While U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Joint Operating Environment (JOE) in no way constitutes U.S.government policy and must necessarily be speculative in nature, it seeks to provide the JointForce an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concepts to guide our future force development. We will likely not call the future exactly right, but we must think through the nature of continuity and change in strategic trends to discern their military implications to avoid being completely wrong. These implications serve to influence the concepts that drive our services’ adaptations to the environments within which they will operate, adaptations that are essential if our leaders are to have the fewest regrets when future crises strike.
In our guardian role for our nation, it is natural that we in the military focus more on possible security challenges and threats than we do on emerging opportunities. From economic trends to climate change and vulnerability to cyber attack, we outline those trends that remind us we must stay alert to what is changing in the world if we intend to create a military as relevant and capable as we possess today. There is a strong note of urgency in our efforts to balance the force for the uncertainties that lie ahead. The JOE gives focus to those efforts which must also embrace the opportunities that are inherent in the world we imperfectly foresee.
Every military force in history that has successfully adapted to the changing character of war and the evolving threats it faced did so by sharply defining the operational problems it had to solve. With the JOE helping to frame future security problems and highlighting their military implications, the Chairman’s companion document, Capstone Concept for Joint Operations (CCJO), answers the problems we have defined, stating how the Joint Force will operate. Taken together, these documents will drive the concept development and experimentation that will, in turn, drive our evolutionary adaptation, while guarding against any single preclusive view of future war. None of us have a sufficiently clear crystal ball to predict fully the changing kaleidoscope of future conflicts that hover over the horizon, even as current fights, possible adversaries’ nascent capabilities, and other factors intersect.
We will update the JOE in a year or two, once we have a sufficiently different understanding to make a new edition worthwhile. If you have ideas for improving our assessment of the future security environment and the problems our military must solve to provide relevant defense for our country and like-minded nations, please forward them to J-5 (Strategy), Joint Forces Command.