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Libyan rebels, Somali pirates, Osprey tiltrotors, and a long, long time at sea: The future of the Marine Corps post-Afghanistan can be seen in what you might call “Yoda and Bart’s Great Adventure,” an extraordinary ocean journey that began a year ago Friday. Keep reading →


The French operational experience in and off of Libya has neatly dovetailed with that of the U.S. Marines and suggests a way forward for American thinking about littoral operations.

With the decision of the U.S. national command authority to “lead from behind,” the Marines were almost inadvertently given a leading role. What “lead from behind” meant operationally was that the U.S. was not going to commit significant combat air capabilities to the fight, so the F-22 returned from Middle East exercises and the aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean was sent elsewhere, to support US ground troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. was to provide a C2 package to support the operation, as well as ground attack capabilities such as A-10s and C-130 gunships. Most importantly, the U.S. provided airborne tanking and related air support to the allied operations. Keep reading →

Reaping the Benefits of a Global Defense Industry

Greg Sanders CSIS photo

  As the Defense Department’s budget goes down, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bids is going up. The share of contracts awarded without competition has risen from 39 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012, according to a report I co-authored with Jesse Ellman and Rhys McCormick on DoD Contracting Trends. The news for… Keep reading →


I was continually frustrated during my time as the Marine’s Deputy Commandant for Aviation by our inability to rapidly upgrade Marine equipment, especially aircraft cockpits and similar systems. The reason is simple, much of the aerospace and defense industry uses unnecessary and arbitrary proprietary markings as a base requirement. We must change this mind-set.

The time has arrived to develop standardized frameworks and make available common hardware designs and software architectures for future equipment procurements across all four services. We have seen the defense budget more than double since 2001, but now we face a severe contraction as the United States withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan. However, more of an impact will be the reduction in defense outlays as our national security funds pay a significant portion of the deficit reduction bill. Keep reading →