28 February 2020

Nagaland: Rising Skepticism

On February 10, 2020, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio announced that the Government of India (GoI), the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM), and the Working Committee of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) had wound up “the talks and are now working out the competencies to ink a solution to the Naga issue.” Adding a note of caution, CM Neiphiu Rio clarified that “nowhere has it been mentioned that the peace process has concluded. Only the talks have concluded on a positive note, which signifies that the negotiating parties have arrived at meeting points on the various topics of the negotiations”. 

The NNPGs comprise of seven Naga militant groups: the NSCN–Neokpao-Kitovi (NSCN-NK), NSCN-Reformation faction (NSCN-R), Khango Konyak faction of NSCN-Khaplang (NSCN-K) and four factions of the Naga National Council (NNC) – Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN), NNC-Parent Body, Non-Accordist faction of NNC/National People's Government of Nagaland (NPGN/NNC-NA), and Government Democratic Republic of Nagaland /NNC-NA (GDRN). The NNPGs were included in talks with GoI under an effort to widen the peace talks on September 27, 2017. 

Afghan truce worry: 1 militant could threaten peace process


WASHINGTON (AP) — Hopes for ending America’s longest war hinge on maintaining a weeklong fragile truce in Afghanistan that U.S. officials and experts agree will be difficult to assess and fraught with pitfalls.

What if one militant with a suicide vest kills dozens in a Kabul market? Or, if a U.S. airstrike targeting Islamic State insurgents takes out Taliban members instead, does that destroy the deal?

The agreement, which took effect Friday, calls for an end to attacks around the country, including roadside bombings, suicide attacks and rocket strikes between the Taliban, Afghan and U.S. forces.

But in a country that has been wracked by violence for more than 18 years, determining if the agreement has been violated will be a tough task. And there are a number of other groups and elements in the country that would love to see the deal fall through.

“The reason this is a challenge is this is a very decentralized insurgency,” said Seth Jones, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and an Afghanistan expert. “There are going to be a lot of opportunities for any militia commander, element of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and other local forces who don’t want to see a deal, to conduct violence.”

The Haqqani network is an insurgent group linked to the Taliban.

The Taliban's lies in the New York Times

by Tom Rogan

The Taliban is lying. That's my response to Sirajuddin Haqqani's New York Times opinion article on Thursday, "What We, the Taliban, Want."

As my colleague Becket Adams observes, the choice to allow the Taliban to write this article is itself questionable. But Haqqani's words are also a masterpiece in deception.

Haqqani is indeed the deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban and the leader of his Haqqani network subgroup. His article thus suggests seriousness about the imminence of a U.S.-Taliban peace deal. The problem is that his wordplay indicates commitments he has very little intention of keeping.

The most ludicrous commitment comes with his pledge to "find a way to build an Islamic system in which all Afghans have equal rights, where the rights of women that are granted by Islam — from the right to education to the right to work — are protected, and where merit is the basis for equal opportunity."


China’s Counteroffensive in the War of Ideas

By Nadège Rolland

From Beijing's perspective, political influence operations are at least as important as military operations, if not more so. Although the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) military modernisation programs have been at the centre of attention for decades, China's influence operations have only recently begun to be scrutinised. It is easy enough to understand why. Policymakers can easily point to an adversary’s growing military capabilities in order to raise public awareness, highlight the potential danger posed to the nation’s security, and rally their constituents around the need to provide adequate means to address the challenge. By contrast, the potentially devastating effects of influence operations – and even their very existence – cannot be easily visualised. In the case of China, influence operations are also wrapped in mystifying terminology such as “magic weapons” and “united front”, which can be dismissed either as witchcraft or as the exclusive preoccupation of a coterie of obsessive Sinologists.

To help grasp the nature of the challenge at hand, it may be useful to think of China's influence strategy as very similar to its so-called “anti-access, area denial” strategy – in other words, what the Chinese Communist Party is trying to achieve with influence operations in the realm of ideas is similar to what it aims to accomplish in the military domain.

China’s COVID-19 Moment

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HONG KONG – Last October, the 2019 Global Health Security Report included a stark warning: “National health security is fundamentally weak around the world. No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.” Just a couple of months later, a new coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China – and quickly demonstrated the accuracy of the report’s assessment.

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit at a time of much greater economic vulnerability than in 2003, during the SARS outbreak, and China's share of world output has more than doubled since then. With other major economies already struggling, the risk of outright global recession in the first half of 2020 seems like a distinct possibility.2Add to Bookmarks

The virus, now called COVID-19, was first discovered in China’s Wuhan municipality, but was not taken sufficiently seriously by the authorities in the early weeks. Multiple mistakes being made, including the failure to comprehend the virus’s speed of transmission, compounded by the delay in informing the public about the outbreak. In fact, some who first warned of the disease – most notably the ophthalmologist Li Wenliang – were reprimanded by local authorities. (Li subsequently died of the disease.)

When China Sneezes


NEW HAVEN – The world economy has clearly caught a cold. The outbreak of COVID-19 came at a particularly vulnerable point in the global business cycle. World output expanded by just 2.9% in 2019 – the slowest pace since the 2008-09 global financial crisis and just 0.4 percentage points above the 2.5% threshold typically associated with global recession.

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit at a time of much greater economic vulnerability than in 2003, during the SARS outbreak, and China's share of world output has more than doubled since then. With other major economies already struggling, the risk of outright global recession in the first half of 2020 seems like a distinct possibility.2Add to Bookmarks

Moreover, vulnerability increased in most major economies over the course of last year, making prospects for early 2020 all the more uncertain. In Japan, the world’s fourth-largest economy, growth contracted at a 6.3% annual rate in the fourth quarter – much sharper than expected following another consumption-tax hike. Industrial output fell sharply in December in both Germany (-3.5%) and France (-2.6%), the world’s fifth- and tenth-largest economies respectively. The United States, the world’s second-largest economy, appeared relatively resilient by comparison, but 2.1% real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2019 hardly qualifies as a boom. And in China – now the world’s largest economy in purchasing-power-parity terms – growth slowed to a 27-year low of 6% in the last quarter of 2019.

Chinese Research Funding, Economic Espionage, and Disclosure

By Ankit Panda

In the highest profile case of its type in recent memory, a professor at the U.S.-based Harvard University was charged last month with lying to American officials about links to China’s Thousand Talents Program — a state-backed initiative to offer financing to foreign researchers in exchange for knowhow and assistance in critical technologies and issues.

Charles Lieber, a prominent nanoscientist and the chair of Harvard’s chemistry and chemical biology department, was arrested on January 28. The U.S. Department of Justice released a criminal complaint detailing the wrongdoing that Lieber is accused of.

A few bits about Lieber’s case stand out immediately. First, the complaint against him alleges that he was paid eye-popping amounts for his collaboration with China-based researchers. In addition to $600,000 in annual salary, he was earning some $150,000 in “living expense” — that’s leaving aside the $1.5 million he allegedly received to help set up a laboratory in China.

Coronavirus and the geopolitics of disease


On 28 January 2020 at the Great Hall of the People on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square – a symbol of the Chinese Communist Party’s political might – President Xi Jinping met Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), to discuss the current coronavirus outbreak. “The epidemic is a devil,” Xi said. “We cannot let the devil hide.”

His words left Western observers puzzled. With nearly 60 million people already subject to quarantine measures in China, the nation’s leader seemed to be stoking fear by comparing the virus to a malign spirit. But he wasn’t doing anything of the sort. As the medical anthropologist and China specialist Christos Lynteris of the University of St Andrews told me, Xi’s words were targeted at a domestic audience – not at the WHO chief or the wider world – and were carefully chosen to reassure. 

There’s a long tradition in China of comparing natural disasters, including epidemics, to demons, gods or spirits, and an equally long tradition of seeing them as heralding major political upheaval. One example is the Manchurian plague epidemic of 1910-11, which left an estimated 60,000 people dead. It remains vivid in the Chinese collective memory because of the many documentaries praising the plague heroes, such as the military doctor Wu Lien-teh, who fought to bring it under control.

Europe steps up defence spending: IISS

By Harry Lye

Analysis from IISS found that across Europe defence spending rose to levels unseen before the financial crisis, rising to $289bn in 2019. The leading spender in Europe was the UK with its $54.8bn budget comprising 18.4% of the entire continent’s defence spending.

Europe as a whole has seen a steady increase in defence spending as economies recover and European members of NATO step up their ambitions to meet the recommended spend of 2% of GDP on defence. Only Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Austria, Montenegro and Luxembourg saw their defence spending decrease in 2019, with every other nation raising its spend.

Europe’s biggest defence spenders:
The UK: $54.8bn
France: $52.3bn
Germany: $48.5bn
Italy: $27.1bn
Spain: $12.9bn

Eastern European countries unnerved by Russia’s incursions in Ukraine and Georgia have turned on the taps on defence spending and looked to NATO allies to increase their presence in Eastern-facing countries for fear they could suffer the same fate. IISS noted that two-thirds of NATO allies have plans to reach the 2% of GDP spending commitment by 2024 after the US protested it was taking on too much of the burden.


Operation Inherent Resolve’s Battle of Mosul (October 2016–July 2017) was one of the most pulverizing battles in recent times, and it resulted in the tactical defeat of the Islamic State. Looking to capitalize on it, U.S. Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) commissioned the Mosul Study Group to provide a report. The goal of the report was to glean lessons from the battle and get them back out to the force as quickly as possible. TRADOC and the Mosul Study Group succeeded in this endeavor, publishing What the Battle of Mosul Teaches the Force a mere two months after it had formally concluded. 

However, TRADOC and the Mosul Study Group’s haste resulted in missing that Mosul was decisive in relation to the larger campaign to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq. Further, the report failed to articulate the paradoxical role that precision-strike capabilities and precision-guided munitions played. Lastly, the report failed to highlight that it was a block-by-block positional battle of attrition in which steel, sweat and blood saved the day—not new doctrinal concepts, Facebook “likes” or Twitter branding. 

A Sustainable Approach for Disengaging Violent Extremists

Chris Bosley

Governments and communities worldwide are facing the increasingly daunting challenge of what to do when citizens who participated in violent extremist conflicts return home. With ISIS’s territorial caliphate extinguished, more than 100 countries could face the task of not only having to reintegrate their citizens, but also preparing their communities for a future with them living next door. This is a society-wide challenge that will engage a cross-cutting spectrum of stakeholders deploying a range of peacebuilding and other tools to build communities and individuals who are more resilient to violent extremism.

USIP’s Sustainable Initiative

The statistics are staggering—in addition to tens of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis, over 50,000 foreigners traveled from approximately 120 countries to live or fight with ISIS. Outside of Iraq and Syria, too, violent extremist conflicts continue to rage in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Worldwide, racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism has risen over 300 percent since 2013.

Disengagement from violent extremism at this scale is all about sustainability, and there is a clear need to rethink the strategies involved. In 2020, USIP is embarking upon a journey to unleash the role of peacebuilding to help do so. With the Violent Extremism Disengagement and Reconciliation initiative, we’re researching how peacebuilding tools and approaches can transform the attitudes, relationships, and structures that fuel the grievances and dynamics that contribute to violent extremism.

A Conventional—But Incomplete—Approach

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.

US Embrace of Great Power Competition Also Means Contending With Spheres of Influence

Paul Saunders

Despite considerable controversy over U.S. President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, his administration’s statement that great power competition has supplanted international terrorism as the principal threat to U.S. national security has won widespread and bipartisan support both in Congress and among Washington’s foreign policy elite, in part due to anxiety that China and Russia are working to establish “spheres of influence” in their respective regions. Seventy-five years after the Yalta Conference between U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin, U.S. elites remain deeply troubled by Yalta’s perceived role in Stalin’s subsequent domination of Central Europe and the oppression of the region’s Soviet bloc regimes. Strikingly, however, Washington’s embrace of great power competition has not yet stimulated a general re-evaluation of past concepts and principles of America’s foreign policy, including those surrounding spheres of influence, which are an inherent feature of great power competition. Failing to discuss and develop strategies and policies that accept and manage spheres of influence could prove quite costly—indeed, it already has.

After the U.S.S.R.’s sphere of influence collapsed in 1989, and the country itself fell apart in 1991, determination to avoid “a new Yalta” became a powerful force in U.S. and Western foreign policy.

West Point Prof Pens Blistering Takedown Of U.S. Military Academies

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What do you call a civilian law professor who, after successfully filing for federal whistleblower status to keep his job teaching at West Point Military Academy, proceeds to write a bombshell book about the systematic corruption, violence, fraud, and anti-intellectualism he says has been rampant at the historic institution for over a hundred years?

Well, if you are part of the military leadership or an alumnus of the storied military academy, you may call him a traitor.

But if you are anyone searching for reasons why the most powerful military in the world has not won a war in 75 years, you might call him a truth-teller. And a pretty brave one at that.

Tim Bakken’s The Cost of Loyalty: Dishonesty, Hubris and Failure in the U.S. Militaryis set for release tomorrow, and it should land like a grenade. Unlike the myriad critiques of the military that wash over the institution from outside the Blob, this one is written by a professor with 20 years on the inside. He knows the instructors, the culture, the admissions process, the scandals, the cover-ups, and how its legendary “warrior-scholars” have performed after graduation and on the battlefield.

Connecting the Blue Dots

The photo of planet Earth from distant space that Carl Sagan made famous—“the pale blue dot”—turned thirty this month. The popular astronomer might be flattered, or puzzled, to have inspired an effort today by the United States and two of its allies to promote high-quality global infrastructure: the Blue Dot Network (BDN). The initiative holds promise and should be encouraged, but it also raises nearly as many questions as the cosmos.

The BDN was announced by the United States, Japan, and Australia in November 2019 at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Thailand. Together, the three allies aim to certify infrastructure projects around the world that meet high standards of transparency, sustainability, and developmental impact. They seek to accomplish for “quality infrastructure” what Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has accomplished with energy efficiency in buildings or the Forest Stewardship Council has accomplished with certified logging. In doing so, they hope to give private investors the confidence to help meet the world’s pressing infrastructure needs—estimated at $94 trillion over the next two decades.

Cynics say the color choice in the initiative’s name was not an accident: a contrast to the red of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Xi Jinping’s signature initiative promises trillions of dollars of Chinese spending on roads, ports, and digital connections around the world. The Trump administration has barely tried to hide its disdain for the Chinese initiative, critiquing everything from BRI’s non-transparent financing to Beijing’s geopolitical designs.

Will Climate Change Derail the ‘Asian Century’?

By Andreas Unterstaller

There is a glaring disconnect between climate science and the economic and political narrative of a rising Asia, set to dominate the 21st century. Climate projections now point toward global warming far beyond the 1.5 degree Celsius danger line identified by science. If that happens, Asia’s economic hotspots will be badly affected. This could knock the region off its growth trajectory and put an untimely end to the Asian century.

Just a few years ago, no one could be faulted for predicting that the 21st century would be Asia’s. If anything, it seemed like a safe bet. And, yes, by all fundamental measures, economic and political power has shifted eastward. According to the World Economic Forum, Asia’s combined GDP is set to surpass the combined GDP of the rest of the world in purchasing power parity terms this year.

However, there is one thing that has not been factored in: climate change. If you read the literature about the Asian century, you will rarely come across this term. The world now is already 1°C hotter than in pre-industrial times. There is little doubt that the global average temperature will climb further. If far-reaching greenhouse gas reduction measures are taken now, it may be possible to hold the increase below 2°C. However, it is doubtful whether this will be achieved. If you sum up the current emission reduction pledges made under the Paris agreement, warming of 3°C or more by mid-century seems likely.

Trump’s Middle East peace plan: What’s there to be upset about?

Salam Fayyad

Alot, if you are Palestinian. Even before reading past the plan’s first few pages, virtually no Palestinian could be reasonably expected to still be looking for a silver lining in its details. This should come as no surprise. The plan’s introduction cites Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s October 1995 speech before the Knesset, in which he sought to win approval for the Oslo II Interim Agreement by laying out a vision of a future Palestinian entity that he described as “less than a state.” That citation had a profound impact on me.

For what else can be made of a plan that emphasizes that the Palestinian leadership did not reject Rabin’s vision at the time? And, as if the point the plan’s authors were trying to drive home was not adequately clear, they made sure to underscore that Rabin’s vision was explicit on “Jerusalem remaining united under Israeli rule; on the portions of the West bank with large Jewish populations and the Jordan valley being incorporated in Israel; and on the remainder of the West Bank, along with Gaza, becoming subject to Palestinian autonomy…in something that was less than a state.” With Trump’s vision embracing these tenets of Rabin’s, the authors are clearly suggesting that the widely anticipated Palestinian rejection of the plan is unjustifiable.

There is a lot to unpack here. To begin with, the assertion that the Palestinian leadership did not reject Rabin’s vision does not mean they accepted it. To be sure, what that leadership signed on to under the Oslo framework was a mere autonomy, and only in parts of the Palestinian territory that Israel occupied in 1967. But what they thought they were getting, after an interim period of five years, was a state that Palestinians could proudly call home. And they were not alone in thinking that way. Whether on grounds of fairness, legality, practicality, or a combination thereof, there indeed developed a broad international consensus, including in Israel itself, in favor of a two-state vision that both Israelis and Palestinians could live with. That, in a nutshell, was what the various American-led mediation attempts had sought, but failed, to accomplish since Oslo.

Are We Really on the Brink of Escalation on the Northern Front? Insights from a War Game

Itai Brun, Anat Ben Haim
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The possibility that the northern arena is on the brink of escalation and liable to deteriorate into war was raised on several recent occasions, including: the annual intelligence assessment of the Military Intelligence Directorate that was presented to military reporters; a speech by the Chief of Staff on December 29, 2019 at a conference in Herzliya; and the INSS annual strategic assessment published at the start of 2020. In contrast with these assessments, the war game held as part of the INSS annual international conference in late January 2020 saw a different result. Despite an escalation scenario that could have led to a large-scale conflict in several arenas (resulting in “the first northern war”), during the game, all of the players – Israel, Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, Russia, and the United States – made significant efforts to prevent a deterioration to such a war. The scenario in the game was of several days of high-intensity combat, which all of the players sought to end quickly. This outcome could stem from the limitations of the game, but it also raises the possibility that the weight of restraining factors is more extensive than recently assessed, thus enabling Israel greater freedom of operation that could indeed lead to escalation, but not necessarily to a large-scale war.

(The war game at INSS's annual international conference)

The Scenario

Parameters, Spring 2020

o #FakeNews in #NatSec: Handling Misinformation

o Revisiting the 2006 Revolt of the Generals

o Are Retired Flag Officers Overparticipating in the Political Process?

o Missiles, Drones, and the Houthis in Yemen

o Defense Institution Building in Africa

o Norway’s Strategic Lieutenants

o Denmark’s Strategic Lieutenants

o On “Civil-Military Relations and Today’s Policy Environment”

o The Author Replies

Pentagon Briefs Industry On 5G Experiments


PENTAGON: Close to 300 companies logged on to a “virtual industry day” with Pentagon leadership last week as the military scrambles to build its own 5G networks. The challenge: moving fast enough to keep up with commercial innovation — but cautiously enough to keep China out.

The event, led by DoD’s technical director for 5G, Dr. Joe Evans, marked a starting point for shaping a forthcoming Request for Prototype Proposals planned in the coming weeks. The companies selected will then start work later this year on a series of 5G experiments at four bases across the United States.

Those experiments are intended to help the individual armed services to refine what it is they need, and what they need to ask from industry, as the Pentagon pumps hundreds of millions of new funding into 5G programs across the department.

The experiments run the gamut from logistics to sharing information between radar systems, and each service will play a role in testing out what industry offers. Hill Air Force Base in Utah will develop 5G dynamic spectrum sharing capabilities between airborne radar systems and 5G cellular systems. The Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia and Naval Base San Diego will test out a smart warehouse concept, while virtual reality training systems will be tested at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

The RPP will be issued through the National Spectrum Consortium, an industry group established under a five-year, $1.25 billion Other Transaction Authority contract with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Emerging Capabilities and Prototyping. Only vetted companies who belong to the consortium will be considered for the work.

Pentagon adopts new ethical principles for using AI in war

The Pentagon is adopting new ethical principles as it prepares to accelerate its use of artificial intelligence technology on the battlefield.

The new principles call for people to “exercise appropriate levels of judgment and care” when deploying and using AI systems, such as those that scan aerial imagery to look for targets.

They also say decisions made by automated systems should be “traceable” and “governable,” which means “there has to be a way to disengage or deactivate” them if they are demonstrating unintended behaviour, said Air Force Lieutenant General Jack Shanahan, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

The Pentagon’s push to speed up its AI capabilities has fuelled a fight between tech companies over a US$10 billion cloud computing contract known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI. Microsoft won the contract in October but has not been able to get started on the 10-year project because  Amazon sued the Pentagon, arguing that President Donald Trump’s antipathy toward Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos hurt the company’s chances at winning the bid.

Jamming, Precision Artillery and Long Range Drone Strikes on Libyan Battlefield Offer Lessons Learned for U.S. Military

by Shawn Snow – Military Times

Battles with characteristics of near-peer combat are raging in Africa — especially in Libya, where high-tech precision strike weapons are flooding the battlefield. And at a time when the U.S. is considering drawing down troops, the conflict in Libya is providing Pentagon planners with an opportunity to better prepare for any future conflict with China or Russia.

A 2020 UN report warns about the proliferation of high-tech weapons in Libya, from precision air and artillery to long-range drones, and the meddling of foreign actors seeking influence in the region.

U.S. Special Operations Command said in February that Africa is an area where American commandos can compete and flourish at a time where military commanders and Congress are questioning SOCOM’s viability in a near-peer war, as the elite force has predominately been trained and equipped to counter terrorist groups operating in more permissive environments.

Vice ADM. Tim Szymanski, the deputy SOCOM commander, told audience members attending the Global SOF foundation in February that SOCOM’s commandos are uniquely placed in areas where China and Russia are actively competing, including countries across Africa. SOCOM boasts 6,000 folks in 70 counties, providing “placement and access," Szymanski said…

5G Cyber Security: A Risk-Management ApproachJames Sullivan and Rebecca Lucas

This paper argues that approaches to the security of 5G telecommunications networks should depend on national context, including the geographic location of equipment, national cyber security experience, vendor availability and cost. The main policy priority for states should be the implementation of pragmatic technical cyber risk management measures that protect against the majority of risks to 5G networks. In January 2020, the UK’s National Security Council made the decision to exclude Huawei technology from the most sensitive parts of the UK’s 5G network, while allowing it to supply peripheral components such as mobile phone masts and antennae. From a purely technical perspective, this was a practical and realistic decision that adheres to the principles of cyber risk management and reflects the expert view of the UK’s national technical authority, the National Cyber Security Centre.

This research identifies a range of measures to manage risk to 5G networks, including resilient network architecture, access management, testing and monitoring, and cyber security standards. The findings demonstrate how core and edge functions do remain technically distinct in 5G networks and highlight multiple ways to isolate and localise risks. It recognises that 5G poses new challenges for cyber security practitioners, owing to technical concepts such as virtualisation and low-latency communication, but concludes that there are measured ways to manage the risk.

Future of Computing

For over 50 years, Moore’s Law has successfully predicted the increase of computing power based on dimensional scaling. Radical technological advances over decades of exponential progress in microelectronics have profoundly altered the way we live. We are reaching the end of Moore’s Law, and with that, the end of conventional, scaling-based computing progress. Fundamentally new approaches are needed to push forward the field of computing and ensure the strategic technological advantage of the United States. We must now consider the future of computing that goes beyond conventional complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS), von Neumann architecture, or even Boolean logic. Future approaches to computational hardware must provide substantially increased power efficiency and computational ability enabled by development of novel component and architectural designs. At the same time, new software designs will need to accommodate a variety of new and emerging applications and hardware types.

On October 31st, 2019, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies (PIPS) held a panel discussion entitled “The Future of Computing” to explore future trends in computing and to discuss radically new computational paradigms. Four panelists with expertise spanning government, military, academia, and industry explored emerging developments and future visions of computing. The discussion ranged from bio-inspired computational approaches, to 3D integration, to the new paradigm of thermodynamic computation. A robust Q&A session with the audience followed the panelists’ remarks.

5G Promises and Risks for US National Security

The continued development of 5G wireless technology will be a disruptive game changer for the communications industry and the worldwide economy. The quantum leap in performance afforded by 5G will spawn new industries and novel applications within existing industries like autonomous driving, healthcare, industrial automation, and remote sensing. Countries that dominate 5G technology development will enjoy major economic benefits resulting from these advancements. On July 22, 2019, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and Venable, LLP cohosted a seminar titled: “5G Promises and Risks for U.S. National Security” to explore issues around U.S. employment of 5G for national security. The event provided a platform for insightful conversation around the approaching reality of a 5G-connected world and the security risks that must be addressed.

Issues surrounding the U.S. employment of 5G for national security applications include leveraging 5G for ubiquitous surveillance, mobile communications, secure networking, and more. Possible domination of emerging 5G technology by foreign national adversaries raises serious questions about national security. The subject matter experts at the“5G Promises and Risks for U.S. National Security” event emphasized the important new security aspects of 5G, the current state of the rollout for the U.S., and highlighted key items that need addressing going forward.

Mosaic Warfare: Exploiting Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems to Implement Decision-Centric Operations

Bryan Clark, Daniel Patt, Harrison Schramm
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The United States is increasingly engaged in a long-term competition with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Russian Federation–a competition in which U.S. defense leaders and experts argue the U.S. military is falling behind technologically and operationally. U.S. forces, however, may be unable to gain and maintain superiority over their great power competitors by simply using improved versions of today’s forces to conduct modest variations on existing tactics. The capabilities DoD developed to help win the Cold War—including stealth aircraft, precision weapons, and communication networks—have proliferated to other militaries, and potential adversaries had ample opportunity to observe U.S. operations during post-Cold War conflicts.

Instead of competing with other great powers using capabilities and operational concepts that have already proliferated to adversaries, the U.S. military should consider new approaches to warfare that offer the potential of gaining a prolonged advantage. During the Cold War, for example, the United States was able to combine prominent emerging technologies with new operational concepts to overcome the numerically superiority of Soviet forces; first with nuclear weapons and later with precision weapons and stealth. 

“A New Postmodern Condition”: Why Disinformation Has Become So Effective

Larry Kay

Why are conspiracies so prevalent? Why are facts and truth so elusive to so many today? Why are people so susceptible to disinformation? Why is the current political climate so peculiar, turbulent, and divided? It is clear that there is a relationship between the disinformation that people ingest and the vitriol that some seem to spit out. These puzzling circumstances may be the result of a growing trend of postmodern thought in the United States and the world.[i] Unsurprisingly, recent reports indicate that Russia is currently interfering in the 2020 election. Though difficult to estimate, and since the country has done virtually nothing to combat it, the Russians consider their past interferences highly successful, if at nothing more than just sowing the seeds of discontent and chaos in US domestic politics. That said, the questions still remains: why is disinformation so effective on the US population? The rise in effectiveness of Russian disinformation is directly related to the increase in postmodern thinkers amongst the US population, because postmodern thinkers are easy to manipulate. To be clear, Postmodernism is not some form of trendy, divergent thinking, but rather a serious intellectual, conceptual, cultural, psychological and philosophical engagement which challenges humanity’s engagement with itself and the world.[ii] Just as the enlightenment brought us modern thought, reason and science, postmodern thought attempts to obliterate it. It is in the national interest, for strategists to pay close attention because they will be responsible for developing strategies to survive in a postmodern strategic context. What follows is an attempted explanation of what may be the cause of many issues and phenomena in our political climate today.

The term ‘postmodernism’ often provokes strong resistance, including deep suspicion and outright hostility, especially by those who champion modern thought and reason as the primary way to obtain truth and knowledge.[iii] Modern thought brought civilization the scientific and industrial revolutions, healthcare and medicine, computers and satellite technology – the world would not be the same were it not for the result of modern thought. However, Postmodernism directly challenges this, seeking not to judge modernity by its own criteria but rather to deconstruct it entirely.[iv] In the past, postmodern thought was thought to emerge exclusively from academic institutions, because those institutions offered alternative and “informed” views of the world. However, technology’s advancements have created endless space for postmodern thought to luxuriate.[v] As well, while the political left’s postmodern inclination often originates from the academic institutions, the political right’s postmodern inclination originates from the internet, where a multitude of divergent perspectives thrive freely. Frustratingly, there are probably as many forms of postmodernism as there are postmodernists.[vi]

NATO Has ‘Growing Realization’ About Risks of Using Huawei Gear, Top General Says


But USAF’s Wolters offered no evidence that U.S. officials are persuading allies to shun Chinese 5G networking products.

NATO’s military leaders have a “growing realization” about the risks of using Huawei gear to build out Europe’s 5G networks, its top general said.

Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters is the latest high-ranking American to warn publicly against using Chinese high-speed telecom equipment. Trump administration and U.S. officials have waged a public relations campaign to convince European leaders that installing Huawei products would threaten NATO’s ability to communicate and share intelligence. It’s a campaign that, so far, has not convinced key allies, including in the U.K and Germany. 

On Tuesday, Wolters introduced another argument to Congress: Huawei’s 5G would threaten the personal data of American troops, adding a new twist to an old concern for NATO leaders. 

Re-arming Land Forces for the Influence War

Martin Crilly

Just weeks into office, the Prime Minister appeared to make good on one of his election promises when announced an integrated defence, security and foreign policy review. In his December 2019 interview with the Times, he spoke of the review leading to a “huge technological upgrade of security forces to keep Britain safe and strengthen NATO.” The review is expected to deliver a full-spectrum response capability to counter the contemporary security threats in the 2020s, expand our global horizons and reinforce our national mission as a force for good in the world. All part of the new post-brexit #GlobalBritain.

We have witnessed an instant reaction to the news calling for re-arming of UK Land Forces; new tanks, bigger guns and longer-range kinetic weapons. But if the biggest threat to our nation’s security is Global warming, cyber-attacks and the loss of confidence in democracy, then surely arming and re-organising land forces with this traditional equipment is a rather pointless exercise? As we return to being a global sovereign power, perhaps we should also be returning to political warfare employing ‘all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives’? We have to ask ourselves, ‘What capability do land forces want to bring to that war?’

Defense Digital Service Builds Counter-Drone SWAT Team, ASAP


A quadcopter mini-drone downed by an Army laser in a 2016 test.

WASHINGTON: Sometimes, when lives are at stake, even Silicon Valley can’t innovate fast enough. That’s why the director of the Defense Digital Service, Brett Goldstein, has started forming rapid-response “SWAT teams” drawing on the Defense Department’s in-house talent.

The first such team that DDS director Brett Goldstein has created – pulling together both existing DDS personnel and a Defense Innovation Unit project called Rogue Squadron – is aimed at countering small drones. Easy to build and hard to detect, these pint-sized planes have become an outsize threat, both as flying IEDs for terrorists and target-spotters for Russian rocket artillery.

Applying tech directly to combat like this is a departure for DDS, best known for the controversial JEDI contract. But, Goldstein told me in an interview, “I think it’s critical for the department. I think it’s critical for the safety of our servicemembers.”