Publications

Aug. 25, 2020

Tactical Partnerships for Strategic Effects: Recent Experiences of U.S. Forces Working By, With, and Through Surrogates in Syria and Libya

Drawing on interviews with senior policymakers, diplomats, and military officials with knowledge of Operations Inherent Resolve in Syria and Odyssey Lightning in Libya, this paper confronts commonly-held perspectives on the “by, with, through” approach to warfare. It argues that will-to-fight and skillset play important roles in US military partnerships with irregular forces.

Aug. 13, 2020

The Maduro Regime's Illicit Activities: A Threat to Democracy in Venezuela and Security in Latin America

Nicolás Maduro’s global web of illicit activities provides a lifeline of support to his regime and impedes a restoration of democratic stability in Venezuela. Though the Maduro regime's partners of choice include authoritarian states such as Russia and Iran, the criminal network has also reached actors in democracies in Western Europe. Disrupting

Aug. 12, 2020

The Micromanagement Myth and Mission Command: Making the Case for Oversight of Military Operations

This paper argues that leaders, historians, and pundits have grossly exaggerated civilian micromanagement of the U.S. military, resulting in less effective civilian and military oversight of military operations and a reduced likelihood that military operations will achieve strategic results.

Aug. 10, 2020

Distilling the Essence of Strategy

This succinct set of considerations provide the fundamentals distilled from a detailed review of Professor Colin Gray’s studies. There is nothing guaranteed in the realm of human affairs, but strategists who recognize these considerations will increase the likelihood that their strategy will be “good enough.” There is heroic difficulty in resolving the competing tensions inherent to crafting and implementing strategy, and only a few heroes that have taught this craft with Colin’s intense style. He will be remembered for keeping the strategic flame alive and passing it along to future generations of strategists.

July 31, 2020

Of Russian Influence in Germany - Russian Roulette Podcast Episode 104

In this episode of Russian Roulette, Heather Conley sits down with Dr. Jeffrey Mankoff and Tabea Wilke to discuss elements of Jeff’s report “With Friends Like These: Assessing Russian Influence in Germany.” This report is the Germany case study of an ambitious year-long CSIS initiative to analyze Russian influence activities in the United Kingdom

July 28, 2020

With Friends Like These: Assessing Russian Influence in Germany

As Europe’s unquestioned heavyweight and a country with deep political, economic, and cultural ties to Russia, Germany has been a frequent target of Russian influence activities. Yet compared to other countries, Germany has proven relatively resilient. In this report, Jeffrey Mankoff examines the nature and tactics of Russian influence operations

July 28, 2020

Beyond Borders: PLA Command and Control of Overseas Operations

China’s latest round of military reforms is driven primarily by Xi Jinping’s ambition to reshape the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to improve its ability to win informationized wars and to ensure that it remains loyal to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The reforms are unprecedented in their ambition and in the scale and scope of the organizational changes.

July 20, 2020

China's 'New-Type' Private Think Tanks: Is 'New' Better?

China’s public policy research community has long been dominated by large state-run research institutes, but in recent years financially and bureaucratically independent think tanks have played a more prominent role. While private think tanks have used a variety of strategies to secure funding and access to officials, a major constraint is the

July 20, 2020

An End to Exquisite Weapons

The convergence of new technologies is creating smaller, cheaper, autonomous weapons that challenge America’s arsenal of few, costly, but exquisite weapons. This convergence also presents the nation with an opportunity to field forces that are not only more effective, but also cheaper. By focusing on weapons systems that can be made platform-agnostic—launching from air, sea, or land—the U.S. can forgo the huge expense of many of today’s weapons systems.

July 20, 2020

Al-Qaeda’s Iran Dilemma: Evidence from the Abbottabad Records

Through a comprehensive review of documents recovered from Usama bin Ladin’s Abbottabad compound, this study provides a new periodization of al-Qaeda’s relationship with Iran. The analysis reveals that al-Qaeda often had to reconcile conflicting operational and ideational pressures in its interactions with the Islamic Republic over time. Beyond offering insight into the trajectory of this important relationship and direction for future scholarship, the analysis suggests some ways through which the United States might expand the strategic wedge that exists between these unlikely allies and highlights the need for a more flexible understanding of state sponsored terrorism.