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Category: Middle East and North Africa

Dec. 1, 2013

Next Steps in Syria

Nearly 3 years since the start of the Syrian civil war, no clear winner is in sight. Assassinations and defections of civilian and military loyalists close to President Bashar al-Asad, rebel success in parts of Aleppo and other key towns, and the spread of violence to Damascus itself suggest that the regime is losing ground to its opposition. The tenacity of government forces in retaking territory lost to rebel factions, such as the key town of Qusayr, and attacks on Turkish and Lebanese military targets indicate, however, that the regime can win because of superior military equipment, especially airpower and missiles, and help from Iran and Hizballah.

Nov. 1, 2013

Crisis Stability and Nuclear Exchange Risks on the Subcontinent: Major Trends and the Iran Factor

Crisis stability—the probability that political tensions and low-level conflict will not erupt into a major war between India and Pakistan—is less certain in 2013 than at any time since their sequential nuclear weapons tests of 1998. India’s vast and growing spending on large conventional military forces, at least in part as a means to dissuade Pakistan’s tolerance of (or support for) insurgent and terrorist activity against India, coupled with Pakistan’s post- 2006 accelerated pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons as a means to offset this Indian initiative, have greatly increased the risk of a future Indo-Pakistani military clash or terrorist incident escalating to nuclear exchange. America’s limited abilities to prevent the escalation of an Indo-Pakistani crisis toward major war are best served by continuing a significant military and political presence in Afghanistan and diplomatic and military-to-military dialogue with Pakistan well beyond 2014.

July 1, 2013

Sharing to Succeed: Lessons from Open Information-sharing Projects in Afghanistan

The sharing of information in complex civil-military operations is important, yet actors rarely do it well. U.S. and allied military forces must be able to communicate, collaborate, and exchange information effectively with the local populations they seek to influence, or they cannot achieve the goals for which they have been committed. Nonetheless, experience from stability operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, numerous humanitarian assistance/disaster relief missions, and efforts to build the capacity of foreign partners suggest that effective information-sharing is much harder than might be expected. This paper sheds light on the difficulties of setting up and sustaining projects to share information in such situations and suggests ways to do better in the future.

Nov. 1, 2012

Strategic Reflections: Operation Iraqi Freedom, July 2014 - February 2007

Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom were the first major wars of the 21st century. They will not be the last. They have significantly impacted how the U.S. Government and military think about prosecuting wars. They will have a generational impact on the U.S. military, as its future leaders, particularly those in the ground forces, will for decades be men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is imperative that leaders at all levels, both military and civilian, share their experiences to ensure that we, as a military and as a country, gain appropriate insights for the future.