U.S.-Afghanistan Relations Post-Election: What Now?

Monday, October 7th – With U.S.-Taliban peace talks stalled and the future course of the peace process unclear, Afghans will head to the polls on September 28 to elect a president. Ashraf Ghani has focused his peace strategy on winning a second term and then negotiating with the Taliban with a renewed democratic mandate. Opposition […]

China-Russia Cooperation in Global Hotspots

Thursday, July 18th – United States Institute for Peace (USIP) and Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) hosted an off-the-record lunch briefing on the Hill to discuss the growing partnership between China and Russia and this coordination’s impacts on U.S. interests. Regional experts Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at […]

Off-the-Record with Michael Morell and Roger Zakheim

Off-the-Record Dinner with General Philip Breedlove

On June 4th, the Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record dinner for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program with General Philip Breedlove to discuss today’s pressing foreign policy challenges and U.S. relations with Europe. Gen. Breedlove served as the Commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 2013-2016.

This was a closed event for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program.

General Philip Breedlove (U.S. Air Force, Ret.)


Phil Breedlove is a proven strategic planner, motivational leader and talented communicator. He is a highly decorated retired general of the United States Air Force where he reached the highest levels of military leadership as one of six geographic Combatant Commanders and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

As the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the Commander of U.S. European Command, he answered directly to NATO’s governing body, the North Atlantic Council, and to the President of the United States and Secretary of Defense. He led the most comprehensive and strategic structural and policy security changes in the alliance’s 70 year history. He led the forces of 28 nations and multiple partners in ensuring the security of an alliance that accounts for more than half the world’s GDP.

As Commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, Breedlove was responsible for organizing, training, equipping and maintaining combat-ready forces while ensuring theater air defense forces were ready to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime defense.

As Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, he presided over the Air Staff and served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Requirements Oversight Council and Deputy Advisory Working Group during a period of intense challenge, including devising measures to meet the requirements of the the Budget Control Act’s required $480 billion reduction of the Department of Defense budget.

He earned his Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Science in Aerospace Technology from Arizona State University. Additionally, he completed a Masters of International Security Affairs from the National War College, a Fellowship in International Security Affairs, Seminar XXI from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and completed Leadership at the Peak at the Center for Creative Leadership Colorado Springs.

Breedlove currently serves on the Georgia Tech Advisory Board, as a Distinguished Professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech, as a Senior Advisor to Culpeper National Security Solutions, and on the Board of Directors of both the Atlantic Council and the Center for a New American Strategy.

Solutions Series Roundtable: Cybersecurity

On Thursday, November 2nd Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record roundtable dinner for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program to discuss cybersecurity, and how America’s electric grid can be secured against cyberattacks. The conversation focused on how Congress can support private sector utility providers who are the first line of defense against cyberattacks targeting America’s electric grid.

Cybersecurity and the Electric Grid 

Cybersecurity has risen to the forefront of America’s national and homeland security concerns in the 21st century.  High profile cyberattacks have successfully penetrated networks used by government and operators of critical infrastructure. All 16 sectors of America’s critical infrastructure depend on a stable electric grid – making it a prime target for would be hackers. The Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Energy Review claims that America’s electric grid is in “imminent danger” of a cyberattack, and that a significant outage would undermine critical defense infrastructure, and endanger the health and safety of millions of Americans.

Key Details

Relevant Incidents

  • 2015
    • Russian hackers use “crash override” malware to disable Ukraine’s electric grid
  • 2016
    • Russian hackers disable Kiev’s electric grid
    • Burlington Electric detects Russian group Grizzly Steppe’s malware on network
  • 2017
    • Wolf Creek nuclear plant detects cyber-attacks mimicking Russian group Energetic Bear
    • FireEye claims DPRK hackers targeted electric power companies with spearphishing emails
    • Symantec reveals that Dragonfly hack group gained “operational access” to industrial control systems of US power providers

US Electric Grid Structure

  • 3,300 separate utility operators
  • 200,000 miles of transmission lines
  • 55,000 power substations
  • 5 million miles of distribution lines
  • Tens of thousands of large power transformers
  • LPTs cost millions of dollars each and take up to 2 years to build


Solutions Series Roundtable: Arctic Security

On Thursday, August 24th Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record roundtable dinner for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program to discuss development of an American strategy for the Arctic. The discussion focused on strategic competition with Russia, the current state of strategic assets in the region, and the potential costs and benefits of a US pivot to the North Pole.

Arctic Security 

The Arctic has been a region fairly devoid of conflict; the small club of Arctic states has proven able to resolve differences through diplomacy. However the physical and political environment of the Arctic is shifting rapidly; increasingly aggressive melt of sea ice has created new access to natural resources and potential shipping lanes. Russia and China have moved quickly to invest in the Arctic – though China’s nearest coast is 900 miles from the Arctic Circle, over half of the total arctic coastline is sovereign Russian territory and nearly half of the region’s human population is Russian administered. Russia has launched an extensive military buildup along its Arctic coast, and has made formal claims to areas of the Arctic seabed under UNCLOS. US activity in the arctic is hampered by a lack of deployed strategic assets (icebreakers, cutters, etc.), a murky command structure, and a lack of overall strategic direction.

Key Details


  • Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, USA
    • Arctic Council (forum)
    • NATO members: US, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway


  • Ice melt is opening up new potential shipping lanes through ”Northern Sea Route”
    • Canada, Russia, US experience the most extreme Arctic changes


  • US extended continental shelf:
    • 13% of world oil reserves
    • 1/3 of gas reserves
    • $1 trillion in rare earth metals
  • Arctic at large:
    • $35 trillion in oil and gas reserves

Strategic Assets

  • US
    • 2 icebreakers (1 under repair)
      • USCG says they need 6 to fulfill current N+S pole requirements
    • 41 ice-capable attack subs
    • 3 combat brigades (airborne, mechanized, recon)
    • 3 fighter squadrons (F-16 & F-22)
  • Russian Arctic buildup
    • New Arctic command
    • 4 new Arctic brigades
    • 14 new operational airfields
    • 16 deep water ports
    • 40 icebreakers (11 in development)
    • 25 ice-capable attack subs


A Destabilized Middle East: Impacts on Jordan and Lebanon

On July 31st, United States Institute of Peace Senior Policy Scholar, Mona Yacoubian and fellow in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Middle East Program, Perry Cammack discussed the destabilizing effects of Middle East conflict (including the Syrian Civil War) on Jordan and Lebanon. The discussion was  moderated by Graeme Bannerman, a member of Partnership for a Secure America’s Board of Directors and a scholar at the Middle East Institute. The briefing focused on regional conflicts including the Syrian Civil War and clashes between Hezbollah and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the migration of refugees and internally displaced people across national borders into Jordan and Lebanon.

This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff.

Ms. Yacoubian and Mr. Cammack discussed ways in which the US Congress can support the political and economic resilience of Jordan and Lebanon as they continue to house enormous populations of refugees. Both speakers advised that traditional in-kind assistance is not a sustainable solution to the ongoing displacement of civilians by regional conflicts.

Mona Yacoubian

Mona YacoubianMona Yacoubian is currently a Senior Policy Scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Prior to joining USIP Ms. Yacoubian served as  deputy assistant administrator in the Middle East Bureau at USAID from 2014-2017 where she had responsibility for Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

Ms. Yacoubian’s  previous positions include senior advisor at the Stimson Center where her work focused on the Arab Uprisings with an emphasis on Syria.  Prior to joining the Stimson Center, Ms. Yacoubian served as a special advisor on the Middle East at the U.S. Institute of Peace where her work focused on Lebanon and Syria as well as broader issues related to democratization in the Arab world.

Ms. Yacoubian’s research focuses on conflict analysis and prevention in the Middle East, with a specific focus on Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Her interests also include fragility and resilience.

Ms. Yacoubian was a fulbright scholar in Syria where she studied Arabic at the University of Damascus from 1985 to 1986.  She has held an international affairs fellowship with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and is currently a CFR member. Ms. Yacoubian earned an MPA from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a BA from Duke University.

Perry Cammack

Perry CammackPerry Cammack  is a fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he focuses on long-term regional trends and their implications for American foreign policy.

Prior to joining Carnegie in August 2015, Cammack worked on issues related to the Middle East as part of the policy planning staff of Secretary of State John Kerry from 2013 to 2015 and as a senior professional staff member for then senator Kerry on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) from 2009 to 2012. From 2003 to 2006, he worked on the SFRC staff of then senator Joseph Biden, Jr.

Cammack has a master’s degree in public administration from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and bachelor’s degrees in economics and philosophy from the University of Maryland. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies and a part-time adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.


Building Peace in Afghanistan: Next Steps for U.S. Policy

On May 18th, United States Institute of Peace Vice President of Asia Programs Dr. Andrew Wilder and  former Senior Adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan to DoD Leadership Chris Kolenda discussed the next steps toward a political settlement to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. The discussion focused on the influence of the current U.S. policy review on the path toward a non-military solution to what has become America’s longest war.



Dr. Andrew Wilder


Dr. Andrew Wilder is the Vice President of Asia Programs at the United States Institute of Peace, and previously served as the Director of Afghanistan and Pakistan Programs. Prior to joining USIP, Dr. Wilder served as research director for politics and policy at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, founder and director of Afghanistan’s first independent policy research institution—the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), and in various roles with development and humanitarian programs, including Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps International.

Dr. Wilder’s published work includes The Pakistani Voter: Electoral Politics and Voting Behaviour in the Punjab (Oxford University Press, 1999), and his extensive research has focused on issues related to state-building, development and stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan; his recent work concerns electoral politics in Afghanistan, and the effectiveness of aid in promoting stabilization objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Chris Kolenda

Chris-Kolenda-Afghanistan-PeacebuildingChris Kolenda is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Most recently, Mr. Kolenda served as the senior adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan to senior leadership in the Department of Defense. Mr. Kolenda is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and served in the United States Army with great distinction; in the past he has lead large, complex organizations in the United States and Europe, as well as in combat in Afghanistan. Additionally he served as an Assistant Professor of History at West Point.

In 2007–2008 Mr. Kolenda commanded an airborne infantry task force in Kunar and Nuristan provinces, and produced a dramatic increase in levels of stability in the region through development of an innovative approach to counterinsurgency. According to a 2012 study by the Center of Naval Analyses, Mr. Kolenda’s unit was one of the most highly successful performers in America’s war in Afghanistan. Following this, in 2009 Mr. Kolenda was selected by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to develop a new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, and went on to co-author the McChrystal assessment, as well as pieces of counterinsurgency guidance and military strategy. Mr. Kolenda’s policy and strategic advice has been adopted by three Secretaries of Defense, and the President of the United States.

This was the 38th event in the USIP/PSA Congressional Briefing Series – Topics on International Conflict Resolution and Prevention, an educational program designed to provide congressional staff with opportunities to engage leading experts and fellow Capitol Hill staffers in bipartisan forums. The program aims to build cross-party relationships, encourage bipartisan dialogue, and equip staff with new perspectives on critical issues in international conflict, resolution and prevention.


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