10 June 2017

*** 5 Arab Nations Move to Isolate Qatar, Putting the U.S. in a Bind


BEIRUT, Lebanon — For years, the tiny, energy-rich country of Qatar has carved out a niche in the Arab world by trying to be everything to everyone. It housed an American military base and flooded the region’s airwaves with its influential media, all while keeping close ties to Iran and a wide selection of Islamist movements.

On Monday, five countries in the region announced that they were forcing Qatar to choose: Its powerful neighbor Saudi Arabia, Egypt and at least three other Arab nations severed all ties with the country, escalating their accusations that the Qatari monarchy supported Sunni Islamist terrorism and Iranian designs on the region.

Those Arab nations not only abruptly suspended diplomatic relations, as they have in the past, but also surprised many by cutting off land, air and sea travel to and from Qatar. All but Egypt, which has 250,000 people working there, ordered their citizens to leave Qatar.


By Tobias J. Burgers & Scott N. Romaniuk

Over the past 15 years, the use of drones and drone strikes has become an integral part of U.S. counter-terrorism operations against overseas militant groups. The tactic has several clear benefits over larger, costlier and less discreet military operations employing conventional military aircraft.

As the use of armed drones continues, however, their targets — terrorists and terrorist organizations, particularly al-Qaeda — have grown accustomed to the threat. The increased deployment of Predators and Reapers, which militants often refer to as spy planes (الطائرات الجاسوسية), has played a direct role in changing the tactical and operational character of organizations like al-Qaeda. The constant threat of drone strikes has forced them to change their tactics from simply attempting to evade drone attacks to developing and employing active anti-drone measures.

Early Avoidance Efforts

Nearly a decade ago, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was already experimenting with simple camouflage measures to conceal their fighters from drone strikes. These efforts were collected and disseminated through instructional videos on avoidance methods, such as how to assemble an individual “body wrap” — a blanket used to absorb body heat, reducing an individual’s infrared signature and as such making him more difficult for drones to target. These videos led to the creation of strategy guides that detailed procedures on how to evade drones, and later to guides on how best to defeat them.

*** Israel's Legacy: Six Days That Shaped a Nation

By Stratfor

It seems almost inconceivable today that a war could be fought and won in less than a week. The current Afghan conflict has been running off and on for the time it takes a child to grow up and prepare for high school graduation. Even the combat phase of the first Persian Gulf War, waged by the most militarily capable coalition on Earth, took over a month to complete. And yet, 50 years ago today, Israel achieved a decisive military victory against overwhelming odds in the span of six days during the summer of 1967. Not only did the Jewish state eliminate all immediate threats to its very existence, it secured regional military dominance, something it maintains a half-century later.

Israel succeeded in defeating five Arab nations on the ground and in the sky, amassing roughly three and a half times more landmass in the process, including the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and much of the West Bank of the Jordan River. This enabled the country to effectively redraw its borders, and those of Israel's immediate neighbors, too. But more to the point, it proved that the Israelis would strike first if they felt threatened, and do so in a conclusive manner.

The conflict is often portrayed as Israel's ultimate achievement in solidifying its own security, and some consider the victory a prelude to the death of pan-Arabism. Yet both characterizations are often exaggerated. While the Six-Day War was indeed a wildly successful conventional military win, it also laid the groundwork for a more surreptitious (yet equally deadly) security threat to Israel.

** Can Britain Stop Terrorists While Defending Civil Liberties?

Bruce Hoffman

“Here are the black days we have promised you,” ISIS boasted in the aftermath of Saturday’s brutal attacks in London. “What is coming will be more bitter and severe, insha’Allah,” the group also promised.

The bombing of a concert venue in Manchester two weeks ago, coupled with this latest tragedy, have shattered any illusions that last summer’s spate of bloody ISIS-directed and -inspired attacks during Ramadan was an aberration. British prime minister Theresa May’s defiant proclamation that “enough is enough” will counterintuitively have greatly pleased the perpetrators’ masters in besieged Mosul and beleaguered Raqqa. Despite its battlefield setbacks, ISIS has demonstrated that it is still capable of inspiring new outrages and striking at the heart of its enemies’ largest cities. The group’s continued ability to generate worldwide fear and alarm ensures that ISIS, alas, is here to stay—at least for the foreseeable future.

Sixteen years ago, Ayman al-Zawahiri’s exhortation that “With the available means, small groups could prove to be a frightening horror for the Americans and the Jews” completely fell on deaf ears. Lacking the power of social media and the specifically targeted “narrowcasting” capability of encrypted apps like Viber, Telegram and WhatsApp, al-Zawahiri could not hope to reach the vast audience or securely communicate with his would-be and actual followers that ISIS has achieved. In 2010, Osama bin Laden had also called on his followers to attack across Europe, relying on identically antiquated Internet communications. His summons accordingly gained little traction, much less the widespread attention that ISIS’s effective exploitation of cutting-edge social media has achieved.

SCO Set to Expand, Adding India and Pakistan

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By Casey Michel

Soon a pair of new flags are set to rise over the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) headquarters in Beijing. Representing the SCO’s first expansion since its 2001 inception, the ceremony — formally welcoming India and Pakistan to the SCO — will be filled with all of the pomp, circumstance, and heady talk of regional cooperation and swelling camaraderie to which regional observers have grown accustomed over the past few years.

Indeed, the accession of India and Pakistan, coming this week during the SCO’s summit in Astana, is something of a regional watershed. After acting as a Russian, Chinese, and Central Asian talk shop for the better part of the past two decades, the SCO is set to undergo the first formal expansion it’s ever known. The inclusion of both India and Pakistan will not only expand the SCO’s geographic writ, pushing it that much closer to a pan-Asian forum, but, with India’s inclusion, the SCO suddenly finds itself with that much more geopolitical heft.

How India Saw the ICJ's Stay in the Kulbhushan Jadhav Case

By Padmapriya Govindarajan

A little over two weeks have passed since the International Court of Justice issued a verdict in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the alleged Indian spy sentenced to death by Pakistani military court. In the bilateral case between India and Pakistan, the ICJ stayed the execution on May 18. The conversation around the verdict in India, however, has been incessant and laced with the fear that Pakistan might not comply with the court’s stay.

Ever since Jadhav’s arrest and the announcement of his death sentence, India has expressed dissatisfaction and anger towards Pakistan on multiple related counts even culminating in the threat to freeze bilateral relations. Predictably therefore, the ICJ verdict left many in India feeling vindicated – and the conversation surrounding the case reflects this too.

Early on, as the ICJ began its enquiry, Indian media presented the Indian position as strategic and geared to win this round by being both meticulous and on the right side. The primary fear at that point was that Pakistan might orchestrate an execution before a verdict was even reached – even though Pakistan had clarified that there would be no immediate execution.

Is India on the Verge of an Unemployment Crisis?

Arpita Mukherjee, Avantika Kapoor

Providing enough employment opportunities in India with a population of 1.34 billion is not easy. And the fact that half of the population is below the age of 25 and will soon enter the job market will only make matters worse.

In response, the government has come up with initiatives such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’ and ‘Start-up India’ to promote employment. But the 2015–16 Annual Employment and Unemployment Survey found that the labour force participation rate (LFPR) nationally was only 50.3 per cent. And the LFPR is much lower for females than for males. The survey shows sluggish employment growth and the growth varied across sectors. While sectors such as IT have seen growth, other sectors such as jewellery, automobile manufacturing and transport have seen a decline in employment in recent years.

In India, agriculture accounts for 46 per cent of the workforce, compared to 22 per cent in manufacturing and 32 per cent in services. Despite various policy initiatives, the manufacturing sector has not been able to create mass employment, unlike in countries such as China. Further, casual and contractual employment is replacing permanent jobs in the manufacturing sector.

For China, Syria is the ´New Afghanistan´

By Christina Lin 

In this interview, Christina Lin examines the unexpected discovery of large Chinese Uyghur jihadi colonies in Syria and its implications for China and the West. According to Lin, the colonies grew under the protection and encouragement of Turkey, which wanted to field more anti-Assad jihadists. The problem now is that if these militants launch attacks from Syrian soil against Chinese interests, Beijing will almost certainly increase its own military involvement in the ongoing war.

In May 2017, a reporter for Dubai-based Al Aan TV aired an undercover story1 on Idlib province – the Syrian “rebel” opposition stronghold that is supported by the US and other Western governments – and the site of the recent alleged chemical attack that prompted direct US missile strikes against the Syrian Arab Army. While the report confirmed that al-Qaeda dominates Idlib, there was another unexpected revelation: the presence of large Chinese Uyghur jihadi2 colonies3, and highlights the negative consequences of misguided US/Western policies for violent regime change in the Middle East. Istanbul-based BirGün Daily interviews

Dr Christina Lin, a China-Mideast expert at Johns Hopkins University, to discuss the implications of these develop­ments for China and the West. According to Lin, the outgrowth of these colonies was supported by Turkey's Erdoğan regime to breed anti-Assad jihadists, and in the face of these anti-Chinese militants using the Syrian base to also launch attacks on Chinese interests, this will provoke Beijing to increase its military involvement in the Syrian war.

China’s Military Is Taking a Powerful Turn


The People's Republic is downsizing the world's largest troop force, while scaling up its ambitions in sea, space, and internet warfare.

After decades of heavy investment, China is close to possessing one of the most powerful militaries in the world— one that can "secure China's status as a great power," according to the latest edition of the US Defense Department's annual report on China, released this week.

In coming years China could reform the world's largest army into a smaller, swifter and harder-hitting rival to the America's own army, while also deploying high-tech new warplanes and warships from new air and naval bases on manmade—and potentially illegal—Pacific islands.

Meanwhile, Beijing's top scientists are putting the finishing touches on rockets and other weaponry capable of knocking America's satellites and ballistic missiles from space. And Chinese operatives are expanding a shadowy, oceangoing militia that disguises itself as a fishing fleet—and could represent the vanguard of any future Chinese invasion.

Here are some of the highlights from the Pentagon's China report.

Explained: India, NSG, And The Chinese Roadblock

Arka Biswas

Ahead of this month’s meet of the Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG) in Switzerland, China has repeated that it does not support India’s entry into the group. 

Why does India want to enter the NSG? What do both NSG and India stand to gain from it? Why is China opposing India’s entry? All that, and more, answered here.

Diplomats invested in on-going consultations at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on India’s membership application have suggested that more member-countries now support India’s inclusion in the Group that lays out guidelines for exports of nuclear and related sensitive items. Yet, China’s apparent unwavered opposition to India’s entry to the NSG, that runs on consensus, continues to hurt New Delhi’s prospects. This logjam brings to fore larger questions for NSG members on what they see as the future objectives of the Group and how best could those be met. Two, and often conflicting, objectives that feature prominently in the NSG’s agenda are expanding the Group to include all nuclear suppliers in order to enhance its credibility, and including only like-minded countries that are committed to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to improve its efficacy. Assessment of these objectives leads to the conclusion that including India would help NSG enhance its credibility as well as efficacy simultaneously.

Why does India want to join the NSG?

Security Analysts Confirm Links Between Beijing Spy Agency and Chinese Cyber Security Security Firm

Bill Gertz

A Chinese cyber security firm carried out a global campaign of cyber espionage and reconnaissance for the Ministry of State Security, Beijing’s main civilian spy service, according to security researchers.

The company known as Boyusec, located in Guangzhou near Hong Kong, was traced to large-scale MSS cyber operations to steal corporate and government secrets, and to conduct cyber reconnaissance—preparing foreign networks for cyber attacks in a future conflict.

The company was first exposed as an MSS front by the Washington Free Beacon in November.

Following that report, an anonymous security group or researcher, identified only as “intrusiontruth,” reported May 9 that Boyusec is an MSS contractor and two of its officials, Wu Yingzhuo and Dong Hao were linked to Chinese intelligence cyber operations.

Then on May 17, the security firm Recorded Future confirmed that Boyusec is linked to MSS components.

“We believe that they were doing intelligence collection and reconnaissance work since at least 2010,” Samantha Dionne, a threat analyst with Recorded Future said in an interview.

The Gulf Widens The Roots of the Regional Spat With Qatar

By Dina Esfandiary and Ariane M. Tabatabai

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump embarked on his first foreign trip, which began in Riyadh. There, the administration and Saudi officials sent a clear message: Iran is a destabilizing force in the region, which “nations of conscience” must counter. Parts of the trip were heavily criticized in the region and beyond, with some observers even insinuating that the trip sparked a split among the Gulf Arabs. Trump can’t be blamed for that split—the Gulf Arabs are no monolith, and disagreements have been rife—but he did embolden hard-line factions in the Gulf.

As the Yemeni conflict dragged on, disagreements within the GCC intensified.

How to deal with Iran has always been the subject of debate within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Although all of the countries in the group aim to stand up to their powerful neighbor, each differs on how. The nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran brought these divisions to the forefront. Under Saudi Arabia’s leadership, Bahrain and most of the UAE were skeptical of the deal, highlighting their concerns about Iran’s regional meddling. Others, including Oman and the Emirate of Dubai hoped to capitalize on the deal and forge new trade partnerships. Kuwait and Qatar found themselves in the middle. They were eager to contain Iran, but also to lessen tensions. After all, they share interests with Iran, including gas fields and trade.

Will Iraq's Shia Militias Give Iran a 'Road to the Sea'?

Seth J. Frantzman

In reaching Iraq’s border with Syria, the militias have reached a new phase of their mission.

On May 29, the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a group of Shia militias that are part of the Iraqi government’s security forces, reached the Iraq-Syria border. Straddling this strategic corridor in northern Iraq, which stretches east to Mosul and then south to Baghdad, allows the militias to dictate Iraq’s future war aims against ISIS to the south, as well as its policy in regards to the Kurds north of the new front line. For U.S. policymakers who are leading the coalition against the Islamic State, the role of the PMU and the Iranian influence it projects are a key concern for the future of Iraq, Syria and the region. The Shia militias’ next moves have the potential to affect the United States’ partnership with Syrian rebels near Jordan, and with U.S. Kurdish allies in northeastern Syria.

The PMU have played a key role in the war since June 2014, when Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa and call to arms for Iraqi Shia to fight ISIS. The militias also control swaths of territory liberated from ISIS. In early April, when I last visited Mosul, the roads leading to the city’s front line against ISIS were festooned with checkpoints run by various PMU affiliates. Shia religious flags adorn the PMU vehicles, and posters sometimes depict Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Crossing the Red Line: How Russian Interference in Western democracy is Backfiring

By Ulrick Speck

Since the Ukraine conflict has started in 2014, tensions between Russia and the West have massively increased. The US and the EU have jointly supported Ukrainian territorial integrity by introducing massive sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea and its military aggression against Ukraine in the Donbas; plus, Russia has been expelled from the G8. Russian aggression has also led to NATO’s re-orientation towards territorial defence. Today German officials, who have long pursued the strategy of modernising Russia and integrating it into Western structures, talk about ‘managing an antagonistic relationship’ as the new normal.

Besides the Ukraine conflict, tensions between the West and Russia have also arisen because the latter began to interfere in the domestic political spheres of leading Western democracies. There are three major cases so far: in Germany, the Lisa case in Berlin in January 2016, a Russian disinformation campaign (and before that the hacking of computer systems of the German parliament, in 2015); in the US, the hacking and publishing of documents from the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign in July 2016; and in France, financial and other support for Marine Le Pen as well as hacking during the presidential campaign in May 2017.

The Russian Hybrid Challenge: A Comprehensive Strategic Framework

Franklin D Kramer, Lauren M Speranza
This report highlights Russia’s ongoing hybrid warfare against the Euro-Atlantic community and how the latter should respond further. After reviewing Moscow’s worldview and the four elements of the current threat, which include the use of 1) low-level force; 2) cyber assaults; 3) economic and political coercion and subversion; and 4) information warfare, our authors recommend 26 ways for Western democracies to enhance their resilience against these forms of aggression, including the creation of a Euro-Atlantic Coordinating Council.

Paris And Beyond: A Climate Change Accord Without The U.S.

The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, announced by U.S. President Donald Trump last week, has led to a bitter and divisive debate on its likely impact. How critical is the U.S. withdrawal to global climate action? And what will be its impact on the international system?

Since Trump’s announcement, we have heard dire predictions about the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal on prospects for climate mitigation. Many critics, often in the same breath, have also described the march toward clean technologies and renewable energy as unstoppable. Of course, both of these arguments cannot be simultaneously true. After all, if market forces make the dominance of clean technologies inevitable, then would not either staying or exiting from Paris be largely inconsequential to the future of the planet?

In fact, while market forces and innovation are aiding the transition to clean energy (e.g., the remarkable drops in solar module prices), the same forces have also made extraction of fossil fuels cheaper and easier over time, as evidenced by the hydraulic fracturing revolution. Also, the sheer magnitude and speed needed for the transformation to clean technologies in the global energy system in order to meet climate targets requires coordinated action by states, markets, and societies. Nothing less will do.

How the Marshall Plan Emerged From Failure

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By Daniel Kurtz-Phelan

One of the United States’ greatest foreign policy achievements started with an 11-minute commencement day address 70 years ago this week. On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, at Harvard to receive an honorary degree, called on Americans to “face up to the vast responsibility which history has clearly placed upon our country.” World War II, he explained, had left Europe in ruins, and broken economies and starving populations invited unrest (which would, among other things, allow Soviet domination). So it was up to the United States to help Europe recover. “Our policy,” he declared that day, “is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.”

The Marshall Plan, as it became known, would be the largest foreign-assistance effort in history, totaling $13 billion over four years. (As a percentage of GDP, that would be about $900 billion now.) To this day, politicians and policymakers invoke the plan as both model and inspiration. It has come to represent American power at its best—generous, bold, and wise. And Marshall himself stands as a founding father of American global leadership, the stoic embodiment of a better time—a time when “we used to win,” as U.S. President Donald Trump puts it, and when we built transatlantic alliances, sent our tax dollars to help devastated countries, and accepted that we could not rely on America-first policies to keep us safe. As a general, Marshall had helped his country win World War II; as a statesman, he helped it win the peace.

Pressure in UK Building for Crackdown on Suspected ISIS Sympathizers

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The investigation into London’s Saturday attack is moving quickly with police arresting at least a dozen people in connection to the incident. It came less than two weeks after a suicide bombing in Manchester left 22 people dead. The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani asked Michael Leiter, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, about the steps counter-terror investigators are now likely to take.

The Cipher Brief: What types of steps would UK investigators be taking now? 

Michael Leiter: This part of the playbook is — regrettably — very well developed. It starts with the perpetrators and the crime scenes. Who were they? Who are their contacts? Examining their phones, online history, travel records, family members, and the like. From there, officials will examine increasingly large concentric circles to understand all of the aspects of their contacts. In addition, thanks to London’s extensive CCTV, officials will be able to track their movements with some specificity.

Separately, British Prime Minister Theresa May will almost certainly now push on two fronts: disrupting online extremist activity; but, I believe, also look at how they can better address the overwhelming volume of threats being faced by the security services.

This may well lead to another push to lengthen pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects. Today, the UK has 28 days – with judicial review – to hold suspects pre-charging, but the Home Office (under May) has previously argued for 40 days, and I expect this will return. 



Yogi Berra is said (incorrectly) to have said that in theory, theory and reality are the same. In reality, they are different. So it goes with B.A. Friedman’s engaging book, On Tactics: A Theory of Victory in Battle. In theory, Friedman has written a book that explains the relationship between actions and results in battle. In reality, On Tactics is a workmanlike survey of thinking about tactical level ground combat — useful and accessible to the military novice and non-expert, but certainly not a theory of tactical warfare.

Friedman starts with the startling claim that there has never been a tactical theorist — an assertion with which students of thinkers as diverse as Carl von Clausewitz and William Lind might take issue. He distinguishes this gap in knowledge with the sizable library of strategic theory. Friedman dismisses military doctrine as too specific to a particular nation, force, technology, and time. By contrast, he explains that his theory will define terms, explain concepts, and draw lines of cause and effect independent of historical epoch and, curiously, domain within which combat takes place.

US Must Boost War Games, Data Sharing With Allies: DIA


GEOINT: In a stark speech clearly intended to get people off their complacent butts, the Marine general who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency told an approving audience here that the Intelligence Community risks becoming as irrelevant as the Kodak film company became with the advent of digital photography.

“Let me ask you one final question. What will your story be, a great story of the past, (for example) how successful we were during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or do you want to embrace the new environment?” Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart boomed out. Later, during question and answers, he said: “Sometimes there is the sense that our success in the past is enough for our success in the future” — a sentiment he clearly scorned.

He told the crowd here that he thought he could probably design an independent intelligence system, one reliant entirely on open sources, that could “deliver a 60 percent solution six weeks earlier” than the “100 percent solution” the IC would deliver six days after the event they were trying to predict.

Heads nodded in the crowd, though many faces wore the classic poker face of the IC professional.

The Major Component Missing From Trump’s Executive Order on Cybersecurity

By Emefa Addo Agawu

President Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday. The executive order on cybersecurity he signed last month hardly mentioned local government.

You probably heard all about the devastating ransomware attack WannaCry. Starting May 12, it ripped through the globe, infecting more than 300,000 computers worldwide.

What you probably didn’t hear was that the first reported appearance of the worm in the U.S. was on government computers in Cook County, Illinois.

Though they’re easy to overlook, states and localities play an enormous role in the lives of their citizens. In fact, when it comes to cybersecurity, your daily life might be far more affected by your state or city government than national policy. After all, if you drive, your Department of Motor Vehicles has collected a massive amount of information about you. Cities around the country are deploying all sorts of sensors to improve citizen quality of life by tracking things like traffic data or waste. Your state’s official cybersecurity strategies will dictate how it responds to a crisis like, say, an attack on the network of the state agency in charge of corrections. These are all state and local issues, playing an outsize role in your life. Malicious actors have already realized this and are increasingly targeting states and cities with ransomware and other hacking attempts.

The war on cybercrime demonstrates why artificial intelligence must be redefined

NAIROBI, KENYA: Popular visions of artificial intelligence (AI) often focus on robots and the dystopian future they will create for humanity, but to understand the true impact of AI, its skeptics and detractors should look at the future of cybersecurity. The reason is simple: if we have any hope of winning the war on cybercrime, we have no choice but to rely on AI to supplement our human skills and experience. With the ranks and sophistication of cybercriminals continuing to grow, the technology industry has started to address this challenge through the use of AI. As with many new technologies, however, the good that AI can do is threatened by the misconceptions and hyperbole that surrounds it. For this reason, the technology industry must address these popular perceptions, and that starts with redefining AI as what it truly is: augmented intelligence. This might seem to be simple semantics, but I contend this redefinition is critical to the future understanding and acceptance of AI, and our ability to apply it in areas that are of such critical importance to society, from education to healthcare to the environment. ALSO READ: Mucheru urges private sector to boost investment in internet security When it comes to cybersecurity, AI is emerging as our most powerful ally, especially as it has become clear that relying primarily on humans to fight this war is a losing battle plan. 

 Cybercriminals have created one of the largest illegal economies in the world, generating $445 billion in annual profits and stealing more than a billion records of personal information, such as credit card numbers and health records, every year. The most concerning fact, though, is that 80 percent of cyberattacks are driven by highly organized crime rings that freely exchange data, tools and tricks of the trade. Cybersecurity experts just can’t keep up, and the situation will continue to be challenging with a projected 1.5 million security positions to remain unfilled between now and the conclusion of this decade. 

Cardillo: 1 Million Times More GEOINT Data In 5 Years


GEOINT: To cope with the gargantuan increase in data sure to come, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency must broaden its outreach to industry and the civil community, and, at the same time, ensure that it does a better job of ensuring the integrity and provenance of the data.

But the biggest challenge NGA faces right now is coping with the gigantic quantity of data from full motion video, NGA Director Robert Cardillo told a packed auditorium here in San Antonio. He’s created a new position, director of artificial intelligence, automation and augmentation, to cope with it, as part of the work recently announced by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work.

Video, the NGA director noted, is “time-consuming, manually intensive, redundantly exploited, poorly integrated and it leaves a great deal of useful data unexploited and undiscovered. In other words, while it remains essential to national security, it’s both extremely costly and extremely inefficient. We must change this, so I just named Buzz Roberts as our new Director of Artificial Intelligence, Automation and Augmentation, and his first challenge will be to address FMV automation.”

UPDATE BEGINS In a roundtable with reporters several hours after his speech, Cardillo made clear this effort is part of Work’s algorythmic taks force. NGA is “completely coordinated with that,” he told me, adding that 21 of the task force’s tasks were assigned to NGA. UPDATE ENDS

DISA director discusses priorities and challenges for agency

Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn took over as director of the Defense Information Systems Agency in July 2015, assuming leadership of the agency after previously serving as vice director and as chief of staff. He’s also spent time leading Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and Army Signal Center of Excellence, priming him to lead the Defense Department’s mission-critical IT agency. 

The world has changed just in the 10 years between his first DISA stint, as chief of staff in 2007, and now — including the way the U.S. fights wars, the integration of cyberspace as a military domain, and the threats evolving and increasingly targeting IT networks. In a 

recent interview with C4ISRNET, Lynn talked DISA priorities, progress and challenges, and what’s in the pipeline for the agency.

You’re nearly two years into your tenure as DISA director. What would you say have been some of your biggest achievements so far? What have been some challenges? What have you learned?

In times of austere funding, we were able to reduce costs by 9.3 percent the first year of my tenure and 7 percent the second year, giving money back for war fighting. We completely redesigned world class network protection within the [Department of Defense Information Networks] by experimentation, design and rollout of the Joint Regional Security Stacks, with one upgrade to 1.5 completed and 2.0 on the horizon. We stood up a Global Operations Center and consolidated the Global Help Desk. We developed new secret and top secret mobile phones and implemented a new Common Access Card replacement for mobile solutions. We reimagined, redesigned and deployed new collaboration tools with Global Video Service and Defense Collaboration Services. We modified a number of joint command and control systems to provide HTML5 web interfaces, revitalizing old systems and making them platform independent. We pushed enterprise-level capabilities down to the foxhole, decreasing the number of support personnel required to 

Infographic Of The Day: A High Level Look At Satellites

Satellites rarely get much attention, but they're the hubs that keep our modern world connected.

Just how many satellites are orbiting around Earth? Who’s launching them? And, what exactly are they doing up there anyway? These are good questions. Let’s dig in.

Today’s visualization comes to us from Carey Spies, and while it is based on older data, it provides a useful breakdown of the types of satellites that orbit the Earth.

There are now nearly 1,500 satellites in orbit in 2017, and if SpaceX’s plans for a 4,425-satellite communications network come to fruition, our planet’s exosphere will become even more crowded.

What do satellites actually do?

Satellites are launched into space for a number of reasons.

They do everything from military reconnaissance to keeping our GPS systems working properly. The truly global scope of telecommunications wouldn’t be possible without our expansive network of orbiting satellites. For example, O3b Networks’ 12 satellites provide broadband internet service to emerging markets. 

Wanted: DISA cyber warriors

The evolving cyber workforce is a much-discussed issue across the federal government, where agencies are competing with the private sector for professionals with elite cyber skills that can do much more than standard IT. It’s not a new problem, but it’s one the Defense Information Systems Agency is taking multiple approaches to tackle. 

An array of internal and external programs and initiatives at DISA target the elusive pool of cyber warriors who can protect networks, deliver technology to the war fighter, navigate federal bureaucracy and understand acquisition, among other skills. Starting with college internships and outreach programs all the way to in-house training for established, long-term employees, DISA officials are emphasizing their unique mission and workforce. 

“Because of [our] dynamic mission, we also need a robust and dynamic workforce to meet those ever-changing missions,” said Will Krozner, executive of DISA’s Workforce Services and Development Directorate. “So we are focused on providing the tools and the framework for that dynamic and robust workforce so that we can meet those mission requirements. Ultimately for DISA it’s all about our ability to support the war fighter directly by providing those services and products so that the war fighter can execute his or her mission downrange.” 

New perspectives on cyber security: The regulatory challenge

by Christian Hellwig

Cyber security is a rapidly evolving sector. Oftentimes, regulatory frameworks lag behind the latest developments. And when legislators finally act, companies, institutions and other influencing stakeholders must be fully aware of newly implemented regulations. In 2018, the new European Union (EU) regulation on data, cyber and information security will be a game changer. Here’s why.

Strategic foresight must take a regulatory lens. The vast majority of companies, institutions and other organisations underestimate both the significance and impact of a (slowly) changing legislative landscape – and therefore, often fail to respond to far-reaching challenges in proper time, damaging their own business and reputation.

Due to the volatility, force and pace with which technological innovation is moving through the global economy, cyber risk has become the biggest contemporary threat to all actors, especially companies. About 72% of all global CEOs do not think that they are fully prepared for a cyber attack. Potential targets have to factor in multiple variableswhen building their cyber defense capacities. And taking a regulatory perspective must be a key part of the overall equation. As regulations are growing increasingly complex, doing the minimum in compliance is not enough anymore.

Battery storage: The next disruptive technology in the power sector

By David Frankel and Amy Wagner

Low-cost storage could transform the power landscape. The implications are profound. 

Storage prices are dropping much faster than anyone expected, due to the growing market for consumer electronics and demand for electric vehicles (EVs). Major players in Asia, Europe, and the United States are all scaling up lithium-ion manufacturing to serve EV and other power applications. No surprise, then, that battery-pack costs are down to less than $230 per kilowatt-hour in 2016, compared with almost $1,000 per kilowatt-hour in 2010. 

McKinsey research has found that storage is already economical for many commercial customers to reduce their peak consumption levels. At today’s lower prices, storage is starting to play a broader role in energy markets, moving from niche uses such as grid balancing to broader ones such as replacing conventional power generators for reliability,1providing power-quality services, and supporting renewables integration. 

Further, given regulatory changes to pare back incentives for solar in many markets, the idea of combining solar with storage to enable households to make and consume their own power on demand, instead of exporting power to the grid, is beginning to be an attractive opportunity for customers (sometimes referred to as partial grid defection). We believe these markets will continue to expand, creating a significant challenge for utilities faced with flat or declining customer demand. Eventually, combining solar with storage and a small electrical generator (known as full grid defection) will make economic sense—in a matter of years, not decades, for some customers in high-cost markets. 

The Macron Leaks: The Defeat of Informational Warfare

As the United States was investigating Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election, many observers expressed concerns that France might be the next target of Russia’s information warfare strategy. History indeed repeats itself, unless one draws lessons from past mistakes. After France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, told a reporter during a press conference with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, that during the French electoral campaign Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik “were agents of influence which on several occasions spread fake news about me personally and my campaign. They behaved like organs of influence, of propaganda and of lying propaganda,” there are good reasons to think the lesson from the U.S. election has been learnt.

Until election day, it felt like somebody was playing the same trick in every election in the West. First came the hacking of several institutions and political parties. Then fake stories on Macron emerged, spread both via social networks or published directly by Russian state media outlets Sputnik and RT. These stories were aimed—in a somewhat awkward way—at casting doubts over Macron’s private life and professional ethics. Later on, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks told Izvestia with a menacing ambiguity that he owned “interesting documents” linked to Macron, echoing its statement late in the U.S. electoral campaign in October 2016. Many observers started to speculate that the leakers had established a precise timeline to cause maximum impact on French public opinion on election day. Finally, two days before the election—as a mandatory media blackout enforced by the electoral commission was beginning—came the “Macron leaks,” an anonymous dump on the Internet of an enormous collection of documents allegedly originating in the Macron campaign.

Information and information warfare primer

By Saso Virag.

This is really just a short brain dump of the basics to get started thinking about information warfare in a non-US way. Yes, that means Russian, Chinese, South African, Australian, etc. approach. It may come as a surprise to many, but information warfare has always been more and better researched by those that do not commandeer the world's biggest military. 

First of all we need to start with proper definitions of data, information, and knowledge. 

Typical definition is that data magically transforms into information and that assemblage of information turns into knowledge. For the visual learners: