18 October 2019

Rise of China, History, Technology, Policies: Implications for India

Since opening up to foreign trade and investment and implementing free market reforms in 1979, China has become the world’s fastest-growing economy. China has transformed itself from a predominantly agricultural economy into a manufacturing powerhouse. China has taken a leading role in several critical emerging technologies. ‘Made in China 2025’, laid out how and why China would need to move up the technology ladder and close the gap with developed countries.

China's $ 11 trillion economy is almost five times that of India. China is way ahead of India in terms of technology. The US-China trade war helped Indian exports to China. India has been taking notable steps forward in innovation, supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reform agenda.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership can derail India’s ‘Make in India’ programme. India has major concerns. India has to do some very tight rope walking. India manufacturing industry has no option but to be globally competitive to survive in today’s globalized world.

Despite the border tensions India has to engage China economically to reduce the trade deficit between the two countries, take advantage of the ongoing US China trade war, get FDI from China and collaborate in emerging technologies to take Indian economy forward.

Can Modi Steer India Back to Relevance?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s overwhelming victory in India’s recent elections solidified his grip on power and ensured that he will set the country’s agenda for the foreseeable future. Modi’s administration faces foreign policy challenges, including its relationship with Pakistan, competition for influence with China and, more recently, the possibility of a trade war with the United States. What will Modi's second term bring? 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s overwhelming victory in India’s recent elections solidified his grip on power and ensured that he will set the country’s agenda for the foreseeable future. While the vote was technically a victory for his right-wing, nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, Modi turned it into a referendum on himself, becoming the face of nearly every BJP candidate’s local campaign. The landslide victory has critics paying close attention to whether Modi doubles down on the Hindu nationalism and illiberalism that characterized his first term in office, or reins it in.

Modi played up his strongman persona on the campaign trail, particularly with regard to Pakistan. He pushed a message that only he could protect India and even used images of the Indian military in his advertisements. That could complicate any rapprochement between the two countries.

The Leaders of the World’s Two Biggest Countries Meet—and Come Away With Little Progress

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In what may turn out to be an enduring image from this past weekend’s so-called informal summit between the leaders of India and China, Narendra Modi presented Xi Jinping with a handcrafted gold-and-red silk shawl bearing the Chinese president’s portrait. The gift was beautiful and showcased Indian expertise in textiles, but it was more flashy than useful—an unintended metaphor for the meeting between the leaders of the world’s two biggest countries by population. While the summit at the Indian beach resort of Mamallapuram generated newspaper headlines in both countries, little progress was actually made on addressing a range of contentious issues that characterize the bilateral relationship.

An underwhelming meeting shouldn’t be that surprising; after all, summits rarely amount to much. But in this particular case the underlying reason why the Xi-Modi meeting involved more pageantry than substance is the fact that India has a much weaker hand: It has a comparatively small economy and weaker regional alliances. Beijing doesn’t need to make meaningful concessions. Even so, New Delhi also has some potential advantages—its relationship with the Dalai Lama and its closeness with Washington—that it can better leverage to compensate for its relative lack of heft. Until it does so, India will always fall short of making real advances in bilateral meetings with China.

Nobel Economics Prize Goes to Pioneers in Reducing Poverty

By Jeanna Smialek
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Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of M.I.T. and Michael Kremer of Harvard have devoted more than 20 years of economic research to developing new ways to study — and help — the world’s poor.

On Monday, their experimental approach to alleviating poverty won them the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Dr. Duflo, 46, is the youngest economics laureate ever and the second woman to receive the prize in its half-century history.

In studying problems like education deficiencies and child health, the economists search for evidence about which interventions can resolve them, and seek practical ways to bring good treatments to scale.

“In just two decades, their new experiment-based approach has transformed development economics, which is now a flourishing field,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in announcing the prize.

The Return of the Pakistani Taliban

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

On October 4, an alleged commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Rehman Hussain, was acquitted by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan, in cases related to possession of arms and explosives.

Hussain has been linked to the TTP’s Fazlullah faction, named after former chief of the Pakistani Taliban Mullah Fazlullah, whose successor, Noor Wali Mehsud, was designated as a global terrorist by the United States last month.

Days before Mehsud’s sanctioning by the United States, two alleged TTP-affiliated militants were arrested in Punjab’s Gujranwala city. In April, three other TTP members were arrested in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third most populous city.

The TTP has gradually resurfaced in the news after having largely faded in the aftermath of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014. The operation targeted the Pakistani Taliban and its splinters which had moved from South to North Waziristan following 2009’s Operation Rah-e-Nijat.

Can American Values Survive in a Chinese World?


This is the topic of Jonathan D.T. Ward’s China’s Vision of Victory. Ward is ideally placed to write such a book, boasting a doctorate from Oxford University in Chinese politics, a résumé that has led him across the Asian continent, and a political consultancy that he operates from Washington. His answer to the question “What does China want?” is simple: The Chinese want supremacy.

China’s Vision of Victory is a useful antidote to the popular delusion that Chinese leaders seek nothing more than to roll back U.S. hegemony in the Western Pacific—or that they will be sated by becoming the dominant East Asian power. Despite presenting modest and peaceful ambitions to foreigners, the Chinese Communist Party leadership transparently communicates its desire for primacy to internal audiences. By guiding readers through a barrage of official documents, excerpted liberally throughout the book, Ward shows just how wide-ranging these ambitions are.

To start with, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) already defines its maritime forces as a “two-ocean navy.” Chinese energy demands have led the PLA to extend its reach to Pakistan, Africa, and the disputed waters of the South China Sea. White papers spell out Chinese ambitions to be the primary strategic presence not just on the East Asian periphery but in Africa, the Indian Ocean, and the Southern Pacific. China’s leadership claims that it has core economic interests as far abroad as Europe, Latin America, the Arctic, and outer space. With these economic interests come road maps for securing Chinese relationships or presence in each region.

Exclusive: U.S. carried out secret cyber strike on Iran in wake of Saudi oil attack: officials

Idrees Ali, Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States carried out a secret cyber operation against Iran in the wake of the Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh blame on Tehran, two U.S. officials have told Reuters.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the operation took place in late September and took aim at Tehran’s ability to spread “propaganda.”

One of the officials said the strike affected physical hardware, but did not provide further details.

The attack highlights how President Donald Trump’s administration has been trying to counter what it sees as Iranian aggression without spiraling into a broader conflict.

Asked about Reuters reporting on Wednesday, Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi said: “They must have dreamt it,” Fars news agency reported.

The U.S. strike appears more limited than other such operations against Iran this year after the downing of an American drone in June and an alleged attack by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on oil tankers in the Gulf in May.

If We Have to Choose Between Compromise and Genocide, We Will Choose Our People

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The world first heard of us, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), amid the chaos of our country’s civil war. I serve as our commander in chief. The SDF has 70,000 soldiers who have fought against jihadi extremism, ethnic hatred, and the oppression of women since 2015. They have become a very disciplined, professional fighting force. They never fired a single bullet toward Turkey. U.S. soldiers and officers now know us well and always praise our effectiveness and skill.

I have always told our forces, this war is ours! The jihadi terrorists of the Islamic State came to Syria from all over the world. We are the ones who should fight them, because they have occupied our lands, looted our villages, killed our children, and enslaved our women.

We lost 11,000 soldiers, some of our best fighters and commanders, to rescue our people from this grave danger. I have also always instructed our forces that the Americans and other allied forces are our partners, and so we should always make sure that they are not harmed.

Neo-Ottoman Turkey’s ‘String of Pearls’


Since 2015, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been pushing for Syrian “safe zones” and “buffer zones” for humanitarian purposes. However, with the current media focus on the bombardment of Kurds amid the Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, what remains submerged beneath the murky waters of Mideast politics may be Turkey’s back-door strategy to reclaim former Ottoman territories.
Salami-slicing tactic?

In a 2016 Foreign Policy article, Nick Danforth of the German Marshall Fund pointed out how Turkish TV was using irredentist maps that showed northern Iraq and northern Syria as parts of Turkey, which offered insights into Ankara’s self-image and current domestic and foreign policies.

The map was not quite the Ottoman Empire, just a slightly bigger Turkey, and in March 2019 a Bloomberg article mapped Turkey’s expanding military footprint.

Turkey-Syria offensive: Disastrous moment for US Mid-East policy

By Jeremy Bowen

It has taken a week to reshape the map of the Syrian war, in the seven days since President Donald Trump used what he called his "great and unmatched wisdom" to order the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria.

He set off a chain of events that betrayed America's ally, the Syrian Kurds, and opened a cornucopia of opportunities for Turkey, the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, its backers, Russia and Iran, and the jihadist extremists of Islamic State (IS).

Eight years of war in Syria have shaped and changed the Middle East. This last week has been another turning point. Perhaps President Trump's wisdom helped him to foresee events. Or perhaps his habit of following his gut instincts is a serious mistake when it comes to the infinite complexities of the Middle East.

For years it has been clear that Syria's fate would be decided by foreigners, not Syrians. Repeated interventions have sustained and escalated the war. Writing about the contest for influence and power in Syria should start with the war's victims. Every turn of the military screw means disaster and often death for civilians. Video of their suffering should be compulsory viewing for the leaders who give the orders. Those images are not hard to find online and on television.

Hezbollah and Israel: Deterrence at the Edge of Destruction

Heiko Wimmen

The Israeli drone attack against a Hezbollah target in a southern suburb of Beirut on 25 August, followed by a limited Hezbollah retaliation on the Israeli-Lebanese border a week later, were the first major breaches of the status quo that has prevailed between the two adversaries for the past 13 years.

They are unlikely to be the last. 

Ten days after the Beirut incident, the Israeli army tweeted an aerial image showing a cluster of buildings near the town of Nabi Chit in the Bekaa Valley. According to Israel, the warehouses were sheltering Iranian equipment used to manufacture precision-guided missiles for Hezbollah. “We won’t let them,” the army vowed ominously, suggesting these facilities might be the next target.

According to Israeli sources, the 25 August operation was likewise aimed at Hezbollah’s missile programme, and succeeded in setting it back by as much as a year by destroying sophisticated Iranian equipment. 
Precision-guided missiles

ISIS Is Gloating


Yesterday saw multiple reports of jailbreaks from Kurdish-operated prisons and camps that contained ISIS supporters. The Kurds, now battered by the full force of a Turkish invasion approved by Donald Trump, have allocated resources away from prisons and to their own survival, which is threatened more acutely by the Turkish military than by the Islamic State. Kurds have fled, prisons have been left unattended, and ISIS members, including Europeans and other foreigners posing serious terrorist threats, have walked free or may walk free soon. ISIS propaganda channels are gloating. The forces that defeated ISIS are scampering frantically around the desert, hunted like jackrabbits and desperate for protection, now that America has forsaken them.

Some have likened the mass release of ISIS members to the period in the early 2010s when ISIS busted Sunnis out of jails in Iraq, and many joined the group in search of protection. But the comparison does not do justice to the ludicrous follies and entirely predictable consequences of the last week. More apt might be the climactic scene of the 1984 movie Ghostbusters, in which an orange-haired government employee (William Atherton) defies all logic and expert advice, and directly causes the release of thousands of supernatural ghouls onto the streets of Manhattan. That Walpurgisnacht could have been prevented indefinitely just by letting the Ghostbusters keep doing what they had been doing. No sane person would have ordered the demons freed, but no sane person was present to countermand the order.

Cyber War Between Iran and United States Could Have Far-Reaching Implications


With tensions between Iran and the United States continuing to rise, it now appears that the struggle is starting to spill over into the cyber domain. For the past year, Iranian government officials have suggested that U.S. hackers might be behind a series of cyber attacks against Iranian computer systems. Those fears have been ratcheted up even more over the past month, after missile attacks on an oil facility in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. has linked back to Iran. As a result, Iran now says that the U.S. has launched a “cyber war,” and that, in response, it will take decisive steps to defend itself in cyberspace.

Series of events leading to cyber war

According to the head of Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, Gholamreza Jalali, Iran is now the victim of close to 50,000 cyber attacks each year, of which a handful fall into the category of a “major” cyber attack. For the past 12 months, Jalali, who is also a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has been calling out the U.S. for its increasingly aggressive series of cyber attacks against Iran. For example, in November 2018, he said that Iran had uncovered and neutralized a virulent new strain of the Stuxnet virus that was originally used back in 2010 to take out computer systems at Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities. The suggestion, of course, was that the U.S. was using cyber space as a way to apply “maximum pressure” on Iran in order to make the nation give up its nuclear program.

Turkish-Backed Forces Are Freeing Islamic State Prisoners


As Turkey wages a violent campaign against Kurdish fighters and civilians across northeastern Syria, Turkish-backed proxy forces with ties to extremist groups are deliberately releasing detainees affiliated with the Islamic State from unguarded prisons, two U.S. officials confirmed to Foreign Policy. 

The claim pours cold water on U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion on Twitter that the Syrian Kurdish fighters tasked with guarding the prisons released the detainees to grab U.S. attention after the Defense Department ordered all U.S. troops to evacuate the region.

Backed by Turkey, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a decentralized band of Syrian rebels that has been linked to extremist groups, has launched a bloody assault on northeastern Syria, executing Kurdish prisoners and killing scores of unarmed civilians and Kurdish fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 

Over the weekend, a group of Turkish-backed forces ambushed a female Kurdish politician driving on the M4, the main highway through Syria and Iraq, forced her from the car, and killed her.

Turkish Attack On Syria Endangers A Remarkable Democratic Experiment

James L. Gelvin,

Turkey’s attack on Kurdish-run territory in northern Syria will likely snuff out a radical experiment in self-government that is unlike anything I have seen in more than 30 years studying the Middle East.

In a surprise Oct. 6 statement, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw its troops from northern Syria.

Approximately 1,000 American soldiers had been stationed in that region as a buffer separating Kurdish forces - who had been working with the Americans in the fight against the Islamic State - from Turkish troops. Turkey feared that the Syrian Kurds would link up with Turkey’s Kurdish minority who have demanded autonomy or independence.

On Oct. 9, the Turkish military began its assault, pummeling Kurdish-held territory with artillery and airstrikes. Kurds are rapidly evacuating the region and at least 24 people have been killed in northern Syria. Retaliatory strikes from Syria have killed civilians in southern Turkey.

Trump’s Syria Debacle Unnerves Allies, Comforts Enemies and Squanders U.S. Power

Judah Grunstein 

There are any number of defensible arguments in support of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria. It is safe to assume that Trump didn’t consider any of them. Instead, Trump seems to have acted as ever on impulse, out of a misguided sense that his instinct is a better guide than strategic planning and historical literacy. His decision reveals not an infallible instinct but a failure to understand three core elements of American power: assurance, deterrence and leverage.

To begin with the theoretical arguments in support of withdrawing from northeastern Syria, first and foremost, the U.S. has no essential national interests at stake there. The U.S. deployment that began in late 2015 accomplished a number of valuable goals inexpensively, including militarily defeating the Islamic State, and keeping Syrian, Russian and Iranian-aligned forces out of the area. But the presence of American troops there and the partnership on the ground with Syrian Kurdish militias were ad hoc arrangements that were never meant to be more than temporary. After the defeat of the Islamic State on the battlefield, the many problematic aspects of America’s partnership with Syrian Kurds—namely the ideology of their most potent militia, the YPG; its ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK; and the perceived security threat the YPG poses to Turkey—took on newfound significance.

How to End the War in Yemen

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With all of U.S. President Donald Trump’s troubles at home and abroad, his administration could use a win. There is low-hanging fruit in Yemen, and the ripple effects of success there could go far beyond the impoverished and war-torn country. Houthi rebels (who prefer to be called Ansar Allah) have made an offer of de-escalation that, if built on quickly, could help extract the United States from the bloody and unwinnable war that has created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. It would reduce threats to Saudi Arabia and its oil infrastructure at a time of rising tensions with Iran. And it would open a door to wider de-escalation inside Yemen and possibly across the region.

On Sept. 20, the Houthis—who control northwestern Yemen and have been at war with a variety of Yemeni groups backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since 2015—announced a unilateral suspension of strikes on Saudi Arabia. In return, they asked for a halt to Saudi airstrikes and a lifting of restrictions on access to northern Yemen.

America Is Screwing the Kurds Yet Again


The United Nations had just opened its general assembly in late September last year when President Donald Trump gave a rare, 81-minute press conference. Kurdish journalist Rahim Rashidi, who was born in Iran and had fled to Iraq, then Turkey, then claimed refuge in Sweden before settling into a new life in Washington, raised his hand to ask a question of the free world’s leader.

“Yes please, Mr. Kurd,” Trump responded flippantly, raising eyebrows and cackles across the world. But Rashidi didn’t miss a beat, asking Trump about U.S. relations with the Kurds and American commitments against regional powers—Iran and Turkey—that always seemed to want to steamroll the ethnic minority into oblivion. “We do get along great with the Kurds, we’re trying to help them a lot,” Trump answered:

Don’t forget, that’s their territory. We have to help them. I want to help them. They fought with us, They fought with us, they died. We lost tens of thousands of Kurds [who] died fighting ISIS. They died for us and with us. And for themselves, they died for themselves. But they’re great people, and we have not forget [sic].

Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast.

By David E. Sanger

All the warnings were there. But President Trump’s reliance on his instincts, and his relationships, led him to ignore the consequences of a move that has emboldened Russia, Iran and the Islamic State.

Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters on Saturday near the border town of Ras al-Ain, during their assault on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria.

President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.

Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the generous description of a senior American diplomat — probably will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

Top Secret Russian Unit Seeks to Destabilize Europe, Security Officials Say

By Michael Schwirtz

First came a destabilization campaign in Moldova, followed by the poisoning of an arms dealer in Bulgaria and then a thwarted coup in Montenegro. Last year, there was an attempt to assassinate a former Russian spy in Britain using a nerve agent. Though the operations bore the fingerprints of Russia’s intelligence services, the authorities initially saw them as isolated, unconnected attacks.

Western security officials have now concluded that these operations, and potentially many others, are part of a coordinated and ongoing campaign to destabilize Europe, executed by an elite unit inside the Russian intelligence system skilled in subversion, sabotage and assassination.

The group, known as Unit 29155, has operated for at least a decade, yet Western officials only recently discovered it. Intelligence officials in four Western countries say it is unclear how often the unit is mobilized and warn that it is impossible to know when and where its operatives will strike.

To Fight Disinformation, Rethink Counterintelligence


If the U.S. government is to fight off disinformation — which can now be created on an industrial scale and spread globally not just by states but also by terrorists and criminals — it must reinvigorate and broaden the practice of counterintelligence.

For too long, the focus of U.S. counterintelligence has been safeguarding government secrets and corporate intellectual property, particularly by thwarting foreign efforts to recruit potential thieves. We must remember that counterintelligence also means warding off efforts to divide and weaken us. We can draw on our Cold War experience and update our responses to reflect modern technologies.

Russia’s disinformation war on the West is hardly new. Former KGB officers Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin and the late Sergei Tretyakov have described how Soviet intelligence worked to sow disunity and undermine Americans’ confidence in their own institutions, prioritizing it ahead of handling and running agents charged with learning America’s secrets. Today, that Soviet menu of “active measures” has been updated by Russia’s successors to the KGB, who use social media to reach around the globe and drive wedges into the fissures of American society, exploiting and deepening online tribalism with fake news spread by human specialists and bots. 

After Xenophobic Attacks, Nigeria and South Africa Try to Reset Ties

Alex Thurston 

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari traveled to Pretoria in early October to meet his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, just weeks after the latest outbreak of attacks against foreigners—including Nigerians—in South Africa in September. The visit was intended to smooth over bilateral relations between Africa’s two largest economies, which have been bumpy in recent years, in part because of periodic episodes of xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Xenophobic violence has been a problem in South Africa for years, with recent peaks in 2008 and 2015 prior to the most recent attacks in September. Analysts have pointed to numerous causes, notably a sense among some South Africans that foreigners compete for scarce jobs and are responsible for the country’s high crime rate. Both accusations lack much basis, however. In reality, unemployment, crime and poverty are so widespread in South Africa that the relatively small foreign population—less than 2.5 million people out of a total population of more than 55 million—cannot be credibly blamed for the problems. Foreigners, nevertheless, sometimes become scapegoats for frustrated South Africans. ...

Here’s what the Army’s cyber protection teams need

By: Andrew Eversden  

The Army cyber protection teams need simple tools with better training capabilities, the teams’ project manager told Fifth Domain.

In an interview Oct. 15 at the 2019 Association of the United States Army conference, Col. Chad Harris, project manager for Defensive Cyber Operations at the Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, shared what his teams are looking for in the new tools that it adds.

“This goes back to tools that are intuitive [and] are easy to use and easy to train on,” said Harris.

Harris said he “continuously” talks to industry about these needs.

“When you give us a tool, make sure you’re looking at is this thing user friendly,” Harris said. “Does it have automation involved and does it make it easy for that soldier to pick it up and learn it in a short period of time? Does it have a training package that goes along with it that allows us to quickly deploy the tool?”

Artificial Intelligence Could Be a $14 Trillion Boon to the Global Economy—If It Can Overcome These Obstacles

By Bernhard Warner

Global growth is stalling. Trade wars are hammering manufacturers, from Shanghai to Stuttgart to Seattle. But, awful as today’s economic outlook appears, Industry 4.0 is alive and well, its most ardent backers say.

Industry 4.0 is the catch-all term for the implementation by businesses of big data, improved robotics and artificial intelligence systems. And it’s still expected to be a major driver in global growth over the next decade, and beyond. Yes, even in manufacturing.

By 2035, this A.I.-powered push will provide a $14 trillion boost to the global economy, consulting giant Accenture predicts.

That’s the assessment of Marc Carrel-Billiard, global senior managing director at Accenture Labs, who rattled off these numbers during his keynote presentation at World Summit A.I. in Amsterdam on Wednesday. By way of example, he cited research that traced the progress in one growing area of A.I.-powered automation: call centers. Five years ago, A.I. bots could successfully resolve one out every ten customer phone calls. Today, he said, it’s 60%.

Moreover, he predicted, this push to automate will not be the jobs-killer the more bearish economists out there fear.

What the new 16th Air Force means for information warfare

By: Mark Pomerleau

In what senior officials described as one of the most historic and significant days for the Air Force, the service officially created its first information warfare entity, known as 16th Air Force, Air Forces Cyber, during an Oct. 11 ceremony at Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas.

The event included several former commanders of 24th and 25th Air Force, Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Burke “Ed” Wilson, himself a former 24th commander, Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, deputy chief of staff for ISR and cyber effects operations and Lt. Gen. (s) Mary O’Brien who most recently was the commander of 25th Air Force and will replace Jamieson when she retires in Novemeber.

The Air Force deactivated 24th Air Force and 25th Air Force combining their functions into the new numbered Air Force, a move that has been in the works for several years.

The Air Force is creating 16th Air Force that will combine cyber, electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and information operations into a single organization.

Fighting Shadows in the Dark

by Quentin E. Hodgson, Logan Ma, Krystyna Marcinek, Karen Schwindt

Research Questions

What role do cyber operations play in interstate and international relations?

Are states using cyber operations to coerce others?

Have cyber operations sponsored by Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea met the definition of cyber coercion? If so, how?

What is cyber coercion, and how have states used cyber operations to coerce others? Based on unclassified, open-source material, the authors of this report explore how four states — Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea — have used cyber operations, and whether that use constitutes cyber coercion.

States like Russia and North Korea appear to be more likely to have used cyber operations as a coercive tool than China and Iran. The authors also find that, contrary to what coercion theory would predict, states often do not make distinct threats with unambiguous demands for changes in behavior. Rather, states use cyber operations to try to coerce their neighbors while denying responsibility, often hiding behind proxies and without issuing clear demands. Despite the low probability of success, the authors anticipate states will continue to use and may, in fact, come to employ cyber operations more often in the future to coerce. To prepare for this outcome, the United States and its allies need to work now to develop methods to discern cyber coercion as it emerges and strategies to counter it in the future.

Hostile Social Manipulation

by Michael J. Mazarr, Abigail Casey, Alyssa Demus, Scott W. Harold, Luke J. Matthews, Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga, James Sladden

Research Questions

What is hostile social manipulation?

What do we know about recent hostile social manipulation strategies and activities of Russia?

What do we know about recent hostile social manipulation strategies and activities of China?

Are these techniques effective?

The latest Pentagon bug bounty revealed a critical vulnerability

By: Andrew Eversden 

An eighth iteration of the Pentagon’s bug bounty program discovered a critical vulnerability in Department of Defense systems.

HackerOne, the ethical hacking company partnered with the DoD for penetration testing, announced Oct. 14 it completed the Pentagon’s “Hack the Proxy” program, which allowed white hat hackers to probe the department’s Virtual Private Networks, virtual desktops and proxies.

The hackers found 31 vulnerabilities. Nine were considered “high severity" and 21 were “medium/low severity." The release did not offer any additional details on the critical vulnerability found. Last year, an Army secure file sharing site was taken offline because a critical vulnerability was found through a similar disclosure program.

The goal was to find “find places where the many external DoDIN [Department of Defense Information Network] touchpoints might be used by adversaries to surveil information that is internal to the network.”

Massive, AI-Powered Robots Are 3D-Printing Entire Rockets

Relativity Space may have the biggest metal 3D printers in the world, and they're cranking out parts to reinvent the rocket industry here—and on Mars.

To make a 3D-printable rocket, Relativity Space simplified the design of many components, including the engine.

For a factory where robots toil around the clock to build a rocket with almost no human labor, the sound of grunts echoing across the parking lot make for a jarring contrast.

“That’s Keanu Reeves’ stunt gym,” says Tim Ellis, the chief executive and cofounder of Relativity Space, a startup that wants to combine 3D printing and artificial intelligence to do for the rocket what Henry Ford did for the automobile. As we walk among the robots occupying Relativity’s factory, he points out the just-completed upper stage of the company’s rocket, which will soon be shipped to Mississippi for its first tests. Across the way, he says, gesturing to the outside world, is a recording studio run by Snoop Dogg.

A System That Works

by Melanie A. Zaber, Lynn A. Karoly, Katie Whipkey

Technology. Globalization. Demographic changes. The American workplace has changed profoundly over the past 40 years, and it continues to evolve. Employers still need workers who come to jobs with industry-specific knowledge. But they also increasingly value such skills as effective communication and critical thinking to facilitate teamwork and meet expectations of ongoing innovation.

As a result, some workers find that their knowledge and skills are no longer up to date or even necessary and that employers no longer offer stable employment and benefit packages. Some employers struggle to find workers who have the kinds of skills and knowledge needed to keep their companies well staffed and competitive over the long term.

RAND Corporation researchers took a systems approach to rethinking the current workforce development and employment system. The study pinpoints the ways in which the system is failing many and envisions how educators, employers, workers, and other stakeholders can rebuild the current system to bring about much-needed transformation.

Army Will Stop Treating Troops As ‘Interchangeable Parts’: Gen. McConville


AUSA: “I know it’s almost blasphemous to think the Army would actually consider someone’s preferences,” the new Army chief of staff said this afternoon. “But if we know where they want to go and what they want to do, we believe we’ll get the right person, in the right job at the right time, and we will have a better Army and more committed soldiers and families.”

People have been trying to reform Army’s notoriously bureaucratic personnel system for years. If Gen. James McConville can actually put it off, that’s a potential revolution affecting more than a million regular and Reserve Component soldiers in the largest of the armed services.

“People don’t want to be treated like interchangeable parts in an industrial age process,” Gen. McConville told the Association of the US Army annual conference this afternoon, in his first address to AUSA as Army Chief of Staff. “They want to be recognized for their unique talents.”