Steven Aftergood

Recent Activity from Steven Aftergood

Growing Pentagon Secrecy Draws Questions

In just the last few weeks and months, U.S. military officials imposed new restrictions on media interviews and base visits, at least temporarily; they blocked (but later permitted) publication of current data on the extent of insurgent control of Afghanistan; and they classified previously unclassified information concerning future flight tests of ballistic missile defense systems. […]

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Special Operations Forces Aiming to Expand

The 2019 budget request for U.S. Special Operations Command — $13.6 billion — is 10% higher than the 2018 level and is the largest budget request ever submitted by US SOCOM. U.S. special operations forces, which are currently deployed in 90 countries, have more than doubled in size from 33,000 personnel in 2001 to around […]

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Nuclear Weapons Maintenance as a Career Path

The US Air Force has published new guidance for training military and civilian personnel to maintain nuclear weapons as a career specialty. See Nuclear Weapons Career Field Education and Training Plan, Department of the Air Force, April 1, 2018. An Air Force nuclear weapons specialist “inspects, maintains, stores, handles, modifies, repairs, and accounts for nuclear weapons, […]

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Status of the Smart Grid, and More from CRS

The “smart grid” refers to an ongoing modernization of the nation’s electrical power system that makes it possible to dynamically allocate power and optimize system operation. It’s a work in progress. A new report from the Congressional Research Service reviews smart grid technologies, costs and concerns including privacy and cybersecurity. See The Smart Grid: Status and […]

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Prompt Global Strike Weapons, & More from CRS

The U.S. military is accelerating the development of prompt global strike weapons that are intended to allow the U.S. to hit targets anywhere on Earth on short notice using conventional weapons. The Department of Defense has requested increased funding in FY 2019 for prompt global strike weapons — $278 million, up from $201 million in […]

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China’s Retaliatory Tariffs, and More from CRS

This week China imposed tariffs on imports of various U.S. agricultural products in retaliation for Trump Administration tariffs on Chinese imports. Today the Administration announced that it would consider an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods in response. The impact of the Chinese tariffs on U.S. exports of pork meat, cherries, almonds, and […]

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Intelligence Transparency to Build Trust: A Postscript

Increasing transparency in intelligence may help to build public trust, as Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said last month. But not all acts of transparency are likely to have that effect to the same degree, if at all. Some of the most powerful trust-building actions, we suggested, involve “admissions against interest,” or voluntary acknowledgements of error, […]

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A Primer on US Trade Policy, and More from CRS

As Trump Administration trade policies generate national and global repercussions, the fundamentals of trade are presented in a new report from the Congressional Research Service to help understand what is happening and what is at stake. The report explains basic economic concepts, such as why countries trade, it provides data on U.S. trade relationships, and it describes […]

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DNI Says Build Trust in Intelligence Through Transparency

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats recently revised a 2012 Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) on “Civil Liberties and Privacy” to address transparency policy, and reissued it as “Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency.” The revised directive ICD 107 states that “the DNI is committed to protecting civil liberties and privacy and promoting greater public transparency, consistent with United States […]

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