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Military Strategy and Policy - Recent


Security strategy and policy are among the most important issues any state confronts, especially in a time of war. At SSI, research on these issues focuses on three primary areas: military and strategic theory; grand strategy; and the assessment and critique of critical national strategic documents:

National Security Strategy 2010 (NSS)
National Defense Strategy 2008(NDS)
Quadrennial Defense Review 2010(QDR)
National Strategy on Combating Terrorism 2006.

Dr. Robin Dorff is our Security Strategy and Policy specialist.

New References from the Military Education Research Library Network

Strategy and Policy

(10/16/06) Two new items have been added to the National Security Strategy MiPAL: an article on revitalizing public diplomacy from the Heritage Foundation, and a monograph from the Strategic Studies Institute containing essays on the U.S. response to the strategic challenges it faces in the 21st century. Please see the Recently Added Documents section for the latest on this topic - the newest updates are in bold. (View it at NDU)

Strategy and Policy

(10/11/06) Three new items have been added to the National Security Strategy MiPAL: articles from on a preemptive strategy for the 21st century, and on counterinsurgency strategies. Please see the Recently Added Documents section for the latest on this topic - the newest updates are in bold. (View it at NDU)

Strategy and Policy

(10/6/06) Four new items have been added to the National Security Strategy MiPAL: a report from the Congressional Budget Office on military recruiting, a Congressional hearing on the Defense Department's irregular warfare map, a Congressional Research Service report on information operations and cyberwar, and a Council on Foreign Relations report on foreign investment and national security. Please see the Recently Added Documents section for the latest on this topic - the newest updates are in bold. (View it at NDU)

Strategy and Policy

(10/4/06) Two new items have been added to the National Security Strategy MiPAL: a RAND report on the importance of air power in counterinsurgencies, and a report from the Stanley Foundation on U.S. strategy in response to failing states. Please see the Recently Added Documents section for the latest on this topic - the newest updates are in bold. (View it at NDU)

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    Added October 28, 2014

    Maneuvering the Islamist-Secularist Divide in the Arab World: How the United States Can Preserve its Interests and Values in an Increasingly Polarized Environment

    Authored by Gregory Aftandilian.
    View the Executive Summary

    This monograph explores the growing Islamist-secularist divide in Arab countries, particularly in Egypt and Tunisia, which has polarized such societies and often led to zero-sum politics. It offers recommendations for U.S. policymakers to maneuver through this divide while preserving U.S. interests and values.

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    Added October 28, 2014

    U.S. Policy and Strategy Toward Afghanistan after 2014

    Authored by Dr. Larry P. Goodson, Prof. Thomas H. Johnson.
    View the Executive Summary

    What should the United States do about Afghanistan? After nearly 13 years and substantial U.S. national commitment, much has changed in Afghanistan, the United States, Afghanistan’s region, and the globe. This monograph answers six key questions for U.S. leaders regarding preparation of policy and strategy recommendations on Afghanistan.

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    Added October 16, 2014

    Distinguishing Acts of War in Cyberspace: Assessment Criteria, Policy Considerations, and Response Implications

    Authored by Jeffery L. Caton.
    View the Executive Summary

    Currently, there is no internationally accepted definition of when hostile actions in cyberspace are recognized as attacks, let alone acts of war. Although many of the challenges associated with this conundrum are common with those of the traditional domains (land, sea, and air), how should senior policymakers and decisionmakers address the unique vexations related to the complex and dynamic character of conflict in the cyberspace domain?

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    Added October 01, 2014

    United States-Gulf Cooperation Council Security Coopeeration in a Multipolar World

    Authored by Dr. Mohammed El-Katiri.
    View the Executive Summary

    Military and security cooperation with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states is of continuing importance for the United States given the region's pivotal location in the Middle East and proximity to Iran. This monograph examines recent developments in the political and economic dynamics in GCC countries and their neighbors, and the potential implications for this cooperation.

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    Added September 11, 2014

    After the Spring: Reforming Arab Armies

    Authored by Dr. Florence Gaub.
    View the Executive Summary

    The Arab Spring has returned Arab military forces and their necessity for reform to the forefront. Outside actors, such as the United States, are now asked to rethink their security assistance in broader terms, shifting toward comprehensive security sector reform. As several countries are facing large-scale security implosion, terrorism, politicization of the military and protracted instability, the time for reform was never more imminent than now.

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    Added September 10, 2014

    Turkey's New Regional Security Role: Implications for the United States

    Authored by Dr. Richard Weitz.
    View the Executive Summary

    Why is a partnership between Turkey and the United States important? What must be done to create and keep a partnership that is advantageous to both countries?

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    Added September 09, 2014

    Political and Socio-Economic Change: Revolutions and Their Implications for the U.S. Military

    Edited by Dr. John R. Deni.
    View the Executive Summary

    Managing change in the international security environment—whether revolutionary or evolutionary in nature—is never an uncomplicated task. The authors address the military implications of political and social change in the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America.

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    Added September 05, 2014

    The U.S.-India Relationship: Cross-Sector Collaboration To Promote Sustainable Development

    Edited by Dr. Michael J. Fratantuono, Dr. David M. Sarcone, John D. Colwell, Jr.
    View the Executive Summary

    Within the context of the U.S.-India Strategic Relationship and in light of the vital national interests shared by both countries, what factors will contribute to the success of cross-sector collaborative initiatives intended to address challenges associated with sustainable development? What implications do those insights have for strategic leaders in different sectors?

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    Added September 03, 2014

    A New Type of Great Power Relationship between the United States and China: The Military Dimension

    Authored by Professor Geoffrey Till.
    View the Executive Summary

    President Xi Jinping's recent suggestion that a newly empowered China and the United States adopt a relationship that is new and different from previous relations between the great powers provides an ideal opportunity for the United States to consider its strategic options in the region.

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    Added August 26, 2014

    Russia and the Caspian Sea: Projecting Power or Competing for Influence?

    Authored by Dr. Tracey German.
    View the Executive Summary

    A clear understanding of Russian strategic thinking and threat perception concerning the Caspian Sea is vital in order to facilitate effective U.S. policy in the wider Caucasus and Central Asian region.

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    Added August 08, 2014

    Strategic Retrenchment and Renewal in the American Experience

    Edited by Dr. Peter Feaver.
    View the Executive Summary

    Amid fiscal austerity and international crisis, should the United States seek to renew its global leadership, or retrench its geopolitical commitments? This volume brings historical and theoretical insights to bear on that question through a series of essays that examine the current debate as well as past episodes in which American leaders were confronted with similar choices.

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    Added August 06, 2014

    Strategic Implications of the Evolving Shanghai Cooperation Organization

    Authored by Henry Plater-Zyberk, Dr. Andrew Monaghan.
    View the Executive Summary

    The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has the potential to obstruct U.S. policy aims in Central Asia, but also to facilitate them. However, both of these potentials are imperfectly understood. This monograph explains the SCO, and its real implications for U.S. policy toward both Central Asia and the SCO’s dominant partners, Russia and China.

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    Added July 25, 2014

    Visual Propaganda and Extremism in the Online Environment

    Authored by Dr. Carol K. Winkler, Dr. Cori E. Dauber.
    View the Executive Summary

    Visual images have been a central component of propaganda for as long as propaganda has been produced. Terrorist groups, with very little initial investment, are making videos that are coming so close to the quality of BBC or CNN broadcasts that the difference is meaningless, and with access to the web, they have instantaneous access to a global audience.

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    Added July 21, 2014

    Revival of Political Islam in the Aftermath of Arab Uprisings: Implications for the Region and Beyond

    Authored by Dr. Mohammed El-Katiri.
    View the Executive Summary

    The rise to power of Islamist political parties in a number of North African states over the past 3 years has caused widespread concern over the future domestic and foreign policy directions of those states. This monograph explores political change in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, and concludes that despite political crises in each country, worst case scenarios have not been borne out and there is hope for optimism.

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    Added July 17, 2014

    European Missile Defense and Russia

    Authored by Keir Giles, Dr. Andrew Monaghan.
    View the Executive Summary

    Strong Russian opposition to U.S. plans for ballistic missile defense (BMD) in Europe is likely to intensify further through 2015-16 as Phase III of the European Phased Adaptive Approach is implemented. This monograph examines a number of fundamental reasons—some valid, some spurious—why Russia is alarmed at U.S. BMD plans, and provides recommendations for managing the missile defense dialogue with Russia in the future in order to mitigate potentially damaging responses.

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    Added July 08, 2014

    Russia's Contribution as a Partner in the War on Terrorism

    Authored by Henry Plater-Zyberk.
    View the Executive Summary

    Russia and the United States have a common interest in fighting the threat of Islamist terrorism. In practice, however, efforts to achieve cooperation in this area have been hampered by differing concepts of terror and how to counter it, and institutional and procedural incompatibility between the two nations. This monograph explores counter-terrorism from a Russian viewpoint, in order to assess prospects for meaningful practical cooperation in this field with the United States.

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    Added June 26, 2014

    Democratization and Instability in Ukraine, Georgia, and Belarus

    Authored by Dr. Robert Nalbandov.
    View the Executive Summary

    Ukraine, Georgia, and Belarus have remarkable variance and incongruence between their levels of democratization, political stability, and economic development. This monograph by Dr. Robert Nalbandov explains the reasons for the different indicators in the three categories and explains the successes and failures of the democratization efforts in three post-Soviet countries.

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    Added June 24, 2014

    The Paracel Islands and U.S. Interests and Approaches in the South China Sea

    Authored by Lieutenant Colonel Clarence J. Bouchat (USAF, Ret.).
    View the Executive Summary

    Learn how the Paracel Islands disputes act as a primer about the South China Sea conflicts and U.S., Vietnamese, and Chinese relations in the region. This analysis may help the reader better understand these disputes, and how the United States may address them.

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    Added June 19, 2014

    Operational Reservations: Considerations for a Total Army Force

    Authored by COL John D. Ellis, COL (Ret.) Laura McKnight Mackenzie.
    View the Executive Summary

    Despite fighting shoulder-to-shoulder this past decade, the U.S. Army is comprised of essentially “three Armies”—the active component, the Army Reserve, and the National Guard. While an intriguing start to integrate the three components, the Army Total Force Policy is not a panacea for reform. Real and meaningful work still needs to be done to bring the three into effective alignment and in a way to foster cooperation and mutual respect.

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    Added June 17, 2014

    Moving Beyond Pretense: Nuclear Power and Nonproliferation

    Edited by Mr. Henry D. Sokolski.
    View the Executive Summary

    The further proliferation and possible use of nuclear weapons are among the very greatest threats to U.S. and international security, yet most governments and industry officials downplay the risks of civilian nuclear technology and materials being diverted to make bombs. They use this optimistic assessment in formulating U.S. and international nuclear trade and nonproliferation policies. This volume taps the insights and analyses of 13 top nuclear and security experts to weigh the validity of their narrative. The result is a comprehensive counternarrative that recommends a significant tightening of current nonproliferation controls.

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    Added June 17, 2014

    2014-15 Key Strategic Issues List

    Edited by Professor John F. Troxell.
    For several years, the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) has annually published the Key Strategic Issues List (KSIL). The purpose of this document is to make students and other researchers aware of strategic topics that are of special interest to the U.S. Army. Part I of KSIL is entitled "Army Priorities for Strategic Analysis" (APSA) and is a list of high-priority topics organized to support the Army's five strategic objectives as identified in the "2014 Army Strategic Planning Guidance." Students and researchers are encouraged to get in touch with the topic sponsors listed in the document. Thorough research and solid arguments on these topics are extremely important to the Army in this period of transition and geopolitical uncertainty. On August 13, Part II entitled "Command Sponsored Research Topics" was released. Part II includes topics of critical importance to various joint commands, and major commands and other organizations within the Army. Make sure to bookmark this link to stay up to date on any changes as other parts and updates will be releasing soon.

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    Added June 13, 2014

    Countering Radicalization and Recruitment to Al-Qaeda: Fighting the War of Deeds

    Authored by Dr. Paul Kamolnick.
    View the Executive Summary

    Fighting the War of Deeds begins by taking deeds seriously—deadly serious—as action, policy, and communication. As communication, deeds furnish the U.S. Government a uniquely potent means for countering al-Qaeda’s terrorist propaganda effectively, and also building longer-term alliances based on mutuality with the Arab and Muslim world.

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    Added June 13, 2014

    The Growing Complexity of Sino-Indian Ties

    Authored by Dr. Harsh V. Pant.
    View the Executive Summary

    This monograph examines the evolution on Sino-India ties over the last few decades and the constraints that continue to inhibit this relationship from achieving its full potential before delineating the implications of this for the United States and the wider international system.

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    Added June 13, 2014

    Memorandum for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Secure Balance and Flexibility In Future Joint Forces

    Authored by Mr. Nathan P. Freier.
    The 25th Annual U.S. Army War College Strategy Conference "Balancing the Joint Force to Meet Future Security Challenges" occurred against the backdrop of a complicated decision making environment. It sought establish a context for future military decision making based on two foundational questions: what are the most important military demands facing U.S./partner forces through the next decade and how should they think about confronting them? The author endeavors to describe the context that emerged here.

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    Added June 03, 2014

    The Future of American Landpower: Does Forward Presence Still Matter? The Case of the Army in the Pacific

    Authored by Dr. John R. Deni.
    View the Executive Summary

    The U.S. Army's forward presence in the Pacific theater is long overdue for reconsideration and reconceptualization. Without unduly harming America's commitment to deterrence on the Korean peninsula, the Army forward presence could be reshaped and reconfigured to enable the United States to more effectively and more efficiently achieve its objectives across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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    Added May 16, 2014

    From War to Deterrence? Israel-Hezbollah Conflict Since 2006

    Authored by Dr. Jean-Loup Samaan.
    View the Executive Summary

    Over the last 7 years, the border between Israel and Lebanon has remained quiet. Against all odds, in a Middle East experiencing tremendous challenges, Israel and Hezbollah did not trigger a new conflict. Here is the paradox of stability between these two foes which is at the origin of this monograph.

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    Added May 13, 2014

    Soldiers of Misfortune?

    Authored by Dr. Thomas R. Mockaitis.
    View the Executive Summary

    What roles have security contractors played in missions in Iraq and Afghanistan?

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    Added May 06, 2014

    The Resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq

    Authored by Dr. Azeem Ibrahim.
    View the Executive Summary

    The Syrian civil war has allowed al-Qaeda to recover from its setbacks up to 2010. Syria has also seen a civil war between two al-Qaeda inspired factions (Al Nusrah and the Iraq based Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and indicates there are limits to its ability to cooperate with other anti-Assad factions and gain popular appeal.

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    Added May 05, 2014

    Russian Military Transformation - Goal In Sight?

    Authored by Keir Giles, Dr. Andrew Monaghan.
    View the Executive Summary

    This Letort Paper assesses the range of options available to Russia for closing the capability gap with the United States and its allies, the authors review a flawed political perception of the key threats facing Russia and the challenges facing Russia’s military transformation.

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    Added May 02, 2014

    Russia After Putin

    Authored by Dr. Richard J. Krickus.
    View the Executive Summary

    This monograph addresses the question: "What next after Putin?" The answer will have a profound impact on U.S.-Russian relations—in particular, the capacity to forge a security relationship. The campaign to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons indicates that a new "reset" is in the making.

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    Added April 25, 2014

    The Evolution of Los Zetas in Mexico and Central America: Sadism as an Instrument of Cartel Warfare

    Authored by Dr. George W. Grayson.
    View the Executive Summary

    Few cartel leaders acquire fame for culinary skills. However, Miguel Ángel “El 40” Treviño Morales, the sadistic erstwhile chief of Los Zetas, became skilled in preparing "el guiso" (the stew). His recipe is simple. After torturing a victim, even an infant, he plunged him into a 55-gallon pig cooker, doused him with gasoline, and set him on fire.

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    Added April 22, 2014

    Assessing the People's Liberation Army in the Hu Jintao Era

    Edited by Mr. Roy Kamphausen, Dr. David Lai, Mr. Travis Tanner.
    View the Executive Summary

    How has President Hu Jintao contributed to China’s military modernization?

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    Added April 16, 2014

    Augmenting Our Influence: Alliance Revitalization and Partner Development

    Edited by Dr. John R. Deni.
    View the Executive Summary

    The role of allies and partners in the future of American Landpower is discussed.

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    Added March 19, 2014

    Defense Planning for National Security: Navigation Aids for the Mystery Tour

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    View the Executive Summary

    What do we believe we know about the future with sufficient reliability for it to serve as a basis for defense planning? Science and social science are both utterly disarmed by the complete absence of data about the future, from the future.

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    Added March 12, 2014

    Turkey-Kurdish Regional Government Relations After the U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq: Putting the Kurds on the Map?

    Authored by Bill Park.
    View the Executive Summary

    The withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq at the end of 2011 left behind a set of unresolved problems in the relationship between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and the Federal Government in Baghdad, compounded by Erbil’s subsequent pursuit of an energy relationship with Turkey. This has deepened both Turkish-Iraqi and regional sectarian tensions and, along with developments in Syria, has raised the specter of wider Kurdish self-determination, a prospect that Washington has been slow to recognize.

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    Added March 11, 2014

    Legality in Cyberspace: An Adversary View

    Authored by Keir Giles, Dr. Andrew Monaghan.
    View the Executive Summary

    The United States and its allies are in general agreement on the legal status of conflict in cyberspace. But other key cyber actors have radically different ideas on key concepts of cyber warfare, including when a state of war exists. This paper explores the Russian approach to legal constraints governing actions in cyberspace, in order to assist in formulating an effective response to Russian cyber initiatives.

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    Added December 30, 2013

    Africa's Booming Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Production: National Security Implications for the United States and China

    Authored by David E. Brown.
    View the Executive Summary

    Two key long-term energy trends are shifting the strategic balance between the United States and China, the world’s superpower rivals in the 21st century: first, a domestic boom in U.S. shale oil and gas dramatically boosting America’s energy security; second, the frenetic and successful search for hydrocarbons in Africa making it an increasingly crucial element in China’s energy diversification strategy.

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    Added December 27, 2013

    Dangerous Ground: The Spratly Islands and U.S. Interests and Approaches

    Authored by Lieutenant Colonel Clarence J. Bouchat (USAF, Ret.).
    View the Executive Summary

    The Spratly Islands disputes are the nexus of interests and clashes for U.S. partners and competitors that will draw in the United States as it involves itself more in Asia-Pacific issues. This analysis may help readers to better understand these disputes and how the United States may better address them.

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    Added December 10, 2013

    Politics and Economics in Putin's Russia

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    View the Executive Summary

    Is this the beginning of the end for Putin's system? The authors investigate the structural bases for Russia's domestic challenges, if not crisis.

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    Added December 03, 2013

    U.S. Governmental Information Operations and Strategic Communications: A Discredited Tool or User Failure? Implications for Future Conflict

    Authored by Dr. Steve Tatham.
    View the Executive Summary

    Are U.S. information operations and strategic communications fit for purpose? This issue is debated herein, and the author concludes that, if the United States is to compete with emerging powers such as China and Russia, it needs to significantly modernize and update information operations and strategic communications. But, despite what critics and even Congress may say, these important programs must not be cut.

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    Added November 20, 2013

    What Is Next for Mali? The Roots of Conflict and Challenges to Stability

    Authored by Dr. Dona J. Stewart.
    View the Executive Summary

    In 2012, Mali simultaneously faced a military coup, a Tuareg nationalist movement, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb control in the north, and a drought-fueled humanitarian emergency. Military intervention restored security; addressing the underlying factors of the crisis is key to achieving long-term stability.

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    Added November 14, 2013

    State Collapse, Insurgency, and Counterinsurgency: Lessons from Somalia

    Authored by Dr. J. Peter Pham.
    View the Executive Summary

    After years as the world’s prime example of a failed state—one that gave rise to catastrophic humanitarian crises, a wave of maritime piracy, and Islamist militancy, including an al-Qaeda-linked insurgency that came close to toppling the internationally-recognized government—Somalia appears to be turning the corner. In this provocative monograph, Dr. Pham argues that there are indeed lessons to be learned from the insurgency and counterinsurgency in Somalia, but they are not the ones usually advanced by diplomats and soldiers.

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    Added November 12, 2013

    Building Better Armies: An Insider’s Account of Liberia

    Authored by Dr. Sean McFate.
    View the Executive Summary

    This monograph explains, step-by-step, how to demobilize militias and raise armies in conflict-affected states by someone who has done so successfully.

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    Added October 22, 2013

    Forging an American Grand Strategy: Securing a Path Through a Complex Future. Selected Presentations from a Symposium at the National Defense University

    Edited by Dr. Sheila R. Ronis.
    View the Executive Summary

    Issues associated with U.S. grand strategy were discussed on November 8-9, 2011, at the National Defense University symposium, "Forging an American Grand Strategy: Securing a Path Through a Complex Future." This volume includes several presentations from the event.

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    Added October 16, 2013

    Conflict Management and Peacebuilding: Pillars of a New American Grand Strategy

    Edited by Dr. Volker C. Franke, Dr. Robert H. Dorff.
    View the Executive Summary

    The authors examine the utility of the U.S. Government’s whole-of-government (WoG) approach for responding to the challenging security demands of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They specifically discuss the strategic objectives of interagency cooperation particularly in the areas of peacebuilding and conflict management.

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    Added September 30, 2013

    A Transatlantic Bargain for the 21st Century: The United States, Europe, and the Transatlantic Alliance

    Authored by Dr. Ellen Hallams.
    View the Executive Summary

    In the 21st century, the transatlantic bargain that has framed the relationship between the United States and its NATO allies is under more scrutiny than ever before. The bargain was a Cold War construct suited to its time; what is required now is a transatlantic bargain that generates a new culture of transatlantic partnership between the United States, NATO, and the European Union.

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    Added September 26, 2013

    The Effectiveness of Drone Strikes in Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism Campaigns

    Authored by Dr. James Igoe Walsh.
    View the Executive Summary

    Drones have become an important part of the U.S. counterinsurgency and counterterrorism arsenal. But the available evidence shows that they are not always effective, and their use can have unpredictable consequences.

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    Added September 24, 2013

    The Real "Long War": The Illicit Drug Trade and the Role of the Military

    Authored by Professor Geoffrey Till.
    View the Executive Summary

    With a shift in focus and priority from likely involvement in large-scale counterinsurgency operations, the limited likelihood of continental traditional warfighting operations, together with the onset of an era of budgetary austerity, the U.S. Army may need to give greater attention to its role in responding to the many nontraditional threats to the peace and security of the United States. Of these, the illicit trade in drugs ranks highly because of its massive effects on human, national, and international security.

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    Added September 23, 2013

    An Assessment of the DoD Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace

    Authored by Dr. Thomas M. Chen.
    View the Executive Summary

    This monograph critically examines the Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace, which was published in July 2011. What are the messages conveyed, and is the Strategy adequate to maintain U.S. superiority in the face of existing and future cyber threats?

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    Added August 27, 2013

    The Security Concerns of the Baltic States as NATO Allies

    Authored by Dr. James S. Corum.
    View the Executive Summary

    America’s small NATO allies have unique views concerning international threats. This monograph explores the security environment of the three Baltic States and how the Baltic policymakers see the future of their relationship with NATO and the United States in an uncertain world.

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