Dempsey to Pentagon: Prepare For the Never-Ending War

In what is likely his last significant strategy decision before retiring, America’s top general urges the Pentagon to reorganize war efforts for prolonged battles of terrorism and proxy wars.


MQ-1B lost over Syria was shot down

A U.S. Air Force MQ-1B went down over the Syrian town of Latakia on Mar. 17, the service now admits that the UAV was shot down.

MQ-1 Predator
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It was not clear whether Syrian government forces or ISIL brought down the aircraft.


4-Star On Russia: ‘The Threat That Has My Greatest Focus’

Russian aggression, shrinking budgets and readiness are among the top priorities for the Army’s No. 2 general.


U.S. nuclear force upgrade affordable despite high cost: study

An effort to modernize the U.S. nuclear force, from bombs to ballistic missile submarines, is affordable despite estimates the cost could be as high as $1 trillion over 30 years,…


US Navy ‘Desert Ship’ Strikes Dummy Aircraft with New Missile System


The U.S. Navy recently test-fired a Standard Missile-6 at a supersonic, over-the-horizon target from a desert ship at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, as part of ongoing testing of a next-generation shipboard cruise missile defense system slated to deploy later this year.

The SM-6 was functioning as part of a critical emerging technology for the Navy called Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air, or NIFC-CA.  The NIFC-CA system uses an airborne relay sensor, ship-based radar technology and the SM-6 missile to locate and destroy approaching anti-ship cruise missiles, aircraft and UAV targets at distances beyond the horizon, Navy officials say.

The concept is to use airborne sensors to help identify and destroy approaching cruise missile threats at further distances than traditional ship defenses can currently reach.  Recognizing incoming threats at greater distances gives ship defenses a better chance of intercepting or shooting down an approaching enemy aircraft or missile.

NIFC-CA could allow ships to be closer to the shore because the vessel would have the technology to thwart or destroy land-launched anti-ship cruise missiles. At the same time, there may be instances where NIFC-CA would enable a ship to operate and accomplish its mission objectives at greater distances, officials say.

While the particular airborne relay sensor used for this recent test was not publicly available, the E-2D Hawkeye aircraft has been identified as one of several potential airborne relay nodes for the NIFC-CA system.  An industry source has also said that the Navy and Lockheed Martin are planning to test the F-35 as an airborne relay sensor for the system as well.

During the test at White Sands, the desert ship used an airborne sensor and the Raytheon Co.-made SM-6 to destroy a medium-range, supersonic target from beyond the horizon.

“This flight test is yet another demonstration of SM-6 providing the U.S. Navy with critical defensive capabilities against emerging threats,” Capt. Michael Ladner, Program Executive Office, Integrated Weapon Systems, said in a statement.

Full-rate production began in May and the SM-6 missile is now deployed by the Navy as protection against fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, UAVs and cruise missiles, among other things.

“This weapon multiplies the amount of defended space the U.S. Navy can protect,” said Mike Campisi, Raytheon’s Standard Missile-6 senior program director. “The ships can now use data from remote sensors to support the engagement of targets. Sailors can now launch at threats much sooner than ever before.”

Slated to fire alongside the existing longer-range SM-3 missile, the SM-6 weapon is designed to engage targets both over sea and over land. The SM-6 uses both active and semi-active guidance modes and advanced fusing techniques, Raytheon officials said.

“This is part of a series of tests that the U.S. Navy has asked us to do. The target was actual size and it was going supersonic over the horizon. The target was a simulated manned aircraft,” Campisi said.

When using semi-active mode, the SM-6 needs an illuminator off the ship to guide the missile by sending an electromagnetic ping onto the target.  In active mode, however, the missile does not need an illuminator, Campisi said.

“The SM-6 turns on its own illuminator and does not need any kind of ship assist. This frees up the ship for other engagements,” Campisi explained.

Alongside its work on the NIFC-CA testing, Raytheon is also preparing for SM-6 sea-based terminal testing wherein the weapon can be used for ballistic missile defense.

“We are creating a multi-mission set within the missile itself,” he said.

These tests will examine the cuing, sensing and communications technology engineered into the SM-6 so that it can supplement the longer-range SM-3 in ballistic missile defense scenarios.

–Kris Osborn can be reached at


Pentagon Names New Public Affairs Head

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is tapping Maura Sullivan to fill the role of assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs.


Missile Defense Strategy ‘Not Sustainable,’ Salvation Lies In R&D

Army photo

CAPITOL HILL: America’s missile defense strategy is “not sustainable,” the deputy director of the Missile Defense Agency said today. We can’t keep buying multi-million-dollar interceptors to shoot down adversaries’ ever-growing arsenals of much cheaper offensive missiles, said Brig. Gen. Kenneth Todorov. We have to find a better way, Todorov said: lasers, jammers, something. That means

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SecAF James: Russia Is ‘Biggest Threat’; F-22s May Come Soon

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James

PARIS AIR SHOW: Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James came out swinging today here, forcefully telling reporters that she was here and traveling throughout Europe tp deliver a message of reassurance in the face of a “resurgent Russia.” “I would say, the biggest threat on my mind [is] the activities of Russia,” she said when asked by

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Pentagon Backs Major Changes to Retirement System

Defense Department leaders want, in part, to mandate participation in the 401(k)-type Thrift Savings Plan in the hopes it will save money and help retain top talent.


Department of Defense Releases Law of War Manual

U.S. Air Force Photo by Jodi Martinez

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the General Counsel has released its long-awaited Law of War Manual. The greatly anticipated tome is the product of a multi-year effort by military and civilian lawyers to create the first ever, department-wide resource on the principles of international law that govern armed conflict.  

According to Defense Department General Counsel Stephen Preston, the 1204-page manual is of “fundamental importance” to the Armed Forces of the United States and will help the Pentagon “remember the hard-learned lessons from the past.” 

Read the full manual here

Cody Poplin
Cody Poplin is a research assistant at the Brookings Institution where he focuses on national security law and policy. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with majors in political science and peace, war, and defense in 2012. He is both a former Henry Luce Scholar and a former Herbert Scoville, Jr. Fellow. Follow him on Twitter @cmpoplin.

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