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 ...

The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Third Offset Strategy has been a subject of considerable confusion since its rollout in late 2014, with Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, its key architect and primary champion, working hard to clarify the path forward that Third Offset charts for defense innovation. At its ...

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 ...

“My biggest goal was just getting here, but knowing other Vets were here made it easier for me.” Brian is an Army reservist who attended an Operation Purple Healing Adventure® (OPHA) in the Poconos, Pennsylvania. OPHA is a program of the National Military Family Association (NMFA) that brings currently serving ...

Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States and his most solemn responsibility is ensuring the safety of all Americans as well as helping protect the country’s allies.  The Cipher Brief’s Pam Benson sat down with retired General Jack Keane, a member of The Cipher Brief’s ...

Last week, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump answered questions at the Commander in Chief Forum—designed specifically to allow the candidates a chance to address military family issues as well as those of veterans. But if you tuned in, you know that there was no mention of military families. ...

During the Cold War, the nuclear threat was a defining national security challenge. Now, climate change is “the great global challenge of our era,” says Sherri Goodman, Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense. Goodman tells The Cipher Brief that “climate change has emerged as the most serious challenge,” in which military ...

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 ...

Following the tragic attack on 9-11, U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and the CIA, supported by airpower, conducted a punitive expedition that resulted in the Taliban and al Qaeda being routed from Afghanistan.   In 2003, working with the Kurds, U.S. SOF conducted operations in northern Iraq, accomplishing the mission intended ...

In the 15 years following 9/11, the U.S. Army pivoted away from its traditional role and took on the challenge presented by new missions and enemies. The Cipher Brief spoke with Lt. General Guy Swan about the gains and sacrifices that have forged the Army of the present and the ...

Today, the role of U.S. Special Forces (SOF) in the fight against terror has never been more important. Mike Vickers, former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, explains that “U.S. SOF will continue to play a central role in our counterterrorism efforts” and that they have been a “key tool ...

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) action that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The publicly acknowledged raid highlighted the prominent role special operations forces have played in the ongoing war against terror. More recently, U.S. SOF have served on the front ...

As the war on terror rages on, U.S. Special Forces are at the frontlines of America’s counterterrorism strategy abroad. Michael Waltz, the President of Metis Solutions and a former commander of U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan explains that U.S. Special Forces have “the lead in the global war on terror” ...

It’s not back to business as usual, but NATO and Russian ambassadors did meet in Brussels on Wednesday for the first time in two years. A halting of all practical cooperation between the two sides was imposed by NATO after Russia’s support for an armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine and ...

Check the most recent RT (Russian TV) news coverage from Syria and you will see Moscow’s latest military hardware on display. Russia’s top of the line attack helicopters—the Ka-52 and MI 28N—remain a fixture on the battlefield even after President Vladimir Putin’s nominal declaration of a Russian pullout. Beneath the ...

The drop in Russian state revenues has affected Russian military modernization to some extent, though the Russian government has made an effort to insulate the military from budget cuts. Although the 2015 military budget was cut by five percent mid-year, the total allocation was still 25 percent higher than the ...

The Pentagon today is paying greater attention to Russia as a security threat.  That reflects several factors:  Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, its bellicose rhetoric, and the modernization of its military.  As the United States prepares to modernize its own nuclear forces, arms control could play an important role in stabilizing ...

Memorial Day brings a set of complex emotions. I think about the thousands of Americans who gave their lives so that we could live free. I think about the cemeteries and the flags and the names on the tombstones. Memorial Day brings up memories that are a bit less common ...