12 December 2019



Over 100 years ago, during the summer of 1919, dozens of members of that year’s West Point graduating class were sent to Europe to tour World War I battlefields. They walked on ground left deeply scarred by the conflict that had ended just months before, and met people left equally scarred by the war’s massive and bitter toll. They traveled across the Atlantic because no amount of classroom study can replicate the experience of such firsthand study of a recent conflict.

In the same spirit, the Modern War Institute at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, conducts research trips each summer during which cadets and faculty study recent conflict. This past summer, we led a trip to India to study the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and its counterinsurgency in Kashmir. Like those future Army leaders in Europe a century ago, we walked through the sites of those attacks and spoke to people who directly experienced them. What we learned can help shape how the Army thinks about modern conflict.

Sudden Attack

Analysis: Taliban continues to lie about presence of foreign fighters in Afghanistan


On Dec. 4, FDD’s Long War Journal reported on a new video released by the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), an al-Qaeda-affiliated group that is loyal to the Taliban and fights under its umbrella in Afghanistan. The video shows TIP members training and and fighting in Afghanistan. Overall, the video is a pretty typical example of jihadist messaging.

But the Taliban, which seeks to negotiate an American and Western withdrawal from Afghanistan in exchange for its supposed counterterrorism assurances, wasn’t happy that we noticed the TIP’s video.

Earlier today, the Taliban released a statement attributed to its spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, who claims there “are no foreign nationals present in Afghanistan.” The Taliban’s mouthpiece insists that “all foreign Mujahideen and nationals that had arrived in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviet Union left” after the U.S.-led invasion, “returning back to their country of origin and others taking refuge in other Arab countries.”

This is an implausible and ridiculous assertion on its face, as the presence of al-Qaeda and Taliban-affiliated foreign fighters in Afghanistan since late 2001 is well-known. It should be noted that senior Taliban-Haqqani figures have actually called for foreign reinforcements in the past.

Documents Reveal U.S. Officials Misled Public on War in Afghanistan

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff
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The United States military achieved a quick but short-term victory over the Taliban and Al Qaeda in early 2002, and the Pentagon’s focus then shifted toward Iraq. The Afghan conflict became a secondary effort, a hazy spectacle of nation building, with intermittent troop increases to conduct high-intensity counterinsurgency offensives — but, over all, with a small number of troops carrying out an unclear mission.

Even as the Taliban returned in greater numbers and troops on the ground voiced concerns about the American strategy’s growing shortcomings, senior American officials almost always said that progress was being made.

The documents obtained by The Post show otherwise.

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” said Douglas Lute, a retired three-star Army general who helped the White House oversee the war in Afghanistan in both the Bush and Obama administrations.

First round of resurrected US-Taliban peace talks open in Qatar

The United States has resumed talks with the Taliban in Qatar, three months after President Donald Trump abruptly halted diplomatic efforts that could end the US's longest war.

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Saturday held the first official talks since September with the Afghan group in Qatar's capital, Doha, a US State Department spokesperson said.

The renewed talks were expected to pave the way for direct talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul and, ultimately, a possible peace agreement after more than 18 years of war.

"The US rejoined talks today in Doha. The focus of discussion will be reduction of violence that leads to intra-Afghan negotiations and a ceasefire," said the spokesperson.

The meetings in Doha, where the Taliban maintains a political office, follow several days of talks in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, where Khalilzad met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The Taliban has so far refused direct talks with Ghani, calling him a "US puppet".

The New China Scare

By Fareed Zakaria

In February 1947, U.S. President Harry Truman huddled with his most senior foreign policy advisers, George Marshall and Dean Acheson, and a handful of congressional leaders. The topic was the administration’s plan to aid the Greek government in its fight against a communist insurgency. Marshall and Acheson presented their case for the plan. Arthur Vandenberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, listened closely and then offered his support with a caveat. “The only way you are going to get what you want,” he reportedly told the president, “is to make a speech and scare the hell out of the country.”

Over the next few months, Truman did just that. He turned the civil war in Greece into a test of the United States’ ability to confront international communism. Reflecting on Truman’s expansive rhetoric about aiding democracies anywhere, anytime, Acheson confessed in his memoirs that the administration had made an argument “clearer than truth.” 

Robert D Kaplan on the coming world order

By Robert D Kaplan
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The most likely big conflict is with Iran, who are far more volatile than Russia or China Trump does not have a well developed strategy of any kind - he's a man of deep impulse and disorganisation China's Belt and Road initiative is not about economics - it's about imperial power As a tumultuous year draws to a close, we’re looking back at some of the most insightful interviews CapX has conducted over the last 12 months.

Robert D Kaplan is widely-regarded as one of the world’s leading thinkers on foreign policy, defence and geopolitics. He is the author of 18 books, including The Revenge of Geography and The Coming Anarchy, and he has been named in Foreign Policy’s ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers’. He’s advised Kings, Prime Ministers and Defence Secretaries all over the world, and has reported from over 100 countries, giving him a grounding in the reality of foreign affairs most pundits could only dream of.

U.S. General: Space Is Where Russia and China Are Most Dangerous

by David Axe 
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“Russia is a rather dangerous threat because it’s an economy in decline and the demographics are challenging for [Vladimir Putin],” Goldfein said, according to Defense News. “But China is the face of the threat. China has the economy."

Goldfein’s assessment comes as U.S. lawmakers prepare to authorize a new military service for space warfare.

In addition to ground-based jammers, lasers and rockets that can mute, blind and destroy low-flying satellites, Moscow and Beijing are working on small, maneuverable satellites that can tamper with American spacecraft.

"Our adversaries are increasingly leveraging rapid advances in technology to pose new and evolving threats — particularly in the realm of space, cyberspace, computing and other emerging, disruptive technologies," the U.S. intelligence community concluded in its 2019 strategy report.

American 5G: Why Public-Private Partnerships Are the Secret Sauce to Beat China

5 Dec. 2019 -- The latest example comes in an announcement Monday that only members of the National Spectrum Consortium can bid on pilot projects to install prototype 5G networks to manage radar and radio spectrum, “smart warehouse” logistics, and other functions on four military bases.

Writ large, over the last three years, as the Pentagon has nearly tripled spending on streamlined Other Transaction Authority (OTA) prototyping contracts, more than half that money has gone to consortium members.

Some 49 percent went to consortia administered by a single management contractor, South Carolina-based Advanced Technology International (ATI). And future prospects look good. One group, the Space Enterprise Consortium – run by ATI – may even see its Air Force funding increase 24-fold.

The Middle East and China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Author Lisa Watanabe (Editor: Benno Zogg) 
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Lisa Watanabe writes that China’s presence in the Middle East is on the rise, particularly in the framework of its Belt and Road Initiative. As the US draws down its commitments in the region, Europe will need to consider what greater Chinese involvement in the region means for its interests. 

Vietnam Needs to 'Struggle' More in the South China Sea

by Derek Grossman

Now that the months-long standoff between China and Vietnam has finally ended at the disputed Vanguard Bank, it makes sense to take stock of how Hanoi's security strategy fared in countering Chinese coercion in the South China Sea. Vietnam seeks simultaneous “cooperation and struggle” with all countries—including, most significantly, China—in a highly calibrated and nuanced approach to secure Vietnamese national interests.

During the Vanguard Bank standoff, Vietnam employed vintage “cooperation and struggle” strategy. Starting in July, Beijing sent the geological survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and armed coast guard escorts to force an end to Hanoi-sanctioned foreign drilling operations via the Hakuryu-5 oil rig near the Spratly Islands. Hanoi kept quiet for nearly two weeks, but soon it became clear that Beijing was not leaving.

Over the next two months, the Vietnamese foreign ministry issued a series of escalatory statements that identified “China” by name as the aggressor and demanded that China “IMMEDIATELY STOP [all caps in original]” the camping out near Vanguard Bank and zigzagging throughout Vietnam's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Additionally, Hanoi extended drilling operations, from July 30 to September 15, and saw the Chinese presence persist throughout this time and beyond as well. By October, top Vietnamese leaders began speaking out.

China Has Weaponized The Smartphone: Here’s Why You Should Be Concerned

Zak Doffman
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“File sharing has never been simpler,” claim the developers behind the viral mobile app Zapya. “You can share files from device to device for free—Zapya allows you to seamlessly transfer massive files across multiple platforms.” It’s a compelling pitch—DewMobile, the app’s Shanghai-based developers, claim 450 million downloads since its 2012 launch. Somewhat awkwardly, though, it now appears that the authorities in Xinjiang have been “targeting” Zapya users among the minority Uighur population. If the app is found on a device, it’s reason enough for an investigation. And depending on what files have been shared, that investigation could lead to internment.

The Zapya revelations can be found among a leaked cache of documents that expose the surveillance ecosystem deployed in Xinjiang. The China Cables, published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, detail the deployment of a no holds barred surveillance laboratory, where patterns of life can be monitored and the population can be controlled. Missteps run the risk of internment, and internment can only be escaped through modified thinking and behaviour.

China’s Data/AI Economy and the Global Order

By Mercy A. Kuo

Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Winston Ma, CFA & Esq. – tech investor and adjunct professor at NYU School of Law and author of China’s Data Economy (Hayakawa 2019, Japanese title China’s AI Big Bang) and China’s Mobile Economy (Wiley 2016) – is the 215th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Explain the core components of China’s data/AI economy.

The keyword is iABCD. All Chinese companies are rushing to learn how new digital technologies — including the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cloud computing, and data analytics (iABCD) — can be integrated into their businesses to unlock value from nontraditional angles. The companies will become “smarter” by fusing institutional human knowledge with machine learning, and their increased efficiencies, faster decision making, and cost savings will all lead to better customer experiences.

Adm. James Stavridis: ‘Buckle Up’ on NKorea, Iran

by Eric Mack
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“Bottom line, in both parts of the world, buckle up,” Stavridis told Sunday’s “The Cats Roundtable” host John Catsimatidis on 970 AM-N.Y. “Because both of these criminal regimes, both North Korea and Iran, are going to want to step out. They also, I’m close to this, John, recognize the turbulence in Washington right now, the distraction.

“The reality is that [impeachment] ties down the executive branch and makes the executive branch less capable of responding quickly to these kinds of crises when they develop,” he added.

Stavridis expects Iran and Kim Jong Un to act up “over the holidays and into the early part of the new year.”

“So, unfortunately, I predict he’s going to revert to bad behavior,” Stavridis said of Kim, who has made no progress talks with the U.S. as he seeks sanctions relief and rejects calls for denuclearization. “What I think we’re going to see is a pretty long-range ballistic missile.

Opinion – What the US Exit from the Paris Accords Means for Women


The Trump Administration has officially made good on a promise to exit the Paris Climate Accords by 2020. The Administration also recently announced a plan to reduce the number of refugees allowed in the country to 18,000 in 2020. Both moves are alarming. Together, these policies epitomize significant strides the US is taking to shut out an increasingly vulnerable population—women displaced due to climate change. Most climate migrants today are women, and women will likely continue to be the group most affected by climate change. Climate change is driving human migration more than any other event. In 2018, over 24 million people were estimated to have been displaced by a climate disaster. By 2050, 143 million people may become climate migrants. And the Women Environmental Network’s 2010 report found that women constituted 80 percent of all climate refugees, making up 20 million of the 26 million people displaced by climate change. The 2015 Paris Climate Accord explicitly recognizes climate change’s disproportionate consequences for women, incorporating specific provisions to support women’s empowerment to combat these effects.

Climate change affects women and their families domestically, as well. Recent reports predict that nearly 13 million Americans will be displaced due to domestic climate disasters by the end of the century, and American women will be disproportionately affected. This means that globally today, and nationally in the near-future, women climate refugees constitute a population most in need of help. And they are the group most likely to suffer negative consequences of the Trump administration’s refugee policy and withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Women climate refugees often migrate as primary caretakers, community leaders, or heads of family. They are also predisposed to earning less money, and therefore have fewer resources to cope with sudden climate disasters. Further, women climate refugees are vulnerable to more sexual and domestic violence and a lack of accessibility to hygienic resources and social services than other groups migrating.


Robert Cassidy

“War is the most complex thing humans do. To seek to always impose rationality upon war—and to expect rational behavior from an opponent whose mind and passions it is impossible to fully fathom—is to ignore the reality of human behavior and experience.”

“Wars fought for limited objectives usually have more constraints placed upon their conduct because the objective or objectives sought usually are not existential and thus possess less inherent value.”

– Donald Stoker, Why America Loses Wars

In most of the wars since World War II, American senior civilian and military leaders have exhibited an aptitude for tactics and an inaptitude for strategy. Both strategy and war are hard. But war without strategy is violence without reason. A strategic predilection for tactics brings stalemated wars, perpetual wars, and meaningless wars. The fact that most of America’s wars since World War II have been limited in the ends sought and means employed is one reason why the United States has continued to confuse tactics with strategy. The other reason lies in the dearth of knowledge and understanding of strategy and war engendered by the senior leaders who embarked on those wars.

Should Military Force Be Used For Ill-Defined Economic Goals?

by Donald L. Losman
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The role of economics in America’s National Security Strategy (a document mandated by Congress upon the Executive branch in the 1980s) has undergone a remarkable, yet wholly unnoticed metamorphosis. An examination is long overdue to unmask this evolution and question its validity, and particularly so with U.S. troops now maintaining oil fields in Syria.

President Trump’s strategy document has four pillars. The first is a rather traditional ‘protecting the homeland,’ with border security being a new, added point. Pillar III, ‘advancing peace through strength,’ is hardly new. And Pillar IV, ‘advancing American influence,’ is similarly traditional. Pillar II, however, ‘promoting prosperity,’ is a purely economic goal, the likes of which has not been seen in years. Further, its subtitle, “Economic Security is National Security,” is a highly dubious claim. 

Clearly, supply availabilities have always been a concern to military planners. A strong economy, however, was traditionally deemed an enabling mechanism to finance a war rather than a war goal. The concept of a defense industrial base, another enabling mechanism (and one noted in the Trump strategy), became more prominent in the U.S. in the post-World War I period and demonstrably clear after World War II because it was America’s ‘arsenal of democracy’ which had propelled the Allies to victory. But it was the Arab oil embargo of October 1973 – deemed the cause of oil shortages, inflation, and recession – that launched the economic component toward morphing into a desired goal in itself. When oil prices spiked again after the 1979 Iranian revolution, Jimmy Carter subsequently announced that any attempt to control the Persian Gulf would be addressed by all means necessary. In March 1980, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, the precursor to the U.S. Central Command, was activated. 

Trends in Russia's Armed Forces

by Keith Crane, Olga Oliker, Brian Nichiporuk

Research Questions

What trends can be discerned in Russia's military budget since 2000, and what are their implications?

What are the current and projected capabilities of Russian forces, as well as their strengths and weaknesses?

What reforms have been implemented, and what has been their effect?

The authors provide an overview of the current state of the Russian military in terms of funding and capabilities across the bulk of its forces. They describe how Russian defense budgets have increased over the course of the past 15 years, even as Russian defense spending has now entered a period of decline. They also portray a Russian military in transition, on a path to adapt its general-purpose forces to provide options more suitable to Russia's needs and intentions. They conclude that, based on the location of Russian forces and the systems that the Russian government and military have emphasized for modernization, the Russian government and military have successfully strengthened Russia's military capabilities for a distinct set of future conflict scenarios. It is important to pay close attention to Russia's modernization of its advanced air defenses and ground forces, especially its long-range fires systems — a process that has improved both its offensive and defensive capabilities. The Russian military has also improved its overall readiness level, which has resulted in an ability to quickly generate significant ground forces and to rapidly project antiair and antisea capabilities around its borders. This gives the country substantial offensive potential against bordering states, especially other former Soviet republics.

Key Findings

The US can’t use Cold War tactics to engage with China, says former NSA head Michael Rogers

Kate Fazzini

Admiral Michael Rogers, former head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, is one of the early voices who described a national security threat from Chinese technology companies such as Huawei and ZTE.

Rogers discusses the reality of U.S. competitiveness with China, the threat it poses and how companies can do better to compete with China’s resources on cybersecurity podcast Task Force 7 on Tuesday.

Rogers has been quietly joining the business world after leaving public service in 2018.

Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the US Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency and chief of Central Security Services.

Admiral Michael Rogers, former head of the U.S. National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, was instrumental in some of the early intelligence reporting that put Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE on the radar of the intelligence community and Congress.

Rogers co-wrote a 50-page report in 2012 that outlined what intelligence agencies said was the long-term partnership between those companies and Beijing’s Communist government.

The Navy will build tactical cyber teams

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The Navy will create tactical cyber teams in early 2020 as part of an order from the service’s top officer.

In a new strategy document released Dec. 4, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said he wanted the service to develop a plan to field small tactical cyber teams by February 2020. He directed the Information Warfare Type Command and Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet to make it happen.

“I want to give tactical cyber teams, small tactical cyber teams to fleet commanders so that we can confuse the enemy and put ourselves in a position of advantage in a fight right off the bat,” Gilday said at the USNI Defense Forum Dec. 5.

Additional details regarding the makeup of these teams and what their focus will be were not immediately available.

Defense Department Forging Path for 5G Adoption

By Jon Harper

The Pentagon is launching a new initiative that will shape its long-term plans for integrating 5G networks into U.S. military operations. The emerging technology is viewed as a potential gamechanger as the United States squares off against China in great power competition.

The term 5G refers to the oncoming fifth generation of wireless networks and technologies that will yield a major improvement in data speed, volume and latency over today’s fourth generation networks, known as 4G. 5G networks are expected to be up to 20 times as fast, according to a Defense Innovation Board study published earlier this year titled, “The 5G Ecosystem: Risks & Opportunities for DoD.”

“The shift from 4G to 5G will drastically impact the future of global communication networks and fundamentally change the environment in which DoD operates,” the report said. “5G has the ability to enhance DoD decision-making and strategic capabilities from the enterprise network to the tactical edge of the battlefield.

The Weirdness Is Coming

By Brock Colyar

“The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.” When the novelist William Gibson said this — probably in the late ’80s, though, like a lot of prophetic aphorisms, when he first said it is not exactly clear — he was describing distribution by place: iPhones arriving en masse in Steve Jobs’s United States, all-inclusive social-credit scores blanketing Xi Jinping’s China, antibiotic-resistant superbugs cropping up in India before spreading as far as the Arctic, climate change flooding the Ganges Delta in Bangladesh long before it conquers New York or Tokyo.

But the distribution is uneven in time, too, because the future never arrives all at once with the thunderclap of a brave new world suddenly supplanting the comfortable old one. Which is why future-gazers like Gibson are always talking about how their works aren’t about the future — and pointing out how terrible their records would be in predicting it — but about the world in which they were written.

Quantum Computers Are the Ultimate Paper Tiger

by Subhash Kak
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Google announced this fall to much fanfare that it had demonstrated “quantum supremacy” – that is, it performed a specific quantum computation far faster than the best classical computers could achieve. IBM promptly critiqued the claim, saying that its own classical supercomputer could perform the computation at nearly the same speed with far greater fidelity and, therefore, the Google announcement should be taken “with a large dose of skepticism.”

This wasn’t the first time someone cast doubt on quantum computing. Last year, Michel Dyakonov, a theoretical physicist at the University of Montpellier in France, offered a slew of technical reasons why practical quantum supercomputers will never be built in an article in IEEE Spectrum, the flagship journal of electrical and computer engineering.

So how can you make sense of what is going on?

As someone who has worked on quantum computing for many years, I believe that due to the inevitability of random errors in the hardware, useful quantum computers are unlikely to ever be built.

A Quantum Computing Future Is Unlikely, Due To Random Hardware Errors

by Subhash Kak

Google announced this fall to much fanfare that it had demonstrated “quantum supremacy" - that is, it performed a specific quantum computation far faster than the best classical computers could achieve. IBM promptly critiqued the claim, saying that its own classical supercomputer could perform the computation at nearly the same speed with far greater fidelity and, therefore, the Google announcement should be taken “with a large dose of skepticism."

This wasn’t the first time someone cast doubt on quantum computing. Last year, Michel Dyakonov, a theoretical physicist at the University of Montpellier in France, offered a slew of technical reasons why practical quantum supercomputers will never be built in an article in IEEE Spectrum, the flagship journal of electrical and computer engineering.

So how can you make sense of what is going on?

Peace and war in Myanmar

Lex Rieffel

Avisitor to Myanmar can easily spend two weeks seeing the main tourist destinations and depart with the impression of having been in a peaceful nation. Within its borders, however, rages the world’s longest continuing civil war. It began at independence in 1948 and no end is in sight. This is the conundrum of Myanmar today: the coexistence of peace and war.

The first national election in 20 years was held in 2010, at the end of five decades of repressive military rule. This election produced a government led by former General Thein Sein that unexpectedly moved quickly to adopt far-reaching political and economic reforms. The longtime leader of the democratic opposition and world-famous icon of democracy Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest shortly after that election. In 2012, she won a seat in the parliament in a by-election. In the 2015 election, her party — the National League for Democracy (NLD) — won in a landslide against the military-supported party.

The euphoria internally and abroad produced by the Thein Sein government’s reforms began to dissipate under the NLD-led government. The Myanmar military retained much power independent of the elected government under the constitution it had drafted and got adopted in a rigged referendum in 2008. It resisted the political reforms Aung San Suu Kyi sought, including amending the constitution to remove the provision prohibiting her from becoming the country’s president. The economic reforms her government sought came slowly as her cabinet ministers, with no bureaucratic experience, struggled to understand their mandates and to motivate their agencies to implement new policies. Many of her supporters became disillusioned.


ML Cavanaugh
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Two centuries ago, Napoleon embodied warfare’s changing character. This conqueror of Europe took advantage of new ways of thinking about warfare and its organization to bend Europe to his will.

Of course, it wasn’t just the French emperor driving these changes, all by himself. But he’s become the focal point, his name attached to an entire era of warfare and strategic upheaval.

Today’s world is characterized by similar upheaval, as the clear lines that defined the Cold War fade further into the rearview mirror and the subsequent unmatchable primacy of American power diminishes. As different as today’s threats are from those of the early nineteenth century, they’re certainly as dangerous, in no small part because oceans, borders, and multiple lines of latitude and longitude don’t stop weapons or invasions the way they once did. Distance isn’t much of a tyrant anymore.

More importantly, strike is cheap. North Korea, with an economy approximately half of what Americans spend on their pets every year, has the ability to menace far-flung cities with strategic strikes. That’s how bargain-basement the acquisition of nukes has become.

Drones and Air Defense

By Mike Rogers
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The September 14th attacks on the Saudi oil facilities were a master class the application of new technologies in non-traditional ways. Someone fired cruise missiles and drones, circumventing an apparently advanced air defense network, scoring remarkable—if un-attributable—successes for relatively low costs.

If you take a step back, the strikes themselves were masterful in their signaling despite their opacity. From where did the attacks originate? That's unclear. Who is responsible for the attacks? That too is unclear. Houthi rebels from Yemen claimed responsibility, but such an attack is well beyond their capabilities. It is all but certain that their patron and regional destabilizer in Tehran is behind the strike, escalating the long simmering, but largely covert, conflict with Riyadh fought with proxies.

Of course, the Iranians denied any involvement, but Tehran must be patting themselves on the back at finding vulnerabilities in the armor of the Saudi air defense network. The Russians, for their part, are clearly happy with the strike.

These 5 Armies Of 2030 Will Redefine Warfare Forever

by Robert Farley
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The focus of ground combat operations has shifted dramatically since the end of the Cold War. Relatively few operations now involve the defeat of a technologically and doctrinally similar force, leading to the conquest or liberation of territory. Preparation for these operations remains important, but ground combat branches also have a host of other priorities, some (including counter-insurgency and policing) harkening back to the origins of the modern military organization.

What will the balance of ground combat power look like in 2030, presumably after the Wars on Terror and the Wars of Russian Reconsolidation (more to come on this idea below) shake out?

Predictions are hard, especially about the future, but a few relatively simple questions can help illuminate our analysis. In particular, three questions motivate this study:

Measuring the Effectiveness of Special Operations

by Linda Robinson, Daniel Egel, Ryan Andrew Brown

How can the success (or failure) of Army special operations missions be assessed? The authors develop a methodology for doing so that relies on operational, intelligence, and ambient (publicly available) data, since operational level special operations commands often lack robust staff and resources to generate assessment-specific information. The method assesses the plan's lines of effort and their objectives, develops relevant measures of effectiveness and indicators, and gathers appropriate qualitative and quantitative data. The resulting analysis is presented to the appropriate commander, who can then use the information to adjust lines of effort or activities and other elements. The seven-step process is illustrated through a fictional scenario. Implementation will include incorporating the approach into doctrine and training and standing up an assessment cell. The cell requires access to data streams and appropriate analytic platforms and reachback support.
Key Findings

Conducting assessments can be challenging for smaller deployed headquarters

Conducting rigorous and timely assessments is a particular challenge for smaller deployed headquarters with smaller staffs and budgets.

Next-Generation Wargaming for the U.S. Marine Corps

by Yuna Huh Wong, Sebastian Joon Bae, Elizabeth M. Bartels, Benjamin Smith

What characteristics of other wargaming centers might be of use to the Marine Corps as it invests in its wargaming capability?

Which practices, tools, and approaches might be useful to the Marine Corps, and how can they be adapted to suit Marine Corps needs?

What courses of action should the Marine Corps take toward building its next-generation wargaming concept?

The U.S. Marine Corps has an opportunity not only to adopt wargaming best practices, tools, and approaches from other sources but also to adapt and develop them further to suit its own needs. This report is designed to help the Marine Corps understand the utility of different wargaming tools as the service invests in its wargaming capability and in building its next-generation wargaming concept. The authors have collected information on wargaming processes, facilities, and skill sets through research and interviews at various wargaming centers. They identify tasks by wargaming type in order to provide information on when in the wargaming process certain tools might be useful.

Violence Is Sometimes the Answer


Whenever protesters fight with police, burn vehicles, or smash windows, a familiar chorus rings out, from a safe distance: Why can’t they be nonviolent, like Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or Martin Luther King Jr.? With anti-government protests raging around the world since the summer, this common refrain has returned. Even United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, while reminding governments to allow free assembly and expression, said protesters must “follow the examples of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and other champions of nonviolent change.”

This creates a double standard: Protesters are expected to remain nonviolent, even in the face of attacks by powerful, heavily armed governments. Yet no matter what protesters do, governments always portray them as “thugs” or “criminals” to legitimize violent crackdowns, as in Iran in recent weeks. The FBI accused King himself of inciting violence.