10 December 2019

What Does the New Counterterrorism Exercise Mean for the Quad?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”) between the U.S., Japan, India and Australia has often been questioned about its purpose and capacity. For critics, other than occasionally irritating Beijing, the Quad did not appear to have much purpose. And, at times, even these expressions of occasional irritation from China had been sufficient to send one or the other Quad countries into a funk.

But in the last two years, the Quad has slowly become somewhat sturdier, with the level of interaction between the countries improving, and the members themselves becoming less skittish when Beijing criticizes the venture. Now, the Quad countries have taken a new step, holding a table-top counter-terrorism exercise together. What can we make of this?

Details are skimpy. India has hosted the first counter-terrorism table-top exercise (CT-TTX) among the Quad countries in New Delhi on November 21-22. India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), which hosted the TTX, is reported to have said the exercise is meant to assess and validate counter-terror mechanisms against a range of existing and emerging terrorist threats at both the regional and global levels.

The Trump Administration's Indo-Pacific Strategy Needs Proof of Life

by Julianne Smith Garima Mohan
Source Link

No single word better describes today’s international system than “competition.” China and Russia are competing with the United States for power, influence, and access to markets across multiple continents. With its Belt and Road investments and targeted diplomacy, China is creating new partnerships across Asia, Africa, and Europe. Russia has been busy establishing new strategic links across the Middle East with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Syria. Occasionally, when their strategic interests collide, China and Russia work together, as they did on the margins of the G20 earlier this year when their heads of state met with the prime minister of India.

The United States is also competing but too often it is competing alone. As the global strategic center of gravity shifts to Asia, the Trump administration has used its Indo-Pacific strategy as an attempt to reassure allies and partners of the United States’ continued interest in the region. But putting these strategies on paper isn’t enough. Just this month, the United States sent the lowest level delegation to the East Asia Summit (EAS)—a forum seen by many in the region as the leading Indo-Pacific platform. This was followed by a very public spat with leaders of ASEAN, which the United States can ill-afford right now given China’s increasing clout in Southeast Asia. If the United States wants to keep pace with the dizzying array of new partnerships, trilaterals and quadrilaterals unfolding around the world, then it will have to not only show up but also get a lot more creative in its approach. One way to do that is to create a new trilateral partnership between the leaders of the United States, Europe and India.

Can America and China Be Stakeholders?


This is adapted from a from a speech given by former World Bank President, and Carnegie Endowment Trustee Robert B. Zoellick at the U.S. – China Business Council on December 4, 2019.

The daily news about China reports deals on and off, sales off and on, more and steeper tariffs on and off…and who knows what’s next?

It’s not easy to tell what’s going on—although costs are mounting and real results are missing. America has been wasting time and squandering international capital.

In describing effective diplomacy, Alexander Hamilton once counseled, “mildness in the manner, firmness in the thing.” “Strut is good for nothing,” advised America’s first practitioner of economic statecraft. Instead, Hamilton recommended “combin[ing] energy with moderation.” Or as James Baker, my former boss at Treasury, the State Department, and the White House would say, “Pick your shots” and “Get things done.”

This evening, I’ll step back from today’s tactics to offer a wider-lens perspective on U.S.-China relations.

Sweet and Sour: China in Ghana

By Joseph Hammond

African-American intellectual giant W.E.B Du Bois spent his last years in newly independent Ghana. Today tourists can visit his tomb and modest home, which has been preserved as a memorial. In the bedroom, two large Chinese wall decorations still hang from the walls, as do photos of Du Bois meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong of the Chinese Communist Party in May 1959.

“China is flesh of your flesh and blood of your blood,” Du Bois said in a 1959 speech from Beijing aimed at calling on those of African heritage to support China. “You know America and France and Britain to your sorrow. Now know the Soviet Union and its allied nations, but particularly know China.”

China hosted many delegations in 1959 from revolutionaries around the world, some 84 from Belgian Congo alone that year, but, the visit from Du Bois, as one of the 20th century’s leading intellectuals, was exceptional. The Chinese government even distributed an English language newsreel of the trip for propaganda purposes.

Russia, China’s Neighborhood Energy Alternative

By Eleanor Albert

Earlier this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin oversaw via video the opening of a 1,800 mile gas pipeline linking Russia’s eastern Siberia to China’s northeastern city of Heihe, with plans to eventually extend the line south to Shanghai. The project in Russia has been dubbed the “Power of Siberia.” The $400 billion, 30-year deal for Russia to pipe gas to China was first signed in 2014 between Russia’s Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation. The expansive project is being heralded as a flagship of Sino-Russian cooperation.

In 2020, China will import 5 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia, eventually reaching 38 billion cubic meters annually in 2024. In addition to hopes of extending the Power of Siberia pipeline, Chinese and Russian leaders have floated new energy agreements to develop natural gas in the Arctic and additional oil infrastructure.

As China’s economy has grown, so too has its demand for energy. Even as China’s GDP growth rate has started to temper, the country’s energy consumption increased by 18 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy in 2019. Given high levels of energy consumption and limited domestic energy resources, China is consistently seeking ways to ensure the safe import of energy supplies. In 2018, 70 percent of China’s oil was made up of foreign imports, while its gas supply consisted of 45 percent of foreign imports.

Exploring China’s New Narrative on Democracy

By Jo Kim
Source Link

On, November 3, President Xi Jinping remarked that “China’s people’s democracy is a type of whole-process democracy.” While that definition is as obscure as any other Chinese political concept, it demonstrates a new effort to formulate the concept of Chinese democracy and form a new narrative on that basis.

The term “democracy” has always been a difficult concept for China to tackle. Despite the lack of a democratic process, which has left the Communist Party’s system vulnerable to critics within and outside of China, Beijing continuously endeavors to bestow democracy with “Chinese characteristics” rather than censor the term completely. The idea of “socialist democracy” as a combination of electoral democracy and consultative democracy was introduced in the State Council’s 2007 “White Paper on China’s Political Party System.” While electoral democracy was largely left out of political discussions, the idea of consultative democracy was emphasized; it was then reformulated to the concept of “whole-process democracy” a few days after the conclusion of the 19th Central Committee’s fourth plenary session. The new focus on democracy reflects an effort to change the narrative and can be viewed as an initiative to demonstrate that China’s political system is meritocratic, unchallengeable, and superior to Western democracy. This poses the question what, exactly, is meant by “whole-process democracy” and why was it introduced now?

China’s Rise Is Not the Only Trend Shaping Events in Asia

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has not shired away from asserting its authority in Asia. But while China’s rise often makes headlines, it is not the only trend shaping events in Asia. Learn more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR).

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has begun to challenge America’s role as the key economic and political actor in Asia. Increasingly repressive at home, Xi has not shied away from asserting China’s regional authority, positioning Beijing as the power broker on everything from trade routes to the ongoing efforts to denuclearize North Korea. China’s ascendance is also evident in how much attention other global powers are paying to Beijing and its policies. U.S. President Donald Trump launched a trade war with China and frets publicly about its influence. And with its Belt and Road Initiative, China’s influence is spreading well beyond Asia, into much of Africa and even Europe.

But while China’s rise often makes headlines, it is not the only trend shaping events in Asia. Nationalism has become a force in democracies like India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode the wave of Hindu nationalism to a massive victory in the country’s most recent parliamentary elections, and the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte’s electoral gains in midterm elections have left even fewer checks on his increasingly autocratic behavior. Meanwhile, Myanmar’s government continues its persecutions of Rohingya Muslims.

US-China trade war is ‘unresolvable,’ strategist says

Chloe Taylor
Investors look set to make money when Washington and Beijing sign their “phase one” trade deal — but in the long term, the Sino-U.S. trade war is “unresolvable,” according to one analyst.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Tuesday, Patrick Armstrong, CIO of Plurimi Investment Managers, said holding any asset ahead of the agreement being finalized would definitely pay off.

“The way to make money is easy right now, you just have to own something, because everything’s just been grinding higher,” he said. “No one wants to be short going into the day before the trade deal’s announced.”

Markets have experienced volatility on the back of news relating to the U.S. and China’s “phase one” deal since President Donald Trump announced it was being negotiated in October. The U.S. president added fresh uncertainty to proceedings on Tuesday when he told reporters in London it might be better to wait until after the United States’ 2020 election to strike a deal with Beijing.

Saudi Aramco raises $25.6 billion in the world's biggest IPO

By Julia Horowitz and John Defterios
Source Link

London/Vienna (CNN Business)Saudi Arabia has just pulled off the biggest initial public offering in history, raising $25.6 billion by selling shares in its giant state-owned oil monopolySaudi Aramco sold 3 billion shares at 32 riyals ($8.53) each in its IPO, the company said Thursday. That means the deal raised more than China's Alibaba (BABA) in its 2014 public debut. The IPO values Aramco at roughly $1.7 trillion, making it the most valuable publicly traded company in the world ahead of Apple (AAPL), which is worth about $1.15 trillion. Saudi Aramco said last month that it was aiming to sell about 1.5% of its 200 billion shares. The size of the deal could yet rise to $29.4 billion, if an option to sell more shares is exercised.

While setting a new record, the IPO still falls well short of Saudi Arabia's initial lofty expectations.

First touted in 2016, the company's partial privatization was supposed to usher in a new era of economic liberalization in Saudi Arabia.

US Mulls Sending Several Thousand More Troops To Middle East To Counter Iran

(RFE/RL) — The United States says it is considering sending thousands of additional troops to the Middle East over concerns about Iranian actions in the region.

John Rood, the undersecretary of defense for policy, told Congress on December 5 that Washington was “observing Iran’s behavior with concern.”

Rood did not specify the number of troops being considered, but he denied during his testimony a report in The Wall Street that the Pentagon was considering sending some 14,000 new forces to the region.

Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said Defense chief David Esper had also denied that figure.

One official told U.S. media that the number would likely be in the range of 5,000 to 7,000 troops. That would be on top of the 14,000 troops deployed to the region since May.

The official did not say where the troops would be deployed or what the time frame would be but told AFP that recent attacks on U.S. assets by Iranian-linked groups had prompted the troop-level review.

ISIS is taking a beating in Afghanistan setting the stage for potential US troop withdrawal

By: Shawn Snow 

Sustained U.S. and Afghan operations combating the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State has led to a near-collapse of the jihadist group in eastern Afghanistan — helping clear a hurdle for an American withdrawal from the country.

President Donald Trump touted success of recent operations against the Islamic extremist group during a Thanksgiving Day surprise visit to American troops at Bagram Airfield detailing that U.S. forces were “wiping” out ISIS militants “left and right.”

“There’s almost nothing left in this area. And al-Qaida, the same thing. And tremendous progress,” Trump told U.S. troops during the visit. “And we — we’ve got them down to very low numbers. We’ll have that totally taken care of in a very short period of time.”

The New York Times, citing a Western official, reported that the number of ISIS militants had dwindled down to roughly 300 from previous estimates that claimed the group was fielding several thousand fighters.

November 2019 Issue


This past summer, the United Nations Monitoring Team charged with tracking the global terrorist threat assessed that “the immediate global threat posed by Al-Qaida remains unclear, with [Ayman] al-Zawahiri reported to be in poor health and doubts as to how the group will manage the succession.” In our feature article, Ali Soufan profiles the veteran Egyptian jihadi operative Abu Muhammad al-Masri and outlines why he appears to be next in line to lead al-Qa`ida. Soufan writes: “Abu Muhammad has long played a critical role in al-Qa`ida, both as an operational commander and as a member of the governing shura council. Yet despite his importance to the organization, Abu Muhammad remains a shadowy figure. Little is known about his early life or his current activities. Unlike most al-Qa`ida Central figures, he is based not in northern Pakistan but in Iran, where he was previously imprisoned and now resides under a murky arrangement by which he is apparently allowed a great deal of freedom while still being barred from leaving the country.”

Our interview is with General (Ret) Joseph Votel who retired as the Commander of U.S. Central Command earlier this year after leading a 79-member coalition that successfully liberated Iraq and Syria from the Islamic State caliphate. He is now the Class of 1987 Senior Fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center.

OPEC Pricing Power Will Return Soon

by Andrew Butter

Over the past year the penny that shale-oil output growth was going down, not up, finally dropped for most commentators (1-to-7). Although EIA, IEA, OPEC and Rystad Energy are all sticking with their predictions for a 900,000 bpd or so build in shale production in 2020 (8-to-10). They say the slump in growth which started in June 2018, was because of pipeline constraints in Permian (11). But those were fixed in December 2018, yet output-growth kept going down.


Some shale operators now say they can’t make money at $55; so they are cutting-back. But in 2017 when WTI averaged $50; output-growth was 60% higher than today. How come?
In 2015, five-hundred frac-spreads, bought and paid for; some from profits, many at fire-sale; were idle; so day-rates plunged; and so, helped by multi-pads and cheap sand, shale re-booted.

In June 2019 all those spreads were working. But now, for shale to continue to grow, more are needed. Except at $55 operators can’t pay the pumpers the day-rates they need to buy new.

Redefining the role of the leader in the reskilling era

Continuous learning in the workplace must become the new norm if individuals and organizations want to stay ahead. This places more demand than ever on leaders to take on a new role they might initially find unfamiliar—that of learning facilitator-in-chief.

Since 2016, the Consortium for Advancing Adult Learning & Development (CAALD) has sought not only to illuminate the big-picture challenges that the reskilling era poses but also to explore the implications for individual leaders. CAALD—a group of learning authorities whose members include researchers, corporate and not-for-profit leaders, and McKinsey experts—recently held its fourth annual meeting in Norwalk, Connecticut.

At one of the meeting’s sessions, four CAALD members—Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at the London Business School; David Rock, director of the NeuroLeadership Institute; Joe Voelker, chief human-resources officer at Stanley Black & Decker; and Tim Welsh, vice chairman of consumer and business banking at US Bank—discussed the mind-sets and behaviors that leaders must learn (and unlearn) in order to meet the needs of their people and their organizations in the age of reskilling.

For the 2020 Democrats, It’s America First, Too

Source Link

It’s no accident that when the 2020 Democratic candidates are asked about impeachment or Russian interference in U.S. elections, they prefer to pivot to domestic issues like wealth taxes and universal health care. The U.S. role in the world is not a favorite topic of either political party these days.

And for the rest of the world, that means that even if President Donald Trump is defeated in 2020, a pared-down U.S. presence abroad and increased burden-sharing by allied governments will almost certainly be the result. The not-so-distant days when the Democratic Party’s foreign-policy establishment embraced America’s role as the indispensable nation that confronted or toppled dictators and war criminals from Serbia to Libya are receding from memory—and with them the expectation that the United States can be relied on as a reliable enforcer of world peace.

“If a Democrat is elected, we will have all the nice words we have not had in the last four years,” Gérard Araud, France’s former ambassador to Washington and the United Nations during the Obama and Trump administrations, told Foreign Policy. “It will be much more polite, much more courteous, more predictable and coherent than under Trump. But frankly, the Americans won’t be more engaged in most of the world’s conflicts.”

What Trump Gets Right About Alliances

Source Link

It may seem odd to praise U.S. President Donald Trump’s handling of key American alliances during a week when he denounced remarks by Emmanuel Macron, the president of France—one of the few countries capable of expeditionary warfare or exercising influence beyond its borders—as “very, very nasty” at a gathering of NATO leaders. Nor is it right to excuse his destabilizing rhetoric and reckless policies that cast doubt on the organization’s future, on the presence of U.S. troops in South Korea, and on the treaty that has governed U.S. troops on Japanese soil since 1960.

Yet Trump’s tantrum diplomacy, as disruptive as it looks, has produced the most significant shift in global burden sharing since the Cold War, with Canada and the European members of NATO set to spend approximately $130 billion more on their own defense in 2020 than they did in 2016. That still leaves a majority of NATO nations spending less than 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense—the figure that NATO members have pledged to allocate by 2024—but the achievement is still significant.

With the Help of Russian Fighters, Libya’s Haftar Could Take Tripoli

Source Link

TRIPOLI, Libya—In a shattered villa south of the Libyan capital that serves as his field headquarters, a middle-aged militia commander named Mohammed al-Darrat, an engineer in another life, fretted over incoming ordnance. These were not just any artillery shells, he explained during a lull in the fighting late last month: They homed on their target through a laser designation from a ground spotter. The projectiles had forced him to move his headquarters more than three times in the last several weeks. And they were just one of several worrying upgrades to the arsenal of his foes in this latest phase of Libya’s ongoing civil war, which started on April 4, when a septuagenarian Libyan general named Khalifa Haftar launched an assault to topple the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

Ostensibly undertaken to rid the capital of militias, the campaign by Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (also called the Libyan Arab Armed Forces, a coalition of regular units and militias) was in fact a baldfaced grab for power and wealth. The United Nations envoy to Libya has said it “sounded more like a coup.” As it unfolded, al-Darrat and other militia leaders from Tripoli and its environs set aside their differences to confront the incursion. They were joined by fighters from across the country: On the front lines recently, I met militiamen from the eastern city of Benghazi and ethnic Tuareg from Libya’s deep south. The war that ensued started as a grinding, largely stalemated fight that blended aging Soviet artillery and state-of-the-art drones, piloted by personnel from the United Arab Emirates, which backs Haftar, and Turkey, which supports the GNA.

New Perspectives on Shared Security: NATO’s Next 70 Years


Nothing is forever, not even the world’s most powerful military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Other regional bodies modeled on NATO, such as the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, have long ceased to exist.1However, the need for a common, principled, effective, and adaptable institution to help allies in North America and Europe look after their defense requirements is hardly going away. The world remains an unpredictable and, at times, violent place.

The most fitting way to celebrate NATO’s seventieth birthday is therefore to reflect not on the alliance’s past but on how NATO can best serve its member states’ interests in the future. This collection of essays from some of the world’s leading think tanks aims to do just that. It offers insights from the brightest minds in allied countries on the challenges facing NATO, as well as recommendations on how the alliance should respond if it is to retain its centrality to its members’ defense thinking for decades to come.

The focus on how best to secure NATO’s future might seem misplaced. After all, the alliance has outlasted the many phases of the Cold War, a decade of near unipolarity, and two decades of an increasingly fractured geopolitical landscape, successfully adapting to each new period while growing in size. Why should the future be any different?

Welcome to the Era of Wars Without an End

by Cian O'Driscoll

Kurdish forces seized control of the Syrian town of Kobani in January 2015 after a four-month battle with Islamic State fighters. Footage of their triumph was relayed around the world. A global audience witnessed Kurdish troops indulge in raucous celebrations as they raised their flag on the hill that once flew the IS black banner.

And so it came as something of a shock when, in October 2019, President Donald Trump granted Turkey carte blanche to seize territory held by the Kurds. Consequently, what once appeared an emphatic victory for the Kurds has since descended into yet another dismal defeat.

This is not an unusual tale. Victories have also been proclaimed in the recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, only for violence to continue unabated.

The spectre of these apparently endless wars gives us cause to consider whether the notion of “victory” has any purchase or meaning in respect of contemporary warfare. Having spent the best part of the last decade thinking about this very question, I have come to believe that the idea of victory in modern war is nothing more than a myth, albeit an enduringly dangerous one.

Killing The Golden Goose

by Minhaz Merchant

The Supreme Court’s verdict on Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) could potentially cripple two of the country’s three private mobile telecom operators: Vodafone India and Bharti Airtel. That would leave Indian mobile phone consumers at the mercy of Reliance Jio and the likely BSNL-MTNL merged entity. The government’s own revenues from stressed telecom operators could meanwhile plummet.

Recognising the peril, the government has announced a two-year moratorium (for 2020-21 and 2021-22) on spectrum dues. That will give Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel a cash flow breather of Rs. 23,920 crore and Rs. 11,746 crore respectively. With both carriers declaring humongous losses for the quarter ending September 30, 2019, to provide for the Supreme Court’s AGR order, these benefits, however, will serve only as a band-aid. 

The decision by the three principal private mobile operators to increase tariffs on December 1, 2019, is a more sustainable strategy. Every rise of Rs.10 in ARPU (average revenue per user) could increase the three operators’ cash flow from their combined base of over 900 million (90 crore) subscribers by Rs. 900 crore per month or nearly Rs. 11,000 crore annually. An Rs.20 increase in monthly ARPU will raise an additional Rs. 22,000 crore a year. Regular but modest tariff hikes in a country with the world’s lowest mobile phone tariffs could return the struggling Indian telecom industry -- sagging under a debt burden of Rs. 7,00,000 crore -- to health. 


By Robert C. Rubel

A lot of ink has been spilled over the past decade or so concerning the viability of the aircraft carrier. Some regard its combination of expense and vulnerability to cruise and ballistic missiles as fatal to its continued utility. Supporters argue that a modern supercarrier’s size and design make it all but unsinkable, and that its power is key to the U.S. Navy’s ability to deter, to punish, and to defeat aggression. It is this author’s contention that the controversy is focused on the wrong thing: the carrier itself. Rather, it is the viability of its primary weapon system – the air wing – that should be at the center of analysis. When some do take on the air wing, it is usually to decry the lack of mission radius of modern strike fighters. But that also misses the point. Instead, what is it that the air wing, irrespective of the range of its aircraft, is supposed to do? That is a function of the ability of aircraft to penetrate to a launch point, and the ability of the weapons they deliver to achieve the effects needed. A valid discussion of those factors involves much more than just “bombs on target.” 

Unfortunately, most if not all of the discourse taking on the matter of aircraft carriers focuses on the vulnerability or impregnability of the ship. The capability of the air wing to do something tactically, operationally, or strategically useful is either assumed or ignored. But it was precisely this consideration that formed the basis for justifying aircraft carriers in the first place, and the argument that won them a reprieve from the scrap heap after World War II.

How Cyberspace Changes International Conflict

In May of 2013, Cody Wilson printed a working gun with a 3D printer and fired it.[1] Shortly thereafter he made the computer file, that is a set of instructions for a 3D printer to print what he called the Liberator, available online for download. It was downloaded more than 100,000 times before Wilson removed the file.[2] Little did Wilson know that he was running afoul of the United States’ International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). These regulations prohibit the export of “defense items” – in other words, weapons – found on the United States Munitions List (USML) without authorization from the government.[3] ITAR also, significantly, prohibits the export of “technical data” on these items, which is data that would assist the manufacturing of the prohibited item.[4] Wilson’s file was in a standard language that would allow anyone with an Internet connection to download it and use a 3D printer to manufacture a gun. The file, since it was on the Internet was downloadable anywhere in the world, and Wilson removed the file from his website when confronted by the U.S. Government.[5] Three years later Wilson’s file is still online and freely available through sources like the Pirate Bay.[6] Wilson started a company called Defense Distributed, which now manufactures a product called the Ghost Gunner.[7] This desktop CNC mill will take a block of aluminum and mill a lower receiver for an AR-15.[8] Wilson’s product cannot be exported, and the computer file is sold only to United States citizens to keep this product from running afoul of ITAR. Yet this product still effectively digitizes a gun, which lowers barriers to access. The gun that it creates is of high quality, and is a gun that is outside of the regulatory loop; it is an untraceable “ghost gun.”[9] And while Wilson is keeping tight control over the “technical data” in the .cad files that allow the machine to manufacture the part, he has open sourced the machine itself so that the plans for the hardware and the software that runs it are freely downloadable.[10] Anyone with these files can develop new design files for the Ghost Gunner, and enable it to make a variety of guns and other items. Defense has been distributed, digitally.

The Drums of Cyberwar

by Andy Greenberg

In mid-October, a cybersecurity researcher in the Netherlands demonstrated, online, as a warning,* the easy availability of the Internet protocol address and open, unsecured access points of the industrial control system—the ICS—of a wastewater treatment plant not far from my home in Vermont. Industrial control systems may sound inconsequential, but as the investigative journalist Andy Greenberg illustrates persuasively in Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers, they have become the preferred target of malicious actors aiming to undermine civil society. A wastewater plant, for example, removes contaminants from the water supply; if its controls were to be compromised, public health would be, too.

The United States National Security Council Needs an Information Warfare Directorate

By Peter Wilcox
Source Link

How should the United States prepare for a future information warfare conflict against its adversaries, and how should it organize? These questions are being explored across multiple defense agencies, think tank organizations, and the military. Conrad Crane, Chief of Historical Services for the United States Army Heritage and Education Center, U.S. Army War College, has made a case for establishing an information warfare command.[1] Fundamental to his critique was the need to restructure Army Cyber Command to prepare for large-scale information warfare operations, in part because possible U.S. adversaries now realize the utility of integrating and synchronizing information and communication technologies to execute such activities. In Crane’s view, evolving Army Cyber Command into an information warfare command would prompt decision makers to think critically about information warfare as a holistic subject, not as an afterthought.

Crane’s proposition situates him in a long line of academic and defense professionals who recommend determining how best to curtail influence activities emanating from adversarial nations such as Russia and China. Recommendations include instituting an irregular warfare curriculum within professional military education, sharing political warfare threats across Departments of Defense and State, and establishing an information warfare center.[2] Russia’s interference in the 2016 United States presidential election also spurred policymakers to call on Defense and State agencies to craft a coherent counter-information warfare plan that focuses on enhancing cyber defense tools, collaborating with European allies and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on cyber security initiatives, and educating people and organizations to avoid becoming targets of malign cyberspace influence by Russia and China.[3]

How New Army-developed AI Can Save Infantry in a Firefight

Kris Osborn

(Washington, D.C.) Envision a scenario wherein dismounted infantry soldiers are taking heavy enemy fire while clearing buildings amid intense urban combat -- when an overhead drone detects small groups of enemy fighters hidden nearby, between walls, preparing to ambush. As the armed soldiers clear rooms and transition from house to house in a firefight, how quickly would they need to know that groups of enemies awaited them around the next corner?

Getting this information to soldiers in seconds can not only decide victory or defeat in a given battle, but save lives. What if AI-enabled computer programs were able to instantly discern specifics regarding the threat such as location, weapons and affiliation by performing real-time analytics on drone feeds and other fast-moving sources of information, instantly sending crucial data to soldiers in combat?

While current technology can today perform some of these functions, what if this data was provided to individual dismounted soldiers in a matter of seconds? And instantly networked? Operating in a matter of milliseconds, AI-empowered computer algorithms could bounce new information off vast databases of previously compiled data to make these distinctions--instantly informing soldiers caught in crossfire.

National Security Priority: Securing America's Electric Grid

By Scott Aaronson

Energy is a critical resource that powers our homes and businesses, and also supports every facet of the U.S. economy and our nation’s security. As technology advances and we become more connected, the likelihood that there will be a successful cyber or physical attack on critical infrastructure increases.

Last month we recognize National Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, which is a great time to reinforce that our nation’s electric companies are working across the industry and with our government partners to protect the energy grid and ensure that customers have access to the safe and reliable energy they need. We also are focusing on strategies to mitigate the potential impact of an attack and to accelerate recovery should an incident occur.

We know that cyberattacks constantly are evolving and increasing in sophistication. As the vice president for security and preparedness at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies, I have a deep appreciation for how any threat to the energy grid endangers our communities and the national and economic security of our country.

3 Battle Tactics to Survive in Today’s Cyber Environment

Security teams are under constant pressure to defend against cyberattacks, turning every IT environment into a battlefield. With an ever-increasing number of devices and employees to control, manage, and monitor, the frontline is only getting larger. What’s the best way to fight back against cyberadversaries? These three steps will help you create a winning strategy.


In The Art of War, Sun Tzu notes that “If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.” While it’s important to take steps to safeguard your entire infrastructure, it’s vital to prioritize to your most critical assets.

Which assets would have the biggest impact if they were penetrated? What devices are required for everyday operations? Where is your most sensitive data stored? Who has access to it? What do applicable standards and regulations require?

A natural list will begin to emerge with which assets require the most security reinforcements when answering these questions. From there, you can determine what policies to implement and tools to leverage for a layered defense strategy that meets your organization’s or department’s specific needs.

NATO's Real Problem: Germany's Military Is Dying

by Kyle Mizokami
Source Link

The modern German armed forces, or Bundeswehr, were created just ten years after the end of World War II. Cold war tensions and the presence of Soviet troops in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland made a West German defense force necessary.

The Bundeswehr eventually grew to one of the largest, well-equipped armed forces in the world, boasting twelve combat divisions, hundreds of combat aircraft in the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), and a formidable force of surface ships, submarines, and maritime aircraft in the Bundesmarine (Navy).

The end of the Cold War and withdraw of the Red Army from Eastern Europe was a boon for European security. The National Volksarmee of East Germany and the Bundeswehr merged into a new national army. Inventories of ships, aircraft and armored vehicles were cut by up to seventy five percent, and the German defense budget was cut further. Germany now spends just 1.2% of GDP on defense, far below the NATO recommended 2%.

In the past year numerous articles have arisen demonstrating the Bundeswehr’s lack of readiness. Fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and other vehicles have been grounded due to lack of spare parts, bringing readiness rates below 50%.

Rather Than Starting World War III, Cutting Undersea Cables Could End One

by Steve Weintz
Source Link

When a July 2015 undersea tremor triggered a rockslide between the islands of Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Marianas Islands, it cut the only fiber-optic cable connecting the archipelago to the global network. Air traffic control grounded flights, automated teller machines shut down, web and phone connections broke.

All the feared impacts of a cyber attack became real for the islanders. A Taiwan-based cable repair ship eventually restored the link, but that was a single break from one natural occurrence. How much more disruption could a deep-sea-faring nation cause its rivals through malicious intent?

Though often mentioned in passing, the fact that the overwhelming bulk of Internet activity travels along submarine cables fails to register with the public. High-flying satellites orbiting the crowded skies, continent-spanning microwave towers and million miles of old 20th Century copper phone wire all carry but a fraction of the Earth's Internet traffic compared with deep-sea fiber-optic cables.

Tomgram: Arnold Isaacs, Another Kind of War Wound

by Arnold Isaacs 

Many men do monstrous things. And some men are very nearly monsters, capable of killing without compunction or remorse. In the everyday civilian world, we generally seek to lock them up. In war, they have a chance to fully flower. And if they serve in militaries that fight serial conflicts where the laws of war are considered mere suggestions, they can be all that they can be.

I investigated such a man once. He fought his way across Asia in the Chinese civil war, the suppression of the Huk rebellion in the Philippines, and the Korean and Vietnam wars. He spent 10 troubled years in the Marines before joining the Army and then was hailed as a super soldier, even as allegations of murder swirled around him.

In March 1968, a member of Sergeant Roy Bumgarner Jr.’s scout team went to military authorities to report multiple murders of Vietnamese civilians. “I’ve got nothing against Sgt. Bumgarner except this mad urge to kill,” Private Arthur Williams told an investigating lieutenant colonel. “I don’t want him to get in trouble, but I can’t know of what is happening and say nothing. More people will be killed.” The Army did nothing.

One morning in early 1969, Bumgarner detained an unarmed Vietnamese irrigation worker and two teenage boys tending ducklings. Marching them to a secluded spot, he and one of his men opened fire. A military court convicted him of manslaughter, but he served no prison time, remained in Vietnam, and reenlisted approximately six months later. He became one of the last U.S. infantrymen to serve in that war.