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Policy Briefs


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Technology and National Security: The United States at a Critical Crossroads March 1, 2018 — American leadership in science, technology, and innovation (ST&I) has been the foundation of U.S. national security for decades. Advanced technology, along with America’s ability to operationalize it into transformational capabilities, has long given us a military advantage. This advantage has provided superiority on the battlefield and for our broader national security apparatus. Today, however, our technological superiority is increasingly being challenged by near-peer and asymmetric competitors. Globalization of science and technology, emerging and unpredictable threats (both manmade and natural), conventional and emerging weapons of mass destruction, and an inversion of technology flow from the private to public sectors all present challenges to our national security. MORE

Low-Cost Access to Space: Military Opportunities and Challenges February 1, 2018 — Space activity is critical to the American way of war. The commercialization of space has potentially radical implications for U.S. national security through its impact on a range of military and intelligence functions and on the ability of the nation to effectively project power around the globe. MORE

The Pentagon’s Pivot: How Lead Users Are Transforming Defense Product Development August 14, 2017 — Historically, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on strategic forecasting to determine specifications for new military products. These specifications are codified in formal product requirements that drive new product development (NPD). MORE

Developing an Innovation- Based Ecosystem at the U.S. Department of Defense: Challenges and Opportunities May 15, 2017 — The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is looking at new ways to spur entrepreneurship and innovation among its stakeholders and related constituencies. MORE

China’s Future SSBN Command and Control Structure November 28, 2016 — China is developing its first credible sea-based nuclear forces. This emergent nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) force will pose unique challenges to a country that has favored tightly centralized control over its nuclear deterrent. The choices China makes about SSBN command and control will have important implications for strategic stability. MORE

Cross-Functional Teams in Defense Reform: Help or Hindrance? August 30, 2016 — On May 12, 2016, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) announced its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017. Committee chairman John McCain (RAZ) stated that the bill “contains the most sweeping reforms of the organization of the Department of Defense [DOD] in a generation.” The House Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA contained fewer reforms, but the committee emphasized that reform was necessary because “security challenges have become more transregional, multi-domain, and multi-functional. . . . U.S. superiority in key warfighting areas is at risk with other nations’ technological advances; and . . . [DOD] lacks the agility and adaptability necessary to support timely decisionmaking and the rapid fielding of new capabilities.” MORE

Will Technological Convergence Reverse Globalization? July 12, 2016 — The Economist defines globalization as the “global integration of the movement of goods, capital and jobs,”1 and for decades, the process has been advancing. The combination of labor cost advantages, increasingly efficient freight systems, and trade agreements fueled globalization by providing regional cost advantages for manufacturing. Over the last six decades, it transformed agricultural societies into industrial powerhouses. MORE

Reflections on U.S.-Cuba Military-to-Military Contacts July 1, 2016 — The strategic import of U.S.-Cuba relations was underscored by President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba from March 20–22, 2016, and his comment that he had come to Cuba “to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas.” Geography also reinforces the strategic importance of both countries to one another. Cuba sits astride the intersection of the three large bodies of water dominating the approaches to the southern United States. The large island nation is in a position to block, complicate, or facilitate U.S. border control efforts in many ways. Partnering with Cuba also might allow the United States to benefit from Cuba’s notable record of using soft power effectively in the Western Hemisphere and beyond. MORE

The NATO Warsaw Summit: How to Strengthen Alliance Cohesion June 1, 2016 — It is often stated that cohesion constitutes the center of gravity of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Yet divergent domestic pressures and external threat perceptions are threatening to pull Allies apart and leave the Euro-Atlantic security architecture in shatters. When NATO Heads of State and Government meet in Warsaw on July 8–9, 2016, the stakes will be high. Not since the end of the Cold War has the security outlook been as bleak or the collective resources for meeting multiple threats as meager. MORE

Supporting Democracy in Erdoǧan’s Turkey: The Role of Think Tanks May 10, 2016 — This paper examines the Turkish think tank sector as part of a strategy to invest in Turkish democratization in a manner that does not prejudice security cooperation or the broader bilateral relationship. The United States for over 60 years has promoted a Turkey that is politically stable, economically prosperous, militarily capable, and democratically mature. As we head into 2016, the good news is that Turkey has had a party capable of ruling and winning elections for 14 years, is a G20 economy, retains one of the strongest military and security establishments in the world, and has established civilian authority over the military in a durable manner. The bad news is that this substantial progress has not resulted in a more transparent government fully committed to Western democratic norms. Instead the result has been a frequently unpredictable ally led by an increasingly authoritarian, albeit popular President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who flouts Western norms with relish and deviates from Western strategic consensus with ease. The sustained dialogue, mutual understanding, consultation, and compromise that mark good partnerships are noticeably absent—and the formerly substantial American influence over Turkish policymaking is greatly diminished. At the same time, the United States has an image problem to accompany its influence deficit, having experienced a sustained loss of trust among the Turkish public. MORE

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