Publications

Aug. 18, 2021

Taking Stock of the National Stockpile: Modernizing for a Dynamic Response

Many have acknowledged that the COVID19 pandemic was not a failure of our imagination – we’ve been preparing for such an event for decades by building biotechnologies for biosurveillance and medicines, conducting exercises, and stockpiling of medical supplies. Response to a spreading illness in many ways is not rocket science:  treat the sick, protect the vulnerable, and stop the spread – mainly accomplished via the tools and products of biotechnology.  Many are now asking, what could we have done better in the pandemic response?

July 27, 2021

Party-Army Relations in China: Is Another 100 Years Possible?

On July 15, the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs hosted a webinar on party-army relations in China featuring three leading experts: Dr. Chen Yali (Hunter College), Dr. Andrew Scobell (U.S. Institute of Peace), and Dr. Joel Wuthnow (National Defense University). Center Director Dr. Phillip Saunders chaired the session. This report summarizes the presentations and key points from the discussion, which was on the record.

July 1, 2021

Executive Summary

In many parts of joint warfighting, getting the right situational awareness (SA) is essential to success, especially to those of us in a position of military or civilian leadership. I must admit to a lack of SA in recent years as I, like many, have been drawn into an information cycle centered around less-traditional media sources. Because I live and work in the Nation’s capital area, I fully accept that I live in a “bubble,” where I may not have an accurate picture of events. But in recent years, with the rise of social media platforms—including active disinformation campaigns, both foreign and domestic—getting and keeping good SA is increasingly difficult. Where does one scan to find an objective view? As always, we look forward to hearing from you about what you think we need to do in the years ahead.

July 1, 2021

Joint Force Quarterly 102 (3rd Quarter, July 2021)

In many parts of joint warfighting, getting the right situational awareness (SA) is essential to success, especially to those of us in a position of military or civilian leadership. I must admit to a lack of SA in recent years as I, like many, have been drawn into an information cycle centered around less-traditional media sources. Because I live and work in the Nation’s capital area, I fully accept that I live in a “bubble,” where I may not have an accurate picture of events. But in recent years, with the rise of social media platforms—including active disinformation campaigns, both foreign and domestic—getting and keeping good SA is increasingly difficult. Where does one scan to find an objective view? As always, we look forward to hearing from you about what you think we need to do in the years ahead. 

June 28, 2021

Toward Nuclear and WMD Fluency in Professional Military Education

While there has been a stream of commentary on how best to adapt PME writ large, far less attention has been given to what the Chairman’s guidance says about high-level policy priorities that must now be integrated across the military education system. The inclusion of these priorities does not reflect any broader debate about the fundamental purpose of military education or how best to provide it. Instead, they are included because civilian and military authorities believe that functional fluency in these topics is essential to strategic leadership of the joint force. In this article, we discuss one of these policy priorities – nuclear capabilities and concepts – and describe why and how highest-level policy deliberations have been translated into the Chairman’s guidance on officer professional military education. We then suggest why and how this process can be replicated for other emerging challenges facing the joint force. As an example, we focus on the wider set of issues that fall under Countering Weapons of Mass

June 24, 2021

Arms Control in Today's (Dis)Information Environment Part III

Information manipulation and covert influence campaigns have long been tools of sub-threshold strategic competition used to try to influence arms race dynamics, arms control decisions, and the enforceability of compliance and verification regimes. During the Cold War, such massive covert operations were only feasible by great powers. Today, not only are there more actors with potential stakes in arms control decisions, but global connectivity and digitization combined with a panoply of new Digital Age tools make it easier to obfuscate, deny, and manipulate the information environment around arms control.

June 23, 2021

Cyber Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction

For two decades, U.S. policymakers, military leaders, and analysts have drawn connections between cyber threats and WMD that demand attention from experts who work in both fields. While recognizing there are a variety of definitions for WMD in use today, the WMD Center does not believe classifying cyber threats as WMD is warranted or advantageous for the United States at this time.

June 23, 2021

Don't Base U.S. Forces in Central Asia

In headlines reminiscent of a bygone era, journalists this week reported rapid gains made by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province. This follows grim news that at least 24 Afghan commandos were killed in a battle with Taliban fighters in Faryarb Province. Amid the upsurge in violence and concern that the withdrawal of U.S. forces (scheduled for completion by September 11) will precipitate a Taliban takeover, Washington continues searching for a way to maintain its ability to collect information and project power into Afghanistan—perhaps by establishing a residual presence in neighboring Central Asia.

June 14, 2021

Russia and Saudi Arabia: Old Disenchantments, New Challenges

The Joseph Biden administration can manage its recalibration of relations with Saudi Arabia without unwarranted fear that Riyadh will view Russia as a safe-harbor alternative to the United States on a myriad of state-to-state interactions that are most important to the Kingdom. While Russia’s transactional approach to foreign partners has at times given it advantages in some areas over the more value-based framework of U.S. foreign relations, there clearly have been limits to the Russian style of dealing with Saudi Arabia in this century.

June 14, 2021

Three Priorities for NATO Partnerships in a Contested World

Over the next twelve months, the allies will negotiate a new Strategic Concept that adapts NATO’s core tasks—collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security—to this contested environment. It will be informed by the NATO 2030 Report, which characterized China as a full-spectrum rival and offered recommendations to strengthen NATO’s political dimensions and extend its global reach. The next Strategic Concept presents an opportunity to breathe new life into cooperative security by steering cooperation with non-member states toward these challenges. NATO should double down on what works—capacity-building—while expanding political consultations with partners and forging new frontiers in science and technology cooperation.