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 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 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 -- Defense Department senior officials last week described plans to increase testing for Covid-19 over the next few months, prioritizing higher risk forces but eventually covering all [DoD] personnel in a process that could set an example for the country as a whole. “We're continuing to develop our testing ...

During this time of social distancing, The Cipher Brief is bringing our experts to your laptop in a new series of web-based briefings on critical national security issues.  Members can sign up via email invitations and can ask questions of the experts that you aren’t getting answers to from traditional ...

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 ...

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. Military Aid and its Unintended Consequences The author is Rana Shabb, PhD Candidate, Sam ...

CONVERSATION STARTER -- Few would argue that the January 3 drone strike that killed Iranian General and Quds Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani was a bold move.  The overt nature by which the strike was carried out seemed to offer a clear sign that the US is ready to openly ...

The U.S. is considering whether it will expel more than a dozen Saudi Arabian military students after a shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida last month that killed three people and injured eight others. In the aftermath of the shooting, the Pentagon ordered a review of how DoD ...

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. ...

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 ...

OPINION -- President Trump’s scheduled trip to Poland this coming weekend to participate in that country’s Sept. 1, 80th anniversary of the start of World War II will showcase his administration’s growing diplomatic and military relationship with Warsaw’s increasingly rightist regime. On the political side, it also fits in with Trump’s ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

In part two of his two-part exclusive series for The Cipher Brief, AEI Scholar Kenneth Pollack, the author of the recently-released Armies of Sand: The Past, Present and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness, discusses how the fundamental balance of power in the Middle East is impacting the Arab world. The Middle East ...

In part one of his two-part exclusive series for The Cipher Brief, AEI Scholar Kenneth Pollack, the author of the recently-released Armies of Sand: The Past, Present and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness, discusses how the fundamental balance of power in the Middle East is changing, and what's driving the change.  You ...

President Donald Trump now says U.S. troops will "slowly" be withdrawn from Syria after his controversial announcement in December, saying that troops would be pulled out within 30 days, led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis and the accelerated resignation of Special Envoy to Syria, Brett McGurk. The ...

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 ...

According to a recent report by the National Defense Strategy Commission (NDS), the U.S. Department of Defense and the White House "have not yet articulated clear operational concepts for achieving U.S. security objectives in the face of ongoing competition and potential military confrontation with China and Russia." The NDS is ...

  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 Homeland' is part of a dedicated series of Cipher Brief columns focused on examining the full range of threats to U.S. national security. The United States is reawakening to the Russia threat. Indeed, it would be hard to sleep through Vladimir Putin’s brazen tactics. Although American media has shined ...

Will the Department of Defense amend its policies regarding troops carrying private firearms on military bases? More importantly, should it? In comments made last week following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., President Donald Trump told attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference he would re-examine these policies. Currently, only ...

Nearly two decades after the 9/11 attacks, the American public has seen large numbers of troops returning from conflict areas, so it’s tempting for citizens to think to themselves, “The wars are over.” But American troops and others working on behalf of our government continue to die from hostile actions ...

This Christmas season was unlike any previous holiday for many military families. U.S. Special Operations Command lost 47 troops in the line of duty, out of its ranks of 70,000 men and women. The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) gained 92 Gold Star children in 2017. One widow – of ...

GallantFew’s mission is to prevent veteran isolation by connecting new veterans with hometown veteran mentors, thereby facilitating a peaceful, successful transition from military service to a civilian life filled with hope and purpose. We believe this will prevent veteran unemployment, homelessness and suicide. We know that, in many cases, the ...

As I scramble around doing last-minute shopping and other preparations for the Christmas holidays, I occasionally stop to count my blessings. One of those is that, during the nearly half century we’ve been married, my husband and I have always been together on these holidays. The closest we’ve ever come ...

Moscow may increasingly look toward private military companies (PMCs), known in Russia as Chastnye Voennie Companiy (ChVK), to exert plausibly deniable and economically and politically sustainable military influence abroad, according to experts speaking to The Cipher Brief. Unlike relying on proxies such as ragtag local militias or organized criminal groups ...

Afghan defense officials announced Friday that 36 ISIS fighters were killed by a U.S. air strike on a tunnel and cave complex, with the possibility of a larger death toll. The strike was carried out on Thursday with a GBU-43 bomb, nicknamed the “Mother of All Bombs,” marking the first ...

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 ...

Compared to the rest of his proposed cabinet, President Donald Trump's pick of retired Marine Corps General James Mattis for Secretary of Defense has been one of his least controversial. However, due to his recent retirement from the military, Mattis needed - and received - a waiver from Congress to ...

In the wake of retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor on Monday over his communications with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., President Donald Trump is considering three former military officers to replace Flynn. This follows a notable pattern of the new president’s reliance on retired ...

The arcane art of measuring the health of civil-military relations is experiencing a renaissance. Although it is welcomed by those who practice it, the reasons for the renewed focus are less so.  Contributing factors include 15 years of continuous wartime deployments and the lack of a shared experience between the ...

Compared to most of his proposed cabinet, President Donald Trump's pick of retired Marine Corps General James Mattis for Secretary of Defense has been one of the least controversial. However, due to his recent retirement from the military, Mattis needed - and received - a waiver from Congress to serve; ...

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 ...

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 ...