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About the Series

As the next administration prepares to govern, CSIS’s T45 series will provide insights and recommendations from our scholars on where change in U.S. defense strategy, forces, operations, and institutions would be most valuable to the nation.

On January 20th 2017, the United States will inaugurate its 45th president. After spending the past two years navigating a challenging primary and general election field to win the presidency, Donald Trump must now spend the next four years helping Americans navigate the challenges they face at home and abroad. The task is daunting, and nowhere more so than in the field of national security. Change was an important theme of the Trump-Pence campaign – What changes might a President Trump seek to bring to national security and defense?

Although the United States has by any measure the world’s best military, others are catching up in key areas. Our institutions and processes are sometimes painfully slow to adapt and the cost of building, maintaining, and using our own forces is high. Change is needed. But as every reformer knows, change can build value or destroy value. The trick is knowing which changes to pursue and how.

Oversight

Defense Reform in a New Administration

January 18th, 2017|Comments Off on Defense Reform in a New Administration

Within the span of one week in December, President-elect Donald Trump turned the defense establishment on its head with three tweets. The first tweet threatened to cancel Boeing's Air Force One replacement program, the second ... Read more

Use a Strategic Review to Drive Change

January 18th, 2017|Comments Off on Use a Strategic Review to Drive Change

President-elect Donald Trump clearly intends to shake up U.S. foreign policy in significant ways. It seems likely he will try to take a harder line toward both China and Iran, be more aggressive in the ... Read more

Time to Revive Congressional War Powers

January 18th, 2017|Comments Off on Time to Revive Congressional War Powers

In spite of campaign promises and repeated calls for reform, President Barack Obama will leave office having expanded the reach of presidential war powers arguably beyond that of any modern predecessor. The first year of ... Read more

The Pentagon

  • U.S. Air National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce/29396127562/

The Enduring Dilemma of Overseas Contingency Operations Funding

January 11th, 2017|Comments Off on The Enduring Dilemma of Overseas Contingency Operations Funding

The practice of using Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for base budget activities may become a significant issue in the new administration. Because OCO funding is intended for war-related activities that cannot be forecasted well ... Read more

  • US Department of Defense photo: https://media.defense.gov/2016/Apr/08/2001511547/-1/-1/0/160407-D-ZZ999-999.JPG

Making Innovation Great

January 11th, 2017|Comments Off on Making Innovation Great

President-elect Donald Trump, upon taking office, will be confronted immediately with a profoundly complex and rapidly changing global security environment. Under his leadership the United States will face conventional, and also decidedly unconventional, national security ... Read more

  • U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Lauren Falk 5th MEB COMCAM: https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2591254/eager-lion-2016-air-support-training

Implementing Security Cooperation Reform to Maximize U.S. Competitiveness Abroad

January 11th, 2017|Comments Off on Implementing Security Cooperation Reform to Maximize U.S. Competitiveness Abroad

Security cooperation enables the United States to deepen its global alliances and partnerships in pursuit of common security objectives. Ongoing changes in the geopolitical landscape and increasing public skepticism of the return on investment for ... Read more

  • By U.S. Navy photo by Brian Nokell, via Wikimedia Commons

Reforming the Civilian Workforce: Two Carrots and Two Sticks

January 11th, 2017|Comments Off on Reforming the Civilian Workforce: Two Carrots and Two Sticks

President-elect Donald Trump has proposed two goals for the federal government’s civilian workforce: making it smaller and increasing its quality. Both have also been long time Republican Party goals. Shrinking the size of the federal ... Read more

  • CSIS photo of Kathleen H. Hicks

Civilian Control of the Armed Forces

January 11th, 2017|Comments Off on Civilian Control of the Armed Forces

On Tuesday, January 10, Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks, senior vice president, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, and director of the International Security Program at CSIS, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing on ... Read more

  • DoD photo by Cherie Cullen: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Defense.gov_News_Photo_100811-D-7203C-003_-_Secretary_of_Defense_Robert_M._Gates_speaks_with_outgoing_acting_U.S._Central_Command_commander_Lt._Gen._John_Allen_right_and_incoming_commander.jpg

Confirmation Hearing Questions Beyond Headlines

January 10th, 2017|Comments Off on Confirmation Hearing Questions Beyond Headlines

The Senate Armed Services Committee is preparing to hold a hearing on the nomination of James Mattis to be the next Secretary of Defense. Mattis—a highly regarded retired Marine general—brings to the hearing an element ... Read more

Operations

  • Photo courtesy of US Air Force: http://www.afgsc.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/2612/Article/673654/minuteman-iii-test-launches-from-vandenberg.aspx

Time for Nuclear Straight Talk: Words Matter, and So Do Deeds

January 4th, 2017|Comments Off on Time for Nuclear Straight Talk: Words Matter, and So Do Deeds

President-elect Trump’s December 22 nuclear tweet sent shockwaves through the nuclear policy community. The reaction makes one thing abundantly clear: For the benefit of allies, adversaries, and the American people, ... Read more

  • Photo by Mstyslav Chernov, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

Strengthening the Counter-ISIS Strategy

January 4th, 2017|Comments Off on Strengthening the Counter-ISIS Strategy

President-elect Trump has stated his intention to strengthen the U.S. approach to defeating the Islamic State (ISIS). However, the precise way in which his administration will pursue this objective is ... Read more

  • Photo by Maj. Thomas Cieslak

A Winning Counterterrorism Strategy

January 4th, 2017|Comments Off on A Winning Counterterrorism Strategy

President-elect Donald Trump has spoken passionately about the need to bolster the U.S. response to ISIS. Moreover, Mr. Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Retired General James Mattis, has notably ... Read more

  • Photo by SSgt. Romain Beaulinette, IJC Public Affairs

Afghanistan: Renewed Resolve is Needed

January 4th, 2017|Comments Off on Afghanistan: Renewed Resolve is Needed

Afghanistan poses a problem whose complexity precludes a ‘quick win,’ an unpopular reality for a war-weary public. Perhaps for this reason it rarely arose as a campaign issue. Regardless, it ... Read more

Forces

Missile Defense: Time to Go Big

December 21st, 2016|Comments Off on Missile Defense: Time to Go Big

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 ... Read more

  • US Navy Photo

Winning the Invisible Fight: The Need for Spectrum Superiority

December 21st, 2016|Comments Off on Winning the Invisible Fight: The Need for Spectrum Superiority

America’s next war will be won or lost first in the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS). It is the invisible, essential, and physical foundation of every battlefield—it unifies all the warfighting domains: ... Read more

  • U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald

Special Operations Forces: Let SOF be SOF

December 21st, 2016|Comments Off on Special Operations Forces: Let SOF be SOF

Thus far, the incoming Trump Administration has expressed interest in easing restrictions and White House oversight on military decision-making. A willingness to place more agency in the hands of operators ... Read more

  • Photo courtesy of US Air Force: http://www.moody.af.mil/News/Features/Display/tabid/6031/Article/212420/23d-cons-enters-playoff-season-of-fy-closeout.aspx

Addition by Subtraction: Reviewing & Reducing Requirements to Increase Readiness

December 12th, 2016|Comments Off on Addition by Subtraction: Reviewing & Reducing Requirements to Increase Readiness

The opportunity is ripe for a “less is more” mandate with a business-minded President-elect Trump and bureaucratic-averse Defense Secretary nominee who can reduce or eliminate burdensome administrative and training requirements ... Read more

  • Photo courtesy of US Air Force: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Loading_three_AGM-86_ALCMs.jpg

Nuclear Forces: Restore the Primacy of Deterrence

December 12th, 2016|Comments Off on Nuclear Forces: Restore the Primacy of Deterrence

U.S. nuclear deterrent forces have long been the foundation of U.S. national security and the highest priority of the Department of Defense. As President-elect Donald Trump has observed, nuclear weapons ... Read more

  • Photo courtesy of US Navy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavy/6926524917/

Rebuilding Military Forces: Needed, But In Phases

December 9th, 2016|Comments Off on Rebuilding Military Forces: Needed, But In Phases

During the campaign, President–elect Trump laid out his vision for military forces: a regular Army of 540,000 soldiers, a Navy of 350 ships, an Air Force of 1,200 fighter attack ... Read more

Agenda

Realizing “Peace Through Strength”

December 7th, 2016|Comments Off on Realizing “Peace Through Strength”

During this presidential transition, one word is practically tripping off the tongues of defense watchers: “rebuild.” President-elect Trump campaigned to make America’s military “so big, so powerful, so strong.” Yet ... Read more

U.S. Leadership in an Era of Great Power Competition

December 7th, 2016|Comments Off on U.S. Leadership in an Era of Great Power Competition

Great power competition has returned. Actions by China and Russia to assert spheres of influence by undermining, weakening, or outright invading their neighbors will be a central challenge for ... Read more