Today, the United States arguably contends with one of the most complicated and dangerous “world orders” in its history.  It must maintain a credible nuclear deterrence, defend against unprecedented levels of cyber warfare, compete in the militarization of space, engage in asymmetric warfare against insurgencies and terrorist groups worldwide, and ...

Military security assistance as it is currently applied is an outdated, myopic approach. It is characterized by ambiguous funding timelines, stove piped information, and the lack of unified resource application.  The U.S. can significantly increase the efficacy of security assistance resourcing through a holistic approach, integrating private and federal programs. ...

Nobody likes comparisons with the Vietnam War, but in the case of United States security assistance, the comparison is worth considering. The United States often approaches security assistance the same way it did in Vietnam, with the same results.   Moreover, because the United States has been using the same ...

U.S. security assistance and cooperation programs have come under a lot of fire recently.  The failure of the $500 million program to train and equip moderate opposition forces in Syria is the latest example. However, there is a longer history, including the collapse of the Iraqi military in its fight ...

Fourteen years ago this week, the United States began “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan, with the purpose of eliminating the threat of al-Qaeda and toppling the Taliban. Yet today, the Taliban are surging across much of the country and al-Qaeda still lingers in the eastern border regions of Afghanistan. Despite ...

In an interview with The Cipher Brief, Andrew Small, an expert on Chinese policy in South Asia for The German Marshall Fund, discussed the evolving China-Pakistan relationship.  He said that ties between the two countries are “deepening,” as China becomes more engaged with Pakistan’s economy and security. The Cipher Brief: ...

Several years ago, relations between Pakistan and the United States hit a post-9/11 low. The 2011 discovery of Osama bin Laden’s compound not far from Pakistan’s premier military academy left Americans seething and suspicious. For their part, Pakistanis fulminated over a series of American “violations” of their territorial sovereignty by ...

Several years ago, relations between Pakistan and the United States hit a post-9/11 low. The 2011 discovery of Osama bin Laden’s compound not far from Pakistan’s premier military academy left Americans seething and suspicious. For their part, Pakistanis fulminated over a series of American “violations” of their territorial sovereignty by ...

As U.S. counterterrorism successes mount in eliminating terrorists in Pakistan, the al-Qaeda “glue” that holds the U.S.-Pakistan security relationship together has seemed to weaken.  What is the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship?  Tired and worn out by our long-running engagements in far away lands since 9/11, there is real temptation ...

The rifts among Taliban factions had been growing for some time, bubbling up as the deception over their leader’s death continued. They boiled over last month - not by accident -  on the eve of a second round of peace talks, forcing the Taliban to acknowledge that its supreme commander ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), for a wide-ranging interview.  The general offered his thoughts on the future of Afghanistan. The Cipher Brief: Can the U.S. really withdraw completely from Afghanistan? Does it concern you? GEN McChrystal: I ...

During the 11 months of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s presidency, and despite the combination of a rapid Western pullout and an expanding Taliban insurgency, there had been, nonetheless, at least some small room for optimism.  After all, until a few days ago, Ghani appeared to have established a genuine rapprochement ...

For the past several years, the Obama administration’s strategy for Afghanistan has rested on the basic assumption that although no reasonable amount of U.S. money or troops could win the war against the Taliban outright, a limited American commitment to Afghanistan’s security forces and government would enable Kabul to hold ...