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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“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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Frederick Kagan, who directs the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, Kimberly Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Jennifer Cafarella, lead intelligence planner at ISW, and the ISW and CTP analysts, recommend a course of action (COA) for the United States in Syria. The report is the culmination of a series of exercises to frame and develop a strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda in Syria. The report is the fourth in AEI’s US Grand Strategy series.

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As Congress prepares to review the administration’s proposed defense budget, the Center for a New American Security Defense Strategies and Assessments Program has released a new report, “Is the U.S. Military Getting Smaller and Older? And How Much Should We Care?” In the report, author Steven Kosiak argues that the U.S. military’s declining force size and increasing age are not simply a byproduct of budgetary or other pressures beyond the Department of Defense’s control. Rather, they are largely the result of policy and programmatic choices made by DoD and service leadership. He concludes that if the military wants to arrest these trends it will require a shift in the decisionmaking process of its leadership.

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To pay for the controversial wall along America’s border with Mexico, hire more immigration agents to police it and deport illegal immigrants, and boost defense spending, the Trump administration wants to cuts billions from three agencies that are also vital to US national security: the State Department, Coast Guard and Transportation Security Administration.

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In “Transatlantic Security Cooperation in the Middle East: Recommendations for the New Administration” by the Center for a New American Security, Ben Fishman, the former Director for North Africa and Jordan on the National Security Council, and Erik Brattberg, a Senior Fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, argue that the new administration will need to identify a set of common objectives with an increasingly fragmented Europe. They further state that the administration will need to work in tandem where those objectives align and divide responsibilities based on resource constraints and comparative advantages. Finally, they make a series of recommendations for how the administration can achieve those objectives.

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In this report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Hal Brands and Peter Feaver assess America’s strategic options after ISIS by examining four politico-military strategies for counter-terrorism. They conclude that an enhanced version of the approach that the Obama administration took to defeating ISIS represents the best strategy for waging a dangerous conflict that is likely to endure for many years.

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As more countries acquire drones, will their widespread availability lead to greater military adventurism and conflict? Will countries be more willing to put a drone in harm’s way? If so, how will other nations respond? Would they be more willing to shoot down a drone than a human-inhabited aircraft? And if they did, are those incidents likely to escalate? To help answer these questions, in 2016 the Center for a New American Security conducted a survey experiment to better understand how experts and the general public viewed the use of force with drones.

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