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Category: Defense Strategy & Policy

Dec. 5, 2019

Fentanyl as a Chemical Weapon

John Caves provides some perspective on the question of whether fentanyl should be considered a chemical weapon, and offers some recommendations to mitigate the risk that fentanyl compounds could be weaponized in the future.

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.

July 17, 2019

The Enduring Relevance of the U.S.-Japan Alliance

For over six decades, the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan and the U.S. forward-deployed military presence in Japan have served as the foundation of stability, prosperity, and security in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. It is the basis of the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy and is a central pillar of its global strategy. The ability to project power halfway around the world from Japan was critical to the allies’ success in the 1991 Persian Gulf War—the USS Independence was then homeported in Japan. The deployment of the Kitty Hawk from Japan to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom underscored the global significance of the U.S. presence in Japan and the U.S.-Japan alliance.

May 30, 2019

The Mueller Report: The Missed Accelerants to Putin’s Interference

The March 2019 Mueller Report – discussed by Mueller himself in a brief, televised press conference on May 29, 2019 - provides enormous detail on the patterns and impacts of Russian interference in America’s 2016 election that were authorized by the very top leadership in Moscow.  However, the report does not explore the context behind Moscow’s choice for this brazen course of action.  Combining Mueller’s insights and my past research and writing about President Vladimir Putin’s increasing appetite for foreign policy risk taking, this Strategic Insight contends that three main accelerants and one huge contextual factor encouraged Putin’s fateful early 2014 choice to meddle in and manipulate the US electoral process. 

Dec. 3, 2018

The National Defense Strategy Commission Calls Attention to the “Quiet” Cross Functional Team Revolution in the National Security System

Is there a hidden gem in the recently released National Defense Strategy Commission report? Distinguished Research Fellow Dr. Christopher Lamb thinks so. The report recommends cross-functional teams (CFTs), which have the potential to transform the national security system. But few people are aware of what is happening, what is at stake and what it will take to ensure the success of CFTs.

July 10, 2017

The Proliferation Security Initiative in 2017: U.S. Interagency Perspectives

In 2003, President George W. Bush unveiled the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) in a speech in Krakow, Poland.

July 5, 2017

Deconstructing the “Warrior Caste:” The Beliefs and Backgrounds of Senior Military Elites

In May 2017, The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) published a study exploring the implications of the rise of a “Warrior Caste” in American society.1 The authors conclude the implications are mixed. On the positive side of the ledger, they report that the United States now possesses a more ready and professionalized military than ever before. On the negative side, this force consists of a dwindling percentage of the population, who are more isolated from mainstream American society than ever before. As a growing percentage of service members and officers are coming from military families themselves, the choice to join the military is becoming more akin to a decision to join the family business. The result is greater divisions between the ‘Warrior Caste” and the civilian population than the numbers would indicate if taken at face value.

May 2, 2017

Tell-Tale MRAPS

A recent article in the Washington Free Beacon, “Biden Used False Data to Smear Marine Corps over Armored Vehicle Request from Iraq,” accomplishes the rare feat of politicizing a bipartisan issue; blackguarding both parties erroneously; and unnecessarily embarrassing Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. The April 24, 2017 article by Bill Gertz reports on a new unpublished study by retired Marine, Steve Chill. Chill participated in Marine Corps decision making on the Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles used to protect servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chill wrote his study to “correct the record” and prove the Marine Corps did not “drag its feet” in deploying MRAPs. Gertz and Chill get the story wrong, and thus obscure the lesson the Pentagon should have learned from the MRAP experience, which is that its decision making processes need reform.

April 12, 2017

Vice President Pence in Indonesia: U.S. Interests in the South China Sea

If the past decade is prologue, sometime in the next four years developments in the South China Sea will again call into question U.S. interests and commitments in Southeast Asia. The mid-April visit of Vice President Pence to Indonesia and Australia offers an opportunity to define U.S. policy toward the region.

Aug. 30, 2016

Cross-Functional Teams in Defense Reform: Help or Hindrance?

On May 12, 2016, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) announced its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017. Committee chairman John McCain (RAZ) stated that the bill “contains the most sweeping reforms of the organization of the Department of Defense [DOD] in a generation.” The House Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA contained fewer reforms, but the committee emphasized that reform was necessary because “security challenges have become more transregional, multi-domain, and multi-functional. . . . U.S. superiority in key warfighting areas is at risk with other nations’ technological advances; and . . . [DOD] lacks the agility and adaptability necessary to support timely decisionmaking and the rapid fielding of new capabilities.”