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Category: Defense Strategy & Policy

May 11, 2020

Still First to Fight? Shaping the 21st Century Marine Corps

The headline in the New York Times on June 1, 1918, read “Marines – First to Fight.” The day before, a brigade of Marines attached to the U.S. Army’s 2nd Division had raced to the Western Front to halt a breakthrough threatening Paris. They stopped the Germans cold, and five days later, the brigade successfully counterattacked at Belleau Wood

April 20, 2020

An American Perspective on Post-Pandemic Geopolitics

Viewed from the other side of the Atlantic, the coronavirus crisis will have significant geopolitical implications in the near term, becoming possibly even more significant over the next few years.With this in mind, we should expect politics in Europe and the US to be more focused on the current health crisis and its follow-on implications.

April 15, 2020

Building a Marine Corps for Every Contingency, Clime, and Place

Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger’s recently published Force Design 2030 has riled up both the “old guard,” who fear for the service’s future, and industry lobbyists, who fear for the future of contracts for amphibious ships and F-35s. The document rationally outlines the changes necessary for the Marine Corps to play its role as the nation’s

April 10, 2020

The Melians’ Revenge

Russia’s military modernization and aggressive behavior continues to threaten the security of NATO’s frontline Allies, the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Russia’s proximity to these states and their distance from other NATO Allies presents the Alliance with a fundamental problem: if a crisis were to erupt with little warning

April 10, 2020

Strategy As Appetite Suppressant

It is tempting to compare successful national strategies to unicorns: They both seem mythical. But while good strategies might be rare, they are very real. And despite the impressions left by recent history, they are possible. There are multiple meanings and purposes for grand strategy; as grand plans, as a set of macro principles, or as patterns

March 31, 2020

The Missing Element in Crafting National Strategy: A Theory of Success

Grand strategy is more art than science, but the practice has always required creativity to translate the Big Idea into a specific plan which uses every instrument of national power to advance the national interest. How do policymakers develop grand strategy? Is it captured in a single concept like containment? Or is it a series of strategic activities orchestrated like a campaign plan? This article explores the “theory of success”, a methodology to formulate grand strategy with an emphasis on strategic logic, the continuous line of thinking which integrates and aligns desired outcomes with existing conditions and constraints.

Jan. 31, 2020

Baltics Left of Bang: Nordic Total Defense and Implications for the Baltic Sea Region

Sponsored by the U.S. National Defense University (NDU) and the Swedish National Defense University, this paper is the second in a series of Institute for National Strategic Studies Strategic Forums dedicated to the multinational exploration of the strategic and defense challenges faced by the Baltic states. The December 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy described Russia as “using subversive measures to weaken the credibility of America’s commitment to Europe, undermine transatlantic unity, and weaken European institutions and governments.” The U.S. and European authors of this paper, along with many others, came together in late 2017 to explore possible responses to the security challenges facing the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). This second report highlights early research and gaming insights indicating the importance of total defense and comprehensive security, whole-of-society approaches to deterrence and defense of the Baltic Sea Region from Russian aggression. It also provides recommendations for how the Nordic and Baltic states can leverage aspects of total defense and comprehensive security to generate a credible asymmetric defense and build societal resilience.

Jan. 22, 2020

The PLA Beyond Asia: China’s Growing Military Presence in the Red Sea Region

China’s establishment of a military base in Djibouti in 2017 was an important “first” for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which had never operated a base on foreign territory. It was also a milestone in a gradually expanding PLA presence in the Red Sea region. Over the previous decade, China deployed peacekeepers to conflicts in the oil-producing states of Sudan and South Sudan, conducted anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, and increased its military diplomacy throughout the area. By the time the Djibouti base opened, the PLA was already maintaining a presence of more than 2,000 personnel in the region—far more than in any other area outside the Indo-Pacific. While PLA capabilities have remained largely concentrated in Asia, its Red Sea presence showcased an increasing ability to project power to other regions and suggested that additional deployments may occur as China seeks to defend its overseas interests. The PLA role in the region has also entered the Chinese popular imagination: the navy’s evacuation of Chinese and foreign citizens from Yemen in 2015 was the basis of Operation Red Sea, one of China’s top grossing films of 2018.

Jan. 22, 2020

The European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation: Implications for Transatlantic Security

In November of 2017, the European Union (EU) officially launched the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) project, its latest attempt to deepen defense cooperation among EU members. Earlier that same year, the EU approved two other important initiatives designed to strengthen defense cooperation: the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and the European Defence Fund (EDF). Shortly after the launch of PESCO, many U.S. defense officials expressed skepticism about its value. This is not surprising; U.S. officials have reflexively opposed European defense initiatives such as PESCO since the end of the Cold War. U.S. opposition to these initiatives reflects its fear that they could lead the EU to become a competitor to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for European security issues and resources, and in so doing reduce U.S. influence in European security.

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.