28 January 2017

*** Thinking Through Trump’s Views on the Islamic State

By George Friedman 

During President Donald Trump’s inauguration speech last Friday, he reiterated his promise to destroy the Islamic State. Previously, he also pledged to reduce international commitments that don’t benefit the United States. The two statements are not incompatible. Trump is simply saying that the destruction of IS is fundamental to the national interest. On the surface, this is not an obvious priority, so we must try to understand why IS is so important in his thinking.

IS is a Sunni movement, primarily located in Syria and Iraq, committed to re-establishing the caliphate and dominating the Islamic world. It has established a relatively contiguous area of control stretching from Mosul to Palmyra. Within this space, it has developed a government, and its capital is Raqqa. It maintains rudimentary services, raises taxes and conducts trade. It also maintains a substantial military that has been battling forces trying to retake Mosul. If it succeeds in uniting the Islamic world under a caliphate, it could represent a global challenge. A modern industrialized society governed by a single, integrated state based on Shariah and possessing that much territory would be a very real challenge to American interests. 

U.S. President Donald Trump pumps his fist after addressing the crowd during his swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20, 2017 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images 

IS is far from this goal and has many steps to execute on the way there, so the likelihood of this happening is extremely low. If it was moving in that direction, future intervention would make more sense. It also should be remembered that a Shariah-based industrial force able to project power globally would face tension between the social order commanded by Shariah and a truly global power. In addition, IS threatens regional powers like Turkey Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel with its military capabilities, and others, including the United States, with intermittent terrorist attacks. In the end, the single power most hostile to the Islamic State is Iran, which IS challenges theologically and politically.

Looked at in this way, it would seem to follow that IS does not pose a direct threat now to the United States, and that plenty of intermediate, regional powers are in a position to block IS. Therefore, given the overarching theme of Trump’s global strategy, IS should be a problem for regional powers to deal with; the U.S. does not need to address it until much further down the line, if ever. We need to understand the reasoning for this.



Editor’s Note: This is adapted from the author’s article in the latest issue of the Naval War College Review.

Ever since 1962, when soldiers from the People’s Republic of China inflicted a humiliating defeat on Indian forces, India and China have maintained an uneasy co-existence along the world’s longest disputed frontier. Despite 19 rounds of negotiations, India and China have yet to clearly define the extent of many portions of their border — still officially designated as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Meanwhile, ongoing trends in Chinese strategic behavior — whether in its near seas or along the Sino-Indian border — have generated grave concern in New Delhi, whose vocal strategic community regularly points to a perceived recrudescence in Chinese border incursions.

Map of the Sino-Indian Border. Graphical construction superimposed on Google Maps.

Following one particularly tense standoff in 2013, the Indian government confirmed the creation of a long-discussed new mountain strike corps, with the professed goal of reinforcing India’s conventional deterrent along the Sino-Indian border. This massive accretion in manpower was presented as part of a larger, more sustained, Indian effort to address a perceived growing military imbalance with China. Indeed, another core component of this effort has been to reinforce India’s basing and transport infrastructure in what constitutes a singularly austere operating environment.

Keen to get a clearer picture of this rapidly evolving security situation, I went on a series of field trips to the Himalayan border states of Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir. I also conducted close to 30 interviews of intelligence officials and Indian Army and Special Forces officers, serving and retired.

** Washington's Cold War Containment Strategy Is Still Alive and Well

Crimeans wave the Russian flag as they celebrate in Sevastopol on March 16, 2015. There's a new U.S. president, but Washington's policy of containing Russia is still very much in force. (ALEXANDER AKSAKOV/Getty Images).


The region encompassing Russia and the former Soviet states will be a central focus of U.S. President Donald Trump's foreign policy. 
The new administration could adjust Washington's approach to sanctions against Russia, cooperation with Moscow in Syria and support for states in the European borderlands. 
Even so, the United States' strategic imperative of containing Russia will likely go unchanged, limiting the chances of the two states striking a grand bargain. 

A new U.S. president has been sworn into office, and with the change in leadership will come adjustments to Washington's relationships with other countries — perhaps most of all Russia. U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned on the promise of increasing cooperation with Moscow, particularly on the Syrian battlefield. At the same time, he questioned the value of Washington's commitment to its Eurasian allies, such as Ukraine and the Baltic states. Combined with Trump's criticism of U.S. sanctions against Russia and his hesitation to blame the Kremlin for hacking Democratic National Committee email accounts, these positions could signal a shift in the White House's stance toward Russia to come. Then again, campaign rhetoric doesn't always match action taken once in power, especially when it comes to policies rooted in geopolitical realities. 
The Roots of Containment

One of the United States' greatest geopolitical imperatives is to prevent the rise of regional hegemons with the ability to challenge it. Russia's historical dominance of Eurasia, the Soviet Union's rise as a superpower after World War II and its resulting political, economic and military rivalry with the United States have long made it a target of Washington's actions abroad. But the onset of the Cold War and the expansion of Soviet power — itself an outgrowth of Russia's own strategic imperatives to buffer its heartland from invasion — gave rise to a U.S. strategy known as containment. The policy, championed by U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan and made public in 1947 in a then-anonymous article in Foreign Affairs magazine, essentially boiled down to blocking and countering the Soviet Union and its allies "whenever and wherever they posed a risk of gaining influence." It applied to every corner of the globe and went on to serve as the principal U.S. strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991.

** Strategic Choices for a Turbulent World In Pursuit of Security and Opportunity

by Andrew R. Hoehn, Richard H. Solomon, Sonni Efron, Frank Camm, Anita Chandra, Debra Knopman, Burgess Laird, Robert J. Lempert, Howard Shatz, Casimir Yost
Related Topics: 

Research Questions 

What major-power shifts and realignments have occurred around the world during the post-Cold War period? How might the United States adapt? 

What long-term policy issues and organizational, financial, and diplomatic challenges will confront the next Administration? 

How can the U.S. government improve anticipation, deterrence, and resilience, three areas for policy attention that will be increasingly necessary in managing national security in this turbulent era? 
What strategic options would align the level of U.S. international engagement with its national defense, security, economic, and climate policies, and what resources will be necessary for each option? 

This report is the last in the six-volume Strategic Rethink series, in which RAND explores the elements of a national strategy for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy in a turbulent world. This final overview report analyzes how the United States moved from the triumph at the end of the Cold War to the stalemate of today, and the major-power shifts and realignments that have occurred around the world.

The report reviews the country's strengths and weaknesses, and suggests strategies for adapting to this new era of turbulence and uncertainty. It analyzes how to improve the U.S. government's capacity for anticipation, deterrence, and resilience, three areas for policy attention that will become increasingly important in a period of rapid change. It presents three plausible U.S. strategic concepts and evaluates their underlying assumptions, costs, risks, and constraints. It also offers thoughts on how to choose among alternatives. It concludes that the United States is in many ways in an enviable position compared with its rivals, and continues to benefit from the liberal international order that it built over seven decades. However, a coherent international strategy will be difficult to pursue without a greater degree of domestic political consensus. Domestic political dysfunction is the greatest obstacle to effective U.S. global leadership.

** Staying ahead on cyber security

Is your company an easy target for hackers? Even those making progress must keep moving to protect their digital assets. 

As digitization accelerates, it’s critical for organizations to shore up their defenses to ensure information systems are well protected. But with threats on all sides, where should companies begin, and how do they keep pace with constant shifts in the landscape? In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, leaders of McKinsey’s Cyber Solutions, VP Dayne Myers and consultant Marc Sorel, speak with McKinsey Publishing’s Simon London about ways to manage cyber security risk, build digital resilience, prioritize critical assets, and embrace a broad, business-wide perspective—even if your plan isn’t perfect. 

Podcast transcript 

Simon London: Hello, and welcome to this edition of the McKinsey Podcast. I’m Simon London, an editor with McKinsey Publishing. Today, we’re going to be talking about cyber security, how organizations can deal with the increasingly sophisticated threats to their information systems and assets. Joining me here in our Silicon Valley office to discuss the issues are Dayne Myers and Marc Sorel, leaders of McKinsey’s Cyber Solutions. Dayne and Marc, thank you very much for being here today. 

Dayne Myers: Thank you for having us. 

Simon London: A year ago, we had our wonderful colleague, James Kaplan, on this podcast. We talked about some of the fundamentals of cyber security. He also introduced the concept of digital resilience, which I think we’ll go into in more detail later. But before we do that, just look back on 2016, a year since James was on here talking about cyber security. How did the year shape up in the end? 

Dayne Myers: Well, Simon, I would say that one of the most significant things we’re seeing is that cyber security risk in particular is much more becoming a board issue. Boards of directors are feeling like they need to pay attention to this. 

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I think another thing we’ve learned is that a lot of boards and CEOs are becoming more concerned about the money they are spending and whether or not they are getting adequate return on their investment in cyber security technology and defenses, and also whether or not they are prioritizing the right things. 

One final point is that, as the world gets more digitized, as companies of all sorts—not just cloud-based companies and not just software companies—are becoming more digitized, that threat goes up exponentially. And innovation is slowed, obviously, if you’re attacked. But also trying to plan out cyber security in a way that does not slow down that digitization and that innovation is difficult. 

** Helping Soldiers Leverage Army Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities in Civilian Jobs

by Jeffrey B. Wenger, Ellen M. Pint, Tepring Piquado, Michael G. Shanley, Trinidad Beleche, Melissa A. Bradley, Jonathan Welch, Laura Werber, Cate Yoon, Eric J. Duckworth, Nicole H. Curtis
Related Topics: 

Research Questions 

For each of the Army's ten most-populous military occupational specialties (MOSs), what are the most-needed knowledge, skills, and abilities? 

For each of the ten MOSs examined, what are the best-matched civilian occupations, in terms of work activities, work context, work style, and needed knowledge, skills, and abilities, including soft (nontechnical) skills? 

How can the Army use the information of military-civilian job matches to assist soldiers transitioning out of the Regular Army? 

As the Army reduces its end strength, the number of soldiers leaving the Regular Army has increased, raising concerns about unemployment and other transition problems for these veterans. To help improve the Army's transition assistance process, the authors of this report administered civilian occupation surveys to soldiers in selected Army military occupational specialties (MOSs) to assess the level and importance of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed in these MOSs and to develop better crosswalks between military and civilian occupations. The authors also identified and separately analyzed survey questions associated with soft skills, such as leadership, teamwork, and attention to detail, to assist soldiers with translating their Army experience for civilian employers.

The occupation surveys generated a rich database that was used to characterize the KSAs needed by Army soldiers to perform their MOSs, as well as other occupation attributes, such as work activities, work context, and work style. Furthermore, the crosswalks generated from the survey responses identified both a broader range of military-civilian occupation matches and higher-quality matches than existing crosswalks. Based on these results, we recommend that the Army communicate information about these job matches to both soldiers and potential employers and that it expand use of the occupation surveys to develop crosswalks for additional MOSs.

Key Findings

Improving Military-Civilian Occupation Crosswalks 
The civilian occupation surveys generated a rich database of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed by Army soldiers to perform ten of the largest Army military occupational specialties (MOSs). 

* Narrative, Cyberspace and the 21st Century Art of War

 By Brad D. Williams

In February 2013, an article insipidly entitled “The Value of Science in Prediction” appeared in the Russian publication Military-Industrial Courier. The article was penned by Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of the Russian Federation. Few in the West recognized the article at all, much less its significance, at the time of its publication.

In the article, Gerasimov analyzed “new-type conflicts.” These conflicts entail an array of strategies and tactics employed in the gray zone to achieve national interests, even military, without a declaration of war and without crossing the threshold that would provoke a kinetic response.

“The very ‘rules of war’ have changed,” Gerasimov wrote.

Dr. Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian history and security issues who annotated an English translation of Gerasimov’s article, identified the most important line as, “The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness.”

Gerasimov’s “nonmilitary means” included “broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian and other nonmilitary measures – applied with the protest potential of the population.”

Experts see one hybrid tactic – narrative and cyber – playing an increasingly prominent role in current conflicts.
War Narratives

An old Wall Street adage goes, “You’d have to be a paranoid Russian poet to understand global finance.” Today, that maxim might be paraphrased for an equally unexpected insight: “It helps to be a literary critic in understanding contemporary warfare.”

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu described the “five constant factors” of conventional warfare, but none included narrative. Experts now point to the influential role of narrative in military, geopolitical and ideological “new-type conflicts.”

Nations like Russia and China, as well as terrorist organizations like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), are using narrative to motivate audiences, advance agendas and engage adversaries.

Scholars have long argued that literary techniques are not the special purview of novelists, poets and playwrights. From philosophers’ research on metaphor to cognitive scientists’ investigations into parable, literary devices reveal and appeal to basic human cognition. Perhaps that’s why narrative’s use by governments, institutions, businesses and ideologues is not new.

When employed in military or geopolitical conflicts, Brad Allenby and Joel Garreau, co-directors of The Weaponized Narrative Initiative of the Center on the Future of War, call it “weaponized narrative.” And they believe its recent effectiveness will encourage further use.

* How The Military Conducts PSYOPS


Thanks to an Army manual obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Task & Purpose can share some of the gear used in psychological operations.

When people think about U.S. Army equipment, what probably comes to mind are tanks, gunship helicopters, self-propelled artillery, and other larger advanced weapons — all great for blowing things up. However, American troops often rely on a very different gear to both confuse and demoralize enemy troops and “win the hearts and minds” of civilians on and around the battlefield.

Thanks to an unclassified 2005 training aid, Task & Purpose is able to highlight the unique equipment military personnel bring on these psychological operations, or PSYOPS. As of 2017, Army Special Operations Command oversees all active PSYOPS troops, though some units are attached to the Army Reserve.

According to the unclassified PSYOPS training manual Task & Purpose obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, these troops employ everything from printed messages to radio programs to television shows to “create a behavior that supports the United States” and promote American military objectives, as the manual puts it. Elite troops have their own Special Operations Media Systems-B that combines both radio and television studio functions in a suite of relatively mobile equipment.

Four Humvees and two trailers can hold all the various pieces of the Mobile Radio Broadcast System and the Mobile Television Broadcast System. Special operators can deploy the two components wherever commanders might need them with the help of U.S. Air Force C-130 and C-17 aircraft, according to the guide.

The radio station portion produces, records, and transmits the alerts all by itself, according to the Army guide. While the mobile television production center does the same for audio-visual messages, it also has extra cameras, lights and other gear so specialized soldiers have the option of creating their own news reports from the field.

Pakistan test-fires Ababeel missile

Ababeel is capable of engaging multiple targets with high precision while defeating enemy’s radars.

The radar-evading ‘Ababeel’ surface-to-surface ballistic missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead up to 2,200 kms, bringing many Indian cities within its range.

Islamabad: Pakistan on Tuesday tested fired surface to surface missile (SSM) Ababeel having the range of 2,200 kilometres.

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) Zubair Mahmood Hayat and services chiefs congratulated the scientists and all stakeholders.

The missile is capable of delivering multiple warheads using Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology. The test flight was aimed at validating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system, a military statement said.

Ababeel is capable of engaging multiple targets with high precision while defeating enemy’s radars.

Ababeel Weapon System aims at survivability of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles in the growing Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) environment.

President Mamnoon Hussain congratulated the nation on the successful test and described the missile test as important to maintain balance of power in the region.

Emerging Trans-Regional corridors: South and Southeast Asia


A broadly interconnected Asia sees the simultaneous rise of India and China as strong states and even stronger markets. New ideas and initiatives of trans-regional economic corridors to further link regions of Asia and beyond have been emerging in recent years. China has initiated the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road (together the One Belt, One Road or OBOR) with the aim to link the country with and those of Central and Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean region, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Japan has been involved in developing strategic corridors in South and Southeast Asia. India has been pushing for strengthening its linkages with Southeast Asia and Central Asia. Similarly, the United States has envisioned an Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor to bridge South and Southeast Asia. Within this context, this volume attempts to capture the rationales behind the various initiatives with a specific focus on linking South and Southeast Asia. The papers in the volume assess the economic and strategic implications of the trans-regional economic corridors in South and Southeast Asia.


Emerging Trans-Regional Corridors: Perspectives from South and Southeast Asia | K. Yhome and Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy 

Linking South and Southeast Asia 

Connecting South Asia with Southeast Asia: A Reality Check | Tariq A. Karim 

India:The Bridge Linking South and Southeast Asia | Sreeradha Datta 

Projects, Proposals and Plans 

The new Davos man Xi Jinping portrays China as a rock of stability


DELEGATES at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos often treat politicians as rock stars. But the fawning reception given to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, on January 17th was extraordinary. He was the first Chinese president to attend the annual gathering of the world’s business and political elite. Even an overflow room was packed when he delivered, in his usual dour manner, a speech laced with literary references—rendered through bulky headsets into equally monotone translations. Mr Xi said little that was new, but the audience lapped it up anyway. Here, at a time of global uncertainty and anxiety for capitalists, was the world’s most powerful communist presenting himself as a champion of globalisation and open markets.

Mr Xi (pictured, next to a panda ice-sculpture) did not mention Donald Trump by name, nor even America, but his message was clear. “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war,” he said, in a swipe at Mr Trump who has threatened, among other mercantilist acts, to slap heavy tariffs on Chinese goods. Mr Xi likened protectionism to “locking oneself in a dark room”, a phrase that delegates repeated with delight. His words seemed comforting to many of them after a year of political surprises, not least in America and Britain. Mr Xi quoted from Dickens to describe a “world of contradictions”, as he put it. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he said. Many foreign businesses complain about what they regard as a rise of protectionism in China, too—but no one could accuse Mr Xi of being out of tune with the Davos mood. China, Mr Xi assured delegates, “will keep its door wide open and not close it”.

The Chinese president also portrayed his country as a staunch defender of the environment. He said that sticking to the Paris agreement on climate change, which came into effect last year, was “a responsibility we must assume for future generations”. These, too, were welcome words to many listening: Mr Trump’s threat to reject the pact will make China’s commitment to it all the more crucial. 

The week of whose inauguration?

The timing of Mr Xi’s trip was fortuitous—according to the Financial Times his aides were working on it before Britain voted to leave the European Union and well before Mr Trump’s election victory. But he must have relished the points that those events enabled him to score at Davos. Mr Xi faces political battles of his own as he prepares for a five-yearly Communist Party congress in the autumn and a reshuffle right after it. He wants to install more of his allies in key positions. Standing tall on the world stage could help (and attending Davos will have reinforced the point to his colleagues that he is in charge of China’s economy, as he clearly is of every other main portfolio).

Quarantine? What Are American Options for the South China Sea?


Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who had expressed serious reservations about Rex Tillerson, President Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of State, said Sunday afternoon they would vote for him, pretty much assuring his elevation. The most combustible part of Tillerson’s testimony was about how to handle a rising China’s actions in the South and East China Seas — comments which White House spokesman Sean Spicer seemed to echo — so I asked Dean Cheng, one of the top experts on the Chinese military, to parse Tillerson’s comments and give readers a sense of what should be done. Read on. The Editor.

During his confirmation hearings for Secretary of State, nominee Rex Tillerson compared Chinese island building to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and said the United States needed to send a “clear signal that first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also not going to be allowed.”

Not surprisingly, these comments aroused a heated response from Beijing, which reiterated its claims to the South China Sea. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has ignored a legal finding by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague which found that China’s Nine Dash Line provides no legal basis for its claims in the South China Sea.

Chinese artificial island

If Tillerson meant to signal that the United States will blockade the various artificial islands, this would constitute a most serious threat. A blockade is an act of war under international law. But just as President Kennedy chose to invoke a “quarantine” during the Cuban Missile Crisis, rather than a blockade, there are presumably other means to affect Chinese efforts to secure the South China Sea short of ringing the islands with US Navy ships.

The Jihadi Threat: ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Beyond

The West failed to predict the emergence of al-Qaeda in new forms across the Middle East and North Africa. It was blindsided by the ISIS sweep across Syria and Iraq, which at least temporarily changed the map of the Middle East. Both movements have skillfully continued to evolve and proliferate—and surprise. What’s next? Twenty experts from think tanks and universities across the United States explore the world’s deadliest movements, their strategies, the future scenarios, and policy considerations. This report reflects their analysis and diverse views.

(Book Cover image: ©Zabelin/iStock)


Russia and the West After the Ukrainian Crisis

By F. Stephen Larrabee, Stephanie Pezard, Andrew Radin, Nathan Chandler, Keith Crane, Thomas S. Szayna

Research Questions 

How are NATO and EU countries vulnerable to Russian military pressures? 
How are NATO and EU countries vulnerable to Russian economic pressures? 
How are NATO and EU countries vulnerable to Russian influences on their domestic politics? 

In the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea and continued aggression in eastern Ukraine, the rest of Europe has been forced to reassess its approach to a regional security environment previously thought to be stable and relatively benign. This report analyzes the vulnerability of European states to various possible forms of Russian influence, pressure, and intimidation and examines four areas of potential European vulnerability: military, trade and investment, energy, and politics. We find that European countries differ widely in their vulnerability to possible Russian actions. Whereas the states in southern or western parts of Europe have some economic vulnerability, Northern and Central European states have greater exposure to Russian actions due to their proximity to Russia, their history of recent domination by the Soviet Union, and, in some cases, the continuing legacies of the Soviet empire. Energy represents a lesser source of vulnerability for Europe than is generally perceived. If Russia were to halt oil exports to Europe, Europe could easily import oil from other suppliers. European countries could also find alternative measures if Russia were to interrupt flows of gas, although a few smaller economies would be less resilient than larger ones. Finally, Russia could try to exploit the political vulnerabilities of a number of countries, from Russian minorities issues in the Baltic states to the rise of populist parties in the rest of Europe.

Baltic Security Scenario Simulation in Poland

The Potomac Foundation and the Casimir Pulaski Foundation will host their first joint Baltic Security Scenario Simulation in Warsaw, Poland on January 23-26, 2017.

The purpose of this wargaming initiative is to assist the Polish national security decision-makers in the development of a regional and NATO accepted understanding of the nature of the Russian military threat to the Baltic States and Poland.

Media Inquiries: info@thepotomacfoundation.org

The wargame seeks to explore the dynamics between national defense and coalition warfare considerations; defense of the capital and defense of borders; defeating forces and defeating adversary’s plans.

Wargame participants will include defense experts and government representatives from Poland, the United States, Baltic and Nordic countries.

The simulation will be conducted using the Potomac Foundation’s proprietary HEGEMON platform and methodology. HEGEMON features Google Earth interface, and includes a complete regional order of battle, as well as a detailed attrition calculation application for direct fire, indirect fire, air attack, and air defense. The forces are controlled by players who issue movement and combat orders for each turn to the units under their command. All unit orders provided for each move to the umpire, who adjudicates movement and combat outcomes. All orders are submitted and executed simultaneously.

Trump and strategic change in Asia

By: William T Tow

As Donald Trump’s administration comes to power in Washington, the postwar security policy of the US is undergoing a monumental transition. The new president’s campaign rhetoric strongly intimated that under his self-proclaimed ‘America first’ posture, traditional American strategy and alliance politics would undergo a major change.

His approach to dealing with allies and adversaries will be based less on their traditional roles in US foreign policy and more on how he and his foreign and security policy team view other countries’ willingness to adjust their own policies to conform with a markedly different set of US economic and strategic priorities.

This paper looks at North Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia and region-wide concerns. It concludes while Trump postulates an ‘America first’ posture, that hardly represents an ‘Asia last’ prescription. Above all else, Trump’s history is shaped by his reputation in the business world for hard but fluid bargaining to derive optimal results for interest-based objectives.

Superpartner: A US Strategy for a Complex World

The Trump administration should not take up its work under the assumption that the United States, with only 5 percent of the world’s population and around a quarter of the world’s economy, can continue to be an indispensable presence on the world stage. America’s relative decline since 1945 seems to be a byproduct of the post-World War II system it created along with its allies and partners, in which the United States worked to bring millions out of poverty, give other nations incentives to strengthen their governance structures and institutions, and establish global norms of behavior. That effort sought to ensure no worldwide conflicts recurred. However, fostering an environment where states, groups, and individuals could be further empowered naturally eroded America’s once-monopolistic strength; the United States has brought humanity to a new era where many are powerful and many can potentially lead.

In today’s world, the United States must seek to be central to global efforts, but not necessarily to lead them. Here is the difference: by maintaining its status as a central player, the United States always has an important part to play in solving global problems. By leading, the United States dictates the actions of other players in a given scenario. America must now share the spotlight with other players—state and non-state alike—to achieve its foreign policy objectives and maintain harmony with others. Choosing this course, as opposed to the current “indispensable nation” model, would allow the United States to be more effective and efficient in its dealings around the world while also building up the capacity of other actors to take care of problems as they arise. The United States, in essence, would become the world’s catalyst for action: always working, always available, always present. 

How Trump Should Handle Russian Nuclear Talks


A B-2 launches simulated B-61 nuclear weapon

If the Trump administration wants to negotiate an arms control treaty with Russia, it must meet several preconditions.

The Times of London reports that then President-elect Donald Trump signaled he would consider a nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Russians. He was quoted as saying, “For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.”

It’s not clear if the President is committed to a nuclear arms treaty, or if he was merely trying to lure the Russians to the negotiating table. It’s also unclear if he meant only Russian nuclear weapons should be “way down and reduced very substantially.”

It is clear that President Trump, in addition to his pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and Defense Secretary James Mattis, think it is wise to look for ways to find agreement with the Russians to cool a relationship that has grown increasingly heated during the Obama years. It is also true that the Russians are always interested in U.S. nuclear reductions — if not Russian nuclear reductions — so it is plausible President Trump is merely demonstrating a willingness to talk.

But President Trump has also left other clues about the way he will interact with heads of state. He has consistently insisted that he wants “good deals” that will benefit the United States, as opposed to, one can infer, the kind of deals the Obama administration brokered that certainly helped our adversaries but did little or made things worse for the United States. He also wants to assert American leadership and negotiate from a position of strength.

On U.S. nuclear weapons, he recently stated “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” Considering the U.S. nuclear deterrent is overdue for modernization, this was a wise position to stake out.

So, what would the preconditions for a “good deal” for Americans look like? How would the United States, with a potential Secretary of State Tillerson at the helm, negotiate such a treaty from a position of strength and without degrading the credibility of our own aging nuclear deterrent force?



Recently, Sen. John McCain released a white paper entitled Restoring American Power. In it, he calls for the restoration of the U.S. military’s advantage:

Our military’s capabilities are also out of balance. On the lower end of the spectrum, we need greater numbers of more affordable, less advanced systems to fight terrorist enemies in permissive environments. On the higher end of the spectrum, as nation-state rivals can increasingly counter our military’s ability to project power, we need longer-range, more survivable platforms and munitions, more autonomous systems, greater cyber and space capabilities, among other new technologies. In this way, the joint force should be equipped with what is often called “a high/low mix” of capabilities.

The “high-low mix” is often invoked in the manner Sen. McCain describes. Although there has been no shortage of ink spilled by defense analysts, tacticians, industry executives, and policy wonks in discussion of the high-low mix, the term is widely used but still lacks a meaningful definition or historical understanding.

As a result, the high-low mix has lingered in a purgatory of relevance, and few examples in procurement exist that fit neatly within its binary construct. As an often-cited, seldom-executed framework, perhaps the issue is the constraints of the model itself. It is time to revive the spirit of the defense reform movement and adapt the high-low mix paradigm to the 21st century. But first one must understand what it is — and isn’t.

Origins of Resource Allocation

In the 1970s, retired Air Force Col. John Boyd, Thomas Christie, Franklin “Chuck” Spinney, and Pierre Sprey were key players of what became known as the defense reform movement. Widely credited with creating the anti-establishment movement to temper the defense industry’s addiction to high technology and increasingly complex weapon systems, the reformers became associated with introduction of the high-low mix — a strategic acquisitions play in which a small number of extremely capable aircraft (high) coupled with a large number of less expensive aircraft (low) had the cumulative effect of a much larger force. By the late 1970s, this became a conceptualization of airpower and subsequently manifested as an aircraft procurement strategy that provided a reference point most in the field accept in theory. Yet 40 years later, examples of this in practice have been the anomaly — not the strategy.

How to Deter Foreign Cyberattacks on U.S. Elections

By Christopher S. Chivvis

President Barack Obama talks about cyber hacking during the U.S. presidential election in Washington, December 16, 2016

The sanctions and expulsions announced last week against Russia raise important questions about how the United States can effectively deter cyberattacks of this kind in the future — and how effective the measures announced will likely be in doing so.

Deterring future cyber-meddling in U.S. elections will require convincing adversaries — Russia and others — that any future such meddling will either be: a) ineffective and/or b) too costly to be worthwhile.

There are at least two ways to make such operations ineffective: First, the United States could seek to dampen or counter the influence on the actual electoral debate, for example, by swiftly exposing them — a resilience strategy akin to what was sometimes called passive defense during the Cold War. Second, the United States could seek simply to make such operations impossible by developing highly effective cyber-network defenses — a strategy akin to what was sometimes called active defense.

To make it clear that cyber operations against future elections will be costly, the United States must also demonstrate both a capability and a will to strike back in the future — in other words to punish those states and actors that might contemplate using their cyber capabilities in this way.

Demonstrating a capability to punish is relatively easy — indeed almost unnecessary. The United States has a broad arsenal of military, diplomatic, financial and other means at its disposal to inflict costs on any country that might seek to use cyber tools to interfere in its elections.

Repelling the cyberattackers

By Tucker Bailey, James M. Kaplan, and Chris Rezek

Organizations must build digital resilience to protect their most valuable information assets. 

For many businesses, the next wave of innovation and growth will likely involve intelligent analytics, rich mobile experiences, and “one touch” processes that require no further manual intervention. Success will depend on maintaining trust: consumers and business customers alike will accept nothing less than a complete assurance that the companies they engage with protect their highly sensitive data carefully in the hyperconnected information systems powering the digital economy. 

When companies think about cybersecurity in such a world, most ask, “How can we protect ourselves and comply with standards or regulations?” instead of “How do we make confident, intelligent investments given the risks we face?” Many also treat cybersecurity primarily as a technology function rather than integrating it into business operations. As a result, they get the wrong answer about how to construct a cybersecurity program. The consequences are painfully clear: nearly 80 percent of technology executives surveyed report that their organizations cannot keep up with the attackers’ increasing sophistication. 

The solution, we’re convinced based on years of research and experience on the front lines, is to move beyond models that make cybersecurity a control function and toward what we call digital resilience: the ability to design customer applications, business processes, technology architectures, and cybersecurity defenses with the protection of critical information assets in mind (Exhibit 1). Digital resilience is the subject of our new book, Beyond Cybersecurity: Protecting Your Digital Business, and the focus of this article. 

Exhibit 1 

Given the size of the stakes and the solution’s cross-functional nature, progress requires senior-level participation and input. Unfortunately, top management often doesn’t engage. At roughly two-thirds of the companies we evaluated, the managers in charge of cybersecurity have no regular interaction with the CEO. So the launch—or relaunch—of a digital-resilience program gives the senior-management team an ideal opportunity to set and clarify expectations for how each of its members will help to identify and protect important information assets. 

The Knowns and Unknowns of Trump’s Cyber Plan


Donald Trump will be sworn in as the nation’s 45th president today with cybersecurity looming larger than it has for any of his predecessors—and with many unknowns about how he’ll tackle the issue.

Here’s a rundown of what we know and what we don’t.
‘Review on Hacking’

Trump has promised a “major review on hacking” within his first 90 days in office, declaring, “we have no defense” and “we’re run by people that don’t know what they’re doing.”

It’s not clear, however, who will lead that review or where it will focus.

Trump first floated the idea of a major cyber assessment during his campaign, when he pledged an “immediate review of all U.S. cyber defenses and vulnerabilities, including critical infrastructure, by a Cyber Review Team of individuals from the military, law enforcement and the private sector.”

After the election, Trump seemed to shift course and said he’d ask the Defense Department and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “to develop a comprehensive plan to protect America’s vital infrastructure from cyberattacks and all other forms of attacks.” 

That would be a significant shift from the current situation in which the Homeland Security Department manages relations between government and the private sector when it comes to cybersecurity. Expanding DOD’s domestic role would also likely require action by Congress.

“Vital infrastructure” also has no fixed meaning in government-ese, unlike “critical infrastructure,” a term DHS uses to describe 17 industries, including the transportation, energy and chemical sectors, considered vital to national security.

Trump later suggested, during a January press conference, that the intelligence community would play a role in the review.

The Giuliani Factor

The day after that press conference, Trump announced former New York City Mayor and Trump campaign supporter Rudy Giuliani would advise him on cybersecurity and help convene a rotating panel of private-sector leaders to discuss the issue.

It’s unclear, however, what role that private-sector group will play in the 90-day review.

Air Force CISO: Adversaries are watching you

By: Mark Pomerleau

The new era of enduring cyber conflict has led some within government to remain on guard and lose trust with anyone and anyone interacting with them from behind a keyboard. “Cyber threats are real. We need to increase the awareness across our entire internal Air Force and across [the Defense Department] to avoid exploitation and reduce risks to ourselves and our missions,” Air Force CISO Peter Kim said in a Jan. 23 speech at the ICIT Winter Summit in Arlington, VA.

The new generation of conflict, which involves malicious cyber espionage and intrusion campaigns, is a wake-up call that anything and everything is fair game to be exploited by adversaries. “The average military member probably doesn’t think about this every day, but we are being monitored and watched by our adversaries,” Kim said, adding adversaries will likely read everything they can about the conference he was speaking at to see what people are saying. “If you hold a U.S. government security clearance…you are targets for a malicious cyber activity as a result of the massive OPM breach.”

Furthermore, Kim described an emerging environment wherein personal interactions should always be questioned and vetted. “Even in our personal social media lives we are being monitored. From LinkedIn to Facebook we are being monitored,” he said. “Our adversaries are watching…Be mindful and wary of friend requests from anyone you don’t know. Even attempts to reach out to get to know you or connect for networking, you should all scrutinize every one of those, especially people you’ve never seen or heard from or met. Be mindful of Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups masquerading as official pages like an official F-22 page…where you can share your experiences and war stories and get to know others. Check the sources, ask your colleagues, go that extra mile before accepting.”

Both experts and the intelligence community have warned of robust social media campaigns waged by “trolls” in an attempt to gain compromising information and sow chaos.

“In the nearly 30 years I’ve served in the Air Force both in active duty and civilian capacity, I’ve never seen threats more sophisticated and diverse across all domains from a broad array of nation state and non-nation state actors than I’ve seen today in 2017,” Kim said. 

“This is especially true in cyberspace where the challenges are evolving faster than anywhere else.”

Cyber Training Battalion Opens New Company in Oklahoma

By Tony Ware

Cyber warriors defend the network at the tactical operations center for 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, on Fort Bliss, Texas, during Network Integration Evaluation 16.1, which ran from Sept. 25 to Oct. 8, 2015. (Photo Credit: David Vergun) 

A new Cyber Training Battalion company, Charlie, has been activated at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, according to an article in The Lawton Constitution tweeted by the Army Cyber Command and Second Army.

According to reporter Mitch Meador, Lt. Col. Ben Sangster, the Cyber Training Battalion commander, came from the U.S. Army Cyber School at Fort Gordon, Georgia, where the battalion is based, to unfurl and pass the colors to Charlie Company’s new command team, Capt. Jackson W. Wittkamper and 1st Sgt. Darnell L. Folsom.

Charlie Company will train soldiers no matter what branch and rank they may be in. The company’s 24 instructors and course developers, as well as additional administrators, will provide electronic warfare specialist, technician and support courses varying in size from 90 to 120 students and in length from 22 weeks to nine months.

“If we sit back and think someone else is going to take care of it for us, I think we’re misinformed and we’re setting ourselves up for failure,” Sangster said. “We’ve got to keep up with our adversaries, and if they’re going to come after our networks and our systems, then we need to be trained and educated in order to defend our systems.”

China’s Growing Ambitions in Space


While Trump works to lay out a new policy for NASA, China is set to conduct a record number of launches this year. 

In his inaugural address, President Donald Trump said that the United States stands “ready to unlock the mysteries of space,” but given that he has yet to outline his NASA policy, it may be months before the country learns what that means. Meanwhile, China is moving boldly ahead with its own space-exploration efforts, and with little ambiguity about its mission. The country recently announced it would conduct about 30 launches this year. The target, if met, would be a record for China. The country conducted 21 successful orbital-launch missions in 2016, and 19 the year before that. The output puts China in a close second behind the United States, which saw 22 successful launches, and ahead of Russia, which conducted 16.

And there’s plenty more to come, according to a recent report from the China National Space Administration (CNSA), a quinquennial document that lays out the country’s space goals for the next five years. The report, released late last month, said CNSA will launch in 2017 its first-ever cargo spacecraft, headed for the space laboratory launched last year. In 2018, CNSA aims to land a rover to the far side of the moon, a first for humankind. And in 2020, it plans to land a rover on Mars, a feat that has been attempted by Russia and other European nations, but only successfully accomplished by the United States.

“Our overall goal is that, by around 2030, China will be among the major space powers of the world,” Wu Yanhua, the deputy chief of the National Space Administration, said recently.

While the report doesn’t mention it, Chinese space officials have said they would put astronauts on the moon by the mid-2030s.

The report demonstrates the growing capabilities of a burgeoning space program, one that’s often overlooked in a domain of other spacefaring nations, particularly the United States. China’s military-run space program began to take shape in the mid-1950s, at the start of the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Its efforts would be repeatedly derailed by political turmoil inside the country. Experts say the program is a decade or so behind the leading spacefaring nations, but it’s no rookie. China is only the third country to put its own astronauts into space, and, with Americans launching to space on Russian rockets, it’s currently only one of two that retains that capacity.