The 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) will provide an essential blueprint for civilian and military leaders to answer America’s greatest defense challenges, including threats posed by China, Russia, and longstanding rogue actors like Iran and North Korea. CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation surrounding the future of America’s defense priorities. To serve as an intellectual resource for the drafters of the 2022 NDS, this edition of Sharper curates expertise and recommendations from leading voices in defense policy, including Michèle Flournoy, Susanna V. Blume, Christopher Dougherty, and others.
Investing in Great-Power Competition
In a CNAS report, experts Susanna V. Blume and Molly Parrish examine whether the FY 2021 defense budget request aligned with the priorities outlined in the 2018 National Defense Strategy. The report finds that while the Department of Defense (DoD) has recognized its need to develop a joint command and control approach, especially toward China and Russia, its joint training, posture, and logistics need improvement. In order to confront the challenges posed by Russia and China, DoD cannot pursue siloed in-service or domain-based strategies, but instead needs to implement a fully joint and highly efficient command and control system.
Sharpening the U.S. Military’s Edge: Critical Steps for the Next Administration
Since the first Gulf War, the People’s Liberation Army has studied, analyzed, and essentially mastered the American way of war in order to develop strategies to counter it. In the inaugural issue of the CNAS Next Defense Strategy series, authors Michèle Flournoy and Gabrielle Chefitz argue that bolder and more efficient investment in military technology should be DoD and Congress’ top defense priority. As a start, the authors recommend that DoD increase investments in science and technology, as well as research and development, to align spending with its priorities.
Why America Needs a New Way of War
The American way of war that defined U.S. military strategy in the aftermath of the Cold War has become dangerously irrelevant. Chinese and Russian capabilities to exploit the vulnerabilities in this way of war have grown. In a CNAS report, expert Christopher Dougherty called for an alternative intellectual framework to guide American military power in the face of unfamiliar challenges from Russia and China. In the report, Dougherty underscored the pressing need for the U.S. government to adopt what he calls “A New American Way of War” in order to effectively confront these challenges.
- Although lawmakers and the public frequently debate the size of the U.S. defense budget, a fundamental question usually receives less attention: What does U.S. military spending say about America's national security priorities? Expert Susanna V. Blume explains how U.S. strategic principles should drive key decisions in defense spending.
- "The United States has always been a maritime nation," ADM John Richardson, USN (Ret.) writes in the Next Defense Strategy series. "The sea has always been integral to its security and prosperity, and the emerging century will be no exception."
- Expert Christopher Dougherty argues in a CNAS policy brief, "New operational concepts, backed by independent analysis, are vital for DoD to meet its goal of deterring and, if necessary, defeating Chinese and Russian aggression should competition lead to conflict."
- In an issue of the Next Defense Strategy series, authors Ilan Goldenberg and Kaleigh Thomas argue: "A sustainable Middle East strategy that allows the United States to pull back militarily while focusing on realistic diplomacy and a smarter assistance strategy is a central building block for shifting resources to other priorities."
- "To get the defense budget right," expert Susanna V. Blume argues in Foreign Policy, "we need to stop arguing about numbers in the abstract and start having a serious conversation about what the United States wants its military to be able to do.
- Expert Sarah Mineiro warns in an issue of the Next Defense Strategy series, "Without significant changes in defense policy, programs, and staffing, U.S. strategic competitors will transform the nation’s asymmetric advantage into an asymmetric vulnerability."
- "The over-militarization of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts has had pernicious consequences both for these efforts and the U.S. military," expert Stephen Tankel argues in War on the Rocks.
- In an issue of the Next Defense Strategy series, expert Nathalie Grogan writes, "The next NDS must tackle the personnel fissures that threaten both the strength of the force and the integrity of U.S. military decisions."
In the News
Featuring commentary and analysis by Susanna V. Blume, Chris Dougherty, Becca Wasser, Dr. ED McGrady, and Martijn Rasser.
Across the Center
America Competes 2020
This January, CNAS launched “America Competes 2020,” a Center-wide initiative to renew American competitiveness at home and abroad. Amid increasingly fractured and partisan policy debates, CNAS will produce specific, actionable policy recommendations for how the United States can compete more effectively across a range of vital national security arenas.
About the Sharper Series
The CNAS Sharper series features curated analysis and commentary from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges in U.S. foreign policy. From the future of America's relationship with China to the state of U.S. sanctions policy and more, each collection draws on the reports, interviews, and other commentaries produced by experts across the Center to explore how America can strengthen its competitive edge.
Sign up to receive the latest analysis from the CNAS expert community on the most important issues facing America's national security.
More from CNAS
PodcastHow Air Warfare is Changing
Guests Stacie Pettyjohn and Becca Wasser join Defense One Radio to describe lessons from Iraq, Azerbaijan, Gaza, and more in the future of air warfare. Listen to the full con...
By Stacie Pettyjohn & Becca Wasser
CommentarySimulating War: Three Enduring Lessons from the Louisiana Maneuvers
The Louisiana Maneuvers can provide contemporary defense planners with a number of valuable and enduring insights....
By Jennifer McArdle
CommentaryA Joint Warfighting Concept for Systems Warfare
Future combat between peer and near-peer adversaries will be characterized, dominated, and decided by the collision of opposing systems of systems....
By Robert O. Work
CommentaryAir Force Structure in the Next National Defense Strategy
At present, the Air Force is both too small to meet current combatant command requirements and too large to remain ready and modernized under its current budget....
By General Mike Holmes, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)