Today the world faces a volatile convergence of instability, state weakness, and conflict. Lethal civil conflicts rage in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and South Sudan, stoking regional rivalries, offering safe havens to violent extremist groups, and triggering immense and unprecedented humanitarian crises. Even in regions and states where overt conflict is absent, such as West Africa or Central America, institutional and economic weakness creates unstable conditions that may enflame low level shocks or simmering criminal activity. At times resolution of these conditions may prove elusive and intervention fruitless; however, sometimes security challenges emerging in these environments require immediate and direct response.

The United States must be prepared to operate in a range of complex environments to meet a range of security challenges and threats, such as humanitarian emergencies, terrorism and violent extremism, great power aggression, health security crises, and international criminal violence. This study focuses on these five functional security imperatives.

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