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CRS — Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (April 3, 2015)

June 29, 2015 Comments off

Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Observers believe that North Korea has an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles and likely dozens of medium-range Nodong missiles; the extended-range Nodongs are considered capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases there. Longer-range North Korean missiles appear to be under development but remain unreliable, with only one successful test out of five in the past 15 years. The U.S. intelligence community has not yet concluded that North Korea can build nuclear warheads small enough to put on ballistic missiles, but there is significant debate among experts on this question.

Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt

June 27, 2015 Comments off

Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt
Source: Brookings Institution

Nearly two years after ousting President Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s military continues to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Much like during Egypt’s 1952-54 political transition, the recent interactions between the powerful armed state bureaucracy and the influential religious organization have had a major impact on the country’s political trajectory. In both instances, the military and Muslim Brotherhood initially cooperated before ultimately clashing violently. How has each entity determined what approach to take toward the other? What does a continued imbalance in civil-military relations mean for Egypt’s future?

In a new Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper, Omar Ashour examines the legacies and patterns of cooperation and conflict between the leaderships of Egypt’s military and the Muslim Brotherhood. Relying on extensive field research, he analyzes how each entity has made its critical decisions regarding the other by applying various decision-making models. Ashour considers the impact of cost-benefit analysis, organizational dynamics, factional disputes, and psychological factors to gain a deep understanding of the leaders’ motives.

DoD OIG — DoD Cardholders Used Their Government Travel Cards for Personal Use at Casinos and Adult Entertainment Establishments

June 24, 2015 Comments off

DoD Cardholders Used Their Government Travel Cards for Personal Use at Casinos and Adult Entertainment Establishments (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General

Objective
Our objective was to determine whether DoD Government travel charge card holders used their card for personal use at casinos or adult entertainment establishments. Public Law 112-194, “Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act of 2012,” requires the Inspector General of each executive agency with more than $10 million in travel card spending to periodically audit or review travel card programs. We focused on individually billed travel cards. Cardholders are personally and financially liable for payment of all undisputed charges, including personal use, indicated on the billing statement, not the government.

Finding
DoD cardholders improperly used their Government travel charge card (GTCC) for personal use at casinos and adult entertainment establishments. From July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, DoD cardholders had 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258, where they likely used their travel cards at casinos for personal use and had 900 additional transactions for $96,576 at adult entertainment establishments. Specifically, we reviewed seven nonstatistically selected cardholders who had 76 transactions valued at $19,643 to confirm that our analysis identified personal use at casinos and adult entertainment establishments from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014.
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Global Publics Back U.S. on Fighting ISIS, but Are Critical of Post-9/11 Torture

June 24, 2015 Comments off

Global Publics Back U.S. on Fighting ISIS, but Are Critical of Post-9/11 Torture
Source: Pew Research Center

The rise of ISIS has generated strong concerns in nations around the world, and a new Pew Research Center survey finds broad global support for American military efforts against the terrorist group. And unlike the Iraq War a decade ago, the current U.S. air campaign in Iraq and Syria is backed by majorities in America’s European allies and endorsed by publics in key Middle Eastern nations.

However, global publics mostly oppose another element of recent U.S. national security policy: the harsh interrogation methods used against suspected terrorists in the wake of 9/11 that many consider torture. A median of 50% across 40 nations surveyed say they oppose these practices, which were detailed in a widely publicized U.S. Senate report in December 2014. Only 35% believe they were justified. Americans disagree – nearly six-in-ten (58%) say they were justified.

Department of Defense Base Structure Report — FY 2014 Baseline

June 23, 2015 Comments off

Department of Defense Base Structure Report — FY 2014 Baseline (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

The Base Structure Report (BSR) – FY 2014 Baseline is a snapshot of real property data collected from the Military Departments as of September 30, 2013, and serves as the baseline for the start of the next fiscal year. This report has become a very popular item for many diverse users, and we have tried to adjust the data displays to reflect the most common information requested from DoD regularly. This year’s BSR is being published significantly later than in past years due. This year has seen a series of new data systems development and efforts to update or modernize the collection process, so we experienced some temporary data anomalies that needed to be researched. We held the publication of the BSR to resolve these areas of concerns before publication. Even though it is a late release, it was deemed important to have a version of this year’s data available for all who use this report. However, it should be noted that there may be some variances between last year’s data and this year’s data with the Army’s acreage information.

As one of the Federal government’s larger holders of real estate, the DoD manages a global real property portfolio consisting of more than 562,000 facilities (buildings, structures, and linear structures), located on over 4,800 sites worldwide and covering over 24.7 million acres. While the BSR is not intended to answer every single question about DoD’s real property portfolio, it should provide most readers with accurate background information about the vast majority of issues regarding DoD’s real property infrastructure.

Global Peace Index 2015

June 18, 2015 Comments off

Global Peace Index 2015
Source: Institute for Economics & Peace

Highlights

  • Since last year, 81 countries have become more peaceful, while 78 have deteriorated.
  • Many countries in Europe, the world’s most peaceful region, have reached historically high levels of peace. 15 of the 20 most peaceful countries are in Europe.
  • Due to an increase in civil unrest and terrorist activity, the Middle East and North Africa is now the world’s least peaceful region for the first time since the Index began.
  • Globally the intensity of internal armed conflict has increased dramatically, with the number of people killed in conflicts rising over 3.5 times from 49,000 in 2010 to 180,000 in 2014.
  • The economic impact of violence reached a total of US$14.3 trillion or 13.4% of global GDP last year.

DOD Releases Report on Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan

June 16, 2015 Comments off

DOD Releases Report on Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

The inaugural “Report on Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” a report to Congress in accordance with Section 1225 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015 (Public Law 113-291), was provided to Congress yesterday evening. This report covers December 1, 2014 to May 31.

On December 31, 2014, the NATO ISAF mission concluded, and on January 1, Resolute Support – a non-combat mission dedicated to training, advising, and assisting the Afghanistan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) and Afghan security ministries – was established. Afghans have assumed responsibility for the security of their nation, but Resolute Support remains committed to preparing the ANDSF for the difficult fight ahead.

During the reporting period, anti-Afghan forces continued to present a formidable threat; as President Ghani acknowledged while addressing Congress on March 25, Afghanistan is “a critical frontline nation in the war against extremism.”

The ANDSF has fought this war with resilience and professionalism, and their capabilities continue to improve. By the end of May, the force had achieved significant advancements in light airlift, casualty evacuation, and non-traditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Although considerable challenges remain, the Department of Defense is confident that the ANDSF has the capabilities, capacities, and morale to set the conditions for Afghan-led reconciliation.

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