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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Over the years since the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Southern Gulf states and the US have developed a de facto strategic partnership based on a common need to deter and defend against any threat from Iran, deal with regional instability in countries like Iraq and Yemen, counter the threat of terrorism and extremism, and deal with the other threats to the flow of Gulf petroleum exports.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, North America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Creating an effective transition for the ANSF is only one of the major challenges that Afghanistan, the US, and Afghanistan's other allies face during 2014-2015 and beyond.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Internal ethnic and sectarian tensions, civil conflict, continued instability, failed governance and economy. Syrian civil war. Iraq, Lebanon, “Shi'ite crescent.” Sectarian warfare and struggle for future of Islam through and outside region. Sunni on Sunni and vs. Shi'ite struggles Terrorism, insurgency, civil conflict linked to outside state and non-state actors. Wars of influence and intimidation Asymmetric conflicts escalating to conventional conflicts. Major “conventional” conflict threats: Iran-Arab Gulf, Arab-Israeli, etc. Economic warfare: sanctions, “close the Gulf,” etc. Missile and long-range rocket warfare Proliferation, preventive strikes, containment, nuclear arms race, extended deterrence, “weapons of mass effectiveness”.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons, International Security, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: James Andrew Lewis
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Gulf has become a flashpoint for cyber conflict. Cyberspace has become an arena for covert struggle, with the United States, Israel and other nations on one side, and Iran and Russia on the other. Iran has far outpaced the GCC states in developing its cyber capabilities, both for monitoring internal dissent and deploying hackers to disrupt or attack foreign targets. Several such attacks over the past two years were likely either directed or permitted by Iranian state authorities. Even if Iran holds back from offensive actions as nuclear talks progress, the growth in Iranian capabilities remains a potential security threat for other Gulf states. The GCC countries have begun to develop their defensive capabilities, but they will need to expand their defenses and collaborate more effectively to deter future threats.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Defense Policy, Development, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Far too much of the analysis of Iran's search for nuclear weapons treats it in terms of arms control or focuses on the potential threat to Israel. In reality, Iran's mix of asymmetric warfare, conventional warfare, and conventionally armed missile forces have critical weaknesses that make Iran anything but the hegemon of the Gulf. Iran's public focus on Israel also disguises the reality that its primary strategic focus is to deter and intimidate its Gulf neighbors and the United States – not Israel. It has made major progress in creating naval forces for asymmetric warfare and developing naval missiles, but it has very limited air-sea and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (IS) capabilities. It lacks modern conventional land, air, air defense and sea power, has fallen far behind the Arab Gulf states in modern aircraft and ships, and its land forces are filled with obsolete and mediocre weapons that lack maneuver capability and sustainability outside Iran. Iran needs nuclear weapons to offset these facts.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: More than a decade into the “war on terrorism,” much of the political debate in the US is still fixated on the legacy of 9/11. US politics has a partisan fixation on Benghazi, the Boston Marathon bombing, intelligence intercepts, and Guantanamo. Far too much US attention still focuses on “terrorism” at a time the US faces a much broader range of threats from the instability in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) and Islamic world. Moreover, much of the US debate ignores the fact that the US has not actually fought a “war on terrorism” over the last decade, and the US failures in using military force and civil aid in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US has not fought wars as such, but rather became involved in exercises in armed nation building where stability operations escalated into national building as a result of US occupation and where the failures in stability operations and nation building led to insurgencies that forced the US into major counterinsurgency campaigns that had little to do with counterterrorism. An analysis of the trends in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts shows that the US has not been fighting a war on terrorism since Bin Laden and Al Qaida Central were driven into Pakistan in December 2001. The US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and then made stability operations and armed nation building its key goals. It was US mishandling of these exercises in armed nation building that led to major counterinsurgency campaigns although – at least in the case of Afghanistan --the US continued to label its military operations as a struggle against “terrorism.” By 2013, the US had committed well over $1.4 trillion to these exercises in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, the US made massive increases in its domestic spending on homeland defense that it rationalized as part of the fight against terrorism but often had little or nothing to do with any aspect of counterterrorism. At the same time, the US failed to develop consistent or useful unclassified statistics on the patterns in terrorism and its counterterrorism activities. The US government has never provided a meaningful break out of federal activities and spending at home or abroad which actually focus on terrorism, or any unclassified measures of effectiveness. The OMB has lumped a wide range of activities that have no relation to terrorism it its reporting on the President's budget request – activities whose total cost now approach $60 billion a year. The Department of Defense has never provided a meaningful estimate of the total cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or a break out of the small portion of total overseas contingency operations (OCO) spending actually spent on counterterrorism versus counter insurgency. The State Department and US intelligence community provide no meaningful unclassified data on the cost of their counterterrorism effort and it is unclear that they have developed any metrics at any level that show the cost-benefits of their activities. The annual US State Department country reports on terrorism come as close to an unclassified report on the status of terrorism as the US government provides. While many portions are useful, the designation of terrorist movements is often political and shows the US designation of terrorist movements conflates terrorism and insurgency. The closest the US has come to developing any metrics on terrorism has been to develop an unclassified database in the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) that never distinguished terrorism from insurgency. This database formed the core of the statistical annex to State Department reporting, but has since been withdrawn without explanation. As this analysis shows in detail, it now has been replaced by a contractor effort that makes all of the previous mistakes made by the NCTC. The end result is a set of official reporting and statistics in the annex to the State Department report where “terrorism” remains remained poorly defined, badly structured, ignored in parts of the world, and conflates terrorism with counterinsurgency, instability, and civil war. A review of the Afghan, Iraq conflicts, and other recent conflicts in the MENA region shows just how serious these problems are in distorting the true nature of the wars the US is fighting and the threats it faces. The same is true of the unclassified reporting the US government provides on terrorism. A detailed review of the most recent State Department report on terrorism provides important insights into key terrorist movements, but the narratives generally ignore their ties to insurgent movements, their statistical data include some major insurgent movements and exclude others, and many of the data seem to include violence that is not truly terroristic in character.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States has long emphasized the desirability of working with allies and partners to meet pressing security challenges. Indeed, many of our most vexing security challenges-such as terrorism, threats to freedom of the seas and air, and cyber threats-are best met with multilateral action. At a time when the United States and many of its allies and partners are reluctant to increase defense and security investments, working together is of increasing importance. This is perhaps most evident in the Middle East and Asia, where real and potential threats to U.S. and partner security are high and our interests great.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Bryan Gold
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No single aspect of US and Iranian military competition is potentially more dangerous than the missile and nuclear dimensions, and the possibility Iran will deploy long-range, nuclear-armed missiles.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US may not face peer threats in the near to mid term, but it faces a wide variety of lesser threats that make maintaining effective military forces, foreign aid, and other national security programs a vital national security interest. The US does need to reshape its national security planning and strategy to do a far better job of allocating resources to meet these threats. It needs to abandon theoretical and conceptual exercises in strategy that do not focus on detailed force plans, manpower plans, procurement plans, and budgets; and use its resources more wisely. The US still dominates world military spending, but it must recognize that maintaining the US economy is a vital national security interest in a world where the growth and development of other nations and regions means that the relative share the US has in the global economy will decline steadily over time, even under the best circumstances. At the same time, US dependence on the security and stability of the global economy will continue to grow indefinitely in the future. Talk of any form of “independence,” including freedom from energy imports, is a dangerous myth. The US cannot maintain and grow its economy without strong military forces and effective diplomatic and aid efforts. US military and national security spending already places a far lower burden on the US economy than during the peaceful periods of the Cold War, and existing spending plans will lower that burden in the future. National security spending is now averaging between 4% and 5% of the GDP -- in spite of the fact the US has been fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- versus 6 - 7% during the Cold War.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Alexander Wilner
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Iran's potential acquisition of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, and Iran's future ability to arm its missiles and aircraft with such weapons, pose s critical risk s that shape every aspect of US, Arab, Israeli and other military competition with Iran . In the near term, they could trigger a major confrontation or war in the Gulf. In the mid to long - term, they could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, coupled to the search for missile defenses and an accelerated arms race to improve conventional, asymmetric, and proxy forces as well.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Alexander Wilner
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The most threatening form of US and Iranian competition takes place in the military and security arena. The areas where this competition now gets primary attention are the nuclear and missile arena, and Iranian threats to “close the Gulf.” US and Iranian tensions over Iran's nuclear program have grown steadily over the years. They now threaten to reach the crisis point as Iran produces highly enriched uranium and develops all of the technology necessary to produce nuclear weapons, and as US, European, and UN sanctions become steadily stronger.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Oil, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, United Nations
  • Author: Alexander Wilner
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: With the assistance of Adam Seitz of the Marine Corps University, the Burke Chair has compiled a series of chronological reports that focus on Iranian perceptions of national security and assess Iran‟s intentions concerning competition with the US.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Wartime is scarcely the easiest time for demanding self criticism, but the recent exchanges between the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense over the mistakes the US did or did not make in Iraq have highlighted the fact that the US must both admit its mistakes and learn from them to win in Iraq and successfully engage in the “long war.” The full chronology of what happened in US planning and operations before, during, and immediately after the fight to drive Saddam Hussein from power is still far from clear. It is now much easier to accuse given US leaders than it is to understand what really happened or assign responsibility with credibility.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Development
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There are major uncertainties about the military outcomes and political ramifications of an attack on Iraq. Really three sequential sets of scenarios: The prelude to war and the different ways in which war can occur. The actual process of conflict. The post-conflict occupation of Iraq and the way in which an independent Iraqi regime emerges.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This draft analysis is be circulated for comment as part of the CSIS “Saudi Arabia Enters the 21st Century Project.” It will be extensively revised before final publication.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This draft analysis is be circulated for comment as part of the CSIS “Saudi Arabia Enters the 21st Century Project.” It will be extensively revised before final publication.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This draft analysis is be circulated for comment as part of the CSIS “Saudi Arabia Enters the 21st Century Project.” It will be extensively revised before final publication.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This draft analysis is be circulated for comment as part of the CSIS “Saudi Arabia Enters the 21 st Century Project.” It will be extensively revised before final publication.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As is the case with North Korea, experts differ over the seriousness of the Iranian threat. Most experts believe that Iran continues to pursue the development of long-range missiles, and of nuclear and biological warheads. Much will depend heavily on whether President Khatami and the more moderate elements in Iran's leadership can consolidate power and rein in Iran's hardline extremists, as well as on Iran's perception of the threat the US poses once it is ready to deploy and the cost of that deployment. This creates an extremely uncertain political climate.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North Korea
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the Gulf War, and the loss of some 40% of its army and air force order of battle, Iraq remains the most effective military power in the Gulf. It still has an army of around 375,000 men, and an inventory of some 2,200 main battle tanks, 3,700 other armored vehicles, and 2,400 major artillery weapons. It also has over 300 combat aircraft with potential operational status. At the same time, Iraq has lacked the funds, spare parts, and production capabilities to sustain the quality of its consolidated forces. Iraq has not been able to restructure its overall force structure to compensate as effectively as possible for its prior dependence on an average of $3 billion a year in arms deliveries. It has not been able to recapitalize any aspect of its force structure, and about two-thirds of its remaining inventory of armor and aircraft is obsolescent by Western standards. Iraq has not been able to fund and/or import any major new conventional warfare technology to react to the lessons of the Gulf War, or to produce any major equipment -- with the possible exception of limited numbers of Magic “dogfight” air-to-air missiles. In contrast, Saudi Arabia has taken delivery on over $66 billion worth of new arms since 1991, Kuwait has received $7.6 billion, Iran $4.3 billion, Bahrain $700 million, Oman $1.4 billion, Qatar $1.7 billion, and the UAE $7.9 billion, Equally important, the US has made major upgrades in virtually every aspect of its fighter avionics, attack munitions, cruise missile capabilities, and intelligence, reconnaissance, and targeting capabilities. Iraq's inability to recapitalize and modernize its forces means that much of its large order of battle is no obsolescent or obsolete, has uncertain combat readiness, and will be difficult to sustain in combat. It also raises serious questions about the ability of its forces to conduct long-range movements or maneuvers and then sustain coherent operations. Iraq has demonstrated that it can still carry out significant ground force exercises and fly relatively high sortie rates. It has not, however, demonstrated training patterns that show its army has consistent levels of training, can make effective use of combined arms above the level of some individual brigades, or has much capability for joint land-air operations. It has not demonstrated that it can use surface-to-air missiles in a well-organized way as a maneuvering force to cover its deployed land forces. Iran remains a major threat to Iraq. Iran lost 40-60% of its major land force equipment during the climactic battles of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. It has, however, largely recovered from its defeat by Iraq and now has comparatively large forces. Iran now has an army of around 450,000 men – including roughly 125,000 Revolutionary Guards, and an inventory of some 1,600 main battle tanks, 1,500 other armored vehicles, and 3,200 major artillery weapons. It also has over 280 combat aircraft with potential operational status. Iran has been able to make major improvements in its ability to threaten maritime traffic through the Gulf, and to conduct unconventional warfare. Iran has also begun to acquire modern Soviet combat aircraft and has significant numbers of the export version of the T-72 and BMP. Iran has not, however, been able to offset the obsolescence and wear of its overall inventory of armor, ships, and aircraft. Iran has not been able to modernize key aspects of its military capabilities such as airborne sensors and C4I/BM, electronic warfare, land-based air defense integration, beyond-visual-range air-to-air combat, night warfare capabilities, stand-off attack capability, armored sensors and fire control systems, artillery mobility and battle management, combat ship systems integration, etc. In contrast, no Southern Gulf state has built up significant ground forces since the Gulf War, and only Saudi Arabia has built up a significant air force. Only two Southern Gulf forces – those of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – have a significant defense capability against Iraq. Saudi Arabia has made real progress in improving its 75,000 man National Guard. Its army, however, lacks effective leadership, training, and organization. It now has an army of around 75,000 men –, and an inventory of some 1,055 main battle tanks, 4,800 other armored vehicles, and 500 major artillery weapons. It also has around 350 combat aircraft with potential operational status. The army has made little overall progress in training since the Gulf War, can probably only fight about half of its equipment holdings in the Iraqi border area (and it would take 4-6 weeks to deploy and prepare this strength), and has declined in combined arms capability since the Gulf War. It has little capability for joint land-air operations. Its individual pilots and aircraft have experienced a growing readiness crisis since the mid-1990s. It has lacked cohesive leadership as a fighting force since that time and cannot fight as a coherent force without US support and battle management.. Kuwait now has an army of only around 11,000 men, and an active inventory of some 293 main battle tanks, 466 other armored vehicles, and 17 major artillery weapons. Only its 218 M-1A2s are really operational and only a portion of these are in combat effective forces. It has only 82 combat aircraft and 20 armed helicopters with potential operational status, and only 40 are modern F-18s. It is making progress in training, but has not shown it can make effective use of combined arms above the battalion level, and has little capability for joint land-air operations. Its individual pilots and aircraft have moderate readiness, but cannot fight as a coherent force without US support and battle management. There has been little progress in standardization and interoperability; advances in some areas like ammunition have been offset by the failure to integrate increasingly advanced weapons systems. Showpiece exercises and purchases disguise an essentially static approach to force improvement which is heavily weapons oriented, and usually shows little real-world appreciation of the lessons of the Gulf War, the “revolution in military affairs,” and the need for sustainability. Current arms deliveries are making only token progress in correcting the qualitative defects in Southern Gulf forces, and no meaningful progress in being made towards integrating the Southern Gulf countries under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 12-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: If we go to war with Iraq, we will go to war with forces that are the military equivalent of a wounded poisonous snake. They are weakened, but still dangerous, and they may lash out in ways that are truly dangerous. In broad terms, Iraq's forces have been in steadily decline ever since the beginning of the fighting in the Gulf War. They have been weakened by military defeat, by the impact of UN inspections, by wars of underfunding and by a decade without significant arms imports. At the same time, they are still the most powerful conventional forces in the Gulf, and Iraq may have some very unconventional weapons.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This draft analysis is be circulated for comment as part of the CSIS “Saudi Arabia Enters the 21 st Century Project.” It will be extensively revised before final publication.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia