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 ...

President Donald Trump’s defense budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 calls for $54 billion in additional spending, but it is not yet clear where this new funding will come from or what it will be used for. The proposed increase builds on spending hikes planned by the outgoing Obama administration, ...

Twenty-six years after the end of the Cold War, the United States once again must prepare for great power competition and confrontation. Russian aggression along NATO’s eastern front presents military challenges to European security not seen in decades. China’s military modernization and coercive behavior toward U.S. allies and partners threatens ...

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 ...

President Donald Trump released his $1.5 trillion budget on Thursday, a blueprint that would boost military and border security spending as it makes deep funding cuts to United States diplomacy and foreign aid that experts say could harm national security. Trump’s 2018 proposal calls for a $54 billion increase for ...

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; ...

Identifying and obtaining innovation from the commercial sector has been an ongoing challenge for the Department of Defense (DoD). With new breakthroughs in both technology and processes emerging from the commercial sector, both domestically and internationally, it is increasingly important for DoD to be able to productively interact with innovative ...

For a moment, try to ignore President Donald Trump’s tweets and rambling speeches and let’s look at what the Trump administration may be thinking about when it comes to his campaign promise to rebuild what he has termed “our depleted military.” The Trump White House website came up on January ...

When defense contractor Harold Martin was charged with the alleged theft of highly classified documents from the National Security Agency (NSA), federal prosecutors deemed the potential crime “breathtaking” in scope. The documents were said to date back from 1996, when Martin first got security clearance, to his arrest this year. ...

War, often rationalized as an extension of policy by violent means, has always been a deeply human experience. It defines much of human history and, unsurprisingly, changes in technology accompany—and are often driven by—adaptations in the conduct of warfare. Battles are increasingly fought at distance, progressing from the thrust of ...

Bob Work, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, will tell you the Third Offset is the next generation of warfare. It may take at least ten years but it will showcase the rise of the machine, and the decline of the human in the business of operating weapons systems. The speed ...

Imagine a weapon that strikes on its own, without the slightest hint of human judgment or compassion. It’s a chilling prospect, and not so far in the future unless the world calls a halt to such weapons’ development. Since the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots opened in April 2013, it ...

Retired Gen. James Mattis called Russia the “principal threat” to the United States’ security and said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is “trying to break” the NATO alliance, starkly contrasting his views with that of President-elect Donald Trump during his Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense on Thursday. ...

With important global roles during times of peace and war, U.S. Navy ships and sailors must be ready to deploy anywhere in the world on short notice. However, the combination of sustained operations, inadequate ship numbers, and a tight budget have created challenges to the Navy’s long term readiness that ...

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 ...

As 2017 begins, it is worth reflecting on the current state  and future direction of Department of Defense (DoD) acquisition. Contract data from the Federal Procurement Data System provides a robust picture of where DoD acquisition has been, while the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) makes dramatic changes ...

How can the military fund its current forces while preparing for the future? There’s no simple answer to such a question. 2016 was a mixed bag for America’s military planning and largest procurement programs. Readiness assessments for the branches of the armed forces show they are falling behind in key ...

The crystal ball may be unusually cloudy when it comes to predicting defense technology and acquisition trends for 2017, but the causes of this cloudiness are clear. The change in administration, coupled with the new management structure being imposed by Congress on the Department of Defense’s (DoD) acquisition enterprise is ...

Directed-energy weapons have been an ambition of militaries across the world, since Archimedes focused the sun to set fire to Roman ships in 212 B.C. What was once considered a science project is now a necessity, and our continued military superiority depends on the outcome. Why? Our adversaries have made ...

What could possibly make the F-35 an even more advanced jet fighter? Lasers, according to the U.S. Air Force. The USAF plans, which would put the system into service sometime in the 2020s, will have to clear the same hurdles that have plagued all directed-energy weapons. These weapons have always ...

The size of the army matters—but technology wins wars. At the height of the Roman Empire, Roman Legions armed with arrows, long-staffs, and shields devastated the more numerous but ill-equipped barbarian hordes. In 1914, employing tanks and automatic weapons, the German army rolled across Europe, dominating the cavalry and breech-loaded ...

President-elect Donald Trump recently announced he will nominate retired United States Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense. Gilman Louie, founder and former CEO of In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, has written an open letter to General Mattis to suggest how the Defense Department can ...

Weeks after declining an offer to serve in president-elect Donald Trump’s administration, retired Army Gen. Jack Keane on Tuesday testified before Congress that the United States is “ill-prepared” to meet the threats against the nation. Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army and member of The ...

President-elect Donald Trump has called his chosen Defense Secretary, retired Marine General James Mattis “the real deal,” but after January 20, will President Trump, an amateur when it comes to national security issues, follow the advice of the 66-year-old, experienced, warrior-diplomat? Before that point is reached, the Armed Services Committees ...

For this year’s Thanksgiving Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage of the innovation and procurement challenges behind the F-35 Lighting II. As production ramps up and the U.S. and its coalition partners take delivery, we reexamine what lessons can be learned from the procurement process and whether or ...

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 ...

Since Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work discussed the Third Offset at a talk given in January of 2015, the concept has been the focus of numerous discussions and interpretations. It has generally been defined in defense literature as a path to a new and enduring competitive edge over America’s adversaries based ...

As President-elect Donald Trump assembles his national security team, The Cipher Brief met with one prospective nominee, General Jack Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army and member of The Cipher Brief’s network. He had just met with the Trump team when he sat down with ...

Should humans delegate the responsibility of decisions over life and death to computer algorithms? The answer is not as simple as it seems—and it is the fundamental question concerning the military application of artificial intelligence in the future. The world has seen incredible technological advances in recent decades; not least ...

Discussions on artificial intelligence (AI) too often revolve around concerns about the sensationalist threat of “killer robots,” usually featured in science-fiction films or computer games. Killing is depicted as easy and rapid, done by steel-clad monsters with super-human abilities. Let me put this fear to rest. We do not yet ...

New technologies are changing the face of future warfare and few will be as impactful as the fusion of artificial intelligence into weapons systems. The Cipher Brief spoke with Paul Scharre, Senior Fellow and Director of the Future of Warfare Initiative at the Center for a New American Security, about the rationale ...

“Superficial and emotional” was the way retired Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey described the current presidential campaign discussion of military affairs in an interview published in the current, September-October issue of Foreign Affairs. He’s right. But perhaps even that minimal amount of attention should be paid to the campaigning ...