• DronesDetecting, Identifying Small Drones in Urban Environment

    DHS has awarded $750K to a Texas company to develop a detection and tracking sensor system that can identify nefarious small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in an urban environment.

  • Killer robotsNew Armed Robot to Patrol Battlefield, Border

    An Israeli defense contractor on Monday unveiled a remote-controlled armed robot which can patrol battle zones, borders, track infiltrators, and open fire. The robot can also be programmed to make decisions on its own, without human intervention, about opening fire.

  • ARGUMENT: Afghanistan rapid collapseHow the Taliban Exploited Afghanistan’s Human Geography

    The Taliban managed to seize power so quickly because it used Afghanistan’s human geography to exploit that state’s fragility: The country’s low population density empowers fast-moving and cohesive attackers, for which the poorly trained, disorganized, corrupt, and unmotivated Afghani army was no match. Alec Worsnop writes that, still, the evacuation could have been made safer and more orderly if a small Western contingent with air support would have been left behind to hold the Taliban at bay for a few more weeks — but this would only have delayed the inevitable: “Leaving a limited outside force in place, without significant reinforcement, could not have prevented an inevitable Taliban takeover within a matter of months,” he writes. “There were few prospects for long-term stability without a notably larger foreign troop presence.”

  • BIG PICTURE: Ideological OverreachLiberalism’s Graveyard: Afghanistan Is Where Ideologies Go to Die

    It used to be said the Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires.” Sumantra Maitra writes that the U.S. failed 20-year war in Afghanistan will go down as one of the more consequential wars –a “paradigm-shifting event” — because Afghanistan proved to be the graveyard of ideologies as well: “Evangelical Marxism failed in Afghanistan, as did evangelical liberalism.”

  • AfghanistanThe Taliban May Have Captured the Biometric Data of Civilians Who Helped the U.S.

    By Lucia Nalbandian

    In 2007, the United States military began using a small, handheld device – calledHandheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment (HIIDE) — to collect and match the iris, fingerprints, and facial scans of over 1.5 million Afghans against a database of biometric data.HIDE was initially developed by the U.S. government as a means to locate insurgents and other wanted individuals.HIDE, andits collected data,  are speculated to have been captured by the Taliban.There is a lesson here: If security and privacy cannot be ensured, then biometric data collection and use should not be deployed in conflict zones and crisis response.

  • ARGUMENT: Intelligence failuresAfghanistan, Policy Choices, and Claims of Intelligence Failure

    Was the chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan the result of an intelligence failure? David Priess, who served as a CIA analyst in the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, writes that to make this judgment, we need answers to many questions. But even if the written records, such as the PDBs, are declassified, “unless and until Joe Biden opens his mind and soul, we are unlikely to understand if he internalized the core judgments in any intelligence documents or briefings.”

  • ARGUMENT: Lessons of AfghanistanLearning the Right Lessons from Afghanistan

    Gregory Treverton, former Chair of U.S. National Intelligence Council, writes that “The main lesson of Afghanistan should be an easy one by now, after the sweep of events from Vietnam to Iraq: nation-building requires a nation, or at least a competent, committed government. America’s signal successes at nation-building were nation-rebuilding, in the instances of Germany and Japan. It is not just that nation-building is hard, and we don’t do it very well. In Afghanistan there was never any nation to rebuild, only a collection of warring tribes, clans, and sects.”

  • AfghanistanAfghan troops sought safety in numbers – igniting a cascade of surrender

    By Todd Lehmann

    Throughout the conflict, the perennial emphasis on a U.S.“exit strategy” meant U.S. politicians always focused on whether it was time to leave yet. For 20 years, U.S. efforts focused on short-term thinking and problem-solving that shifted both military and political goals over time, rather than investing the time and effort to develop a comprehensive long-term strategy for the war.

  • AfghanistanCollapse in Afghanistan: Early Insights from Experts

    The sudden end to America’s longest war came Sunday as the Taliban rolled into the capital of Afghanistan and the national government collapsed. Thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghans who worked for Americans are waiting to be evacuated. U.S. troops are at the Kabul airport to keep flights going. RAND experts offer explanations.

  • AfghanistanWhy Did a Military Superpower Fail in Afghanistan?

    By Arie Perliger

    The criticisms of President Joe Biden’s decision to end U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and of the withdrawal’s logistics, while valid, may be beside the point. There are more fundamental problems with the United States’ strategy in the 20-year war, of which the current chaos is only the latest manifestation. They stem from an approach in which military seizures of territory are intended to fight international extremist movements and ideologies, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The clear conclusion from all the evidence is that military intervention should be focused on military objectives, and should not diverge into political or social engineering.

  • AfghanistanHow the Afghan Army Collapsed Under the Taliban’s Pressure

    By Max Boot

    Despite having larger numbers and better equipment than the Taliban, Afghan forces were never strong enough to sustain government control in the absence of U.S. firepower.

  • Nuclear weaponsWith Redesigned “Brains,” W88 Nuclear Warhead Reaches Milestone

    The W88 nuclear warhead entered the stockpile in late 1988 and is deployed on the Navy’s Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile system onboard Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The weapon was beyond its original design life, and several updates were required to address aging issues and to maintain its current state of readiness.

  • Chem-bio weaponsParasites Fight Chemical and Biological Weapons

    Harnessing parasites to help soldiers and first responders counter chemical and biological weapon attacks in war zones.

  • ARGUMENT: Afghanistan failureWhat Went Wrong for the U.S. in Afghanistan

    The Biden administration’s decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan is an admission that the United States has failed in its costly war in Afghanistan. Why has the United States failed? Jason K. Dempsey, who was deployed to Afghanistan as part of the 2009 “surge,” writes that “Luckily for those…. wondering how all the heroism [of American soldiers in Afghanistan] led to an overall outcome in Afghanistan that fell far short of U.S. aspirations, there are two new books that seek to make sense of the war.”

  • Killer robotsLethal Autonomous Weapons and World War III: It’s Not Too Late to Stop the Rise of “Killer Robots”

    By Toby Walsh

    Scientists are pretty good at warning of the dangers facing the planet. Unfortunately, society is less good at paying attention. Artificial intelligence researchers like me have been warning of the advent of lethal autonomous weapons systems, which can make life-or-death decisions without human intervention, for years.