*This book is in the Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security (RCCS) Series (General Editor: Geoffrey R.H. Burn).
The character of not only war but also strategic competition appears to be changing. Failing to adapt will result in further losses of blood and treasure as well as prestige and influence. Power withers when it proves frail. This book by Charles Cleveland, Benjamin Jensen, Susan Bryant, and Arnel David calls for the rethinking of how the U.S. national security community approaches population-centric warfare and strategic competition in the 21st century. Strategic advantage in the 21st century will emerge from mapping human geography in a connected world, leveraging key relationships, and applying a mix of unconventional and conventional methods that put adversaries on the horns of a dilemma.
The authors outline a new approach to thinking about military art rooted in increasing connectivity and defining a new domain of competition, the human domain. In the 21st century, strategic advantage will emerge from how we engage with and understand people and access political, economic, and social networks to achieve a position of relative advantage that complements American military strength. These interactions are not reducible to the physical confines of the land domain, which tend to focus on geography and terrain features. They represent a web of networks that define power and interests in a connected world. The state that bests understands local contexts and builds a network around relationships harnessing local capacity is more likely to win the 21st century struggle for the flanks.
Military power exercised through joint combined arms is no longer sufficient to compel adversaries or control populations. Just as conventional forces like those of the United States increased their ability for precision strike and lethal fires, competitors opted to shift strategic competition away from direct confrontations to an indirect clash of wills. The weak undermine the strong through mobilizing local populations--often through predation and manipulating grievances--to carry out insurgent attacks, terrorism, civilian massacres, propaganda campaigns and cyber-attacks. The site of this clash of wills, occurring predominantly in civilian populations and their relational networks as opposed to battlefields of old, reduces the U.S. military's comparative advantage in combined arms maneuver. As a result, military art is practiced increasingly in a human domain.
Military Strategy in the 21st Century makes the case that to be successful in these 21st century struggles, the military profession must recognize and organize for its role in these indirect conflicts and develop appropriate concepts that account for the need to gain a position of advantage in the human domain. Leading military powers like the United States must find a way to maneuver in an interconnected world of competing influence networks. America's military needs to be part of a global security network optimized for 21st century influence campaigns backed by military force as opposed to fighting 20th century military campaigns loosely backed by information operations. This is an important volume for the military professional, academics who study political violence and security, and general reader interested in the changing character of strategy and conflict. The book would be useful in a range of classroom settings including Professional Military Education (PME), university classes on contemporary military practice and strategy, and graduate classes in security studies and international relations.
Lieutenant General Charles Cleveland (U.S. Army, Retired) left active duty in 2015 as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. His ARSOF 2022 rejuvenated U.S. Army unconventional warfare capabilities and institutionalized the Human Domain as an organizing concept for Army SOF. He also commanded SOCCENT, SOCSOUTH, and the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and has operational experience in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon, Pakistan, Panama, El Salvador, and Bolivia, and began his career in Special Operations and Army intelligence units during the Cold War. Benjamin Jensen, PhD, holds a dual appointment as an associate professor at Marine Corps University and as a scholar-in-residence at American University, School of International Service. He is also a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council. Dr. Jensen's previous publications including Forging the Sword: Doctrinal Change in the U.S. Army (Stanford University Press 2016) and, coauthored, Cyber Strategy: The Evolving Character of Power and Coercion (Oxford University Press 2018). He has published in several academic journals such as the Journal of Strategic Studies as well as major media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Financial Times. He writes the "Next War' column for War on the Rocks. Outside of academia he is an officer in the U.S. Army 75th Innovation Command. Susan Bryant is a retired Army Colonel who served 28 years on active duty, including tours in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. She holds a doctorate in liberal studies from Georgetown University, where she currently teaches Grand Strategy and Military Operations, as well as American Military History. She is also a Visiting Fellow at National Defense University's Institute for National Strategy Studies and a Visiting Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.