New for Academic Years 2021-2022, the USAWC has published an updated Key Strategic Issues List (KSIL). The KSIL informs students, faculty, and external research associates of strategic topics requiring research and analysis. The USAWC in coordination with Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA), major commands throughout the Army, and the joint and interagency community has updated the Army's priorities for strategic analysis to address issues in the emerging strategic environment and to align with elements of the current Army Vision and Army Strategy. The USAWC will continue to address select topics as Integrated Research Projects and through other research efforts. The KSIL will help prioritize strategic research and analysis that USAWC students and faculty, USAWC Fellows, and external researchers conduct to link their research efforts and results more effectively to the Army's highest priority topics.
Striking the Balance: US Army Force Posture in Europe, 2028—A Study Sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of the Army
J. P. Clark COL and C. Pfaff
Within the context of Europe, the US Army must develop a force posture that best navigates the tensions between deterring or defeating armed conflict at an acceptable cost, successfully competing below armed conflict, and maintaining global responsiveness and institutional flexibility through the global operating model and dynamic force employment. While Russia’s economy, and consequently military capability will likely shrink over the next 10 years, which can make them more dangerous as the Kremlin continues to try to punch above its weight. The ideal force posture needs to accomplish a range of on-going and contingency missions and also be adaptive enough to remain viable despite any number of potential swings in resources, military balance, or the domestic politics of allies. This study recommends five possible strategic approaches and specifies what conditions and priorities optimize each.
The principal investigators recommend investing in a multidomain alliance. This strategic approach enables the joint force and multinational partners to get the most of their capabilities and makes the best use of the Army’s top modernization priorities, such as long-range fires in a way that alters the strategic balance of a theater to avert a potentially catastrophic, albeit low probability, scenario of armed conflict. More importantly, this strategic approach is far more stable in a crisis, as it does not place policymakers in having to rush this critical, escalatory capability into theater at a moment of high tension. Moreover, invest in a multidomain alliance has the flexibility to allow a later build-up of heavy forces if conditions still warrant.
Larry D. Miller Dr.
Carlisle Compendia of Collaborative Research is produced under the purview of the Applied Communication and Learning Lab and the United States Army War College. Each issue reports the findings of a major collaborative student or student-faculty research initiative on a topic of strategic importance to the Army, the Department of Defense, and/or the larger community of strategic leaders.
The ideas and viewpoints advanced in Carlisle Compendia of Collaborative Research are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Applied Communication and Learning Lab, the United States Army War College, the Department of Defense, or any other department or agency of the United States Government.
Huba Wass de Czege Brigadier General (Ret.)
Countering the aggression of Russian or Chinese “hegemonic” behavior will require a rapid, ready, and appropriate reaction along anticipated lines of operations to deter rather than accelerate crisis escalation, and to defend the status quo when challenged. Do the central ideas in the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Pamphlet 525-3-1, The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028, provide logical counters to hegemonic behavior from Russia or China?
This monograph offers a critique of TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1 to avoid the foundational flaws from its predecessor concepts, AirSea Battle and Multi-Domain Battle, and to reinforce the foundation for continued discussion, analysis, and development to evolving Army and Joint doctrine.
Today the United States and its Allies must cooperate to keep our advantageous peace. By keeping the peace between the United States, Russia, and China, and by the logic of our theory of victory, we are all more likely to manage other lesser anticipated and unanticipated dangers ahead.
Senior Conference 55—The Emerging Environment in the Indo-Pacific Region: Drivers, Directions, and Decisions
Terry Babcock-Lumish Dr., Tania Chacho COL, Tom Fox MAJ, and Zachary Griffiths MAJ
Senior Conference 55—The Emerging Environment in the Indo-Pacific Region: Drivers, Directions, and Decisions, explores the possibilities and challenges that exist in this critical and dynamic region. This monograph captures three days of panels, keynotes, and discussions among a diverse group of distinguished experts.
Focus areas included shifting economic realities, political dynamics, technological trends, and forms of conflict and competition that could shape the region’s future. Senior Conference 55 assembled a range of experts taking a broad approach to the entire Indo-Pacific region to explore complex and varied relationships.
This monograph begins by summarizing the consensus recommendations that emerged during the event, followed by the substance of the keynote addresses and panels, all while maintaining a nonattributional approach that allowed conversations to tackle hard questions. This monograph presents those discussions, including disagreements and dissenting viewpoints, and serves as a foundation for future debate on possible policy.
The Indo-Pacific region is—and will continue to be—crucial for both the United States and the global community. The United States needs to increase its capacity for decision-making amid risk and uncertainty in the coming decades. This monograph offers key findings for confronting these challenges and broadens the conversation about future US policy in the Indo-Pacific.
Jean-Loup Samaan Dr.
This monograph explores the emerging challenge of nonstate actors’ anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) strategies and their implications for the United States and its allies by looking at two regions, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, with case studies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Houthis in Yemen, and separatist groups in Ukraine. The historical monopoly of states over precision-guided munitions has eroded, and this evolution eventually challenges the ability of the most advanced militaries to operate in specific environments. As they gain greater access to advanced military technology, some nonstate actors increasingly lean toward A2/AD strategies. The study underlines three key parameters to assess these emerging nonstate A2/AD strategies: a political shift toward the preservation of status quo vis-à-vis opponents; a focus of military resources dedicated to A2/AD capabilities—primarily missiles and rockets; and the adaptation of military units responsible for the implementation of this new strategy. The development of nonstate A2/AD postures currently remains dependent on the ability of the nonstate actors to attract state sponsorship. Without state sponsorship, these emerging nonstate A2/AD strategies would hardly constitute a major threat. Bearing this precondition in mind, if a scenario of multiple nonstate A2/AD “bubbles” were to unfold, the United States and its allies could face unprecedented challenges, especially in the field of counterterrorism campaigns.
C. Anthony Pfaff Dr.
The United States has spent—and continues to spend—billions of dollars building Iraq’s military capabilities. Despite that fact, Iraq’s military performance, even after wresting control of its territory from the Islamic State, remains inconsistent at best. A survey of Iraqi military history suggests a pattern of strengths, weaknesses, and performance that includes courageous soldiers, cohesive units, incompetent leaders, divided loyalties, poor combat support, and weak institutions that have, on occasion, risen to the defense challenge. If the United States is going to be more successful in developing Iraqi military capabilities, it will need to change its approach to better account for the Iraqi Army’s culture, history, and political environment. The United States will also have to be clear regarding the purpose of this cooperation. Security cooperation with Iraq is not just about defeating the Islamic State or other terrorist groups. The United States stands to gain when Iraq can play a constructive security role as an accepted member of the broader regional and international community. Iran cannot get the Iraqi military to that point, but the United States can. Thus, the long-term goal of US security cooperation with Iraq should be to establish its military as a valuable security partner, capable of participating in regional security arrangements, much in the same way Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and even Oman does. Of course, getting to that point depends on political developments the United States has limited ability to influence, much less control. Having said that, continued, steady engagement emphasizing the critical areas of development should serve to set conditions for meaningful improvement when political and social conditions permit. While no single measure is going to improve the Iraqi Army, taken together, the right combination give the Iraqi Army a chance to achieve a “tipping point” that enables the kind of reform that can allow it to get beyond its historic limitations.
Turkey and the United States on the Brink: Implications for NATO and the US-Turkish Strategic and Military Partnership
Kamal A. Beyoghlow
This monograph analyzes the current political tensions between the United States and Turkey and suggests ways to manage them. The two countries have been strategic allies since at least the end of World War II—Turkey became a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member and participated with its military forces in the Korea War, and during the Cold War protected NATO’s southern flank against Soviet communism, and Turkey’s military and intelligence services maintained close relationships with their Western and Israeli counterparts. These relationships were not without problems, due mostly to differences over minority and civil rights in Turkey and over Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1973 and continued tensions with Greece. The special relationship with the United States was put to the final test after the Islamic conservative populist political party, Justice and Development, and its current leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came to power in 2002. Turkey opposed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the NATO-backed regime change in Libya in 2011. Most recently, Turkey has had strained relations with Cyprus, Greece, and Israel—all key US allies—and has alienated the US Congress and select NATO members further by its October 2019 invasion of Syria against Kurdish forces aligned with the US military against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, all against a background of a military rapprochement with Russia. This monograph highlights differences between US agencies concerning Turkey, ways to reconcile them, and offers several policy recommendations for new directions.
Lewis G. Irwin Major General
Since its inception in 1908, the US Army Reserve has made important, diverse, and cost-effective contributions to our nation while demonstrating the ability to adapt to meet emerging requirements. The emerging complex threats in today’s strategic and operational environments require the Army Reserve to adapt again.
Stephen J. Blank Dr.
Wherever one looks, Russia is carrying out aggressive military and informational attacks against the West in Europe, North and South America, the Arctic, and the Middle East. This “war against the West” actually began over a decade ago, but its most jarring and shocking event, the one that started to focus Western minds on Russia, was the invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Given this pattern, the National Security Council (NSC) in 2014 invited Stephen Blank to organize a conference on the Russian military. We were able to launch the conference in 2016 and bring together a distinguished international group of experts on the Russian military to produce the papers that were then subsequently updated for presentation here.
The results presented here are sobering, to say the least. Ray Finch and Aleksandr Golts high-light the domestic program of military mobilization of Russian society that began before 2014 and has only intensified since then. It aims to engender a positive, heroic image for the military and the idea that Russia is under siege from the West. This campaign has also gone hand in hand with signs of greatly enhanced defense spending, although there have been cuts in 2017-2018 due to sanctions. However, despite the fact that Paul Schwartz rightly points out that Russia’s science and technology sectors are wounded and suffer from excessive militarization, he and Steven Rosefielde undermine the complacent and excessively comfortable notion that Russian economic weak-ness?which is real—will lead to the collapse of the system or its retreat from its current posture.
M. Chris Mason Dr.
The United States will soon enter the 18th year of combat operations in Afghanistan. During that time, multiple approaches to stabilize the country have been tried, including support to regional security initiatives, “nation-building,” counterinsurgency, counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and “train and equip.” The constellation of anti-government elements known collectively as the Taliban continues to refuse reconciliation or a negotiated peace under the existing Afghan constitution.
Deterrence in the Nordic-Baltic Region: The Role of the Nordic Countries Together With the U.S. Army
Juha Pyykönen Brigadier General and Stefan Forss Dr.
With enhanced cooperation from the U.S. Army, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Nordic partner nations could combine efforts with each other and with the Alliance to deliver effective and visible regional deterrence against a resurgent Russia in the Nordic-Baltic region. This monograph by two leading Finnish defense academics explores the regional defense environment and optimum roles for the United States.
Shima D. Keene Dr.
This monograph provides an assessment of the emerging threat posed by foreign jihadist fighters following the reduction in territory controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and recommends ways that the U.S. Army should address the issues highlighted.
Samit Ganguly and M. Chris Mason
As global competition with an increasingly assertive Chinese Government expands, the strategic relationship between India and the United States is assuming ever-greater importance. From a superficial perspective, a strategic partnership seems to make a great deal of sense for both countries. Yet, enormous political, cultural, and structural obstacles remain between them, which continue to slow the progress in security cooperation to a crawl, relative to China’s economic and military advances. The authors explore these impediments frankly and suggest practical ways to build trust and establish confidence.
Tim Hwang Mr.
How should the defense community best organize to combat modern campaigns of propaganda and disinformation? Without a broader strategic concept of the nature of the challenge posed by these techniques, current efforts and investments run the risk of simply chasing the latest tactics without establishing enduring security. This monograph offers a way forward, proposing a cohesive strategic framework for thinking about modern information warfare and its effective conduct.
Elzabeth G. Troeder
Gray zone warfare has increasingly been the strategy selected by states that are determined to influence change without the risk of major escalation to outright military war. It is a significant concern today, threatening U.S. national security as well as the security of U.S. allies and partners. Although warfare is traditionally led by the Department of Defense (DoD), as the use of gray zone warfare increases and evolves, a whole-of-government approach that incorporates the unique capabilities of Federal departments and agencies for this fight is needed.
Lukas Milevski Dr.
In this monograph, Dr. Lukas Milevski examines the logic of grand strategy in practice, defined by its most basic building block—combining military and non-military power in war. He lays out competing visions of how to define grand strategy and why the aforementioned building block is the most fundamental. The monograph establishes the essential logic of military power through annihilation and exhaustion or attrition as well as through control of the opponent’s freedom of action. This baseline understanding of strategic action and effect in war allows an exploration of how the utility and meaning of non-military instruments change between peacetime and wartime and how they may contribute to the strategic effort and includes discussion of specific examples such as the U.S. interwar war plans and the Stuxnet cyberattack on Iranian nuclear facilities. The author also links this combination to present-day Russian and Chinese attempts at mixing military and non-military power.
Keir Giles Mr.
This monograph considers how a classical challenge that commanders face in war—namely, making critical decisions on the basis of limited and often unreliable information—has been exacerbated in the era of big data. Data overload complicates the intelligence community’s efforts to identify and exclude disinformation, misinformation, and deception, and thus hampers its ability to deliver reliable intelligence to inform decision-makers in a timely manner. The military commander remains responsible for making a final decision, yet the great wealth of data now available through the intelligence cycle amplifies the risk of decision paralysis. With this in mind, technological solutions tend to be considered the most appropriate response for managing data overload and disinformation. While these remain relevant, they alone may be insufficient to equip the military commander with the necessary insight to guide decisions through the uncertainty of the big data environment. Rather, the military commander must cultivate a range of new behaviors in order to avoid decision paralysis and fulfill the distinct leadership roles a commander must play at the various stages of the intelligence process
Tami Davis Biddle Dr.
In this monograph, Tami Davis Biddle analyzes the historical record of air power over the past 100 years. Her monograph, designed for the student of strategy, is intended to provide both a concise introduction to the topic and a framework for thinking intelligently about air power, particularly aerial bombing. Her primary aim is to discern the distinction between what has been expected of air power by theorists and military institutions, and what it has produced in the crucible of war. Aerial bombing, Biddle argues, is a coercive activity in which an attacker seeks to structure the enemy’s incentives—using threats and actions to shape and constrain the enemy’s options, both perceived and real. It is an important and much-utilized military instrument for both deterrence and compellence. In addition, it is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the joint warfighter. Its ability to achieve anticipated results, however, varies with circumstances. Students of strategy must be able to discern and understand the conditions under which aerial bombing is more or less likely to achieve the results expected of it by those who employ it.
Michael C. McCarthy Lieutenant Colonel, Matthew A. Moyer Commander, and Brett H. Venable Colonel
The United States lacks a cohesive strategy to deter Russian aggression. Despite being militarily and economically inferior, Russia has undermined the United States and its allies by exploiting the “gray zone,” or the conceptual space between war and peace where nations compete to advance their national interests. In dealing with Russia, the United States must shift its strategic framework from a predominantly military-centric model to one that comprises a whole-of-government approach. The holistic approach must leverage a combination of diplomacy, information, military, and economic (DIME) measures. In this timely and prescient monograph, three active duty military officers and national security fellows from the Harvard Kennedy School look to address this contemporary and complex problem. Through extensive research and consultation with some of the nation’s and academia’s foremost experts, the authors offer policymakers a menu of strategic options to deter Russia in the gray zone and protect vital U.S. national security interests.
Jeffrey L. Caton
In 2015, the Department of Defense (DoD) released the DoD Cyber Strategy which explicitly calls for a comprehensive strategy to provide credible deterrence in cyberspace against threats from key state and nonstate actors. To be effective, such activities must be coordinated with ongoing deterrence efforts in the physical realm, especially those of near-peers impacting critical global regions such as China in the Asia-Pacific region and Russia in Europe. It is important for the U.S. Army to identify and plan for any unique roles that they may provide to these endeavors. This study explores the evolving concept of deterrence in cyberspace in three major areas:
• First, the monograph addresses the question: What is the current U.S. deterrence posture for cyberspace? The discussion includes an assessment of relevant current national and DoD policies and concepts as well as an examination of key issues for cyber deterrence found in professional literature.
• Second, it examines the question: What are the Army’s roles in cyberspace deterrence? This section provides background information on how Army cyber forces operate and examines the potential contributions of these forces to the deterrence efforts in cyberspace as well as in the broader context of strategic deterrence. The section also addresses how the priority of these contributions may change with escalating levels of conflict.
• Third, the monograph provides recommendations for changing or adapting the DoD and Army responsibilities to better define and implement the evolving concepts and actions supporting deterrence in the dynamic domain of cyberspace.
Alexander Lanoszka Dr. and Michael A. Hunzeker Dr.
The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) face daunting challenges in the Baltic region. Russia is behaving aggressively. Its military is more capable than it has been at any point since the end of the Cold War. More importantly, Russia is finding creative ways to subvert the status quo and to sow discord without triggering Article 5 of NATO, which declares that an attack against one member is an attack against all.
These problems are formidable, but we have reason to be optimistic. Far from shattering NATO’s cohesion and undermining its resolve, Russian aggression has reinvigorated the alliance. Nor is Russia an unstoppable adversary. It has many weaknesses. Indeed, Russian fears over those vulnerabilities might be driving its aggressive foreign policy. Even if this is not the case and Russia is indeed a relentless predator, it is nevertheless a vulnerable one.
The United States and its NATO allies can take advantage of these vulnerabilities. After assessing Russian intentions, capabilities, and limitation, this monograph recommends a hedging strategy to improve early detection capabilities, enhance deterrence in unprovocative ways, and improve regional defenses against a hybrid threat. Achieving these goals should help the United States deter Russia and reassure regional allies more effectively while managing our own worst fears.
Keir Giles Mr.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in Eastern Ukraine in 2014, alarmed not only Western-leaning states in Central Europe and the Baltic but also Moscow’s traditional allies. These events signaled that Moscow is now willing and capable of using direct military force against perceived strategic threats in its self-proclaimed region of vested interests. With the exception of Ukraine and the Baltic States, this Letort Paper examines how Russia’s front-line states have adjusted their foreign policy posture since 2014. Belarus, Moldova, the states of Central Asia and the South Caucasus calculate the benefits and risks in their relationship with Moscow and either make concessions or strengthen their defenses accordingly to avoid triggering a Russian reaction. This Letort Paper provides a range of policy recommendations intended to maximize the opportunities of a new alignment with the West for these states while minimizing the risk of Russia, using again, those capabilities it has demonstrated in Ukraine and Syria.
Jeffrey L. Caton
The first 7 years of U.S. Cyber Command operations are paved with milestones that mark the steady operationalization of modern cyberspace as the newest domain of military conflict as well as a realm of international power. The creation of the Cyber Mission Force and Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber are significant steps toward improving the timeliness and effectiveness of cyberspace operations that directly support combatant commands and the whole-of-government responses to cyberspace threats. It focuses on the central question: “What is the context in which different military services approach cyberspace component operations internally as well as with the Department of Defense?”
Robert J. Bunker Dr.
This monograph focuses on an understudied, but yet a critically important and timely component of land warfare, related to the battlefield use of chemical weapons by contemporary threat forces. It will do so by focusing on two case studies related to chemical weapons use in Syria and Iraq by the Assad regime and the Islamic State. Initially, the monograph provides an overview of the chemical warfare capabilities of these two entities; discusses selected incidents of chemical weapons use each has perpetrated; provides analysis and lessons learned concerning these chemical weapons incidents, their programs, and the capabilities of the Assad regime and the Islamic State; and then presents U.S. Army policy and planning considerations on this topical areas of focus. Ultimately, such considerations must be considered vis-à-vis U.S. Army support of Joint Force implementation of National Command Authority guidance.
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