Publications

March 29, 2016

National Security Reform and the 2016 Election

There are few issues of greater intrinsic importance to the United States than national security reform—or one riper for resolution. Twenty years ago most senior leaders were skeptical of allegations that the national security system was “broken”; they believed the system functioned well enough to manage the Nation’s most pressing problems. Since then numerous prominent experts have been sounding the alarm from inside the system and from without. No fewer than nine blue-ribbon groups have argued in favor of system reforms (see tables 1 and 2). The overwhelming majority of scholars publishing independently on the issue favor reform. During the 2008 Presidential election, the momentum in favor of national security reform was so strong that many thought it was inevitable. This presumption was reinforced when President Barack Obama appointed well-known proponents of reform to senior positions in the National Security Council staff, Department of State, Department of Defense (DOD), and Intelligence Community. Yet reform did not take place during the Obama administration, and so far it has not been an issue in the 2016 Presidential race, either. This paper examines why reform was sidetracked, whether it could emerge as a campaign issue during the 2016 Presidential election, and why it is in candidates’ and the Nation’s interest that it does.

March 15, 2016

Violating Reality: The Lavelle Affair, Nixon, and the Parsing of the Truth

On December 20, 2010, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) denied the Pentagon’s request, endorsed by President Barack Obama, to advance posthumously Air Force Maj Gen John D. Lavelle to the retired list in the rank of general.1 Thirty-eight years earlier, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen John D. Ryan had fired the four-star Lavelle as the Seventh Air Force commander in Saigon for allegedly conducting unauthorized airstrikes against North Vietnam and ordering the falsification of mission reports. Senate hearings in September 1972 deemed Lavelle guilty of both offenses, resulting in his demotion to major general following retirement. Yet a careful reading of documentary and taped evidence, much of it recently discovered and not available at the time of the original Senate hearings, reveals that General Lavelle neither violated the rules of engagement (ROE) that prescribed America’s air war at the time of his dismissal nor falsified mission reports. Accordingly, Lavelle should have his rank restored, and the so-called Lavelle affair should serve as a cautionary tale for political and military leaders alike who question the proper conduct of “civil-military relations” in the complex and often confounding era of modern limited war.

Feb. 2, 2016

North Korea 2025: Alternate Futures and Policy Challenges

National Defense University (NDU), the National Intelligence Council (NIC), and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) held a symposium in November 2015 that brought leading experts together to explore four alternative futures for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, also known as North Korea). The futures were: 1) A Status Quo Peninsula in a Changing Northeast Asia; 2) Korea Reunified; 3) A Reforming DPRK; and 4) The DPRK Must Be Stopped! This report summarizes key findings from this non-attribution symposium, which focused on the interests and potential actions of external powers rather than DPRK internal dynamics.

Feb. 1, 2016

Posing Problems without an Alliance: China-Iran Relations after the Nuclear Deal

Key Points China is poised to increase economic and diplomatic cooperation with Iran as a result of sanctions relief under the recent Iran nuclear deal, though a close geopolitical alignment between the two states is unlikely.  Sino-Iranian relations will remain limited by several enduring constraints, including

Feb. 1, 2016

Korean Unification and the Future of the U.S.-ROK Alliance

Security alliances can take many forms. They can be bilateral or multilateral, symmetric or asymmetric, highly institutionalized or largely unstructured. Regardless of form, security alliances as instruments of statecraft, at their most fundamental level, reflect a deliberate commitment among states to aggregate resources in the pursuit of common interests. For over 60 years, the U.S.–Republic of Korea (ROK) alliance has defended South Korea from external attack and, through the combined efforts of both countries, contributed to peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also in Northeast Asia, across the Asia-Pacific, and beyond.

Dec. 1, 2015

Japan’s Initiatives for Deepening Cooperation with Other Countries in the Areas of Defense Equipment and Technology

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who came to power in the December 16, 2012 general election and formed his second administration together with the Komeito Party, has promoted a substantial change in Japan’s national security policy. Key policy initiatives of the Abe government include the establishment of the National Security Council, formulation of the National Security Strategy[1], formulation of new National Defense Program Guidelines, and modification of the legal basis for national security.

Nov. 1, 2015

The People’s Liberation Army and Contingency Planning in China

How will China use its increasing military capabilities in the future? China faces a complicated security environment with a wide range of internal and external threats. Rapidly expanding international interests are creating demands for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct new missions ranging from protecting Chinese shipping from Somali pirates to evacuating citizens from Libya. The most recent Chinese defense white paper states that the armed forces must “make serious preparations to cope with the most complex and difficult scenarios . . . so as to ensure proper responses . . . at any time and under any circumstances.”

Sept. 1, 2015

Lessons Encountered: Learning from the Long War

Lessons Encountered: Learning from the Long War began as two questions from General Martin E. Dempsey, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: What were the costs and benefits of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what were the strategic lessons of these campaigns? The Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University was tasked to answer these questions. The editors composed a volume that assesses the war and analyzes the costs, using the Institute’s considerable in-house talent and the dedication of the NDU Press team. The audience for this volume is senior officers, their staffs, and the students in joint professional military education courses—the future leaders of the Armed Forces. Other national security professionals should find it of great value as well.

Sept. 1, 2015

Rethinking Deterrence and Assurance

Convening in the shadow of Russia’s continuing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, this conference examined NATO’s assessment of the changed security environment and the threat posed by Russia’s evolving approach to contemporary confl ict. Discussions focused on Moscow’s worldview and the sources of its conduct, its doctrine and capabilities, and the specifi c challenge of understanding the nature and implications of “hybrid warfare” as practiced by Russia. Participants also debated how best to bolster NATO deterrence and defence in the near-term, the appropriate strategies to counter hybrid warfare over the longer-term, whether and how to adapt NATO’s nuclear posture going forward, and the utility of sanctions and other policies of economic coercion in seeking changes in Russian behavior.

Aug. 15, 2015

Putin's Russia and U.S. Defense Strategy

The workshop addressed two questions bearing on the development of U.S. and NATO strategy toward Russia. First, how has Russia framed the problem of deterring and defeating a conventionally superior nuclear-armed major power and its allies? Second, what should the United States and NATO do to strengthen their deterrence and defense postures? In exploring these challenges with a diverse group of experts, the workshop also sought to give impetus to a community of interest that should work collectively to ensure that defense planning is informed by a detailed understanding of contemporary Russian attitudes, doctrine, and capabilities. In order to focus in depth on the deterrence challenge, the workshop did not undertake a comprehensive review of all the issues shaping Russia’s relations with the west. A number of worthy and important questions were therefore not discussed in detail, including the genesis of the current confrontation with Russia, the full range of recent developments in Russian military capability and doctrine, Russian domestic politics, and how to integrate the military and nonmilitary dimensions of national and international strategy toward Russia.