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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States has now been continuously at war for more than seventeen years. It is still fighting an active war in Afghanistan, has yet to fully defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq – much less establish a state of lasting security in either country – and is playing a role in low level conflicts against extremist and terrorists in many other parts of the world. The U.S. government, however, has never developed a convincing method of reporting on the cost of the wars, and its estimates are a confusing morass of different and conflicting Departmental, Agency, and other government reporting that leave major gaps in key areas during FY2001-FY2019. It has never provided useful forecasts of future cost, instead providing empty "placeholder" numbers or none. It has failed to find any useful way to tie the cost estimates it does release to its level of military and civil activity in each conflict or found any way to measure the effectiveness of its expenditures or tie them to a credible strategy to achieve some form of victory. The result is a national embarrassment and a fundamental failure by the Executive Branch and Congress to produce the transparency and public debate and review that are key elements of a responsible government and democracy.
  • Topic: Security, Military Strategy, Budget, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Terrance Lyons
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Eritrea’s saga of achieving independence in 1993 entails a brutal 30-year war and the mobilization of a remarkable national liberation movement. In the late nineteenth century, this small state in the Horn of Africa suffered under the colonial domination of the Italians, followed by Ethiopia’s imperialism and military rule. Self-determination, not secession, was sought by Eritrean nationalists because they never accepted colonial rule or Ethiopia’s sovereignty. After a war that included near victory in the mid-1970s, internecine splits, and a strategic retreat to a mountain redoubt in the far northwest, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) defeated the Soviet-backed Ethiopian army and seized control of all of Eritrea in May 1991. The postwar independence era started with great hopes, a referendum in which 99 percent of the population voted in favor of independence, the conversion of the rebel movement into a ruling party, and the creation of a consultative process to write a new constitution. In 1998, however, a border war broke out with Ethiopia, resulting in the almost complete militarization of Eritrean society. In 2001, a group of leaders who played key roles in the liberation war demanded political reforms and were arrested by President Isaias Afwerki. Since then Eritrea has experienced the complete closure of political space, economic decline, international sanctions, and isolation. It ranks near the bottom of global assessments regarding democracy, human rights, religious freedom, and free media.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Military Strategy, Geopolitics, Independence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Eritrea
  • Author: Brian Katz
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Islamic State’s march across Syria and Iraq in 2014 and ensuing expansion via global affiliates posed a vexing challenge for the United States and key allies. The Islamic State sought not only to seize, govern, and defend territory as part of its so-called caliphate, but also to leverage these safe havens to build transnational terrorist networks. Countering the Islamic State would thus require large-scale ground operations to conquer the Islamic State proto-states and defeat its military forces, but the need to do so urgently and expeditiously to prevent external terrorist attacks. But who would conduct such a ground campaign? The Islamic State ’s expansion coincided with a shift in U.S. and allied military strategy: the adoption of the “by, with, and through” model for major counterterrorism (CT) operations. Rather than committing large numbers of ground forces, Western strategy would center on training, advising, and assisting host-nation militaries to serve as the main combat element. With small numbers of special operations forces (SOF) and key enablers such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and close air support, Western powers could bolster the battlefield effectiveness of local forces while limiting their own troop commitments. A national army like the Iraqi Security Forces was a natural host-nation partner. But what if there is no state with whom to partner? This paper will examine the recent history of partnering with non-state actors for CT operations where the United States and allies were unable or unwilling to work “by, with, and through” the host-nation.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, Non State Actors, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kathleen H. Hicks, Andrew Philip Hunter, Mark F. Cancian, Todd Harrison, Seamus P. Daniels
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Expectations have been building for the FY 2020 defense budget request, a budget that acting secretary of defense Shanahan has called the “masterpiece.” While the administration’s FY 2019 defense budget of $716 billion is fully funded through the remainder of the current fiscal year, a surprising number of statements on defense spending from the White House over the past several months have generated significant discussion and uncertainty around the FY 2020 request, calling into question whether or not it will be a masterpiece after all. In addition to waiting for the final topline figure, questions remain over how the budget will be composed, whether its priorities align with those of the National Defense Strategy (NDS), and how much detail it provides on the administration’s plans for national security space reorganization. The request also comes in the leadup to the debate over raising the Budget Control Act (BCA) budget caps for FY 2020 and FY 2021. As the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) works on finalizing the request, experts from the CSIS International Security Program outline what to look for in the FY 2020 defense budget below.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Budget
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gabriel Coll, Andrew Philip Hunter, Robert Karlen
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. military’s vertical lift fleet of helicopters and tiltrotors is aging. With the exception of V-22 Osprey, no completely new aircraft designs have been introduced since the 1980s. Even the V-22 made its first test flight back in the 1980s. And the U.S. Army, which has the largest helicopter fleet and traditionally takes the lead on vertical lift innovation, has not made substantial investments in Research & Development since the cancellation of RAH-66 Comanche. Today, there are ambitious plans to modernize the entire vertical lift fleet. However, much of the investment path ahead remains unclear. To make informed plans about the future, it is important first to understand how the United States arrived at its current state through past investments.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Air Force
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel F. Runde, Earl Anthony Wayne
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: A precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan would endanger many of the social, political, economic, and health gains that have been achieved in Afghanistan over nearly 20 years. Afghanistan has a myriad of problems, including corruption, violence, and poverty, but these challenges often overshadow improvements in mortality rates, media and cellular access, tax collection, and women and girls’ education and political freedoms, among others. To prevent these gains from dissipating, the international community should encourage the Afghan government to meet certain governance benchmarks and continue on its path to self-reliance. The United States and its international allies should also consider a gradual withdrawal of troops, funding for the Afghan security forces, and economic assistance, based on a timeline that reflects facts on the ground and progress on peace negotiations.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Military Strategy, State Building, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The European Trilateral Track 2 Nuclear Dialogues, organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in partnership with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the Fondation pourla Recherche Stratégique (FRS), has convened senior nuclear policy experts from the United Kingdom, France, and the United States (P3) for the past ten years to discuss nuclear deterrence, arms control, and nonproliferation policy issues and to identify areas of consensus among the three countries. The majority of the experts are former U.S., UK, and French senior officials; the others are well-known academics in the field. Since the Dialogues’ inception, high-level officials from all three governments have also routinely joined the forum and participated in the discussions. The Dialogues have been unique in bringing U.S., UK, and French representatives into a trilateral forum for discussing nuclear policy. The United States, United Kingdom, and France hold common values and principles directed toward a shared purpose of global peace and security, as well as an understanding of their respective roles as responsible stewards of the nuclear order. Their sustained engagement will thus, irrespective of political shifts in any of the three countries, remain unique in the context of international alliances and partnerships and essential into the foreseeable future. In 2018, the group’s discussion addressed a range of issues in the Euro-Atlantic security environment and beyond, prompting agreement among the group’s nongovernmental participants to issue the following statement reflecting the consensus views of the undersigned. All signatories agree to this statement in their personal capacity, which may not represent the views of their respective organizations.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, France, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There is growing Iranian activism in the Middle East despite U.S. and allied efforts to weaken Iran’s economy and politically isolate Tehran. There has been an increase in the size and capabilities of militias supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen collectively. Iran is also working to establish a land bridge across the region. Nevertheless, Iran has weaknesses and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by the United States and its partners.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Regional Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The analysis concludes that the sudden breakdown in the latest round of U.S.-Korean nuclear arms control talks in Vietnam should scarcely come as a surprise to anyone. Both sides sought too much too soon and did so despite a long history of previous failures. Heads of state engaged before their staffs had reached a clear compromise and did so seeking goals the other leader could not accept. It is not clear that an agreement was reachable at this point in time, but each side's search for its "best" ensured that the two sides could not compromise on the "good." This failure sent yet another warning that agreements like the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear arms agreement with Iran that offers major progress in limiting a nation's nuclear weapons efforts can be far better than no agreement, and of the danger in letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. The failed U.S. negotiations with Korea sends a warning that any set of compromises that preserves Iran's compliance with the JCPOA, and creates a structure where negotiation can continue, will be better than provoking a crisis with Iran that can end in no agreement at all and alienate America's European allies in the process.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Denuclearization, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thomas G. Roberts
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Over 60 years ago, the Soviet Union used a derivative of its R-7 rocket—often called the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)—to launch an artificial satellite into orbit, marking the first orbital space launch from the spaceport now known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Since then, launch vehicles have reached orbit from 27 spaceports around the world. With the rate of space launches projected to grow exponentially in the coming years, spaceports will become an increasingly important and potentially limiting factor in the global space industry. This report analyzes ground-based space launches from 1957 to 2018, including brief histories of all active and inactive orbital spaceports, 10 year launch records for the 22 spaceports still in use today, and the current status of several proposals to create new facilities capable of supporting orbital space launches. Ground-based spaceports are typically built in geopolitically favorable locations. Many spaceports are located in the most physically optimal regions available to operators, with geographic characteristics that include close proximity to the equator, opportunities for eastward or near-eastward launch, and favorable environmental factors. Historically, orbital space launch operations have been closely tied with ballistic missile research, leading several ICBM development and testing centers to later become spaceports. Due to the political risk associated with both missile development and orbital space launch testing, several spaceports were originally created such that their precise positions could remain ambiguous. In at least one case, a spaceport was created with the intention of being entirely secret—with its operator denying its existence for more than 15 years.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Space, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: Global Focus