Thomas R. Mockaitis Dr.
Counterinsurgency (COIN) continues to be a controversial subject among military leaders. Critics argue that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made the U.S. military, particularly the Army, "COIN-centric." They maintain that equipping U.S. forces to combat insurgency has eroded their conventional war fighting capabilities. Those committed to preserving and even enhancing COIN capabilities, on the other hand, insist that doing so need not compromise the ability of the military to perform other tasks. They also point out that the likelihood of even a mid-level conventional war remains low while the probability of unconventional engagements is high. This monograph reviews the COIN debate, analyzes current force structure, and concludes that contrary to the more extreme positions taken by critics and proponents, the U.S. military has achieved a healthy balance between COIN and other capabilities.
Diane E. Chido Ms.
The U.S. military recognizes that it will be required to engage in dense urban areas in the near future, whether under combat, stabilization, or disaster response conditions. The military also recognizes that it is not prepared to effectively operate within such complex terrain and populations. Alternative governance structures, which can be ethnic- or religious-based civil society groups or even organized criminal networks, emerge to provide basic services when the state fails to govern effectively. Leaders of these groups maintain control through various means including violence, coercion, and service provision or through tribal, religious, or other cultural ties and structures.
Developing a flexible toolkit of currently available and vetted resources to understand the alternative governance structures existing or emerging in that environment would provide crucial foreknowledge, which will serve as a force multiplier for planning and operating in an urban environment, particularly one as dense as a megacity.
Henry D. Sokolski Mr.
Nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation no longer enjoy the broad support they once did during the Cold War. Academics and security experts now question the ability of either to cope or check nuclear rogue states or terrorists. On the one hand, America’s closest allies—e.g., Japan and South Korea—believe American nuclear security guarantees are critical to their survival. If the United States is unwilling to provide Tokyo or Seoul with the assurance they believe they need, would it then not make sense for them to acquire nuclear forces of their own? On the other hand, with more nuclear-armed states and an increased willingness to use them, how likely is it that nuclear deterrence will work?
This volume investigates these questions. In it, six experts offer a variety of perspectives to catalyze debate. The result is a rich debate that goes well beyond current scholarship to challenge the very basis of prevailing nonproliferation and security policies.
Mohammed El-Katiri Dr.
North Africa's security landscape has worsened in the aftermath of the political events of the Arab Spring. Libya's dire state of affairs has had significant repercussions not only on its internal security and stability, but also on that of its neighboring countries, particularly the ones with long and exposed land borders. The worsening of the security situation has led North African countries to cooperate on strengthening their military and security collaboration. However, while rapid progress has been made in establishing bilateral cooperation between Algeria and its neighbors, Tunisia and Libya, there has been a grave failure to launch a regional security initiative that is effectively capable of dealing with the range of cross-border and internal security threats that face all of these countries.
The failure to construct a regional-security structure in North Africa is due primarily to decades-long differences between Algeria and Morocco over a variety of pending issues, including the disputed Western Sahara territory. In addition, the fluid political and security situation in Libya has impeded engagement in any bilateral or regional security cooperation framework.
Florence Gaub Dr.
Arab military cooperation has been, over the past century, mostly a history of failures. Whether the Arab League’s Defence Pact or the Middle East Command, ideas for collective security in the region all failed to move beyond the state of declarations. Most of the time, Arab states were either at open war or in cold peace. Since the Arab Spring has toppled not only regimes but also brought insecurity, new momentum has come into regional security. From joint exercises to the announcement of first an Arab and more recently an Islamic military alliance, states begin to move further into cooperation. As this Letort Paper shows, several obstacles will have to be overcome before collective security in the Middle East and North Africa can become a reality.
Phil Williams Dr. and Dighton Fiddner Dr.
This volume has three parts: the first focuses on cyberspace itself; the second on some of the major forms of malevolence or threats that have become one of its defining characteristics; and the third on possible responses to these threats. One of the most significant features of cyberspace, however, is that it is becoming a risky place for the entire spectrum of users: nation-states, nongovernmental and transnational organizations, commercial enterprises, and individuals. Yet it is a space of opportunities—for benevolent, neutral, and malevolent actors. Moreover, the authors identify and assess the challenges and threats to security that can arise in cyberspace because of its unique nature. In the final section, the authors discuss a variety of responses, with some suggesting that the most favored options being pursued by the United States are poorly conceived and ill-suited to the tasks at hand.
Investigating the Benefits and Drawbacks of Realigning the National Guard Under the Department of Homeland Security
Sue McNeil Dr. and Ryan Burke Dr.
Part I of the 2014-2015 Army War College’s Key Strategic Issues List (KSIL)—Army Priorities for Strategic Analysis—asks: “Given the growing importance of homeland defense, what would be the benefits and drawbacks of realigning the [National] Guard under the department of Homeland Security to enhance domestic security and disaster response, while retaining utility for overseas missions in support of the Department of Defense?” (pg. 10). This monograph details our efforts to research and evaluate the perceived benefits and drawbacks of realigning the National Guard under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). We begin with a brief review of the relevant literature shaping the current policy and doctrinal approach to military civil support (CS) operations, including a summary of laws and strategic guidance relevant to the discussion. We then note the important distinctions between homeland security (HS) and homeland defense (HD) and the military role in each context. The seam between HS and HD provides a conceptual basis for discussing the roles and responsibilities of the National Guard, the DHS, and the Department of Defense (DoD) within domestic security and disaster response operations. After evaluating the National Guard’s role in each of the above contexts, we briefly discuss the realignment of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) within the DHS as a proxy for comparison of a similar realignment of a military-style entity under the DHS. The study concludes by listing and discussing the potential benefits and drawbacks of a National Guard realignment under the DHS and then makes five short recommendations in summary of the research effort.
Douglas Stuart Dr.
Deciding when, where, and how to prioritize is the essence of strategy. U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to designate the Indo-Asia-Pacific (IAP) as his top regional priority made good sense, in light of the ongoing shift in economic power from West to East and the rise of China as a potential global and regional peer competitor. The Obama Administration has attempted to use all available instruments of American power—diplomatic, information, military, and economic—to gain the support of regional friends and allies for its “pivot to Asia.” Rather than a “one size fits all” approach, Washington has attempted to adapt its recruitment efforts to the specific interests and concerns of each regional actor. The U.S. campaign has benefitted from the fact that most IAP governments recognize the value of an active American presence in the region at a time of growing Chinese assertiveness. If Obama, and his successor, can sustain the pivot, it can serve as the foundation for U.S. grand strategy in the 21st century.
Larry M. Wortzel Dr.
According to many analysts of China’s military, when an officer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) suggests new forms of operations, expanded domains of warfare, or new weapons systems, American security planners can dismiss these projections as merely “aspirational” thinking. This assessment of the PLA Academy of Military Science publication Long Distance Operations and other military publications of this genre propose that suggestions for forms of future warfare capture currents of thinking among mid-grade officers and also reflect how the senior political and military leaders in China want the PLA to evolve. Among the trends identified in this Letort Paper is the requirement for a capacity to more effectively attack a distant adversary, such as the United States, and to hold that adversary’s population at risk. This analysis also shows that a number of military analysts in China perceive that the populace is at risk from attacks by stronger, distant states. In the past 5 years, the PLA has exercised to develop force projection and expeditionary capabilities. As described in brief in this analysis, in the past 6 months, the PLA has changed its own force structure and posture in ways that will facilitate expeditionary operations.
R. Evan Ellis Dr.
Since his election in 2013, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has made significant changes in the strategy and institutions of the country in combating the interrelated scourges of organized crime and violent gangs, which have prejudiced Honduras as well as its neighbors. Principal among these are the creation of a new inter-agency structure, de la Fuerza de Seguridad Interinstitucional Nacional (the National Inter-Agency Security Force [FUSINA]), integrating the military, police, prosecutors, special judges, and other state resources to combat organized crime and delinquency in the country. More controversially, he has created a new police force within the military, the Policía Militar del Orden Público (Military Police of Public Order [PMOP]), which has been deployed both to provide security to the nation’s principal urban areas, Tegucigalpa, Comayagüela and San Pedro Sula, and to participate in operations against organized crime groups. In the fight against narcotrafficking, he has advanced a concept of three interdependent “shields”:
1). An air shield to better control Honduran airspace, enabled by January 2014 enabling the shoot-down of suspected drug flights and the acquisition of three radars from Israel to support intercepts by the Honduran air force;
2). A maritime shield, with new naval bases on the country’s eastern coast, and new shallow-water and riverine assets for intercepting smugglers; and,
3). A land shield, including enhanced control of the border with Guatemala through the Task Force “Maya Chorti.”
Beyond FUSINA, the Hernandez administration has also sought to reform the nation’s national police, albeit with slow progress. It is also reforming the penitentiary system, dominated by the criminal gangs MS-13 and B-18.
The new security policies of the Hernandez administration against transnational organized crime and the gang threat, set forth in its Inter-Agency Security Plan and “OPERATION MORAZÁN,” have produced notable successes. With U.S. assistance, FUSINA and the Honduran government dismantled the leadership of the nation’s two principal family-based drug smuggling organizations, the Cachiros and the Los Valles, and significantly reduced the use of the national territory as a drug transit zone, particularly narco flights. Murders in the country have fallen from 86.5 per 100,000 in 2011, to 64 per 100,000 in 2014.
This monograph focuses on the evolution of the transnational organized crime and gang challenges in Honduras, the strategy and structures of the Hernandez administration in combating them, associated challenges, and provides recommendations for the U.S. military and policymakers to support the country in such efforts.
Yogesh Joshi Mr., Frank O'Donnell Dr., and Harsh V. Pant Dr.
Since India declared itself a nuclear weapon state in May 1998, its nuclear capabilities have grown significantly. India is now on the verge of acquiring a triad of nuclear delivery systems. Its increasing nuclear profile has also stirred a debate on its stated nuclear doctrine involving principles of no-first use and massive retaliation. This Letort Paper examines changes in India’s nuclear trajectory, the accompanying doctrinal debate, and its nonproliferation policies in the backdrop of the current regional and international context. The implications of this for the United States and its policy in the Asia-Pacific region are also discussed.
Jeffrey L. Caton Mr.
The development of cyberspace defense capabilities for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been making steady progress since its formal introduction at the North Atlantic Council Prague Summit in 2002. Bolstered by numerous cyber attacks, such as those in Estonia (2007), Alliance priorities were formalized in subsequent NATO cyber defense policies adopted in 2008, 2011, and 2014.
This monograph examines the past and current state of cyberspace defense efforts in NATO to assess the appropriateness and sufficiency to address anticipated threats to member countries, including the United States. The analysis focuses on the recent history of cyberspace defense efforts in NATO and how changes in strategy and policy of NATO writ large embrace the emerging nature of cyberspace for military forces as well as other elements of power. It first examines the recent evolution of strategic foundations of NATO cyber activities, policies, and governance as they evolved over the past 13 years. Next, it outlines the major NATO cyber defense mission areas, which include NATO network protection, shared situational awareness in cyberspace, critical infrastructure protection, counter-terrorism, support to member country cyber capability development, and response to crises related to cyberspace. Finally, it discusses several key issues for the new Enhanced Cyber Defence Policy that affirms the role that NATO cyber defense contributes to the mission of collective defense and embraces the notion that a cyber attack may lead to the invocation of Article 5 actions for the Alliance.
This monograph concludes with a summary of the main findings from the discussion of NATO cyberspace capabilities and a brief examination of the implications for Department of Defense and Army forces in Europe. Topics include the roles and evolution of doctrine, deterrence, training, and exercise programs, cooperation with industry, and legal standards.
Antulio J. Echevarria Dr.
So-called gray zone wars are not new, but they have highlighted shortcomings in the way the West thinks about war and strategy. This monograph proposes an alternative to the U.S. military's current campaign-planning framework, one oriented on achieving positional advantages over rival powers and built around the use of a coercion-deterrence dynamic germane to almost all wars as well as to conflicts short of war.
Michael J. Colarusso Dr., Kenneth G. Heckel Lieutenant Colonel, David S. Lyle Colonel, and William L. Skimmyhorn Lieutenant Colonel
Because the U.S. military's long-held advantage in physical capital and equipment is waning, cutting-edge human capital management is more critical than ever before. The authors of "Starting Strong" argue that by gathering detailed information on the unique talents possessed by each newly commissioned Army officer, as well as on the unique talent demands of each Army basic branch, the Army can create a "talent market" that identifies and liberates the strengths of every officer, aligning each with the career field where they are most likely to be engaged, productive, and satisfied leaders. Strong evidence demonstrates that this talent-based approach better aligns officer talent with occupational requirements while simultaneously increasing individual branch satisfaction.
Robert J. Bunker Dr.
This monograph creates a proposed insurgency typology divided into legacy, contemporary, and emergent and potential insurgency forms, and provides strategic implications for U.S. defense policy as they relate to each of these forms. The typology clusters, insurgency forms identified, and their starting dates are as follows, Legacy: Anarchist (1880s), Separatist—Internal and External (1920s), Maoist Peoples (1930s), and Urban Left (Late-1960s); Contemporary: Radical Islamist (1979), Liberal Democratic (1989), Criminal (Early 2000s), and Plutocratic (2008); and Emergent and Potential: Blood Cultist (Emergent), Chinese Authoritarianism (Potentials; Near to Midterm), and Cyborg and Spiritual Machine (Potentials; Long Term/Science Fiction-like). The most significant strategic implications of these forms for U.S. defense policy are derived from the contemporary Radical Islamist form followed by the contemporary Criminal and emergent Blood Cultist forms. If the potential Chinese Authoritarianism form should come to pass it would also result in significant strategic impacts.
Jean-Loup Samaan Dr.
The collapse of Israel-Turkey relations over the last decade has led to a reshuffling of the power plays in the East Mediterranean region. Following the dismantlement of the Ankara-Jerusalem axis, Greece has entered the game by becoming the new ally of Israel in the area. As a result, the new strategic triangle that emerges in the region has implications at both the security and economic levels. Its future will shape not only the regional security system but also the prosperity of the area, for instance by defining the governance of energy discoveries. Therefore, it will have direct implications for the U.S. security interests.
John R. Deni Dr.
Military engagement and forward-based U.S. military forces offer decisionmakers effective and efficient mechanisms for maintaining American influence, deterring aggression, assuring allies, building tomorrow’s coalitions, managing the challenge of disorder in the security environment, mitigating the risk of a major interstate war, and facilitating U.S. and coalition operations should deterrence fail. Unfortunately, significant cuts to overseas permanent presence and continuing pockets of institutional bias against engagement as a force multiplier and readiness enhancer have combined to limit the leverage possible through these two policy tools. Instead, reliance on precision strike stand-off capabilities and a strategy of surging American military might from CONUS after a crisis has already started have become particularly attractive approaches for managing insecurity in a more resource-constrained environment. This approach is short-sighted politically and strategically. Relying on stand-off capabilities and so-called “surge readiness” – instead of placing greater emphasis on forward presence and, when employed selectively, military engagement – will ultimately result in reduced American influence with friends and adversaries alike, encourage adversaries to act hastily and aggressively, and have the effect of reducing, not expanding, options available to any President.
Jeffrey L. Caton Mr.
What does the Department of Defense hope to gain from the use of autonomous weapon systems (AWS)? This Letort Paper explores a diverse set of complex issues related to the developmental, operational, legal, and ethical aspects of AWS. It explores the recent history of the development and integration of autonomous and semi-autonomous systems into traditional military operations. It examines anticipated expansion of these roles in the near future as well as outlines international efforts to provide a context for the use of the systems by the United States. As these topics are well-documented in many sources, this Paper serves as a primer for current and future AWS operations to provide senior policymakers, decisionmakers, military leaders, and their respective staffs an overall appreciation of existing capabilities and the challenges, opportunities, and risks associated with the use of AWS across the range of military operations. Emphasis is added to missions and systems that include the use of deadly force.
Enabling Others to Win in a Complex World: Maximizing Security Force Assistance Potential in the Regionally Aligned Brigade Combat Team
Liam P. Walsh CPT (P)
Beginning in 2013, the U.S. Army began an effort to “engage regionally and respond globally.” A central tenant of this strategy, building upon National strategic guidance, is the necessity to build partner capacity. Army units, through the regionally aligned forces concept, may find themselves conducting security force assistance (SFA) missions across the globe as a means to achieve these ways. However, after examining the Army’s SFA mission in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from 2003-10, it becomes apparent that institutional and organizational shortcomings plagued the Army’s initial efforts in this critical aspect of the campaign. Many of these shortcomings remain in the Army today, particularly within the Army’s core formation—the brigade combat team (BCT). This monograph examines the Army’s role in conducting SFA in Iraq, drawing key lessons for the Army’s experience there, and then provides recommendations as to how the Army can better optimize the BCT to conduct SFA, while still retaining its core mission to fight and win America’s wars.
Shima D. Keene Dr.
While supporters claim that drone warfare is not only legal but ethical and wise, others have suggested that drones are prohibited weapons under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) because they cause, or have the effect of causing, indiscriminate killings of civilians, such as those in the vicinity of a targeted person. The main legal justification made by the Barack Obama Administration for the use of armed drones is self-defense. However, there is ambiguity as to whether this argument can justify a number of recent attacks by the United States. In order to determine the legality of armed drone strikes, other factors such as sovereignty, proportionality, the legitimacy of individual targets, and the methods used for the selection of targets must also be considered. One justification for the ethical landscape is the reduced amount of collateral damage relative to other forms of strike. Real time eyes on target allow last-minute decisions and monitoring for unintended victims, and precise tracking of the target through multiple systems allows further refinements of proportionality. However, this is of little benefit if the definition of “targets” is itself flawed and encompasses noncombatants and unconnected civilians. This monograph provides a number of specific recommendations intended to ensure that the benefits of drone warfare are weighed against medium- and long-term second order effects in order to measure whether targeted killings are serving their intended purpose of countering terrorism rather than encouraging and fueling it.
Michael J. Mazarr Dr.
Discussions of an emerging practice of “gray zone” conflict have become increasingly common throughout the U.S. Army and the wider national security community, but the concept remains ill-defined and poorly understood. This monograph aims to contribute to the emerging dialogue about competition and rivalry in the gray zone by defining the term, comparing and contrasting it with related theories, and offering tentative hypotheses about this increasingly important form of state competition. The idea of operating gradually and somewhat covertly to remain below key thresholds of response is hardly new. Many approaches being used today—such as support for proxy forces and insurgent militias—have been employed for millennia. The monograph argues that the emergence of this more coherent and intentional form of gray zone conflict is best understood as the confluence of three factors. Understood in this context, gray zone strategies can be defined as a form of conflict that pursues political objectives through integrated campaigns; employs mostly nonmilitary or nonkinetic tools; strives to remain under key escalatory or red line thresholds to avoid outright conventional conflict; and moves gradually toward its objectives rather than seeking conclusive results in a relatively limited period of time. Having examined the scope and character of gray zone conflict, the monograph offers seven hypotheses about this emerging form of rivalry. Finally, the monograph offers recommendations for the United States and its friends and allies to deal with this challenge.
Richard Weitz Dr.
The U.S. defense export system needs further major reforms to reduce inefficiencies and weaknesses. Although the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) do help prevent potential foreign adversaries from using U.S. arms against the United States and its allies, the Regulations, as enforced, can weaken U.S. national security in other important ways. For example, by excessively impeding defense exports, the ITAR makes it more difficult for U.S. firms to sustain core U.S. defense technological and industrial advantages, decreases U.S. military interoperability with allies that purchase ITAR-free weapons from other sources, and generates other undesirable effects for the U.S. Army and U.S. national security.
Tami Davis Biddle Dr.
In this monograph, Dr. Tami Davis Biddle examines why it is so difficult to devise, implement, and sustain sound strategies and grand strategies. Her analysis begins with an examination of the meaning of the term “strategy” and a history of the ways that political actors have sought to employ strategies and grand strategies to achieve their desired political aims. She examines the reasons why the logic undergirding strategy is often lacking and why challenges of implementation (including bureaucratic politics, unforeseen events, civil-military tensions, and domestic pressures) complicate and undermine desired outcomes. This clear-headed critique, built on a broad base of literature (historical and modern; academic and policy-oriented), will serve as a valuable guide to students and policymakers alike as they seek to navigate their way through the unavoidable challenges—and inevitable twists and turns—inherent in the development and implementation of strategy.
Christopher Sims Dr.
The Human Terrain System embedded civilians primarily in brigade combat teams (BCTs) in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2007 and 2014 to act as a collection and dispersal mechanism for sociocultural comprehension. Set against the backdrop of the program’s evolution, the experiences of these social scientists clarifies the U.S. Army’s decision to integrate social scientists at the tactical level in conflict. Based on interviews, program documents, material from Freedom of Information Act requests, and secondary sources, this book finds a series of limiting factors inhibiting social science research at the tactical level, common to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Complexity in integrating civilians into the military decisionmaking cycle, creating timely research with a high level of fidelity, and making granular research resonate with brigade staff all contributed to inhibiting the overall effect of the Human Terrain System. Yet, while high operational tempo in contested spaces complicates social science research at the tactical level, the author argues that there is a continued requirement for a residual capability to be maintained by the U.S. Army.
Henry D. Sokolski Mr.
With the world focused on the nuclear crisis in Iran, it is tempting to think that addressing this case, North Korea, and the problem of nuclear terrorism is all that matters and is what matters most. Perhaps, but if states become more willing to use their nuclear weapons to achieve military advantage, the problem of proliferation will become much more unwieldy. In this case, U.S. security will be hostage not just to North Korea, Iran, or terrorists, but to nuclear proliferation more generally, diplomatic miscalculations, and wars between a much larger number of possible players. This, in a nutshell, is the premise of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future, which explores what nuclear futures we may face over the next 3 decades and how we currently think about this future. Will nuclear weapons spread in the next 20 years to more nations than just North Korea and possibly Iran? How great will the consequences be? What can be done?
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