Defense Primers for Members of Congress

The Congressional Research Service developed “a series of short primers to provide Members of Congress an overview of key aspects of the Department of Defense and how Congress exercises authority over it.” The defense primers, several of which have been recently updated, can be found here.

Other noteworthy recent CRS publications include the following.

Overseas Contingency Operations Funding: Background and Status, updated September 6, 2019

Congress and the War in Yemen: Oversight and Legislation 2015-2019, updated September 6, 2019

Afghanistan: Issues for Congress and Legislation 2017-2019, updated September 3, 2019

DHS Border Barrier Funding, updated September 6, 2019

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons, updated September 6, 2019

Kashmir, Autonomous Weapons, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Kashmir: Background, Recent Developments, and U.S. Policy, August 16, 2019

Global Trends in HIV/AIDSCRS In Focus, updated August 15, 2019

Retroactive Legislation: A Primer for CongressCRS In Focus, August 15, 2019

Words Taken Down: Calling Members to Order for Disorderly Language in the House, August 13, 2019

International Discussions Concerning Lethal Autonomous Weapon SystemsCRS In Focus, August 16, 2019

Domestic Terrorism: Some Considerations

The problem of domestic terrorism is distinct from that of foreign terrorism because of the constitutional protections enjoyed by U.S. persons, the Congressional Research Service explained last week.

“Constitutional principles — including federalism and the rights to free speech, free association, peaceable assembly, petition for the redress of grievances — may complicate the task of conferring domestic law enforcement with the tools of foreign intelligence gathering.” See Domestic Terrorism: Some ConsiderationsCRS Legal Sidebar, August 12, 2019.

Some other noteworthy new publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Convergence of Cyberspace Operations and Electronic WarfareCRS In Focus, August 13, 2019

Renewed Great Power Competition: Implications for Defense–Issues for Congress, updated August 5, 2019

U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, updated August 7, 2019

U.S.-North Korea RelationsCRS In Focus, updated August 13, 2019 (which notes that “Pyongyang appears to be losing its ability to control information inflows from the outside world.”)

Russia’s Nuclear Weapons: Doctrine, Forces, and Modernization, August 5, 2019

Up for Debate: Should U.S. Reduce Arms Sales Abroad?

Over the coming year, high school students around the country will debate whether the U.S. should reduce its arms sales to foreign countries.

Specifically, the national debate topic that was selected for the 2019-20 school year is: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce Direct Commercial Sales and/or Foreign Military Sales of arms from the United States.

As required by statute, the Congressional Research Service prepared a bibliography reflecting diverse points of view on U.S. arms sales to help inform student debaters on this topic.

“This selective bibliography, with brief annotations, is intended to assist debaters in identifying resources and references on the national debate topic,” the CRS document says. “It lists citations to journal articles, books, congressional publications, legal cases, and websites. The bibliography is divided into three broad sections: basic concepts and definitions, general overviews, and specific cases.”

The runner-up topic for this year’s national high school debate was: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially change its nuclear weapons strategy.

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Other noteworthy new publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

The Department of Defense’s JEDI Cloud Program, updated August 2, 2019

Department of Defense Energy Management: Background and Issues for Congress, July 25, 2019

U.S.-Iran Tensions and Implications for U.S. Policy, updated July 29, 2019

3D Printing: Overview, Impacts, and the Federal Role, August 2, 2019

Resolutions to Censure the President: Procedure and History, updated August 1, 2019

Use of US Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2019

There are only nineteen years since 1798 when the U.S. did not have armed forces engaged in military operations abroad, according to an updated tally from the Congressional Research Service. See Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2019, updated July 17, 2019.

The most recent year in which U.S. military forces were not used in a foreign conflict was 1979, according to the CRS. The CRS account does not reflect covert action, disaster relief, or training activities involving U.S. forces abroad.

Though there have only been 11 formal declarations of war, there have been hundreds of military actions including “extended military engagements that might be considered undeclared wars.”

“These cases vary greatly in size of operation, legal authorization, and significance,” CRS said. “Some actions were of short duration, and some lasted a number of years. In some examples, a military officer acted without authorization; some actions were conducted solely under the President’s powers as Chief Executive or Commander in Chief; other instances were authorized by Congress in some fashion.”

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Other noteworthy new publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Critical Infrastructure: Emerging Trends and Policy Considerations for Congress, July 8, 2019

DOD’s Cloud Strategy and the JEDI Cloud Procurement, CRS In Focus, updated July 16, 2019

U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America: An Overview, CRS In Focus, updated July 17, 2019

Immigration: Alternatives to Detention (ATD) Programs, July 8, 2019

Beneficial Ownership Transparency in Corporate Formation, Shell Companies, Real Estate, and Financial Transactions, July 8, 2019

Hypersonic Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress, July 11, 2019

The Impeachment Process, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

The Impeachment Process in the House of Representatives, June 14, 2019

National Security Implications of Fifth Generation (5G) Mobile Technologies, CRS In Focus, June 12, 2019

U.S. Overseas Diplomatic Presence: Background and Issues for Congress, June 6, 2019

Maintaining Electric Reliability with Wind and Solar Sources: Background and Issues for Congress, June 10, 2019

Central American Migration: Root Causes and U.S. Policy, CRS In Focus, updated June 13, 2019

Extradition of U.S. Citizens, CRS Legal Sidebar, June 13, 2019

Regulating Big Tech: Legal Implications, CRS Legal Sidebar, June 11, 2019

Frequently Asked Questions about the Julian Assange Charges, CRS Legal Sidebar, updated June 7, 2019

Emergency Arms Sales to the Middle East: Context and Legislative History, CRS Memorandum, June 7, 2019

National Security Space Budget Request, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

FY2020 National Security Space Budget Request: An Overview, CRS In Focus, June 7, 2019

U.S. Military Electronic Warfare Program Funding: Background and Issues for Congress, June 6, 2019

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Tariffs: Historical Background and Key Issues, CRS Insight, June 5, 2019

Iran and Israel: Tension Over Syria, CRS In Focus, updated June 5, 2019

North Korea: Legislative Basis for U.S. Economic Sanctions, updated June 6, 2019

Human Rights in China, CRS In Focus, June 4, 2019

Transatlantic Relations: U.S. Interests and Key Issues, May 31, 2019

Enforcing Federal Privacy Law–Constitutional Limitations on Private Rights of Action, CRS Legal Sidebar, May 31, 2019

Technological Convergence: Regulatory, Digital Privacy, and Data Security Issues, May 30, 2019

Navy Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress, June 7, 2019

War Legacy Issues in Southeast Asia: Unexploded Ordnance (UXO), June 3, 2019

The Front End of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Current Issues, June 6, 2019

Army Work on Border Barrier Construction Advances

At the request of the Department of Homeland Security, the Army Corps of Engineers has undertaken numerous barrier construction projects along the border with Mexico in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

The latest projects were itemized by the Congressional Research Service in Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Southern Border Barriers, CRS In Focus, May 22, 2019.

Some other noteworthy new publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Defense Primer: Acquiring Specialty Metals, Rare Earth Magnets, and Tungsten, CRS In Focus, May 24, 2019

The Economic Effects of the 2017 Tax Revision: Preliminary Observations, May 22, 2019

Legislative Purpose and Adviser Immunity in Congressional Investigations, CRS Legal Sidebar, May 24, 2019

An Overview of State and Federal Authority to Impose Vaccination Requirements, CRS Legal Sidebar, May 22, 2019

Active Duty Military Deaths, and More from CRS

“Since 2006 — five years after the start of major combat operations in Afghanistan and three years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq — a total of 16,652 active duty personnel and mobilized reservists have died while serving in the U.S. armed forces,” the Congressional Research Service said, based on data obtained from the Department of Defense. See Recent Trends in Active-Duty Military DeathsCRS In Focus, updated May 20, 2019.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Military Personnel and Extremism: Law, Policy, and Considerations for CongressCRS Insight, updated May 16, 2019

United States Foreign Intelligence Relationships: Background, Policy and Legal Authorities, Risks, Benefits, May 15, 2019

Global Human Rights: The Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights PracticesCRS In Focus, updated May 20, 2019

Combating Corruption in Latin America: Congressional Considerations, May 21, 2019

Cuba: Trump Administration Expands SanctionsCRS Insight, May 17, 2019

The European Parliament and U.S. InterestsCRS In Focus, May 16, 2019

Long Live Cash: The Potential Decline of Cash Usage and Related Implications, May 10, 2019

Electronic Messaging Recordkeeping RequirementsCRS In Focus, May 21, 2019