THINK TANK CENTRAL

Your single destination for high-quality content from top think tanks around the world. Fresh reports and analysis as they are released to ensure valuable thought leadership work isn’t lost in the daily noise.

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Hal Brands of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments writes “that although America’s alliances are a source of great geopolitical strength, the difficult reality is that shifts in global economic and military power have left many of America’s traditional allies with significantly diminished relative standing and capabilities. The monograph assesses the key trends that have marked this decline since the early post-Cold War era and discusses the increasingly severe strategic challenges this situation poses for American statecraft. It concludes with a series of practical recommendations for how the United States can manage its alliances amid ongoing changes in the global distribution of power, and how it can better position itself to compete in a global context in which its allies’ strengths-while still considerable-are not as great as they once were.”

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In “Costs of Building a 355-Ship Navy,” Dr. Eric Labs, the senior analyst for naval forces and weapons at the Congressional Budget Office, estimates that construction costs to build a fleet of 355 ships would average $26.6 billion (in 2017 dollars) per year over the next 30 years, which is 60 percent more than what the Navy has spent on average over the past 30 years.

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“This year’s study looks in depth at issues in research and development, acquisition reform in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), performance of the defense acquisition system, the future of cooperative International Joint Development Programs, and major trends apparent in the activities of the major defense components,” the Center for Strategic and International Studies writes about its “Defense Acquisition Trends, 2016: The End of the Contracting Drawdown” report.

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“While the details for how and when the RD-180 will be replaced are not yet settled, the consensus within the U.S. Congress and executive branch remains that the United States must end its reliance on the RD-180,” the Center for Strategic and International Studies writes of its new report, “Beyond the RD-180,” written by Aerospace Security Project Director Todd Harrison, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group Director Andrew Hunter, International Security Program Research Associate and Program Director Kaitlyn Johnson, and Aerospace Security Project Program Coordinator and Research Assistant Thomas Roberts. “This report explains the impetus for finding an alternative engine, explores the options that are available going forward, and describes the challenges that will be placed on the federal government and the private sector in doing so.” The report was released ahead of CSIS’ 2017 Space Security Conference, held on March 22, 2017.

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“Since the advent of the space age, a primary constraint on military, commercial, and civil space missions has been the cost of launch,” CSIS writes of its new report, “Implications of Ultra-Low-Cost Access to Space,” written by Aerospace Security Project Director Todd Harrison, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group Director Andrew Hunter, International Security Program Research Associate and Program Manager Kaitlyn Johnson, and Aerospace Security Project Program Manager and Research Assistant Thomas Roberts. “Launching objects into space requires substantial investments in launch systems and infrastructure, which has restricted the market to only a handful of national governments and several large private companies. This study explores the possibility of a space industry significantly less constrained by the cost of access to space.”

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“Iran’s approach to soft power is sophisticated and varied,” the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Rubin writes in a new report entitled “Strategies Underlying Iranian Soft Power.” In the report, Rubin makes the case that comprehending Iranian soft power demands that one recognizes “Persia’s imperial past, its religious evolution, Persian language and culture, and its history.”

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“The United States confronts challenges from revisionist great powers such as China and Russia, aggressive rogue states such as Iran and North Korea, and international terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State,” the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments writes of “Avoiding a Strategy of Bluff: The Crisis of American Military Primacy,” a new report by CSBA Senior Fellow Hal Brands and CSBA Counselor Eric Edelman, published March 20, 2017.

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On October 28, 2016, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted a daylong conference, including senior defense and intelligence policymakers, military leaders, strategists, regional experts, international and industry partners, and others, to discuss the Defense Department’s Third Offset Strategy. In order to understand what the Third Offset Strategy is, it is first necessary to understand the challenges and trends it is addressing. Technological superiority has been a foundation of U.S. military dominance for decades. However, the assumption of U.S. technological superiority as the status quo has been challenged in recent years as near-peer competitors have sought a variety of asymmetric capabilities to counter the overwhelming conventional military advantages possessed by the United States.

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