16 February 2020

The China Factor Behind India’s Pullout from RCEP

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was set to become the world’s largest free trade agreement. But India’s withdrawal from it has thrown the negotiated trade bloc into imbalance and has underscored India’s qualms with China’s trade practices.

The 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was supposed to establish the world’s largest trading bloc, covering half of the global population. But India’s abrupt withdrawal from the RCEP has undercut that goal. The decision came soon after the latest “informal” summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which Xi acknowledged India’s China-related concerns over the RCEP and pledged to address them.

New Delhi’s entry into the RCEP would effectively create a China-India free trade agreement (FTA) via the backdoor, at a time when Chinese exports are already swamping the Indian market and questions are being raised domestically on Modi’s management of the economy.

What Iran’s Attacks on American Bases Tell Us About China’s Missile Program

By Christopher K. Colley
The Iranian missile attack on the American bases in al-Asad and Erbil on January 8 surprised many security experts because of their reported accuracy. Until now, the poor accuracy of Iranian missiles was considered by some to be a major deficiency in Iran’s conventional arsenal. The missiles’ circular error probable (CEP – the radius within which half of all missiles launched will fall) of most Iranian missiles was believed to be several hundred meters. In other words, these were dangerous weapons, but they lacked the pinpoint precision necessary to hit specific targets on land or at sea. But reports indicate that the latest attacks may have had a CEP as low as 5-10 meters as they succeeded in six direct hits on empty aircraft hangers. 

While the advances in Iranian missile accuracy are a worrisome development for the United States and its allies and partners in the Middle East, another key question is what this tells us about the accuracy of China’s ballistic missiles. It is public knowledge that China shared missile technology with Iran for several decades. The Iranian attacks on oil tankers in the late 1980s in the Arabian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war were attributed to Silkworm missiles that Iran purchased from China. A 2012 Rand report stated that China played a “crucial” role in establishing Iran’s military-industrial sector and is suspected of helping Iran with its ballistic missile technology.

Considering China’s previous assistance to Iran’s missile programs, a reasonable assumption can be made that if Iranian missiles are capable of successfully hitting targets within a few meters, Chinese missiles should be able to equal, if not surpass, Iranian accuracy.

Rising to the China Challenge

By Ely Ratner

Foundational Principles of U.S. Strategy in the Indo-Pacific

The United States and China are locked in strategic competition over the future of the Indo-Pacific—the most populous, dynamic, and consequential region in the world. At stake are competing visions for the rules, norms, and institutions that will govern international relations in the decades to come.1

The U.S. government aspires toward a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, defined by respect for sovereignty and the independence of nations, peaceful resolution of disputes, free and fair trade, adherence to international law, and greater transparency and good governance.2 For the United States, successful realization of this regional order would include strong U.S. alliances and security partnerships; a military able to operate throughout the region, consistent with international law; U.S. firms with access to leading markets, and benefiting from updated technology standards, investment rules, and trade agreements; U.S. participation in effective regional and international institutions; and the spread of democracy and individual freedoms in the context of an open information environment and vibrant civil society.3

By contrast, China is driving toward a more closed and illiberal future for the Indo-Pacific, core aspects of which would undermine vital U.S. interests.4 Key features of China-led order would include the People’s Liberation Army controlling the South and East China Seas; regional countries sufficiently coerced into acquiescing to China’s preferences on military, economic, and diplomatic matters; an economic order in which Beijing sets trade and investment rules in its favor, with dominance over leading technologies, data, and standards; and Beijing with de facto rule over Taiwan and agenda-setting power over regional institutions. The order would be further characterized by weak civil society, a dearth of independent media, and the gradual spread of authoritarianism, reinforced by the proliferation of China’s high-tech surveillance state. The net result would be a less secure, less prosperous United States that is less able to exert power and influence in the world.5

China wants to put itself back at the centre of the world

On china’s border with Kazakhstan, a new Silk Road city has sprung up with such speed that Google Earth has scarcely begun to record the high-rises that now float on a winter mist above the steppe. What once would have been flattered to be called a hard-scrabble border town is now home to 200,000 people, giant outdoor video screens extolling the glories of a new Silk Road, and restaurants serving sashimi and European wine. Khorgos has become China’s gateway to Central Asia, and all the way to Europe.

A twin town is going up in Kazakhstan. A duty-free mall already straddles the border for Kazakhstanis to get deals on booze, perfume and cut-price Chinese goods. But the key features, just across the border, are the giant gantry cranes more usually seen in the world’s ports. The Khorgos Gateway is a container terminal, a “dry port” built from scratch in 2014. The transport hub is intended as a critical link in what China’s president, Xi Jinping, has called the “Eurasian land bridge”. Among its investors is China’s cosco, one of the world’s shipping giants. It is run by dp World, Dubai’s port operator. Last year the dry port handled 160,000 teus (a unit equivalent to a 20-foot container). Hicham Belmaachi, its Moroccan manager, expects that to rise to 400,000 in 2025.

A virus is crippling China's economy — and threatening the world's


China’s pandemic caused by the rapid spread of the deadly novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and the Chinese regime’s failed response to control it has had a tremendous impact on China’s economy, as well as the world’s. Although it is hard to quantify the economic impact because of a lack of data, given the scope and magnitude of the pandemic inside China and its spread outside the country’s borders, analysts reasonably can conclude that it will result in a global disaster with serious economic effects.

As of Feb. 11, reported cases have skyrocketed to 43,104 and the death toll has exceeded 1,000, surpassing the 2003 SARS epidemic when at least 8,096 people were infected and 774 died. But the real numbers involving the coronavirus likely are much larger than what is reported. Many victims were cremated immediately, before their diagnosis and treatment in China. And the Chinese government’s information control regarding the outbreak has included public opinion manipulation that has lied about the disaster from the beginning. 

Western governments should have been ready for Huawei

Shanker Singham

In the late 1990s, I represented Lucent Technologies, a firm focused on delivering telecommunications equipment which had been spun out of AT&T. 

At the time, in addition to the more familiar competitors such as Nortel Networks and Alcatel, we faced an additional threat — a relatively new Chinese competitor called Huawei. 

Huawei was able to bid at a fraction of the western firms’ bids, because of the subsidies it enjoyed from the Chinese government. Nor were efforts for others to become market leaders in the US helped by the Chinese government’s relaxed attitude towards intellectual property theft.

The US government seemed powerless to act in the face of this Chinese threat, and in due course, Lucent and Alcatel were forced to merge, prior to their inevitable failure.

Europe Needs a China Strategy; Brussels Needs to Shape It

By Julianne Smith, Torrey Taussig 

Editor’s Note: Europe's relationship with China is fraught with disagreements and inconsistencies. Different countries have different approaches, and they are not capitalizing on the collective power of the European Union—all to China’s benefit. Julianne Smith of the German Marshall Fund and Torrey Taussig of the Harvard Kennedy School detail the problems this is causing for Europe and lay out a set of steps that would put Europe in a stronger negotiating position.

Europe’s momentum in developing a clear-eyed approach toward China has stalled. In March 2019, the European Commission issued a white paper naming China a systemic rival and economic competitor. That publication marked a fundamental shift in how far European institutions were willing to go in raising the challenges China poses to Europe’s openness and prosperity. It also reflected shifts that were occurring in capitals across Europe. Just as the European Union was rolling out its white paper on China, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was arguing that Europe should view China as a competitor as much as a partner, and French President Emmanuel Macron warned China that “the period of European naivety is over.”

China’s Digital Revolution in Bank Lending


BEIJING – China’s economy is growing at is lowest rate in over 30 years, but if the country’s nearly 40 million small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) could overcome a lack of access to funding, they could become a powerful engine of economic dynamism. Can digital innovators close the SME financing gap?

China’s government has certainly tried. Since 2005, policymakers have been working to expand access to financial services for SMEs, as well as for low-income households. Measures have included the establishment of more than 8,000 micro-credit companies, higher annual SME loan requirements for banks, and a mandatory reduction in the average interest rate on loans to SMEs, by one percentage point per year in 2018 and 2019.

Yet, despite these efforts, only 20% of Chinese SMEs ever borrow from banks.One reason for this is that SMEs, while plentiful, are not always easy to find, given their small size and geographical diffusion. A more important reason is that many banks are unable to employ market-based risk pricing effectively for SMEs.

With the average Chinese SME surviving for fewer than five years, one cannot claim that lending to them is not risky. But mandatory lower borrowing costs for SMEs mean that banks cannot use interest rates to offset the higher risks, and the government hasn’t offered compensatory subsidies.

Surging Jihadist Wave In Western Africa: Conflict Spillover – Analysis

By Dr. Shanthie Mariet D Souza and Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

The Sahel region in Western Africa is witnessing a massive surge in terrorist attacks. Three countries- Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso- reported 4000 deaths in 2019 and the trend of staggering casualties in attacks by al Qaeda and Islamic State-linked outfits continues in 2020. The governments and militaries of the affected states are ill prepared to deal with the upscale in violence. With the United States of America considering pulling out its troops, 5000 French troops may not be able to contain the Jihadist wave in general and the resurgence of the Islamic State in particular, which may engulf the entire Sahel region causing deaths and producing thousands of IDPs. 
Spate of Attacks

On 1 February 2020, unidentified heavily armed men on motorbikes arrived in Lamdamol village in Seno province of Burkina Faso, north of the capital Ouagadougou and massacred 20 civilians.[1] The attack took place a week after a similar carnage in the province of Soum. Suspected Islamist terrorists had rounded up the villagers, executed the men and asked the women to leave the village. In early January, 36 people had been massacred at two villages in the northern Sanmatenga province. Jihadists also kidnapped and killed a Canadian mine worker and abducted two other humanitarian workers in December 2019. These incidents are the latest in a series of attacks that have taken place in this West African nation. A day before the 27 January attack, the prime minister of Burkina Faso and cabinet had resigned taking responsibility for the slide in security situation.

Iran admits worst ‘cyber attack in its history’ before latest failed satellite launch


Just hours before the launch, the country’s deputy information minister, Hamid Fatah confirmed the breach of the network. He tweeted: “Hackers today launched the most widespread attack in Iranian history against the country’s infrastructure.

“Millions of origin targeted millions of destinations and are seeking worldwide disruption to Iran’s Internet network.”

The attack occurred at the Imam Khomeini Spaceport.

The space centre has seen multiple failed launches and is believed to be a testing place for ballistic missile technology by the US.

Although Iran revealed the attack, it is unclear whether it caused the malfunction.

Saving America’s Alliances

By Mira Rapp-Hooper 

In his three years in office, U.S. President Donald Trump has aimed his trademark vitriol at a wide range of targets, both foreign and domestic. Perhaps the most consequential of these is the United States’ 70-year-old alliance system. The 45th president has balked at upholding the country’s NATO commitments, demanded massive increases in defense spending from such long-standing allies as Japan and South Korea, and suggested that underpaying allies should be left to fight their own wars with shared adversaries. Trump’s ire has been so relentless and damaging that U.S. allies in Asia and Europe now question the United States’ ability to restore itself as a credible security guarantor, even after a different president is in the White House.

But the tattered state of the alliance system is not Trump’s doing alone. After decades of triumph, the United States’ alliances have become victims of their own steady success and are now in peril. In the early years of the Cold War, the United States created the alliance system to establish and preserve the balance of power in Asia and Europe. To adapt the phrase of the commentator Walter Lippmann, alliances became the shields of the republic. These pacts and partnerships preserved an uneasy peace among the major industrialized countries until the end of the twentieth century. And they came with far fewer financial and political costs than Trump and some international relations scholars have claimed. When the Soviet Union collapsed, American policymakers wisely preserved this trusty tool of statecraft. But because the United States had no real peer competitors, the alliance system was repurposed for a world of American primacy and lost its focus on defense and deterrence.

The New Spheres of Influence

By Graham Allison 

In the heady aftermath of the Cold War, American policymakers pronounced one of the fundamental concepts of geopolitics obsolete. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described a new world “in which great power is defined not by spheres of influence . . . or the strong imposing their will on the weak.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that “the United States does not recognize spheres of influence.” Secretary of State John Kerry proclaimed that “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over,” ending almost two centuries of the United States staking claim to its own sphere of influence in the Western Hemisphere.

Such pronouncements were right in that something about geopolitics had changed. But they were wrong about what exactly it was. U.S. policymakers had ceased to recognize spheres of influence—the ability of other powers to demand deference from other states in their own regions or exert predominant control there—not because the concept had become obsolete. Rather, the entire world had become a de facto American sphere. Spheres of influence had given way to a sphere of influence. The strong still imposed their will on the weak; the rest of the world was compelled to play largely by American rules, or else face a steep price, from crippling sanctions to outright regime change. Spheres of influence hadn’t gone away; they had been collapsed into one, by the overwhelming fact of U.S. hegemony.

Decade Forecast: 2020-2030

Every five years for the past quarter-century, Stratfor has produced a Decade Forecast, this being our sixth. At times, those forecasts have been right for the wrong reasons and wrong for the right reasons. 

Our forecast for the decade from 2020-2030 serves as a framework for the future: it enables us to consider the sum of the possible, as well as the narrower collection of the plausible and the probable. In doing so, it provides a baseline for considering implications, identifying alternatives and assessing contingencies.

This forecast begins with a brief overview of the main contours of the world system — its political, economic and security components — and follows with an examination of eight critical factors that will shape the coming decade. We fully recognize that this list is too narrow to encompass all of the forces shaping our complex world and that one could make the case that other factors are equally or even more significant, depending upon one's point of view. Nonetheless, we stand by this list as both representative of the critical trends ahead and concise enough to manage.

The Challenging Arithmetic of Climate Action


MILAN – Climate change was at the forefront of last month’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Younger participants, in particular, underscored the challenge ahead, with the teenage activist Greta Thunberg delivering a powerful speech on the subject. But they were not in the minority: for the first time ever, climate-related issues dominated the top five positions in the WEF’s Global Risks Perception Survey.

The newfound sense of urgency on climate change comes at a time when the corporate community is increasingly pledging to shift toward a multi-stakeholder model of governance – a transition that would create space for more climate-conscious ways of doing business. But the challenge of creating a sustainable global economy remains monumental.

Each year, the world emits over 36 billion metric tons – or 36 gigatons (Gt) – of carbon dioxide. That is roughly 2.5 times what climate scientists consider a “safe” level of emissions: to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels – the threshold beyond which climate change’s impacts would intensify significantly – we should be emitting just 14 Gt annually over the next two decades. That translates to two metric tons per person each year – far less than the current rate, especially in the developed world.

Conflicts to Watch in 2020

Paul B. Stares
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Each year since 2008, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action (CPA) asks foreign policy experts to rank thirty ongoing or potential conflicts based on how likely they are to occur or escalate in the next year, and their possible impact on U.S. interests.

This year, “perhaps as an indication of rising concern about the state of the world, respondents rated more threats as likely to require a U.S. military response for 2020 than in any other Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS) from the last eleven years,” notes Paul B. Stares, CPA director and General John W. Vessey senior fellow for conflict prevention. “Of the thirty conflicts in this year’s survey, only two were judged as having a low likelihood of occurring in 2020.”

Experts continue to rank threats to the U.S. homeland as top concerns. For the second year in a row, a highly disruptive cyberattack on critical infrastructure, including electoral systems, was the top-ranked homeland security–­­related concern. A mass-casualty terrorist attack was a close second. A confrontation between the United States and Iran, North Korea, or with China in the South China Sea remain the biggest concerns overseas.

Facing Few Obstacles and Scant Pushback, Russia Keeps Advancing in Africa

By: Stephen Blank

According to numerous analyses published by think tanks and journals in the United States and Europe, Russia lost its African adventure before it even started. Purportedly, Russia lacks the resources with which to compete in Africa against the United States and China, acts there in a ham-handed and overly corrupt manner, deals only with backward authoritarian states, has nothing to sell but arms, and is primarily motivated by economic rather than strategic objectives (Difesa.it, June 2019; Ifri.org, April 2019; Carnegieendowment.org, October 16, 2019). Despite these expert assertions, however, this is assuredly not how US African Command (AFRICOM) evaluates the situation.

In his testimony to Congress, AFRICOM head General Stephen Townsend, made clear that his Command’s threat assessments see Russia (and China) continuing to seize all available opportunities to expand its influence in Africa. According to General Townsend, those activities are destabilizing and, extensive arms sales notwithstanding, do little to counter the epidemic of insurgency and terrorism endemic to places like the Sahel (Africom.mil, January 30, 2020).

Russia’s Ground Forces Introduce Mobile Counter-UAV Units

By: Roger McDermott

Russia’s political-military leadership has a long standing fear of a sudden air attack on the country, which still permeates strategic thinking and planning. Drawing upon lessons based on analyses of air operations carried out by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), combined with Russia’s proactive measures to protect its military facilities in Syria in recent years, Moscow has authorized another organic change to the structure of the Russian Armed Forces. In January of this year, following experiments run during the fall 2019 Combat Commonwealth military exercise, Russia’s Ground Forces have been augmented by the introduction of units specially formed to combat enemy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) (Izvestia, February 9). These units, initially introduced in the Southern and Eastern military districts (MD) as a precursor to their appearance across all five MDs, are so far somewhat rudimentary in scope and capability. Their primary focus is currently on detection of and interference against UAVs. However, the defense ministry plans to eventually equip these units with more direct means to destroy enemy drones.

According to Izvestia’s sources, the Counter-UAV units are staffed exclusively by officers and contract personnel (kontraktniki), who undergo highly specialized training to facilitate their new role. Initially, these units are being tasked with the protection of military bases within their MDs; but they will undoubtedly also play a key role in any future Russian military operations. The units are equipped with small-sized radars and electronic interference systems. Indeed, it appears that the electronic warfare (EW) element plays a critical role in the capability of these units to “bring down” enemy UAVs. After the successful detection of a non-friendly drone, it is brought down using EW systems to jam its navigation system (Izvestia, February 10).

Preventing the Death of the World’s Rivers

The world’s rivers are under unprecedented pressure from contamination, damming, and diversion, which are straining water resources, destroying ecosystems, jeopardizing livelihoods, and damaging human health. International cooperation can save riparian systems, but first we must recognize the consequences of doing nothing.

From the Tigris to the Indus and the Yangtze to the Nile, rivers were essential to the emergence of human civilization. Millennia later, hundreds of millions of people still depend on rivers to quench their thirst, grow food, and make a living. And yet we are rapidly destroying the planet’s river systems, with serious implications for our economies, societies, and even our survival.

China is a case in point. Its dam-building frenzy and over-exploitation of rivers is wreaking environmental havoc on Asia, destroying forests, depleting biodiversity, and straining water resources. China’s first water census, released in 2013, showed that the number of rivers – not including small streams – had plummeted by more than half over the previous six decades, with over 27,000 rivers lost.

Social Media Suicide

By Matthew Tuzel

Young people in America are losing their lives to suicide at an alarming rate. It also seems that tech companies like Facebook may have unwittingly enabled this disturbing trend. It is clear that tech companies and the rest of the country need to do more to help curb the suicide epidemic, but there are important questions about where to start and how to integrate tech companies, healthcare providers, and the government agencies that provide regulation. The U.S. military is an ideal place to start integration of tech, healthcare, and government because the U.S. military has both an acute need for improved mental health and is well positioned to spearhead initiatives to integrate tech, healthcare, and government.

America’s armed forces are in particular need of improved health care. Recently, three sailors on a single U.S. Navy ship died by suicide. Last year, 541 service members died by suicide, including a disproportionate number of young service members. That being said, comparing suicide rates between the military and the general population is problematic. Taken at face value, the military has a higher suicide rate than the general population, but when adjusted for age, sex, and other factors, the military’s suicide rates are similar to the suicide rate among the general population. What is notable, however, is that the military has a greater concentration of young people than just about any other single organization in America, which means that America’s youth suicide problem is particularly concentrated in the military. 

Deterring Attacks Against the Power Grid

by Anu Narayanan

Increased reliance on intelligence processing, exploitation, and dissemination; networked real-time communications for command and control; and a proliferation of electronic controls and sensors in military vehicles (such as remotely piloted aircraft), equipment, and facilities have greatly increased the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)'s dependence on energy, particularly electric power, at installations. Thus, ensuring that forces and facilities have access to a reliable supply of electricity is critical for mission assurance. However, most of the electricity consumed by military installations in the continental United States comes from the commercial grid—a system that is largely outside of DoD control and increasingly vulnerable to both natural hazards and deliberate attacks, including cyberattacks. In this report, researchers explore two approaches that DoD might consider as options for deterring attacks against the power grid: enhancing resilience and reliability to deter by denial and using the threat of retaliation to deter by cost imposition. The report represents a first step in developing frameworks and context to support DoD decisionmaking in this area.

Key Findings

Deterrence in the Age of Thinking Machines

by Yuna Huh Wong

What are the implications of adding thinking machines and autonomous systems to the practices that countries have developed to signal one another about the use of force and its potential consequences?

What happens to deterrence and escalation when decisions can be made at machine speeds and are carried out by forces that do not risk human lives of the using state or actor?

How might the rise of these capabilities weaken or strengthen deterrence?

What are potential areas of miscalculation and unintended consequences?

The greater use of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems by the militaries of the world has the potential to affect deterrence strategies and escalation dynamics in crises and conflicts. Up until now, deterrence has involved humans trying to dissuade other humans from taking particular courses of action. What happens when the thinking and decision processes involved are no longer purely human? How might dynamics change when decisions and actions can be taken at machine speeds? How might AI and autonomy affect the ways that countries have developed to signal one another about the potential use of force? What are potential areas for miscalculation and unintended consequences, and unwanted escalation in particular?

The Return of Deterrence: Credibility and Capabilities in a New Era (KCIS 2018)

Prof William G Braun III, Kim Richard Nossal, Stéfanie von Hlatky
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What are the implications of re-emphasizing deterrence in defence policy? What is the appropriate balance of capabilities and political commitments to restore a credible defence posture while keeping the door open for constructive dialogue with Moscow and Beijing? In Western Europe, NATO’s defence capabilities must be able to both deter adversaries and reassure allies. Canada, along with the United States, Germany and the UK, has become lead nation for one of the four battlegroups in the Baltics and Poland. Yet even with NATO’s enhanced forward presence, it is not yet clear what deterrence will entail: is it a return to the Cold War or is deterrence in a more hybrid conflict environment fundamentally different? What is the respective importance of conventional forces, nuclear weapons and missile defence in upholding deterrence and reassurance?
Those questions—and others—were addressed by panelists and presenters at KCIS 2018. We reproduce eight papers from the conference in this volume. The chapters in this volume focus on both the general applicability of deterrence as a theoretical approach to contemporary global politics, and to particular policy issues confronting Western allies.

War on Autopilot? It Will Be Harder Than the Pentagon Thinks


MCLEAN, Virginia — Everything is new about Northrop Grumman’s attempt to help the military link everything it can on the battlefield. One day, as planners imagine it, commanders will be able to do things like send autonomous drones into battle, change attack plans midcourse, and find other ways to remove humans and their limitations from decision chains that increasingly seem to require quantum speed. Northrop’s Innovation Center in McLean, Virginia, looks so new it could have sprung up in a simulation. Its Washington metro rail stop doesn’t even appear on many maps yet.

Northrop is hardly alone. Over the last few months, various weapons makers have begun showing off all sorts of capabilities to reporters, while military officials detail their own efforts to link up jets, tanks, ships, and soldiers. As they describe it, it’s a technological race to out-automate America’s potential adversaries. 

But real questions remain about the Pentagon’s re-imagining of networked warfare. Will it ever become more than glitzy simulations? And have military leaders thought through the implications if it does?

How ‘hunt forward’ teams can help defend networks

Mark Pomerleau
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The Pentagon provided funding for equipment for U.S. Cyber Command's so-called hunt forward teams that deploy to other nations and help defend their networks. (Maj. Robert Felicio/Army National Guard)

The Department of Defense wants to spend $11.6 million in fiscal year 2021 to buy systems that would help cyber operators perform “hunt forward” missions, where teams deploy to other countries to stop malicious cyber activity.

The Pentagon did not appear to set aside procurement money for the program in fiscal year 2020.

The operations provide U.S. cyber teams insight into tactics used by adversaries that could be turned against U.S. networks or during elections in the future.

The funds are part of the Air Force’s procurement budget for fiscal year 2021 through the “C3/Countermeasures” program. The Air Force serves as U.S. Cyber Command’s executive agent in procuring equipment.

How ‘hunt forward’ teams can help defend networks

Mark Pomerleau
The Department of Defense wants to spend $11.6 million in fiscal year 2021 to buy systems that would help cyber operators perform “hunt forward” missions, where teams deploy to other countries to stop malicious cyber activity.

The Pentagon did not appear to set aside procurement money for the program in fiscal year 2020.

The operations provide U.S. cyber teams insight into tactics used by adversaries that could be turned against U.S. networks or during elections in the future.

The funds are part of the Air Force’s procurement budget for fiscal year 2021 through the “C3/Countermeasures” program. The Air Force serves as U.S. Cyber Command’s executive agent in procuring equipment.

Defense officials view these hunt forward operations as a critical component to protecting the homeland and as part of a new strategy of “persistent engagement,” which is how Cyber Command executes a philosophy of “defend forward” by challenging adversary activities wherever they operate.