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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Shortly after being released from prison, Seuxis Pausias Hernandez, a former commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was sworn in as a member of Colombia’s congress. The transformation from rebel leader to politician was enabled by a 2016 accord between Bogota and ...

Putting Iran in a desperate situation without viable alternatives is likely to result in desperate responses. Two oil tankers carrying Japanese-related cargo were attacked in the Gulf of Oman last week. Shortly after the incident, Secretary of State Pompeo announced that Washington assessed Tehran was behind the attacks. Beyond the ...

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 ...

BOOK REVIEW: VICTOR IN THE JUNGLE     By Alex Finley Reviewed by Bill Harlow, The Cipher Brief  Senior Book Editor Alex Finley has an eye (and an ear) for the absurd.  A talent that no doubt came in useful during the six years she spent as a reports officer in the ...

A spokesman for the Iranian atomic agency said Monday that within 10 days, the country will pass the allowed limit for low-grade uranium enrichment under the nuclear deal struck in 2015. The U.S. walked away from the deal in May of 2018.    Also on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent a warning to his ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On June 13, two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were damaged by apparent sabotage, as explosions ripped through the side of the ships. The U.S. has publicly blamed Iran for the attacks, as well as for similar incidents in May. American allies have ...

In the midst of recent escalatory statements and actions between the U.S. and Iran, a spokesman for the Iranian atomic agency said Monday that within 10 days, the country will pass the allowed limit for low-grade uranium enrichment under the nuclear deal struck in 2015. The U.S. walked away from ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: The U.S. Congress was recently notified about a potential arms sale between the U.S. and Taiwan, estimated at close to $2 billion. Beijing has expressed serious concern about the deal, claiming that it violates the ‘One-China’ policy that Washington has agreed to uphold. The arms ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. is continuing to pressure the E.U. about defense spending, continuing a trend that has stretched back through previous administrations. The E.U. has established two military platforms for E.U. member states aimed at increasing domestic security as well as various domestic defense industries. The ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Just last week, the Islamic State's affiliate in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula launched a deadly attack, killing eight police officers at a checkpoint. Since forming in 2014, terrorists have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and destabilized the region, damaging Egypt’s once-vibrant tourism industry. Beyond attacking the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. government has confirmed that it repatriated eight U.S. citizens—two women and six children—who were with the Islamic State in Syria. The eight had been held by Syrian Kurdish forces, part of the tens of thousands of former Islamic State militants and family members ...

There was more to learn from last Wednesday’s House hearing on climate change, than the White House barring a senior analyst from the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) from submitting a paper that challenged President Trump’s views on the issue. In fact, Rod Schoonover, the INR’s Office of ...

BOOK REVIEW:   Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators and Assassins By Annie Jacobsen Reviewed by former CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer, Ian Allen In Neither Victims Nor Executioners, Albert Camus recalled “certain friends” – presumably Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre – who had accused him ...

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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Thousands of videos and channels that promote extremist beliefs will be removed from YouTube, according to the company. To date, tech companies have mostly focused on removing jihadist-related content but more recently, social media giants have come to target other hateful and violent ideologies, including ...

On 23 May, John Walker Lindh was released after spending 17 years in a U.S. prison. The notorious “American Taliban”, convicted of providing support to a terrorist organization, will be kept under observation for years. That close supervision, however, cannot guarantee that he would be incapable (some would say “or ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Although they are on the same side in the conflict in Syria, Russia and Iran each maintain their own priorities beyond propping up the Assad regime. Russia and Iran have expended massive resources to carve out their own long-term spheres of influence in Syria and ...

Seventy-five years ago, on D-Day, June 6, 1944, a German agent operating in Britain began sending a series of urgent radio messages to his Nazi spy-masters. They stated that the Allied landings in Normandy were diversions, and the main Allied attack was coming to a zone to the North, the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Last week, members of the Afghan Taliban along with Afghan politicians and power brokers met in Moscow to discuss the contours of a potential peace deal for the war-ravaged country. Representing the Taliban was one of the group’s original co-founders, Abdul Ghani Baradar, who offered ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: On June 4, 1989 the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) staged a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters who gathered at Tiananmen Square to demand democratic reforms. Thirty years after the event, China has arguably grown more autocratic than it was in 1989 under the leadership of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Civilian pro-democracy protesters were gunned down on Monday by Sudanese security forces in Khartoum, the country’s capital. According to various media reports, at least thirteen protesters were killed and approximately 200 injured. Concerned about pro-democracy protests spreading beyond Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab ...

OPINION -- President Trump plans to wait until next year to decide what he will do about the 2010 new START strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, which runs out in February 2021, senior administration officials told a Hudson Institute meeting last Wednesday. The session drew headlines last week ...

BOOK REVIEW:  The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House By Nada Bakos  Reviewed by Jack Boger The vast majority of stories that have emerged from the war on terror star a now-familiar main character: male, macho, a military and/or intelligence officer, preferably bearded and ...

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad is just beginning a multi-nation tour that will include peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.  This comes as Taliban militants reject calls for a truce to coincide with Eid, which comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.  At ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Just last week, seven members of the so-called Islamic State, all of them from France, were sentenced to death by an Iraqi court. Many Western countries have refused to take back citizens who traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State. An estimated ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: On May 19, 2019, a prison riot in Vakhdat, Tajikistan, left 29 people dead, including supporters of the so-called Islamic State. Allegedly orchestrated by militants, government information about the riot is limited and leaves many questions unanswered. Tajikistan has seen an uptick in jihadist-inspired violence ...

Japan’s cybersecurity will be put to the test over the next 18 months. The world’s attention will be fixed on the island country as it hosts two major events: the Rugby World Cup in September and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The tournaments will likely be an attractive target for ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Toward the end of May, John Walker Lindh was released from U.S. federal prison after serving 17 years of a sentence stemming from ten charges related to terrorism. At least 90 more terror-related offenders will be released in the United States over the next five ...

The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) held a symposium in Hawaii last week to talk about Land Power in the Pacific (LANPAC). We caught up with Cipher Brief Expert LTG (Ret.) Guy C. Swan III, who currently serves as Vice President of AUSA, to talk about the global ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In 2017, the National Security Agency lost control of a cyberweapon known as EternalBlue, leaked online by a group known as 'the Shadow Brokers.’ Malicious code can be traded and sold on the Dark Web, available to those with the resources to purchase it or ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The only consistency in the Trump administration’s Middle East policy has been to support autocratic regimes and strongmen, as it has in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Trump administration’s top national security officials met with Congress multiple times in May to discuss how the President ...

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) was the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and is an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group. His is the author of several books, including Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans. I think of being at sea on Memorial Day in the ...

Admiral James 'Sandy' Winnefeld served for 37 years in the United States Navy. He retired in 2015 after serving four years as the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the United States' number two ranking military officer.  Memorial Day is not Veterans Day. The latter officially ...

Rick Ledgett served as the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency from January 2014 until his retirement in April 2017, culminating a nearly 40 year career in cryptology at NSA and in the U.S. Army. He previously led the Media Leaks Task Force, the Agency’s response to the Snowden ...

Rob Lively retired after 28 years of military service, as the Command Sergeant Major of a Special Missions Unit within The United States Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Memorial Day, by definition, is a federal holiday designated on the last Monday in May to honor those ...

John McLaughlin is a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.  He served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and Acting Director of the CIA in 2004. On Memorial Day, I think of two groups of former colleagues who ...

Lieutenant General Guy C. Swan III (Ret.) currently serves as an AUSA Vice President. During more than 35 years of active service he commanded at every level through Army Service Component Command.  On this Memorial Day I and many members of the West Point Class of 1976 will be remembering ...

Jimmy Hatch served 25 years and 11 months in the US Navy. The majority of that time was as a part of Naval Special Warfare.  He deployed multiple times to combat zones as a shooter and as a K9 handler.  He is the Founder of Spike’s K9 Fund, a 501c3 ...

Kevin Hulbert is a former senior intelligence officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations who retired in June 2014, having served multiple overseas tours as CIA Chief of Station and Deputy Chief of Station.  He is currently the President of XK Group.   On many days, but especially on Memorial ...

  On May 10, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a raise in tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 to 25%, further escalating the ongoing trade dispute with Beijing. The hike in tariffs came as a surprise as both the U.S. and China had been raising expectations in early May ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. is threatening the E.U. over the latter’s initiatives to increase member defense spending and cooperation. Washington objects to conditions in the European Defense Fund and Permanent Structured Cooperation on Defence and Security that restrict non-E.U. participation. The U.S. is stressing the issue as ...

Bottom Line Up Front The Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies are making moves to retake Idlib from the last remaining pocket of rebel fighters holed up in the province. A combination of Russian airpower and Syrian Army ground forces have moved aggressively to retake sections of southwestern ...

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to rise, Cipher Brief expert Norm Roule answered subscriber’s questions in a Cipher Brief Members-Only webcast. What follows is a slightly edited (for length and clarity) transcript of that webcast. For more opportunities to engage directly with the experts on pressing national ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics That Helped America Win the Cold War By Antonio and Jonna Mendez Reviewed by Robert Dannenberg, 24-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running Moscow operations both from CIA headquarters and in the field  “There is no limit to a human being’s ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Reprisal attacks stemming from the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka have exacerbated religious and ethnic tensions, destabilizing the country as the government struggles to formulate an adequate response. Sri Lanka has a painful recent history of ethnic and religiously-driven violence. The ideology of 'bin Ladenism’ ...

A series of events last week led to escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. While tensions had seemed to ease somewhat on Friday, President Trump tweeted on Sunday ‘If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!’ Intelligence sources told ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Germany is experiencing a renewed wave of virulent anti-Semitism and intimidation and violence directed toward immigrants, especially Muslims. Some German politicians have displayed admirable leadership to speak out strongly against anti-Semitism and calling for fellow Germans to 'stand against this with all our means.' This ...

WEEKEND EXTRA -- What did U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo really get out of last week’s talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin? Unlike some other Cipher Brief Experts, Steven Hall,  former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service,  makes the case for why the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front After the well-documented Russian disinformation and influence campaign in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, some elements of the U.S. government and defense establishment are taking significant steps to prevent a similar event in 2020. After successfully thwarting online influence operations prior to the 2018 U.S. ...