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Air base attacks and defensive counters: Historical Lessons and Future Challenges

Full Article: Air Base Attacks and Defensive Counters: Historical Lessons and Future Challenges
Source: RAND Corporation

Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. dominance in conventional power projection has allowed American airpower to operate from sanctuary, largely free from enemy attack. This led to a reduced emphasis on air-base defense measures and the misperception that sanctuary was the normal state of affairs rather than an aberration. The emergence of the long-range, highly accurate, conventional missile (both ballistic and cruise) as a threat to air bases is now widely recognized in the U.S. defense community, and, with that recognition, there is a growing appreciation that this era of sanctuary is coming to an end. Consequently, there is renewed interest in neglected topics, such as base hardening, aircraft dispersal, camouflage, deception, and air-base recovery and repair.

This report is intended to provide a reference on air-base attack and defense to inform public debate, as well as government deliberations, on what has become known as the anti-access problem, specifically as it applies to air-base operations. The report explores the history of air-base attacks in the past century and describes the American way of war that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union. It then argues that emerging threat systems are disruptive to this way of war and will require new concepts of power projection. Finally, the report identifies five classes of defensive options that have proven valuable in past conflicts and offers recommendations on how best to win the battle of the airfields.

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Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition – CRS

The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Observers believe that North Korea has an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles and likely dozens of medium-range Nodong missiles; the extended-range Nodongs are considered capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases there. Longer-range North Korean missiles appear to be under development but remain unreliable, with only one successful test out of five in the past 15 years. The U.S. intelligence community has not yet concluded that North Korea can build nuclear warheads small enough to put on ballistic missiles, but there is significant debate among experts on this question.

Full Report: Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

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CRS — Cyberwarfare and Cyberterrorism: In Brief (March 27, 2015)

Cyberwarfare and Cyberterrorism: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Recent incidents have highlighted the lack of consensus internationally on what defines a cyberattack, an act of war in cyberspace, or cyberterrorism. Cyberwar is typically conceptualized as state-on-state action equivalent to an armed attack or use of force in cyberspace that may trigger a military response with a proportional kinetic use of force. Cyberterrorism can be considered “the premeditated use of disruptive activities, or the threat thereof, against computers and/or networks, with the intention to cause harm or further social, ideological, religious, political or similar objectives, or to intimidate any person in furtherance of such objectives.” Cybercrime includes unauthorized network breaches and theft of intellectual property and other data; it can be financially motivated, and response is typically the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies. Within each of these categories, different motivations as well as overlapping intent and methods of various actors can complicate response options.

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