Guest Post: Dr. Frank Hoffman on “Conceptualizing Integrated Deterrence”

Today’s post is by Dr. Frank Hoffman, my friend of many years (and one of the smartest people I know!), who discusses the concept of “integrated deterrence.”  If you aren’t sure you know what that means, now is the time to get up to speed as we likely will see it in the soon-to-be released National Defense Strategy (NDS) due to replace the current version issued in 2018. 

This development is no small matter.  As Frank notes, the “Pentagon’s leadership has signaled a distinctive shift in language if not focus [from the 2018 NDS] with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s public remarks stressing ‘integrated deterrence’.” 

Frank’s essay is a great tool for helping us analyze the theory.  He explains that his “brief concept paper lays out and evaluates some options on how to think about Integrated Deterrence.”  In sharing his thoughts with us, Frank points out some of the concerns about “integrated deterrence” including one I share, that is, the danger that the concept will become a reason to “undermine a robust military budget.”

Besides clearly and concisely discussing “integrated deterrence” in a way everyone can understand, Frank very usefully provides a list of questions (tough ones!) that the concept needs to answer.  I urge you to read this analysis from one of the nation’s foremost strategists as there is a lot (everything?) at stake for America’s defense enterprise as the U.S. navigates a dangerous world.

Conceptualizing Integrated Deterrence

by Frank Hoffman

The Pentagon will soon revise its primary strategic guidance, updating the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) issued by the Trump Administration in January 2018.  That document will require a reconsideration of the strategic environment to reflect external challenges such as China’s continued military modernization and sustained confrontation.  It will also have to reflect a broader conception of national security concerns of what is hoped to be a “post-covid America” and the priorities of the Biden Administration’s policies.[1]

Like its predecessor, the new NDS will have to be nested in the grand strategy produced by the White House which has already issued its initial guidance and is already operationalizing its world view which relies upon traditional concepts of American statecraft and liberal internationalism. [2]

The Pentagon’s leadership has signaled a distinctive shift in language if not focus with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s public remarks stressing “integrated deterrence.”  In General Austin’s words, integrated deterrence “is the right mix of technology, operational concepts and capabilities—all woven together and networked in a way that is credible, flexible and so formidable that it will give any adversary pause.”  He went on to flesh out a multi-dimensional composition, describing it as “multidomain, spans numerous geographic areas of responsibility, is united with allies and partners, and is fortified by all instruments of national power. [3]  The Undersecretary of Policy, Dr. Colin Kahl, expanded on this, saying that it will “inform almost everything that we do.”[4]

The Department’s new concept has drawn some early criticism.  Some perceive it as another Pentagon buzzword, and a distraction from the ongoing strategic competition between the United States and a revisionist China.[5]  Some members of Congress, like Representative Mike Gallagher, fear that the concept is designed to undermine a robust military budget that restores U.S. dominance.[6]  This argument was echoed by retired General Tom Spoehr who contended that “history has also has proven that non-military tools, such as economic sanctions or diplomatic condemnation, have limited utility in deterring a determined adversary from instigating conflict.”[7] 

This brief concept paper lays out and evaluates some options on how to think about Integrated Deterrence.  This is an important concept for framing the Defense Department’s major contributions to the next national security strategy.[8]  Deterrence could be a useful framing mechanism for defense policy, especially in force design and perhaps in making distinctive tradeoffs in modernization.[9]

The Department has a long intellectual exposure and historical experience with deterrence.[10]  But the United States faces multiple challengers, with a broadening array of destabilizing modes of conflict and disruptive technologies that will challenge traditional approaches to the problem of deterrence.[11]   

Deterrence has always been a deceptively simple concept: to convince an adversary that the anticipated benefits of an aggressive move will not be obtained, and that the perceived costs will be much greater than any possible gain.  Denial of success, and/or the imposition of costs are considered the two fundamental elements.[12]  It is an exercise in interactive perception management that presumes clarity about the character of the geostrategic contest, and rationality in an opponent’s decision-making process.  Deterrence is a perception about credibility and capability, and presumes a thorough understanding of competitors and their thresholds and decision calculus. 

U.S. practice often conceptualizes deterrence into silos of conventional and ‘strategic’ or nuclear systems. Disruptive changes in technology may challenge traditional thinking and require new tools, models and metaphors.[13]  The changes in the demands placed on deterrence have forced strategists to consider new tools and metaphors. 

One productive concept relates to “wormhole escalation” by the noted strategic theorist and policy analyst Rebecca Hersman of CSIS.  She envisions numerous “wormhole” escalation scenarios, in which decision makers make a step and come out in a world they hardly anticipated much less shaped.[14]  These are holes which “may suddenly open in the fabric of deterrence through which competing states could inadvertently enter and suddenly traverse between sub-conventional and strategic levels of conflict in accelerated and decidedly non-linear ways.”[15]

Deterring What and Whom?

China has its own ideas of what integrated deterrence looks like, which we should consider in our own calculus.[16]  China does not necessarily share American conclusions on nuclear escalation, which should influence U.S. actions.[17]  Given the CCP’s stated objective of reunification with Taiwan, and its associated coercive efforts targeting Taiwan, the topic of deterring aggression there has risen to the fore recently.[18] 

As the Department’s formal assessment of China’s modernization noted, “Cross-Strait deterrence is in a period of dangerous uncertainty. Improvements in China’s military capabilities have fundamentally transformed the strategic environment and weakened the military dimension of cross-Strait deterrence.”[19]  Evidence of further weakening of deterrence may be seen from the recent Chinese test of a hypersonic missile.[20]

Russia, which is also modernizing its military and operating it more assertively, has its own conception of its national interest and its preferred future.[21]  “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,” according to one excellent study.[22] That culture is remarkably consistent and predictable, for those who study it.[23] Concerns over the security of Ukraine are very high at present.[24]

Moscow has exercised a longstanding playbook of destabilizing activities to undermine NATO and its partners short of direct violence. [25]  Yet, its military capabilities cannot be ignored.[26] Figuring out what Putin wants, and how to deflect his most malign activities garners much attention these days.[27]  Additionally, a comprehensive understanding of our competitors, appear more than warranted, it’s a necessity if we seek to comprehend what deters and what escalates.  The idea that the adversary’s perception is what matters is too often overlooked regarding deterrence.[28]  Moscow’s longstanding ability to combine political, informational, and military coercion in hybrid conflicts is hard to deter.[29]  It would be a mistake to dismiss Russia as a declining irritant or mere source of disruption.[30]   

U.S. policy makers may have to broaden their thinking and toolbox beyond the canonical option set of deterrence by denial or cost imposition.[31]  Those options tend to operationalize the challenge to specific scenarios, rather than the more strategic and systemic competition. For that reason, Secretary Austin’s initiative appears to be both strategically holistic and on target.  However, there are different ways to conceptualize the components to deterrence and the contributors.  The rest of this paper examines several options.

Whole Spectrum Deterrence

One way of conceiving of deterrence is functionally, across the major forms of warfare.  This is depicted in figure 1, and shows a continuum of warfare from unconventional, through conventional means, to strategic deterrence against states with nuclear weapons.  The unconventional component is often overlooked, ironically given the prevalence of so-called gray zone activities in the past decade.[32]  Deterring insidious, malign and adversarial activity short of war is needed as well.[33]  This element would help include other indirect approaches including subversion or political warfare. [34] 

In addition to including conventional forces, the concept includes a category for strategic deterrence assets (space, warning systems, missile defenses, nuclear strike platforms and munitions).  Given that Russia and China have strategic cultures that emphasize political warfare and indirect methods, such a construct would consciously highlight responses required against the full range of threats.[35]  It would also better align U.S. thinking with countries like Russia that do not draw a rigid line between conventional and strategic deterrence.[36]

The value of recognizing the continuum is that it reminds policy makers about the full range of threats/challenges from competitors.  It answers the question: deterrence of what?  However, this construct is narrow as it is limited to thinking solely in terms of modes of warfare from a military lens.  But it does force the policy and planning community to address the overlaps of modalities short of armed conflict, as well as the need to understand how adversaries look at strategic and non-strategic weapons.  The next NDS should avoid the perception, often ascribed to the 2018 NDS, that the United States needs to focus solely on high-intensity combat.[37]

It also offers a construct that incorporates the long deferred nuclear modernization into its larger strategy and resource allocation.[38]

Options for Integrated Deterrence

Option 1.   Whole of Government Capacity

Another conception is more whole of government orientation.  This perspective incorporates the role of diplomacy, engagement in international organizations, and development programs as well as more traditional military components.  It also includes homeland security, domestic cyber security, critical infrastructure protection, and disaster response.

The joint warfighting element in this concept would have to include Service warfighting capabilities, overall force design, strategic systems, and any necessary joint enablers such as command and control, ISR, space platforms, etc.  In addition to explicitly bringing conventional joint force levels and readiness into the equation, it includes strategic deterrence. 

This option provides a broader conception of deterrence than traditional U.S. military.  It supports the Secretary’s conclusion that “Integrated deterrence rests on integrated networks among our capabilities, our operations, and our allies.”[39]  But it offers a larger conception of defense by incorporating the “offensive” potential of diplomacy and economic development, and the defensive value of the Department of Homeland Security. The United Kingdom incorporated development in its most recent national strategic review, The Integrated Review of July 2021.[40]

Advantages/Disadvantages.  This option underscores the importance of nuclear modernization in addition to conventional “warfighting readiness.” The long deferred modernization of U.S. strategic assets presents a growing risk that is exacerbated by China’s departure from a minimalist deterrence posture.[41]  This option includes elements of the U.S. interagency community, consistent with Mr. Austin’s speeches.  The major disadvantage is that it fails to recognize the role of the existing alliance architecture, and the benefits of collective security.

Option 2.  Comprehensive Military Deterrence

A third option for consideration is a comprehensive concept that is frames the military contribution to a deterrent architecture.  The option includes strategic and conventional military components.  Additionally, it incorporates national command and control systems and missile defense.  It additionally includes an element for the Defense Department’s contribution to the defense of the homeland.  This construct is depicted in Figure 3. 

This construct is narrower than the concept the Secretary presented, it is more defense-centric than “whole of government.”  This conception provides greater focus for the Department’s leadership to invest in military capabilities that make the greatest contribution to deterrence. 

Advantages/Disadvantages.  This option includes national C2 or information/cyber resilience as a major component.  The impact of space and cyberspace vulnerabilities is one of the great uncertainties of the strategic environment.[42]  This construct would facilitate the Defense Department striving to generate and integrate strategic and conventional modes of deterrence.  While this is a defense enterprise-centric perspective, this can be considered appropriate and an advantage for NDS, as long as it is remains consistent with the NSS. 

This option provides focus for a robust form of deterrence against comprehensive challengers that have strategic capabilities, and addresses both offensive and defense requirements.  The explicit separation of missile defense raises a key question. Will the United States remain committed to expensive and incremental improvements in missile defense, and where does this fit in priorities for Integrated Deterrence?[43]

Option 3.  Collective Security Deterrence

A more international construct for integrated deterrence is depicted in Figure 4.  This option includes alliance force size (capacity) and their degree of modernization (capabilities).  Such a framework gives ample consideration for the contributions made by our allies and partners around the globe. This is something China can only aspire to presently.[44]

Recent studies suggest that European hard power remains limited and that a focused effort is required.[45]  While chided for years for underinvesting, recent reports from the European Defense Agency shows real progress with 19 EU states increasing their overall defense spending in 2020.[46]  But spending more is not necessarily the only measure, and greater collaboration is needed.  Moreover, to be truly integrated, the United States will need to consult further with its allies on the use of strategic capabilities as well.[47]  

This model also accounts for basing posture, geography, and the time/distance challenges inherent in protecting our friends.[48]  Given the role of forward deployed forces and their bases as a critical element of U.S. power projection, this posture is a contributing factor.[49]  This option also includes the sustainment of a robust and resilient industrial base, which supports the defense innovation eco-system with agile development and production, but which also supports rapid and responsive support to the warfighter in protracted conflicts. 

Advantages/Disadvantages.   This option is useful due to the inclusion of allied capabilities and capacity.  It also includes the critical enablers, including ISR and space based warning.[50]   It also incorporates the longer-term contribution of the defense industrial base, a source of competitive advantage and to deterrence over the long haul.  The industrial base is necessary to sustain U.S. readiness in potentially protracted conflict.  The ability to continually sustain theater forces, in the face of attrition, supports deterrence against major competitors.[51]

The Next Suite of Strategies

Given the purported degradation in the competitive edge of the U.S. military, an emphasis on deterrence against regional aggression in the Indo-Pacific region is an appropriate centerpiece for the next NDS.[52]  But the concept must be intellectually defensible, and constructive in terms of focusing resources and promoting its implementation.  It should not be an empty vessel that means all things to all people.  Strategic discipline, maximizing scarce resources to prioritized policy aims, should be hallmark for the next NDS.

Of the constructs presented here, the Whole of Government model offers a concept that may be best suited as part of an updated National Security Strategy.  It seeks to ensure that all instruments of national power are harnessed to improving stability and maximizing the attainment of success in the larger strategic competition.  That competition is arguably more about economics, trade practices, and the science/technology ecosystem. 

“Comprehensive Military Deterrence” focuses on Pentagon forces, yet it overlooks the international and coalition dimensions.  It seems better suited for focusing DoD on its principal mission, but Option 3 is broader and aligns best for managing the Indo-Pacific region’s ongoing security competition. 

The brief overview here generated ideas about the components of Integrated Deterrence, but many questions remain.  The fleshed out concept, anticipated to be the centerpiece of the 2022 National Defense Strategy, will have to answer numerous questions:

        • How does Integrated Deterrence influence the significant investment pending in U.S nuclear modernization?  Does it decrease or alter them?
        • Does it alter U.S. declaratory policy on first use?
        • How does Integrated Deterrence address the strategic stability challenges posed by disruptive technologies like cyber, space-based weapons, and hypervelocity missiles?  Does it limit “wormholes” or allow us to better maneuver through them???
        • Where do international norms and law impact deterrence, positively or negatively?
        • What are the immediate implications for key allies in Asia, as well as European allies and partners?  What do they do to align in the near term with this?
        • What is the role of allies in U.S. plans for Integrated Deterrence across theaters?  What assumptions about coalition cohesion and capacity are implied?
        • How does Integrated Deterrence influence forward deployed force posture?[53]
        • Does Integrated Deterrence influence the mix of conventional and strategic capabilities, and how?  Where is the biggest payoff for deterrence?  How does it impact joint force design and development priorities?
        • How does China react to this renewed focus on deterrence?  Does the PRC’s leadership sense that it increases their vulnerability and their security dilemma, or does it merely matches their own thinking?
        • What synergies does this concept promote in conventional force design, and what does integration mean for Joint Force Development in terms of priorities?  Where is the biggest payoff for deterrence? 

A good degree of uncertainty surrounds deterrence today as new technologies and cross-domain capabilities have not been demonstrated.  Furthermore, policy makers have precious little experience in crafting an integrated deterrence approach, or in managing crises with such capabilities, and little understanding of all the risks involved, particularly the firebreaks or fusion between nuclear, strategic, and conventional capabilities.[54]  We should be prudent given these uncertainties.

Ultimately the perception of national power behind our deterrent is based on what the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called America’s “reservoirs of strength” at home.[55]  This would include our economic vitality, research base, and critical infrastructure.  The National Security Strategy should focus on that to satisfy Sir Lawrence Freedman’s definition of strategy as, “getting more out of a situation than the starting balance of power would suggest. It is the art of creating power.”[56]  Creating that power is the traditional focus for grand strategy. 


The central problem of the ongoing competition is a perceived erosion of America’s deterrence, which invites opportunistic adventuresome that is inimical to U.S. core interests.  The security of our Nation and the stability of the international order depends on restoring that deterrence.   

There are immediate concerns for regional deterrence as Russia masses its armed forces near Ukraine’s border, and China continues to challenge Taiwan’s security.[57]  Disruptive technologies may soon be fielded that undercut longstanding assumptions about strategic stability.[58]  With these concerns in mind, the 2022 defense strategy should focus on promoting deterrence as the principal (but not sole) task for the Department of Defense. 

Since what we are currently doing is apparently not working, more of the same or an incremental increase is insufficient.  We need some creative concepts. The United States still retains substantial structural and cultural advantages that will continue to preserve its competitive edge.  As Secretary Austin noted, the United States has a unique advantage in generating and implementing innovative capabilities.  This advantage allows “us to weave together cutting-edge technology, operational concepts, and state-of-the-art capabilities.”[59]  

Integrated Deterrence will have to build upon these unique American strengths and do so quickly to establish this extended concept against determined competition.    


[1] F. G. Hoffman, “National Security in the Post-Pandemic Era,” Orbis, Vol. 65, no. 1 (Winter 2021), 17–45. 

[2] The White House, Interim National Security Strategic Guidance (Washington, DC, 2021), 9 at

[3] Lloyd Austin, Remarks at Indo-Pacific Command Change of Command, April 30, 2021, at Secretary of Defense Remarks for the U.S. INDOPACOM Change of Command > U.S. Department of Defense > Speech

[4] Kahl quoted in Jim Garamone,”Concept of Integrated Deterrence Will be Key to NDS,” DoD News, December 8, 2021, at

[5] Harlan Ullman, “Integrated deterrence’ must be a strategy, not a slogan,”, November 12, 2021, at

[6] Michael Gallagher, “Pentagon’s Deterrence Strategy Ignores Hard Earned Lessons about Balance of Power,” Washington Post, September 29, 2021.  At

[7] Thomas Spoehr, “Bad Idea: Relying on “Integrated Deterrence” Instead of Building Sufficient U.S. Military Power,” CSIS, Defense360 blog, December 3, 2021, at,

[8] For a comprehensive look at competition see Thomas F. Lynch, III., ed., Strategic Assessment 2020: Into an Era of Great Power Competition (Washington, DC: NDU Press, 2020).

[9] Stacie Pettyjohn and Becca Wasser and Jennie Matuschak, “Risky Business, Future Strategy and Force Options,” Washington, DC, Center for New American Security, 2021.  At

[10] Austin Long, Deterrence; from Cold War to Long War: Lessons from Six Decades of RAND Research, Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2008. At; Michael J. Mazarr, Arthur Chan, Alyssa Demus, Bryan Frederick, Alireza Nader, Stephanie Pezard, Julia A. Thompson, and Elina Treyger, What Deters and Why: Exploring Requirements for Effective Deterrence of Interstate Aggression (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2018), at  

[11] Michael J. Mazarr, “Understanding Deterrence,” Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2018.

[12] Thomas Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966).

[13] Michael Horowitz and Paul Scharre, “AI and International Stability: Risks and Confidence-Building Measures,” Washington, DC, Center for a New American Security, January 21, 2021.  At

[14] Rebecca Hersman, “Wormhole Escalation in the New Nuclear Age,” Texas National Security Review, Vol. 3, no. 2 (Autumn 2020), 91–109.

[15] Hersman, 94.

[16] Michael S. Chase and Arthur Chan, China’s Evolving Approach to “Integrated Strategic Deterrence,” Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2016, at; Denny Blasko, “Peace Through Strength: Deterrence in Chinese Military Doctrine, War on the Rocks, March 15, 2017, deterrence%20is%20based%20on, from%20taking%20hostile%20actions%20or%20escalating%20the%20hostility.%E2%80%9D; Dean Cheng, “An Overview of Chinese Thinking About Deterrence,” in Frans Osinga and Tim Sweijs, eds., Netherlands Annual Review of Military Studies 2020 (The Hague, NL: Asser Press, 2020).

[17] Fiona S. Cunningham and M. Taylor Fravel, “Dangerous Confidence? Chinese Views on Nuclear Escalation,” International Security Vol. 44, no. 2 (2019), 61–109.

[18] Oriana Skylar Mastro,” The Taiwan Temptation, Why Beijing Might Resort to Force,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2021, at; Rachel Esplin Odell and Eric Heginbotham; Bonny Lin and David Sacks; Kharis Templeman; Oriana Skylar Mastro, “Strait of Emergency? Debating Beijing’s Threat to Taiwan,” Foreign Affairs, (September/ October 2021), at

[19] Department of Defense, Chinese Military Power report, Washington, DC Defense Intelligence Agency, 2020; U.S. China Economic and Security Commission, Annual Report 2021.  On cross-strait deterrence, see the Commission’s report, at.–Dangerous_Period_for_Cross-Strait_Deterrence.pdf; Congressional Research Service, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress, Washington, DC, October 7, 2021.

[20] Colm Quinn, “What China’s New Missile Test Means.” Foreign, October 19, 2021, at

[21] Keith Crane, Olga Oliker and Brian Nichiporuk, Trends in Russia’s Armed Forces: An Overview of Budgets and Capabilities (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2019). At; Defense Intelligence Agency, Russian Military Power, Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2021; Samuel Bendett, Mathieu Boulegue, and Richard Connolly, Advanced Military Technology in Russia: Capabilities and Implications, London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, September 2021.

[22] Michael Kofman, Anya Fink, and Jeffrey Edmonds, Russian Strategy for Escalation Management: Evolution of Key Concepts (Arlington, VA: CNA, April 2020), at

[23] For an outstanding depiction of Russian strategic culture see Kier Giles, Moscow Rules, What Drives Russia to Confront the West (Washington, DC; Brookings Institution, 2019).

[24] Michael Kimmage and Michael Kofman, “Russia Won’t Let Ukraine Go Without a Fight,” Foreign, November 22, 2021, at =Russia%20Won%E2%80%99t%20Let%20Ukraine%20Go%20Without%20a%20Fight&utm_content=20211126&utm_term=FA%20This%20Week%20-%20112017

[25] Timothy Thomas, “Russian Military Thought: Concepts and Elements.” MITRE, August 2019. At also Michael Kofman, et al, Russian Strategy and Concepts (Arlington, VA: CNA, 2021).

[26] Bettina Renz, Russia’s Military Revival (London: Polity, 2018).  See also Andrew Radin, Lynn E. Davies, Edward Geist, Eugeniu Han, Dara Massicot, Matthew Povlock, Clint Reach, Scott Boston, Samuel Charap, William Mackenzie, Katya Migacheva, Trevor Johnston and Austin Long, The Future of the Russian Military: Russia’s Ground Combat Capabilities and Implications for US-Russia Competition (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2019). At

[27] Stephen Flanagan, Jan Osburg, Anika Binnendijk, Marta Kepe and Andrew Radin. Deterring Russian Aggression in the Baltic States through Resilience and Resistance (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2019), at; Stephanie Pezard and Ashley L. Rhoades, “What Provokes Putin’s Russia?  Deterring Without Unintended Escalation,” (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2020), at; Dan Fried, John Herbst, and Alexander Vershbow, “How to Deter Russia Now,” Atlantic Council, blog, November 23, 2021, at; Keir Giles, “What Deters Russia: Enduring principles for responding to Moscow,” Chatham House, 23 September 2021, at

[28] Robert Jervis, “Deterrence and Perception,” International Security, Vol. 7, no. 3 (Winter 1982/1983), 3-30.  At

[29] Andrew Radin, Hybrid Warfare in the Baltics: Threats and Potential Responses. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2017), at; Michael Kofman and Andrea Kendall-Taylor, “The Myth of Russian Decline: Why Moscow Will Be a Persistent Power,” Foreign Affairs (November/December 2021).

[30] Jeffrey Mankoff, “Russia in the Era of Great Power Competition,” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 44, no. 3 (2021), 107–125, at DOI: 10.1080/0163660X.2021.1970905.

[31] Luis Simon, “Between punishment and denial: Uncertainty, flexibility, and U.S. military strategy toward China,” Contemporary Security Policy, Vol. 4 no. 3 (2020), 361-384, at

[32] Michael J. Mazarr, Joe Cherevitch, Jeffrey Hornung, and Stephanie Pezard, “What Deters and Why: Applying a Framework to Assess Deterrence of Gray Zone Aggression,” Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2018.

[33] Robert C. Jones, “Deterring “Competition Short of War,” Small Wars Journal, May 14, 2019, at

[34] Linda Robinson, Todd C. Helmus, Raphael S. Cohen, Alireza Nader, Andrew Radin, Madeline Magnuson and Katya Migacheva, Modern Political Warfare: Current Practices and Possible Responses. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2018. At

[35] Ben Connable, Jason H. Campbell and Dan Madden, Stretching and Exploiting Thresholds for High-Order War: How Russia, China and Iran are Eroding American Influence Using Time-Tested Measures Short of War, Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2016, at Raphael Cohen and Andrew Radin, Russia’s Hostile Measures in Europe: Understanding the Threat. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, RR-1793-A, 2019. At

[36] Regarding silos see Robert Peters, Justin Anderson and Harrison Menke, “Deterrence in the 21st Century: Integrating Nuclear and Conventional Force,” Strategic Studies Quarterly, Vol. 12, no. 4 (Winter 2018), 15–43.

[37] Mike Noonan, “Not just for SOF Anymore: Envisioning Irregular Warfare as a Joint Force Priority,” Modern Warfare Institute, April 21, 2021, at

[38] Admiral Charles A Richard, US Navy, Statement of Commander United States Strategic Command Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Washington, DC, 13 February 2020.  See also Rebecca Hersman, “U.S. Nuclear Warhead Modernization and ‘New’ Nuclear Weapons,” Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, December 10, 2020, at

[39] Austin remarks at INDO-PAC Command Change of Command, op. cit.

[40] See Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review, London: Cabinet Office, March 2021. At

[41] Brad Roberts, The Case for Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century )Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016).

[42] Martin Libicki, Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar, Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2009. At; Vince Manzo, “Deterrence and Escalation in Cross-Domain Operations: Where Do Space and Cyberspace Fit?” Strategic Forum, No. 272, Washington, DC: National Defense University, Institute for National Strategic Studies, December 2011. Joseph Nye, and S. Joseph, “Deterrence and Dissuasion in Cyberspace,” International Security, Vol. 41, no. 3, 2017; R. Slayton, “What Is the Cyber Offense-Defense Balance? Conceptions, Causes, and Assessment,” International Security, Vol. 41, no. 3 (2017), 72–109.

[43] Laura Grego, “The Next Fifty Years of Nuclear Proliferation,” Occasional Paper of the Institute for International Science & Technology Policy, IISTP-WP-2021-20, ed., Sharon Squassoni, February 2021. See

[44] Patricia M. Kim, “China’s Search for Allies,” Foreign, November 15, 202, at

[45] Seth Jones, Rachel Ellehaus and Colin Wall, Europe’s High-End Military Challenges: The Future of European Capabilities and Missions, Washington, DC, Center for Strategic and International Studies, November 10, 2021, at

[46] “EDA Finds Record European Defence Spending in 2020,” News Release, Brussels, December 6, 2021, at

[47] Stephan Fruehling and Andrew O’Neil, “Making Indo-Pacific Alliances Fit for Deterrence,” The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, December 21, 2021, at

[48] On the recent Defense Posture Review, see

[49] Renanah M. Joyce and Becca Wasser, “All About Access: Solving America’s Force Posture Puzzle,” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 44, no.3 (2021), 45-67, at DOI:10.1080/0163660X.2021.1970335.

[50] Rebecca K.C. Hersman and Reja Younis, The Adversary Gets a Vote: Advanced Situational Awareness and Implications for Integrated Deterrence in an Era of Great Power Competition, Washington, DC, Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 2021.  See also James Lewis, “Rethinking Deterrence,” Washington, DC: CSIS, May 2016, at ?lz1HlfsfMcQGYSynMnhACGXI2PDjEm0p

[51] Cathal Nolan, The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars have been Won and Lost (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

[52] Michele Flournoy, “America’s Military Risks Losing Its Edge: How to Transform the Pentagon for a Competitive Era,” Foreign Affairs, May/June, 2021, at

[53] Darryl Cotte, “Global Posture Review recommends few changes to U.S. military stance,” UPI, November 29, 2021, at

[54] Paul Bernstein and Austin Long, “Multi-Domain Deterrence: Some Framing Considerations,” in Brad Roberts, ed., Getting the Multi-Domain Challenge Right, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (December, 2021), 6–7.

[55] Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor, Speech at Lowy Institute, Sydney Australia, November 11, 2021, transcript at

[56] Lawrence Freedman, Strategy, A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), xii.

[57] Paul Sonne, Ellen Nakashima, and Missy Ryan, “Biden Ukraine,” Washington Post, November 29, 2021, at; on Taiwan see The Uncomfortable Reality of the U.S. Army’s Role in a War Over Taiwan – War on the Rocks

[58] Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, “The Age of Strategic Instability: How Novel Technologies Disrupt the Nuclear Balance,” Foreign, July 21, 2020, at

[59] Remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum (As Delivered), CA, Ronald Reagan Defense Forum, December 4,2021,at

About the author:

Dr. Francis G. Hoffman holds an appointment as a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University in Washington, DC.  He is a retired Marine officer with Senior Executive Service-level political posts in the Pentagon, and last served there as a strategic advisor to the Secretary of Defense and a member of the task force that produced the 2018 National Defense Strategy.  He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School and earned his Ph.D. from King’s College London. 

His most recent book is Mars Adapting: Military Change During War (Naval Institute Press 2021).


The views expressed herein are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent those of the Department of Defense or any other governmental or non-governmental agency.

The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, or Duke University.  

Remember what we like to say on Lawfire®: gather the facts, examine the law, evaluate the arguments – and then decide for yourself!

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