THINK TANK CENTRAL

Your single destination for high-quality content from top think tanks around the world. Fresh reports and analysis as they are released to ensure valuable thought leadership work isn’t lost in the daily noise.

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In a July 2017 report from the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Aaron Stein, PhD, a resident senior fellow at the center, presents a case study of “two efforts to achieve US objectives” in Syria — a failed one that utilized the Train and Equip program, and another that worked “through the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the dominant local force in northeastern Syria” which Stein classifies as “a tactical success.”  “The different outcomes make these two programs worth studying in depth,” he writes. “This report is based on a series of interviews with US officials and provides lessons learned for US policy makers.”

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In a July 2017 issue brief published by the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, author Col. Herbert Kemp, USAF Ret., president and CEO of OneALPHA Corporation, proposes “a broad, non-NATO approach to the growing challenge of ballistic missiles for the United States and its allies and considers new technologies and methods to meet the threat,” especially in the face of a missile-equipped Russia. “While the approach is global, many of the considerations and recommendations in this issue brief are of relevance to the Alliance and its members as NATO pursues options on how to provide credible collective defense and deterrence in a newly insecure Europe,” Kemp writes.

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In an August 2017 report published by the New America Foundation’s Cybersecurity Initiative entitled “The Malware Markets: A Graphic Exploration” by Brian de Luna, a data scientist at AirBnB, Luke Heine, director at the Harvard Institute of Quantitative Science’s Lab for Entrepreneurship and Development, and Trey Herr, PhD, a fellow with the Cyber Security Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, analyze the markets behind malware — from their  origins and power players to their impact and future prospects. “The malware markets are home to both defensive groups, like software vendors, and offensive groups, like criminal networks and other attackers,” they write. “Companies are involved with building and selling malicious code, from single exploits all the way up to integrated surveillance packages. Underneath all of this is a global network of companies, criminal groups, individuals, and even governments that build, buy, and sell code.” 

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In a new report from the Center for a New American Security entitled “Getting It Righter, Faster: The Role of Prediction in Agile Government Decisionmaking,”co-authors Kathryn McNabb Cochran, 2016 CNAS Next Generation National Security Fellow and director of foreign policy research at Good Judgment Inc., and Cmdr. Gregory Tozzi, USCG, CNAS 2016-2017 senior military fellow, 2016-2017,  “outline how the complexity of today’s world underlines the need for agility in government decisionmaking and argue that predictive systems can support agility at multiple decision points in the policymaking process.” “The authors then provide an overview of forecasting methodologies that meet these requirements,” the paper continues.

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In a new study from the Center for Strategy and Budgetary Assessments entitled “Doing What You Know: The United States and 250 Years of Irregular War,” Dave Johnson, PhD, CSBA senior fellow, analyzes why the United States has been as of yet unable to win the post 9-11 “Global War on Terrorism”  despite its consistent use of  “irregular combat.” “Its military forces, particularly the Army, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Forces, have made significant adaptations after the onset of the insurgency in Iraq following the initial success of conventional operations there in 2003,” he writes. “Yet, victory—achieving the desired political objectives—in Iraq and Afghanistan continues to elude the United States more than fifteen years into the Global War on Terrorism despite significant investments in blood and treasure.” Learn more about the report here.

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The Center for a New American Security’s August 2017 report entitled “The ‘Section 702′ Surveillance Program: What You Need to Know,” co-authored by Adam Klein, CNAS’ Robert M. Gates senior fellow, Madeline Christian, a former technology and national security intern at CNAS, and Matt Olsen, an adjunct senior fellow in the think tank’s Technology & National Security program, dissects the controversial portion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ahead of its tentative expiration on Dec. 31, 2017 (barring congressional reauthorization). The report explains how the provision’s surveillance authorities differ from other FISA ones, the scope of potential targeting, how authorized data is collected and more.

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In “A Blueprint for New Sanctions on North Korea,” a new report from the Center for a New American Security, co-authors Edward Fishman, a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, Peter Harrell, an adjunct senior fellow at CNAS, and Elizabeth Rosenberg, CNAS senior fellow and director of its Energy, Economics, and Security Program, present a playbook for potential US sanctions on North Korea. “As Congress and the executive branch consider ways to combat the North Korean threat, this report offers policymakers an analysis of the situation, an assessment of the successes and failures of sanctions imposed to date, and options for increasing Pyongyang’s economic isolation,” they write. “With enhanced economic leverage, the United States will be better placed to address North Korea’s destabilizing influence and lay the table for potential nuclear diplomacy.”

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In the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments’ “Overview of the FY 2018 Defense Budget Request,” Katherine Blakeley, CSBA research fellow, breaks down the Trump administration’s proposed defense budget for the coming fiscal year. “This proposed $603 billion in discretionary base national defense spending would be $51.8 billion dollars more than the $551 billion the Obama administration requested in FY 2017, an increase of 9.4 percent,” she writes in the report’s overview. “The requested $603 billion is also $54 billion, or 10 percent, over the caps on national defense spending for FY 2018 established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), as amended.”

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In a July 2017 report published by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies entitled “An Operational Imperative: The Future of Air Superiority,” Brig. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, USAF, reflects on his work as part of an interdisciplinary team charged with reviewing “options to gain and maintain continued control of the air,” according to a press release. Grynkewich writes that the US Defense Department needs to change its approaches to data and acquisition to achieve “air superiority in the future.”

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In his new report entitled “Consolidating the Revolution: Optimizing the Potential of Remotely Piloted Aircraft,” Lt. Gen. David Deptula, USAF Ret., dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, argues that the US needs to revamp its use of remotely piloted aircraft, or RPAs, since demand for them will stay high despite falling defense budgets.

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