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Category: Policy Briefs

Jan. 1, 2008

Strategic Fragility: Infrastructure Protection and National Security in the Information Age

Modern societies have reached unprecedented levels of prosperity, yet they remain vulnerable to a wide range of possible disruptions. One significant reason for this growing vulnerability is the developed world’s reliance on an array of interlinked, interdependent critical infrastructures that span nations and even continents. The advent of these infrastructures over the past few decades has resulted in a tradeoff: the United States has gained greater productivity and prosperity at the risk of greater exposure to widespread systemic collapse. The trends that have led to this growing strategic fragility show no sign of slowing. As a result, the United States faces a new and different kind of threat to national security.

Dec. 1, 2007

Organizing for National Security: Unification or Coordination?

Experience gained from the 9/11 attacks, combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, disaster assistance during and after Hurricane Katrina, and the ongoing war on terror provides the basis for amending our anachronistic national security structures and practices. Many analysts and officials have called for a second-generation version of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 to address the array of organizational and management challenges that we face. Some argue that the new security environment requires even more fundamental change, similar to what was enacted after World War II. The principal legislation that emerged from that era was the National Security Act of 1947. Goldwater-Nichols aimed to fix inter-Service problems by streamlining the chain of command and promoting “jointness” but did not fundamentally alter the structure of the U.S. military.

Sept. 1, 2007

The Comprehensive Approach Initiative: Future Options for NATO

Experience has shown that conflict resolution requires the application of all elements of national and international power— political, diplomatic, economic, financial, informational, social, and commercial, as well as military. To resolve conflicts or crises, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) should adopt a Comprehensive Approach that would enable the collaborative engagement of all requisite civil and military elements of international power to end hostilities, restore order, commence reconstruction, and begin to address a conflict’s root causes. NATO can provide the military element for a comprehensive approach. Many other national, international, and nongovernmental actors can provide the civilian elements.

July 1, 2007

Privatizing While Transforming

The Armed Forces of the United States are designed to be supported by capabilities provided by civilians. The Army, for example, depends not only on Reserve and National Guard components for warfighting elements, but also on private contractors for numerous roles no longer performed by military personnel. Originally working in small contingents focused on logistical functions, private contractors now rival military personnel in number in the battlespace. In addition to providing direct logistical support to the military, contractors perform equipment maintenance and reconstruction work, train military and police, and work as civil affairs staff, interpreters, and even interrogators. They also provide private armed security services. The issues arising from new roles are exacerbated by the growth of the contractor population in conflict zones at a pace that defies effective recordkeeping.

June 1, 2007

Responding in the Homeland: A Snapshot of NATO’s Readiness for CBRN Attacks

The possibility of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members having to respond to a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) incident is not a hypothetical scenario reserved for training exercises. Indeed, a number of countries worldwide have considerable experience in dealing with a variety of naturally occurring, accidental, and deliberate CBRN incidents. NATO itself, however, has no clear conceptual vision of its role in civil emergencies because preparedness of this sort remains a national responsibility.

Feb. 1, 2007

I-Power: The Information Revolution and Stability Operations

Information and information technology (I/IT) can significantly increase the likelihood of success in stability operations— if they are engaged as part of an overall strategy that coordinates the actions of outside intervenors and focuses on generating effective results for the host nation. Properly utilized, I/IT can help create a knowledgeable intervention, organize complex activities, and integrate stability operations with the host nation, making stability operations more effective.

Aug. 1, 2006

Lee’s Mistake: Learning from the Decision to Order Pickett’s Charge

At the Battle of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee made a mistake that doomed the hopes of the Confederate States of America to compel the United States to sue for peace. Why one of the great generals of his time made such a blunder continues to be a topic of research and intense debate. Lee said little at the time or afterward to justify his decision to launch what has become known as Pickett’s Charge, so analysis must be inferential and inconclusive. Our aim is to explain Lee’s fateful decision not with new facts but with new analytical methods to illuminate decisionmaking in combat.

July 1, 2006

Countering Terrorism Across the Atlantic?

Differences in strategic vision and concepts of security are central to the U.S. and European Union (EU) approaches to counterterrorism. While the United States conceives of a war against terrorism, Europe does not. As a result of different perceptions of the threat, both sides of the Atlantic take divergent approaches to homeland security. Europeans tend to favor the use of a law enforcement strategy over a warfighting approach. Meanwhile, the U.S. administration believes that a quasi-militaristic, overtly proactive, and highly vigilant stance will serve as the best deterrent to future attacks. By their own standards, Europeans are doing more to counter terrorism since September 11 and even more since the attacks in Madrid (March 11, 2004) and in London (July 7, 2005); by U.S. standards, these measures sometimes appear inadequate. As a result, there are significant transatlantic divergences on the best methods for halting the spread of terrorism.

March 1, 2006

Creating a NATO Special Operations Force

In the post-9/11 security environment, special operations forces (SOF) have proven indispensable. SOF units are light, lethal, mobile, and easily networked with other forces. While the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have extensive SOF capabilities, these forces are not formally organized to collaborate with one another. There would be much to gain if U.S. and allied SOF trained to work together: national SOF assets would be improved, obstacles to effective combined operations would be removed, and a coherent Alliance capability would be readily available for NATO. The Alliance can focus and grow its SOF capabilities by providing a selective and small combined “inner core” of NATO special operations forces for operations, while using an outer network to expand and improve SOF cooperation with interested allies.

Feb. 1, 2006

Custer in Cyberspace

The combination of abundant networked information and fluid, unfamiliar situations in the current era makes it at once possible and imperative to improve decisionmaking in combat. The key to improvement is to integrate faster reasoning and more reliable intuition into a cognitive whole to achieve battle-wisdom. Although the technologies that both demand and facilitate battle- wisdom are new, military history holds lessons on combining reasoning and intuition in conditions of urgency, danger, and uncertainty.