Publications

Feb. 4, 2020

Qassem Soleimani: Moscow's Syria Decision – Myth and Reality

On January 3, 2020, Iran’s Special Forces leader– IRGC Quds Force – Major General Qassem Soleimani, was killed by an American drone strike outside of the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. Commentators noted that Soleimani had been the subject of a United Nations (UN) travel ban and an asset freeze by the United Nations Security Council (UNSCR) since 2007.  Soleimani had, however, traveled frequently to Syria, Iraq and Lebanon in the decade since these prohibitions. Notably, Soleimani also reportedly made a covert trip to Moscow in July of 2015 that was conspicuous for its flouting of UN travel restrictions and for the lore associated with it having facilitated what became a precipitous escalation in Russian intervention into the Syrian civil war.

Jan. 31, 2020

Baltics Left of Bang: Nordic Total Defense and Implications for the Baltic Sea Region

Sponsored by the U.S. National Defense University (NDU) and the Swedish National Defense University, this paper is the second in a series of Institute for National Strategic Studies Strategic Forums dedicated to the multinational exploration of the strategic and defense challenges faced by the Baltic states. The December 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy described Russia as “using subversive measures to weaken the credibility of America’s commitment to Europe, undermine transatlantic unity, and weaken European institutions and governments.” The U.S. and European authors of this paper, along with many others, came together in late 2017 to explore possible responses to the security challenges facing the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). This second report highlights early research and gaming insights indicating the importance of total defense and comprehensive security, whole-of-society approaches to deterrence and defense of the Baltic Sea Region from Russian aggression. It also provides recommendations for how the Nordic and Baltic states can leverage aspects of total defense and comprehensive security to generate a credible asymmetric defense and build societal resilience.

Jan. 22, 2020

The PLA Beyond Asia: China’s Growing Military Presence in the Red Sea Region

China’s establishment of a military base in Djibouti in 2017 was an important “first” for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which had never operated a base on foreign territory. It was also a milestone in a gradually expanding PLA presence in the Red Sea region. Over the previous decade, China deployed peacekeepers to conflicts in the oil-producing states of Sudan and South Sudan, conducted anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, and increased its military diplomacy throughout the area. By the time the Djibouti base opened, the PLA was already maintaining a presence of more than 2,000 personnel in the region—far more than in any other area outside the Indo-Pacific. While PLA capabilities have remained largely concentrated in Asia, its Red Sea presence showcased an increasing ability to project power to other regions and suggested that additional deployments may occur as China seeks to defend its overseas interests. The PLA role in the region has also entered the Chinese popular imagination: the navy’s evacuation of Chinese and foreign citizens from Yemen in 2015 was the basis of Operation Red Sea, one of China’s top grossing films of 2018.

Jan. 22, 2020

The European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation: Implications for Transatlantic Security

In November of 2017, the European Union (EU) officially launched the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) project, its latest attempt to deepen defense cooperation among EU members. Earlier that same year, the EU approved two other important initiatives designed to strengthen defense cooperation: the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and the European Defence Fund (EDF). Shortly after the launch of PESCO, many U.S. defense officials expressed skepticism about its value. This is not surprising; U.S. officials have reflexively opposed European defense initiatives such as PESCO since the end of the Cold War. U.S. opposition to these initiatives reflects its fear that they could lead the EU to become a competitor to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for European security issues and resources, and in so doing reduce U.S. influence in European security.

Jan. 10, 2020

PRISM Vol. 8, No. 3 (January 2020)

Emerging disruptive technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, quantum computing, and neuroscience will dramatically alter the global security environment. PRISM V.8,N.3 “Singularity” maps this evolving challenge and propose solutions. 

Nov. 22, 2019

Joint Force Quarterly 95 (4th Quarter, October 2019)

Our world is in constant motion, and as a result change is what we must always seek to adjust and improve our situations. If you have a setback, a delay, or a loss, you do as the unofficial slogan of the U.S. Marine Corps suggests—you improvise, adapt, and overcome. I would add that we need to be constantly learning both from what we see and from what others experienced. As former Secretary James Mattis asked our professional military education (PME) institutions to do, developing our critical thinking skills and testing our intellectual limits in new and engaging ways are no longer options for a select few. To that end for the joint force, Joint Force Quarterly continues to offer discussions about past conflicts and current issues and to frame future concepts and issues in ways that hopefully help each of us better use our minds. With that as a goal, we offer a wide range of ideas to help you keep your intellectual edge. Hopefully, you will read them and send us your best ideas on how to keep improving the joint force.

Nov. 7, 2019

Baltics Left of Bang: The Role of NATO with Partners in Denial-Based Deterrence

This paper is the first in a sequence of INSS Strategic Forums dedicated to multinational exploration of the strategic and defense challenges faced by Baltic states in close proximity to a resurgent Russia that the U.S. National Security Strategy describes as “using subversive measures to weaken the credibility of America’s commitment to Europe, undermine transatlantic unity, and weaken European institutions and governments.” The American and European authors of this paper, along with many others, came together in late 2017 to begin exploration of the most significant Baltic states security challenges through focused strategic research and a series of multinational, interactive theater wargames sponsored by the U.S. National Defense University and Swedish Defence University. This first paper highlights early research and wargaming insights indicating the importance of denial-based deterrence for protection of the Baltic states from potential Russian aggression. It also provides recommendations for how the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the United States, and the Baltic states can best improve their ground, maritime, and air forces to generate credible denial-based deterrence.

Oct. 17, 2019

PRISM Vol. 8, No. 2 (October 2019)

“Taking Responsibility in a Dangerous World”—the aptly titled feature by Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy—sets the tone for our latest edition of PRISM.  A non-themed edition, PRISM Vol. 8, No. 2 explores the business of terrorism; lessons learned from 18 years of war; the emergence of hybrid warfare; the potential militarization of robotic automated systems and artificial intelligence; Russia’s resurgence, and Sweden’s strategy of Total Defense in response to Russia’s resurgent assertiveness; as well as the rapid growth of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, and a comparative analysis of international approaches to diplomatic security. The edition features the perspectives of warfighters, scholars, practitioners, and diplomats from Israel, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, as well as the United States. Distinguished perspectives include those of a Defense Minister, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, former Commander Joint Special Operations Command, and former UN Under Secretary General for Safety and Security. Irrespective of the rank or specialty, each of our newest authors are thought leaders. 

Oct. 8, 2019

Putin Heads For Riyadh

At their summit later this month, Putin and his Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) hosts will highlight progress on the economic agenda laid out during King Salman’s October 2017 visit to Moscow.  Questions about the American commitment to protect the free flow of energy from the region will play in the background, and Putin will lobby the Saudis to buy Russian air defense systems.  The Russian president will use the September 14 strikes on Saudi energy facilities and the lengthy Yemen conflict to advance Moscow’s Concept for Collective Security in the Persian Gulf and encourage peace talks.  Moscow and Riyadh will underscore their intent to continue working together in OPEC+ to stabilize global oil prices, and use the Riyadh summit to bolster the room for independent action on the world stage of their energy tandem.  

July 31, 2019

Five Conundrums: The United States and the Conflict in Syria

For the past 8 years, two U.S. administrations, the United Nations (UN), and numerous foreign governments have sought to end the catastrophic war in Syria and reach a negotiated political settlement to the conflict. Their efforts have repeatedly been complicated, even thwarted, by the highly contested and violent politics underlying the conflict, the sheer number of conflict actors inside and outside of Syria, and those actors’ diverse and often irreconcilable objectives.