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 ...

U.S. Marines are being deployed to Norway and Australia, ostensibly as part of standard procedure, but also to respond to two emerging threats, Russia and China.  Marines in Oslo Norway, one of NATO’s founding members and a northern European country that shares a 122-mile border with Russia, is becoming wary ...

The U.S. this year deployed 330 Marines to Norway. The concept is nothing new; it dates back to the 2005 Oslo-Washington agreement called Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway (MCPP-N). However, Karsten Friis, head of the Research Group on Security and Defence at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, notes it is ...

In 2011, former President Barack Obama and then-Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard signed a deal to base 2,500 U.S. Marines in Darwin, Australia in an effort to expand the United States’ sustained regional presence as part of the Obama Administration’s “pivot” to Asia. However, issues over cost sharing and logistics ...

The crash of a MV-22B off of Okinawa on December 13, 2016 occurred during one of the most difficult tasks a Marine aviator can do in peacetime: night time midair refueling. While the Marine Corps will not release more details until an investigation is complete, this episode, and another involving ...

As the United States’ crisis response force, the Marine Corps prioritizes readiness above capability, capacity, or any other goal. Maintaining this level of readiness in the wake of the 2013 budget sequester has come at the expense of investing in training and future capabilities for the Corps. The Cipher Brief ...

The crisis after 9/11 forced every branch of the military to reevaluate its mission set, its structure, and its identity. Fifteen years later, the process is ongoing. Last week, a congressional report highlighted the debate over whether it should be enlarged or reduced from its current 475,000 soldiers. In that ...

Whether or not we are officially at war with ISIS is a reoccurring debate in today’s mass media.  Part of what makes this question so compelling is that the concept of war, and how it’s fought, has dramatically changed since the end of the Cold War.  Take, for example, the ...

After the United States emerged from the Vietnam War, it witnessed the events of the 1973 Yom Kippur War—a state-level conflict fought against Israel by a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria. That war underscored how far potential enemies had advanced in terms of weapons and tactics. ...

Thomas Mahnken is the Jerome E. Levy Chair of Economic Geography and National Security at the U.S. Naval War College and served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning, giving him a unique perspective into changes in naval warfare. He shared this insight, along with his expectations for ...

Three dramatic developments have occurred in the employment of U.S. air power in the past 25 years: the vulnerability of air defenses faced, leading to far less attrition of U.S. aircraft than was suffered previously; the ability to strike ground targets with great precision, day or night; and the ability ...

In American culture, Veteran is a powerful word, and for better or worse, it is used universally. The Department of Veterans Affairs is a common topic for Congress, the news, and Facebook. Veterans Day features sales, promotions, and free donuts. We are highlighted at sporting events, during the State of ...

For many Americans, holidays have become something to look forward to, because they mark the beginning of special season like summer, a day off from work, or the chance to get a deal on some big purchase. Too often, we fail to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday. ...

Every year, about 200 thousand service members complete their military service and transition to civilian communities and the civilian workforce. Military downsizing—forced by budget pressures and the end of large-scale combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan—will mean even more troops needing jobs. Unlike previous post-war downsizings, more of these troops ...

Retired LTG Guy Swan spent more than 35 years in the Army, commanding at every level.  Now, as a Vice President of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), he stays attuned to the concerns of today’s new veterans.  Swan tells The Cipher Brief that those returning from the ...

As Veterans Day approaches, I find myself thinking about the veterans in my family—three generations. There is my 95-year-old father-in-law, who did his World War II service as an enlisted man in the Army in North Africa, Italy, and France. Next is my husband, whose nearly 40-year Air Force career ...

Master Sergeant William "Spanky" Gibson is a retired United States Marine, who served for 22 years in multiple theaters.  On May 16th, 2006, while on a foot patrol in Iraq, then-Gunnery Sergeant Gibson was shot through the left knee during a fire fight. His wounds required his left leg to ...