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READ THE REPORT –In “Analysis of the FY 2018 Defense Budget,” Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Seamus Daniels, program coordinator and research assistant for defense budget analysis at CSIS, break with tradition and look at next year’s military spending through a fresh set of lenses. “Given the somewhat unusual circumstances of the FY 2018 budget cycle, this year’s budget analysis takes a different approach,” they write. “Instead of looking at the details of what the budget request funds or does not fund, it focuses on long-term trends in the defense budget and force structure and identifies key issues facing the Defense Department as it prepares for the FY 2019 budget cycle.” Learn more about the report here.

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In “Battlefield Singularity: Artificial Intelligence, Military Revolution, and China’s Future Military Power,” a December 2017 report from the Center for a New American Security’s Technology and National Security Program, adjunct fellow Elsa Kania asserts that the US-China artificial intelligence race will have defense implications.  “As the U.S. and China compete to innovate in AI, the trajectories of their respective advances will impact the future military and strategic balance,” her executive summary reads. Kania recommends that the US military focus on non-technical defense elements to be ready for a future in which it may not hold the kind of advantage it does today, as well as risk mitigation strategies in case a global AI race shakes up “arms race dynamics.”

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In a new report from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Ash Carter, PhD, Belfer Center director, MIT Innovation Fellow and former US defense secretary, outlines lessons learned from the US campaign against ISIS. “Today, Iraqi and coalition soldiers—backed by an American force the nest the world has ever known— have all but routed ISIS in two of its most important former strongholds: Raqqa and Mosul,” his report summary reads. “How America, together with her friends and allies, turned the tide against a common enemy is a story of good fortune, critical leadership decisions, and skill and bravery on the part of young men and women in uniform.”

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In a new report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Aerospace Security Project  entitled “Escalation and Deterrence in the Second Space Age,” co-authors Todd Harrison, CSIS Aerospace Security Project director, Zack Cooper, CSIS senior fellow for Asian security, Kaitlyn Johnson, CSIS International Security Program manager and research associate, and Thomas Roberts, CSIS Aerospace Security Program coordinator and research assistant, “discuss the evolution of space as a contested domain, the changing threats to U.S. space systems, deterrence theory and its applications to the space domain, and findings from a space crisis exercise administered by CSIS last year,” CSIS writes.

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In a new report from the Center for a New American Security entitled “A New Era in U.S.-Russian Strategic Stability: How Changing Geopolitics and Emerging Technologies are Reshaping Pathways to Crisis and Conflict,” co-authors Jim Miller, PhD, and Richard Fontaine argue that “the parallel changes in U.S.-Russian political relations and the military-technological landscape are fundamentally reshaping the ways in which a U.S.-Russian crisis and conflict likely would unfold,” according to the report. “Neither side has yet internalized these overlapping geopolitical and technological changes,” they continue. “When they do, it is likely that each will take different and potentially conflicting lessons from them. As a result, risks could significantly increase the potential of a dispute leading to crisis, of a crisis leading to war, and of a war escalating rapidly.” In response, they identify these potential outcomes and make recommendations for handling each of them.

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In a September 2017 research study from the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Col. Matt Hurley, USAF Ret., a senior fellow at Mitchell, examines opportunities for the US Air Force to modernize how C2ISR assets are designed and implemented in the field, according to a press release. “Today, the US Air Force’s ‘Big Wing’ C2 and ISR aircraft provide critical situational awareness of air and surface activity, as well as adversary intentions across the spectrum of conflict,” it reads.  “The three in-demand assets that make up what is known as the ‘Iron Triad’ are the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), and the RC-135V/W Rivet Joint electronic and signals intelligence gathering aircraft. This Mitchell study addresses the past, present, and future of these valuable aircraft, and the future operating environment where airborne command and control and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C2ISR) will be even more vital to successful military campaigns and contingency operations.”

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A Sept. 6, 2017, report assembled by a 10-person team of Atlantic Council experts and entitled the “State Department Reform Report,” examines the institution’s “structure and process, personnel, budget, congressional relations, and USAID,” according to a press release, and offers reform recommendations in each of these areas. “The report serves as a foundation for reform efforts that will lead to the empowerment of the State Department at a time when a rapidly evolving global environment consistently poses new challenges and threats,” the release reads. “The department’s role is indeed unique and vital in the US national security apparatus; diplomacy based in continued and robust support for US interests and values is critical to favorable long-term outcomes, including a more secure and stable global environment.”

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In an Aug. 23, 2017, report from the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action entitled “Managing Global Disorder: Prospects for U.S.-Russian Cooperation,” participants from a June 2017 workshop on the same topic identify “threats to world order and perspectives on global norms” and areas where Russia and the US might be able to work together. They also offer a set of recommendations for improving relations between the two nations that touch on NATO, cybersecurity and more. “The workshop was held at the Tufts University European Center in Talloires, France, and was made possible by the support of Carnegie Corporation of New York,” they write.

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In an August 2017 report from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution published as part of its Aegis Series, author Ben Buchanan, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Cybersecurity Project, argues that the US government’s “Nobody But Us” (or NOBUS) approach to signals intelligence — in which communications are designed to be indecipherable by any method that isn’t exclusive to US parties —  is losing effectiveness due to “increasingly sophisticated” enemies. According to Buchanan, the report “outlines the ways in which the United States can and does exploit structural or asymmetric advantages in capability or access to enable NOBUS methods,”  “examines how current trends make NOBUS solutions harder to find and use,” and “articulates some ideas for a potential path forward, though it acknowledges there is no easy answer.”

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In her August 2017 report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Kate Blakeley, CSBA research fellow, paints a picture of today’s rapidly innovating international defense ecosystem and argues that “the U.S. military’s slow-paced acquisition tempo” is a risk to its “technological” competitiveness, citing congressional testimony by US Defense Secretary James Mattis to drive the point home.  “Research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funding is the pathway by which the U.S. military explores new technologies and capabilities and develops them into weapons systems and platforms,” Blakeley writes. “Maintaining the U.S. military’s current technological advantages and adapting to future challenges requires RDT&E efforts that are robust, targeted at the correct operational problems, and nimble enough to be responsive to shifts in the technological and security landscapes.”

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