18 April 2020

Afghan forces intercept Taliban fighters, find Jaish terrorists training for Kashmir

Shishir Gupta
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A chance discovery of global terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed cadres in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on Monday night has confirmed the assessment of Indian intelligence agencies that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence had resumed training a select groups of terrorists for Kashmir in war-torn Afghanistan, people familiar with the development told Hindustan Times.

The Afghan forces had carried out a raid in Nangarhar’s Muhmand Dara at what was presumed to be a Taliban camp that led to a bloody gunfight. At the end of the clash that cost the Afghan security forces four lives on April 13-14 night, the security personnel discovered that only 5 of the 15 men they had killed were from the Afghan Taliban. The other 10 were Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists being trained to fight in Jammu and Kashmir.

One Jaish terrorist survived the gunfight and was captured.

Counter-terror operatives in Delhi and Kabul told HT that the Masood Azhar-founded Jaish-e-Mohammed, which shares the same Deobandi umbilical cord with Taliban, appeared to be running three camps (called Mustaquil) along with four Taliban camps in Nangarhar province. The camps have been identified as Khogyani I, Khogyani II and Dargah camp in Nangarhar province and were lent by the Taliban in lieu of Haqqani network’s cadre being trained in JeM’s camps in Pakistan.

Europe’s Missing Coronavirus Exit Strategy

The talk is about an exit strategy. Several European governments are mulling ways to ease a lockdown imposed to contain the highly contagious coronavirus.

The Spanish government announced it will allow certain businesses and factories to reopen. In Germany, a group of experts have recommended that schools be soon resumed. Austria is already loosening restrictions.

Other European countries are looking for an exit strategy as governments try and cushion the impact of a virus that has virtually shut down economies, closed borders, and temporarily ended a way of life that was so much taken for granted.

In contrast, Ireland, Britain, and France are taking no risks. In a nationwide television address on April 13, 2020, President Emmanuel Macron announced that France’s lockdown will remain in place until May 11.

It’s too difficult to predict what Europe will look like once this pandemic has run its course. Debates have already begun about the merits of working from home, about how the pandemic has benefited the environment, about how health systems should be improved, and about how this virus has exposed a lack of resilience.

How Do New Viruses Emerge?

by Naomi Forrester-Soto

The recent emergence of the novel coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the risks that animals can pose to humans as the source of new viruses. The virus in question, known as SARS-CoV-2, has been linked to a “wet market” for wild animal trade in Wuhan, China, although it’s by no means certain this was the source of the human version of the virus. Bats have been identified as the animal with the closest known equivalent virus although, again, we’re not sure that a bat provided the direct origin of SARS-CoV-2.

So how do new viruses actually emerge from the environment and start infecting humans? Every virus has a unique origin in terms of its timing and mechanism, but there are some general facts that are true for all species of emerging virus.

The first thing to know is that it is rare for viruses to jump between species. In order for a virus to successfully jump into a new species of host it must be able to do several things.

First, it must be able to establish an infection in the new host by replicating itself there. This is not a given, as many viruses can only infect specific types of cells, such as lung cells or kidney cells. When attacking a cell, a virus binds to specific receptor molecules on the cell’s surface and so may not be able to bind to other types of cell. Or the virus may simply be unable to replicate inside the cell for whatever reason.

Takshashila Discussion Document: Networked Protests & State Responses: The Case of Hong Kong 2019-20


Executive Summary

Digital technologies and Internet connectivity are enabling rapid mobilisation of large groups of individuals around a common cause. The defining feature of such a Radically Networked Society (RNS) is the scale and pace of its operations. Consequently, RNS movements pose a serious challenge for the hierarchically ordered state structures, which tend to lack the dexterity and speed to respond.

In this paper, we apply the RNS framework to the 2019-20 Hong Kong protests. We conclude that the protests were the product of underlying fissures over issues of identity and political autonomy. The region’s thriving Internet ecosystem and hyper-connected society enabled the development and expansion of networked communities around these issues. This fuelled sustained, leaderless mobilisation, resulting in large-scale disruption and electoral advances for pro-democracy activists.

Meanwhile, the state’s response was rooted in a strategy of attrition. This minimised costs and proved somewhat effective in that the movement failed to achieve the broader objective of earning universal suffrage for Hong Kongers. Yet, the protests have managed to fundamentally reshape state-society relations and shift the narrative around the region’s future.

Pandemic may replace the nation-state: But with what?

by David Bray, PhD

Police officers stand guard at a toll station of an expressway after travel restrictions to leave Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and China's epicentre of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, were lifted, April 8, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

Beyond COVID-19

Before COVID-19, there were three trends occurring in the world that challenged the Westphalian notion of nation-states with complete sovereignty over citizens within their borders. The Westphalian ideal is the pattern of nation-states, with a rule of law defined by geographical borders, that emerged out of the Thirty Years War in Europe and replaced a patchwork quilt of overlapping medieval loyalties with more solid blocks of unitary rule under the rule of a sovereign.

Pre-COVID, the three accelerating trends that challenged this Westphalian notion of nation-states were:

Chinese dams held back Mekong waters during drought, study finds

Kay Johnson

BANGKOK (Reuters) - China’s Mekong River dams held back large amounts of water during a damaging drought in downstream countries last year despite China having higher-than-average water levels upstream, a U.S. research company said in a study.

China’s government disputed the findings, saying there was low rainfall during last year’s monsoon season on its portion of the 4,350-km (2,700-mile) river.

The findings by Eyes on Earth Inc., a research and consulting company specialising in water, published in a U.S.-government funded study, could complicate tricky discussions between China and other Mekong countries on how to manage the river that supports 60 million people as it flows past Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and through Cambodia and Vietnam.

Last year's drought, which saw the Lower Mekong at its lowest levels in more than 50 years, devastated farmers and fishermen and saw the massive river recede to expose sandbanks along some stretches and at others turned from its usual murky brown to bright blue here because waters were so shallow and lacking in sediment.

Did the Coronavirus Escape from a Chinese Lab? Here’s What the Pentagon Says

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Gen. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, directly addressed ‘rumor and speculation’ that COVID-19 is a made-in-China weapon of war.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley on Tuesday said that the U.S. intelligence community has looked “hard” into rumors that the coronavirus had its origins in a Chinese biolab, not an open-air market as is widely believed.

“There’s a lot of rumor and speculation in a wide variety of media, blog sites, etc.,” Milley said. “It should be no surprise to you that we have taken a keen interest in that, and we have had a lot of intelligence take a hard look at that.”

“At this point it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural, but we do not know for sure,” Milley said. 

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Hobbling an Already Weakened WTO

Kimberly Ann Elliott 

At a time when global cooperation is desperately needed, it seems to be scarcer than ever. G-20 leaders have effectively given up on trying to coordinate a global response to the coronavirus pandemic. Countries are beggaring their neighbors with export restrictions on medicines and food, and scrambling to snatch up medical supplies where they remain available. Among the various closures and cancellations to try to contain the spread of COVID-19, the World Trade Organization announced in March that it was cancelling the biennial ministerial meeting scheduled for June in Kazakhstan.

The cancellation of a WTO ministerial meeting has barely registered in the midst of this global pandemic. But the health crisis will end one day, economies will start to reopen and trade will revive. At that point, it would help to have a well-functioning WTO that could help clean up the protectionist trade mess created by President Donald Trump and exacerbated by the pandemic. .

Anatomy of the coronavirus collapse

Eswar Prasad and Ethan Wu
The world economy is on the precipice of its worst crisis since World War II. As the newly updated Brookings-FT TIGER (Tracking Indexes for the Global Economic Recovery) makes clear, economic activity, financial markets, and private-sector confidence are all cratering. And if international cooperation remains at its current level, a far more severe collapse is yet to come.

To be sure, the current extraordinarily sharp downturn could prove to be relatively brief, with economic activity snapping back to previous levels once the COVID-19 contagion curve is flattened. But there is good reason to worry that the world economy is heading into a deep, protracted recession. Much will depend on the pandemic’s trajectory and whether policymakers’ responses are sufficient to contain the damage while rebuilding consumer and business confidence.

But a rapid recovery seems highly unlikely. Demand has been ravaged, there have been extensive disruptions to manufacturing supply chains, and a financial crisis is already underway. Unlike the 2008-09 crash, which was triggered by liquidity shortages in financial markets, the COVID-19 crisis involves fundamental solvency issues for firms and industries well beyond the financial sector.

China Limited the Mekong’s Flow. Other Countries Suffered a Drought.

By Hannah Beech

BANGKOK — As China was stricken by the coronavirus in late February, its foreign minister addressed a concerned crowd in Laos, where farmers and fishers across the Mekong River region were contending with the worst drought in living memory.

His message: We feel your pain. The foreign minister, Wang Yi, said China was also suffering from arid conditions that were sucking water from one of the world’s most productive rivers.

But new research from American climatologists shows for the first time that China, where the headwaters of the Mekong spring forth from the Tibetan Plateau, was not experiencing the same hardship at all. Instead, Beijing’s engineers appear to have directly caused the record low water levels by limiting the river’s flow.

“The satellite data doesn’t lie, and there was plenty of water in the Tibetan Plateau, even as countries like Cambodia and Thailand were under extreme duress,” said Alan Basist, who co-wrote the report, which was released on Monday, for Eyes on Earth, a water resources monitor.

China’s secret plan to topple the US as the world’s superpower

By Larry Getlen
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In 1995, Michael Pillsbury, an expert on China who has worked with every US president since Nixon and has, he writes, “arguably had more access to China’s military and intelligence establishment than any other Westerner,” was reading an article written by “three of China’s preeminent military experts” about “new technologies that would contribute to the defeat of the United States.”Enlarge ImageMichael PillsburyWikipedia

It was in this article that Pillsbury first saw the term “Assassin’s Mace,” which refers to a weapon from Chinese folklore that guarantees a small combatant victory over a larger, more powerful opponent.

The article described goals including “electromagnetic combat superiority” that would allow for “naval victory,” and “tactical laser weapons” that would “be used first in anti-missile defense systems.” They also discussed jamming and destroying radar and various communications systems, and the use of computer viruses.

In time, Pillsbury began seeing the term “Assassin’s Mace” with regularity in Chinese documents.

Iran and Saudi Arabia Battle for Supremacy in the Middle East

The struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for dominance in the Middle East has insinuated itself into nearly every regional issue, fracturing international alliances and sustaining wars across the region, while raising fears of a direct conflict between the two powers.

Saudi Arabia has ramped up its regional adventurism since Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful son of King Salman, was appointed crown prince in 2017. And it has cracked down on its opponents, including the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. That appears to have had little effect on the crown prince’s increasingly close ties to the Trump administration, though. Determined to undermine the Iranian regime, Washington has pulled out of the nuclear deal with Tehran and used its economic might to suffocate Iran’s economy. Months of tensions over Iranian provocations, including a drone and cruise missile strike against Saudi oil facilities in September, culminated in January with the U.S. assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, followed by an Iranian ballistic missile barrage targeting U.S. troops there.

Though both sides quickly backed away from escalation to open warfare, the Middle East is rife with other ongoing conflicts, including a civil war in Yemen that has fueled one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, another in Syria that may finally be reaching a no-less bloody endgame, and one in Libya that is once again escalating after a short-lived cease-fire. These conflicts exist on two levels: domestic battles for control of the countries’ futures, and proxy wars fueled by the regional powers, as well as Russia and—in the case of Libya—France.

The Washington Quarterly

by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
Some degree of decoupling is bound to increase, but can the United States and China develop attitudes that allow them to cooperate in producing global public goods and managing interdependence while competing in other areas? Exaggerated fears will make such a balanced policy difficult, and hasty efforts to decouple will lead to a failed strategy that reduces US power. 

Partial Disengagement: A New US Strategy for Economic  Competition with China

US policy should not seek total decoupling from China, but rather a new posture of partial economic disengagement that will be politically sustainable and increase both US security and, in the longer run, the welfare of its citizens. To achieve this objective, the US government should pursue a strategy of four overlapping parts. 

Toward Accountable Nuclear Deterrents: How Much is Too Much?


For decades, policy debates in nuclear-armed states and alliances have centered on the question, “How much is enough?” What size and type of arsenal, and what doctrine, are enough to credibly deter given adversaries? This paper argues that the more urgent question today is, “How much is too much?” What size and type of arsenal, and what doctrine, are too likely to produce humanitarian and environmental catastrophe that would be strategically and legally indefensible?

Two international initiatives could help answer this question. One would involve nuclear-armed states, perhaps with others, commissioning suitable scientific experts to conduct new studies on the probable climatic and environmental consequences of nuclear war. Such studies would benefit from recent advances in modeling, data, and computing power. They should explore what changes in numbers, yields, and targets of nuclear weapons would significantly reduce the probability of nuclear winter. If some nuclear arsenals and operational plans are especially likely to threaten the global environment and food supply, nuclear-armed states as well as non-nuclear-weapon states would benefit from actions to physically reduce such risks. The paper suggests possible modalities for international debate on these issues.

A Make-or-Break Test for American Diplomacy


Over the course of my diplomatic career, I learned to be humble about America’s ability to anticipate the consequences of crises like the coronavirus pandemic. I also learned that massive jolts to the international system, like the virus, tend to exacerbate preexisting conditions and clarify future choices.

The post-pandemic world will pose a massive test for American statecraft, the biggest since the end of the Cold War. If policy makers are able to see the landscape before them as it is, and not as they want it to be, and are also able to draw the right lessons from our missteps over the past three decades, recovering a healthy and disciplined foreign policy is still possible. It is also essential to navigating the aftermath of this terrible storm.

William J. Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He previously served as U.S. deputy secretary of state.

In recent days, I looked through old commentaries from the last global shock—the financial crisis of 2008. They are full of confident predictions: America would consolidate its leadership, China would remain inward-focused, Europe would grow more unified, and closed political and economic societies would open. For all the talk of an “axis of upheaval” emerging across the developing world, commentators largely failed to foresee how the same winds of nationalism, xenophobia, and anti-globalization would batter our own backyard, or how our rivals would turn America’s crisis into their strategic opportunity.

Saving Europe from corona's nasty geopolitics


Four months into the corona crisis and one month into the nerve-racking spectacle of social and economic shutdown, it becomes clear that the big geopolitical loser of the pandemic is likely going to be Europe.

The reason for this is not primarily the poor performance of EU countries in using integrated EU tools to fight the virus and its economic impact - although that plays an important role as well.

All efforts to turn the EU into a foreign policy power comparable to the global trade power it is have failed. The reason is simple: a lack of genuine ambition (Photo: German Marshall Fund)

The main reason is that Europe could end up being too broke to still be resilient, let alone be a shaper of foreign policy outcomes on its own continent, let alone the world.

Even before coronavirus became a temporary global superpower, Europe was a depleted force. It was a tremendously rich part of the planet, a huge integrated market with comparatively stable domestic politics, a notable industrial base, fairly decent domestic governance and, by international standards, high levels of social trust and peace.

Why Tackling Corruption Is Crucial to the Global Coronavirus Response

Blair Glencorse 

The dusty border town of Taftan in western Pakistan is a frequent stopover for religious pilgrims. Many members of the country’s Shiite minority pass through it en route to visit holy sites in neighboring Iran. But after Iran emerged as one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus, the Pakistani government set up a quarantine camp in Taftan to prevent further movement, inadvertently turning the town into an epicenter for the spread of COVID-19. Testing in the camp is sporadic at best, while health facilities are abysmal. Many pilgrims reportedly paid bribes to escape back into Pakistan, and as recently as the end of March, hundreds of people were still crossing the border at Taftan, despite rules to prevent them. Some officials in the region believe that 95 percent of Pakistan’s coronavirus cases are due to “mismanagement” at the Taftan camp.

There are countless other stories around the world detailing how corruption has undermined the fight against the novel coronavirus. They include dodgy procurement contracts that were fast-tracked through the approval process under emergency measures in Slovenia, cops soliciting “coronavirus risk allowances” from citizens in Zimbabwe, and contractors overcharging for supplies in Colombia. In the U.S., senators have been accused of capitalizing on the crisis to make a killing in the stock market, while President Donald Trump has openly used political loyalty as the basis for distributing life-saving medical equipment to states. Trump has also brazenly tried to undermine the independent federal watchdog established by Congress to oversee the implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief law.

Donald Trump Is Right To Dump the WHO

by Salvatore Babones
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Donald Trump announced at Tuesday's press briefing that he was suspending American funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) "while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus."

The WHO claims to "courageously and selflessly defend everyone's right to health" with "independent" decisions that are "fair, transparent and timely." Yet as the president pointed out yesterday, "the reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet, and share information in a timely and transparent fashion" He added that "the WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable."

Why has the WHO failed so miserably in tackling the coronavirus crisis? The answer is in the acronym. The key problem at the WHO isn't corruption or mismanagement, though the WHO has a terrible track record on both. It's "who" is at the top: director-general Tedros Adhanom.

No winners, only strange bedfellows, from the new OPEC+ deal

Samantha Gross

The OPEC+ group came to a difficult agreement this weekend to cut 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in oil production. A long standoff with Mexico delayed the agreement and the group ultimately agreed to cut Mexico’s contribution to reach agreement. This level of production cuts is unprecedented, but so is the situation that brought it about.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a nose-dive in global oil demand. Data about demand is difficult to obtain in real time, but IHS Markit (full disclosure, a former employer of mine) says that demand is down about 25 million bpd, or 25%. To contain the virus, many countries are in a state of near lockdown. Stay-at-home orders and the resulting economic slowdown are gutting demand for transportation, which makes up 60% of oil demand.

The agreement ends the Saudis’ reckless promise to maximize production in a time of plummeting demand, and provides some reassurance to global oil markets reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the agreement merely codifies what would have happened anyway in response to reduced demand. Saudi behavior during the last several weeks has ensured that they take extra blame for the oil market chaos. President Trump has gone from trumpeting U.S. “energy dominance” to begging the Russians and Saudis to reduce production to prop up the price. There are really no winners in the agreement.

The Dawn of Information Warfare

For 70 years, Chinese propaganda has been mastering the Art of Disinformation. Beijing’s rewriting history of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising is a classic example.

For several years, analysts have been predicting that Information Warfare (IW) would be an important part of any battle of tomorrow.
In 2003, China’s Central Military Commission approved the concept of ‘Three Warfares’, namely: coordinated use of strategic psychological operations; overt and covert media manipulation and legal warfare designed to manipulate perceptions of target audiences abroad. In recent years, Beijing has been intensifying its ‘media manipulation’. It was clear that after losing a battle in Wuhan (for more than two months the Chinese authorities hid the truth about the existence and the severity of the new virus), Beijing decided to counterattack.

Chinese reactions

Zhao Lijian, one of China’s sharpshooters, was appointed as one of the spokesmen of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Zhao, who served earlier as deputy chief of mission in Pakistan, is known for his nasty twitter attacks. Soon Zhao Lijian alleged that the Americans were at the origin of the virus: “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! The US owes us an explanation!” he reportedly said.
The US President was not long to join the fray. He dismissed the criticism that his labelling it the ‘Chinese virus’ was racist. Reuters commented: “Trump’s tougher language marked an escalation in a bitter war of words between the world’s top two economies that has widened to include the global pandemic and media freedoms.” During a White House press conference, after speaking of America’s “war against the Chinese virus,” Trump said, "I don’t know if you’d say China’s to blame. Certainly, we didn’t get an early run on it. It would have been helpful if we had known about it earlier. But it comes from China, and it’s not a question about that - nobody’s questioning that.” A friend of mine who has been lived in Beijing for many years told me once: “Trump is a ‘Chinese’, he speaks like them, he reacts like them.”

Ethical hackers find hundreds of vulnerabilities during latest Air Force bug bounty

Andrew Eversden
Ethical hackers found more than 460 vulnerabilities in an Air Force platform during the most recent iteration of the “Hack the Air Force” program, according to a April 15 news release from security research company HackerOne.

Through “Hack the Air Force 4.0,” which ran from Oct. 23 to Nov. 20, 60 security researchers searched for vulnerabilities in an Air Force virtual data center. They ultimately earned a total of $290,000, the highest total given out through its bug bounty program so far.

At the in-person event, hackers could search for loopholes in a “specific asset” from the U.K. Ministry of Defence, the release said. The event “gave hackers the opportunity to collaborate with peers and military personnel to discover vulnerabilities," according to HackerOne.

"The U.S. Air Force provides an example of the proven impact of collaborating with hackers to bolster security,” said Jon Bottarini, federal technical program manager lead at HackerOne. “Through Defense Digital Service, the DoD has established an expansive and powerful approach to cybersecurity today, and we look forward to bringing this new challenge to the hacker community up for the task.”

The Problem With Google and Apple’s COVID-19-Tracking Plan

By Stewart Baker 

Google and Apple have released specifications for how to use a mobile phone to track coronavirus infections. That’s good news. As the country moves toward at least partial resumption of normal life, we’re likely to need good tracking capabilities to avoid a second peak in infections, and that can’t be done without the cooperation of Google and Apple.

But the more I study the design that these companies are promoting, the less attractive it looks. To be blunt, I think the companies were so eager to avoid criticism from privacy groups and Silicon Valley libertarians that they produced a design that raises far too many barriers to effectively tracking infections. The good news, though, is that Google and Apple won’t have the last word. The two companies are creating an absolutely essential set of tools, or APIs, that will allow other tracking apps to interact with phone operating systems. They’ve also sketched what might be described as the default tracking system that they intend to implement “while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.” This default system is less essential, and a good thing too. The Google/Apple default tracking system is seriously flawed, mainly because it elevates privacy over effectiveness. Luckily, national health systems will be free to write better, more workable tracking apps that can still plug into Google and Apple operating systems without buying into the questionable choices those companies seem to favor.

The View From Olympus: Did the Marine Corps Just Commit Suicide?

The new Marine Corps Commandant, General David H. Berger, recently announced a series of major changes in the Marine Corps’ mission and structure. When General Berger released his Commandant’s Guidance last summer, I supported it strongly. But the actions he just announced are so mis-directed that I fear they may add up to the suicide of the Marine Corps.

According to the Commandant’s letter announcing the Corps’ redirection,

The Marine Corps is redesigning the force for naval expeditionary warfare in actively contested spaces, fully aligning the Service with the direction of the National Defense Strategy (NDS). . .

Some of the key changes that will shape the future force include:
Expansion of long-range fires. A 300% increase in rocket artillery.
Marine Littoral Regiment. These purpose-built naval combined arms units will be capable of long-range precision-fires and equipped with anti-ship missiles.
Lighter, more mobile and versatile infantry.
Ground combat units to focus on naval missions.
Aviation units re-scoped for naval missions.
Investments in unmanned systems.
New capabilities for maritime mobility and resilience.
Air defense improvements.

The Army Wants A Killer Replacement For Its Shadow

Kelsey D. Atherton

After years of service, the Army is ready to replace its Shadow, and will not let the pandemic get in its way. On April 7, the Army had soldiers remotely pilot an Arcturus drone for the first time. The Arcturus is one of several candidates to replace the RQ-7 Shadow, and the program itself tells us a lot about how the Army’s thinking on drones has evolved.

The RQ-7 Shadow is an old drone, an inelegant weapon from a less sophisticated age. Developed in the 1990s and introduced early in what would become the decades-spanning War on Terror, the Shadow functioned as a nimble, capable scout for an army on the move.

Nearly 20 years later, the Army is testing Shadow replacements, putting years of lessons learned into an acquisition program designed to meet the needs of the wars the Army actually fights.

When it was first designed, the Shadow offered a lot of function in a relatively small package. The drone could be carried by trucks, launch and take off from small fields, and fly for hours, letting soldiers see not just beyond the next hill, but down stretches of highway leading to the next hill.

OMFV: Can Army Exorcise The Ghost Of FCS?


The Future Combat Systems artillery vehicle in testing. FCS was cancelled in 2009.

WASHINGTON: “The Army learned nothing from FCS,” one industry official told me in January, after the service cancelled its third attempt in two decades to replace the Reagan-era M2 Bradley troop carrier.

But just weeks later, the service outlined out a new plan for the Bradley replacement program. Unlike the infamous Future Combat System cancelled in 2009, the short-lived Ground Fighting Vehicle cancelled in 2014, or the initial Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle competition cancelled this past January, the revised approach to OMFV has no rigid, government-specified technical requirements. The focus, instead, is on nine broadly defined “characteristics” and a new-found humility about asking industry for advice on how to achieve them.