Laughing All the Way to the Bank: ISIL's Illicit Finances

One of the reasons the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has risen to prominence so quickly is because of their ability to acquire resources. While their violent tactics and their tech-savvy propaganda videos are what catch the eye of the mainstream media, it is the surplus of illicitly acquired assets that allows them to overtly control such a vast area of territory.

Recently the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) released its report titled Financing of the Terrorist Organisation Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant as a "snapshot of the revenue sources and financial activities of ISIL." FATF utilizes data from a variety of international sources including the United Nations and defense agencies from multiple countries. The…

Major Disaster Assistance from the Disaster Relief Fund: State Profiles

FEMAEach year in the United States, various types of disasters occur across the homeland. From devastating hurricanes to mild wildfires, these disasters impact U.S. citizens on local, state, and national levels. When such disasters occur, the President is authorized to issue disaster declarations in order to financially aid communities in need. To help overcome catastrophic incidents, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds impacted communities through the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). With the DRF, FEMA is able to provide those in need with timely emergency management response and recovery funding.

On January 29th, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report titled, Major Disaster Assistance from the Disaster Relief Fund: State Profiles. This report, “...outlines the trend in DRF…

US Intelligence Community Releases its Worldwide Threat Assessment

Seal of the Office of the Director of National IntelligenceToday Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James R. Clapper delivered the United States Intelligence Community's 2015 assessment of threats to US national security. Director Clapper speaks on Global Threats like Cyber, Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation, Space and Counterspace, Transnational Organized Crime, Economics and Natural Resources and Human Security, as well as Regional Threats in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe, Russia and Eurasia, East Asia, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

DNI Clapper provided a variety of strategic assessments, risk analyses, attribution and deterrence sections, threat sections and sections devoted to the integrity of information for each of the Global Threats, depending on the importance of the threat to US national security. Of

President Obama's Keys to Countering Violent Extremism

During his time in office, President Barack Obama has made many statements on America's stance on violent extremism, including in his State of the Union (SOTU) last month. Recently the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Boko Haram's presence in Africa have dominated the president's public addresses on terrorism.

Yesterday the President spoke at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. His statement began by emphasizing international cooperation to counter extremism and strengthening border security to prevent foreign fighters from joining extremist groups.

The President then discussed five key points that governments should employ to counter the development of violent extremism. Those five points were:

  1. "We must remain unwavering in our fight

Strengthening Domestic Counterterrorism:
Private Sector Solutions for Public Safety

Business Executives for National Security (BENS), a nonpartisan organization that applies best business practice solutions to national security issues, recently released a report detailing its recommendations for domestic counterterrorism efforts.  The national security landscape has changed drastically in the fourteen years since 9/11, and the attacks at Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon demonstrated America's vulnerabilities to domestic threats. Lone wolf terrorists, home grown extremists, and the advent of easily accessible and highly advanced technology necessitate the development of a unified domestic counterterrorism strategy. 

Over the course of three years, a BENS Task Force interviewed over 100 members of the domestic intelligence community to compose the recommendations outlined in  "Domestic Security: Confronting a Changing Threat to Ensure Public

The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, RAND Corporation has released a report seeking increase understanding regarding the state of China’s armed forces through extensive primary source analysis and independent analysis. This report, China’s Incomplete Military Transformation: Assessing the Weaknesses of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), attempts to answer several important questions such as: 

  1. What have been the overall scope and scale of People's Liberation Army (PLA) modernization since the mid-1990s, and what is its likely trajectory through 2025?

  2. What are the missions Beijing has assigned to the PLA?

  3. What are the weaknesses in the PLA's organization and human capital?

  4. What are the weaknesses in the PLA's combat capabilities in the land, air, maritime, space, and electromagnetic domains?

  5. What are the weaknesses

The Blueprint: A New National Security Strategy

During the State of the Union (SOTU) address last month, President Barack Obama highlighted numerous American accomplishments in 2014 such as decreasing the number of troops deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fall of unemployment to its lowest rate in 6 years. The President also mentioned his future ambitions which included standing up to Russian aggression, combating ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), and developing young minds.

Building upon those remarks, the White House released its National Security Strategy for 2015 earlier this week. The strategy's introduction echoes the sentiments conveyed in the SOTU, while the document as a whole serves as a blueprint for accomplishing the President's goals.

Prior National Security Strategies (such as 2010's) centered…

DHS releases the Fiscal Years 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama declared "The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong."  In a post 9/11 world, this statement rings true in large part to the daily work of over 240,000 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees.  In order to further strengthen our country, the DHS must continue evolving to meet new threats.  The 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review  addressed these threats by a comprehensive examination into the current national homeland security environment and identifying strategic shifts in areas of continual concern.  The report further emphasized long-term strategies of prevention by a Unity of Effort Initiative throughout the various branches of the federal government.

To implement goals laid out in…

White House's Caribbean Counternarcotics Strategy

USCG Special Purpose Craft The flow of narcotics into the U.S. from the south has always been one of the most debated issues among U.S. policymakers, especially after President Nixon's declaration of the "War on Drugs" in 1971. Despite the devotion of substantial resources to quell illegal smuggling, drug trafficking activity to the U.S. from the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America continues to increase.

Last month the White House released its Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy. The strategy focuses on the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as midway points for drug trafficking from South America to the U.S. and European markets. As a result of trafficking in the region, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have witnessed higher rates of violence commonly associated with…

NASEMSO Releases Strategy Document for Improving EMS Preparedness

The National Association of State Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Officials (NASEMSO) released on January 29, 2015, its soon-to-be sentinel work, the Emergency Medical Services Domestic Preparedness Improvement Strategy. This strategy document was created through the hard work of a strategy group consisting of representatives of 13 stakeholder organizations representing EMS at the federal, national, state, tribal and local levels. The group examined already-published EMS preparedness reports in order to identify gaps in preparedness and analyze implementable processes and responsibilities stakeholders can use to solve the most significant and persistent gaps in EMS preparedness.

Process Facilitator and Document Author Michael Petrie stated that this strategic document "is a critical release in homeland security because of the number and significance of the…