1 March 2019

The magical effects of a good surgical strike

V. Sudarshan

The retaliatory nature of counter-strikes between India and Pakistan shows them to be motivated more by optics than on accomplishing specific outcomes or effectively resolving the core bone of contention.

The brave men of the armed forces are often instruments and casualties of state-sponsored bravado. 

The good thing about the new surgical strike is that we will have another red letter day to celebrate like the other surgical strike divas — when was it September 21? Soon, our heads will be crammed with a jumble of dates celebrating retaliatory violence and this will seep into textbooks too. We will certainly have Bollywood making new movies, and we will have books with telling accounts and details. But here is the thing — the terrorists don’t seem to be watching the movies or drawing the lessons we want them to from the books. All the new surgical strike — kind of — confirms is that the previous surgical strike either did not work, or the magical effects were seriously overestimated. So, are we entering a zone of bigger, better, more beautiful surgical strikes with newer better state instruments? In Uri, the terrorists took 18 of India’s best soldiers. In Pulwama, they took forty. If by going a few kilometres further and taking out some terrorist types was supposed to prove to be a deterrent, it has not proved to be so. Yet, it is not about numbers or perceptible improvement of the situation. Far from it. It is about what diplomats, in background briefings, refer to as “optics”.

India’s options on Pakistan

Brahma Chellaney

Pakistan didn’t wait long to squash India’s Balakot airstrike bravado with its own air incursions. However, the financially strapped country cannot afford a serious escalation of hostilities, not least because India could wreak massive punishment. This explains why Pakistan’s military is at pains to affirm that it is not seeking war.

The mass-murder attack at Pulwama was India’s moment of truth. For too long, India had put up with Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism without imposing any tangible costs. So, when Pulwama happened, it triggered intense anger across the country, not just against Pakistan, but also against the fractious and feckless political class that has reduced India to a soft state.

Is India Ready For a Cyber Attack?

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on 26 February officially confirmed that it conducted airstrikes on terror camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and across the border, which is likely to result in some sort of retaliation from its neighbour. But instead of thinking about air or even land strikes, we’re looking at India’s preparedness for a possible cyber warfare battle from other countries, including Pakistan.

Veteran army chiefs and cyber security experts believe that cyber warfare has become the fifth dimension of war, after land, water, air and space.

We all know that India is evolving into a digital-friendly nation and economy as well, but it’s fair to say that compared to most developed nations in the world, India is in its infancy, when it comes to tackling any possible cyber attack.

Lt. General (retd) D.S. Hooda recently told IANS that “with critical infrastructure and military installations getting connected through the internet, the threat of cyber attacks was becoming increasingly lethal and that an emerging India was particularly at risk of such attacks.”

'ISI has encouraged, trained, funded terrorists'

'The Pakistani military has encouraged and supported terrorist organisations, especially in Kashmir, as a means of waging proxy war against the Indian military and the country's superior economic resources.'
'The evidence is irrefutable with the recent killing of 46 paramilitary troops being just the latest example.'

Eamon Murphy -- a professor at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, is the author of The Making of Terrorism in Pakistan, Historical and Social Roots of Extremism and Islam and Sectarian Violence in Pakistan.

A long-standing observer of the phenomenon of terrorism in Pakistan, Professor Murphy spoke to Rediff.com's Nikhil Lakshman in the wake of the suicide bombing in Pulwama and the encounter with terrorists in the same district in the Kashmir valley four days later.

Islamic State-Inspired Extremist Threat Looms Large in India

By: Animesh Roul

Despite massive territorial losses and military setbacks in the Middle East, the violent ideals espoused by Islamic State (IS) remain resilient and seem to be resonating in the hearts and minds of a section of inspired Indian Muslims. After a brief lull in IS-inspired or directed events in the country, Indian security agencies have unearthed multiple covert pro-IS networks, foiling conspiracies to carry out terrorist attacks targeting vital and sensitive installations and sites in and around the national capital, New Delhi, and places in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra States.

In late December 2018, the National Investigation Agency (NIA)—India’s elite anti-terrorism agency—conducted a major joint operation with Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police to crack down on pro-IS activities in the country. During the operation, authorities arrested at least 10 people belonging to an IS-inspired group called Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam (HuHI). The ring leader of the HuHI was identified as Muhammed Suhail (a.k.a. Hazrath), a native of Amroha city in Uttar Pradesh where he is engaged as a mufti (Islamic jurist) in a madrasa located at Hakim Mahtab Uddin Hashmi Road (Rediff.com, December 26, 2018).

AfghanistanTerrorism & Counterterrorism Is the Taliban Making a Pledge It Cannot Keep?

By Tricia Bacon

In Doha in late January, the United States and the Afghan Taliban agreed in principle to the contours of a peace deal. Under its terms, the Taliban would guarantee that Afghan territory will never be used by terrorists. The concession is critical to the United States, but while some commentators have heralded the Taliban’s promise as a major breakthrough, analysts have noted that the group has made, and failed to keep, similar assurances in the past. Questions remain about whether the Taliban is genuinely willing to break with al Qaeda—the very prospect at which the group balked back in 2001, prompting the United States to invade.

The terrorist landscape in South and Central Asia extends far beyond al Qaeda. The Taliban has been fighting the Islamic State’s affiliate in the region, the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISK), inflicting serious losses without succeeding in eradicating this rival. Since 2002, the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan has been a unifying cause for militant organizations in the region. At least 18 terrorist groups operate in Afghanistan. The Taliban exercises some influence over the activities of 14 of them, providing entrée to the insurgency in exchange for manpower and expertise. These groups will expect a payoff in the event of a Taliban victory and will likely seek to continue using Afghan territory as a base for terrorist activities. If the Taliban proves unwilling or unable to prevent the country from becoming a free-for-all for militant organizations after the U.S. withdrawal, the United States, as well as Pakistan, India, and the Central Asian states, will be threatened.

Don't sacrifice Afghan women's freedoms for a flawed peace deal


For the first time in years, a peace process in Afghanistan is underway in earnest. A framework emerged from recent talks between the United States and the Taliban for further negotiation, including: a phased U.S. withdrawal, preventing Afghanistan’s return to an extremist safe haven, a ceasefire and the Afghan government’s inclusion in future negotiations.

Alarmingly, women’s rights are being sidelined, heightening concerns that a potential power-sharing arrangement or constitutional reform will facilitate a reversion to brutal Taliban rule and the reinstitution of its contorted interpretation of Sharia. The talks’ lack of priority on human rights and women’s rights specifically, is reinforcing women’s fears that their lives, freedom and agency will be negotiated away in service of a temporary, flawed and ultimately, unsustainable peace.

Indo–U.S. Joint Approach Toward Afghanistan

By Arvind Thakur & Michael Padgett

Afghanistan has been in a state of perpetual conflict from within and from without for almost half a century. Internal conditions resemble the medieval times of the 14th century when unending wars were common, for example, the 100 Years War between England and France and the 30 Years War in Europe over religious interpretations between Catholics and Protestants. The result of Afghanistan’s 40 years of war is a rating at the bottom of the world’s economic and HDI indicators.

Many external players and political contradictions within Afghanistan prevent a more stable climate. Many countries like India and the U.S. have political, security and economic interests in Afghanistan. These interests are threatened by the instability in Afghanistan and burgeoning alliances taking shape in the region. India would be happy to have traditional cultural and economic relations with Afghanistan and revive the age-old Kabuliwalla bonhomie. Many confabulations and dialogues by groups of countries led by the U.S., Russia, China and the UN orient on a long-term Afghanistan that serves their long-term interests. The Great Game, use of Afghanistan as a geographic medium between great conflicting powers, is still being played out in Afghanistan. Only the players are different.

From Monarchy to Anarchy

Will This Man Be Afghanistan’s Next President?

By Tamim Asey

As Afghanistan’s national security adviser, Mohammad Haneef Atmar signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States, negotiated a peace agreement with Hizb-e-Islami Group (HIG), kept a fragile regional consensus on Afghan war and peace intact until his departure, and undertook major reforms in the Afghan security sector. Today, he is running for the highest office in Afghanistan, challenging his former ally, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, for the presidency.

Ghani, increasingly paranoid and isolated, has become a divisive personality both at home and abroad. The Afghan political elite do not trust him, his former allies have left his side, and the region increasingly views him as a puppet — too westernized, removed from the Afghan realities, and distanced from its people.

Pakistan: Turning A Blind Eye In Punjab – Analysis

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty*

On January 20, 2019, Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) officials of Punjab Police killed two terrorists, identified as Abdur Rehman and Kashif Langra, in a shootout in Gujranwala District of Punjab. The suspects allegedly belonged to Islamic State (IS, also Daesh) and were gunned down in an exchange of fire, an unnamed CTD spokesperson disclosed, claiming that the two were accomplices of IS ‘local commander’ Zeeshan. The deceased were wanted for their involvement in attacks on Security Forces (SFs) and kidnapping of local and foreign citizens, the spokesperson added.

A day earlier, on January 19, 2019, IS ‘local commander’ Zeeshan was killed during an encounter with CTD personnel in Sahiwal District. Three civilians, including a husband, wife and their teenage daughter, were also killed during the encounter.

Pakistan has pulled the trigger on itself

Stephen P Cohen, the noted American scholar on South Asia, has a genius description for Pakistani strategic thought. Pakistan, he says, negotiates with the world by holding the gun to its own head: Give me what I want, or I will blow my brains out. You then handle the mess.

First, get any notion that this was a purely indigenous act of terror out of the way. The suicide terrorist was a radicalised Indian Kashmiri. But count the reasons why this couldn't be an entirely Indian planned and executed operation:

The Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility. It is purely a Pakistan-based and ISI-controlled organisation.

While radicalisation and motivation can be local, there is zero evidence that this volume of high explosive (most likely RDX or RDX-mixed) is available with usually amateurish local groups, along with skills to rig the trigger-timer mechanism.

US Retreat From Afghanistan Opens New Strategic Opportunities for Russia in Central Asia

By: Dumitru Minzarari

President Donald Trump’s voiced intention to reduce the United States’ military presence in Afghanistan has triggered a rush of Kremlin activity in Central Asia (see EDM, February 14). Russia sees the expected US retreat as a window of opportunity for consolidating its own interests, which is likely to severely diminish the regional countries’ abilities to pursue multi-vector diplomacy.

In particular, Russia initiated a parallel-track diplomatic process, organizing in Moscow an “inter-Afghan meeting” involving former Afghan officials as well as other internal actors, including representatives of the Taliban (Izvestia, February 5). At the same time, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov conducted a two-day trip to Central Asia, visiting Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

In Kyrgyzstan, Lavrov’s arrival was presented as preparation for President Vladimir Putin’s upcoming visit to Bishkek, planned for late March. However, some of Lavrov’s statements suggested his agenda was wider. During his talks with the Kyrgyz Republic’s Foreign Minister Chingiz Aidarbekov, the Russian official criticized the closed and non-transparent talks ongoing between the US and the Taliban in Qatar (Afghanistan.ru, February 5). The Afghan topic and the related security threats for Central Asia had been thoroughly “exposed” by the Russian media both before and during Lavrov’s trip to the region.

The New Afghanistan Will Be Built on Ceasefire Solutions and Taliban Tradeoffs

by Christopher Kolenda 

To his credit, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has made remarkable progress in recent peace talks with the Taliban. It appears the latter group has now renounced any willingness to tolerate extremists from ISIS or Al Qaeda on Afghan territory under any future government in which it may have a key role. The United States has correspondingly indicated a willingness to downsize its military presence over time, and perhaps ultimately end it altogether, when conditions are right. We hope credible assurances on human rights are addressed, too.

But as Ambassador Khalilzad has himself underscored, there is no deal on anything until everything is agreed—and right now, we are still closer to the starting line than the finish line in negotiations to end this interminable conflict. As we approach the eighteen-year mark, it is already America’s longest war; for Afghans, it arguably dates back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan forty years ago. But even if Afghans, Americans, and other NATO/foreign forces are tired of fighting, reaching compromise will be excruciatingly hard. The government of Afghanistan has not even been brought into the peace talks yet, because the Taliban refuse even to properly recognize President Ashraf Ghani, whom they see as a U.S.-installed puppet, or even the Afghan constitution, which they also see as American-imposed. Until negotiations occur Taliban and Ghani, it is hard to get too enthused about the prospects for peace.

Taliban and Islamic State cause majority of civilian casualties in Afghan war, UN finds


More civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2018 than in any of the previous nine years, according to a newly released report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The majority of these deaths were caused by operations carried out by the Taliban and the Islamic State’s so-called Khorasan province. And even though the Taliban is nominally concerned with how its violence is perceived, the group has been responsible for more civilian casualties than any other party in the conflict.

In its annual report for 2018, UNAMA says it documented 10,993 civilian deaths and injuries. Although this total casualty figure was eclipsed in two previous years, it remains close to the historical peak. In addition, the number of civilians killed (3,804 men, women and children) is greater than in any year since 2009, when UNAMA first began tracking casualties in the conflict.



After years of failing to develop a broad counter-intelligence strategy to cope with Russian and Chinese attempts to use cyber operations to spy on Israel, the defense establishment may finally be pushing back in a more unified fashion.

The Jerusalem Post’s sister-publication Maariv reported on Saturday that the National Security Council (NSC) will present the security cabinet with a special report in the coming days on the defense aspects of large foreign investments. The effort was reportedly one of several moves in which NSC chief Meir Ben-Shabbat, appointed in late 2017, has pushed for. The NSC advises the prime minister on national security issues.

Part of the report, which was assigned to the NSC three months ago, will specifically address Russian and Chinese cyber spying and a counter-intelligence strategy.

Why China Has Not Caught Up Yet: Military-Technological Superiority and the Limits of Imitation, Reverse Engineering, and Cyber Espionage

This new journal article by Andrea Gilli and Mauro Gilli argues that an increase in the complexity of military technology has made the imitation and replication of state-of-the-art weapon systems harder—so much so as to offset the diffusing effects of globalization and advances in communications. As a result, China will not easily imitate the United States' advanced weapon systems and thus erode its military-technological superiority.

Can countries easily imitate the United States' advanced weapon systems and thus erode its military-technological superiority? Scholarship in international relations theory generally assumes that rising states benefit from the “advantage of backwardness.” That is, by free riding on the research and technology of the most advanced countries, less developed states can allegedly close the military-technological gap with their rivals relatively easily and quickly. More recent works maintain that globalization, the emergence of dual-use components, and advances in communications have facilitated this process. This literature is built on shaky theoretical foundations, however, and its claims lack empirical support. In particular, it largely ignores one of the most important changes to have occurred in the realm of weapons development since the second industrial revolution: the exponential increase in the complexity of military technology. This increase in complexity has promoted a change in the system of production that has made the imitation and replication of the performance of state-of-the-art weapon systems harder—so much so as to offset the diffusing effects of globalization and advances in communications. An examination of the British-German naval rivalry (1890–1915) and China's efforts to imitate U.S. stealth fighters supports these findings.

China Again—and Again and Again

I tried to resist the temptation to talk about China this week, but it is simply too big and too timely a topic to pass up, even though we are at best only at Act III in the drama. The pace of negotiations has heated up, and both sides have expressed optimism that this will have a happy ending once the two presidents meet. So far, there have been surprisingly few leaks about what is going on. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said on Friday that agreement on a currency provision had been reached, although he provided no details. In addition, rumored details of increased Chinese purchases of U.S. products have been dribbling out for weeks, but that's about it. The above rumors are probably true. Buying more U.S. products is the easiest thing China can do, and a commitment not to manipulate currency is something both sides have said would be a good thing. (There are ironies there, however. If what the United States really wants is a promise not to let the RMB depreciate above seven to the dollar, then we are essentially asking them to manipulate their currency but in our favor rather than theirs. That is not exactly a strong defense of market principles.)

More difficult to parse is progress on the so-called structural issues—those related to intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, and various derogations from market principles like subsidies and support for state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Most non-government observers believe the two sides remain far apart on those and the associated enforcement provisions, even though there is a growing feeling that this exercise will ultimately end in an agreement, which, of course, the president will tout as the greatest ever regardless of its contents.

Skirmish? China-US Row Is A Struggle For Global Supremacy – OpEd

By Cornelia Meyer*

There was an audible sigh of relief when US President Donald Trump suspended imposing tariff hikes on Beijing until he had met his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping. Trump cited substantial progress in negotiations on trade in agricultural goods, intellectual property protection, technology and currency, meaning he could delay increasing tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on goods worth $200 billion.

Indications the deadline would be extended had been frequent, especially since Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin praised the progress made with Beijing two weeks ago.

Trump, meanwhile, performed a public volte-face in his stance on tech giant Huawei on Friday, saying the US should focus on developing its own state-of-the-art products instead of begrudging foreign companies theirs. The debate over the Chinese telecoms company had become politically toxic, culminating in the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of its founder, in Canada in December after a US arrest warrant targeted her over allegations of patent theft by Huawei.

Israel & Iran’s Cyber War

Senior Israeli officials have said in an interview for Bloomberg that Iran attempted to hack the country’s missile warning system in 2017.

According to Brigadier General Noam Shaar, the outgoing head of the cyber defense division in the Israeli army’s Cyber Defense Directorate, the Israeli military detected an infiltration and monitored it until it was apparent that the attack was aimed at the automated missile alert system.

“We dealt with them and built another barrier and another monitoring system to make sure we could stop them if they tried again,” he told Bloomberg.

According to the report, US-based cyber-security company FireEye Inc., which tracked the attackers for several months, pointed the finger at Tehran in January and also said Iran could be behind other attacks across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America.

Is the Future of ISIS Female?

By Vera Mironova

MOSUL, Iraq — Sitting in a room in a burned-out house here in 2017, a group of Iraqi Special Operations Forces soldiers and I watched with surprise as two Islamic State fighters appeared on the live video feed of a security camera. The two fighters were preparing to fire a rocket-propelled grenade in our direction. But instead of the usual bearded men with long hair, the fighters, clad in black abayas and niqabs, appeared to be women.

As it has lost power and land over the past year and a half or so, the Islamic State has quietly shifted from insistence on a strict gender hierarchy to allowing, even celebrating, female participation in military roles. It’s impossible to quantify just how many women are fighting for the group. Still, interviews with police forces in Mosul suggest they’ve become a regular presence that no longer surprises, as it did two years ago. “After ISIS fell in Mosul, we are worried about ISIS females more and more,” Mosul’s mayor, Zuhair Muhsin Mohammed al-Araji, told me this month.

Here’s How the United States Can Keep Its Technological Edge


This month, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on artificial intelligence, directing federal agencies to prioritize AI investment, research, and development. While far too modest in actionable recommendations, the executive order signals a welcome, more ambitious approach to strengthening the U.S. innovation ecosystem and safeguarding the U.S. technological advantage over China and other countries.

In an era of growing strategic competition, the United States must adopt measures to out-innovate China, not just restrict its technological rise. While curbing the openness of the U.S. economy may serve the United States well when playing defense, it puts the country at a severe disadvantage when trying to supercharge its own technological innovation. Managing these competing interests will require the Trump administration to wield a scalpel, not a sledgehammer: a nuanced, multifaceted policy that safeguards the three primary pillars of the innovation ecosystem—investment, people, and goods—while emplacing sensible restrictions to protect U.S. national security when necessary.

Russian Battlefield Awareness and Information Dominance: Improved Capabilities and Future Challenges

By Jeff Edmonds & Samuel Bendett

The Russian military is developing the doctrine and capabilities for gaining and contesting battlefield awareness that will pose a significant challenge to U.S. forces in any future conflict with Russia. The military’s focus on information dominance extends from a broader belief among Russian leadership that information confrontation is one of the fundamental ways in which states compete. While the Russian military has always been adept at bringing tremendous firepower to bear during combat operations, it has also been a brawler, needing to get in contact with its opponent before being able to fight.

Taking a hint from U.S. technological advances and combat operations, Russian military thinkers have developed concepts they believe form the basis of modern warfare. One of the most important ones to develop is mastering information and seeking information dominance in the battlespace. The Russian military had made great strides in its ability to see, integrate, think, and decide faster on the modern battlefield. In any potential future conflict with Russia, U.S. and NATO forces will have to contend with a force that has vastly improved its situational awareness and ability to contest the awareness of its adversaries.

Information Dominance

IRGC General Says Hormuz Strait Open As Long As Iranian Oil Exported

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri said as long as Iran is able to export its oil via the Strait of Hormuz, the waterway would be open.

Putin, Khrushchev and the Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis

By George Friedman

Putin has invoked the crisis to revive the perception of Russia as a superpower.

In October 1964, Leonid Brezhnev, Alexei Kosygin and Nikolai Podgorny removed Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev from office, supposedly because of Khrushchev’s “harebrained schemes.” Most have assumed that this referred to Khrushchev’s plan to turn Siberia into an agricultural heartland, but I have always believed it actually referred to his attempt to slip missiles into Cuba. Given how that plan ended, it would be a logical fit. It is therefore fascinating that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last week that he’s ready for another Cuban missile crisis if the United States decides to deploy medium-range missiles in Europe. Given his comments, it’s important that we understand how the crisis unfolded and its relevance, if any, to what’s happening today.

During the 1960 presidential election, John F. Kennedy sought to discredit the Eisenhower administration by claiming that the Soviet Union’s missile capabilities exceeded those of the United States. The claim was a lie; the U.S. had a substantial lead in deployed missiles and was rapidly deploying nuclear submarines. The U.S. also had an enormous advantage in strategic bombers; the Soviets had only a small number of Bear strategic bombers, which were far inferior to the American B-52s.

Will Maduro’s Supporters Abandon Him?

By Ivan Briscoe

As Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro tightens his white-knuckled grip on power, his supporters argue that in at least one respect, they were right all along. The first principle of Chavismo, the movement created by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez, is that Chavistas are locked in a permanent struggle with the imperialist United States and its lackeys in the Venezuelan oligarchy. For 20 years the state drilled this message into the public’s heads, at times using it to justify secret police raids, empty shop shelves, and soaring prices.

The American bogeyman apparently turned real on January 23: opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president, and the United States, Canada, and many countries in Latin America rushed to endorse his claim. “The fundamental issue in our revolution is independence,” one Maduro loyalist told me. “No one accepts the capitulation of the government or ultimatums from the United States.”

Why Europe Won't Go for American Natural Gas

by Nikolas K. Gvosdev

The U.S. national security community can often overlook how U.S. domestic policy can undermine American foreign policy goals. For example, take Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s European tour this past month, and the efforts of Vice President Mike Pence at the Munich Security Conference to rally support for Washington’s preferred courses of action. There seems to be a glaring blind spot in how U.S. foreign policy analysts comprehend European resistance to U.S. efforts to increase the pressure on Russia and Iran.

In Hungary, for instance, Pompeo laid out before his hosts in Budapest a proposal to more closely align Hungary’s energy imports with its security relationship with the United States. Instead of signing on to Russian proposals to extend its Turkish Stream pipeline into the heart of central Europe, the Secretary of State encouraged the Hungarians to consider relying on U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports for their energy needs. Such a proposal would decrease Russian geo-economic influence in Europe and diminish the revenues available to the Kremlin for funding the Russian military. Furthermore, it would reinforce the foundations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance, on the grounds that allies not only defend each other, but they also buy essential goods and services from each other.

Huawei Security Scandal: Everything You Need to Know

Kate O'Flaherty

An illuminated Huawei Technologies Co. logo is displayed above their stand on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. At the wireless industry’s biggest conference, over 100,000 people are set to see the latest innovations in smartphones, artificial intelligence devices and autonomous drones exhibited by more than 2,400 companies. Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg© 2019 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP

Cyber-espionage has been going on for years. In one famous example in 2012, it emerged that China had hacked UK defense firm BAE Systems to steal data about a $264 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jet. And it wasn’t the first time the country had been accused of stealing military jet plans.

But recently, the focus has moved to Chinese companies, particularly those that manufacture network equipment as 5G services start to roll out. So, why is all the focus on Huawei, and how secure is it to use its products and services?

Microsoft employees protest US Army contract


A group of more than 50 Microsoft employees have signed on to a letter protesting the company's $479 million technology contract with the U.S. Army, saying Microsoft is providing the military with tools "designed to help people kill."

The Microsoft workers released a letter on Friday addressed to CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith condemning the company's plan to equip the U.S. military with up to 100,000 augmented reality headsets, provided as part of an Army program explicitly intended for soldiers to use during combat as well as training.

The headset technology, called HoloLens, will be used to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy," according to a Department of Defense (DOD) description of the augmented reality program.


AT&T AND VERIZON are slowly trickling out the next generation of wireless networks, known as 5G, in parts of a few cities. But even as the major carriers prepare larger 5G launches, San Francisco based startup Common Networks is hoping that it can compete with bigger telecom companies by combining 5G with technology open sourced by Facebook.

Common Networks is using 5G to offer home, as opposed to mobile, broadband, essentially competing with internet providers such as AT&T and Comcast. In the city of Alameda, next to Oakland, it has been quietly using a core 5G technology, millimeter wave, to deliver speeds of 1 gigabit per second, equivalent to Google Fiber's signature home broadband service, for $50 a month. These sorts of wireless speeds aren't unheard of. Webpass, a company Google Fiber acquired in 2016, offers gigabit wireless in several cities. But Common Networks CEO Zach Brock thinks his company has found a way to build 5G networks more quickly, and cheaply, than the competition and says the company plans to expand quickly. “We want to bring faster internet to everyone,” he says.

A Fourth Service for the Fourth Generation of Warfare

by Andy Johnson

For at least three decades, academics and military minds have heralded the arrival of the ‘Fourth Generation’ of warfare. Even before the advent of the modern internet and the rapid expansion of mobile technology, Lind et al (1989) were predicting the nature of this future, asymmetric, generation of warfare:

“In broad terms, fourth generation warfare seems likely to be widely dispersed and largely undefined; the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. It will be nonlinear, possibly to the point of having no definable battlefields or fronts. The distinction between “civilian” and “military” may disappear. Actions will occur concurrently throughout all participants’ depth, including their society as a cultural, not just a physical, entity.”1

This seems prophetic now, post-9/11, post-Ukraine, and mid-War on Terror. Many characteristics of future war propounded above have come to pass. Fourth generation warfare is a complex mix of retro Cold War statecraft, proxy war, espionage, propaganda, and terrorism, delivered by both state and sub-state actors; all of which might be prosecuted in the physical, emotional, and digital battlespace.