China’s Economic Statecraft in Europe During the Pandemic (with Jake Shatzer)

War on the Rocks

October 16, 2020

Washington should endeavor to work with European allies to advance collective Western interests in the face of Chinese behavior that is predatory or exploitative. Maintaining and strengthening transatlantic solidarity, ensuring access to critical European infrastructure for operations in and through Europe, and preventing the loss of technologies vital to the development of allied and American military capabilities should provide plenty of impetus for Washington to lead the West

Rollback redux: A new (old) framework for dealing with Russia

The Hill

October 15, 2020

Some have proposed a 21st century version of containment as an effective policy toward Russia. But containment still would leave the West vulnerable to Russian influence, pressure and intimidation. Instead, another Cold War-era approach may be more appropriate: rollback. By rolling back Russian power in diplomatic, political and especially economic terms, the West can more effectively reduce Moscow’s ability to hold Western interests at risk. 

Disband the NATO Response Force

The Atlantic Council

October 14, 2020

After nearly twenty years, the NRF is like an antiquarian book—very expensive to acquire, but once purchased it rarely leaves the shelf. Instead of continuing to invest resources in the NRF, the Alliance ought to strengthen readiness and build capabilities by pursuing a more intensified form of interoperability.

Three questions on US troops moving from Germany

Military Times

July 30, 2020

Does the withdraw of U.S. troops from Germany fulfill the “five principles” outlined by the SecDef in guidance provided to EUCOM following the June 2020 announcement? Will the moves be accomplished cheaply and quickly? Isn’t it cheaper and more effective to rely on rotational deployments?

Withdrawing U.S. Troops From Germany Is Simply Bad Strategy


June 10, 2020

Last week, the Trump administration announced its decision to withdraw about one-quarter of the U.S. troops based in Germany, ostensibly over Berlin's continued pursuit of a gas pipeline deal with Russia and what Washington views as still insufficient German defense spending. However, removing roughly 9,500 troops from Germany and capping U.S. forward-stationed presence in the country at 25,000 troops is short-sighted, likely to be ineffective and fiscally irresponsible.

After COVID-19: American Landpower in Transatlantic Context

Strategic Studies Institute

May 1, 2020

Over the last month, an array of analysts and experts has attempted to ascertain what the post-pandemic world might look like from strategic, policy, or institutional perspectives. Several of these assessments feature dramatic predictions of a new world unlike what existed just months ago. It’s reasonable to expect change following a global crisis, but the near breathlessness detectable in some of these analyses evinces a lack of nuance or an appreciation for stasis. Moreover, few of these or other analyses have addressed the implications in a transatlantic context, or suggested specific mitigation steps. This brief essay reflects a more balanced attempt to fill these gaps, identifying recommendations for the U.S. Army and Department of Defense to leverage the crisis and mitigate the damage across the transatlantic community.

NATO punishment won't make Hungary's dictator change course

The Hill

April 30, 2020

Like several authoritarians elsewhere, the leader of ostensibly democratic Hungary — Prime Minister Viktor Orban — is taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to consolidate power at the expense of democratic values. Some have argued that the time is right to kick Hungary out of key international organizations such as NATO. But for several reasons, the transatlantic alliance isn’t the right vehicle for punishing Budapest. Instead, Washington and other like-minded allies ought to turn up the heat bilaterally.

France Wants a Western Reset with Russia. What Should That Look Like?

Foreign Policy Research Institute

March 27, 2020

France once again is pushing for improved relations with Russia. For that to happen, Moscow would have to make major concessions, given its forcible change of European borders in 2014. While it may seem unlikely, particularly at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and during a U.S. election year, the shape of such a grand deal isn’t too difficult to flesh out—and the benefit of reduced tensions between Moscow and the West may be worth the effort.

Why expanding NATO to the Middle East is a terrible idea

The Washington Post

January 10, 2020

In his White House speech on Jan. 8 following Iranian ballistic missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq, President Trump announced he would try to get NATO more involved in the Middle East. A day later he reiterated this goal, even suggesting a new name — NATO-ME — to emphasize the Middle East (ME). While fairer transatlantic burden-sharing remains important, pushing NATO further into the Middle East is a recipe for failure. The alliance is not built to do much more than it’s already doing.

Trump, Johnson, Merkel, Macron: This NATO 'Leaders Meeting' Is Anything But


December 2, 2019

The NATO "Leaders Meeting" in London this week features a cast of presidents and prime ministers who have left the alliance without the leadership it needs to tackle today's security challenges, which are unlike any since the end of the Cold War.

The Paradox at the Heart of NATO’s Return to Article 5

RUSI Newsbrief

November 1, 2019

To respond effectively to the threats NATO faces in its eighth decade, and to safeguard the promise of collective defence enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, the Alliance must refocus time and resources on fighting its adversaries in the grey zone.

Germany's Refusal to Ban China's Huawei From 5G Is Dangerous for the West


October 30, 2019

This month, two relatively small, obscure German ministries made a decision with strategic implications: They published draft set of rules for the construction of Germany's 5G network that permits Huawei to have an even greater role than it currently does. Reportedly, Chancellor Angela Merkel's office intervened to ensure Huawei would not necessarily be excluded. If left to stand, this decision represents nothing less than an abdication of German leadership in Europe, undermines long-term growth in Europe's most important economy and threatens the large American military presence in Germany.

Why Brexit is a strategic disaster for the United States

The Washington Post

August 19, 2019

During national security adviser John Bolton’s recent trip to London, he argued that it was in the American interest to see Britain leave the European Union under a “no-deal” scenario — one in which Britain leaves without a negotiated agreement between London and the E.U. on the terms of withdrawal. Boris Johnson’s recent elevation to the office of prime minister makes such an outcome increasingly likely. In fact, Brexit in any form is clearly contrary to U.S. interests and could lead to the demise of the “special relationship” between Washington and London.

Dear NATO, It’s Time to Hit Pause on Your Summits

The National Interest

July 29, 2018

The apparent damage done to transatlantic solidarity during the recent North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit—in conjunction with the meager results of that summit—raises serious questions about whether and why there needs to be another such meeting for the foreseeable future. Given the significant costs and the paltry benefits, the alliance ought to forego summit meetings while President Trump remains in office. Instead, it ought to rely on ministerial-level meetings where most of the serious agreements are hammered out in any case.

Trump Will Be His Own Worst Enemy in Brussels


July 10, 2018

By most accounts, there’s great trepidation within Europe over this week’s summit meeting between President Trump and the leaders of America’s closest allies. Ostensibly, the 2018 NATO summit—the first formal summit in two years—will focus on a new initiative to promote military readiness, the streamlining of alliance decision-making during crises, and the creation of additional alliance command structures. 

NATO’s Presence in the East: Necessary but Still Not Sufficient

War on the Rocks

June 27, 2018

The United States and its NATO allies have dramatically strengthened alliance deterrence against Russia in northeastern Europe through an initiative titled Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP). The initiative, which was born out of NATO’s 2016 Warsaw summit, provides a vital tripwire against a Russian attack. Now that NATO has been implementing EFP for just over a year, there have been a number of lessons learned – or at least encountered.

Making Good on the NSS and NDS: Competing with Russia in Europe and Beyond

Strategic Studies Institute

March 20, 2018

In January, the Trump administration released its first National Defense Strategy (NDS), which closely followed the December 2017 release of the new National Security Strategy (NSS).1 Both of these documents call for a fundamental shift in the U.S. approach to security, emphasizing competition against Russia and China at the expense of what some may argue has been a myopic focus on eradicating transnational terrorism. What the NSS and NDS are less clear about is how the United States will compete against Russia. Instead, an array of arguably vague policy objectives are all these documents seem to muster. There may be good reasons why these documents provide us little in the way of substantive ways and means, but that shouldn’t prevent a public debate about the many tools Washington can and should employ in competition with Russia in order to generate potentially novel policy options for decision-makers, clearly signal Washington’s intent and reassurance to allies, and convey a stronger deterrent message to Moscow.

America Must Ask More of Its NATO Allies

The American Interest

March 17, 2018

The president’s 2019 budget proposes a 30 percent increase—to $6.5 billion—for the European Deterrence Initiative, a program that pays for deployments of U.S. military units in Europe, exercises, and training events, and other initiatives designed to deter Russia and reassure allies. As part of the bargain with those allies, however, Washington is insisting that they show the same level of commitment.

The West’s Confusion over Russia’s Cyberwars

Carnegie Europe

March 8, 2018

The West is in the middle of an undeclared cyberwar with Russia. The problem is, few Western leaders want to publicly acknowledge this or, apparently, do much about it. If Washington hopes to get European allies on board with its new, more competitive approach to Russia, it will have to start by leading the West in a clear-eyed assessment of the situation at hand and taking concrete steps to turn the tide through offensive cyber operations.

History Begins (Again) for the Pentagon

Foreign Policy Research Institute

February 22, 2018

Thanks to a near-myopic obsession with eradicating transnational Islamic terrorism, costly invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and a zero-risk approach to homeland security, America’s competitive edge has eroded over the last 16 years relative to China and Russia. That’s the conclusion of the recently released National Defense Strategy (NDS), which recognizes—correctly, in our view—that the United States finds itself behind the curve today when it comes to this inter-state strategic competition and the threats it poses. However, the NDS falls short in identifying how America should best respond to it.

Washington’s New Defense Strategy: Bridging the Transatlantic Gap?

Carnegie Europe

February 1, 2018

On January 19, the Trump administration released its first National Defense Strategy (NDS), or at least a relatively short, twelve-page summary of the presumably much longer classified version. In sharp contrast to the early months of the Trump presidency, this new strategy says all the right things about alliances such as NATO. Nevertheless, the strategy holds mixed implications for Europe—ultimately, the new NDS appears unlikely to salve all of the continent’s concerns over the transatlantic relationship.

Tie Lethal Aid for Ukraine to an Admission that NATO Made a Mistake

War on the Rocks

December 22, 2017

The Trump administration has decided to authorize the sale of lethal military assistance to Ukraine, including sniper rifles. There are significant downsides to arming Ukraine in this way, particularly fracturing consensus within NATO and provoking escalation by Russia. To reduce the risk of these negative repercussions and take the sting out of this major policy shift, the United States ought to lead NATO in admitting it made a mistake when it prematurely declared in 2008 that Ukraine (and Georgia) would become members of the alliance. Tying these two policies together will avoid the downsides associated with opening up the arms trade spigot while simultaneously strengthening the West’s position vis-à-vis Moscow.

More of the Same in Response to Russia?

Carnegie Europe

November 23, 2017

Moscow is engaged in a hybrid war against the West. The West’s response amounts to muddling through.

NATO’s Shaky Return to Collective Defense

Carnegie Europe

October 26, 2017

Over the past several months, NATO has begun fundamentally changing how it provides security to its newest member states. But even as the alliance reembraces its commitment to territorial, collective defense, there are large hurdles standing in its way.

Learning Lessons From Zapad 2017

Carnegie Europe

September 21, 2017

NATO must signal to Moscow that any attempt by Russia for a landgrab in the Baltics would be met with a swift and overwhelming response.

Reverse the Tide: A Forward-Stationed Army is Better for America

War on the Rocks

September 12, 2017

Recent saber-rattling by North Korea as well as Russia’s upcoming Zapad military exercise have renewed discussion over the U.S. military’s forward presence in Asia and Europe. A rebalancing of the U.S. Army’s force posture is necessary to achieve deterrence and assurance effectively and at a reasonable, sustainable cost.

We Should Permanently Post More U.S. Troops Abroad


August 28, 2017

As the United States attempts to assure allies and deter adversaries on the Korean Peninsula and in Europe, it’s clear the U.S. Army’s force posture is out of balance today, with insufficient units and soldiers stationed overseas.

Increasing Western Tolerance of Russian Overreaction

Carnegie Europe

August 3, 2017

Russia’s reactions—often overreactions—to diplomatic, economic, and military policy decisions by the United States and its allies are inevitable. However, Western oversensitivity to Moscow’s reactions is not. The West needs to increase its tolerance of Russia’s rhetorical hyperbole, diplomatic drama, and escalatory overreactions in response to even the most demonstrably defensive moves by the United States and its NATO allies.

The NATO-Russia Founding Act: A Dead Letter

Carnegie Europe

June 29, 2017

The NATO-Russia Founding Act ought to be considered a dead letter—an agreement that remains in force in name only. NATO should ignore its provisions in order to more effectively and efficiently safeguard the security of its most vulnerable members. As it stands, some NATO allies insist on maintaining commitments to Russia made in a very different security environment. This approach risks undermining stability and security in Europe, all in the name of pursuing the chimera of Russian cooperation in the East.

Is Germany Hiding?

Carnegie Europe

May 18, 2017

The NATO meeting of heads of state and government slated for May 25 is certain to center on a handful of key issues, defense spending primary among them. On this matter, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump hopes to accelerate the achievement of defense spending goals to which the alliance has already agreed. For their part, European NATO member states are likely to parry such requests and avoid committing to anything more than they already have. Although not the worst in European NATO when it comes to burden sharing, Germany has recently been the focus of attention in the transatlantic debate over defense spending, primarily because of its large, prosperous economy and its position as first among equals in Europe. Unfortunately, Berlin appears to be hiding behind a number of specious arguments to avoid doing more than it has already announced.

Enhancing NATO’s Forward Presence

Carnegie Europe

April 27, 2017

Over recent days and weeks, NATO member states have begun implementing an enhanced forward presence across the Baltic states and Poland. For the first time, the alliance is basing combat forces east of the former East-West German border on a continuous basis. Admittedly, the deployments to northeastern Europe will be rotational, not permanent, but they represent a strengthening of the alliance’s deterrence and reassurance posture. However, while the enhanced forward presence in its current form is a necessary initiative, it’s not yet clear whether it is sufficient, especially in terms of its operational effectiveness and its response to the most likely security challenges of the next several years.

Is the European Union Really That Important to U.S. Security Interests?

Strategic Studies Institute

March 19, 2017

Questioning long-held assumptions and challenging existing paradigms in U.S. security policy can be a useful way to ensure that American leaders are not pursuing strategies that do not actually support and promote U.S. interests. However, on the question of whether the European Union’s (EU) existence is in U.S. interests, the evidence is consistently clear. It most definitely is, and undermining it—for example, by promoting Brexit or suggesting other countries would or should follow the United Kingdom’s (UK) exit from the EU—risks the further unraveling of the international order that is central to American prosperity and security.

An EU Nuclear Deterrent Won’t Serve Western Interests

Carnegie Europe

March 10, 2017

Since the November 2016 U.S. elections, there has been a great deal of discussion in Europe over how Europeans need to take more responsibility for their security and defense, including by developing an EU nuclear deterrent. This is probably welcome news to U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which has placed increased emphasis on more equitable burden sharing and may not be overly concerned about the spread of nuclear technology among U.S. allies. Although European deliberations over how to better provide for European security are positive, an EU nuclear deterrent wouldn’t solve inequitable burden sharing. In fact, it would do virtually nothing to enable Europe to deal with today’s most likely, most compelling security challenges on the continent and beyond.

Getting On With Transatlantic Security

Carnegie Europe

Feburary 10, 2017

Since U.S. President Donald Trump personally and publicly stated on February 6 that his administration “strongly [supports]” NATO, the transatlantic community can finally turn to addressing the myriad challenges confronting European and North American security. In May, the alliance’s heads of state and government will gather in Brussels, where they’ll likely ratify recently implemented initiatives and attempt to patch over the tensions caused by Trump’s previous comments about the alliance. Although dramatically new initiatives are unlikely, the meeting will nonetheless be important—just how important will depend on the degree to which the alliance can look beyond 2017.

The Necessity of Another Russian Reset . . . and Its Utter Futility

Real Clear Defense

January 20, 2017

In the wake of the recent intelligence community report on Russian involvement in U.S. elections, it is clear the relationship between Russia and the United States needs a fundamental recalibration. A critical element of any new strategic approach toward Moscow is a diplomatic ‘reset’ to the U.S.-Russian relationship. Ironically, the most important reason for outreach to Moscow is not to effect fundamental change in the trajectory of Western relations with Russia but rather to maintain consensus and solidarity within the West. Indeed, there should be no illusions about the likely success of any new diplomatic engagement efforts. Thanks to Russia’s geopolitical orientation and its internal political dynamics, even the most successful reset will have a short shelf life, but that does not make it any less useful in the long run.

Eroding U.S. Deterrence

Carnegie Europe

January 13, 2017

Most of what was in the U.S. intelligence community’s January 6 report on Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election came as no surprise to those who have followed this evolving story since last summer. Back then, it seemed clear that Russia had attempted to influence the campaign and ultimately the election, and that a robust American response was necessary—if not before the vote then certainly after.

Pushing Back on Russian Meddling in Western Elections

Carnegie Europe

December 2, 2016

It seems more and more obvious that Russia played a significant role in the 2016 U.S. elections. Meanwhile, officials in the Netherlands, France, and Germany are increasingly concerned about Russian government-backed efforts to influence upcoming elections in 2017. This kind of interference constitutes an attack on a state’s political independence and potentially on its stability and security.

An EU Military Headquarters: A Cure in Search of an Illness?

Strategic Studies Institute

November 14, 2016

European integration in defense and security makes great sense on a variety of levels and from many perspectives. However, it is naïve, and probably dangerous, to think that an “ever closer union” in defense and security affairs can precede a political union.

Under Duterte, is the Philippines undergoing Finlandization?

Los Angeles Times

November 3, 2016

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is on a tear. In just the last two weeks, he has expressed a desire to separate his country from the United States, declared his intention to kick U.S. military personnel out of the Philippines, and appeared ready to drop territorial sovereignty claims in the South China Sea in return for investment guarantees from Beijing. Duterte’s behavior might be considered brazen, boorish, even occasionally entertaining. But what’s worth noting is what it tells us about the state of alliance politics in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

A Transatlantic Approach to Russia in 2017?

Carnegie Europe

October 28, 2016

Despite the clear need for a new, more competitive transatlantic strategy toward Russia, it looks increasingly unlikely that one will emerge before the end of 2017. The best that the more hawkish crowd can hope for is to maintain what cost-imposing policies are currently in place vis-à-vis Russia, as a stopgap, until the electoral season in the leading Western powers passes.

The Unflagging U.S. Commitment to NATO

Carnegie Europe

September 30, 2016

Recent commentary in the U.S. presidential election campaign on Washington’s commitment to the North Atlantic alliance has largely been a waste of time and effort. The United States and its allies face many important issues as they attempt to navigate challenges to transatlantic security and assess how NATO can best serve common interests. However, the facile debate over whether alliance membership and its responsibilities remain in U.S. interests has superseded more serious discussion of the alliance and its future.

Germany Embraces Realpolitik Once More

War on the Rocks

September 19, 2016

The recently released German defense white paper, or Weissbuch, represents a significant step forward in Germany’s ongoing transformation to a “normal” power. Although it has received limited attention in the Anglophone media, the Weissbuch marks a fundamental shift in several respects. Whether and how Germany follows through on the potential embodied in this historic document will determine the degree to which Europe is able to play a role in security and defense commensurate with its economic strength and its transatlantic responsibilities.

The Strategic Implications of Brexit

Strategic Studies Institute: Strategic Insights

June 24, 2016

The momentous decision of British voters to leave the European Union (EU) is already having major repercussions in both economics and politics. In the former, investors fled uncertainty for more stable opportunities, while in the latter there are already calls for another Scottish independence referendum. In the worlds of defense and security, the implications are less clear, at least in the short run. What appears far more certain though is that the economic and political implications are likely to have profound long-term effects on NATO, U.S. national security, and the U.S. Army’s relationship with one of America’s closest allies. In response, and in order to mitigate the most damaging effects of the Brexit vote, the United States needs to intensify military cooperation with a longstanding UK rival – namely, France.

The Flawed U.S. Approach to European Reassurance

Carnegie Europe

May 27, 2016

Starting in 2017, Washington plans to begin heel-to-toe rotations of an armored brigade from the United States in Eastern Europe. In some respects, this represents a significant improvement over the assurance and deterrence steps taken by the United States and several of its NATO allies since 2014. Media accounts have somewhat breathlessly claimed the United States is “fortifying,” “beefing up,” and “significantly” increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe. Although the administration’s plan is indeed a step in the right direction, it falls short of such hype. More broadly, the U.S. approach to reassurance and deterrence still suffers from some strategic

Poland Wants More Than NATO Can Give

The National Interest

February 10, 2016

The NATO alliance is treating Poland and other allies in the region like a buffer zone, refusing to permanently station troops there and hence provide the same level of security that has long been accorded other allies to the west, according to a Polish official. Such undiplomatic comments weren’t those of a low-level functionary in the Polish Defense Ministry, or even the anonymous remarks of a “senior official.” Rather, they were the very public words of Andrzej Duda, the recently elected president of Poland. Unfortunately, major obstacles—political and economic—stand in the way of NATO establishing permanent troop concentrations in Poland or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, Duda’s comments and his relentless, vocal pursuit of permanent NATO forces on Polish soil mean that, by diplomatic standards, the upcoming NATO summit in July is likely to be downright riveting.

No Replacement for Military Engagement and Forward Presence

War on the Rocks

February 8, 2016

In recent years, the Obama administration’s foreign policy has emphasized precision strike stand-off capabilities, especially drones, as well as a policy of surging American military might from the continental United States (CONUS) after a crisis has already started, versus maintaining significant overseas force presence. In the face of the Great Recession and sequestration, these two policy tools were particularly attractive approaches for managing insecurity in a resource-constrained environment. However, with the economy in much better shape and the worst years of the debt crisis past, it is unclear whether the next administration will embrace these same tools.

Obama’s Failure to Demilitarize U.S. Foreign Policy

War on the Rocks

October 30, 2015

Despite a concerted effort, when viewed through several lenses it seems clear that demilitarization has failed and U.S. foreign policy remains very, perhaps overly, militarized. As a result, the Pentagon can expect to be handed messy military operations short of inter-state war that it may not be prepared, equipped, or organized to handle efficiently or effectively.

Do the Russian and NATO War Games Increase the Risk of Real Clash?

Polish Institute of International Affairs

August 28, 2015

The major increase in military exercises and other training events on the part of Russia and NATO over the last year and a half could make war more likely, at least in theory.  The reality though is far from this theoretical scenario.

Is NATO Treating Poland like a Buffer State?

War on the Rocks

August 18, 2015

Polish President Andrzej Duda is wrong when he argues that Poland and other NATO member states east of Germany are being treated like second-class allies.

General Dunford is Right about Russia, but not because of their Nukes

War on the Rocks

July 13, 2015

The primary reason that Russia poses the greatest threat to U.S. national security today is because of its proven ability to hold at risk vital U.S. interests in the three most strategically important regions of the world.

Will NATO Decide to Permanently Deploy Ground Forces in the Baltic States?

Polish Institute of International Affairs

June 09, 2015

Unfortunately, a permanent presence—akin to how U.S., British, and Canadian forces were based in West Germany during the Cold War, and in western Germany after reunification—is highly unlikely. 

Burden Sharing and NATO’s 2 Percent Goal

Carnegie Europe

April 14, 2015

Sharing fairly the burden of defending the North Atlantic community is critically important, and policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic are right to seek a means to manage the free riding challenge. Unfortunately, though, the method chosen by NATO member governments—the so-called 2 percent goal—doesn’t do a good job of measuring burden sharing, and it certainly doesn’t help quantify risk sharing.

War on the Rocks

February 2, 2015

NATO recently announced it will create six new command and control entities or units – NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs) – on the territory of several Eastern allies — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria.

War on the Rocks

January 13, 2015

Is the Obama Administration weakening America by decreasing the number of U.S. forces in Europe? That is what some critics will have you believe regarding Department of Defense plans to reduce and consolidate some military posts in Europe. These changes, however, appear to be driven in relatively equal measure by budgetary concerns and a clear-eyed assessment of the security situation on the other side of the Atlantic.

Reappraising the West’s Approach Toward Russia

War on the Rocks

December 17, 2014

The West’s 25-year effort to pull Russia into the circle of politically liberal, economically developed countries has failed. The time has come for a reassessment of the West’s strategy toward Russia, which ultimately must eschew cooperative tools in favor of a more competitive approach.

Look Deeper, The Pivot to Asia Isn't Dead

Defense One

November 11, 2014

Is the Pacific pivot a dead letter? Despite President Obama’s Asia tour this week, that’s certainly the impression, as senior administration officials have delayed or cancelled visits to Asia and the United States becomes increasingly involved in security crises in Europe and the Middle East.

What NATO Needs to Do in the Wake of the Ukraine Crisis

Defense One

July 22, 2014

The security crisis that Europe now finds itself navigating has in many ways breathed new life into NATO. What had looked to be a self-congratulatory denouement in Wales has instead become a venue for recommitting NATO to its core purpose, while acknowledging that alliance interests may still compel it to remain ready for any array of challenges near and far. The alliance should not squander the opportunity the crisis provides to address some fundamental problems in where and how it provides security for its member states.

Academic Engagement Notes: 2014 International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Convention

U.S. Army War College Press

June 18, 2014

(With Robert Bunker) The annual convention of the International Studies Association (ISA) was held in Toronto, Canada, on March 26-29, 2014. The 55th annual convention theme was, “Spaces and Places: Geopolitics in an Era of Globalization.” This conference was a major academic gathering with 1,140 panels and round tables and over 5,300 participants drawn from North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and other countries from across the globe. In addition, an exhibition hall that ran concurrent with the convention contained over 100 book and journal publishers, government agencies, universities, and nonprofit organizations that were showcased.

How the Army Should Pivot to Asia

The Diplomat

June 12, 2014

Anachronistic basing arrangements are preventing the U.S. Army from achieving its full potential in the Indo-Pacific.

End of ISAF, End of NATO?

War on the Rocks

May 29, 2014

It is no accident that forces from NATO member states can actually operate alongside or embedded with one another. Interoperability is, in large part, the product of a war, one that is soon ending: the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s campaign in Afghanistan. Later this year, though, NATO’s extensive involvement in operations in Afghanistan will come to an end, and with it, the alliance’s workshop for building and maintaining an unprecedented level of interoperability.

Doing More: Landpower and Alliances

War on the Rocks

May 6, 2014

Russia’s not-so-covert war against the interim authorities in Kyiv is beginning to take on the characteristics of a serious civil conflict, as tactics directed from Moscow appear designed to amplify or otherwise leverage discontent among a minority of ethnic Russians living across eastern and southern Ukraine. In response, the United States has deployed troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, sent air assets to Romania and Poland, and deployed a U.S. Navy ship to the Black Sea, all on a bilateral basis. Meanwhile, a multilateral response by NATO continues to unfold. Although some have referred to NATO’s efforts so far as “toothless,” the reality is that the alliance has contributed substantive assets to date while looking to do more. Nevertheless, Washington is confronted with the questions of whether, when, and how to leverage critical allies and other partners in safeguarding shared interests in the post-ISAF security environment. For example, how can the United States get European allies to shoulder their share of the defense burden in Europe and beyond? How will the United States work with Pacific allies and key partners to maintain their security and stability throughout Asia? And what policy tools, including Landpower, are most effective and most efficient at helping Washington to achieve these goals?

The Role of Europe in American Defense Strategy

War on the Rocks

April 23, 2014

Why would the U.S. rely on European allies in implementing its defense policy, when the conventional wisdom holds that most of those allies are unable and/or unwilling to contribute to the common defense? In reality, the data is more mixed than the 'Europe as freerider' narrative would have us believe. Nonetheless, there are steps Washington can take to help ensure Europe picks up the phone when the U.S. next goes looking for coalition partners.

Pivot to Europe

The National Interest

March 26, 2014

As leaders in western capitals continue to hope that Russian president Vladimir Putin will not extend his invasion further into Ukraine, or worse to the Transnistria region of Moldova, discussion has increasingly focused on what concrete measures the United States and its NATO allies might take in response. Certainly economic sanctions—stronger than what’s been done to date—must be part of the policy response, but U.S. leaders can also take other steps to bolster NATO allies now concerned with their own security, including deploying U.S. troops to Eastern Europe.

Balancing The Joint Force: Defense and Military Challenges Through 2020

Strategic Studies Institute

March 11, 2014

Some of the most likely security challenges that might threaten vital American interests over the next 5-7 years are readily discernible on the horizon today, including managing Iran’s nuclear ambitions or disrupting terrorist organizations with global intent and capability. What is likely not on that list, though, is managing a major conflict between the United States and China, for reasons that have largely to do with the latter. Therefore, at least in the short run, most of the military demands generated by the national security environment are likely to center on so-called “Phase 0," or shaping, activities, not on the necessity of fighting or even preparing to fight another great power.

To Inflict Pain on Russia, Target Its Energy First

Defense One

March 4, 2014

The challenge confronting policymakers in Washington is how to safeguard and promote United States interests in Ukraine in a way that swiftly deters Russia from further escalation and compels President Vladimir Putin to stand down. Unfortunately, ejecting Russia from the G-8 or dispatching United Nations fact-finding missions is unlikely to move Moscow. Instead, inflicting costs on Russia for its intervention in Ukraine begins with using a tool very familiar to Moscow: energy.

NATO in Combat, Twenty Years On

The National Interest

February 28, 2014

Twenty years ago today, NATO conducted its first combat operation in history. Since that precedent-setting event, the alliance has engaged in numerous ‘out-of-area’ combat operations, from Kosovo to the Khyber Pass. As the alliance prepares to end its combat mission in Afghanistan this year, doubts have been raised over whether NATO’s longest, largest operation beyond Europe’s shores might be its last. Such a view is long on the politics of today and short on strategic perspective though, and there is growing evidence to suggest NATO will remain as committed to defending its interests beyond its members’ territory, continuing a trajectory begun exactly two decades ago.

Let NATO Keep the Peace in Palestine

Defense One

February 10, 2014

By aggressively leveraging Abbas’s embrace of a NATO-led peacekeeping operation as the starting point for additional negotiation and refinement, the United States might find that it not only gets its European allies to shoulder more of the security burden in defense of common interests, but that it does itself a significant favor in ensuring it will have allies capable of doing so well into the future.

Land Power Is Still Necessary

The National Interest

June 4, 2013

A robust, formidable U.S. Army is necessary to build capacity in regional partners, maintain interoperability with America’s most capable allies, and promote their expeditionary capabilities. In the event that our crystal balls aren’t as good as we think, a robust Army is the best insurance against major threats to U.S. interests.

Mali: Another Chance to Lead from Behind

New Atlanticist

January 14, 2013

Far from a sign of weakness, Washington’s emphasis today on “leading from behind” as one of its closest allies engages in combat operations in Mali represents a prudent policy choice and the best means of promoting American interests.

Making Security Cooperation Part of the Army’s ‘Win’ Set

Small Wars Journal

September 7, 2012

Security cooperation is clearly a vital tool in ‘preventing’ conflict and ‘shaping’ the international environment, and it’s obvious the U.S. Army understands this. What’s less clear is whether the Army sees security cooperation as a means of ‘winning’ – indeed there’s evidence that the Army believes otherwise. Nonetheless, there are important reasons for viewing security cooperation efforts – especially exercises, training events, and multinational acquisition programs – as critical to building and maintaining multinational interoperability and hence as a key tool necessary for the Army to ‘win.’

Mutual mistrust in the Pacific

The Los Angeles Times

September 6, 2012

Squabbling Asian nations pose a threat to U.S.-led security efforts. As a result, the hub-and-spoke alliance system in the Asia-Pacific region between the U.S., Japan, Australia, SouthKorea, and so others is here to stay.

Does the US Army Have a Mission?

New Atlanticist

March 8, 2012

Judging from the media and the blogosphere, there is panic among the Army staff in the halls of the Pentagon these days, as leaders cope with dramatic cuts in force structure and a new defense strategy that appears to favor naval and air power at the expense of the country’s ground forces.

Brigade Combat Team Cuts Don't Translate into Budget Savings

New Atlanticist

January 26, 2012

The recent announcement that the Obama administration plans to cut two of the four remaining US brigade combat teams (BCTs) in Europe is unlikely to result in any appreciable defense budget savings over time, and if they do they’ll likely prove highly damaging to US national security interests in the long run as it becomes more difficult to maintain interoperability with our most likely, most capable future coalition partners.

Interoperability in an age of Austerity

New Atlanticist

January 12, 2012

In an era of shrinking military budgets and reduced force structures, DoD needs to more carefully target its security cooperation resources toward those allies that are full spectrum, or nearly so; that can project force across time and distance; and that are innovative and adaptive. The allies/partners that most closely fit the bill are primarily found in Europe -- the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands -- not in Asia, Latin America, or the Mid East.

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