x Introduction In her chapter examining China’s Maritime Silk Road, Colonel Heather Levy draws lessons from China’s Belt and Road Initiative to suggest how the United States might better shape its own relationships, articulated by Harper, with partners in the region. Her analysis focuses on U.S. and Chi- nese access to countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an often neglected but strategically important organization of states in the region. While they may not always align with the United States, those countries can help the United States deter Chinese aggression and build greater influence in other areas of competition. One of the ASEAN countries highlighted by both Harper and Levy is Vietnam. Colonel Thomas J. Bouchillon, uses Vietnam as a case study to explore how the United States might expand its partnerships in the region. By methodically describing both the obstacles and opportunities for cooperation between the United States and Vietnam, he reminds us of the importance of these smaller, regional countries in any great power competition. Bouchillon also articulates the tensions between U.S. values and interests that Bolan and Hillison introduced at the beginning of the book in dealing with countries such as Vietnam. Dr. Christopher J. Bolan adds to this section of the book with his insight- ful analysis of competition in the Middle East. While the United States has been eager to pivot away from this region, he argues that the United States must remain engaged in the Middle East but should fundamen- tally change its approach. Building upon the strategic vision he outlined with Hillison in the first chapter, he expands the aperture away from a more centralized and militarized approach to the region to a more holistic approach built upon U.S. soft power. Dr. Kevin D. Stringer follows this up with a look at an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of warfare: irregular warfare. In this chapter, he delves into the poorly understood definition of irregular warfare and how senior level professional military education covers the topic of irregu- lar warfare. Stringer concludes by suggesting a new, irregular warfare–­ capable structure for the U.S. military. In the concluding chapter, Dr. Jerad I. Harper delves into the perilous topic of security force assistance. He draws on U.S. experiences in Vietnam to examine issues surrounding the uses, strengths, and pitfalls of secu- rity force assistance in a modern strategic context. U.S. experiences, and shortfalls in Iraq and Afghanistan further support Harper’s approach to security force assistance. He argues that such lessons apply not only to weak or fragile states but across the continuum to institutionally stronger states such as Japan. The chapter concludes by suggesting opportunities to better enable such efforts in the future. While the U.S. populace is weary of these types of engagements, they will be essential to the United States keeping its strategic advantages for the future.
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