10 July 2017

*** What the largest battle of the decade says about future war


The bloody battle to wrest Mosul from ISIS was the world’s largest military operation in nearly 15 years. 

Here’s how Western-backed Iraqi soldiers helped break the Islamic State’s grip on a city of more than 1 million people — and what we can learn from it. 


The Mosul offensive began on October 17, 2016, when a variegated body of more than 100,000 troops—local volunteers, regular soldiers, elite Iraqi and Western special forces—collapsed on the country's second-largest city. The force, believed to overmatch ISIS 10-to-1, moved under the cover of airpower provided by a half-dozen nations.

Advancing from the south, east and the north, Baghdad and its allies needed just 14 days to make it to Mosul’s doorstep. Iraqi special forces raced about 15 miles in those two weeks, and became the first to knock on that door. But such large-scale, coordinated assaults would prove much more difficult in the months to come. 

*** From the Intermarium to the Three Seas

By George Friedman

The Intermarium is a concept – really, an eventuality – that I have spoken about for nearly a decade. I predicted it would rise after Russia inevitably re-emerged as a major regional power. Which makes sense, considering it would comprise the former Soviet satellites of Eastern Europe: the Baltic states, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and possibly Bulgaria. Its purpose would be to contain any potential Russian move to the west. The United States would support it. The rest of Europe would agonize over it. What was once inevitable may soon be here.

Challenges, Intentional or Otherwise

The two foundations of the Intermarium (now frequently referred to as such in the region) are Poland and Romania, which have developed close military ties. The Baltics are already involved. The major holdout, unsurprisingly, has been Hungary, which has had to court Russia and the United States at the same time. But there are strong signals that Hungary is prepared to join. The government recently announced that it would join a Black Sea military exercise with Romania and Bulgaria – an annual exercise in which Hungary has never before participated. If this happens, then an eastern flank of the European Peninsula will have a cohesive group, backed by the global power, forming a line of demarcation between Russia and the rest of Europe.

** Our Generals Failed In Afghanistan


The United States military failed America in Afghanistan. It wasn’t a tactical failure. It was a failure of leadership.

The ascent of David Petraeus and the Army’s rediscovery of counterinsurgency doctrine led many to believe that the military had dramatically adapted itself for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately the transformation was only skin deep. Petraeus was a myth, and the intellectual father of the Army only in the eyes of the national media. The institutional inertia of the military bureaucracy never caught up with the press releases. The result was a never-ending series of public pronouncements by senior leaders about the importance of counterinsurgency, accompanied by a continuation of Cold War-era personnel and rotation policies that explicitly short-changed the effort.

Upon taking command in Afghanistan in 2009, General Stanley McChrystal made the rounds of his subordinate units and asked each of us, “What would you do differently if you had to stay until we won?” At the time I was in charge of operations for a brigade in the middle of tough fight in eastern Afghanistan. It was absolutely the right question, but in retrospect it was also a trick question. The answer was to get the right people into the fight, keep them there long enough to develop an understanding of the environment, and hold them accountable for progress, but that was not something the military was interested in doing. Instead, we stuck with a policy that rotated leaders through the country like tourists.

Border Standoff: Chinese Incursions Have A Much Deeper And Sinister Intent

Jaideep Mazumdar

An India surrounded by countries which would be proxies of China would severely limit India’s global aspirations and keep it tied down to South Asia, thus allowing China a free run in Asia and the world.

China’s aggressive actions at the tri-junction between India, Tibet and Bhutan, in the Doklam plateau of the Chumbi Valley, is no routine border incursion and poses an extremely grave security and diplomatic threat to India. China’s actions signal its intent to embark on its long-term expansionist plans in this part of Asia, and ought to send alarm bells clanging in India’s security establishment.

A brief recap of the events at the border would be in order here. China has long laid claim to the Doklam plateau that falls in west Bhutan and adjoins the Chinese-controlled Chumbi Valley of Tibet. Chumbi Valley separates Sikkim from Bhutan and hangs like a dagger over the vulnerable Chicken’s Neck, or Siliguri Corridor, that connects North East India with the rest of the country. Chumbi Valley is, however, very narrow and cannot accommodate the number of troops and military hardware China would require either in case of an offensive, or to deter India militarily.

Also, Chinese troops in Chumbi Valley suffer from a serious strategic constraint since the ridge lines along the Valley fall in Bhutan and Sikkim and Indian troops have a clear tactical advantage there. It must be remembered here that India provides military muscle to Bhutan and the Indian Army has a strong presence in that country through the IMTRAT (Indian Military Training Team) units stationed in Bhutan. Thus, Indian troops pose a serious threat to the Chinese not only from Sikkim but also from Bhutan, where they are stationed.

ASEAN-India Partnership at 25

By Sampa Kundu

At the ninth edition of Delhi Dialogue, held in New Delhi on July 4 to 5, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reiterated India’s benign role in the Asia-Pacific. She mentioned that India’s influence on Southeast Asia did not occur through “conquest or colonization.” Swaraj was taking part in the Track 1.5 meeting involving India and the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as both sides celebrate the 25th anniversary of their dialogue partnership this year.

India started engaging with ASEAN in 1992 through a sectoral dialogue partnership. In 1996, India was welcomed as a full dialogue partner. In the subsequent years and decades, India joined the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus), Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF), and several other platforms commonly shared with ASEAN. In the meantime, India was proactive in articulating its Look East Policy through the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) in the late 1990s.

Together India and ASEAN account for almost one-third of the global population (i.e. 1.85 billion people) and a combined GDP of approximately $3.8 trillion. Together they would form the third largest economy in the world. Given their combined clout, it is only natural for both India and ASEAN to continue to walk side by side in areas including space technology, counterterrorism and anti-insurgency operations, trade and investment, connectivity, maritime security, and all other issues of common concerns.

Global Flashpoints generating Indian Foreign Policy Challenges in 2017

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Major global flashpoints generating challenges for Indian foreign policy stretch from North Korea to the Middle East via the South China Sea disputes, China’s disruptive strategies in South Asia, Pakistan’s Islamic terrorism exports and the explosive Saudi-Iran confrontation and ultimately the external military interventions in Syria.

As an Emerged Power, India cannot be a passive spectator as these global flashpoints become incendiary and explode, and whose unintended consequences may unleash uncontrolled violence. India needs to speak out and initiate foreign policy responses supportive of those oppose or checkmate nations which flout international conventions, are defiant of global public opinion and indulge in military aggression and brinkmanship. This is only possible when the Indian foreign policy establishment engages itself in a lateral analysis of the global flashpoints and their linkages.

In the above spectrum of global flashpoints what is notable is that China stands out directly or indirectly involved in all the flashpoints that exist in the wider Indo Pacific Asia. Confronting China directly or indirectly along this entire spectrum is the United States which has and ought to have vital security stakes in Indo Pacific Asia.

How Afghanistan’s Public Procurement Reform Is Changing

By Mohammad Adil Zahed

As envisioned in his election manifesto and soon after being elevated as the new president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani issued a legislative decree to reform public procurement of Afghanistan. The reform was initiated by merging the existing procurement entities and establishing a central regulatory body, the National Procurement Authority. It came at a time when the prolonged and disputed presidential election caused massive delays to the procurement process of development projects.

For a newly formed entity it was challenging to both establish itself and operate at the same time. Clearing the massive backlog of procurement, responding to the demands of both the procurement entities and the donors in terms of proceeding with the procurement of new projects, and dealing with the urgent need of security sector’s fuel and food contracts can be enumerated as major challenges.

What has changed?

This institutional reform was not warmly welcomed initially by many including politicians, legislatures, bureaucrats, and donors. It was considered to be centralization of authority by the Office of the President. While comparing the pre and post reform organizational structure, centralization of authority is less apparent. A special procurement commission to approve above threshold contracts, Afghanistan Reconstruction and Development Services (ARDS) to facilitate procurement processes, and Procurement Policy Unit to formulate and provide policy guidance were functioning previously in the public procurement sector of Afghanistan.

Doklam Standoff-China Violates agreements with India and Bhutan

By Bhaskar Roy

On June 16, a Chinese PLA construction party entered Doklam area and attempted to construct a road. Doklam, on the edge of Chumbi valley and adjacent to the India-China-Bhutan tri junction is emphatically Bhutanese territory which China has been claiming with military muscle power and propaganda against the tiny and weak Himalayan Kingdom for decades now. The Chinese foreign ministry and official media have stated that Doklam is “indisputably” Chinese sovereign territory.

A Bhutanese army patrol tried to dissuade the PLA from construction telling them to withdraw to the pre-June 16 position. The Bhutanese government through its embassy in New Delhi issued a protest on June 20 to the Delhi Embassy in New Delhi. (The two countries do not have diplomatic representation in each other’s countries and work through their embassies in New Delhi).

Again on June 29, the Bhutanese government issued a strongly worded demarche asking China to stop constructing the motorable road from Doka La in the Doklam area towards the Bhutanese army camp at Zompelri. Doklam (which the Chinese call Donglong) is tri-junction area in the Sikkim sector. The Bhutanese foreign ministry statement said that the construction of the road in Bhutanese territory was a direct violation of the 1988 and 1998 agreements between Bhutan and China and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between the two countries.

Is War Between a Rising China and a Dominant America Inevitable?Is War Between a Rising China and a Dominant America Inevitable?

By David Ignatius

WASHINGTON -- Let's imagine a Chinese "applied history" project, similar to the one at Harvard's Belfer Center that helped spawn Professor Graham Allison's widely discussed book "Destined for War."

Allison's historical analysis led him to posit a "Thucydides Trap" and the danger (if not inevitability) of war between a rising China and a dominant America, like the ancient conflict between Athens and Sparta chronicled by the Greek historian Thucydides. A study by the Belfer Center's Applied History Project identified 16 similar "rising versus ruling" cases over the past 500 years, 12 of which resulted in war. What would the Chinese say about the lessons of past interactions with the West?

Chinese analysts, from President Xi Jinping on down, have nominally rejected Allison's pessimistic analysis. "There is no Thucydides Trap," Xi has argued, claiming that he had devised an alternative "new type of great-power relations" that would avoid war by recognizing that each Asian giant had its own legitimate interests. More recently, he has shifted to arguing that "China and the U.S. must do everything possible to avoid [the] Thucydides Trap."

Could the Chinese Communist Party survive dropping South China Sea claims?


Since at least the third century AD, successive Chinese dynasties have asserted jurisdiction over parts of the South China Sea, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands. Until the end of the 19th century, when Western and Japanese imperialists imposed a series of unequal treaties on China and began what is commonly referred to in China as “The Century of Humiliation,” China maintained its assertions of sovereignty over much of the South China Sea. In recent years, China has revived those historic claims and began aggressively protecting what it deems to be its sovereign territory.

DIA Reveals New Details of Russian Information Warfare

BY: Bill Gertz

Russian military forces are using information warfare tools to confront the United States, according to a new Defense Intelligence Agency report.

"Moscow's long-term goal is building a military prepared to conduct the range of conflicts from local war through regional conflict to a strategic conflict that could result in massive nuclear exchange," the 116-page report, "Russia Military Power," states.

The report was published last week and is the first of its kind since the 1980s, when the Reagan administration directed DIA to begin highlighting the strategic threat posed by the Soviet Union. Those reports were called "Soviet Military Power" and were published annually for more than a decade.

The latest report includes new information on Russian information warfare operations, including the cyber-enabled psychological warfare operations.

"Russia views the information sphere as a key domain for modern military conflict," the report said. "Information warfare is a key means of achieving its ambitions of becoming a dominant player on the world stage."

Can Russian UAVs Close the Gap with America or Israel?

Samuel Bendett

In a recent interview to Russian daily RIA-NOVOSTI news agency, Russian Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin made a number of interesting statements about his country's state of military unmanned aerial aviation. Referring to his country's falling behind such UAV leaders as US and Israel, Rogozin confidently remarked that Russia's gap with these two technology leaders has been greatly lessened, and soon Moscow would completely catch up to these two nations and achieve UAV parity. Rogozin specifically noted that he was referring to intelligence-gathering drones, or ISR (intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance duties), as well as combat (strike) UAVs. According to him, there are "no grounds for concern in connection with any (technological) lag...From the point of view of the development of communication channels, from the point of view of the availability of weapons, from the point of view of the unmanned systems themselves, I can say only one thing: there is no need to speak about any lag. It has been sharply reduced and will be completely eliminated in the near future."

Were Rogozin to speak in 2025-2030, perhaps his statements may ring true, to an extent. Russia is currently trying to develop a range of unmanned aerial systems, pursuing a wide range of projects dealing with small to mid-sized UAVs, quadrocopter/multi-rotor models, unmanned helicopters, as well as larger, long-range machines capable of potentially carrying weapons. For example, during the recent International Maritime Defense Show in St. Petersburg, a Russian company Radar MMS introduced several unmanned helicopter models, including large BPV-500 prototype capable of carrying weapons. Other recent major developments include Kalashnikov Design Bureau's Zala 421-16E2 noiseless reconnaissance and surveillance drone. In fact, there are major announcements related to UAV developments, testing and evaluation coming out of Russia almost on a weekly basis. However, many such statements deal with prototypes or test beds, and that is hardly equal to thousands of American and Israeli UAVs operating across the world on a daily basis.

Preemptive Strike: This Is How North Korea Would Start World War III

Kyle Mizokami

North Korea has achieved something remarkable: for an impoverished country with a GDP smaller than that of Rhode Island, it has built a nuclear and ballistic missile program. The result is a growing arsenal of nuclear weapons with an expanding level of reach. While North Korea’s nukes are in all likelihood meant for regime security, in the event of war, Pyongyang would attempt to deliver devastating nuclear strikes against American, South Korean and Japanese forces throughout the region, sapping them of the willpower necessary to topple the regime of Kim Jong-un.

North Korea is both more and less dangerous than it looks. While the country maintains a 1,190,000-strong armed force, one of the largest in the world, much of its equipment is obsolete. It is likely no longer likely capable of successfully invading South Korea. At the same time, it is assessed as having between ten and twenty nuclear weapons, and has tested a variety of ballistic-missile platforms, including medium-range, intermediate-range, submarine-launched and, as of July 4, intercontinental ballistic missiles. While many of these programs have had mixed success, particularly the Musudan missile, North Korea is clearly learning and advancing its abilities both in nuclear-weapons design and missile-delivery systems.

In North Korea, ‘Surgical Strike’ Could Spin Into ‘Worst Kind Of Fighting’

By Motoko Rich

SEOUL, South Korea — The standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program has long been shaped by the view that the United States has no viable military option to destroy it. Any attempt to do so, many say, would provoke a brutal counterattack against South Korea too bloody and damaging to risk.

That remains a major constraint on the Trump administration’s response even as North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, approaches his goal of a nuclear arsenal capable of striking the United States. On Tuesday, the North appeared to cross a new threshold, testing a weapon that it described as an intercontinental ballistic missile and that analysts said could potentially hit Alaska.

Over the years, as it does for potential crises around the world, the Pentagon has drafted and refined multiple war plans, including an enormous retaliatory invasion and limited pre-emptive attacks, and it holds annual military exercises with South Korean forces based on them.

But the military options are more grim than ever.

Even the most limited strike risks staggering casualties, because North Korea could retaliate with the thousands of artillery pieces it has positioned along its border with the South. Though the arsenal is of limited range and could be destroyed in days, the United States defense secretary, Jim Mattis, recently warned that if North Korea used it, it “would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”

Is War Between a Rising China and a Dominant America Inevitable?Is the U.S. Flirting with World War III in Syria?

By Tim Joslyn

Beginning as a national protest in 2011, the Syrian conflict has evolved into a complex regional and international conflict. Local protests spread into an armed rebellion, then becoming a national civil war and, finally, a proxy war reminiscent of the Cold War. In the mold of all such conflicts, regional and global powers were involved in the crisis from the civil war’s beginning. Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad sought support –– from Russia, Iran, and Lebanon –– to put down rebel forces. As the Islamic State (IS) violently took over a third of Syria and Iraq, America got involved by enlisting a coalition to defend Iraq from IS and push them back into Syria’s eastern territory.

Beyond this simple plan for containment, no clear strategy was established for America’s involvement, what a successful intervention would look like, or an open public discussion of dealing with Russian military involvement. Initially, it was hoped that reclaiming lost Iraqi ground would be the end of U.S. involvement.

President Obama argued IS would only be defeated by engaging them within Syria, placing American forces and weaponry in opposition to Russian, Iranian, and Lebanese forces. Until recently, the armed conflict has been complex and bloody, but outright war between opposing forces has been avoided. However, over the past week, there were worrisome instances of U.S. allied forces being threatened by the Syrian regime and its allies. Once the U.S. fired back, the Russian response significantly raised the specter of a much larger conflict, perhaps even global.

Yanis Varoufakis: A New Deal for the 21st Century


ATHENS — The recent elections in France and Britain have confirmed the political establishment’s simultaneous vulnerability and vigor in the face of a nationalist insurgency. This contradiction is the motif of the moment — personified by the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, whose résumé made him a darling of the elites but who rode a wave of anti-establishment enthusiasm to power.

A similar paradox is visible in Britain in the surprising electoral success of the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in depriving Theresa May’s Conservatives of an outright governing majority — not least because the resulting hung Parliament seemingly gives the establishment some hope of a change in approach from Mrs. May’s initial recalcitrant stance toward the European Union on the Brexit negotiations that have just begun.

Outsiders are having a field day almost everywhere in the West — not necessarily in a manner that weakens the insiders, but neither also in a way that helps consolidate the insiders’ position. The result is a situation in which the political establishment’s once unassailable authority has died, but before any credible replacement has been born. The cloud of uncertainty and volatility that envelops us today is the product of this gap.

American Special Operations: Past, Present, And Future – Modern War Institute

by James King

The target, a high-level leader in a terrorist organization that intelligence has indicated is plotting to execute a major attack in the United States, had no idea what was about to happen. High above, and several dozen kilometers to the east of his family’s compound, the red light next to the open ramp of a C-130 turns green and a team of SEALs dives out. Their steerable, rectangular, chutes open almost immediately as the team members execute an almost perfect High Altitude/High Opening (HAHO) jump. If the target were to look up he might be able to make out the faint specks floating in the night air. Unfortunately for him he is asleep and totally unaware of what is about to happen to him.

The team lands a few kilometers away from the objective. They stash their equipment, link up, and move silently towards the target, where they cordon off the compound. The breach team affixes a small explosive and detonates it. The assault team moves in almost as fast as the debris from the explosion. The target is found, bound, and separated from the rest of his family as the sound of helicopter blades chewing up the air can be heard getting louder in the distance.

The team is only waiting a few minutes for the retrieval aircraft to arrive but in that time they have searched every room, exploiting the site—rounding up as many documents and as much computer hardware that they can find. Once the Blackhawks arrive, kicking up a cloud of dust as they come in, the team moves out of the compound with the target and aboard the aircraft. They are gone almost as fast as they arrived, leaving the target and his family to wonder what just happened.

The World's Most Populous Nations In 2050

Currently the world has a population of nearly 7.6 billion people and that's increasing, though at a slower pace than in the recent past.

The population is growing at a rate of 1.1 percent, meaning an extra 83 million people are being added to the planet's population every year. The global population is going to surpass 8 billion by 2030 and hit 9.8 billion by 2050, according to a new report from the United Nations. There's an estimated 962 million people aged 60 and over around the globe (13 percent of the population), and that is going to expand steadily over the coming years. In 2030, 1.4 billion people will be aged over 60 and and that could reach 3.1 billion by 2100.

Ten countries are set to account collectively for over half the world's projected population increase between now and 2050: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the United States, Uganda, Indonesia and Egypt. Within the next seven years, India is expected to surpass China as the most populous nation. The United States is also going to be overtaken by Nigeria by 2050 to become the world's third most populous nation - Nigeria is currently posting the fastest rate of population growth worldwide. The following infographic shows the world's most populous nations in 2050 and it was created using the UN's data.

Hackers Are Targeting Nuclear Facilities, Homeland Security Dept. and F.B.I. Say


Since May, hackers have been penetrating the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power stations and other energy facilities, as well as manufacturing plants in the United States and other countries.

Among the companies targeted was the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, which runs a nuclear power plant near Burlington, Kan., according to security consultants and an urgent joint report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week.

The joint report was obtained by The New York Times and confirmed by security specialists who have been responding to the attacks. It carried an urgent amber warning, the second-highest rating for the sensitivity of the threat.

The report did not indicate whether the cyberattacks were an attempt at espionage — such as stealing industrial secrets — or part of a plan to cause destruction. There is no indication that hackers were able to jump from their victims’ computers into the control systems of the facilities, nor is it clear how many facilities were breached.

The Six Day War and the Nuclear Coup that Never Was

By Guy Laron

On the eve of the June 1967 war in the Middle East, a small group of men in the Israeli elite considered a doomsday scenario. They all supported Israel having an overt nuclear strategy, but the dovish prime minister, Levi Eshkol, had resisted. Now, with war looming, they felt that their hour had come. Behind the scenes, these bureaucrats, scientists and officers prepared the ground for using Israel’s ultimate weapon: the nuclear bomb.

Three weeks ago, The New York Times revealed part of that story which the newspaper described as the “last secret” of the Six Day War. The truth is, evidence of these events has been out in the open for several years now. Yitzchak Yaacov, a top scientist who served as a senior officer in the Israeli army, had published his memoirs detailing the deliberations for the secret operation already in 2011. Based on this book as well as several interviews, Amir Oren, military correspondent for Haaretz, wrote in the same year a long analysis of the decision-making process surrounding this chapter in Israel’s history. And in 2014, Oxford University Press published a monograph by Or Rabinowitz that distilled all these Hebrew-language sources into an English-language text.

The Geopolitics of Renewable Energy

In this text, Meghan O’Sullivan, et al. focus on seven scenarios that both forecast and backcast the world’s future reliance on renewable energy. While all the forecasting scenarios expect us to rely more on this form of energy, none of them anticipate a revolution where it will surpass our continued dependence on fossil fuels. In contrast, the backcasting scenarios anticipate a world where renewables will make up 50-70% of the primary energy market by 2050. Read on to ‘unpack’ these projections and the seven factors that will shape them.

Contentious Nuclear Missile Program Moving Forward

By Sandra Erwin

The Pentagon continues to face backlash over a $20 billion nuclear missile program that critics fear will set off Armageddon.

The polemical weapon — a stealth cruise missile that would be launched from Air Force bombers and strike targets nearly 2,000 miles away — has been in the works since the early days of the Obama administration. But pushback from the arms control community has intensified over the past two years, notably after former Defense Secretary William Perry called for the cancellation of the program.

With the Pentagon in the midst of conducting a “nuclear posture review” for the first time since 2010, opponents of the so-called “long-range standoff missile,” or LRSO, see a window of opportunity to convince Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that the program should be nixed.

The Air Force is scheduled to award contracts this fall for the next development phase of the LRSO. The Pentagon’s top contractors, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, have submitted bids. The stakes are high as the Air Force expects to buy up to 1,000 missiles and warheads. “The LRSO effort remains on track to award up to two technology maturation and risk reduction contracts by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017,” said Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Emily Grabowski.

Sustaining military operations in the emerging joint operating environment

By Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) has never been a stranger to innovation. As it celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, the command is taking time to reflect on its past.

Established in 1987, USTRANSCOM developed around the concept of forming a unified, joint command whose sole purpose was to serve as a nexus for strategic mobility. At a time, this concept was unpopular as other commands were struggling to maintain personnel, equipment, and budgets, and the fledgling USTRANSCOM was seen as diverting valuable resources. USTRANSCOM proved its worth within a few years of its establishment, however, when it deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield, the nation's largest force commitment since D-Day.

The operation's overwhelming success prompted Gen. Colin Powell, who was then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to sing USTRANSCOM's praises. He called the operation the command's "graduation exercise," and as far as he and the president were concerned, USTRANSCOM had just graduated magna cum laude.

Australian Brig. Ryan: Russ Glenn gets our mission command right — but we still have lots of work to do, especially in professional military education


Tom challenged me to reflect on Russ Glenn’s recent article in Parameters, about the theory and application of mission command in the Australian Army. It is worth noting up front that Glenn has a deep understanding of our army. Based on a long professional association with our army, and personal links with many of us, Glenn is perfectly placed to examine and critique our approach to mission command.

I was a co-author in 2014 of our capstone Army doctrinal publication quoted by Glenn (The Fundamentals of Land Power 2014). I am also former battalion and brigade commander, and the current director general of training and doctrine. So it would be fair to state that I have developed a reasonably rounded appreciation of our strengths and weaknesses in mission command. And the bottom line up front is, Glenn pretty much has hit the nail on the head with his observations and criticisms of us in his article.

Early in the piece, Russ notes that

[T]he Australian Army seems satisfied with avoiding verbiage that obscures rather than illuminates the philosophy. Offered in the spirit of multinational cooperation (and simplicity), we will use its definition from here on: Mission command is the practice of assigning a subordinate commander a mission without specifying how the mission is to be achieved.

Improve the Space-Based Sensor System


The Pentagon’s missile defense review is now underway, incorporating mandates from both the White House and Congress. One of its considerations, at presidential direction, is whether there should be a relative “rebalancing” between homeland and regional missile defense. Regional defense has received a relatively greater share of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) budget over the past decade, so increased emphasis on protecting the homeland may well be in order, especially given missile advances by North Korea, including the launch of a Hwasong-14 ICBM earlier this week. But another, crosscutting kind of rebalance may be even more important to consider: a rebalancing of the sensor architecture to the space domain. Fielding a space-based sensor layer would provide unique improvements to homeland and regional missile defenses alike.

Sensors and ground systems do not as easily capture the popular imagination, so they do not get as much attention as the interceptors themselves. Commentators typically tend to focus on the numbers and characteristics of interceptors, and understandably so. For the homeland mission in particular, improvements to the reliability, capability, and capacity of ground-based interceptors are certainly in order. Interceptors are only as good as the sensors that tell them where to go and what to kill. We currently rely almost entirely upon sensors based on sea or land. A space layer would add unique capabilities not merely to this or that interceptor, but across the entire ballistic missile defense system—including Patriot/PAC-3, THAAD, Aegis, and Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD).



If media coverage is to be believed, we are in the midst of a cyberwar with daily attacks occurring across several theaters. Between dropping “cyber-bombs” on the Islamic State, Chinese intruders pilfering precious technology, and Russian information operations shaping the U.S. political process, it seems that the continuous power struggle between nations is now most commonly waged on the internet. While there might be some truth to that narrative, the reality is — of course — more nuanced. It’s difficult to define and explain attacks that are entirely virtual. To understand this, one must understand a few points about offensive network operations. First, cyber operations are not as novel as they appear. Rather, they draw heavily from the integration of electronic warfare into joint operations. Second, different nations have largely different perspectives on how to employ network capabilities to achieve political objectives. Third, most incidents we label as “cyberattacks” or “cyber warfare” do not in fact merit being called such.

Cyber Evolution

The United States and NATO have declared networks to be a fifth domain of warfare, cementing the perception that it is novel and distinct. We have also seen massive investments and doctrinal updates towards cyber-related activities. But network operations are neither entirely novel nor do they necessarily constitute warfare. Perhaps then we should stop automatically defining them as such. Labelling an incident an “attack” can have tremendous consequences, especially when carried out by one nation against another. Indeed, NATO’s secretary general just revealed that that alliance’s leaders “decided that a cyberattack can trigger Article 5.” It is therefore crucial that everyone from the world leader to the average citizen have an informed understanding of what exactly constitutes an “attack.”

News Article – Center for Security Studies


This article analyzes the significance of regime theory, or theory of regimes, for the field of International Relations. Specifically, it tries to reflect on theoretical affinities between the two, namely to recast regime theory as IR theory. While this may not be surprising given that regime theory has been a standard occupier of IR theoretical space, not much has been systematically written on both evolutionary qualities of regime theory as such, and its changing yet strong pegging to IR theories and approaches. This is where the main contribution of this theoretically oriented article lies. The article proceeds as follows. First, it discusses existing IR theorization of regimes which has coalesced around three specific ‘waves’ of regimes theorization: the neo-neo-convergence regime theory; cognitivism; and radical constructivism/ post-structuralism. Second, it assesses heuristic utility of the three waves of regime theorization in relation to possible domains of empirical application. Finally, more general trends in relation to heuristics are discerned and flagged in the conclusion.

Theorization of Regimes in IR: Three ‘Waves’ of Scholarship

This part begins with a theoretically oriented discussion of regime analysis which can be identified within the discipline of IR. Indeed, such discussion needs to factor in the empirical domain in question, the scope, complexity and theme of regulation (Keohane and Victor 2010; Alter and Meunier 2009; Drezner 2009), as well as political dynamics and leadership related to their formation and effectiveness (Levy, Young and Zürn 1995; Young 1991). This takes on importance when considering that majority of the existing scholarship on theories of regimes came to be articulated from within International Political Economy and Earth Science, rather than Security Studies (for notable exceptions, cf. Müller 1995; 1993; Krause 1990; Nye 1987; Jervis 1982). Geographically, complex interplay between regional and global attempts to regulate specific issue areas (Adler and Greve 2009; Bourne 2007; Duffield 1994). Legally, the range of regulative difficulties were discussed in existing studies (also, cf. Efrat 2010; Miron 2001; Krause and Latham 1998; Aceves 1997).

Artificial Stupidity: Learning To Trust Artificial Intelligence (Sometimes)

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

A young Marine reaches out for a hand-launched drone.

In science fiction and real life alike, there are plenty of horror stories where humans trust artificial intelligence too much. They range from letting the fictional SkyNet control our nuclear weapons to letting Patriots shoot down friendly planes or letting Tesla Autopilot crash into a truck. At the same time, though, there’s also a danger of not trusting AI enough.

As conflict on earth, in space, and in cyberspace becomes increasingly fast-paced and complex, the Pentagon’s Third Offsetinitiative is counting on artificial intelligence to help commanders, combatants, and analysts chart a course through chaos — what we’ve dubbed the War Algorithm (click here for the full series). But if the software itself is too complex, too opaque, or too unpredictable for its users to understand, they’ll just turn it off and do things manually. At least, they’ll try: What worked for Luke Skywalker against the first Death Star probably won’t work in real life. Humans can’t respond to cyberattacks in microseconds or coordinate defense against a massive missile strike in real time. With Russia and China both investing in AI systems, deactivating our own AI may amount to unilateral disarmament.