On December 23, 2016, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2017. The act makes more changes to national security organizations and process than any other legislation since the landmark Goldwater–Nichols act of 1986. This report looks at the NDAA outcome issue-by-issue to see what it means for a new administration.
New and more accessible forms of dialogue will be critical to the conversation on nuclear policy. Social media and other personalized communication tools, which have thus far remained mostly outside the nuclear policy toolbox, are an important part of outreach. President-elect Trump’s administration must use these new tools wisely and with discretion to share a message that speaks to allies, adversaries, and Americans at home.
President-elect Trump has stated his intention to strengthen the U.S. approach to defeating the Islamic State (ISIS). The biggest challenge will be developing a sustainable strategy to prevent future terrorist groups from taking root. The United States will need a strategy that synchronizes the right mix of military forces and non-kinetic tools to achieve this outcome. This paper proposes changes the administration should implement as it develops its counter-ISIS strategy.
Although the American public is weary of war, Afghanistan is a particularly concerning problem that will need to be a top national security priority for the incoming administration. The region is home to the largest concentration of terrorist groups in the world and on the verge of collapse should the U.S. withdraw forces. Unfortunately, continual U.S. engagement results in high cost. Recognizing this challenge, this paper provides a recommendation for an Afghanistan strategy.
Nations around the world continue to develop a growing range of ballistic and cruise missiles to asymmetrically threaten U.S. forces, allies, and the American homeland. Missile defenses have now become an essential part of U.S. defense policy and strategy, and their importance shows no sign of diminishing.
U.S. forces have been employing electronic warfare for over 75 years, using the spectrum to sense, outmaneuver, and engage our adversaries. Absent U.S. investments in dedicated electronic warfare personnel, training, and equipment, Russia and China are likely to meet or exceed U.S. capabilities. How should the U.S. maintain its superiority in this invisible battlefield?
Special Operation Forces (SOF) has had great success against al Qaeda. This success and continued demand for special operations have led to slightly increased personnel numbers and larger budgets. As demand for SOF increase, so does rates of deployment and concerns for SOF readiness. This paper addresses how the new administration should consider engaging with SOF in the future to ensure SOF is not overextended and remains effective.
Administrative and training requirements that have been levied upon the services, units, and service members are timely. These bureaucratic burdens can impact operational effectiveness and readiness. It is a common mistake among new administrations to improve inefficiencies by adding programs or processes, which often results in increased time burdens. This paper provides some recommendations for effective and realistic change.
United States nuclear deterrent forces has been the bedrock of U.S. national security. The U.S. needs a modern, flexible, and adaptable nuclear enterprise suited to the deterrence challenges of the 21st century and yet current forces are outdated. This paper provides several changes to consider as the new administration conducts a nuclear review.