Oct. 4, 2019

"Total Defense"—an Interview with Swedish Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist

"Total Defense" is the total mobilization of a society in a war situation—what you can mobilize on the civilian side and on the military side together, and what you can do on the civilian side to support the military effort. It includes what you can do in private companies, as well as in the public sector and authorities. Sweden had a huge civil defense organization during the Cold War, but since then it has atrophied, and now we are starting the complicated process of rebuilding that capacity. If the military organization is to work in reality, you need this support from the civilian side, such as infrastructure, healthcare, and all these things that are required for effective military operations.

Oct. 4, 2019

The Digital Maginot Line: Autonomous Warfare and Strategic Incoherence

Just as the Maginot Line created an illusion of security, guaranteed standoff, and physical protection that made its shattering during the blitzkrieg of 1940 all the more shocking to the French polity, the pursuit of militarized robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) and artificial intelligence (AI) has led many to believe that the key to a more efficient and secure future lay within these technologies. The United States Armed Forces owe themselves and their civilian leaders honesty regarding a prudent approach to integrating AI and a pragmatic vision of the threats and risks associated with relying on these systems to achieve future policy goals.

Oct. 4, 2019

Artificial Intelligence on the Battlefield: Implications for Deterrence and Surprise

Predicting the future of technology is a risky business. We know with certainty that AI is being incorporated into an array of military missions with the intent of improving our knowledge of the operational environment, adversary capabilities, and the speed and precision of offensive and defensive weapons. We can usefully speculate about how these developments are poised to change the face of modern warfare and how those changes might affect regional and strategic deterrence stability, based on our understanding of established political and military realities. More elusive, however, is a clear picture of how AI might converge with other technologies to produce unexpected outcomes, or “unknown unknowns.” Nevertheless, there are a few possibilities that could have major strategic consequences and alter the underlying realities on which regional and strategic stability are founded.

Oct. 4, 2019

Countering Hybrid Warfare: So What for the Joint Force?

Hybrid threats and hybrid warfare may occur at the same time, prosecuted by the same adversary, as part of an intense revisionist campaign or during war. For example, the current conflict in eastern Ukraine might be viewed as an example of hybrid warfare that is taking place within a wider Russian campaign of regional revisionism and global influence. Likewise, Iranian proxy militia fighting hybrid wars in Syria and Iraq, and against Israel, are part of a wider regional revisionist challenge. Alternatively, any future large-scale war is likely to involve hybrid warfare operations, in parallel with hybrid threats to the homeland. The challenge will be to fight both in parallel.

Oct. 4, 2019

Saving Democracy Abroad

Democratic governments are under siege around the world from forces that threaten the basic principles of representative government—freely elected leaders, democratic institutions, and the rule of law. In countries as diverse as Azerbaijan, Cambodia, and Egypt, authoritarian leaders have “snuffed out civil society, suborned or faked elections, asphyxiated free expression, and repressed human rights.” Populist regimes are consolidating power in Europe and Latin America where citizens have lost faith in political institutions and rejected conventional leaders. Centralized authoritarian governments in Russia and China have put forward an alternative autocratic governance model and are striving for world leadership. Meanwhile, democracy in the United States has taken a dangerous turn.

Oct. 4, 2019

On the "Gerasimov Doctrine": Why the West Fails to Beat Russia to the Punch

Punching above its weight is a sign of strong leadership in the Russian cultural-political-military context. As the past two decades show, the Kremlin has been quite consistent in delivering its promises, especially in the political-military sphere. The West has also been very consistent in dismissing Moscow’s promises, finding itself surprised time after time. Unfortunately, in analyzing how Gerasimov’s latest promise was discussed in the West, it is likely to follow the same path, and we all will be “surprised” in a few years when Russia will deploy an intervention force to “protect” its interests abroad.

Oct. 4, 2019

Pathologies of Centralized State-Building

The international community, led by the United States, has invested trillions of dollars in state-building efforts during the past two decades. Yet despite this commitment of substantial resources, conflict and violence remain a challenge in fragile states. It therefore seems especially important to consider the reasons why state-building has not lived up to its expectations. One plausible explanation for the failure of state-building in Afghanistan is that the government remains extremely centralized in all critical dimensions, including the power of the executive, subnational governance, judicial institutions, public budgeting and finance, and the national security forces. Of these, only the Afghan National Army has implemented meaningful reforms. In the other areas, almost no reform has occurred compared to the institutional status quo before 2001. A consequence is that most Afghans continue to experience the same type of centralized, predatory state that they endured prior to 2001. Paradoxically, by resurrecting the centralized, predatory state, the stabilization effort continues to give rise to an antigovernment insurgency across the country.

Oct. 4, 2019

The Meaning of Setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan

From 2011 to 2017, similar processes played out in Iraq and Afghanistan that are deeply significant yet understudied. Between 2011 and 2014, after much effort and some success, the United States drew down its military forces in both countries. Hopes were high that the Iraqi and the Afghan government could take over. Their armies and police were vastly superior in numbers, equipment, and training to those of their adversaries. Nevertheless, the Iraqi and Afghan states both came to the brink of collapse. Gains that had come at high cost and sacrifice for the United States unraveled. Terrorist threats re-emerged. The United States re-entered the conflicts. So far, it has not fully withdrawn. Why these events came to pass has not yet been fully studied. This article explores what happened and the implications for U.S. strategy.

Oct. 4, 2019

Afghanistan Reconstruction: Lessons from the Long War

Considering that more than 2,200 Americans have died in Afghanistan, it would be a dereliction of duty not to extract lessons from nearly 18 years of engagement there. It not only makes sense but also is a statutory obligation for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Our legislative mandate requires us to provide recommendations to promote economy, efficiency, effectiveness, and leadership on preventing and detecting waste, fraud, and abuse. As an independent inspector general, my job is to evaluate the effectiveness of reconstruction activities in Afghanistan, not to make policy. Nonetheless, I have been asked many times whether the United States and its coalition partners will be in Afghanistan in another 18 years. Although I cannot answer that question directly, I know that we may well be if we fail to learn the lessons from the first 18 years of our nation’s experience in Afghanistan.

Oct. 4, 2019

Taking Responsibility in a Dangerous World

The NATO partnership is indeed evolving, and some analysts describe a growing rift across the ocean. Yet transatlantic cooperation today is more important than ever. Beyond any disagreement we might have, European and American interests very often coincide. On most foreign policy issues—from Ukraine to Syria, from Africa’s security to North Korea—transatlantic cooperation is in great shape. During the five-year term of the current EU leadership, the European Union and NATO have signed two historic Joint Declarations, which have opened a whole new phase in our partnership. Our two organizations share 22 Members and the same set of values: our mandates are different but—most importantly—they are complementary. While NATO remains the pillar of Europe’s collective defense, there are tasks that can only be performed by an organization of a different nature, such as the European Union (EU). The EU contribution to our common security is unique and increasingly relevant in our dangerous world.