The 2018 National Defense Strategy directs the Department of Defense to transform into a flexible, agile force capable of operating in a complex world characterized by “competition below the threshold of armed conflict.” This document and the subordinate National Military Strategy and Joint Strategic Campaign Plan direct the Department’s planning enterprise to develop long-term, open-ended, global competitive campaigns against a set of specific and enduring geopolitical threats. Unfortunately, in absence of guidance as to how this competition should be accomplished, the resulting campaign plans are reactive and oriented upon preparation for regional military conflict. Furthermore, these plans were developed using a doctrine and methodology built for planning operations, a process poorly suited to address complex, trans-regional, unending strategic challenges. But the mere initiation of these global plans by the Department is a good first step, and offers unique opportunity to create a viable alternative method to design strategy.
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