7 June 2017

*** China Makes a Power Play in Brazil and Argentina

The last two years have been hard on Argentina and Brazil. A sweeping corruption investigation and the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff have sent Brazil's currency tumbling. The country's economy contracted by 3.8 percent in 2015 and by another 3.6 percent the following year. The Argentine peso, meanwhile, fell 40 percent against the U.S. dollar after the government lifted currency controls in late 2015. But for foreign investors, the two South American nations' economic hardship presents an opportunity. The depreciated currencies in both countries, combined with their governments' need for investment, has enabled Chinese companies to buy up cheap assets and launch major infrastructure projects in Argentina and Brazil alike. The electricity sector in particular has been a focus of their activities.

Power Down

In Brazil, the economic decline has hit the electricity sector hard, especially after years of government price controls. Rousseff passed a measure in 2012 forcing power companies in Brazil to lower their rates to renew their 30-year contracts with the government. Then a severe drought in 2013-15 diminished the country's water reservoirs, causing many power companies to switch from hydroelectric to thermoelectric energy. The transition was costly. State-owned energy firm Petroleo Brasileiro, for example, had to import 30 percent more natural gas from Bolivia in 2013 to fuel its thermoelectric plants. Most power companies had to sell off some of their assets to offset the added expense. Today, Brazil's electricity sector has the second-largest debt of any of its industries, behind oil and natural gas; its outstanding obligations surpassed $54 billion last year. President Michel Temer, however, is trying to change the country's regulatory framework to alleviate the power companies' troubles. Temer is working on a measure that would allow the firms to sell the electricity they generate to commercial customers, such as electricity trading companies or large industrial consumers, at a higher price for a limited time.

*** Hacking India's Elections

By Vinayak Dalmia

Politics in 2017 is a far cry from 1951-52, when India faced her first full election. The internet and other technologies create wonderful opportunities for democracy, but they also create grave threats.

President Barack Obama’s election in 2008 in the United States was historic on many fronts. Among other things, he was the first internet politician and his 2008 campaign ushered in a new era of modern, tech-savvy elections. From posting campaign videos on YouTube that were watched for over 14.5 millions hours, to sending promotional SMSs and emails to supporters, the Obama campaign not only made its poll promises and ideas freely accessible to internet and phone users all across the globe, it also turned its supporters into active and motivated campaigners who were forwarding these messages and video links to their friends and family. It is noteworthy that many of these new age “campaigners” would not have been able to contribute in a traditional door-to-door canvassing scenario — the use of internet and social media made it easier for them to support their favorite candidate’s campaign.

New Tools

The tools of campaign managers have only become more sophisticated in the eight-plus years since Obama’s first election. With over 86 percent of adult Americans using the internet, of whom 79 percent use Facebook, social media emerged as a powerful game-changing platform in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. In the Indian context too, the general elections held in 2014 saw a tectonic shift in campaign strategy, with an increasing reliance on social media and smart phone applications to connect with the youth and organize them as a campaign base. The 2014 polls were eventually dubbed as “India’s first social media election.”

*** The Big China Nuclear Threat No One Is Talking About

Zachary Keck

One of the most consistent aspects of China’s military policy is likely to undergo a significant transformation. Since its first nuclear test in 1964, China has maintained a relatively small nuclear arsenal designed to hold adversaries’ population centers at risk. Even as it has modernized its conventional forces to “fight and win wars” against first-class militaries like that of the United States, China’s nuclear arsenal is estimated to contain just 264 warheads, far smaller than the 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads Russia and America will each deploy under the New START Treaty, to say nothing of the nearly thirty thousand warheads they maintained during the Cold War.

This smaller arsenal is consistent with China’s different perspective about the nature of deterrence, as well as its no-first-use nuclear doctrine. At the same time, a couple of technical developments are likely to propel China to undertake a significant nuclear buildup in the coming years.

** Can a New US Surge Stabilize Afghanistan?

By Ali Reza Sarwar

Trump is considering sending more troops to Afghanistan, but that won’t solve the underlying problems. 

President Donald Trump and his top policy advisers are worried about America’s longest war, in Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan are worried as well. The question of whether the country’s fragile, corruption-ridden, and politically polarized National Unity Government (NUG) can survive its many foes –including an emboldened insurgency, crippling political division among the countries’ elites, and devastating tensions with its neighbors — is a common one among political analysts, ordinary people, and even government employees. In the last months, the Taliban has launched some of the most complicated and deadliest attacks that left not only scores of soldiers and civilians dead, but also humiliated the Afghan government and its partners. This week’s deadly bombing in Kabul was just the latest tragic incident.

Last month’s attacks on military base in northern Afghanistan, in which between 160 to 500 soldiers were killed or wounded, raised a simple question: is there a government with basic statecraft and functional apparatuses in Afghanistan? The Taliban claimed that four of the attackers involved in the raids on the military base were the group’s “moles,” who had infiltrated the Afghan National Army’s ranks and had credible insider knowledge about the base’s structure and vulnerability. A similar claim was made after the assaults on the military’s largest hospital in Kabul. The politicization of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the loose recruitment mechanism has practically paralyzed the ANSF, destroyed its intelligence and command structure, and shifted the war equation in Taliban and the Islamic State’s favor. According to latest report, the government controls less than 60 percent of the country, which is alarming.

** Post-Mortem on WannaCry Ransomware Cyber Attack

TOKYO (AP) – With the dust now settling after “WannaCry”, the biggest ransomware attack in history, cybersecurity experts are taking a deep dive into how it was carried out, what can be done to protect computers from future breaches and, trickiest of all, who is really to blame.

For many, it seems that last question has already been solved: It was North Korea.

But beyond the frequently used shorthand that North Korea was likely behind the attack lies a more complicated - and enlightening - story: the rise of an infamous group of workaholic hackers, collectively known as “Lazarus,” who may be using secret lairs in northeast China and have created a virtual “malware factory” that could wreak a lot more havoc in the future.

Big caveat here: Lazarus doesn’t reveal much about itself. What little is known about the group is speculative.

Nevertheless, extensive forensic research into its activities dating back almost a decade paints a fascinating, if chilling, picture of a hacker collective that is mercenary, tenacious and motivated by what appears to be a mixture of political and financial objectives.

Their fingerprints are all over WannaCry.

So who, then, are they?

Why did Trump attack India?

Trump's diatribe against India in his speech on the Paris Agreement is hard to explain, especially when a Modi-Trump meeting is supposedly on the cards, says Ambassador T P Sreenivasan.

The hue and cry about the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change announced by Donald Trump, together with the accompanying hyperbole, has made the Agreement appear like a Magna Carta of developing countries like India and China.

Nations, which were once sceptical and hesitant to sign the Agreement because of its departure from the global consensus in Rio and the Kyoto Protocol have declared their allegiance to the treaty with great vigour.

Trump has actually united the world in support of the Paris Agreement rather than undermine it. But the US today is in the dubious company of Nicaragua and Syria, who have opted out of the Paris consensus.

Rejection of the Paris Agreement on climate change was part of the bewildering array of election promises, which Trump had placed before the electorate.

Modi’s Russia Challenge

Brahma Chellaney

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Russia visit raises a fundamental question: Is Moscow still India’s ‘tried and trusted’ friend? Russia’s growing relations with India’s adversaries, China and Pakistan, have spurred unease in New Delhi. However, many in India have failed to grasp the factors driving Moscow’s overtures to Pakistan or its sale of offensive weapon systems to China.

Such moves have little to do with India. Russia may be in decline economically but, geopolitically, it is a resurgent power, spreading its geopolitical influence to new regions and pursuing rearmament at home. Russia is the only power willing to directly challenge US interests in the Middle East, Europe, Caspian Sea basin, Central Asia and now Afghanistan, where America is stuck in the longest war in its history.

In keeping with the maxim that countries have no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests, Russia has rejigged its geopolitical strategy to respond to the biting US-led sanctions against it since 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin has significantly expanded the geopolitical chessboard on which Moscow can play against the US and NATO.

An Assessment of the Strategic Partnership Model in Defence Industry

Laxman K Behera

In a major policy reform intended to promote Make in India in defence manufacturing, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on May 31, 2017 the much-anticipated Strategic Partnership model for the Indian private sector.1 The model, whose concept was first suggested by the Dhirendra Singh Committee in its July 2015 report, populates Chapter VII of the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 (DPP 2016). It visualises designating a few private companies as Strategic Partners (SPs) that would not only assume the role of system integrators but also lay a strong defence industrial foundation by making long-term investment on production and R&D infrastructure, creating a wider vendor base, nurturing a pool of skilled workforce, and making a commitment to indigenisation and technology absorption. The ultimate aim of the model is to enhance India’s self-reliance index in defence procurement which continues to remain at an abysmally low level despite a huge defence industrial complex much of which is managed by state-owned Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

Strategic Partnership: The Model

The strategic partnership model seeks to identify a few Indian private companies as Strategic Partners who would initially tie up with a few shortlisted foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to manufacture big-ticket military platforms. In the initial phase, the selection of SPs would be confined to four segments: Fighter Aircraft, Helicopters, Submarines, and Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV)/Main Battle Tanks (MBT). In each segment, “only one SP would generally be selected”, says the new DPP chapter.

What Does America Consider Success in Afghanistan?

Luke Coffey

America must start measuring success in Afghanistan by achievements on the ground and not by unrealistic expectations.

Wednesday’s terror attack in Kabul is a stark reminder of how brutal the war in Afghanistan still is. A suicide truck bomber drove near the German Embassy in Wazir Akbar Khan, the diplomatic heart of Kabul, and then detonated his bomb amid the morning rush-hour traffic. The blast killed at least ninety civilians and wounded another four hundred.

This wasn’t the first such attack in Afghanistan, and it won’t be the last. After almost sixteen years of war in Afghanistan, it is only natural to wonder: how do we know if we are winning?

Winston Churchill, while serving as a young officer fighting the Pashtuns in the 19th century, explained the difficulty of winning the type of war he faced then and that the United States faces now in Afghanistan:

“There are no general actions on a great scale, no brilliant successes, no important surrenders, no chance for a coup de theatre. It is just a rough hard job, which must be carried through. The war is one of small incidents. The victory must be looked for in the results.”

The Driving Force Behind China's Ambitious 'Belt and Road Initiative'

by Rafiq Dossani

China's plan to drive the Eurasian landmass' future growth is audacious. By committing trillions of dollars to infrastructure projects across 60 countries, China could transform the lagging economies of the region and place itself in the enviable position of being Asia's true pivot. Nevertheless, the new Silk Road blueprint—formally called the Belt and Road Initiative—presents risks as well as benefits.

President Xi Jinping emphasized the benefits at a recent Beijing summit with leaders from more than two dozen countries, including the late addition of a senior Trump administration official. Xi pledged that China will substantially enrich the pot for the initiative announced in 2013, which, if successful, will propel economic growth for more than 1 billion people in some of the poorest regions of Asia and Africa. Some have touted the initiative as a Chinese Marshall Plan.

But unlike the European Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild a region with stable political systems, a well-functioning bureaucracy and an educated population, the Belt and Road Initiative targets countries that are struggling on multiple fronts, faced with wobbly governments, terrorist threats, illiteracy and inhospitable terrain, to name a few. If China's scheme to erect highways, railways, power grids, pipelines and other huge projects fails—and there will undoubtedly be some failures—host governments could be left deeply in debt, jeopardizing China's relations with them on a long-term basis.

Why China Sent A Lower-Ranking Delegation To Singapore Security Summit This Year

Minnie Chan

China has sent a lower-ranking delegation to a regional security forum in Singapore this weekend, and in stark contrast to previous events, none of its members will give a keynote speech.

Military sources suggested that leaders from the People’s Liberation Army could not attend as they were focused on overseeing reforms that will see huge cuts to the nation’s armed forces and preparing for a key Communist Party congress later this year.

A spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry rejected suggestions by overseas media that the low-key presence at the Shangri-La Dialogue was due to the diplomatic spat with Singapore at the end of last year.

Nine Singapore armoured personnel carrier were impounded in Hong Kong in November after they had taken part in military exercises in Taiwan. Beijing considers the island a breakaway Chinese province and tries to limit its contracts with foreign dignitaries or governments.

Fitting Into Beijing’s New World Order

Andrew Browne

SHANGHAI—The VIP list at Beijing’s glittering launch party for its massive Silk Road trade plan was worth scrutinizing not for the luminaries who were on it, but those who weren’t.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who irritates Beijing by standing up to its bullying in the South China Sea, was notably missing; he didn’t get an invitation. European government heads were welcome, but mostly stayed away, as did leaders from India and Japan.

The no-shows reflect a broad disquiet: To skeptics, what President Xi Jinping calls the “Project of the Century” is, at heart, an imperial venture.

Eventually, China expects that the sprawling networks of trading infrastructure Mr. Xi proposes to install along ancient maritime and overland trails between Asia and Europe will tie together more than 60% of the world’s population and one-third of its gross domestic product.

Ramadan: A Holy and Violent Month

By Kamran Bokhari

Ramadan, which began on May 26, is Islam’s holiest month of the year, a time to do good deeds, fast and pray. But jihadists have coopted this holiday for nefarious ends, using it as an excuse to intensify their attacks, claiming that they are committing the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. This is why Ramadan, in addition to its religious importance, is also geopolitical.

The attack in Kabul on May 31, which left 90 dead and over 400 injured, is just one example. The attack was significant because it struck the Afghan capital’s diplomatic quarter, damaging many foreign embassies. The identity of the perpetrator remains unclear. The Taliban issued a statement denying their involvement, but Afghanistan’s intelligence service has blamed the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani militant group.

After the attack, many people – Muslim and non-Muslim – asked how someone could carry out such an attack during Ramadan, a sacred month for Muslims. They assume that even jihadists would refrain from acts of violence during this time. But this kind of thinking is based on the flawed assumption that the jihadists view Ramadan as other Muslims do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Myths About 1967 That Just Won't Die


Fifty years after the Arab-Israeli war, popular assumptions about its impact are begging to be reexamined.

The Arab-Israeli war that took place in June of 1967 was undeniably a major watershed in modern Middle Eastern history and a fundamental inflection point in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In conquering the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan, and east Jerusalem, Israel created new and enduring realities that would frame the pursuit of peace and the waging of wars for the next half century. For Palestinians, the experience would be particularly bitter.

At the same time, the notion that the proverbial six days of war created a figurative Seventh Day—a kind of dark shadow under which the Arab-Israeli conflict has played out, inexorably and depressingly, these many years—is too simplistic a read.

The war created its fair share of crises, to be sure. But it also generated opportunities and a new, more pragmatic dynamic among the Arab states and Palestinians, which at least partially reversed the results of the war itself and transformed much of the Arab-Israeli arena.

With this in mind, here are some myths about the war’s centrality and impact that need to be reexamined.

“The 1967 war was the most consequential and impactful of the conflicts between Israel and the Arabs.”

The "Medium" Aircraft Carrier: Why Doesn't the U.S. Navy Build More (But Smaller) Carriers?

Kyle Mizokami

The Medium Aircraft Carrier would have just two steam catapults instead of the four that were on larger carriers, meaning it could launch planes at just half the rate of larger carriers. It would have just two elevators instead of three. Although it had fewer planes, it deleted fleet air defense and antisubmarine warfare aircraft from the mix to concentrate on striking power, giving nearly as much as a supercarrier.

There were also advantages in building more, smaller carriers. For the first time in decades the number of carriers dropped below twenty, making it increasingly unlikely that enough flight decks would be available during a conventional war to service all requirements. Spreading naval aviation out among more platforms made it more resistant to individual wartime carrier losses. Finally, the increasing importance of new operating areas such as the Persian Gulf stretched existing resources.

The United States Navy’s ten nuclear supercarriers are the largest warships on the high seas. Home to more than five thousand sailors and Marines, the Nimitz-class carriers are nuclear-powered and can carry nearly ninety combat aircraft. Still, it didn’t have to be this way: had the Navy taken a different tack several decades ago, the gigantic ships would have been supplemented with smaller, more cost effective flattops—the Medium Aircraft Carriers.

An Open Letter to the U.S. Navy from Red

Dear U.S. Navy,

It is time we talked.

We have regarded each other from a distance for years, but we need to get to know one another better. You see us in every major exercise and wargame. In the outbriefs, we usually are on the back wall, mixed in with the staff. The White Cell and Control talk about us a lot, but usually in the third person. Rarely do we have an honest conversation.

But lately the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is talking about high-velocity learning, and there is discussion of a renaissance in wargaming. Maybe this is the excuse we need to start talking.

Across dozens of exercises, live and synthetic, tactical to operational, on both coasts, we have had the opportunity to watch your ways. We sit in every wargame, each one unique. The Blue teams across from us are diverse, representing every type of Navy authority, from students to operational-level commanders, and every warfare community and variety of staff life. We respect the variety and depth of professional excellence they bring to the fight. Nonetheless, regardless of which actual adversary we are representing as “Red,” there are patterns to our interactions that are worth your consideration, both in how you fight and how you train.

Logistics In War

By David Beaumont.

Some may recall from earlier posts on ‘Logistics In War’ that in late 2016, the Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, challenged the senior logisticians of the Australian Army to ‘revolutionise’ Army’s logistics. This was not because sustainment operations were not successfully happening, nor was it a condemnation of any imaginary inadequacy perpetrated in the efforts of the soldiers, officers and civilians responsible for delivering Army its logistics, and through extension, operational capability. Such operations and efforts, also borne by the joint logistic community and the wider Defence organisation, have kept Australian forces in the field for nearly twenty years of operational activity.

Rather, the Chief’s challenge was a direct statement that logistic transformation must come from within Army’s logistics community; an encouragement to find innovative ways in which Army’s logistic capabilities could be enhanced without substantially growing the land force. Furthermore, it reflected a need to break from tradition and habit to progress logistic development in a new direction. While not an indictment on Army’s logisticians nor their leadership, the challenge compels the community to realise transformative efforts in balance with current operational needs, and with a speed of execution that will enable the entire Army to progress into the future.

Master Is ‘Being Used’ for His General’s Stars, His Old Military Comrades Say

A growing cadre of former military officers who served with Trump National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster are quietly calling for him to retire from service, worried the embattled Trump administration is tarnishing the U.S. military’s reputation by deploying their own personal three-star general as a political shield. 

In recent weeks, McMaster has acted almost as a White House spokesperson, thrust into the spotlight to promise that President Donald Trump didn’t reveal anything inappropriate when he shared another spy agency’s intelligence with two Russian officials in the Oval Office. McMaster was also the face—or the voice—of the administration on Trump’s first foreign trip, giving off-camera interviews to explain what the president hoped to accomplish from Saudi Arabia to NATO. 

Trump himself gave no interviews, as news broke back in the states that his son-in-law and key organizer of the trip, Jared Kushner, had reportedly sought to establish back-channel communications with Russia, using Russian communications equipment. McMaster claimed he was “not concerned” by “back-channel communications,” though fellow military professionals say what Kushner proposed went far beyond discreet diplomacy. 

Speaking Truth to Power; why is it so hard to tell the boss they are wrong?

The quote above refers to the battle to capture Coriano, as part of Op OLIVE, the Allied effort to breach the German Gothic line in Italy. Brigadier Goodbody, the Allied commander at the time, was unable to question his superiors, who possessed incorrect information on how the battle was unfolding, leading to a huge loss of life and time. Unlike his superiors, Brigadier Goodbody was not a veteran of the First World War and had significantly less operational experience. Brigadier Goodbody was, however, in a better position to see the level of German resistance that was unfolding. Despite his protests, he was ordered to continue with an attack that subsequently failed, leading to unnecessary loss of life and arguably an additional winter in Italy. This is just one example of how, at every level of command it can be difficult to question your superiors. If our focus is to deliver operational success as swiftly and efficiently as possible, every brain on the team needs to be engaged. Essential to this is truthful communication between commanders and their subordinates.

Leaders must create a culture in which their subordinates can question them when they have concerns or perceive problems. It is often those not in a position of leadership who can most readily identify risks, threats and issues, which if resolved and dealt with appropriately can enhance the likelihood of successful outcomes. A CO at Regimental Duty who always encourages subalterns to challenge upwards, will have to deal with the angst and frustration that may create, but will also benefit from having Subalterns who are engaged, who think critically about problems and may provide the sort of innovation which will generate solutions. Frank and honest communication between Commander and Subordinate will also generate Trust and Mutual Understanding, key principles of Mission Command.

You Want the Best? Embrace Failure

By Brad Hutchison

The troops were ready: SHARP, OPSEC, SAEDA and CTIP training complete; field sanitation, environmental compliance, and ammunition handling teams trained and identified; all Soldiers who would come within the 385 days of their exit from the Army before their return to home station complete with Soldier for Life; everyone current on dental and vaccinations. Every task highlighted green from their pre-deployment checklist to the commanding general’s “roll-out card”. For his abilities and competence, the company commander was rewarded with a battalion headquarters company command upon redeployment from the National Training Center (NTC). Yet, after 11 days of fighting Blackhorse in the unforgiving California desert, the company tallied only three destroyed enemy vehicles against their own forty eight lost.

As a recent Observer-Controller/Trainer at the NTC I spent months watching units’ defenses crumble like this and seeing their attacks stall against materially inferior forces. What caused the failures? All that readiness. We ask more of today’s units than ever before in the history of the Army, and it is harming both the mission and our Soldiers.

More Than Joint: The Aussies Forge A Way Ahead


Australian Air Marshal Leo Davies highlighted the “institutional interoperability which the Royal Australian Air Force was shaping with its closest allies, and notably with the US Air Force and the US Navy during his recent visit to the US. The Aussies are not simply camp followers – they are shaping a way ahead an integrated force, rather than staying at the service platform level.

When Davies introduced the new RAAF strategy at the Avalon Air Show earlier this year, he highlighted the service’s way ahead:

“I don’t believe we, as an Air Force, understand how joint we need to be. We have come a long way – we talk a lot about joint, but I am not sure we are culturally able to shift from doing Air Force stuff first. I would like the Air Force in a joint context to begin to put the joint effect before our own Air Force requirements.”

When I interviewed him recently in his Canberra office, Davies underscored that the RAAF and the other services were adding new platforms as part of force modernization. But adding a new platform, even a key one like the F-35 was not enough to generate force transformation.

NATO Could Go To War Over A Cyber Attack

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization would consider a large enough cyber attack against one member an attack on them all, according to NATO officials.

A persistent and devastating attack could trigger what is known as Article 5, NATO’s collective defense measure, the officials told delegates at the International Conference on Cyber Conflict (CyCon) in Estonia Wednesday, according to Defense News. The invocation of Article 5 could theoretically cause the alliance to go to war in defense of a member state.

“Although many of the cyberattacks that we see fall below a level in their seriousness that could trigger NATO’s Article 5, it is plausible that a cyberspace event of great magnitude could take place that might lead to the triggering of Article 5 in special circumstances,” said Catherine Lotrionte, director of Georgetown University’s CyberProject.

The attack would have to be much more dangerous than propaganda or social media activities, she added, but invoking Article 5 is still a “real possibility.”

Estonia fell victim to one of the most destructive cyberattacks in modern history in 2007. The coordinated distributed denial of service, or “DDoS,” attacks caused massive outages in infrastructure, banks and military computer networks. Estonian officials blamed Russia for the attacks. The two countries were engaged in a disagreement over the relocation of a Soviet-era statue at the time.


Can cyber coercion succeed? In other words, can threatening or conducting a cyber operation persuade an adversary to comply with one’s demands? The answer matters now more than ever. Beliefs about cyber coercion’s effectiveness are shaping U.S. decisions about technology, doctrine, and partnerships, particularly after Russia’s interference in last year’s presidential election. Regrettably, both officials and scholars offer unconvincing assessments.

Officials believe cyber coercion can succeed. Due to classification barriers, however, they cannot explain their rationales in detail. So, they must convince the public by being either authoritatively cryptic or persuasively alarmist. U.S. intelligence officials usually go cryptic, of course, while members of Congress love going alarmist — even after leaving the Hill. Both approaches leave the informed skeptic feeling dissatisfied.

Scholars, on the other hand, believe that policymakers have overhyped everything “cyber,” including cyber coercion. Yet they too suffer from secrecy, which limits the evidence they can collect about past incidents. Lacking empirical facts, they have turned to drawing nuclear analogies and invoking higher authorities. As a result, the cyber strategy literature often feels like Herman Kahn’s internal monologue, or a new war college drinking game where everyone takes a shot when someone mentions Clausewitz or Schelling. Make no mistake: One paragraph of Arms and Influenceis worth more than a lifetime subscription to the American Political Science Review. But raining down heavy Schelling is not enough to win the intellectual battle over cyber coercion. Scholars should also dissect evidence from actual cyber incidents, however imperfect, to substantiate their claims. While analysts have made progress, they need to do better.

The War Algorithm: The Pentagon’s Bet On The Future Of War


Thinking about robots and war often brings to mind HAL, the apparently well-meaning but ultimately destructive computer in 2001, or the metallic creatures of death in the Terminator series.

Today, however, the Pentagon wants to push the concept in a different direction. With advanced adversaries like Russia and China copying the smart weapons, stealth fighters, and networked electronics that were once an American monopoly, the Defense Department is urgently seeking a new technological edge. They think they’ve found a key part of it in AI, artificial intelligence.

The Pentagon wants to develop software that can absorb more information from more sources than a human can, analyze it and either advise the human how to respond or — in high-speed situations like cyber warfare and missile defense — act on its own with careful limits.

The War Algorithm

Call it the War Algorithm. Imagine the holy grail of a single mathematical equation designed to give the US military near-perfect understanding of what is happening on the battlefield, helping its human designers to react more quickly than our adversaries and thus win our wars — or better yet, deter the enemy from attacking at all.

Air Force cyber trainees face final challenge: Black Demon

A member of a Cyber Protection Team participates in the Air Force's Exercise Black Demon, designed to validate his ability to protect and defend specific critical missions or assests. Unlike other communications specialists who work to defend and protect an entire network, CPTs have advanced training and skillsets that go deeper into locating and then neutralizing the threats posed to high priority missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Garcia) 

The 845th and 901st Cyber Protection Teams validated their readiness to meet operational requirements set by the U.S. Cyber Command at a four-week training exercise directed by the 24th Air Force at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

According to an article by Karen Petitt, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs, the CPTs at Scott AFB are part of the cyber mission force intended to locate and counter attacks targeting critical infrastructure, and the “Black Demon” exercise proved these mobile squadrons’ ability to utilize advanced tools and capabilities to examine cyber traffic, pinpoint issues and then secure critical systems.

Tainted Leaks: Researchers Unravel Cyber-Espionage Attacks

A phishing email sent to one of the victims of the cyber-espionage campaign. (Source: Citizen Lab)

A "single cyber espionage campaign" apparently linked to Russia has targeted more than 200 people in 39 countries with phishing attacks, according to privacy researchers at University of Toronto's Citizen Lab.