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About the Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology

The Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology (CSST) brings together experts on U.S. grand strategy; U.S. military affairs, including defense modernization, innovation, and technology; American alliances and security partnerships; transnational threats; arms control; and U.S. foreign policy in the changing international order. This work is critical as traditional norms about American leadership are challenged in policymaking and public debates.

CSST scholars engage with their colleagues across the Brookings Foreign Policy program who focus on regional issues, especially around questions of how American strategy can respond to China’s changing strategy, North Korean and Iranian provocations, India’s rise, Russia’s aggressive turn, and instability in the Middle East. The center’s work also contributes to research across Brookings on technology, often in collaboration with the Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology Initiative.

The center’s work takes on three overarching themes:

1. American leadership in the 21st century: U.S. grand strategy, alliances, and the multilateral order 

Following actual and perceived failures of U.S. strategy in the Middle East, the economic and political rise of China and its adoption of a more aggressive strategy, and the emergence of new technologies that have amplified the reach of transnational actors and empowered state aggression, debates continue as to whether the core grand strategy of the United States since World War II remains the right strategy today. As some call for the U.S. to pull back from international leadership roles, there is an urgent need to study these dynamics’ implications for American foreign and defense policy. Center scholars are leading the research about the implications for American foreign policy of a return to geopolitical competition, and how multilateral institutions should be adapted to respond to the changing international landscape.

2. National security: U.S. defense policy, strategic weapons, and technology

Scholars in CSST work on “hard power” questions of defense modernization, military readiness and operations, defense budgeting, war planning, and deterrence. They do so within the framework of a return to great-power competition vis-à-vis Russia and China, as articulated in the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, building as it did on the “third offset” concept of the latter years of the Obama administration. Among other questions, scholars investigate how the application of modern and emerging technologies to defense operations will simultaneously affect and be affected by the changing dynamics of great power competition. Scholars also consider the implications of changing technology and geopolitical realities to U.S. nuclear doctrine, the American approach to strategic arms control and global strategic stability, nuclear nonproliferation, and the potential opportunities and challenges posed by outer space and cyberspace as new domains of competition.

3. Transnational threats: non-state actors and sub-state challenges

For all of the focus on great power rivalry, the fact is that, to this day, many American troops are currently deployed to battle not the armies of state rivals, but transnational and subnational networks of terrorists, rebels, and criminals. This is particularly evident across the Middle East and South Asia, but it is also the primary mission of American, allied, and multilateral forces deployed in North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Center research includes a focus on illicit actors, networks, economies, and challenges.

The center convenes major events throughout the year, including with top leadership from the Departments of Defense and State, the intelligence community, international organizations, and other policy actors. It hosts regular events and meetings as part of its Africa Security InitiativeProject on International Order and StrategyArms Control and Nonproliferation Initiative, and Defense Industrial Base Working Group. The center is also host to a group of Federal Executive Fellows each year, who are rising leaders in the U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Scholars write in-depth research in the form of policy briefs, reports, and books; they also regularly publish op-eds and comment in prominent news outlets.

Experts:

Nonresident scholars:

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