9 June 2020

Dealing With the Taliban: India’s Strategy in Afghanistan After U.S. Withdrawal


An agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban on February 29, 2020, marks a milestone in America’s longest ever war. Accordingly, the majority of U.S. troops are expected to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2021. In turn, and if this agreement is successfully implemented, sections of the Taliban could be expected to play a larger role in Afghan politics. This is hardly desirable for a country like India. Indian assets in Afghanistan have been targeted by the Haqqani group, a major Taliban faction. India has also been able to invest in Afghanistan’s future partially because of the presence of U.S.-led troops and the relative stability it brought. With this stability at risk, India needs to urgently reposition its priorities. In these fast-changing times, this paper identifies the risks to India’s continued presence in Afghanistan and recommends a set of strategies to mitigate them.

The first risk has to do with terrorism. While the U.S.-Taliban agreement states that the Taliban will prevent terrorist outfits from operating on Afghan soil, there is little clarity on how the agreement will be verified and enforced. The second risk has to do with the growing influence of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, which shares an undeniable link with the Taliban, especially the Haqqani group. The third risk to India’s long-term interests in Afghanistan has to do with the increasing political instability in Kabul. Notwithstanding a power-sharing agreement signed between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, on May 17, 2020, it is clear that such alliances cannot be taken at face value.

Eastern Ladakh: The Torrent of Strategic History, the Wrath of Strategic Geography and the Torment of Geo-Strategy

By Lt. Gen. Rakesh Sharma PVSM,UYSM,AVSM,VSM (Retd.)

Trade caravans and explorers historically knew no political boundaries, except the mountain ranges. The ancient routes, with knowledge having been passed from generations to generations, moved through the western Himalayas, traversed the Pamirs, Hind Kush, Karakoram, the Greater Himalaya, and the Plateau of Tibet. There were exchanges in culture, ideas, thoughts and religious ideologies, and certainly, trade. Eastern Ladakh (Ladakh is the land of passes) along the Shyok River Valley formed the corridor for trade with Punjab and Kashmir.

The names in Eastern Ladakh have an informative character and are of Yarkhandi (a Turkic dialect) Balti or Ladakhi (in Nubra Valley) origins. The ice peaks for Yarkhandis was Muztagh, Baltis prefixed Sar and Ladakhis called them Kangri (Kangri is a Balti Name too). Hence, Karakoram Pass is a pass of black gravel, Polu is a temporary shelter (do not linger here!), Chip Chap River is a very quiet River and Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) implies a place where a very rich and great person died! Aksai Chin denoted eastern China. The Depsang Plateau was a long open space after a slope, Qazi Langar was the kitchen run by a Qazi, Burtse refers to shrubs (which had medicinal qualities), Murgo was the gateway to darkness or hell, and Chhongtash a big stone. The Shyok River was the river of death, Gapshan (where Rimo and Chip Chap rivers meet) had a type of shrub or wood and Saser La was a pass of the golden earth, Saser Kangri ice peak of golden earth and Saser Brangza a temporary camp at the foot of Saser La. Rimo was a huge and mountain with beautiful colourful stripes. Sultan Chyushku is the resting place of the Sultan, Chang Chenmo were the big northern plains. Darbuk denoted a flourishing village in a valley and Tangtse a higher ground to cross the northern pass – Chang La.[1]

Balochistan Erupts in Protests Over a Murdered Mother and Her Injured 4-Year-Old

By Mariyam Suleman

A viral video shows a 4-year old girl crying and repeating the same word again and again, “Amma” [mother]. She is fresh out of surgery and is still in her hospital bed, barely having any idea her “amma” can now never return.

This is little Bramsh, who was seen happily dancing in another of her viral videos. In the time between the two videos, she had seen her mother be taken from her forever. Bramsh and her mother are victims of sheer brutality.

In Makran, the southwestern division of Balochistan, political appraisals and systematic violence have been the norm for decades, but it was rare to witness assaults on women and children. This changed in the night of May 26 in Dannuk, Turbat. Three armed men jumped into a house where a family was sleeping under the open sky to stay cool – a normal practice in a place like Turbat, where temperature can go as high as 50 degrees Centigrade (122 degrees Farenheit).

The armed men asked for cash and whatever they could possibly benefit themselves with. When the woman, Malik Naz, resisted, she was shot on the spot, along with her 4-year-old daughter. The other family members managed to catch one of the robbers and handed him over to the local police. Two other suspects have also been detained but the alleged head of the gang is still “nowhere to be found” almost a week after the incident.

The risks of staying in Afghanistan far outweigh the risk of withdrawal


Last Wednesday, President Trump declared that after 19 years in Afghanistan, it is time to “bring our soldiers back home.” The U.S. military, the president, correctly added, had effectively been reduced to, “acting as a police force.” Though Trump’s words alarmed many, observation of ground-truth reality confirms the president’s declaration as being right.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a prominent advocate of extending our stay in Afghanistan, was quick to oppose Trump’s intent to withdraw from Afghanistan. In a letter sent to the Secretaries of State and Defense, Graham instructed the officials to certify that any agreement with the Taliban would “further the objectives” of leading to the long term defeat of al Qaeda and ISIS. Conducting a “non-conditions based withdrawal” from Afghanistan, the senator wrote, would be “horrendous for our national security interests.”

If the senator had his way, he — and those who agree with his position — would be holding American interests hostage to the whims of the Taliban. Unless or until the Taliban took action according to our preferences, our troops would never leave.

Pakistan Discovers the High Cost of Chinese Investment

Husain Haqqani

Pakistan’s desire to maintain strategic relations with China has resulted in the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a set of infrastructure projects, being mired in insufficient transparency.

But a Committee formed by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to examine the causes for the high cost of electricity to Pakistani consumers has lifted the lid on corruption involving Chinese private power producers in Pakistan.

The report reveals that the Huaneng Shandong Ruyi (Pak) Energy (HSR) or the Sahiwal and the Port Qasim Electric Power Company Limited (PQEPCL) coal plants under CPEC inflated their set-up costs.

For Pakistan’s citizens, who are always told how China is their most reliable friend in the world, it was a shock to discover that China does business mercilessly and unscrupulously.

Successive civilian governments and Pakistan’s military have looked upon China as their principal backer against India.

China’s consistent strategic support, including help with Pakistan’s nuclear program, is often held out by Pakistan’s military establishment favorably in contrast with the more conditional Pakistani alliance with the United States.

Look at Taiwan in Its Own Right

By Gerrit van der Wees

In his recent essay for The Diplomat, former Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel outlines how the intensifying struggle between Washington and Beijing may lead to a more open conflict on issues such as Hong Kong, the South China Sea, and above all, Taiwan.

We will leave a response regarding Hong Kong and South China Sea to others, but on the issue of Taiwan, Russel’s analysis is based on a number of rather fundamental misconceptions.

While it is indeed obvious that “Taiwan is at the fault line between democratic rule of law and authoritarianism with Chinese characteristics,” Russel’s conception of Taiwan as “as an offshore rebuke to the PRC and an emblem of what a democratic China could look like” is based on the flawed notion of Taiwan as a “Chinese” democracy.

This notion derives from a fundamental misunderstanding of how Taiwan’s transition to democracy in the 1980s and early 1990s came about. It grew from the discontent of the native Taiwanese Hoklo and Hakka – together some 85 percent of the population – with the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Nationalists, who had come over from China with Chiang Kai-shek in 1949.

China’s Steps Backward Began Under Hu Jintao

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China’s stunningly reckless response to the coronavirus pandemic has hastened the need for an examination of America’s problematic policy of engagement with China and a determination of what went wrong. The conventional answer has been that Xi Jinping changed everything when he became the country’s leader in 2013. But this implies that the United States’ engagement policy with China was sound before his rule. Not so. While Beijing exhibited some troubling behavior in the 1990s, it was Hu Jintao, Xi’s predecessor, who presided over changes the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) internal system and foreign policy the following decade. Understanding changes in China’s grand strategy requires a close examination of China’s internal politics, now and in the future.

By the time Hu became general secretary of the CCP in 2002, Deng Xiaoping and his anointed successor Jiang Zemin had radically reformed and opened up the Chinese economy. Beijing joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 with a huge U.S. assist. With economic reforms came modest legal and political reforms, such as allowing lawyers to redress citizen grievances before local and sometimes central authorities and creating a more consensus-driven elite political system. Deng and Jiang had created a so-called developmental autocracy akin to South Korea and Taiwan before they democratized in the 1980s. During this reform period, engaging China in the hopes that both its political system and national interests would converge with those of the United States seemed reasonable.



The Chinese military believes it is losing a high-stakes competition with the United States and Russia to lead the world in artificial intelligence (AI). In articles like, “The Quiet Rise of an Artificial Intelligence Arms Race” (人工智能军备竞赛正在悄然兴起), Chinese military authors point to a quote from Russian President Vladimir Putin, that whoever leads in AI will “rule the world.” As evidence of the U.S. military’s ambition to dominate in this field, they cite findings about AI in future warfare from the U.S. National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, calls for the United States to ally with other nations against Chinese AI development, the Department of Defense AI strategy, and the establishment of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. In 2017, China was among the first nations to advance a national-level AI development strategy that broadly addressed AI’s role in economic development.

The Chinese military, however, has been opaque about its AI strategy and intentions. Undoubtedly, Chinese military officials understand they must compete with the United States by adapting quickly to changes in warfare brought about by AI and autonomous systems. An examination of the ongoing debate within the ranks of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) about the transformation of warfare by AI — what they call “intelligentized warfare” (智能化作战) — reveals that this new form of warfare is an extension of existing Chinese strategy and operational concepts.

Disunited Democracies Cannot Face the Challenge of China

Professor Roland Paris

After China violated Hong Kong’s legislative autonomy by imposing a new security law on the territory, the United States and its traditional allies did something remarkable — they agreed. But this display of solidarity was fleeting.

The US, UK, EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all issued critical statements. However, President Donald Trump then quickly announced the United States would protest China’s action by ending America’s special trade relationship with Hong Kong, whereas the EU rejected punitive economic measures.

Trump further vowed the US would ‘terminate’ its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the grounds that the agency has become a Chinese instrument. Although other democratic nations have expressed misgivings at the WHO’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, many had implored Trump not to hobble the world’s main health agency in the midst of a global emergency.

Can Hong Kong remain a conduit between China and the world?

China and America have begun the fraught business of disentangling their financial systems. Chinese firms with shares listed in New York have rushed to float in Hong Kong, too, after the White House signalled they are not welcome on Wall Street. The latest is NetEase, a Chinese gaming firm that began a $3bn listing this week. But now Hong Kong itself, the world’s third-biggest international financial centre, has become a geopolitical flashpoint. Its unique role as the conduit between global capital markets and China’s inward-looking financial system means that both sides must tread carefully.

On May 28th China said it would enact a new national-security law for Hong Kong, undermining the formulation of “one country, two systems” in place since 1997, under which the territory is supposed to be governed until 2047. In response, America has said it may downgrade the legal privileges it grants Hong Kong, which treat it as autonomous from China. Britain, the former colonial power, has said that freedoms are being curtailed and that it could make it easier for up 3m Hong Kongers to go there to live and work and eventually win citizenship—a welcome, if still sketchy, gesture (see article).

NATO’s role in a transatlantic strategy on China

On the eve of the NATO Summit in London last December, the Alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressed the need for a collective response to China’s emergence as a global power. “This is not about moving NATO into the South China Sea,” he stated, “but it’s about taking into account that China is coming closer to us—in the Arctic, in Africa, investing heavily in our infrastructure in Europe, in cyberspace.” At the summit, NATO heads of state diplomatically declared that China has become a concern: “we recognize that China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.” 

Indeed, it is hard, if not impossible, for NATO to avoid China. Beijing presents a full spectrum challenge to the transatlantic community—a challenge whose potential mirrors, if not surpasses, that once posed by the former Soviet Union. China’s $14 trillion economy is expected to soon surpass that of the United States, and Beijing exercises that might in a predatory fashion around the globe, including in the United States and Europe. China threatens to boycott companies and countries that criticize its policies, leverages its debt instruments against poor nations, and is buying up critical infrastructure around the world. Its acquisition of European ports has raised concerns of top NATO commanders who warn that such ownership could adversely affect the Alliance’s ability to use those facilities in times of crisis.

Foreign Policy By Example

By Richard Haass

Analysts of international affairs rarely focus on how the domestic condition of the United States shapes the country’s influence and role in the world, but today the connection could hardly be more relevant. The United States is currently experiencing three upheavals simultaneously: the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic aftershocks of that emergency, and the political protests and in some cases violence sparked by the videotape of the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, by police officers in Minneapolis.

The three crises of this moment will undoubtedly affect the foreign policy of the United States, which for three-quarters of a century has been the preeminent power in the world. Indeed, recent developments could have a profound and enduring impact on American influence. Unless the United States is able to come together to address its persistent societal and political divides, global prospects for democracy may weaken, friends and allies of the United States may rethink their decision to place their security in American hands, and competitors may dispense with some or all of their traditional caution.


Options on Hong Kong: A Suggested NSC Memo

Beijing’s decision to pass a national security law that would bypass Hong Kong’s legislature to impose potentially draconian restrictions on Hong Kong citizens’ civil liberties presents the United States and the international community with hard choices. China’s assault on Hong Kong’s autonomy sets the stage for a crackdown that could destroy Beijing’s promise of “one country, two systems” and send a ripple of uncertainty across Asia. Yet retracting Hong Kong’s special status or imposing sanctions risks harming the people of Hong Kong without necessarily increasing the likelihood that Beijing changes course or pays a high political cost. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the proposed Chinese legislation and notified Congress that “Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997.” This determination that the United States should no longer continue to extend special status to Hong Kong does not dictate what Hong Kong’s actual status will be in practical terms, leaving unanswered how the administration will proceed on specific policies. President Trump’s subsequent press conference on China, while condemnatory, hinted at possible future actions but yielded little new information on the administration’s actual intentions. In this memo, we imagine how senior officials from previous administrations would frame the problem for a meeting of the National Security Council in order to illustrate the policy options available for the President (and we cheated by giving ourselves slightly more words to do so than the White House Executive Secretary would allow . . .).

TO: National Security Council Principals Committee

FROM: The National Security Advisor

RE: Our Policy on Hong Kong

Trump’s New China Strategy Is a Deft Brand of Hard-Nosed Realism

Walter Lohman  Thomas Spoehr  Terry Miller

In compliance with the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, the Trump administration last week released the United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China.

It’s an excellent exposition of U.S. assumptions and strategy—as they are, not as they have been reported to be.

The great advance in the 2017 National Security Strategy was its recognition of the great-power competition between the U.S. and China. From that flows the assessments in the Strategic Approach about Chinese intentions and the threats they pose to American interests.

The many policies that respond to these threats—such as the Justice Department’s China Initiative to root out Chinese efforts to steal American trade secrets, the tightening of export and investment controls, the requirement of Chinese state and party media to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the ratcheting up of support for Taiwan, and the enormous increase in freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea—clearly demonstrate a new, tougher strategy.

The liberal Left continue to push their radical agenda against American values. The good news is there is a solution. Find out more >>

That’s good; overdue, really.

America Can’t Save Hong Kong


Rather like Adolf Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich that ended 988 years early, China’s guaranteed 50 years of freedom for Hong Kong has ended 27 years early. It’s been a good run since 1997, since Beijing left the territory mostly alone for longer than many people expected.

However, the Xi government’s plan to directly impose a comprehensive national security law and allow security forces to operate in the special administrative region (SAR) ends any pretense that residents will retain traditional British liberties and enjoy Western-style due process. Nor is there much hope for prudential forbearance in using powers nominally intended for emergencies. Under Xi Jinping the People’s Republic of China has ruthlessly crushed any hint of dissent, political, religious, or other, at home; it considers nothing other than immediate and complete obedience as acceptable. The result will be no different in Hong Kong.

Tyranny’s approach has triggered an understandable air of desperation in the territory. After the PRC’s announcement, protestors at one demonstration called on the U.S. military to intervene. Jimmy Lai, publisher of the Apple Daily, who recently was arrested and charged with participating in illegal demonstrations last year, urged President Donald Trump to save Hong Kong.

Understanding the Iran-Venezuela Relationship

Iran has made headlines over the past week after successfully shipping multiple fuel tankers to Venezuela, where fuel shortages have spread throughout the country. The move has raised concerns in the United States and throughout the Western Hemisphere regarding a strengthening alliance between two nations that have consistently harbored anti-U.S. sentiment.

In sending these tankers, Iran defied the U.S. maximum pressure campaign to oust the Maduro regime and restore democracy in Venezuela. While worrisome, this act of defiance has perhaps received an outsized response for what amounts to a relatively unexceptional gesture in the grand scheme of Iran-Venezuela relations.

As policymakers consider responses to Iran’s actions, they would be best served to recall that Iran and Venezuela have had a diplomatic and commercial relationship for decades—one that was much stronger and more alarming during the Chávez presidency than it is today. This relationship has often generated provocative headlines while failing to deliver on tangible achievements.

Trump Turns Hosting the G-7 Into Another Failed Sideshow

Frida Ghitis 

Long before the upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump’s ideas for hosting this year’s summit of the Group of Seven in the United States had created turmoil and controversy. His plans have only gotten more disruptive and divisive in recent days. The meeting of the club of major industrialized nations was supposed to happen on June 10, but the guest list, date and format of the summit are all still undecided. Instead of a showcase for the president and the country, America’s turn to hold the annual gathering of the G-7 has so far turned into another series of failures for Trump.

Trump’s proposals have provoked separate backlashes domestically and internationally, most recently over his push again to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country was expelled from what was then the G-8 after its 2014 invasion of Crimea. Trump first suggested readmitting Putin early on in his presidency, in one of the first storms he triggered among America’s allies. More would follow

The Looming American Nightmare

Candace Rondeaux 

It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment when this feeling of suffocation began. For so many born and raised here in Washington, D.C., it probably began early in life when their parents sat them down for “the talk,” about how to comport themselves safely during encounters with the police. But for me, the air in Washington became almost unbreathable on Monday when I saw Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, striding along Lafayette Square in his battle fatigues as helicopters in the sky above my neighborhood roared westward across Capitol Hill to the White House.

I could not help but flash back this week to the five years I spent living and working in Kabul. The last time I’d heard so many helicopters swarming overhead was when Donald Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, swooped into the Afghan capital surreptitiously, under the cover of night, to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan’s then-president, Hamid Karzai. It was May 2012, almost one year to the day that a team of U.S. Navy Seals flew across the Afghan-Pakistani border to kill Osama bin Laden. I don’t think anyone could have predicted then that just a few years later, the president of United States would declare his own countrymen insurrectionists, or that the secretary of defense would refer to the streets of America as “the battlespace.” ...

Decoding Russia’s Official Nuclear Deterrence Paper

The demise of strategic arms control with the ever more likely expiration of the New START Treaty next February leaves nuclear deterrence as the only guarantee of national security for the nuclear weapons states. Responding to this situation, the Kremlin has come up with a policy paper called Nuclear Deterrence Policy Guidelines (NDPG) spelling out the principles of Moscow’s deterrence strategy. Roughly equivalent to the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) in the United States, such a document had previously remained unpublished, as an annex to the country’s Military Doctrine. Making it public now sends several important messages not to be ignored.

One is to respond to Western interpretations of the Russian strategy as providing for “escalation for de-escalation,” i.e., first use of nuclear weapons to avert defeat in a conventional conflict. The Kremlin paper says up front that “in the event of a military conflict, nuclear deterrence should prevent the escalation of hostilities and allow their termination on conditions acceptable to Russia and its allies.” This seems to corroborate the common Western view that, should Russian forces face the prospect of being defeated in a collision with NATO, they would use tactical nuclear weapons. 

However, this provision in the newly published document is contained in the paragraph referring to the general strategy of deterrence, rather than in the section which sets out specific conditions for the use of nuclear weapons. It can be inferred from this that, in order to stop the fighting, Russia relies on the power of nuclear deterrence—its relevant capabilities and readiness—rather than on the actual use of nuclear weapons. This has allowed retired General Viktor Esin, former chief of staff of the Strategic Rocket Forces, to claim that the Kremlin paper debunks Western interpretations as false. Indeed, the notion of a limited nuclear war has always been alien to Russian strategic thinking: unlike for the United States, any such “limited” war would be fought in, or close to, Russia’s territory. 

To Calm Turmoil, U.S. Leaders Must Stop Courting Conflict

For more than a week, the world has watched as the United States’ deepest wounds, inflicted by the unhealed legacy of slavery and rubbed raw by sustained racial injustice, erupted into public rage and violence. The police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, in Minneapolis, Minnesota touched off a wave of protest that reached virtually every corner of the country, with riots and looting in many major cities. The crisis put the nation’s political divides on full display. In some states and cities, at least some of the time, local leaders and security officials sought to reduce tensions through a combination of empathy and firmness. In many other instances, however, local police moved to disperse demonstrations with excessive force. In Washington, the nation’s political and security leaders appeared to egg on a heavy-handed response, comparing U.S. cities to a “battlespace” and threatening military action if local authorities did not quell the unrest. Over the long term, the nation will need to take steps to end the police’s brutality and militarization as well as structural racial inequality if it wants to avoid similar future crises. At present, however, what the country’s leadership most needs to do is insist that those culpable for Floyd’s killing are brought to justice, stand in support of those local officials and community leaders who are calling for calm and reform, abandon its martial rhetoric and stop making the situation worse.

The trouble started early in the morning on 25 May, Memorial Day, a holiday treated as the unofficial beginning of summer across the United States. Floyd, a 46-year-old who had preached non-violence on social media, was apprehended by police outside a convenience store in Minneapolis. The store clerks said Floyd had purchased cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Surveillance cameras and onlooker cell phonescaptured what happened next. After a brief struggle, the police subdued and pinned the unarmed Floyd to the ground, with an officer’s knee buried in his neck for nearly nine minutes – even after he complained, at least sixteen times, that he could not breathe, and even after he lost consciousness. Later that morning, a local hospital pronounced him dead. In the coming days, as images of Floyd’s killing went viral, parts of Minneapolis exploded, and the outrage spread.

Strategic Studies Quarterly, Summer 2020, v. 14, no. 2

o Victory through Space Power

o The Great Divide in US Deterrence Thought

o Surviving the Quantum Cryptocalypse

o Hypersonic Technology: An Evolution in Nuclear Weapons?

o Power, Profit, or Prudence? US Arms Sales since 9/11

o American Grand Strategy for an Emerging World Order

Viruses: Biological versus computer

by More by Mark Webb-Johnson

During this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, those of us working with computer viruses continue to be amazed at the similarities between the techniques used by the medical community to fight SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease) and the processes involved in our electronic anti-virus systems. Let’s look at some of these similarities, and see how computer anti-virus researchers help protect us.
What is the virus?

SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus, in essence, a strand of information wrapped up in a protective shell and a mechanism to infect cells – an information, envelope, infection mechanism.

By comparison, a computer virus consists of the payload, a carrier, and an exploit mechanism. For example, the payload would be the malicious code, the carrier an e-mail message, and the exploit mechanism something to take advantage of a vulnerability in a particular mail client.

Another example would be script downloaded from a webpage, taking advantage of a Web browser exploit.


Major Cyber Command program will cost more than first thought

Mark Pomerleau
One of U.S. Cyber Command’s major programs, Unified Platform, is expected to cost five times more than military officials originally estimated, according to a report from Congress’ watchdog agency.

Unified Platform will consolidate and standardize the variety of big data tools used by Cyber Command and its subordinate commands to allow forces to share information more easily, build common tools and conduct mission planning and analysis.

According to the Government Accountability Office report, published June 3, the Unified Platform program was missing an approved cost estimate informed by independent analysis and a formal schedule risk assessment in August 2018. This year’s report marked the first time Unified Platform was included in GAO’s annual review of major defense acquisition programs.

AF Should Consider New Combined ISR/Cyber/EW Command: Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan

Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan (left) and Pentagon CIO Dana Deasy (right).

WASHINGTON: The Air Force should seriously consider standing up a new major command to combine ISR, electronic warfare, and cyber operations for both the air and space domains, suggested the outgoing director of the Pentagon’s Joint AI Center, Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan.

Such a combined major command, he told the Mitchell Institute this afternoon, would be the “logical next step” following the standup last March of the 16th Air Force, which merged the the 24th Air Force, the Air Force piece of US Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), and the 25th Air Force, which provided mobile integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to all of the component commands. The 16th Air Force is headquartered in San Antonio and led by Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh.

A major command (MAJCOM) is usually made up of numbered Air Force commands, and reports directly to Headquarters, US Air Force. Currently, the Air Force has 10 MAJCOMs: eight are “functional” commands, such as Air Mobility Command; and two are geographic commands, such as Pacific Air Forces. The last time the Air Force created a MAJCOM was in 2009 with the standup of Air Force Global Strike Command.

Building a Modern Military: The Force Meets Geopolitical Realities

By Eric Gomez, Christopher A. Preble, Lauren Sander, Brandon Valeriano

When we began drafting this study of U.S. military spending and force posture, we had no way of knowing the tremendous challenge that COVID-19 would pose. It has wreaked havoc on the economy. It has disrupted every facet of American life. The impact will reverberate for generations. The global pandemic—and the U.S. government’s response to it—has threatened the lives and liberties of Americans as well as the United States’ standing in the world.

This disaster is a call to action. The threat posed by nontraditional security challenges, including pandemics, climate change, and malicious disinformation, should prompt a thoroughgoing reexamination of the strategies, tactics, and tools needed to keep the United States safe and prosperous.

As of this writing in late April 2020, and well before the full impact of COVID-19 is known, it seems obvious to us that the United States can no longer justify spending massive amounts of money on quickly outdated and vulnerable weapons systems, equipment that is mostly geared to fight an enemy that might never materialize. Meanwhile, the clearest threats to public safety and political stability in the United States are very much evident and all around us. Just how demonstrations of force or foreign stability operations contribute to U.S. national security is particularly questionable at a time when a microscopic enemy has brought the entire world to a standstill.