Young Strategists ForumThe Young Strategists Forum seeks to develop a new generation of strategic thinkers for an age of constrained resources and mounting international challenges.
Funded by and conducted in partnership with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, the Young Strategists Forum seeks to develop a new generation of strategic thinkers and equip them with the skills to successfully navigate a world in flux. Since the inaugural Young Strategists Forum in March 2012, GMF and SPF have built a vibrant program centered on the theme of the US-Japan alliance and security dynamics in the Indo-Pacific region. Held in Tokyo, the program emphasizes the importance of pursuing purposeful grand strategic objectives through an innovative combination of lectures, a 36-hour simulation exercise, meetings with policy makers, diplomats, senior journalists and leading academics, and a study tour that includes a visit to a military facility.
Participants are selected through a competitive process, open to emerging leaders — academics, journalists, policy makers, politicians, business professionals, and military officers — between the ages of 25 and 40, from the United States, Europe, Japan, and other like-minded Asian countries.
Since its creation, the Young Strategists Forum has cultivated a vibrant network of emerging foreign policy leaders. 128 individuals have participated in the Young Strategists Forum, many of whom have risen to prominent positions in their respective professions. Learn more about the YSF alumni network.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States is now accepting applications for the tenth Young Strategists Forum to be held in Tokyo on January 26-31. To apply, submit the application form, a current resume or CV, and a personal statement explaining why you are applying for the Young Strategists Forum and how you will contribute to and benefit from this program (no more than 750 words). GMF will accept and review applications on a rolling basis but no later than Sunday, December 10 at 11.59 pm ET.
The Young Strategists Forum is open to emerging leaders—academics, journalists, policymakers, business professionals, and military officers—from the United States, Europe, Japan, and other like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific. Applicants should be between the ages of 25 and 40 as of December 31, 2023.
Interested individuals who are outside of this age range are still welcome to apply, but please be aware that the selection committee may prioritize qualified applicants who meet all of the eligibility requirements and other selection criteria.
The 2024 iteration of the Young Strategists Forum will begin with a half-day, interactive seminar, which will help participants understand strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific. This will be followed by a 36-hour grand strategy simulation led by Zack Cooper, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Participants will take on the roles of the United States and major regional powers as they pursue long-term goals and carefully allocate military, diplomatic, and economic resources while navigating a series of crises. At the end of the exercise, participants will be debriefed on lessons learned. The simulation will be followed by a two-day study tour focused on the US-Japan alliance. Participants will have an opportunity to interact with Japanese experts, politicians, business leaders, and government officials to gain a high-level perspective on Japanese strategic thinking. To give participants an opportunity to share their perspectives on key military, political, and economic issues, GMF will publish a series of papers by Young Strategists Forum participants after the conclusion of the program in Tokyo.
The details of the 2024 Young Strategists Forum have not yet been finalized, but typical program itinerary follows the following format:
• Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo, Japan
• Day 2: Opening Seminar and Grand Strategy Simulation, Part 1
• Day 3: Grand Strategy Simulation, Part 2
• Day 4: Meetings with Japanese Officials, Politicians, and Business Leaders
• Day 5: Visit to Military Facility, Meetings with Japanese Security Experts
• Day 6: Departure
International airfare, domestic travel, meals, accommodations, and ground transportation during the Young Strategists Forum will be covered by the organizers.
GMF's partner in this initiative is the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
If you have any questions, please contact GMF Indo-Pacific program coordinator Julia Pallanch at [email protected].
Six Lessons from a Decade of Asia Strategy Simulations
How can the United States and its allies and partners succeed in the Indo-Pacific and better prepare for long-term competition in the region? Zack Cooper and Aaron Friedberg suggest six lessons drawn from a decade of simulations conducted during GMF's Young Strategists Forum.
Edited VolumesExpand All
Assessing the U.S. Commitment to Allies in Asia and Beyond by Sharon Stirling, Mark Bell, Joshua Kertzer, Björn Jerdén, and Hemal Shah (2018)
This volume looks at questions and concern about the future of U.S. commitment to its allies, and its involvement, not only in Asia but around the world. Authors Mark Bell and Joshua Kertzer apply theories of political psychology to assess the possibility of damage to U.S. alliances beyond the Trump administration. Bjorn Jerden examines the U.S.-Japan alliance, particularly in the context of the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump and the nervousness about the commitment from the new U.S. administration given the rhetoric during the campaign. Hemal Shah examines a number of areas for possible cooperation between the U.S.–India–Japan which would serve to take the relationship from symbolism to actuality.
Shifting Dynamics: Next Generation Assessments on Asian Security by Sharon Stirling, Fiona Cunningham, Rupal Mehta, Aleja Martinez Barcelon, Yusuke Saito, Lisa Pecheny, Dominik Wullers, and Raditya Kusumaningprang (2016)
This volume reflects on the existing security environment, addressing pressing questions and issues facing policymakers in Washington, Tokyo, Brussels, Jakarta, Manila, and elsewhere. Fiona Cunningham and Rupal Mehta examines the complexities of the U.S. nuclear security umbrella and its role in shaping both an ally’s national security posture and assumptions surrounding conflict escalation. Aleja Martinez Barcelon and Yusuke Saito analyze rising tensions in the South China Se and offer a surprisingly optimistic vision for the design of a regional mechanism to mitigate tensions between regional claimant states. Lisa Pecheny and Dominik Wullers address the prevailing skepticism concerning Europe’s ability to play an active role in Asian defense and security issues. Raditya Kusumaningprang examines the role of middle powers in conditioning geopolitical dynamics, arguing that countries such as Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Indonesia should take a more active role in shaping an inevitably new and forthcoming international and regional order.
Next Generation Perspectives on the Future of Asian Security by Aaron Friedberg, Caitlin Talmadge, Zack Cooper, Masahiko Ando, Aoi Fujita, Rohan Mukherjee, Vipin Narang, Santo Darmosumarto, Julia Macdonald, and Jérémie Hammedi (2015)
To mark the four-year anniversary of the Young Strategists Forum, GMF invited a group of program alumni to write papers offering their assessment of Asia’s rapidly evolving strategic environment and of the dangers and opportunities that it may present to their countries. The results, collected here, cover a range of topics but circle around certain recurrent themes: the rise of China, shifting patterns of trade and investment, expanding military capabilities, the changing role of alliances and international institutions, the prospects for peace, and the danger of war. While they differ in emphasis and approach, these papers are uniformly insightful and generally hopeful in tone. The fact that they are written by young people who, in the next several decades, will help to shape the future of Asia is cause for real, albeit cautious, optimism.
Policy BriefsExpand All
Developing a Future Partnership between Japan and South Korea for Regional Stability in East Asia by Masahiko Ando, Wei Chou, and Aoi Fujita (2014)
A strong relationship between Japan and South Korea is essential to the stability of East Asia and is a stated priority of the United States. To facilitate closer ties between its two allies, the United States should actively implement a multilayered approach that involves not only high-level diplomacy but also defense and economic cooperation. This policy brief, while fully recognizing that pre-1945 history remains a point of contention between Japan and South Korea, nonetheless argues that the two countries can establish closer ties by elevating shared security challenges and economic opportunities above bilateral issues. More specifically, it proposes possible measures to be undertaken in the fields of diplomacy, defense, and economics. It also explains how the United States, an ally of both of Japan and South Korea, can commit to each measure.
An Anglo-French “Pivot”? The Future Drivers of Europe-Asia Cooperation by Anna di Mattia and Julia Macdonald (2014)
This brief explores the importance of Asia for two key European countries: the United Kingdom (U.K.) and France. Both the U.K. and France have long-standing historical ties to the Asia-Pacific and have shown signs in recent years of charting new strategies for regional engagement independent of the EU. More interesting, perhaps, is that the two countries’ political, economic, and growing security concerns in the region put the U.K. and France in unique positions to provide a bridge for greater European engagement with Asia.
A Modi-Fication of the India-Japan Relationship? by Michael Horowitz and Vipin Narang (2014)
India and Japan may be poised for a significant upgrade in their bilateral relationship. Stronger India-Japan ties could help facilitate closer relations between India and the United States, increase Japan’s ties to countries in South and Southeast Asia, and allow India to feel more comfortable acting outside of its immediate sphere of influence. However, these developments are likely to proceed much more slowly than general economic and diplomatic ties, meaning patience will be necessary to change improving Indo-Japanese relations into a boon for stability in the Asia-Pacific.
Indonesia and the Asia-Pacific: Opportunities and Challenges for Middle Power Diplomacy by Santo Darmosumarto (2013)
The ascendance of the “middle powers” Korea, Indonesia, and Australia presents an opportunity to address some of Asia’s most pressing issues from a slightly different perspective. But does Indonesia see itself as a “middle power”? As the world’s attention increasingly shifts to the Asia-Pacific, it is only natural that the largest Southeast Asian nation would stand out among the others. With positive developments happening at home, Indonesia has demonstrated a genuine desire to become a more influential player in the region and beyond.
The U.S.-Japan Alliance in a Time of Transition by Sheena Chestnut Greitens and Caitlin Talmadge (2013)
Developments in the United States, in Japan, and in the Asia-Pacific region have combined to make this a time of transition for the U.S.-Japan alliance. To successfully navigate these challenges, Japan must not only foster a constructive relationship with the United States but also continue its efforts to strengthen and improve relationships with other U.S. allies and partners. The United States also will play an important role in helping the U.S.-Japan alliance evolve to meet the challenges it is likely to face.
Challenges of a Multipolar World: The United States, India, and the European Union in the Asia-Pacific by Rohan Mukherjee and Clara Marina O'Donnell (2013)
As the United States has grown concerned about escalating tensions in the Asia-Pacific and increased its involvement in the region, it has sought to enlist the help of two of the largest economic and military powers in the world: India and Europe. However, these two powers are not proving to be the forthcoming partners Washington would like. This paper explores the similarities and contrasts between the European and Indian positions toward the Asia-Pacific in order to highlight the challenges for the United States of international cooperation in an increasingly multipolar world. It also recommends how, in light of their differences, both powers and the United States can best work together in the region.
Europe’s Eastward Gaze: How Far Should It Reach? by Frédéric Van Kerrebroeck (2013)
This paper offers a reflection on which strategic posture the EU might adopt in the Asia-Pacific, complementing the U.S. presence in the area. It starts from the main premise that the EU and the United States are indispensable partners defending shared values and liberal democratic principles. This paper contends that Europe’s “Asian” interests are mainly economic in nature and that the EU needs to further strengthen its ties with regional actors, as well as with
ASEAN. The paper concludes by discussing China’s extensive presence and vested interests in
Africa, which could be used as a strategic point of leverage by the EU.
The Geopolitics of Chinese Access Diplomacy by Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy and Guy Snodgrass (2012)
China’s continuing economic growth and expanding involvement in global affairs poses major implications for the power structure of the international system. One very important aspect of China’s grand strategy is its continued emphasis on access diplomacy, or “politics of routes.” China is in the process of aggressively securing access to natural resources, while simultaneously developing overland transport networks in pursuit of its national interest. Recent changes in the political climate in the Asia-Pacific region only increase the requirement to gain an understanding of Chinese thought concerning its implementation of access diplomacy.
Prospects for Establishing a U.S.-Australia-Singapore Security Arrangement: The Australian Perspective by Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi (2012)
Over the years, Australia has made numerous adjustments to its defense planning in an attempt to positively position itself in the fluid regional security environment. The Australian Defence Force is highly capable, and the alliance with the United States, established in the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS), remains strong. Nonetheless a number of issues still exist. To remedy these problems, ANZUS should consider establishing a multilateral security arrangement with select Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states. Singapore, in particular, would be an ideal and realistic partner for both Australia and the United States. Singapore’s military capability and dynamic foreign relations network would prove invaluable to ANZUS, and a trilateral alliance of this nature would serve to enhance stability in the Southeast Asia region, Oceania, and Indian Ocean.
The Wider Front: The Indian Ocean and AirSea Battle by Iskander Luke Rehman (2012)
This paper explores how China’s disruptive progress in the field of anti-access and area denial is driving a profound shift in U.S. force structure and planning in the Asia-Pacific. At the heart of Washington’s military “pivot” toward Asia is a revolutionary new concept: AirSea Battle. This paper seeks to examine the future role of the Indian Ocean in the event of a Sino-U.S. conflict. It contends that the world’s third largest body of water, hitherto largely ignored, will morph from a peripheral flank to the Western Pacific Theater of Operations to form the wider front of AirSea Battle.
Japan’s China Policy: Engagement, but for How Long? by Victoria Tuke (2012)
The “carrot and stick” approach between Japan and China may work for now, but Japan’s strategists must not delay in formulating a longer-term vision for Japan’s relationship with China.