Category Archives: New Initiatives


CIMSEC High School Scholarship Essay Contest

The Center for International Maritime Security is pleased to announce our first annual Maritime Security Scholarship Essay Contest. In an effort to further our mission of spreading awareness of security issues impacting the ocean commons, CIMSEC is issuing  a call for papers from secondary school students around the world. It’s time to put on your nautical caps and think, read, and write about maritime security. A broad range of paper topics are encouraged, but should exhibit an awareness and interest in maritime or naval affairs. Submissions will be judged on originality of thought, logic, and ability to demonstrate the importance of the chosen topic to maritime security.


  • First Place: “Hipple Prize for Eloquence in Defense of the Seas” – $500 US
  • Second Place – $250 US
  • Honorable Mention – $150 US

Prize winners and other exceptional essays will be published on CIMSEC’s “Next War Blog.”

Eligibility: The contest is open to any Secondary/High School Student, internationally. Submissions should include proof of student status (copy of student ID or transcript) along with the entrant’s full name and address.

Deadline: Contest entries are due no later than 15 January 2015 and the winners will be announced in the early spring.

Submissions: Entries of no more than 1,500 words in length should be emailed in Microsoft Word or .pdf format to  Submissions will only be accepted in English, but we will be happy to help with light editing for non-native English speaking entries.


Members’ Round-Up Part 6

Welcome back to another edition of the Member Round-Up. As always there is a wide variety of topics covered by CIMSEC members. There his, however, a distinct ‘air power’ flavour from our USAF members this week and I am sure that all of the featured articles will make for good reading leading into the weekend.

Dr Ioannis Chapsos recently joined CIMSEC and has a strong focus on researching maritime security issues. At The Conversation, he recently published an article concerning the United Kingdom’s new ‘Counter Terrorism and Security Bill.’ The danger, according to Chapsos, is that continuing to pay ransom money to pirates could lead to flow-on effects that the bill is trying to prevent. This should certainly be at the top of the weekly reading list for those interested in piracy and counter-terrorism issues.

Fellow CIMSECian, Chuck Hill, provides some brief thoughts from the recent US Naval Institute Defense Forum Washington 2014 seminar. His post, naturally, has a distinct focus on the Coast Guard elements of that session. You can also access Scott Cheney-Peters‘ points from the seminar here at CIMSEC.

Preserving the knowledge edge: Surveillance cooperation and the US–Australia alliance in Asia

From down under, James Goldrick co-authors a report for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute titled ‘Preserving the knowledge edge.’ Along with co-authors Stephan Fruhling and Rory Medcalf, thereport discusses the current state of surveillance cooperation between the United States and Australia. It also goes on to discuss the ways in which the existing relationship may evolve to meet the changing security situation in the Asia-Pacific. You can access a copy of the report here.

In the Air and Space Power Journal (Africa & Francophonie), Maj David Blair, USAF, provides his thoughts on some of the organisational challenges facing military professionals. In his essay, Blair provides lessons from historical examples of how organisational failures led to strategic defeat on the battlefield. Case studies range from the fall of the Roman Empire, to the developing of the F-16. Even though he does not provide the ‘answer’, his essay will certainly provide a basis for tackling the problem.

Over at The National Interest, Dave Mujumdar continues the air power theme with his own ’roundup’ of the US Air Force’s five most lethal weapons of war. For those who are not well versed in the capabilities of the world’s largest air force, it provides an up-to-date analysis of these platforms and some of the issues concerning some of the ageing aircraft.

Zachary Keck, provides two articles this week concerning foreign military technology and the global market. Firstly, he reports that a senior Chinese official boasted that China’s J-31 would easily rival the F-35. If one were a betting man, it would be safe to say that that was exactly what the J-31 was intended for (see picture). In any case, the Chinese aircraft would certainly be of interest to those air forces who are unable to afford the F-35. Keck’s second article reports that the Mexican government may be looking at purchasing Iranian-made drones in order to stave off drug cartel operations. Links to the articles can be found here and here, respectively.

China's J-31 Stealth Fighter
China’s J-31 Stealth Fighter

In other news, the CIMSEC team wish to congratulate Major Jeremy Renken, USAF, for having his work recognised by the wider Air Force. Jeremy’s CIMSEC article, ‘Strategic Architectures’, was selected for inclusion in the Air War College’s Campaign Design and Execution Course. You can find a link to his article here.

As always we continue to look for works published by CIMSEC members. If you have published, or know of another member who has published recently, please email so that we can promote your work.


Members’ Roundup Part 5

Good evening CIMSECians and welcome back to the weekly roundup, where we share with you the great work that other members have published elsewhere. For this week’s edition we present you with articles by regular contributors that take the focus back to high-level policy and strategy debates.

With the recent announcement of Chuck Hagel’s resignation as Secretary of Defense, commentators have been scrambling with their analyses of who the President would tap to become his successor. Many of those whose names appeared in the debate have, however, indicated that they would turn down the position if it were offered to them. Ash Carter, who previously served as Deputy Secretary of Defense, will today take the reigns from Chuck Hagel to become the 25th SECDEF.

Over at Foreign Policy fellow CIMSECian and Dean of the Fletcher School, James Stavridis provides a quirky, but sober, column on what he would say to Carter, if he were the US President. The talking points for that “conversation” include, but are not limited to, challenges concerning Islamic State, Ukraine and Russia, as well as the ‘Third Offset Strategy.’

With Zachary Keck’s move to The National Interest as managing editor, he has been busily contributing in his new post. Future battles between U.S. and Chinese forces would focus on targeting an adversary’s network, writes Keck in a piece summarising a speech delivered by a prominent security analyst. This, of course, is a concern for defense planners when coupled with the release of China’s latest supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, the Chaoxun 1 (CX-1).

Adding to the debate of the United States’ Third Offset Strategy, Keck weighs in with his ‘two cents’ on the matter. Keck neatly summarises the main points in the debate, from arguments presented by the ‘operational concept’ camp to those in favour of having the offset strategy aimed at defeating conventional threats using the United States competitive advantage.

Over at The Diplomat, Darshana Baruah (in a joint article with CNAS Senior Director, Patrick Cronin) writes that Prime Minister Modi’s “Look East” doctrine will face significant challenges in implementation and coordination.

At CSIS’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, new member Mira Rapp-Hooper discusses the prospects for an official end to World War II between Japan and Russia through the resolution of the Northern Territories/Kuril Islands dispute.

Chuck Hill meanwhile covers a new ice-capable research vessel for the U.S. National Science Foundation and the contents/impact of the first draft legislation for the Coast Guard’s 2014 budget at his CG Blog.

Please email to share your great work with us.


Members’ Roundup Part 4

This week, we are fortunate to have a variety of writers and topics to share with the CIMSEC community. Ranging from the crisis in Ukraine to nuclear deterrence, the works that CIMSEC members have produced will provide sufficient ‘food for thought’ leading into the weekend.

David Wise, a CIMSEC-ian based out of Annapolis, Maryland, recently had an article published through John Hopkins University that details ‘the writing on the wall’ regarding the situation in Ukraine. He calls for a renewed public diplomacy effort to expose the belligerents and there is, indeed, an imperative for this. In David’s words: “if the international system that has produced the longest era of peace between major powers and by far the greatest prosperity in human history is not worth defending, then nothing is.” 

Furthermore, David presents his musings of American involvement in Libya over at the Small Wars Journal. More specifically, David argues that there are four reasons as to why it is hard to argue against President Obama’s self-assessment that his greatest foreign policy error was made in Libya.

New Delhi-based CIMSEC-ian, Darshana M. Baruah, suggests that recent developments under the Modi Government will see India playing a much bigger role in reshaping the security architecture in the South China Sea. In a report for RSIS, Darshana argues that India has an opportunity to fill a leadership role in providing security in the region. This will certainly go hand-in-hand with New Delhi’s interests in Asia.

Bringing the debate back to topics of grand strategy, CIMSEC-ian Zachary Keck, from The Diplomat, provides some brief thoughts on the third ‘Offset Strategy‘. The policy was officially announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Reagan National Defense Forum, almost two weeks ago and is aimed at perpetuating America’s military superiority.

Adm. James Stavridis continues to feature in this series with an op-ed featured on, and co-authored with Matthew Daniels. The piece, titled ‘Soft Power: The Vaccine Against Oppression’, builds upon the Admiral’s efforts in advocating open-source security.

Finally, we are fortunate to have access to high-level experts here at CIMSEC. Admiral John C. Harvey, USN (retd.), emailed me to give CIMSEC members his personal assessments from his time co-chairing the Independent Review of the Nuclear Enterprise, which was ordered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel earlier this year. Admiral Harvey shares with us some of his personal lessons:

1) If you have nuclear weapons, you need to devote a great deal of high-level attention to their maintenance and sustainment as well as the maintenance and sustainment of the people and platforms that would deliver those weapons should the President so direct.

2) It was obvious to me that we haven’t been able to establish the right organizational construct within DoD since the late 90s that would consistently and effectively accomplish #1 above.

3) We can debate the efficacy of nuclear weapons all we want – the utility or futility of deploying nuclear weapons, whether or not we should deploy a monad, a diad or a triad of nuclear delivery systems, or whether conventional deterrence of some kind can ever replace our current posture relying fundamentally on nuclear deterrence, but, and it’s a big but, as long as we have nuclear weapons – like them or not – we’ve got to invest the required resources in their care and feeding and the care and feeding of the people who maintain the warheads, the missiles, and the delivery systems. 

There is no middle ground here, no ability to rely upon some sort of an elegant and systematic degradation that can be monitored and managed with timely intervention before either lasting damage or an untoward event occurs. 

If you are interested in further exploring this topic, Admiral Harvey has provided the report in full here, as well as a summary of the review process and methodology here.

Please email to continue sharing your great work with the CIMSEC community.

HMAS Arunta in rough seas

Members’ Roundup Part 3

For this week’s Roundup we have a variety of topics and the first book to be featured as part of this series! For a maritime-focused community it is always beneficial to explore topics that are not normally featured in the usual debate. This week, topics include cyber power, an analysis of conflict management in the Central African Republic, as well as a topic that is close to my heart: the early years in the Royal Australian Navy.

Fellow CIMSEC-ian Billy Pope writes about cyberspace and how it is contributing to our understanding of ‘power’. This article is a continuation of the ongoing Personal Theories of Power Series, which is a joint Bridge-CIMSEC project. Far from being an overzealous campaign arguing that cyber is a game-changer, Pope argues that the future of cyber will take two paths. Firstly,  that cyber will extend and extenuate existing capabilities. Secondly, that it will see greater utility as a political tool. I believe this will make great reading for those interested, especially for those who are not necessarily well-versed with the topic.

Patrick Truffer, from Offiziere, writes about conflict management in the Central African Republic. Since the middle of September 2014, MINUSCA, with the support of the transitional government, has been responsible for stability in the Central African Republic. Critics posit that ,despite repeated failures, conflict management strategies have not been modified. MINUSCA also ignores the root causes of the conflict. Patric argues that this is therefore unlikely to lead sustainable stabilisation.

David Stevens, a naval historian based out of Sea Power Centre, Australia, has recently published a comprehensive history of the Royal Australian Navy in World War One, available here. It should provide an interesting read for this interested to learn more about the modest beginnings of a relatively ‘young’ navy. For further discussion on the topic, also consider perusing an recently published article on the ABC’s website (Australian version) discussing David’s work.

Elsewhere are our members have been busy writing from several continents:

Darshanna Baruah: “Managing Indo-Pacific Crises” The Diplomat (with Koh Swee Leah Collin)

Zachary Keck: “The Faux US-China Climate Deal” The Diplomat

Dave Majumdar: “Pentagon Kicks off New Technology Initiative” USNI News

Felix Seidlers: “Russia-Chinese Naval Exercises in the Mediterranean?” Seidlers Sicherheitspolitik.

Once again, it is our hope that by sharing the fine work of our members we can all benefit from their insights and contribute more to the debate. This, of course, is not limited to just articles and books; we also welcome summaries and key points discussed at events organised or hosted by CIMSEC members.

Please email to share your great work with us.


Members’ Roundup Part 2

Welcome back to this week’s Members’ Roundup. I hope that all of you found last week’s post enjoyable reading for the weekend. As mentioned previously, the idea behind this series is to be able to collate and disseminate works of all CIMSEC members. So if you, or if you know that another member, has published recently, then please send an email to

This first article focuses on a more traditional debate regarding naval strategy: “As we approach the centenary of Mahan’s death it is time to reexamine our modern conceptions of sea power”. Over at gCaptain, Benjamin Armstrong shares his thoughts on balancing the competing requirements of the naval service moving in to the future. This discussion is particularly important as many Navies around the world are facing significant cutbacks in funding and personnel. Thus an examination of Navies’ roles in future can provide a good basis for this debate.

But wait! This week we  have two contributions from LCDR BJ Armstrong. Over at the US Naval Insitute’s Blog (and on the 239th birthday of the US Marine Corps) BJ shares with us his thoughts on talent management, using the story of Major General John Lejeune’s early challenges as an example of this. Sometimes the service knows what it is doing, but if Lejuene’s story is anything to go by, sometimes the service gets it wrong.

In the 21st century we are seeing a paradigm shift of perceptions of power and how that impacts on global affairs. Admiral (retd.) James Stavridis shares his thoughts on how the changing nature of power shapes our world, in an interview over at Thought Economics.

I believe that the Admiral will be a regular feature of this series in the coming months. His career, and the topics that he writes on, provides us with a variety of topics to discuss outside the maritime domain and regularly visiting the relationship between these subjects will be important as we navigate the challenges in maritime security.

Once again, we respectfully ask that you email so that we can share your great work here at CIMSEC.

Nam is a Maritime Warfare Officer in the Royal Australian Navy. He holds a Bachelor of Business and is currently completing a Master of Philosophy in International Security Studies at the University of New South Wales. He joins the CIMSEC team as its new Director of Member Publicity.


Introducing: The Members’ Roundup

A Call For Submissions! 

This weekend we begin a new series for CIMSEC followers called the Members’ Roundup. My name is Nam Nguyen and I will be joining the team here at CIMSEC to promote and share the great work that many of our members (and guest contributors) have published elsewhere.  Engaging in the maritime security debate occurs in many forums and sharing our own analyses with a wider reader base forms an important part of the process.

Here is a brief list of some recent articles published by CIMSEC members which will provide some ‘light’ reading moving into the weekend:

super highway- For those seeking a new book for the coming holidays,  be sure to first have a look at Matthew Hipple‘s review of Admiral Chris Parry’s new book, Super Highway: Sea Power in the 21st Century

– Among the many roles that our President, Scott Cheney-Peters, performs he is also writer on an wide array of security topics as I am sure many of you are aware. You can find his recent musings on the U.S. Navy’s purpose and another piece on how trends in the East China Sea have affected the U.S. Rebalance in Asia here and here respectively.

A senior Russian defence official has announced that France will go ahead with the delivery to Russia of one of two Mistral helicopter carriers.

– The current Dean of the Fletcher School, Adm. (retd.) James Stavridis, provides his thoughts on a ‘bold’ initiative that could salvage the infamous mistral deal. Also, you can read a recent interview from The Shorthorn and the Admiral’s view on education.

– At Information Dissemination, Steve Wills returns fire at some critics on the new DDG 1000 program. He draws much of the discussion to focus on the new capability delivered by the rail-gun technology.

– For those who have a strong interest in undersea warfare our member Naval Drones shares some new technology on display during the US Fifth Fleet’s International Mine Countermeasures exercise.

– Finally, we have Nilanthi Samaranayake on Sri Lanka-Chinese relations after Xi Jinping’s visit and what this means for India’s outlook on Sri Lanka.

As the challenges within the maritime domain become more complex, so too does the debate and a wider audience is reached. The featured content in this series can be blog posts, online articles, journal articles, book reviews or podcasts. If you have written an anything or know another member who has, we wish to share this here at CIMSEC. You can do this by emailing me at

Until next time!

Nam is a Maritime Warfare Officer in the Royal Australian Navy. He holds a Bachelor of Business and is currently completing a Master of Philosophy in International Security Studies at the University of New South Wales. He joins the CIMSEC team as its new Director of Member Publicity.