A Monthly Newsletter of the CSIS International Security Program

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / A member of Libyan pro-government forces walks past a machine gun on May 18, 2016 in Abu Grein, south of Libya's third city Misrata, a day after Libya's unity government recaptured the area from the Islamic State (IS) group.
The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) forces said on Facebook that they recaptured  Abu Grein strategic crossroads, where the coastal highway meets the main road south into the desert interior on May 17, 2016.
Photo credit: MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images
Arming Libya: A Calculated Risk
Anthony Bell | 16 June

While Libya continues to be awash with weapons five years after the revolution that overthrew Muammar Qaddafi, subsequent years of fighting have left many sides short of ammunition and other supplies. There is a need to allow the forces fighting the Islamic State’s expansion in Libya to have access to the means to prosecute the fight. The move is, however, a calculated risk that may inflame the civil war tearing the country apart.

Read More
MSF front door at a Darfur refugee camp in Chad. March 2005. Photo credit: Mark Knobil
Some Rules Aren’t Meant to be Broken: Reestablishing Humanitarian Principles
Sarah Minot | 7 June

In recent conflicts, the traditional rules of humanitarian neutrality and efforts to avoid civilian targeting have eroded. Long standing norms rooted in the Geneva Convention have been dramatically violated in recent years as the frequency and severity of attacks against health workers, facilities, and civilians have increased.

Read More
Rhys McCormick | 31 March

Are the trends seen in Army modernization today similar in nature to trends of the previous drawdowns, or is this time different? Historically, the decline in army modernization follows the same general pattern: After a period of growth, Army modernization total obligation authority (TOA) peaks between 27 percent and 31 percent of overall Army TOA. After hitting that peak, the Army modernization budget rapidly declines for the next few years, before leveling off. The Army modernization budget then generally holds relatively steady for a few years at that new budget level, before once again increasing.

Read More
ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 15, 2014) The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
Jesse Ellman | 31 March

After five years of drawdown, two questions have loomed large: “When will defense contracting hit bottom?” and “Are future capabilities being preserved despite the current drawdown?”

Read More
Orenburg, the converted ballistic missile submarine that is used as the carrier of the Losharik. Source: Olenya Guba, 2000 - Uploaded to Russian Wikipedia.
Sight Unseen – Russian Auxiliary Submarines and Asymmetric Warfare in the Undersea Domain
Kathleen Weinberger | 31 March

Much attention has been given to the Russian navy’s fleet of attack submarines and their new class of ballistic missile submarines. Often overlooked, however, is Russia’s fleet of smaller “auxiliary” submarines, which have the ability serve as special mission vessels with unique and highly asymmetric capabilities.

Read More
A Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group panel discussion exploring U.S. Government's bid protest procedures and how this mechanism shapes process, practice, and behavior in the defense acquisition system.
Who’s the Fairest of Them All: The Effects of Bid Protests on the Acquisition System Challenge
Kaitlyn Johnson | 31 March

The Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group hosted a panel discussion with current and former government and industry experts on bid protest procedures and the impact on the acquisition process.

Read More
President Barack Obama attends a briefing on Afghanistan in the Situation Room of the White House, Oct. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Reflections: Improving the Interagency Process
John Hamre | 26 February

CSIS played a substantial role in laying the foundation for the landmark Goldwater-Nichols legislation. Last December, we decided we needed to assemble leading defense intellectuals to help support the rising interest in defense reform. We recently polled that group and found that the greatest frustration and perceived need for reform is in the interagency coordination process

Read More
111130-M-MM918-003 U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Garrett Reed watches over a bridge during a security patrol in Garmser district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Nov. 30, 2011.  Reed is a mortarman assigned to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.  DoD photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder, U.S. Marine Corps.
From the Director’s Chair
Kathleen Hicks | 26 February

This issue marks a transition for For Your Situational Awareness (FYSA). The International Security Program (ISP) began this publication in November 2013 as a way to highlight the work of our many talented scholars. FYSA will continue to publish pieces that cross these and other lines of research underway in ISP, but beginning in March, we will focus this site on the work of our talented junior staff: ISP’s research assistants, research associates, interns, and visiting fellows.

Read More
Sgt. Ryan Powell (right) and Spc. Tyler Minnick (rear), both infantryman assigned to Troop K, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment use hand and arm signals to guide a Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicle during railhead operations, Jan. 11, at Konotop, Poland. Unloading vehicles and equipment from the train is one of the first steps of the training mission in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a multi-national demonstration of continued U.S. commitment to the collective security of North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Paige Behringer, 10th Press Camp Headquarters)
Army Contracts Decline Shows Signs of Plateau in FY2015
Jesse Ellman | 26 February

Since 2008, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) contracting portfolio has faced significant resource pressures, as a result of the ongoing budget drawdown, sequestration, and its aftermath. With FY2015 contract data now available through the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), CSIS has begun to examine whether the trends observed in the first two years of the post-sequestration defense contracting environment would continue to hold. For the Army, at least, the data shows a notable slowing of the decline in contract obligations in 2015.

Read More
Palmaria_heavy howitzers destroyed by French planes near Benghazi_Libya_Photo by Bernd Brincken
A Surer Footing for a Light Footprint Strategy in Libya
Anthony Bell | 26 February

Five years after the revolution in Libya erupted against the Muammar el-Qaddafi regime in February 2011, the United States is once again contemplating a military intervention in the North African country. The need for U.S. action against the Islamic State in Libya is stark. The Islamic State (IS) first emerged in Libya in late 2014 by gaining small numbers of adherents from the country’s patchwork of Islamist militant organizations. Since then, the Islamic State has managed to establish cells across the country.

Read More