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Category: Asia and the Pacific

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.

Nov. 1, 2015

The People’s Liberation Army and Contingency Planning in China

How will China use its increasing military capabilities in the future? China faces a complicated security environment with a wide range of internal and external threats. Rapidly expanding international interests are creating demands for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct new missions ranging from protecting Chinese shipping from Somali pirates to evacuating citizens from Libya. The most recent Chinese defense white paper states that the armed forces must “make serious preparations to cope with the most complex and difficult scenarios . . . so as to ensure proper responses . . . at any time and under any circumstances.”

Sept. 1, 2015

Chapter 4 | Raising and Mentoring Security Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq

Security force assistance played a leading role in both Afghanistan and Iraq, where local security forces were often spoken of as “our ticket home” or “our exit strategy.” The effort to raise, train, equip, field, and advise army and police forces eventually became the center of gravity in both theaters. Yet for some years, the effort was ad hoc, under-resourced, and complicated by internal bureaucratic struggles in Washington and by corrosive corruption and mismanagement within host-nation governments. If the United States were to undertake similar efforts in the future, the quality and effectiveness of its security force assistance programs will again play a decisive role in achieving successful outcomes.

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.

July 1, 2015

The Limits of Airpower or the Limits of Strategy: The Air Wars in Vietnam and Their Legacies

For most of the world’s population, America’s air wars in Vietnam are now ancient history. The first U.S. bombing raids against North Vietnam, conducted in response to attacks by North Vietnamese patrol boats on the destroyer USS Maddox in the Tonkin Gulf, occurred a half-century ago this August. Seven months later, America began its longest sustained “strategic bombing” campaign, Operation Rolling Thunder, against the North. That effort, and the Linebacker campaigns that followed, dropped a million tons of bombs on North Vietnam. Three million more tons fell on Laos and Cambodia—supposedly “neutral” countries in the conflict. Four million tons fell on South Vietnam—America’s ally in the war against communist aggression. When the last raid by B-52s over Cambodia on August 15, 1973, culminated American bombing in Southeast Asia, the United States had dropped more than 8 million tons of bombs in 9 years. Less than 2 years later, Cambodia, Laos, and South Vietnam were communist countries.

July 1, 2015

China Moves Out: Stepping Stones Toward a New Maritime Strategy

Over the last decade, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has increased the frequency, duration, complexity, and distance from the mainland of its operations. Not only does China maintain a permanent counterpiracy escort flotilla in the Indian Ocean, it also now routinely conducts naval exercises and operations beyond the first island chain throughout the year. This normalization of PLAN operations in the Western Pacific and beyond is an important step toward an emerging new maritime strategy that will incorporate far seas defense.

April 1, 2015

The Quantum Leap into Computing and Communication: A Chinese Perspective

For a few decades, nations have been relying on encryption systems to protect a wide variety of computerized transmissions ranging from commerce to government to military communications. While today’s encryption systems are considered reasonably secure, the possibilities of quantum cryptography and quantum computing offer a whole new dimension and threat to computerized secrecy.

April 1, 2015

After the First Shots: Managing Escalation in Northeast Asia

The United States has never fought a conventional war against a nuclear-armed adversary. Yet the United States and its allies must prepare for a range of military contingencies with both North Korea and China, and avoiding nuclear escalation would be a U.S. objective in all of them. Developing strategies for managing escalation will be an essential part of U.S. efforts to extend deterrence and assure its allies in Northeast Asia.

March 1, 2015

The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Review of the Guidelines for Defense Cooperation

DOWNLOAD PDFExecutive Summary This paper is focused on the U.S.-Japan alliance as reflected in the