Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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Showing posts for "Military Policy"

What’s the Pentagon’s Plan for the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund and Syria?

by Micah Zenko

On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing with senior Pentagon officials to review the Pentagon’s FY2015 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget request of $58.6 billion. Included in that request are $5 billion for the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, of which $500 million would go to training and equipping Syrian rebels. By definition, OCO funding is outside of the normal budgeting process, and is intended to fund requirements that emerged after the federal budget was proposed on March 4. However, the hearing revealed that there is no publicly articulable plan for how the Pentagon will spend this money, only that it is being developed. Thus, given all of the existing security assistance budget authorities, many congressional members have legitimate concerns that this could become a slush fund. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Space Fence, Counter-UAV Technologies, and Nigeria

by Micah Zenko

Eric Schmitt and Brian Knowlton, “U.S. Officials Question Ability of Nigeria to Rescue Hostages,” New York Times, May 15, 2014.

Even as terrorist groups throughout the world have engaged in more kidnappings for ransom to finance their operations, Pentagon officials have worried that the success in killing Osama bin Laden and a movie like “Captain Phillips,” which depicted the capture and killing of Somali pirates, have placed unrealistic expectations on the American authorities. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Terrorism, Women in Nonprofits, and China

by Micah Zenko
U.S. secretary of defense Chuck Hagel and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan listen to the Chinese national anthem during a welcoming ceremony at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters in Beijing April 8, 2014. (Wong/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. secretary of defense Chuck Hagel and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan listen to the Chinese national anthem during a welcoming ceremony at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters in Beijing April 8, 2014. (Wong/Courtesy Reuters)

Ehud Yaari and Michael Morell, Israel vs. al-Qaeda: Emerging Challenges on Two Fronts,” The Washington Institute, April 29, 2014. Read more »

Highlights Of U.S. Special Operations Command

by Micah Zenko

U.S. Special Operations Command in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2015 and the Future Years Defense Program,” Senate Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, March 11, 2014. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Afghanistan, Targeted Killings, and U.S. Policy Priorities

by Micah Zenko
A U.S. soldier at the site of a suicide attack on a NATO base in Zhari on January 20, 2014. (Nadeem/Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. soldier at the site of a suicide attack on a NATO base in Zhari on January 20, 2014. (Nadeem/Courtesy Reuters)

Alice K. Ross, “Leaked official document records 330 drone strikes in Pakistan,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, January 29, 2014. Read more »

Guest Post: The Humans Behind Remotely Piloted Aircraft

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
Travis, a 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) sensor operator, and Ben, a 432nd Wing/432nd AEW RPA pilot, fly an MQ-1 Predator during the wings 2 million flying hour milestone on October 22, 2013. (Courtesy U.S. Air Force) Travis, a 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) sensor operator, and Ben, a 432nd Wing/432nd AEW RPA pilot, fly an MQ-1 Predator during the wings 2 million flying hour milestone on October 22, 2013. (Courtesy U.S. Air Force)

Priscilla Kim is an intern in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The U.S. Air Force trains more remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) pilots than traditional fighter and bomber pilots combined—350 RPA pilots compared to 250 fighter and bomber pilots in 2011. Additionally, one in every three planes is unmanned, and the Pentagon intends to double the number of unmanned aircraft systems from 340 to 650 by 2021. If RPA proliferation is not complemented with policy changes that effectively address the concerns of RPA pilots, there could be damaging overall effects for U.S. military forces. Read more »

Ten What’s With…Daniel Markey

by Micah Zenko
No Exit from Pakistan:America's Tortured Relationship with Islamabad by Daniel Markey No Exit from Pakistan:America's Tortured Relationship with Islamabad by Daniel Markey

Daniel Markey is Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where he specializes in security and governance issues in South Asia. He has published a book on the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad (Cambridge University Press, October 2013). Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Afghanistan, Threat Deflation, and Signature Strikes

by Micah Zenko
Students gather at the site of a suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Hangu district, bordering North Waziristan, November 21, 2013 (Syed Shah/Courtesy Reuters). Students gather at the site of a suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Hangu district, bordering North Waziristan, November 21, 2013 (Syed Shah/Courtesy Reuters).

The Uses of Force,” Economist, November 23, 2013.

It’s too easy to use force,” says Admiral Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It’s almost the first choice.”


Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 20, 2013. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Special Operations Raids, European Drones, and CIA Detentions

by Micah Zenko
USS San Antonio The USS San Antonio transits through the Gulf of Oman on February 4, 2009. An elite American interrogation team is now questioning the senior al-Qaeda figure Abu Anas al-Liby, who was seized by special operations forces in Libya, onboard the USS San Antonio in the Mediterranean Sea (Zalasky/Courtesy Reuters).

Hearing to consider the nominations of Mr. Michael D. Lumpkin, Honorable Jamie M. Morin, and Honorable Jo Ann Rooney, U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, October 10, 2013.

Lumpkin: We’re not going to be able to kill our way to victory. One at a time, doing one-eaches…

I would argue [al-Qaeda is] less capable to attack the homeland directly but U.S. interests – it still has the capability. Read more »

The Federal Shutdown and Foreign Credibility

by Micah Zenko
Boehner shutdown Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner at 1:00 am on October 1, 2013, after a vote by the House prompted a shutdown of portions of the U.S. government (Bourg/Courtesy Reuters).

At midnight last night, the U.S. federal government began partial shutdown procedures, which are mandated whenever Congress and the President do not appropriate funds at the start of a new fiscal year, either through an appropriations bill or a continuing resolution. Subsequently, all affected federal agencies have to stop any programs funded by annual appropriations which are not deemed “essential” under the law. This means that employees of these agencies are placed on emergency furlough, a time during which they cannot come to work, bring work home, or even check their work emails. Subsequently the Department of Commerce will lose 87 percent of its workforce, Department of Energy 81 percent, Health and Human Services 52 percent, and the Department of Defense roughly half of its eight-hundred thousand civilian employees. Read more »