7 May 2017

*** The Limits of Expertise

By George Friedman

Expertise consists of detailed knowledge and experience in a field that permits you to undertake successful actions. An air conditioner repairman, a surgeon and a financial engineer are all examples of expertise, along with endless others. No reasonable person would argue against the need for expertise in the world. The questions, however, are whether expertise has limits and whether excessive dependence on expertise to solve problems and manage human affairs might be at times insufficient and even harmful.

This is not a strange philosophical discussion but a very practical matter. In the field that I am interested in, geopolitics, there are those who claim the title of experts. Indeed, they are experts in terms of education and experience in government offices, think tanks and universities. They lay claim to knowledge of relationships between nations that is superior to those who lack their education and experience. Their reasonable claim is that they should be relied on to manage U.S. foreign policy. Their counterparts in other countries make the same claim. Without challenging their expertise – which is self-evident in most cases – the question is whether expertise in a field is a basis for trusting the expert with important things like foreign policy and air conditioning.

Plato asked if a physician who does not cure his patient ought to be considered a physician. His answer was no. Plato’s point was that the test of an expert is achieving the end to which expertise is intended. If he fails, he is no expert. The goal of an air conditioning repairman is obvious – fixing broken air conditioners. But what is the end to which foreign policy experts aim? The answer, obviously, is to conduct successful foreign policy. But while I know what a working air conditioner looks like, I don’t know – or at least don’t know beyond challenge – what good foreign policy looks like. In hiring foreign policy experts it is hard to measure their expertise because the end is uncertain.

*** Islamabad, Pakistan: Factory and Sanctuary of Jihad, Inc.

By Robert Cassidy

“By 2005 the Taliban had resurfaced in Afghanistan. American intelligence discovered once again that the Taliban’s activities were being directed from Pakistan while, as before, Pakistan denied its involvement.” - Husain Haqqani

“In its support of the Taliban, Pakistan was indirectly strengthening al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Pakistani militants were providing manpower for both the Taliban and al Qaeda and running a vast logistics, communication, and transit network in Pakistan on behalf of al Qaeda.” - Ahmed Rashid

The wars against Islamist militants inimical to secular democracies will not end until the West and its genuine friends forge the will to shut down the factories and sanctuaries that generate and sustain the most abominable strains of Salafi-Wahhabi jihadists.

For over four decades Pakistan has been a breeder and sponsor of Islamist terrorists. 20 designated terrorist organizations operate in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, while seven are based in Pakistan. These wars will not end until the U.S. and like-minded states shut down Pakistan, as the foremost producer of Jihad Inc.

Pakistan, with the abetment of a number of Gulf States, has been the principal, persistent, prodigious, and most pernicious producer of apocalyptic Islamist fanatics. It continues to be the most prolific factory and sanctuary for the world’s largest constellation of murderous militants, for the longest time. To be sure, other states and non-state groups have contributed and continue to contribute to the proliferation of jihadists either advertently or inadvertently, including the U.S. with its nearly blind support of the mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan War, and with the unfathomably addled decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Iraq catalyzed and attracted militants in excess. 

** America, not the services, needs cyber forces

Source Link
By Jim Perkins, 

Members of the Army Reserve, Army National Guard and Air National Guard receive training in core cyber protection methods during Cyber Shield 17 at Camp Williams, Utah, April 25, 2017. Cyber Shield 17 is a National Guard exercise designed to assess soldiers, airmen, and civilian personnel on response plans to cyber incidents. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Giles) 

The U.S. Army’s effort to create a cyber force is an inspiring example of how to affect rapid change within a bureaucracy. They have made tremendous progress in just a few years and lead the other services. The bad news is that the Army continues to struggle in the war for talent in cyberspace.

The good news is that this is a fight that the Army does not need to win, or even participate in. The Army and its sister services simply have no reason to have specific cyber forces — and it may be best for the American military if they were to realize it.

* Taliban and Islamic State Clash in Eastern Afghanistan

By Thomas Joscelyn

The Islamic State’s Wilayah Khorasan (or Khorasan province) claimed gains at the Taliban’s expense earlier today. The two sides clashed in the Chaparhar district of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, where they have fought each other repeatedly during the past two years.

A “number of soldiers of the caliphate in Wilayah Khorasan set out at dawn yesterday towards positions of the apostate Taliban in the area of Chaparhar,” the Islamic State claimed in a statement released via social media. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s followers added that they used “light and heavy” weapons during the “violent clashes,” killing 10 Taliban members and capturing three others. After allegedly forcing the Taliban’s men to flee the area, the self-declared caliphate’s “mujahidin” recovered spoils, including a “machine guns,” “cannons” and “other weapons,” as well as ammunition.

Local Afghan authorities confirmed that the two sides fought one another once again. According to Khaama Press, the provincial government in Nangarhar issued a statement saying several civilians, including children, were killed or wounded during the crossfire. The provincial authority reported that 21 Taliban members and seven Islamic State fighters were killed, with nine more from both sides wounded. (The provincial government’s estimate of the Taliban’s casualties is higher than the Islamic State’s self-reported claim.)

India Ready to ‘Plug and Play’ into the US Network

Atul Bhardwaj

The United States (US) wants the flow of big data, and its security, storage and analysis to operate under a network-centric architecture erected and owned by it. The privacy of its own data is the prime obsession of the US. However, it pays scant respect to the privacy of others. It imposes restrictions and demands on its allies to comply with its data protection laws. It not only expects money from the importer of its arms and ammunitions, but also stringent commitment for protecting its intellectual property rights, crucial codes and data contained in the systems. The US often issues diktats to allies regarding what they ought not to export to countries on the US hit list.

As early as 1951, India was apprised of the provisions of the Battle Act, 1951 (Mutual Defense Assistance Control Act), a US municipal law that debarred countries cooperating with the US from exporting to the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries that threatened US supremacy. In 1953, when India exported a small quantity of thorium nitrate to China, the US protested and reminded India of the Battle Act, 1951. In the late 1950s, when India was strategically aligned with the US on the Tibet issue, its commercial dealings with the communist countries were moderated by the US. On 31 March 1959, James B Burns, Third Secretary (Economics) of the US embassy in India, handed over an aide-memoire, which spelt out the changes in the list of items that were prohibited for export to communist countries under the Battle Act. It also made India aware of the restrictions on the use of arms imported from the US. Although India was under no legal obligation to comply with the list, it remained sympathetic to US concerns throughout the 1950s.

Who Lost Kashmir?

Rahul Pandita

Five inconvenient truths about an over-Islamised Valley 

“They found five litres of semen inside Neelofar’s body while conducting her postmortem.” The boy who says this is about 16 and lives in Kulgam in South Kashmir. He says he was told this at a ‘conference’ in his village recently. The teenager is convinced of this ludicrous claim about Neelofar Jan, one of the two women found dead in a rivulet in Shopian in South Kashmir in May 2009. After allegations of their rape and subsequent murder by security forces spread thick and fast that summer, there was widespread unrest in the state. In the din raised by the separatist machinery, the truth did not seem to matter at all. The probability of the two women having drowned was rejected. It did not matter that from 1995 to 2008, ten other people had drowned in the same rivulet (from 2010 to 13, three more did). It did not matter that on orders of the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, a police officer tried to make a horse cross the rivulet from the same spot, but was unable to: the animal was too afraid to try. It did not matter that an independent team of doctors from Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) performed a second autopsy on the two bodies and ruled out rape, establishing their death as asphyxia as a result of ante-mortem drowning. Later, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a chargesheet against six Kashmiri doctors and others, including the brother of one of the deceased, for fabricating evidence. One of the doctors, the CBI found, had fudged the vaginal swab samples to falsely show that the women were raped. 

There May Be More To North Korea’s ‘Failed’ Missile Test Than Meets They Eye

Ryan Pickrell

U.S. Pacific Command reported that the ballistic missile, which has yet to be identified, “did not leave North Korean territory.” The weapon reportedly broke up over North Korea several minutes after launch, but it may not have been a botch.

Saturday’s missile failure may have been a deliberate explosion, South Korean government officials told the Korea Times. “We don’t believe the mid-air explosion was an accident,” South Korean cable news channel YTN quoted government officials as saying, “It’s believed the explosion was a test to develop a nuclear weapon different from existing ones.” The theory is that the North may have been testing a nuclear warhead.

(This first appeared in The Daily Caller News Foundation’s site here.)

That North Korea launched the missile across its territory from the west coast was a little unusual, leading some to suspect that perhaps the North intentionally kept the weapon from splashing down in the sea where a U.S. Navy carrier strike group is stationed.

In China Become the World’s Clean Energy Leader?

By 2015, China held a third of the global market share [PDF] for hydropower, wind power, and solar energy. The country’s private sector invested $32 billion in 2016 toward international clean energy projects, adding to the $102.9 billion invested a year prior by the government into domestic renewable energy. Many of these investments were made in major developing countries, including Brazil, Egypt, Vietnam, and Kenya. 

Investing in clean energy at home also creates opportunities for China to expand its marketing of products such as solar panels abroad, says Jennifer L. Turner, the director of the Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum. China seems poised to surpass the United States in leading clean energy innovation and efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, but Beijing faces internal challenges to energy reform, she says. 

Why are China’s clean energy investments surging? 

The surge has been driven by two primary factors. The first is air pollution. This has become more salient lately, but China was trying to develop more alternatives to coal even before it signed the Paris Agreement. Since then, there’s also been a growing awareness that investing in clean energy development domestically is going to open up more opportunities for China to expand marketing for these products globally. It’s not surprising that China has already captured the global market on solar panels. 



China has a new generation of stealthy, supersonic anti-ship missiles, and the U.S. is clearly worried about them. Former U.S. rear admiral Eric McVadon described them as the “strategic equivalent of China’s acquiring nuclear weapons in 1964.” He wasn’t exaggerating.

The missiles can evade U.S. missile defenses and undermine the effectiveness of the carrier strike groups the U.S. operates in the Western Pacific. By deploying them, China could be changing the future military balance in Asia, pulling the centre of power away from Washington and its allies and toward Beijing. If the U.S. can’t sustain its monopoly on the development of precision missile systems, it will struggle to project its current level of power in the western Pacific—and its forward forces and bases in the region will be increasingly vulnerable.

Such a shift, or even the perception of one, carries all sorts of risks. Deterrents might lose their deterrent force; military miscalculations might be made, potentially leading to inadvertent war. Then there’s the arms race factor. Precision strike munitions might soon start to proliferate across the region—Japan, for one, has recently expressed a keen interest in exploring the development of a long-range strike capability similar to the U.S.’s Tomahawk cruise missile.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017 China's New Silk Road: Troubled River Waters and More

China's plan to blast open more of the Mekong River for bigger cargo ships could founder on a remote outcrop of half-submerged rocks that Thai protesters have vowed to protect against Beijing's economic expansion in Southeast Asia.

Dynamiting the Pi Long rapids and other sections of the Mekong between Thailand and Laos will harm the environment and bring trade advantages only to China, the protesters say.

China Repeats West's Mistakes in Pakistan

By Mihir Sharma

When President Xi Jinping announced in 2015 that China would pump $46 billion worth of investments into Pakistan, the recipients of his largesse seemed less surprised than one might have expected. The military and political elites of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan have long extracted aid from outside powers in return for keeping a lid on things at home. As far back as April 1948, barely eight months after independence, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan assured Pakistani military commanders that three-quarters of the new nation’s budget would be devoted to defense -- fully expecting that the U.S. would underwrite the pledge.

Xi will no doubt tout the Pakistan investments -- which include a network of road, rail, power and port projects that are collectively known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC -- at his massive “Belt and Road” conference later this month. The Chinese argue these projects won't just link China to markets and suppliers from Europe to Southeast Asia, but also promote stability and development in the countries on its periphery. Indeed, even the International Monetary Fund hopes that China’s billions will ease Pakistan’s chronic supply-side constraints and perhaps reduce the pressure on the country’s development budget.

Five Shades of Chinese Gray-Zone Strategy

James HolmesToshi Yoshihara

Deterring aggression in the “gray zone” is hard. The keeper of an existing order—an order such as freedom of the sea—finds itself conflicted. That’s because gray-zone aggressors deliberately refuse to breach the threshold between uneasy peace and armed conflict, justifying a martial response. Instead they demolish the status quo little by little and replace it with something new.

Piecemeal assaults compel the status quo’s defenders to consider unappealing options. They can act first and bear the blame for the outbreak of war, for taking excessive risk, for provoking the revisionist power or for destabilizing the peace. Or, unwilling to incur such costs, they resign themselves to inaction or half-measures. Predisposed to put off difficult decisions, politicians can waffle, and surrender the initiative. Or they can escalate, and see their nation branded a bully.

An unpalatable choice. Gray-zone strategies are designed precisely to impose such quandaries on custodians of an existing order.

Rolling Back the Islamic State

by Seth G. Jones, James Dobbins

What are the Islamic State's ideology and objectives? 

What possible strategies and primary instruments of power should the United States and its allies employ against it? 

What specific steps should be taken to defeat and prevent the reemergence of the Islamic State in the countries where it controls territory and population, such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, and Nigeria? 

What other steps should be taken around the globe to counter the Islamic State's capacity to recruit fighters, raise funds, orchestrate a propaganda campaign, and inspire and direct attacks? 

The Islamic State is a byproduct of the 2003 American intervention in Iraq and the subsequent American departure in 2011. At its peak in late 2014, the group held more than 100,000 square kilometers of territory with a population of nearly 12 million, mostly in Iraq and Syria. Beginning in 2015, the Islamic State began to lose territory as it faced increasingly effective resistance. Still, the Islamic State continues to conduct and inspire attacks around the world. This report assesses the threat the Islamic State poses to the United States and examines four possible strategies to counter the group: disengagement, containment, rollback "light" (with a reliance on local forces backed by U.S. special operations forces, Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence assets, and airpower), and rollback "heavy" (adding the employment of American conventional forces in ground combat). The authors conclude that the United States should pursue a light rollback strategy. They also recommend additional steps, such as rebalancing counterterrorism efforts to address grievances, loosening restrictions on U.S. military operations, increasing U.S. military posture in Africa, and tightening restrictions in the Islamic State's internet access.

Who’s Who in Syria’s Civil War

Syria’s civil war has grown ever more complex in the six years since protesters first challenged the government. President Bashar al-Assad aims to reassert control nationwide, while predominantly Sunni Arab opposition forces seek to wrest the state from him. The diverse groups making up the opposition, however, differ on their visions for a post-Assad state, with their ostensible aims ranging from liberal democracy to theocracy.

Unlike Assad and the opposition, the self-proclaimed Islamic State is intent on erasing Syria’s borders to establish a state of its own in territory spanning parts of Iraq and Syria. Kurdish militants, who have fought to establish an autonomous, if not independent, national homeland in the country’s northeast, are the group’s primary foe.

The fight has been further complicated by outside powers who have funded and armed combatants and, in some cases, backed them with air support or manpower. Outgunned by pro-regime forces, many opposition groups have aligned with jihad factions.

In the Horrorscape of Aleppo

Sameer al-Doumy

For what can War, but Acts of War still breed,
Till injur’d Truth from Violence be freed….—John Milton “To My Lord Fairfax” (1694) 

Dawn breaks to a daily chorus of artillery and mortar fire in two of humanity’s most ancient settlements that today are Syria’s two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo. Projectiles rain on their rural peripheries, where opposition groups still fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad shelter in tunnels below mountains of rubble. Muezzins wake the faithful to prayer, and warplanes deliver the day’s first payloads just after 5:00 AM. The rebels respond with desultory mortar rounds fired at cities they once dreamed of ruling. In Damascus, their shells explode in the Christian neighborhoods closest to the eastern front lines. In Aleppo, artillery batters opposition bases along the western frontier with Idlib province. Both cities’ exhausted citizens have cause to fear for their country’s uncertain future. 


A new breed of bullets could be used for underwater firefights.

The CAV-X supercavitating bullets, made by DSG Technology, are designed to deliver lethality at much farther distances underwater.

For special operations teams, such as the Navy SEALs and combat divers who operate around water, this sort of ammunition could be handy.

Availability And The Tech Behind It

Water is denser than air and with the extra drag bullets fast lose their velocity. Additionally, regular bullets tend to be inaccurate and have a short range underwater, so their utility is limited.

(MythBusters did a great demonstration where they showed even a sniper rifle couldn’t get a bullet more than a couple of feet before it sank.)

These bullets don’t require a special weapon to use these bullets; they’re compatible with regular weapons, which is a definite advantage.

These new bullets have something known as super-cavitation, which helps keep the bullet protected from the water’s density.

People Everywhere Are Freaking Out About World War 3 — 14 Military Experts Reveal What WWIII Would Really Look Like


It's been 72 years since Nazi Germany fell and Imperial Japan surrendered to Allied Forces aboard the USS Missouri.

But peace came at an unbelievable price with an estimated 60 million casualties.

Fast forward to 2017, when Huffington Post reports that Google searches on World War 3 are at an all-time high.

Why might that be?

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, tensions between the U.S. and Russia are at the “worst period” since the Cold War.

Iran continues to expand its military capabilities and is positioning itself as the #1 state sponsor of terrorism.

Due to its funding of jihadist and militia groups, the Iranian Regime is spreading its influence throughout the Middle East.

North Korea continues to break international laws through its missiles tests and threatens both the United States and South Korea.

Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of United States Pacific Command, said, “The crisis on the Korean peninsula is real—the worst I’ve seen.”

China wishes to avoid direct conflicts with the United States, but just launched its first domestically made aircraft carrier, signaling they seek to become the number one power in the region.

Army network strategy evolving beyond counterinsurgency

By: Joe Gould,

ASHINGTON — As the U.S. Army transitions from counterinsurgency fights to countering near-peer threats, its network communications strategy is at a crossroads, according to Army officials. 

The Army is on the verge of releasing a new network strategy, ordered by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. Army officials said at the C4ISRNET Conference on May 3 that strategy would not necessarily fit a massive land war against a near-peer adversary, or as the Army calls it, a “decisive action” scenario.

“The way you fight in a counterinsurgency fight has led to requirements, contrasted with decisive action is different,” said Brig. Gen. Todd Isaacson, the G-6, or top signals official for U.S. Forces Command. The command covers roughly 750,000 active Army, Reserve and National Guard troops. 

The Army needs to describe its strategy in the context of the “lethality and dynamic nature of decisive action, multi-domain warfare against a near-peer threat, you have to have mobility like you never had before, protection like you never had before,” Isaacson said. 

A force in flux: Military adjusts to emergent domains of warfare

By Mark Pomerleau 

The Army — and the military writ large — is undergoing the initial stages of a fundamental change in thinking, organizing and, ultimately, fighting.

Fifteen years of continuous war against technologically inferior enemies that has provided a window for adversaries to observe U.S. tactics, and the advent of new and cheap technologies to achieve great effects are factors that have forced the military to realign under what it generally calls multi-domain battle.

Multi-domain battle seeks to integrate operations and coordinate seamlessly across the five domains of war — air, land, sea, space and cyber — as opposed to the antiquated domain-specific approach to solving problems.

Emergent domains, such as cyber and space, and adversarial use of such battlefields, has the force rethinking how it will organize conventional units and at what level to incorporate skill sets within these war-fighting environments.

“This is probably the thing we are focusing on the most right now and gives us the largest challenge,” Gen. David Perkins, commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, said in March at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium.

Highlighting cyber as one example challenging the current force structure organization, Perkins noted how today a force thousands of miles away in cyber can be committed to the close fight, raising questions such as who would “own” that fight in the traditional sense.

SOCOM head: We can't do everything

By: Leo Shane III,

WASHINGTON — The head of U.S. Special Operations Command said his troops are highly skilled, but they can’t do everything.

“We are not a panacea,” said Gen. Raymond Thomas III in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. “We are not the ultimate solution to every problem, and you will not hear that coming from us.

“That has been misconstrued in some of the media circles.”

The comments came in response to senators concerns about the operational tempo facing special operations forces, and the growing reliance on those personnel for an even-broadening range of missions.

More than 8,000 special operations personnel are currently deployed in 80 different countries. That includes almost 700 in Iraq and Syria, working with local forces on a host of counter-terrorism and support missions.

How To Cope With Open Source Data In The Age Of Artificial Intelligence

By João Marques Lima

As the Data Economy booms, differentiating and standout from the crow is crucial, just look at IBM’s acquisition of The Weather Company in 2016.

When data replaces code as the secret sauce for analytics, it should come as no surprise that an open data movement exists, which like the open source movement, seeks to ensure useful big data sets are freely available to all.

Moshe Kranc (MK), CTO at Ness Digital Engineering, talks to Data Economy (DE) on how calls for open data stand to impact both large and small companies, as well as the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

DE: How are companies adjusting to this Open Data movement?

MK: Some companies are aggressively safeguarding their data, while others are taking a contrarian position, by releasing their proprietary data to the public, as a means of generating PR kudos.

One key example of the latter approach is Uber Movement, which uses data from the billions of rides Uber has provided, to let planning agencies and researchers track car travel times between any location at any time of day.

Bruce Schneier: NSA & CIA Cyber Leaks – Blaming Russia [Robert Steele Disagrees, Suggests Inter-Agency Warfare]

You may or many not know that I was the person who introduced NSA to hackers in 1993, co-founded InfoWarCon with Winn Schwartau, and wrote the first warning letter to the WH on cyber in 1994, co-signed (anonymously at the time) by Jim Anderson, then one of NSA’s top cyber security engineers.

I enjoyed your recent piece in Lawfare about who dun it, but I think you are missing the even more obvious answer: inter-agency warfare. There are many of us who speculated that Snowden was a CIA operation authorized by Obama and carried out by Booz Allen (McConnell, Hall, Dempsey and others there are all the Blackwater of the IC) when NSA tried one blackmail operation too many against Obama or politicians Obama cared about. Hopefully you understand that NSA’s highest priority for many years has been a mix of spying on and blackmailing US politicians and judges, while also spying on Wall Street to do insider trading enhancing the offshore bank accounts of its rogue elements. Subsequent NSA leaks can be explained by a mix of motives including contractors increasingly appalled by the mass surveillance culture that Bill Binney and I and others have opposed for over a decade, and of course those furious at the cavalier treatment of their materials by Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedeen, both of whom are on record via the Weiner laptop as having sent classified materials to IP addresses in Qatar and Saudi Arabia — and Abedeen is almost certainly a joint Saudi-Israeli human agent who was introduced to Clinton as a honey trap in her youth, and stuck.

White Hat Worms and Cyber Wars: The IoT is Vulnerable and Growing

As tensions between the US and North Korea continue to rise, many fear that a lack of diplomacy between the two nations could lead to nuclear conflict.

While plenty of experts would argue that both countries have too much to lose by involving themselves in military conflicts with one another, plenty more are concerned nonetheless.

Mark Gollom, writing for CBC, thinks that while both leaders are likely desperate to avoid pre-emptive strikes, “there remains the threat, albeit small, of a miscalculation — that amplified rhetoric, a military mistake, or the misinterpretation of an action by any of the main actors in the region could snowball into something much larger.”

NATO cyberwar games shows the U.S. needs more practice

by Michael Heller

CW ANZ November 2016–SearchSecurity.com 

The U.S. team scored the most improved in this year's NATO Locked Shields cyberwar games, but experts said that result might not be reason to celebrate. 

The Locked Shields event is a "live-fire" cyberdefense exercise organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in which teams are "tasked to maintain the services and networks of a military air base of a fictional country, which, according to the exercise scenario, will experience severe attacks on its electric power grid system, unmanned aerial vehicles, military command and control systems, critical information infrastructure components and other operational infrastructure." 

During the cyberwar games, there were more than 2500 possible attacks that could be carried out against more than 3000 virtualized systems meant to simulate military air command and control systems, drone and ground control, a large-scale SCADA system controlling the power grid and programmable logic controllers

As Cyber Warfare Turns 10, The West Risks Falling Behind

By Peter Apps,

When Estonia became the first nation on the receiving end of an overwhelming cyber attack 10 years ago last week, government and other critical websites and systems such as banking collapsed in one of the most internet-connected countries of the time. Widely blamed on Russia, the assault prompted Western nations – including the United States – to plow billions into improving their own cyber defenses.

If something similar happened today, it could be even more disruptive and dangerous – and also more complex. Western states, militaries and companies have made strides in building the technical ability to guard against cyber attacks. But as often with new technologies, developing the doctrine and expertise to know how to use them inevitably lags behind.

That points to a broader problem. A decade after the Estonia attack, the West’s potential enemies still have a better sense of what they want to achieve in cyberspace than the United States or its allies.

For the West, “cyber” remains a tightly defined concept, a matter of protecting nationally vital systems, keeping secrets or finding them out from potential enemies. For countries like Russia and China, however, it has become something much broader.