Publications

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Policy Briefs

Jan. 1, 2011

Maximizing the Returns of Government Venture Capital Programs

The stories of Google and Segway certainly end differently. With a market capitalization of over $180 billion, Google is arguably the biggest success in the information technology (IT) industry in the last decade. The phrase google it has worked its way into everyday language and dictionaries. On the other hand, Segway remains a privately held company whose products are largely relegated to use by tourists in major cities and security personnel at airports. We certainly do not hear people say that they “segwayed” to work this morning.

Jan. 1, 2011

Getting Beyond Taiwan? Chinese Foreign Policy and PLA Modernization

Since the mid-1990s, China’s military modernization has focused on deterring Taiwan independence and preparing for a military response if deterrence fails. Given China’s assumption of U.S. intervention in a Taiwan conflict, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been developing military capabilities to deter, delay, and disrupt U.S. military support operations. The 2008 election of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, however, has contributed to improved cross-strait economic and political cooperation and dramatically reduced the threat of Taiwan independence and war across the Taiwan Strait. Cooperation has included full restoration of direct shipping, flights, and mail across the strait, Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly, regularized cross-strait negotiation mechanisms that have already reached several agreements, and the recent signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.

Oct. 1, 2010

Private Contractors in Conflict Zones: The Good, the Bad, and the Strategic Impact

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the use of contractors reached a level unprecedented in U.S. military operations. As of March 31, 2010, the United States deployed 175,000 troops and 207,000 contractors in the war zones. Contractors represented 50 percent of the Department of Defense (DOD) workforce in Iraq and 59 percent in Afghanistan. These numbers include both armed and unarmed contractors. Thus, for the purposes of this paper, the term contractor includes both armed and unarmed personnel unless otherwise specified. The presence of contractors on the battlefield is obviously not a new phenomenon but has dramatically increased from the ratio of 1 contractor to 55 military personnel in Vietnam to 1:1 in the Iraq and 1.43:1 in Afghanistan.

Dec. 1, 2009

STAR–TIDES and Starfish Networks: Supporting Stressed Populations with Distributed Talent

The Department of Defense increasingly is involved in postwar stabilization and reconstruction, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, capacity-building of partner nations at home and abroad, and other such complex operations. To provide sustainable support to stressed populations in these environments, an international, networked, knowledge-sharing research project called Sustainable Technologies, Accelerated Research–Transformative Innovation for Development and Emergency Support (STAR–TIDES) encourages innovative approaches to public-private collaboration, whole-of-government solutions, and transnational engagement. It leverages a distributed network of people and organizations to conduct research, support real world contingencies, and bridge gaps among disparate communities.

Nov. 1, 2009

To Build Resilience: Leader Influence on Mental Hardiness

The military profession is inherently stressful and is getting more so for U.S. troops, who are deploying more often and for longer periods of time on missions that are multifaceted, changeable, and ambiguous. Such stressful conditions can lead to a range of health problems and performance decrements even among leaders. But not everyone reacts in negative ways to environmental stress. Most people remain healthy and continue to perform well even in the face of high stress levels. While much attention in recent years has focused on identifying and treating stress-related breakdowns such as post-traumatic stress disorder, scant investment has gone toward the study of healthy, resilient response patterns in people.

Sept. 1, 2009

Cyberspace and the “First Battle” in 21st-century War

Wars often start well before main forces engage. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, combat often began when light cavalry units crossed the border. For most of the 20th century, the “first battle” typically involved dawn surprise attacks, usually delivered by air forces. While a few of these attacks were so shattering that they essentially decided the outcome of the struggle or at least dramatically shaped its course—the Israeli air force’s attack at the opening of the June 1967 Six-Day War comes to mind—in most cases the defender had sufficient strategic space—geographic and/or temporal—to recover and eventually redress the strategic balance to emerge victorious. The opening moments of World War II for Russia and the United States provide two examples.

May 1, 2009

Breaking the Yardstick: The Dangers of Market-based Governance

In the middle of the last century, America became a superpower. It happened, in part, because of a well-balanced technological partnership between the Federal Government and commercial sector. After winning a world war against fascism, this public-private alliance went on to cure infectious diseases, create instant global communications, land humans on the Moon, and prevail in a long Cold War against communism. This, and more, was accomplished without bankrupting the Nation’s economy. The partnership’s record of service to the American people and the world has been remarkable.

March 1, 2009

A 21st-century Concept of Air and Military Operations

The evolution of 21st-century air operations is unfolding under the impact of a new generation of fighter aircraft and a significant shift in the role of air operations in support of ground and maritime forces. So-called fifth-generation aircraft often are mistakenly viewed as simply the next iteration of airframes: fast, stealthy replacements of obsolescent legacy platforms. In fact, the capabilities of fifth-generation aircraft, and their integration into a network-centric joint force, will change the roles of manned fighter aircraft in air, ground, and maritime operations. These changes are so far-reaching that the Services face the challenge of crafting a new concept of 21st-century air operations, indeed, of all combat operations.

Jan. 1, 2009

From Sputnik to Minerva: Education and American National Security

This paper examines how external challenges have prompted national investments in education to enhance American national security. Rather than focusing primarily on traditional professional military education, this analysis examines how education has been used as a tool of American power. Four major moments of transformation in the international system are surveyed to illustrate a link between strategic educational capacity, defined as the application of attained knowledge and skills, and national power. The study then assesses how education is used as a power asset in the contemporary security environment. Today, an important educational capacity is emerging in the new Minerva program in the Department of Defense and other transformational educational concepts with security applications. Education is gaining an increasing interest among American decisionmakers as a strategic component of American power and an essential asset for successful military operations in the new global security environment.

Nov. 1, 2008

Lessons of Abu Ghraib: Understanding and Preventing Prisoner Abuse in Military Operations

The abuse of prisoners by U.S. Soldiers at Abu Ghraib had broad strategic consequences, leading many people around the world to question the legitimacy of U.S. goals and activities in Iraq. This paper draws on extensive unclassified reports from multiple investigations that followed Abu Ghraib, and applies key psychological as well as social-situational perspectives to develop a better grasp of the causative factors. From a psychological standpoint, most young adults are powerfully inclined to behave in accord with the social conventions and pressures around them. Especially in ambiguous circumstances, then, it is important that standards of behavior be clear and explicit throughout all phases of an operation and that leaders at all levels represent and reinforce those standards.