24 March 2017

*** The Real Lesson from the London Attack: Perfect Counterterrorism Is Impossible

Daniel R. DePetris

No amount of resources can stop a single human being from doing something destructive to other human beings.

The grounds surrounding the Palace of Westminster are some of the most iconic in all of London. Tourists from around the world flock to the area on a daily basis, knowing that deep inside Westminster, members of Parliament are duking it out and shouting at one another with their distinguished British accents.

That wasn’t the situation today. The streets and yards that are normally bustling with people were on complete lockdown by London’s Metropolitan Police. A car, zooming at high speed on Westminster Bridge, rammed into a crowd of pedestrians before the driver jumped out of the vehicle and started stabbing police officers near the parliamentary complex. Police eventually shot the assailant to death, but not before at least three people were killed and twenty others were injured. Convinced this was far more than a random rampage with no discernible motive, Scotland Yard decided to treat the incident as a terrorist attack.

There are still a lot of aspects to this story that we don’t know. Was the attacker directed by Islamic State operatives in Syria to carry out this attack? Is the suspect a returnee from Syria? Was this another case of a lone-wolf sympathizer urged on or inspired by the group’s propaganda to take matters into his own hands, but without any further guidance? Are there any accomplices in London that helped the attacker carry out his operation? Did UK intelligence officers have any inclination whatsoever that something like this was going to happen? We don't know the answers to any of these questions.

*** In India, A State Election Shapes The Future Of A Nation


Sometimes an election resonates far beyond the place it directly concerns. Voters in one nation can create problems for foreigners, or voters in one region can shape the fate of an entire country. This is what the citizens of Uttar Pradesh have just done for India for the second time in three years. By delivering a resounding victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in elections held between Feb. 11 and March 8, the country's largest state has not only set the ruling party on the path toward another victory in general elections set for 2019. It has also upheld a multidecade pattern that will define the shape of the country for many years to come.

The Center of Empires

Uttar Pradesh's central importance to India is hard to overstate. It is the country’s steering wheel; anyone who wishes to control India must control Uttar Pradesh. Its importance stems from the Ganges River, whose vast drainage basin is the country's heartland. Uttar Pradesh dominates the center of this fertile alluvial plain, its population of 200 million equal to Brazil's and almost twice that of India's next biggest state. All streams converge here, both literally and figuratively.

The Ganges not only feeds a multitude but also creates a unity among its residents that isn't seen in the more fractured south, with its rugged terrain, numerous rivers and varied languages. By comparison, a large part of the north shares a common language, Hindi, while the great religion that sprung up upon its banks - Hinduism - has the river woven deeply into its spiritual values. In fact, India's British colonists found that they could only persuade indentured workers to board their ships if they brought along large cauldrons of Ganges water as well, such was Indians' aversion to leaving the sacred river behind.

*** A Strategic Perspective on "Information Warfare" & "Counter-Propaganda"

Matt Armstrong

Prepared remarks by Matthew Armstrong given before the Emerging Threats & Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

Chairwoman Stefanik, Ranking Member Langevin, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to speak on information warfare and countering propaganda. 

This is an important conversation as information and informational activities create both opportunities and threats to our nation’s physical, societal, and economic security. This is a strategic problem requiring a strategic review of not just the threat but also of our constraints. We may develop good tactics, but any success from these will be undone if we fail to get the strategy right as well as properly align our efforts toward our objectives. Be confident that our adversaries are doing this realignment, and using our doctrine and public writings as their starting point.

The information domain is not a nuisance at the margins, but a central facet of international affairs. We have known this for a long time, even if we need constant reminding. A1918 report by the U.S. Army General Staff recognized that in the “strategic equation” of war there are “four factors — combat, economic, political, and psychologic — and that the last of these is coequal with the others.” Today, we refer to this as the DIME model of national power — diplomacy, information, military, economic. A July 1945 report from the State Department recognized that the “nature of present day foreign relations makes it essential for the United States to maintain informational activities abroad as an integral part of the conduct of our foreign affairs.”

** The US and China Make Nice

By Jacob L. Shapiro

March 21, 2017 Officials are striking a calmer tone but will this affect relations?

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited China over the weekend, meeting with China’s foreign minister on Saturday and President Xi Jinping on Sunday. By all accounts, the trip went well. Media in both countries pointed out that a spirit of cooperation emanated from the meetings. For those who follow U.S.-China relations, this is a marked difference from just a few months ago, when everyone was focused on the potential for a trade war and World War III in the South China Sea.

Two things must be addressed because of this change in tone. First, a little cold water needs to be thrown on the budding spirit of cooperation that has emerged between the two countries. Second, points of contention remain and will define the U.S.-China relationship no matter the optics. The two countries aren’t going to war, but they aren’t going to be best friends, either.

The U.S.-China relationship has always been a dizzying array of diplomatic protocol. When then-President Richard Nixon went to China in 1972, it took months of diplomatic legwork and interpretation of Chinese moves to realize that China was open to changing the nature of the relationship, and to come up with a diplomatic framework whereby China could consent to forge stronger ties. The thaw in relations was jump-started when the U.S. table tennis team was invited to China in 1972. The solidification of the relationship involved a complex word game where the U.S. recognized that there was only one China but still maintained an alliance with Taiwan.

The Yogi and the magic of numbers

Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Will India’s democrats let majoritarianism plant the seeds of counter-democracy?

We are a democracy.

What an original thought!

And with the second biggest population, the largest democracy in the world.

Cheers !

We are proud of being such a democracy.

But of course!

We must, as a democracy, respect the will of the majority.


Because the voice of the people — vox populi — is the voice of truth.


This is where bombast and its counter — sarcasm — ends. Where irony, humour retires. And hard-rock reality stares us in the face, the reality that is Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of India’s most populous State.

We cannot get anyone more democratic than him.

Gradual ascent

Born to no privilege in the hinterland isolation of the temple-town of Gorakhpur, he was raised in no metropolis, educated in no sequestered school or ivy-covered college. But being sharp-witted, he turned social stagnations into political steroids and taking his town’s eponymous dedication to cow protection seriously, became not just a priest but head priest of the temple. And then, as such head priest, offered himself as a parliamentary candidate, becoming the youngest member of the Lok Sabha to which he was first elected, winning each of the five subsequent elections that he contested as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. More, MP Adityanath remained that quintessence of parliamentary democracy — the private Member, the back or middle-bencher, sometimes of the party in power, sometimes in the Opposition, speaking the language of his people, the language of the masses as their chosen MP, the legislative digit that really counts, that makes up the numbers, the ‘body’ that gives that august body not its augusta meaning, in Latin, ‘majestic, grand’, but its body, its bones, sinew, muscle and flesh.

Enter Qatar: India Is Losing The Aviation And Airports War To Gulf-Based Carriers

R Jagannathan

Keeping Qatar Airways out with protectionist rhetoric will only retard our growth, for aviation generates huge economic spinoffs.

What we need is an integrated aviation and airport policy to challenge the hubbing advantages of Gulf-based carriers.

A proposal from Qatar Airways to start a 100 per cent-owned domestic airline in India is likely to prove contentious, not least due to opposition from domestic players like Indigo and Jet, who claim the field is tilted against them. Among other things, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) is likely to cry foul over three issues: one, that Qatar does not give Indian carriers the right to start a domestic airline in that country; that no country allows 100 per cent foreign ownership in a domestic airline, and, three, that this will shift international traffic to a hub in West Asia, and out of India. After Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines, who have created hubs for international traffic from India in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Qatar will create another hub in its capital Doha. Jet Airways survives because it plays feeder airline to Etihad in Abu Dhabi after being rescued from near-death by the latter.

Most of these arguments are protectionist. For example, what growth will Indian carriers get by operating in Doha, which does not have a huge domestic market worth speaking about? Secondly, how does India gain by not allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership? Wasn’t this the exact ownership limitation that drowned Kingfisher Airlines? Under current rules, a foreign airline can own 49 per cent directly, and foreign non-airline interests the balance. Qatar’s domestic Indian operations will be 100 per cent foreign-owned through the subterfuge, but then most Indian airlines too have NRI or foreign ownership whose ultimate ownership is often shrouded in mystery. The third point – that the hub will move out of India – holds some water, but for that we have ourselves to blame not the Qataris.

Why America Can't Win the War in Afghanistan

Daniel L. Davis

America shouldn't send its troops overseas to participate in an unwinnable foreign war.

The Washington Post published an opinion piece written by Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, which argued that the war in Afghanistan is in a stalemate and the only way to break that stalemate is to give the commanding general more combat troops. If the president follows their advice, then the almost certain outcome will be an increase in U.S. casualties without any strategic impact on the outcome. The war will continue on without end or purpose.

McCain and Graham claim that in recent years the U.S. government has “tied the hands of our military in Afghanistan.” To succeed this time, they said, “requires the right number of people in the right places with the right authorities and the right capabilities.” They also noted that it is “imperative that we see our mission through to success.” The only problem with their observations is that the two senators ignore the fact that this pattern has been repeated countless times since 2007 to no effect.

In February 2007, there were only twenty-six thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Gen. Dan McNeill was in command at that time and decided to “take a harder line with the militants than his predecessor.” In June 2008, McNeill complained that his command was “under resourced” and that the lack of resources had “been a constant theme since I’ve been here.” President George W. Bush increased that troop strength to thirty-three thousand. By September of that year, General McNeill’s replacement, Gen. David D. McKiernan, claimed that there weren’t enough resources to defeat the insurgency. He said an additional twenty thousand troops should do achieve that goal. Newly elected President Obama authorized an additional seventeen thousand troops to support the mission.

US commander arrives, multinational drill from Monday

KATHMANDU: United States Pacific Command (USPACOM)’s Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr arrived here in the capital on Sunday to take part in a multinational military drill for peacekeeping, Nepal Army said.

Exercise Shanti Prayas III is kicking off at the Nepal Army’s Birendra Peace Operations Training Centre tomorrow with participation of 1024 army personnel from 28 countries.

Admiral Harris was received by Lt Gen Purna Chandra Thapa at the Tribhuvan International Airport.

Nepal Army and UPSACOM are jointly organising the multinational military exercise which aims at enhancing peacekeeping capabilities prior to being deployed for peacekeeping missions under the United Nations, the Nepal Army’s Directorate of Public Relations said.

The third edition of Exercise Shanti Prayas, which serves as US Pacific Command’s annual capstone for the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) programme, will conclude on April 3.

Nepal Army Lt Gen Purna Chandra Thapa (R) receives USPACOM Admiral Harris at TIA. Photo: Nepal Army

Army personnel Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Fiji, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vietnam and Zambia were invited to take part in the exercise, according to UPSACOM.

Why History Proves a War Between China and America Would Be a Total Disaster

Robert Farley

In November 1950, China and the United States went to war. Thirty-six thousand Americans died, along with upwards of a quarter million Chinese, and half a million or more Koreans. If the United States was deeply surprised to find itself at war with the People’s Republic of China, a country that hadn’t even existed the year before, it was even more surprised to find itself losing that war. The opening Chinese offensive, launched from deep within North Korea, took U.S. forces by complete operational surprise. The U.S.-led United Nations offensive into North Korea was thrown back, with the U.S. Army handed its worst defeat since the American Civil War.

The legacies of this war remain deep, complex and underexamined. Memory of the Korean War in the United States is obscured by the looming shadows of World War II and Vietnam. China remembers the conflict differently, but China’s position in the world has changed in deep and fundamental ways since the 1950s. Still, as we consider the potential for future conflict between China and the United States, we should try to wring what lessons we can from the first Sino-American war.



The HEAT IS on in Xinjiang. A string of deadly killings, blamed on Islamist separatists, have rocked China’s restive far western province and prompted authorities into an unprecedented show of force – and a social clampdown experts say has been imported from Tibet (西藏).

Huge military parades have taken place in Hotan (和田地區), Kashgar (喀什地區) and Urumqi (烏魯木齊) featuring thousands of servicemen, signalling the authorities’ intent to “relentlessly beat, and strike hard against terrorism”, in the words of the local Communist Party deputy chief Zhu Hailun.

The show of force comes after a knife attack in February that killed eight people and a car bomb in December that killed five. In January, three suspected terrorists were shot dead in Hotan while resisting arrest.

5 Ways Russia and China Could Sink America's Aircraft Carriers

Robert Farley

Aircraft carriers have been the primary capital ship of naval combat since the 1940s, and remain the currency of modern naval power. But for nearly as long as carriers have existed, navies have developed plans to defeat them. The details of these plans have changed over time, but the principles remain the same. And some have argued that the balance of military technology is shifting irrevocably away from the carrier, driven primarily by Chinese and Russian innovation.

So let’s say you want to kill an aircraft carrier. How would you go about it?


On September 17, 1939, the German submarine U-29 torpedoed and sank HMS Courageous. Courageous was the first aircraft carrier lost to submarine attack, but would not be the last. Over the course of World War II, the United States, the UK and Japan lost numerous carriers to submarines, culminating in the destruction of the gigantic HIJMS Shinano in 1944.

The Reina Nightclub Attack and the Islamic State Threat to Turkey

By Ahmet S Yayla

The Reina nightclub attack in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve made clear the immense scale of the Islamic State threat to Turkey. Investigations have shed new light on the group’s command and control over sleeper operatives in Turkey and the large network of clandestine cells and logistical and financial support elements it has set up to sustain terrorist activity. Turkish government complacency has allowed the threat to grow, as have purges of experienced counterterrorism professionals, including those after last year’s failed coup. As the Islamic State shows signs of crumbling in Syria and Iraq, Turkey now faces a nightmare scenario of a mass influx of Islamic State fighters into its territory.

In the early hours of January 1, 2017, the Islamic State took the gloves fully off in its terrorist campaign against Turkey. A single gunman gained entry to the Reina nightclub on the Bosphorus, a famous haunt for celebrities and Western tourists, killing 39 and wounding 71 before escaping into the night. For the first time evera after a high-profile attack in Turkey, the Islamic State claimed responsibility, warning “the government of Turkey should know the blood of Muslims, which it is targeting with its plane and guns, will cause a fire in its home.”

On January 16, 2017, after a massive manhunt, the attacker—later identified as an Uzbek national named Abdulkadir Masharipov (alias Muhammed Horasani) from a small town in Kyrgyzstan with a predominantly Uzbeki population—was finally captured alive in the Esenyurt district of Istanbul. Investigations revealed he had been directed to launch the attack by a senior Islamic State operative in Raqqa, Syria, and had been provided logistical and financial support in Istanbul by a large Islamic State network operating clandestinely in the city.

Violent protests not terror, use least harmful measures: Israeli expert

by Rahul Tripathi

A LEADING Israeli counter-terror expert has warned against confusing violent protests with terrorism, and advocated the use of “least harmful measures” to contain such agitations, including in Jammu and Kashmir. Otherwise, Prof Boaz Ganor said, there is a danger of the protesters being radicalised and turning to terrorism. Speaking to The Indian Express, Ganor, who heads counter-terror studies at the IDC college in Israel, also described surgical strikes as a “wise” option against terrorism and cautioned that the next big security challenge for India would emanate from the proponents of “global jihad”, especially Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Without naming Pakistan, Ganor further said that Israel can learn from India on fighting terror because this country has for years experienced “organised terrorism” that is mostly “state sponsored”.

Asked about the use of pellet guns on protesters in Jammu and Kashmir, Ganor said, “As a counter-terror expert, I don’t see violent protest as terrorism. One needs to use all possible measures to prevent violent protests… hopefully, with little damage, injuries or killing. One reason is you don’t want to kill and secondly and importantly, you will end up radicalising protesters using harsh measures and some of them might turn to terrorism, which you don’t want. You need to use the least harmful measures for those violent protests.”

Israel’s Next Big War

Yossi Alpher

Israel’s next big war is almost certainly going to pit it against some combination of Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah forces along its northern borders with Syria and Lebanon. To be sure, an additional confrontation with Hamas in Gaza (Israel’s opponent in the costly 2014 Gaza War. which led to the death of roughly 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis) could also be in the offing. But the forthcoming war in Israel’s North — home to an estimated 1.2 million people — could be closer to the kind of all-out war that the Jewish state hasn’t fought since 1973.

The reasons have far less to do with the Arab-Israel conflict than with the ongoing civil war in Syria and the continuing confrontation between Iran and Israel. The outcome could result in considerable destruction inside Israel, but also in a strengthening of Israel’s burgeoning strategic ties with its Sunni neighbors — Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — who alongside their reservations on the Palestinian issue share Israel’s concerns regarding Iran’s aggressive regional ambitions. In this sense, a confrontation in Israel’s north would decisively reflect current far-reaching changes in the Middle East strategic balance of power.

Get Ready, Russia: Ukraine Wants to Build Its Very Own MiG-29 (Sort of)

Dave Majumdar

Ukraine is developing a new indigenous lightweight fighter aircraft fighter according to a new report. However, the project has existed in some form for more than ten years.

According to a report in Jane’s, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that Kiev would develop its own twin-engine, multirole fighter during a visit to the Ivchenko-Progress engine design bureau. The aircraft—which currently exists as sketch drawing—is called the Legkiy Boiviy Litak or Lightweight Combat Aircraft. It apparently bears more than a passing resemblance to the MiG-29.

Though the prospective Ukrainian fighter might look like a MiG-29, it would use indigenous engines and avionics. The jet would be powered by a pair of AI-322F derivative engines, but the fighter’s avionics would be of both Western and Ukrainian origin. "We will soon be able to create our own aircraft engine for the fighter," Poroshenko said—according to Jane’s.

Reports of an indigenous Ukrainian fighter date back to before 2005, indeed former Antonov designer general Dmitry Kiva made the claim in 2014 that Ukraine can independently develop gunships and fighter aircraft. However, in reality, it is highly dubious if Kiev has the industrial base or money to develop its own jet independently. Particularly, it is highly unlikely—given the nature of the former Soviet industrial base—that Ukraine would have the wherewithal to independently develop avionics for the new jet, particularly the radar.

1914 Redux? Growing Asia-Pacific Tensions Demand New US Strategy


American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is paying his first visit to Asia this week. Just before he left, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton told reporters the Trump Administration “will have its own formulation” of the Pacific pivot, or the rebalance to Asia declared by the Obama Administration.

“Pivot, rebalance, etcetera — that was a word that was used to describe the Asia policy in the last administration. I think you can probably expect that this administration will have its own formulation. We haven’t really seen in detail, kind of, what that formulation will be or if there even will be a formulation,” she said.

In this timely op-ed, Maj. Paul Smith, who works in the J-9 of U.S. Pacific Command but is, of course, writing in a personal capacity, compares today’s international security situation to that preceding World War I and sees worrying parallels. He calls for a reassessment of our strategy toward China. Read on. The Editor.

The global environment today eerily resembles that of Europe in the early twentieth century, when a rising tide of nationalism swept through the continent. That nationalism led to increased trade competition, networks of intertwined and complicated alliances and social and political ferment that sparked a war that eventually spread to engulf much of the world in the flames of World War I.

No Need to Replace U.S. Land-Based Nuclear Missiles

James E. Doyle

As former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry has argued there are sound strategic reasons to phase out America’s fleet of 400 silo-based Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Primary among these is the fact that these missiles are vulnerable to attack because our potential nuclear adversaries such as Russia know their precise locations. 

Because of their vulnerability, ICBMs are the weapon system most likely to spark an inadvertent nuclear war. If U.S. commanders believed mistakenly (as has happened repeatedly in the past) that our ICBMs were under attack, they will face immense pressure to launch them at the perceived attacker before they are destroyed in their silos. Once they are launched if the warning of attack was false, it is too late. Our ICBMs cannot be recalled and will destroy their targets, prompting certain nuclear retaliation on U.S. cities. 

Now recent revelations regarding the rapidly inflating cost of replacing the ICBMs and dramatic improvements in the capabilities of the other two legs of the U.S. nuclear triad make crystal clear that phasing out the ICBMs is the right choice for American security. 

Pushing forward with deployment of the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) as the Minuteman III replacement is called will deplete resources needed for other vital defense programs from cyber defenses to naval shipbuilding to conventional forces readiness and other nuclear modernization programs including new strategic submarines and aircraft. Estimated cost for the 15-20 year GBSD program have increased by more than 60% from $61 billion in 2016 to over $100 billion in early 2017. No clear plans have emerged that can support this cost without forcing dramatic cuts elsewhere within the defense budget. 

The Southern Gas Corridor: Challenges to a Geopolitical Approach in the EU´s External Energy Policy

By Marco Siddi

Natural gas is considered an important component of the EU energy mix, both as a replacement for more polluting fossil fuels and as a back-up for intermittent renewable energy production. However, declining domestic production has led to an increase in EU import dependency on gas. 

After the Ukraine crisis, the EU has become wary of energy interdependence with Russia, its main external supplier. This led the Union to accelerate the integration of its internal gas market and to support new pipeline projects, most notably the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC). 

The SGC will transport Azeri gas to South Eastern Europe, but faces numerous challenges related to its geopolitical nature. These include the lack of access to significant gas resources, security related risks along its route and geopolitical competition from Russia and China. 

The EU can reduce its exposure to external supply shocks by pursuing market integration and a more ambitious agenda focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency, which will decrease its reliance on fossil fuels. 

Assessing the Third Offset Strategy

On October 28, 2016, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted a daylong conference, including senior defense and intelligence policymakers, military leaders, strategists, regional experts, international and industry partners, and others, to discuss the Defense Department’s Third Offset Strategy. In order to understand what the Third Offset Strategy is, it is first necessary to understand the challenges and trends it is addressing. Technological superiority has been a foundation of U.S. military dominance for decades. However, the assumption of U.S. technological superiority as the status quo has been challenged in recent years as near-peer competitors have sought a variety of asymmetric capabilities to counter the overwhelming conventional military advantages possessed by the United States. This report summarizes the discussions and analysis of the Third Offset that took place at CSIS.


Michael Symanski

“In war the first principle is to disobey orders. Any fool can obey an order. He ought to have gone on, had he the slightest Nelsonic temperament in him.” So wrote First Sea Lord Jacky Fisher in angry critique of Capt. H.M. Pelly, a cruiser captain under Adm. Beatty at the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915. Beatty had signaled, “Attack the enemy’s rear” and then lost communication with his four cruisers pursuing the German rear contingent of four cruisers, one of which was already disabled. “That poltroon Pelly” joined a pile-on against the three functioning Germans instead of defying Beatty’s signal and forging ahead to hunt any undamaged German. But Adm. Jellicoe, the commander of the British Grand Fleet, had established a command culture of centralized control with inflexible doctrine. He issued orders without guiding concepts and rejected requests for changes. Pelly and all other British officers at Dogger Bank had been taught to strictly obey orders and so fumbled away a decisive victory.

Ironically, since 1805 the model for British sea fighting was Horatio Nelson, who at Copenhagen put a telescope to his blind eye and announced that he could not see any signal to retreat from his senior commander. Nelson’s own battle orders were clear that his prime instruction was to resolutely engage and defeat enemy ships. In Nelson’s mind, the winner would be the first commander to observe, orient, decide, and act. Nelson was audacious and unorthodox and a winner, but Jellicoe’s command culture banned intrepid action and could not produce a clear win.

Conventional Warfare: Not Dead Yet

By James M. Dubik

Numerous voices have claimed that the day of conventional war is over. For years, these voices have predicted that “war amongst the people,” or “hybrid war,” or “gray zone operations,” or “distributed security missions,” are the new face of war. But conventional war—however it may be changing—may not be as dead as some believe. Danger is already emerging from the confluence of several unfolding trends. 


The industrial age occurred roughly from 1760-1950 to replace the agricultural age. The world of 1950 didn’t look anything like that of 1760. The factory system changed the way people lived, how families related, and how money and fortunes were made. These changes affected religions, governance, and economies. Citizens of 1950 got their information differently from those of 1760, traveled differently, and fought their wars differently. Demographics shifted, ecologies changed, as did education and almost every other aspect of social and political life. Just as the domestic landscape changed, so did the international environment. The late 18th century international system did not look like that of the mid 20th century.

The American, French, Russian, Mexican, and Turk revolutions were fought in this period as were the American, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese civil wars. The War of 1812, the Boer War, in addition to both World Wars, and the Korean War were also fought in this period—and these are only the major wars. The point is that tectonic shifts of this magnitude create upheaval. The world is at the beginning of just this kind of major shift, one that will last for some time. All should expect that competition, conflict, and war—even conventional war, though it will surely be fought and wage differently than anyone expects—will increase in likelihood, and the U.S. and its allies should prepare accordingly.

National Military Strategy Development—Time for a Revolutionary Approach

By John Kummer, Brenton RamseyMichael Padgett

There have been many National Security Strategy (NSS) development efforts over the past decades. But it appears we have not had a traditional, thorough, objective national strategy review and update since 9/11. As taught in our military education system, force structure determination must begin with a review of the NSS. The last two NSS products were issued by the Obama Administration in 2010 and 2015. The 2010 strategy was cited as a significant departure from previous strategies, with one point being the elimination of reference to Islamic radicalism.

The NSS serves as the basis for the National Military Strategy (NMS), the base document for the strategic aims of the services. The NMS is required by law to be developed not later than 15 Feb of each even numbered year. It is developed by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is one of the key documents enabling the development of an informed NMS. The QDR directs the Department of Defense to undertake a wide-ranging review of strategy, programs, and resources. Specifically, the QDR is expected to delineate a national defense strategy consistent with the most recent NSS by defining force structure, modernization plans, and a budget plan allowing the military to successfully execute the full range of missions within that strategy. The NMS describes the ends, ways, and means required to meet the strategy. Significant risks identified in the NMS lead to a force structure reassessment required to address the risks.

Geolocated: Russian Military Convoys Near Ukrainian Border

This week, the commander of Russia’s Southern Military District announced snap checks for a number of the military units in the south of Russia. Some of these military units were in the Krasnodar Krai, Rostov Oblast, Astrakhan Oblast, and at Russian bases in Armenia and Abkhazia, among other locations.

According to Russian news service TASS, about 6,000 soldiers were involved in the combat readiness check. Earlier in March, another readiness check was instituted for military units in occupied Crimea and the North Caucasus, which are also in the Southern Military District.

We can observe much of the equipment involved in these snap checks through videos shared by ordinary Russians who noticed military convoys driving past them. A number of these videos were shot in the Rostov Oblast, bordering Ukraine. These military convoys were a common sight in the summer of 2014 throughout the Rostov Oblast, where they were transported to large bases that served as the staging ground for Russia’s intervention in the war in the Donbas.

How space has revolutionized American warfare

By: Mark Pomerleau

Space assets flying hundreds of miles above Earth provide critical and essential capabilities to war fighters below, and if taken away would severely hinder operations.

As the Army develops concepts and doctrine for multi-domain battle, or seamless integration of operations across all the war-fighting domains, leaders have come to the realization that forces in future conflicts will be contested in every domain and will likely have to fight with some degraded capability.

These space capabilities enable the Army to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions; perform mission command; and shoot with precision, according to Richard DeFatta, acting director of the Future Warfare Center at Army Space and Missile Defense Command, who spoke at the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, on March 15.

The Army’s space contribution to the joint fight includes globally deployed space forces that plan, coordinate, integrate and synchronize space capabilities to the war fighter, force tracking capabilities, theater missile warnings, space tracking, situational awareness, space superiority and military satellite communication, he said.

For the Army, drone and counter-drone ops go ‘hand in hand’

By: Mark Pomerleau

In a first-of-its-kind multi-domain training lane at Fort Riley, Kansas, the Army is beginning to train and integrate small unmanned aerial system operators alongside counter-UAS operations.

Small UAS operations at the division level and lower are a two-way street, according to personnel involved in the multi-domain training range and UAS training at Fort Riley.

In an ideal scenario, the Army would like to prevent their small UAS assets from potential enemy jamming, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sarah Good, 2 nd Brigade UAS Officer, told C4ISRNET in an interview. Advanced adversaries such as Russia havedemonstrated a very capable jamming tool kit in Ukraine against UAS.

"We have to do it both ways. We have to see what their capability is to jam and see what our capability is to avoid that jam or counter that jam,” Good added.

This involves integrating and training electronic warfare forces alongside UAS operators. “Now that [UAS operators] understand that the jamming is out there, the operator can understand when his aircraft is being jammed or when it’s just going lost link,” Chief Warrant Officer 4 Samuel Kleinbeck, Division UAS at Fort Riley, told C4ISRNET. “So he knows that he’ll be able to recognize that the EW is out there.”