Strategic Insights: Better Late Than Never Authored by: Dr M Chris Mason. October 23, 2018

Seventeen years ago this November, in a conference room in the Pentagon, I explained that, in whatever form it took, the new Government of Afghanistan would require some sort of provincial or territorial forces under Afghan Army command to augment the regular national army, which the interagency working group was tasked with creating. This structure was how Afghanistan organized its army from 1910 to 1979. Afghanistan could never afford to pay the salaries for, be able to maintain, or fill the ranks of a regular, all-volunteer army large enough to defend all of its territory simultaneously. And in Afghanistan, there’s always an uprising somewhere.

Assessing the Collective Security Treaty Organization: Capabilities and Vulnerabilities Authored by: Dr Richard Weitz. October 18, 2018


Russia has strengthened its military position in Central Asia and the South Caucasus through a combination of bilateral and multilateral initiatives. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has become the most important multilateral defense structure in the former Soviet Union and is an essential instrument in Russia’s resurgence. The CSTO has expanded its missions, authorities, and capabilities. However, it faces both internal and external challenges, especially debilitating divisions among its members.

Afghanistan and Beyond: Reflections on the Future of Warfare Authored by: Dr Stephen J Blank. June 01, 1993

This report provides an historical analysis of lessons from one of the most important wars of the 1980s, the war in Afghanistan. After reading this study, you will better understand the nature of operations "other than war" in multiethnic states. Many fear that these wars will set the paradigm for wars in the 1990s and will exert pressure on U.S. forces to conduct peacekeeping, peace-enforcement and humanitarian assistance operations in especially dangerous areas. Yugoslavia and Somalia, each in their own way, bear out the ubiquity of these wars and the pressures on the United States to act. This report will, of course, contribute to the body of material dealing with the war in Afghanistan.

More importantly, it increases understanding of future wars, particularly these types of wars, so that policymakers and analysts alike will better appreciate their military and political aspects. In turn, we may devise mechanisms either to forestall and avert them, or to bring them to the speediest possible conclusion. Alternatively, should those mechanisms fail and troops have to be committed, this and future analyses will enable commanders to have a better grasp of the nature of the war they will fight. In either case, understanding the war and the theater should facilitate a solution more in keeping with U.S. interests and values.

Energy and Security in Transcaucasia Authored by: Dr Stephen J Blank. September 01, 1994

One of the world's enduring regional conflicts is in Nagorno-Karabakh. This war pits local Armenians and their cousins from Armenia against Azerbaidzhan and has enmeshed Russia, Turkey and the Western allies (France, Great Britain, and the United States) in a complex series of regional relationships. The international stakes of this war involve the control over exploration for natural gas and oil and the transhipment of these commodities from Azerbaidzhan to the West. Energy resources represent Azerbaidzhan's primary means of economic modernization and are therefore vital to its economic and political freedom. For Russia and Turkey the question is one of access to enormous amounts of desperately needed hard currency and control over a long-standing area of contention between them. More broadly, Russia's tactics in attempting to impose a peace settlement in the war and to establish control of a large share of the local energy economy represent a recrudescence of the imperial tendencies in Russian policy that are incompatible with democratic reform. Accordingly, this war is overlaid with international rivalries of great scope and of more than regional significance. Western policy here is a sign of U.S. and European intentions to preserve the post-Soviet status quo while Russian policy is no less illustrative of the direction of its political evolution. The Strategic Studies Institute hopes that this study will clarify the links between energy and regional security and that it will enable our readers to assess regional trends and their importance for the United States, its allies, and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Central Asia: A New Great Game? Authored by: LTC Dianne L Smith. June 01, 1996

In January 1996, the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted a conference on "Asian Security to the Year 2000." One focus of the conferees was the growing relevance of events in Central Asia. Perhaps nowhere on the continent was the Cold War transformation in the security environment more dramatic than in Central Asia. There the sudden retraction of Soviet power and decline in superpower competition was rapidly followed by the creation of new states, whose prospects for legitimacy, development, and independent survival were, at best, uncertain. The half-decade that has followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union has not been sufficient time for any of the vast challenges facing Central Asia to have been addressed definitively. Nor can we be confident that a stable regional "system" has coalesced. Yet, the past 5 years have produced an emerging pattern of relations amenable to tentative analysis.

Lieutenant Colonel Dianne Smith of SSI details the complex problems facing the region and then turns her attention to Central Asia's evolving security structure. By involving the "Great Game" analogy, she takes the perspective that, for this part of the continent, it is the nations surrounding the region that will play the primary role in shaping its future (although the new Central Asian nations are participants, not pawns, in this struggle for influence). Colonel Smith's analysis focuses on the interests and actions of five of those surrounding nations: Iran, Pakistan, India, Russia, and China. Each has significant interests in Central Asia, and each, thus far, has tempered, to some degree, its actions to advance those interests in recognition of the competing objectives of the others. For the United States, a power vacuum in Central Asia seems a remote concern at first blush.

India's Security Environment: Towards the Year 2000 Authored by: Dr Raju G C Thomas. July 01, 1996

In January 1996, the U.S. War College's Strategic Studies Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted a conference on "Asian Security to the Year 2000." In his presentation to the conference, Dr. Raju Thomas examined India's defense perspectives and prospects. From the standpoint of national security, India's post-independence history divides neatly into a turbulent first half, which included conflicts with China and Pakistan, and a relatively more stable period since 1971. That stability has been rattled by significant challenges (Kashmir, Sri Lanka, etc.), as Dr. Thomas points out. Five years ago, the collapse of the Soviet Union seemed to presage a more troubled era. Certainly, it caused as broad a reassessment of strategic policy in South Asia as elsewhere in the world. Dr. Thomas analyzes India's security environment and the three levels of challenges that India confronts in this post-Cold War period--internal, conventional military, and nuclear. While the challenges in each arena are profound and interrelated, he finds considerable room for optimism that the early years of the next century will see continued stability in South Asia.

Asian Security to the Year 2000 Authored by: Prof Marc Jason Gilbert, Prof Paul HB Godwin, Mr Abraham Kim, LTC Dianne L Smith, Dr William J Taylor Jr, Dr Robert J Wirsing, Mr Perry L Wood. Edited by: LTC Dianne L Smith. December 01, 1996

In January 1996, the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted a conference on "Asian Security to the Year 2000." No region of the world has greater potential for expanded influence on American interests. This compendium of papers from the conference examines the security policies being pursued by many of the key Asian actors--China, the Koreas, Pakistan, and the nations of Southeast Asia, particularly those in ASEAN. The contributors to this volume paint the picture of a dynamic and diverse Asia on the verge of the new century. Each author identifies the critical issues which frame both challenges and opportunities for U.S. foreign, economic, and security policies.

Challenges and Options in the Caucasus and Central Asia Authored by: Dr Pavel K Baev. April 01, 1997

In April 1997, the U.S. Army War College held its Eighth Annual Strategy Conference. This year's topic was "Russia's Future as a World Power." Dr. Pavel K. Baev, a senior researcher at the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway, discusses the disintegration of order along Russia's southern border. Following a brief overview of the evolution of Russian policies in the Caucasus and Central Asia in the immediate post-Soviet period, Dr. Baev evaluates the impact of the Chechen war and then analyzes the growing role that petroleum plays in the political equation. He concludes that the growth of nationalism among the states in the Caucasus and Central Asia has combined with the decline in capability of the Russian Army to encourage many of the states to seek greater autonomy from Russian influence. While Russia is in strategic retreat, the political forces acting upon President Yeltsin are so intense as to increase the possibility that hasty and unwise decisions may be forthcoming. Turbulence in the so-called near abroad and political weakness at home plagued Russia at the turn of the century, forcing Tsar Nicholas II to turn to his more conservative and autocratic advisors for advice and policy. A fledgling move toward democratization was weakened even before Russia found itself embroiled in World War I. As this century turns, the course of Russian democracy again hinges, to a degree, on events on Russia's periphery. This makes Professor Baev's analysis that much more germane to those concerned with Russia's future.

Breaking Away from the Bear Authored by: LTC Dianne L Smith. August 01, 1998

Lieutenant Colonel Dianne L. Smith examines the development of post-Soviet Central Asian armed forces, Central Asian efforts to guarantee their national security, and the implications for the United States of this struggle. She cautions that the United States use its influence and its military-to-military contact programs judiciously. This is a region of great instability, with massive infusions of energy wealth just beyond the horizon. If these states can create viable methods to ensure domestic and regional security, this wealth may produce prosperity and secure well-being for their citizens. If these states fail to create institutions to preserve their national sovereignty, the new century could presage long, lingering chaos and waste on a grand scale. One need only look south to Afghanistan for such a model.

Opening Pandora's Box: Ethnicity and Central Asian Militaries Authored by: LTC Dianne L Smith. October 01, 1998

The author examines whether ethnic consciousness affects military service and the specific roles played by ethnic groups within the armed forces, or if military institutions affect ethnicity. The Soviets used military service as a tool to break down ethnicity and create a "New Soviet Man." They failed. Do Central Asian armed forces break down ethnic divisions and serve as a vehicle for social integration or do they reinforce ethnic consciousness within minorities and therefore sharpen ethnic polarization? Ethnicity tore the Soviet Union apart. Can the Central Asian states avoid that fate? Will their military forces help or hinder that process? Can the U.S. armed forces, which have a well-merited reputation for managing diversity, provide a role model to help promote stability in this increasingly important, energy rich, region?