The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is a thoughtful, deliberative report that captures the big strategic issues facing the United States in the area of nuclear force structure. This is surprising and welcome in my view. The previous two NPRs, in 2002 and 2010 respectively, were ideological tracts with little policy analysis of the strategic issues facing the United States. This one is different.
President-elect Trump’s book The Art of the Deal applies the principles of negotiation to business, but they are universal to human nature. A century ago, a previous president indicated similar sentiment when Theodore Roosevelt wrote “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Latent power fuels deals. Upon entering the highest office in the land, President-elect Trump will engage in entirely new types of negotiations. And in this new venue, military power is the new trump card.
Military power is not organic or constant. It requires investment, innovation, and maintenance. Deploying military power degrades it and requires later revitalization. Adversaries adapt to the most advanced equipment and effective tactics. New threats emerge while old ones wane. Military leverage stems from warfighting advantage, which encompasses two simultaneous requirements: the ability to project military power abroad and to protect the U.S. homeland.
After being in limbo for almost 16 years, with no review of its role since 1998, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) now has a new blueprint for the future. The 2014 Defence Review was approved by cabinet and has been cleared for publication, following a lengthy process that started in mid-2011. It takes into account South Africa’s increasing role in peacekeeping in Africa and will form a basis for funding allocated to the military. However, the strategy should be implemented soon to stop the decline of the defence sector that has resulted from a lack of funds and overstretching of its capabilities.
Years of under-spending and a mismatch between missions and funding have had dramatic consequences. For example, where the 1998 Review provided for one battalion to be deployed externally for a year, the SANDF has had at least two battalions deployed for peacekeeping since 2001 – three for a decade and briefly four – along with smaller elements. Today it has a battalion group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), plus a battalion in Darfur and a frigate in the Mozambique Channel. In the interim, the government also changed its mind and instructed the SANDF to again take over responsibility for border safeguarding.