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Category: Asia and the Pacific

April 5, 2016

China's Goldwater-Nichols? Assessing PLA Organizational Reforms

In the past few months, China has announced a series of major reforms to the organizational structure of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA): the Central Military Commission (CMC) has been revamped, the four general departments dissolved, new service headquarters created, and five new theater commands established in place of the seven military regions (MRs). These changes are part of a sweeping transformation of PLA institutions, force structure, and policy that will be ongoing through 2020. In pursuing these reforms, China’s leaders hope both to tighten central political control over a force that was seen as increasingly corrupt and to build the PLA into a credible joint warfighting entity. Yet important obstacles remain, and it may be years before the implications of these reforms come into full view.

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.

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.”

Aug. 1, 2015

An Empirical Analysis of Claimant Tactics in the South China Sea

China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei all claim some or all of the land features and maritime territory in the South China Sea. One notable aspect of the South China Sea dispute is that its advocates argue past one another with little reference to a common set of facts. Another is the absence of comprehensive data on the actions claimants have taken to advance or protect their claims. The Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at the National Defense University (NDU) set out to create a comprehensive database documenting the various tactics pursued by South China Sea claimants over an 18-year timeframe (1995–2013). This paper draws upon that data to analyze what tactics South China Sea claimants are employing and to present some potential considerations for U.S. and allied policymakers.

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.

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

June 1, 2014

The U.S. “Rebalance” and Europe: Convergent Strategies Open Doors to Improved Cooperation

European concerns regarding U.S. disengagement have dissipated but not entirely disappeared over the past 2 years. Still, U.S. readiness to lead politically and militarily in Europe— for example, in response to the ongoing crisis involving Russia and Ukraine—and adjoining regions remains under close scrutiny. Furthermore, while many Europeans agree in principle that renewed American focus on Asia-Pacific issues should encourage Europeans to assume a greater share of security-related responsibilities in their neighborhood, there is little evidence to date of a sea change in European attitudes toward defense spending and overseas military deployments.

April 1, 2014

A Low-Visibility Force Multiplier: Assessing China’s Cruise Missile Ambitions

China’s military modernization is focused on building modern ground, naval, air, and missile forces capable of fighting and winning local wars under informationized conditions. The principal planning scenario has been a military campaign against Taiwan, which would require the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to deter or defeat U.S. intervention. The PLA has sought to acquire asymmetric “assassin’s mace” technologies and systems to overcome a superior adversary and couple them to the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems necessary for swift and precise execution of short-duration, high-intensity wars.

Oct. 1, 2012

Japan-China Relations 2005–2010: Managing Between a Rock and a Hard Place An Interpretative Essay

DOWNLOAD PDFExecutive Summary Between China and Japan, the past is ever-present. Notwithstanding shared cultural and historic ties, throughout the past century and going back to the Sino-Japanese war at the end of the 19th century, a bitter legacy of history—the Boxer Rebellion; the Mukden Incident and Japan’s occupation of South Manchuria (1931);

Sept. 1, 2011

Korean Futures: Challenges to U.S. Diplomacy of North Korean Regime Collapse

There is no shortage of plausible scenarios describing North Korean regime collapse or how the United States and North Korea’s neighbors might respond to such a challenge. Yet comparatively little attention has been paid to the strategic considerations that may shape the responses of the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, China, and Russia to a North Korean crisis. These states are most likely to take action of some kind in the event the North Korean regime collapses. For the ROK (South Korea), North Korean regime collapse presents the opportunity for Korean reunification. For the other states, the outcome in North Korea will affect their influence on the peninsula and their relative weight in Asia. This study identifies the interests and objectives of these principal state actors with respect to the Korean Peninsula. Applying their interests and objectives to a generic scenario of North Korean regime collapse, the study considers possible policies that the principal state actors might use to cope with such a crisis.