Skip to main content (Press Enter).
Institute for National Strategic Studies
National Defense University
Center for Complex Operations
Center for Strategic Research
Center for Technology and National Security Policy
Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs
Center for the Study of WMD
National Defense University Press
Program on Irregular Warfare
Joint Force Quarterly
China Strategic Perspectives
Middle East Strategic Perspectives
INSS Strategic Perspectives
CSWMD Occasional Papers
Defense & Technology Papers
CSWMD Case Studies
NWC Case Studies
ICAF Case Studies
Biological & Chemical Defense
Cyber Security & Information Technology
Ethics & Leadership
Gaming & Simulation Design
Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief
Interagency & International Education
International Law & National Security Law
Joint Professional Military Education
Joint Strategic Logistics
Law of Armed Conflict
Military Psychology & Resilience
National Security Reform
Science & Technology
Stabilization & Reconstruction
Supply Chain Management
Asia and the Pacific
Latin America and the Caribbean
Middle East and North Africa
Russia and Eurasia
Strategy and Force Planning in a Time of Austerity
May 1, 2014
— On February 13, 1989, General Colin Powell, who was in a transition between National Security Advisor and Commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, addressed the reality of strategy: “All of the sophisticated talk about grand strategy is helpful, but show me your budgets and I will tell you what your strategy is.” What General Powell meant is that the definition of the U.S. role in the world and its strategic goals flow from budgets, not the other way around. This paper fleshes out General Powell’s observation by focusing on the means part of the ends, ways, and means of strategy in order to explain how austerity affects force planning and strategy. By first examining budget reductions as a general matter, the paper describes today’s austere U.S. budgetary environment. It concludes with the current strategic options that will likely characterize the contemporary discussion of strategy and force planning.
A Low-Visibility Force Multiplier: Assessing China’s Cruise Missile Ambitions
April 1, 2014
— China’s military modernization is focused on building modern ground, naval, air, and missile forces capable of fighting and winning local wars under informationized conditions. The principal planning scenario has been a military campaign against Taiwan, which would require the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to deter or defeat U.S. intervention. The PLA has sought to acquire asymmetric “assassin’s mace” technologies and systems to overcome a superior adversary and couple them to the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems necessary for swift and precise execution of short-duration, high-intensity wars.
Targeted Killing of Terrorists
March 1, 2014
— The struggle against terrorism—more specifically, the effort to prevent terrorist attacks—has raised difficult legal and policy issues including so-called targeted killing, or the killing of specific individuals because of their involvement in terrorist organizations and operations. As we shall see, this form of targeted killing involves domestic and international legal authorities and policy and prudential issues. A substantial number of countries confronting what they consider to be terrorist attacks and threats engage in targeted killings. Each has to resolve questions about authorities and prudence because, while terrorists are always criminals, they also may be lawful military targets. The dual character of terrorists leads to the conclusion that, as a matter of policy, a state should weigh the totality of the circumstances and conclude that no other action is reasonable to prevent a terrorist attack before engaging in the targeted killing. Careful analysis in advance may preempt problems later.
The Bosnian Train and Equip Program: A Lesson in Interagency Integration of Hard and Soft Power
March 1, 2014
— DOWNLOAD PDFExecutive Summary Military assistance to Bosnian forces was part of a complex plan to resolve what one former Secretary of State called “the problem from hell.” When Yugoslavia began to disintegrate in the early 1990s following the Soviet Union’s demise, it released a mix of nationalist and ethnic movements that led to civil war.
The Nightmare Years to Come?
March 1, 2014
— We have entered a particularly dangerous era in the Near East and South Asia— that is, the Greater Middle East. The context of today’s situation is more alarming than respective current crises—as bad as they may be. Rather, there is an increasingly radicalized and violent sectarian environment made up of crosscutting crises occurring in the midst of proliferation; precision weapons; cyber war; increased ungoverned territory vulnerable to global, regional, and local jihadist exploitation; majoritarian authoritarianism; uncompromising sectarianism; ethnic, tribal, and sectarian-driven civil wars; massive popular anger and frustration over the lack of essential services and a diminishing quality of life, particularly in areas such as water, electricity, health, education, employment, and economic collapse; water wars and environmental endangerment; and the vulnerability of sensitive infrastructure targeted by state and nonstate actors, or an empowered lone wolf in the service of a state or nonstate actors.
The Defense Acquisition Trilemma: The Case of Brazil
January 1, 2014
— 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.
The Flawed Strategic Debate on Syria
January 1, 2014
— 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.
The Noncommissioned Officer and Petty Officer: Backbone of the Armed Forces
December 1, 2013
— A first of its kind, this book—of, by, and for the noncommissioned officer and petty officer—is a comprehensive explanation of the enlisted leader across the U.S. Armed Services. It complements The Armed Forces Officer, the latest edition of which was published by NDU Press in 2007, as well as the Services’ NCO/PO manuals and handbooks. Written by a team of Active, Reserve, and retired senior enlisted leaders from all Service branches, this book defines and describes how NCOs/POs fit into an organization, centers them in the Profession of Arms, explains their dual roles of complementing the officer and enabling the force, and exposes their international engagement. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey writes in his foreword to the book, “We know noncommissioned officers and petty officers to have exceptional competence, professional character, and soldierly grit—they are exemplars of our Profession of Arms.”
Next Steps in Syria
December 1, 2013
— Nearly 3 years since the start of the Syrian civil war, no clear winner is in sight. Assassinations and defections of civilian and military loyalists close to President Bashar al-Asad, rebel success in parts of Aleppo and other key towns, and the spread of violence to Damascus itself suggest that the regime is losing ground to its opposition. The tenacity of government forces in retaking territory lost to rebel factions, such as the key town of Qusayr, and attacks on Turkish and Lebanese military targets indicate, however, that the regime can win because of superior military equipment, especially airpower and missiles, and help from Iran and Hizballah.
Crisis Stability and Nuclear Exchange Risks on the Subcontinent: Major Trends and the Iran Factor
November 1, 2013
— Crisis stability—the probability that political tensions and low-level conflict will not erupt into a major war between India and Pakistan—is less certain in 2013 than at any time since their sequential nuclear weapons tests of 1998. India’s vast and growing spending on large conventional military forces, at least in part as a means to dissuade Pakistan’s tolerance of (or support for) insurgent and terrorist activity against India, coupled with Pakistan’s post- 2006 accelerated pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons as a means to offset this Indian initiative, have greatly increased the risk of a future Indo-Pakistani military clash or terrorist incident escalating to nuclear exchange. America’s limited abilities to prevent the escalation of an Indo-Pakistani crisis toward major war are best served by continuing a significant military and political presence in Afghanistan and diplomatic and military-to-military dialogue with Pakistan well beyond 2014.