6 April 2022

Can the U.S. Regain Battlefield Superiority against China? Applying New Metrics to Build an Adaptable and Resilient Military


The US Department of Defense (DoD) has undergone nearconstant reform since its founding in the wake of World War II. Frustrated by the department’s fragmented decision-making, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara restructured Pentagon processes during the 1960s to implement the same analytic and data-driven industrial approach he previously applied at Ford Motor Company.1 Additional changes ensued over the following decades: During the 1970s, the failures of Vietnam spurred the establishment of independent intelligence and assessment organizations; during the 1980s, the GoldwaterNichols Act reorganized acquisition and operational relationships to promote inter-service integration; and, during the 1990s, decreased defense spending prompted efforts to wring greater efficiencies from the defense enterprise. The pace of change only accelerated over the last two decades as defense leaders sought to produce a sophisticated, networked military by creating additional paths to speed acquisition and standing up more than a dozen new support agencies and combatant commands to address emerging missions.

The End of the Middle East

Marc Lynch

In early December 2021, the Ethiopian government pulled off a dramatic reversal in its yearlong civil war with rebels from the Tigray region. Armed with a new arsenal of drones and other forms of military support from Iran, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ethiopian forces were able to push back an offensive by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which itself was supported by Somali fighters, who were in turn backed by Qatar.

A World Remade? Lessons from the Ukraine War

Jose Miguel Alonso-Trabanco

To say that the early 21st century is a turbulent era is an understatement. In the last two decades, the international system has experienced the incremental reactivation and intensification of geopolitical rivalries. As any historian can attest, such phenomenon is hardly surprising in the grand scheme of things. In this respect, as a fateful turning point,

the recent outbreak of the Ukraine War likely represents the first major violent clash of the new Cold War, an unfolding drama of rising strategic competition. This development has buried the optimistic spirit that flourished in the 90s and replaced it with a dark and ominous zeitgeist. Although its outcome is still unclear, it already provides instructive lessons about developing trends and harsh realities whose understanding is crucial to envisage what the future might bring in the coming decades and to prepare accordingly. Their implications cannot be described as pleasant, but one cannot afford to ignore them for that reason. Thus, the in-depth assimilation of the following lessons is essential for policymakers, analysts and researchers involved in foreign policy, national security, intelligence analysis, military statecraft and grand strategy.

What Is China Learning from the Ukraine War?


Operation Desert Storm was a turning point in modern Chinese military history. As military planners with the People’s Liberation Army watched U.S. and allied forces make short work of the world’s fourth-largest military (on paper), equipped with many of the same systems as the PLA, it became obvious that China’s quantitatively superior but qualitatively lacking massed infantry would stand no chance against the combination of modern weaponry, C4ISR, and joint operations seen in Iraq. The result was new military concepts and over two decades of often-difficult reforms, which produced the modern, far more capable, “informationized” PLA of today.

How to Make Sure Peace Endures Once the Fighting Ends

The need for peacebuilding in post-conflict societies grew out of the realization that signing agreements to bring fighting to an end is a necessary but insufficient step toward true and enduring peace. Peacebuilding is now conceived of as a multistage process to strengthen the peace accord and begin unifying communities through approaches ranging from governmental capacity-building and economic development to reforms of the legal and security sectors. Each initiative is intended to be a step toward improving human security, and the process often includes a transitional justice mechanism to foster societal healing and reconciliation.