Strategic Studies Quarterly

Volume 07 Issue 3 - Fall 2013


The Need for a Strong US Nuclear Deterrent in the Twenty-First Century

Franklin C. Miller

Nuclear weapons will continue to have a significant influence on international security for the foreseeable future. The key questions are: What constitutes a credible deterrent and how much is enough?

Space: Tomorrow and Beyond
Lt Gen Gary Trexler, USAF, Retired

My objective assessment of what the future holds for space—includes key challenges for current programs, next-generation programs, and future architectures. It offers a framework for a realistic, affordable, step-by-step plan for sustaining current performance as the national security space (NSS) architecture evolves over the next 50 years.


Lessons from Modern Warfare: What the Conflicts of the Post–Cold War Years Should Have Taught Us

Benjamin S. Lambeth

Generalizations from the combined record of force employment worldwide starting in 1991 have clear implications for future decision makers regarding core questions of strategy and force development choices: Airpower will inevitably be pivotal in future wars, Airpower alone can sometimes achieve desired goals, A ground input will usually enhance airpower’s potential, Airpower won’t always be preeminent in joint warfare, The major combat roles of air and land power have been reversed, Carrier airpower can sometimes substitute for land-based fighters, Effects-based operations outperform simple attrition every time, Coercion works best with modest goals and expectations, For regime change planning just for the takedown won’t suffice, Even the best force imaginable can’t make up for a flawed strategy, Mission creep usually comes at a high price, and We don’t get to pick our wars that matter most.


Missile Defenses and Nuclear Arms Reductions: Moving Deterrence Forward, or Backward?
Stephen J. Cimbala

This article first considers some of the political and military background pertinent to the relationship between Russian and US strategic nuclear arms limitations and missile defense. Next, it analyzes several cases of candidate “New START–minus” agreements allegedly under study by the Obama administration, including the possible implications of missile defenses for deterrence stability under post–New START reductions. Finally, it draws four conclusions about how ambitious the United States and Russia can be in reducing strategic nuclear forces, not only in terms of their own security and defense requirements, but also with respect to the involvement of other nuclear weapons states.

Scramble in the South China Sea: Regional Conflict and US Strategy
Lt Col Aaron W. Steffens, USAF

Current US strategy for the region is largely rhetorical and unlikely to solve any of the core issues. A US strategy of sustainable engagement would better serve American interests in the region by tackling the underlying sources of friction before conflict can shut down trade routes or engulf friendly militaries. The strategy envisions a more practical engagement with the PRC across all levels to ameliorate strategic distrust, recognize China’s desire to lead regionally, and further its transition to responsible stakeholder status. Most importantly, however, robust engagement and US leadership on the key drivers of conflict and tension—sovereignty and resource distribution—could create win-win scenarios of compromise.

Astroimpolitic: Organizing Outer Space by the Sword
Maj Matthew Burris, USAF

The seductively simple, yet deeply flawed, logic of inevitability triggers a dangerous orthodoxy—one that could lead to an entirely unnecessary and preventable self-fulfilling prophecy. While future Sino-US relations will likely be marked by intense competition, war with China is not inevitable, whether for control of outer space or otherwise.


Book Essay: Decade of War: No Lessons Endure

Colonel Richard Szafranski, USAF, Retired

We—humankind—are notoriously poor students, especially when it comes to war...good lessons taken from bad wars may embolden undertake bad wars in the future.

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