10 March 2019

Why America can’t escape its role in the conflict between India and Pakistan

Joshua T. White

Here is what we know about the most serious India-Pakistan crisis in more than a decade. On February 14, the Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked a paramilitary convoy in Pulwama in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. India, on the cusp of a general election, retaliated against its neighbor in the early hours of February 26 with a deep air strike targeting a terrorist camp near the town of Balakot, squarely within Pakistani territory. The following day, Indian and Pakistani forces were involved in an air skirmish in which at least one Indian MiG-21 was shot down; its pilot was captured and subsequently released. Both nuclear-armed countries placed their military forces on alert, and sustained vigorous artillery barrages across the Line of Control that divides them.

Although it might be too early to reconstruct precisely what transpired, the crisis yields some important lessons for the United States. With perhaps the exception of the Korean peninsula, India and Pakistan represent the world’s most likely venue for nuclear conflict. And Washington remains deeply involved with both countries, viewing India as a long-term partner that can play a supporting role in blunting China’s rise, and Pakistan as a frustrating but indispensable player in the negotiations to conclude America’s 17-year war in Afghanistan.

Warning bells: If US troops exit Kabul, and the Taliban holds sway, Pakistan could unleash 'Ghazwa-e-Hind' against India

We could soon see America leave Afghanistan's brutal war half-finished. The implications of this will be dreadful for ordinary Afghans. This is no good news for India either. Nearly forty years ago, on Christmas Day in 1979, Soviet tanks and troops were airlifted into Kabul — in what became a bloody battle between ‘godless’ Communists on one side, and Islamic mujahedeen backed by the West, Pakistan, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia on the other.  If the 1980s were the years of what ultimately came to be known as the Afghan jihad, the 1990s were the years of civil war, with the Taliban triumphant in Kabul.

It’s MiG-21 versus the F-16 over Kashmir


Can an old MiG-21 aircraft destroy a more modern F-16? Yes, in fact an Indian pilot flying a version of the MiG-21 called Bison allegedly shot down a Pakistani F-16 using a Russian R-73 Vympel air to air missile, known as a high off bore-sight air-to-air weapon. 

For the record, Pakistan continues to deny one of its F-16s was shot down. But denials notwithstanding, the evidence seems increasingly compelling against Pakistan’s denial.

The R-73, a short-range missile, can be controlled by a helmet-mounted sight, allowing the pilot to look to his right or left and launch a missile that will turn in the direction the pilot’s head is pointing. Later Russian aircraft including the MiG-29 had a helmet-mounted site (HMS) called the Shchel-3UM

Advantage India, after Balakot air strike

G Parthasarathy

After the precision air strikes by the Indian Air Force on the small town of Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, public attention in India is now focused on bringing the leaders of the Jaish-e- Mohammed, including Jaish Supremo Maulana Masood Azhar to justice.

Ironically, Azhar would not have been such a threat today if we did not cravenly release him after being blackmailed, during the Kandahar hijacking of IC 814. Those then released, included terrorists like Omar Syed Sheikh, who funded the 9/11 hijackers in the US and murdered American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Recurring pattern

The mass killing of Indians in terrorist strikes organised by the ISI has been a continuing feature of Pakistani policies, since the Mumbai bomb blasts on March 12, 1993. People seem to forget that 253 people were killed and 713 injured in the terrorist strikes in Mumbai in 1993. These killings were organised by the then ISI Chief Lt. General Javed Nasir, who incidentally enjoyed the patronage of Nawaz Sharif for years.

Negotiations Are the Best Way to End the War in Afghanistan

By Barnett R. Rubin

In 2012, while I was serving as senior adviser to the State Department special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, I met in Istanbul with a group of Iranian scholars and former diplomats. After listening to the Iranians protest the United States’ purported plans to establish permanent bases in Afghanistan, I told them that they were worrying about the wrong thing. Their problem was not that U.S. forces would stay forever; it was that, sooner or later, they would leave, and the Iranians and their neighbors would once again be stuck with a problem that they could not solve.

Sure enough, that time is coming. In December, The New York Times reported, “The Trump administration has ordered the military to start withdrawing roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in the coming months.” The U.S. government and the Taliban are reportedly close to agreement on a partial framework of a peace deal. Now it is the turn of strategists in Washington to worry about the wrong thing. They fear that the Trump administration is repeating the mistake made by the United States in Vietnam and the Soviet Union in Afghanistan: negotiating a troop withdrawal that leads to the collapse of the U.S.-backed government or a civil war. Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, for example, described the negotiations as a “surrender.”

Afghanistan’s Next Chapter


NEW DELHI – The recent geopolitical history of Afghanistan can be divided into five phases. But now it is at the cusp of another transition, and the defining features of the new phase remain to be seen.

During the first phase, from 1974 to 1979, Pakistan began to give refuge and training to Islamists who could be deployed against Mohammed Daoud Khan’s government. Then, from 1979 to 1989, Pakistan, the United States, and Saudi Arabia financed, trained, and equipped the mujahideen who fought against Soviet troops. From 1989 to 1996, Afghanistan was in transition as regional warlords gained power, closed in on Kabul, and overthrew President Mohammad Najibullah. From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban government ushered in a period of wanton savagery and – with the exceptions of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – diplomatic isolation.

Russia’s Strategy in Southeast Asia

Dmitry Gorenburg, 

To great fanfare, in May 2016, Russia hosted the third ASEAN-Russia Summit at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of Russia’s acceptance as an ASEAN dialog partner, this summit was intended to give new impetus to longstanding efforts by Russia and Southeast Asia to forge closer economic and security ties. Defying efforts by the West to isolate Russia, leaders from all ten ASEAN member states attended the summit.[1]Despite having recently skipped several high-level ASEAN summits, this time President Putin led the Russian delegation himself. He also met separately with the leaders of all ten ASEAN states. After the summit, Putin proclaimed that the two sides had reached agreement “on building a strategic partnership over the long term.” Demonstrating that this was not just mere rhetoric, the two sides also announced a raft of new measures during the summit, on topics ranging from security relations to closer political and economic ties. However, Russia’s ongoing Sino-centric focus, ASEAN’s limited ability to act collectively, and Moscow’s preference for bilateral relations will continue to predominate in its overall relations with the region.

A Pivot Toward Eastern Relationships?

The Problem With Xi’s China Model

By Elizabeth C. Economy

As China’s National People’s Congress and its advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, gather this March in Beijing for their annual two-week sessions to discuss the country’s challenges and path forward, President Xi Jinping may well be tempted to take a victory lap. Within his first five years in office, he has pioneered his own style of Chinese politics, at last upending the model Deng Xiaoping established 30 years ago. As I wrote in Foreign Affairs last year (“China’s New Revolution,” May/June 2018), Xi has moved away from Deng’s consensus-based decision-making and consolidated institutional power in his own hands. He has driven the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) more deeply into Chinese political, social, and economic life, while constraining the influence of foreign ideas and economic competition. And he has abandoned Deng’s low-profile foreign policy in favor of one that is ambitious and expansive.

And yet the mood in Beijing is far from victorious. As Xi begins his second five-year term as CCP general secretary and (soon) president, there are signs that the new model’s very successes are becoming liabilities. Too much party control is contributing to a stagnant economy and societal discontent, while too much ambition has cooled the initial ardor with which many in the international community greeted Xi’s vision of a new global order “with Chinese characteristics.”

Year in Review: Huawei and the Technology Cold War

by Adam Segal

Technology cold war. Decoupling. Weaponized interdependence. Whatever you call it, the U.S.-China science and technology relationship is being violently remade. While a tightly linked technology system benefited the United States and China over the last two decades, there is now widespread concern on both sides of the Pacific that the economic and security risks outweigh the gains. President Xi Jinping has embraced and accelerated policies designed to increase the innovativeness of the Chinese economy and reduce dependence on foreign suppliers. The Trump administration has put Chinese technologies policies front and center as a danger to U.S. economic and national security. The eventual outcome of this contest may be two distinct technology systems, with other countries forced to choose if they are going to plug into American or Chinese technology platforms and standards.

A New Old Threat Countering the Return of Chinese Industrial Cyber Espionage

Lorand Laskai Adam Segal

After a three-year hiatus, the cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property by Chinese hackers is once again a point of contention in the U.S.-China relationship. Cybersecurity firms have reported new attacks on U.S. companies, and Donald J. Trump administration officials have claimed that China is ignoring a 2015 agreement in which both countries pledged not to conduct hacking to benefit commercial entities.

While the Trump administration is mounting a broad campaign to pressure Beijing into ending the theft of intellectual property (IP) and trade secrets from U.S. companies, more can be done to fight cyber-enabled industrial espionage. With the return of Chinese hacking, the United States should develop an international attribution-and-sanction regime; sanction the companies that benefit from cyber espionage; and strengthen counterintelligence outreach to startups and small companies in artificial intelligence (AI), quantum, semiconductor, telecommunications, and other sectors central to Chinese technology strategies.

China wants to replace US in Pacific


China, especially under President Xi Jinping, seeks a return to what it regards as its rightful position, replacing the U.S. as the world’s dominant economic and military power. Previous U.S. administrations have slouched in the direction of understanding the strategic competition that grows from this ambition but did little. The current U.S. administration gets it, as evidenced by the National Defense Strategy’s identification of China as a major peer competitor.

Another proof is the Department of Defense (DOD) report, “Assessment on U.S. Defense Implications of China’s Expanding Global Access.” It examines how China is modernizing its military by reverse engineering, cyber-espionage and joint ventures that blackmail foreign companies into handing over critical military-use technology. Noted are China’s $1.024 trillion global investments and its $735 billion investment in global construction contracts from 2006 to 2017.

In 1979, China and Vietnam Went to War (And Changed History Forever)

by Sebastien Roblin

At 5 AM on February 17, 1979, a massive artillery bombardment rippled across Vietnam’s mountainous northern border with China. Waves of soldiers from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) swarmed towards the startled Vietnamese soldiers hunkered down in border forts, bunkers and caves. Some outposts, taken by surprise, fell; others repelled the attacks with withering small arms and artillery fire.

However, east of the Vietnamese village of Dong Khe, sitting astride the Highway 4A connecting the key cities of Lang Son and Cao Bang, the diesel motors of two battalions of Type 59 tanks rumbled. Though small units of PLA tanks had sparred with UN forces during the Korean War, this would be their first large-scale engagement.

Andrea and Mauro Gilli on Why China Can't Steal Its Way to Military-Technological Superiority

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The Diplomat’s Franz-Stefan Gady talks to Andrea and Mauro Gill about their recently published paper in the academic journal International Security titled “Why China Has Not Caught Up Yet,” whish outlines how the complexity of modern military technology has significantly reduced the advantage of industrial espionage and reverse engineering. Imitating modern weapons systems is a lot harder than in the past, the authors argue, and as a result China will not be able to “steal” itself to the top in the ongoing military-technological competition between the world’s great military powers.

Andrea Gilli is a senior researcher at the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Defense College in Rome, Italy. Mauro Gilli is a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH-Zurich), Switzerland. They are experts in military technology, defense policy and military affairs in general. They have also written for The Diplomat in the past challenging the conventional view on the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (See: “Why Concerns Over Drone Proliferation Are Overblown”). They both spoke to The Diplomat in their personal capacities and their views do not represent the official position of NATO, NATO Defense College, CSS or ETH-Zurich.

China’s Growing Military Presence Abroad Brings New Challenges

Harriet Moynihan

China’s involvement in UN peacekeeping contributions has been on the rise for some time. China is also stepping up its own military and security operations abroad to protect its commercial and strategic interests, particularly in Africa. In doing so, China is exposing itself to a more complex set of issues – including international legal issues – with which it is only just starting to grapple.

China’s contribution to UN peacekeeping over the last 10 years has expanded dramatically. In September 2016, it pledged $1 billion to help fund UN peace, security and development activities, while in 2018 it supplied 10.3 per cent of the UN peacekeeping budget, up from 3.93 per cent in 2012. China is also the largest contributor of peacekeeping forces among the five permanent members of the Security Council. As well as its regular troop contributions, it has also established a stand-by rapid deployment force(opens in new window) of 8,000 peacekeeping troops.



A senior Chinese general listed 10 privileges that Beijing would be willing to grant Taiwan should it reunite with the communist mainland government.

In an interview with local radio outlet Voice of the Strait, Major General Wang Weixing first laid out five reasons that the people of Taiwan had "lost their right to know the truth" since the nationalist government there formed in the wake of its 1949 loss to revolutionary forces now in control of China,Taiwan News reported. The ruling Chinese Communist Party has always contended that it would eventually reunite with Taiwan, which has rejected even a limited venture to join the two governments.

Wang said that the self-ruling island failed to understand the "one country, two systems" proposal because of "first, the long-term anti-communist education of the Taiwanese authorities; second, the bad influence of the separatist ideology of Taiwan independence; third, the unwillingness to reunify and willingly evade and reject any plans for reunification; fourth, some media are misguided; fifth, the dissemination of information about 'one country, two systems' is insufficient to allow the Taiwanese people to understand it."

New Pro-Islamic State Magazine: A Persistent Ideological Threat – Analysis

By Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff*

On 22 November 2018, the first edition of a pro-IS magazine in Indonesian, was published through an Indonesian media, named Hanifiyah Media. It is a monthly publication, which is now in its third edition varying between 40 to 50 pages long. The magazine has no title and draws its heading according to the theme it covers each month. The first was Zhahirina ‘Alal Haq (we are on the righteous path); the second, Fie Sabilillah(in the cause of Allah); and the latest, Ansharullah (supporters of Allah).

The three pro-IS editions have communicated systematically to raise readers’ awareness of “counter-IS propaganda” and “disinformation” (fake news) about the group. The editions attempt to project IS’ credibility and authenticity through religious and emotional appeals. Their underlying messages are emotional rallying points that enable the priming of their readers. For example, the key narrative of the first edition is that the “truth” comes only from IS and its mouthpiece, decrying non-IS and mainstream publications, be they on religious or political issues. This is critical in rebuilding the trust and maintaining the support of IS’ members, supporters and sympathisers, especially after the group’s battlefield and territorial losses in Iraq and Syria.

Debunking Counter-Narrative Message

Rules of the Cyber Road for America and Russia


CAMBRIDGE – The United States responded weakly after Russian cyber operations disrupted the 2016 presidential election. US President Barack Obama had warned his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, of repercussions, but an effective reply became entangled in the domestic politics of Donald Trump’s election. That could be about to change.

Recently, American officials anonymously acknowledged that US offensive cyber operations prevented a Kremlin troll farm from disrupting the 2018 Congressional elections. Such offensive cyber operations are rarely discussed, but they suggest ways to deter disruption of the US presidential election in 2020. Attacking a troll farm will not be enough.

Deterrence by threat of retaliation remains a crucial but underused tactic for preventing cyber attacks. There has been no attack on US electrical systems, despite the reported presence of Chinese and Russians on the grid. Pentagon doctrine is to respond to damage with any weapon officials choose, and deterrence seems to be working at that level.

Renewing Europe


PARIS – Never, since World War II, has Europe been as essential. Yet never has Europe been in so much danger. Brexit stands as the symbol of that. It symbolises the crisis of Europe, which has failed to respond to its peoples’ needs for protection from the major shocks of the modern world. It also symbolises the European trap. That trap is not one of being part of the European Union. The trap is in the lie and the irresponsibility that can destroy it. 

Who told the British people the truth about their post-Brexit future? Who spoke to them about losing access to the European market? Who mentioned the risks to peace in Ireland of restoring the former border? Nationalist retrenchment offers nothing; it is rejection without an alternative. And this trap threatens the whole of Europe: the anger mongers, backed by fake news, promise anything and everything.1

Brexit Is Hell


Over time, public conceptions of hell have migrated from the realm of religious belief to that of literature and political aphorism. And nowhere is the idea of eternal damnation as punishment for one's own choices more appropriate than in the case of the United Kingdom as it hurdles toward the Brexit abyss.

PRINCETON – European Council President Donald Tusk recently sparked controversy by saying there is a “special place in hell” for those who advocated Brexit “without a plan.” To angry Brexiteers, the statement epitomizes the unfeeling, moralistic attitude of the European Union technocracy in Brussels. British Prime Minister Theresa May duly issued a statement rebuking Tusk for his remark.

But May’s response scarcely matters. She has already extended her deadline for holding a “meaningful vote” on an EU-exit deal, effectively confirming that she will remain bereft of a plan until the final moments. At this rate, the delays and extensions of Brexit deadlines might well continue indefinitely.

Top US general in Europe wants to keep China out of 5G networks

By: Aaron Mehta

WASHINGTON — With Europe in the early stages of developing their 5G networks, the Pentagon’s top general in the region issued a stark warning March 5: Allies need to keep China out or risk losing the ability to integrate with America’s military.

Testifying at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the head of U.S. European Command and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said that the department has to know there is a “secure 5G capability” in Europe, requiring the NATO allies to be “very careful about Chinese investment” in such networks.

“We also want to know that we’re secure with our allies that we connect with. And there may be an outcome [where] we can’t connect with our allies unless they change the composition of their systems. We’re trying to get ahead of that,” he said.

U.S. trade deficit reached a record high last year

The U.S. trade deficit reached a 10-year high of $621 billion last year, despite the Trump administration's attempts to reduce it The goods trade deficit with China — the difference between goods exported and imported — rose to $419.2 billion, the highest number on record Last year's acceleration in U.S. economic growth helped fuel Americans' appetite for foreign goods The U.S. trade deficit jumped nearly 19 percent in December, pushing the trade imbalance for all of 2018 to a decade-long high of $621 billion, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The gap between what the United States sells and what it buys from other countries rose to $59.8 billion in December from $50.3 billion in November, the Commerce Department said. Adjusted for inflation, December was the highest imbalance of trade goods in U.S. history. 

Up and Up: The Growing Trade Deficit

The 2018 data for U.S. international trade was released today after a delay due to the government shutdown. The report from the U.S. Census Bureau contains numbers for both how the U.S. trade deficit fared in December as well as completing the full picture of trade in 2018, a hallmark year for trade negotiations, tensions, and agreements. The trade data highlights a quickly rising trade deficit despite President Trump’s policy efforts to achieve one of his intended goals—the reduction of the deficit. Moreover, other policies implemented by the administration, such as the 2017 tax cuts, seem to have directly contributed to the explosion of the trade deficit.

Q1: What was announced today?

A1: Today’s report showed that the United States reached a number of records in 2018 when it came to trade. As it currently stands, the total U.S. trade deficit in 2018 for goods and services was $621 billion, the highest it has been in 10 years. That amount is a nearly $70 billion jump, up from $552.3 billion in 2017. In total, the United States exported $2.5 trillion in goods and services in 2018 and imported $3.121 trillion in goods in services.

Huawei Sting Offers Rare Glimpse of the U.S. Targeting a Chinese Giant

By Erik Schatzker

The sample looked like an ordinary piece of glass, 4 inches square and transparent on both sides. It’d been packed like the precious specimen its inventor, Adam Khan, believed it to be—placed on wax paper, nestled in a tray lined with silicon gel, enclosed in a plastic case, surrounded by air bags, sealed in a cardboard box—and then sent for testing to a laboratory in San Diego owned by Huawei Technologies Co. But when the sample came back last August, months late and badly damaged, Khan knew something was terribly wrong. Was the Chinese company trying to steal his technology?

The glass was a prototype for what Khan’s company, Akhan Semiconductor Inc., describes as a nearly indestructible smartphone screen. Khan’s innovation was figuring out how to coat one side of the glass with a microthin layer of artificial diamond. He hoped to license this technology to phone manufacturers, which could use it to develop an entirely new, superdurable generation of electronics. Akhan says Miraj Diamond Glass, as the product is known, is 6 times stronger and 10 times more scratch-resistant than Gorilla Glass, the industry standard that generates about $3 billion in annual sales for Corning Inc. “Lighter, thinner, faster, stronger,” says Khan, in full sales mode. Miraj, he promises, will lead to a “fundamental next level in design.”

What Do the Huawei Indictments Mean for the Future of Global Tech?

Kevin Frayer

The United States indictments against Huawei look set to significantly worsen already tense relations between China and the U.S. As America pressures allies to drop Huawei and other Chinese firms, U.S. and European officials point to China’s own laws as evidence that even private firms are potential arms of the Chinese state, and the political atmosphere grows ever colder in Beijing, the vision of a world brought together through technology feels ever more distant.

Is tech the main battlefield in a new global struggle between two superpowers? Are there any prospects for de-escalation? What will the indictments mean for the growth of Huawei and other major Chinese tech companies? —The Editors

The unsealing of two indictments by federal prosecutors on Monday against Huawei for bank fraud, sanctions violations, and theft of trade secrets suggests there is no turning back for Washington and Beijing in the conflict over the future of 5G. The two sides will struggle to manage the inevitable tensions that will come if and when Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou is extradited from Canada. But even if cooler heads prevail over the appearance of Meng in a U.S. court, the argument that the United States has used with its friends and allies on why they should block Huawei from their own networks leaves no room for compromise.

RSA Conference 2019: How to Defend Against an AI vs AI ‘Flash War’

Tom Spring

SAN FRANCISCO – As perimeter cyber defenses adopt new strategies such artificial intelligence and machine learning, security experts predict adversaries will adopt similar techniques when it comes to an attack chain.

Derek Manky, chief of security insights at Fortinet, said that “black-hat automation and swarm technology” are emerging threats. He argues that companies need to identify weak points in their cyber defenses and assess whether they are vulnerable to automated attacks.

“You have to be able to know the threat in order to be able to block it,” he told Threatpost in an interview here at the RSA Conference.

There are effective strategies to thwart these types of “flash war” attacks. Manky said organizations can prolong the attack chain in an effort to mitigating risk and speed up the defensive kill chain. One solution, he said, was creating a “house of mirror-based deception techniques” to effectively dilute a large attack surface.

Will robots replace doctors?

Bob Kocher and Zeke Emanuel

Vinod Khosla, a legendary Silicon Valley investor, argues that robots will replace doctors by 2035. And there is some evidence that he may be right.

A 2017 study out of the Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT showed that an artificial intelligence (AI) system was equal or better than radiologists at reading mammograms for high risk cancer lesions needing surgery. A year earlier, and reported by the Journal of the American Medical Association, Google showed that computers are similar to ophthalmologists at examining retinal images of diabetics. And recently, computer-controlled robots performed intestinal surgery successfully on a pig. While the robot took longer than a human, its sutures were much better—more precise and uniform with fewer chances for breakage, leakage, and infection. Tech boosters believe that AI will lead to more evidence-based care, more personalized care, and fewer errors.

Of course, improving diagnostic and therapeutic outcomes are laudable goals. But AI is only as good as the humans programming it and the system in which it operates. If we are not careful, AI could not make health care better, but instead unintentionally exacerbate many of the worst aspects of our current health care system.

Readiness and Reliance


BY THE LATE 1980s, Dhirubhai Ambani wanted a newspaper. In 1986, the Indian Express had published a series of articles alleging that Reliance Industries had, among much else, manipulated its own share price, evaded duties and violated the limits of its licence for producing polyester feedstock—all while government officials looked the other way or made decisions that seemed customised to the corporation’s needs. The government responded with scrutiny and action that subtracted from Reliance’s bottom line, and Dhirubhai scrambled to limit his losses. A shift in the political tide and some deft manoeuvring soon brought him close to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and turned the might of the government against the Indian Express instead. But, by then, other outlets had also started publishing uncomfortable facts about Reliance’s doings.

Integrating Information Warfare Lessons Learned from Warfighter Exercise 18-2

Lt. Col. Jonathan Rittenberg, Maj. Mike Barry, Maj. Daniel Hickey, Maj. Bryan Rhee, Capt. Holly Cross

The above propaganda leaflet depicting Islamic State executioners slaughtering innocent civilians in a meat grinder was dropped over Raqqa, Syria, in March 2015 by coalition forces to help prepare the way for follow-on maneuver operations against that city. Information warfare creates operational advantages by the synergy of physical attacks that deny, disrupt, and destroy key enemy command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) systems at the same time psychological and sociological measures are used to undermine the moral and cognitive commitment of adversaries to their cause by actions that foster confusion, intimidation, or persuasion. During I Corps’ Warfighter Exercise 18-2, simulated leaflet drops similar to those conducted in Raqqa in conjunction with simulated physical attacks created the desired synergistic effects of information warfare in support of overall corps’ exercise objectives. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Army)

Conducting information warfare against nation-state near-peer competitors and various substate actors requires different approaches. Over the past sixteen years, U.S. Army information operations (IO) have focused on population-centric counterinsurgency operations with a strong emphasis on counternarratives, influence, and perception management. As the Army develops and inculcates new doctrine such as multi-domain operations and refocuses on near-peer adversaries, it must reinvigorate the use of information warfare.

Time, Power, and Principal-Agent Problems Why the U.S. Army is Ill-Suited for Proxy Warfare Hotspots

Maj. Amos C. Fox, U.S. Army

Popular Mobilisation Forces fighters (mostly Iraqi Shia militia) ride in a tank near the Iraqi-Syrian border 26 November 2018 in al-Qaim, Iraq. (Photo by Alaa al-Marjani, Reuters)

Chinese statesman and military theorist Mao Tse-tung reasoned, “Unless you understand the actual circumstances of war, its nature, and its relations to other things, you will not know the laws of war, or know how to direct war, or be able to win victory.”1 Mao’s argument, written almost a century ago, clearly captures the essence of understanding the war in which one is engaged. More recently, there has been a substantial amount of literature written about modern and future evolutions of conflict; however, the U.S. Army flounders at seeing operating environments beyond binary conventional conflict and counterinsurgencies.

The US Army is preparing for major changes to force structure

By: Jen Judson

WASHINGTON — The Army is preparing to make what it deems as necessary, and major, organizational changes to its force structure within the next five years, according to the Futures and Concepts Center director.

“There is going to be a fundamental change in the organizational structure to fight the way we are describing,” Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley told an audience at the Center for a New American Security in Washington on March 4

“The Army has relied on counterinsurgency operations over the past 15 years that depended greatly on the Brigade Combat Team. But now, with a new focus on large-scale ground combat operations anticipated in the future operating environment, “that will require echelons above brigade, all of which will solve unique and distinct problems that a given BCT can’t solve by itself,” Wesley said.