ICBMs to the Future

The Future of the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force | RAND. The nice folks at RAND lay out the best alternative for extending the cost-effective relevance of American ICBMs. Why is this important? Because it addresses upgrades currently underway in China’s Second Artillery Corps; and it invites additional expenditures in those upgrades. Let the escalation begin.

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On the Rack: Strategic Studies Quarterly

Demilitarized Zone, North Korea

Demilitarized Zone, North Korea (Photo credit: yeowatzup)

Strategic Studies Quarterly
Winter 2012

The SSQ for Winter 2012 is out and on the racks. There is nothing specific about China in this edition, but a couple of articles might capture the imagination of China hands.

USAF Colonel Vincent Alcazar offers some thinking about how to counter “anti-access/area denial” strategies pursued by potential adversaries, including China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Interesting to note that Russia is back on the boogey-man board.

RAND’s Bruce Bennett offers some ideas on deterring North Korea from using WMD. What is fascinating about the article is its underlying assumption: deterrence depends on the actions of the U.S. and the Republic of Korea. The hint is clear: US planners no longer feel they can count on China’s help in addressing the Korean nuclear threat.

As always, a half dozen excellent reads. It is telling, though, that most of the contributors in this Air Force publication are not serving or former USAF officers. One wonders if there is a brain drain sapping the formerly deep intellectual pool of America’s air service.

 

A New START is Not Enough

The Next Arms Race
Henry D. Sokolski, Ed.

Strategic Studies Institute
July, 2012

While it is gratifying to see the United States and Russia continuing the effort to reduce the nuclear weapons on the planet, the elephant in the room is the rise of other nuclear powers and the extent to which they undermine the New START agreement.

In this comprehensive volume, Henry Sokolski, the Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, brings together a range of expert perspectives on the looming nuclear standoffs, touching on South Asia, Northeast Asia, and the Mideast. The question implicit in the volume is whether we need to rethink arms control in the face of creeping proliferation and the growing number of regional conflicts that might go nuclear. The answer, unsurprisingly, is “yes.”

Which leaves the world with a question: which way do we turn? The book offers some answers for people who are either worried about a world with more bombs and less control, or for those in denial. Both will find not only analysis, but the beginnings of some very smart solution.

China and Non-Proliferation: Can England Help?

English: This is the latest, authorised versio...

English: This is the latest, authorised version of the RUSI logo. RUSI, the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forging UK-China Consensus on a Strengthened NPT Regime
Andrea Berger and Malcolm Chalmers, eds.

Royal United Services Institute
March 2012

As a nuclear power new to global leadership, China should play a key role in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The question is what role it will play: team player or enabler of the legion of nuclear wannabees.

At the moment, China is something of a disruptive influence, in part because it sees the issue of non-proliferation through a different cultural and political prism than does the west. But a group of Chinese and British scholars have assembled a study that lays out areas where China and the west agree, and areas where there is actually more common ground than either side realizes.

This is an admirable work and an important one, and given that two of the authors, Shi Yongming and Guo Xiaobing, are members of influential think-tanks in Beijing, there is a chance that these ideas may well take hold in parts of the Chinese government.

We should not be too Pollyannish. In this year of transition, when the PLA is apparently pushing hard for a greater role in foreign affairs, getting China to commit to international norms of behavior is a long shot. But the effort has to start someplace, and the RUSI has done a service by creating a trans-national forum where the discussions on “how” might take place.

How the U.S. Military Avoids and Deals With Nuclear Contamination

Back in the bad old days of the Cold War, a major concern was operating in and around a battlefield that had been contaminated with nuclear detonations. As a result, the U.S. military has built a considerable expertise on dealing with widespread contamination that it is now beginning to apply to civilian assistance programs.

These three manuals lay out the tactics, techniques, and procedures for the avoidance of, protection from, and decontamination from nuclear and radiological (as well as chemical and biological) contamination. Three worthy reads and references as the story in Japan grows.

Dangerous Thresholds: Managing Escalation in the 21st Century

A sobering PDF book from the folks at the RAND Corporation, who subtly let the Air Force know that miscalculation is getting easier, not harder, in a world where the rules are no longer agreed between two guys at either end of a hotline.  The Air Force cannot be too happy to hear this. More than any other service, most of the punch that the air arm can deliver comes from strategic weapons, and this book appears to make a quiet case for even more careful control over weapons of mass destruction.