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The Ongoing Insurgency in Southern Thailand: Trends in Violence, Counterinsurgency Operations, and the Impact of National Politics September 1, 2011 — Since January 2004, a Malay-Muslim–based insurgency has engulfed the three southernmost provinces in Thailand. More than 4,500 people have been killed and over 9,000 wounded, making it the most lethal conflict in Southeast Asia. Now in its 8th year, the insurgency has settled into a low-level stalemate. Violence is down significantly from its mid-2007 peak, but it has been steadily climbing since 2008. On average, 32 people are being killed and 58 wounded every month. Most casualties are from drive-by shootings, but there are also about 12 improvised explosive device (IED) attacks a month. MORE

Joint Interagency Task Force–South: The Best Known, Least Understood Interagency Success June 1, 2011 — Joint Interagency Task Force–South (JIATF–South) is well known within the U.S. Government as the “gold standard” for interagency cooperation and intelligence fusion, despite its preference for keeping a low profile and giving other agencies the credit for its successes. It is often cited as a model for whole-of-government problem-solving in the literature on interagency collaboration, and other national security organizations have tried to copy its approach and successes. Despite the plaudits and attention, the way that JIATF–South actually operates has only received superficial analysis. In fact, few people actually understand why JIATF–South works as well as it does or how its success might be replicated. MORE

Secret Weapon: High-value Target Teams as an Organizational Innovation March 1, 2011 — This study argues that interagency teams were a major catalyst in turning around the Iraq War, and that they will disappear from America’s arsenal unless the knowledge base supporting the innovation can be secured. Most explanations credit the dramatic reduction in violence in Iraq between 2007 and 2008 to new U.S. leadership, the surge in U.S. forces, and/or U.S. financial support to Sunni tribal leaders. In contrast, we argue that the United States employed an underappreciated organizational innovation—interagency teams—to put insurgent clandestine organizations on the defensive and give population security measures a chance to take effect. MORE

Russia’s Revival: Ambitions, Limitations, and Opportunities for the United States January 1, 2011 — Independent Russia is approaching the start of its third decade of post-Soviet existence. After the economic chaos of the Boris Yeltsin decade and the recovery and stabilization of the Vladimir Putin decade, Russia’s leaders have high ambitions for a return to great power status in the years ahead. Their aspirations are tempered, however, by the realities of Russia’s social, economic, and military shortcomings and vulnerabilities, laid painfully bare by the stress test of the recent global financial crisis. Looking ahead, some also calculate that Russia will be increasingly challenged in the Far East by a rising China and in the Middle East by an Iran that aspires to regional hegemony. MORE

Chief of Mission Authority as a Model for National Security Integration December 1, 2010 — The inability of the President of the United States to delegate executive authority for integrating the efforts of departments and agencies on priority missions is a major shortcoming in the way the national security system of the U.S. Government functions. Statutorily assigned missions combined with organizational cultures create “stovepipes” that militate against integrated operations. This obstacle to “unity of effort” has received great attention since 9/11 but continues to adversely affect government operations in an era of increasingly multidisciplinary challenges, from counterproliferation to counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. Presidents have tried various approaches to solving the problem: National Security Council committees, “lead agencies,” and “czars,” but none have proven effective. MORE

Redefining Success: Applying Lessons in Nuclear Diplomacy from North Korea to Iran September 1, 2010 — The United States has no good options for resolving the North Korean and Iranian nuclear challenges. Incentives, pressures, and threats have not succeeded. A military strike would temporarily set back these programs, but at unacceptable human and diplomatic costs, and with a high risk of their reconstitution and acceleration. For some policymakers, therefore, the best option is to isolate these regimes until they collapse or pressures build to compel negotiations on U.S. terms. This option has the veneer of toughness sufficient to make it politically defensible in Washington. On closer scrutiny, however, it actually allows North Korea and Iran to continue their nuclear programs unrestrained. It also sacrifices more achievable short-term goals of improving transparency and securing vulnerable nuclear materials to the uncertain long-term goal of denuclearization. Yet these short-term goals are deemed critical to U.S. national security in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). MORE

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