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National Defense/U.S. Military


Finland, Sweden, and NATO

Turkey and Hungary ratified NATO membership for Finland (March 30), the final countries needing to do so. Findland subsequently entered NATO on April 4, 2023. 

Neither Turkey nor Hungary has taken ratification action on Sweden.

There is speculation that both countries are coordinating Sweden NATO policy, but this is not confirmed. Turkey indicated in February 1 that it will only support Finland membership, not Sweden given its stance on Turkish dissidents within Sweden that the country will not extradite to Turkey. Turkey also criticized the lack of Swedish government action against individuals in Sweden involved with a public Koran-burning incident last year.

The lack of Turkish support of Sweden has put US approval of the sale of F-16s for Turkey at risk. Twenty five US Senators sent a letter to the President suggesting that without Turkish ratification of Sweden and Finland to NATO, the Senate may not approve the sale.

In the United States, the Senate voted to ratify admission in August 2022 by a vote of 95-1, with one Senator voting “present” (Senator Rand Paul: R-KY) and one voting “no” (Senator Josh Hawley: R-MO). Three Senators did not vote.

NATO’s criteria for joining the organization includes a requirement to have “a functioning democratic political system based on a market economy; fair treatment of minority populations; a commitment to resolve conflicts peacefully; an ability and willingness to make a military contribution to NATO operations; and a commitment to democratic civil-military relations and institutions." Members are also expected to finance a share of costs associated with NATO’s operations and activities.

(updated: 3-31-23)


Pacific Submarine Deal

The AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) jointly announced (March 13) a  trilateral submarine deal. The deal will enable Australia to obtain, and eventually build, modern submarines that incorporate UK and United States designs and technology. The submarines will be conventionally armed, but will be nuclear powered.

The agreement will be implemented slowly over a long period. The effort will begin this year, with the embedding of Australian navy personnel within UK and US navies for training purposes. Personnel exchanges will expand over the current decade, during which time the US and UK will increase navy visits to Australian ports.

After this decade, the US will begin selling in the “early 2030s” three Virginia class submarines, with the potential to sell up to two more. Australia will not begin to produce its own submarines with the technologies until the 2040s.

The stated goal of this plan is to facilitate Australia’s “development of the infrastructure, technical capabilities, industry and human capital necessary to produce, maintain, operate, and steward a sovereign fleet of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines.”

Ultimately, the primary US goal with the agreement is to grow effective military capability in the Pacific through allied partnerships that can counter the growing strategic threats from China. 

A significant upgrade of submarine technology in the region, in particular nuclear propulsion technology, is a major step towards that goal. Older, diesel-powered sub technology put Australia at a significant military disadvantage to China in the region.

(posted: 3-13-23)


Service Member Suicide Prevention Recommendations

The Department of Defense (DOD) released (February 24) the report of an independent committee on military suicide prevention.

In its report, the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee (SPRIRC) provided a long list of recommendations, with each having a high, medium, or low priority designation.

Examples of key high priority recommendations:

  • Centralize within DOD the responsibility for core suicide prevention activities that are common to all Services.

  • Modernize the content, delivery, and dosage of suicide prevention education and skill building across the career cycle of military personnel.

  • Training should be delivered in small groups of service members with similar rank and/or positions instead of mass “one-size-fits-all” training.

  • Address excessive alcohol use and the risks it poses in existing training requirements including suicide prevention training, sexual harassment and assault prevention training, and other safety-focused trainings.

  • Raise the minimum age to 25 for weapons and ammunition purchases on DOD property.

  • Establish a 7-day waiting period for gun purchases on DOD property, as well as a 4-day waiting period for ammunition purchases.

  • Require anyone living on DOD property in military housing to register all privately owned firearms with the installation’s arming authority and to securely store all privately owned firearms in a locked safe or with another locking device.

  • Establish DOD policy restricting the possession and storage of privately owned firearms in military barracks and dormitories.

  • Ensure duty schedules allow for 8 hours of sleep and minimize the frequency of shift changes.

  • Pay systems must be fixed so that service members do not experience delays in pay.

  • Expedite the hiring process for behavioral health professionals and also eliminate budget/statutory limitations that hinder the ability to increase incentive pay and retention bonuses for DOD behavioral health clinicians.

The Department has not yet publicly committed to implement any of the report’s recommendations, though the Department’s release statement suggests the Secretary will “spare no effort in working to prevent suicide and save lives.”

(posted: 2-27-23)


Russian Suspension of Nuclear Agreement

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated (February 21) that he is suspending Russian participation in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (NEW START), a 2010 agreement with Russia negotiated by the Obama Administration (in force through 2026), updating an older START agreement, limiting the number of longer-range nuclear weapons on the part of the US and Russia.

Most importantly under the agreement, Russia and the US are limited to specific levels of deployed and nondeployed land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers and deployed and nondeployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. The treaty also limits the specific number of deployed warheads, and includes a monitoring and verification process.

The Russian President says he has been “forced” to suspend participation because of US and western actions in support of Ukraine. The near-term implication of this action is not clear, apart from processes in place to verify compliance with the treaty. Russia is not saying if, or when, it might try and expand its long-range nuclear weapons inventory beyond treaty allowances.

(updated: 2-21-23)


US Expansion in the Philippines

The United States has secured an agreement with the Philippines granting the US access to four additional Philippine military bases, which will permit the US to station equipment and build facilities among a total of nine locations.

The new locations represent additional positioning points for the US military, not US bases with the permanent stationing of US personnel. The new locations include Philippine military facilities in Cagayan, Zambales, Isabela, and Palawan. The US already has similar access at five existing locations around the country.

Three of the newest access locations are in Northern Luzon, the closest point of the Philippines to China and Taiwan. This particular location is considered vital to the latest US efforts of countering China’s efforts to expand its influence in the South Pacific, as well as to deter aggression in Taiwan.

(posted: 2-2-23)


Defense Authorization Bill Passes

The FY 2023 National Defense Authorization (NDAA) bill passed the Congress, in one of the final actions of the 117th Congress. The law authorizes $858 billion in spending authority, up significantly from a $778 billion funding authorization for FY 2022.

The bill is massive, covering a broad variety of national defense and foreign policy matters. Among many other things, the law includes authority for increased pay and benefits for members of the military and substantial new funding for weapons systems. Details on the elements of the bill can be found HERE.

One of the most controversial elements of the legislation is a requirement that the Department of Defense drop, within 30 days, its COVID-19 vaccination requirement. This provision was included to secure Republican support for approving the legislation under expedited rules. While DOD and the President objects to this provision, the President will sign the bill into law.

(posted: 12-16-22)


Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy

The Biden Administration provided an update (December 2) on its actions implementing its anti-personnel landmine (APL) policy whien it joined the Ottawa Convention in June.

The Administration says that is directing excess weapons be removed from US inventories and positioned for demilitarization in accordance with verifiable timelines; it is pursuing materiel and operational alternatives to these weapons; and, it is addressing the "lasting impact of these weapons" with aid contributions towards the safe clearance and destruction of landmines, explosive weapons, and conventional weapons. 

In June, the Biden Administration announced (June 22nd) that it will begin to work towards meeting the 1997 Ottawa Convention (with 133 signatory countries). The White House statement said that the President believes that “these weapons have disproportionate impact on civilians, including children, long after fighting has stopped, and that we need to curtail the use of APL worldwide."

The United States promised compliance with the Ottawa Convention with the exception of the Korean Peninsula. The United States said that the Korean Peninsula presents “unique circumstances” that do not permit a new policy on APLs, but that the United States will nevertheless work to pursue “material and operational alternatives to APL” for the region. The White House has provided no update to this exception.

The White House claims that the United States work towards the following policy objectives consistent with the Convention: it will not develop, produce, or acquire APL; will not export or transfer of APL, except when necessary for activities related to mine detection or removal, and for the purpose of destruction; will not use APL outside of the Korean Peninsula; will not assist, encourage, or induce anyone, outside of the context of the Korean Peninsula, to engage in any activity that would be prohibited by the Ottawa Convention; and, will undertake to destroy all APL stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.

(updated: 12-2-22)


US Hypersonic Missile System Defense

The Defense Department announced (July 18th) $1.3 billion worth of contracts to construct what it is referring to as a “Tranche 1 (T1) Tracking Layer,” of a system for tracking advanced missiles, particularly hypersonic missiles.

The Tranche 1 Tracking Layer will utilize an array of 28 infrared missile warning/tracking satellites across four orbital planes to provide global and persistent indications, detection, warning, tracking, and identification of conventional and advanced missile threats.

Hypersonic weapons are defined as anything traveling beyond Mach 5, or five times faster than the speed of sound (about 3,800 mph). While traditional intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) go faster, ICBMs generally travel in a predictable path which makes it easier for a missile defense system to intercept them. Hypersonic missiles can be very maneuverable, which makes tracking and potentially intercepting them much more difficult.

While the United States likely has some ability to track hypersonic weapons, a satellite system will enable better tracking and provide data that could substantially improve the ability to have reliable intercept capability.

(updated: 7-19-22)


US Hypersonic Missile System Development & Deployment

Current key U.S hypersonic programs include a Long Range Hypersonic Weapon, for the Army,  the Navy is developing the Conventional Prompt Strike, and the Air Force is developing an Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon. According to press reports, the U.S. tested a DARPA missile program – the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept – as recently as this past March. DOD is reportedly working to have a hypersonic missile battery fielded by 2023, a sea-based missile by 2025, and an air-based cruise missile by 2027.

In addition, the Defense Adanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced (July 18th) that it succesfsfully conducted its third test flight of its Air Force Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept. DARPA says that air-breathing vehicles use air captured from the atmosphere to achieve sustained propulsion.

The “AUKUS” – a trilateral alliance between the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia – announced in April 2022, that the group will create a security alliance to develop hypersonic missiles primarily to help address the growing security threat of China in the Pacific region. This action is also consistent with an AUKUS decision last year on the sale of nuclear submarines to Australia.

Within annual appropriations for next year (FY 2023) the House is proposing $1.2 billion for the Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike program and $849 million for the Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon. The House is not proposing funding for the Air Force Rapid Response Weapon (prior year funding may be sufficient). The Senate has not yet issued its proposed funding for next year.

(updated: 7-19-22)


U.S. NATO Expansion in the European Theater

The United States announced that it will expand its presence in the European theater including the establishment of a permanent "Forward Command Post" in Poland; an additional rotational Brigade Combat Team, this one placed in Romania; enhanced rotational deployments in Baltic countries (armored, aviation, air defense, and special operations forces); working with Spain to increase destroyers stationed in Rota from four to six; adding two squadrons of F-35 aircraft to the United Kingdom; and, stationing additional air defense and other enablers in Germany and Italy. 

About 20K troops have so far been added to Europe since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, bringing the total number of U.S. troops in Europe to 100K.

(updated: 7-12-22)


Chinese Naval Base in Cambodia

The Washington Post is reporting (June 7th) that China is “secretly building” a naval military base at a facility in Cambodia and that “extraordinary measures” are being taken to conceal the operation. China currently has just one military base - a naval facility - in the country of Djibouti in east Africa. 

The Defense Department expressed concerns in March in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee about China’s efforts to secure a base on the Atlantic side of Africa, and “has made the most progress” with Equatorial Guinea.

Actions by China to expand its military influence in Southeast Asia is very concerning from both a national security standpoint in the region, but also from the standpoint of the flow of commerce, fisheries enforcement, and other strategic concerns. President Biden recently completed a trip to the region in an attempt to strengthen alliances in the face of growing Chinese influence. Get some of the details on key outcomes from the trip here.

(updated: 6-7-22)


Russian Hypersonic Missile Testing

Russia confirmed that it conducted another successful test (May 29, 2022) of its "Zircon" hypersonic missile off of a ship in the Barents Sea that reached its target 540 nautical miles away. Zircon is supposedly set to enter service later this year.

Russia has reportedly already tested and deployed its Avangard glide vehicle that launches from an intercontinental ballistic missile, and it April tested its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, also known as “Satan II.”

(updated: 5-31-22)


US Troops in Somalia

The Biden Administration announced (May 16, 2022) that the United States will re-establish limited military support of the African Union in its efforts to counter terrorist threats in the country primarily from al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate. The African Union updated its longstanding mission in support of Somali security in April, and the Union was attacked by al-Shabab earlier this month. The Washington Post reported (May 17, 2022) that the Africa Center for Strategic Studies estimates that al-Shabab attacks rose by 17 percent in 2021 from the prior year, anthat the trend this year is another 71 percent increase.

Somalia recently succeeded in its presidential elections process, and the United States is eager to ensure more permanent stability in the country and also help the African Union improve its success in countering threats. The Defense Department says the U.S. will return to having a “small, persistent U.S. military presence” in Somalia.

The size of the force will be less than 500, which is down from a level of 750 that were present when the Trump Administration removed troops in January 2021. The Department says that forces will be used for “training, advising and equipping partner forces to give them the tools that they need to disrupt, degrade and monitor al-Shabab,"  and that they will not be directly engaged in combat operations.

(updated: 5-17-22)


Ukraine Crisis - DOD Response

The Department of Defense (DOD) announced (March 24, 2002) that it is moving another 7,000 troops to the European theater, at least initially to Germany. The troops will come from the Army's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. The Army says that these troops will be used "to reassure NATO allies, deter Russian aggression and to be prepared to support a range of other requirements in the region."

The DOD previously announced (February 25, 2022) its activation with NATO of the NATO Defense Force. This announcement effectively means that NATO participants must be ready to provide, if called upon, personnel and equipment for the defensive protection of NATO countries.

Also in February, DOD announced additional movements of troops and equipment within the European theater. Those movements included 800 troops from Italy to the Baltic region to “reassure NATO allies, deter any potential aggression against NATO member states, and train with host-nation forces.” Equipment moves included up to eight F-35 Lightning II aircraft to NATO’s “eastern flank,” twenty AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from Germany to the Baltic region, and twelve Apache helicopters from Greece to Poland.

DOD also announced an increase to 5,000 of the troops being sent to Europe from the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Other within-theater troop movements previously announced, and presumably completed, included movement of a 1,000-member Army Stryker squadron relocated from Germany to Romania, joining 900 U.S. service members already in that country. 

DOD says that prior to recent troop additions, the United States had already had roughly 80,000 troops in Europe. 

(updated: 3-24-22)


China Military Base Aspirations in Northern Africa

In testimony before the House Armed Service Committee (March 17, 2022), U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, Commander of the U.S. Africa Command, expressed concern about China’s efforts to secure a military base in Western Africa. He testified that China has “made the most progress” with Equatorial Guinea in support of its aspirations. He testified that in response, the U.S. recently sent an interagency delegation to the country to discuss U.S. security concerns, and that as a “first priority” the United States needs to prevent or deter Chinese military capacity on the Atlantic coast of Africa.

(updated: 3-21-22)


National Defense Funding Increases for FY 2022

Congress took final action on FY 2022 appropriations (March 10, 2022) and provided a $32.5 billion, 4.6% increase for National Defense. Included within this increase is a $12.4 billion, 9.4% increase for defense procurement.

(updated: 3-14-22)


2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) - Resources

The 2022 NDAA (enacted December 27, 2021) authorizes $740.3 billion for the Department of Defense and $27.8 billion for Department of Energy defense programs.

Total discretionary approved "topline" funding of $768.2 billion is about $25 billion (3.4%) above the President's FY 2022 request, and $36.6 billion (5.0%) above the level enacted in FY 2021. 

Nearly half of all Federal discretionary funding in the Federal budget is allocated to national defense activities.

(updated: 2-2-22)


Russia Anti-Satellite Weapons Test

The Federal Government announced (November 15, 2021) that Russia apparently conducted an anti-satellite test that created a large orbiting debris field that has the potential to endanger both commercial and U.S. government orbiting assets. Both NASA and the State Department issued statements condemning Russia's action. Russia confirmed its test but stated that the resulting debris would pose no risk to the International Space Station and its astronauts. 

(updated: 2-2-22)


Connected Policies


No Results Found

Block Nuclear Launch by Autonomous AI Act
Block Nuclear Launch by Autonomous AI Act

This legislation proposes to codify within law existing Department of Defense policy "that federal funds can be used for any launch of any nuclear weapon by an automated system, without meaningful human control."

Status: Identifcal proposals were introduced in both the House and Senate on April 26, 2023.


This legislation (March 2023) proposes to address threats posed by foreign adversary technology (e.g., TikTok) by improving the ability of the Department of Commerce to review, prevent, and mitigate transactions that pose undue risk.

Status: The legislation was introduced in the Senate on March 7, 2023.

Artemis Accords
Artemis Accords

This document details principles for cooperation among nations with respect to the peaceful exploration of the moon, Mars, comets and asteroids.

Status: The Accords were put into plaxe in 2020 and have been agreed to by 21 countries (as of July 2022). Saudia Arabia is the latest signatory.

Antipersonnel Landmines Convention
Antipersonnel Landmines Convention

This is a 1997 United Nations Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction. 

Status: the United States is not currently a signatory of this convention, but announced on June 22, 2022, that it "will undertake diligent efforts to pursue materiel and operational solutions to assist in becoming compliant with and ultimately acceding to the Ottawa Convention, while ensuring our ability to respond to contingencies and meet our alliance commitments."

Classified National Security Information
Classified National Security Information

This is an Executive Order (13526) that prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information, including information relating to defense against transnational terrorism.

Status: this EO was implemented in December 2009.

North Atlantic Treaty of NATO
North Atlantic Treaty of NATO

This is the text of the North Atlantic Treaty which guides NATO in its operations and response to military threats.

Status: the Treaty was originally implemented in 1949.

Posse Comitatus Act (PCA)
Posse Comitatus Act (PCA)

This is the foundational law guiding the use of the U.S. military. In general, this Act outlaws the willful use of any part of the Armed Forces to execute the law unless expressly authorized by the Constitution or an act of Congress. Per the Congressional Research Service, case law indicates that “execution of the law” in violation of the PCA occurs (1) when civilian law enforcement officials make “direct active use” of military investigators; (2) when the use of the military “pervades the activities” of the civilian officials; or (3) when the military is used to subject “citizens to the exercise of military power which was regulatory, prescriptive, or compulsory in nature.”

Status: PCA was enacted in 1878.

Imports that Threaten National Security (Section 232)
Imports that Threaten National Security (Section 232)

U.S. Trade law Section 232 allows the President to impose import restrictions based on an investigation determination by the Department of Commerce that finds certain imports threaten to impair U.S. national security.

Status: no changes in current law are expected.

Secure Equipment Act of 2021
Secure Equipment Act of 2021

This law provides that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cannot consider communications equipment approvals for use in the United States that are from companies identified by the FCC as being "national security threats". Chinese communications companies Huawei and ZTE were identified as national security threats in 2020.

Status: this law was enacted on November 11, 2021.

Handling Protest, Extremist, and Criminal Gang Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces
Handling Protest, Extremist, and Criminal Gang Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces

This is policy implemented by the U.S. Department of Defense that, among other things, prohibits members of the Armed Forces from engaging in extremist activities. Some of the banned activities in the policy include advocating/engaging in use of unlawful force or violence in support of extremist activities; supporting the overthrow of the government; demonstrating for/rallying in support of an extremist group; and liking/reposting extremist views on social media.

Status: this policy was first documented in 2009, but was update with changes effective December 20, 2021.


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