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The history of wars caused by misjudgments, from Napoleon s invasion of Russia to America s invasion of Iraq, reveals that leaders relied on cognitive models that were seriously at odds with objective reality. Blinders, Blunders, and Wars analyzes eight historical examples of strategic blunders regarding war and peace and four examples of decisions that turned out well, and then applies those lessons to the current Sino-American case. "
Insecurity in the 21st century appears to come less from the collisions of powerful states than from the debris of imploding ones. This paper aims to improve the understanding and treatment of failed states by focusing on critical challenges at the intersections between security, economics, and politics and on the guiding goal of lifting local populations from the status of victims of failure to agents of recovery.
U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to exploit information power, which could be a U.S. advantage but instead is being used advantageously by insurgents. Because insurgency and counterinsurgency involve a battle for the allegiance of a population between a government and an armed opposition movement, the key to exploiting information power is to connect with and learn from the population itself, increasing the effectiveness of both the local government and the U.S. military and civilian services engaged in supporting it. Utilizing mostly available networking technology, the United States could achieve early, affordable, and substantial gains in the effectiveness of counterinsurgency by more open, integrated, and inclusive information networking with the population, local authorities, and coalition partners. The most basic information link with the population would be an information technology (IT)-enhanced, fraud-resistant registry-census. The most promising link would come from utilizing local cell phone networks, which are proliferating even among poor countries. Access to data routinely collected by such networks can form the basis for security services such as enhanced-911 and forensics. The cell phones of a well-wired citizenry can be made tantamount to sensor fields in settled areas. They can link indigenous forces with each other and with U.S. forces without interoperability problems; they can also track the responses of such forces to emergencies. Going further, outfitting weaponry with video cameras would bolster surveillance, provide lessons learned, and guard against operator misconduct. Establishing a national Wiki can help citizens describe their neighborhoods to familiarize U.S. forces with them and can promote accountable service delivery. All such information can improve counterinsurgency operations by making U.S. forces and agencies far better informed than they are at present. The authors argue that today?'s military and intelligence networks-being closed, compartmentalized, controlled by information providers instead of users, and limited to U.S. war fighters-hamper counterinsurgency and deprive the United States of what ought to be a strategic advantage. In contrast, based on a review of 160 requirements for counterinsurgency, the authors call for current networks to be replaced by an integrated counterinsurgency operating network (ICON) linking U.S. and indigenous operators, based on principles of inclusiveness, integration, and user preeminence. Utilizing the proposed ways of gathering information from the population, ICON would improve the timeliness, reliability, and relevance of information, while focusing security restrictions on truly sensitive information. The complexity and sensitivity of counterinsurgency call for vastly better use of IT than has been seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is a practical plan for just that.
For the past decade, Chinese military strategists have keenly observed the changes in U.S. national strategy and military transformation. This report examines the constraints, facilitators, and potential options for Chinese responses to U.S. transformation efforts and offers possible U.S. counterresponses (particularly in light of whether Taiwan moves toward or away from formal independence).
Current U.S. counterinsurgency strategy is in need of stronger cognitive capabilities that will enable the United States to "fight smarter." These include comprehension, reasoning, and decisionmaking, the components that are most effective against an enemy that is quick to adapt, transform, and regenerate. This paper offers concrete ideas for gaining the cognitive advantage in anticipating and countering the new global insurgency.
Mounting costs, risks, and public misgivings of waging war are raising the importance of U.S. power to coerce (P2C). The best P2C options are financial sanctions, support for nonviolent political opposition to hostile regimes, and offensive cyber operations. The state against which coercion is most difficult and risky is China, which also happens to pose the strongest challenge to U.S. military options in a vital region.
This book examines the strategic choices that American and Chinese decisionmakers face regarding sea power in the Western Pacific, shaped by geography, history, technology, and politics. In particular, the author explores the potential for cooperation on maritime security in the Western Pacific, and how the United States might pursue such cooperation as part of a broader strategy to advance its interests in the region.
U.S. withdrawal could affect Iraq's internal security and stability, which could, in turn, affect U.S. strategic interests and the safety of U.S. troops and civilians in Iraq. U.S. policy-makers need a dynamic analytic framework with which to examine the shifting motivations and capabilities of the actors that affect Iraq's security. Within this framework, the United States should be able to contribute to continued strengthening of the internal security and stability of Iraq even as it withdraws its forces.
Looking to the 2030-2040 time frame, U. S. policy and military strategy will need to strike a balance among maintaining a cooperative relationship with China, deterring Chinese aggression in regional disputes, and preparing for the possibility that China could become more assertive. The U. S. Army will have an important role to play in preparing for these developments and for protecting and furthering U. S. interests in the region.
The U.S. military is ill-equipped to strike at extremists who hide in populations. Using deadly force against them can harm and alienate the very people whose cooperation U.S. forces are trying to earn. To solve this problem, a new RAND study proposes a "continuum of force"--a suite of capabilities that includes sound, light, lasers, cell phones, and video cameras. These technologies are available but have received insufficient attention.
Examines how the United States should improve its counterinsurgency (COIN) capabilities through, for example, much greater focus on understanding jihadist strategy, using civil measures to strengthen the local government, and enabling local forces to conduct COIN operations. Provides a broad discussion of the investments, organizational changes, and multilateral arrangements that the United States should pursue to improve its COIN capabilities.
In studying the withdrawal from Iraq, RAND assessed logistical constraints, trends in insurgent activity, the readiness of Iraqi security forces, and implications for the size of the residual U.S. force and for security in Iraq and the region. This report presents alternative schedules: one consistent with the Obama administration's intentions, one somewhat slower, and another faster. It also identifies steps to alleviate constraints and risks.
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