17 March 2020

Interview – Ravi Neelakantan

Ambassador Ravi Neelakantan served in the Indian Foreign Services from the 1970s until 2009. During his tenure he has held multiple portfolios including as Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, Indian Ambassador to ASEAN and Vietnam in addition to various postings in Tokyo, Belgrade, Munich, Moscow and Bhutan. He has also worked in the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Finance on a range of issues including India’s Foreign trade, child labour, and the Middle Eastern oil industry. Post-retirement he has been working as a Senior Fellow in the Centre for Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. 

Where do you see the most exciting research/debates happening in your field?

Some of the more absorbing areas of research that are happening in the field of international relations these days are, the effect of rising nationalism on a country’s foreign policy; the exit of globalization as an integrating phenomenon with nothing substantial to replace it, to enable the coming together of nations for a common purpose; the alarming decline in areas of convergence in the conduct of international trade; and a near total inattention to monitoring progress in the area of the Sustainable Development Goals, even though many of the Millennium Development Goals were never reached.

How has the way you understand the world changed over time, and what (or who) prompted the most significant shifts in your thinking?

An ICC Investigation Into War Crimes Is Key to Securing Peace in Afghanistan

Candace Rondeaux 

There have already been many military maneuvers, political pivots and plot twists since the U.S. inked a peace deal with the Taliban late last month. But the one development that could finally bring a measure of clarity to Afghanistan in the long term is the International Criminal Court’s decision on March 5 to approve opening a full investigation into allegations that U.S., Taliban and Afghan government forces committed systematic abuses during the nearly 20-year-long war.

For Afghanistan, the ruling issued by the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber reversed the court’s earlier, mystifying decision last April to deny the request of the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to open an inquiry into alleged war crimes. For the court itself, the decision is possibly the strongest step it could take to restore its fragile international credibility. After years of laboring under a cloud of accusations of bureaucratic ineptitude and political bias, the ICC, in theory at least, now has all the running room needed to take on the world’s biggest superpower.

China Plays NIMBY With The Taliban – Analysis

By Austin Bodetti*
Source Link

As officials in Beijing continue to battle coronavirus, China’s notorious campaign to oppress its Muslim ethnic groups into submission is receiving less attention from the news media. Chinese leaders frame the imprisonment of a million Uyghurs as counterterrorism, arguing for the need to reeducate Muslim minority groups in China to prevent extremism. Chinese policymakers’ efforts to engage with militants considered terrorists by the Western world, however, speaks to a far more complex reality in Beijing’s halls of power.

China has long sought to distinguish between domestic militants in the Uyghur-heavy region of Xinjiang, whom Chinese officials consider a national security threat, and foreign extremists who target Western national interests. China’s relationship with the Taliban provides the best example.

In an effort to expand China’s sphere of influence in Afghanistan, Chinese officials have often held meetings with the Taliban. A Taliban delegation traveled to Beijing in September 2019 to discuss the Afghan peace process. China has also spent years deliberating with the insurgents on separatists in Xinjiang as well as discouraging the Taliban from supporting Uyghur training camps in Afghanistan and from harming Chinese investments there.

Potential for al-Qaeda-Islamic State Cooperation in Afghanistan

By: Farhan Zahid

Frequent speculation has recently been posited that Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda affiliates could eventually coalesce again, or at the least, begin cooperating at a more notable level than was seen at the height of the conflict in Syria. The death of IS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi provided fresh evidence of likely cooperation between the two, despite their strategic differences and turf wars. Outside of Syria, most notably in Afghanistan, circumstances on the ground could further necessitate such cooperation.

The Case of Barisha, Idlib

U.S. special forces conducted Operation Kayla Mueller on October 26-27 in the village of Barisha in Syria’s rebel-controlled Idlib province. The well-executed operation resulted in the death of al-Baghdadi along with his children and guards, seriously damaging the organizational structure of IS. Scores of children were rescued and several IS militants were taken into custody. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had reportedly supplied critical intelligence about Baghadi’s presence in Barisha, just five kilometers from the Turkish border. The most notable aspect of where Baghdadi was killed was that it was located in an area controlled by Jamaat Huras ad Din (HaD) an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria led by Khalid al-Aruri, an al-Qaeda veteran of ethnic Palestinian origin.

COVID-19 is a reminder that interconnectivity is unavoidable

Morgan D. Bazilian and Samantha Gross

The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a disaster for the economy, shown weaknesses in public health systems, and killed several thousand people worldwide. It has also made clear how interconnected the modern world has become. Walls are futile for preventing the rapid movement of the virus around the globe.

The failure to reach agreement on production cuts at the recent OPEC+ meetings in Vienna has sent oil prices plummeting, marking a return to volatility after a reasonably calm period. This event too shows the interconnection of the world via global markets.

The oil “war” that emerged in Vienna last week between Saudi Arabia and Russia has already affected oil companies and oilfield-services companies, as well as their employees, investors, and local communities. Many energy companies were already highly leveraged and not bringing in sufficient revenue, resulting in declines in market capitalization and jobs. However, there was still hope. That hope has severely eroded over just a week.

This price collapse, oil market experts warn, is different than past crashes. It is a combination of a supply glut with enormous demand loss. Thus, there is no clear precedent for how it might be addressed. The breakdown of the OPEC+ talks will likely have ongoing negative implications for the cartel and its influence.

How does the coronavirus pandemic compare to the Great Recession, and what should fiscal policy do now?

Louise Sheiner

The underlying cause of the economic slowdown—and possible recession—likely in coming quarters is fundamentally different from that of the Great Recession. The Great Recession was a result of financial imbalances—starting primarily in the housing sector. This one is from a totally external factor, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).


It is possible that this downturn will be a lot shorter and shallower than the Great Recession. It may be V-shaped—perhaps negative growth for a quarter or two, followed by a period of strong growth. In the Great Recession, in contrast, there were fundamental imbalances that had to be worked off.

Nonetheless, these are very early days and there is a huge amount of uncertainty. We don’t know how bad the health effects from the virus will be or how long they will last, how many countries will be affected and to what degree, what kinds of disruptions to production might ensue, whether the economy will spiral down if this lasts a long time, etc. It is worth remembering that in the early days of the housing market downturn, many of us thought that the problems would be limited to the subprime mortgage market and wouldn’t be macroeconomically important. We were very wrong.

The Great Contagion

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest shock to hit the global economy since the financial crisis more than a decade ago. But, unlike that crisis, the COVID-19 outbreak is hitting the economy’s supply side as well as demand, and monetary and fiscal policy may be of little use in addressing it. The extent of the economic damage will depend on how quickly the new coronavirus is contained.

In this Big Picture, Cornell University’s Kaushik Basu calls for the urgent establishment of a task force of economists and other experts charged with designing a coordinated global policy response. But as long as US President Donald Trump remains in office, says Anders Åslund of the Atlantic Council, it is hard to envisage any credible international effort to resolve the financial crisis caused by the pandemic.

Barry Eichengreen of the University of California, Berkeley, says that economic stabilization today depends primarily on the actions of public-health authorities, which should be given the kind of autonomy enjoyed by independent central banks. Similarly, the University of Texas at Austin’s James K. Galbraith argues that, in the United States, regular direct communication from relevant government agencies – rather than from politicians and the media – would help to promote low-risk behavior and avoid panics.

What the Fukushima meltdowns taught us about how to respond to coronavirus

By Azby Brown, Sean Bonner

Since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, Safecast—a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that enables individuals to share radiation measurements and other data—has accumulated a lot of experience and insight about trust, crisis communication, public perception, and what happens when people feel threatened by a lack of reliable information. As our team at Safecast observes the global spread of the coronavirus and the poor responses to it, we can’t help but feel a strong sense of déjà vu.

As with Fukushima, the preparation and communication vulnerabilities that the COVID-19 outbreak has laid bare were entirely predictable—and the physical, social, and economic effects that have erupted because of poor official communication should have been anticipated and prevented. We recently published some advice about COVID-19 for governments, the media, and individuals, but we wanted to explore the similarities between the two situations further.

A Made-in-China Pandemic


NEW DELHI – The new COVID-19 coronavirus has spread to more than 100 countries – bringing social disruption, economic damage, sickness, and death – largely because authorities in China, where it emerged, initially suppressed information about it. And yet China is now acting as if its decision not to limit exports of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and medical supplies – of which it is the dominant global supplier – was a principled and generous act worthy of the world’s gratitude.

At more than 1,000 pages, Thomas Piketty's doorstop sequel to his previous opus, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, does not disappoint. But whether it will fundamentally change the global debate about inequality is an open question.5Add to Bookmarks

When the first clinical evidence of a deadly new virus emerged in Wuhan, Chinese authorities failed to warn the public for weeks and harassed, reprimanded, and detained those who did. This approach is no surprise: China has a long history of “killing” the messenger. Its leaders covered up severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus, for over a month after it emerged in 2002, and held the doctor who blew the whistle in military custody for 45 days. SARS ultimately affected more than 8,000 people in 26 countries.

A conspiracy theory linking the US army to the coronavirus now has official Chinese endorsement

by Jane Li
Source Link

Something that had been merely suggested before has now been blown wide into the open in China.

A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, tweeted yesterday that “it might be the US army” that brought the coronavirus to China, giving an official boost to a conspiracy theory that had been allowed to circulate on Chinese social media for weeks. The conspiracy posits that 300 athletes from the US military who in October attended the 7th Military World Games in Wuhan, where the epidemic first broke out, were infected with the virus, thereby spreading it in China.

Zhao’s comment accompanied a video from a US congressional hearing this week on the country’s response to the epidemic. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in the video that some patients who were previously diagnosed to have died from the flu were found to have actually died from the coronavirus. The video began trending on Chinese social network Weibo, with many commenting that they now believe firmly that the US had covered up facts related to the epidemic.

The Two Dark Sides of COVID-19


PRINCETON – The apocalyptic images of the locked-down Chinese city of Wuhan have reached us all. The world is holding its breath over the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and governments are taking or preparing drastic measures that will necessarily sacrifice individual rights and freedoms for the general good.

At more than 1,000 pages, Thomas Piketty's doorstop sequel to his previous opus, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, does not disappoint. But whether it will fundamentally change the global debate about inequality is an open question.5Add to Bookmarks

Some focus their anger on China’s initial lack of transparency about the outbreak. The philosopher Slavoj Žižek has spoken of “the racist paranoia” at work in the obsession with COVID-19 when there are many worse infectious diseases from which thousands die every day. Those prone to conspiracy theories believe that the virus is a biological weapon aimed at China’s economy. Few mention, let alone confront, the underlying cause of the epidemic.

Both the 2003 SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic and the current one can be traced to China’s “wet markets” – open-air markets where animals are bought live and then slaughtered on the spot for the customers. Until late December 2019, everyone affected by the virus had some link to Wuhan’s Huanan Market.

Will COVID-19 Halt China’s ‘Going out’ Economic Strategy?

By Chan Kung and Wei Hongxu

The impacts of COVID-19 could cause further problems for the already suffering Chinese economy. Fazed by the tremendous pressure from the outbreak, it is very likely that China will soon direct its future development strategies and priorities toward improving its domestic economy instead of pursuing outbound investment. Consequently, this also means that the country’s plan of “going out” into the international economic and geopolitical scene would have to be put on hold for the time being.

Even prior to the outbreak, China’s outbound investment had already slowed down as a result of international trade frictions, particularly the U.S.-China trade war. Despite having reached the first phase of a trade deal with the United States, China’s attempts to retain its foreign investors have not eased up the slightest bit, and the U.S. government’s increasingly stringent scrutiny and restrictions on Chinese investments have hurt China’s overseas investments. As a result, China’s outbound investment had already begun to show a gradual decrease back in 2019.

World Freezes When China Sneezes – OpEd

By N. S. Venkataraman

When Coronavirus disease ( COVID-19 ) happened in China and spread rapidly around the world, the world attention once again have been focused on China, more than ever before. Surprisingly, no one seem to have blamed China for the Coronavirus and even the worst critics of China have largely remained silent and appear to be more concerned about the consequent slowing down of China’s economy.

What is particularly striking is that China has not sought support from any other country in the world to solve the coronavirus issue in China and is confidently proceeding on it’s own to solve the problem. It has taken all possible steps , though it is still not known whether China has effectively controlled it. However, it is known that Chinese scientists and medical industry are striving hard to develop vaccine / drug to combat coronavirus and vague reports say that China has been making impressive advances in finding the remedial drug.

While China is struggling hard to tackle the coronavirus issue , several industrial establishments, educational institutions and research bodies in several parts of China have shut the operations to ensure that Coronavirus would not spread. When China has taken such initiatives, it has caused huge setback not only to Chinese economy but also to the world economy and trading activities.

Worse than Coronavirus? How to Prevent a (Information) Pandemic

by Michael Wade
Source Link

The World Health Organization (WHO) has aptly coined the term “infodemic” to describe the unconstrained spread of information. Could we even have reached a level of “information terrorism”, where fearmongering – often only loosely based on facts – is terrifying readers, viewers and listeners across the globe?

The world’s headlines have been dominated by COVID-19 for about two months and as the virus continues to spread this wall-to-wall coverage is likely to continue. At the time of writing, the US has banned travel from most of Europe and all six of CNN’s top new stories focus on the virus, including headlines such as “Epidemiologist: This is just the tip of the iceberg” and “Bodies ‘pile up’ in morgue as Iran feels strain of coronavirus”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has aptly coined the term “infodemic” to describe the unconstrained spread of information. Could we even have reached a level of “information terrorism”, where fearmongering – often only loosely based on facts – is terrifying readers, viewers and listeners across the globe?

Iran and America Square Off in Iraq Amid Coronavirus Concerns

by Matthew Petti 
Source Link

U.S. forces struck Iranian-backed militia targets in Iraq on Thursday, a day after a rocket attack killed U.S. troops and a British serviceman at Camp Taji.

The last time such a clash occurred, it set off a chain of escalation that ended with the assassination of an Iranian general and a massive ballistic missile strike that wounded fifty U.S. troops. But this time, the two countries seem preoccupied with COVID-19, a mysterious new coronavirus disease that originated in China at the end of last year but is now causing chaos in both the United States and Iran.

The House of Representatives voted late on Wednesday to block a war with Iran, while the Iranian government took the unprecedented step of asking the International Monetary Fund in Washington for assistance. President Donald Trump is expected to veto the war powers resolution, which passed the Senate last month. In the meantime, U.S. forces have begun their retaliation.

Demise of the Petrostates


The epic collapse in the price of oil, set off by Russia and Saudi Arabia last weekend, has obvious winners and losers. The winners: anyone with a car, and countries such as China, India, and Japan with few oil resources of their own. The losers: Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the shale oil sector in the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to let a deal on production cuts collapse and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s subsequent start of a price war could cost each country more than $100 million per day in lost export revenues. U.S. shale oil companies, struggling with declining production and crushed by debt, face a similar shortfall in income.

Yet these three powers all have the resources to sail through the crisis. Shale producers might go bankrupt, but that won’t topple the U.S. economy. Russia has accumulated $650 billion in reserves, has virtually no government debt, and is running a budget surplus. Saudi Arabia has less room to maneuver but plenty of financial power to tide Mohammed bin Salman over until oil prices rise again.

Iraq condemns U.S. air strikes, warns of consequences

Ahmed Saeed, Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali

KERBALA, Iraq/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq condemned overnight U.S. air strikes on Friday, saying they killed six people and warning of dangerous consequences for what it called a violation of sovereignty and targeted aggression against the nation’s regular armed forces.

President Barham Salih said repeated such violations could cause Iraq to unravel into a failed state and revive the Islamic State militant group. Iraq’s foreign ministry announced plans to bring a complaint to the United Nations.

The United States defended the air strikes, saying all five targets were legitimate and stored Iranian-supplied weapons used by the Kataib Hezbollah militia to attack the U.S.-led coalition. Washington launched the strikes in retaliation for a rocket attack on Wednesday on a base north of Baghdad that killed U.S. and British troops.

“These locations that we struck are clear locations of terrorist bases,” said Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the U.S. military’s Central Command.

“If Iraqis were there and if Iraqi military forces were there, I would say it’s probably not a good idea to position yourself with Kataib Hezbollah in the wake of a strike that killed Americans and coalition members,” he told a Pentagon news briefing.

The Cost of Coronavirus: America's Economy Could Become a Victim

by Daniel L. Davis 
Source Link

bloodbath on Wall Street. An oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. And an overdue recession. America is facing a potentially perfect economic storm that could plunge the nation into a recession just as the coronavirus begins to manifest its deadly effects. As bad as things could be in the near-term, the dangers to the country in the long-term could be far worse.

The coronavirus and the near-term social disruption it could cause for millions of Americans is likely going to be serious and severe. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned on Fox News Sunday that it was possible the United States could eventually have to engage in draconian measures such as sealing off entire communities or states. “You know, you don’t want to alarm people,” Fauci said, “but given the spread we’ve seen, you know, anything’s possible.”

Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, who has been hired by the British government to help develop a vaccine, is more concerned than at any point in his long career.

What are the possible economic effects of COVID-19 on the world economy? Warwick McKibbin’s scenarios

Warwick J. McKibbin

Warwick McKibbin, non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, director of the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis in the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, and director of policy engagement in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Aging Research (CEPAR), maintains a large economic model of the world economy, known as G-Cubed, that he is using to estimate the economic effects of the COVID-19 virus under seven scenarios. His analysis, “Global Macroeconomic Implications of COVID-19: Seven Scenarios,” is posted HERE. Here is a Q&A with him about his research.

Q: How does COVID-19 differ from past episodes, such as SARS in 2003 and the Avian flu in 1997? How do the economic risks differ?

SARS was also a coronavirus but had a much higher case mortality rate (10%) compared with COVID-19 (between 2%-4%) and a much lower-case mortality rate than the Avian flu (60%); on the other hand, COVID-19 may be more contagious than SARS and more similar in contagion to Avian flu. There is still a great deal of uncertainty about COVID-19 which is what makes it very concerning.

There is still a great deal of uncertainty about COVID-19 which is what makes it very concerning.

Piketty's Latest Charge


NEW YORK – French economist Thomas Piketty’s latest doorstop tome tries to fuse two distinct research efforts. The first is a history of inequality since around 1700, with occasional excursions into earlier periods. Upon reaching the nineteenth century and the industrial era, the analysis deepens and grows more detailed, taking us up to the present. Unlike Piketty’s previous opus, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which focused on the United States and just a few European countries, Capital and Ideology expands the scope to cover India, China, Brazil, and much of the postcolonial world.

The book’s second major objective is to provide a blueprint for “participatory socialism” at the global level. Piketty envisions a world in which the only inequality is “just inequality.” The latter includes income and wealth differences that “are the result of different aspirations and distinct life choices or permit improvement of the standard of living and expansion of the opportunities available to the disadvantaged.” In other words, permissible inequality should be determined on a Rawlsian basis, which allows for differences of position so long as they benefit the least well off in society.

G-2: Intel, cyber Soldiers 'duking it out' daily with enemy

By Sean Kimmons

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Army's senior intelligence officer likened intelligence and cyber Soldiers to those in the combat arms since they fight on networks everyday with adversaries.

"Our intelligence professionals and our cyber operators are duking it out," Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier said. "I kind of think of ourselves, cyber and military intelligence, as sort of combat arms. I know it's hard to get your head around that, but we're the ones who are kind of doing that right now."

Berrier spoke Wednesday as part of the Association of the U.S. Army's breakfast series on threats the Army is facing in today's era of great power competition.


Since the end of the Cold War, the general said Russia has transformed its army to be smaller with new capabilities that it has been able to test in operations in nearby countries.

Critical Gaps Remain in Defense Department Weapons System Cybersecurity

By Madison Creery

While the U.S. military is the most effective fighting force in the modern era, it struggles with the cybersecurity of its most advanced weapons systems. In times of crisis and conflict, it is critical that the United States preserve its ability to defend and surge when adversaries employ cyber capabilities to attack weapons systems and functions. Today, the very thing that makes these weapons so lethal is what makes them vulnerable to cyberattacks: an interconnected system of software and networks.

Continued automation and connectivity are the backbone of the Department of Defense’s warfighting capabilities, with almost every weapons system connected in some capacity. Today, these interdependent networks are directly linked to the U.S. military’s ability to carry out missions successfully, allowing it to gain informational advantage, exercise global command and control, and conduct long-range strikes. An example of such a networked system is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. David Goldfein, once called “a computer that happens to fly.” Underpinning this platform’s unrivaled capability is more than 8 million lines of software code. In the past, software served as an enabler of hardware and weapons systems. Today, it defines the capabilities critical to carrying out the warfighter’s mission.

Ensuring the Cybersecurity and Resilience of the Defense Industrial Base

By Erica D. Borghard, Shawn W. Lonergan 

Cyber-enabled intellectual property theft from the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) and adversary penetration of DIB networks and systems pose an existential threat to U.S. national security. The DIB is the “[t]he Department of Defense, government, and private sector worldwide industrial

complex with capabilities to perform research and development and design, produce, and maintain military weapon systems, subsystems, components, or parts to meet military requirements.” It is a compelling example of a cross-domain challenge that lies at the intersection of cyberspace and conventional domains of warfare. This is because adversary behavior in cyberspace has broader ramifications, such as the potential to erode the United States’s conventional military advantage, undermine deterrence, and provide emerging nation-state competitors with an edge over the U.S. in military contingencies and conflicts. The threat is multifaceted. Intellectual property theft can enable adversaries to replicate cutting-edge U.S. defense technology without comparable investments in research and development. Adversary access to the DIB could inform the development of offset capabilities. It could even provide insights or access points that enable adversaries to thwart or manipulate the intended functioning of key weapons and systems designed and manufactured within the DIB.

Operationalizing Defend Forward: How the Concept Works to Change Adversary Behavior

By Erica D. Borghard 

Defend forward is a crucial component of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s strategic concept of layered cyber deterrence, particularly in terms of defend forward’s role in creating costs for adversaries conducting malicious behavior in cyberspace. The commission reimagines defend forward, originally articulated in the 2018 Department of Defense Cyber Strategy, as a whole-of-nation concept. That said, here I will focus on the logic of defend forward in its military application and detail how the concept should be operationalized. Defend forward, as defined by the commission, entails the proactive observing, pursuing, and countering of adversary operations and imposing costs in day-to-day competition to disrupt and defeat ongoing malicious adversary cyber campaigns, deter future campaigns, and reinforce favorable international norms of behavior, using all the instruments of national power. This piece traces the emergence of the logic of defend forward and describes how the commission built on existing concepts to more fully articulate defend forward’s theory of victory and how defend forward seeks to accomplish desired end states.

Defend forward, as a strategic concept, grew out of a number of related realizations about the strategic environment in cyberspace. First, Defense Department entities governed under Title 10 of the U.S. Code have to be able to more routinely operate outside of the department’s own networks, known as the Department of Defense Information Network. Adversary operations span global cyberspace because the environment is not defined by geographic boundaries or even shared understandings about how sovereignty applies in this domain. If the Defense Department’s ability to operate outside of its own networks was more limited and circumscribed, as envisioned in the 2015 Department of Defense Cyber Strategy, the department would be giving free reign to adversary actors that traverse global networks constrained only by capabilities.

Cyber Solarium and the Sunset of Cybersecurity

The new Cyber Solarium Commission report will be the focal point for the discussion of cybersecurity for some time. It makes recommendations in six areas: reforming government, strengthening norms, promoting resilience, operationalizing work with the private sector, and using military power. Although many of its recommendations are valuable, there are also shortcomings, chiefly because of an emphasis on defending against catastrophic cyberattack.

This is perhaps the sixth effort since 1998 to develop a national cyber strategy. The project's name derives from Dwight Eisenhower's Solarium Project, which had two teams of experts develop competing strategies. Eisenhower's Solarium was essentially a guided debate on whether to pursue the confrontational strategy of World War II or to develop a new strategy, deterrence, to contain the Soviet threat while minimizing the risk of warfare. The debate's results went to a president with deep strategic experience who faced a true existential threat, not a fictional one. The new Cyber Solarium report differs from the original not only in that it did not use competing concepts, but in that it has neither an attentive president in office nor faces an existential threat.

JUST IN: Pentagon to Kick Off New Prototyping Projects with Allies

By Jon Harper

HONOLULU, Hawaii — The Defense Department will soon announce new projects for the recently launched Allied Prototyping Initiative, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer said March 10.

The office of the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering launched the initiative earlier this year. The aim was to boost international cooperation in military research and development by expanding prototyping opportunities on a shared-contribution basis between the United States and its closest partners.

“The department expects to announce the first API projects later this month, with the hope that the end result will be interoperable prototypes developed on an equitable basis, delivered to coalition forces faster, and with a demonstrated potential for co-production,” Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said at the Pacific Operational Science and Technology (POST) Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Pentagon’s research and engineering office also oversees the Foreign Comparative Testing program, which seeks to find and field cutting edge technologies from allies and partners to achieve cost and schedule savings, increased performance and novel approaches to capability development, Lord noted during pre-recorded video remarks.

Infographic Of The Day: Future Of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity hacks can cause irreparable damage to individuals, businesses, and countries. According to a 2018 White House report, the Council of Economic Advisers estimates "malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016." To combat this trend, in the coming years, private citizens, organizations, and governments will be increasingly investing in ways to improve their online security and prevent cyber attacks.

All-Domain Ops Require Rethinking Combatant Commands: Goldfein


This article is part of a series of in-depth stories and interviews with senior defense officials about the future of the new American way of war embodied in a concept known as All-Domain Operations. It’s a vision of a computer-coordinated fight across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, with forces from satellites to foot soldiers to submarines sharing battle data at machine-to-machine speed. We hope this series will help educate Capitol Hill, the public, our allies, and much of the US military itself on an idea that’s increasingly important but is still poorly understood. Why do so many of the Pentagon’s most senior leaders care so much about this? Read on — The Editor.

WASHINGTON: The current combatant command structure governing US military operations will probably have to change for the global, all-domain conflicts of the future, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein says.

The current architecture is divided between ‘geographic’ commands — such as European Command — lead warfighting campaigns — which are supported by ‘functional’ commands — such as Transportation Command. But that division of labor may not be able to cope with the enormous distances and mixed warfare the US is likely to face. Also, given the realities of how Russia and China are using tools such as information and cyber warfare, the geographic theater commanders will also need to rethink how they work together.

To Pay or Not to Pay Ransom Poses Big Dilemma for Governments

by Edward Gately

Cybercriminals increasingly are targeting state and local governments with ransomware attacks, and asking for more money.

That’s according to “Ransoming Government: What State and Local Government Can Do to Break Free From Ransomware Attacks,” a new report by Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights.

In 2019 alone, governments reported 163 ransomware attacks, with more than $1.8 million paid and tens of millions spent on recovery costs, a nearly 150% increase in reported attacks from 2018.

Srini Subramanian, principal at Deloitte & Touche, and cyber state and higher education sector leader, tells us MSSPs and other cybersecurity providers can be doing more to help state and local governments. Examples include cyberattack surface vulnerability assessments, cyber supply chain or third-party vendor risk assessments, identity and privileged access management, firewall management, and user-and behavioral-based analytics to promptly detect and protect against malicious cyber behavior, cyber war games and cyber resiliency exercises.

Army Offers to Repay Soldiers’ College Loans if They Go Infantry

By Matthew Cox

The U.S. Army is offering to pay off student loans of up to $65,000 or to give $15,000 bonuses to recruits willing to sign up for the infantry.

The Army has been offering increased financial incentives to attract recruits to take on one of its most physically challenging jobs since it missed its recruiting goal in fiscal 2018 by 6,500 soldiers.

"There's a very unique bond between infantry soldiers not found in any other [career] in the Army," Staff. Sgt. Leonard Markley, a recruiter in Toledo, Ohio, whose primary career field is infantry, said in a recent service news release. "It's us against the world, and we as infantrymen all know about the hardships that come with this [career]: walking countless miles, sleep deprivation and rationed meals.

"Even when I see another infantryman walking by, I have respect for him and have his back, because we are brothers through all our hardships," he added.