4 February 2018

No ‘Automaticity,’ But Yes To Low Yield Nukes: NPR

By COLIN CLARK and SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.on February 02, 2018 a

PENTAGON: The United States government sees a fundamentally more threatening world today, one that requires a more nuanced balance of delivery systems than we’ve deployed since the end of the Cold War.
That’s really the change that has driven the results of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, officially released today.
Careful transparency continues to underpin the US crafting of nuclear policy. In fact, the State Department briefed the Russians and Chinese on the NPR today, according to Acting Assistant Secretary of State Anita Friedt, who briefed the press here this afternoon. Actually, she told a somewhat skeptical press corps, “we talked to the Russians a lot.”

Perhaps the most intriguing tidbit we got from this afternoon’s official unveiling of the NPR was the persistent use of the term “automaticity” by John Rood, undersecretary of Defense for policy.“There is no automaticity to this policy,” Rood replied when asked how the US would manage its response to “extreme circumstances,” the undefined occurrences that the NPR says could drive the United States to use nuclear weapons.
The NPR states: “the United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies and partners.”

To better manage the ongoing modernization of the Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals, as well as the proliferation of nuclear weapons to North Korea and other states, the US, Rood said, needs a more flexible set of deterrents. The development of a low-yield submarine-launched nuclear cruise missile would help.

“I view this as a prudent reaction to Russian ‘escalate to de-escalate’ doctrine,” said Bob Work, formerly deputy defense secretary under both Obama and Trump, in an email. “If the Russians employ a small yield nuke for coercive action, and the only responses we can provide the President are large-yield options, that is not a good place to be. We want to be able to respond proportionately, to signal our resolve without undue escalation.”

“Also, as I understand it, these will be delivered by SLBM (Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles), which have a higher probability of penetration than other means,” Work said. Submarine-launched weapons give the adversary less warning time than aircraft or IBCMs launched from the U.S., which makes them more worrying as potential first-strike weapons but also means missile defenses have less time and space to shoot them down.

India and the U.S. Find Common Ground in the Indo-Pacific

The world's three most populous countries are locked in a power struggle across the Indo-Pacific region. The United States wants to strengthen its defense partnership with India as part of a broader effort to counter China's growing influence in the region and around the world. India, too, is interested in challenging China by asserting itself in Southeast

The Distance Between Davos and Delhi

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of India presented the country’s Union Budget for Fiscal 2018–2019 to Parliament on February 1, 2018. This is the last full budget of the Narendra Modi government ahead of the spring 2019 parliamentary election. There were expected measures related to farmers, rural workers, and employment generation. There was also a surprisingly high level of trade protectionism—especially coming on the heels of Prime Minister Modi’s speech against protectionism at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland. U.S.-India trade policy discussions in 2018 are likely to be even more antagonistic.

A quiet water war takes a page out of Sun Tzu’s Art of War playbook

by Brahma Chellaney

China’s hyperactive dam building is a reminder that, while the international attention remains on its recidivist activities in the South China Sea’s disputed waters, it is also focusing quietly on other waters – of rivers that originate in Chinese-controlled territory like Tibet and flow to other countries. No country in history has built more dams than China. In fact, China today boasts more dams than the rest of the world combined.

Nine ways Chinese scientists pushed the envelope in 2017

Military breakthroughs, supercomputers, dark matter and more. Chinese scientists marked several firsts in 2017, such as testing spy drones in near space and detecting the world’s first trace of dark matter. They also embarked on some groundbreaking research projects, including building the world’s most powerful facial recognition system that can identify its 1.3 billion citizens within three seconds. Here are some of the most popular China science stories we covered this year. China builds world’s fastest wind tunnel to test weapons that could strike US within 14 minutes

Seven Priorities for the African Union in 2018

Vital institutional and financial reform will likely be at the top of the AU’s agenda in 2018. However, the ICG contends that the organization must ensure that this priority does not draw attention away from conflict prevention and resolution. Indeed, the AU must also give priority to limiting the disruption friction between Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’s (SADR) could cause the organization; helping to resolve or avert election-related crises in the DRC, Cameroon, Mali and Zimbabwe; and managing conflicts in the Central African Republic, Somalia and South

Unraveling the Mess in North Korea

By Jay Ogilvy

As a Stratfor contributor, I generally avoid prescribing policy. But today I can't resist, having found myself in a position to report a policy prescription available nowhere else in English. Philip Bobbitt has come up with a novel proposal for managing the mess in North Korea, which BBC China published in Chinese on Jan. 28. Having access to the English original, as well as five other essays Bobbitt has published in English, I'll use this column to do two things. First, I'll summarize professor Bobbitt's proposal. Second, I'll suggest in ways that its author could not, modesty forbidding, why it's so important that the proposal comes from Philip Bobbitt and why we should listen to him.

What Is Hybrid Warfare?

By Joshua Stowell 

The term “hybrid warfare” describes a strategy that employs conventional military force supported by irregular and cyber warfare tactics.

Conventional Western concepts of war are incompatible and fundamentally misaligned with the realities of conflict in the twenty-first century. The emergence of a unipolar post-Cold War world order has resulted in a significant paradigm shift.

Trump Officials to Syria: Stop Using WMD or We Strike, Again


Sometimes reporters get called to a briefing so an administration can defend what it has done. And sometimes, it’s a warning of what it may be about to do.

On Thursday, two senior administration officials warned that the Trump administration could take military action – again – against the Syrian regime of Bashar

Exclusive: Mattis seeking to ban cell phones from Pentagon

By Danny Sjursen

 Vietnam: It’s always there. Looming in the past, informing American futures.

A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still alive and well and still being refought by one group of Americans: the military high command. And almost half a century later, they’re still losing it and blaming others for doing so.

Of course, the US military and Washington policymakers lost the war in Vietnam in the

Current Russian and Chinese ways of warfare: the end (?) of military violence in peer-state conflict


When it comes to the winning of wars, it might be thought that military organisations today, just as they have always done, would be concentrating their efforts on how best to use kinetic force. Military violence is, after all, what militaries do. But not, it seems, any more – or at least not in regard to peer-state warfare as conducted by the Russian and Chinese militaries. Today, both are making

Russian Hybrid Tactics in Georgia

Niklas Nilsson

Since its independence in 1991, Georgia is the country in the former USSR that has been most frequently and harshly subjected to Russian hybrid tactics – a practice that gained considerable attention after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Russia has at times of confrontation with Georgia – a common occurrence throughout these 25 years – relied on a combination of multiple pressure points to influence the decision making of the Georgian government,

Europe's Captains Mull a Course for the Continent

France and Germany hold different views regarding the best way to reform the eurozone and negotiate changes with the rest of the member states. 

Measures that stipulate higher spending at the European Union level stand a better chance of approval than measures that call for greater financial risk-sharing. 



Much ink has been spilled in the last 12 months over whether President Donald Trump can have a grand strategy and, if so, what form it takes — or should take. Before Trump had even assumed office, Micah Zenko and Rebecca Lissner accused the president of “strategic incoherence” and a transactional approach to international relations focusing on bilateral deals. Hal Brands differed from this view by characterizing Trump’s grand strategy as “resurgent nationalism,” while other scholars



"We have been attacked. We are at war," American actor Morgan Freeman gravely intones in a recent video. "Imagine this movie script," he continues: "A former KGB spy, angry at the collapse of his motherland, plots a course for revenge. Taking advantage of the chaos, he works his way up through the ranks of a post-Soviet Russia and becomes president. He establishes an authoritarian regime. Then he sets his sights on his sworn enemy, the United States... He secretly uses cyber warfare to attack democracies around the world. Using social media to spread propaganda and disinformation, he convinces people in democratic societies to distrust their media, their political processes, even their neighbors.”

12 Depressing Previews of America’s Next War


The excellent new book by Lawrence Freedman, The Future of War: A History, demonstrates that military futurists, like political pundits, have a terrible track record of predicting the future in their field of expertise. Freedman notably warns to avoid those who proclaim, “the ease and speed with which victory can be achieved while underestimating the resourcefulness of adversaries.”

George Soros: Facebook and Google a menace to society

Facebook and Google have become “obstacles to innovation” and are a “menace” to society whose “days are numbered”, said billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.

“Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment,” said the Hungarian-American businessman, according to a transcript of his speech.

How Important Has Cyber Warfare Become to the States of the Middle East?


The political use of cyber tools is a powerful accelerator of geopolitical confrontation. The past few years have witnessed a cyber awakening in the Middle East that has been overlooked for too long. Existing political tensions and conflicts in the region have gained an additional arena allowing for a much more rapid escalation. The Qatar crisis in June 2017 provided a glimpse of how the pursuit of expansive geopolitical ambitions by means of targeted cyber attacks could generate conflict and trigger political landslides in no time at all.

War room to boardroom: The new era of cybersecurity


Facebook’s hire of its first ever head of cybersecurity policy is recognition that protecting corporations from foreign hacking is an increasingly serious matter. Sophisticated cyber threats presented by state-sponsored actors have long challenged sensitive United States government computer networks. What’s new — as Facebook’s move indicates — is that these complex state-sponsored cyberattacks are now also threatening America’s leading

Competing in a world of digital ecosystems

By McKinsey Quarterly

New players and blurring sector borders are starting to influence the competitive outlook in a wide range of industries. Here’s a close-in look at changes afoot in automobiles and banking. 

Four emerging technology clusters will define how automotive manufacturers, suppliers, and digital attackers compete and cooperate for growth. In banking, enlarged platform spaces will offer customers access to a wide range of products and services through a single

Congress Must Protect Tech From DoD Bureaucracy, And Itself: Experts


UPDATED w/ Mahnken interview CAPITOL HILL: The US military is not ready for war against Russia or China, leading experts told the House Armed Services Committeethis morning. How can Congress help? Champion new technologies that would otherwise drown in the Pentagon bureaucracy, they said, the way it did with the Predator drone and Tomahawk missile in the past.

Admittedly, such long-term investments

Is the Russian Military Going Robot?

Dave Majumdar

Russia has developed a small unmanned coaxial rotor helicopter that can carry a 150Kg payload. The Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise—which is part of the Rostec group’s Russian Helicopters division—has built two prototype helicopters.

"This vehicle has good prospects both in the military and in the civilian markets,” Anatoly Serdyuko, Rostec’s industrial director told TASS. “Its scope of application is very wide, such

Virtual War – A Revolution in Human Affairs

by Stefan J. Banach

War, of any kind, is the ultimate failure of mankind. Yet, in the course of human endeavors, we have found another way in which to wage global war – in this case, Virtual War in Virtual Battle Space. The “Technology Singularity” espoused by Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil, is the fundamental source and accelerant for Virtual War. [i] The Vinge and Kruzweil articulation of the “Singularity” of biological and machine intelligence is much closer than most of us understand. The majority of the people in the world are caught up in the inertia of everyday activities, and the emergence of Virtual War is opaque to most of us. To that end and for clarity, the world is experiencing Virtual War – A Revolution in Human Affairs. 

The Dhofar War and the Myth of 'Localized' Conflicts

By Imran Shamsunahar

Between 1963 and 1975 the Sultanate of Oman was the scene of one of the most remarkable, and forgotten conflicts of the Cold War. The British-led Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF) would battle and defeat a formidable Marxist guerrilla movement based in the southern province of Dhofar. The Dhofar War remains one of the few examples of a successful Western-led counterinsurgency in a postwar Middle Eastern country.

An interesting aspect of this conflict is the

U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World

by David Ochmanek, Peter A. Wilson

What capability areas merit highest priority for modernizing U.S. forces to meet emerging challenges? 

How much would it cost to develop and deploy capabilities and posture enhancements called for by the emerging security environment? 

This report evaluates the capabilities of current and programmed U.S. forces to meet the demands of conflicts that could arise involving any of five potential adversaries: China,

Military experts, leaders say 'up or out' promotion system outdated


WASHINGTON — A panel of military experts and leaders urged lawmakers on Wednesday to revamp a woefully outdated officer promotion system that has plagued recruiting and retention efforts.

The system, born of a 1980 law called the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act, standardized military promotions and established an “up or out” career path for servicemembers.