Over the past 27 years, the United States has often planned and operated as though competition has ended and that there would be an inexorable pull toward U.S.-led institutions and world views. The growing reemergence of state-based competition, even when it falls short of military conflict, signals that the optimism of U.S. policy has outpaced the reality of other countries’ own ambitions to create their own realities.
Events over the past decade have led to a growing realization that several states have been investing in the tools and concepts necessary for them to gain advantage—economically, politically, and geographically—in ways that do not involve the military. Some of the most well-known examples are Russian efforts to sow discord in national elections throughout NATO members and China’s building of military outposts in international waters in the South China Sea. Many other examples exist where states compete while avoiding risking war. It has taken Washington some time to realize these activities are deliberate efforts to advance a country’s interest and often at the expense of the United States or a U.S. ally.
CSIS’s 2018 Global Security Forum will focus on the challenges these gray zone tactics pose for U.S. security and the policy priorities needed. The event will feature an armchair discussion between Dr. Kathleen
Hicks and Admiral Michael S. Rogers, 2nd Commander of the United States Cyber Command and 17th Director of the National Security Agency, the launch of a new report, Zone Defense, highlighting insights from the 2018 GSF Experts’ Workshop, and a series of interactive public education videos on the topic. Following the armchair discussion and product releases, Heather A. Conley will lead a panel on gray zone threats and U.S. priorities for the future of competition.