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Category: Asia and the Pacific

Jan. 26, 2017

Expanding Zeus's Shield: A New Approach for Theater Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region

On September 17, 2009, President Barack Obama approved the creation of a “phased adaptive approach” to European missile defense, at the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.1 As outlined in the original White House 2009 press release and in the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Report, the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) was developed to provide guidance on which and where certain ballistic missile defense capabilities would be deployed to the European theater. According to the overall plan, the approach would be executed in four phases. The first phase protected southern Europe from attack from Iran with sea-based Aegis Weapons Systems by 2011.2 Phase two focused on deploying land-based missile defense capabilities to defend southern Europe by 2015. Phase three, scheduled for 2018, would deploy more capable systems against longer range Iranian missiles and have both a land- and sea-based capability.3 The final phase was canceled in 2013 but was rescheduled for deployment in the 2020 timeframe and would have added defense capability against long-range ballistic missile threats from the Middle East.

Dec. 12, 2016

Chapter 15 | Latin America

U.S. national security interests in Latin America are undermined by two key threats: transnational criminal organizations, which exploit weak levels of governance across the majority of countries in the region, and extra-regional actors, which fill the vacuum of U.S. distraction and inattention to its neighborhood. The United States must acknowledge the deeply rooted causes of poor governance and engage with greater attention and presence, while recognizing its limitations for helping to resolve those weaknesses in the short term. Limited resources will constrain U.S. efforts, so the United States must prioritize support to select strategic partners.

Dec. 12, 2016

Chapter 16 | Central Asia

After a decade of competition for influence in Central Asia, the region’s future path is now clearly tied to China. While Russia retains influence in the region, the trend toward China is likely to continue unless strongly contested. The United States has important energy and security interests in Central Asia that are best advanced by politically stable, economically prosperous Central Asian states that incline toward cooperation with the West. Though an “economy of force” region, the stakes are nonetheless highly significant. U.S. engagement will be required going forward to foster these important relationships.

Dec. 12, 2016

Chapter 13 | South Asia

In late 2016, the United States has four major national security interests in South Asia. Three of these are vital security interests with more than a decade of pedigree. They will require new administration policies and strategy to prevent actions that could gravely damage U.S. security: a major conventional war between India and Pakistan, the return of global terrorist safe havens in the region, or the proliferation of nuclear weapons or materials into the hands of America’s enemies. The challenge will be “to keep a lid” on the potential for a major terrorist strike of the U.S. homeland emanating from South Asia or from a major interstate war that could risk nuclear fallout, involvement of China, the loss of nuclear material to terrorists, or a combination of all three. A fourth objective is relatively new, but rising in importance. It requires the new administration to pursue a flexible strategy and proactive but patient security initiatives that enable the responsible rise of an emerging American security partner, India, in a manner that supports U.S. security objectives across the Indo-Pacific region without unintentionally aggravating the Indo-Pakistan security dilemma or unnecessarily stoking Chinese fears of provocative encirclement.

Dec. 12, 2016

Chapter 14 | Africa

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the movement of populations, proliferation of violent, nonstate actors, expansion of criminal networks, and continued weakness of governance indicators all present serious challenges in the short, medium, and long term. Reevaluating American partnerships on the continent and reinstating the principle of first doing no harm are critical if the United States is to achieve its objectives in the region and strengthen multilateral partnerships to advance our global security agenda.

Dec. 12, 2016

Chapter 9 | Asia Pacific

This chapter examines the strategic challenges the United States confronts in the Asia-Pacific region and argues that the United States should work with allies, partners, and multilateral organizations to build a rules-based regional order that includes China and advances U.S. national interests. This requires sustaining the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and intensifying cooperation with other regional actors to shape China’s choices. The chapter begins by reviewing the history of U.S. engagement with Asia and describing the range of important U.S. national interests located in the Asia-Pacific region or strongly influenced by developments there. It then reviews major trends shaping the region (including economic dynamism, China’s rise, and the U.S. rebalance to Asia) and considers specific security challenges in Northeast Asia, the Korean Peninsula, the China-Taiwan relationship, and in the South China Sea. The authors argue that the United States needs to devote high-level attention to its alliances in Asia, to cooperation with new regional security partners, and to shaping the Asia-Pacific strategic and economic order in favorable directions. These actions will place the United States in a better position to shape China’s strategic choices and integrate China within a rules-based regional and global order.

Dec. 12, 2016

Chapter 6 | Weapons of Mass Destruction

The next U.S. administration faces four pressing WMD challenges. First, the prospects of a direct clash between the United States and a nuclear-armed adversary that could escalate to the nuclear level are likely to grow. Second, the scope of North Korea’s nuclear, chemical, and suspected biological weapons programs likely will require resources for countering weapons of mass destruction that exceed those currently available. Third, longstanding international efforts to prohibit chemical and biological weapons are threatened by the reemergence of chemical weapons use and potentially by rapid advances in the life sciences. Finally, concern that the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action may only postpone—rather than prevent—Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons will perpetuate tensions and proliferation pressures in the region.

Nov. 28, 2016

China’s Future SSBN Command and Control Structure

China is developing its first credible sea-based nuclear forces. This emergent nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) force will pose unique challenges to a country that has favored tightly centralized control over its nuclear deterrent. The choices China makes about SSBN command and control will have important implications for strategic stability.

Oct. 29, 2016

The Return of Foreign Fighters to Central Asia: Implications for U.S. Counterterrorism Policy

Central Asia is the third largest point of origin for Salafi jihadist foreign fighters in the conflagration in Syria and Iraq, with more than 4,000 total fighters joining the conflict since 2012 and 2,500 reportedly arriving in the 2014–2015 timeframe alone. As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues to lose territory under duress from U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition activities, some predict that many may return home bent on jihad and generating terror and instability across Central Asia.

Oct. 3, 2016

India’s Naxalite Insurgency: History, Trajectory, and Implications for U.S.-India Security Cooperation on Domestic Counterinsurgency

The pace of U.S.-India defense cooperation over the past decade—and especially the past 2 years—has been unprecedented and impressive in many areas. These areas include defense technology cooperation, the discussion of a framework for military-to-military agreements, and the expansion of joint military exercises. U.S.-India defense cooperation, however, will remain limited in critical areas where India’s historical independent interests remain firm. Among these areas of Indian reserve include strategic autonomy, the imperatives of domestic federalism, and the preference for a go-slow approach toward redressing civil unrest. Attempts by U.S. policymakers to press harder in these areas will likely prove counterproductive.