PRISM  Volume 10, no 3

PRISM Vol. 10, No. 3

(September 2023)

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Then-Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter talks with then-Lt. Gen. Mark Milley in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 16, 2013. Glenn Fawcett/Defense Department.

Innovation and National Security: Ash Carter’s Legacy

By Mark Milley

I had the great privilege of working very closely with Secretary Ash Carter on many occasions over the years. He was a great patriot and a great American. In October 2022 this country, each and every one of us in this country, lost a transformational leader, a friend, and a champion of selfless service. Ash Carter’s decisionmaking was always motivated by the care and safety of the men and women in uniform. He was incredibly talented at cutting red tape and speeding up the bureaucracy in order to improve the lives of our soldiers, our sailors, airmen, and marines.

Selected intelligence disclosures have helped maintain NATO cohesion on Ukraine. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosts the sixth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Oct. 12, 2022. Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD (

Russia, Ukraine, and the Future Use of Strategic Intelligence

By Joshua C. Huminski

Before Russia’s unprovoked February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the United States and the United Kingdom undertook an aggressive public and private information campaign to attempt to achieve two concurrent objectives. The primary goal was to convince their allies of the threat of Russia’s pending offensive (and to smooth the mobilization of support to Ukraine after the fact) and to a lesser degree a secondary goal was to attempt to deter Moscow from acting. Central to this campaign was the very visible and highly publicized use of intelligence. Indeed, as Dan Drezner wrote in the Washington Post, “The U.S. intelligence community sure has been chatty as of late about what it thinks Russia is doing.”1 The use of intelligence to support policy or diplomatic efforts and to achieve a strategic effect is, in and of itself, not novel. Intelligence is meant to inform policymakers and their decisions.

Neutral Territory! Warning marker on the Swiss border during World War II. Photo by Theodor Strubin, Museum
BL/Keystone (

Neutrality After the Russian Invasion of Ukraine: The Example of Switzerland and Some Lessons for Ukraine

By Thomas Greminger and Jean-Marc Rickli

In 1956, former American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles stated that “neutrality has increasingly become an obsolete conception.” Dulles’s statement seemed to be vindicated after the end of the Cold War as only a handful of countries in Europe identified themselves as neutral. Whereas in the past Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden adopted neutrality, only two countries in Europe—Austria and Switzerland—are considered permanent neutral states under international law after the Cold War. Together with Sweden and Finland, Austria although maintaining a constitutional basis for its neutrality, became a non-allied state when it joined the European Union (EU) on January 1, 1995.

Eiffel Tower with Holy Trinity Cathedral: Russian Orthodox Church in the foreground. Paris, France, March 12, 2018.
Photo by Caleda (

NATO and Cultural Property: A Hybrid Threat Perspective

By Frederik Rosén

Recent armed conflicts, from the Balkans to Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali, Libya, Deash in Syria and Iraq, Yemen, and Nagorno-Karabakh, evidence how objects, places, and areas of significant cultural or religious value, so-called “cultural property” (CP), play an increasing role in conflicts. Terrorists exploit the social power of cultural sites, from the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 to recent attacks on places such as the Bataclan theater in Paris (2015), the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester (2017), and Christchurch in New Zealand (2019). Yet Russia presents us with the most daunting challenge in this matter.

The pit mine at the Molycorp Mountain Pass rare-earth facility in California’s Mojave Desert in May. Image by John
Gurzinski. From High Country News, June 16, 2015 (

Challenges and Opportunities in Global Supply Chains: The Role of Critical Minerals

By Nayantara Hensel

The strength and security of global supply chains are vital for the stability and growth of the global economy as well as for national security. However, supply chains, which form the foundations for a number of industries and products in the defense and non-defense markets. are highly dependent on a variety of factors and countries to provide key critical minerals as inputs.

Women, Peace and Security: Security Council Open Debate, October 19, 2019. Photo by UN Women/Ryan Brown

An Ancillary Duty?: The Department of Defense Approach to Women, Peace, and Security in Security Cooperation Programs

By Barbara Salera Lopez

It has been six years since the passage of the Women, Peace, and Security Act, which aimed to increase the “meaningful participation of women in conflict prevention and conflict resolution processes” in order to “promote more inclusive and democratic societies” globally. This act institutionalized the United States’ approach to furthering the United Nations Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda.

Military incursion in the valley area of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers (VRAEM) where drugs such as cocaine
are produced. Apurimac, Peru, November 26, 2011. Photo by David Human Bedoya at Shutterstock ID: 1961528875.

Organized Crime as Irregular Warfare: Strategic Lessons for Assessment and Response

By David H. Ucko and Thomas A. Marks

Organized crime both preys upon and caters to human need. It is corrosive and exploitative, but also empowering, and therefore pervasive. Indeed, though often out of sight, organized crime is everywhere: wherever governments draw the line, criminal actors find profitable ways of crossing it; wherever governments fail to deliver on human need, criminal actors capitalize on unmet desire or despair. For those excluded from the political economy, from patronage systems or elite bargains, organized crime can offer opportunity, possibly also protection.



NATO’s New Center of Gravity

“Russia considers the Baltic states to be the most vulnerable part of NATO….” This is the conclusion of a recent report by Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence Service.1 The three small Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, have a 1,360-kilometer border with Russia and its client state Belarus. With a joint population of just over 6 million and 47,000 active-duty armed forces the Baltic states are on the frontline of any confrontation with Russia. Their vulnerability is keenly felt having all been under brutally oppressive Soviet occupation until quite recently; many still living recall that oppression that lasted until the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia’s unprovoked February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has reminded Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians of the horrors of occupation, and rekindled fears of what until recently was considered unimaginable—a land war of territorial aggression in Europe—a contingency for which the Baltic states are urgently preparing.

Minister of Defence of Estonia

Interview with the Honorable Hanno Pevkur: Minister of Defense of Estonia

We are quite like Finland in the sense that we have a clear understanding that everyone must be involved in protecting the country. We have a conscript service for the reserve army. This is mandatory for all men and voluntary for women. What we have changed since the full-scale war in Ukraine is that we have increased the number of wartime structures. We had 31,000 fighters before, but now we have almost 44,000. Most of those come from the Volunteer Defense League. The Estonian army is based on the regular army, the reserve army, and the Volunteer Defense League which at the moment has 30,000 people of which 10,000 are combatants. This will be increased this year to 20,000, which brings us to 44,000 combatants in our wartime structure.

Minister of Defence of Latvia

Interview with the Honorable Ināra Mūrniece: Minister of Defense of Latvia

As the Minister of Defense of Latvia, I am very happy with the outcomes regarding trans-Atlantic defense and deterrence on the eastern flank of NATO. We are also very happy with defense planning for the Baltic states, scaling up the Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) battle group to brigade level, thus fulfilling the commitments made at the 2022 NATO summit in Madrid. The endorsement of the rotational model of air defense which will be incrementally implemented for the Baltic countries situated on the eastern flank of NATO means more security and deterrence against Russia. Lessons learned from Ukraine show very clearly the necessity for air defense and how crucial it is to safeguarding our communities, our critical infrastructure, and most importantly human lives in our part of the world.

Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania

Interview with the Honorable Arvydas Anušauskas: Minister of National Defence of Lithuania

Lithuania’s defense policy is based on three pillars. These are the strengthening of the armed forces, a resilient society, and reliance on collective defense. In order to achieve these three, we are increasing our spending on defense.

Book Review

The Fifth Act: America's End in Afghanistan

The Fifth Act: America’s End in Afghanistan

Reviewed by Dov S. Zakheim

Elliot Ackerman’s The Fifth Act: America’s End in Afghanistan reads like one of his award-winning novels. It is fast-paced and thrilling. It also is full of flashbacks, similar to movies and extended television murder mysteries. But this latest Ackerman volume is not a novel. It is the very real story of how the author, together with many others, worked to rescue as many Afghans as they could during the chaotic days of Kabul’s downfall to the Taliban. And it contrasts not only the fate of these people with the author’s current peaceful life but with the anguish that characterized his own service in Afghanistan both as a Marine and as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer a decade into what became America’s endless war.

War Transformed: The Future of 21st Century Great Power Competition and Conflict and White Sun War: The Campaign for

War Transformed and White Sun War:

Reviewed by John M. Grondelski

Every military strategist is cautioned against the temptation of fighting the last war. This pair of books by retired Australian Major General Mick Ryan makes clear that, whatever criticisms might be addressed against his predictions, he has not succumbed to that temptation. Instead, he has decided to try his hand not just at envisaging the next war but fleshing it out in a novel.