President, National Defense University

In light of the ever more complex challenges the world presents and in a time of tight budgetary resources, the U.S. military needs to carefully examine the strategic environment it faces and to assess its force structure in this light.

The Strategic Assessment applies the research expertise of the National Defense University, under the leadership of its interdisciplinary research arm, the Institute for National Strategic Studies, with the generous assistance of analysts from elsewhere in the U.S. government and from the private sector. Offering such analyses, in both general and more specialized areas of interest to the national security community, is one part of NDU's educational mission. That mission, as defined by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is to educate senior military and government officials on issues related to national strategy, security policy, resources management, and warfare in the information age.

We hope the report can be useful to all those with an interest in security policy as a survey of the threats facing the United States in the next decade. In addition, we have designed the discussion of force structure issues to explore new ideas and sometimes to stir controversy with out-of-the-box thinking. We emphasize that this report is by no means a statement of U.S. government policy nor of the views of the Defense Department or the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rather than to state policy, our role is, by our work, to stimulate further thinking, discussion, and research among both policymakers and policy analysts.

We wish to thank all those who contributed to the success of this project, particularly the many analysts both inside and outside the military who reviewed drafts of the Assessment.


By HANS BINNENDIJK, Editor-in-Chief

In 1995, INSS inaugurated its Strategic Assessment with a survey of the world strategic environment from the perspectives of U.S. interests. In 1996, we looked at the instruments by which the U.S. government can influence the behavior of other governments. This year, we examine the flashpoints which may erupt into conflict in the next decade and, on the basis of the analysis of threat environment, some ways to structure U.S. forces within the constraints imposed by resource availabilities and bearing in mind the capabilities that the U.S. military would like to maintain.


The Strategic Assessment is aimed at policymakers, analysts, and informed members of the public who want a serious summary of the threats facing the United States in the next decade. The analysis of the flashpoints does not provide novel interpretations or detailed specialized research. Specialists on one flashpoint are unlikely to find much new material on that issue here, although we hope they will find a succinct statement of the problems involved for the United States and the scenarios that could lead to conflict.

Our aim was to establish what the threats facing the United States will be over the next decade. We decided, therefore, to stretch the term flashpoints to include two related phenomenon:

The last chapter in Strategic Assessment 1997 looks at some options for structuring U.S. forces to meet the threats we describe. For each of the options, we concentrate on describing principles and pointing to some general characteristics of force structure. For each option, we have tested the underlying ideas against numerous military analysts, have thought about how specific force numbers might accomplish the required missions, and have done some modeling of the costs. However, we have only done rough estimates, so we do not offer any specific numbers in this section. It is not our role, nor do we have the resources, to game out in detail what specific forces would be needed to meet threat scenarios, nor to prepare detailed estimates of the costs of various force options.

Although Strategic Assessment 1997 strives to analyze how policies now and in the future characterize the U.S. approaches towards each flashpoint, as well to set out different models of force structure, its primary intent is not to advocate particular policies or approaches to policy. It is neither a statement nor a critique of U.S. government policy. The views expressed in this document are those of the editors and do not represent the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.


The responsibility for any errors in this document rests wholly with me as Editor-in-Chief and Patrick Clawson as Editor. The credit for any insights belongs to the able team that wrote the contributing papers.

The principal authors of those papers were:

Context Patrick Clawson, INSS
Russia James Brusstar, INSS
Europe Vernon Penner, INSS
China Ronald Montaperto, INSS
Japan Paul Giarra, INSS and Robert Manning, Progressive Policy Institute
North America James Zackrison, INSS
Persian Gulf Phebe Marr, INSS
Korean Peninsula Col William Drennan, USAF, INSS
Arab-Israeli Conflict Contingencies Michael Eisenstadt, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
India-Pakistan Col Nancy Anderson, USMC, INSS, and Jed Snyder, INSS
Proliferation Paula DeSutter, NDU Center for Counterproliferation Research
Balkans George Fidas, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and Jeffrey Simon, INSS
Sub-Saharan Africa James Woods aided by CDR Karl Orbann (USN, Ret) and M. Herman Yam, consultants
Middle Eastern Radicalism Judith Yaphe, INSS
International Terrorism Alberto Coll, U.S. Naval War College
International Crime Rensselaer Lee III, Global Advisory Service, and Brian Sullivan, INSS
Refugees, Migration, and Population Erik Kjonnerod, INSS War Gaming and Simulation Center, and Laurie McNamara, Evidence Based Research Environment Judith Mayotte, consultant
Threat Assessment Patrick Clawson, CAPT Michael Martus, USN, and Robert Oakley, INSS
Key Military Missions Stuart Johnson, INSS and U.S. Naval War College
Force Structure James Blaker, INSS

We are grateful for the input we received from Lt General Ervin Rokke, the President of the National Defense University; Scott Cohen, Washington, D.C.; and from our colleagues at INSS: LTC Charles Barry, USA; COL John Cope (USA, Ret); Patrick Cronin; Richard Hull; Ronald Tiersky; and Martin Libicki of the INSS Advanced Concepts, Technology, and Information Strategy Directorate.

We would also like to express our thanks to the many military officers, civilian government officials, and outside analysts who gave us thoughtful comments on drafts of this report. A special thanks goes to Roger Donway, who headed the group editing the writing; to Omaid Fattahi, who collected the graphics; to Larry Worrill of the National Ground Intelligence Center, who provided invaluable assistance with the maps; to Frederick Kiley and his team at National Defense University Press who proofread and copy edited the final report; and to Kathy Goldynia and the other members of the team at the Government Printing Office who designed and laid out the volume. Without their help, this document could not have been produced so quickly or so well.

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