from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2017, Issue No. 50
June 29, 2017
Secrecy News Blog: https://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/
- DEFENSE INTEL AGENCY VIEWS RUSSIAN MILITARY POWER
- SECRETARY OF DEFENSE HAROLD BROWN: A REASSESSMENT
- RECEPTION OF REFUGEES IN THE US, & MORE FROM CRS
DEFENSE INTEL AGENCY VIEWS RUSSIAN MILITARY POWER
The Defense Intelligence Agency yesterday launched a new series of unclassified publications on foreign military threats to the United States with a report on the Russian military.
"The resurgence of Russia on the world stage -- seizing the Crimean Peninsula, destabilizing eastern Ukraine, intervening on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and shaping the information environment to suit its interests -- poses a major challenge to the United States," the report said.
The 116-page report provides DIA data and perspective on Russian military strategy, force structure, defense spending, intelligence, nuclear weaponry, cyber programs, foreign arms sales, and more. Though unclassified and citing open sources, it is presumably consistent with DIA's classified collection. See "Russia Military Power 2017" published by the Defense Intelligence Agency, June 2017.
The new publication is inspired by the Soviet Military Power series that was published by DIA in the 1980s to draw critical attention to Soviet military programs. Both informative and provocative, Soviet Military Power was immensely popular by government document standards though it was viewed by some critics as verging on, or crossing over into, propaganda.
The new report usefully describes official US perceptions of Russian military programs and intentions, allowing those perceptions to be scrutinized, discussed and corrected as necessary. "These products are intended to foster a dialogue between U.S. leaders, the national security community, partner nations, and the public," DIA said.
A companion report on "China Military Power," among others, is expected to be published shortly.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE HAROLD BROWN: A REASSESSMENT
The role of Secretary of Defense Harold Brown in managing the Pentagon, boosting the military and confronting the Soviet Union during the Jimmy Carter Administration is examined in a new Department of Defense historical volume that was declassified and published this month.
It was during Secretary Brown's tenure that the Carter Administration reversed a decline in defense spending and began a military buildup that is usually associated with the Reagan Administration. Stealth aircraft, precision bombs, cruise missiles and other new weapons programs were championed by Brown, a physicist, and brought into production.
"Unlike previous secretaries of defense, Brown faced the Soviet Union at the apex of its Cold War military might," wrote historian Edward Keefer in the new DoD volume. "Flush from new discoveries of oil and natural gas in an era of high energy prices, the Soviet Union of the Carter years came closer to matching the United States in strategic power than it had in any other period. By most reckonings, the Kremlin held advantages over the West in conventional weapons and forces in central Europe. Brown and his staff worked diligently and creatively to offset the formidable Soviet military challenge. Yet the achievements Brown amassed as secretary have been overshadowed by one horrendous failure, the Iran hostage rescue mission. As a result, history has paid scant attention to his successes. Similarly, it has ignored the foundation that the Carter administration built for the Reagan revolution in defense. This volume aims to remedy the oversight."
"This is an authorized history, but not an official one," wrote DoD Chief Historian Erin R. Mahan. "There is a distinction." That is, it is based on authorized access to classified source materials and underwent internal peer review, but it represents the author's own judgment.
Among other areas of friction and public controversy, Secretary Brown defended the nuclear weapon targeting policy set forth in Carter's Presidential Directive 59. "To liberal arms control advocates, such as the Federation of American Scientists, PD 59 seemed warlike and dangerous," the Pentagon history said.
See Harold Brown: Offsetting the Soviet Military Challenge, 1977-1981, Office of the Secretary of Defense, June 2017, 840 pages.
The new volume is the latest in a series of scholarly histories of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and one of several new publications from the OSD History Office.
RECEPTION OF REFUGEES IN THE US, & MORE FROM CRS
As of May 31, more than 46,000 refugees from around the world were received in the United States in FY 2017 and were settled in every state except for Wyoming, a new report from the Congressional Research Service found.
Though that is a small number compared with the hundreds of thousands of refugees accepted annually in Germany and some other Western countries, it is roughly consistent with the number of refugees accepted by the US in the last several years, according to data compiled by CRS. See Reception and Placement of Refugees in the United States, June 21, 2017:
Other new and updated publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.
Paris Agreement: U.S. Climate Finance Commitments, June 19, 2017:
Political Status of Puerto Rico: Brief Background and Recent Developments for Congress, updated June 12, 2017:
India-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress, June 19, 2017:
Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process, updated June 22, 2017:
When Is Running Guns From the Philippines to Mexico a Federal Crime?, CRS Legal Sidebar, June 26, 2017:
The Budget Control Act: Frequently Asked Questions, June 22, 2017:
Freshwater Harmful Algal Blooms: Causes, Challenges, and Policy Considerations, June 20, 2017:
Global Research and Development Expenditures: Fact Sheet, updated June 16, 2017:
Violence Against Members of Congress and Their Staff: A Brief Overview, CRS Insight, June 15, 2017:
In new legislative report language, the House Appropriations Committee endorsed public access to all non-confidential CRS reports. Subject to approval or amendment by the Committee today, CRS was tentatively told to develop recommendations for implementing such access within 90 days.
"The Committee directs the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service (CRS) to make available to the public, all non-confidential reports. The Committee has debated this issue for several years, and after considering debate and testimony from entities inside the legislative branch and beyond the Committee believes the publishing of CRS reports will not impede CRS's core mission in any impactful way and is in keeping with the Committee's priority of full transparency to the American people," the draft Committee report said.
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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