SMA hosted a speaker session with Air Marshal Ian Gale (Director General Joint Force Development, UK StratCom) and Vice Admiral Stuart Munsch (Director for Joint Force Development, J7, US Joint Staff), as part of its SMA UK MoD Strategic Advantage Speaker Series.
No country has a ubiquitous strategic advantage over all other countries.This forces countries—like the US and UK—to examine their systemic processes for competing with diverse actors on a global scale. Air Marshal Gale commented that the UK and US should carefully choose where to apply leverage, use resources and personnel, and exert influence to maximize their actions’ effectiveness in the geographic regions that matter the most. Also, US and UK decision makers in must endeavor to fully understand the conflicts they become involved in, the levers of influence and options available to them, and how to measure the effectiveness of their operations. Other factors that influence strategic competition—but harder for the US and UK to control—are adversaries’ alliances, geography, and to some extent their own soft power, which is partially based off countries’ preconceptions of their actions. These factors are becoming more prevalent as China increases its geopolitical and economic influence.
To compete effectively, the US and UK rely on three pillars to compete globally: their ability to mass produce products, the creation of new technology, and the proficiency of their actions. As more countries become economically dependent on China and China continues to increase its industrial power, the US and UK should focus on the proficiency of which they use their resource use. However, even though China’s size and ability to mass produce products is one of its advantages, it takes all three pillars to win a strategic competition. Vice Admiral Munsch commented that the US can leverage its private industrial base to help compete with China. Also, the US must balance its want to be a free and open society with its need to protect its national security. If the US can create a collaborative environment for its engineers, operators, and those who control their budgets then the US will be better able to compete not only with China, but its other adversaries as well. Vice Admiral Munsch concluded the presentation by stating that having a peer competitor in China will help the US focus its efforts much like it did during the Cold War.
Note: We are aware that many government IT providers have blocked access to YouTube from government machines during the pandemic in response to bandwidth limitations. We recommend viewing the recording on YouTube from a non-government computer or listening to the audio file (below), if you are in this position.