Strategic Studies Quarterly

Volume 09 Issue 1 - Spring 2015


Minuteman for the Joint Fight

Robert L. Butterworth

The nuclear portfolio could be focused on two different delivery systems: aircraft and submarines. Once removed from their nuclear mission, all Minuteman III missiles could be refitted with nonnuclear warheads to provide a valuable capability. Conversion of the ICBM force would go well beyond a limited niche capability to provide a strategic strike force useful in fighting wars large and small, as well as enhancing core strategic and extended deterrence.

Busting Myths about Nuclear Deterrence
James A Blackwell and Charles E. Costanzo

America is embarked on a quest for a world without nuclear weapons, but we live in a world not yet safe from war and threats of war. Hence, for as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal—both to deter potential adversaries and to assure US allies and other security partners that they can count on US security commitments. Our nuclear posture communicates to potential nuclear-armed adversaries that they cannot use nuclear threats to intimidate the United States, its allies, or partners or escalate their way out of failed conventional aggression.


Applying Cost Imposition Strategies Against China

Colonel Kenneth P. Ekman, USAF

Cost imposition strategies focus on eliciting an adversary response that creates a hardship differential favoring the initiating nation. There is new interest in cost-imposing strategies as the most beneficial element of the competitive spectrum. If applied against China, cost-imposing strategies can succeed when based on correct predictions of Chinese responses and accurate accounting for the monetary and other security costs involved. In the air domain, competition involving China’s ballistic and cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles (SAM), and fighters offer the United States different degrees of advantage and hardship. Defense decision makers will find that cost imposition is not a panacea. They should understand the concept beyond its current level of misuse both for the disproportionate advantage it offers and for the liability it poses when used against America. To institutionalize the practice, the Department of Defense (DOD) should revive the competitive strategies structure and methods developed in the 1980s. Implementation will require overcoming institutional resistance, short time horizons, and significant fiscal constraints.


Deterring Malicious Behavior in Cyber Space
Scott Jasper

Recent incidents reveal cyberattacks are being employed and honed in a systematic, coordinated fashion to achieve the objectives of malicious actors. Deterrence of the wide array of actors in cyberspace is difficult, since deterrence has to work in the mind of the attacker. Each attacker will weigh the effort of the attack against the expected benefit under their own criteria or rationality. This article analyzes whether the contemporary and complementary deterrence strategies of retaliation, denial, and entanglement are sufficient to deter malicious cyber actors or if the alternative of active cyberdefense is necessary and viable.

Remediating Space Debris: Legal and Technical Barriers
Joshua Tallis

As with many international crises, the solution to space debris is far more complicated than the circumstances that created it. A host of legal, political, and technical considerations persist in making space debris a topic of frustration. It remains a growing problem that encourages greater utilization of technology and personal responsibility among agencies the world over. While attempts at debris mitigation are critical to positively impact long-term sources of debris, such limited attempts do not offer a solution to the wider problem.

Power and Predation in Cyberspace
Christopher Whyte

This article offers an alternative framework for understanding the sources of national security and power online. Wide-scale deployment of cyberweaponry regularly occurs beyond the scope of direct attacks on the infrastructure of national security and has a real effect on the power potential of states in the international system. Though the threat of cyberattack is a potent one, the greater impact on state power stems from the long-term disruption and distortion of the national innovation economy. The integration of civil and industrial functions with network systems allows for unprecedented levels of access to those second-order processes that underwrite national innovative potential and, ultimately, national power. A disruption to this underlying national apparatus via persistent, intrusive computer network exploitations (CNE) could diminish the innovative growth potential of sovereign actors in international affairs along several lines and essentially produce a power potential deficit that would not otherwise have existed.

Fear and Learning in Tehran: What Recent Psychological Research Reveals about Nuclear Crises
Michael D. Cohen

Recent psychological research has shown that experiencing fear, if people believe they have some control over the source of the fear, reduces their tolerance for risk. Leaders who experience fear of imminent nuclear war thereafter tend to reject these risky policies. Indeed, experiencing the fear of imminent nuclear war will cause leaders to avoid calculated and uncalculated risks. While the United States should work toward a comprehensive solution with Iran, using force would be not only risky but also counterproductive. If Iran developed the bomb, the use of force would be much less likely to succeed than the simplest policy of all: allowing Iranian political leaders to stop this behavior on their own.

 Download in PDF Format Download in Kindle Format 
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

Join the Strategic Conversation

Visit the Air University Press on FacebookFacebook Logoand Join the Strategic Conversation.

What are your thoughts on SSQ?

Air University Press Logo
600 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6010