U.S. foreign policy is likely to be wracked by crises in the coming years. Yet crises are often symptoms of deeper structural transformations, and the fundamental fact of international politics today is that the post-Cold War era has reached its end. That period was defined by uncontested U.S. and Western primacy, a marked decline in ideological struggle and great-power conflict, and a historically remarkable degree of global cooperation in addressing international disorder. Today, however, the international system has reverted to a more contested state. The core characteristics of the emerging era are the gradual but unmistakable erosion of U.S. and Western primacy, the return of sharp great-power competition across all three key regions of Eurasia, the revival of global ideological struggle, and the empowerment of the agents of international strife and disorder. Moreover, the impact of these forces is magnified by growing uncertainty about whether the traditional defenders of the post-Cold War system will be able and willing to play that role in the future. Dealing with the dangers and dilemmas posed by the new global politics will be a generational task. Yet understanding the basic nature of the age is the critical first step.
CSBA’s research on the most pressing issues in US national security continues to shape the defense agenda. CSBA’s research focuses on four main areas:
CSBA specializes in thinking about the future of warfare. As President Dwight Eisenhower observed, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” While it may be impossible to predict the future, thinking about the future is essential to formulate concepts and strategies that will be effective across the widest range of contingencies, and executable within projected resource limitations.
CSBA uses the methodology of net assessment to frame future military competitions. It evaluates the relative strengths and weaknesses of competitors and suggests sources of competitive advantage, while explicitly taking uncertainty into account. CSBA also utilizes scenario planning and wargaming to identify future trends and candidate operational concepts, understand emerging warfare regimes, and challenge preconceived notions of the future.
CSBA’s work has highlighted the increasingly non-permissive character of the security environment, such as the maturation and spread of anti-access/area-denial capabilities and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and disruption that threaten to negate the U.S. military’s traditional approach to power projection.
Based on insights gleaned through research, wargaming and exploration of future warfighting scenarios, CSBA has developed pathbreaking operational concepts to inform the U.S. military’s operational planning. These concepts serve as the “connective tissue” linking U.S. strategy with the defense program.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have been the world's most formidable amphibious force for more than seven decades. They have maintained more than 10 ships and 6,000 Marines continuously deployed since World War II, and conducted dozens of operations against contested beaches, islands, and cities in that time. The competition between amphibious forces and defenders ashore, however, is entering a new, more deadly, phase.