National Institute Press

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In Foreign Space Capabilities: Implications for U.S. National Security, Steve Lambakis explains that the United States relies heavily on space and must take steps to strengthen its deterrent and develop and field military forces to counter current and emerging space threats. Anti-satellite testing in space and other counter-space developments are on the rise, especially in China and Russia, and nations have practiced interference of satellites, such a jamming, without apparent fear of retaliation. Nations also are using space with greater proficiency and may be able to use space assets to counter U.S. military power or threaten U.S. national security. This is not a good sign for the future. The reality is that the United States is vulnerable to asymmetric attacks that could have a disproportionately disruptive effect on its safety and way of life. Policy makers and defense planners need to understand the nature and implications of space threats and the policy and strategy options to deal with challenges to U.S. security in this technologically and strategically dynamic environment.

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A New Nuclear Review for a New Age examines why and how to adjust US nuclear policy to the new realities of the post-Cold War world. The new realities of the threat environment are very different from those of the immediate post-Cold War period and the three previous NPRs—1994, 2001, and 2010. The contemporary threat environment is highly dynamic, and self-declared opponents have embarked on foreign policies designed to overturn the existing international order, elevated the roles of nuclear weapons in support of these policies, and continued to modernize and expand their nuclear arsenals. The hoped-for “new world order” has been superseded by the emergence of a new threat environment that includes expanding nuclear and non-nuclear threats.

US nuclear policy must now shift to address these new threat realities and again promote as priority US goals the deterrence of enemies, the assurance of allies, and the limitation of damage in the event deterrence fails. US nuclear capabilities and strategies to support these priority goals must be adaptable to the uncertainties of a highly-dynamic threat environment and the great variability in opponents and contexts. Correspondingly, flexibility and resilience must be priority metrics for US nuclear strategy, forces and infrastructure. Advancing flexibility and resilience across US nuclear policy will provide the most prudent basis possible for having the capabilities and strategies needed to meet the diverse and shifting demands of deterrence, assurance and damage limitation for decades to come.


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Russian Strategy: Expansion, Crisis and Conflict is based on readily-available and open sources of information, particularly including numerous Russian publications. Russian foreign military actions, defense initiatives, markedly expanded conventional and nuclear arms programs, internal repression, and egregious arms control non-compliance all appear to be elements of an increasingly assertive underlying Russian grand strategy.  Moscow’s agenda now includes a deeply-troubling mix of ingredients: increasing hostility towards the West, including expressed military threats via statements and nuclear exercises; expanding programs to produce advanced weapons and delivery vehicles, conventional and nuclear; revisions in military doctrine that place greater emphasis on the coercive use of nuclear threats, including first use; the first annexation of European territory by military force since World War II; blatant arms control noncompliance; and increasing domestic repression and authoritarianism. A reappraisal of Russian grand strategy and its elements is long overdue following two decades of confident Western belief in benign relations with Russia and corresponding confident claims about the dwindling value of nuclear deterrence and “hard” power, and naïve expectations of a perpetual “peace dividend.” This monograph is intended to provide an initial step in that reappraisal.


Assessment of U.S. Readiness to Design, Develop and Produce Nuclear Warheads:  Current Status and Some Remedial Steps by Thomas Scheber and John Harvey, with a foreword by John S. Foster, Jr.  This assessment was initiated out of deeply held concerns that the U.S. nuclear weapons enterprise has not achieved the proper balance between life extending the existing nuclear stockpile and providing the capabilities, personnel skills, and production infrastructure to respond to future adverse contingencies.  Of particular concern is the atrophy in readiness to design, develop, and produce new nuclear warheads, if required in the future.  Numerous studies over the past two decades have documented this atrophy, but recommendations to correct identified shortcomings have not received priority attention from national leadership.  This report discusses post-Cold War U.S. policies regarding the development of nuclear capabilities and identifies the most evident capability shortfalls of the current U.S. nuclear enterprise—in particular, sustaining the intellectual capital on which the current and future U.S. nuclear deterrent depends.  The report also offers near-term actions to address these critical shortfalls.  The intent is for this report to serve as a foundation for follow-on assessments and debate regarding this critical national security issue.


nfa-1This monograph, Nuclear Force Adaptability for Deterrence and Assurance:  A Prudent Alternative to Minimum Deterrence, is the second in a series examining the U.S. goals of deterrence, extended deterrence and the assurance of allies, and how to think about the corresponding U.S. standards of adequacy for measuring “how much is enough?” It begins to address the question, “If not Minimum Deterrence, then what?” by examining the manifest character of the contemporary threat environment in which the United States must pursue its strategic goals of deterring foes and assuring allies. Fortunately, there is considerable available evidence regarding the character of the contemporary threat environment and its general directions. Noted historians have compared this threat environment not to the bipolar Cold War, but to the highly dynamic threat environments leading to World War I and World War II. The uncertainties involved are daunting given the great diversity of hostile and potentially hostile states and non-state actors, leaderships, goals, perceptions, and forces that could be involved. From that starting point, this study identifies general U.S. force posture qualities that are likely to enable the United States to deter and assure as effectively as possible, and should, therefore, help serve as useful guidelines for the U.S. nuclear force posture. Finally, this study links specific recommendations for possible actions and policies consistent with those guidelines.


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