OPINION -- Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer last week joined the very public chorus of defense experts in questioning whether President Trump’s call for reducing fiscal 2020 DoD spending to $700 billion will actually take place. With the deficit soaring, Trump back in mid-October, told his cabinet members, with TV ...

OPINION -- The Senate last week added $1.2 billion to the fiscal 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill to increase the Pentagon’s offensive and defensive hypersonic capabilities. It was done as a direct response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s March 1, speech in which he claimed Russia was working on hypersonic weapons ...

Despite the many logistical and operational challenges of a transition, many acknowledge that U.S. Cyber Command must eventually separate from the National Security Agency. According to news reports, the Trump Administration is now finalizing plans to separate Cyber Command from its parent organization, the National Security Agency. While the details ...

Defense Secretary James Mattis on June 14 gave Congress an update on the 2017 Nuclear Posture Review, saying, “We’re looking at each leg of the triad and we’re looking at each weapon inside each leg.” “What I’m looking for,” he said, “is a deterrent that will be most compelling to ...

Among the three legs of the triad, the U.S. Navy’s ballistic missile submarines are the most survivable and the hardest to detect. Their advanced nuclear propulsion and sound-dampening technology allow them to sail silently anywhere in the world. However, the current fleet of Ohio Class submarines is nearing the end ...

The only remaining U.S. ICBM, the Minuteman III, entered service in 1970. While upgrades have extended the life of the Minuteman III program, the missiles themselves, silos, and command and control systems are all in need of modernization. The Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program will replace these missiles ...

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 ...

In 2013, former President Barack Obama was close to ending the “dual-hat” leadership of both the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, only to be dissuaded by senior officials arguing the close integration with the NSA continued to be necessary for the maturation of the then only 4-year-old Cyber ...

There as been discussion of a separation between the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command for a while, only for the change in administrations to cause brief hesitation. Now that the Trump administration is in full swing, it is time to revisit the prospect of a split between the ...

The core missions of the U.S. Air Force demand that it always be prepared to defend the United States while also being prepared to carry out operations anywhere in the world. Perhaps more than any other service branch, this requires maintaining a technological edge over adversaries. In The Cipher Brief's ...

Late Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would appoint retired Marine General James Mattis – nicknamed “Mad Dog” – as Secretary of Defense. "They say he's the closest thing to General George Patton that we have,” stated Trump, continuing, “and it's about time." Known for his extreme dedication to ...

In a September 7th speech, then-candidate Donald Trump described his vision for the future of the American military. “As soon as I take office, I will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military. This will increase certainty in the ...

By some analyses, the U.S. Army has fared the worst in terms of diminished readiness. Fifteen years of operations in the Middle East and budget sequestration have limited opportunities and resources for training and modernization. The Cipher Brief spoke with retired Army Lieutenant General Guy Swan about the state of ...

Hillary Clinton should keep Ash Carter as Defense Secretary if, as expected, she wins the presidency next week. With American troops fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, major Carter initiatives underway within the Defense Department and the potential of an obstinate Republican opposition in Congress, a President-elect Hillary Clinton would ...

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 ...

If there is one thing that Donald Trump knows little or nothing about, it is nuclear weapons, although as he told The Washington Post editorial board on March 21, “The biggest risk for this world and this country is nuclear weapons, the power of nuclear weapons.” That, however, does not ...

While the public and the press seem totally focused on the presidential election six months from now, members of Congress are preparing to vote in coming weeks on legislation that that will affect the powers of that next Commander-in-Chief and the structure of his or her Defense Department. Being rushed ...

Over the last week, startup CEOs and defense industry experts have been ramping up efforts to push for a more agile, fast-paced way of dealing with the Department of Defense on developing and acquiring new technology and equipment. With the United States’ technological superiority eroding and today’s threat environment presenting ...

“In today's complex world, we need someone in uniform who can look across the services in combatant commands and make objective recommendations to the [Defense] Department's civilian leadership about where to allocate forces throughout the world and where to apportion risk to achieve maximum benefit for our nation. And the ...

It’s time to think of the costs that more than 14 years of war have had on this country. I’m not just thinking in terms of dollars, although we should worry because most of the added expense, over $1 trillion, has been put on a credit card. This so-called war ...

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. ...

Three decades ago, The Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management (colloquially known as the Packard Commission after its Chairman David Packard) published A Quest for Excellence, its seminal study of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) organization and management processes. Commenting on DoD acquisition procedures, the Commission concluded that “the nation’s ...

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, ...

Got a secret, can you keep it? Welcome to the The Dead Drop.  Each week we pass along news and gossip from the world of national security and intelligence.  While the rest of The Cipher Brief is deadly serious, stop off at The Dead Drop for information that can be ...