NDISP and Air War College present "The Asia Pivot Through a European Lense" research papers by AWC senior gradaute students


Location: 119 O'Shaughnessy Hall

Notre Dame International Security Program’s Speaker Seminar Series, in cooperation with the Hap Arnold Lecture Series of the Grand Strategy Program at the US Air Force’s Air War College, is delighted to introduce three senior AWC graduate students who will be presenting their research papers bound by the broad limits of the question "The Asia Pivot through a European Lens".




Group Captain (Colonel) Clive Blount, Royal Air Force, UK.

Paper title “Special Relationship?  What Are the Strategic Choices Available to the United Kingdom After the United States Pivot to Asia”

Abstract: In 2010, the Obama administration announced that the United States needed to make “a strategic pivot” in its foreign policy, in which it would downsize the United States’ presence in the Middle East and Afghanistan over the next decade and switch attention to and, particularly, invest more in the Asia-Pacific region. The question posed by the ‘traditional’ allies of the United States in Europe, and elsewhere, is just how the new Asian strategy will affect United States’ commitments in the rest of the world as finite, and, most likely, reducing, resources are redeployed to meet new challenges.  The declaration of such a ‘pivot’ poses some interesting challenges particularly for the United Kingdom, which has, increasingly, adopted a position on world affairs almost entirely driven by its close relationship with the United States.    Whether the relationship between the two countries is actually ‘special’, or is just one of many bilateral partnerships between the United States and its allies, the United Kingdom has taken on the job of ‘transatlantic bridge’ between the North American and European members of NATO.  It has supported the United States wholeheartedly – even when that support has resulted in significant impacts on international legitimacy and wider support.  The effects of a continuing recession, constant pressure to reduce defense spending, and the recovery from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, suggest that there is likely to be little money available for new capability or any significant increase in resources.  The shift of United States’ focus eastwards therefore poses a significant challenge if the United Kingdom is to retain its influence on the United States and, thereby, maintain its current position as a world power, albeit in the second rank. This paper will investigate the strategic  options open to Britain and will suggest that, far from a being a threat, the United States pivot to Asia will provide Britain with a number of opportunities to strengthen its relationship with the United States and to develop its longstanding ‘special’ relationship beyond that of just an Atlantic ‘bridge’.         


Colonel Shannon Caudill, USAF.

Paper Title “Russia’s Strategic Choice: Bandwagon with China or Balance with the West"

Abstract: Acknowledging China’s rise as a regional power, the U.S. has begun a strengthening of its Pacific diplomatic and military partnerships to reassure allies and hedge against potential Chinese regional ambitions. In the context of the American strategic pivot to Asia, this paper will examine Russia’s eventual choice: bandwagon with a rising China or balance against China with the West. If current economic, demographic, military, and cultural trends continue in China and Russia, the Russian government will be compelled to realign and reconcile with the West for the benefit of its own security interests. Given the current friction between the West and Russia under Vladimir Putin, it seems counterintuitive that Russia would ever align with the West or consider joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but demographic and economic decline coupled with shared culture and history will force Russia to coalesce with American and European powers to ensure its own security against China. Therefore, the U.S. and Western leaders should engage in a long-term strategic diplomatic initiative to build closer ties with Russia with the unstated goal of looking for opportunities to peel Russia away from Chinese political and military alignment. Ultimately, such a move would provide an additional counterbalance against China as part of the American strategic pivot to Asia; a modern version of “Nixon Goes to China,” only in reverse.


Lieutenant Colonel Laurel “Buff” Burkel, USAF.

Paper title “Applying NATO Concepts and Lessons Learned to the US Rebalance Towards the Asia-Pacific”

Abstract: Faced with budgetary constraints and other national security concerns that compete for finite defense resources, the U.S. rebalance to Asia is not simply a matter of generating additional resources to meet the objective, or of wholesale moving of resources from one region of the globe to the Pacific.  This paper examines howNATO’s Smart Defence initiative, lessons learned from alliance operations in Libya, as well as the alliance’s NATO-Russia Council, may serve as valuable examples and insight into how the U.S. could shift and pool resources, both internally and in cooperation with Pacific partners and allies, to effectively implement the rebalance to Asia and still meet global national security objectives. 


About the Air War College

The Air War College is the senior Air Force joint professional military school, its curriculum focuses on leadership in a joint military environment, emphasizing employment of air, space and cyberspace operations.  Attendees have typically served for 18-20 years in either the military or civil service.  Approximately 245 students attend the Air War College each year, including over 40 from partner nations.

The GSP is a specialized course within the Air War College program that is a more intense examination of the theory and practice of strategy that provides a deeper understanding of the complexities of formulating and executing national strategy at the senior levels and the difficulties of leadership at the senior levels of the military.  It focuses on the relationship between military instruments of power and national political objectives and the interplay of global and regional security trends.

The GSP is limited to 12 students, each competitively selected from the AWC student body, and is open to officers from all services, as well as international officers attending the resident AWC program.  

The Hap Arnold Lecture Series was created to provide a forum where the GSP students can participate in a candid and constructive dialogue on current national security and other public policy issues with civilian educational institutions and professional, public, and government organizations across the nation.  The students engage these audiences on topics that they research during their year at the Air War College, and present the results of their research in a panel-discussion forum.  The intent of the program is to encourage intellectual exchange and debate between the students and the audience.

This year, the GSP students researched topics bound by the broad limits of the following question:"The Asia Pivot through a European Lens".