A hard look at hard power: Assessing the defense capabilities of US allies and security partners

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Military personnel on an M113 armoured personnel carrier take part in a joint military drill in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan, January 13, 2014.

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Since World War II, a key element of America's grand strategy has been its worldwide network of strategic allies and partners. The network has provided the United States an invaluable global presence, enhanced deterrence against adversaries, and, when called upon, provided men and materiel necessary to fight wars.

However, with the end of the Cold War, and the existential threat posed by the Soviet Union and its Iron Curtain allies, less and less attention has been paid to America's allies — especially their "hard power" capabilities. Ironically, this has occurred despite the fact that America and its allies have gone to war even more frequently since the demise of the Soviet Union. No less problematic is the fact that, as America cuts its own defense budget and reduces the size of its armed forces, the relative assistance potentially provided by allies and partners grows in importance.

To help address this declining focus, AEI's Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies has commissioned essays which examine the state of defense capabilities of key allies and security partners. The essays examine current and planned defense budgets, troop strengths, deployable capabilities, procurement programs, research and development efforts, doctrinal updates, and strategic guidance documents in an effort to provide an accurate, well-rounded account of allied hard power and, in turn, the ability — and, indirectly, the willingness — of those same state partners to use force independently or in concert with the US and other allies.

Completed reports

► July 2014 | National Security Outlook
    UK hard power: Strategic ambivalence
    Paul Cornish

► June 2014 | National Security Outlook
    NATO's land forces: Losing ground
    Guillame Lasconjarias

► April 2014 | National Security Outlook
    Taiwanese hard power: Between a ROC and a hard place
    Michael Mazza

► February 2014 | National Security Outlook
    French hard power: Living on the strategic edge
    Dorothée Fouchaux

► December 2013 | National Security Outlook
    Polish hard power: Investing in the military as Europe cuts back
    Andrew Michta

► November 2013 | National Security Outlook
    South Korea: Responding to the North Korean threat
    Bruce Bechtol

► October 2013 | National Security Outlook
    German hard power: Is there a there there?
    Patrick Keller

► September 2013 | National Security Outlook
    NATO at sea: Trends in allied naval power
    Bryan McGrath

► August 2013 | National Security Outlook
    Australia defense in the era of austerity: Mind the expectation gap
    Andrew Shearer

► April 2013 | National Security Outlook
    Dutch hard power: Choosing decline
    Marciel Hernandez

► November 2012 | National Security Outlook
    Italian hard power: Ambitions and fiscal realities
    Gary Schmitt

► July 2011 | National Security Outlook
    Challenges for European defense budgets after the economic crisis
    Patrick Keller

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