Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip, has significant interests in the stability of neighboring Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Like Egypt and Israel, Hamas has a stake in countering the rise of Salafi-jihadi groups in Sinai, some of which originally hail from Gaza. These groups are currently attacking Egyptian forces in Sinai, and they have on occasion attacked Israel from across the Egyptian border; but they also serve as an existential threat to Hamas’ control over the Palestinian enclave. As such, and somewhat awkwardly, Hamas shares interests with Egypt, which is currently cracking down on Hamas’ Egyptian counterpart, […]

As a strategic approach, the U.S. pivot or rebalance to Asia seeks to expand the American political, economic and military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. While this realignment is not only about China, it is also evident that much of the thinking behind it relates to China, and in particular how a more engaged American leadership in Asia could be potentially productive in steering Beijing toward a path that, from the U.S. perspective, would be beneficial for regional and global order. The strategic shift has led many observers to perceive the rebalance as a means for the U.S. to maintain […]

In the absence of a NATO heads-of-state summit this year, the regular meetings of the alliance’s defense ministers take on added importance. This past week’s meeting in Brussels on Oct. 22-23 yielded important achievements regarding the Connected Forces Initiative, but offered little new to say on Afghanistan, Russia or NATO’s core capability initiatives. The meeting was also overshadowed by fallout over revelations of U.S. National Security Agency surveillance of American allies as well as Turkey’s decision to award a missile defense contract to a sanctioned Chinese company. To avoid having such controversies distract from next year’s heads-of-state summit, or have […]

The coming end of the Afghanistan operation that has defined NATO for the past decade marks the end of an era for the alliance. Its mission in the next decade will look drastically different. Gone is the political and public appetite for costly overseas state-building missions. To maintain its relevance, the alliance will have to refocus its commitments, partnerships and missions to make them more dynamic and more responsive to the evolving security landscape. One way to do so involves widening the definition of Atlanticism to include the South Atlantic and the Arctic, areas traditionally ignored by NATO but critical […]

Rumors are swirling in Washington that the Pentagon is thinking of closing its Office of Net Assessment (ONA). Alarmed by this idea, four congressmen led by Rep. Randy Forbes wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (.pdf) demanding “a commitment to the Office of Net Assessment.” The Lexington Institute’s Daniel Goure joined the fray, opining that ONA “must be preserved and supported.” National security discussion boards and email loops quickly lit up with concern for ONA’s future. Outside Washington such passion must seem strange. ONA is a tiny organization that mostly commissions analysis and studies. Abolishing or changing a government office […]

Last week, in the midst of a political campaign that has focused heavily on public security, authorities in Honduras deployed 1,000 military police as part of an effort to address drug violence and organized crime in this Central American country, home to the highest homicide rate in the world. Honduras is nearing its November elections, when voters will determine whether the same two parties will continue to dominate the political scene, or whether a new party will upend the election. The deployment of the newly created military police unit is another step in a 10-year process in which the Honduran […]

A historic change is underway in the global security system. As Harvard political scientist Stephen Walt wrote, the world is witnessing “a sharp decline in America’s ability to shape the global order.” In the future, Walt and others believe, “the United States simply won’t have the resources to devote to international affairs that it had in the past.” Christopher Layne of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University is even more blunt: “The epoch of American dominance is drawing to a close, and international politics is entering a period of transition: no longer unipolar […]

Last Friday, the Pentagon announced that, by next July, all U.S. troops will leave Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan. The base has served as the most important transit center for U.S. and coalition troops entering and leaving Afghanistan by air, but that role will soon be replaced by a base in Romania. The move comes in response to a July vote by Kyrgyzstan’s parliament to terminate the U.S. lease at Manas effective one year later, on July 11, 2014. It is not the first time Kyrgyzstan has threatened to end the arrangement. Unlike on previous occasions, this time Washington decided not […]

This month, India announced plans to buy eight mine-countermeasure vessels from a South Korean company in a deal worth $1.2 billion. In an email interview, Scott W. Harold, an associate political scientist at the RAND Corp., discussed the state of the South Korean defense industry. WPR: What is the current state of South Korea’s defense industry, and what is driving its growth? Scott W. Harold: From an extremely low base in the 1970s, the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) defense industry has been maturing in a number of areas including ground systems, precision strike capabilities, electronics and shipbuilding. It has also […]

In early September, the United States and Indonesia participated in joint counterterrorism exercises, part of a trend of growing military ties between the two countries. In an email interview, Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto, associate research fellow with the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, explained Indonesia’s goals in modernizing its military and its military partnerships. WPR: What are Indonesia’s goals in modernizing its military? Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto: Indonesia’s military modernization is currently based on the Long-Term National Development Plan for 2005-2025, which calls for achieving a “minimum […]

Americans can be brutally effective against another nation that relies on conventional military power. The Confederacy, Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union all found this out. They “fought fair,” so the United States was able to out-spend them all and eventually win. But Americans are not so adept against enemies that do not fight fair, whether dispersed, amorphous organizations not easily crushed through military action, hostile ideologies or cultures, or systemic instability. Impatient for quick results when none are available, the United States gravitates to short-term problem solving, teetering from crisis to crisis. That is where we are today. Critics […]

Nearly 1,000 people died in military detention in Nigeria in the first half of 2013, Amnesty International reported Tuesday, citing a senior officer in the Nigerian army. The detainees’ deaths occurred in the context of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s offensive against the Islamist movement Boko Haram, which is waging a violent insurgency in the country’s north. In May, Jonathan declared a state of emergency in several northeastern provinces, authorizing security forces to round up hundreds of prisoners, many of whom were shot or suffocated in detention, according to Amnesty. Nigeria has employed similarly heavy-handed tactics against Boko Haram since the […]

Last weekend’s dispatch of U.S. special operations units on missions into Tripoli, Libya, and Barawe, Somalia, to capture leading terrorist figures, building on earlier operations such as the 2011 mission that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, reflects an ongoing shift in the Obama administration’s willingness to risk U.S. casualties as well as deal with possible diplomatic incidents in order to go after high-value targets in the war on terror. It is a marked contrast to the unwillingness during the Clinton administration, prior to 9/11, to countenance possible losses or to insert American operatives on the ground in […]

After months of halting but positive movement, the peace talks between the government and Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, may have hit a roadblock. That obstacle, as WPR’s Frida Ghitis wrote last week, is Colombia’s fast-approaching elections. Ghitis warned that the electoral schedule is casting a shadow over the negotiations: “As the clock runs down to the May 2014 presidential election, the prospect of peace hangs in the balance for the country. Colombians are getting restless, taking a decidedly unfavorable view of the president and becoming increasingly suspicious of the secretive process.” Over the past week, signs have emerged […]

Over the weekend, members of special mission units under the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command carried out raids in Somalia and Libya, capturing a senior al-Qaida operative in the latter country. While these attacks often come across as lightning strikes in the media, no detail is spared in terms of coordination and preparation. Trend Lines spoke with three experts about the disconnect between how these operations appear versus how they operate. “The events this weekend were both significant and insignificant,” David Maxwell, associate director of the Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, told Trend […]

Global Insights: Aegis Successes Give U.S. BMD Efforts a Boost

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Pentagon have conducted a series of ballistic missile defense (BMD) tests in recent weeks that confirm the growing capabilities of the Navy’s premier at-sea interceptor.* Even better, the tested system will soon deploy in Europe to bolster NATO’s front-line defenses against Iranian missile threats. The remaining challenges are to induce European allies to contribute more resources to NATO’s collective missile defense efforts and for the United States to make better use of its proven sea-based defenses by incorporating them into a homeland defense role. On Sept. 9, the MDA detected, tracked and intercepted […]

Last week, I expressed my skepticism that the Obama administration would be able to sustain its stated commitment to “rebalance” U.S. policy from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region, given the priorities that the president laid out in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly. Barack Obama was supposed to correct that by undertaking a major visit to East Asia this weekend and next week, centered on the forthcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Indonesia and the ASEAN and East Asia summits in Brunei. The trip was to be an opportunity to demonstrate a renewed U.S. commitment to […]

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