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
An Empirical Analysis of Claimant Tactics in the South China Sea
August 1, 2015
— China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei all claim some or all of the land features and maritime territory in the South China Sea. One notable aspect of the South China Sea dispute is that its advocates argue past one another with little reference to a common set of facts. Another is the absence of comprehensive data on the actions claimants have taken to advance or protect their claims. The Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at the National Defense University (NDU) set out to create a comprehensive database documenting the various tactics pursued by South China Sea claimants over an 18-year timeframe (1995–2013). This paper draws upon that data to analyze what tactics South China Sea claimants are employing and to present some potential considerations for U.S. and allied policymakers.
Global Knowledge Networking: Smart Strategies for Promoting Innovative Learning and Leader Development
April 1, 2015
— Smart security builds on actionable knowledge. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Wales Summit in September 2014 highlighted the need to build on partnerships to prepare and operate together better. Building on the successes of past partnership initiatives and capabilities, this paper proposes new ways to embrace and extend techniques and relationships originally developed under successful Secretary of Defense (SECDEF)-level memoranda of understanding (MOUs) within NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. The Global Knowledge Networking (GKN) initiative supports smart decisionmaking by educating and training tomorrow’s agile, resilient, and effective leaders. GKN is a network of people, ideas, and processes to make knowledge actionable and is focused on improving on U.S. and coalition interoperability through improvements in existing training and education capabilities. It has begun to convene strategic dialogues around key challenges and collectively owned opportunities. Its initial framing is globally relevant and focused on the Arabian Gulf region through a proposed test bed for collaboration with the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). This will allow new tools for interoperability to be explored and created together as enablers of joint capability. Drawing on the experiences of NATO’s Partnership for Peace, it will promote an innovative systems approach that could help cultivate and sustain more effective security partnerships around the globe.
Responding to Russia after the NATO Summit: Unmanned Aerial Systems Overmatch in the Black Sea
April 1, 2015
— The Ukraine conflict poses unique and asymmetric challenges to the international community. Since the earliest days of the Crimean crisis, Russian support of “separatists” within Ukraine has ranged from plainclothes thugs to more traditional uniformed troops, munitions, and other forms of aid. Some of the individuals involved may have had links to the Russian military or its intelligence community. While much of the aid comes through the porous border between Russia and Ukraine, Russia also leverages the opportunity to use Black Sea smugglers as a way to supply ongoing rebellions or to initiate new revolts. Two Black Sea–bordering regions, Odessa and Transnistria, are home to active pro-Russian movements that could potentially evolve into a pro-Russian state. Worries of Russia supplying separatists via illicit movements on the Black Sea and generally advancing its Novorossyia claims should be matched to a general concern over Black Sea smuggling rings, which traffic humans, weapons, and nuclear materials into Europe via Odessa’s port.
Defense Partnerships: Documenting Trends and Emerging Topics for Action
March 1, 2015
— Public-public and public-private and partnerships (P4s) are time-proven effective solutions for delivering public services at reasonable costs when deployed and managed properly. Various U.S. agencies and international organizations all have longstanding successful P4 initiatives and projects. Recently, Department of Defense (DOD) leaders have expressed increased interest in implementing P4s throughout their organizations. As DOD is faced with evolving roles and missions in an “unpredictable and complex world amid fiscal constraints, the expertise and involvement of the private sector and other public organizations will be essential.” P4s could be ideal tools intended to “further policy objectives, enhance U.S. operational capabilities, reduce costs, gain access to nonmilitary expertise or assets, or build greater capacity in partners.”
The Rising Terrorist Threat in Tanzania: Domestic Islamist Militancy and Regional Threats
September 1, 2014
— Despite its reputation for peace and stability in a troubled region, the East African country of Tanzania is experiencing a rising number of militant Islamist attacks that have targeted local Christian leaders and foreign tourists, as well as popular bars and restaurants. These attacks, which began in 2012, rarely make the headlines of international media. However, they should serve as a wake-up call for U.S. policymakers to increase short-term engagement with Tanzanian officials and support for Tanzanian security agencies to preempt the emergence of a more significant threat to U.S. and international interests in East Africa.
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.
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 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 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.
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.