Volume 13 Issue 1 (Summer 2022)
Editor's Note Vol. 13 No. 1
Space & Defense Vol. 13, No. 1 represents our second issue since our move to a new cover and format celebrating our close partnership with University of Nebraska Omaha editing and production, and the USSTRATCOM Academic Alliance as a source for both peer-reviewed and student submissions. Vol. 13 is also our first presentation after a seismic shift in the national security landscape with Russia's full invasion of Ukraine and failed attempt at violent regime change in Kiev, at the very borders of NATO. This spring, shortly after final exams, I had the pleasure of escorting a group of Air Force Academy cadets to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Center for Global Security Research (Livermore, CA). During a national security strategy lecture for summer interns at the lab, one of our cadets asked about an enduring conundrum for U.S. policy makers. Engineers and scientists took precious time, sometimes more than a decade, to deliver new technology to U.S. forces. How, she wondered, could instruments of force, especially in expanding operational domains such as nuclear, space, and cyber, ever keep up with the demand signal from American strategists?
The cadet's query strikes us as a clear way to express the service we attempt to provide at Space & Defense. Here is a journal where academic researchers, officers, policy makers and students can publish their ideas and further the national conversation on future strategy. If S&D can help anticipate problems in space, cyber, or nuclear security, scientists and engineers serving society can benefit from at least some guidance on what technologies are required, especially by the military services for the United States and its allies.
This issue offers several starting points for important conversations on technology and strategy. The first feature article by USAF Col T. Justin Bronder (Ph.D.) analyzes four distinct approaches to the future of arms control with great power rivals Russia and China. Despite the increasing intensity of international competition, Bronder argues for a mixed strategy emphasizing his two moderate options: a) continued bilateral agreements of the kind that achieved successes with the Soviet Union during the Cold War and b) informal, non-binding confidence building measures that could open the way for new interlocutors such as China and for new arms control norms in the space and cyber domains.
The second peer-reviewed feature, by Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. candidate Jeffrey Taylor, takes on the question of how the United States should respond to technological advances in hypersonics, especially by Russia, which has taken recently to saber rattling its nuclear arsenal in order to block Western aid during its war in Ukraine. Again, despite intensifying Russian aggression, Taylor argues for moderation. International agreement on hypersonics deployment, even if it did not include traditional legal commitments, would likely bring better outcomes than either quantitative or qualitative arms racing by the United States. For Taylor, not every Russian move or technology claim in hypersonics merits a symmetric response from the West.
In place of a third peer-reviewed feature article for this issue, we reprint a call to action by former U.S. State Department visiting faculty at USAFA David Epstein. In his recent piece for the Foreign Service Journal, Epstein urges the State Department to keep pace with its federal partners, especially in the Department of Defense, and educate a specialized cadre of Foreign Service officers in space diplomacy as a newly certified area of expertise. Space diplomats would take their place alongside other specialists working human rights issues; climate change; or defense cooperation as part of a country team or advising the Secretary's staff back in Washington, D.C.
The professional features in this issue are followed by four student contributions, all by cadets at different stages of their Air Force Academy careers. Now second lieutenant Henry Gilchrist (USAFA '21) leads off with "Madman Diplomacy," which was originally a seminar paper for his Nuclear Weapons & Strategy minor capstone. Henry polished the piece during summer work at Lawrence Livermore Lab's Center for Global Security Research and presented his argument at several professional conferences, including the 2021 Workshop of the USSTRATCOM Academic Alliance, eventually earning the USAFA Dean of Faculty Outstanding Cadet Researcher award. Henry's story demonstrates how, with the proper investment, undergraduates can contribute to the national conversation at the frontiers of defense policy. Following Henry's essay, Jesse Jenkins (USAFA, '22) presents his independent study on "Climate Change and Mass Atrocity." Max Di Lalla (USAFA, '22) in his final paper for USAFA Scholars capstone suggests reforms for DOD's National Security Innovation Network, and Noah Grady (USAFA, '24) reviews former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster's Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World (2021), a key text during the Academy's 62nd Assembly, "National Security and American Polarization."
Our issue concludes with two notes of interest to the editors at Space & Defense. USAFA professor and coeditor of China's Strategic Arsenal (Georgetown, 2021) Paul Bolt takes a retrospective look at the late news correspondent Neil Sheehan's Fiery Peace in a Cold War (2009), drawing lessons for today's great power rivalry in space. Finally, we include summary proceedings of the 62nd Academy Assembly, when roundtables of cadets and select students across the country examined the causes and consequences of political polarization in American democracy. As always, we are grateful for our contributors and extend special thanks to the expert peer reviewers who volunteer their time in order to further the dialog on emerging technology and national security. Our best answer to students' exasperation at America's inability to close the strategy-technology gap is more-more articles, reviews, workshop proceedings, and more critical readers of Space & Defense.
Damon Coletta, USAFA
Future Directions for Great Power Nuclear Arms Control
T. Justin Bronder