28 April 2020

India-Gulf Migration: A Testing Time

John Calabrese

India’s interests and capabilities extend well beyond the subcontinent. This essay is part of a series that explores the geopolitical dimensions, economic ties, transnational networks, and other aspects of India's links with the Middle East (West Asia) -- a region that plays a vital role in India’s economy and its future. More ...

India is the largest country of origin of international migrants[1] as well as the world’s top recipient of remittances.[2] Since the 1970s “oil boom,” Indian migration to the Gulf has served as a valuable source of income for the nation and as the backbone of the economies of high-migration states such as Kerala through the transfer of remittances. During this time, Indian migrant workers[3] have made substantial contributions to the economic development of the Gulf States.[4]

However, the increasing international scrutiny and condemnation of the treatment of blue-collar and domestic expatriate workers in the region in recent years has cast India-Gulf migration in a far less favorable light, prompting greater attention by the Government of India (GoI) to diaspora affairs and worker welfare issues. Yet, complaints received from and on behalf of migrant workers regarding various forms of abuse, exploitation, and hardship persist.

The Chinese Health Organization?


NEW DELHI – The COVID-19 pandemic, much like a major war, is a defining moment for the world – one that demands major reforms of international institutions. The World Health Organization, whose credibility has taken a severe beating of late, is a good place to start.

The WHO is the only institution that can provide global health leadership. But, at a time when such leadership is urgently needed, the body has failed miserably. Before belatedly declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, the WHO provided conflicting and confusing guidance. More damaging, it helped China, where the crisis originated, to cover its tracks.

It is now widely recognized that China’s political culture of secrecy helped to turn a local viral outbreak into the greatest global disaster of our time. Far from sounding the alarm when the new coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, the Communist Party of China (CPC) concealed the outbreak, allowing it to spread far and wide. Months later, China continues to sow doubt about the pandemic’s origins and withhold potentially life-saving data.

The WHO has been complicit in this deception. Instead of attempting independently to verify Chinese claims, the WHO took them at face value – and disseminated them to the world.

Chinese Agents Helped Spread Messages That Sowed Virus Panic in U.S., Officials Say

By Edward Wong, Matthew Rosenberg and Julian E. Barnes

WASHINGTON — The alarming messages came fast and furious in mid-March, popping up on the cellphone screens and social media feeds of millions of Americans grappling with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spread the word, the messages said: The Trump administration was about to lock down the entire country.

“They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters,” warned one of the messages, which cited a source in the Department of Homeland Security. “He said he got the call last night and was told to pack and be prepared for the call today with his dispatch orders.”

The messages became so widespread over 48 hours that the White House’s National Security Council issued an announcement via Twitter that they were “FAKE.”

Since that wave of panic, United States intelligence agencies have assessed that Chinese operatives helped push the messages across platforms, according to six American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to publicly discuss intelligence matters. The amplification techniques are alarming to officials because the disinformation showed up as texts on many Americans’ cellphones, a tactic that several of the officials said they had not seen before.

China's Logistics Capabilities for Expeditionary Operations

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission released a report entitled China's Logistics Capabilities for Expeditionary Operations, prepared for the Commission by Jane's. The report assesses China's overseas military logistics capabilities, operating concepts, internal timeline for global power projection, and use of civilian entities to support expeditionary operations conducted by armed forces. 

Crisis within a Crisis: Immigration in the United States in a Time of COVID-19

By Muzaffar Chishti and Sarah Pierce

Travellers at Atlanta's airport amid the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo: Chad Davis).

An unprecedented global pandemic that knows no borders has brought into sharp focus the intersection of U.S. immigration and public health policy, and the unique challenges that immigrants face in the United States today. The Trump administration, which before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had introduced some of the most stringent immigration restrictions in modern times, has raced to put in place a sweeping series of measures in response to the crisis. In the process, it has further advanced its longstanding immigration goals, including summarily ending asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The first action taken by the administration in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that originated in China was a ban on travel from that country for non-U.S. citizens or residents; those restrictions have been extended to many more countries since, including Iran and all of Europe. In perhaps one of the administration’s starkest actions, it also effectively ended asylum at U.S. land borders by invoking the power given to the Surgeon General in 1944 to block the entry of foreign nationals who pose a public health risk. As a result, asylum seekers and other migrants are being pushed back into Mexico or returned to their countries. Working with the Canadian and Mexican governments, the United States has closed its northern and southern borders to nonessential travel—the first time such action has been taken. And in an extraordinary advisory, the State Department has urged Americans not to travel overseas and is encouraging those abroad to return to the United States.

The Case for a National Industrial Strategy to Counter China’s Technological Rise

Robert D. Atkinson 

China has long posed a stark techno-economic challenge in the advanced industries that are most critical to America’s economic wellbeing and national security. To overcome that threat, policymakers must break free of conventional economic thinking.

Trade and foreign policy measures are necessary, but not enough. America needs a robust domestic strategy, too—and it cannot be limited to generic policies to expand “factor inputs” like science, education, and infrastructure.

America needs a national strategy that fortifies traded-sector tech industries that are “too critical to fail,” such as advanced machinery, aerospace, biopharma, electrical equipment, semiconductors and computing, software, transportation and more.

To develop and implement a national industrial strategy, the federal government will need to significantly strengthen its institutional capabilities to conduct thorough sectoral analysis.

Congress should act in four areas: support for R&D targeted to key technologies, tax incentives for key building blocks of advanced production, financing for domestic production scaleup, and adding a competitiveness screen for regulation.

China’s Coronavirus Information Offensive

By Laura Rosenberger

From the first days of COVID-19’s appearance in the city of Wuhan, China’s leaders focused on control—not only of the coronavirus itself but also of information about it. They suppressed initial reporting and research about the outbreak, thereby slowing efforts to understand the virus and its pandemic potential. They called for “increased internet control” when the Politburo Standing Committee met in early February. They even sent “Internet police” to threaten people posting criticism of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its handling of the virus.

Before long, that effort at controlling information went global. As it began to contain the outbreak within its own borders, Beijing launched an assertive external information campaign aimed at sculpting global discussion of its handling of the virus. This campaign has clear goals: to deflect blame from Beijing’s own failings and to highlight other governments’ missteps, portraying China as both the model and the partner of first resort for other countries. Some of this campaign’s elements are familiar, focused on promoting and amplifying positive narratives about the CCP while suppressing information unfavorable to it. But in recent weeks, Beijing has taken a more aggressive approach than usual, even experimenting with tactics drawn from Russia’s more nihilistic information operations playbook. That strategy aims not so much to promote a particular idea as to sow doubt, dissension, and disarray—including among Americans—in order to undermine public confidence in information and prevent any common understanding of facts from taking hold.

The Chinese Health Organization?


NEW DELHI – The COVID-19 pandemic, much like a major war, is a defining moment for the world – one that demands major reforms of international institutions. The World Health Organization, whose credibility has taken a severe beating of late, is a good place to start.

The WHO is the only institution that can provide global health leadership. But, at a time when such leadership is urgently needed, the body has failed miserably. Before belatedly declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, the WHO provided conflicting and confusing guidance. More damaging, it helped China, where the crisis originated, to cover its tracks.

It is now widely recognized that China’s political culture of secrecy helped to turn a local viral outbreak into the greatest global disaster of our time. Far from sounding the alarm when the new coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, the Communist Party of China (CPC) concealed the outbreak, allowing it to spread far and wide. Months later, China continues to sow doubt about the pandemic’s origins and withhold potentially life-saving data.

The WHO has been complicit in this deception. Instead of attempting independently to verify Chinese claims, the WHO took them at face value – and disseminated them to the world.

After the Coronavirus, Terrorism Won’t Be the Same

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As the coronavirus pandemic has spread, terrorist groups have reacted in different ways.

Traditional terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda and its many affiliates are for the most part confused in their response to COVID-19. Some see chaos that they can take advantage of (in places such as West Africa), others divine retribution on nonbelievers (as the Islamic State and the Turkistan Islamic Party, a Uighur group, have suggested), while others an opportunity to show their governance capabilities (such as the Taliban and Hezbollah). Governments have redeployed some counterterrorism capabilities to support the coronavirus response while contorting legal definitions of terrorism to prosecute people committing antisocial acts such as coughing on others.

So far, the number of acts that could reasonably be called terrorism have been quite limited. It is for the most part generic anti-establishmentarianism fed by conspiracy theories. Fear of 5G technology being linked to the spread of the disease has led to the burnings of cell-phone towers across Europe.

What’s Next For The United States’ Iran Strategy?

By Yahia Aldhahraa 
Source Link

After the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, the United States severed diplomatic ties with Iran and started imposing sanctions on the country. More than four decades later, Iran continues to support anti-U.S. proxy forces and the Syrian government while expressing interest in developing a nuclear weapons capability. The U.S. policy of maximum pressure is failing to change Tehran’s behavior. The situation is at a dangerous impasse. To achieve the stated aim of bringing about a positive change of behavior in Tehran, the U.S. should implement a step-by-step policy emphasizing reciprocal responses.

The U.S.-Iran relationship continues to change for the worse. Because of its history with foreign meddling, Iran’s government is fearful of regime change. Surrounded by unfriendly forces and isolated from the global financial market, Iran’s leaders are focused on regime survival. The U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran Nuclear Deal) has also diminished confidence in whether the U.S. will honor its commitments.

This new approach cannot be zero-sum. It must provide tangible progress for both sides. The U.S. needs assurances that Iran will not seek nuclear weapons, cease supporting violent proxy forces, and stop threats against Israel. Iran needs assurances that the U.S. will not renege on commitments or threaten regime change.

Disruptive Innovation and Israel’s Threat From Armed Non-State Actors

By Lazar Berman

Clayton Christensen, the renowned Harvard Business School professor who passed away in January 2020, will be remembered for his groundbreaking book The Innovator's Dilemma. One of his signature contributions was the concept of disruptive innovation, the process by which small, poorly-funded, but nimble organizations surprise established companies and drive them out the market. A central dilemma Christensen lays out is that the same concepts of value and priorities that led to consistent success for major corporations are also the cause of their demise in the face of disruptors. While Christensen's theory was designed to help business leaders identify and defeat challengers, conventional militaries can also draw lessons from it in understanding how armed sub-state organizations are challenging them today. Israel faces a long-term challenge from Hamas and Hezbollah, who have managed to disrupt the Israel Defense Force repeatedly and pose an increasing threat over time. If Israel is to break this cycle—and restore its advantage over its enemies—it must recognize the phenomenon, revisit its concepts of value, and identify solutions that have been used to successfully counter disruptors.

This article will lay out the essentials of Christensen's theory, then apply it to military competition. It will present the World War I Atlantic U-Boat campaign and Hamas and Hezbollah's campaigns against Israel through the lens of disruptive innovation. Finally, it will offer approaches for the Israel Defense Force to guide responses to the challenge.

The Theory of Disruptive Innovation

Hot Issue – Is This the Beginning of the End of the War in Yemen?

By: Michael Horton

Executive Summary: Defeats, plummeting oil prices, and a global pandemic are forcing Saudi Arabia to rethink its involvement in Yemen. Ironically, the end of overt Saudi involvement in Yemen may help it achieve some of its aims as new alliances dilute Houthi control and minimize Iranian influence. While Yemen faces years of low-intensity conflict, the beginning of the end of its interlocking wars maybe in sight.

On April 9, Saudi Arabia announced a two week unilateral ceasefire in its war with the Houthis and their allies (al-Jazeera, April 9). The ceasefire follows a renewed offensive by the Houthis and their allies across multiple fronts, most notably in the governorate of Marib. The ceasefire also comes after Saudi Arabia offered direct talks with the Houthis in Riyadh (The National, March 31).

After five years, billions of dollars, and little success, the government of Saudi Arabia seems to understand what was clear from the beginning of the Saudi and Emirati-led intervention—defeating the Houthis is not going to happen. The Houthis and their allies, which include a broad and growing base of old and emergent northern elites, have excelled on both the martial and political battlefields. Little doubt exists that the Houthis are the predominant political and military force in northwest Yemen. This will be the case for years to come.

How Might Think Tanks Make Real Things Happen? Lessons from the Creation of the DFC

Todd Moss

A new US government agency began as scrawl on a napkin in a think tank seminar room just off Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. Fast forward nine years, in early 2020, the US International Development Finance Corporation was born. This institution, better known as the DFC, is designed to use public tools to catalyze private investment around the world in support of America’s development, economic, and national security objectives. It is the single most significant advance in US development policy in at least a decade, and it’s one of the most promising institutions for projecting US economic influence around the world. But the DFC very nearly wasn’t.

Its predecessor agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), had long been a favorite punching bag for all sides. Conservatives like John Kasich (R-OH) and Dana Rohrabacher (R–CA) joined liberals like Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) to co-sponsor legislation to terminate OPIC in 1997. Another bipartisan bill to kill OPIC reappeared in 2010. The Obama administration flirted with swallowing OPIC into the Commerce Department (a certain death sentence), while the Trump administration was more direct: its first budget proposed shutting down OPIC permanently.

Canada’s Oil Has Nowhere To Go As The US Runs Out Of Storage

By Tsvetana Paraskova
Source Link

Collapsing demand and brimming storage in the United States, Canada’s almost exclusive oil outlet, have resulted in a very usual situation in the Canadian oil industry. Prices for delivery at Cushing, Oklahoma, are so low that Canada’s producers don’t have incentive anymore to send their oil south of the border. 

According to estimates of NE2 Group, cited by Bloomberg, the price of Western Canadian Select for May delivery was US$0.50 higher than the WTI Crude for May delivery at Cushing on Tuesday, the day on which the WTI May contract expired, having plunged to as low as –US$37 a barrel on the previous day for a historic crash of more than 300 percent. While most of the losses in WTI on Monday were attributed to the nature of the paper futures market and traders rushed the exit to avoid owning physical barrels of oil for delivery in May, the crash was indicative of the shrinking storage capacity at Cushing.

Storage in Canada is also an issue and has been such for several years as oil sands production rose while not a single new pipeline has managed to clear all the hurdles necessary to go into operation.

Terrorism Monitor

· Terrorism Monitor, April 17, 2020, v. 18, no. 8

o Arms from Yemen will Fuel Conflict in the Horn of Africa

o Al-Qaeda’s South Asian Branch Gravitating Toward Kashmir

o Turkey’s Drone Blitz Over Idlib

Aligning America’s ends and means in the Indo-Pacific

By: Bradley Bowman and John Hardie  
The U.S. combatant command responsible for the Indo-Pacific region warned in a report last month that it lacks the resources and capabilities necessary to implement the National Defense Strategy. This mismatch between ends and means endangers American interests and invites Beijing to pursue opportunistic aggression.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s sobering assessment demands urgent action in Washington. Notably, some leaders are already paying attention. Last Thursday, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, released draft legislation that would require the secretary of defense to establish and resource an Indo-Pacific Deterrence Initiative, or IPDI.

While details should be subject to good-faith negotiations on Capitol Hill and with the Pentagon, an IPDI would help close the gap between the capabilities the U.S. military needs in the Indo-Pacific and the capabilities it currently has. An IPDI would accomplish this by addressing serious shortfalls in force posture, procurement, infrastructure and logistics, while strengthening partner capacity and interoperability as well as improving training and exercise opportunities.

‘Sadness’ and Disbelief From a World Missing American Leadership

By Katrin Bennhold
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The coronavirus pandemic is shaking bedrock assumptions about U.S. exceptionalism. This is perhaps the first global crisis in more than a century where no one is even looking for Washington to lead.

Doctors performing a procedure on a coronavirus patient at the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at the Brooklyn Hospital Center last month.Credit...Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

As images of America’s overwhelmed hospital wards and snaking jobless lines have flickered across the world, people on the European side of the Atlantic are looking at the richest and most powerful nation in the world with disbelief.

“When people see these pictures of New York City they say, ‘How can this happen? How is this possible?’” said Henrik Enderlein, president of the Berlin-based Hertie School, a university focused on public policy. “We are all stunned. Look at the jobless lines. Twenty-two million,” he added.

“I feel a desperate sadness,” said Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European history at Oxford University and a lifelong and ardent Atlanticist.

Caution: Dangerous Social Curve Ahead!

Shmuel Even, Tomer Fadlon, Sasson Hadad, Meir Elran
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Israel began easing its lockdown and moving into the next phase of living in the presence of the coronavirus, which will continue in different ways and intensities until a vaccine is found or until the virus disappears. While major emphasis is currently placed on the medical and economic tracks, the social dimension is also a key element that must be addressed. Although it is difficult to gauge, the social curve is no less and perhaps even more critical in managing the crisis over the long term. This article presents the importance of tracking the social curve, methods for doing so, and recommendations for the use of data collection. The core recommendation is to designate key parameters and assess them frequently, in order to chart the social trajectory so as to identify both early warning signals of social weaknesses and strengths that might assist in policy management.

Many are looking for ways to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, primarily based on projecting trends along healthcare and macroeconomic curves. The healthcare curve is benchmarked on quantitative indexes such as the scale of individuals confirmed to be infected, seriously ill, dead, or recovered. The macroeconomic curve is commonly drawn through indexes of unemployed and estimates of losses to GDP. However, the social trajectory, which is closely connected to the previous two, is usually missing from the discussion. Indeed the social curve is more difficult to measure quantitatively, but its implications are clearly evident world-wide, as it represents a critical domain both for the management of the present crisis and further beyond.

Bio-warfare Narratives May Chill Pandemic Cooperation

Dr. Christina Lin 

After a temporary détente between the US and China to put aside the blame game and cooperate to fight Covid19, it seems conspiracy theories are once again flaring up and sabotaging joint efforts to control the pandemic. Washington is pushing a narrative that the virus may have escaped from a Wuhan bioweapons lab, while Beijing has a counter-narrative that US soldiers may have brought the virus from a Fort Detrick bioweapons lab to the October Military Games in Wuhan. As this escalates, and just as both countries are flattening the curve to consider reopening their economies, the sudden tit-for-tat bio-warfare narratives may throw both countries back into chaos. 

About ISPSW The Institute for Strategic, Political, Security and Economic Consultancy (ISPSW) is a private institute for research and consultancy. The ISPSW is an objective, task-oriented and politically non-partisan institute. In the ever more complex international environment of globalized economic processes and worldwide political, ecological, social and cultural change, which occasions both major opportunities and risks, decision-makers in the economic and political arena depend more than ever before on the advice of highly qualified experts. ISPSW offers a range of services, including strategic analyses, security consultancy, executive coaching and intercultural competency. ISPSW publications examine a wide range of topics connected with politics, the economy, international relations, and security/ defense. ISPSW network experts have worked – in some cases for decades – in executive positions and have at their disposal a wide range of experience in their respective fields of expertise.


Paul Maxwell 
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Artificial intelligence is among the many hot technologies that promise to change the face of warfare for years to come. Articles abound that describe its possibilities and warn those who fall behind in the AI race. The Department of Defense has duly created the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center in the hopes of winning the AI battle. Visions exist of AI enabling autonomous systems to conduct missions, achieving sensor fusion, automating tasks, and making better, quicker decisions than humans. AI is improving rapidly and some day in the future those goals may be achieved. In the meantime, AI’s impact will be in the more mundane, dull, and monotonous tasks performed by our military in uncontested environments.

Artificial intelligence is a rapidly developing capability. Extensive research by academia and industry is resulting in shorter training time for systems and increasingly better results. AI is effective at certain tasks, such as image recognition, recommendation systems, and language translation. Many systems designed for these tasks are fielded today and producing very good results. In other areas, AI is very short of human-level achievement. Some of these areas include working with scenarios not seen previously by the AI; understanding the context of text (understanding sarcasm, for example) and objects; and multi-tasking (i.e., being able to solve problems of multiple type). Most AI systems today are trained to do one task, and to do so only under very specific circumstances. Unlike humans, they do not adapt well to new environments and new tasks.

Technology Can Help Solve the Coronavirus Crisis If Government Steps Up

By Mira Rapp-Hooper and Samm Sacks

The United States, by most measures, drastically underperformed in its efforts to contain and treat the novel coronavirus epidemic at its outset. How it manages the pandemic’s next phase will determine how soon the country will be able to resume social and economic activity. Technology has been crucial to such efforts abroad, and the same will be true in the United States—the Senate signaled as much on April 9, when it held a hearing called “Enlisting Big Data in the Fight Against Coronavirus.” But the use of digital tools for public health purposes raises complex questions that U.S. policymakers are not yet prepared to address.

The countries in Asia that have competently managed their outbreaks have relied on digital surveillance technology to help track, contain, and manage the disease. Google and Apple recently announced that they have put their rivalry aside to collaborate on an app that would track the interactions of infected patients, among those who choose to participate. The app uses anonymous Bluetooth signals to alert users if their phones have been near the phones of infected people. But the United States will not be able to avail itself of such digital tools unless it can also adopt careful and well-coordinated policies to deploy them effectively and to regulate them. Unfortunately, the current moment is one of particular incoherence in U.S. governance. Washington has already missed the opportunity to use digital tools that could have saved lives in the early months of the crisis. Now it stands poised to miss a chance to use them to save more lives as well as the economy—unless it can learn from the choices that other countries have made.


Working the Rugged Internet of Things at the Tactical Edge

By Robbin Laird
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In a famous line from Molière’s play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, the aspiring social climber in the play discovers that: “For more than forty years I have been speaking prose while knowing nothing of it, and I am the most obliged person in the world to you for telling me so.”

Much like the man who discovered he is speaking prose, the strategic shift which the US and core allied forces are undergoing is learning to speak “kill web.”

And in learning to speak “kill web,” we are refocusing on core issues and redefining them. A key case in point is the thrust and focus of C2.

From hierarchical C2, we are learning what is required to make decisions at the tactical edge.

How can forces can operate effectively at the tactical edge but ensure they are integratable to provide scalability to fit a crisis?

Army Wants to Study How Humans Team With AI—And Vice Versa

By Aaron Boyd,
Source Link

The future of warfare—and most other human endeavors—will include the integration of human agency and decision-making prowess with artificial intelligence. At present, interactions between humans and AI tools are not always intuitive, but the Army wants to change that.

The Army Research Laboratory issued a presolicitation notice Monday for a Human-Agent Teaming Research and Engineering Services contract to study how soldiers interact with AI and improve the training regimen for humans and machines.

The Army plans to award the contract to DCS Corporation but released a request for information to hear from other potential vendors capable of delivering on this contract.

Technologies like artificial intelligence “will eventually reduce the number of soldiers in harm’s way, however, they will not simply replace soldiers one-for-one,” the RFI states.

AI will augment humans on the battlefield with greater capacity to store and analyze data; access areas humans can’t; react at speeds humans can’t; and be deployed in greater numbers.

“However, AI technologies will also introduce limitations and will not have the same set of capabilities that our soldiers have—e.g., adaptability, flexibility, common sense and other traits—necessary to always complete the mission,” according to the performance work statement.

Directed Energy Weapons

The militarisation of high-energy Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) might be regarded as a game-changer for defending against high-speed missiles, remotely piloted aircraft and swarms of drones. Low powered DEW systems have been militarised to dazzle electro-optical sensors and Australia has already integrated Directed Infra-Red Counter Measures into air mobility aircraft for self-protection.

DEW may provide a speed-of-light option, with a lower cost per round, as an alternative to high-end precision-guided weapons that cost more than the targeted incoming threat systems. However, in trade-off analyses with other weapons effects, DEW may increase the burdens on technology, power, mission planning and integration, and collateral damage risks. Additionally, there are unavoidable physical constraints to the employment of the DEW damage mechanism caused by weather, environment, and target characteristics such as aerodynamic cooling, reflectivity, ablation effects, and heat resistance.

COVID-19 and military readiness: Preparing for the long game

Thomas Burke

With the saga over the U.S.S. Teddy Roosevelt aircraft carrier starting to fade from the headlines, a larger question about the American armed forces and COVID-19 remains. How will we keep our military combat-ready, and thus fully capable of deterrence globally, until a vaccine is available to our troops? It will also be crucial to sustain activities like the Coast Guard’s inspections of ships inbound for U.S. harbors, Central Command’s counterterrorism operations, and the key roles of the National Guard in responding to the crisis here at home.

To date, it is reasonable to say that the U.S. military has not been severely affected by the novel coronavirus. The preponderance of uniformed personnel and their families are young, which helps of course. On top of that, most of the military is based in reasonably remote parts of the country. So far, there would appear to be some 5,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 among some 1.3 million active-duty troops, with a death rate an order of magnitude less than in American society writ large.

Part of the success to date in keeping COVID-19 out of the ranks is due to the prudence of commanders around the country and the world, who have been given flexibility by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to take measures they deem appropriate. The armed forces have canceled or postponed large-scale exercises that bring together thousands of people in one concentrated locale. Social-distancing protocols have been instituted on bases. Basic training was temporarily suspended or scaled back as new screening and testing protocols were put in place, much of it is already ramping back up. Some services have also suspended certain “permanent change of station” (or PCS) moves. The naval services have been particularly careful not to let sailors and Marines go to sea if sick, since as we all know, ships are the perfect petri dishes for the virus’s spread.