Publications

FILTER:
Policy Briefs

April 5, 2016

China's Goldwater-Nichols? Assessing PLA Organizational Reforms

In the past few months, China has announced a series of major reforms to the organizational structure of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA): the Central Military Commission (CMC) has been revamped, the four general departments dissolved, new service headquarters created, and five new theater commands established in place of the seven military regions (MRs). These changes are part of a sweeping transformation of PLA institutions, force structure, and policy that will be ongoing through 2020. In pursuing these reforms, China’s leaders hope both to tighten central political control over a force that was seen as increasingly corrupt and to build the PLA into a credible joint warfighting entity. Yet important obstacles remain, and it may be years before the implications of these reforms come into full view.

March 29, 2016

National Security Reform and the 2016 Election

There are few issues of greater intrinsic importance to the United States than national security reform—or one riper for resolution. Twenty years ago most senior leaders were skeptical of allegations that the national security system was “broken”; they believed the system functioned well enough to manage the Nation’s most pressing problems. Since then numerous prominent experts have been sounding the alarm from inside the system and from without. No fewer than nine blue-ribbon groups have argued in favor of system reforms (see tables 1 and 2). The overwhelming majority of scholars publishing independently on the issue favor reform. During the 2008 Presidential election, the momentum in favor of national security reform was so strong that many thought it was inevitable. This presumption was reinforced when President Barack Obama appointed well-known proponents of reform to senior positions in the National Security Council staff, Department of State, Department of Defense (DOD), and Intelligence Community. Yet reform did not take place during the Obama administration, and so far it has not been an issue in the 2016 Presidential race, either. This paper examines why reform was sidetracked, whether it could emerge as a campaign issue during the 2016 Presidential election, and why it is in candidates’ and the Nation’s interest that it does.

Feb. 1, 2016

Posing Problems without an Alliance: China-Iran Relations after the Nuclear Deal

China is poised to increase economic and diplomatic cooperation with Iran as a result of sanctions relief under the recent Iran nuclear deal, though a close geopolitical alignment between the two states is unlikely.

Feb. 1, 2016

Korean Unification and the Future of the U.S.-ROK Alliance

Security alliances can take many forms. They can be bilateral or multilateral, symmetric or asymmetric, highly institutionalized or largely unstructured. Regardless of form, security alliances as instruments of statecraft, at their most fundamental level, reflect a deliberate commitment among states to aggregate resources in the pursuit of common interests. For over 60 years, the U.S.–Republic of Korea (ROK) alliance has defended South Korea from external attack and, through the combined efforts of both countries, contributed to peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also in Northeast Asia, across the Asia-Pacific, and beyond.

Aug. 1, 2015

An Empirical Analysis of Claimant Tactics in the South China Sea

China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei all claim some or all of the land features and maritime territory in the South China Sea. One notable aspect of the South China Sea dispute is that its advocates argue past one another with little reference to a common set of facts. Another is the absence of comprehensive data on the actions claimants have taken to advance or protect their claims. The Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at the National Defense University (NDU) set out to create a comprehensive database documenting the various tactics pursued by South China Sea claimants over an 18-year timeframe (1995–2013). This paper draws upon that data to analyze what tactics South China Sea claimants are employing and to present some potential considerations for U.S. and allied policymakers.

April 1, 2015

Global Knowledge Networking: Smart Strategies for Promoting Innovative Learning and Leader Development

Smart security builds on actionable knowledge. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Wales Summit in September 2014 highlighted the need to build on partnerships to prepare and operate together better. Building on the successes of past partnership initiatives and capabilities, this paper proposes new ways to embrace and extend techniques and relationships originally developed under successful Secretary of Defense (SECDEF)-level memoranda of understanding (MOUs) within NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. The Global Knowledge Networking (GKN) initiative supports smart decisionmaking by educating and training tomorrow’s agile, resilient, and effective leaders. GKN is a network of people, ideas, and processes to make knowledge actionable and is focused on improving on U.S. and coalition interoperability through improvements in existing training and education capabilities. It has begun to convene strategic dialogues around key challenges and collectively owned opportunities. Its initial framing is globally relevant and focused on the Arabian Gulf region through a proposed test bed for collaboration with the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). This will allow new tools for interoperability to be explored and created together as enablers of joint capability. Drawing on the experiences of NATO’s Partnership for Peace, it will promote an innovative systems approach that could help cultivate and sustain more effective security partnerships around the globe.

April 1, 2015

Responding to Russia after the NATO Summit: Unmanned Aerial Systems Overmatch in the Black Sea

The Ukraine conflict poses unique and asymmetric challenges to the international community. Since the earliest days of the Crimean crisis, Russian support of “separatists” within Ukraine has ranged from plainclothes thugs to more traditional uniformed troops, munitions, and other forms of aid. Some of the individuals involved may have had links to the Russian military or its intelligence community. While much of the aid comes through the porous border between Russia and Ukraine, Russia also leverages the opportunity to use Black Sea smugglers as a way to supply ongoing rebellions or to initiate new revolts. Two Black Sea–bordering regions, Odessa and Transnistria, are home to active pro-Russian movements that could potentially evolve into a pro-Russian state. Worries of Russia supplying separatists via illicit movements on the Black Sea and generally advancing its Novorossyia claims should be matched to a general concern over Black Sea smuggling rings, which traffic humans, weapons, and nuclear materials into Europe via Odessa’s port.

March 1, 2015

Defense Partnerships: Documenting Trends and Emerging Topics for Action

Public-public and public-private and partnerships (P4s) are time-proven effective solutions for delivering public services at reasonable costs when deployed and managed properly. Various U.S. agencies and international organizations all have longstanding successful P4 initiatives and projects. Recently, Department of Defense (DOD) leaders have expressed increased interest in implementing P4s throughout their organizations. As DOD is faced with evolving roles and missions in an “unpredictable and complex world amid fiscal constraints, the expertise and involvement of the private sector and other public organizations will be essential.” P4s could be ideal tools intended to “further policy objectives, enhance U.S. operational capabilities, reduce costs, gain access to nonmilitary expertise or assets, or build greater capacity in partners.”

Sept. 1, 2014

The Rising Terrorist Threat in Tanzania: Domestic Islamist Militancy and Regional Threats

Despite its reputation for peace and stability in a troubled region, the East African country of Tanzania is experiencing a rising number of militant Islamist attacks that have targeted local Christian leaders and foreign tourists, as well as popular bars and restaurants. These attacks, which began in 2012, rarely make the headlines of international media. However, they should serve as a wake-up call for U.S. policymakers to increase short-term engagement with Tanzanian officials and support for Tanzanian security agencies to preempt the emergence of a more significant threat to U.S. and international interests in East Africa.

May 1, 2014

Strategy and Force Planning in a Time of Austerity

On February 13, 1989, General Colin Powell, who was in a transition between National Security Advisor and Commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, addressed the reality of strategy: “All of the sophisticated talk about grand strategy is helpful, but show me your budgets and I will tell you what your strategy is.” What General Powell meant is that the definition of the U.S. role in the world and its strategic goals flow from budgets, not the other way around. This paper fleshes out General Powell’s observation by focusing on the means part of the ends, ways, and means of strategy in order to explain how austerity affects force planning and strategy. By first examining budget reductions as a general matter, the paper describes today’s austere U.S. budgetary environment. It concludes with the current strategic options that will likely characterize the contemporary discussion of strategy and force planning.