The U.S. Air Force awarded a much-anticipated contract for the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB) last month, a critical platform to support both conventional missions and nuclear deterrence. Beyond the LRSB and the B61-12 gravity bomb life extension, however, modernization of the aging air-breathing leg of the nuclear triad requires an investment in a future cruise missile.
Perhaps contrary to expectations, there exists broad bipartisan agreement on the need for a “safe, secure, and effective” nuclear arsenal that meets a new and uncertain twenty-first-century security environment. While the means and the affordability of modernization remain under debate, both the Obama administration and Congress have expressed a clear intent to strengthen human capital development throughout the nuclear enterprise and to invest the necessary resources to support and maintain the nuclear arsenal, its delivery systems, and infrastructure in the coming decades.
Japanese citizens are skeptical about the future of Japan’s energy policy despite the restarting of the Sendai nuclear plant in August and the expected restarting of the Ikata nuclear power plant next year. This skepticism can be attributed to a perceived absence of a strong leadership working to solve existing nuclear energy problems.
The United States and European Union christened October 18 as JCPOA Adoption Day, signing orders preparing for the lifting of sanctions and unfreezing of Iranian assets. Yet, this is just the beginning. From a process standpoint, Iran has serious work to do to prepare for Implementation Day, which is when sanctions will actually be lifted.
Frank Kendall’s comments after Lockheed Martin purchased Sikorsky that alluded to significant policy concerns with defense industry consolidation at the higher tiers of the supply chain set off alarm bells, not just at Lockheed Martin headquarters in Bethesda, but in defense industry C-suites around the country. Most notable was his reference to potential legislative changes that would add national security concerns to the matters considered during antitrust reviews.
There is a growing cacophony of voices questioning why there is not more progress in the White House’s stated goal to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.” Indeed, although ISIL’s territory in Iraq and Syria shrank by 9.4 percent in the first six months of 2015, ISIL’s presence has grown significantly in other areas of the Middle East and North Africa since mid-2014. What gets lost in the cacophony is that the Counter-ISIL Strategy is not designed to be a quick win or overwhelming “shock and awe” campaign, nor is the onus solely on the United States to defeat ISIL.
As Cuba and the United States continue to open diplomatic relations there will be challenges to normalization progress. Building on common ground security issues such as combating narcotics trafficking and migrant smuggling is a prudent approach to maintain diplomatic momentum. To this end, leveraging the longstanding relationship between the Cuban Border Guard and U. S. Coast Guard is a smart move.
China’s military growth, alleged cyber attacks, and recent assertive behavior and island building in the South China Sea have pushed many in Washington to now accept that there is a China problem. But few agree on the nature of that problem, let alone the right course ahead. The Beltway is struggling to come to terms with an increasingly complex and at times contradictory relationship with Beijing.