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The Annual Estimate of the Strategic Security Environment serves as a guide for academics and practitioners in the defense community on the current challenges and opportunities in the strategic environment. This year’s publication outlines key strategic issues across the four broad themes of Regional Challenges and Opportunities, Domestic Challenges, Institutional Challenges, and Domains Impacting US Strategic Advantage. These themes represent a wide range of topics affecting national security and provide a global assessment of the strategic environment to help focus the defense community on research and publication. Strategic competition with the People’s Republic of China and the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine remain dominant challenges to US national security interests across the globe. However, the evolving security environment also presents new and unconventional threats, such as cyberattacks, terrorism, transnational crime, and the implications of rapid technological advancements in fields such as artificial intelligence. At the same time, the US faces domestic and institutional challenges in the form of recruiting and retention shortfalls in the all-volunteer force, the prospect of contested logistics in large-scale combat operations, and the health of the US Defense Industrial Base. Furthermore, rapidly evolving security landscapes in the Arctic region and the space domain pose unique potential challenges to the Army’s strategic advantage.

Publication Date



USAWC: Strategic Studies Institute


Carlisle Barracks, PA


Asia, People’s Republic of China (PRC), People’s Liberation Army, Xi Jinping, strategic competition, Indo-Pacific, Eurasia, Russia, Ukraine, arms control, arms race, Europe, NATO, military budget, European security, Middle East, North Africa, rebalancing partnerships, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Latin America, Caribbean, strategic access, corruption, migration, terrorism, sub-Saharan Africa, Africa, democratic backsliding, military coups, civil war, protracted conflict, civil-military relations, civilian control, defense industrial base, defense contractors, defense budget, smart weapons, leader development, military profession, professional military education, recruiting, retention, all-volunteer force, logistics, contested logistics, large-scale combat operations, survivability, polar regions, Arctic, climate change, natural resources, space, Space Force, Joint Force, artificial intelligence, technology, machine learning, nuclear deterrence, nuclear proliferation


Defense and Security Studies

2023 Annual Estimate of the Strategic Security Environment