Congressional Research Service. August 26, 2014.

On September 4-5, the leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) 28 member
states will meet in Wales for the alliance’s 2014 summit. This will be their first meeting since
Russia began providing large-scale military support to separatist forces fighting in Ukraine, and
their last before the planned completion by the end of 2014 of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan,
the longest and most ambitious operation in NATO history. As such, some analysts portray the
summit as an opportunity to consider a possible strategic shift for NATO, away from the broad,
“out of area” focus embodied by the Afghanistan mission, toward a more narrow focus on
territorial defense and deterrence, largely in response to a resurgent Russia. Although the allies
are considered unlikely to make such decisive declarations, summit deliberations are expected to
center on responding to Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere in the region. [PDF format, 17 pages].

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). November 12, 2013.

For several years, the defense budget has been under siege from government-wide budget gridlock and a legislative stalemate. The Department of Defense (DoD) has dutifully built its budgets and submitted them to Congress, but final appropriations have often differed substantially, making it hard for DoD to implement its own plans. Government shutdowns add to the confusion, and the short-term stopgap legislation of continuing resolutions prevents DoD from implementing any long-term solutions to budget challenges. The lack of full-year appropriations, the additional complications of spending caps from the Budget Control Act of 2011, and the arbitrary budget cuts from the process of sequestration only compound the impact of this uncertainty. [Note: contains copyrighted matrial]. [PDF format, 4 pages].

The Brookings Institution. October 2013.

For two decades, the United States has sought to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Occasional success in freezing elements of that program, together with pledges by Pyongyang to end it, inspired hope that denuclearization could actually be achieved. Hope also grew from the belief that there existed a collection of incentives, including diplomatic normalization, security guarantees, and food assistance, which would convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions. These hopes have been dashed. U.S. policy has failed to achieve its objective. [Note: contains copyrighted material]. [PDF format, 25 pages].

Council on Foreign Relations. January 2013.

The author puts forward a substantive agenda. He argues that the United States should end so-called signature strikes, which target unidentified militants based on their behavior patterns and personal networks, and limit targeted killings to a limited number of specific terrorists with transnational ambitions. He also calls Congress to improve its oversight of drone strikes and to continue restrictions on armed drone sales. Finally, he recommends that the United States work internationally to establish rules and norms governing the use of drones. Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies raises an important and underexamined set of issues. It analyzes the potentially serious consequences, both at home and abroad, of a lightly overseen drone program and makes recommendations for improving its governance. The result is a provocative report that is well worth reading and contemplating. [Note: contains copyrighted material]. [PDF format, 53 pages].

Center for Transatlantic Relations. July 2012. 

This assessment is organized into four parts. The first presents our assessment of the growing gaps in current and near- to mid-term future military capabilities across Europe. The second part describes the headline trends that will define the major features of European military capabilities out to 2030. The third part develops four initiatives, two from the NATO summit and two NDU initiatives, that could optimize both European capabilities and transatlantic military cooperation over the next one to two decades. These initiatives are Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s Smart Defense, the new “NATO Forces 2020” set of programs, a bolder capabilities concept developed by an NDU-led team in 2011 called Mission Focus Groups (MFGs), and proposals to revitalize USEUCOM as the centerpiece of transatlantic interoperability. The final part  describes the primary obstacles and concerns NATO will have to address effectively in order to close the widening capabilities gap. [Note: contains copyrighted material]. [PDF format, 12 pages].