Publications

Sept. 19, 2022

Deconstructing the Collapse of Afghanistan National Security and Defense Forces

The rapid collapse of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in August 2021 was widely anticipated and due to its structural constraints and qualitative decline from 2018–21. This article provides a targeted analysis of ANDSF operational liabilities and qualitative limitations, referencing often overlooked statements by US and Afghan political and military officials, data from official US government reports, and prescient NGO field analyses. The painful ANDSF experience illuminates several principles that must be considered as US policymakers turn toward security force assistance for proxy and surrogate military forces in conflict with the partners of America’s emerging great-power geostrategic competitors—China and Russia.

Sept. 13, 2022

The Civil War and Revolutions in Naval Affairs: Lessons for Today

At certain times, owing to new strategy, new technology, or the vagaries of war, the character of naval warfare and course of naval history undergo rapid, profound, and lasting change. Our thesis is that the American Civil War was one such time. It was the seminal revolution in naval affairs in the history of the United States. With its existence at stake, the Union doubled down on its plan to blockade the Confederacy even as the demands of doing so became clear. What followed was an American revolution in naval affairs with worldwide implications for the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

Sept. 13, 2022

Gray Dragons: Assessing China’s Senior Military Leadership

This report analyzes more than 300 biographies of senior Chinese military officers from 2015 and 2021 to assess the composition, demographics, and career patterns of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) leadership.

Sept. 7, 2022

The East Wind Prevails? Russia's Response to China's Eurasian Ambitions

Deference to Chinese aspirations in Eurasia is integral to Moscow’s pursuit of closer relations with Beijing. Yet China’s pursuit of regional, and ultimately global, influence is at odds with Russia’s longstanding ambition to maintain post-Soviet Eurasia as a strategic glacis and sphere of ‘privileged interests’. Russia has consequently sought to shape and channel Chinese engagement in line with its own interests, with mixed results. Disappointments with the effects of Chinese economic and political influence on Russian equities, limits on Sino–Russian coordination, and the interest of Eurasia’s smaller states contributed to a growing wariness on Russia’s part. The 2022 invasion of Ukraine and attendant confrontation with the West have left Russia more dependent on China, even as China itself has become more realistic about the prospects for Eurasian integration.

Sept. 1, 2022

Rightsizing Chinese Military Lessons from Ukraine

Russia’s failures in the early phases of the 2022 Ukraine conflict, and Ukraine’s successes, have raised questions about the implications for China’s People’s Liberation Army.

Aug. 26, 2022

Deconstructing the Collapse of Afghanistan National Security and Defense Forces

The rapid collapse of Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) in August 2021 was widely anticipated and due to its structural constraints and qualitative decline from 2018–21. This article provides a targeted analysis of ANDSF operational liabilities and qualitative limitations, referencing often overlooked statements by US and Afghan political and military officials, data from official US government reports, and prescient NGO field analyses. The painful ANDSF experience illuminates several principles that must be considered as US policymakers turn toward security force assistance for proxy and surrogate military forces in conflict with the partners of America’s emerging Great Power geostrategic competitors— China and Russia.

Aug. 17, 2022

Pushing Back Against China's New Normal in the Taiwan Strait

The key question moving forward is how to prevent China from making a more aggressive posture against Taiwan the new normal. More frequent Chinese exercises and incursions close to Taiwan should be monitored and, if necessary, thwarted, countered, or disrupted. If Chinese exercises involve military aircraft venturing into Taiwan’s airspace, for example, Taipei and Washington should consider measures to warn or intercept the Chinese planes. In response to the threat of a quarantine or blockade, Taipei needs to invest in appropriate capabilities and increase stockpiles of critical resources. Finally, larger, more frequent Chinese exercises around Taiwan would make determining China’s intentions more difficult. The United States and Taiwan should refine their approach to strategic warning, identifying indicators that can differentiate between a Chinese military exercise and preparations for an actual attack.

Aug. 14, 2022

Crossing the Strait: China’s Military Prepares for War with Taiwan

Both the U.S. and Chinese militaries are increasingly focused on a possible confrontation over Taiwan. China regards the island as an integral part of its territory and is building military capabilities to deter Taiwan independence and compel Taiwan to accept unification. Based on original research by leading international experts, Crossing the Strait: China’s Military Prepares for War with Taiwan explores the political and military context of cross-strait relations, with a focus on understanding the Chinese decision calculus about when and how to use force, the capabilities the People’s Liberation Army would bring to the fight, and what Taiwan can do to defend itself.

Aug. 9, 2022

Lawfare in Ukraine: Weaponizing International Investment Law and the Law of Armed Conflict Against Russia’s Invasion

This paper explores Ukraine’s innovative use of international investment law to hold Russia financially liable for damages arising out of its 2014 invasion and occupation of Crimea, and how this use of “lawfare” strategy can be further leveraged considering Russia’s renewed military invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Aug. 1, 2022

Chinese Perspectives on US Strategy in Asia, 2017-2021

The architects of US strategy in Asia have advanced a bold vision for a "free and open Indo-Pacific" but have paid less attention to China's views and responses. This article surveys perceptions of Chinese strategists toward the Trump administration's regional approach, arguing that China's analytic community came to see US strategy as largely focused on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.