19 August 2020

Commonwealth vetran looks back on VJ day

By Lewis Robertson -

As the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day – or VJ Day as it is better known – approaches, the immense contribution made by service personnel from across the Commonwealth is being highlighted. 

The Fourteenth Army was stated to be the largest all-volunteer army in history with 2,500,000 men and was instrumental in securing victory in the Far East.

Although large numbers of Britons served in the Fourteenth, an estimated 80 per cent of the fighting force came from units from India, East and West Africa and other parts of the British Empire.Mr Darbara Singh Bhullar,

Proud VJ Day veteran, Mr Darbara Singh Bhullar, who was born in India and now lives in Glasgow, has recalled his time in the Far East.

The campaign to retake Burma was one of the longest fought by the British during the Second World War and while the fighting was fierce, the threat posed by disease was equally deadly.

Mr Bhullar, 97, said: “I entered the Army on 17th February 1942. We fought against Japan on the Burma front until 1945. When we were fighting against Japan, we faced many difficulties… so many difficulties that I cannot even describe.”

The Terrorist Who Got Away

By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

With its snow-capped mountains and its emerald valleys, teeming with apple orchards and fields of saffron, India’s northernmost province of Jammu and Kashmir can sometimes resemble an enchanted kingdom. But for decades, this patch of ground has instead felt cursed, as the center of a bloody and seemingly never-ending conflict between India and Pakistan. Although 70 years have passed since the area became a part of India, it remains a flash point between the two nations.

This August, India moved to cement Jammu and Kashmir’s place in the Indian union by revoking the autonomy it was granted at the time of its accession. While the change was largely welcomed in Jammu, which is predominantly Hindu, it sparked anger in the overwhelmingly Muslim Kashmir valley, where a separatist movement has simmered since the late 1980s. To pre-empt large-scale protests and anticipated violence, the Indian government enforced a security clampdown across the valley, shutting down mobile-phone and Internet services and placing dozens of political leaders and activists under house arrest. Seven months on, Kashmir remains tense. Only in the last month have restrictions on internet use been lifted and mobile internet speeds restored to full capacity.

Indian officials say these tough measures were necessary not only to prevent civic unrest but also to guard against the threat of terrorism from across the border. They point to a long history of attacks inflicted upon Kashmir and other targets in India by groups based in Pakistan. Just a year ago, the Jaish-e-Muhammad — a terrorist organization led by a 51-year-old Pakistani cleric named Masood Azhar — directed a deadly car bombing against a convoy of troops in Pulwama, near Srinagar, killing at least 40 members of the Central Reserve Police Force. The attack was carried out by a 22-year-old Indian man who left his village in Kashmir a year earlier to join the ranks of the Jaish. Within an hour of the bombing, the group claimed responsibility for it on social media and circulated a video of the young attacker, dressed in fatigues and holding an assault rifle, declaring that the Jaish had thousands of soldiers like him who were ready to undertake suicide missions to free Kashmir from India.

What Pompeo's Speech Really Means for India and an Alliance Against China

by Sumantra Maitra
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The only charitable explanation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s crusading call for democracies to unite against China was that he was being rhetorical. Two key sentences were prominent in that barnstorming speech at the Nixon Library. “The challenge of China demands exertion, energy from democracies,” Pompeo said, “those in Europe, those in Africa, those in South America, and especially those in the Indo-Pacific region.” Pausing for effect, he cleared the concept further in case anyone had any doubts. “Maybe it’s time for a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies.”

This is not new. Lately, Britain has moved forward with a plan to create an alliance of democracies. Australia, likewise chastened after severe bullying by China, wants to bring life back into the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. All these ideas are predicated on two conditions: one, there needs to be a balancing coalition, and two, the balancing coalition needs to be democratic. But the elephant in the room, so to speak, is the idea that India should be brought in in this balancing coalition.

Rightsizing the Afghanistan mission

Michael E. O’Hanlon

It has not been pretty to watch, but it appears that the United States’ military footprint in Afghanistan policy will wind up in a reasonable place as the 2017-2021 Trump term winds down. After President Trump’s tirades and tweets on the subject helped persuade Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to resign two years ago, such an outcome is as welcome as it is surprising. But next steps, by President Trump or a President Biden, need to be much more cautious and gradual.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper recently announced that U.S. forces in Afghanistan will number fewer than 5,000 by the end of November. Unless big things happen on the Afghan political front, that is a good place to leave things for the foreseeable future. The next U.S. administration might even adopt a mantra of “5,000 troops for 5 years” in order to convey its commitment to an acceptable outcome of this frustrating, but far from lost, mission — and to avoid having the American president and Congress consume too much time on perpetual Afghanistan policy reviews.

Deploying 5,000 troops in Afghanistan will be a substantial reduction from the current level of more than 7,000 American troops, or the roughly 10,000 that Trump inherited from President Obama. It will be far less than the 100,000 U.S. troops during the Afghanistan surge under General David Petraeus and General John Allen back in 2011-12. It is a reasonable and sustainable figure, not unlike the number the United States deploys in several other regional footholds like Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Djibouti today.

The Taliban Know Afghanistan's Peace Negotiations End In An Islamic Emirate

by Marvin G. Weinbaum

Astrong dose of realism is overdue for an Afghan people and international community visibly exhausted by years of conflict and yearning for a political settlement. Efforts to achieve a negotiated peace with the Taliban have for too long survived on wishful thinking. The faintest progress is often applauded as the harbinger of a breakthrough. Reasonable skepticism is frequently brushed aside with comments like “what is there to lose when the only alternative is endless fighting?” Hardline Taliban demands are dismissed as only opening negotiating positions, and their triumphant statements are excused as simply leadership bravado. To keep the peace process on track, the threshold for Taliban violence is never crossed. 

As the delegations prepare for the approaching intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha, any optimism has to be tempered. Talks are only the first step in what will be at best a long, tortuous process. There is already a willingness to overlook the many significant, largely unreciprocated concessions it has taken to get the Taliban to the table. The Taliban’s refusal to acknowledge the Afghan government as its principal interlocutor has had to be finessed. It also does not bode well that an ill-prepared, splintered delegation of the Islamic Republic is slated to face a focused, unified team of Taliban negotiators.

Rajapaksa Rule

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On Aug. 5, Sri Lankans put on masks and voted in South Asia’s first major election since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health officials were present at every polling center. In mine, people in lines were spaced out by black tape on the floor. After a temperature check, voters were guided into the centers by officials wearing face visors and gloves. We were asked to wash our hands before voting, and we received our ballot paper and finger ink from officials behind see-through partitions.

Even though turnout was marginally lower than in previous elections, by the time voting closed at 5 in the evening, 71 percent of registered Sri Lankan voters had cast their ballot. Some mistook the turnout as a sign of a close race—it was not.

The Rajapaksa family and their election vehicle, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, won more seats than when Mahinda Rajapaksa went to the polls in 2010, soon after Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war ended with a complete military victory for the government over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Although Rajapaksa’s original electoral feat was considered impossible to replicate, the SLPP has surpassed it in an election boasting higher turnout than in 2010. In doing so, it has consolidated the country’s majority population in a way previously thought impossible.

China’s Soft-Power Grab

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China this week ramped up its crackdown on the press and other pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong, handing the world a portrait of Beijing as a menacing and bullying superpower. But at the United Nations headquarters, China is still viewed as a model country.

Beijing is investing tens of millions of dollars in international peacekeeping and mediation missions, increasing its diplomatic support for global health and sustainable development initiatives, and urging Chinese nationals to pursue a life of service at the U.N. and other international organizations. In contrast to the United States, which owes the U.N. more than $1 billion in unpaid dues, China pays its bills on time and in full. With the Trump administration accelerating its retreat from U.N. and other multilateral bodies, the Chinese government is playing offense.

The pandemic has provided China with a rare opportunity to showcase the supposed benefits of authoritarian rule at a time when the world’s leading democratic nation is floundering, and U.S. President Donald Trump is beating a retreat from the international order that America built to manage the world. But some believe that China has squandered a historic chance to advance its cause for global leadership through a secretive and ham-handed initial response to the virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and by using the pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen its grip on Hong Kong, flex its muscles in the South China Sea and on Taiwan, and clash with Indian forces on its border.

Israel and United Arab Emirates Strike Major Diplomatic Agreement

President Trump announced that Israel and the United Arab Emirates would establish “full normalization of relations” and that in exchange Israel would forgo for now “declaring sovereignty” over occupied West Bank territory.

Trump Announces United Arab Emirates and Israel Agreement

President Trump said the deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel would normalize diplomatic relations and begin cooperation in areas such as security, trade and tourism.

Just a few moments ago, I hosted a very special call with two friends, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, where they agreed to finalize a historical peace agreement. After 49 years, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalize their diplomatic relations. They will exchange embassies and ambassadors, and begin cooperation across the board and on a broad range of areas, including tourism, education, health care, trade and security. This is a truly historic moment. By uniting two of America’s closest and most capable partners in the region — some people said could not be done — this deal is a significant step towards building a more peaceful, secure and prosperous Middle East.

Around-the-halls: Experts analyze the normalization of Israel-UAE ties

Natan Sachs

On August 13, Israel and United Arab Emirates (UAE) struck a major diplomatic agreement, with a joint Israel-UAE-U.S. statement announcing that in exchange for “full normalization of relations” between the two countries, Israel would forgo, for now, “declaring sovereignty” over disputed territory in the West Bank. Brookings experts on the Middle East analyze the news and its implications.

Natan Sachs (@natansachs), Director and Fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy: Normalization between Israel and the UAE is an excellent thing, in and of itself. It’s high time these countries have open, normal relations. But the context is of course key: the Israeli plan to annex parts of the West Bank, along the lines to be delineated by the U.S. and Israel after the release of Trump administration plan. The UAE-Israeli-U.S. deal allows everyone to climb down: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can avoid the terrible mistake of annexation while claiming he got something big for it (he did!). The UAE can claim it prevented annexation from happening — from UAE Ambassador Yousef Otaiba’s Hebrew-language op-ed warning of the move, to the big carrot of diplomatic normalization. Trump gets to avoid the annexation he himself sanctioned, and all the complications it could have produced, while showing a big win for two of his favorite allies.

In Historic Deal With the UAE, Israel Is the Biggest Winner

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No matter how one reads the diplomatic deal announced Thursday between Israel and the United Arab Emirates­—and there will surely be many supporters and detractors given its historic nature—there is one conclusion that seems irrefutable: Israel was the biggest victor.

Israel, and specifically its embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has scored a huge victory. In suspending threats to annex parts of the West Bank in return for full normalization of relations with the UAE, he has given himself room to back away from a promise that may have been popular but never realistic. Netanyahu thus pocketed normalization with a rising Arab power in return for something he wasn’t likely to do and was not in Israel’s long-term interest. In diplomatic circles, that’s what you call a coup.

To be sure, the UAE gets plenty in return. In striking the bargain, it solidifies both a leadership status in the Arab world and its outsized role in geopolitics. Enhanced and formalized bilateral cooperation in sectors such as energy, medicine, technology, and military industry will also reap large dividends for both countries. Already ambitious and entrepreneurial, the two societies will get an opportunity to team up without having to worry about politics. The sky is the limit in terms of technological advancements that will benefit the region and possibly the world.

The World Trump Made

How will historians judge President Donald Trump’s handling of American foreign policy? Not kindly, writes Margaret MacMillan in this issue’s lead package. After nearly four years of turbulence, the country’s enemies are stronger, its friends are weaker, and the United States itself is increasingly isolated and prostrate.

Richard Haass notes that “Trump inherited an imperfect but valuable system and tried to repeal it without offering a substitute.” The result, he claims, “is a United States and a world that are considerably worse off.” Dragging his party and the executive branch along, the president has reshaped national policy in his own image: focused on short-term advantage, obsessed with money, and uninterested in everything else.

His opponent has pledged to repudiate Trump’s approach if elected, embracing international cooperation and restoring American global leadership. But is that even possible now? Most of the world looks at Washington with horror and pity rather than admiration or respect, and the one thing many of Trump’s domestic supporters and critics agree on is there’s no going back. 

“Washington cannot simply return to the comfortable assumptions of the past,” argues Nadia Schadlow, a former deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration. Great-power competition is inevitable, and multilateral cooperation is for suckers. Ben Rhodes, who also served as a deputy national security adviser, but in the Obama administration, agrees that the liberal international order is defunct. Rather than try to revive it, he wants Washington to shape a new and better one by checking its privilege, avoiding hypocrisy, and attacking global inequality. 

Conflict With Small Powers Derails U.S. Foreign Policy

By Michael Singh

Over the past decade, U.S. policymakers have argued for a renewed focus on great-power competition. The primary threats facing the United States, they suggest, are powerful states with global reach that seek to counter both American interests and the international order that safeguards them.

But American foreign policy has in reality focused elsewhere. The United States remains mired in struggles with small adversaries, including military conflicts—such as those in the African Sahel and in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—and efforts at coercion short of war, such as those involving Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. Entanglement in small conflicts has bedeviled presidents with starkly divergent foreign policies—all of whom entered office vowing to avoid such engagements.

Conflicts with small adversaries are not necessarily incompatible with a focus on great-power competition. After all, steps that the United States takes to contain or deter minor powers, such as stationing forces in South Korea or naval forces in the Persian Gulf, can also shape the behavior of powerful rivals, such as China or Russia. Still, conflicts with minor foes can tie down resources and consume attention, and such conflicts have proliferated in the twenty-first century despite U.S. policymakers’ avowed aim to shift focus away from them. Washington needs to exercise discipline and set a high bar if it is to avoid the next quagmire.

The Scowcroft Model

By Robert M. Gates

Few officials in American history have played as influential a role in shaping U.S. foreign and national security policy over as long a time as did former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who died on August 6. Perhaps none has mentored as many young people (including me) who would go on to senior positions in government—an often overlooked dimension of Scowcroft’s rich legacy.

Scowcroft’s time as national security adviser under President George H. W. Bush, during the historic period from 1989 to 1993, is justly renowned. But to fully appreciate what he brought to what was his second stint in the job, it is important to recall his first, under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Scowcroft became deputy to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger in January 1973 and then succeeded Kissinger in November 1975. Because Kissinger was dual-hatted as secretary of state and national security adviser from September 1973 until November 1975, Scowcroft essentially ran the National Security Council (NSC) single-handedly for more than two tumultuous years.

If the challenge facing the United States under the first President Bush was how to manage epochal opportunities created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the challenge under Nixon and Ford was how to manage a series of historic crises and disasters. In some ways, the latter was a greater test of Scowcroft’s mettle than the former. That test both shaped his view of the national security adviser’s proper role and laid the foundation for his unmatched success in it—success that has made Scowcroft the aspirational model for every national security adviser since.

The Good Son

jared kushner, the second-most-powerful man in the White House, is quite a bit smarter than the most powerful man, his father-in-law, the president. Donald Trump possesses a genius for the jugular, but he evinces few other signs of intelligence. He certainly displays no capacity, or predisposition, to learn. His son-in-law, by contrast, appears to have sufficient analytic acumen to comprehend that the country has been brought to its knees by the coronavirus pandemic. Kushner might not be the brightest public servant in American history—he is a Harvard graduate who is also a leading symbol of college-admissions corruption, and a businessman with a substantial record of failure—but he has shown flashes of effectiveness in his time at the White House. Because he projects a facsimile of capability and because he shows, at irregular intervals, a seemingly genuine interest in governing, he is also an exasperating mystery.

Like many Americans, I’ve been watching Kushner for four years now, and I’ve asked myself this question: Why does he enable his father-in-law’s worst impulses? The answer, I believe, is embedded in the core of his biography. I’ve spent months studying Kushner’s personal history. This story is built on more than two dozen interviews, with current and former White House officials who have worked intimately with Kushner, as well as outside advisers whose wisdom he has sought, business associates, and old family friends. (Kushner himself declined to comment.)

Present at the Disruption

By Richard Haass

Present at the Creation is an 800-page memoir written by Dean Acheson, U.S. President Harry Truman’s secretary of state. The title, with its biblical echo, was immodest, but in Acheson’s defense, it was deserved.

Working from planning begun under President Franklin Roosevelt, Truman and his senior advisers built nothing less than a new international order in the wake of World War II. The United States adopted the doctrine of containment, which would guide U.S. foreign policy for four decades in its Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union. It transformed Germany and Japan into democracies and built a network of alliances in Asia and Europe. It provided the aid Europe needed to get back on its feet under the Marshall Plan and channeled economic and military assistance to countries vulnerable to communism under the Truman Doctrine. It established a host of international organizations, including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the forerunner to the World Trade Organization). And it constructed a modern foreign and defense policy apparatus, including the National Security Council, the CIA, and the Department of Defense.

It is impossible to imagine one of the national security principals of the Trump administration writing a memoir that includes the word “creation” in its title. The problem is not just that little has been built over the past three and a half years. Building has simply not been a central aim of this administration’s foreign policy. To the contrary, the president and the frequently changing cast of officials around him have been much more interested in tearing things apart. A more fitting title for an administration memoir would be Present at the Disruption.

The Democratic Renewal

By Ben Rhodes

If elected president, Joe Biden will inherit a United States that has abdicated its leadership role in the world and lost its claim to moral authority. He will also take the reins of a country still in the throes of a pandemic, still reeling from the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus, and still deeply polarized. This wreckage will exceed even President Barack Obama’s inheritance of a financial crisis and two foundering wars. Biden and his team will have to find some way to reshape U.S. foreign policy and revive the United States’ sense of its purpose in the world. 

It won’t be easy. A Biden victory in November would offer the temptation of seeking to restore the United States’ post–Cold War image of itself as a virtuous hegemon. But that would badly underestimate the country’s current predicament. The United States hasn’t just lost ground; the ship of state is pointed in the wrong direction, and the rest of the world has moved on. Global concerns about U.S. credibility aren’t simply tied to the calamitous presidency of Donald Trump—they’re rooted in the fact that the American people elected someone like Trump in the first place. Having seen Americans do that once, foreign leaders and publics will wonder whether the United States might do it again, particularly given the fealty of the Republican Party to Trump’s nationalist, authoritarian brand of politics. In this environment, it is essential for a President Biden to find opportunity not in the past but in the present—in the wake of the recent crises that have upended American life and in the green shoots of the remarkable popular uprising that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

Beware of Reckless Calls on the Military to Remove Trump

Candace Rondeaux 

America needs a lot of things right now. It desperately needs leaders who can unify, not divide, its citizenry. It needs Congress to pass some form of pandemic relief bill, and it needed it yesterday. It needs a reprieve from the unrelenting toll taken on its soul by the coronavirus, a broken public health system, dysfunctional policing and entrenched inequality. Contrary, however, to the views espoused by some national security elites this week, what America does not need is for its military to solve the problem of President Donald Trump.

It is hard to know what exactly was in the hearts and minds of the editors at Defense One when they decided to publish an open letter Wednesday written by two retired Army officers calling on Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to forcibly remove Trump from the White House if he loses reelection in November and refuses to leave office before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, 2021. John Nagl and Paul Yingling, the two Iraq war veterans who wrote the letter, are smart guys who have served their country honorably in uniform and out for decades. More recently, Nagl, Yingling and Mike Jason, another retired Army officer, wrote a smart piece, also in Defense One, on the current debate within the Pentagon about renaming bases named after Confederate generals.

FBI and NSA Disclose Malware Used by Russia’s ‘Fancy Bear’

By Alyza Sebenius

The U.S. National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned that hackers from Russia’s military intelligence unit created malware to spy on Linux systems widely used by the U.S. defense industry.

The previously undisclosed malware is called “Drovorub” and was created by the Russian hacking group known as “Fancy Bear,” part of the GRU military intelligence unit. The disclosure on Thursday in a cybersecurity advisory is intended to “counter the capabilities of the GRU” -- a unit whose hackers became infamous for their cyber-attacks in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

“This malware represents a very significant threat,” Keppel Wood, chief operations officer in the NSA’s cybersecurity directorate, said in an interview. She added that national security systems, the Department of Defense, the defense industrial base and the larger cybersecurity community rely on Linux-based systems, meaning that “this threat has potential to be widespread, especially if network defenders don’t take action against it.”

The advisory contains over 40 pages of technical detail about Drovorub, a name derived from the hacking code that translates to “woodcutter” or “to split wood.” The malware can take control of systems and move data on and off of them, and it is particularly dangerous because it is designed specifically to evade detection, according to the NSA.

Shifting Dynamics of the Mideast Pushed Israel and U.A.E. Together

By David M. Halbfinger and Ronen Bergman
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JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu buoyantly approached the microphone, beaming at his diplomatic coup.

“I told you,” he told Israelis in a triumphant news conference on Thursday night.

Indeed he had.

At least since 2009, Mr. Netanyahu had been insisting, against conventional wisdom, that Israel could build full diplomatic and trade relationships with Arab countries in the Middle East without settling the Palestinian conflict first.

At every opportunity, he badgered the Persian Gulf monarchs to bring their not-so-secret cooperation with Israel into the open.

Again and again, they demurred. Settle the conflict with the Palestinians, they said, then we’ll talk.

American Passports Are Useless Now

Yascha Mounk

Becoming a United States citizen was meaningful to me for a great number of reasons. German by birth, I had come to feel at home in America, and to love it. For all the deep injustices that shape this country, I remained convinced that the United States was more likely than just about any other place in the world to build a thriving, diverse democracy. And when I wrote about the danger that right-wing populists like Donald Trump pose to the American republic, I cherished being able to speak about his assault on our, as opposed to your, values and institutions.

Alongside all these serious reasons, I also had a very practical one: the power of the U.S. passport. It granted access to just about everywhere, and escape from just about anywhere. Which country—Germany or the United States—would be more likely to rescue me if I got stuck in some foreign country in the middle of a perilous political crisis? Would the last plane to evacuate foreigners from Chad or Chile or Canada before that country devolved into civil war be sent by the Bundeswehr or the U.S. Air Force?

Biden Picks Harris for Veep—and Bush Sr. for Himself

When Barack Obama became U.S. president, he had thought a great deal about foreign policy—as he had thought a great deal about many things—but had barely practiced it at all. That was where his vice president came in handy. Joe Biden, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had the chance to be on a first-name basis with various heads of state since Obama had been taking social studies classes at the Punahou School in Honolulu.

When Obama needed someone to straighten out the mess in Iraq, whose leader, Nouri al-Maliki, seemed to be paying a good deal more attention to Tehran than to Washington, he turned to Biden—or so Biden told me at the time—and said, “Joe, you do Iraq.”

Had Biden chosen former National Security Advisor Susan Rice as his vice president, one can easily imagine just such an assignment. The woman he did choose, Sen. Kamala Harris, brings many strengths—but they do not include the ability to tell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he’s acting like a schmuck and then say “You know I love you” before hanging up.

NATO Must Move Out Smartly on 5G


Much attention is focused, and appropriately so, on the security risks associated with 5G – particularly those technologies produced in China. But next-generation wireless technologies promise a revolution in military operations, one that will change everything from training to logistics to the tactical, operational, and strategic dimensions of warfare. As the institution responsible for enabling effective joint and combined operations by its member states, NATO must help lead the integration of 5G into the force structures and operations of the alliance and among allied armed forces.

Next-gen wireless communications are a game changer because lower network latency and leap in throughput speeds translates into massive real-time data sharing, and because low power consumption will shrink the size and weight of the electronic systems that burden combat aircraft, warships, and individual troops. 

5G will bring to the battlefield new ways to share and integrate sensor data between operators, weapons, and platforms, including unmanned systems. It will enable forces to harness artificial intelligence and machine learning in ways never before seen on a battlefield: autonomous loading and off-loading of trucks, trains, planes and ships; enhanced situational awareness for soldiers in the foxhole and their most senior commanders; real-time targeting and retargeting; and, new military concepts of operations, such as the swarming of drones.

Utilities for democracy: Why and how the algorithmic infrastructure of Facebook and Google must be regulated

Josh Simons and Dipayan Ghosh

In the four years since the last U.S. presidential election, pressure has continued to build on Silicon Valley’s biggest internet firms: the Cambridge Analytica revelations; a series of security and privacy missteps; a constant drip of stories about discriminatory algorithms; employee pressure, walkouts, and resignations; and legislative debates about privacy, content moderation, and competition policy. The nation — indeed, the world — is waking up to the manifold threats internet platforms pose to the public sphere and to democracy.

This paper provides a framework for understanding why internet platforms matter for democracy and how they should be regulated. We describe the two most powerful internet platforms, Facebook and Google, as new public utilities — utilities for democracy. Facebook and Google use algorithms to rank and order vast quantities of content and information, shaping how we consume news and access information, communicate with and feel about one another, debate fundamental questions of the common good, and make collective decisions. Facebook and Google are private companies whose algorithms have become part of the infrastructure of our public sphere.

We argue that Facebook and Google should be regulated as public utilities. Private powers who shape the fundamental terms of citizens’ common life should be held accountable to the public good. Online as well as offline, the infrastructure of the public sphere is a critical tool for communication and organization, political expression, and collective decisionmaking. By controlling how this infrastructure is designed and operated, Facebook and Google shape the content and character of our digital public sphere, concentrating not just economic power, but social and political power too. Leading American politicians from both sides of the aisle have begun to recognize this, whether Senator Elizabeth Warren or Representative David Cicilline, Senator Lindsey Graham or President Donald Trump.

Army Electronic Warfare: Big Tests In ’21


Each of the Army’s future jammers plugs into a larger electronic warfare network.

WASHINGTON: After decades of US neglect of electronic warfare – while Russia and China pulled ahead – Army soldiers are just months away from getting their hands on two new and long-awaited long-range jammers.

Two contractors, Lockheed Martin and Boeing DRT, are now converting 8×8 Stryker armored vehicles into prototypes of the Terrestrial Layer System (TLS). Both company’s prototypes will be given to troops for field tests next year, starting with Operational Demonstration 1 in January. Meanwhile, Lockheed is putting together the first Engineering & Manufacturing Demonstration (EMD) prototype of an EW pod for the Grey Eagle drone, called Multi-Function Electronic Warfare – Air – Large (MFEW), which will be assessed by soldiers in April-June next year.

Both the ground-based TLS and the aerial MFEW are supposed to enter service in fall 2022. But that’s just the start. Each system will evolve into a whole family of smaller and larger variants, all built to common hardware and software standards, all sharing data wirelessly with one another, Army commanders, and artillery units. The objective is a diverse digital arsenal that can detect the enemy’s transmissions, crack their codes, locate their units for precision strikes, and disrupt their networks with jamming and hacking, ideally in ways too subtle for the enemy to even detect the deception.

Here’s the Theme Driving the US Army’s New Communications Tech


A common theme emerges from the U.S. Army's efforts to field several new communications technologies: for the foreseeable future, the service's comms programs are about pushing more data to and from the front lines in the face of increasingly aggressive electronic-warfare activities.

Two Army pilot programs aim to bring cloud storage closer to the front lines by fiscal 2023, say Maj. Gen. Peter A. Gallagher, the director of the Network Cross-Functional Team and Brig. Gen. Robert M. Collins, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical. But the two pilots approach the problem in different ways, they said Tuesday at a virtual event hosted by the Potomac Officers Club. 

The goal of the first pilot, which operators have just finished testing, was to move training software from a fixed location into a cloud for use anywhere. That will come in handy as the Army deploys its new Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS: augmented-reality goggles that will allow soldiers to review and retrain on different operations they’ve experienced. 

The second pilot looks at virtual and container clouds — basically, smaller cloud environments within larger clouds. Gallagher said the objective is to sideline data that operators use only rarely, and prioritize access to more valuable data in environments where there is a lot of jamming and hacking.