3 April 2019

Why Tibet matters ever more in India-China ties

Brahma Chellaney

Wars in space are not just Hollywood fiction but an emerging reality for defence planners. India’s successful “kill” with an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon is a major milestone in its quest for effective deterrence. Without developing ASAT capability, India risked encouraging China to go after Indian space assets early in a conflict.

The test is meant as a warning shot across China’s bow for another reason: ASAT capability serves as a basic building block of a ballistic missile defence system, which can shoot down incoming missiles. The development thus holds implications also for China’s “all-weather” strategic ally, Pakistan, which maintains a nuclear first-use doctrine against India.

In this light, it is unconscionable that the development of India’s satellite-kill technologies was held up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, which, as top scientists have said, refused to give the go-ahead. In the Indian system, no one is held to account, even for compromising national security.

The looming specter of Asian space wars

Brahma Chellaney

When China demonstrated its antisatellite weapon capability in 2007, it spurred international concern and criticism over the potential militarization of outer space.

The muted response to a similar Indian test on March 27 shows that great-power capabilities in this field have so advanced that such an event is no longer a surprise. Indeed, the technology has developed to such an extent that defense planners must deal with the looming specter of wars in space.

The linkages between antisatellite, or ASAT, weapon technologies and ballistic missile defense systems, which can shoot down incoming missiles, underscore how innovations favor both offense and defense. Space wars are no longer just Hollywood fiction.

Afghan forces could turn guns on Kabul without US air support, cash and troops, among other warnings

By: Kyle Rempfer 

Afghanistan remains dependent on the U.S.-led coalition to combat insurgencies, pay Afghan troops, maintain oversight of corruption and generally just prevent the country from devolving into chaos.

That doesn’t bode well for the peace negotiations currently underway between U.S. and Taliban diplomatic teams.

A new series of warnings were introduced by John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, ahead of the release of SIGAR’s 2019 “High-Risk List” report.

SIGAR has made two previous High-Risk List reports, Sopko said, but this one is unique due to the ongoing peace negotiations to end America’s longest war.

Afghan VP survives second assassination attempt

Afghan Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum has escaped unharmed after an attack that killed one of his bodyguards in the north of the country.

Officials say the attackers ambushed Gen Dostum's convoy in Balkh Province.

The Taliban said they carried out the attack, which lasted an hour and left two other bodyguards injured.

It is the second attempt on Gen Dostum's life since the ethnic Uzbek and former warlord returned from self-imposed exile last July.

That month, 14 people died in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport shortly after his arrival. Islamic state says it carried out that attack.

Gen Dostum joined Afghanistan's unity government in 2014 and is a controversial political figure.

China in Djibouti: The Power of Ports

By Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Basil M. Karatzas – CEO of Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co., a shipping finance advisory and ship-brokerage firm based in the New York City – is the 181st in ”The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.” 

Why is China Merchants Port Holdings taking control of operations at Djibouti’s Doraleh Container Terminal? 

While the case is still under litigation, it is known that in February 2018, the government of Djibouti unilaterally terminated DP World’s concession to operate the Doraleh Container Terminal. At the same time, again the government of Djibouti nationalized the shares of the holding company for the Doraleh Container Terminal, in which DP World had a 33 percent stake; it is understood that China Merchants also had an unspecified minority stake in the Doraleh Container Terminal. And, upon cancelling of the concession, control has been offered to China Merchants Port Holdings to operate the terminal, for which it immediately seems to have taken an active role at expanding the port facilities not only of the container but also of dry bulk and multi-purpose terminals. A $3.5 billion free trade zone and a “global logistics hub” are envisioned under the present regime.

This is China’s plan to eclipse Silicon Valley

Alex Thornton

China’s Pearl River delta is the site of the most dramatic urbanization in human history. The area is home to nearly 70 million people. It contributes an eighth of China’s GDP, with an economy worth $1.5 trillion - roughly the same as Australia and Spain, and nearly as big as Russia and South Korea.

Now the Chinese government has outlined its plans to unite what it calls the Greater Bay Area into a giant megalopolis, and transform it into a high-tech centre that could rival California’s Silicon Valley and Japan’s Tokyo Bay.

The Greater Bay area encompasses Hong Kong and Macao, along with nine cities in Guangdong province: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Foshan, Dongguan and Huizhou.

What can we expect in China in 2019?

By Gordon Orr

The US–China economic equilibrium of the past 20 years has gone, and as we look into 2019, it is not yet clear when and where a new equilibrium will form. What level of economic separation will develop between the world’s two largest economies? How much will businesses need to change in their business model—from the customers they target, the products and services they offer, their overall supply chain, and even their capital structure and ownership? The next stages of this transition will play out over 2019 in ways that cannot be fully anticipated, but without doubt, uncertainties will lead to lower levels of long-term investment by businesses in 2019 and to greater levels of volatility in market growth and in the valuations of many kinds of assets. It will be a year for prudent conservatism in many areas, combined with a readiness to make big, bold bets if and when one-time opportunities arise.

Impact of US–China ‘economic’ confrontation

The most visible change in US policy toward China is the existing imposition of tariffs and the threat of more to come. Yet this is only one element of many broader changes in the permission granted to Chinese businesses to access US markets, to acquire companies in the United States, to transfer intellectual property (IP) from the United States to China, or to conduct research in the United States. While there is the possibility that US and Chinese governments negotiate to a permanent status quo on tariffs, there are no plans for a meaningful rollback of the broader changes. Tariffs affect any company exporting from China, regardless of its ownership nationality, but broader changes specifically restrict Chinese companies and Chinese investors.

China’s Belt and Road: A Reality Check

By Richard Boucher

Chinese President Xi Jinping will host the second Belt and Road Forum in April, with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and dozens of other heads of state in attendance. Now is a good time to look at the reality of Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Announced in 2013 and enshrined in the Chinese Communist Party’s constitution in 2017, the initiative gets a lot of attention and hype. Some see a plot to challenge the liberal world order, a new Marshall Plan, or a scheme to enslave developing nations; others the world’s biggest development initiative and the New Silk Road.

What’s the reality? The Belt and Road constitutes a marginal increase in infrastructure development and improves Chinese access to supplies and markets, but the real action in infrastructure these days flows from private finance, not Chinese projects.

What the Belt and Road Means for China

Room for Maneuver: China and Russia Strengthen their Relations

By Brian G Carlson for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

Brian Carlson believes that for both the US and Europe, the extent of China-Russia coordination deserves close watching. As a result, Carlson here explores 1) China-Russia bilateral ties, particularly in terms of economics, energy and arms; 2) the two countries’ ‘friendly neutrality’ regarding the other’s regional affairs; and 3) how China-Russia relations have been gaining momentum at the global level. He also highlights how shared concerns about US power and resistance to liberal norms provide a strong basis for a continued close relationship, albeit one increasingly tilted in China’s favor.

At a time of turmoil in the West, China and Russia pose growing challenges to the liberal international order. The China-Russia relationship has grown stronger in recent years, as the two countries have increased coordination on North Korea and other issues. China and Russia are not about to form an alliance, but neither are they likely to drift apart in the near future. Their shared concerns about US power and resistance to liberal norms provide a strong basis for a continued close relationship, albeit one increasingly tilted in China’s favor. 

Turkey's Bubble Is Bursting

Jesse Colombo

For the past five years, I've been warning about a dangerous credit bubble that has been developing in Turkey's economy. Ultra-low interest rates led to a borrowing binge that created an artificial economic boom that most people thought was a legitimate, sustainable boom. Since the summer of 2018, however, Turkey's central bank was forced to raise interest rates dramatically to stem the sharp decline of the lira. At the time, I cautionedthat those aggressive rate hikes would be the pin that pops Turkey's long-lasting credit bubble, which has proven to be correct, so far.

As the chart below shows, Turkey's credit bubble started in the early-2000s. Private sector credit grew from approximately 15% of GDP in 2003 to 70% of GDP in 2016. Loans to the private sector sextupled from 2010 to 2018.



A member of the Syrian Arab-Kurdish forces places a cross in the rubble ahead of a Christmas celebration at the heavily damaged Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs in Raqqa, Syria. The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today “than at any time in history,” and Western governments are failing to stop it, a report from a Catholic organization said.

The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today “than at any time in history,” and Western governments are failing to stop it, a report from a Catholic organization said.

The study by Aid to the Church in Need said the treatment of Christians has worsened substantially in the past two years compared with the two years prior, and has grown more violent than any other period in modern times. 

“Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution,” the report said.

ISIS: Terrorist Usage of Twitter and Social Media

Shawn Peerenboom

In recent years the Internet and social media has rapidly grown and become a part of everyday life for many people. For example, YouTube alone has nearly two billion active users each month, has one billion hours of content watched every day, and over 300 hours of new video uploaded every minute (Aslam, 2019). Other social media platforms also generate huge amounts of users and views. The wide reach of these and other platforms has given many people and groups the opportunity to be heard when they otherwise would not have a voice. While in many cases this opportunity is celebrated for supporting free speech, groups can take advantage of this access to reach and harm people that would otherwise be outside their influence. Terrorist organizations are becoming increasingly aware of, and taking advantage of, the global access the Internet and social media gives them. These groups are no longer limited to recruiting new members in their physical sphere of influence; they can entice and recruit new members from anywhere around the world. Groups are also using the Internet to encourage and carry out attacks (physical and cyber) around the world. This paper will focus on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), their use of the Internet and social media over the years, and what we should expect moving forward.

Smart Usage of Social Media

Why Was ISIS Successful?

By Kenneth M. Pollack

'Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness' explains how the politics, economics, and culture of the modern Arab world has shaped the military power of the Arab states. Overwhelmingly, the impact has been negative, producing the vast tableaux of misfortune that has been Arab military history since 1945 and right up to the present day. It is why Arab armed forces have so consistently underperformed, losing most of their wars despite any number of favorable material factors. It is also why their victories have been rare and typically modest, if not outright Pyrrhic. 

Yet in June 2014, ISIS—or Da’ish as it is referred to in Arabic—stunned the world by overrunning most of northern and western Iraq, seizing the massive city of Mosul, and causing five divisions of the Iraqi army to collapse. Much of its success was a product of the weakness of the Iraqi armed forces. However, some of it derived from Da’ish’s own exceptional performance. Indeed, Da’ish and Hizballah are the two most important Arab non-state militaries that demonstrated a clear superiority in their battlefield competence over the vast majority of Arab militaries since the Second World War. Understanding why they were exceptionally more successful is therefore a critical element in understanding how Arab society has shaped its armed forces during the modern era, and how the Middle Eastern military balance may change in the future.

Ultimately, there were a number of reasons why Da’ish did as well as it did in 2013-2015, and this excerpt explains the most important.

Poor Adversaries.

The Islamic State Was a Sham

by Daniel R. DePetris 

As a conventional army, the Islamic State is a spent force. The group that once lorded over eight million people across a section of Iraq and Syria about the side of the United Kingdom is now a collection of exhausted, dirty, smelly, and tired jihadists encased in a square mile of dusty tents and wailing children. Some are repentant, vowing to fight the approaching Kurdish and Arab forces until their last breath. Others are surrendering, choosing to live under the custody of their enemies rather than sacrifice themselves for a losing cause.

The territorial caliphate that Islamic State emir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared from the Grand Mosque in Mosul over four years ago is dead and buried. A few hundred stragglers remain in the village of Baghouz, ready to be killed or captured. The Islamic utopia Baghdadi effectively sold at that particular time, which brought tens of thousands of foreigners from 110 different countries into Iraq and Syria, turned out to be a ruse. Some foreigners who joined the Islamic State are now begging to come back to their countries of origin, as big an admission as any that they made a terrible mistake.

How global development leaders think their field is changing

George Ingram and Kristin M. Lord

Last year, we interviewed 93 leaders from government, NGOs, private development contractors, corporations, foundations, and multilateral organizations on how they see global development changing, what they forecast in the near and mid-term future, and how their own organizations are adapting. Their perspectives coalesce around a few broadly held themes—and diverge widely on a host of other topics.

Overall, we found a fragmented field that is very much in transition. Development organizations are struggling with uncertainty and striving to keep pace with rapid change. Leaders are proud of what they do and the advancements in global development but painfully aware of the lack of progress in many areas and of the development sector’s shortcomings. Changes in the sector elicit both excitement and fear. For leaders, they induce worry about the relevance of their own organizations and the ability of the sector to adapt and add value.

Though we encourage readers to review the full report to appreciate the breadth and richness of the findings, we summarize three top conclusions below:


The most-mentioned issue is the future of funding for development. There is broad concern over a plateau in official development assistance (ODA), and inadequate financing for development overall as well as for specific areas of need. There is also concern for the long-term financial health of development organizations that are overly dependent on government donors.

America is still trying to win the last cyber war


During a DHS-run conference in New York City in July of last year, Vice President Mike Pence promised that the Trump Administration would give the American people “the strongest possible defense” in cyberspace to address a “cyber crisis” that was “inherited” from the previous administration.

Since that announcement, the White House has rolled out a new National Cyber Strategy and the Pentagon has implemented a complementary Defense Cyber Strategy. Between the two documents and other official public announcements from the military and intelligence community, three key themes emerge: A newfound bias toward action in cyberspace to counter adversaries’ cyber operations, an emphasis on threats to the U.S. economy as the preeminent national security threat caused by those cyber operations, and a tougher approach to securing the supply chain on which the U.S. military and civilian critical infrastructure rely. Even though it is still early days, from where I sit in the private sector, the change in strategy mostly makes good sense for the American people but with a few key deficiencies left to be addressed.

Global Energy Perspective 2019

Energy systems around the world are going through rapid transitions that affect many aspects of our lives. The continuation and acceleration of these shifts will bring important changes to the way we fuel our cars, heat our homes, and power our industries in the coming decades. Our Reference Case provides our consensus view on how energy demand will evolve

Russia’s Military Mission Creep Advances to a New Front: Africa

by Eric Schmitt 

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso - Russia has been steadily expanding its military influence across Africa, alarming Western officials with increasing arms sales, security agreements and training programs for unstable countries or autocratic leaders.

In the Central African Republic, where a Russian has been installed as the president’s national security adviser, the government is selling mining rights for gold and diamonds at a fraction of their worth to hire trainers and buy arms from Moscow. Russia is seeking to ensconce itself on NATO’s southern flank byhelping a former general in Libya fight for control over his government and vast oil market.

Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, brought in Russian mercenaries in January to help shore up his rule against nationwide protests. And last spring, five sub-Saharan African countries — Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania — appealed to Moscow to help their overtaxed militaries and security services combat the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

Finally, a presidential EMP order that may save American lives


The Commission to Assess the Threat from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, also known as the Congressional EMP Commission, has warned for nearly 20 years that a nuclear EMP attack, or natural EMP from a solar superstorm, could destroy our electronic civilization and kill millions.

“During the Cold War, the U.S. was primarily concerned about an EMP attack generated by a high-altitude nuclear weapon as a tactic by which the Soviet Union could suppress the U.S. national command authority and the ability to respond to a nuclear attack — and thus negate the deterrence value of assured nuclear retaliation,” the commission wrote in July 2017 in its report, “Assessing the Threat from EMP Attack.” 

It continued: “Within the last decade, newly-armed adversaries, including North Korea, have been developing the ability and threatening to carry out an EMP attack against the United States. Such an attack would give countries that have only a small number of nuclear weapons the ability to cause widespread, long-lasting damage to critical national infrastructures, to the United States itself as a viable country, and to the survival of a majority of its population.”

Managing Transatlantic (Mis)trust: The Trump Era in Perspective

By Matti Pesu and Ville Sinkkonen for Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA)

Matti Pesu and Ville Sinkkonen write that trust is essential for cohesion and alleviating collective problems for NATO. But the trust relationship in the Alliance is also an asymmetric one. While the US is Europe’s ultimate guarantor of security, Europeans only constitute a pool of reliable partners for Washington. This unevenness results in specific issues of mistrust which the allies must occasionally manage. However, Pesu and Sinkkonen argue that the Trump administration has not only brought these perennial trust issues to the fore, it has also done so in an exacerbated manner.

This article was originally published by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) on 4 March 2019. Image courtesy of The White House/Flickr. 

The transatlantic relationship is undergoing a period of turmoil. President Trump’s unorthodox policies have exacerbated historical sources of mistrust between the US and its European allies. This Working Paper approaches the transatlantic bond from the perspective of asymmetric trust, a perennial factor in transatlantic security and defence affairs.


DEEP BENEATH THE Franco-Swiss border, the Large Hadron Collider is sleeping. But it won’t be quiet for long. Over the coming years, the world’s largest particle accelerator will be supercharged, increasing the number of proton collisions per second by a factor of two and a half. Once the work is complete in 2026, researchers hope to unlock some of the most fundamental questions in the universe. But with the increased power will come a deluge of data the likes of which high-energy physics has never seen before. And, right now, humanity has no way of knowing what the collider might find.

To understand the scale of the problem, consider this: When it shut down in December 2018, the LHC generated about 300 gigabytes of data every second, adding up to 25 petabytes (PB) annually. For comparison, you’d have to spend 50,000 years listening to music to go through 25 PB of MP3 songs, while the human brain can store memories equivalent to just 2.5 PB of binary data. To make sense of all that information, the LHC data was pumped out to 170 computing centers in 42 countries. It was this global collaboration that helped discover the elusive Higgs boson, part of the Higgs field believed to give mass to elementary particles of matter.

The Newest AI-Enabled Weapon: ‘Deep-Faking’ Photos of the Earth


Worries about deep fakes — machine-manipulated videos of celebrities and world leaders purportedly saying or doing things that they really didn’t — are quaint compared to a new threat: doctored images of the Earth itself.

China is the acknowledged leader in using an emerging technique called generative adversarial networks to trick computers into seeing objects in landscapes or in satellite images that aren’t there, says Todd Myers, automation lead and Chief Information Officer in the Office of the Director of Technology at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

“The Chinese are well ahead of us. This is not classified info,” Myers said Thursday at the second annual Genius Machinessummit, hosted by Defense One and Nextgov. “The Chinese have already designed; they’re already doing it right now, using GANs—which are generative adversarial networks—to manipulate scenes and pixels to create things for nefarious reasons.”

The Impact of Cyber Security theory in the World

By Sajad Abedi

The correct control of cyber security often depends on decisions under uncertainty. Using quantified information about risk, one may hope to achieve more precise control by making better decisions.

Information technology (IT) is critical and valuable to our society. IT systems support business processes by storing, processing, and communicating critical and sensitive business data. In addition, IT systems are often used to control and monitor physical industrial processes. For example, our electrical power supply, water supply and railroads are controlled by IT systems. These “controlling” systems have many names. In this Notes they are referred to as SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems, or occasionally, as industrial control systems. They are complex real-time systems that include components like databases, application servers, web interfaces, human machine interfaces, dedicated communication equipment, process control logic, and numerous sensors and actuators that measure and control the state of the industrial process. In many industrial processes (e.g., electrical power transmission) these components are also distributed over a large geographical area. SCADA systems can be seen as the nervous system of industrial processes and since our society is heavily dependent on the industrial processes that SCADA systems manage, we are also dependent on the behavior of our SCADA systems.

Over the last two decades our SCADA systems and their environments have changed. They used to be built on proprietary and specialized protocols and platforms. Today, however, SCADA systems operate on top of common and widely used operating systems (Windows XP) and use protocols that are standardized and publicly available. These changes have altered the threat environment for SCADA systems.

Countries Want to Ban ‘Weaponized’ Social Media. What Would That Look Like?

By Damien Cave 

What if live-streaming required a government permit, and videos could only be broadcast online after a seven-second delay?

What if Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were treated like traditional publishers, expected to vet every post, comment and image before they reached the public? Or like Boeing or Toyota, held responsible for the safety of their products and the harm they cause?

Imagine what the internet would look like if tech executives could be jailed for failing to censor hate and violence.

These are the kinds of proposals under discussion in Australia and New Zealand as politicians in both nations move to address popular outrage over the massacre this month of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The gunman, believed to be an Australian white nationalist, distributed a manifesto online before streaming part of the mass shootings on Facebook.

The Case Against Maneuver Warfare

Michael Gladius

Ever since the 1970s/1980s, maneuver warfare has been regarded as the ideal form of warfare. It’s associated primarily with the German Army of WWII and the Mongol Empire, and everybody wants to emulate their successes. However, Maneuver Warfare has several real weaknesses that do not translate well into the American way of war. In this essay, we will look at 2 ways in which maneuver warfare can be defined, their weaknesses, and then how America can incorporate their benefits into its own doctrine.

Definition #1: OODA Loops

The first definition of Maneuver warfare brought up by reformers is the ideal of always getting inside an opponent’s OODA Loop. This is the time-honored art of beating one’s opponent to the punch and doing it over and over again. While this is desirable, it is not a complete doctrine in and of itself; it is one variable among many. Being able to hit an opponent faster than he can react only works if one’s own decision/action can have an effect; actions that effect no change are wasted and slow the tempo. Since the American mind desires to impose our own will upon the situation, and change it to our liking, we require a certain set of tools in our toolbox. Some of these must necessarily slow the tempo in order to impose change, and we have designed our military to withstand any blows that may land while we take aim.

The Advent of the “Digital Mercenaries”

Kiril Avramov

The topic of use and role of private military contractors in modern warfare periodically gains the intensive focus of public attention and scholarly scrutiny. It happens so, due either to highly publicized lobbying efforts of the proponents of private military and security companies’ (PMSC) wider implementation in long-running conflicts, such as the recent “Prince plan” for Afghanistan, or highly publicized operations of increasingly assertive non-Western PMSC’s, such as the likes of the Russian “Wagner”. The scrutiny focus and intensity are justified and rightfully so, as the expanding role of the private military contractors represents a key feature of the rapidly evolvingnature of modern warfare. However, while the public attention tends to captured mainly by the kinetic operationsperformed by the modern day “condottieri”, a new type of modern “soldiers of fortune” emerges center stage. Namely, the ascent of a new breed, one that could be best described as “digital mercenaries”. The advent of these new professionals is of no less importance than their “traditional” counterparts who provide muscle and boots on the ground in distant and difficult environments. Provided the current state of accelerated technological development, relentless international race for artificial intelligence dominance coupled with profound global uncertainty marked by increasing “gray zone” cyber activities intensity renders their rise to prominence, as an inevitable. In fact, these new “cyber soldiers and spies” for hire and their respective operations in benefit of their clients will probably become the permanent new norm, rather than a series of occasional and fairly rare episodes of obscure nature. They will also certainly make a profound mark in the field of traditional nation-state intelligence performance and cooperation, as well. The existing global structural preconditions certainly provide a fertile environment for such privatized actors to proliferate and gain even further importance. The process of their expansion, however, raises virtually similar ethical, political, economic and regulatory issues and concerns comparable to their “traditional” PMSC’s counterparts.

Hackers for Hire

The Myths of Traditional Warfare: How Our Peer and Near-Peer Adversaries Plan to Fight Using Irregular Warfare

Reyes Cole


Military leaders received a post-holiday gift on January 19th of 2019, in the unveiling of the new National Defense Strategy (NDS). The document is exactly what the services have waited for since the fall of the Soviet Block: designated high-end threats. Threats on which the services can effectively focus their efforts in capability development and prioritize service funding. Per the NDS Summary the central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is “strategic competition.”[1] Revisionist powers and peer threats such as China and Russia seek regional hegemony. Rogue regimes and near-peer threats like Iran and North Korea continue to create regional instability. And lastly, threats from designated Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs) will persist. However, the services seem to be focusing less on competition, in lieu of focusing energies into traditional warfare scenarios and capabilities.

The belief that peer/near-peer/VEO competitors and adversaries will only fight us via traditional warfare, man to man, tank to tank, ship to ship, and plane to plane, are missing the historical and present day reality that these designated threats are currently competing and prevailing over us via Irregular Warfare (IW) activities in the competition space, and doing so quite successfully. Additionally, those same threats have had a long history of effectively using IW to achieve their strategic goals. Many of the IW skills developed during Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, are the same skills needed in irregular activities needed in great power competition. If this is all true, it begs the question; why are the services retreating from IW and its lessons learned in favor of its preferred method, traditional warfare.

This is How the Army Fights Wars "In the Dark"

by Charlie Gao

In the 2000s, the U.S. Army fielded the AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG I). The ENVG I combined thermal imaging and image intensification technology to give soldiers the ability to see both in the thermal spectrum and in regular night vision in a capability sometimes called “fusion” or “fused” vision. Now, this technology appears to be ready for the prime time, with most major night vision companies making optics with fusion vision technology.

But how does it work? What advantages do fusion vision optics provide?

When fusion vision first came out in the ENVG I, it was not very popular with troops. The monocle was far heavier than the PVS-14 it replaced and the advanced electronics drained batteries quickly. Unlike the PVS-15 binocular NVGs, soldiers wearing it had no depth perception.


Liam Collins and Lionel Beehner 

Hunched over a long table strewn with plates of chicken Kiev, tucked away in an underground restaurant beneath Kiev, Ukraine’s Maidan Square, Olena Bilenka, a partisan Ukrainian nationalist with tattoos and a strong physique, looked at us intently. When one of our cadets, a dual Russian-American, offered to interpret, Bilenka barked, “Nyet!” Refusing to speak the language of the occupier, she would only speak through a Ukrainian interpreter.

Bilenka is one of thousands of proud Ukrainians who quit their day jobs to take up arms fighting separatists in the Donbas, the conflict zone in Ukraine’s east. These volunteers helped stem the advance of the Russian-backed separatists in the spring and summer of 2014. The volunteers’ role in the conflict is more than a localized anomaly. Learning from Ukraine’s experience, other nations are taking proactive measures to improve their own defenses by arming civilian militias and volunteer reserve forces and instituting training not unlike The Hunger Games to teach civilians how to fight like guerrillas.

NATO´s Framework Nations Concept

By Rainer L Glatz and Martin Zapfe for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

According to Rainer L Glatz and Martin Zapfe, NATO’s Framework Nations Concept (FNC) currently serves as a practical guideline for defense cooperation within the Alliance. But what does the FNC, with its emphasis on national sovereignty, actually mean for defense cooperation? To help provide an answer, Glatz and Zapfe here review 1) the three different FNC approaches that exist within NATO; 2) the opportunities and limits of the FNC; and 3) how the FNC’s approach to cooperation might be especially attractive to states that are not NATO members.

Within NATO, the so-called “Framework Nations Concept” is currently one of the driving paradigms of multinational defense cooperation. All nations retain full sovereignty, and no “European army” is in sight. This opens the concept to non-member states. 

Within NATO, the Framework Nations Concept (FNC) currently serves as a pragmatic guideline for defense cooperation. Until recently, programs such as “Smart Defence” (NATO) or “Pooling & Sharing” (EU) appeared without alternative. Given the huge budget pressure created by the global financial crisis, NATO and EU states decided either to pool their resources centrally or to make joint use of them.