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In Depth

Yes, the Aircraft Carrier Is Still Viable

in In Depth

Reuters // The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) transits the Gulf of Aden in this U.S. Navy handout picture taken Oct. 23, 2014.Michael Carl Haas (The Diplomat) — Over the last several months, the debate about the future of the United States’ nuclear-powered carrier (CVN) fleet has picked up speed again, with several major contributions coming from both sides of the aisle.

Back in October, Seth Cropsey, Bryan McGrath, and Timothy Walton published their very detailed take on how to keep the carrier weapon system in the game.

Not long after, well-known carrier critic Jerry Hendrix followed up on his earlier thinking on the subject in Retreat from Range: The Rise and Fall of Carrier Aviation. Most recently, Kelley Sayler contributed a study on the Growing Threat to U.S. Aircraft Carriers. The issue was also discussed at length in House Armed Services Committee hearings on February 11, 2016.

Let’s Not Give Suicide Bombers So Much Credit—Sometimes They Have No Strategy

in In Depth

Reuters // A man leads an injured boy by the hands after the suicide attack in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.Simon Cottee (The Atlantic) — In his edited collection on “suicide missions,” the sociologist Diego Gambetta described his childhood admiration for Pietro Micca, a solider in the artillery regiment of the Duke of Savoy in what is now northern Italy.

“In 1706, as the French were besieging Turin,” Gambetta wrote, Micca “realized that a party of the besiegers had succeeded in penetrating the network of tunnels that were part of the city citadel, and would have no doubt been able to take it.”

Instead of trying to save himself, Micca heroically fought back, sacrificing himself for his comrades and city: “Despite having too short a fuse to run away in time, Micca ordered his companion to go before blowing himself up with a few barrels of gunpowder so as to destroy and block the tunnels.”

In Depth: Energy Prices and Crisis Risks

in In Depth

Reuters/Marco Bello // A woman walks past empty shelves at a drugstore in Caracas, Venezuela.Robert Kahn testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, describing the crisis risks generated by persistently low oil and gas prices. He argued that the risks are especially acute for energy exporters such as Venezuela and Nigeria, and that such countries need sizable policy adjustments in the immediate future.

The following is the statement prepared by Robert Kahn, the Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations before the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 2nd Session, 114th Congress.

Hearing on Economic and Geopolitical Implications of Low Oil and Gas Prices

In Depth: The Moral Cost of the Kill Box

in In Depth

AP/Vadim Ghirda // Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in November of 2014.Scott Beauchamp (The Atlantic) — In laymen’s terms, “kill boxes” sound like torture devices. In military jargon, they are almost incomprehensible; as defined in the Department of Defense Dictionary, they are “a three-dimensional area reference that enables timely, effective coordination and control and facilitates rapid attacks.”

But despite their ominous name and complicated technical definition, kill boxes are actually relatively simple in concept: They are three-dimensional cubes of space on a battlefield in which members and allies of the United States military are completely free to open fire.

According to the DoD, “there is no formal kill-box doctrine or tactics, techniques or procedures.” They require a sophisticated web of logistical, bureaucratic, and technological expertise to implement.

In Depth: How ISIS Makes IEDs

in In Depth

Reuters/Thaier al-Sudani // A car bomb attack at a Shi'ite political organization's rally in Baghdad, April 25, 2014.Fatima Bhojani (Foreign Affairs) — While in Iraqi Kurdistan in January of last year, a European investigator came across a field of holes into which improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had been placed. The dots went out in a line as far as the eye could see. “They had been placed this way so that anybody who crossed that field would strike an IED,” the researcher told me, asking that his name be withheld for safety reasons.

For the past 20 months, along with a colleague, he has been meticulously examining the supply chains of the more than 700 IED components that the Islamic State (ISIS) uses in Iraq and in the Syrian Kurdish region of Rojava.

Their findings were released in a report in late February, the latest addition to a catalog of documents on ISIS weapons published by Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a private arms-tracking organization mandated by the European Union.

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