The Uncertain Consequences of Nuclear Weapons Use, by Michael J. Frankel, James Scouras, and George W. Ullrich (October 2013)
The considerable body of knowledge on the consequences of nuclear weapons employment—accumulated through an extensive, sustained, and costly national investment in both testing and analysis over two-thirds of a century—underlies all operational and policy decisions related to U.S. nuclear planning. We find that even when consideration is restricted to the physical consequences of nuclear weapon employment, where our knowledge base on effects of primary importance to military planners is substantial, there remain very large uncertainties, in no small part because many questions, such as the impacts on the infrastructures that sustain society, were never previously asked or investigated. Other significant uncertainties in physical consequences exist because important phenomena were uncovered late in the test program, have been inadequately studied, are inherently difficult to model, or are the result of new weapon developments. Even more difficult to quantify non-physical consequences, such as social, psychological, political, and full economic impacts, were never on any funding agency’s radar screen. As a result, the physical consequences of a nuclear conflict tend to have been underestimated, and a full spectrum all-effects assessment is not within anyone’s grasp now or in the foreseeable future. The continuing brain drain of nuclear scientists and the general failure to recognize the post-Cold War importance of accurate and comprehensive nuclear consequence assessments, especially for scenarios of increasing concern at the lower end of the scale of catastrophe, do not bode well for improving this situation.
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The Dark Matter of Terrorism, by Dallas Boyd and James Scouras (November 2010)
The consequences of states' reactions to terrorist attacks can far outweigh the effects of the attacks themselves. Yet risk analysis, widely accepted as the proper analytical basis for assessing terrorist threats, largely ignores the consequences from potential reactions to attacks. It also generally fails to consider how the anticipation of these reactions may influence terrorists' attack preferences. Policy makers should therefore be wary of the limitations of risk analysis as currently practiced. Further, states should strive to avoid reactions to attacks that unwittingly further their adversaries' agendas, a goal that may be aided by strengthening public resilience to terrorism.
Published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Volume 33, Issue 12 (144 KB)
THE NEW TRIAD: Diffusion, Illusion, and Confusion in the Nuclear Mission, by Michael J. Frankel, James Scouras, and George W. Ullrich (July 2009)
The New Triad, the Department of Defense's conceptual structure for strategic capabilities, is an impediment to clear thinking, communication, and consensus regarding nuclear issues. Its fatal flaw is the commingling of nuclear and conventional weapons, which lowers the nuclear threshold and undermines deterrence and stability. The vertices of the New Triad appear to represent little more than institutional interests intent on staking out equity, with the primary purpose of promoting the acquisition of controversial capabilities—missile defenses, conventional global strike, new nuclear warheads—rather than comprising the well thought out complementary components of an integrated system. Thus it lacks the intellectual coherence necessary to communicate nuclear policy to the public and to Congress. We recommend that the new Administration scrap the New Triad, divorce nuclear and conventional deterrence, and reserve nuclear weapons for deterring extreme threats and responding to extreme attacks from nuclear states for which no lesser military capabilities suffice.
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Nuclear Futures Project (2011)
Over the past several years, there has been considerable debate over the future of the US nuclear posture and of nuclear weapons more broadly. On the one side are arrayed those who argue that the United States should commit itself to eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide. Deployed opposite them are those who argue that nuclear weapons retain political and military utility for the US and others and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. To explore these arguments, the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) held a series of unclassified workshops to map the intellectual landscape regarding nuclear weapons by investigating their possible use, including as deterrents, in the context of specific crisis scenarios.
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The workshop series sought to explore those nation states, non-nation-state groups, and areas of the world that are of special national security importance to the United States and how those states perceive various issues that affect them both internally and externally. To this end, the workshops sought to examine a state's current leadership and population, how and why they think as they do, their history and the lens through which they look at issues, issues that they are currently facing, and the possibility for future competition and conflict with the United States. Currently available workshop reports include:
Iran | China | Russia | North Korea | Venezuela | Soft Power | Nigeria
Visions of Apocalypse: What Jews, Christians, and Muslims Believe about the End Times and How Those Beliefs Affect Our World, by LTC(R) Robert R. Leonhard (2010)
This publication is an essay on comparative eschatology among the three Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and how beliefs about the end times express themselves through foreign policy and conflict. It explores the concept that our world is shaped, influenced, and in some cases governed by age-old prophecies recorded in the sacred literature of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. By understanding the essential eschatological themes in those literatures we can better comprehend the world.
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Proceedings from the Indian Ocean Maritime Security Symposium (April 15–17, 2009)
The Indian Ocean Maritime Security Symposium (IOMSS) was convened by the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security with support from APL. The symposium was held in Canberra, Australia, with representatives from 15 nations. The aim of the IOMSS, as a policy forum, was to improve understanding of the issues and challenges for maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region with a view toward identifying options for enhancing cooperation.
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Proceedings from the Indian Ocean Workshop (April 8–9, 2008)
This first in a series of conferences with international participants was held to examine Indian Ocean geopolitical, economic, trade, resource, and security issues. The workshop involved military, government, academic, and industry participants from six nations. Their discussions highlighted many of the concerns that must be addressed in the near future. Plans were initiated to further develop cooperation among parties actively interested in the maritime aspects of security in the Indian Ocean region.
Compressed (1 MB) | Low Resolution (1.7 MB) | High Resolution (4.53 MB)
The China Relief Expedition: Joint Coalition Warfare in China, Summer 1900, by LTC(R) Robert R. Leonhard (2008)
This publication examines the multinational force that marched to rescue the besieged diplomatic legations in Peking. Operating within a foreign society in which friend and foe looked identical and cultural sensitivities were at the boiling point, the allied forces also had to deal with each other. Conflicting plans sprang from equally conflicting agendas. Comparisons and contrasts with operations in Iraq from 2003 to 2008 are remarkable. We have progressed beyond the ideologies and social context that led to the pillaging of Peking in 1900, but we have not completed the transition by solving the operational implications of democratic liberalism in war.
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Maritime Security: Questions for a New Era, by CAPT(R) Steven L. Richter (April 2006)
This publication briefly examines evolution of maritime strategy from the 14th century to present day and poses questions that, if answered, may lead to a comprehensive/coherent maritime security strategy for the 21st century.
The Evolution of Strategy in the Global War on Terror , prepared by LTC(R) Robert R. Leonhard (September 2005)
This publication illustrates from the history of our Civil War how American strategy evolves and then extrapolates and suggests ways in which strategy in the global war on terror will likely evolve. Part One introduces the subject, and Part Two is an after-action report on a conference sponsored by APL. The goal is to show which aspects of the American strategy in the war on terror will probably change and how they will change, as well as provide some specific policy recommendations primarily developed from conference results.
This short analysis seeks to identify the factors that led those studying North Korea in the late 1980s and early 1990s to forecast its collapse, the basic fallacies that led these predictions astray, and the ongoing prospects for a collapse in the future. From these perspectives, the work assesses whether a future collapse of North Korea is in the best interest of the United States. Full Image
Defense Economics (March 2005)
This analysis identifies economic factors and conditions that are important to a nation-state's ability to develop, acquire, and sustain significant military forces and capabilities. It examines readily available economic data that influence the size and direction of a country's defense spending. It is less applicable to subnational and transnational threats whose financial and arms requirements tend to get lost in the background noise. (Due to extensive notes, file should be SAVED and read offline in Notes Page view.)
Alternative Futures: Scenario Planning for 21st-Century National Security, by Duncan Brown, Doug Randall (Global Business Network), and F. Fernandez (consultant to APL) (March 2005)
This paper examines potential geopolitical strategic futures, their impact on national security and the military, military required technology, and related research and development. This document is for official use only and available to government, military, and DoD contractors by special request from the author.
Culture's Mask: War and Change After Iraq, by Dr. Michael Vlahos (September 2004)
This analysis suggests that we are entering a period of "world-historical" change predicated on an Islamic revival that has been gaining strength for a generation or more and is now clearly continuing to assert itself as manifest in the conflict between the United States and elements of the Muslim world. Over the decades that this conflict promises, an active U.S. engagement in the Muslim world has the potential to profoundly affect both the Muslim world and American society. Culture's Mask argues that our national strategy has yet to fully address the profound implications of this new evolving relationship between America and the Muslim world, and suggests that it is incumbent to do so now.
Perspectives on Military Transformation: Towards a Global Security Force, by Dr. Michael Vlahos (August 2003)
An American "crisis-ethos" has expanded the military's mission to make it the world's security-management force. This expansion has the potential to change the military in ways that are culturally uncomfortable and operationally risky.
Terror's Mask: Insurgency Within Islam, by Dr. Michael Vlahos (May 2002)
This analysis suggested that what we (still) call "terrorism" is actually an insurgency that emerged from a struggle within Islam. The questions it asked then are still relevant today: If the enemy is not "terrorism" but rather a broader insurgency within Islam, how do we take its measure? If the struggle across the Muslim world is about change along with the future of Islam, how do we assess the historical dynamic of that change? And most importantly, if the United States, in pursuing the war on terror, is also drawn into a struggle over change within Islam, how should this influence our national strategy?
Two Enemies: How Change Comes to the Muslim World, by Dr. Michael Vlahos
The Middle East conflict has evolved into a conflict between the United States and its Arab supporters and two enemies or fighter groups. Both groups seek to liberate Muslims from what they see as twin evils of local tyranny and an unbeliever invasion. The United States, by invading Iraq, has accelerated change in the Muslim world and elevated and legitimated politically the two groups. The United States has thus dramatically advanced the cause of successor politics in the Muslim world. The old status quo is dead. America must now choose between two different, authentically Muslim change agents.
Through these analyses, which have provided key underpinnings for a number of war games, seminars, and study efforts sponsored by a variety of DoD offices (including OSD/Office of Force Transformation [OFT], OSD/Office of Net Assessments [ONA], the Assistant Secretary of Defense [ASD]/Special Operations for Low-Intensity Conflict [SOLIC], the DSB, and others), APL analysts are helping to lay the foundation for understanding future national security challenges and future defense requirements.
To request a copy of this publication, please contact Duncan Brown.
Principles of War (Essays), by LTC(R) Robert R. Leonhard
This series of short articles, originally published in Armchair General magazine, primarily covers each classic Principle of War individually: