From the time of the first kinetic strike by an unmanned aircraft in October of 2001, the United States has relied heavily on remote-controlled drone technology for its relatively inexpensive loitering capabilities and the geographic reach it enables in the global war on terror. Over the years the U.S. has ...

The Senate-passed, fiscal 2018 Defense Authorization Bill carries two little-publicized amendments that will impact future war-fighting capabilities. But the measure fails to deal with the darkest cloud hovering over the Pentagon: sequestration. That problem was kicked down the road, thus requiring some eventual congressional action, since both the House and ...

As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis concludes a nuclear-focused trip, his public backing this week of all three parts of the triad likely serves as an important sign for the forthcoming Pentagon review of United States nuclear weapons policy. In April, the Department of Defense launched a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) ...

“If we do a continuing resolution, we are not only not rebuilding our military, we are harming our military,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told his Senate colleagues last Thursday. Ignoring the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, the Senate did just that, approving a new, three-month continuing fiscal 2018 appropriation resolution that ...

The Congress is heading for another budget crisis as the beginning of fiscal 2018 approaches on October 1. At issue is when and how Congress will act to repeal, replace, or amend – not Obamacare in this case – but the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) and the looming, black ...

An effective space-based sensor network is a critical component of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system. The better the data the missile defense system has, the more likely it is to successfully intercept incoming missiles. Data is the backbone of the ballistic missile defense architecture, and that is why investments ...

Two weeks have passed since I wrote the column about the Saudi-Qatar split, and as of today the Trump administration seems still unable to get its mixed messages together so Washington can play the traditional U.S. leadership role in keeping its Gulf partners together. While Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ...

At first glance, the similarities between President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi point to a foundation for a strong relationship. Both wish to build their countries’ economies—Trump has his “America First” slogan while Modi is pushing his “Make in India” program. Both are political populists with strong ...

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) performed a successful test of the Ground-based Missile Defense (GMD) system on Tuesday. This was the first test of the GMD that simulated the intercept of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The GMD is the United States’ only system that can defend against long-range ...

Defense spending across Asia has increased substantially during the past 10 years, and looks to continue growing apace into the 2020s. Nowhere is this more apparent than in plans to spend nearly $40 billion on submarines during the next decade, as estimated by Avascent Analytics’ Global Platforms and Systems database. ...

Editor's Note: For this year’s Memorial Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage examining the future of U.S. aircraft carriers. America’s largest warships have grown in size and cost, but also capability over the decades, and the new Ford-class promises to raise the bar on all three of those ...

Editor's Note: For this year’s Memorial Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage examining the future of U.S. aircraft carriers.  As I write, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is steaming toward the Korean Peninsula—finally.  It does so at a time—as happens about once or twice per ...

Editor's Note: For this year’s Memorial Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage examining the future of U.S. aircraft carriers.  Some planners advocate building smaller carriers that could employ many U.S. Navy supercarriers’ capabilities at less cost. With the right aircraft, a light carrier could undertake long-range strike, counter-air ...

President Donald Trump has promised the U.S. military "beautiful" planes, ships, and equipment, but his $603 billion, 2018 defense budget offers only a modest build-up, experts say. The budget would boost military and border security spending as it makes deep funding cuts to United States diplomacy and foreign aid that ...

Over the past decade, Japan has had to deal with external threats, from Chinese assertiveness in the seas surrounding the island nation to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been making moves to give his country greater capabilities and flexibility to defend itself. The Cipher Brief’s ...

Last year’s White Paper on German Security Policy lays out the country’s future security and defense trajectory. It omits the politically charged element of security and defense in a country with a Nazi past. It lays out a clear path toward increasing defense resources. And it lists Russia as a ...

President Donald Trump’s defense budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 calls for $54 billion in additional spending, but it is not yet clear where this new funding will come from or what it will be used for. The proposed increase builds on spending hikes planned by the outgoing Obama administration, ...

Twenty-six years after the end of the Cold War, the United States once again must prepare for great power competition and confrontation. Russian aggression along NATO’s eastern front presents military challenges to European security not seen in decades. China’s military modernization and coercive behavior toward U.S. allies and partners threatens ...

The United States has been at war for 15 years, and at the same time, it has attempted to modernize and maintain readiness. President Donald Trump has made restoring the military a key policy goal, and his recent budget proposal intends to increase the size of the military. The proposal ...

Two decades of an expanding defense budget coupled with a multi-dimensional modernization effort have enabled China to field one of the world’s most capable militaries. While it should come as no surprise that a modernizing power with a global economy invests significantly in its national defense, curiosity and suspicion are ...

President Donald Trump released his $1.5 trillion budget on Thursday, a blueprint that would boost military and border security spending as it makes deep funding cuts to United States diplomacy and foreign aid that experts say could harm national security. Trump’s 2018 proposal calls for a $54 billion increase for ...

Lockheed Martin is in the midst of a lucrative deal to move production of America’s venerable F-16 fighter jet to India. While there are no more U.S. military contracts for the aging fighter, it is still very popular abroad, and the deal aims to benefit India’s domestic defense industry and ...

After decades of government support and investment, the South Korean defense industry can now produce advanced tanks, ships, and submarines and is poised to become a major arms exporter. South Korea intends to build on this progress in order to develop its own fifth generation fighter. The Cipher Brief spoke ...

India’s growing wealth and regional influence has afforded it the ability and cause to develop a more technologically advanced defense industry. However, since India opened its defense industry to private companies in 2001, progress has been slow in diminishing bureaucratic barriers that hinder innovation. The Cipher Brief spoke with retired ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, to discuss how the U.S. reconstruction effort should proceed in Afghanistan. According to Sopko, “Oversight has been a problem since day one in Afghanistan,” and “agencies should provide effective and honest oversight as the first line ...

Identifying and obtaining innovation from the commercial sector has been an ongoing challenge for the Department of Defense (DoD). With new breakthroughs in both technology and processes emerging from the commercial sector, both domestically and internationally, it is increasingly important for DoD to be able to productively interact with innovative ...

At 12:00PM on Friday, Jan. 20, the nuclear “football,” a briefcase containing the launch codes for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, was passed to a new Commander-in-Chief. Donald Trump enters the Oval Office at a time of dual necessity: U.S. nuclear forces, which include 6,800 nuclear weapons, are in need of ...

The pursuit of nuclear arms control agreements and other efforts to draw down nuclear forces to reduce nuclear dangers is a goal that is almost as old as the nuclear weapon itself. It has been a major national security and foreign policy objective for nearly all U.S. administrations, Democratic or ...

For a moment, try to ignore President Donald Trump’s tweets and rambling speeches and let’s look at what the Trump administration may be thinking about when it comes to his campaign promise to rebuild what he has termed “our depleted military.” The Trump White House website came up on January ...

As 2017 begins, it is worth reflecting on the current state  and future direction of Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition. Contract data from the Federal Procurement Data System provides a robust picture of where DoD acquisition has been, while the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) makes dramatic changes ...

How can the military fund its current forces while preparing for the future? There’s no simple answer to such a question. 2016 was a mixed bag for America’s military planning and largest procurement programs. Readiness assessments for the branches of the armed forces show they are falling behind in key ...

The crystal ball may be unusually cloudy when it comes to predicting defense technology and acquisition trends for 2017, but the causes of this cloudiness are clear. The change in administration, coupled with the new management structure being imposed by Congress on the Department of Defense’s (DoD) acquisition enterprise is ...

A Congressional inquiry next year into Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election will be only one of several Legislative Branch initiatives that may interrupt President-elect Donald Trump’s stated goal of easing relations with Moscow. The current, Republican-controlled Congress, with Democratic support, has quietly added a package of anti-Russian items to ...

President-elect Donald Trump recently announced he will nominate retired United States Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense. Gilman Louie, founder and former CEO of In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, has written an open letter to General Mattis to suggest how the Defense Department can ...

Weeks after declining an offer to serve in president-elect Donald Trump’s administration, retired Army Gen. Jack Keane on Tuesday testified before Congress that the United States is “ill-prepared” to meet the threats against the nation. Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army and member of The ...

For this year’s Thanksgiving Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage of the innovation and procurement challenges behind the F-35 Lighting II. As production ramps up and the U.S. and its coalition partners take delivery, we reexamine what lessons can be learned from the procurement process and whether or ...

For this year’s Thanksgiving Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage of the innovation and procurement challenges behind the F-35 Lighting II. As production ramps up and the U.S. and its coalition partners take delivery, we reexamine what lessons can be learned from the procurement process and whether or ...

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter firmly believes that in order for the U.S. armed forces to maintain their global preeminence, they must innovate at a level—and pace—beyond what has been required in the past. In a keynote address at a recent CSIS event, Carter outlined the vision and progress driving ...

The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Third Offset Strategy has been a subject of considerable confusion since its rollout in late 2014, with Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, its key architect and primary champion, working hard to clarify the path forward that Third Offset charts for defense innovation. At its ...

The Congress is the main cause of our broken government, not the Presidency. Yet public anger with Washington’s failure to act on key federal government problems has seen angry new voters turning out in both the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries to support Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, both of ...

“Superficial and emotional” was the way retired Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey described the current presidential campaign discussion of military affairs in an interview published in the current, September-October issue of Foreign Affairs. He’s right. But perhaps even that minimal amount of attention should be paid to the campaigning ...

The next president, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, will have to make hard decisions about whether to go ahead with the current, enormously costly, U.S. nuclear weapons modernization plan, though neither has spoken about it, nor have they been seriously questioned about it. It may be just too complex for a ...

The publication on February 25 of the 2016 Defense White Paper by the Australian government highlights Canberra’s response to evolving trends in the Asia-Pacific region.  The white paper, released by the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after a long gestation, outlines an ambitious modernization program for the Australian Defense ...

With the delivery of Australia’s latest defense White Paper last week, the necessity of a long haul and regional capacity building commitment to counter-terrorism was apparent. Unquestionably, the Southeast Asia threat scenario is informed by global considerations. With the re-emergence of violent extremism since June 2014 and a realization of ...

Two vastly different conversations about U.S. defense policies took place last week. One conversation centered around Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s statements during multiple appearances on the West Coast.  That one was serious and thoughtful, as he laid out his planned new military programs for the 21st century.  It was real. ...

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull plans to almost double his country’s annual defense spending by 2026. The move comes as China threatens peace in the Asia Pacific, and ISIS continues to wreak terror at home and abroad. The 2016 Defense White Paper released last month will require Australia to “ride ...

How many Americans understand – when they think of the Defense Department budget – that many of those billions are going to defend foreign countries under the longtime strategy that it is better to deal with perceived threats to America “over there,” before they reach our own borders. In fact, ...

It’s been 15 years since the nonpartisan, nonprofit Business Executives for National Security (BENS) issued its first Tail-to-Tooth Commission call to action, a landmark report designed to suggest business-like ways to streamline and improve the Department of Defense’s (DoD) overhead and infrastructure (the tail) to free up resources to put ...