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In The Tank: This Week’s Best Defense and National Security Think Tank Offerings

The latest in wonk reads on national security, tech, and more. By Kedar Pavgi

Welcome to “In the Tank”, Defense One’s weekly think tank roundup. Every week, we’ll present the latest research published by think tanks from around the world on defense, national security, foreign policy, technology, and management – a tool to help the national security community navigate the future. If you’d like to submit your latest research, email Kedar Pavgi at

Japan’s Territorial Disputes
CNA Strategic Studies

Earlier this week, Japan’s defense forces unveiled the Izumo, a 19,500-ton carrier that holds 14 helicopters and is the country’s largest warship since World War II.  Japanese officials said the ship was primarily to help with rescue and disaster missions, but also to respond to “contingencies” near the country’s territorial boundaries. Its debut came after shortly after images of China’s newest aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, popped up on military tech forums. Both vessels are seen by analysts as responses to the growing tensions emerging in Asia, as China and Japan grapple over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island and other concerns.

With a number of economic and security issues at stake, CNA Strategic Studies organized a workshop earlier this year to assess the interests of each actor -- and the United States. Researchers also assessed how history has affected China’s status-quo stance over the islands, and suggest that military planners in Beijing are following a carefully planned grand strategy in the East China Sea. The papers lay out several policy options for each of the stakeholders and explain key security and economic issues in extensive detail.

The Israeli Experience in Missile Defense: Lessons for NATO
Jean-Loup Samaan and Guillaume Lasconjarias
The Atlantic Council

NATO has made missile defense a cornerstone of its strategy for combating possible threats from Iran and North Korea, not just Russia, and is shifting resources accordingly. Strategists in the alliance should learn lessons from Israel’s implementation of its own missile defense platform, Jean-Loup Samaan and Guillaume Lasconjarias argue in a new paper. Israel’s military has spent many years and billions of dollars building, researching and putting into a place a missile defense system to defend against regional threats. The authors say that NATO planners can learn about the many pitfalls faced by the Israelis.

Great Expectations: Iran’s New President and the Nuclear Talks
International Crisis Group

Last month, three former U.S. diplomats wrote that the Obama administration needed to engage with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, while there was a window of opportunity. Still, Washington has continued to send a muddled response to Tehran’s new leader. Where the White House has signaled its openness for possible dialogue, lawmakers on Capitol Hill insist on placing further sanctions. A new policy briefing from the International Crisis Group suggests that any mistrust between the two sides is “unavoidable, but should not be paralyzing.” Instead, the ICG suggests that diplomats from the U.S. and Iran complement existing multilateral negotiations with confidential, bilateral talks, and include other regional security concerns as part of the negotiations. The deal would pave the way for ending harsh economic sanctions, while also allowing Iran’s leaders a face-saving way to exit their current standing in the international community. Either way, talks with Tehran must be expanded for any future progress to be attained.

Lessons on Defense Strategy from the Interwar Years
Peter Singer
Brookings Institution

Defense One has been covering the changes facing the defense establishment, including a shrinking budget, the rise of new technologies and an increasingly complex world. The military could take lessons from defense planners in the early 20th century who confronted many of the same challenges, Peter Singer argues in a new paper.  Where the 1930s saw new submarines and aircraft confound existing grand strategies, the 21st century has a new set of weapons systems and threats that are forcing military leaders to rethink resource and personnel allocations. Singer says that existing mechanisms to review and assess defense resource allocations, including the SCMR and the QDR, should expand their scope and include “introspection” to prevent defense leaders from being left behind.