Letter Encourages Barack Obama to Read ‘The JOE’
If you do nothing else before taking office as president, I hope you will read The Joint Operating Environment 2008 (a.k.a., “The JOE”), a U.S. Joint Forces Command report that contains the following bit of military forecasting:
In terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.
Thanks to the estimate above, the report military leaders refer to as “The JOE” was thrust into the media limelight recently. Perhaps you read Reuters’ article, Pakistan, Mexico and US nightmares, and the El Paso Times article, Joint Forces report warns Mexico could destabilize?
Intended to serve as a starting point for discussions about the future security environment at the operational level of war, The JOE was signed by Gen. J.N. Mattis, commander of USJFC, and approved for public release Nov. 25.
The first two paragraphs of The JOE’s introduction make clear what you will face as leader of the Free World:
The next quarter center will challenge U.S. joint forces with threats and opportunities ranging from regular and irregular wars in remote lands, to relief and reconstruction in crisis zones, to sustained engagement in the global commons. During this time, the causes of conflict will vary from rational political calculation to uncontrolled passion. Our enemy’s capabilities will range from explosive vests worn by suicide bombers to long-range precision-guided cyber, space, and missile attacks. The threat of mass destruction — from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons — will likely expand from stable nation-states to less stable states and even non-state networks.
It is impossible to predict precisely how challenges will emerge and what form they might take. Nevertheless, it is absolutely vital to try to frame the strategic and operational contexts of the future, in order to glimpse the possible environments where political and military leaders will work and where they might employ joint forces. The value of such efforts lies not so much in the final product, but much more in the participation of senior leaders and decision-makers in the discussion. Only by wrestling with the possibilities, determining the leading indicators, and then reading the signposts of the times will the Joint Force have some of the answers to the challenges of the future. The alternative, to focus on the here and now or to pass this mission to the bureaucracy, will certainly result in getting caught flat-footed, reacting to near-term crises as they arise, at great cost in blood and treasure.
Start reading now, Mr. President-elect. You have only six days remaining before your real work begins.
P.S. You might also want to read Bill Gertz’ Inside the Ring column published on New Years Day in the Washington Times. It focuses upon The JOE’s analysis of the threat posed to this country by China.