31 October 2019

India: Insecure Forces In Balochistan – Analysis

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty*
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A blast targeting a Police van wounded nine persons including three Policemen on Spinny Road in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, on October 21, 2019. Police disclosed that the blast took place as a result of an improvised explosive device (IED) planted on a motorcycle.

One Policeman was killed and 10 others, including five Policemen, sustained injuries in an explosion in the Double Road area of Quetta, in the evening of October 15, 2019. Quetta Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema stated that the target of the blast was a Police mobile unit. Unidentified militants had planted an IED in a motorcycle parked on the roadside.

A Policeman was killed and three persons sustained injuries in a suicide attack on a Police vehicle in the Loralai District of Balochistan on September 30, 2019. One suspected militant blew himself up and another one was killed by the Police during an exchange of fire. Station House Officer (SHO), Loralai, Abdul Rehman said personnel of the Police’s Eagle Squad stopped two suspects riding a motorcycle near the Loralai commissioner’s office. However, one of the militants blew himself up and the second was shot dead in retaliatory firing by Police. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed the responsibility for the blast.

How to Really Make the Death of ISIS’s Leader Bigger Than Bin Laden’s

By Hassan Hassan

When President Trump announced the death of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi following a raid in northwestern Syria this weekend, he made sure to take the opportunity to one-up his predecessor: Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death, Mr. Trump said, was bigger than Osama bin Laden’s. Mr. al-Baghdadi was “the biggest there is,” the president said, “the worst ever.”

“Osama bin Laden was very big,” Mr. Trump said, but “this is a man who built a whole, as he would like to call it, a country, a caliphate, and was trying to do it again.”

Mr. Trump might not know his Nusra Front from his Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but in this case he’s not exactly wrong. The killing of Mr. al-Baghdadi could well prove more significant than the killing of Mr. bin Laden in 2011 — if the United States handles the next few critical months carefully.

War Weary: U.S. Troops Are Ready to Leave Afghanistan

by Charles V. Peña
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Hopes that a peace settlement in Afghanistan would be reached were dashed when a Taliban attack in Kabul killed a U.S. soldier and eleven others on September 6. Less than two weeks later, two separate Taliban attacks killed forty-eight people on the same day, after which the Taliban killed twenty people with a truck bomb at a hospital in Qalat Ghilji city in southern Afghanistan. 

There is every reason to think this sort of chaos will continue, but it should not delay the United States’ overdue exit from its longest running war. President Donald Trump called off peace talks with the Taliban following the September 6 attack, but he doesn’t need to negotiate a peace to make good on his campaign promise and bring U.S. troops home.

For Uighur Muslims in China, Life Keeps Getting Harder

Over the past several years, Chinese repression of ethnic Uighurs has become increasingly harsh. From sending them to detention camps in remote places to tracking the activities of their global diaspora, Beijing is making it more and more difficult for members of the predominantly Muslim minority to simply exist. With the plight of Uighurs again in the news after a member of the community, Ilham Tohti, won the European Parliament’s top human rights prize for his activism, Foreign Policy has collected its top reads on the subject.

At the beginning of the year, news that four Chinese provinces had removed their halal food standards dominated headlines on the subject. It was “a move heralded by government officials as fighting a fictional pan-halal trend under which Muslim influence was supposedly spreading into secular life,” wrote Foreign Policy’s James Palmer in January. The decision came as China also closed several mosques across the country, sparking protests.

This campaign against the Uighurs, explained an academic writing under the pseudonym Liwei Wu, is part of an effort to Sinicize not just the Uighur community, but other Muslim groups as well. In January, the author wrote, China even released an explicit five-year plan for doing so amid other efforts to limit religious freedoms across the country, including through “re-education camps for as many as a million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, demolition threats for a Hui Muslim mosque in Ningxia, and the closing of Protestant ‘mega-house churches’ in Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou.”

Tacit Alliance: Russia and China Take Military Partnership to New Level

By cooperating with China in the military sphere, Russia loses virtually nothing in terms of security, while making life difficult for the United States, strengthening its relationship with a key partner, and gaining an economic advantage.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the recent Valdai forum contained two fundamental points regarding China. His official confirmation that Russia is helping China to create a missile launch detection system got more attention, but of no little importance was Putin’s assessment of the state of Russian-Chinese relations: “This is an allied relationship in the full sense of a multifaceted strategic partnership.”

For a long time after Moscow and Beijing normalized their relationship in 1989, both countries rejected the very idea of alliances as only increasing tensions in various parts of the world. They carefully avoided using the word “ally” in regard to each other until relatively recently, when Russia began using it quite casually. 

China continues to avoid the term at an official level, preferring official wording about an “all-encompassing partnership and strategic interaction,” and insisting that relations with Russia are “the best they have ever been.”

China Wants To Control What The American People Think

by Mike Gonzalez
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Russia has drawn a lot of criticism for its heavy-handed manipulation of U.S. social media, and deservedly so. But almost unnoticed, another nation has been trying to control what Americans think by censoring free expression at our universities, on the internet, in media and movies, and even by sports clubs: China.

There are signs, however, that civil society and our leaders are finally fighting back.

And not a moment too soon. Beijing is trying to do nothing less than “impose its speech restrictions on the rest of the world,” as Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed out in an Oct. 17 speech at Georgetown University.

His embrace of free expression against repressive tendencies in Beijing and here was a breath of fresh air.

The United States Should Fear a Faltering China

By Michael Beckley 

The defining geopolitical story of our time is the slow death of U.S. hegemony in favor of a rising China. Harbingers of Beijing’s ascent are everywhere. China’s overseas investments span the globe. The Chinese navy patrols major sea lanes, while the country colonizes the South China Sea in slow motion. And the government cracks down on dissent at home while administering a hefty dose of nationalist propaganda.

Beijing’s newfound assertiveness looks at first glance like the mark of growing power and ambition. But in fact it is nothing of the sort. China’s actions reflect profound unease among the country’s leaders, as they contend with their country’s first sustained economic slowdown in a generation and can discern no end in sight. China’s economic conditions have steadily worsened since the 2008 financial crisis. The country’s growth rate has fallen by half and is likely to plunge further in the years ahead, as debt, foreign protectionism, resource depletion, and rapid aging take their toll. 


The title above comes from this morning’s/October 27, 2019 Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Editorial Board comment. What a great day for humanity that such an evildoer like Baghdadi no longer walks this Earth. Good riddance. As you all know by know, Baghdadi blew himself up with a homocide vest as U.S. Special Forces were about to close in on him in Syria. As the WSJ noted, “the death of Islamic State leader Abu bakr al-Baghdadi at the hands of American special forces won’t end the threat from radical Islam. But, it is an important victory for America’s anti-terrorism strategy, with lessons for the future.”

POTUS Trump, in public comments on Sunday, said U.S. forces had monitored Baghdadi “for a couple of weeks,” and planned the nighttime raid that chased the terrorist into a tunnel near Idlib in northwestern Syria, where the jihadist detonated a suicide [homicide] vest. I write homicide vest because Baghdadi, according to numerous media outlets, “dragged his three children” into the tunnel with him, knowing he was going to blow them up along with himself. The Editoral Board adds that “the death of Baghdadi is important as a matter of simple justice given his murderous history. And, it informs other jihadists that they can achieve no victory, and are likewise doomed to die in a tunnel or bomb blast [drone strike].”

Here's How U.S. Forces Finally Tracked Down and Killed al-Baghdadi


For all the attention, invention and investment that the U.S. intelligence community devotes to spy satellites, communications intercepts, and new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the raid that killed ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was launched by the same old-fashioned tool that led to Osama bin Laden: human intelligence.

After years of trying in vain to get a real-time lock on al-Baghdadi’s location, the big break came not from space or from a strategically located eavesdropping post, but from the wife of an al-Baghdadi aide and one of the couriers he employed to avoid using mobile phones and computers that could have made him easier to track. U.S. officials said the two were captured in western Iraq.

Using names and locations that the wife and courier gave up, two U.S. officials said on Sunday, the CIA and Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence officers began recruiting agents along the routes that al-Baghdadi traveled in the desert astride the Syrian-Iraqi border. Officials began surveilling routes he used, places he stopped, and looking for patterns to his travel, including his brief stays in small villages such as the one where he died.

Turkey's Offensive in Northeastern Syria: The Expected, the Surprising, and the Still Unknown

Gallia Lindenstrauss, Eldad Shavit
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Operation Peace Spring, Turkey's third operation in northern Syria since 2016, constitutes its most ambitious action in Syria yet. The developments leading up to the offensive and the outcomes of the operation have regional and international ramifications well beyond this specific campaign – particularly for the conduct of the various actors in light of President Donald Trump's desire to end US involvement in conflicts in the region. The offensive was not in itself surprising given the numerous Turkish threats to this effect, and the Kurds' deal with the Assad regime once the threats were carried out was also expected. However, the emergence of the deal after only four days of fighting was a surprise. Following the deal, a question arises as to what will remain of Kurdish autonomous rule in northeastern Syria. There are concerns that the weakening of Kurdish forces will enable a resurgence of the Islamic State and its control over territory. In the Israeli context, the departure of US forces from Syria grants an easier-than-expected victory to adversaries of the United States, especially Iran. The US withdrawal is further expected to significantly ease Iran's operation of a land route from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and in effect leaves Israel alone in the fight against Iran's entrenchment in the northern theater.

Operation Peace Spring, the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria that began on October 9, 2019, is the third offensive carried out by Turkey in northern Syria and its most ambitious action in Syria to date, as well as the one that has elicited the most international censure. The developments that led to this offensive and its outcomes have regional and international significance that go well beyond the specific campaign.

Syrian Women Helped Find Baghdadi, Beat ISIS, Will Face ‘Tough Time’ Ahead, Leader Says

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'We will continue our resistance and our struggle,' says the head of the all-women’s YPJ, in a rare interview.

For the women who have given more than five years of their lives and lost close to 1,000 of their friends to the fight against the Islamic State, the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi meant a great deal — and marked a truly historic moment.

“I feel that this means we could do something for women around the world,” said Nowruz Ahmed, the head of the all-women’s People’s Protection Force, or YPJ, in a Sunday phone call. The all-women’s force formed a key component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, who fought ISIS from the ground while the U.S. led from the air and served as advise-and-assist partners.

Nowruz and I have spoken several times before, in a series of several-hour-long interviews for a book I am writing. This was the first time we had spoken since Turkey attacked her forces and created chaos from a region that had enjoyed a fragile, but real, stability that I had seen for myself in regular trips to the area. It’s also the first time we weren’t speaking in person. I’m used to seeing her sitting before a suite of phones that tracked the fight against the Islamic State. Now I was on the other end of one of those phones. She sounded determined, but exhausted. Her voice made clear that for the first time she really felt her forces stood alone in standing up against this kind of extremism the Islamic State represented.

Iran Is Losing the Middle East, Protests in Lebanon and Iraq Show

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In less than a month, demonstrations against corruption and a lack of economic reform erupted in both Iraq and Lebanon. In both countries, the unprecedented protests, which rocked Shiite towns and cities, have revealed that Iran’s system for exerting influence in the region failed. For the Shiite communities in Iraq and Lebanon, Tehran and its proxies have failed to translate military and political victories into a socioeconomic vision; simply put, Iran’s resistance narrative did not put food on the table.

Since the very beginning of the Islamic Revolution, the Iranian government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have had a clear, long-term, and detailed policy on how to export its revolution to the region, mainly in countries with a substantial Shiite majority. Iran had been very patient and resilient in implementing its policy, accepting small defeats with eyes on the main goal: hegemony over Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

Today, Iran seems to be winning the long game. Its proxy in Lebanon prevailed in last year’s parliamentary elections. In Syria, Iran managed to save its ally, President Bashar al-Assad. In the past several years, Iran has also gained a lot more power in Baghdad through its proxies, including the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the Shiite militias created to fight the Islamic State.

Ghani Proposes 7-Point ‘Peace Plan’

A classified document seen by TOLOnews reveals that the Afghan government has drafted a guide for the future peace effort titled “The 7-Point Peace and Reconciliation Plan.”

The stated intention of the plan is to “build upon the past efforts and move the peace process forward with an aim to end the bloodshed as soon as possible.”

1. Negotiations with US and NATO

In the first point, the document reads: “We propose to the US to jointly develop an implementation mechanism and plan with Afghanistan for withdrawal of US forces and a CT cooperation framework for the post-withdrawal period. This could build upon the US’s discussions with the Taliban and salvage parts of the past year’s efforts that were undertaken by the Americans.”

2. Negotiations With the Taliban

Al-Baghdadi Raid Was a Victory Built on Factors Trump Derides

By David E. Sanger

WASHINGTON — The death of the Islamic State’s leader in a daring nighttime raid vindicated the value of three traditional American strengths: robust alliances, faith in intelligence agencies and the projection of military power around the world.

But President Trump has regularly derided the first two. And even as he claimed a significant national security victory on Sunday, the outcome of the raid did little to quell doubts about the wisdom of his push to reduce the United States military presence in Syria at a time when terrorist threats continue to develop in the region.

Mr. Trump has long viewed the United States intelligence agencies with suspicion and appears to see its employees as members of the “deep state.” He also has a distinctly skeptical view of alliances — in this case, close cooperation with the Kurds, whom he has effectively abandoned.

U.S. Strategy—Strategic Triage and the True Cost of War: Supporting Enduring Commitments versus “Endless Wars”

By Anthony H. Cordesman

The Burke Chair at CSIS is circulating a new working paper that updates its assessments of the cost of the Afghan and Iraq/Syria Wars, and highlights how these costs have been cut through major changes in the nature of U.S. ground forces and air commitments. It also highlights the affordability and present size of U.S. military bases and commitments overseas.

This working paper is entitled U.S. Strategy — Strategic Triage and the True Cost of War: Supporting Enduring Commitments versus “Endless Wars.” It is available on the CSIS web site at https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/191029_True_Cost_War_Final.pdf.

The analysis shows that there are good reasons why the United States should constantly reexamine its military commitments and deployments overseas, and especially its active uses of military force. The U.S. may not face endless wars, but it does face endless threats and instability. History has not ended and will not end, and “Globalism” has not put the world on a path towards growth, progress, peace, and stability.

Will Mozambique’s Peace Deal Survive Contested Elections?

Carrie Manning 

The stakes were high when Mozambique voted in general elections on Oct. 15, its sixth poll since 1994, when the country’s first multiparty elections began what has been a shaky transition from 16 years of civil war. But rather than ease tensions, this month’s vote has inflamed new ones amid charges of voter fraud and electoral violence.

When fighting between the government and Renamo, the former rebel group and now main opposition party, flared up in 2013, there were fears of a slide back into open warfare. Although a cease-fire allowed general elections to go forward in 2014, this month’s elections were the first since Renamo’s new leader, Ossufo Momade, and President Filipe Nyusi signed a definitive peace agreement on Aug. 6. ...

Here is one drone killer US troops have taken overseas

By: Kyle Rempfer 

Videos from battlefields in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine have shown the potential havoc that small drones can bring to unsuspecting ground forces, including scouting for call-for-fire missions and dropping grenades on exposed positions.

U.S. troops are already deploying abroad with counter-drone capabilities, including CACI International’s SkyTracker suite, according to company officials at this year’s Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington, D.C.

“We have many contracts with DoD, IC [intelligence community], federal law enforcement customers,” said Carl Boggs, CACI SkyTracker’s program director. “One thing that we do, which I do think is a discriminator from other types of systems, is we can find the actual ground control system or the radio operator.”

The core of SkyTracker is radio frequency detection and mitigation. It identifies the link between a drone and its controller.

Obama, Trump and the Wars of Credibility

By George Friedman

The United States is in the process of shifting a core dimension of its strategic doctrine. In the past, the U.S. resorted to the use of force to address international threats. Barack Obama was the first president to argue that the use of force, particularly in the Middle East, was costly and ineffectual and that other means had to be used to exercise foreign policy. He ran his first campaign for president on this basis. He was only partially able to shift the direction of U.S. strategy. Donald Trump has extended Obama’s policy and applied it more consistently by refusing to strike at Iran over the Persian Gulf crisis and the Saudi oil facilities attack and, most recently, withdrawing from the Syria-Turkey border.

The shift in strategy was something I predicted in my 2011 book, “The Next Decade.” The basic argument was that the United States is now a global power with no global challenger, only regional ones of various sizes. Having a strategic doctrine of responding to challenges with military force would leave the decision on when to go to war up to the adversary. John F. Kennedy once said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” This doctrine made sense in dealing with the Soviet Union, but in a less orderly world, it reads like a blank check on U.S. military power and an invitation to other nations to draw the U.S. into combat at their will. I reasoned that a more nuanced foreign policy would emerge in the 2010s, one that would compel the U.S. to become more disciplined and selective in committing U.S. forces to combat.

Wall Street Was America’s First Foe in World War II


As World War II approached, the lesson of World War I, for Americans, was a frightening one. Despite two and a half years of warning, the United States had entered the First World War unprepared. By 1918, the U.S. field army numbered 5 million men but still relied on British and French allies for artillery and other equipment.

The United States had started late, and it tried to “bait” its manufacturers into expanding plants with lucrative contracts. U.S. soldiers had to use British and French weapons. The United States of the late 1930s was now in the same situation. On the eve of Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, 85 percent of U.S. factory machinery dated from the 1920s or earlier. Some predated the Civil War.

After the invasion of Poland, Americans didn’t necessarily want to intervene in Europe, but preparedness and support for military spending began to increase. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for larger Army and Navy budgets. But to build that larger Army and Navy, massive supplies of steel, aluminum, copper, and every other material would be necessary. The control of monopolists, who wanted to restrict supplies of these metals, would have to be broken.

How to Tell if You’re in a Good Alliance


Both liberal and conservative critics of Donald Trump’s foreign policy believe that the U.S. president has done enormous damage to America’s array of global alliances. It’s easy to understand why: Trump has repeatedly questioned the value of NATO; picked senseless fights with democratic leaders in Europe, Asia, and North America; and, more recently and controversially, betrayed the Kurds. The Economist believes the damage “will take years to mend” and warns darkly that “these concerns represent the unravelling of the order that America worked hard to build and sustain in the decades since the second world war.”

Crucial to this indictment is a rarely examined assumption: the belief that every one of the United States’ current commitments is a vital national asset and that all its present allies and partners are equally deserving of steadfast U.S. support. But surely this is not the case, for not all allies are created equal, and the value of any commitment is likely to wax or wane over time.

Will Trump’s Trade Wars Reshape the Global Economy?

The United States and China seem to have hit the pause button yet again on their on again, off again trade war that began last year. Trump launched the series of tit-for-tat tariff hikes over China’s perceived unfair trade practices, including forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property. After bringing the world to the brink of a global trade crisis and damaging producers—particularly U.S. farmers—the two sides appeared to be inching toward a deal over the summer. Negotiations then stalled again, and Trump returned to the threat of raising tariffs on a broad range of Chinese imports to the U.S. After the most recent round of talks, however, Trump announced a limited “phase 1” agreement that gives both sides more time to try to iron out their broader differences, but even that stopgap deal has not yet been finalized or publicly announced.

Trump’s unpredictable negotiating style and his willingness to brandish the threat of tariffs for leverage in trade talks cannot be particularly reassuring to European officials, who are set to start their own trade negotiations with the U.S. Trump has already decried what he sees as unfair trade deficits with European Union countries, particularly Germany, and he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from some allies, without seeming to understand that the EU negotiates trade terms as a bloc. A U.S.-Europe trade war could do lasting damage to both sides.

About 41% of the global population are under 24. And they’re angry…

Simon Tisdall

Aspate of large-scale street protests around the world, from Chile and Hong Kong to Lebanon and Barcelona, is fuelling a search for common denominators and collective causes. Are we entering a new age of global revolution? Or is it foolish to try to link anger in India over the price of onions to pro-democracy demonstrations in Russia?

Each country’s protests differ in detail. But recent upheavals do appear to share one key factor: youth. In most cases, younger people are at the forefront of calls for change. The uprising that unexpectedly swept away Sudan’s ancien regime this year was essentially generational in nature.

In one sense, this is unsurprising. Wordsworth expressed the eternal appeal of revolt for the young in The Prelude, a poem applauding the French Revolution. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very Heaven!” he declared. Wordsworth was 19 years old when the Bastille was stormed.

Trump’s Syria Trifecta: A Win for Putin, a Loss for the Kurds and Lots of Uncertainty for Our Allies

By Thomas L. Friedman

President Trump at the White House on Monday.Credit...Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

On the eve of the Iraq war, in 2003, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain addressed a joint session of Congress about America’s foreign policy mission: “In some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I’ve never been to but always wanted to go,” said Blair, “there’s a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happy, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, ‘Why me, and why us, and why America?’ And the only answer is, ‘Because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do.’”

Blair is still right about the role that destiny has placed on America’s shoulders, but years later it is also clear that many Americans are exhausted with that role.

After some four decades of a foreign policy built around “containment” of the Soviet Union, and then two decades of foreign policy built around “enlargement” — enlarging the sphere of democracy around the world with the huge excess of power America enjoyed after winning the Cold War — Americans want a break. President Trump is not wrong about that.

EY: Gold, drug money and a major auditor's 'cover-up'

By Andy Verity and Tim Robinson 

A major accountancy firm covered up evidence of smuggling by an organised crime gang that was laundering British drug money, an investigation has revealed.

EY failed to report suspicious activity at one of the world's largest gold refineries and then altered a compliance report to hide the crime.

BBC Panorama found the gang laundered money by selling 3.6 tonnes of gold to the Kaloti refinery in Dubai.

Both EY and Kaloti deny any wrongdoing.

Twenty-seven members of the money laundering gang were jailed in France in 2017.

The gang had collected cash from drug dealers in the UK and other European countries. They then laundered the dirty money by buying and selling black market gold.

70 countries have now experienced organized disinformation campaigns

The news: An increasing number of countries have experienced coordinated social-media manipulation campaigns. It’s now 70 in total, up from 48 in 2018 and 28 in 2017, according to a report by researchers at Oxford University.

What does that mean? There’s a broad definition at work here: the study includes political parties or government agencies using social media to shape public attitudes. It also includes authoritarian regimes suppressing human rights or drowning out dissenting opinions. But there is a clear trend: disinformation campaigns, where false information is spread deliberately to deceive, are here to stay, and growing in number.

Facebook comes out on top: It’s the platform of choice for these campaigns. However, that may be as much a reflection of its status as the social platform of choice for two billion people as a comment on its moderation efforts, which are coming under increasing scrutiny.

China’s rise: Seven states are using disinformation to influence other countries, the study found. It’s not a hugely surprising list: China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. However, China is notable as an increasingly major player in the “global disinformation order,” as the researchers put it. Until the 2019 Hong Kong protests, Chinese propaganda was mostly confined to domestic platforms like Weibo and WeChat. It’s now started aggressively using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which should worry democracies, the researchers said. You can read the full report here.

Analysts predict counterdrone market will top $2B

By: Kelsey D. Atherton
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The three biggest obstacles facing the counterdrone market are the law, the nature of the threat, and the technology itself. In fairness, those are obstacles to the adoption of most any national security technology.

A new analysis by investment consultants Frost & Sullivan tackles the counterdrone market, an area of high interest, no consensus, and much proverbial snake oil. The report projects a counterdrone market whose revenues will exceed $2 billion by 2024. What legal obstacles counterdrone systems face depend on how, exactly, the equipment works to stop a drone.

“Adoption of these [counterdrone] technologies is limited by individual country rules against wiretapping, jamming, and computer hacking — all methods employed by various C-UAS,” said Michael Blades of Frost & Sullivan.

The Air Force of the Future: A Comparison of Alternative Force Structures

Section 1064 of the fiscal year (FY) 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) mandated three separate studies of the Air Force’s current and future force structure. The law specified that the studies consider future threats to air and space forces, traditional and alternative roles and missions for the Air Force, the role of new technology and remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs), and operation and sustainment costs, among other factors. It further mandated that each study include a force-sizing construct for the Air Force and recommended inventories by aircraft type in the 2030 timeframe. The purpose of this report is to compare, contrast, and critique the three studies of the Air Force’s future force structure. While each study had the option of producing a classified annex with additional material, this analysis only considers the unclassified material released from the three studies. The Air Force of the Future provides an independent assessment of the current state of the Air Force, areas where the studies agree, areas where they disagree, and areas where additional research and analysis is needed.

Planning isn’t everything: we need more focus on the execute

by Anthony Kirkham

It’s ENDEX1 at a command post exercise. The Chief of Staff and Battle Captains from the various functional cells thank their signallers and begin to closedown their laptops. They know that they will soon be ‘in their own time’, so they collate ‘improve’ and ‘sustain’ points which will form the lessons identified ready for the looming after action review (AAR). This process is analogue and biased towards planning at the expense of the execution.

Eisenhower suggests: “Plans are nothing; planning is everything”. But there is always a nagging feeling at this point: How do we know what the ‘correct’ lessons to learn are? And did the outcome happen because of the planning or the execution? It is cheap and simple for units to conduct planning exercises and train their planning staff; TEWTs2Tactical Exercise Without Troops; a training activity that practices planning but without “troops on the ground” or a Planning Exercise Not Involving Soldiers for others[./note], historical set-piece examples, and any map with an outline scenario is all that is required to invest in the “5 shop” planning cell. 

But what about the execution? What about the current operations team?

Top US Army official: Build AI weapons first, then design safety

By Matt Field

Even as the United Nations continues a long-running debate on how to regulate lethal autonomous weapons, a top US Army official is doubling down on his vision for incredibly autonomous systems that can categorize threats, select targets, and fire artillery without any human involvement.

After that sort of system has been developed, the Army’s acquisitions chief Bruce Jette said, an interface can be added for any “safety concerns.” Jette, a former tank operator with a doctorate from MIT, made the comments at an event at the recently-concluded 2019 Association for the United States Army conference. There, Jette talked about building a tank turret hooked to an artificial intelligence system that, he said, could distinguish between a Volkswagen and an infantry fighting vehicle and then “shoot it.” Defense News reported on Jette’s call for fully autonomous weapons.

“Did you hear me anywhere in there say ‘man in the loop?’” Jette said. “Of course, I have people throwing their hands up about Terminator. I did this for a reason. If you break it into little pieces and then try to assemble it, there’ll be 1,000 interface problems. I tell you to do it once through, and then I put the interface in for any safety concerns we want. It’s much more fluid.”

How the Army will use satellites to track land threats in real time

By: Nathan Strout 

The Army has needs.

One of those needs is the ability to track and target land threats that are beyond the war fighters’ line of sight. Though much of the focus on space sensing capabilities is directed at missile defense or space situational awareness, the ability to see time-sensitive ground threats like tanks beyond the line of sight of ground forces is essential for the war fighter. To help build this capability, the Army is teaming with the Space Development Agency on a space-based sensor layer dedicated to deep targeting that can feed information to the war fighter on the ground in real time.

The SDA is actually developing a trio of sensing capabilities in space: a layer dedicated to tracking hypersonic weapons and ballistic missiles; a layer dedicated to space situational awareness and investigating objects in cislunar orbit; and a layer dedicated to detecting and maintaining custody of time-sensitive ground threats.

While it’s certainly not as sexy as hypersonics defense, it’s that final sensing capability that the Army is most interested in.