OPINION – The military has become the U.S. institution in which the public has the most confidence, as measured by the latest Gallup Poll, which gave the military 72 percent followed by the Supreme Court at 42 and the Presidency at 39. Therefore, it was important last week that Joint ...

Cipher Brief Expert Robert Eatinger has 35 years of experience practicing law in the fields of national security, intelligence, and international law. He is a solo practitioner at Robert J. Eatinger, Jr., PLLC, practicing federal law with a national security and intelligence law focus and the founding Principal of SpyLaw Consulting, LLC. ...

OPINION –The Defense Department’s unclassified investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown from $600 million five years ago, to a proposed $2.5 billion for fiscal 2021, with some 600 AI projects already underway, according to an updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) report titled, Artificial Intelligence and National Security, released last ...

The Cipher Brief’s Academic Incubator program partners with colleges and Universities across the country to highlight the voices of the next generation of national security leaders. Stephen Rodriguez is a Managing Partner at One Defense, Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council, and Senior Innovation Advisor at the Naval Postgraduate School. ...

The author  of this piece, Adam L. Silverman, PhD is a senior subject matter expert and consultant at Helios Global, Inc specializing in low intensity warfare and cultural considerations for strategy, policy, and operations. He served as a Senior Fellow in the Center for Special Operations Studies and Research at ...

Robin Dreeke is a US Naval Academy graduate and veteran Marine Corps Officer. He spent twenty-one years as an FBI Special Agent specializing in counterintelligence and was chief of the Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program. OPINION -- Having led the Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis program at FBI, I have experience with millions ...

OPINION -- On the morning of Tuesday, July 7, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Hudson Institute audience, “The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China.” To support his point, Wray said he ...

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is focusing on reported intelligence that Russia placed bounties on the lives of US troops in Afghanistan. The committee is expected to hold a hearing on Thursday titled, “Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops: Why Hasn’t the Administration Responded?”  On Friday, the committee will address the ...

OPINION -- On July 1, one month before his scheduled retirement, Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein gave a vivid description of Pentagon planning to deter great power warfare after 2030 or, if that failed, to fight and win against China, Russia or any other country. During ...

OPINION -- The Senate Armed Services Committee has recognized the vulnerabilities of today’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and called on the Defense Department “to develop new concepts of operations to effectively employ [these] platforms not inherently designed for operating in contested environments.” The relatively slow flying MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper; ...

OPINION -- The Senate Armed Services Committee last week voted to provide the Pentagon with $6 billion over the next two years to create a new program called the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI). Chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and ranking member, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), said the PDI would sharply ...

OPINION -- Today, American institutions are front and center as we simultaneously confront the triple threat of an active pandemic, civil unrest spurred by racial injustice, and an economic crisis. Resolving these crises will require a coordinated effort from all our democratic institutions: the three branches of our federal government, ...

Innovation is a key component of readiness when it comes to future threats. NATO’s Innovation Hub recently commissioned a short story from author August Cole, asking him to draw upon his writing and imaginative abilities to create a picture of what NATO operations could be like in the year 2040. ...

OPINION -- This past March and April, US Naval Forces attached to Central Command carried out live fire exercises in the North Persian Gulf’s international waters near Iran, using Army Apache helicopters and AC-130 gunships to practice defense against threats from swarming Iranian speedboats. Such a US exercise was underway ...

OPINION -- The Defense Department has gone to war against the coronavirus, employing some 50,000 troops on both offense and defense. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen, Mark A. Milley announced during a Pentagon press conference April. 14, “We are, in fact, at war against a virus. We are a supporting organization.” ...

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, US Army (Ret) was the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs from 2008-2009. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Affairs from 2006-2008. These positions followed a 30-year career in the military with service as Deputy Director for ...

OPINION -- On February 20, during his visit to Strategic Command (STRATCOM) headquarters near Omaha, Nebraska, Defense Secretary Mark Esper took part in a mini-war-game exercise which led to a simulated Russian firing of a low-yield nuclear weapon and the U.S. launching one back. The next day, February 21, Defense ...

OPINION -- Last Friday, the Associated Press and Reuters both reported that an un-named senior administration official said that the U.S. told Moscow that President Trump now favors a summit meeting of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to set up a three-way U.S., China, Russia ...

Cipher Brief Expert Robert Eatinger is former Deputy General Counsel and Acting General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency and retired Captain from the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corp with a combined 30 years of active duty and reserve service. EXPERT OPINION -- China seeks to challenge US technological supremacy ...

OPINION -- It’s time for the House or Senate Armed Services Committees to take a close look at U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and hold public hearings. Although, I must say, any serious oversight of anything done by the House or Senate will be affected by political party partisanship, which ...

BOOK REVIEW: When Reagan Sent in the Marines: The Invasion of Lebanon By Patrick J. Sloyan Reviewed by Robert Richer Cipher Brief Expert Robert Richer retired in November 2005 from the Central Intelligence Agency as the Associate Deputy Director for Operations (ADDO). Prior to his assignment as the ADDO, Richer ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist at The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on national security-related topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  In 2002, he and a team of Post reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He also won ...

TRUSTED SOURCE - In this day of disinformation and facts blending routinely with political opinion and being passed off as objective news, The Cipher Brief is launching a new occasional series called, ‘Trusted Source’ to share tips and insights on where our exclusive group of experts and readers get their ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of an academic partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Disruptive Technologies in Operational Energy usage: Programmatic and Technological Path-dependence The author is Ms. ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Hunting the Caliphate: America's War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell By Dana J.H. Pittard and Wes J. Bryant Reviewed by Brian Raymond Brian Raymond served as National Security Council Director for Iraq from 2014-2015. He participated in numerous meetings with President Obama in the ...

SPONSORED CONTENT -- As I’ve talked to many Department of Defense leaders over the years, I’ve often heard them ask, “how much would a pound of cybersecurity for a weapon system cost me?” Truthfully, up until this point, we had a difficult time responding. That is, until now – more ...

“My personal view is, the first shots of the future fight will be either in the cyber domain or -- maybe it's an ‘and’ -- and the space domain.  And so we've got to make sure we have sufficient capability there because that's critical to our capabilities to fight and ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon By Ash Carter, former Secretary of Defense Reviewed by Carol Saynisch, M.A., APR Carol Saynisch is a Washington state-based journalist/geopolitical analyst. She has worked with Pentagon-connected international defense contractors since 1994 and has written scenarios and simulated ...

This Cyber Viewpoint comes from James Van de Velde, Associate Professor at the National Intelligence University as well as Adjunct Faculty at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy position of the U.S. ...

Army Gen. Mark Milley indicated he would continue Pentagon independence from some of President Trump’s policies at his confirmation hearing to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In doing so he would be following the examples set by ...

Last week, the U.S. nearly launched retaliatory attacks against Iran for the shooting down of a U.S. military drone that was operating in the region.  While the Trump Administration has been casting some doubt in recent days as to whether the downing of the aircraft was authorized at the highest ...

Peter W. Singer is a Strategist and Senior Fellow at New America and an editor at Popular Science magazine. Singer is considered one of the world’s leading experts on changes in 21st century warfare and is a co-author of Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War. The Cipher ...

Lockheed Martin says it will continue to bring down the hourly costs of operating the F-35 fighter jet, while continuing to address the problems that have been plaguing the program.  Some of those issues involve the supply chain and others speak to reliability.  The head of the program was at ...

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his country "will not wage war against any nation”, as tensions continue to escalate between the U.S. and Tehran. U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said that the decision to send an additional 1,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East is based on the ...

U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently warned that the U.S. "is not moving fast enough to stay ahead” of its rivals in space, specifically citing the technology and development of hypersonic weapons.  Shanahan specifically mentions China and Russia when he talks about U.S. rivals, both of which have made ...

OPINION -- Those of us old enough to remember the 1980s scandal of the Defense Department paying $640 for a toilet seat for the C-5 Air Force transport plane will see a more modern version in the activities of TransDigm Group, Inc., as disclosed at a House Committee on Oversight ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. State Department is reportedly increasing its counterterrorism efforts, even as its diplomatic portfolio is further reduced. The State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance program (ATA) has long served as a critical component of the department’s liaison efforts. However, the Trump administration’s open disdain for diplomacy ...

The Department of Defense is seeking a significant budget increase for further development of lethal autonomous weapons programs (LAWS).  While technology and the use of weapons technology is advancing rapidly, policy makers are grappling with the questions of just which decisions machines should be making on their own.  Should an autonomous ...

OPINION -- While the media and Congress have kept the public focused on the Mueller report and the next election, there are national security budgetary issues that are piling up that require attention. For example, a lack of spare parts has kept some 350 F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighters, already ...

The Cipher Brief’s new Friday column Cipher Select, is laser-focused on bringing you a range of different perspectives on special operations issues over the next several months. United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was established in 1987, with a mission to “Organize, train, equip and provide fully capable Special Operations Forces ...

The 19 December announcement by President Trump to withdraw ground troops from Syria was surprising to everyone but should have come as a shock to no one. Here's why: First, ISIS may not be destroyed, but one is hard pressed to suggest that it remains an existential threat to the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 19, 2018, President Trump unexpectedly announced a full withdrawal of all U.S. troops in Syria within the next 30 days. This pronouncement is at odds with the administration’s current strategy, as well as counsel of top military leadership. The Defense Department has strongly ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 17, the U.S. reported that it had conducted six airstrikes in Somalia, killing 62 militants from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab. The U.S. has conducted 45 publicly confirmed airstrikes in Somalia in 2018, 14 more than in 2017, which was the greatest annual total up ...

Vice President Mike Pence put a little rocket fuel behind plans to create a new Space Force on Tuesday by announcing that President Donald Trump has directed the Pentagon to create a U.S. Space Command.  Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Pence said that the new Command will ...

Despite years of forecasts predicting implosion, partition, revolution, Iranian absorption and other apocalyptic scenarios, there were generally more good events in 2018 than bad in Iraq, still Iraq's challenges in 2019 are significant. The good events were only “mostly” good. A new government formed (mostly). ISIS was defeated (mostly). Security ...

  Bottom Line Up Front By October 2019, the U.S. will have spent approximately $6 trillion in efforts related to support of the so-called ‘global war on terror.’ This figure factors in the true costs of a series of seemingly endless military campaigns, to include debt payments and spending across ...

The National Space Council heard testimony, and then voted this week to move forward with six recommendations that are intended to provide some lift for President Trump’s call to create a U.S. Space Force.  While there has been a cautious sense of how to move ahead with the idea among ...

The recent release of the Department of Defense (DoD) cyber strategy essentially announced the department’s ambitions to resume the role of the 800-pound gorilla in cyber. The offensively focused plan is a sharp redirect from the strategies of late and unreturned crush on Silicon Valley, both of which made it ...

On Wednesday, the Department of Defense (DoD) quietly released an unclassified summary and fact sheet on its 2018 Cyber Strategy, which replaces the 2015 DoD Cyber Strategy. Here are ten things you need to know about the new strategy: The cyber strategy is deeply influenced by the National Defense Strategy, ...

Most of my adult life was spent as a soldier in special operations. One of the most persistent issues throughout my career was finding the right balance of deployment tempo (DEPTEMPO) with time in garrison to train and to be home. It wasn’t always balanced.  A big part of this ...