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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“Navigating Dangerous Pathways: A Pragmatic Approach to U.S.-Russian Relations and Strategic Stability,” a January 2018 report published by the Center for a New American Security and co-authored by James Miller Jr., PhD, president of Adaptive Strategies and a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, and Richard Fontaine, CNAS president, offers “concrete recommendations for managing each of the three pathways” that their September 2017 report “A New Era in U.S.-Russian Strategic Stability: How Changing Geopolitics and Emerging Technologies are Reshaping Pathways to Crisis and Conflict” identified as having the potential to lead “to crisis or conflict” between the United States and Russia. “The aim is to help shape the ongoing debate regarding U.S.-Russian relations and guide actions affecting U.S. nuclear posture, ballistic missile defenses, cyber deterrence, and space resilience,” they write. “The recommendations also address the American role in NATO and NATO-Russian relations, both of which are of critical importance to all three pathways.”

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In a Feb. 2, 2018, report entitled “The Return of Political Warfare,” Seth Jones, PhD, Harold Brown chair, Transnational Threats Project director and International Security Program senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that US defense strategy must be take unconventional warfare, and especially political warfare, into consideration “since the costs and risks of conventional and nuclear war may be prohibitively high” for it and the countries it sees itself as competing with. “Recognizing that other powers routinely conduct political warfare, George Kennan encouraged U.S. leaders to disabuse themselves of the ‘handicap’ of the ‘concept of a basic difference between peace and war’ and to wake up to ‘the realities of international relations—the perpetual rhythm of struggle, in and out of war,'”  Jones writes. “Kennan’s advice may be even more relevant today in such a competitive world.”

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READ THE REPORT — In “Keeping A2/AD at Bay: The Imperative for Base Defense in the Western Pacific,” a new report from the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Lt. Col. Thomas R. McCabe, USAF Ret., argues that the United States must view the Western Pacific as a frontline and prepare its aircraft, assets and bases in the region for conventional attack due to China’s development and deployment of “modern military systems, especially conventional ballistic and cruise missiles.”  Further, he writes, “leaders should consider several countermeasures, including dispersal, passive defense, and active defense” in anticipation of such an attack. Learn more about the report here.

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In a December 13, 2017, report from the Center for Strategy and Budgetary Assessments, author Barry Watts, a former CSBA senior fellow, “explores historical attempts to tackle the criterion selection problem as it applies to models for making strategic decisions,” according to a press release. Watts makes the case that, without “a formula or all-purpose methodology for choosing appropriate analytic criteria,” subjectively chosen benchmarks used to evaluate history will make the lessons learned from it just as subjective.

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READ THE REPORT –In “Analysis of the FY 2018 Defense Budget,” Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Seamus Daniels, program coordinator and research assistant for defense budget analysis at CSIS, break with tradition and look at next year’s military spending through a fresh set of lenses. “Given the somewhat unusual circumstances of the FY 2018 budget cycle, this year’s budget analysis takes a different approach,” they write. “Instead of looking at the details of what the budget request funds or does not fund, it focuses on long-term trends in the defense budget and force structure and identifies key issues facing the Defense Department as it prepares for the FY 2019 budget cycle.” Learn more about the report here.

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In “Battlefield Singularity: Artificial Intelligence, Military Revolution, and China’s Future Military Power,” a December 2017 report from the Center for a New American Security’s Technology and National Security Program, adjunct fellow Elsa Kania asserts that the US-China artificial intelligence race will have defense implications.  “As the U.S. and China compete to innovate in AI, the trajectories of their respective advances will impact the future military and strategic balance,” her executive summary reads. Kania recommends that the US military focus on non-technical defense elements to be ready for a future in which it may not hold the kind of advantage it does today, as well as risk mitigation strategies in case a global AI race shakes up “arms race dynamics.”

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In a new report from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Ash Carter, PhD, Belfer Center director, MIT Innovation Fellow and former US defense secretary, outlines lessons learned from the US campaign against ISIS. “Today, Iraqi and coalition soldiers—backed by an American force the nest the world has ever known— have all but routed ISIS in two of its most important former strongholds: Raqqa and Mosul,” his report summary reads. “How America, together with her friends and allies, turned the tide against a common enemy is a story of good fortune, critical leadership decisions, and skill and bravery on the part of young men and women in uniform.”

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In a new report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Aerospace Security Project  entitled “Escalation and Deterrence in the Second Space Age,” co-authors Todd Harrison, CSIS Aerospace Security Project director, Zack Cooper, CSIS senior fellow for Asian security, Kaitlyn Johnson, CSIS International Security Program manager and research associate, and Thomas Roberts, CSIS Aerospace Security Program coordinator and research assistant, “discuss the evolution of space as a contested domain, the changing threats to U.S. space systems, deterrence theory and its applications to the space domain, and findings from a space crisis exercise administered by CSIS last year,” CSIS writes.

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In a new report from the Center for a New American Security entitled “A New Era in U.S.-Russian Strategic Stability: How Changing Geopolitics and Emerging Technologies are Reshaping Pathways to Crisis and Conflict,” co-authors Jim Miller, PhD, and Richard Fontaine argue that “the parallel changes in U.S.-Russian political relations and the military-technological landscape are fundamentally reshaping the ways in which a U.S.-Russian crisis and conflict likely would unfold,” according to the report. “Neither side has yet internalized these overlapping geopolitical and technological changes,” they continue. “When they do, it is likely that each will take different and potentially conflicting lessons from them. As a result, risks could significantly increase the potential of a dispute leading to crisis, of a crisis leading to war, and of a war escalating rapidly.” In response, they identify these potential outcomes and make recommendations for handling each of them.

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In a September 2017 research study from the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Col. Matt Hurley, USAF Ret., a senior fellow at Mitchell, examines opportunities for the US Air Force to modernize how C2ISR assets are designed and implemented in the field, according to a press release. “Today, the US Air Force’s ‘Big Wing’ C2 and ISR aircraft provide critical situational awareness of air and surface activity, as well as adversary intentions across the spectrum of conflict,” it reads.  “The three in-demand assets that make up what is known as the ‘Iron Triad’ are the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), and the RC-135V/W Rivet Joint electronic and signals intelligence gathering aircraft. This Mitchell study addresses the past, present, and future of these valuable aircraft, and the future operating environment where airborne command and control and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C2ISR) will be even more vital to successful military campaigns and contingency operations.”

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