23 May 2020

Pakistan and Azerbaijan: Deepening a Mutually Beneficial Relationship

By Shahid Hussain
Source Link

During the 16th century, the Mughal Emperor Humayun, who ruled a significant part of the subcontinent, wrote a letter to the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, complimenting him on his military, literary, and religious achievements. The same Humayun also fostered close ties with the Safavid Empire, an Iranian dynasty that ruled territories stretching from Georgia to the Arabian Sea. It is little surprise then that two of their respective successors, Azerbaijan and Pakistan, share an enduring diplomatic relationship.

Just this month, in a phone call with his Pakistani counterpart, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev expressed his deep concern at India’s perceived human rights violations in Kashmir, stating “Azerbaijan considers Pakistan its close friend” and will “continue to support it” at every forum. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan reciprocated Aliyev’s comments, alluding to Islamabad’s support for Baku in its long-standing dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a small enclave in the Caucasus that has been the scene of frequent conflict between the two states.

The two leaders also discussed the coronavirus pandemic and shortly after, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Pakistan, Ali Alizada, visited a medical center in Islamabad. Alizada was pictured donating medical masks, food parcels, and other equipment. While the gesture may be small, the message, timing, and symbolism of Aliyev’s statement and Alizada’s actions are clear: Azerbaijan is one of Pakistan’s closest (and possibly its most enduring) allies among the former Soviet states. The close relationship is based on shared experiences and mutual benefit.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Changed Oil Markets Forever

Thijs Van de Graaf

Oil demand has fallen precipitously in recent months due to lockdowns and other measures that governments around the world have undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Energy Agency reckons that oil demand will fall by a record 9.3 million barrels per day in 2020, erasing nearly a decade of growth. With the crisis having rattled oil markets that were already struggling to adapt to structural challenges on both the demand and supply side, the world should brace for the geopolitical impacts of historically low demand for oil.

It will take years before demand returns to pre-coronavirus levels of roughly 100 million barrels a day—if it ever does. The CEOs of Europe’s two largest oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell’s Ben van Beurden and BP’s Bernard Looney, have suggested that oil demand might never fully recover. While many countries would gladly return to their pre-pandemic ways of life just as quickly as they can, three factors cast doubt over the prospect of oil’s recovery.

Taiwan Says It Tried to Warn the World About Coronavirus. Here’s What It Really Knew and When

Source Link

When they heard about patients falling sick with a mysterious pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Dec. 31, Taiwan’s health officials fired off an email to the World Health Organization asking for more information.

This four-sentence inquiry has since become fodder for the political brawl between China and the U.S. and threatens to bruise the reputation of the U.N.’s health agency as it leads the fight against an unprecedented global pandemic.

Taiwanese and U.S. officials have seized on the email to argue the WHO ignored an early warning that the coronavirus could likely be transmitted between people. In the weeks following the Dec. 31 note, the WHO echoed Chinese officials that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission”— even as cases began cropping up that raised suspicion of contagion.

In an interview with TIME, Dr. Lo Yi-chun, the deputy director-general of Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says the WHO should have acted on Taiwan’s query by conducting its own investigation. Instead, he says the WHO “provided a false sense of security to the world.”

The meaning of systemic rivalry: Europe and China beyond the pandemic

Andrew Small

Beijing’s handling of the pandemic has changed long-standing European assumptions about its reliability as a crisis actor and its approach to the European project.

Europe’s immediate medical-supply needs and dire economic situation will limit the scope of shifts in its China policy – for now.

But, on issues ranging from supply chains to ideological competition, European governments have rebalanced their view of what dynamics with China should look like in the aftermath.

The crisis is also intensifying demands from European parliaments, media outlets, and citizens for Europe to puts its China policy on a more open, accountable, and values-based footing.

Governments’ pursuit of a “business as usual” approach to Beijing is growing harder to sustain. 


Europe is in the nascent stages of a new debate about China. Last year, the European Union published a strategic outlook paper in which it labelled China as a “systemic rival”, reflecting a sharp change in its balance of assumptions about the Sino-European relationship. The pandemic is tilting that balance further. This is certainly not happening out of preference: European policymakers would rather address the urgent health and economic challenges they face with geopolitical competition largely suspended. Pragmatic cooperation with Beijing to secure essential medical supplies remains at the top of the bilateral agenda for a number of European countries, while the need to revive shell-shocked economies will drive many of their decisions in the months ahead. But, even in the midst of the crisis, China’s attempts to exploit political and economic vulnerabilities in Europe have necessitated pushback – be it against disinformation campaigns or attempts to target strategically important economic assets.

Stuck in the Middle


An intriguing story in the New York Times reports that—in the face of disenchantment with China and distrust of the United States—middle-size countries, led by Australia, “are urgently trying to revive the old norms of can-do multilateralism.”

The spark for a new sort of transnational coalition—a third way that avoids the dominance of today’s superpowers—comes from the COVID-19 crisis, which has cemented the already-widespread view of China’s Xi Jingping as an authoritarian bully and Donald Trump as an empty suit, both of them, in their own ways, incapable of global leadership.

Impatience with Xi hardened when Australian officials proposed an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus—and, in response, China’s ambassador threatened to boycott its agricultural products if the demand for a probe persisted. Ordinarily, Australia would have joined with the United States in making such demands—especially since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for an investigation, as well—but Trump has been so cold toward America’s alliances that there was no chance or desire for joint action. In fact, Australian officials disputed Pompeo’s claim that they were joining the U.S. push. They also expressed anger when Pompeo claimed that the virus may have originated in a Chinese bioweapons lab—contrary to intelligence, which the U.S. and Australia share, indicating that the virus was not man-made.

No One Should Have the Right to Opt Out of Coronavirus Surveillance

By Alan Z. Rozenshtein

Over the past several weeks, Senate Republicans and Democrats have introduced competing bills to regulate how companies can collect and use diagnostic and geolocation data to conduct contact tracing and other forms of disease surveillance. The proposals have important differences: The Republican bill would apply only to companies, while the Democratic bill would also apply to non-public-health government agencies; and the Democratic bill also imposes data-security requirements and a host of civil rights safeguards. But at their core they propose similar restrictions on data collection and use, suggesting an emerging bipartisan consensus. Much of this consensus is valuable, and the provisions encouraging effectiveness and transparency, as well as the prohibition on using coronavirus data for anything other than public health purposes (for example, no advertising), should be adopted. But a key part—the focus on individual consent to collection—is a mistake.

Both bills require organizations to get affirmative consent from users before collecting coronavirus-related data. The bills also stipulate that consent cannot be inferred from inaction; users must expressly agree to have their data collected. Both bills also provide users with the right to revoke consent and opt out of collection. The Democratic bill’s sponsors justify the consent provisions on the grounds that people won’t trust health companies with their data unless they know it’s being protected. Maybe. But it’s just as possible that requiring people to opt in will discourage them from participating in the first place. In countries such as Singapore and Australia, where participation in tracking apps is voluntary, participation levels have remained low, thus rendering the programs ineffective (because the effectiveness of a contact-tracing app is the square of the fraction of the population that uses it). There’s no reason to think that voluntary programs will fare any better in the United States.

Is China Deploying COVID-19 Diplomacy to Speed BRI Projects in Myanmar?

By Shah Suraj Bharat

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend the ceremony of signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at president house in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.Credit: Nyein Chan Naing/Pool Photo via AP

With the COVID-19 pandemic past its peak in China, attention has turned to the Chinese government’s deployment of “COVID diplomacy.” This term frames how China’s government is sending medical supplies and personnel across the world — including to Myanmar — to build goodwill and show global leadership in fighting the pandemic. Some Southeast Asian observers say it is an overt propaganda campaign, with others going further and warning of the region’s acceptance of Chinese government soft power.

For Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partners, some view China’s government are using such soft power to push through projects that may not be in the recipient’s best interests. In Myanmar, some saw Chinese Ambassador Chen Hai’s May 6 meeting with Deputy Minister for Planning, Finance and Industry U Set Aung regarding the implementation of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) project — which falls under the BRI — as an attempt to push such projects through. 


By Joshua H. Pollack and Scott LaFoy

P.W. Singer and Ma Xiu have an important story in PopSci with a nifty find about China’s DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which carries either nuclear or conventional payloads. It goes some way toward resolving a debate among English-speaking analysts about how these missiles are operated.

Here, we flesh out the story with some additional textual and visual evidence.


First, some background on the debate. Unlike other Chinese missiles associated with more than one warhead type, the DF-26 lacks publicly declared sub-designations indicating which sort of warhead it is meant to carry. For example, the DF-21A is nuclear, the DF-21C is conventional, and the DF-21D carries a conventional anti-ship warhead. These designations are acknowledged by the PLA Rocket Forces and appear in U.S. government reports. But the DF-26 has only ever been identified as DF-26, without any suffixes, by either government.

(Undated pictures of debris from missile tests complicate that story somewhat by including suffixes and also prefixes. One American news story also claimed that there is a DF-26C. More about these puzzle pieces in a little.)

China’s Challenges: Now It Gets Much Harder

Thomas FingarJean C. Oi

Some years ago, one of us had a running partner who wanted a bigger challenge than the dozens of marathons he had completed. When asked to describe his first 50-mile race, he replied, “The first 30 miles weren’t bad, but after that it got really hard.” China is approaching the metaphorical 30-mile mark in its developmental marathon. The challenges it encountered and managed effectively during the past 40 years were not easy, but they pale in comparison to those looming on the horizon. The way ahead will be more difficult, less predictable, and highly contingent on the content and efficacy of complex policy choices. The easy phases of China’s quest for wealth and power are over.

We begin with this cautionary note because so much of the new narrative about China’s rise posits capabilities and evolutionary trajectories that we find implausible. That China has done well in the past does not assure that it will do equally well (or better) in the future. That the Leninist party-state system adopted in the 1950s has proven sufficiently agile to manage the easier phases of modernization does not assure that it will be equally adept at meeting the more difficult challenges of a country being transformed by past successes and demographic change. The number, magnitude, and complexity of these challenges do not foreordain that China will stagnate, fail, or fall apart, but they do raise serious questions about the putative inevitability of China’s continued rise and displacement of the United States. China’s future is neither inevitable nor immutable; its further evolution will be shaped by internal economic and social developments, the international system, and, above all, the policy choices of party leaders facing a daunting array of difficult challenges.

Back to the Future

Why US-Iran relations could shift gears in the coming days

Source Link

Key developments across the Middle East in recent days have helped to renew a sense of optimism among some about a turnaround in US-Iran relations. But this could yet amount to wishful thinking on their part, as both Washington and Tehran prepare to host meetings over the coming week to decide how to more effectively deal with their adversary.

Decision-makers in Washington will discuss various options to contain the Iranian regime, including perhaps the launch of pre-emptive military strikes. Meanwhile, commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Tehran's influential paramilitary volunteer militia – will focus on their existing strategies in Lebanon and Iraq, where the regime wields considerable influence and is determined to keep within its orbit at any cost and by any means.

In short, far from rapprochement, the coming days and weeks could well witness a further escalation in tensions between the two regional powers.

US-Iran Hostility In The Pandemic Era – Analysis

By Amin Saikal*
Source Link

The US and Iran are both being ravaged by COVID-19. Iran’s problems, however, are compounded by damaging American sanctions, which narrow Tehran’s policy options in dealing with its predicament.

The United States and Iran are both being savaged by COVID-19, but there has been no let-up in their mutual hostility. President Donald Trump has ramped up his policy of ‘maximum pressure’ to tame the Iranian Islamic regime in conformity with what he regards as America’s geopolitical interests.

Iran’s clerical leadership has refused to soften its defiance and resistance. Neither side’s belligerent rhetoric and actions have so far paid off. A major confrontation between them remains a prospect for early next year, if Trump is re-elected. In the wake of the pandemic crisis, one would normally have expected the two protagonists to cool their enmity in favour of more urgent domestic needs. Yet, they have continued to trade barbs, with tensions remaining high between them.

Locked in Major Collision Course

Israel Shines In The Gulf Where Big Powers Falter, But That Could Prove Tricky – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey

The Firefly, an Israeli-built loitering kamikaze drone, part of the Spike family of missiles that the Jewish state has sold to various European nations, may be one reason why Gulf states, and particularly Saudi Arabia, have cozied up to Israel in a seeming reversal of their past support of Palestinian rights.

If there is one lesson that Gulf states have learned from the United States’ reduced commitment to the region and the strains in US-Saudi relations, it is that putting one’s eggs in one basket is risky business.

That has not prevented the United States from continuing to secure its place as the region’s foremost arms supplier as this month’s arms and related commercial deals prove.

The US Defense Department announced a $2.6 billion USD Saudi deal to acquire 1,000 air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles from Boeing. Within days, Saudi Arabia’s Al Tadrea Manufacturing Company tweeted that it had reached agreement with Oshkosh Defense to establish a joint venture to manufacture armed vehicles in the kingdom.

The Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, disclosed separately that it had recently taken a $ 713.7 million USD stake in Boeing at a time when the company, already suffering major setbacks because of its 737-Max fiasco, took a significant hit as a result of a collapse of the civilian aviation industry.

The continued Saudi arms focus on the United States has not deprived China of opportunities. China has stepped in to help Saudi Arabia produce unmanned military vehicles after the United States refused to sell its MQ-9 Reaper killer drone to the kingdom. Saudi Arabia expects production to start next year.

Winning The Spectrum: Pentagon Unveils New Strategy


The Electromagnetic Spectrum is the key to waging electronic warfare, and EW is key to waging modern war. An enemy who can jam communications or GPS, mislead you (spoofing is the term of art) and stop your weapons from functioning (cyber attacks using radio waves). The US largely abandoned EW after the Cold War ended. Then the Russians made it very clear in their war against Ukraine just how effective EW could be and senior folks in the US military grew uneasy. They and Congress realized how much we had made ourselves vulnerable and the Hill ordered creation of a group to devise a strategy to restore American EW eminence. Bryan Clark and Tim Walton of the Hudson Institute preview the new strategy below — only at Breaking D Read on! The Editor.

The electromagnetic spectrum is getting more popular and crowded every day. As Breaking D readers know, the DoD and FCC are battling over frequencies adjacent to those used by GPS, which the telecommunication company Ligado wants to use for its satellite-based 5G network. DoD worries that Ligado’s transmissions will drown out the relatively weak signals that reach Earth from GPS satellites.

Ligado fired what is only the first of what will be many salvos in the 5G spectrum battle. To achieve 5G’s promised low latency and broadband speed telecommunication companies require wider swaths of spectrum compared to 4G–some of which they don’t control. With high-frequency millimeter wave 5G towers only able to reach a few city blocks, telecom providers like Ligado are pursuing mid and low-band spectrum below 6 Ghz that enables greater coverage–but also puts them in conflict with FAA and military radars, radios, and GPS.

Reopening the coronavirus-closed economy

James Stock

This briefing paper was prepared as background for the Hutchins Center webinar, “Reopening the coronavirus-closed economy: Principles and tradeoffs,” on May 12, 2020.

The partial economic shutdown that began in mid-March 2020, along with additional non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as social distancing, are “flattening the curve” of measured infections and deaths, but at a tremendous economic cost. Since the first week in March, more than 20 percent of the US labor force filed for unemployment insurance, and the April unemployment rate of 14.7 percent is a level not seen since the Great Depression.

In the early days of the epidemic, decentralized decisionmakers – governors, mayors, and leaders of major institutions like universities – shut down major portions of the economy in response to concerns over the exponential growth of the epidemic and the threat of potential deaths. Now, the policy challenge is how to reopen the economy and get people back to work while achieving public health goals.

This briefing paper makes four key points:

The Pentagon Tries to Pivot out of the Middle East—Again


When the U.S. Defense Department announced, on May 7, that it would withdraw two Patriot missile batteries and several fighter aircraft from Saudi Arabia, it looked like an ominous development in the tense relationship between Washington and Riyadh.When the Pentagon announced the withdrawal of Patriot missiles and fighter aircraft, it looked like an ominous development in the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Speculation was rife that it was an effort by the Trump administration to punish the kingdom for starting an oil price war that—in concert with collapsing oil demand due to the coronavirus pandemic—has wreaked havoc in the U.S. shale oil industry.

After all, angry Republican Senators had already introduced legislation calling for a complete U.S. military withdrawal, including the Patriot batteries. There were also credible reports that Trump himself had used these threats in negotiations with Riyadh to achieve the historic April 12 deal to cut oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day in an attempt to prop up prices and save U.S. shale.

The Future of the Dollar

By Henry M. Paulson Jr.

In late March, global financial markets were collapsing amid the chaos of the novel coronavirus pandemic. International investors immediately sought refuge in the U.S. dollar, just as they had done during the 2008 financial crisis, and the U.S. Federal Reserve had to make huge sums of dollars available to its global counterparts. Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, the primacy of the dollar has not waned.

The enduring dominance of the dollar is remarkable—especially given the rise of emerging markets and the relative decline of the U.S. economy, from nearly 40 percent of world GDP in 1960 to just 25 percent today. But the dollar’s status will be tested by Washington’s ability to weather the COVID-19 storm and emerge with economic policies that allow the country, over time, to manage its national debt and curb its structural fiscal deficit.

The stature of the dollar matters. The dollar’s role as the primary global reserve currency makes it possible for the United States to pay lower rates on dollar assets than it otherwise would. Equally significant, it enables the country to run larger trade deficits, reduces exchange-rate risk, and makes American financial markets more liquid. Finally, it favors U.S. banks because of their enhanced access to dollar funding.

In the Post-Pandemic Cold War, America Is Losing Europe

Source Link

The COVID-19 pandemic has opened the world’s eyes to the true nature of the Chinese regime, countless articles have told us in recent weeks. And perhaps they are right. But in Europe, it is the U.S. response to the virus, even more so than China’s, that is deeply unsettling politicians and the wider public.

A new poll from the Körber Foundation, released on Monday, is the latest evidence of this. The results are astonishing—and should give pause to anyone in Washington who sees a robust, united U.S.-led front against China emerging in the wake of this crisis.

The survey shows that Germans are now almost equally divided on whether Washington or Beijing is the more important partner, with 37 percent choosing the United States and 36 percent China. This represents a significant shift compared with Körber’s last survey in September 2019, when Germans gave the United States a commanding 26 percentage-point edge over China.

Bans on Foreign Equipment in U.S. Critical Infrastructure

By Jim Dempsey 

One executive order does not a trend make, but maybe two do. On May 1, President Trump issued an executive order banning the acquisition, importation, transfer or installation of any bulk electric power system equipment where the secretary of energy has determined, first, that the equipment was manufactured by a company controlled by—or subject to the jurisdiction of—a foreign adversary and, second, that the transaction poses an undue risk to the U.S. bulk-power system, economy or national security.

The order’s issuance signals that the administration’s efforts to purge from the nation’s telecommunications network any equipment made in China may represent a new approach to critical infrastructure in general. It also indicates how the “great decoupling” of China-U.S. supply chains, previously driven by trade war-induced uncertainties, increasingly may be cast in terms of cybersecurity and national security imperatives.

Banning Chinese-Made Equipment From the Telecommunications Network

Quest for ‘Super-Duper’ Missiles Pits US Against Key Rivals

By Robert Burns
They fly at speeds of a mile a second or faster and maneuver in ways that make them extra difficult to detect and destroy in flight. 

President Donald Trump calls them “super-duper” missiles though they’re better known as hypersonic weapons. And they are at the heart of Trump administration worries about China and Russia.

For decades the United States has searched for ways to get ultra-fast flight right. But it has done so in fits and starts. Now, with China and Russia arguably ahead in this chase, the Trump administration is pouring billions of dollars a year into hypersonic offense and defense.

The Pentagon makes no bones about their purpose.

“Our ultimate goal is, simply, we want to dominate future battlefields,” Mark Lewis, the Pentagon’s director of defense research and engineering for modernization, told reporters in March.

Critics argue that hypersonic weapons would add little to the United States’ ability to deter war. Some think they could ignite a new, destabilizing arms race.

A look at hypersonic weapons:

Emerging Markets’ Hidden Debt Risk


WASHINGTON, DC/LONDON – Stark warnings about the COVID-19 shock’s potentially devastating effects on emerging markets (EMs) have become ubiquitous. With the pandemic engulfing ever more countries, EMs face a mass exit by foreign investors seeking safe assets. As a result, capital outflows and currency depreciations have become unprecedentedly synchronized.

For too long after HIV/AIDS emerged in the 1980s, policymakers and the public simply refused to care, let alone acknowledge the scale of the devastation in their midst. One of the leading scientists from the front lines of the AIDS crisis sees troubling but edifying parallels between that outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic.1Add to Bookmarks

A first round of policy interventions to blunt the pandemic’s financial and economic impact on EMs is already underway. But although these actions – mainly aimed at alleviating stress in foreign-exchange (FX) markets – are welcome, the ongoing currency depreciations present financial-stability challenges that have long-term implications going far beyond immediate liquidity problems.

Build ABMS From Bottom-up, For The Joint Force

Source Link

Unless all five services adopt ABMS it will do little good for the Joint force, no matter how technologically advanced the system is. In building the system, the Air Force faces a basic choice between placing the weight of effort on the top, beginning at the strategic level and working down, or the inverse, beginning at the tactical level and building up. ABMS is more likely to be adopted if our service builds the system from the bottom-up. 

ABMS construct

How important do members of the Air Force think the nascent Advanced Battle Management System will be to their service and to the entire US military? Three officers have take to our pages for second time to write about the best path forward for the system, this time in light of a sharply critical report by the Government Accountability Office. Let their words speak for them. Read on! The Editor.

Contact-tracing apps are political

In the rush to contain COVID-19, the world has plunged head-first into contact-tracing apps. In the hopes that with sufficiently surgical digital precision we might not only stop the spread of the disease, but also soon return to work, applications to enable digital contact tracing of the disease are being rolled out around the world. But the decision to deploy a digital contact-tracing system is as much a political decision as it is a technological intervention, and the public health impact of these interventions will be deeply shaped by political considerations.

Contact tracing isn’t, traditionally, a technology-heavy process. It involves testing patients and, for those that test positive, interviewing them about their whereabouts and human contact during the known infectious period. Effective contact tracing requires a clear understanding of how a virus transmits and for how long and the people with whom an infected person has been in contact.

Cyber warfare, Israel, Iran and the new way of total war

A report by The Washington Post indicating that Israel was behind a cyberattack on Iran has lifted the lid on the way cyber conflict is the new field of conflict in the Middle East. The report says that Israel carried out a cyberattack on Iran’s Shahid Rajaee Port on May 9 in retaliation for an Iranian cyberattack on Israeli infrastructure days before. Iran’s port, which it was using to export gasoline and other key products during sanctions, was in “total disarray” after the attack.
The attack was “highly accurate.” We now know from sources at Radio Farda and elsewhere that Iran’s Shahid Port was used in March and April to load up five tankers that are at this moment destined for Venezuela and making their way through Gibraltar and into the Atlantic. The US has sent naval warships and has said measures could be taken.

Cyber matters. Cyber warfare is the new field of war. Just as tanks or airplanes or submarines once changed war, giving people the ability to fight inside machines, under water or in the air, cyber is a new front line. It’s not so different than discussions about space as a place of conflict, or use of artificial intelligence and drone swarms. Iran has employed drone swarms against Saudi Arabia. It recently sent a military satellite into space. Iran is playing on all levels of the new conflict. Israel’s former chief of staff said more than 1,000 airstrikes were carried out against Iranian targets in Syria.

Project Convergence: Linking Army Missile Defense, Offense, & Space


Multi-Domain Operations envisions a new collaboration across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace (Army graphic)

WASHINGTON: As the Army urgently develops its 31 top-priority technologies for future war, service leaders are studying a proposal to field-test some of them together later this year, Army officials told me.

The prototype M1299 armoured howitzer test-firing at Yuma Proving Ground on March 6, 2020.

The technology demonstration, known as Project Convergence, is still tentative, a spokesperson for the Army’s Pentagon headquarters cautioned me. There’s no guarantee it will even happen this year, in no small part because the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted field testing, wargames, and training exercises across the Army. If it does happen, it’s far from settled which systems will be involved.


Jeff Goodson 
Source Link

Author’s note: This article evolved from a paper delivered at a March 2019 conference on the role of US special operations forces in the era of great-power competition. The conference was sponsored by the Joint Special Operations University and the Special Operations Research Association.

Rooted in Francis Fukuyama’s idea that the end of history was near, the end of the Cold War saw renewed enthusiasm for the liberal international order. That notion proved both illusory and short lived. By 2014, marked by China’s territorial aggression in the South China Sea and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the reality of great-power competition in a multipolar world had returned to define how the world is ordered in fact.

First acknowledged in the 2015 US National Military Strategy, great-power competition became the conceptual framework upon which current US security and defense strategies are predicated. These strategies represent a departure from those that underpinned much of America’s post-9/11 wars—with their heavy components of irregular warfare—but that does not mean a departure from irregular warfare itself. Instead, this strategic emphasis on great-power competition is changing when, where, and how the United States conducts irregular warfare—counterterrorism, unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency, foreign internal defense, and stability operations. The changes most directly affect US special operations forces.

US Security and Great-Power Competition