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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
  • Author: Tom Karako, Wes Rumbaugh
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Just over a year ago, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced that the 2020 defense budget would be the “masterpiece” that would finally align Pentagon spending with the new direction of the National Defense Strategy.1 The release of the new budget follows the January 2019 release of the Missile Defense Review, which laid out the administration’s vision of how U.S. missile defense policy, programs, and posture should be adapted to contend with more challenging missile threats in an era of great power competition.2 At the review’s release, President Trump declared the “beginning of a new era in our missile defense program,” setting a goal to “detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States—anywhere, anytime, anyplace.”3 Unfortunately, neither the modest language of the Missile Defense Review nor the activities and funding levels in the proposed 2020 budget come anywhere close to achieving that goal. They specifically lack the programmatic and budgetary muscle movements to contribute meaningfully to overall U.S. deterrence and defense goals in relation to Russia and China. The Missile Defense Review nominally widens the scope of missile defense policy from a focus on ballistic missiles to countering the full spectrum of missile threats. Yet these new policy and budget proposals remain remarkably consistent with the program of record that preexisted the National Defense Strategy. Apart from steps within the services for incremental improvements to air defenses and some studies on countering hypersonic glide vehicles, the focus remains on the limited ballistic missile threats posed by otherwise weak rogue regimes.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Budget, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Todd Harrison, Kaitlyn Johnson, Thomas G. Roberts
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: While the vulnerabilities of U.S. national security space systems are often discussed publicly, the progress other nations are making in counterspace systems is not as readily accessible. Space Threat Assessment 2019 reviews the open-source information available on the counterspace capabilities that can threaten U.S. space systems. The report is intended to raise awareness and understanding of the threats, debunk myths and misinformation, and highlight areas in which senior leaders and policymakers should focus their attention. Space Threat Assessment 2019 focuses on four specific countries that pose the greatest risk for the United States: China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. A fifth section analyzes the counterspace capabilities of select other countries, including some allies and partners of the United States, and some non-state actors. This report is not a comprehensive assessment of all known threats to U.S. space systems because much of the information on what other countries are doing to advance their counterspace systems is not publicly available. Instead, it serves as an unclassified assessment that aggregates and highlights open-source information on counterspace capabilities for policymakers and the general public.
  • Topic: Security, Military Strategy, Space
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Richard Olson, Daniel F. Runde
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This brief presents a summary of key historical events in Afghanistan since 1989 and outlines a possible worst-case scenario following a U.S. and allied withdrawal from the country. The United States, Afghanistan, and its allies must work together in search for greater Afghan self-reliance, security, and stability in order to avoid a catastrophic scenario. Only then will Afghanistan be able to free itself of foreign presences and embark on its own journey to prosperity and self-reliance.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Governance, Hegemony, Military Affairs, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Rhys McCormick, Samantha Cohen, Gregory Sanders, Andrew Philip Hunter
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Defense Acquisition Trends, 2018: Defense Contract Spending Bounces Back is the latest in an annual series of report examining trends in what DoD is buying, how DoD is buying it, and whom DoD is buying from. This report analyzes the current state of affairs in defense acquisition by combining detailed policy and data analysis to provide a comprehensive overview of the current and future outlook for defense acquisition. This analysis will provide critical insights into what DoD is buying, how DoD is buying it, from whom is DoD buying, and what are the defense components buying using data from the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). This analysis provides critical insights into understanding the current trends in the defense industrial base and the implications of those trends on acquisition policy.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Private Sector, Military Contractors
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It is brutally obvious from the proposed U.S. defense budget for FY2020 that the United States set broad goals in early 2018 for what it called a new national defense strategy that were not supported by meaningful plans, programs and proposed budgets. So far, the U.S. has not defined how it will implement any major elements of the broad concepts it chose to call a strategy, what force changes will need to take place and at what cost, and how this will affect America's strategic partners.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Budget, Military Spending, Regionalism, Regional Power
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Melissa Dalton
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States increasingly relies on allies and partners to accomplish shared security objectives around the globe. In recent years, a greater emphasis has been placed from burden sharing to burden shifting—enabling allies and partners to assume responsibility for their own security challenges through security sector assistance. Burden shifting responsibly to allies and partners requires the United States to integrate oversight and accountability measures into the implementation of security sector assistance. Oversight and accountability mechanisms for security sector assistance allow the United States to better direct, track, and calibrate its assistance to partners to ensure the full scope of U.S. policy goals are met. However, amid reforms being undertaken by the U.S. government to adapt security sector assistance policy and processes, greater clarity is needed on how to connect policy goals of oversight and accountability to planning, operations, doctrine, and training across the security assistance enterprise. This study conducted by the CSIS Cooperative Defense Project builds upon its previous initiative, entitled Oversight and Accountability in Security Sector Assistance: Seeking Return on Investment, to assess the levels of progress on implementing reforms throughout the security sector assistance enterprise and developing an action plan that addresses specific issues along planning, operations, policy and doctrine, and training lines of effort.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Erol Yayboke, Melissa Dalton, MacKenzie Hammond, Hijab Shah
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. government has an opportunity to pursue effective and conflict-aware stabilization, building upon the U.S. Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR) framework signed in June 2018.1 The SAR clarified roles and streamlined priorities for stabilization assistance, though “implementation will require sustained leadership, an interagency roadmap, new processes, bureaucratic incentives, and a review of authorities and resources.”2 The SAR includes a unified U.S. government definition of stabilization that recognizes stabilization as an “inherently political endeavor involving an integrated civilian-military process to create conditions where locally legitimate authorities and systems can peaceably manage conflict and prevent a resurgence of violence.”3 CSIS has embarked on a study to examine how to operationalize and build upon the SAR framework. This brief serves as a companion to a brief published in January 2019 which called for a clearer and contextualized definition of stabilization success and well-delineated roles, goals, and leadership structures in the U.S. interagency. It emphasized the importance of local actors and called for a process-based approached to assessment, monitoring, and evaluation (AM&E).4 This brief builds on the first by focusing on the lessons learned from past stabilization efforts and by addressing a key element of successful SAR implementation: partnerships. Success requires deeper interagency coordination and substantive partnerships with international partners. Lastly, this brief addresses a fundamental challenge to SAR implementation: updating the U.S. government’s tools, authorities, and resourcing to increase chances of success.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Humanitarian Crisis, Strategic Stability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Heather A Conley, Matthew Melino
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States’ strategic position near Russia and neighboring Canada allows the U.S. access to the Beaufort Sea, the Chukchi Sea, and the Bering Sea and requires the United States to manage a lengthy maritime border with Russia that extends through the Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea into the Arctic Ocean as far as permitted under international law. The U.S. government has articulated its fundamental interest in the Arctic for more than 40 years in a series of government strategies: beginning with President Nixon’s 1971 National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDM-144), to Ronald Reagan’s 1983 National Security Decision Directive (NSDD-90), to President George W. Bush’s National Security Presidential Directive 66 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25, signed in 2009, and the 2016 Report to Congress from the Department of Defense on Strategy to Protect United States National Security Interests in the Arctic Region.1 Each document established broad guidelines for U.S. policy in the region that aligned with the geostrategic realities at the time.2
  • Topic: Security, Military Strategy, Territorial Disputes, Maritime, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Arctic
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Iran is engaged in a soft war, or jang-e narm, with the United States. Iran uses formal and informal means to influence populations across the globe and has expanded its information campaign utilizing the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, cultural centers, universities, and charitable foundations. But Iran’s authoritarian political system and attempts to control access to information make it vulnerable to a U.S. and Western information campaign. Iran’s weaknesses​ suggest that a major component of U.S. competition with Tehran should be ideological.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Conflict, Ideology, Disinformation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As the Secretary General’s Annual Report for 2018 makes clear, NATO has many productive initiatives underway that focus on its real security needs, and that will help deter Russia and deal with the key issues in its military readiness and force planning. In fact, some 90% of the Secretary General’s report focuses on such issues. At the same time, NATO does not issue any net assessments of the balance between NATO and Russia and its capability to deter and fight. It does not openly address any of the many national problems and issues in current force structure nation-by-nation strength and readiness, and it has no coherent force and modernization plans for the future.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Military Spending, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Kaitlyn Johnson
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In 2018, President Trump requested that the U.S. military restructure its space offices and personnel to create a U.S. Space Force. Since then three competing visions for how the Department of Defense (DoD) should be restructured to better support its national security space enterprise have been crafted: one from the DoD itself and two from either chamber of Congress. This brief compares these three legislative proposals to create a new military service for space.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Space, Space Force
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mark F. Cancian
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: When the United States invaded Afghanistan after the attacks on September 11, 2001, and then overthrew the Taliban regime, senior military officers were not predicting that the United States would be militarily involved 18 years later. Yet, after expending nearly $800 billion and suffering over 2,400 killed, the United States is still there, having achieved at best a stalemate. This CSIS report concludes that the mission in Afghanistan expanded from a limited focus on counterterrorism to a broad nation-building effort without discussion about the implications for the duration and intensity of the military campaign. This expansion occurred without considering the history of Afghanistan, the Soviet experience, and the decades-long effort required in successful nation-building efforts. The report makes a series of recommendations: improving the dialogue between senior military and civilian officials about desired goals/end states and the implied intensity/duration of a military campaign; continuing the development of military strategists; revising military doctrine publications to include discussion of choices about goals/end states; and taking more seriously the history and experience of others.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Conflict, Strategic Planning
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It has been a long, grim war since the first U.S. troops appeared in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. The fighting has now lasted close to 18 years, and the conflict has become one of the worst managed wars in American history. The effort to reinvent Afghan government as a functioning democracy has so far been an unstable nightmare mixing corruption and uncertain central leadership with power brokers, ex-warlords, and divided leadership. Efforts at economic growth and reform have fallen far short of their goals, vast sums have been wasted or lost through corruption, and the current Afghan economy now survives on the basis of outside aid and domestic narcotics exports. Major security efforts have at best produced an uncertain stalemate and one where the Afghan government increasingly seems to be losing control in the countryside in order to maintain its hold on major population centers. Three different Presidents have made major errors in overall strategy. President Bush gave priority to Iraq at the cost of giving the Afghan war proper attention and providing adequate forces to deal with the return of the Taliban. President Obama first authorized a surge — which wasted major resources in Helmand — and then called for a premature U.S. withdrawal based on totally unrealistic goals for Afghan force development. President Trump has adopted a strategy which has no clear political or economic element, and is unclear as to whether the U.S. is willing to keep supporting Afghan government military efforts or is giving priority to peace more as part of an effort to withdraw U.S. forces than to achieve a lasting and meaningful peace settlement. This report addresses the options for staying in Afghanistan, for reaching a cosmetic or real form of peace, and for some form of unilateral withdrawal. It describes the challenges in each area: the current stalemate in conflict and the debate over Afghan Government versus Taliban control, the critical problems in Afghan governance, the weaknesses in the Afghan economy, and the many remaining challenges in creating Afghan forces that can stand on their own. It addresses the challenges in cutting or removing U.S. land and air forces. Finally, it addresses critical problems in assessing and costing the current level of U.S. involvement in the war, and in estimating the future cost of supporting a peace or continuing the fighting.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Public Opinion, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, Asia, Vietnam, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: For all the furor over Iran and the Gulf, or Britain and Brexit, the most important foreign news of the month is what would normally be a relatively obscure Chinese official document: China’s National Defense in the New Era. This White Paper was issued on July 22nd in both Chinese and English. Unlike China’s previous defense white papers — the most recent of which came out in 2015 and was blandly reassuring to the point of being vacuous — the new White Paper picks up the gauntlet that the U.S. threw down in its 2017 National Security Strategy and in 2018 National Defense Strategy. Both of these documents effectively made China the key objective in strengthening U.S. military forces and single it out as America’s primary strategic competitor. China’s National Defense in the New Era is a clear and detailed 51-page response to the massive shift in U.S. strategy from a focus on counterterrorism and extremism to competition and possible conflict with China and Russia. It flags the fact that America and China are now competing superpowers, and that China’s growing military forces are developing to the point where they will be able to challenge the United States. More than that, the detailed contents of the White Paper are a direct response to the official U.S. reports on Chinese Military Power issued by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and by the Defense Intelligence Agency.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Intelligence, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In fairness, peace almost always consists of a pause in the fighting that becomes a prelude to war. Taking modern Europe as an example, the Napoleonic wars were punctuated by failed peace attempts, and then led to the rise of Germany and a whole new series of wars with Austria, Denmark, and France. The repressive peace settlements following Europe’s upheavals in 1848 set the stage for decades of new rounds of conflict and revolution. World War I led to World War II, and then led to the Cold War and now to the Ukraine. Nevertheless, the current U.S. efforts to support peace negotiations in Afghanistan and the Middle East seem remarkably weak even by historical standards. In the case of Afghanistan, “peace” is being negotiated without even the same cosmetic level of local government participation that occurred in Vietnam. It is being negotiated when there is no political stability to build upon, and no apparent prospect that the coming election can bring real unity or effective leadership.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Iraq, Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Ian Williams
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Tensions with Iran are once again increasing. The slow implosion of the nuclear accord, Iran’s harassment of cargo ships, and the downing of a U.S. unmanned aircraft have made plain the risk of conflict between Iran and the United States. The dispute should also draw attention to the questionable preparedness of the United States and its allies to fight a war with Iran on short notice and deal with that war’s blowback across the Middle East and Europe. Regional missile defense architectures are an important part of that preparedness. Iran has the largest and most diverse supply of ballistic missiles in the Middle East region, and Tehran has shown an ability and willingness to use them in combat operations.1 Iran is also learning to employ other kinds of aerial threats, such as long-range cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In a conflict with Iran, U.S. and allied forces would likely face a wide spectrum of air and missile threats. The biggest U.S. investment in Iran-centric missile defenses has been the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). EPAA is a phased buildup of U.S. missile defense assets in and around Europe to deter and, if necessary, limit damage from an Iranian missile attack on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Yet the EPAA architecture is heavily dependent on the nominal, unencumbered performance of a single radar deployed relatively close to Iran. This produces a single point of failure susceptible to malfunction or operator error. It also presents an Achilles’ heel that a determined or imaginative adversary could exploit. Iran certainly fits both descriptors. In 1958, strategist Albert Wohlstetter wrote that U.S. confidence in its nuclear second-strike ability was achieved only by “ignoring the full range of sensible enemy plans.”2 This same critical judgment should be applied to confidence in the EPAA as currently configured. Inasmuch as a sensible adversary such as Iran relies upon its missile forces to achieve its defense goals, it should be credited with the foresight to target single points of failure that would preclude the effective application of that missile force. Fortunately, there are practical steps that NATO and the United States can take to further adapt EPAA for greater resiliency. Upgrades to existing radars, the integration of allied radars into the missile defense mission, and the addition of air and space-based sensors would do much to improve EPAA’s capability and survivability, improving U.S. and NATO preparedness for an unexpected Middle East conflict.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, North Atlantic, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Maura Rose McQuade, Andrew Philip Hunter, Schuyler Moore
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The increasing importance of software has created an opportunity for the Department of Defense (DoD) to harness innovation through the acquisition and modification of adaptable systems that are 1) inherently multifunctional and 2) designed for continuous modification. Identifying an acquisition approach to these types of adaptable systems that are software-defined and hardware-intensive is particularly challenging from an acquisition perspective as these systems do not fall into typical acquisition phases that discretely differentiate between phases such as research & development and production. However, there are several existing enablers that, if adopted, can mitigate barriers to the acquisition of adaptable systems.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Infrastructure, Innovation
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Afghan War has entered a critical period in which the U.S. is actively seeking a peace settlement with the Taliban, and doing so in spite of the fact that it is negotiating without the full participation of the Afghan government. Peace is a highly uncertain option. There are no official descriptions of the terms of the peace that the Administration is now seeking to negotiate, but media reports indicate that it may be considering a full withdrawal within a year of a ceasefire, and other reports indicate that it is considering a 50% cut in U.S. military personnel even if a peace is not negotiated. As of mid-August 2019, the Taliban has continued to reject any formal peace negotiations with the Afghan government, and has steadily stepped up its military activity and acts of violence while it negotiates with the United States. Terrorist groups like ISIS-K add to the threat, as do the many splits within the Afghani government and political structure. The Taliban has not encouraged further ceasefires, or shown any clear willingness to accept a lasting peace on any terms but its own. It may well see peace negotiations as a means of negotiating a withdrawal of U.S. and other allied forces and a prelude to a peace that it could exploit to win control of Afghanistan. At the same time, major uncertainties also exist regarding continuing support for the war. Some press reports indicate the Administration is seeking a 50% reduction in active U.S. military manpower in country by the end of 2019 or some point in mid-2020 regardless of whether a peace settlement is reached. Some members of Congress have called for major U.S. force cuts and shown only a limited willingness to keep up U.S. support of the Afghan government and forces if peace negotiations do not succeed. Much depends on current trends in the war, and the extent to which the Afghan Government or the Taliban are winning control and influence over the country. Much also depends on the degree to which the Afghan government forces can stand on their own if a peace negotiation leads to the withdrawal of U.S. and Resolute support forces, or if the U.S. makes major further force cuts.
  • Topic: Development, Military Strategy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Afghan War has entered a critical period in which the U.S. is actively seeking a peace settlement with the Taliban, and doing so in spite of the fact that it is negotiating without the full participation of the Afghan government. Its options now consist of finding some form of peace, leaving the country without any form of victory or security, or fighting indefinitely in a country whose central government has no near or mid-term capability to either defeat its opponents or survive without massive military and civil aid. Peace is a highly uncertain option. There are no official descriptions of the terms of the peace that the Administration is now seeking to negotiate, but media reports indicate that it may be considering a full withdrawal of its military support within one to two years of a ceasefire, and other reports indicate that it is considering a 50% cut in U.S. military personnel even if a peace is not negotiated. As of late-August 2019, the Taliban continued to reject any formal peace negotiations with the Afghan government, and its military activity and acts of violence while it negotiated with the United States. Terrorist groups like ISIS-K add to the threat, as do the many splits within the Afghani government and political structure. The Taliban has not encouraged further ceasefires, or shown any clear willingness to accept a lasting peace on any terms but its own. It may well see peace negotiations as a means of negotiating a withdrawal of U.S. and other allied forces and a prelude to a peace that it could exploit to win control of Afghanistan. At the same time, the other options are no better. They either mean leaving without a peace and the near certain collapse of the Afghan government, or continuing the war indefinitely with no clear timeframe for victory or the emergence of an Afghan government that can fight on its own or act as an effective civil government. Much of the analysis of these three options has focused on the possible terms of the peace, the immediate progress in the fighting, and/or the coming Afghan election and Afghanistan’s immediate political problems. These are all important issues, but they do not address the basic problems in Afghan security forces that will limit its military capabilities indefinitely into the future, or the scale of the civil problems in Afghanistan that have given it failed governance and made it the equivalent of a failed state, and that will shape its future in actually implementing any peace or in attempting to continue the war.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Abdullah Toukan
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S., its European allies, and its Strategic Partners in the Middle East achieved a significant victory in breaking up the ISIS protostate – or “caliphate” – in Syria and Iraq. This break up has sharply reduced the fighting against ISIS in Iraq, and in Eastern Syria. The U.S.-led Coalition did not, however, fully defeat ISIS in either Iraq or Syria or eliminate ISIS and other forms of extremism as serious threats. It did not bring lasting stability to Iraq or end the Syrian civil war, and it did not eliminate the threat from ISIS and other extremist groups in the rest of the MENA area. This analysis covers two important aspects of the crisis in Iraq and Syria since the break of the “caliphate.” First, it summarizes key official reporting on the resurgence of ISIS as a serious threat in both Syria and Iraq. Second, it puts ISIS in perspective – showing that it did not dominate the violence and levels of terrorism in Syria even at its peak, and noting that ISIS is only one of the major threats to stability in Iraq.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, ISIS, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Seamus P. Daniels
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: On August 2, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist issued a memo calling for a “comprehensive zero-based review of all defense-wide (DW) functions and activities” in the Department of Defense (DoD). The goal of this ongoing effort, led by the deputy secretary, is to ensure the alignment of resources with the National Defense Strategy (NDS) through the FY 2021 program review cycle and to “support a longer-term focus on structural reform” that generates future savings. In line with Norquist’s call to “begin immediately and move forward aggressively,” the review kicked off on Saturday, August 10, only eight days after the memo was issued. This brief explains what the review entails, which defense-wide organizations are subject to it, and previous efforts at driving efficiencies in the “Fourth Estate.”
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Civil-Military Relations
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mark F. Cancian
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Annually, CSIS Senior Adviser Mark Cancian publishes a series of papers on U.S. military forces--their composition, new initiatives, long term trends, and challenges. The overall theme of this year's report is the struggle to align forces and strategy because of budget tradeoffs that even defense buildups must make, unrelenting operational demands that stress forces and prevent reductions, and legacy programs whose smooth operations and strong constituencies inhibit rapid change. Subsequent papers will take a deeper look at the strategic and budget context, the military services, special operations forces, DOD civilians and contractors, and non-DOD national security organizations in the FY 2020 budget.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Budget, Civil-Military Relations
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mark F. Cancian
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: lthough the dictates of the 2018 national defense strategy are clear, implementing them in the real world is difficult in the face of real-world crises, the inertia of legacy investments, and the long timelines needed to field new capabilities. Thus, the budget continues the priorities that Secretary James Mattis set in 2017 but struggles with the need to make trade-offs.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Budget
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Rhys McCormick, Andrew Philip Hunter, Gregory Sanders
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The presence of a technologically superior defense industrial base has been a foundation of U.S. strategy since 1945. While the implementation of the budget cuts in the Budget Control Act of 2011 has caused concerns for the industrial base, the resulting debate has been lacking in empirical analysis. The purpose of this research is to measure the impact of the current defense drawdown across all the tiers of the industrial base. This report analyzes prime and subprime Defense Department contract data to measure the impacts of the drawdown by sector to better understand how prime and subprime contractors have responded to this external market shock.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Budget, Defense Industry
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tom Karako, Wes Rumbaugh
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the rising salience of missile threats, current air and missile defense forces are far too susceptible to suppression. Today’s U.S. air and missile defense (AMD) force lacks the depth, capacity, and operational flexibility to simultaneously perform both missions. Discussions about improving AMD usually revolve around improvements to the capability and capacity of interceptors or sensors. Rather than simply doing more of the same, the joint integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) efforts might be well served by new or reinvigorated operational concepts, here discussed collectively as “Distributed Defense.” By leveraging networked integration, Distributed Defense envisions a more flexible and more dispersible air and missile defense force capable of imposing costs and dilemmas on an adversary, complicating the suppression of U.S. air and missile defenses. Although capability and capacity improvements remain essential to the high-end threats, the Distributed Defense concept focuses on creating a new architecture for today’s fielded or soon-to-be fielded IAMD force to boost flexibility and resilience.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy outline a U.S. shift from counterterrorism to inter-state competition with China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. However, U.S. policymakers need to be prepared for much of this competition to occur at the unconventional level, since the costs of conventional and nuclear war would likely be catastrophic. U.S. strategy is evolving from a post-9/11 focus on counterterrorism against groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State to competition between state adversaries. As the National Defense Strategy notes, “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.”1 This shift has significant implications for the U.S. military, since it indicates a need to improve U.S. capabilities to fight—and win—possible wars against China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea if deterrence fails. Though it is prudent to prepare for conventional—and even nuclear—war, the risks of conflict are likely to be staggering. Numerous war games and analyses of U.S. conflicts with Russia in the Baltics, China in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, and North Korea on the Korean peninsula suggest the possibility of at least tens of thousands of dead and billions of dollars in economic damages. In addition, these conflicts could escalate to nuclear war, which might raise the number of dead to hundreds of thousands or even millions. According to one analysis, for example, a U.S. war with China could reduce China’s gross domestic product (GDP) by between 25 and 35 percent and the United States’ GDP by between 5 and 10 percent. The study also assessed that both countries could suffer substantial military losses to bases, air forces, surface naval forces, and submarines; significant political upheaval at home and abroad; and huge numbers of civilian deaths.2 These costs and risks will likely give Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and even Pyongyang pause, raising several questions. Will these high costs deter the possibility of conventional and nuclear war? If so, what are the implications for the United States as it plans for a rise in inter-state competition? The Cold War offers a useful historical lens. NATO planners prepared for a possible Soviet and Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. The U.S. military, for example, deployed forces to the Fulda Gap, roughly 60 miles outside of Frankfurt, Germany, as one of several possible invasion routes by Soviet and other Warsaw Pact forces. NATO also planned for nuclear war. The United States built up its nuclear arsenal and adopted strategies like mutually assured destruction (MAD). The concept of MAD assumed that a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the annihilation of both the attacker and the defender. The threat of such heavy costs deterred conflict, despite some close calls. During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the two superpowers nearly went to war after a U.S. U-2 aircraft took pictures of Soviet medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles (MRBMs and IRBMs) under construction in Cuba. But Washington and Moscow ultimately assessed that direct conflict was too costly. Deterrence held. Instead, the United States and Soviet Union engaged in intense security competition at the unconventional level across Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Both countries backed substate groups and states to expand their power and influence. Under the Reagan Doctrine, for example, the United States provided overt and covert assistance to anticommunist governments and resistance movements to roll back communist supporters. The Soviets did the same and supported states and substate actors across the globe. In addition, the Soviets adopted an aggressive, unconventional approach best captured in the phrase “active measures” or aktivnyye meropriatia. As used by the KGB, active measures included a wide range of activities designed to influence populations across the globe. The KGB established front groups, covertly broadcast radio and other programs, orchestrated disinformation campaigns, and conducted targeted assassinations. The Soviets used active measures as an offensive instrument of Soviet foreign policy to extend Moscow’s influence and power throughout the world, including in Europe. Unlike the Cold War, the United States confronts multiple state adversaries today—not one. As the National Defense Strategy argues, the United States is situated in “a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory” where “the central challenges to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers.” But based on the likely costs and risks of conventional and nuclear war with China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, much of the competition will likely be unconventional—and include what former U.S. State Department diplomat George Kennan referred to as “political warfare.” The term political warfare refers to the employment of military, intelligence, diplomatic, financial, and other means—short of conventional war—to achieve national objectives. It can include overt operations like public broadcasting and covert operations like psychological warfare and support to underground resistance groups.3 The United States’ adversaries today are already engaged in political warfare. Russia, for instance, utilizes a range of means to pursue its interests, such as technologically sophisticated offensive cyber programs, covert action, and psychological operations. Moscow has conducted overt operations like the use of RT and Sputnik, as well as semitransparent and covert efforts. It has also become increasingly active in supporting state and substate actors in countries like Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya to expand its influence in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and even North Africa. Finally, Russia is attempting to exploit European and transatlantic fissures and support populist movements to undermine European Union and NATO cohesion, thwart economic sanctions, justify or obscure Russian actions, and weaken the attraction of Western institutions for countries on Russia’s periphery. Iran is using political warfare tools like propaganda, cyber attacks, and aid to substate proxies to support its security priorities, influence events and foreign perceptions, and counter threats. Tehran is also assisting state and substate actors in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, and Afghanistan. Iran supports Shia militia groups in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and Houthi rebels in Yemen. In the South China Sea, China is pouring millions of tons of sand and concrete onto reefs, creating artificial islands. It is also conducting a sophisticated propaganda campaign, utilizing economic coercion, and using fleets of fishing vessels to solidify its assertion of territorial and resource rights throughout the Pacific. Finally, Beijing is targeting the U.S. government, its allies, and U.S. companies as part of a cyber-espionage campaign. With political warfare already alive and well with the United States’ state adversaries, there are several implications for U.S. defense strategy. First, U.S. policymakers need to be prepared for significant inter-state competition to occur at the unconventional level, since the costs and risks of conventional and nuclear war may be prohibitively high. This should involve thinking through trade-offs regarding force posture, procurement, acquisition, and modernization. A U.S. military that predominantly focuses on preparing for conventional or nuclear war with state competitors—by modernizing the nuclear triad, building more resilient space capabilities, acquiring more effective counter-space systems, equipping U.S. forces with high-technology weapons, and emphasizing professional military education (PME) to fight conventional wars—may undermine U.S. unconventional readiness and capabilities. Second, even organizations that already engage in some types of political warfare—such as U.S. Special Operations Command and the U.S. intelligence community—will need to continue shifting some of their focus from counterterrorism to political warfare against state adversaries. This might include, for example, providing more aid to the Baltic States to conduct an effective resistance campaign against unconventional action by Moscow. Or it might involve aiding proxies in countries like Syria and Yemen to counter Iranian-backed organizations. It could also include improving the border security capabilities and effectiveness of Ukrainian military and police units against Russian-backed rebels. Third, the United States should invest in resources and capabilities that allow the military and other U.S. government agencies to more effectively engage in political warfare—and to provide agencies with sufficient authorities to conduct political warfare. One example is improving capabilities to conduct aggressive, offensive cyber operations. Other examples might include advanced electronic attack capabilities, psychological warfare units, security force assistance brigades, and precision munitions. Recognizing that other powers routinely conduct political warfare, George Kennan encouraged U.S. leaders to disabuse themselves of the “handicap” of the “concept of a basic difference between peace and war” and to wake up to “the realities of international relations—the perpetual rhythm of struggle, in and out of war.” Kennan’s advice may be even more relevant today in such a competitive world.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Heather A Conley
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Twenty-five years of relative calm and predictability in relations between Russia and the West enabled European governments largely to neglect their military capabilities for territorial defense and dramatically redraw Northern Europe’s multilateral, regional, and bilateral boundaries, stimulating new institutional and cooperative developments and arrangements. These cooperative patterns of behavior occurred amid a benign security environment, a situation that no longer obtains. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its military incursion into eastern Ukraine, its substantial military modernization efforts, heightened undersea activity in the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea, and its repeated air violations, the region’s security environment has dramatically worsened. The Baltic Sea and North Atlantic region have returned as a geostrategic focal point. It is vital, therefore, that the United States rethink its security approach to the region—what the authors describe as Enhanced Deterrence in the North.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Modernization
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North Atlantic, Northern Europe, Crimea, Baltic Sea
  • Author: Suzanne Spaulding
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This report, informed by a CSIS-convened Experts Group, calls for a whole-of-nation approach to address the threat to, and improve the resilience of, the country's democratic institutions. The report proceeds in four sections. First, it outlines the nature of the threat posed by the Russian government, building upon what Russia has done in other countries, as well as in the United States. The second section describes how technology has magnified this threat. The third section examines essential elements of a "National Strategy to Counter Russian and Other Foreign Adversary Threats to Democratic Institutions." The final section is a call for action.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Democracy, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. has learned many lessons in its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—most of them the hard way. It has had to adapt the strategies, tactics, and force structures designed to fight regular wars to conflicts dominated by non-state actors. It has had to deal with threats shaped by ideological extremism far more radical than the communist movements it struggled against in countries like Vietnam. It has found that the kind of “Revolution in Military Affairs,” or RMA, that helped the U.S. deter and encourage the collapses of the former Soviet Union does not win such conflicts against non-state actors, and that it faces a different mix of threats in each such war—such as in cases like Libya, Yemen, Somalia and a number of states in West Africa. The U.S. does have other strategic priorities: competition with China and Russia, and direct military threats from states like Iran and North Korea. At the same time, the U.S. is still seeking to find some form of stable civil solution to the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—as well as the conflicts Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and West Africa. Reporting by the UN, IMF, and World Bank also shows that the mix of demographic, political governance, and economic forces that created the extremist threats the U.S. and its strategic partners are now fighting have increased in much of the entire developing world since the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, and the political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011. The Burke Chair at CSIS has prepared a working paper that suggests the U.S. needs to build on the military lessons it has learned from its "long wars" in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries in order to carry out a new and different kind of “Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs,” or RCMA. This revolution involves very different kinds of warfighting and military efforts from the RMA. The U.S. must take full advantage of what it is learning about the need for different kinds of train and assist missions, the use of airpower, strategic communications, and ideological warfare. At the same time, the U.S. must integrate these military efforts with new civilian efforts that address the rise of extremist ideologies and internal civil conflicts. It must accept the reality that it is fighting "failed state" wars, where population pressures and unemployment, ethnic and sectarian differences, critical problems in politics and governance, and failures to meet basic economic needs are a key element of the conflict. In these elements of conflict, progress must be made in wartime to achieve any kind of victory, and that progress must continue if any stable form of resolution is to be successful.
  • Topic: Civil Society, United Nations, Military Strategy, Governance, Military Affairs, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Iraq, Middle East, West Africa, Somalia, Sundan
  • Author: Mark F. Cancian
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Surprise has always been an element of warfare, but the return of great power competition—and the high-level threat that it poses—gives urgency to thinking about surprise now. Because the future is highly uncertain, and great powers have not fought each other for over 70 years, surprise is highly likely in a future great power conflict. This study, therefore, examines potential surprises in a great power conflict, particularly in a conflict’s initial stages when the interaction of adversaries’ technologies, prewar plans, and military doctrines first becomes manifest. It is not an attempt to project the future. Rather, it seeks to do the opposite: explore the range of possible future conflicts to see where surprises might lurk.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mark F. Cancian
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The role that nuclear weapons play in international security has changed since the end of the Cold War, but the need to maintain and replenish the human infrastructure for supporting nuclear capabilities and dealing with the multitude of nuclear challenges remains essential. Recognizing this challenge, CSIS launched the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) in 2003 to develop the next generation of policy, technical, and operational nuclear professionals through outreach, mentorship, research, and debate. PONI runs two signature programs—the Nuclear Scholars Initiative and the Annual Conference Series—to engage emerging nuclear experts in debate and research over how to best address the nuclear community’s most pressing problems. The papers in this volume include research from participants in the 2017 Nuclear Scholars Initiative and PONI Conference Series. PONI sponsors this research to provide a forum for facilitating new and innovative thinking and a platform for emerging thought leaders across the nuclear enterprise. Spanning a wide range of technical and policy issues, these selected papers further discussion in their respective areas.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tom Karako, Wes Rumbaugh
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: President Trump’s 2019 budget request includes $12.9 billion for missile defense programs, including $9.9 billion for the Missile Defense Agency and about $3 billion in modernization in the military services, building upon the acceleration initiated in the $323 million FY 2017 Above Threshold Reprogramming and the FY 2018 Budget Amendment of $2.0 billion. The proposed budget continues the recent trend of procurement consuming a greater portion of overall missile defense spending, reflecting a choice for prioritizing near-term capacity over longer-term capability. With the exception of two new Pacific radars and a modest effort for tracking hypersonic threats, the request includes strikingly few changes to the program of record. The submission fails to address past shortfalls for more research and development of new missile defense technologies and capabilities, most significantly with its lack of real movement toward a space-based sensor layer for tracking and discrimination, as opposed to merely missile warning. Pursuit of more advanced capabilities will require substantial programmatic changes in the 2020 budget, or with a budget amendment later this year, if such capabilities are recommended by the forthcoming Missile Defense Review. On February 12, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its budget request for FY 2019, which included a total of $12.9 billion for missile defense-related activities. The proposed topline for the Missile Defense Agency comes in at $9.9 billion, comprising $2.4 billion for procurement, $6.8 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E), $500 million for operations and maintenance (O&M), and $206 million for military construction (MILCON). The $9.9 billion request is a 26 percent increase from the FY 2018 budget request of $7.9 billion. Funding for ballistic missile defense within the services includes about $3 billion, largely for the procurement of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE) and Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) interceptors. Overall, the budget reflects a near-term focus on capacity of existing programs, even at the expense of capability improvements. In its current form, the request boosts funding for all four families of interceptors. For homeland missile defense, this includes the continued improvements to the capacity and reliability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system by continuing to deploy an additional 20 interceptors, several testing spares, and a new missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska. The request also deepens the magazines for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Aegis, and Patriot interceptors, continuing a procurement-heavy trend from last year.1 The focus on capacity does not answer the question, however, how missile defense efforts will be adapted to the new reality of great power competition described by the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy.2 One of the few new muscle movements in the entire budget is the addition of two radars in the Pacific for discriminating long-range missile threats to the homeland. The idea of a discrimination radar for Hawaii had been publicly floated over the past two years, and had previously been part of the yet-unpassed appropriations marks from the House and Senate appropriations committees. The Hawaii radar is scheduled for a 2023 deployment, with an additional radar deployed by 2024 at a yet-undisclosed location. The two radars will cost approximately $2.5 billion over the course of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). The inadequacy of the request lies not with the top line, but rather with the capabilities and strategy that the top line fails to prioritize. Although these radars would be useful to close the near-term Pacific midcourse gap against limited ballistic missile threats to the homeland, such funds must be weighed against the opportunity cost for larger improvements in capability provided by a space-based sensor layer that could provide substantially more capable birth-to-death tracking and discrimination on a more global scale and against a wider diversity of threats. The choice for capacity over capability reflects a near-term time horizon, but further delay in more advanced technologies will carry costs at a later time. In sum, the administration’s budget request for FY 2019 prioritizes near-term readiness against limited but growing ballistic missile threats from sources such as North Korea. This choice, however, falls short of connecting missile defense efforts to the reality of renewed great power competition as articulated in the National Defense Strategy. The inadequacy of the request lies not with the top line, but rather with the capabilities and strategy that the top line fails to prioritize. The 2019 request’s modesty of ambition is manifested by low funding for more advanced programs, such as boost-phase intercept, space-based sensors, and volume kill. Should the forthcoming Missile Defense Review address some of these issues and recommend programmatic changes, their implementation may have to wait until the 2020 budget, unless a budget amendment of some kind prioritizes them for the coming fiscal year.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Budget, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Asia, North America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Whatever his other limitations, Vladimir Putin has shown he is a master in exploiting Russian nationalism and American and European sensitivities. His latest gambit—publicizing new Russian nuclear systems—several of which are still developmental, may have key components that are untested, or do not yet exist—give him political credibility in asserting Russian national strength in a Russian election year, and emphasize the one key area where Russia remains a leading global super power: its possession of nuclear weapons. The key question is whether they represent any real change in the nuclear balance, Russian and U.S. ability to pose an existential threat to the other state, and mutual assured destruction. If they do not, they are more technological status symbols or “toys” than real threats, although the proliferation of such weapons might allow smaller nuclear powers like Iran and North Korea to defeat today’s missile and air defense systems and technologies. An analysis of the actual content of his speech, the changing nuclear and conventional balance between the superpowers—the U.S., Russia, and China, the global balance of deployed nuclear weapons, the shifts taking in US and Russian balance since the Cold War, and as a result of START, the full range of new U.S. and Russian nuclear programs, and of what Putin did and did not say about Russia's new programs, provides a very different picture from the one Putin portrayed in his speech. It shows that Putin focused on the "toy factor" in emphasize technology over any real world aspects of the balance, arms control, and war fighting.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nationalism, Military Strategy, Authoritarianism, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Kathleen H. Hicks
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Northern Europe, and specifically the Baltic and Norwegian Seas, has been the site of increasingly provocative and destabilizing Russian actions. The country’s use of a range of military, diplomatic, and economic tools to undermine the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its allies highlights the need to monitor and understand Russian activity. The region is characterized by complex factors like unique geographic features, considerable civilian maritime traffic, the presence of advanced Russian and Western military capabilities, and strategic proximity to Russia and the Kola peninsula, home to the Russian Northern Fleet. While the Norwegian and Baltic Seas do differ in key ways, they are linked by the emerging risk posed by Russia’s long-range strike capabilities. Responding to Russian challenges across the competitive space requires a deep understanding of the Northern European maritime environment. Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), defined by the United States as the effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of a nation or region, is an exceptionally broad concept. At its core, MDA has three functions: the collection of raw data, the analysis of that data, and the action of disseminating information to and coordinating among the different components of the framework. In order to provide security in Northern Europe, NATO and its allies must use MDA frameworks to understand and respond to the challenges above, on, and underneath the sea, as well as the surrounding land environment. While some constructive work has been done to address the evolving Russian threat, NATO and its partners must make changes to their current MDA capabilities to evolve alongside with it. Russia presents three challenges of particular concern to the MDA efforts in Northern Europe: maritime hybrid warfare, electronic and cyber warfare capabilities, and long-range strike systems. Maritime Hybrid Warfare—The Russian military is experienced and effective in its use of hybrid warfare, seen in Syria, Crimea, and Northern Europe. The ambiguity possible in the maritime domain lends itself well to this strategy. Russia uses three specific approaches in this realm: deception through different types of vessels including civilian ships, deniable forces like the amphibious and light infantry that easily navigate the complex Baltic and Norwegian Seas, and the country’s well-developed and diverse force for seabed warfare. Cyber and Electronic Warfare—Russia’s advanced EW capabilities have the potential to hinder information gathering and dissemination methods, which are both vital functions of MDA. These capabilities are challenging for military personnel but potentially devastating in civilian contexts, especially as civilian networks and technology (like GPS) are far less secure. Long-Range Strike Capabilities—New challenges for NATO and Northern European partners have emerged with Russia’s development of a long-range precision strike complex. The weapons, now being mounted on new and existing Russian naval vessels, give these vessels the option to stay in the Barents or White Seas and strike targets across Northern Europe. This, combined with air force capabilities based on the Kola Peninsula and in Kaliningrad, presents threats unlike any seen by NATO before. These capabilities require NATO and its partners to use MDA frameworks to monitor launch platforms across the domain. The modern history of MDA begins in the United States, with Homeland Security Presidential Directive – 13 (HSPD-13) / National Security Presidential Directive – 41 (NSPD-41) issued in 2004 by President George W. Bush. The document lays out core interests for the United States to enhance security in the maritime domain and creates a cooperative framework to support MDA operations across different spheres. At the same time, the European concept of maritime security awareness was built upon the U.S. definition of the challenge, placed within the context of rising illicit traffic in the Mediterranean. A weakness of the original MDA and Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) concepts is that many of the associated capabilities and frameworks are focused on civil maritime issues. Given the global proliferation of advanced military capabilities, like antiship cruise missiles, NATO and its partners require a holistic understanding of the maritime environment that focuses on everything from civil maritime actions to high-end military operations and even issues associated with the maritime environment. A key implication of the heightened maritime threat environment is the need to improve the integration of and attention to undersea aspects of MDA. Antisubmarine warfare (ASW), a traditional strength of Western naval intelligence and operations, has atrophied since the end of the Cold War. Today, Russian submarines with conventional long-range missiles pose a threat to NATO. ASW must be integrated with MDA to address these concerns. Comprehensive understanding of the undersea realm should extend beyond ASW. Russia’s amphibious special forces and combat swimmers threaten more than just military targets, including civilian vessels and undersea cables, which are an integral part of MDA. ASW technology can be useful in countering these and other threats. In the Norwegian Sea, the biggest challenge for NATO is detecting advanced ultra-quiet submarines. This issue is sharpened by dramatically depleted stockpiles of sonobuoys, a constant need for increasingly advanced sonobuoy technology, and an American unwillingness to share highly classified information about the undersea domain. NATO would benefit from an apparatus like the ASW Operations Centers (ASWOC), used most prominently during the Cold War to streamline ASW operations. Integration of platforms is a challenge in the Baltic Sea as well, largely because Sweden and Finland are not NATO states, making data sharing challenging. Frameworks like Sea Surveillance Co-Operation Baltic Sea (SUCBAS) and the Maritime Surveillance (MARSUR) project facilitate the work of regional states to address these issues but more must be done. Additionally, NATO monitoring of the Baltic region is largely domain specific and suffers from not examining the maritime domain holistically. The alliance and its partners should also act to focus on resiliency to continue to operate in the face of jamming and nonkinetic attacks from Russia. The key to enhancing MDA capabilities in Northern Europe is the integration of frameworks across the maritime domain. Cooperation between NATO states and allies is vital to understanding the complex environment. The CSIS study team has identified seven recommendations of particular importance: Create a Baltic Sea MDA analytic center at the Baltic Maritime Component Command (BMCC) at Rostock, Germany; Empower a small analytic team at the BMCC to focus on maritime hybrid issues; Develop a training course for military intelligence officers on best practices for Baltic Sea MDA analysis; Create a classified Baltic Sea data environment that can incorporate both NATO and partner states; Develop a multinational operational framework for the Baltic Sea; Integrate subsurface sensors and antisubmarine warfare into a comprehensive MDA framework; and Acquire significant stockpiles of advanced sonobuoys and associated acoustic processing systems. These priority recommendations are presented in detail in Chapter 4 of the report, along with others. Collectively, their implication would markedly enhance security in Northern Europe by closing identified gaps and ensuring capabilities for collection, analysis, and action in MDA.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Maritime
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North Atlantic, North America, Western Europe, Baltic Sea, Norwegian Seas
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The shifts in Saudi Arabia's power structure that have taken place since King Salman came to power in January 2015 have created a new set of Saudi priorities for shaping Saudi Arabia's future. These new priorities have led to major changes in Saudi Arabia’s national security structure and leadership, and to calls for major social and economic reform. They have changed the leadership of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, National Guard, and Foreign Ministry. These new priorities have led to participation in a major war in Yemen, efforts to isolate Qatar that have broken up an already weak and divided Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and deeper tensions with Iran over its military build-up and efforts to expand its regional influence. Most of the earlier changes at top levels of the Saudi government and security structure were motivated by new King's desire to consolidate power at the top of the government and royal family. In the process they have made Mohammed bin Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (normally referred to as Mohammed bin Salman or “MBS”) the Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, and President of the Council for Economic and Development Affair – combining the responsibilities for Saudi Arabia’s security, civil sector, and economic development to one man. The more recent changes to the Saudi national security sector and military command made in February 2018 are harder to interpret. There is no way­­—as of yet— to put the changes in the Saudi national security sector and military command structure into perspective. One can speculate that these changes were either a further effort to assert control by a new regime, or part of a serious effort by the Crown Prince to improve Saudi military planning, budgeting & fiscal management, and military operations. Mohammed bin Salman may have been reacting to the lack of progress in the war in Yemen, Saudi tensions with Qatar, and MBS's feelings that too much of the Kingdom's security spending has been wasteful, poorly planned, and involved some element of corruption. Speculation aside, there are no credible reports that provide a reliable "inside" picture of what is happening. What is clear, however, is that the Kingdom has been spending far too large a portion of its economy on security priorities that have yielded uncertain results. This spending on security is large enough to compete with Saudi Arabia's ability to fund its 2030 plan to reform and modernize its economy and social structure. Saudi Arabia must better balance its civil and national security spending by reducing its security spending and using its resources far more effectively.
  • Topic: National Security, Military Strategy, Budget, Leadership, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Few recent American foreign policy decisions have been as divisive as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear arms control agreement with Iran. Advocates of the agreement have focused far too exclusively on its potential benefits. Opponents equally exclusively on its potential faults. Both sides tend to forget that any feasible arms control agreement between what are hostile sides tends to be a set of compromises that are an extension of arms races and potential conflicts by other means. As a result, imperfect agreements with uncertain results are the rule, not the exception. President Trump has made it clear that he opposes the agreement and would like to terminate it. His dismissal of Rex Tillerson as Security of State, and his replacement by Mike Pompeo – along with his dismissal of General H.R. McMaster and replacement with John Bolton – indicate that President Trump may well seek to terminate the agreement in the near future – action which might or might not have significant bipartisan support. He faces a May 5th to decide whether to again waive economic sanction against Iran, a decision which comes up for renewal every 120 days.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Deterrence, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Zack Cooper
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The issue: China’s increased military presence in the Indian Ocean should not come as a surprise. China is following in the traditional path of other rising powers; it is expanding its military operations to match its interests abroad. The security implications of China’s push into the Indian Ocean region are mixed. In peacetime, these efforts will certainly expand Chinese regional influence. In wartime, however, China’s Indian Ocean presence will likely create more vulnerabilities than opportunities. China’s military forays into the Indian Ocean have triggered a series of warnings. The term “string of pearls” was first used to refer to Chinese basing access in the Indian Ocean by a 2004 report for the U.S. Department of Defense. That report suggested China’s growing regional presence could “deter the potential disruption of its energy supplies from potential threats, including the U.S. Navy, especially in the case of a conflict with Taiwan.” Other scholars have warned that Beijing seeks to “dominate” the Indian Ocean region. Others suggest that the Chinese government is simply following its expanding trading interests and seeking to secure its supply lines against disruption. Although China’s presence in the Indian Ocean may permit it to increase its regional influence, Chinese facilities and forces would be highly vulnerable in a major conflict. Thus, the security implications of China’s push into the Indian Ocean region are mixed. In peacetime, these efforts will certainly expand Chinese regional influence. In wartime, however, China’s Indian Ocean presence will likely create more vulnerabilities than opportunities.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Imperialism, Military Strategy, Maritime
  • Political Geography: United States, China, India, Taiwan, Asia, Indian Ocean
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Issue Some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States should withdraw its military forces from Syria. But the United States has several interests in Syria: Balancing against Iran, including deterring Iranian forces and militias from pushing close to the Israeli border, disrupting Iranian lines of communication through Syria, preventing substantial military escalation between Israel and Iran, and weakening Shia proxy forces. Balancing against Russia, including deterring further Russian expansion in the Middle East from Syrian territory and raising the costs—including political costs—of Russian operations in Syria. Preventing a terrorist resurgence, including targeting Salafi-jihadist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda that threaten the United States and its allies. Our Recommendations: Based on U.S. interests in Syria, Washington should establish a containment strategy that includes the following components: Retain a small military and intelligence footprint that includes working with—and providing limited training, funding, and equipment to—groups in eastern, northern, and southern Syria, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Coordinate with regional allies such as Jordan and Israel to balance against Iran and Russia and to prevent the resurgence of Salafi-jihadists. Pressure outside states to end support to Salafi-jihadists, including Turkey and several Gulf states. As the war in Syria moves into its seventh year, U.S. policymakers have struggled to agree on a clear Syria strategy. Some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States needs to withdraw its military forces from Syria. “I want to get out,” President Trump said of the United States’ military engagement in Syria. “I want to bring our troops back home.”1 Others have urged caution, warning that a precipitous withdrawal could contribute to a resurgence of terrorism or allow U.S. competitors like Iran and Russia—along with their proxies—to fill the vacuum.2 In addition, some administration officials have argued that the Islamic State has been decimated in Syria and Iraq. The National Security Strategy notes that “we crushed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.”3 But between 5,000 and 12,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Syria and continue to conduct guerrilla attacks, along with between 40,000 and 70,000 Salafi-jihadist fighters in Syria overall.4
  • Topic: Civil War, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Jon B. Alterman, Heather A Conley, Donatienne Ray
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: U.S. strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean is long overdue for revision. Policies, priorities, and activities girded by U.S.-led alliance structures were developed to stabilize Europe and deter Soviet aggression at the dawn of the Cold War. Seventy years later, they are no longer fit for purpose. However, the region remains a linchpin for an array of vital U.S. interests. In the last decade alone, regional conflicts and state fragmentation have caused millions of migrants and internally displaced to flee their homes, creating one of the largest migration crises since World War II. The arrival of an unprecedented number of migrants has triggered political backlash and polarized domestic politics in Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean. Many of the littoral states in the Eastern Mediterranean have faced destabilizing economic crises that have created deep political and strategic vulnerabilities. Significant natural gas deposits discovered off the coasts of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt could boost regional economic prospects as a potential energy-producing region, but a divided Cyprus, historical animosities, as well as a lack of infrastructure connectivity hinder this regional economic potential.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Military Strategy, Infrastructure, Fragile/Failed State, Military Intervention, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Tom Karako
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Several decades ago, former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone once described his country as a “big aircraft carrier” from which to defend against Soviet aircraft.1 Although such an analogy fails to capture the richness and depth of the U.S-Japan alliance, it did say something important about Japan’s unique geographic and strategic position. Today’s air and missile threats in the Asia-Pacific region are different, as is the joint U.S.-Japanese defense posture to meet them. Given a handful of changes underway, however, one might instead say that Japan is shaping up to be a giant Aegis destroyer group of sorts. A vision of much more robust air and missile defense capability in the Asia-Pacific region hinges upon the forthcoming acquisition of Aegis Ashore sites in Japan. Japan’s intent to acquire two such sites was announced in December 2017, a decision supported by 66 percent of the Japanese population, according to one recent poll.2 But the potential significance of Japanese Aegis Ashore deployments has not yet been widely understood. Combined with military forces in other domains, these sites will be the foundation of more robust air and missile defenses against North Korea and form a base upon which to adapt to more sophisticated future threats, including China. Assuming the approval process for the foreign military sales comes along well, this development has broad implications for the United States and America’s allies.3 The road to more layered missile defense goes in part through Aegis Ashore, and the road to innovative Aegis Ashore deployments probably goes through Tokyo. The U.S. Navy’s Aegis Combat System has evolved considerably since the first Aegis ship deployed in 1984. Some 90 Aegis ships are currently operated by the United States, and five other countries have Aegis ships as well: Australia, Norway, South Korea, Spain, and Japan. The word “Aegis” refers to the shield of the ancient god Zeus, and Aegis ships have long provided fleet air defense, strike, and antisubmarine warfare. Over the past decade, 35 American and 4 Japanese Aegis ships have also acquired a ballistic missile defense mission. The most recent configurations are capable of executing the integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) mission, with simultaneous air defense and ballistic missile defense operations.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Asia-Pacific