Decisive Point Podcast
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Released 9 April 2021. In 1971 Dr. John R. Thomas documented the involvement of the Soviet Union in the Middle East from the start of the Cold War. Like its name and borders, the motivations for that country’s involvement in the region have changed. Russia today promulgates relationships with the governments of the Middle East in a nonideological, more limited manner primarily through economic relationships, in energy and arms sales in particular, and in efforts to mitigate terror threats to the homeland. Click here to read the article.
Released 7 April 2021. In 1971 Colonel Duane H. Smith analyzed the unified command structure, examined an existing proposal for change, and suggested improvements. He illustrated how this structure must account for the challenges of the contemporary strategic environment and balance several tensions, such as effectiveness versus efficiency, flexibility versus focusing on a specific mission, and forward-deployed versus home-station forces. Many of Smith’s insights remain applicable to the unified command structure and global force management processes today. Click here to read the article.
Released 26 March 2021. 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. 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. 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 to read the article.
Released 19 March 2021. 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 to read the article.
Dr. Leonard Wong and Dr. Stephen Gerras – “Veteran Disability Compensation and the Army Profession: Good Intentions Gone Awry”
Released 4 February 2021. 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 to read the Monograph.
Dr. Christopher J. Bolan, COL Jerad I. Harper, and Dr. Joel R. Hillison – “Diverging Interests: US Strategy in the Middle East”
Released 3 February 2021. 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. 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 mid-twentieth 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. 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.