ISP Brief August 2020


The Spectrum of Encryption: Safety and Security Considerations

Encryption is a critical tool to protect sensitive information, prevent cybercrime and digital fraud, and authenticate digital transactions. However, the global encryption policy landscape is fracturing, with different countries pursuing different approaches to encryption through both legal and technical means. A new report from ISP's Lindsey Sheppard, Dr. Kathleen Hicks, Brian Katz, and Joseph Federici analyzes these issues through the lens of key encryption user groups, their governments, and U.S. values and interests.

Online Event: Combating Malign Influence in 2020

The Defending Democratic Institutions Project hosted Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen for an online event with director Suzanne Spaulding. They discussed the threat of foreign malign influence operations, how disinformation operations have evolved from our nation's founding up to the present, and how the government is working to counter them.

Is the Ratio of Investment between Research and Development to Production in Major Defense Acquisition Programs Experiencing Fundamental Change?

With the advent of the information age, both commercial industry and the Department of Defense are moving toward complex R&D-intensive systems over the simpler, mass-produced systems of the industrial age. This Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group report by Rhys McCormick, Gregory Sanders, and Andrew Hunter analyzes the historical trends in the relationship of production costs to development costs in complex acquisition programs.

Analysis of the FY 2021 Defense Budget

The Analysis of the FY 2021 Defense Budget by Todd Harrison and Seamus Daniels provides an in-depth assessment of the Trump administration’s request for national defense funding in FY 2021. The Defense 360 analysis addresses overall trends in the defense budget, changes in the FY 2021 request, and issues for Congress and the next administration to consider. It also covers the budgets of the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Space Force.

Cycle Times and Cycles of Acquisition Reform
In defense acquisition, reform is constant. A new brief by Dr. Morgan Dwyer, Alec Blivas, and Brenen Tidwell finds that recent reforms—which reduced and decentralized the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) oversight—may not increase major defense acquisition programs (MDAPs) acquisition speed. And although the Pentagon does field some MDAPs quite slowly, reformers should not use the experience of worst-case programs to motivate future reforms of the entire acquisition system.

ISP Spotlight

The Smart Women, Smart Power Initiative (SWSP) teamed up with the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) to host a limited podcast series, PONI Pathbreakers, featuring cross-generation conversations with women experts on nuclear issues and policy. Watch the short overview from PONI director Rebecca Hersman and SWSP director and host Beverly Kirk here.

Listen to the entire series now on Apple and Spotify.


U.S. Support to Security Sector Reform in Fragile States by Daniel Mahanty

Covid-19 Response Update: August 14-August 21 by Mark Cancian, Adam Saxton, and Nidal Morrison

A Military Litmus Test? Evaluating the Argument that Civilian Defense Leaders Need Military Experience by Dr. Alice Hunt Friend

Covid-19 Response Update: August-7-August 14 by Mark Cancian, Adam Saxton, and Nidal Morrison

Covid-19 Response Update: July 31-August 7 by Mark Cancian, Adam Saxton, and Nidal Morrison

The U.S. Faces New Kinds of Threats Around the Globe, But We Have Failed to Adapt by Dr. Seth G. Jones and Juan Zarate

Pentagon Action to Withdraw from Germany Benefits Our Adversaries by Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Heather Conley


Seamus Daniels discusses takeaways from the defense budget request for fiscal year 2021 on Government Matters. Watch now .

Suzanne Spaulding joined Talking Beats with Daniel Lelchuk and took listeners on a guided tour of some of the most dire national security threats. Listen now on Apple and Google.

Suzanne Claeys joined Ploughshares Fund's Press The Button podcast to discuss recent U.S.-Russia arms control talks, and the gender disparity in news reporting about nuclear policy. Listen on Apple and Spotify.

In a new episode of CSIS's The Truth of the Matter , Dr. Seth Jones discusses his latest brief revealing new CSIS data on the increasing terrorism problem in the U.S. Listen on Apple and Spotify.

Suzanne Spaulding joined Government Matters to talk about the authorities that a National Cyber Director role would have and the steps necessary to create this position. Watch now.

On the final panel of the 2020 Aspen Security Forum, Dr. Kathleen Hicks discussed the front lines of defense innovation in the digital world. Watch now.

In a new episode of WarPod by the Oxford Research Group, Hijab Shah joined the Remote Warfare Programme team to discuss partner legitimacy in security force assistance and security sector reform. Listen now .

ISP Podcast

Smart Women, Smart Power
Hosted by Beverly Kirk

PONI Pathbreakers: All Things Arms Control
Featuring Rose Gottemoeller and Heather Williams
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

PONI Pathbreakers: Breaking the Nuclear Glass Ceiling
Featuring: Dr. Mareena Robinson Snowden and Jill Hruby
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

PONI Pathbreakers: The Role of Congress in Nuclear Policy
Featuring: Madelyn Creedon and Augusta Binns-Berkey
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

PONI Pathbreakers: The Cyber-Nuclear Connection
Featuring: Erin Dumbacher and Suzanne Spaulding
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

Defense 2020
Hosted by Dr. Kathleen Hicks

An Interview with HASC Vice Chair Anthony Brown
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

An Interview with HASC Ranking Member Mac Thornberry
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

The FY 2021 NDAA: Consensus, Debates, and Predictions

Featuring: Tommy Ross, Roger Zakheim, and Lara Seligman
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

Thank You For Your Service
Hosted by Dr. Alice Hunt Friend and Dr. Jim Golby

The Military Online ... and in Public View
Featuring: Heidi Urben, Nate Finney, Paul Szoldra, and Kristofer Goldsmith
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

Bonus Episode: The Civ-Mil of Space Force
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

War by Other Means
Featuring: Mac Owens, David Burbach, Deborah Avant, and Sarah Streyder
Listen on Apple and Spotify.

Online Events: September 2020

Online Event: CNAS-CSIS Report Release: "Toward a More Proliferated World?"
Featuring Eric Brewer, Rebecca Friedman Lissner, and Vipin Narang
Hosted by Ilan Goldenberg

Wed., Sept. 2, 2020
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET

Online Event: Technology's Role Strengthening Biodefense and Accelerating Economic Recovery After Covid-19: A Conversation with Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Hosted by Morgan Dwyer and Andrew Hunter

Tues., Sept. 8, 2020
1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. ET

Online Event: Book Talk: The Nature of Nature
Featuring Dr. Enric Sala
Hosted by Samuel Brannen

Wed., Sept. 9, 2020
1:00 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. ET

Online Event: Combating the Opioid Crisis in West Virginia

Featuring West Virginia First Lady Cathy Justice, Elaine Wynn, and Michele Blatt
Hosted by Nina Easton

Thurs., Sept. 10, 2020
1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. ET

Online Events: August 2020

Online Event: Book Talk: T-Minus AI with Michael Kanaan
Hosted by Lindsey Sheppard
Featuring Michael Kanaan
Friday, August 28, 2020

Media Highlights

"Things that tend to already be in production, or already have contracts awarded and source selection completed, those tend to have more staying power, just because of the built-in congressional support for them,” said Todd Harrison, quoted in Defense One on August 21, 2020. “Programs that are still very early and development tend to have less of that support.”

“Why the Lebanese government may not want an international investigation is because perhaps they don’t want to expose the extent of their incompetence and corruption,” Brian Katz said to The New York Times on August 10, 2020. “Each party has a share of the port and uses it to smuggle all sorts of contraband, like weapons, automobiles and cash.”

“In nuclear deterrence,” explained Suzanne Spaulding in an article published by The Cyber Edge on August 1, 2020, “it’s really binary. You either have deterred someone from using a nuclear weapon or you haven’t. There’s really no shades of gray there.”