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Category: Policy Briefs

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.

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.

March 1, 2018

Technology and National Security: The United States at a Critical Crossroads

American leadership in science, technology, and innovation (ST&I) has been the foundation of U.S. national security for decades. Advanced technology, along with America’s ability to operationalize it into transformational capabilities, has long given us a military advantage. This advantage has provided superiority on the battlefield and for our broader national security apparatus. Today, however, our technological superiority is increasingly being challenged by near-peer and asymmetric competitors. Globalization of science and technology, emerging and unpredictable threats (both manmade and natural), conventional and emerging weapons of mass destruction, and an inversion of technology flow from the private to public sectors all present challenges to our national security.

Feb. 1, 2018

Low-Cost Access to Space: Military Opportunities and Challenges

Space activity is critical to the American way of war. The commercialization of space has potentially radical implications for U.S. national security through its impact on a range of military and intelligence functions and on the ability of the nation to effectively project power around the globe.

Aug. 14, 2017

The Pentagon’s Pivot: How Lead Users Are Transforming Defense Product Development

Historically, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on strategic forecasting to determine specifications for new military products. These specifications are codified in formal product requirements that drive new product development (NPD).

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.