5 April 2019

China, India and the Crossroads of 21st Century Infrastructure Competition

Davide Cancarini*

The Asia Pacific region is one of the areas with the highest growth potential for the coming decades. This potential is contingent on the need to ensure adequate infrastructure, no easy task given recent estimates by the Asian Development Bank, with spending needs for infrastructure in the Asia Pacific region predicted to top 1.7 trillion dollars a year.[1]

When it comes to massive infrastructure investments, China’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), officially launched by President Xi Jinping while on a state visit to Kazakhstan in 2013, has attracted most international interest and attention.

Figure 1 | The Belt and Road Initiative

The US GSP Decision: Risks to US-India Relations and Upsides for China

By Aman Thakker

The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw India’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits not only risks adversely affecting the broader strategic relationship with India, but also giving a boost to Chinese exports.

On March 4, 2019, President Donald Trump wrote a letter to Congress to provide notice of his intent to terminate the designation of India as a beneficiary country under the Generalized System of Preferences, a program designed to “promote economic growth and development in the developing world.” Although the Indian government noted that the “GSP concessions extended by the U.S. amounted to duty reduction of only $190 million” per year, this decision could spill over and adversely affect other aspects of the U.S.-India relationship. Moreover, by revoking India’s GSP benefits, the Trump administration may also worsen America’s trade deficit with other countries, notably China.

Risks to the U.S.-India Relationship

South Asia Terrorism Portal

Tactical Assertiveness and Strategic Purpose

The latest India-Pakistan crisis seems to have dropped of the public gaze as escalation concerns have subsided, but this has happened even as an unabated war by other means has continued on the Line of Control (LoC) and to a lesser extent along the International Border (IB). According to partial data on the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), since Balakot and the subsequent Pakistani response in 79 incidents of ceasefire violations until March 29, 2019, including the raid by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), 17 casualties (2 killed and 15 injured) have been inflicted on Security Forces, while 14 casualties (5 killed and 9 injured) have been inflicted on civilians on the Indian side. Till March 29, 2019, 135 violations have taken place.

Official data indicates a yearly uptick in ceasefire violations from 2016, when 449 violations took place, with 971 violations in 2017 and 1962 violations until November 30, 2018. Corresponding fatalities suffered by security forces are 13 killed in 2016, 19 killed in 2017 and 24 killed until July 31, 2018. Civilian fatalities stand at 13 in 2016, 12 in 2017, and 28 killed untill July 31, 2018. The current violence has largely been concentrated along certain areas of the LoC, particularly Rajouri and Poonch Districts. It is however not unusual for the two militaries two exact retribution from each other after a major incident, but this dynamic is now complicated with the emergence of new tactics and capabilities. A slew of acquisitions in the pipeline however suggest that India may be pushing to achieve escalation dominance along the border. This could potentially transform into an overt punitive option at lower levels of the escalation ladder.

US-China: Who is bigger and when

Key Points

When will China pass the US in economic size? “The year 2030” is not a bad estimate, but so is “never.”

Claims that China’s economy is already the world’s largest may be exaggerated by up to 30 percent. They are also dubious because purchasing power parity often does not hold. National wealth is not well measured, either, but shows the American lead expanding.

The more popular belief that China is smaller than the US but will catch up soon is similarly unconvincing. Chinese government statistics are unreliable, since Beijing publishes sanitized data and many transactions may be close to worthless.

More important, projections of Chinese growth are sensitive to unjustified optimistic assumptions. Debt and aging indicate true Chinese growth is lower than reported, and low growth now could put off Chinese catch-up indefinitely.

Searching for a Grand Strategy to Meet the China Challenge

Graham Allison 

How the U.S. manages a rising China is one of the great questions of our time. This is your opportunity to help address it. Based on a popular and highly debated course assignment from Harvard Kennedy School Professor Graham Allison, author of the bestseller “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?,” this exercise invites the public to develop a grand strategy to meet the China challenge. Note: The case below captures the assignment as it was written for students in Allison’s Fall 2018 course. For current submission guidelines, see the box above. The three best submissions will be published on BelferCenter.org and–more importantly–will be shared with senior U.S. government officials.

Introduction: Searching for a Grand Strategy to Meet the China Challenge

In a major speech in October, Vice President Mike Pence summarized what could be seen as the Trump Administration’s emerging strategy in a new Cold War against China. As he announced, the Trump Administration is determined to fight back on all fronts in what it sees as a cold war that China has been waging against the US for the past quarter century without any US response.

America Has Leverage with China that It Lacks With Russia

by John S. Van Oudenaren

At present, U.S. foreign policy confronts a difficult dilemma concerning China. There is a growing consensus in Washington that China is America’s primary strategic competitor, if not adversary. However, most of Washington’s other major foreign-policy challenges, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, withdrawing from Afghanistan and an intensifying strategic contest with Russia, are rendered more manageable if Washington preserves a working relationship with Beijing.

A Paradigm Shift on China

The Trump administration has now settled on a strategic approach towards Beijing, which Robert Sutter characterizes as a “broad hardening of U.S. defense, internal security, and economic operations against China.” This is a departure from Donald Trump’s initial stance, which was transactional, focused primarily on stemming perceived U.S. economic losses resulting from predative Chinese behavior. On the campaign trail, Trump zeroed in on what he saw China doing to America: trade imbalances due to insufficient market reciprocity and (alleged) currency manipulation; he noted the eroding U.S. competitive advantage resulting from years of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer. In his characteristic hyperbole, candidate Trump slammed China for perpetrating “the greatest theft in the history of the world.” This strain of thought persists in the administration with Trump advisors’ (Peter Navarro most vociferously) mantra of “economic security as national security.” However, since late 2017, Trump’s approach has morphed from striving to inoculate the United States and its allies from detrimental Chinese behavior to a sweeping crusade that proactively seeks to counter Chinese political influence and economic penetration across the world. This is manifested most dramatically in the high-tech sector, where (per Sanger et al) the United States has embarked on a “stealthy, occasionally threatening, global campaign to prevent Huawei and other Chinese firms from participating in the most dramatic remaking of the plumbing that controls the internet [development of 5G networks]” since its creation. Clearly the U.S. squeeze on Huawei is starting to chip away, at least at its wireless infrastructure operations, with the telecom giant recently suffering a 1.3 percent drop in its networking business.

Satellite Photos Show Chinese Anti-Satellite Laser Base

BY: Bill Gertz
Source Link

Commercial satellite images have provided the first photographs of a secret Chinese anti-satellite laser base in western Xinjiang province, along with other high-technology weapons facilities.

The laser facility is located near a lake and is about 145 miles south of the Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

The facility was discovered by retired Indian Army Col. Vinayak Bhat, a satellite imagery analyst who specializes on China.

China Is Testing the United States

By Seth Cropsey

On Saturday 30 March, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force dispatched four long-range bombers, electronic jamming and intelligence planes, and two or possibly more fighter aircraft over the international waters of the Miyako Strait, the approximately 175-mile gap between the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako. It cannot be a coincidence that two days earlier the Chinese navy, according to Japan’s Defense Ministry, sent two guided-missile frigates and a logistics ship from the East China Sea into the Central Pacific. The Strait is a critical passage between the East China Sea and the Pacific. If in conflict, China were to deploy warships into the central Pacific they would likely seek to pass through the Miyako Strait. Japan’s Self-Defense Force responded by scrambling fighters to intercept the Chinese aircraft.

On the following day, Sunday 31 March, two Chinese J-11 fighter jets crossed the Median Line that divides the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and mainland China. Taiwan scrambled fighters to intercept this unusual violation of a long-existing understanding that neither side would cross the Median Line. The last time China deliberately violated this understanding was 20 years ago.

Anti-Satellite Laser Base Discovered in China’s Xinjiang Province (PHOTOS)

Recently released images, which were provided by retired Indian Army Col. Vinayak Bhat, a satellite imagery analyst who specializes on China, have revealed the presence of an anti-satellite laser base in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, the base is located roughly 145 miles south of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, and is situated near a lake.

“In terms of satellite tracking, Chinese technology has grown in leaps and bounds. There are now many space tracking stations dotted all over the country — like one in Ngari, Tibet — which provide accurate data about satellites to be targeted,” Bhat said in his report for Indian outlet The Print.

“Once the accurate satellite path and other data is known, directed energy weapons (DEW) located at five different places can take over the task. One such facility is located in Xinjiang.”

Africa Looks To China And Beyond For Its Energy Development – Analysis

By Timothy Dissegna
Source Link

In a vast continent like Africa, currently entering a new phase in its development, no plans for the future can exist without the availability of raw materials. Now more than ever, the issue must be analyzed through the double lens of industrial progress and environmental sustainability. These are two aspects that seemed opposite until a few years ago, as often proven by the conferences on climate change that have taken place over the past decades, which saw several developing countries (LDCs) claiming their “right to pollute” in order to improve their economies.

China was also a member of that “club.” At the moment, instead, it leads the global ranking of national and international investments in renewable energy, with $360 billion by 2020. Nonetheless, this honorable leadership must be associated with the fact that many of its cities are still included in the Greenpeace/Air Visual top 50 of the most polluted places in the world. The ecological issue with all that it entails – climate change and pollution first of all – plays an important role in the close alliance between China and Africa.

A U.S.-China War Scenario: How Would China's Military Attack a "Great Wall in Reverse"?

by James Holmes

Suppose the United States and its allies erect a “Great Wall in reverse,” deploying anti-ship, anti-aircraft, and anti-submarine armaments on and around the islands constituting the first island chain.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will not submit meekly while the allies curb its freedom of movement between its home waters and the Western Pacific. Instead, PLA soldiers, sailors, and aviators will try to puncture, outflank, or otherwise nullify the wall, regaining access to the wider world. They must—lest China forfeit the export and import trade that underwrites its “dream” of prosperity and national dignity, not to mention its capacity to project military might outside its immediate environs. But how?

S-400 or F-35? Turkey’s Erdogan Must Choose


Turkish pilot trains in F-35

Turkey’s increasingly autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is an erstwhile NATO ally. Turkey flies F-16s and is a partner in the F-35 program. But Erdogan has committed his country to buying Russia’s reportedly excellent surface to air missile system, the S-400. This op-ed by Bradley Bowman, former aide to Sen. Todd Young of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and to former Sen. Kelly Ayotte of the Senate Armed Services Committee, explores the military aspects of why selling the F-35 to Turkey is a bad idea if Erdogan goes ahead with the S-400 buy. Our accompanying op-ed by Robbin Laird, member of the Breaking D Board of Contributors, delves more deeply into Erdogan’s geo-strategic goals and why they increasingly put him at loggerheads with his allies. Read on! The Editor.

How military hacking can improve

By: Mark Pomerleau
Source Link

In a March 27 speech, Mike Burgess, Australia’s director general of the Australia Signals Directorate, detailed how his government’s hackers conducted operations against ISIS in Syria to aid military ground forces as part of the global coalition to defeat the terrorist group.

Burgess said this was “the first time that an offensive cyber operation had been conducted so closely synchronized with the movements of military personnel in theater.”

The Australian offensive cyber operation took place in conjunction with a ground raid on an Islamic State position and degraded ISIS communications 11,000 km from the battlespace so commanders couldn’t connect to the internet or communicate with each other.

The operation is similar to those described by U.S. officials, who have detailed operations conducted by U.S. Cyber Command as well as partner forces supporting ground operations as part of the coalition.

Brexit and Charles de Gaulle’s Last Laugh

By George Friedman

In many ways, de Gaulle foresaw the crisis Britain is now struggling to pull itself out of.

As we watch the British government tear itself apart over its relationship to Europe, it is useful to stop and consider the deeper origins of the crisis. They go back decades, to the long-standing tension between Britain and Europe, and in particular between Britain and France. Britain was not a signatory of the 1957 Treaty of Rome or any of the prior agreements that led to European economic integration. But in the 1960s, it applied to join the European Economic Community. At the time, Britain was economically weak, having never fully recovered after World War II, and saw the EEC as a free trade zone with relatively few complexities. The country had stayed clear of excessive entanglement with continental Europe but felt that having less limited access to Continental markets would help in its recovery.

But the British application to join the EEC was blocked by France in 1963 and 1967. French President Charles de Gaulle argued that the British economy was in many ways incompatible with the rest of Europe’s. He also argued that Britain had a deep-seated animosity toward any pan-European undertaking and would perceive a united Europe as a threat to its independence. De Gaulle didn’t view Britain as a fully European country, since its history ran counter to Europe’s history. Since the Norman conquests, Britain had been fencing with Continental powers, playing one off against the other to prevent any one power from becoming strong enough to storm the English Channel and conquer it. Whereas the other European powers were primarily land powers, forced by geography to focus on the threats posed by their neighbors, Britain was a naval power, whose primary response to Napoleon, for example, was to protect itself through a blockade that weakened France. From de Gaulle’s point of view, Britain fought World War II the same way – by shielding itself and abandoning France.

Globalization in transition: The future of trade and value chains

By Susan Lund, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, Jacques Bughin, Mekala Krishnan, Jeongmin Seong, and Mac Muir

Although output and trade continue to increase in absolute terms, trade intensity (that is, the share of output that is traded) is declining within almost every goods-producing value chain. Flows of services and data now play a much bigger role in tying the global economy together. Not only is trade in services growing faster than trade in goods, but services are creating value far beyond what national accounts measure. Using alternative measures, we find that services already constitute more value in global trade than goods. In addition, all global value chains are becoming more knowledge-intensive. Low-skill labor is becoming less important as factor of production. Contrary to popular perception, only about 18 percent of global goods trade is now driven by labor-cost arbitrage.

Three factors explain these changes: growing demand in China and the rest of the developing world, which enables these countries to consume more of what they produce; the growth of more comprehensive domestic supply chains in those countries, which has reduced their reliance on imports of intermediate goods; and the impact of new technologies.

Russian Challenges from Now into the Next Generation: A Geostrategic Primer

By Peter B. Zwack and Marie-Charlotte

U.S. and Western relations with Russia remain challenged as Russia increasingly reasserts itself on the global stage. Russia remains driven by a worldview based on existential threats—real, perceived, and contrived. As a vast, 11-time zone Eurasian nation with major demographic and economic challenges, Russia faces multiple security dilemmas internally and along its vulnerable and expansive borders. Exhibiting a reactive xenophobia stemming from a long history of destructive war and invasion along most of its borders, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and perceived Western slights, Russia increasingly threatens others and lashes outward. However, time is not on Russia’s side, as it has entered into a debilitating status quo that includes unnecessary confrontation with the West, multiple unresolved military commitments, a sanctions-strained and only partially diversified economy, looming domestic tensions, and a rising China directly along its periphery.

General Gerasimov on the Vectors of the Development of Military Strategy

by Dave Johnson

General Gerasimov on 2 March 2019 delivered to the Russian Academy of Military Science his thoughts on the evolving demands of modern war and the adaptation of Russia’s military strategy, which addresses “questions of the preparation for war and the conduct of war, primarily by the Armed Forces”.. In doing so, he was carrying on the longstanding tradition for the Chief of the General Staff to address the opening general assembly of the Academy’s annual conference. General Gerasimov and his predecessors have used the conference as an opportunity to outline for domestic and, increasingly, for foreign audiences the Russian General Staff’s evolving threat assessment, evolving military concepts, and the main thrusts of Russian military development and reform.

The annual remarks by the Chief of the General Staff can provide useful insights on current Russian military thinking when assessed in the full context of: other authoritative statements by Russia’s political and military leaders; the development of Russia’s military capabilities, forces, and posture; military training and exercises; and the conduct of military operations. On the other hand, Russia’s political and military leadership are increasingly effective in using such events to manipulate domestic and foreign perceptions. This has contributed to a tendency for the more sensationalistic elements of the Russian messages to be focused upon, sometimes distorted, and often reported in isolation – and then treated as received wisdom. This, in turn, often results in incorrect perceptions that remarks at such events have revealed significant new concepts, initiatives, and turning points in the development of the Russian Armed Forces.

American Security Requires a Cyber-Savvy Congress

by Kathryn Waldron

On March 13, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden submitted a bipartisan letter to the Senate sergeant-at-arms asking for an annual report tallying the number of times Senate computers have been hacked. The letter also requests the SAA adopt a policy of informing Senate leadership within five days of any new data breaches that occur.

Cotton and Wyden should be lauded for requesting greater clarity regarding government cybersecurity. Yet this important and reasonable petition reveals an unfortunate reality: We expect our lawmakers to enact policy protecting our nation from cyberattacks when they don’t even know whether their own computers have been hacked. For the sake of national security, this must change.

Government agencies, in general, are legally required to disclose breaches, but Congress is under no similar obligation. According to the letter, the last time there was a publicly disclosed report of a congressional data breach was in 2009. Indeed, the two examples of cyberattacks on Senate computers that Cotton and Wyden cite (one against former Virginia representative Frank Wolf in 2006 and one against former Florida senator Bill Nelson in 2009) are both at least a decade old. But a lack of data for the years since then doesn’t mean that hackers haven’t been active. In fact, in 2018, both the Democratic National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee lost emails in data breaches. Moreover, the Department of Defense wards off approximately thirty-six million attempted data breaches each day. 

Japan’s Quiet Geo-Economic Rise – Analysis

By Masahiro Matsumura*

In the turbulent world politics involving extensive international coverage, stable and humdrum Japan does not have much of a presence. Yet, Japan is the world’s largest creditor nation while continuously playing significant roles in trade, direct investment and economic assistance. Japan in the background has reinforced itself as a leading geo-economic power while having almost thoroughly eliminated its huge non-performing loans in the banking sector and other structural vulnerabilities over the so-called “lost two decades” consequent on its bubble burst in the early 1990s.

Emphasizing Japan’s world-largest public debts that amount to nearly 240% of its GDP is misleading given that its public assets amount to nearly 200% and that the holding of the government bonds by the Bank of Japan, practically, a part of the government, amount to more than 80%. This is consistent with the good stability of a strong yen and very low long-term prime rates.

The American Empire Is the Sick Man of the 21st Century

Source Link

In his classic Foundation series, Isaac Asimov imagines a Galactic Empire, governed from the city-world of Trantor, that has maintained peace and prosperity for thousands of years but that is teetering on the brink of decline. The only person who sees this clearly is the psychohistorian Hari Seldon, who has mathematically determined that the core conditions for the Empire are unsustainable and will crumble over the course of centuries.

As Trantor “becomes more and more the administrative center of Empire, it becomes a greater prize,” a disciple says as he absorbs Seldon’s calculations. “As the Imperial succession becomes more and more uncertain, and the feuds among the great families more rampant, social responsibility disappears.”

Asimov published these words in 1951, at the peak of U.S. global power. But they might as well be describing Washington in 2019, an imperial capital whose elite have transformed it into a great prize to be feuded over as surely as Asimov’s future empire did—and as other empires have done in the past.

Space-Based Solar Power and 21st-Century Geopolitical Competition

By Malcolm Davis
Source Link

Way back in the 1970s, when NASA was contemplating the future after the Apollo moon landings, it was thinking big—really big. Two of its big ideas—Gerard K. O’Neill’s proposed space coloniesand the idea of space solar power systems—were all the rage then. It was a grand vision for a space-based economy that would transform global society.

NASA’s lunar plans failed to secure U.S. government support, and the massive funding of the 1960s moon race had come to a screeching halt by the mid-1970s. Also problematic was that NASA’s space shuttle, which first flew in 1981, never delivered on promises of low-cost access to space. Without a decrease in the cost of access, the price of space-based solar power would never be competitive with terrestrial sources of energy. Finally, we were ignorant of climate change—and coal was cheap and plentiful.

So it’s interesting that, 50 years later, China seems very interested in building solar power satellites of its own. The move is important for a number of reasons, and not just in terms of pure space exploration.

Installing Chinese 5G Gear is Dangerous — and Probably Inevitable: NATO Center Report

Source Link

Alliance members should look to mimic Britain, which created an entire government office to scrutinize Huawei’s products for security problems.

Cheap Chinese 5G technology isn’t all that cheap when you factor in the government time and resources needed to make it safe — or at least safer — to use, a new NATO Center of Excellence report says.

That’s the warning from a new report by the NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, or CCDCOE, which notes the considerable risks of importing next-generation telecom equipment from Chinese hardware and software maker Huawei. Acknowledging that alliance governments are unlikely to issue the “blanket bans” sought by U.S. officials, the report recommends instead a lot more government supervision of what companies like Huawei are building.

U.S. Defense Undersecretary Ellen Lord and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford have highlighted the risk of Chinese-made 5G equipment, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the United States would have a hard time “partnering” with countries that import it. “If that equipment is co-located where we have important American systems, it makes it more difficult for us to partner alongside them” Pompeo said in February.

Turning Bystanders Into First Responders

By Paige Williams

One April morning in 2014, a sixteen-year-old sophomore at Franklin Regional Senior High, in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, stole two butcher knives from his parents’ kitchen, hid them in his backpack, and took them to school. He was wearing all black and, according to witnesses, had a “blank expression.” Just before first period, in the hall of the science wing, he stabbed several classmates. Then he pulled the fire alarm. As the corridor filled with people, the boy moved down the hallway, a knife in each hand, stabbing more students. He turned and raced back up the hall—an administrator remembered him “flailing the knives like he was swimming the backstroke.” One girl later testified, “I could feel that my lip wasn’t attached to my face anymore.” A boy, stabbed in the belly, recalled, “I was gushing blood.”

The students at Franklin Regional, which is seventeen miles east of Pittsburgh, had been trained to lock themselves inside classrooms during a “code red” event. In one room, a home-economics teacher called 911 as she attended to an injured boy. A dispatcher asked where the “patient” had been hurt. “The lower abdomen,” the teacher said. “On the right side.”

“Do you have any way to control the bleeding?” the dispatcher asked.

The Cyber Threat Landscape: Confronting Challenges to the Financial System



On July 20, 2016, cyber attackers attempted to steal $150 million from the accounts of a bank in South Asia. Minutes later, the same thing happened to a bank in West Africa—attackers used the bank’s own systems to send payment instructions to transfer $150 million to the attackers’ chosen accounts. Counterparty banks spotted both sets of fraudulent messages and raised the alarm, ensuring that no funds were lost. However, the episode signaled a change in the threat facing financial systems today: not only could attackers conduct complex intrusions and manipulate payment systems within a single target bank, but they also could strike institutions on different continents simultaneously, while operating safely from the other side of the world. The threat of coordinated attacks against multiple parts of the financial system was no longer purely theoretical; malicious actors had demonstrated that they could do so, and the potential for systemic impacts was clear.

Adrian Nish

Adrian Nish is the head of Threat Intelligence and Response at BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence business unit

Three Reasons Why Facebook’s Zuckerberg Wants More Government Regulation – OpEd

By Ryan McMaken*
Source Link

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants more government regulation of social media. In a March 30 op-ed for the Washington Post, Zuckerberg trots out the innocent-sounding pablum we’ve come to expect from him:

I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.

But what sort of regulation will this be? Specifically, Zuckerberg concludes “we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.”

He wants more countries to adopt versions of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Prototype Warfare in the Fourth Industrial Age

Peter Layton

A new industrial process is rapidly emerging. This fourth industrial revolution (4IR) based on hyper-connectivity brings with it both continual – indeed relentless – innovation and the possibility of practical large-scale prototype warfare.[i]

The interweaving of the second and third industrial revolutions is creating the fourth. This new deep integration allows a continuous and cyclical flow of information and actions between the physical and digital worlds. Many organizations already have some physical-to-digital and digital-to-digital processes but it’s closing the loop from digital back to physical and then quickly acting upon analysed data and information that marks the big technical advance. This change can move warfighters to the centre of the defence industrial production process.

Warfighters could now directly design one-of-a-kind items on the internet, pass this to the manufacturing plant, negotiate schedules, be part of the testing regime and arrange delivery. With techniques such as additive manufacturing, production batch sizes can now be small or on-demand without significant impact on production efficiency. Items can accordingly both be produced affordably and through 4IR’s closed loop process have performance improvements introduced quickly. The warfighter will then be able to themselves customise equipment to be optimal for their needs and operating environments. Moreover, warfighters will be able to make regular reliability improvements and plan on-time logistic support.


Paul Oh 

Strategists, policymakers, military officers, and futurists have all pointed to advances in artificial intelligence as having the potential to change the military and the conduct of warfare. Current efforts to integrate AI, however, have mainly been in peripheral areas like preventive maintenance, human resources, and imagery progressing. This fictional narrative envisions how AI may change the core of how the Army fights, namely in aiding the command and control of subordinate elements. AI’s ability to increase our ability to Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act has the potential to fundamentally alter how we conduct warfare, in ways presently unimagined.

You could easily spot Col. Jake Stone from across the Pentagon courtyard; he was the one not straight out of central casting. He was lanky, a bit frail looking, and sported a bowl-like haircut that would make any sergeant major cringe. Jake was the last officer you would put in front of troops to inspire them to battle. The softness of his voice would cause you to lean in, while his high pitch would at the same time make you back away. Yet he had an intellect that people usually underappreciated, mostly because they could not keep pace with his unorthodox ideas. Now on the last leg of his career, he had one final mission. He wanted to upend his beloved Army’s hallowed thoughts on war to save the nation from defeat in a future digital conflict.

How the Army will sustain its tactical network of the future

By: Mark Pomerleau  

The rapid insertion of commercial off-the-shelf systems looks to revolutionize the Army's next-generation tactical network, but it also brings challenges for the sustainment community, including Tobyhanna technicians that troubleshoot terminals. 

The Army’s sustainment community is beginning to prepare for the challenges associated with the tactical network of the future.

The Army is working to field its first capability set for what it is calling the integrated tactical network (ITN). The service’s new approach heavily relies on rapid and ongoing insertion of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems.

The Army is looking to leverage a variety of systems for incorporation to its tactical network.

CO19060 | 21st Century Military Modernisation: Its Challenges

Bernard Loo Fook Weng

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical and contemporary issues. The authors’ views are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email to Mr Yang Razali Kassim, Editor RSIS Commentary at RSISPublications@ntu.edu.sg.


When a military organisation modernises its combat capabilities, it is natural to expect the new capabilities to be better than the old ones. This improvement is typically measured in terms of lethality. However, lethality does not guarantee that the military organisation will be more strategically effective.


NATO at Seventy: An Alliance in Crisis

Executive Summary

Approaching the seventieth anniversary of its founding in April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) remains the single most important contributor to security, stability and peace in Europe and North America.

NATO provides the umbrella defending Europe from conventional and nuclear attack and a secure geopolitical landscape for the world’s two largest economies—the European Union and the United States. NATO members comprise the largest and strongest alliance of democratic countries in the world. They contain Russian aggression and protect over 100 million East Europeans who now live in democracy and freedom after the fall of communism.1 Far from obsolete, NATO remains vital for the more than 900 million Europeans and North Americans who benefit from it every day.2 It is no overstatement that if NATO did not exist today, countries on both sides of the Atlantic would need to create it in a troubled, divisive 21st century where authoritarian powers are on the rise.