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In the News

Navy: New Multi-national Task force to ‘Enhance Security’ in Red Sea

Travis Sharp, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told Breaking Defense the Houthis “pose an active and persistent threat to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.” He added that the circumstances in Yemen have made it increasingly difficult for the US to maintain situational awareness about the group’s capabilities. Sharp suggested Cooper’s unwillingness to connect CTF-153 with the Houthi attacks may be an issue of politics.

“If the United States were to propose an explicitly anti-Houthi task force, they might not get many countries in the region who would be willing to join that because the countries have varying perspectives on what’s happening in Yemen,” he said.

Analysis

LEADERLESS, CUT OFF, AND ALONE: THE RISKS TO TAIWAN IN THE WAKE OF UKRAINE

As policymakers and analysts evaluate the war in Europe for insights that might be applicable to Asia, they are reaching three early conclusions: It should serve as a cautionary tale for China, a model for Taiwan, and a playbook for the United States. But what if the conflict yields a more ominous set of lessons — lessons that Beijing could use to seize the island democracy?

Many observers have become more skeptical that China would launch an assault on its “wayward province” after seeing Russia struggle on the battlefield and suffer an economic backlash. Some have become more optimistic that Taiwan could defend its de facto sovereignty as Ukraine imposes heavy costs on invading forces. And others have become more confident that the United States can rely on “integrated deterrence” to manage the threat of Chinese aggression, which was beginning to appear close at hand.

Yet the war in Europe might instead convince Chinese leaders to double down on efforts to shatter Taiwan’s will to resist should deterrence break down. Indeed, Russian failures and Ukrainian successes to date might incentivize China to issue threats and use force earlier to make U.S. military intervention less likely and Taiwanese capitulation more so.

In the News

Biden’s record defense budget draws progressive ire over spending priorities

Dr Travis Sharp, budget studies director at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the requested funding increase is more a reflection of how record-high US inflation has affected government agencies’ finances rather than the impact of the crisis in Ukraine.

“Providing a higher level of defense spending does help to correct for some of the decreasing buying power as a result of inflation,” Sharp said. “If you didn’t provide a higher level of defense spending, then you would be trying to support the same-sized military with less money, so that would force you to make some hard trade-offs.”

In the News

Is poor morale among Russia troops undermining Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine?

Katherine Kjellström Elgin, a Washington-based defence analyst and an expert on Russia’s military, also warns of the need to take the claims of various sides “with a grain of salt”.

Yet, she says some patterns do appear to be emerging, especially in relation to the conscripts sent in to fight.

“The conscripts are less well trained because they’re only expected to serve for one year,” she says. “Most of those individuals are going to have something between four to six months of training, half of which was basic training, you just don't have a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience.”

Elgin, who recently co-authored a recent piece in Politico about conscripts, with Suzanne Freeman, a PhD student candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says the Russian army has a long tradition of severe bullying, or dedovshchina, dating to the Soviet era, what also impacts morale.

“For quite some time, it was really terrible. We're talking about not insignificant number of suicides, rapes, people getting beaten. Just the worst of hazing that you can imagine,” says Elgin, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a think tank that focuses on defence policy.

“After 2008 they tried to address this in part by actually shortening the amount of time that conscripts served. But there are still reports of loss of hazing occurring.”

Elgin also raises the impact on the mental health of the young troops ordered to fire barrages of artillery into residential areas and apartment blocks.

“I imagine that unless you've been psychologically prepared for this, that might hit you pretty hard,” she says.

She says such assessments could be made for all militaries. And unless there is adequate preparation and training, and good leadership, the impact is likely to be greater.

“All of these things can impact the performance of individuals,” she says.

Press Releases

New Senior Fellows Join CSBA

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) today announced the appointment of its newest Non-Resident Senior Fellows, adding to its team of world-class defense and security analysts. 

Analysis

Zelensky, Churchill, Reagan (with Andrew Roberts)

Eric and Eliot host British author and historian Andrew Roberts and discuss his revisionist account of King George III and how a good man was nonetheless the monarch under whom the American colonies were lost.