For about six months now, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has used her briefing room so little that officials might as well turn it back into the swimming pool it was more than a half century ago. But she’s not the only one who has abandoned this post. Apparently taking the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The 8 April Trump administration announcement designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization will have little practical effect on IRGC operations. There are few benefits to the designation because the IRGC is already widely sanctioned; few foreign companies transact any ...

  Bottom Line Up Front A partially declassified study of U.S. military operations demonstrates the difficulty in accurately counting and mitigating civilian casualties. Disparities exist between official Pentagon estimates of civilians killed and those done by external agencies, leading to assumptions about the former being less transparent. The study reiterates ...

President Trump on Monday called for the creation of a new Space Force to be designated as an independent, sixth branch of the U.S. military.  Just a few months ago, The Cipher Brief polled our experts with deep knowledge of the issue.  Former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James was ...

The U.S. Special Operations Command has about 67,000 troops and an annual budget of around 14 billion dollars.  That may not seem to be a huge dent in the overall DoD budget (about 2%), but it greatly outnumbers the special operations budgets of other U.S. allies around the world.  With ...

Monday marks 15 years since President George W. Bush announced the start of the Iraq war, followed by a 'decapitation' air strike on Baghdad meant to target Saddam Hussein. After a 48-hour deadline for Saddam to leave Iraq expired, ground troops from the U.S., UK, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq ...

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 ...

If the United States is to hold a military parade, as President Donald Trump witnessed last year in Paris, it should be the right kind of parade. Our true power is not, and has not been for a long time, just fearsome weapons and trained and experienced warriors. Secretary of ...

The U.S. Navy is facing tough challenges on an anemic budget: China and Russia’s growing Naval prowess; threats proliferating from increasingly advanced weapons systems; a force stretched too thin by an ever-expanding mission; and an inability to say “no” when asked to do more. The capabilities of the U.S. Navy ...

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis defended the administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) as the right response to Russia’s rising nuclear capacity and its failure to abide by international treaties, in comments to the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday. The NPR calls for the creation of two new submarine-launched nuclear weapons: ...

Is the U.S. drawing down its military presence in Iraq, following a declaration of victory over ISIS? Messages from Iraqi and U.S. spokesmen are muddled: An Iraqi government spokesman said Monday the U.S. has begun to reduce the number of its troops in-country. An unnamed senior official close to Iraq’s ...

Last Friday afternoon, Trump administration sub-cabinet officials quietly rolled out the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), and today, the United States and Russian Federation successfully met the New Start Treaty deadline for reducing  strategic nuclear weapons. Neither will make much news. They both should. The Trump NPR is being soft-sold ...

Does the Trump administration have a viable strategy for Syria -- and the tools and capability to carry it out? Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to articulate his interpretation of the goals in a Jan. 17 speech at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. But when read closely, the ...

At it again. This week’s government shutdown is an all-too-familiar refrain for those of us with lengthy government service. Shutdowns – and the impact of the supposedly temporary sequestration deal of 2013 – are annoying, diverting of precious time and attention from the national security missions of the United States, ...

The Trump administration may open the New Year with a bang – a nuclear bang – with the impending release of its Nuclear Posture Review. One of President Donald Trump’s first executive orders, signed a week after he took office, included directing Secretary of Defense James Mattis to “initiate a new ...

Former Secretaries of the Navy took aim at President Donald Trump’s push for a 350-ship Navy during a discussion held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday. While they all agreed the current state of the Navy was aging and required modernization, the former Navy officials remained ...

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said in a news conference on Tuesday he wants to wait for the results of the full investigation into the ambush earlier this month in Niger that killed four U.S. servicemembers before commenting on what may or may not have ...

The U.S.-led coalition has achieved significant success this year in the battle against ISIS, first in Mosul and now in Raqqa where nearly 80 percent of the city has cleared of ISIS fighters. However, there has also been a worrying spike in civilian casualties under the Trump Administration. U.S. Central ...

The U.S.-led coalition’s battle against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has crossed significant milestones this year, supporting the final liberation of Mosul by Iraqi forces this July, and helping allied Syrian Democratic Forces to make swift gains in Raqqa with nearly 80 percent of the city now cleared. However, there ...

The fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is nearing its second major victory this year as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – an allied anti-ISIS militia umbrella group – close in on the last remaining pockets of ISIS forces in their self-proclaimed “capital” of Raqqa. The success of the ...

The Senate-passed, fiscal 2018 Defense Authorization Bill carries two little-publicized amendments that will impact future war-fighting capabilities. But the measure fails to deal with the darkest cloud hovering over the Pentagon: sequestration. That problem was kicked down the road, thus requiring some eventual congressional action, since both the House and ...

When a new U.S. president takes office the January after an election, his or her administration takes over not only the world’s strongest and most powerful military, but also a robust and complex foreign policy bureaucracy. From the moment of inauguration, the work done by the incoming president’s transition team ...

North Korea is testing its nuclear program seemingly at will. Afghanistan and Iraq struggle with enormous security threats years after the U.S. intervened to help them.  Russian aggression and Chinese expansionism challenge the West.  Terror and cyber attacks are on the rise.  The national security challenges facing the United States ...

A new presidential administration needs a team of political and career appointees to run the government, including the world’s most powerful military and a vast diplomatic and national security team. So far, President Donald Trump has nominated 347 individuals, but only 140 have been confirmed. At the same point in ...

As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis concludes a nuclear-focused trip, his public backing this week of all three parts of the triad likely serves as an important sign for the forthcoming Pentagon review of United States nuclear weapons policy. In April, the Department of Defense launched a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) ...

“If we do a continuing resolution, we are not only not rebuilding our military, we are harming our military,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told his Senate colleagues last Thursday. Ignoring the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, the Senate did just that, approving a new, three-month continuing fiscal 2018 appropriation resolution that ...

After watching the horror of Hurricane Irma slice a bloody path through the Caribbean, millions in Florida and the southeast are headed for higher ground or out of the path of the storm. And that includes those serving at military bases in Florida. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Special Operations Command ...

The Pentagon has sharply revised its official number of United States forces in Afghanistan to approximately 11,000, up from the 8,400 previously acknowledged. And on Thursday, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced he has signed orders to send additional troops to the country, following President Donald Trump's speech unveiling his ...

The first deployments of new U.S. troops will arrive in Afghanistan "pretty quickly," the top U.S. commander for the Middle East said on Tuesday, following President Donald Trump's announcement the U.S. will continue its long-term commitment to the country. "What's most important for us now is to get some capabilities ...

The Congress is heading for another budget crisis as the beginning of fiscal 2018 approaches on October 1. At issue is when and how Congress will act to repeal, replace, or amend – not Obamacare in this case – but the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) and the looming, black ...

Relations between the United States and North Korea hit a new low following Pyongyang’s test of an ICBM July 4. With a range of up to 5,000 miles – capable of reaching Alaska – the Hwasong-14 is North Korea’s longest-range missile to date, and its successful test is a direct ...

In May, the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense system - the GMD - successfully intercepted a mock ICBM in a critical test of the U.S. missile defense umbrella. Given the growing threat of the development of a North Korean ICBM capable of reaching the United States, this is excellent news. However, ...

The Pentagon’s missile defense review is now underway, incorporating mandates from both the White House and Congress. One of its considerations, at presidential direction, is whether there should be a relative “rebalancing” between homeland and regional missile defense. Regional defense has received a relatively greater share of the Missile Defense ...

For this year’s Fourth of July feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage examining the concept of an electromagnetic railgun. Capable of firing projectiles at speeds of Mach 7 to strike targets over 100 miles away, electromagnetic railgun systems for the Navy and the Army are now reaching the final ...

For this year’s Fourth of July feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage on electromagnetic railguns. Capable of firing projectiles at speeds of Mach 7 to strike targets over 100 miles away, electromagnetic railgun systems for the Navy and the Army are now reaching the final stages of development and ...

For this year’s Fourth of July feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage on electromagnetic railguns. Capable of firing projectiles at speeds of Mach 7 to strike targets over 100 miles away, electromagnetic railgun systems for the Navy and the Army are now reaching the final stages of development and ...

The separation of the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency (NSA) would have two major and immediate effects. It would allow the Cyber Command to develop tools built specifically for the battlefield, and it would increase the Defense Department’s ownership of cyber technologies – maybe even changing the ...

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) performed a successful test of the Ground-based Missile Defense (GMD) system on Tuesday. This was the first test of the GMD that simulated the intercept of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The GMD is the United States’ only system that can defend against long-range ...

President Donald Trump has promised the U.S. military "beautiful" planes, ships, and equipment, but his $603 billion, 2018 defense budget offers only a modest build-up, experts say. The budget would boost military and border security spending as it makes deep funding cuts to United States diplomacy and foreign aid that ...

When an industry experiences significant performance improvements and simultaneous cost reductions, disruptive innovation follows. The results ripple across sectors and drive the global economy forward. Steam power, automobiles, and personal computers are classic cases. Today, we are witnessing Moore’s Law – a term referring to the observation that the number ...

There has been a revolution in the cost of space launch for civilian purposes and defense during the last decade. New and innovative companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin have rapidly reduced the cost of space launch through technological innovations such as the reusable rocket and by introducing new ...

SpaceX launched the classified National Reconnaissance Office NROL-76 satellite into orbit before successfully landing the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center May 1. This not only marks SpaceX’s first major national security launch after brokering a deal with the U.S. Air Force to receive ...

With the help of big data analytics, the Department of Defense Insider Threat Management and Analysis Center — better known as the DITMAC — is looking to transform the DoD’s approach to the threats trusted insiders can pose to personnel and information. Developed in the wake of the 2013 shooting ...

President Donald Trump has to make a decision soon: what will he do in Afghanistan? The U.S. is now in its 16th year in the country, and top military and foreign policy advisors are advocating for an expanded military role. Experts told The Cipher Brief that the President must consider ...

From kamikaze drones to prototypes using facial recognition technology to help protect troops, a group of Georgetown University students enrolled in a class dubbed, “Hacking for Defense,” spent a semester developing innovative solutions to rapidly solve major national security problems. On Monday, four teams took to the stage to present ...

In 2010, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III made a pivotal decision for the future of cyberspace and the U.S. military: He saw to it that the U.S. Department of Defense declared cyberspace a “domain” of warfare. This decision created the organizational impetus for the DoD to organize ...

The isolation of cyber as an entirely independent domain of warfare is both inaccurate and dangerous. Today, the Pentagon faces an essential task, to integrate cyber capabilities with warfighting in the physical world. Cyber capabilities cannot be detached from other domains of warfare, such as electromagnetic, air, land, sea, and ...

The modern data center is evolving like few ever thought possible, and this progression is in play across the public and private sector for good reason. Cloud migration delivers tangible benefits, ranging from reduced operational costs, lower head counts, and improved security posture, just to name a few. While the ...

Less than two months after taking office, U.S. President Donald Trump’s approach to drone strikes appears to be taking shape. Although the Trump Administration has yet to articulate a comprehensive drone policy, recent actions and reports demonstrate Trump’s intentions to roll back some of the procedures and restraints put in ...

In a world where globalization makes it possible for adversaries to compete with American technologies, the United States must consistently innovate and adopt new tools and methods to stay ahead in the national security space.  That was the message at a special panel held at Georgetown University on Monday, called ...