Emerging Defense Challenges

  • Diverse Perspectives are Key to Innovative Thinking

    Every industry today is awash with talk about “innovation” and how organizations can do it better. There are countless studies on the factors underpinning innovation and the key elements needed to incubate it. The defense industry is no different.

    While definitions of innovation often differ, we can broadly describe it as the process of transforming an idea, concept, or knowledge into a product or service that delivers significant new value. It is the combination of structured process with creative and diverse perspectives that creates the best chance of “innovative” thinking.


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  • Army Vision and Modernization Priorities

    On May 1, 2018, Mr. Steven Grundman, director of the Emerging Defense Challenges Initiative in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, welcomed Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark T. Esper, as a featured speaker in the Council’s Defense-Industrial Policy Series.

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  • Big Small Companies: How Size Matters in Defense Contracting

    On April 4, the Atlantic Council hosted a public event on “Big Small Companies: How Size Matters in Defense Contracting.”

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  • Making a Safer, Healthier, and More Efficient World

    On April 2, the Atlantic Council hosted Roger Krone, chairman and chief executive officer of Leidos, for a conversation on “Making a Safer, Healthier, and More Efficient World” as a part of the Atlantic Council's Captains of Industries Series.  

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  • An EU Air Force Is Impossible; Fortunately, It’s Not Necessary.

    To rebuild robust air forces, Europeans should just get back to basics.

    Early last month, as David Cenciotti of The Aviationist reported, A-10Cs of the Maryland Air National Guard were again practicing landings and take-offs from stretches of highway in Estonia, though with occasional casualties amongst the roadsigns. About a year prior, it was A-10Cs of the Regulars, out of Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, doing the same thing on a different stretch of Estonian road. Notably absent from either exercise was the Luftwaffe, the Armée de l’Air, the Aeronautica Militare, and every other European air arm. Yes, they are rotating squadrons through the local air policing mission, but why are they sending no more? Again, those-in-the-know in Europe have been asserting that greater military...

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  • An EU Navy Is Impossible; Fortunately, It’s Not Necessary.

    To rebuild robust naval forces, Europeans should think less like Americans, and more like Russians.

    As I noted yesterday, Brexit has opened all sorts of talk about the future of British and European military activities. To continue the argument today, let’s tack towards naval matters. In “All the Queen's Ships” (Proceedings of the US Naval Institute, January 2017), James C. Bennett of the Economic Policy Centre in London recommended formation of a Union Navy, loosely composed of the Royal, Royal Canadian, Royal Australian, and Royal New Zealand Navies, under their single sovereign. As one might expect in his argument, “the four main Westminster democracies” could afford greater military capabilities together than separately. To an American, this might seem another...

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  • An EU Army Is Impossible; Fortunately, It’s Not Necessary.

    To rebuild robust land forces, Europeans should think a little like Americans, a little like Russians, and otherwise for themselves.

    Shortly after the Brexit vote last June, those-in-the-know in Europe started calling for a renewed effort at a common European military force. A year ago this month, General Vincenzo Camporini, former head of the Italian general staff, told Defense News that all was now possible, as the obstructionist British were finally leaving. The imperative, as Defense News reported last September, has been variously described as ranging “from budgets and migration to a resurgent Russia or independence from NATO.” As Bloomberg reported that month, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka was...

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  • Can Defense Industrialists Work with Trump?

    Whatever opprobrium the president is owed, his administration's more important initiatives deserve attention.


    Donald Trump’s twin business advisory panels have collapsed. Members of both the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy & Policy Forum had been resigning quickly, and according to today's Wall Street Journal—“CEOs Scrap Trump Panels”—they voted yesterday just to disband. At first, the president asserted that he could replace all the “grandstanders” with compliant substitutes; he later claimed on Twitter that the disbanding was his idea, to save them all from public pressure. In “...

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  • How to Be Like Ike

    Project Solarium as a model for assessing defense-industrial policy

    It is hard not to read a pretext for protectionism into the Executive Order President Trump signed last month under the ponderous title, “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States”. And yet, the Administration also has gone out of its way to wrap the initiative in the mantle of ambitions far more weighty and strategic, and that’s the thing that caught my eye about the announcement. What if we really could have a serious deliberation about defense-industrial strategy?

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  • Maybe Not So Rare After All

    As the long term prognosis for the rare-earths business shows, the administration should move carefully in “strengthening supply chain resiliency.”

    On 21 July, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on “assessing and strengthening the manufacturing and defense industrial base and supply chain resiliency of the United States.” Within 270 days, the departments of defense, commerce, labor, energy, and homeland security, in consultation with a host of other agencies, are to create an exhaustive study of the materiel needed by the military, the manufacturing capabilities needed to produce them, and the threats that others might pose to security of supply. Last Tuesday, Colin Clark of Breaking Defense...

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