31 July 2020

Satellite images reveal continued Chinese military build-up in Tibet and Aksai Chin areas

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According to an assessment, Chinese troops appear to be getting ready for long & harsh winters, making the Indian Army cautious about the disengagement process.

On 21 July, Twitter user @detresfa posted this satellite image, claiming it to be from Shiquanhe in Tibet Autonomous Region where PLA build-up is seen 

New Delhi: Indian satellite images as well as those procured from friendly countries have shown a large concentration of troops in the Tibet Autonomous Region and the use of possible tunnels to amass equipment, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said the additional build-up of troops and equipment in rear locations, especially with “substantial quantum” of troops in the Aksai Chin area, is what is making the Indian Army cautious about the disengagement process.

What Does Afghanistan’s Latest Outreach to Pakistan Mean for India?

By Aparna Pande and Vinay Kaura

While Afghanistan recognizes that Pakistan cannot be the anchor of its post-U.S. exit foreign and strategic policies, Kabul is equally aware that it needs support from Islamabad (and, more importantly, Rawalpindi) to ensure a durable settlement. The path ahead to secure a negotiated end to the Afghan conflict is difficult and it is in New Delhi’s interests to step up and offer new ideas to Kabul to ensure that the intra-Afghan talks truly remain “Afghan-led” and “Afghan owned.”

Abdullah Abdullah, the head of High Council for National Reconciliation, is planning to visit Pakistan as part of his efforts to improve bilateral ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan. As the intra-Afghan dialogue, an integral part of the February 2020 U.S.-Taliban deal, has entered the most crucial phase of the ongoing peace process, Abdullah is keen to move beyond the unending cycle of mistrust and blame game. Reiterating the need to maintain strong bilateral ties with Pakistan, Afghanistan’s newly appointed special envoy for Pakistan, Mohammad Umer Daudzai, recently asserted that “Pakistan has a positive role in the U.S.-Taliban peace talks, and now Islamabad could play a highly significant role in the imminent intra-Afghan talks.”

Taliban Announce Brief Cease-Fire, as Afghan Peace Talks Look Imminent

By Mujib Mashal

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban said on Tuesday that they would observe a three-day cease-fire this week during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, as Afghanistan’s president suggested the long-delayed talks between his government and the insurgents over ending the war could start in a week.

The developments promise to inject new optimism into a peace process that was floundering with disagreements over a prisoner swap and increased insurgent attacks, even as the United States continues to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

In a statement, the Taliban said they had ordered the group’s fighters “not to carry out any kind of attacks against the enemy” during the three days and nights of the Muslim festival, and to “retaliate strongly” only if attacked.

Afghan officials greeted the announcement with a note of caution.

Afghanistan’s Gen Z Is Fighting Back


KABUL, Afghanistan—There were few things that scared Fatima Khalil, a 24-year-old human rights activist who torpedoed her way across an increasingly volatile and patriarchal landscape of Afghanistan. One of them, Lima Ahmad, her older sister, told me in July, was “that Afghanistan will take away her happiness; it was something she always talked about.” Ahmad is now picking up the remnants of a life after Khalil was killed in an attack on her vehicle in Kabul on June 27.

Through the digital crumbs left behind by a member of Generation Z, who documented everything through Facebook posts, photos, video clips, tweets, Instagram stories, and more, Ahmad draws a vivid picture of her baby sister. Khalil, known to her family as Natasha, was a rising star among young Afghans, whose future is increasingly under threat by ever worsening conflict.

In one video clip, Khalil and her friends are parasailing in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, where she was studying. In the background, her friend says, “Natasha, we might die.” She responds, “It is better than dying in an explosion in Afghanistan.” In the end, Ahmad says, “she faced her biggest fear.” She could have stayed away from Afghanistan—in Kyrgyzstan, where she had studied, or in the United States, where she had opportunities to go—but even grave physical risks were not enough to keep her away from Afghanistan, a country she loved and one that frustrated her in equal parts.

Pakistani Counterinsurgency in the FATA: Repeating Past Mistakes

Daniel Harris

Although since 2009 the Pakistani military has partially shifted from its conventional force posture to a modern counterinsurgency (COIN) approach in its conflict with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) insurgency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), coercive tactics are still employed today through mass arrests, extrajudicial killings, and onerous travel restrictions.[1] As a result of their initial tactics and current human rights abuses, the military succeeded in routing TTP strongholds but failed to address the insurgency’s root-grievances, alienating the population and ensuring post-conflict regional insecurity.

For nearly two decades, the Pakistani military has struggled to wage effective COIN against the TTP in the FATA. At one time, the group claimed over 45,000 militants operating in the FATA and in the neighboring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.[2] Until 2009, Pakistan’s response to the TTP followed an “enemy-centric” approach, emphasizing the overwhelming and indiscriminate use of force against insurgents and the local, sympathetic population. The operations destroyed homes and infrastructure, in the process displacing hundreds of thousands in the tribal belt.[3]

TTP recruitment, ostensibly predicated on shared Sunni-Pashtun bonds, is fueled by the allure of “money, power, and respect” in an historically impoverished region.[4] Underinvestment in the economic and political infrastructure of the region bolsters local animosity toward the central government and encourages support for groups like the TTP which promise greater development.

Could the Houthis Be the Next Hizballah?

by Trevor Johnston
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What is the likelihood that Iran will further invest in the Houthis and develop them as an enduring proxy group in Yemen?

Under what conditions might Iran increase its support for, and its efforts to influence, the Houthi movement?

How might the Houthis' demand for Iranian support change in the future?

How sustainable is Iranian support given dramatic changes on the ground (e.g., as Saudi posture and presence in Yemen grows)?

What organizational, ideological, or religious divisions exist within the Houthi movement, and how might these factional differences affect the trajectory of the Houthi-Iran relationship?

Oh God, Not the Peloponnesian War Again

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Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a major speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library on the U.S.-China relationship, so naturally one of the first questions, from the president of the Nixon Foundation, Hugh Hewitt, referred to ancient Greece.

“But we are, like Athens was, a naval power. America is a naval power. And as like Sparta [was], China is a land power. Do we not have to change how we approach defense spending to put more emphasis on our naval resources than on our Army resources?” Hewitt asked Pompeo.

Like Hewitt, Trump’s advisors are reportedly obsessed with ancient Greece, but they aren’t alone. The Peloponnesian War mesmerizes strategists and international relations scholars. When it comes to ancient Greece and the U.S.-China relationship, the most prominent comparison is the “Thucydides Trap,” made famous by the political scientist Graham Allison, which uses the relationship between Athens and Sparta to draw an analogy between a rising China and the threat felt by the United States today. But conflicts between city-states in a backwater Eurasian promontory 2,400 years ago are an unreliable guide to modern geopolitics—and they neglect a vast span of world history that may be far more relevant.

Why has the pandemic spared the Buddhist parts of South-East Asia?

One of the bigger riddles of the global pandemic lies in South-East Asia. Despite being close to the source of covid-19, in China, and to one of the current hotspots of the outbreak, India, the partly or largely Buddhist countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam have scarcely sneezed.

Vietnam is the standout: with 97m people, it claims no deaths from covid-19. Thailand, with 70m, has seen just 58 fatalities and no local transmission in over 40 days. Impoverished Myanmar claims just six deaths from 317 cases, while Cambodia (141 confirmed cases) and tiny Laos (19 cases) also have no deaths apiece and no local transmission since April. Compare that with the nearby archipelagic nations of Indonesia (some 68,100 cases and 3,400 deaths) and the Philippines (50,400 cases and 1,300 deaths), where the pandemic still rages.

Set aside karmic grace as an explanation, especially given that Vietnam’s communist dictatorship is atheist. Vietnam’s success, indeed, is easiest to explain. The country has a suspicion of its big northern neighbour, China, rooted in millennia of historical interaction. At the start of the year it instinctively distrusted China’s reassurances about the disease and even launched cyber-attacks to get better information on the epidemic’s course. It closed its border and used authoritarian powers to lock down the population and trace and isolate cases. That, in essence, is what China’s communist authorities were also doing.

Few governments have both the overweening power and effective health systems needed to emulate China and Vietnam, but Thailand, a sham democracy overseen by generals, perhaps comes closest. The quality of its health care makes Thailand a popular destination for medical tourism. Moreover, the government was quick to set up a vigorous covid-fighting task-force.

Beijing hard-liners kick against Xi Jinping's wolf warrior diplomacy

Richard McGregor
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With Beijing out of sorts with the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Canada, India, Australia and other countries too numerous to list, are senior Chinese leaders starting to question a fight on so many fronts?

There are few signs, in public at least, that the leadership is recalibrating, or, to put it more accurately, that Xi Jinping has decided to take any steps back from the ambitious foreign policy goals he has set for his country.

One prominent official spokesman for Beijing on the world stage, Colonel Zhou Bo, writing in the South China Morning Post on July 27, depicted the confrontation with the U.S. as mere "headwinds" to China's "peaceful" development. "The most profound change the world is experiencing is China growing ever stronger," said Zhou, who is an honorary fellow at the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Science.

Zhou's approach allows Beijing to deflect the sharpest critiques of China, such as last week's speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library saying the U.S. would no longer tolerate attempts to usurp the global order. Xi has always had his critics among China's liberal scholars who blame him for provoking the U.S. with his assertive diplomatic and military policies.

The Chinese Communist Party Is an Environmental Catastrophe

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As China struggles to recover economically from the impact of the pandemic, it is set to deal a painful blow to global efforts to fight climate change. The party has often sacrificed environmental regulations as soon as GDP targets and economic growth have been threatened, thus industrial or trade decline paradoxically produces soaring pollution. But even in normal times, China’s soaring carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are a massive part of the dire threat to all life on earth posed by climate change.

While it’s often reported that China’s CO2 levels lead the world, few appreciate the scale: how disproportionate they are compared to other large emitters; the speed of their growth; and the impossibility of reining them as long as the CCP remains in power.

In 1990, China’s CO2 emissions were just half those of the United States. In the next 15 years they more than doubled, overtaking the United States. Then in just 12 years, from 2005 to 2017, China’s emissions nearly doubled again to more than twice those of the United States (13,110 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, or mtCO2e, compared with 6,457 million)—although China’s GDP was only 63 percent as large as the U.S. GDP in 2017.

Should US Pay Semiconductor Makers To Compete Vs. China?


Perceiving a moment of acute national weakness, Senator John Cornyn reached across the aisle and proposed an action he described as at odds with his faith in the free market. If the United States was becoming increasingly dependent on Chinese manufacturers for semiconductors, what if the US government simply funded direct investment in the industrial capacity to build this crucial component of all modern electronics?

The answer, put forth by Cornyn, a Republican, and co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat, was the “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act,” or the CHIPS For America Act. A version of the act passed the Senate last week as an amendment to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act; a parallel version was introduced in the House in June as a standalone bill.

Sen. John Cornyn addresses the online CSIS event

Pompeo’s Strategy Depends on Beijing’s Own Paranoia

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In what was billed as a landmark speech on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched a fusillade of attacks on China, which he called “increasingly authoritarian at home, and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere else.” The speech, which Pompeo delivered at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, came after months of intensifying hostile actions between Beijing and Washington, including the abrupt order on Tuesday by the United States to close the Chinese consulate in Houston, China’s denunciations of the United States, and a statement by Pompeo explicitly opposing China’s claims in the South China Sea.

In his speech, Pompeo articulated a view that is increasingly popular in Washington policymaking circles: that the implicit bargain past administrations struck with Beijing to hold off on ideological criticism and geopolitical containment in exchange for mutually profitable economic growth was a bad deal for the United States. Pompeo offered few signs of what a more productive approach might look like, however, or how to disentangle the U.S. and Chinese economies without causing a disaster for both. According to Pompeo’s account, Washington’s new strategy is to “engage and empower the Chinese people—a dynamic, freedom-loving people who are completely distinct from the Chinese Communist Party.” He repeated a call for an alliance of “free world” states against China, but it was short on either details or the credibility needed to bring allies on board.

The Two China Fires

By Bret Stephens
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We’ll probably never know exactly what sorts of documents were incinerated at China’s Consulate in Houston in the days before the United States forced it to close on Friday, after accusing it of being a hub of espionage. We may also never know what caused this month’s catastrophic fire aboard the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard, a massive amphibious assault ship that was being fitted out to double as a small aircraft carrier, in the port of San Diego.

What we should know is that the two fires are actually one. We are racing toward a conflict with China we may be ill-prepared to wage.

The closure of the consulate comes on the heels of a quad of bellicose speeches from top administration officials, collectively amounting to a declaration of Cold War against China. Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser, painted China’s leadership as unreconstructed Marxist-Leninists. The F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray, spoke of China’s practice in the art of “malign foreign influence.” Attorney General Bill Barr accused China of “economic blitzkrieg.” And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted the free world may need a new version of NATO, this one aimed at Beijing instead of Moscow.

To Avoid a Coronavirus Depression, the U.S. Can’t Afford to Alienate the World

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Assuming the United States finally gets the coronavirus pandemic under control, the long road to economic recovery will require two things: a lot of money, and a cooperative global economy. The first part isn’t too hard if the U.S. Federal Reserve and Congress keep their eyes on the ball. The second part is a problem, especially after last week’s disappointing jobs numbers, which underscored the extent of the economic damage. Even if some businesses have bounced back since the worst phase of the pandemic in March and April, extending that bounce will require strong demand for U.S. products and services abroad, ample global financial flows to underwrite ballooning U.S. debts, and a more predictable geopolitical outlook that doesn’t subject the market to continuous shocks.

The good news is that the United States can help ensure the global economy plays along. The bad news is that Washington must be prepared to engage in some deft economic diplomacy, if not a reset of relations with the rest of the world. The immediate priority for the administration of Donald Trump (and whoever wins the November election) is to ensure that other major economies remain generous with fiscal and monetary stimulus until the global recovery is well entrenched. During the last financial and economic crisis, which lasted from the collapse of the subprime bubble in 2008 to the European debt crisis in 2010, most governments and central banks took their foot off the pedal far too soon. Given the depth of this downturn—and with the fundamental shape of the global economy in such dramatic flux—that cannot be allowed to happen again.

Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic, the U.S. War Machine Presses On


That Russia paid the Taliban financial bounties to kill 18 U.S. and “coalition” soldiers in Afghanistan is in dispute to say the least. Both Democrats and Republicans cite various and conflicting official U.S. intelligence agencies on the veracity of this latest New Cold War episode. The July 9 New York Times reported, “The C.I.A. – as well as analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center – expressed medium or moderate confidence in that conclusion. The National Security Agency, which puts greater stock in surveillance intercepts, was more skeptical, officials have said.”

As with the Democrats’ Russiagate charges that Vladimir Putin and Company rigged the 2016 elections – without a shred evidence of a single ballot box or computer voting machine manipulation anywhere in the U.S. – today’s Cold War Democratic Party tops are leading the charge in demanding that the U.S. increase its sanctions on Russia, while accusing President Trump of being soft on “tyrants” the world over.

Bi-partisan bluster and bluff aside on the 19-year U.S. war on Afghanistan – the longest U.S. war in history – the warmongering corporate media’s twisted “big lie” reporting misses the proverbial forest for the trees, or better, for a handful of alleged twigs on the trees.

The truth about the Afghan war

Racial Cycles

By George Friedman

Slavery was the law of the land when the United States was founded, and it would take nearly a century, and a civil war, for it to be undone. It wasn’t until 1954 that segregation in schools was made illegal. It wasn’t until 1964 that Black Americans were permitted to enter restaurants and hotels as a matter of right. It wasn’t until 1965 that Blacks were given the unambiguous right to vote. And just as the end of slavery did not end oppression, the passage of these laws did not mean obedience to them.

A history like that creates pain and confusion that can’t be cured by merely relenting from oppression. For Blacks, fear and anger are like an heirloom passed through generations. Some whites are sincerely committed to ending this legacy, others are profoundly indifferent, and still others want to shamelessly exploit it. When I look at those protesting in the streets of America these past few months, I wonder which is which. But it really doesn’t matter. All of this has become a ritual to be acted out toward no end. Race, rage and violence are part of the Republic we founded, and there is no evidence that it will be solved.

In my book “The Storm Before the Calm,” I argue that there is a 50-year cycle in American history. In the final decade of every 50-year cycle, the nation enters a period of deep unrest, self-doubt and self-loathing. It always begins with, and is thus inextricably tied to, the question of race.

After the End of the 'Pink Tide,' What’s Next for South America?

In early 2019, it seemed as if the “pink tide” of leftist governments that swept across Latin America in the early 2000s had all but retreated. The wave of conservative governments that replaced them owed their rise in part to the region’s economic difficulties following the end of a decade-long commodities boom in 2014. But they also took advantage of the failure by many of the leftist leaders to translate that economic boom into sustainable advances for the lower and middle classes. The election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil in 2018, after a campaign spent vilifying women as well as marginalized and indigenous communities, was a particular blow to the region’s progressives.

More recently, the South American left has shown signs of a revival. Argentina’s moderate-left Peronist candidate, Alberto Fernandez, ousted the market-friendly incumbent, Mauricio Macri, in that country’s presidential election in October 2019. Macri had won office in 2015 pledging to remedy the economic missteps of his Peronist predecessor, but his austerity measures and heavy borrowing triggered an economic crisis that cost him the presidency. And massive protests in Ecuador and Chile, also in October 2019, forced the governments in those countries to backtrack on austerity measures, calling into question in the case of Chile the country’s longstanding neoliberal economic model.

A small indigenous group offers an example of how to save the world


Sibusiso Mathe out on daily monitoring patrol, using telemetry to find the reserves endangered black rhino. Credit: Josh Reid Media.

When it comes to biodiversity, South Africa offers some cautionary tales. The country is the world’s third most biodiverse – containing, fully or partially, three of the earth’s 36 biodiversity hotspots – yet it has lost more than 18% of its natural habit and nearly half its terrestrial ecosystems are threatened.

However, South Africa also offers some invaluable lessons in how biodiversity can be protected. For that tale, we should look to the Gumbi, a small clan of Zulu-speaking people in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Their story underscores the wisdom of conserving large areas of biodiversity and, in the words of the Gumbi leadership, finding ways to “share life with nature”. Here’s what they did.

In 2005, the South African government returned 20,000 hectares to the Gumbi. In the 1960s, the apartheid government had seized this land and forced most of the community to vacate. Upon getting it back, the chief and his council decided to re-settle on only a quarter of it. They set aside the remaining three-quarters for conservation. Much of this protected land – called Somkhanda – had been degraded by overgrazing. It was therefore only marginally suited for agriculture but was ideally suited for a game reserve after some minimal restoration.

Navy Solicits Proposals for R&D Cyber Warfare Efforts

Peter Suciu 

This week, the U.S. Navy’s NAVAIR Cyber Warfare Detachment (CWD), issued a solicitation for technical/cost proposals for research support for technologies that are applicable to its Resilient Cyber Warfare Capabilities. The Navy’s CWD develops cyber warfare capabilities to defend weapons and corresponding systems. From smart TVs to connected vehicles, today’s consumer goods fall into the category of “Internet-of-Things” (IoT) and are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Military hardware, such as aircrafts, unmanned vehicles, sensors, and other systems that provide logistics and mission planning have the same vulnerabilities. These systems could be hacked and compromised, which could transform expensive cutting-edge devices into little more than pricey, heavy bricks. The strategy of CWD is to defend the access to points to these weapons systems through detection and prevention and ensure that they can continue to operate during close quarters battles.


“It is also a finding of the CWD that there has been little attention given to these intermittent connections, such as maintenance laptops, mission loaders, etc.” the July 17 broad agency announcement (BAA) stated. “As well, there has been little R&D concerning critical physical and industrial control system interfaces with air vehicles, such as aircraft launch and recovery equipment (ALRE), power and navigation umbilical’s. In fact, this BAA assumes that the cyber R&D problem space for weapons systems even reaches back to concept development, supply chain management and software (SW) development and assurance / configuration management and as far forward as battle damage assessment (BDA) and equipment sanitization and disposal which all could involve anti-tamper as well.”

What History’s Greatest Minds Can Teach Us About Modern Cyber Risk Management

Nicholas Shevelyov
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When Covid-19 exploded around the world several months ago, most corporate-sector employees who were able to keep their jobs started working from home. Before the pandemic, the average corporate citizen would do most of their work in the office; in some cases, they would occasionally work remotely from a virtual private network (VPN). Now, however, much of the workforce is logging into work using their home routers. 

This has significantly changed the cyber threat profile for many organizations. As more of the population works from home on an extended basis, individuals’ home networks become bigger points of compromise for cybercriminals to target entire corporations. Many remote workers are sharing WiFi networks with their families or roommates; this comingling of the digital pipe can lead to an even greater number and breadth of exposures.

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “When evil men plot, good men must plan.” Because bad actors are always adapting to new opportunities, organizations must constantly plan ahead. Planning, then, must be conceived and practiced as an ongoing exercise. 

A Cyberattack on Garmin Disrupted More Than Workouts

ON THURSDAY, HACKERS hit the navigation and fitness giant Garmin with a ransomware attack that took down numerous services across the company. Garmin Connect, the cloud platform that syncs user activity data, went dark, as did portions of Garmin.com. But as athletes found themselves unable to record runs and workouts, pilots who use Garmin products for position, navigation, and timing services in airplanes were dealing with their own problems.

The Age of Mass Surveillance Will Not Last Forever


WHEN I WAS working at the CIA, if you had told me that there would soon come a youth rebellion that relied on lasers and traffic cones as sword and shield, and that it would come to paralyze one of the world’s richest and most powerful governments, I would have—at the very least—raised an eyebrow. And yet as I write these words nearly a decade later, this is exactly what's happening in Hong Kong, the city where I met with journalists to reveal the secret that would transform me from an agent of government into one of the world’s most wanted men. As it happened, the very book that you now hold in your hands lay on the desk, the desk of the last hotel room I would ever pay for with a credit card.

Project Blackjack: DARPA’s LEO satellites take off

By Harry Lye

In April 2020, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $5.8m contract for the first phase of satellite integration on DARPA’s Blackjack programme. Lockheed Martin will manage interfacing between Blackjack’s bus, payload and Pit Boss in the run-up to the launch of a demonstration constellation in 2021-22.

As traditional military satellites are expensive to replace, DARPA is betting on low earth orbit constellations as a means to get military hardware into orbit at a lower cost with the Blackjack programme. Such a system would remove single points of failure both in space and on the ground. It would also mean a shift towards on-orbit processing, where the Blackjack constellation can shoulder the processing burden of ground-based systems.

“The advantage of on-orbit processing is that it brings resilience in a proliferated LEO constellation, DARPA Blackjack programme manager Paul “Rusty” Thomas told us. “Putting distributed processing in space eliminates a single point of failure in space or on the ground.”

LEO vs GEO satellites

The US is looking to achieve a number of goals with a military low earth orbit constellation, ranging from cost to latency, says Lockheed Martin programme director for advanced missile defence Julie Pecson.

The Future of Unconventional Warfare (2035 – 2050)

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Women in Future Operations Holds Its First Working Group

What do you see when you conceptualise the future of unconventional warfare? What an outstandingly complex, convoluted and complicated question. This is the question that was posed to over twenty Defence and Security experts this month during the first virtual Women in Future Operations working group, presented in partnership with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Women in Future Operations (WFO) is a platform within the Future Operations Research Group (FORGe) at UNSW Canberra at ADFA, co-founded by Jenna Allen, Katja Theodorakis (both from UNSW ADFA), and Major Lyndsay Freeman (Chief of Army Scholar). In its own words, the initiative aims to leverage women’s expertise and cultivate a network of leaders and thinkers who utilise their diverse expertise to help work past the current cultural status quo. This aligns with FORGe’s overarching aim of pushing the intellectual edge and drive forward-thinking for the future operational environment and global security issues that military forces and security experts will face – based on the four core research themes of Future Urban Warfare, Future Unconventional Warfare, Emerging Flashpoints and Emerging Future Technologies.

As was highlighted by Lisa Sharland, the head of the International Program at ASPI and coordinator of ASPI’s Women in Defence and Security Network (WDSN), the platform seeks to amplify the voices of ‘women who happen to be experts’ – a frequently made distinction in the context of ‘women in national security’ that seeks to prioritise exchanging expertise over a mere inclusivity- or diversity agenda.

Urgent Care from the Army Corps of Engineers

By Paige Williams

The commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is Todd Semonite, a stocky three-star general who recently turned sixty-three. Every workday for the past forty-one years, he has served in uniform. On his left wrist is a FitBit; on his right, the kind of Casio calculator watch that he has worn since he was a teen-ager. In high school, in Vermont, Semonite wasn’t the biggest guy on the football team, but he played varsity center; he told a newspaper that size is “not really a disadvantage if you work hard.” Semonite and his wife, Connie, live in Washington, D.C., at Fort McNair. On weekends, they renovate foreclosed houses and flip them. They have four children, all of them grown; Semonite, a civil engineer, made cradles for his grandchildren in his woodworking shop. “I mass-produced ’em,” he told me, explaining that he would cut the slats and the rockers ahead of time and assemble them once a baby was born.