New CNA reports on Russia’s strategy for escalation management

My colleagues at CNA’s Russian Studies Program — Michael Kofman, Anya Fink and Jeff Edmonds — have written two excellent reports on Russian deterrence and escalation management. I contributed a bit to the research. The summary and links to the reports below is taken from Michael Kofman’s description of the research on his blog:

CNA’s Russia Studies Program recently produced two reports that discuss in depth the main concepts comprising Russia’s strategy for escalation management or intrawar deterrence, their origins in military thought, and the current state of concept development. The first is titled Evolution of Key Concepts, covering essential deterrence concepts, current stratagems for escalation management, the role of nuclear and nonnuclear weapons, types of damage, views on targeting, etc. The second key debates and the players within Russian military thought provides an intellectual road map to the conversation among Russian military analysts, strategists, and the players involved. To better socialize the findings from these research products I’ve decided to post their respective abstracts here, though I suggest those interested download the reports from the CNA Research site.

The first report on evolution of key concepts assesses the evolution in Russian military strategy on the question of escalation management, or intra-war deterrence, across the conflict spectrum from peacetime to nuclear war. Russia’s overarching approach to deterrence, called “strategic deterrence,” represents a holistic concept for shaping adversary decision making by integrating military and non-military measures. Key concepts in Russian military thinking on deterrence include deterrence by fear inducement, deterrence through the limited use of military force, and deterrence by defense. These approaches integrate a mix of strategic nonnuclear and nuclear capabilities, depending on the context and conflict scope. In a conflict, Russian escalation management concepts can be roughly divided into periods of demonstration, adequate damage infliction, and retaliation. Russian strategic culture emphasizes cost imposition over denial for deterrence purposes, believing in forms of calibrated damage as a vehicle by which to manage escalation. This so-called deterrent damage is meant to be dosed, applied in an iterative manner, with associated targeting and damage levels. Despite acquiring nonnuclear means of deterrence, Russia continues to rely on nuclear weapons to deter and prosecute regional and large-scale conflicts, seeing these as complementary means within a comprehensive strategic deterrence system. The paper summarizes debates across authoritative Russian military-analytical literature beginning in 1991 and incorporates translated graphics and tables. The concluding section discusses implications for US and allied forces.

The second report on key debates and players offers an overview of the main debates in Russian military thought on deterrence and escalation management in the post-Cold War period, based on authoritative publications. It explores discussions by Russian military analysts and strategists on “regional nuclear deterrence,” namely the structure of a two-level deterrence system (regional and global); debates on “nonnuclear deterrence” and the role of strategic conventional weapons in escalation management; as well as writings on the evolution of damage concepts toward ones that reflect damage that is tailored to the adversary. Russian military thinking on damage informs the broader discourse on ways and means to shift an opponent’s calculus in an escalating conflict. The report concludes with summaries of recent articles that reflect ongoing discourse on the evolution of Russia’s strategic deterrence system and key trends in Russian military thought on escalation management.

New report on U.S.-India security burden-sharing

CNA has published a report on U.S.-India security burden-sharing, which I worked on last year. I wrote the chapter on trends in security assistance and cooperation with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Here’s the abstract:

Building a partnership with India is central to U.S. security interests in the Indian Ocean (IO). The United States seeks to work with India to promote stability in a region of rising commercial and strategic importance. U.S. policymakers view India as an “anchor” or “pillar” of stability in the Asia-Pacific. Given declining defense budgets, however, the United States will have fewer resources for its forces and partner capacity-building in this vast region. Envisioning India as a “provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region,” the United States is naturally eager to pursue burden-sharing opportunities with India as a means to this end.

India for its part understands that the United States expects it to assume a greater leadership role in the IO and appreciates the importance of its growing economic and naval capabilities. In 2010, then-Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao spoke about the growing view that “a robust Indian naval presence is seen as a necessary contribution to a cooperative regional security order” and discussed “the cooperative burden-sharing of naval forces to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia” as an example of India’s contributions to IO security.

This report examines the potential for the United States and India to coordinate on the provision of security assistance and capacity-building in the IO as a form of security burden-sharing. We examine the South Asian littoral countries of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives. At present, though, U.S.-India burden-sharing in the Indian Ocean is only notional as a logical next step in the U.S.-India strategic partnership. U.S.-India coordination on security assistance to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives would represent an important change to the approaches and tools in U.S. and Indian relations with these IO countries. It would also be a new aspect of U.S. bilateral and military-to-military relations with India.