A Monthly Newsletter of the CSIS International Security Program

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U.S. and Iraqi soldiers in training exercise.
U.S. Footprint in Iraq–Should It Grow?
Stephanie Sanok Kostro | 27 July

Members of Congress have been calling for 10,000 additional U.S. troops to defeat ISIS in Iraq, despite coalition officials noting that there is already excess training capacity. If Congress continues to call for additional U.S. troops to address the ISIS threat, it should be willing to discuss openly and frankly what the military missions would look like and what commitments this may create for future troop contributions in Iraq.

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Aircraft engine being worked on
Air Force Seeing Decline in Competition for Services Contracts
Jesse Ellman | 27 July

Despite the recent series of “Better Buying Power” acquisition reform initiatives by the Department of Defense as part of the continuing effort to increase competition for defense contracts, there has been a significant decline in effective competition for services within the Air Force since 2011. Given the difficulty DoD has had in raising overall effective competition rates, Air Force services contracting provides a potential opportunity to meaningfully increase competition.

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Syrian fighters with guns shooting over barricade.
Back to the Front
Patrick Garvey | 27 July

Many are skeptical about the latest mission in the fight against Daesh (ISIS) to build partner forces by training and equipping moderate Syrian fighters. There is no doubt that building the capacity of partners is challenging work, however, if the U.S. is to protect its interests without overextending itself, it will need to learn how to train and effectively advise.

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Place Your Bets! Crowdsourcing the Defense Budget Question
Ryan Crotty | 29 June

Think tanks are often asked to provide forecasts aimed at helping policymakers anticipate and plan for “what lies ahead,” but there is a growing body of literature on the wisdom of crowds. So, we at ISP are turning the forecasting question back on our audience, conducting our first attempt at seeking the wisdom of the crowd on one specific national security topic—the U.S. defense budget.

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PONI Expands and Looks to the Future
Rebecca Hersman | 29 June

The CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) has a new director, Rebecca Hersman. Here, she outlines her plans to continue PONI’s growth and details her vision for expanding its outreach and broadening the topics it covers across the full range of nuclear issues, including expertise from all critical domains.

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Building a Relative Risk Methodology to Inform Decisionmaking
Adam Cox | 29 June

Government and private-sector stakeholders have been pressing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), various federal, state, and local agencies, as well as private-sector infrastructure owners to calculate and rank the risks associated with their homeland security missions since the earliest days of the department. Knowing relative risk will help decisionmakers prioritize planning and operations.

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The Coming Railgun Deployment Gap
Rhys McCormick | 29 June

The electromagnetic railgun (EMRG) has the potential to change surface warfare in ways not seen since the end of the battleship era. The Navy envisions using it to compliment, and in some cases, replace some of the current missile inventory. However, the Navy must develop a plan for a likely 5 to 10 year gap between EMRG initial operational capability and the commissioning of the next-generation destroyer program, Future Surface Combatant (FSC).

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Overhead Cuts Need Oversight
Mark Cancian | 29 May

Outside experts may be needed to help the Pentagon decide how to cut DoD’s overhead. Most agree cuts must be made, but choosing where to make them is often difficult for those working inside the organization.

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Measuring Shifting U.S. Regional Engagement
Greg Sanders | 29 May

U.S. security assistance is often measured through training programs and arms transfers, but examining contract spending also provides insights on the amount of assistance being provided. Here is a comparison of spending in the Central Command, which includes the Middle East, with spending in the Pacific Command.

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FYSA on NPT Review Conference
Sharon Squassoni | 29 May

The 2015 Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended without producing a consensus document. One of the major hurdles was (and is) creation of a weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-free zone in the Middle East. However, that wasn’t the only contentious issue.

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