RAND researcher Roberta Wohlstetter is known for her theory about why the attack on Pearl Harbor took the United States by surprise. Her book was later used as a lens for analyzing the Cuban Missile Crisis and the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Departing theaters such as Syria and Afghanistan carries a host of associated risks, challenges and potential benefits. Leaders would be well served to factor into the debate the importance of U.S. intelligence collection capabilities, its connection to U.S. presence overseas and its role in anticipating current and future threats.
Despite its varied roles and responsibilities, the DIA can be boiled down to just two core missions: intelligence analysis and intelligence collection. Having a better understanding of these core missions could help to properly frame the agency’s value to the intelligence, military, and policymaking communities.
President Trump receives intelligence briefings on a fairly regular basis and he appears engaged in discussions with senior staff and the intelligence community about content. Ideally, this process is informing his national security decisionmaking.
Merton Davies spent his early years using satellite imagery to spy on terrestrial targets. His work led to the first successful reconnaissance satellite, Corona. Later, he used deep-space photographs to map the planets in our solar system.
President-elect Trump is receiving President Obama's version of the daily briefing; it has yet to be tailored to his preferences, to which every president is entitled. The intelligence community should seek to adapt the briefing to maximize its interest and relevance to the president-elect.
However critical to the fight against ISIS, using special operations forces for raids represents only half of the needed military adjustment. The other half is the effort to build indigenous forces capable of taking and holding territory in Iraq and Syria.
Disrupting the terrorist safe havens in Syria and Iraq would require a balanced approach that makes the business of terrorist planning and training difficult without entangling U.S. forces in new conflicts and angering the very populations the United States seeks to assist.
The chief political drawback is that target countries' populations view drone attacks as violations of their sovereignty every bit as much as manned raids. The chief military drawback: A drone attack destroys the critical intelligence that is needed to ensure that the tactical strike can be converted to strategic advantage.
The raids that the United States conducted over the weekend in Libya and Somalia could signal a new focus in Washington on capturing terrorist suspects and gathering intelligence rather than relying on drone strikes. RAND experts Linda Robinson, Angel Rabasa, and Seth Jones comment.
The Army's Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) program has been getting much attention from Congress, and its future was the subject of a heated exchange between the Army's Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno and Representative Duncan Hunter in May.
The post-Vietnam “never again” attitude led to a severe atrophy of the U.S. military's counterinsurgency skills and it is quite possible that the U.S. military will go through a similar phase of unlearning over the next several years, writes James Dobbins.
A constrictive rule book against direct-action counterterrorism techniques could be in tension with operational realities. But it would go some way toward establishing the legal and ethical framework under which such difficult decisions are made, writes Patrick Johnston.
When terrorists are afraid to poke their heads above ground, it becomes exceedingly difficult for them to communicate, coordinate, and conduct attacks—especially sophisticated ones like 9/11, writes Patrick B. Johnston.
Wary of communicating with each other and with al Qaeda's field commands, al Qaeda central could become more isolated, more dependent on its affiliates, allied groups, and individual acolytes, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.
Anyone concerned about nuclear proliferation or interested in the world of espionage will want to read Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz's provocative new book, "Fallout: The True Story of the CIA's Secret War on Nuclear Trafficking," which tells a fascinating story whose characters come straight out of a spy novel, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.
On his first day in office, President Barack Obama issued a dramatic series of executive orders intended to symbolize a change of direction in America's "war" on terrorism. Despite the headlines these orders generated, a more significant policy shift may have been the one signaled the week before his inauguration, writes Benjamin Runkle.
A select few Americans will ever see the president's daily brief -- a digest of the intelligence community's most closely guarded secrets. But trust me, Barack Obama is going to need much more useful information than he is getting now, writes Gregory F. Treverton.
Usually intelligence does not offer crystal-clear answers, and we should not hang decisions to go to war or do anything else on its ability to do so, writes Bruce Berkowitz in a Washington Post commentary.