The United States has a long history of engaging in irregular wars and countering insurgencies, one that predates its independence. To understand what worked, what did not, and why, this study assesses the measures, both coercive and benign, that the United States has used in a limited number of pivotal cases to determine if U.S. irregular warfare and counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches have changed significantly over the past two centuries. It also makes recommendations for the future.
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.