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Category: Asia and the Pacific

Oct. 1, 2017

Human Terrain at the Crossroads

The U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) was created in 2007 amid fears of defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Responding to clear needs expressed by military leadership, HTS was offered as an experimental effort to embed academic social scientists with Army and Marine Corps units to dramatically increase local sociocultural knowledge on the battlefield.1

Aug. 8, 2017

Asia and the Trump Administration: Challenges, Opportunities, and a Road Ahead

The Asia-Pacific region is of exponentially increasing importance to the United States. Developments there affect vital U.S. economic, security, and political interests. Unfettered access to the region is a strategic imperative to allow the United States to protect and advance its wide-ranging national interests.

July 17, 2017

Chinese Military Diplomacy, 2003–2016: Trends and Implications

China is placing increasing emphasis on military diplomacy to advance its foreign policy objectives and shape its security environment. Military diplomacy is part of broader Chinese foreign policy efforts to create a favorable international image, develop soft power, and shape international discourse. Other objectives include shaping China’s security environment, collecting intelligence, and learning from advanced militaries. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) seeks to forward strategic and operational goals through a variety of interactions with foreign military partners, including senior-level visits, security dialogues, nontraditional security cooperation, military exercises, functional exchanges, and port calls.

June 19, 2017

Strategic Competition: Beyond Peace and War

The struggle Morgenthau describes results in an evolving international distribution of power. After World War II, the majority of global power was divided between two poles until the fall of the Soviet Union gave rise to a unipolar system. The transformation of the international order continues today as rising powers join established powers, such as the United States, Japan, and the European Union, on the international stage. Although a more balanced distribution of power may have economic and humanitarian benefits, political and military tensions frequently accompany major transitions in the international order. Beyond the strains inherent as rising powers clash with those more established, the lack of globally dominant hegemons in a system of distributed power creates opportunities for revisionist state and nonstate actors to pursue their own, sometimes perilous, ambitions.

March 21, 2017

Chinese Military Reforms in the Age of Xi Jinping: Drivers, Challenges, and Implications

Chinese military modernization has made impressive strides in the past decade. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has achieved progress in key technological areas, ranging from precision-guided missiles to advanced surface ships and combat aircraft; PLA personnel are more highly trained and skilled, capable of carrying out increasingly complex operations near to and farther away from China’s shores; and Chinese military doctrine and strategy have been updated to emphasize modern, joint maneuver warfare on a high-tech battlefield. This progress has been supported by significant increases in Chinese defense spending every year since 1990. Taken together, these changes better enable the PLA to fight what the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) describes as “short-duration, high-intensity regional conflicts.”

March 14, 2017

India-Japan Strategic Cooperation and Implications for U.S. Strategy in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region

The emerging strategic relationship between India and Japan is significant for the future security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It is also a critical emergent relationship for U.S. security objectives across the Asia-Pacific. India possesses the most latent economic and military potential of any state in the wider Asia-Pacific region. Therefore, India is the state with the greatest potential outside of the United States itself to contribute to the objectives of the “Rebalance to the Pacific” announced by Washington in 2011. This “rebalance” was aimed at fostering a stable, prosperous, and rules-based region where peace, prosperity, and wide respect for human rights are observed and extended. Implicit in the rebalance was a hedge against a China acting to challenge the existing post–World War II rules-based international and regional order.

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.