5 October 2020

India Energy Profile: Third-Largest Energy Consumer In World – Analysis


India was the third-largest energy consumer in the world after China and the United States in 2018, according to the BP Statistical Review of 2019, and its need for energy supply continues to climb as a result of the country’s dynamic economic growth, population growth, and modernization over the past several years.1 After annual inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) growth rose each year between 2011 and 2016, reaching nearly 8.2%, India’s GDP growth slowed to about 5.0% in 2019, according to India’s government data and the World Bank.2 

The slowdown was initially a result of government-led demonetization and the goods and services tax reform, implemented between the end of 2016 and mid-2017, and insufficient private sector investment.3 In 2019, the economy struggled with a financial and lending crisis, consumption and investment declines, and regulatory issues.4 

The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in India that began at the start of 2020 and the country’s ensuing national lockdown from late March through mid-May to stop the spread of the virus has adversely impacted industrial and economic activity, labor mobility, and energy use within India and is likely to push GDP growth much lower in 2020, according to several experts.5

Myanmar’s Peace Process: The China Factor

By Yun Sun

After multiple rounds of postponement, Myanmar finally held the Fourth Union Peace Conference (UPC) from August 19 to 21. More than two years had passed since the Third UPC, despite the National League for Democracy (NLD) government’s original plan to convene the UPC every six months. Despite the low expectations for concrete progress and deliverables from the Fourth UPC, the conference arguably provided much-needed direction for the future of the peace process beyond the general elections this November.

The Fourth UPC was also notable for the absence of several ethinc groups that had previously been nudged to attend by China. Beijing has been an indispensable and significant player in Myanmar’s peace process. However, during this election year, the civil-military dynamics in Myanmar, developments in Rakhine state, and great power competition are all complicating China’s role in the peace process at this juncture.

China and the Fourth Union Peace Conference 

Despite rounds of delays, the Fourth UPC was attended by representatives of the NLD government, the military, ethnic parliaments, political parties, and 10 signatory groups of the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord. In terms of substantive deliverables, the conference passed the Third Part of the Union Accord, affirmed the principle agreement on a true “democratic federal union,” and passed a peace work plan for after 2020.

Bonding over Beijing

Erik Brattberg, Torrey Taussig

Over the past few years, China’s rise has become a top priority in Washington and in many European capitals—and a big-ticket item on the wider transatlantic agenda. This development has created both new opportunities and challenges for transatlantic relations. Many Europeans who were already concerned about the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia see the Trump administration’s preoccupation with countering China’s rise as representative of a bipartisan US strategic shift away from Europe and toward prioritizing great power competition in the Indo-Pacific.

While Europe’s own outlook on China has also hardened recently—turning more skeptical and increasingly sharing many of the same American concerns—the United States and Europe have so far not been able to capitalize on this convergence by building anything resembling a coherent agenda to address jointly shared challenges from China. This task will be among the most pressing on the transatlantic agenda over the next four years, regardless of whether Donald Trump is reelected on November 3, or Joe Biden becomes the next US president.

But the outcome of the US election will certainly have consequences. While a second Trump administration would likely continue its hard-line approach toward China and unilateral approach toward Europe, room for a more strategic and broader transatlantic dialogue on China policy is possible under Biden. A Biden administration would likely attempt to renew the transatlantic partnership as part of a global effort to attempt to rebuild alliances and partnerships that have fallen into disrepair during the Trump administration.

From China to the US, the ‘Self-Reliance’ Slogan is Back

By Benjamin R. Young

During the Cold War, U.S.-Soviet competition ushered in an era of immense global social change. With the lack of a distinct “third way” of socioeconomic development, leaders in the decolonizing world promoted the concept of self-reliance as a nation-building mechanism. Most notably, it was Mao Zedong in 1945 that first promoted self-reliance via his slogan, “regeneration through one’s own efforts (zili gengsheng).” Mao’s influence on self-reliance permeated throughout the Third World as his revolutionary theory gained followers and ideological adherents. As a rural-centric brand of socialism that promoted anti-colonialism, many Third World leaders took up Maoism as their guiding light for self-reliant development. In addition to his slogan of zili gengsheng, Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book” featured one of the first explanations of self-reliance during the Cold War era. In section 21, titled “Self-Reliance and Arduous Struggle,” a quote from Mao reads, “We stand for self-reliance. We hope for foreign aid but cannot be dependent on it; we depend on our own efforts, on the creative power of the whole army and the entire people.” The global dissemination of the “Little Red Book” shepherded in a period of radical admiration for Maoism. 

After the collapse of the Communist Bloc, self-reliance faded away as a developmental policy and neoliberal global capitalism became the de-facto ideology for much of the developing world. However, nationalistic leaders such as U.S President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping have recently evoked the rhetoric of self-reliance as a useful concept for their reactionary agendas and foreign policies. With the resurgence of strongman style politics in much of the world, self-reliance is no longer a Cold War-era slogan reserved only for marginalized states. 

Mao Zedong’s idea of self-reliance developed during the Chinese Civil War. His first iteration of self-reliance in 1945 was a countermeasure to Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek’s supposed servitude to foreign powers. A year later, Mao wrote an inner-Party directive in which he proclaimed, “We must work hard in production in order to become completely self-sufficient in all necessities and first of all in grain and cloth… To sum up, we rely entirely on our own efforts, and our position is invincible; this is the very opposite of Chiang Kai-shek who depends entirely on foreign countries.” 

China Doubles Down on Xinjiang Policy Amid Reports of Cultural Erasure

By Eleanor Albert

Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed his commitment to Beijing’s policies in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region at a two-day party conference on the region last weekend. Calling for its long term implementation, Xi said that “practice has proven that the party’s strategy for governing Xinjiang in the new era is completely correct.” Xi emphasized that the government’s policies “laid a solid foundation for long-term peace and stability in Xinjiang,” echoing language used in a white paper issued by the State Council Information Office in September on employment and labor rights in Xinjiang. “Facts have fully proved that China’s work on ethnic affairs has been successful,” Xi added according to a summary of the conference by Xinhua news agency.

The use of widespread surveillance, internment camps and indoctrination programs are among the many tools wielded by Chinese authorities over the Uyghur population. The Chinese government also appears to be expanding detention centers and infrastructure, according to recent investigative reports. New reports also show that Beijing’s Xinjiang policies go further, including concrete strategies aimed at the erasure of Uyghur culture and heritage in the autonomous region. Using satellite imagery, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) estimates that some 16,000 mosques, representing nearly two-thirds of the region’s Islamic houses of worship, have been destroyed or damaged as a result of government policy since 2017. Other Islamic sacred sites, including shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage routes, have also been demolished or altered.

Big tech firms may be handing Hong Kong user data to China


Big technology companies may already be complying with secret Chinese requests for user information held in Hong Kong and ought to “come clean” about the vulnerability of the data they hold there, a senior US state department official has said.

The allegation of possible secret cooperation between major companies and Hong Kong authorities follows the implementation of a sweeping and controversial new national security law that allows Hong Kong authorities to demand sensitive user data from companies if it is deemed to threaten national security.

While some tech and social media companies, like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, said in the immediate aftermath of the law being implemented in June that they would put a “pause” on complying with any Hong Kong data requests, interviews with activists, legal experts, and a current and former US government official have raised doubts about their ability to fend off such legal demands and their right to disclose if they have received them.

The state department official said: “There is a possibility that things are happening but because of the restrictions put on by the Hong Kong authorities, they [companies] would not be able to divulge this.”

No peacemakers for the new/old Caucasian war

Pavel K. Baev

Afull-blown war erupted in the South Caucasus last Sunday, September 27, and as the two belligerents — Armenia and Azerbaijan — mobilize their forces under martial law, no international authority is trying in earnest to stop the hostilities. The conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region ignited 30 years ago as the Soviet Union was collapsing and has never effectively “frozen.” The cease-fire Russia negotiated in May 1994 was not backed by a peacekeeping operation, and clashes have kept occurring, most notably in April 2016.

Amidst propaganda salvos on both sides, it’s worth exploring: Why is the flare-up occurring now? What are the new features? And what might be next? The answers are only tentative, but they may help in lifting the fog of mutual accusations and misleading reporting.

TIMING THE OFFENSIVE TO MINIMIZE ATTENTION

This is actually the second spasm of escalation this year in the deadlocked conflict, but the artillery exchanges in a particular spot on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border were most probably caused by an incidental incursion by a small Azeri patrol. That accidental clash that resulted has, nevertheless, given Azerbaijan important information about Armenia’s preparedness and the level and type of international responses, and helped Baku in timing the long-planned offensive. Armenian leadership in Yerevan was hardly taken by surprise, but Russia — the key external power in the region — quite obviously was.

Russia, Iran Expand Military Cooperation Against US And Europe In Gulf – Analysis

By Paul Goble and The Jamestown Foundation

The intensification of the military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in recent days has overshadowed what may prove to be an equally, if not more, fateful shift in the Caucasus: the expansion of Russian and Iranian military-to-military ties, involving not only joint maneuvers in the Caspian Sea and the Gulf, but also Tehran’s offer to Moscow to use three naval bases on its Gulf coast.

Many Iranian commentators and some in Moscow now are even speaking about the creation of “a Russian-Iranian military alliance” that will allow the two countries to oppose the United States’ presence in the Gulf and threaten the vital oil shipping lanes that the US has helped keep open.

Russia and Iran have been talking about expanding such ties for several years. But in the last several weeks, their cooperation—which Tehran has celebrated in Iranian media but which Moscow has, until now, understated—appears to have assumed a more concrete form. At least in part, this is because the United Nations’ restrictions on Iran’s importation of weapons from foreign countries, including Russia, will expire in mid-October. Both governments hope that Russia will then be in a position to sell much-needed military systems to the Iranians without inviting further sanctions (Zavtra.ru, September 28).

The End of the Age of Insurgency

BY JONATHAN SPYER

Masked Palestinian militants carry what is supposed to be explosives for suicide bombers during a demonstrations marking the anniversary of the second intifada, in the northern West Bank town of Nablus on Sept. 28, 2003. 

This week marks 20 years since the outbreak of the Second Intifada. The years that followed witnessed bus and café bombings perpetrated by organizations wrapped in the banners of insurgent political Islam, most importantly Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Their tactics—including suicide bombings and the deliberate targeting of civilians—were borrowed from an earlier generation of Islamists, the Shiite jihadis of the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

The history of the past 20 years marks the rise of the revolutionary political idea of insurgent political Islam—but also its sudden decline. For a distinct period, bottom-up Islamism was the most vital political ideology in the Middle East, capturing the energy that was once invested in pan-Arab nationalism in an earlier era. Islamism’s ongoing eclipse is no less stark than the similar decline of its predecessor ideology.

The President Tests Positive for the Coronavirus, and a Nation Anticipates Chaos

By David Remnick

President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, have tested positive for the coronavirus, an announcement which is bound to throw the Presidential race into a state of grave uncertainty, if not chaos. The novel coronavirus pandemic has killed more than two hundred thousand Americans and more than a million people worldwide. On Friday morning, at 12:54 a.m. Eastern time, Trump tweeted, “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for covid-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”

Trump’s physician, Sean Conley, issued a statement saying that Trump and the First Lady were both “well at this time.” Trump had reportedly been hoarse during the day on Thursday, but his circle ascribed that to the rigors of rallies and other public events. “Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering,” Conley wrote, “and I will keep you updated on any future developments.”

From the very beginning of the pandemic, Trump has denied or diminished the seriousness of covid-19, from its initial outbreak in China to its spread to Europe and beyond. In interviews with Bob Woodward, for the journalist’s book “Rage,” Trump admitted that he well understood from advisers how lethal and fast-spreading the disease could be, but in public statements he downplayed the danger, saying repeatedly that the virus would disappear with the summer’s warm weather and that there was little to worry about. To the despair of the scientific and medical communities, which have uniformly said that the disease can be best contained if people wear protective masks and maintain a social distance, Trump has repeatedly flouted their advice and touted disreputable treatments. As recently as Tuesday’s Presidential debate, in Cleveland, Trump mocked his opponent, Joe Biden, for wearing masks and practicing social distancing. “I don’t wear masks like him,” Trump said sarcastically of Biden, at the debate. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking two hundred feet away from him, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”

Sustaining the Future of Indo-Pacific Defense Strategy

By Lindsey Ford

The Bottom Line

The 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) should sustain the Indo-Pacific as the priority theater.

To fully realize this prioritization, the drafters and implementers of the next NDS must close the gap between strategic ambition in the region and resources applied by:

Prioritizing the operational challenges present in the Indo-Pacific in force design and posture

Modernizing U.S. military training and exercising programs in the Indo-Pacific

Strengthening U.S. alliances in the region

Introduction

The 2018 National Defense Strategy places the Indo-Pacific region at the heart of U.S. defense strategy, and the 2022 NDS should sustain this prioritization.1 The United States faces numerous security challenges, including Russian or North Korean military provocations, non-state extremism, and even non-traditional threats such as pandemic diseases and climate change, all of which the Department of Defense (DoD) may rightly be called on to address. Yet the core mission of the DoD must be to deter, and if necessary, respond to, military aggression that threatens the United States, its interests, and its allies. China’s growing military power, combined with its economic might, presents the most complex deterrence problem facing the United States, and should therefore be the DoD’s top priority.

What a second Trump term would mean for the world

Thomas Wright

If Donald Trump defies the odds and wins a second term, the next four years will likely be more disruptive to U.S. foreign policy and world affairs than the past four have been. Think of his reelection as a pincer movement, an attack on the international order from two sides. Trump will consolidate his control over the institutions of government, bending them to his will, removing any lingering resistance from the Republican Party. Meanwhile, by confirming that the United States has rejected its traditional leadership role, a second Trump term would make a lasting impact on the world right when it is at a particularly vulnerable moment. U.S. alliances would likely crumble, the global economy would close, and democracy and human rights would be in rapid retreat.

Trump’s first term has had a clear narrative arc. He systematically purges his government of those who stand up to him and replaces them with loyalists who indulge his whims and worldview. If he is still president on January 21, Trump will feel utterly vindicated by a second unlikely victory—thinking that only he is truly in touch with the American people.

In a second term, Trump will insist on loyalty with every appointment, but two types of loyalists exist. The first is senior Republicans who are steadfastly loyal even if they personally disagree with Trump on certain issues, such as Russia or military intervention in the Middle East. These figures are cut from the mold of Mike Pompeo. They include Senators Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin. Trump may give these people senior positions, but they will not be free to contradict the president or to pursue their own agendas unless they temporarily align with Trump.

US Doomsday Planes Make Their Presence Felt As Trump Goes Into Quarantine

By Abhijnan Rej

Update: After the following piece was published, the Pentagon, in a statement about the President and the First Lady’s health and U.S. military readiness, noted: “With regard to reports about E-6B aircraft on alert status, US STRATCOM has confirmed these E-6B aircraft were part of pre-planned missions. Any timing to the president’s announcement was purely coincidental.” 

News early on Friday that U.S. President Donald Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus may or may not be the end of the world for his re-election prospects, but minutes before he tweeted out the news himself, two of America’s doomsday planes made themselves visible off its coasts.

Open-source intelligence aficionado Tim Hogan pointed out on Twitter that two E-6B Mercury aircraft were spotted, one at each coast, as the world grappled with the implications of the 74-year old president’s infection with a virus that has killed more than 200,000 Americans so far.

The E-6B Mercuries are operated by the U.S. Navy and serve as a crucial command, control and communications link between the National Command Authority — the president and the secretary of defense and their designated successors and alternatives who can order a military strike, including a nuclear attack – and nuclear missiles onboard SSBNs, but also land-based ICBMs through an airborne launch control system.

House report: U.S. intelligence agencies have failed to adapt to China threat

Zachary Basu

The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday released a report finding that the U.S. intelligence community has failed to adapt to the growing threat from China, arguing that it will struggle to compete on the global stage for decades to come if it does not implement major changes.

The big picture: The 200-page report, based on thousands of analytic assessments and hundreds of hours of interviews with intelligence officers, determined that the intelligence community's focus on counterterrorism after 9/11 allowed China "to transform itself into a nation potentially capable of supplanting the United States as the leading power in the world."

Key findings:

The Western consensus that China would choose to liberalize as its economy developed was "deeply misplaced," the report concludes, with the belief that democratic systems were "globally inevitable" causing policymakers to be blind to the Chinese Communist Party's "overriding objective of retaining and growing its power."

Britain says Huawei security failings pose long-term risk: govt report

By Jack Stubbs

LONDON (Reuters) - China’s Huawei Technologies has failed to convince British security officials that the security risks of using its products in UK national infrastructure can be adequately managed, according to a government report released on Thursday.

A government-led board that oversees the vetting of Huawei gear in Britain said continued problems with the company’s engineering and security practices meant it could only give “limited assurance” that all risks to UK networks could be sufficiently mitigated long-term.

The board – which includes officials from Britain’s GCHQ signals intelligence agency - said Huawei had only made limited progress addressing issues raised last year and it had no confidence in the company’s ability to complete a previously-announced cybersecurity overhaul.

The findings will increase pressure on Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecoms networking equipment, which has been besieged by repeated rounds of U.S. sanctions and allegations that its products can be used by Beijing for spying.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations and said on Thursday the British assessment showed equipment vulnerabilities were not a result of “Chinese state interference.”

The World’s Sustainable Development Goals Aren’t Sustainable

By Jason Hickel

In 2015, the world’s governments signed on to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a commitment to bring the global economy back into balance with the living world. Now, five years later, as the U.N. General Assembly convenes online to discuss the global ecological crisis, everyone wants to know how countries are performing.

To answer this question, delegates and policymakers have referred to a metric called the SDG Index, which was developed by Jeffrey Sachs “to assess where each country stands with regard to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.” The metric tells a very clear story. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, and Germany—along with most other rich Western nations—rise to the top of the rankings, giving casual observers the impression that these countries are real leaders in achieving sustainable development.

There’s only one problem. Despite its name, the SDG Index has very little to do with sustainable development all. In fact, oddly enough, the countries with the highest scores on this index are some of the most environmentally unsustainable countries in the world.

Take Sweden, for example. Sweden scores an impressive 84.7 on the index, topping the pack. But ecologists have long pointed out that Sweden’s “material footprint”—the quantity of natural resources that the country consumes each year—is one of the biggest in the world, right up there with the United States, at 32 metric tons per person. To put this in perspective, the global average is about 12 tons per person, and the sustainable level is about 7 tons per person. In other words, Sweden is consuming nearly five times over the boundary.

How to Trim the Defense Budget Without Harming U.S. Security


By Elbridge Colby, Mackenzie Eaglen, Roger Zakheim

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and its economic toll grows, politicians and observers on both sides of the U.S. political divide have called for cuts to the national security budget in order to free up funds for more pressing items. According to this logic, the defense budget is bloated, the federal deficit continues to climb, and the Department of Defense could, and should, do more with less.

Although preparing for the next pandemic is crucial, there is no justification for trading off security abroad for safety at home when both are necessary. Observers including independent Sen. Bernie Sanders have argued that domestic threats—such as pandemics—will become a greater security concern than foreign adversaries. That’s wishful thinking. A pandemic can’t make the United States’ security problems go away—in fact, it may make them worse. The country’s leaders can no longer evade or defer hard choices, and with a period of fiscal austerity on the horizon, there is no longer room for equivocating.

In these circumstances, step one is to reaffirm what the nation wants its military to achieve. Without any guiding strategy, hard budget choices become shots in the dark. Here, the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which identified great-power competition—above all with China—as the primary challenge to U.S. national security remains key to sustaining U.S. security, freedom, and prosperity.

US Army to upgrade bigger units with new electronic warfare gear

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — In what some observers might view as back to the future, the U.S. Army is altering the way it fights to keep up with sophisticated adversaries, which means shifting from the brigade-centered focus of the last decade to bringing the division and corps levels into the fold.

As a result, new capabilities are under development to increase range, fight deeper and bolster presence on the nonphysical battlefield, such as the electromagnetic spectrum.

Officials said a fight against a nation-state like Russia or China must begin at the corps level, where the focus is destroying high-priority systems to lay the groundwork for lower echelons. They added that the corps level must eliminate these targets first, passing them to the lower echelons to include division and brigade, which are both designed for a closer fight to move the enemy back.

“We have got to be able to see deep. If we don’t have the ability to sense at the corps level, really what we’re doing is we’re deferring that fight down to the brigade level,” Col. Clint Tracy, III Corps cyber and electromagnetic activities chief, said during a Sept. 29 virtual panel hosted by the Association of Old Crows. “If we build the other way up, from the brigades to corps … they may not necessarily be equipped without additional enablers to kill those things in the battlespace.”

Why Putin’s call for a US–Russia cyber reset will fall on deaf ears

Greg Austin, Alexander Stronell

Just how credible is Putin’s call for a US–Russia reset in the realm of ICT capabilities? Alexander Stronell and Greg Austin examine the motivations behind a new effort to advance Russia’s international agenda on cyber space.

Three days after calling for a ban on space weapons in a speech to the United Nations on 22 September, President Vladimir Putin has called for a ‘reset’ in the US–Russia cyber relationship including a commitment to ‘no first use’ of cyber weapons. He has little chance of a positive response on either proposal from the United States.

In his statement on cyber diplomacy, Putin proposed that Russia and the United States establish a ‘comprehensive programme of practical measures’ to achieve a reset in relations with regard to information/communication technologies. The statement identifies the risk of ‘large-scale confrontation in the digital domain’ as one of ‘the major risks of the modern era’.

It concludes by calling on Washington to allow the US–Russia expert dialogue to continue regardless of bilateral political disagreements. Putin seems to believe that such a programme could become a model for the world, potentially ‘building a global world in the information space’.

Anthony Fauci Has Some Very Good Reasons to Be Optimistic


IN AN ALTERNATE universe, where the WIRED25 event could safely have been held in person, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci would have been greeted like a rock star. A strange combination of A-list celebrity and level-headed grandfather, Fauci has gamely taken up the position of trusted voice amid the maelstrom of Covid disinformation, some of which has been perpetuated by our president. Given the persistent risk of in-person events, Fauci had to address his many fans by video. But in conversation with WIRED editor at large Steven Levy, his message was one of optimism—as long as people in the US can come together in taking sensible safety precautions.

But as is so often the case, he did have some cleanup work to do. Yesterday evening, during the presidential debate, Trump accused Fauci of vacillating on whether or not masks would be protective against transmission of the novel coronavirus. “That was an unusual experience, that debate,” Fauci said. “I must have said several tens of thousands of times the importance of wearing masks.” To emphasize his point, he gave himself a new moniker: “I’m the mask guy.”

And Mask Guy Fauci reiterated the importance of masks and other basic measures for slowing the spread of Covid as the country enters the winter flu season. Unless things change, Fauci said, we could be facing down a dangerous winter. “It’s a very challenging and serious situation, because the baseline of infections each day are stuck now at around 40,000,” he said. “I would have hoped that when we go into the fall season, we would have had a baseline that was really much, much lower than 40,000 cases.” It could get worse: “We’re seeing, in certain parts of the country, upticks in test positivity, which is generally a bad prognostic sign.”

U.S. Security Policy in the Trump Era


When President Donald Trump entered office under an “America First” banner, it seemed to herald a new era of U.S. isolationism. As he approaches the end of his first term, though, the shifts in America’s military engagements have been less dramatic than anticipated. Though their numbers are down, U.S. troops are still stationed in Afghanistan—for now. And instead of operating around a clear security strategy, Trump’s tenure has been marked by its unpredictability—dramatic reversals, erratic interventions and the fraying of long-standing alliances.

Trump’s isolationist instincts have come into regular tension with his closest advisers, many of whom espouse a more traditional view of American power projection. This was never clearer than in December 2018, when Trump ignored his aides and announced his decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, prompting then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other high-ranking officials to resign in protest. Trump subsequently softened his rhetoric, without definitively articulating a final policy, contributing to the sense of uncertainty over America’s security policymaking. The entire process was repeated in October 2019, only this time the decision triggered not resignations, but outrage among even Trump’s closest Republican supporters in Congress.

Meanwhile, Trump’s vision has not stopped his advisers from hinting at military intervention as a path to regime change in places like Venezuela and Iran. In the latter case, Trump subsequently made his opposition to war clear. Trump’s broader reluctance to commit U.S. forces to another major conflict in the Middle East played a part in the deescalation of tensions with Tehran in January, following the U.S. killing of a top Iranian military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and Iran’s retaliatory ballistic missile strike against U.S. forces stationed in Iraq.

The 2003 Battle of Baghdad : A Case Study of Urban Battle during Large-Scale Combat Operations

Maj. Nicolas Fiore, U.S. Army

History instructs that for a variety of reasons, cities have always been targets for attack by adversaries.

—Gen. Donn A. Starry

Cities have been the dominant focus of military operations for most of human history, and a fundamental purpose of armies has been defending or attacking cities. Attacking defended cities has been one of the most difficult and potentially costly military operations. … Unfortunately, although strategists have advised against it and armies and generals have preferred not to, the nature of war has required armies to attack and defend cities, and victory has required that they do it well.

—Lt. Col. Louis DiMarco

The 2017 National Security Strategy and the U.S. Army’s updated Field Manual 3-0, Operations, formally reintroduced the context in which the U.S. Army anticipates large-scale combat operations (LSCO) against a peer adversary to seize or defend a major city in order to control its globally connected, regionally dominant concentrations of power, people, and resources.1 Large cities may constitute essential LSCO campaign objectives in a limited war to liberate friendly populations, threaten an adversary’s control of its own state, or dislocate an adversary who finds urban battlefields attractive as part of a cost-imposing strategy to deter U.S. land forces and disrupt U.S. joint fires.2 Although the scope of LSCO does not include battle for a megacity, a U.S. joint task force (JTF) could campaign to control the capital of a buffer state.3 Buffer states are often organized around one dominant, globally connected large city that contains the only operationally convenient infrastructure for joint logistics (see figure 1 for a map of potential LSCO campaign urban objectives).4

RANSOMWARE GUIDE


On September 30, 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center released a joint Ransomware Guide, which is a customer centered, one-stop resource with best practices and ways to prevent, protect and/or respond to a ransomware attack. CISA and MS-ISAC are distributing this guide to inform and enhance network defense and reduce exposure to a ransomware attack:

This Ransomware Guide includes two resources:
Part 1: Ransomware Prevention Best Practices
Part 2: Ransomware Response Checklist

CISA, MS-ISAC Release Ransomware Protection and Response Guide

BY: Katie Malone

A two-part ransomware guide released yesterday by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) directs cyber professionals on how to protect against and respond to attack.

CISA and MS-ISAC intend for the new ransomware guide to encompass the field’s best practices for handling ransomware all in one place. The agencies explained that while there are many products and resources available for professionals to reference, it’s difficult for to find an all-encompassing source of information.

“The collaborative and consistent engagement with our industry and government partners support our concerted efforts to offer trusted, proactive and timely resources and services,” Bryan Ware, CISA’s assistant director for cybersecurity, said. “This guide is based on operational insight from CISA and MS-ISAC and our engagements with varied sector partners.”

The guide emphasizes that any organization is vulnerable to the possibility of a ransomware attack. By backing up sensitive data, training employees, and patching systems promptly, IT personnel can soften the blow of a successful attack. In the guide, CISA and MS-ISAC walk organizations through how to identify critical data to ensure its properly protected.

British Army to become force of ‘boots and bots’: CGS

Harry Lye

Delivering a briefing ahead of the upcoming integrated review into defence, security and foreign policy British Army Chief of the General Staff (CGS) General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith said the future of the army would be “about the integration of ‘boots and bots’, of proxies and pixels, of the conventional and unconventional”.

Carleton-Smith told reporters that while he did not want to ‘prejudge’ the results of the Integrated Review, his vision for the British Army: “Will be about the integration of ‘boots and bots’, of proxies and pixels, of the conventional and unconventional. An Army which is fit for the demands of the digital age: more lethal, more agile and more expeditionary, more of the time.”

He added that moving forward the British Army is set to be more forward deployed alongside the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force (RAF), as well as other government departments and the private sector.

Carleton-Smith explained: “These will provide ‘lily pads’ to enable understanding, change narratives, provide reassurance to allies and deterrence for adversaries and to secure economic interests for the promotion of shared prosperity.