National Security Watch 


National Security Watches are designed to provide news and analysis on pertinent national security issues to the members and leaders of the Association of the United States Army and to the larger policymaking community. The content may represent the personal opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily the position of the Association or its members.

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National Security Watches

 African Horizons: The United States Army Working Toward a Secure and Stable Africa
by Douglas W. Merritt (National Security Watch, 1 February 2016)

In this National Security Watch, Merritt notes that while much-deserved attention is given to uncertain situations in the Middle East, the Asia–Pacific and Europe, volatile conditions in Africa are not given the real attention that they require. The size and diversity of the African continent results in a complex environment that requires not only a whole-of-government approach but a synchronized one. With embassies in more than 45 countries on the continent, the Department of State leads the U.S. effort in developing partners in Africa. Although the military solution in Africa is a joint one, the U.S. Army is the primary service building partner capabilities. The Army is partnering with more than 18 countries and is present in every region of Africa conducting engagements in support of U.S. interests. As the cornerstone of the joint force, requiring the capability and capacity to accomplish its mission and facilitate expansion from the other elements of national power, the U.S. Army in Africa must be sufficiently resourced to continue making and improving strategic impacts.

★ ★ ★      2015      ★ ★ ★

These Are the Drones You Are Looking For: Manned–Unmanned Teaming and the U.S. Army
by Richard Lim (National Security Watch 15-4, 21 December 2015)

This National Security Watch examines the Army’s efforts to develop enduring technological superiority through Manned–Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T). The Department of Defense (DoD) has initiated a third offset strategy to ensure that the U.S. military remains the most technologically advanced fighting force in the world. However, the faster pace of the diffusion of technology, fueled in part by cyber intrusion, could reduce the duration of America’s resulting technical ascendancy. In response, DoD is identifying leap-ahead technologies that not only restore but also prolong the duration of the U.S. military’s preeminence. MUM-T will help create an enduring technological advantage by combining the revolutionary potential of unmanned systems with the indispensable human dimension of warfare.

Innovation and Invention: Equipping the Army for Current and Future Conflicts
by Richard Lim (National Security Watch 15-3, 16 September 2015)

This National Security Watch notes that while history provides numerous examples of human persistence and ingenuity prevailing over a technologically superior enemy, technology remains a critical enabler that allows the U.S. Army to maintain overmatch against its opponents. It faces the challenge of how best—in a fiscally constrained environment—to enhance the capabilities of the current force while sustaining those capabilities for the future force. The multiphase strategy to meet and overcome the challenge includes three elements. First, the Army is pursuing an innovation strategy to enable its units to maintain technical overmatch for the near term. Second, the Army is pursuing product improvement programs to maintain technical overmatch in the mid-term. Finally, to counter future threats before they materialize, thereby ensuring overmatch for the far term, the Army is pursuing an invention strategy to leverage emerging, leap-ahead technologies.

Malaysia, Singapore and the United States: Harmony or Hegemony?
by Richard Lim (National Security Watch 15-2, 13 May 2015)

In this National Secuirty Watch, the author outlines three factors of the Malaysia–Singapore relationship that comprise the crux of the United States’ interests in the region: the shipping lanes in the waterways that surround the countries; the significant Muslim populations of both countries and the moderate version of Islam promoted by Malaysia; and the key role that Singapore plays in balancing the interests between the United States and China. The partnership of these two countries is a testimony to the triumph of pragmatism and cooperation in spite of ethnic divisions, long-running resentments and the presence of religious extremism and is a model for productive collaboration between countries around the world. To leverage strong trade relationships, collaborate with Muslim communities, combat Islamic extremism and forge a more productive relationship with China, it is critical that the United States maintain separate, bilateral and tailored relationships with Malaysia and Singapore.

U.S. Army Regionally Aligned Forces: An Effective Way to Compensate for a Strategy/Resources Mismatch
by Thomas C. Westen (National Security Watch 15-1, 27 February 2015)

This National Security Watch describes the Army’s central role in national defense. Despite large reductions in manpower, it is still the provider of the preponderance of forces deployed in support of the National Defense Strategy, addressing enduring joint force requirements, new security risks and theater security cooperation demands, while simultaneously maintaining the ability to mitigate future unknown risks. The Army has purposely developed the regionally aligned forces (RAF) policy as the most efficient and effective way to meet command requirements. However, even with the RAF policy, the growing strategy/resources mismatch is on track to create an unacceptable level of risk. Reduction of Total Army endstrength must be analyzed again, as current plans are calling for a reduction so drastic that the Army will not be able to perform essential duties without unnecessary risks to its Soldiers and to the nation.

★ ★ ★      2014      ★ ★ ★

Terrorists, Insurgents and the Lessons of History
by Richard Lim (National Security Watch 14-2, 22 December 2014)

This National Security Watch calls on the nation’s military leaders to examine the lessons readily available in military history to handle contemporary difficulties effectively. In 2002, the United States declared that its primary national security objective was to disrupt and destroy the global reach of terrorist organizations. Now, more than ten years later, and after an estimated $1 trillion in wartime spending, terrorist groups are as active and deadly as ever; the violent rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is forcing leaders to reassess their strategies. A thorough examination of past efforts undertaken against terrorist organizations, while it cannot necessarily provide clear-cut answers for today’s problems, can outline basic tenants that must be heeded should the United States wish to defeat ISIS and similar organizations.

The Army in Cyberspace
by Frank L. Turner II (National Security Watch 14-1, 5 May 2014)

This National Security Watch discusses the new challenges that the Army faces as the cyber domain grows in size and significance. The evolving and expansive nature of the cyber domain has created a complicated virtual environment that exists on a grand scale with complex interdependencies in the land, air, sea and space domains. The Army has made substantial progress developing cyber capabilities, but there is still work to be done to accomplish building the world’s most capable cyber force.

★ ★ ★      2013      ★ ★ ★

Strategy and Policy: Civilian and Military Leadership in the 21st Century
by Nicholas R. Krueger (National Security Watch 13-1, 18 January 2013)

This National Security Watch remarks on the technological advances both in communication and arms that have occurred in recent years. As this enables a growing number of potential adversaries to be more effective in their endeavors against the United States, there is an immediate and continued requirement for capable leadership and visionary strategy to combat hostile advances. Thus, it is necessary to review how the United States creates its security strategy and executes its security policy. Citing historical examples from the 20th century, the author examines past relationships between civil and military authorities, advocating that, based on past experiences, future relationships between these two authorities ought to be open and candid to ensure the enactment of effective policies.

★ ★ ★      2012      ★ ★ ★

Earned Deferred Compensation: Proposed Military Earnings Reforms Do More Harm Than Good
by Nicholas R. Krueger (National Security Watch 12-4, 15 August 2012)

This National Security Watch examines the potential changes to deferred compensation earned by U.S. Soldiers. The author discusses the effects these changes could have on Soldier and unit readiness and posits that fee increases and military earnings reforms will have detrimental effects on Soldiers and their families. Moreover, the author writes that the revenue and savings resulting from these proposed changes will have only a very small impact on relieving the nation’s budget crisis.

Linking Latin America and the Pacific: A Strategy for the Long Term
by Douglas J. Schaffer (National Security Watch 12-3, 12 July 2012)

This National Security Watch examines DoD’s January 2012 strategic guidance, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” which “rebalances” the United States’ priorities toward Asia, particularly China. In this paper, the author posits that the United States could be better served by expanding its scope and considering the Pacific as defined by the ocean rather than just Asia. By connecting Western Hemisphere nations, especially in Latin America, with the Asia–Pacific region, the United States can form a broader, globally relevant, long-term strategic plan that better addresses the diverse security picture vis-à-vis the United States, China and the world.

The Rationale for a Robust U.S. Army Presence in the Pacific Basin
by Nicholas R. Krueger (National Security Watch 12-2, 8 March 2012)

This National Security Watch examines four major components that, when taken together, build a strong strategic rationale for robust U.S. landpower in the Asia–Pacific region. The paper expands on each of the following observations: achieving the United States’ global strategic goals requires military coordination with Asian partners; the U.S. Army is an ideal security asset for pursuing mutual interests and developing a strategic hedge against future uncertainty; global trends toward increased uncertainty and complexity yield a wide range of foreseeable but undefined challenges in Asia; the U.S. Army stands ready to conduct full-spectrum operations; the United States is in a state of strategic military competition with regional powers. The U.S. Army can help the United States realize advantages in these contests; and the United States must be ready to fight and win in Korea—tonight if necessary.

Thinking About the 21st Century Security Environment: The Need for a Whole-of-Government Approach
by General Gordon R. Sullivan, USA Ret. (National Security Watch 12-1W, 3 January 2012)

This National Security Watch examines how more interagency involvement in fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan might have led to an earlier conclusion and with a more satisfactory outcome for all participants. Perhaps the United States would not have been so slow to learn and adapt, as has been the case in both wars. More interagency involvement might also have encouraged a civil–military discourse at the strategic level that would have produced more reasonable U.S. strategic objectives, thus avoiding the second- and third-order difficulties in execution and in communication to the American people that we have witnessed. The paper also discusses how, operationally, the inadequate interagency effort made the stability, support and counterinsurgency operations much less effective than they could have been.

★ ★ ★      2011      ★ ★ ★

The 2011 National Military Strategy: Resetting a Strong Foundation
by Nicholas R. Krueger (National Security Watch 11-2, 2 May 2011)

This National Security Watch examines how the international security environment has changed since the previous National Military Strategy was produced in 2004 and how these changes have shaped the 2011 National Military Strategy. The NMS serves two main purposes: to assess the global security situation and some emerging forces likely to mold it in the future, and to identify a set of discrete national military objectives that define the main missions to be undertaken by the armed forces. The 2011 NMS discusses challenges presented by ten years of continuous combat operations, the longest span in our country’s history. During this time, America’s adversaries have been innovative: state actors have been arming, nonstate actors have been subverting and the nexus of state and nonstate actors has become even more threatening. The new NMS incorporates these recent developments and aims to supply the armed forces with strategic direction for the future.

The Enduring Need for an Effective U.S. Landpower Presence in Europe
by Douglas J. Schaffer (National Security Watch 11-1, 14 February 2011)

This National Security Watch examines U.S. landpower in Europe and its importance to preserving strategic flexibility and regional stability while preserving the legitimacy and efficacy of multinational coalition operations around the globe. U.S. global power in the modern era rests on a set of enduring strategic principles that remain constant in a shifting political landscape. Collective defense, ally reassurance, crisis response, partner building and freedom of action are fundamental pillars to U.S. strategic stability. U.S. landpower in Europe has been the embodiment of those principles for the last half century, clearly demonstrating the nation’s commitment and strategic intent to international peace and stability. Recent discussions about budgets, burden-sharing and force retrenchments have cast an ominous shadow over U.S. landpower in Europe, despite its significant current and future value in support of U.S. strategic interests around the globe.

★ ★ ★      2010      ★ ★ ★

Consequence Management: Steps in the Right Direction?
by Christine Le Jeune (National Security Watch 10-2, 8 September 2010)

This National Security Watch takes a look at the need to build capacity to respond to major national incidents—natural disasters, terrorism, large-scale cyber attacks, pandemics and other potential threats—and the collaborative efforts of federal, state and local governments, communities and public/private partnerships that are necessary to achieve that goal.

The (New?) National Security Strategy
by Douglas J. Schaffer (National Security Watch 10-1, 20 July 2010)

This National Security Watch compares the 2010 National Security Strategy (NSS) of the United States with previous versions in the context of goals, ways and means. While widely considered a departure from previous iterations, a closer look at the 2010 NSS compared to those of 2002 and 2006 show it to be not that substantively different. Additionally, the 2010 NSS advances a broad agenda that poses unique challenges to the planning and budgeting process; success will be largely dependent on the ability of the United States to organize and provide itself the means to execute.

★ ★ ★      2009      ★ ★ ★

The Evolution of the U.S.-Japan Alliance
by Richard Mereand (National Security Watch 09-4, 29 December 2009)

This National Security Watch examines the history of the United States' relationship with Japan since World War II, and how the recent election in Japan and subsequent upheaval of the once-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has affected the future of this alliance. American forces have maintained a presence in Japan since their occupation following the war, providing security to Japan because its constitution prohibits the maintenance of military forces. As time and distance dim memories of the militaristic Japan of the 1930s and 40s, opposition has risen to the presence of foreign troops on Japanese soil, as have arguments for a more independent, assertive Japanese foreign and defense policy. Overall, the close relationship between Japan and the United States is strong and beneficial to both nations, but U.S. policymakers should work with the Japanese to ensure that the relationship remains fundamentally sound as it adapts to the new Japanese outlook.

Securing Cyberspace: Guarding the New Frontier
by Richard Mereand (National Security Watch 09-3, 25 August 2009)

This National Security Watch explores the rapidly evolving challenge of securing the nation's information technology infrastructure. Cyberspace attacks are an ongoing and increasing problem, and complex issues of law, policy and coordination confront those who work to combat them. The White House's review of cybersecurity policy and the Department of Defense's creation of a new sub-unified command for cyberspace are important developments. But further strategy development and improved structures and processes for cybersecurity are still needed.

Russia:  A Problematic Partner
by Richard Mereand (National Security Watch 09-2, 1 June 2009)

This National Security Watch discusses the decline and resurgence of Russia as a global actor and the impact Russia could have on global security issues such as oil supplies, arms sales and nuclear proliferation. Following a tenuous economic recovery and the modernization of their military, Russians once again crave international prestige. Russia is neither a friend nor an enemy of the United States, making trust impossible, but to avoid another Cold War America needs to seek a deeper understanding of the factors and motivations that drive Russia to have a more prominent international presence.

Emerging Global Trends and Potential Implications for National Security
by David J. Kay (National Security Watch 09-1, 29 May 2009)

This National Security Watch introduces several factors such as oil, the global food and water supply, climate change and crime, and discusses the impact that each could have on future global security. The key to dealing with these future issues is thinking about how they will affect American and global interests and developing a strategy to handle their implications. While some trends, such as global climate change, are irreversible and already manifesting, targeted action is still necessary to minimize the negative effects and plot a forward course of action. The United States needs not only to develop comprehensive approaches for dealing with the most alarming trends, but also to put in place a mechanism for monitoring or responding to future threats.

★ ★ ★      2008      ★ ★ ★

Civilian Response Corps
by Richard Mereand (National Security Watch 08-4, 3 October 2008)

This National Security Watch describes a State Department initiative to create a body of civilian personnel dedicated to carrying out stabilization and reconstruction missions. The Civilian Response Corps (CRC) signals a belief in the value and efficacy of stabilization efforts, and a commitment to improving the U.S. ability to carry them out. The CRC will change the way stability operations are carried out and the relationship between the military and civilian components of them.

Engaging the “New China”
by Daivd J. Kay (National Security Watch 08-3, 2 September 2008)

This National Security Watch discusses the substantial growth—and the underlying systemic weaknesses—in the Chinese economy and military. China has experienced radical change, and the U.S. policy community must update its long-held conceptions to conform to the realities of the "new China." China's future path is uncertain, and American policymakers must continuously monitor and reevaluate the situation. Whenever possible, the United States should engage China on important international and domestic issues, but it must clearly communicate the red lines on sensitive issues such as Taiwan and North Korea.

U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army: A Model of Strategic Flexibility
by Milady Ortiz (National Security Watch 08-2, 23 June 2008)

This National Security Watch discusses the new changes and challenges the command is undergoing during its sixth decade of service to the United States. Since its inception during World War II and vital role in Europe during the Cold War, USAREUR has continuously transformed to meet the defense needs of the U.S. military. The shift in security concerns for the U.S. government since the Cold War has resulted in a concurrent shift in mission for the command. USAREUR missions have included operations in the Balkans, Bulgaria and Romania. USAREUR has also played an essential supporting role in the war on terrorism, with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, USAREUR is currently undergoing its largest transformational effort to date.

U.S. Africa Command: A New Way of Thinking
by Milady Ortiz (National Security Watch 08-1, 13 March 2008)

This National Security Watch discusses the establishment of AFRICOM, which provides the United States an opportunity to rearrange its current military orientation on the continent, address traditional and developing issues for U.S. security in Africa, and provide security and development assistance for 53 African countries. The primary mission for AFRICOM, created in October 2007, is to promote U.S. national security objectives by working with African states and regional organizations to strengthen stability and security on the African continent. The primary purpose of AFRICOM is to serve as a supporting structure to already existing U.S. and international programs in Africa. AFRICOM hopes to provide support to Africans to build democratic institutions and establish good governance, while focusing on tasks such as peacekeeping, security, counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

★ ★ ★      2007      ★ ★ ★

The Korean Peninsula and the Future of Eighth U.S. Army
by Amanda Merritt Cumti (National Security Watch 07-2, 26 September 2007)

This National Security Watch discusses the U.S. role on the Korean Peninsula and the future of Eighth U.S. Army in Korea. For more than half a century, the United States has remained committed to helping South Korea defend itself against external aggression. North Korean nuclear weapons and missile technology make it more dangerous today than ever before.

U.S. Army North/5th Army: Building Relationships to Defend the Homeland and Meet Emerging Regional Challenges
by Amanda Merritt Cumti (National Security Watch 07-1, 15 February 2007)

This National Security Watch discusses U.S. Army North/5th Army (USARNORTH) and its area or operations, including the continental United States, Alaska, Canada and Mexico. The United States must protect and defend its citizens against disasters—whether manmade or natural—on its soil. In a globalized world, nations have been forced to redefine their concept of security, looking beyond traditional military threats to the growing threats posed by unstable political, economic and social environments. USARNORTH is charged with Army homeland defense and civil support operations and army-to-army theater security cooperation with Canada and Mexico in order to “protect the American people and their way of life.

★ ★ ★      2006      ★ ★ ★

The Army in U.S. Strategic Command: Thinking Globally, Acting Jointly
by Charles Hornbostel (National Security Watch 06-6, 1 December 2006)

This National Security Watch briefly analyzes STRATCOM's organization, capabilities and goals as a critical component to U.S. defense. STRATCOM is the chief unified command for both space operations and strategic threat management for the entire military. It encompasses Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) and Army Forces Strategic Command (ARSTRAT), making the Army a full, joint partner in space operations and providing capabilities not found in other services.

U.S. Army South and the Transition to 6th Army: Rising to Face New Challenges in Central and South America and the Caribbean
by Charles Hornbostel (National Security Watch 06-5, 1 December 2006)

This National Security Watch describes 6th's Army's role in the Army's reorganization from threat- to capabilities-based command structures. Given the history of U.S. involvement in the region, the United States should devote some attention and resources to strained relationships in Latin America, particularly to the issues of counternarcotics, immigration and respect for democratically elected regimes. 6th Army will play a vital role in achieving U.S. policy objectives in Central and South America and the Caribbean, including economic stability and cooperation on multinational security and humanitarian operations.

"Natural Allies" in an Uncertain World: The United States and India
by Amanda Merritt (National Security Watch 06-4, 1 September 2006)

This National Security Watch examines the history of and the issues facing the often tenuous U.S.-Indian relationship: terrorism, Pakistan and Kashmir, nuclear proliferation, trade, energy security and the rise of China. India is a strong, democratic country in the critical and often dangerous neighborhood of South Asia, but despite sharing the same democratic values as the United States, relations have been strained for almost 60 years. However, because of the overlap in U.S. and Indian interests, strong bilateral relations in recent years have provided the United States the possibility of a partner in addressing global challenges.

The Cruise Missile Threat: Prospects for Homeland Defense
(National Security Watch 06-3, 1 June 2006)

This National Security Watch analyzes the cruise missile threat and the Defense Department's plans to protect the United States from these dangerous weapons. With the advent of more easily attainable missile guidance and weapons technology, a wide variety of potential adversaries can now buy or build a cruise missile. The threat of an attack is ever more plausible and the necessity for a coherent defense is increasingly urgent. However, cruise missile defense must be more than a DoD function; it must be an integrated combination of active defense and offensive efforts, and senior leaders must move expeditiously to provide all necessary resources, especially funding, as quickly as possible.

Future Logistics Themes: Discovering Innovative Solutions to Army Logistics Processes for Moving and Sustaining Combat Power
(National Security Watch 06-2, 1 May 2006)

This National Security Watch briefly examines the future of Army logistics. Shaping a long-term vision for Army logistics requires identifying and preparing to leverage critical research advancements that will profoundly affect Army logistics in future joint operational environments. Knowledge of anticipated developments in scientific, engineering and technology disciplines will generate innovative solutions to logistical challenges. Insights gained and products developed from advances in the application of knowledge, energy and materials science will provide significant benefits to Army and joint logistics in the decades to come.

Military Compensation: Balancing Fairness and Sustainability
by Cathleen McCracken (National Security Watch 06-1, 7 February 2006)

This National Security Watch briefly examines the issues being discussed by the Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation (DACMC), a panel of civilian experts in the field of pay, chartered by Secretary Rumsfeld. The panel will make recommendations to the drafters of the Tenth Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC), mandated every four years by title 37, United States Code. The QRMC is a complete review of military compensation, with particular emphasis on retirement benefits, health care, special and incentive pays, quality of life and reserve component compensation.

★ ★ ★      2004      ★ ★ ★

A New Look at Requirements: The Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System
by Courtney Wirwahn (National Security Watch 04-1, 20 October 2004)

This National Security Watch takes a look at JCIDS, which replaces the Requirements Generation System as a new tool to jointly identify needed future concepts for the armed services and provide integrated and interoperable capabilities that work across the services.

★ ★ ★      2003      ★ ★ ★

Homeland Security and Homeland Defense: Protection from the Inside Out
by Courtney Wirwahn (National Security Watch 03-3, 31 October 2003)

This National Security Watch examines the roles of U.S. Northern Command, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and local first responders in securing and defending our nation -- and the need to transform current processes and responsibilities to facilitate effective, efficient Army involvement in the homeland defense mission.

The 2002 Unified Command Plan: Changes and Implications
by Peter Gillette (National Security Watch 03-2, 21 February 2003)

This National Security Watch examines the shifted emphasis from regional theaters to strategic global functions in the 2002 UCP and the Army’s shifting place in that plan.

Department of Homeland Security: Pros, Cons and Opportunities
by Peter Gillette (National Security Watch 03-1, 31 January 2003)

This National Security Watch discusses the new Department of Homeland Security’s organization, its missions and the Army’s role in homeland security.

★ ★ ★      2002      ★ ★ ★

The United States and the Island Nations of Southeast Asia: Potential Pitfalls of a One-Note Policy
by Steven Mullen (National Security Watch 02-1, 1 April 2002)

This National Security Watch examines how counterterrorism efforts could overshadow other U.S. interests in the island nations of Southeast Asia.

★ ★ ★      2001      ★ ★ ★

Legacy Force Recapitalization: An Urgently Needed Program for Today's Army
by Douglas R. Bush (National Security Watch 01-3, 20 November 2001)

This National Security Watch explores the importance of the Army's program to refurbish, rebuild and selectively upgrade Legacy Force equipment.

The Commission on National Security/21st Century: A Hart-Rudman Commission Primer
by Charles Lathrop and Mackenzie M. Eaglen (National Security Watch 01-2, 6 April 2001)

This National Security Watch reviews the Commission's three reports which provide recommendations for a security strategy and implementation plan.

A New Look at Readiness: Solving the Army's Quandary
by Mackenzie M. Eaglen (National Security Watch 01-1, 30 March 2001)

This National Decurity Watch examines readiness and how it is measured.

★ ★ ★      2000      ★ ★ ★

Son of QDR: Prospects for the Army
by John Kreul (National Security Watch 00-5, 15 July 2000)

The Army's Unsung Heroes: Full-Time Support to the Army National Guard & Army Reserve
by Charles Lathrop (National Security Watch 00-4, 3 July 2000)

Backing Into the Next Balkans?
by John Kreul (National Security Watch 00-3, 15 June 2000)

Colombia: A Vital U.S. Interest?
by Brian S. Priestly (National Security Watch 00-2, 16 May 2000)

The Threat of Terrorism Against the U.S. Homeland -- What Part Should the Military Play in the Federal Response?
by John Kreul (National Security Watch 00-1, 2 May 2000)