ISP Brief January 2021

It's my pleasure to send you the January 2021 edition of the ISP Brief, the monthly newsletter of the CSIS International Security Program. The ISP Brief features CSIS reports and analysis written by our scholars and includes externally published articles, media highlights such as video interviews and podcasts, and links to recent and upcoming virtual events.

As the International Security Program transitions into its next chapter, we will continue to bring you cutting edge analysis on major security issues. I welcome your feedback on this newsletter and its contents at I also invite you to follow us on TwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook for the very latest on ISP's work.


Online Event: Civics as a National Security Imperative: The Role of Technology
Suzanne Spaulding sat down with Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, for a discussion as part of the CSIS Strategic Dialogue on Civic Education as a National Security Imperative. The conversation was followed by an expert panel featuring Lauren Bean Buitta (Founder, Girl Security), Shawn Healy (Democracy Program Director, Robert R. McCormick Foundation), Nina Jankowicz (Author, "How to Lose the Information War"), and Camille Stewart (Head of Security Policy, Google Play and Android). 

The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) stands at the dawn of a new era of technological innovation and transformation unprecedented in its history. In this final report, the CSIS Technology and Intelligence Task Force set out to understand the emerging technology landscape, identify the opportunities and challenges to applying technology to intelligence missions, and generate recommendations that will enable the IC to adapt, integrate technology, and maintain an advantage over sophisticated rivals.

Defense360's Series: Transition46

As the Biden administration takes office, D360’s Transition46 series provides insights from our scholars on the challenges the new administration faces and recommendations for what should change in U.S. defense strategy, forces, operations, and institutions.

With the shift of U.S. strategic focus to great power competition, interest in industrial mobilization for a long-term, high-intensity conflict has returned. However, the highly consolidated and fragile U.S. defense industrial base is not designed to meet this challenge. To gain insight into the ability of the defense industrial base to meet the demands of great power conflict, Mark Cancian and Adam Saxton reviewed the history and literature on industrial mobilization and then analyzed the time needed to replace contemporary weapon systems’ inventory at peacetime and surge production rates. 

CSIS European Trilateral Track 2 Nuclear Dialogues: 2020 Consensus Statement
The European Trilateral Track 2 Nuclear Dialogues, organized by CSIS in partnership with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), have convened senior nuclear policy experts from the United Kingdom, France, and the United States (P3) for the past 12 years. Experts discuss nuclear deterrence, arms control, and nonproliferation policy issues and identify areas of consensus that serve to improve collaboration and cooperation across this range of challenging concerns. In 2020, the group’s discussion addressed a range of growing challenges in the Euro-Atlantic security environment and beyond, prompting the group’s nongovernmental participants to issue the above linked statement.


The CSIS International Security Program (ISP) created Represent to address the intersection of national security and diversity. We seek to elevate the voices of national security professionals from underrepresented groups and call attention to the persistent gap in representation in our field. Represent is produced by the ISP staff on an ongoing basis and runs unsolicited and invited pieces on the Defense360 website.

We accept and publish pieces on a rolling basis. To pitch an article, please email Your pitch should include a synopsis (around 250 words) of your piece of your piece in the body of the email along with a short author biography. Please allow one calendar week for us to respond to your submission. Click here to learn more about the submissions process. 

Plus, read a statement from the editors on the attack on the Capitol of January 6, 2021.



Covid-19 Response Update: January 15-January 22 by Mark Cancian and Adam Saxton

US War Surge Production Too Slow, CSIS Finds by Mark Cancian and Adam Saxton

Covid-19 Response Update: January 8-January 15 by Mark Cancian and Adam Saxton

Surveillance, Situational Awareness, and Warning at the Conventional-Strategic Interface by Rebecca Hersman and Reja Younis

Stabilization Assistance amid Geopolitical Competition: A Case Study of Eastern Syria by Daphne McCurdy

Institutional Integrity: Learning the Right Lessons from the Capitol Siege by Suzanne Spaulding and Devi Nair

Evolving UAE Military and Foreign Security Cooperation: Path Toward Military Professionalism by Melissa Dalton and Hijab Shah Data: Governance and Geopolitics by Gregory F. Treverton and Pari Esfandiari

A Clean Return to the Iran Nuclear Deal Should be Biden’s First Option by Eric Brewer

Covid-19 Response Update: December 18-January 8 by Mark Cancian, Adam Saxton

U.S. Military Forces in FY 2021: Space, SOF, Civilians, and Contractors by Mark Cancian

Deep Dive Debrief: Strategic Stability and Competition in the Arctic by Rebecca Hersman, Eric Brewer, and Maxwell Simon

Transition Troubles: It’s About The Biden Agenda, Not National Security by Mark Cancian


The Economist examined the upsurge in nuclear proliferation, drawing insight from a PONI report lead by Eric
, "Toward a More Proliferated World?" Check out The Economist and our CSIS report now.

Andrew Hunter joined an episode of Federal News Network's podcast On DoD with Jared Serbu where they discussed the Defense Production Act and how the Biden administration might use it. Listen here.

Dr. Tom Karako joined the Brookings Institution for a panel discussion on challenges for the Biden administration in addressing the evolving air and missile threat. Watch here.

Sam Brannen joined Erol Yayboke on an episode of CSIS's Building the Future: Freedom, Prosperity, and Foreign Policy with Dan Runde where they discussed how President Biden should counter digital authoritarianism. Listen here.

Rebecca Hersman
 joined Government Matters where she discussedgeopolitical changes and U.S. strategy in the Arctic. Watch here.

Dr. Seth Jones spoke with Yahoo Finance's Kristin Myers about President Biden's plan to combat domestic terrorism. Watch here.

Dr. Seth Jones
 joined C-SPAN's Washington Journal to discuss potential unrest around the country following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Watch here.

Mark Cancian 
spoke on Shephard Media's The Weekly Defence Podcast about the updated OMFV program. Listen here.

Suzanne Spaulding 
joined GW's Project for Media & National Security's Cyber Media Forum for a discussion on how the Biden administration should tackle the cybersecurity challenge. Read the transcript here.

Dr. Seth Jones joined Yahoo Finance to break down the threat from domestic extremists. Watch here.

Suzanne Spaulding spoke on Back Story with Dana Lewis about a massive computer hack in the U.S. Listen here.

Makena Young joined Government Matters to discuss the future of the Space Force, and the significance of the Space Command headquarters and the National Space Council.

Mark Cancian spoke to the Texas Standard about how traditional military training helps teach airmen about hardship and teamwork. Listen here.


The Future of American Democracy with Suzanne Spaulding
Suzanne Spaulding, director of the CSIS Defending Democratic Institutions project, joined host Beverly Kirk to discuss the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and its impact on the future of America’s democratic institutions.

Listen on Apple and Spotify.

The Gender Multiplier Effect with Andrea Conner
Host Beverly Kirk talks to Andrea Conner, CEO of Stevenson Conner Global Strategies and the immediate past president of ATHENA International. They discuss how the gender multiplier effect improves the lives of women globally through economic empowerment leading to healthier families, stronger communities, and a thriving economy.

Listen on Apple and Spotify.


Online Event: Maritime Security Dialogue - USN: Setting the Theater in the Arctic
Featuring: Admiral Robert P. Burke
Hosted by: Heather A. Conley

Tues., Feb. 2, 2021
10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. ET

Online Event: Defense in the 21st Century with Northrop Grumman Chairman, CEO, and President Kathy Warden
Featuring: Kathy Warden
Hosted by: Nina Easton

Tues., Feb. 9, 2021
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET


Online Event: Surprise and Innovative Operational Concepts: Gaining Competitive Advantage in Great Power Conflicts
Featuring: Frank Hoffman, Thomas Mahnken, and Diem Salmon
Hosted by: Mark Cancian
Friday, January 29, 2021

Online Event: Project Convergence and Army Modernization - A Conversation with General John M. Murray
Featuring: General John M. Murray
Hosted by: Mark Cancian
Monday, January 25, 2021

Online Event: Maintaining the Intelligence Edge: CSIS Technology and Intelligence Task Force Final Report Rollout
Featuring: Michael Allen, Kari Bingen, Robert Cardillo, John P. Carlin, Marcel Lettre, Jason Matheny, John McLaughlin, Jami Miscik, Stephen Slick, and Gen. Joseph L. Votel
Hosted by: Brian Katz
Thursday, January 14, 2021

Online Event: A New Strategy for Countering Small Unmanned Aerial Systems
Featuring: MG Sean Gainey and Nicole M. Thomas
Hosted by: Dr. Tom Karako
Friday, January 8, 2021


On the contest of space between the U.S. and China, Todd Harrison said, “They saw how the U.S. projected power,” in The New York Times on January 24, 2021. “And they saw that it was largely undefended.”

"One of the biggest issues I've had in the U.S., even over the last year, is how little information the U.S. government has provided publicly about the state of the threat - the number of plots, the number of attacks," Dr. Seth Jones told US News & World Report on January 15, 2021.

After recent cyber attacks, Suzanne Spaulding said, The Russia experts need to come together with the cyber experts and mission experts in individual departments and agencies across government, and ideally key private sector players, to fully assess the risk to 'essential functions' and to 'nationally critical functions'… Once the risk is assessed, this same interagency team needs to develop ways to reduce the damage that a breach could accomplish, e.g., find ways to operate that are less dependent on vulnerable IT," in The Washington Post on January 8, 2021.