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Category: Strategic Forums

Jan. 1, 2011

Getting Beyond Taiwan? Chinese Foreign Policy and PLA Modernization

Since the mid-1990s, China’s military modernization has focused on deterring Taiwan independence and preparing for a military response if deterrence fails. Given China’s assumption of U.S. intervention in a Taiwan conflict, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been developing military capabilities to deter, delay, and disrupt U.S. military support operations. The 2008 election of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, however, has contributed to improved cross-strait economic and political cooperation and dramatically reduced the threat of Taiwan independence and war across the Taiwan Strait. Cooperation has included full restoration of direct shipping, flights, and mail across the strait, Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly, regularized cross-strait negotiation mechanisms that have already reached several agreements, and the recent signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.

Oct. 1, 2010

Private Contractors in Conflict Zones: The Good, the Bad, and the Strategic Impact

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the use of contractors reached a level unprecedented in U.S. military operations. As of March 31, 2010, the United States deployed 175,000 troops and 207,000 contractors in the war zones. Contractors represented 50 percent of the Department of Defense (DOD) workforce in Iraq and 59 percent in Afghanistan. These numbers include both armed and unarmed contractors. Thus, for the purposes of this paper, the term contractor includes both armed and unarmed personnel unless otherwise specified. The presence of contractors on the battlefield is obviously not a new phenomenon but has dramatically increased from the ratio of 1 contractor to 55 military personnel in Vietnam to 1:1 in the Iraq and 1.43:1 in Afghanistan.