28 May 2020

Cyber Wargame - An Indian Scenario

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd), Consultant, VIF


Immediately after the first gulf war in the early 1990’s the theories of Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) and Information Warfare were being studied all over the world as a new kind of warfare. During that time, a course on Information Warfare was conducted at the National Defense University of USA. The course participants were from senior officers of the armed forces, representatives of Department of Defence and Department of State and policy makers from the government. Rand Corporation of US was conducting this course.

Opinion – Thinking about Heroes and Humanity During COVID-19


With due respect and compassion to all who are fighting or have survived COVID-19, for the majority of us, this experience has been one of day-to-day confinement. The monotony broken, perhaps, by a collective moment of clapping for health care workers. I recall Achilles’ critique of hero culture, “Stay at home or fight your hardest – your share will be the same. Coward and hero are honoured alike. Death does not distinguish do-nothing and do-all” (Iliad 9:316-358). Here we are, in the 21st century, still partaking in hero culture. If anything, the doctors and nurses, whose efforts world leaders described as selfless, are the true victims of our state of statelessness as they were left unprepared in all respects of medical capacity.

This is not the first time the world has faced a pandemic. We can consider earthquakes in the same way: It is not the earthquake or the pandemic but poor construction and poor healthcare systems that kill. Years of neoliberal policies have fragilized our states and economies. The world has no infrastructural buffer; it has been continuously on the verge of bursting into tears or violence as Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film Babel vividly portrayed, it just was uncertain as to which direction to take. Usually religious organizations and right-wing politics run on donations, now the entire world hangs together by the threads of donation culture.

How Washington Is Using the Coronavirus to Fight a Tech War Against China

by Stratfor Worldview 

The United States and China have been locked in a technology cold war for several years. The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is now pressuring Washington to make even stronger moves against Beijing by fueling anti-China sentiment among U.S. voters and legislators alike. But the White House’s latest attempt to increase export controls on China and limit Beijing's overall access to U.S. technology will come at the cost of further fragmenting the global tech sector’s highly integrated supply chain network. 

Expanded Export Controls

On April 28, the U.S. Commerce Department issued new rules that broaden the scope and dual-use goods subject to U.S. export controls, such as semiconductor manufacturing equipment:

The first rule change expands the Commerce Department’s definition of military end-use to include items that also support or contribute to the operation, installation, maintenance, repair, overhaul, refurbishing, development or production of military items.

Under the second rule change, previously exempt exports of national security-controlled items for civilian end-use and civilian end-users in China (and several other countries) will now be subject to Bank for International Settlements (BIS) reviews. 

Beyond COVID-19: From Crisis to Compassion


According to ancient eastern wisdom traditions we can learn to understand, manage and transcend the suffering of the COVID-19 pandemic through the looking glass of the three marks of existence, or trilakshana: anicca (impermanence), dukkha (primary suffering) and anatman (no-self). But in order to do so, we must refrain from the idea of fighting for security and defend at all costs our survival. If one assumes that there is an ‘I’ that can be threatened and a ‘we’ to prevent from dissolution then it is understandable to be in panic, due to such an invisible threat. However, if one knows that the illusion of a ‘self’ is part of a play that changes constantly just as waves in the ocean, then we can begin to take care of this dream to wake up together through our common humanity.

Security is no longer considered only about justified violence and controlling others in military terms against enemies, but also about having the right practices to transform our relationships, from living in fear to move forward towards cooperation and freedom. This is not to say that State security is outdated or unnecessary, it is just that human security is also needed to be taken care of from a distinctive approach where fundamental freedoms should be addressed. The General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution A/RES/66/290 states about human security as follows: ‘All individuals, in particular vulnerable people, are entitled to freedom from fear and freedom from want, with an equal opportunity to enjoy all their rights and fully develop their human potential.‘

How a Chinese AI Giant Made Chatting—and Surveillance—Easy

IN 1937, THE year that George Orwell was shot in the neck while fighting fascists in Spain, Julian Chen was born in Shanghai. His parents, a music teacher and a chemist, enrolled him in a school run by Christian missionaries, and like Orwell he became fascinated by language. He studied English, Russian, and Mandarin while speaking Shanghainese at home. Later he took on French, German, and Japanese. In 1949, the year Mao Zedong came to power and Orwell published 1984, learning languages became dangerous in China. In the purges of the late 1950s, intellectuals were denounced, sent to labor camps, and even executed. Chen, who by then was a student at prestigious Peking University, was banished to a Beijing glass factory.

Chen's job was to cart wagons full of coal and ash to and from the factory's furnace. He kept his mind nimble by listening to his coworkers speak. At night, in the workers' dormitory, he compiled a sort of linguistic ethnography for the Beijing dialect. He finished the book around 1960. Soon after, Communist Party apparatchiks confiscated it.

His fortunes improved after Mao's death, when party leaders realized that China's economy needed intellectuals in order to develop. Chen went back to school, and in 1979, at the age of 42, his test scores earned him a spot in the first group of graduate students to go abroad in decades. He moved to the US and earned a PhD in physics at Columbia University. At the time, America offered more opportunity than China, and like many of his peers, Chen stayed after graduation, getting a job with IBM working on physical science research. IBM had developed some of the world's first speech recognition software, which allowed professionals to haltingly dictate messages without touching a keyboard, and in 1994 the company started looking for someone to adapt it to Mandarin. It wasn't Chen's area, but he eagerly volunteered.

Building the Post-Pandemic World

by James Jay Carafano Kurt Volker
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The coronavirus pandemic has set the stage for the greatest upheaval in the global order since World War Two. China, Russia, Iran and other adversaries of America are positioning themselves to take advantage of the post-pandemic environment and may have significant advantages in doing so.

The United States cannot afford to ignore this reality and concentrate solely on spurring a domestic recovery. Washington must lead an international effort of like-minded democracies—including Allies and friends in Europe, Asia, South Asia and the Middle East—to shape the world emerging from coronavirus in a way that favors freedom, prosperity, and global security.

The “West”— the idea, not the place—remains the most visionary, powerful, resourceful, inspiring, and sustainable hope for humanity. Our leaders must marshal these strengths now to build a post-pandemic world that will benefit future generations.


In this episode of the Power 3.0 podcast, featured guest Lucrezia Poggetti discusses the evolving dynamics of Beijing’s influence operations in the European Union—and in her own native Italy—in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how various European audiences have reacted to China’s “mask diplomacy.” Lucrezia Poggetti is an analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in Berlin, Germany, where her research focuses on Europe-China relations. Christopher Walker, NED vice president for studies and analysis, and Shanthi Kalathil, senior director of NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, cohost the conversation.

China’s Coronavirus Propaganda Campaign Runs Into Trouble

Frida Ghitis 

From the moment Chinese leaders belatedly recognized that a deadly new pathogen was spreading rapidly in the city of Wuhan and beyond, it became apparent that the coronavirus would play a defining role in shaping the image and power of China and its regime for years to come. Beijing has been working overtime ever since not just to contain the virus at home, but to shape the narrative of the pandemic there and abroad, seeking to portray China and its rulers as wise, efficient, powerful and generous. China’s ultimate goal is to emerge from this crisis as a more powerful player on the global stage, by capitalizing on what looks like a hinge moment in history.

This effort has translated into an ongoing propaganda campaign to play up the performance of Chinese authorities, while disparaging the response by the United States and the West. The U.S., in turn, has pushed its own messaging war under the Trump administration. With little doubt that it is creating new balance of power paradigms, the pandemic has become the stark backdrop for a new brand of politics playing out before domestic and international audiences.

Back to the Future: China and the US

By George Friedman

The COVID-19 disease, which seems likely to be with us for a long time, has done its part to define history. But it has not suspended history. Though there is much we still don’t know about the disease, we do know that all nations have been affected by it. The death toll is significant but does not threaten to annihilate populations as other diseases have. It has, however, inflicted damage on economies that will take years to repair. Either science will defeat it or the world will adjust to living with it. But that branch in the logic will not come for a while.

Since nations continue to exist, the distrust between them remains – in many cases, it has intensified. As things evolve, the relationships between nations will return to their traditional role. As there is little more to be said for now about the virus that has not been said already, we need to return to the consideration of geopolitics, which like diseases can cause massive casualties. Were this the bubonic plague, we would be returning to the relationship between Rome and Florence. Today we will return to the relationship between the U.S. and China.

When we last visited these two nations, the United States had placed tariffs on some Chinese exports to the U.S., hurting and angering China and leaving it no effective counter. The Chinese built their economy the same way the United States had between 1890 and 1929: by exporting cheap manufactured goods and agricultural products. The international system needs cheap products, and the exporter must export to increase domestic prosperity and create a self-sustaining society. The advantage of an exporter is it makes money. The disadvantage is it depends on the willingness and ability of its customers to buy. So when, for example, the post-World War I depressions took hold of Europe, Europe’s ability to buy U.S. products became a major cause of the Great Depression.

A Cold War Is Heating Up in the South China Sea

James Stavridis
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James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is also an operating executive consultant at the Carlyle Group and chairs the board of counselors at McLarty 

I spent most of my seagoing career in the Pacific, and sailed many times through the humid waters of the South China Sea. It’s a big body of water, the size of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico combined. The sea bottom is full of oil and natural gas. Nearly 40% of the world’s international shipping passes through it.

China wrongly claims most of it as territorial seas. And as relations between the U.S. and China deteriorate into coronavirus finger-pointing and election-year posturing, the chances for a conflict in those waters are rising. In recent weeks, several U.S. warships — including a destroyer I commanded in the early 1990s, the Barry — have been confronted by the Chinese while conducting patrols. Why has this body of water become such a flashpoint, and what can be done to avoid an incident that could set off something bigger?

Military Review,

o To Change an Army—Winning Tomorrow

o Working to Master Large-Scale Combat Operations: Recommendations for Commanders to Consider during Home-Station Training

o Connecting the Dots: Developing Leaders Who Can Turn Threats into Opportunities

o Medical Changes Needed for Large-Scale Combat Operations: Observations from Mission Command Training Program Warfighter Exercises

o Preventable Casualties: Rommel’s Flaw, Slim’s Edge

o Higher Command in War

o Training the Shield Arm: How U.S. Army Air Defense Forces Are Embracing Field Manual 3-0 and Preparing for Large-Scale Ground Combat

o Keep Your Eye on the Prize: The Importance of Stability Operations

o The People’s Protection Units’ Branding Problem: Syrian Kurds and Potential Destabilization in Northeastern Syria

o The Integrated Tactical Network: Pivoting Back to Communications Superiority

o Competing Below the Threshold: Harnessing Nonviolent Action

o The President’s Pardon Power

o Leadership Is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say—and What You Don’t

o National Guard Contributes to COVID-19 Fight

Opinion – Cryptocurrencies Still Don’t Challenge National Ones


Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have now been hailed as the future of payments, and a replacement for national currencies, for a decade. The first purchase using a cryptocurrency occurred in May 2010 when a Bitcoin enthusiast in Florida named Laszlo offered 10,000 bitcoins for anybody who would order two pizzas to be delivered to him. At the time this was worth around US$ 30. He had to wait several days for anyone to take up the offer. If Jercos, who ordered the pizza for him, held onto the bitcoins he earned from this transaction until the bitcoin price hit its peak of almost US$ 20,000 in December 2017 he would have been able to exchange them for around US$200 million. In this sense they were the most expensive pizzas in history.

Cryptocurrencies can be defined as electronic representations of value. They have no physical counterpart: while newspaper stories on Bitcoin often show shiny coins with a stylised B logo, this is just an attempt to represent in a picture something which only exists in cyberspace. Cryptocurrencies are not denominated in any physical currency such as dollars or euros, are not issued by a central bank and are not legal tender. Their issuance is generally limited in some way, such as by a complex algorithm. In the case of bitcoins, the total supply will never exceed 21 million.

The European Union’s Digital Strategy and COVID-19

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On 19th February 2020, the European Commission presented the new EU Digital Strategy entitled “Shaping Europe’s Digital Future”. The strategy was adopted in furtherance of the “A Europe fit for the digital age” priority and set out ambitious goals for the following 5 years, including putting Europe in a position to be the trendsetter in the global debate around digital transformation. This was to be accomplished through the fulfilment of 3 main objectives, namely mastering and shaping technology in a way that respects European values (so-called “technology that works for people”); ensuring a fair and competitive digital economy; and providing for a trustworthy environment with regard to data provided both offline and online (“open, democratic and sustainable society”). The successful pursuit of the aforementioned objectives was almost immediately put to test with the COVID-19 outbreak. One of the main takeaways during the crisis has been the central role digitalisation has played in tackling it. Although measures within the EU have been different, states have generally resorted to solutions such as building information and contact tracing mobile apps, digitalisation of public services and remote working. They have also felt the importance of ensuring swift and reliable exchange of information across national borders. European businesses have also had to adapt by transferring large parts of their activities online.

In light of the above, it is necessary to assess whether the Digital Strategy is still fit to address these new challenges and whether it adequately prepares the Union for the post-COVID world. In doing so, it is appropriate to first determine what the baseline scenario is, i.e. whether the strategy in its current state gives sufficient guarantee that the EU’s goal of becoming the trendsetter in digital transformation is not disrupted by the crisis. The next step is to identify deficiencies or vulnerabilities and propose relevant changes or reinforcements to the strategy. Yet changing it does not imply starting from scratch. The present opinion piece argues that the strategy has successfully anticipated most of the issues raised by COVID-19, but certain aspects such as digital sovereignty, interoperability and supporting digital transformation of the private sector could be strengthened.

Is There a Right to Secession in International Law?


The right to self-determination amounting in secession can easily be considered one of the most controversial principles of international law. It has been the subject of much debate throughout the 20th and 21st centuries and has governed a large amount of the changing state relations within this period, particularly during decolonisation. There are currently only seventeen non-governing territories globally which are left to assert their right to self-determination and become decolonised, yet the right is still a highly relevant and frequently discussed element of international law.[1] This is largely due to the development of the principle of remedial secession, which has sought to apply the right to secessionist self-determination outside of colonial contexts, in cases where territorial minority ethnic groups have faced structural discrimination and severe violations of fundamental human rights. The purpose of this essay is to explore the question; can the principle of self-determination encompass a right to secession? Particularly, has a right to ‘remedial’ secession emerged in recent international law? This is a complex legal issue, not all of which can be analysed here. However, this essay attempts to give an analytic overview of the extent to which a right to remedial secession has developed in international law and the impact of this. It will be argued that, there is minimal and conflicting evidence in regard to the application of this principle in practice, requiring urgent consolidation from the International Court of Justice.

The quintessential definition of self-determination is having control over one’s own life. When applied politically this relates to the power of the people of a nation to decide how it is governed.[2] The phrase was first used in this way by President Wilson at the Versailles Peace Conference, regarding which his Secretary of State Robert Lansing warned, ‘the phrase is loaded with dynamite. It will raise hopes that can never be realised’.[3] This is expressed as true by many scholars, as it is accepted that the principle is, ‘attractive so long as it has not been attained’, as this essay will seek to prove.[4] It is worth noting that this principle is always to be applied in conjunction with the Montevideo Criteria,[5] which although was never ratified, has become a jus cogens norm for determining whether or not a territorial entity can be considered a state.[6]

Global Health Diplomacy and the Security of Nations Beyond COVID-19


In an increasingly globalized world, health challenges can no longer afford being solved by the health sector alone. Recently, COVID-19 has shown that contagions have an innate ability to transcend national borders and alter life faster than any other menace known to humankind. Microscopic forces can travel just as far, if not further than viral videos, seismic shockwaves, economic meltdowns, and even the ramifications of conflict and war. Over the past decades, the securitization of health had been claimed to be ‘a permanent feature of public health governance in the 21st century (Fidler, 2007), but when it comes to diseases, the simplistic classifications of an outdated system of reactionary policies and practices— both domestic and foreign, hard and soft, or high and low — simply no longer apply. In order to address the burden of global disease properly, we must first recalibrate the mechanisms that define international cooperation and influence international relations.

When people fall sick, societies, economies and nations ultimately ail. Like other threats, global health tribulations require meticulous diplomatic and political negotiation. Unfortunately, despite calls from international health specialists, healthcare has long been treated as a less important political priority. Despite widely available literature, and the precedent of global health catastrophes, healthcare continues to be treated as a mere “soft” issue in the framework of international and domestic politics alike. International relations have long been defined by numerical variables, where national interests are attached to economical values and reinforced with multilateral agreements to protect an economic interest. This restricted perspective frequently prioritized issues it viewed as being “big enough” over issues it deemed to be “secondary”.

Getting the next phase of remote learning right in higher education

By Christine Heitz, Martha Laboissiere, Saurabh Sanghvi, and Jimmy Sarakatsannis
For higher-education institutions, the first frantic rush of transitioning from in-person to remote learning is behind them—not that the process is complete. Most faculty members have managed to establish new routines. Others are still working out how to teach courses designed for a physical classroom through online platforms that they may still be learning to master.

Students are also having to adjust, expected to learn as much without the ready social connection and energy of a residential and in-person learning environment. It didn’t help that until the COVID-19 crisis, online learning comprised a relatively small share of higher education. Fewer than one in five (18 percent) of US tertiary-level students learned online exclusively; as of fall 2018, about a third had taken at least one course online.1

Now that the first phase has passed, what comes next? This article details five specific actions universities could take in the next few months to help improve student learning, engagement, and experience while operating remotely. Whether students are able to return to campus for the fall term or remain remote for longer, these moves may inspire institutions to pilot new initiatives, learn what works, iterate, and position themselves to create capabilities that will enhance instruction permanently.

Focus on access and equity. Moving from on-campus to remote learning raises issues related to access and equity. There are the immediate logistical challenges of ensuring students have the basic technology they need to learn remotely. One response has been for institutions to offer stipends for internet access and laptop rentals or purchases. Others have loaned equipment and procured additional laptops and hot spots for under-resourced students; this may get equipment to them faster and at an accessible cost. The University of Washington-Bothell, for example, has increased its equipment loan service and bought laptops and hot spots for students who need them.

Coronavirus: How should US higher education plan for an uncertain future?

By Frankki Bevins, Jake Bryant, Charag Krishnan, and Jonathan Law

The COVID-19 challenge is unprecedented; its scale still is not understood. Colleges and universities in the United States cannot know when they will open again to normal activity or to what extent education as usual will resume. But even though higher-education leaders cannot know the answers, given the uncertainty in the epidemiological and economic outlooks, they must start asking themselves questions about the medium- and long-term implications for teaching, learning, the student experience, infrastructure, operations, and staff. Disciplined scenario planning can help.

In this article, we consider three broad epidemiological and public-health scenarios (Exhibit 1). All of these represent a degree of economic disruption few adults in the United States have ever experienced.

Kim Jong Un continues to lie low amid coronavirus pandemic

By Yaron Steinbuch

Three weeks after Kim Jong Un was last seen publicly, questions continue to swirl about his whereabouts as a South Korean daily cited a Seoul official as saying the reclusive leader may simply be carrying out his duties from his favorite villa in Wonsan, according to a report.

Kim’s low profile comes as the Hermit Kingdom imposes anti-coronavirus measures, although Pyongyang insists it has no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

South Korean officials have said they believe his limited public appearances may have been due to precautions in the face of the pandemic.

North Korea has canceled, postponed or toned down many major public gatherings because of the outbreak.

The reclusive despot has appeared publicly four times in April and so far in May — compared to 27 times in the same period last year, Reuters reported.

Russia engaged in cyber operations worldwide, Ukraine's top diplomat tells

 "We should consolidate our efforts to elaborate 'rules of the game' to prevent any attempt to discredit such eminent achievement of the humanity as computer technologies," said Kuleba. Dmytro Ku,eba / Photo from UNIAN Dmytro Kuleba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, during a UN Security Council Arria-formula discussion on cybersecurity, held May 22, 2020, urged Russia to cease cyberattacks aimed at destabilizing other countries. Ukraine strongly advocates bringing to justice those who "intentionally organize and carry out cyber attacks", and believes that existing international law, prohibiting states from attacking others, applies in cyberspace as it does elsewhere. Since 2014, Ukraine has been facing hybrid aggression on the part of Russia, which has been using information and communication technologies as one of the methods of hybrid war, the press service of Ukraine's Permanent Mission to the UN reported, referring to Kuleba. 

Read also Zelensky extends ban on Russian social networks in Ukraine "We are the state where new cyber warfare is being tested by Russia against us and where a hybrid war one day made our nation re-think our national security strategy," the top diplomat said. Ukraine has thus gained a unique practical experience in neutralizing cyberattacks that may be useful to partner countries, said the minister. 

U.S. Withdrawal From Open Skies Bolsters Case for New Strategic Regime

The 50-year-old arms control regime that helped keep the Cold War cold is beyond repair. It's time to begin discussing ways of moving toward a new global strategic regime.

Donald Trump is often accused of being utterly unpredictable. Yet on a number of issues he has demonstrated a high degree of consistency. Arms control is a prime example. 

In 2017, Trump delivered on his promise to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) six-nation agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. In 2019, he canceled the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. His plan now to leave the Open Skies Treaty, a 1992 accord that allows for aerial reconnaissance of the territory of 35 countries in Europe and North America, fully follows the logic of abolishing U.S. international security commitments. The next shoe to fall will likely be the New START Treaty, which the Trump administration seems happy to let expire next February. 

Accusations of Russian infringements of the treaties and agreements, as well as the condemnation of Iranian activities outside the scope of the JCPOA, serve as a necessary and useful pretext for wrecking the established regimes. The prospect of crafting even better agreements, held out by President Trump and his aides, cannot be taken seriously. This administration has no interest in continuing with strategic arms control. It prefers to operate from a position of superior strength. Indeed, in Trump’s view, this is the only acceptable posture for the United States in a hypercompetitive world. Abolishing limits on what the United States can do militarily would greatly increase the country’s leverage. This, at least, is the expectation. 

EU Confidential #152: Timothy Garton Ash — Second wave — War on leaks

Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies in the University of Oxford, doesn't mince words about the challenges — and opportunities — facing the European Union as it tries to navigate its way out of the coronavirus crisis. His Europe’s Stories project is producing some surprising findings about what young people want from the Continent's politicians. Can they rise to the challenge?

The renowned historian also talks about why this is a moment of "existential" danger for the EU, why he calls today's Hungary a dictatorship and how liberals mishandled the aftermath of the Cold War.

Is Europe facing a second wave of the coronavirus? POLITICO's Matthew Karnitschnig and Carmen Paun join EU Editor Andrew Gray to look at possible triggers for a new spike in infections. They also discuss the response to the pandemic in Carmen's home country of Romania.

And we debate the European Commission's new war on leaks. Does the Commission have any justification for threatening charges against those who pass on information about its plans?

U.S. masses planes at Japan base to show foes and allies it can handle coronavirus

Tim Kelly

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. Air Force transport aircraft on Thursday massed at Washington’s key Asian military air transportation hub, Yokota Air Base in Japan, to show potential foes and allies it was ready for action despite the coronavirus emergency.

U.S. soldiers wearing protective face masks are seen in front of C-130 transport plane during a military drill amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Yokota U.S. Air Force Base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

“It shows both our adversaries as well as our allies in Japan the importance of our placement, the importance of our ability to execute our mission,” base Vice Commander, Colonel Jason Mills, said.

U.S. forces are stationed in Japan to defend Washington’s key Asian ally from attack from North Korea, but also to check China’s growing influence in the wider region, including Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

As Washington tries to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, some officials worry outbreaks in the military may provide fodder for Beijing to question U.S. strength in the region.

Opinion – Non-Military Threats and the Limits of National Security


Covid-19 has ushered in the latest wave of transformation in the policy and scholarly agendas of national security. The chapter of 9/11 is over, as the priorities have shifted from terror groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS to other threats, such as economic collapse, pandemics and, the degradation of nature. Earlier, the espionage systems used to trace terrorists are now being deployed by the governments to combat Covid-19. The pandemic is being grounded in the turning points in the last century; the world wars, cold war, and war on terror, to rethink the latest conception of security. Yet, the national security contraption for the world that follows will remain rooted in traditional notions and stay deeply problematic. The reification of national power as a symbol of security works adequately where the threats could be visualised. It is easier to organise military force and other hard power resources where the antagonism is with a visible, declared foe; a revisionist state such as India or militant groups like Islamic State or Al-Qaeda. These responses are hardwired in the way national security was historically conceived and practised by the states, where military dimensions are favoured over non-military dimensions. In this situation, Richard Ullman contends, ‘the [security as a] public good is much more easily defined’ and ‘interests are more easily co-opted or, failing that, overridden.’

The appearance of Covid-19 and the response to it have revealed that the security landscape is not equipped to absorb rising threats. It can be specified by viewing the security conundrum arising out of pandemic through two interlinked ideas; the actors that need to be secured, and the qualities or values of the actors under threat. The mixed response to the pandemic from the state and people – the principal actors – makes it evident that the political will to deal with the situation as a security problem is not as effective as it seems. A key finding of a Covid-19 attitudinal survey published at the end of March projected that 43% of Pakistanis did not feel threatened to take any precautionary measures. The international poll on public perception towards Covid-19 risks showed that the people were unconcerned about the spread of infectious disease in their own countries, but were more likely to view it as a global threat. The inability of referent actor to see invisible and abstract threats as a broader agenda of a security paradigm has been conditioned by the long-established military character of traditional security.

Bring Back a True Gunboat

By Robert Owen

After his defeat at Waterloo and surrender to the Royal Navy, Napoleon is said to have remarked, “If it had not been for you English, I would have been Emperor of the East. But wherever there is water to float a ship, we are sure to find you in our way.” This simple observation goes to the heart of littoral warfare and is as true today as it was 205 years ago. It was not the wooden wall of Britain’s great two- and three-deckers that Napoleon was referring to, but the hundreds of sloops, brigs, pinnacles, and many other types of inshore craft that sought out and denied the French the use of their own coastal waters. 

Likewise, it was not the ironclads and cruisers of the Union Navy but rather the hundreds of smaller requisitioned, converted, and purpose-built craft that slowly choked the Confederacy from Vicksburg to Cape Hatteras during the Civil War. Similarly, the U.S. Navy’s PT boats did yeoman service among the islands of the Pacific, as did the brown-water riverine forces battling the Viet Cong for control of waterways of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

But it was British Coastal Forces during World War II that truly demonstrated the importance of littoral warfare, as the Royal Navy took the war to the enemy’s doorstep from the fjords of Norway to the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean to the jungle waterways of the Arakan. These forces demonstrated time and again that the key to littoral warfare is having “good enough” ships in greater numbers and an aggressive attitude. 

Northrop Grumman Reveals New Mini Torpedo Aimed At Arming And Defending Navy Submarines


Northrop Grumman has built and tested a new Very Lightweight Torpedo, derived from an earlier U.S. Navy-funded design. The company says it will submit this weapon as an option for that service's Compact Rapid Attack Weapon program, which is looking to develop a miniature torpedo that can also act as anti-torpedo interceptor and field them first on some Virginia class submarines within the next three to four years.

The Virginia-headquartered defense contractor first revealed the weapon, also referred to by the abbreviation VLWT, on May 21, 2020. The firm says this is the first industry-built torpedo of its kind and that it privately funded the development. However, it is based on design documentation for a Common Very Lightweight Torpedo (CVLWT) that Pennsylvania State University's Applied Research Laboratory (PSU-ARL) had developed for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and which the service had distributed to defense contractors in 2016. The War Zone had previously written a deep dive into the PSU-ARL design and its potential applications, which you can find here.

"The successful testing of the torpedo nose on the first try is a testament to Northrop Grumman's design-for-affordability approach, which will significantly reduce cost without sacrificing operational performance," David Portner, the Lead Torpedo Program Manager at Northrop Grumman's Undersea Systems division, said in a press release.