of implications that would resonate throughout the force: warfighting and, then, for force development along the way, too.

    So we think it’s a pretty important one, and we would love if everything we said was adopted. But if we just get people talking about this, about these issues, we’ll be pretty happy. And we give some people some different ammunition to bring to the discussions that are out there because we’re not the first people to think of this stuff. But we were sort of stunned about how many inefficiencies we have in our current system, how much disorganization we’ve had, how much we’ve had to kind of patch these things together and do things on the fly. We think it’s vitally important that, as we look to the future, we get better about how we go about Joint warfighting.

    And bottom line on this, too, you know: We’re not alone in that issue. We did get guidance signed by all the Joint Chiefs of Staff saying we need to look at dilemmas of Joint warfighting, and that really was a lot of the motivation for doing this, too. So this is our modest contribution to a very, very big problem, and we hope it has some effect.

    Definitely a lot of great food for thought here today. And I just want to thank you both very much for your time. This was very insightful.

    Thank you.


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    About the Contributors
    Colonel Eric Bissonette is a US Air Force pilot assigned to United States Forces Korea as the deputy commander’s executive officer. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the US Air Force Academy and master’s degrees from the Touro University Worldwide, the US Air Force Air Command and Staff College, and the US Army War College.

    Dr. Thomas Bruscino is an associate professor of history in the Department of Military Strategy, Planning, and Operations at the US Army War College. He holds a PhD in military history from Ohio University. He is the author of A Nation Forged in War: How World War II Taught Americans to Get Along (University of Tennessee Press, 2010), Out of Bounds: Transnational Sanctuary in Irregular Warfare (CSI Press, 2006), and numerous book chapters and articles on operational warfare.

    Colonel Kelvin Mote, a US Army information operations officer assigned to United States Forces Korea, holds a master’s degree in national security from the University of Maryland Global Campus, a master’s degree in strategic studies from the US Army War College, and a doctorate in organizational leadership from Creighton University.

    Commander Matthew B. Powell is a US Navy submariner who currently serves as the commanding officer of the PCU Iowa. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in engineering management from Old Dominion University, and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the US Army War College.

    Colonel Marc J. Sanborn is a US Army engineer officer assigned to the Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq at the US consulate in Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy, a master’s degree in engineering management from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, a master’s degree in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a doctor of philosophy in structural engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a distinguished graduate of the US Army War College and holds a master’s degree in strategic studies.

    Colonel James “Jimmy” Watts (US Army) is a graduate of the US Army War College and the Carlisle Scholars Program. He is board-certified in cardiovascular medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and currently serves as the consultant to the surgeon general for cardiovascular medicine.

    Professor Louis G. “Lou” Yuengert (colonel, US Army retired) is an associate professor of practice in the Department of Command, Leadership, and Management at the US Army War College, where he specializes in defense management and talent management. He holds a master’s degree in operations research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the US Army War College.



    Date Taken: 10.03.2022
    Date Posted: 06.20.2023 15:09
    Category: Newscasts
    Audio ID: 74949
    Filename: 2306/DOD_109718211.mp3
    Length: 00:11:15
    Artist US Army War College Press
    Album Decisive Point – Season 3
    Track # 35
    Year 2022
    Genre Podcast
    Location: US

    Web Views: 31
    Downloads: 1
    High-Res. Downloads: 1