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Category: Occasional Papers

March 21, 2017

Chinese Military Reforms in the Age of Xi Jinping: Drivers, Challenges, and Implications

Chinese military modernization has made impressive strides in the past decade. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has achieved progress in key technological areas, ranging from precision-guided missiles to advanced surface ships and combat aircraft; PLA personnel are more highly trained and skilled, capable of carrying out increasingly complex operations near to and farther away from China’s shores; and Chinese military doctrine and strategy have been updated to emphasize modern, joint maneuver warfare on a high-tech battlefield. This progress has been supported by significant increases in Chinese defense spending every year since 1990. Taken together, these changes better enable the PLA to fight what the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) describes as “short-duration, high-intensity regional conflicts.”

March 14, 2017

India-Japan Strategic Cooperation and Implications for U.S. Strategy in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region

The emerging strategic relationship between India and Japan is significant for the future security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It is also a critical emergent relationship for U.S. security objectives across the Asia-Pacific. India possesses the most latent economic and military potential of any state in the wider Asia-Pacific region. Therefore, India is the state with the greatest potential outside of the United States itself to contribute to the objectives of the “Rebalance to the Pacific” announced by Washington in 2011. This “rebalance” was aimed at fostering a stable, prosperous, and rules-based region where peace, prosperity, and wide respect for human rights are observed and extended. Implicit in the rebalance was a hedge against a China acting to challenge the existing post–World War II rules-based international and regional order.

Feb. 7, 2017

Managing Military Readiness

Understanding the limits of the Nation’s ability to generate and deploy ready military forces is a basic element of national security. It is also the element most likely to be taken for granted or assumed away despite ample historical evidence of the human and operational costs imposed by such an error. As budgets shrink and threats grow more diverse, national security leaders need a specific accounting of the readiness limits of the force and the consequences of those limits as well as the insight to make timely and effective mitigation decisions.

Oct. 29, 2016

The Return of Foreign Fighters to Central Asia: Implications for U.S. Counterterrorism Policy

Central Asia is the third largest point of origin for Salafi jihadist foreign fighters in the conflagration in Syria and Iraq, with more than 4,000 total fighters joining the conflict since 2012 and 2,500 reportedly arriving in the 2014–2015 timeframe alone. As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues to lose territory under duress from U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition activities, some predict that many may return home bent on jihad and generating terror and instability across Central Asia.

Oct. 3, 2016

India’s Naxalite Insurgency: History, Trajectory, and Implications for U.S.-India Security Cooperation on Domestic Counterinsurgency

The pace of U.S.-India defense cooperation over the past decade—and especially the past 2 years—has been unprecedented and impressive in many areas. These areas include defense technology cooperation, the discussion of a framework for military-to-military agreements, and the expansion of joint military exercises. U.S.-India defense cooperation, however, will remain limited in critical areas where India’s historical independent interests remain firm. Among these areas of Indian reserve include strategic autonomy, the imperatives of domestic federalism, and the preference for a go-slow approach toward redressing civil unrest. Attempts by U.S. policymakers to press harder in these areas will likely prove counterproductive.

Aug. 17, 2016

Frontier Security: The Case of Brazil

Over the past three decades Brazil has greatly improved its ability to monitor and control its long border. Achieving better management of the complex frontier security problem required a great deal of patience, trial and error, organizational adaptation, and good leadership. The Brazilian experience yields a number of important lessons for Brazil and for its neighbors in the Western Hemisphere. Improving performance required subordination of military priorities to civilian authorities; the repositioning of forces; better military-police cooperation; interagency and international cooperation; investment in technologies to give Brazil an advantage in the contest for best situational awareness; a long-term commitment; and guiding strategy documents supported by both civil and military authorities. Of overarching significance is the way the Brazilian military was able to reestablish the confidence of civilian leaders in the aftermath of decades of military rule. The result was a Brazilian military that is more professional, more respected, and better resourced than before. For the United States, the evolution of Brazilian frontier security is not only a developing good news story for hemispheric relations, but also a learning opportunity, since similar security problems have not always been so well managed in the United States.

July 18, 2016

The Soviet Biological Weapons Program and Its Legacy in Today’s Russia

In its first Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Case Study, the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction (CSWMD) at the National Defense University examined President Richard M. Nixon’s decision, on November 25, 1969, to terminate the U.S. offensive biological weapons program. This occasional paper seeks to explain why the Soviet government, at approximately the same time, decided to do essentially the opposite, namely, to establish a large biological warfare (BW) program that would be driven by newly discovered and powerful biotechnologies. By introducing the innovation of recombinant DNA technology—commonly referred to as genetic engineering—the Soviets were attempting to create bacterial and viral strains that were more useful for military purposes than were strains found in nature.

July 1, 2015

China Moves Out: Stepping Stones Toward a New Maritime Strategy

Over the last decade, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has increased the frequency, duration, complexity, and distance from the mainland of its operations. Not only does China maintain a permanent counterpiracy escort flotilla in the Indian Ocean, it also now routinely conducts naval exercises and operations beyond the first island chain throughout the year. This normalization of PLAN operations in the Western Pacific and beyond is an important step toward an emerging new maritime strategy that will incorporate far seas defense.

July 1, 2015

Understanding Putin Through a Middle Eastern Looking Glass

DOWNLOAD PDFExecutive Summary The resurgence of Russian influence in the Middle East has surprised Moscow as much as any other capital. Russia has done better than the Kremlin and its Middle East experts feared when the Arab Spring began. Despite Moscow’s deep involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, Russia is now in a stronger position with national

March 1, 2015

The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Review of the Guidelines for Defense Cooperation

DOWNLOAD PDFExecutive Summary This paper is focused on the U.S.-Japan alliance as reflected in the evolution of the U.S.- Japan Guidelines for Defense Cooperation. It begins with consideration of the October 3, 2013, 2+2 Statement released by Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, and