OPINION -- The Navy is scheduled to begin construction next month on SSBN-826, to be named the USS Columbia, the first of 12 planned new, Columbia-class, strategic, ballistic missile submarines. The Navy’s top shipbuilding priority, the $110 billion-dollar, Columbia-class program will provide the major number of thermonuclear warheads for the ...

OPINION -- The Trump administration is using the Pentagon’s 2020 Annual Report to Congress on China’s military and security developments to spin its current campaign to make Beijing a greater national security threat to the U.S. than Russia. Last week, I wrote about the White House trying to sell the ...

OPINION -- President Trump and elements of his administration are publicly assessing that China poses a greater national security threat to the US election than Russia. Attorney General Bill Barr started it off last Wednesday on CNN when he was asked which country was most aggressive and he answered, “I ...

OPINION –The Defense Department’s unclassified investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown from $600 million five years ago, to a proposed $2.5 billion for fiscal 2021, with some 600 AI projects already underway, according to an updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) report titled, Artificial Intelligence and National Security, released last ...

OPINION -- Last Thursday, President Trump was asked by reporters about the arrest earlier that day of his former campaign manager and early White House aide, Steve Bannon.  Bannon and three associates had been charged with allegedly defrauding donors to an organization called We Build the Wall, Inc.  Back in ...

OPINION – One way to remember Brent Scowcroft’s major contributions to U.S. national security and foreign policy is to read the oral history he recorded over two sessions back in August 2002. The transcript was to be released after his death, so when he died on August 6, the Miller ...

OPINION -- As the House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2021 Defense Authorization Bill are put together in conference, new offensive and defensive cyber operations are major topics in both versions of the legislation. Many of the proposals follow recommendations made last March by the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which ...

OPINION – President Trump’s nominee for the top legal job in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Patrick Hovakimian, gave limited answers to questions from Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee at his confirmation hearing last Wednesday. His performance all but guarantees a partisan line when his ...

OPINION -- The threatened Trump administration introduction of uninvited federal law enforcement officers into cities across the United States may already be underway, but at the same time it has taken a very political tone. Portland, Oregon’s demonstrations began May 28, after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and have continued ...

OPINION -- On the morning of Tuesday, July 7, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Hudson Institute audience, “The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China.” To support his point, Wray said he ...

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 has recognized the vulnerabilities of today’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and called on the Defense Department “to develop new concepts of operations to effectively employ [these] platforms not inherently designed for operating in contested environments.” The relatively slow flying MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper; ...

OPINION -- US Government officials, civilian and military, alike may be facing unusual tests in the next four months: Does their loyalty rest with the oath they took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, or to President Trump? Maybe those ...

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 -- On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on an authorization for Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to issue subpoenas to 53 individuals, most of them connected to the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation. Among other things, Graham’s panel will look into how the FBI got into its probe ...

OPINION -- The US is taking a more active role in the ongoing cyber war between Russia and Ukraine on the side of the Kiev government. On May 14, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the award of a four-year, $38 million contract to provide cyber security for critical ...

OPINION -- Last week, President Trump announced that the U.S. was giving six months’ notice that it would be pulling out of another international agreement, this time the 1992 Open Skies Treaty. At the same time, his administration’s top arms control officials continued the practice of sending mixed messages as ...

OPINION -- U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is expanding its Military Information Support Operations (MISO) because in the current environment, “great power competition is about influence, and SOF [Special Operations Forces] has a unique and valuable role in this." Those were the words of SOCOM Commander, Army Gen. Richard D. ...

OPINION -- Cherry-picked information filed last Thursday by the Justice Department in Attorney General William Barr’s effort to have charges dismissed against one-time Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn do not really support dropping the case. Flynn, when interviewed by FBI agents on January 24, 2017, made a series of ...

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 ...

OPINION -- The Defense Department has gone to war against the coronavirus, employing some 50,000 troops on both offense and defense. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen, Mark A. Milley announced during a Pentagon press conference April. 14, “We are, in fact, at war against a virus. We are a supporting organization.” ...

OPINION -- Up to now, a politically divided Congress has been unsuccessful in slowing down President Trump’s accumulation of power, which thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, has expanded his ability to distribute government funds and favors without firm accountability. It’s time to take seriously the implications of what ABC’s Chief ...

OPINION -- The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic should accelerate serious rethinking about what future federal government spending is needed in the name of “national security.” As Max Boot aptly put it last Thursday in The Washington Post, non-traditional, national security emergencies so far in the 21st Century “call into question whether ...

OPINION -- If fighting the Covid-19 virus is a war, the Army Corps of Engineers is being led into battle by an exemplary field commander, Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite. The Corps’ job is to provide future hospital facilities for those cities and towns that are about to run out ...

OPINION – What’s happening today with COVID-19, from global healthcare systems under extreme stress to the far-reaching economic impact, will be felt for years to come.  But there are other unintended consequences of COVID-19, including the very serious impact it could have on the 2020 presidential election. There currently is ...

OPINION -- “Offensive operations, often times, is (sic) the surest, if not the only (in some cases) means of defence,” a retired George Washington, living at Mount Vernon, wrote to a former military aide in a letter back in June 25, 1799. Unsuccessfully, attempts over decades to build a defense ...

OPINION -- On February 20, during his visit to Strategic Command (STRATCOM) headquarters near Omaha, Nebraska, Defense Secretary Mark Esper took part in a mini-war-game exercise which led to a simulated Russian firing of a low-yield nuclear weapon and the U.S. launching one back. The next day, February 21, Defense ...

OPINION -- Last Friday, the Associated Press and Reuters both reported that an un-named senior administration official said that the U.S. told Moscow that President Trump now favors a summit meeting of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to set up a three-way U.S., China, Russia ...

OPINION -- President Trump, this past week, has shown that he is just as serious today about undercutting the intelligence community’s January 6, 2017, conclusion that Vladimir Putin’s directed activities which helped him win the White House in 2016, as he was back then. Trump’s continuing sensitivity was reflected in ...

OPINION -- President Trump is actively trying to excise the criminal fallout from investigations into Moscow’s 2016 covert support for his presidential election and have his attorney general, Bill Barr, control any similar investigations into Russian activities that might involve the 2020 presidential election. Trump’s suppression efforts come at the ...

OPINION -- Should we all sleep easier because at last we have a low-yield nuclear warhead sitting atop a Trident D-5 sub-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) aboard a strategic ballistic missile submarine now on patrol in the Atlantic Ocean?  Not really. Last Tuesday, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood ...

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 ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist at The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on national security-related topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  In 2002, he and a team of Post reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He also won ...

OPINION -- When are members of Congress going to wake up and play their Constitutional role as an equal branch of government? Neither the Democratic leadership in the House, nor the Republican leaders in the Senate are these days carrying out oversight on key national security issues involving the Executive ...

OPINION -- Ten minutes into President Trump’s speech at his first 2020 presidential re-election campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, last Friday, he drew great cheers when he said, “If you dare to threaten our citizens, you do so at your own grave peril.” Moments later, Trump brought up the U.S. ...

OPINION -- The Trump administration’s new attempt to open strategic nuclear talks with China “ASAP,” as mentioned in a State Department tweet last Friday, focuses on the wrong subject. Any talks about strategic deterrence among nations should be dealing first with the future of cyber warfare and weaponry rather than ...

OPINION -- “The function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them into relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act.” Walter Lippmann wrote in his 1925 book, Public Opinion. In the Trump era, officials and legislators are ...

A date for Washington-Moscow nuclear arms control discussions could emerge from today’s Washington meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov -- first with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, if all goes well, later with President Trump. From Trump’s point of view, raising the long-awaited possibility of extending the current ...

OPINION – It was supposed to be Senate confirmation hearing for Stephen E. Biegun to be confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State, but really, it was President Trump’s Foreign Policy that was on trial in Washington last week. “This administration’s actions have undermined our ability to promote American foreign policy ...

OPINION -- President Trump had showed a change of attitude toward Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his new Ukrainian government before last July 25, when he asked Zelensky for a “favor”. The sources and reason for that change of attitude should be one of the early issues explored at tomorrow’s ...

OPINION -- More than 231 years ago, Alexander Hamilton foresaw the controversy around today’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump when he published Federalist Paper 65 on March 7, 1788.  In it, Hamilton wrote that the Constitutionally established, House of Representatives investigative role in the impeachment process “will seldom fail to agitate ...

OPINION -- President Trump’s sending U.S. military troops to control the oil fields in northern Syria can only be interpreted as introducing financial deal-making into his running of U.S. foreign and national security policies. Trump made clear in his Sunday press conference that he sees control of the Syrian oil ...

This first stage of the House impeachment inquiry, being held behind closed doors under the chairmanship of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), is setting a firm, fact-finding, foundation for what is to follow. These depositions, as described in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent Wednesday to all members of the House, portray ...

OPINION – Why is there no Whistleblower in the case of President Trump’s October 6, phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan?  Who was on the line with Trump? Anonymous Pentagon sources last Tuesday said Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Milley were on the line, ...

OPINION -- Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson deserves praise along with the Whistleblower for pushing within the law to get President Trump’s highly protected phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before the Congress and the public. Atkinson’s two week “preliminary review” helped build credibility for the Whistleblower’s August ...

“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 ...

OPINION -- Don’t be too surprised if former-Defense Secretary James Mattis breaks his silence about President Trump’s performance as commander-in-chief before next year’s election. “There will come a time when I speak out on strategic issues, policy issues. That, I do not have a question about. But I need to ...

OPINION -- The Trump administration’s year-old plan to vastly increase future production of plutonium pits, the triggers of thermonuclear weapons, caught my attention just days ago when its high cost was mentioned in a section of the August 23, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Senate-passed version of the ...

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 ...