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Category: Policy Briefs

Dec. 1, 2013

Next Steps in Syria

Nearly 3 years since the start of the Syrian civil war, no clear winner is in sight. Assassinations and defections of civilian and military loyalists close to President Bashar al-Asad, rebel success in parts of Aleppo and other key towns, and the spread of violence to Damascus itself suggest that the regime is losing ground to its opposition. The tenacity of government forces in retaking territory lost to rebel factions, such as the key town of Qusayr, and attacks on Turkish and Lebanese military targets indicate, however, that the regime can win because of superior military equipment, especially airpower and missiles, and help from Iran and Hizballah.

Sept. 1, 2013

Transitional Justice for Syria

Transitional justice is the provision of justice in the transition from one form of government, often perceived as illegitimate, unjust, and tyrannical, or an anarchic society, to one that observes the rule of law and administers justice. It also is about choices: how to allocate scarce prosecutorial, judicial, police, and prison resources. The goal is to make the rule of law ordinary.

Aug. 1, 2013

The Rebalance to Asia: U.S.-China Relations and Regional Security

Upon taking office in January 2009, Obama administration officials proclaimed a U.S. “return to Asia.” This pronouncement was backed with more frequent travel to the region by senior officials (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first trip was to Asia) and increased U.S. participation in regional multilateral meetings, culminating in the decision to sign the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and to participate in the East Asia Summit (EAS) at the head-of-state level. The strategic “rebalance to Asia” announced in November 2011 builds on these earlier actions to deepen and institutionalize U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.

July 1, 2013

Valued Sustainable Services: Building Partnership Capacity Through Collaborating Approaches

The Valued Sustainable Services (ValSServ) concept is an approach to building the capacity of local populations. It emphasizes the interdependency among telecommunications, reliable power, and information-sharing support, and encourages projects to be developed in integrated packages rather than in stove-piped lines of effort. ValSServ focuses on bottom-up projects in complex civil-military operations that can be funded, planned, and executed at local levels, while being consistent with top-down national and theater strategies. It takes a system-of-systems approach, recognizing that successful projects can generate positive ripple effects in local environments and throughout extended networks. This paper focuses on ValSServ within the wide range of U.S. Department of Defense operating environments, such as capacity-building to help shape peacetime conditions in partner nations, post-disaster recovery, and helping to move from the “hold” to the “build” phases in counterinsurgency operations.

July 1, 2013

Sharing to Succeed: Lessons from Open Information-sharing Projects in Afghanistan

The sharing of information in complex civil-military operations is important, yet actors rarely do it well. U.S. and allied military forces must be able to communicate, collaborate, and exchange information effectively with the local populations they seek to influence, or they cannot achieve the goals for which they have been committed. Nonetheless, experience from stability operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, numerous humanitarian assistance/disaster relief missions, and efforts to build the capacity of foreign partners suggest that effective information-sharing is much harder than might be expected. This paper sheds light on the difficulties of setting up and sustaining projects to share information in such situations and suggests ways to do better in the future.

March 1, 2013

Russia Still Matters: Strategic Challenges and Opportunities for the Obama Administration

Russia’s institution of a ban on American adoptions of Russian orphans, an appalling response by the Duma to U.S. sanctions against officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case, was a clear indicator that bilateral relations will assume a lower priority in the next 4 years for both capitals. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the measure despite open misgivings by some of his own key aides and against the opposition of most of Russia’s civil society. The Russian Internet response was scathing, producing an instant winner for best sick joke of 2012: “An educated American family has decided to adopt a developmentally disabled Duma deputy.”

Oct. 1, 2012

Public-Private Cooperation in the Department of Defense: A Framework for Analysis and Recommendations for Action

In 2010, a National Defense University (NDU) research project called TIDES (Transformative Innovation for Development and Emergency Support) was invited to partner with a company to produce a tradeshow about humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and related capabilities. Despite senior-level Department of Defense (DOD) guidance to pursue public-private partnerships, DOD attorneys told TIDES managers to reject the agreement. Differing legal interpretations of the word partner generated concern that the proposed partnership could create an impermissible perception of government endorsement of a private company. Even though it would have advanced the government’s mission and promoted efficiency, a variety of obstacles scuttled the proposed cooperation.

Sept. 1, 2012

Toward the Printed World: Additive Manufacturing and Implications for National Security

Additive manufacturing (AM)—commonly referred to as “three-dimensional” or “3D” printing—is a prospective game changer with implications and opportunities that affect not just the Department of Defense (DOD) but the economy as a whole. The technology allows the “art to part” fabrication of complex objects from a computer model without part-specific tooling or human intervention.1 AM has already impacted a variety of industries and has the potential to present legal and economic issues with its strong economic and health-care benefits. Because of its remarkable ability to produce a wide variety of objects, AM also can have significant national security implications. The purpose of this paper is to provide a general introduction to these issues for nontechnical readers through a survey of the recent history and the current state of technology. Included in this paper is a brief review identifying key individuals and organizations shaping developments as well as projected trends.

Aug. 1, 2012

Preparing the Pipeline: The U.S. Cyber Workforce for the Future

In 2008, the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative listed “expanded cyber education” as one of its key recommendations. In 2009, the Partnership for Public Service produced a report stating that the current pipeline of cybersecurity workers into the government was inadequate. In the same year, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that the military was “desperately short of people who have the capabilities [to operate in cyberspace].” And in 2011, the Inspector General of the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that 35 percent of the special agents investigating national security cyber-intrusion cases lacked necessary training and technical skills. Nonetheless, the U.S. Government and private sector still seek to increase their online operations and dependency in spite of these shortcomings. An expert at the Atlantic Council of the United States sums up this problem: “cyber workforce management efforts resemble a Ferris wheel: the wheel turns on and on . . . we move, but around and around, never forward.”

Aug. 1, 2012

Trust, Engagement, and Technology Transfer: Underpinnings for U.S.-Brazil Defense Cooperation

On the eve of the January 1, 2011, inauguration of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the State Department noted that the United States “is committed to deepening our relationship on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues with Brazil’s government and people.” President Rousseff herself declared shortly thereafter, “We will preserve and deepen the relationship with the United States.” During President Barack Obama’s March 2011 visit to Brazil, both leaders cited “the progress achieved on defense issues in 2010” and stated their commitment to “follow up on the established dialogue in this area, primarily on new opportunities for cooperation.” While these rhetorical commitments are important, will they lead to greater cooperation on defense issues and improve U.S.-Brazil ties?