19 December 2017

President Trump's New National Security Strategy

By Anthony H. Cordesman

President Trump's new National Security Strategy (NSS) deserves careful attention, particularly by America's allies and strategic partners and by those who deal with everything the President says or issues in terms of knee jerk criticism. It is a document that President Trump reviewed and altered in some depth and that represents his views—rather than a bureaucratic compromise. At the same time, it both expands on the classic themes of U.S. strategy—rather than rejects them—and commits the U.S. to playing its traditional role in leading the free world.

"America First" Means International, Not Isolation

One of the most critical aspects of the document is its definition of "America first"—one which clearly rejects the isolationism of those who first used the term, and rejects the denial of America's overseas role that some around the President advocated before he appointed his present national security team. It directly addresses both America's need to remain committed overseas and deal with competition from Russia and China:

India, China likely to suggest new steps to boost border peace

Elizabeth Roche

The first dialogue between China’s Yang Jiechi and India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval (in photo) was held after the Doklam standoff ended in September. New Delhi: India and China may suggest some new confidence building measures aimed at stabilizing their un-demarcated border and maintaining peace during the 20th round of talks expected this week between their special representatives (SRs) mandated to finding a solution to the decades-old border dispute.Given that this will be the first dialogue between the two SRs—Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo member Yang Jiechi and India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval—after the 73-day military standoff in Bhutan’s Doklam plateau earlier this year, analysts say the two will discuss ways to prevent a repeat of the circumstances that triggered the crisis.

For India and China, Southeast Asia Is a Battleground

By Kamran Bokhari

Power is inflationary. As countries become stronger, their interests expand beyond their borders, where they must find new ways to protect those interests. India is no exception. Its expansion, though, brings it into contact with China, a much more formidable country that competes with India for land-based and maritime trade routes in the Pacific. China and India have protocols in place for dealing with neighbors such as Nepal and Bhutan, which they border by land. But they have less established rules of engagement for dealing with Southeast Asian nations, which, as coastal, peninsular and island nations, require different strategies.

While focus is on North Korea, China continues South China Sea military buildup: think tank

While attention in Asia has been distracted by the North Korean nuclear crisis in the past year, China has continued to install high-frequency radar and other facilities that can be used for military purposes on its man-made islands in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank said on Thursday. Chinese activity has involved work on facilities covering 72 acres (29 hectares) of the Spratly and Paracel islands, territory contested with several other Asian nations, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. The report cited satellite images.

The Great Leap Forward: China’s Pursuit of a Strategic Breakthrough

By Roncevert Ganan Almond

On February 25, 1956, in a closed session of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave his “Secret Speech” denouncing Stalin and his cult of personality. The political tremors from this questioning of Communist doctrine traveled across the border to Beijing where Chinese-leader Mao Zedong initially responded with an invitation for criticism (“Let a thousand flowers bloom”), only to double down on his relentless pursuit of internal enemies and continuous revolution. In search of a strategic breakthrough, Mao embarked on the Great Leap Forward, a sweeping, terrifying and, ultimately, catastrophic economic program designed to surpass the achievements of Western industrialization in an accelerated timeframe (in one “big bang”).

Joining the Quad: Fear Versus Greed

By Mark J. Valencia

The administration of U.S. President Donald J Trump has re-raised the decade-old geopolitical concept of the “Indo-Pacific region.” Within this framework, it is proposing and pushing for a so-called “Quad” — a potential security arrangement among the four large democracies of India, Australia, Japan, and the United States. The proposed Quad is widely perceived as a part of the U.S. China containment strategy. U.S. pressure, both public and private, is forcing each prospective member, as well as other players like Singapore, to face some very tough decisions regarding their future relations with China. To the chagrin of the United States, their decisions are neither easy nor clear cut.

Why China Plans to Invade Taiwan

Ian Easton

A Chinese diplomat in Washington recently threatened that China would invade Taiwan if the U.S. Navy sent a ship to visit the democratic island, something that Congress has called upon the Pentagon to do in 2018. Is this just empty rhetoric? Or does it reflect Beijing's actual intentions? It's actually a bit of both. According to leaked Chinese military documents (analyzed here), Taiwan stands to lose more from the rise of China as a twenty-first-century superpower than any other country in the world. Indeed, China's emergence as the world’s second largest political, economic and military power threatens the interests of many nations, but only Taiwan has its life at stake. Only Taiwan is held at risk of seeing its trade lines severed, its cities bombed and its shores invaded. Only Taiwan faces the possibility of having its president assassinated and its democracy destroyed. China's authoritarian government challenges many countries in many ways, but it only has war plans for the invasion and occupation of Taiwan.

Is China's Era of Cheap Labor Really Over?

By Dmitriy Plekhanov

Cheap labor has long been considered the main factor behind the Chinese economic miracle, propelling the country to the status of the world’s factory, shifting global supply chains, and igniting debates in other countries about companies moving their plants to China, the consequences of job outsourcing for domestic industries and workers, and unfair competitive advantages associated with the poor labor conditions of Chinese factory workers.

Following the developing Iranian cyberthreat

By: Dorothy Denning

Iran is one of the leading cyberspace adversaries of the United States. It emerged as a cyberthreat a few years later than Russia and China and has so far demonstrated less skill. Nevertheless, it has conducted several highly damaging cyberattacks and become a major threat that will only get worseLike Russia and China, the history of Iran’s cyberspace operations begins with its hackers. But unlike these other countries, Iran openly encourages its hackers to launch cyberattacks against its enemies. The government not only recruits hackers into its cyberforces but supports their independent operations.

US national security adviser: Qatar and Turkey are new sponsors of radical ideology

Joyce Karam

US national security adviser HR McMaster condemned Qatar and Turkey for taking on a “new role” as the main sponsors and sources of funding for extremist Islamist ideology that targets western interests. “Radical Islamist ideology is a grave threat to all civilised people,” Gen McMaster said. The US national security adviser said this threat has been identified “myopically” in the past. “We didn’t pay enough attention to how it’s [radical Islamist ideology] being advanced through charities, madrassas and other social organisations."

U.S. Third Offset (Part 2)

By Brendan Thomas-Noone

As I outlined in part 1, America and, by extension, Australia are losing their military-technological edge in the Indo-Pacific. A new type of great-power competition is emerging throughout the region—one that involves a race to develop strategic technologies and integrate them into military forces.
But there are policies and innovative initiatives that Australia can pursue to help balance that trend. One path is to take further advantage of our close defence relationship with the U.S. while it pursues its ‘third offset’ strategy.

Putin's Plan for Syria

By Dmitri Trenin

After nearly seven years, the Syrian civil war is finally winding down, and the Middle East’s various powers are looking ahead to what comes next. On November 22, the leaders of Iran, Russia, and Turkey met in the Russian resort town of Sochi to discuss Syria’s future, and on November 28, the latest round of UN-sponsored talks between representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition began in Geneva. Another round of talks in Sochi is planned for early next year.


by Sherisse Pham

"It is a fact that North Korea has been attacking virtualcurrency exchanges," said Lee Dong-geun, a director with South Korea's state-run Korea Internet and Security Agency. "We don't know how much North Korea has stolen so far, but we do know that the police have confirmed the regime's hacking attempts." North Korean hackers targeted four different exchanges that trade bitcoin and other digital currencies in South Korea in July and August, sending malicious emails to employees, according to police.

Russia Sharply Expanding Nuclear Arsenal, Upgrading Underground Facilities

BY: Bill Gertz

Russia is aggressively building up its nuclear forces and is expected to deploy a total force of 8,000 warheads by 2026 along with modernizing deep underground bunkers, according to Pentagon officials. The 8,000 warheads will include both large strategic warheads and thousands of new low-yield and very low-yield warheads to circumvent arms treaty limits and support Moscow’s new doctrine of using nuclear arms early in any conflict. In addition to expanding its warheads, Russia also is fortifying underground facilities for command and control during a nuclear conflict. One official said the alarming expansion indicates Russia is preparing to break out of current nuclear forces constraints under arms treaties, including the 2010 New START and 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaties. Russia violated the INF accord by testing an illegal ground-launched cruise missile.

White House pushes back on cyber strategy demand

By Adam Mazmanian 

President Donald Trump signed the 2018 defense authorization bill into law on Dec. 12, but he had a few choice words for a section designed to pressure the White House into delivering a cybersecurity strategy to Congress. In a signing statement, Trump said he strongly objected a provision that limits funding for the White House Communications Agency "contingent upon the submission of a report on a national policy for cyberspace, cybersecurity, and cyberwarfare." Trump called the measure "unprecedented and dangerous." The item, section 1633 in the National Defense Authorization Act, is near and dear to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A Key Shift of Eurasian Alliances Boosts Russia

By Dilip Hiro

LONDON: Kaleidoscopic changes in the Middle East have produced a constellation of power posing fresh challenges to the United States. The emerging alliance among Russia, Iran and Turkey gained its newest member in Qatar, thanks to a rash move by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. Most alarming for America: Turkey is NATO’s easternmost member with the second largest military in the defense partnership. Qatar provides the Pentagon’s Central Command with its forward base, the region’s largest.


By Violeta Moskalu

This fall has been an ugly one for Ukraine. Throughout September, October, November, and December, Ukrainian authorities have illegally detained, persecuted, and expelled several foreign journalists and other foreign residents, causing observers to question whether Ukrainian leaders are actively violating human rights and willfully persecuting their political opponents in an effort to maintain their grip on power. In fact, the Ukrainian authorities seem to be pursuing a policy of double standards, demanding that Russia liberate Ukrainian political hostages and journalists while simultaneously arresting dissenting activists, journalists, and political opponents.

THE BILLION DOLLAR QUESTION How Oligarchs Are Taking Over the World


A few months before he first ran for office in the Czech Republic, the second richest man in the country made his way to the newsroom of the nation’s most influential daily and tried to convince its reporters that he was not going to use their paper, which he’d just purchased the day before, for political purposes. “Write freely about things you want,“ he told them. Of course, Andrej Babis didn’t keep his word. Four years later and Mladá fronta Dnes has turned from a paper that once helped bring down a prime minister, when he refused to tell its reporters where he’d gotten the money to pay for a luxury apartment, into what’s been called “a wreck without any investigative activity.”

Read Online The Russian Way of Warfare

by Scott Boston, Dara Massicot

How might Russia's military fight in the event of a major conflict against a peer or near-peer adversary? 

Russia has recently carried out substantial reforms to its military forces, increasing capability in several key areas. Russia's military has improved to the extent that it is now a reliable instrument of national power that can be used in a limited context to achieve vital national interests. Russian strategists, concerned about the capability of an advanced military adversary to carry out a large-scale conventional aerospace campaign against the Russian heartland, focus on preserving Russian influence in buffer states along its borders and on reinforcing a series of defensive bulwarks. Russian operations will show a high degree of coordination across a wide range of military units, using deception and simultaneity to achieve objectives quickly and minimize periods of vulnerability to an adversary's most dangerous capabilities. Russian tactics will continue to heavily emphasize gaining and maintaining fire superiority over an adversary; leveraging improved ISR capabilities and a wide range of fires platforms; and using speed, surprise, and integrated combined arms in maneuver forces to disrupt and overwhelm enemies once encountered.

Defence industries in Russia and China: players and strategies

By: Richard A. Bitzinger Nicu Popescu

This Report turns the spotlight on two major players in the global defence industry: Russia and China. It examines how both countries, however different in their trajectory and ambition, have in recent years narrowed the industrial and technological gap with the European armaments sector and are now openly chal­lenging the West’s traditional superiority in this domain. The loss of this military-technological edge could severely undermine the West’s abil­ity to counter direct Russian or Chinese military threats, while also entailing greater competition for European defence industries, thus reshaping the global arms trade – with repercussions for security relationships around the world.

Drones in Counterterrorism: The Primacy of Politics Over Technology

By Asfandyar Mir

This essay is part of the #WarBots series, which asked a group of academics and national security professionals to provide their thoughts on the confluence of automation and unmanned technologies and their impact in the conduct of war. We hope this launches a debate that may one day shape policy. Policymakers, analysts, and scholars have long worried that drones make counterterrorism dangerously easy. With no American lives on the line, drone-centric counterterrorism is considered unconstrained by domestic political costs. As criticism of drone use on ethical grounds has not become a major electoral issue, some analysts worry that political leaders have limited reason to be cautious when considering counterterrorism options. Even President Barack Obama –– whose Presidency was marked by a prolific use of drones for counterterrorism –– recognized drone use as “what looks like a pretty antiseptic way of disposing of [our] enemies” while also expressing concerns that, without sufficient Congressional oversight, “you [could] end up with a president who can carry on perpetual wars all over the world.”

Pentagon Delays Deadline For Military Suppliers to Meet Cybersecurity Rules


The Pentagon will delay a Jan. 1 deadline for all of its suppliers to meet a set of new regulations largely designed to better protect sensitive military data and weapon blueprints. By year’s end, companies must instead merely show that they have a plan in place to meet the regulations, Ellen Lord, the defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A ‘World Without Mind’: Big Tech’s Dangerous Influence

Franklin Foer 

French philosopher Rene Descartes famously said “I think, therefore I am.” But in the digital age, what we think and how we live are being influenced in a big way by just a handful of tech firms: We are informed by Google and entertained by Apple; we socialize on Facebook and shop on Amazon. It’s time to reclaim our identities and reassert our intellectual independence, according to Franklin Foer, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and former editor of The New Republic, in his book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech. He recently joined the Knowledge@Wharton show, which airs on SiriusXM channel 111, to explain why these firms’ hold on society is a cautionary tale for the future.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.



Iran is one of the leading cyberspace adversaries of the United States. It emerged as a cyber threat a few years later than Russia and China and has so far demonstrated less skill.  Nevertheless, it has conducted several highly damaging cyberattacks and become a major threat that will only get worse. Like Russia and China, the history of Iran’s cyberspace operations begins with its hackersBut unlike these other countries, Iran openly encourages its hackers to launch cyberattacks against its enemies.

Army’s first directly-commissioned cyber officers could be on duty by next May

By Jared Serbu 

Sometime during the next week, the Army expects to convene a selection board to pick its first-ever cadre of newly-minted service members to move directly from the civilian cyber workforce to its officer corps. The fast track to a military commission means a theoretical full stack engineer working in Silicon Valley as of this moment could be a uniformed military officer within Army Cyber Command by next Memorial Day. But the Army — acting under an explicit authorization from Congress, which has expressed a keen interest in boosting military accessions of cyber experts — is dipping its toe into the program very, very slowly. It will only accept five new officers per year via the new direct commissioning route, despite the fact that it has deep and longstanding experience in doing precisely the same thing for other specialized professions: doctors, lawyers and chaplains, on a routine basis.

Next-Gen Drones: Making War Easier for Dictators & Terrorists

The introduction of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) permanently altered the modern battlefield. New technological advances in drone technology could do it again: from advanced materials that allow drones to fly, roll, run or swim in less forgiving environments, to thinking software than makes them more independent, to stealth technology that renders them even less visible. On the positive side, the intelligence that drones provide helps focus lethality on the intended target and limit the risk of civilian casualties and friendly fire incidents. But drone advances also will get cheaper to copy, so non-state actors will be able to employ them as well, giving insurgents or terrorists an outsized advantage.

The Pentagon wants big-data analytics in every rucksack

By: Amber Corrin 

In the (near) future, troops on the ground will check their kit to make sure everything is accounted for as they head into battle, and the most critical tool will be data access. That is, at least, what some future-focused tech officials at the Pentagon say, pointing to the growing importance of cloud capabilities and access to data at the tactical edge. To take on the increasing appetite for data, officials are pursuing pilot programs and working diligently on tools like much-needed algorithms that make intelligence products from the volumes of data pouring in from sources like unmanned aerial systems’ video feeds.