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Jan. 1, 2014

Strategic Implications of the Afghan Mother Lode and China's Emerging Role

China has the technology, know-how, and capital to exploit Afghanistan's mineral resources and capitalize on its location, which could make it a transportation hub; concurrently, Beijing sees the risks of dealing with a country with corruption at all levels and with the further problems of primitive infrastructure, low education and expertise levels, potentially hostile neighbors, scarcity of water, and forbidding terrain. Afghan analysts themselves see the need to build economic and social stability as trumping other security and military needs. Meantime, U.S. and NATO forces are spending trillions to prepare Afghanistan for China and other countries to reap the benefits. This outcome, while controversial, may be the easiest way for Kabul to rise above its disorder and poverty.

Jan. 1, 2014

Improving Safety in the U.S. Arctic

The Arctic's resources and transportation possibilities are drawing increased activity from many nations, and Washington should act at once to bolster what the Coast Guard can do. The lead agency will be the Department of Homeland Security with the Coast Guard as its operational arm, ideally with adequate funding and a seasonal search-and-rescue base at Barrow, Alaska, and at least two new icebreakers to maintain an Arctic presence, protect safety interests from cruise ships and other activities, and respond to environmental calamities.

Jan. 1, 2014

Forging a 21st Century Military Strategy: Leveraging Challenges

Exercises are helping determine optimal military capabilities for the future. The Bold Alligator series saw the Navy–Marine Corps team leading a joint and coalition attempt to shape a flexible insertion force and identify the kind of command and control, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance resources that will be most helpful going forward. The exercise revealed the importance of the ability of coalition forces to "craft greater capability to transfer the deconfliction of air tasks to integrated data systems." Deconflicting strike and air assets/tasks will call for greater coordination and automation and determining the appropriate nuclear tip. Finding the right policy agenda requires understanding the interactive nature of warfare and anticipating tomorrow's needs rather than relying on outmoded technologies.

Jan. 1, 2014

Learning and Adapting: Billy Mitchell in World War I

Aviation guru Billy Mitchell could have seen any number of reversals as dismal failures, but each setback seemed to place him at the right place and time. Apparent demotions were actually opportunities to step back to think, write, and learn. Accordingly, when the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was swinging into action, even his long-time rival Benjamin Foulois admitted Mitchell was the best candidate to command the AEF's final operations. Mitchell frequently did not see advantages in the making as he was clubbed into less prestigious assignments; yet he persisted, and however mean his assignments were, he processed his experience by writing and analyzing them daily, enabling him to develop an aerial expertise far in advance of his American peers.

Jan. 1, 2014

Foreign Powers and Intervention in Armed Conflicts

The book is best read by political science, international relations, international political economic, and security studies scholars. It may also be of interest to military historians, foreign policy designers, and those generally interested in why and how states get involved in the armed conflicts of others.

Jan. 1, 2014

The Tender Soldier: A True Story of War and Sacrifice

On November 4, 2008, Paula Loyd, a social scientist with a relatively new U.S. Army program, the Human Terrain System (HTS) and its deployed Human Terrain Teams, was on task in Maiwand, Afghanistan. Deployed to study the sociocultural nuances of the Afghan people and help commanders better understand the host population, this day would lead to Loyd’s death. The Tender Soldier: A True Story of War and Sacrifice, by journalist and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Professor Vanessa M. Gezari, is a well-researched and deeply personal narrative of the events of that day and the controversies surrounding the program that deployed Loyd into the field.

Jan. 1, 2014

Useful Enemies: When Waging War is More Important Than Winning Them

In Useful Enemies, David Keen (professor of conflict studies at the London School of Economics) explores both the causes of conflict and the varied factors that perpetuate war. Military leaders, policymakers, analysts, scholars, and general readers interested in the complex dynamics of warfare should find the work engaging. Keen’s thesis is controversial: “This book suggests that a great many wars are resistant to ending for the simple (but hidden) reason that powerful actors (both local and international) do not want them to end. . . . Very often, powerful actors may simply pursue other priorities that conflict with the expressed goal of winning (actions that may have the effectof reproducing the enemy, or that may simply take time, energy and resources away from ‘winning’)” (pp. 8–9).

Jan. 1, 2014

Security Cooperation: How It All Fits

Joint Publication (JP) 3-XX, Security Cooperation, will most likely deal with the terms and programs supporting U.S. foreign policy and how they relate. The anticipated updating of JP 3-22, Foreign Internal Defense, should be synchronized with it and present expanded discussion of U.S. combat operations to include major counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in support of host countries. Joint Doctrine Note 1-13,Security Force Assistance, will also help provide commanders a doctrinal foundation for identifying tools and resources to assist other militaries. Language redundancies and confusing definitions should not be allowed to impede military ventures—hence the need for doctrine as the fundamental principles guiding force employment toward common objectives. Future joint doctrine must explain the relationship of security cooperation terms.

Jan. 1, 2014

The Flawed Strategic Debate on Syria

Dating from Bashar al-Asad’s first suppression of mass demonstrations in April 2011, the war in Syria is now 3 years old, has killed more than 130,000 Syrians, and displaced nine million Syrians, two million as refugees into neighboring countries. Foreign intervention has increasingly shaped the course of the fighting and will continue to have substantial regional consequences. The complexity of this bitter, nominally internal struggle has dampened American enthusiasm for joining the fray or even paying much attention to Syria, notwithstanding the chemical weapon attacks on Gouta, east of Damascus, last August, which captured the attention of the American people, media, and policy community. With an international taboo broken and a Presidential redline crossed, public debate spiked in August–September 2013 over U.S. interests in Syria and the limits on what we will do to secure them. Debate did not result in a consensus for action.

Jan. 1, 2014

The Defense Acquisition Trilemma: The Case of Brazil

Brazil is a puzzling new player in the global system. Emerging as a complex international actor, it has come to be seen as a significant economic competitor and dynamic force in world politics. But transformational changes in the economic and political realms have not been accompanied by advances in military power. While Brazil has entered the world stage as an agile soft power exercising influence in setting global agendas and earning a seat at the economic table of policymakers, its military capacity lags. The national security strategy announced under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2008 intended to redress this power gap. President Dilma Rousseff ’s 2011 White Paper—so detailed that it is called a “White Book”—provides the conceptual roadmap to achieve a new military balance. But military modernization is still a work in progress.