The US and Nuclear Weapons: A Turning of the Tide?

Peacekeeper missile after silo launch, Vandenberg AFB, CA.

USAF/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by The Strategist (ASPI) on 27 August, 2014.

Given the intensity of media focus on a series of crises this year—Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Ebola, and the South China Sea to name just a few—readers may be forgiven for having failed to notice that another important, though more incremental, development has also occurred. With each passing month it becomes clearer that a mood of nuclear realism is unfolding in US strategic policy. While President Obama is still remembered most clearly in the public mind for the anti-nuclear language in his Prague speech of 2009, a string of events in 2013–14 suggest that a shift of emphasis is occurring in relation to nuclear weapons. » More

Africa’s Military Superpower?

Image: Cpl. Jad Sleiman/Wikimedia

This article was originally published as “Challenges ahead if SA wants to be Africa’s military superpower” by ISS Africa on 4 August 2014.

South Africa has big plans to expand its involvement in Africa. To implement these, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, has a vision and a 400-page Defence Review to guide her in developing the capabilities of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to match the national, regional and continental role envisaged by cabinet and the Presidency. Yet she will need support and additional funds: quite a lot of it too, judging by the recommendations in the review. » More

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On Korean Peninsula, Focus Should Be on Unification Not Provocation: Q&A with Sue Terry

Image: Staff Sgt. Bryanna Poulin/Wikimedia

This interview was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 21 July 2014.

Last week, the North Korean regime resumed its policy of provocation and destabilization on the Korean Peninsula by firing two ballistic missiles into the eastern sea and over 100 rockets and artillery shells off its east coast; the missiles landed within a few hundred yards of the South Korean border.

I spoke about these developments and their implications for security on the Korean Peninsula with Sue Terry, currently a research scholar at Columbia University’s Weatherhead Institute and formerly a Central Intelligence Agency officer and director of Korea, Japan, and Oceanic Affairs at the National Security Council. In this interview, Ms. Terry discusses her recent article, where she argues that North and South Korea, as well as the regional powers, should focus on unifying the two countries.

What follows is an edited version of our conversation, which took place last week. » More

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Sinking the Next-13-Navies Fallacy

Stephen D Doyle II/Flickr

This article was originally published July 10 2014 by War on the Rocks.

The war against naval factoids is a quagmire! A primary theater in this whack-a-mole struggle is the notion that America’s navy is “stronger” than the next X navies, and thus, we should rest easy about our republic’s strategic position in Eurasia. The usual figure given for X is 13, although a reputable commentator recently inflated it to 16. The latest purveyor of this claim is David Axe, the normally reliable proprietor of War Is Boring. On Tuesday, Axe contended, “By some measures, the U.S. Navy maintains a 13-navy standard. In other words, it can deploy as much combat power as the next 13 largest fleets combined.” » More

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Hacking Defense: Changing How DoD Innovates

The Pentagon, January 2008. Image: Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published June 23, 2014 by War on the Rocks.

Product innovation in the U.S. Department of Defense follows an implicit rule: “Better, cheaper, faster—pick two.”

Today, the military is simultaneously confronted with declining budgets, skyrocketing system development costs, and a diverse spectrum of rapidly evolving, complex military threats. To mitigate this challenge, the Pentagon should place renewed emphasis on its corporate approach to technology innovation in order to identify and exploit opportunities to do more with less.

The Better Buying Power initiative focuses on DoD’s innovation problem, but to be successful, such efforts must eschew traditional notions of defense system development. From iterative, design-based product development approaches to open, distributed ecosystems of partners and suppliers, the techniques employed by Silicon Valley and the most innovative sectors of the global high-tech economy should inform a new model of defense innovation that enables better, cheaper, and faster outcomes. » More

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