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In the News

May 5, 2023


United States military doctrine has long recognized the strategic importance of mitigating civilian harm during armed conflict. Different conflict types, however, implicate different strategic considerations. Likewise, different conflicts require different operational approaches.

May 3, 2023



April 27, 2023

26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducts NEO training amidst Sudan evacuation

For five days, a U.S. consulate in the small, fictitious country of “Obsidian” had been surrounded by protestors upset with the American presence in their coastal nation within the “Treasure Coast” region. Over the course of those few days violence increased and the regional situation continued to deteriorate.

April 18, 2023

American Deterrence Is Failing

There is a problem with deterrence; it’s not working. Not that we are about to descend into nuclear armageddon. But aside from nuclear wars, the United States’ deterrence paradigm does not seem to be deterring much recently. Our adversaries—principally Russia and China—do not seem cowed, either by the risk of failure to achieve their objectives or by the fear of retaliation. Both have been seizing the initiative with aggressive behavior ranging from information warfare, through the full range of gray zone tactics, all the way to the illegal military invasion and occupation of a sovereign neighboring state. Either the theory of deterrence is wrong, or the West is doing deterrence wrong.

April 18, 2023

Pentagon taps official to oversee civilian protection in war zones

The Pentagon named a researcher from a nonprofit to establish and lead a center devoted to civilian protection and harm mitigation, in the wake of reports from previous years that looked at inadvertent civilian casualties resulting from U.S. strikes. Michael McNerney was tapped by the Pentagon to lead the Civilian Protection Center of Excellence. He previously served as a senior international and defense researcher at the Rand Corporation, where he published research on civilian protections, according to a Pentagon statement.

April 11, 2023

Readout of U.S.-Philippines 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III co-chaired the third U.S.-Philippines 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of National Defense Carlito Galvez, and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo today in Washington, D.C. The four leaders forged new and deeper cooperation across all areas of the U.S.-Philippines alliance, as the two countries strive toward a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region and rules-based international order.

March 31, 2023

‘Gray Zone’ Competition — The Race for Multi-Domain Capability

Warfare is no longer focused solely on the destruction of enemy forces. With today’s rapid technological advancements, success is predicated on the ability to disrupt, degrade, deceive and destroy peer adversaries’ infrastructure. This approach expands beyond military ways and means and includes political, economic, social and information operations that support a nation’s sphere of influence.

March 29, 2023

NSWC Dahlgren Division Engineer a Driving Force in High Power Microwave Lethality Future

Nia Jones isn’t afraid of a challenge. In fact, she thrives on rising to meet those challenges and provides reliable, innovative solutions. Encouraged by her family to always put forth her best effort and persevere when undertaking a task or facing a problem, Jones applies that “strive for excellence” mindset to her professional career.

March 29, 2023


As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under General-Secretary Xi Jinping shows no signs of tamping down on its assertive campaign to secure revisionist territorial claims throughout the East and South China Seas, China’s Coast Guard’s (CCG) maritime gray zone activities present a particularly acute asymmetric challenge for the U.S.-Japan Alliance. This is because apart from the highly capable U.S. nuclear force and allied conventional military forces, in the realm of maritime gray zone coercion, the CCG faces no proportionate U.S. counterforce.1 On the other hand, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and Coast Guard continue to implement new technologies, upgrade logistics, and undergo reforms enabling Japanese maritime forces to more effectively track and respond to instances of gray zone coercion.

March 29, 2023

Who blinks first: Can a framework for countering maritime grey-zone operations be devised?

Since around 2010, Beijing has steadily undertaken a project of undermining the basis of the global legal system and weakening the international community’s determination to protect it. In the maritime realm, China has been pursuing a long-term effort to strengthen its control over rocks, reefs, and islands that are outside its jurisdiction under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), citing its “historical rights.” In doing so, Beijing has employed various grey-zone tactics to enforce its claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea (SCS).

March 17, 2023

The U.S. Joint Chiefs New Strategy Paper on Joint Concept for Competing

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff have issued a major new paper on U.S. strategy entitled Joint Concept for Competing. It is an in-depth analysis of the changes needed in U.S. strategy that is some 70 pages in length, rather than a short and often vacuous analysis like the U.S. national strategy papers. It is also a major departure from the past U.S. focus on warfighting and reappraisal of both the need for a global approach to competition and of the threats posed by potentially hostile major powers like Russia and China, and smaller powers like Iran and North Korea.

March 14, 2023


China’s gray zone conflict. Russian hybrid warfare. These terms have emerged to describe belligerent activities that standard US military operations struggle to address. Although these adversarial approaches remain central to today’s security environment, they are absent from the current joint doctrinal framework. Even the new joint doctrine note on strategic competition (JDN 1-22) fails to address hybrid warfare at all and there is only one mention of the gray zone. In fact, these two methods of conflict should remain front and center. Since the inception of joint doctrine, the United States has generally envisioned conflict in a linear fashion where peace and full-scale war occupy opposite sides of a continuum, with varying degrees of each in between. Doctrine’s evolution has made little change in this concept of a conflict continuum over time.

March 10, 2023

U.S. Africa Command Civilian Casualty Assessment Report; 1st Quarter, 2023

In the latest quarterly civilian casualty assessment report period ending Dec. 31, 2022, U.S. Africa Command received two reports of civilian casualties on Sept. 23, 2022 and Oct. 1, 2022.

March 4, 2023

Irregular Warfare, American Style

Of late there’s been a lively discussion in the halls of U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. (where I serve as the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy) about whether and how the U.S. military should try to preserve lessons about irregular warfare learned through hard experience during the global war on terror. The consensus, by my unscientific impression, is that it is important to retain what we’ve learned even as the world ambles into an age of great-power competition. We should not do what the armed forces did after the Vietnam War, and more or less resolve to forget the painful experience with counterinsurgent warfare and resume doing what they did well: preparing to fight conventional force-on-force battles.

March 3, 2023

5th Combat Training Squadron Conducts SPARTAN WARRIOR 23-1 Exercise

The United States Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa Warfare Center hosted the SPARTAN WARRIOR 23-1 exercise from February 27 to March 2, 2023 at Einsiedlerhof Air Station in Germany. The 5th Combat Training Squadron hosted 116 personnel on campus--a record number of participants--from NATO partners for USAFE-AFAFRICA’s premier synthetic/simulated multilateral exercise. Twelve NATO nations and 250 participants took part in advanced integration of rehearsals for large-scale combat operations on the Eastern flank; where they received local and distributed training, and an additional 50 observers oversaw execution.

Feb. 16, 2023

Army Reserve unit conducts annual training at USDB

The U.S. Army Reserve 310th Military Police Battalion out of New York conducted corrections operations in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks with guidance from soldiers in the USDB Battalion (Corrections) from Feb. 1-14 to prepare for an upcoming deployment to Kuwait with a correctional mission.

Feb. 7, 2023

The Cod Wars and Lessons for Maritime Counterinsurgency

Can a small state successfully defend its maritime claims against a nuclear-armed opponent? Are smaller actors able to win below the threshold of high-intensity war? Or was Thucydides right in saying

Jan. 20, 2023

Protect Unmanned Surface Vessels in the Gray Zone

The U.S. Navy’s unmanned surface vessels (USVs) are proliferating across multiple areas of operation, participating in increasingly more elaborate tests, integrating with partner navies, and being tactically employed. However, recent incidents involving the seizure of USVs highlight an ambiguous legal environment that foreign adversaries can exploit in the gray zone (described by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work as avenues of approach in which adversaries use agents, paramilitary organizations, deception, infiltration, and persistent denial to achieve their goals).

Jan. 20, 2023

AFRICOM leaders visit Gabon

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, Commander, U.S, Africa Command, visited Gabon, Jan. 17-18. The trip included several stops to meet with host nation civilian and military leaders, U.S. Embassy leadership.

Jan. 19, 2023

Coast Guard: Illegal Fishing Has Surpassed Piracy as a Global Threat

Illegal fishing has surpassed piracy as a Coast Guard global concern in the maritime domain, the service’s top officer overseeing response policy said Wednesday. “The Coast Guard has been in the [fishing] enforcement game for a long time,” said Rear Adm. Jo-Ann Burdian. Most recently it started with enforcing the ban on using high seas drift nets, roughly the size of a football field, that were rapidly depleting fish stocks.