9 November 2020

Is the Naval Blockade of the Straits of Malacca a Realistic Option for India: An Assessment

Major General PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


The Straits of Malacca is the shortest sea route between Persian Gulf suppliers of oil and key Asian markets. It links major economies such as Middle East, China, Japan, South Korea, etc. Being the 500 nautical mile funneled waterway, the Strait is only 1.5 nautical miles (2.8 km) wide at its narrowest point─ the Phillips Channel in the Singapore Strait. The Strait is not deep enough to accommodate some of the largest ships, mostly oil tankers, but it is significant as through the South China Sea it connects the Indian Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. Very often, the blockade of the Straits of Malacca for disruption of Chinese energy sources and trade is being offered as a possible Indian strategic deterrence option against China in a conflict scenario. 1 With hardly any other deterrence Continue Reading

Pompeo-Modi Meeting Latest Example of India’s Pivot toward Washington

By Duncan Bartlett

If India fights a war, it will do so armed with weapons it has bought from Russia, the United States, and Israel.

The country already has a formidable armory – including approximately 150 nuclear warheads – and this year, despite the recession caused by coronavirus, it has significantly raised the amount it spends on arms. Following a clash with China on the Himalayan border in June, which led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers, defense minister Rajnath Singh persuaded parliament to endorse an emergency budget.

However, the policy of a close convergence with the United States, based around defense, was evident long before the last border clash with China, or the COVID-19 pandemic.

When President Trump visited the Indian state of Gujarat at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February 2020, he addressed a huge and friendly crowd: “As we continue to build our defense cooperation, the United States looks forward to providing India with some of the best and most feared military equipment on the planet. We make the greatest weapons ever made: airplanes, missiles, rockets, ships. We make the best of it. And we’re dealing now with India.”

Just a week ahead of the November US presidential election, two of Trump’s closest aides carried his messages of support to India on a trip to New Delhi. Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, hailed what they described as a “significant milestone” as India and the United States signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, or BECA. The agreement enables the nations to share geospatial intelligence gathered from satellites and other sources.

India Would Have Counted the Votes Already

By Barkha Dutt

NEW DELHI—In India there are many reasons to feel gobsmacked by the U.S. elections. That tens of millions of Americans would vote a second time around for a racist, sexist, lying, and deluded president is just one of them. More curiously, how is it that the world’s oldest democracy, and the largest economy, finds it so difficult to conduct an election?

In 2019, the last year India conducted a national election, more than 614 million citizens cast their votes. By comparison, only about one-fourth as many Americans will have cast their vote in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. But if this were an Indian election, by now not only would the authorities have finished counting votes, the winning party would also have been distributing celebratory sweets to party cadres, journalists, and opponents alike.

Yes, our voting can sometimes be spread over a few weeks. This is mostly because of the sheer scale of our democratic process and the need to ensure security. But our counting of ballots is fast, seamless, and rarely disputed; our results are announced within a few hours on counting day.

This can’t just be because of the difference between paper ballots and electronic voting machines, which India mostly uses. With the different rules across U.S. states on how late ballots can be counted past Election Day, plus a sitting president who declared victory while millions of votes were still being counted, the United States has come across to the world as almost amateurish in some of its fumbles and stumbles. And now the result, delayed as it is, could head toward a recount and potential litigation.

The Unthinkable: Could Taiwan Stand Up to China Alone?

by Daniel L. Davis 

Here's What You Need To Remember: Policymakers in the U.S. often assume that America's security commitment to Taiwan will be enough to prevent a military invasion. For several reasons, that might not be the case.

There has long been heated debate over whether the United States should defend Taiwan in the case of a Chinese invasion, but little consideration to whether it successfully can. An unemotional assessment of the military capabilities of both China and the United States reveals the odds are uncomfortably high that the U.S. forces would be defeated in a war with China over Taiwan. What’s worse, even achieving a tactical victory could result in a devastating strategic loss. That’s not to say, however, that there aren’t alternative strategies to effectively preserve U.S. interests and at an affordable cost. 

Few leaders in “establishment Washington” have taken the time to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the capabilities of the U.S. Armed Forces and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Instead, decisionmakers routinely engage in seemingly cost-free rhetorical declarations about U.S. political preferences devoid of context. Policymakers have long argued to jettison the idea of “strategic ambiguity” that has underscored decades of America’s Asia policy, and outright declare that the United States would militarily defend Taiwan in the event of an attack. 

Former Pentagon official Joseph Bosco reflected the desire of many this summer when he argued that Congress should pass the Taiwan Defense Act because “it will move U.S. policy just one step short of an open defense commitment to Taiwan.” 

China Is Winning the Vaccine Race

By Eyck Freymann and Justin Stebbing

In 2020, China bungled its initial response to COVID-19. As a result, the disease spread around the world, crippling economies, killing more than 1.2 million people, and badly damaging Beijing’s image. In 2021, China plans to redeem itself by vaccinating a large chunk of the global population. Although it faces stiff competition from the United States and other Western nations in the race to develop the first vaccine, Beijing is poised to dominate the distribution of vaccines to the developing world—and to reap the strategic benefits of doing so.

Worldwide, 11 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are currently in phase three trials, the final stage before regulatory approval. Four are Chinese. The most promising of these, developed by Wuhan-based Sinopharm, is already being given to frontline workers in the United Arab Emirates. According to Wu Guizhen, chief biosafety expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Sinopharm’s candidate is on track for full approval this month or next.

Leading American vaccine candidates from Moderna and Pfizer could be approved on a similar timeline. But the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has no plan to compete with China to distribute vaccines to the more than half of humanity that lives in the developing world. The United States has declined to participate in a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative to deliver two billion vaccine doses to at-risk populations in developing countries, and it has not extended financing to or signed preferential vaccine distribution deals with such countries, as China has done. The U.S. approach to vaccine development and distribution, as to so much else during this administration, has been “America first.” By ceding the public health field to China, the United States will allow Beijing to recast itself not just as a global leader in vaccine development and distribution but as the savior of the developing world.

Can the world stop China's surge into biological warfare?

By Jed Babbin


Civilized nations are bound to obey the law of war embodied in the Geneva Conventions. The Conventions outlaw acts such as the intentional targeting of civilian populations and the creation and stockpiling of biological weapons. Despite those obligations, China is evidently eager to violate the Conventions because of opportunities presented by the advance of medical science. 

At least since the 2002 publication of “Unrestricted Warfare,” a book by two People’s Liberation Army (PLA) colonels, Chinese military thinking has extended the concept of a battlefield to every aspect of military and civilian existence. The unlimited “battlefield” now means that China intends to include biological warfare among the most significant means of fighting a war. 

From several news reports beginning in 2019 we know of a 2010 book called, “War for Biological Dominance,” by a professor at China’s Third Military Medical University, which emphasized the use of biological warfare. The theoretical basis continued in a 2015 essay by Gen. He Fuchu (then-president of China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences) in which he argued that biotechnology will become the new “strategic commanding heights” of national defense, from biomaterials to “brain control” weapons. 

Theory was made into doctrine in the 2017 edition of a PLA National Defense University textbook which debuted a section about biology as a domain of military struggle, mentioning the potential for new kinds of biological warfare to include “specific ethnic genetic attacks.” 

China-US rivalry: Beijing banking on ‘disruptive technologies’ for a military edge, observers say

Kristin Huang and Liu Zhen 

China’s plans to develop “disruptive” technologies could be key to it closing the gap or even overtaking its arch-rival the United States in the military field, analysts say.

Beijing published its latest blueprint for the nation’s development, known as a five-year plan, on Tuesday. The document, which spans the period from 2021-25, was adopted at a plenary session of the Communist Party Central Committee last week.

For the first time, the document used the term “disruptive technologies” with regards to its military development. Its predecessor, for 2015-20, focused on civil-military fusion and the modernisation of combat forces.

Among other things, the new plan seeks to “accelerate the modernisation of weapons and equipment, focus on indigenous innovation in national defence science, accelerate the development of strategic forward-looking disruptive technologies, and accelerate the upgrading of weapons and equipment”.

Military observers said the disruptive technologies – those that fundamentally change the status quo – might include such things as sixth-generation fighters, high-energy weapons like laser and rail guns, quantum radar and communications systems, new stealth materials, autonomous combat robots, orbital spacecraft, and biological technologies such as prosthetics and powered exoskeletons.

How the next five-year plan will change China: blueprint for nation's development explained

China’s government has released full details of proposals for the country’s social and economic policies for the next five years.

A communiqué published by the state-run news agency Xinhua follows a meeting last week of senior members of the Communist Party to discuss the next five-year plan.

The proposals include:


Speeding up reforms of the financial system and improving the way it serves China’s economy.

Developing an open, transparent and healthy capital market. Continue reforms of the system for issuing and trading stocks and bonds. Ensure the renminbi steadily achieves capital account convertibility. 

Join the IMF’s basket of reserve currencies and make it become an exchangeable and freely usable currency. 


Strengthen ideological and cultural initiatives online. Cultivate a positive culture on the internet and “cleanse” its environment.

China military watch

Charlie Lyons Jones and Malcolm Davis

The RAND Corporation put out a fascinating study on the operational concepts that are supposed to guide the People’s Liberation Army in combat. The report begins with a detailed explanation of how the PLA produces its doctrine. The process starts with the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘military guiding theory’, which draws upon the writings of Karl Marx as well as China’s leadership from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping.

After the CCP develops its theory of warfare, the Central Military Commission develops the PLA’s ‘strategic guiding principles’ and ‘military strategy’, which provide key ideas for force development such as ‘active defence’. Once these force development principles have been outlined, the Central Military Commission and the Academy of Military Sciences develop operational concepts and doctrine that provide guidance on how the PLA is supposed to fight.

At a lower level, the PLA’s official media outlets feed into the development of operational concepts and doctrine for the wider military. Writing in the People’s Liberation Army Daily, Tang Jiaming provides insights into how the PLA seeks to secure a tactical advantage over its adversaries in high-intensity conflict. The article, titled ‘How to strike the enemy unprepared in informationised warfare’, identifies a number of ways in which the PLA could achieve dominance in an information-dense future battlespace.

First, Tang explains, the PLA will need superior intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that can secure a decision-making advantage and leave enemy forces uncertain. He writes that ‘combat operations can be seen as part of an interrelated cycle of four constituent components, [namely] detection, judgement, decision, action. Whichever side can complete this cycle the fastest in a confrontation can strip the enemy of reaction time, thereby gaining an operational advantage.’ Sound decision-making, at speed, is thus seen as the key to the PLA’s success.

How China and the US Threaten the World Trading System

By Yukon Huang and Jeremy Smith

Over decades, trade transformed China into a major economic power with extensive commercial links throughout the world. By 2012, China had become the largest trading partner of 124 countries, well exceeding the comparable figure of 76 for the United States. But as trade remade China, in the process China also remade world trade. It began with China’s emergence as the center of global supply chains, then again with its massive infrastructure program that drove global demand for commodities like iron ore, copper and coal, and most recently by Beijing seeking new export markets outside and within Asia in response to the U.S. trade war

China’s rise was made possible by its integration into a rules-based international system. Competitive pressures and sensitivities, however, strained relations with many of its key trading partners, especially when Beijing used its economic leverage for strategic interventions throughout Asia and selectively in Europe, Africa and Latin America. Yet China is not alone in using its economic clout for political purposes; the United States, too, has levied sanctions on countries like Iran and Venezuela and used punitive trade measures against China and other nations. Though their interventions differ in nature, the global trading system is ironically now being undermined by the coercive actions of its principal creator­ and its major beneficiary.

Karabakh War An Increasingly Serious Policy Challenge For Iran – Analysis

By Paul Goble and The Jamestown Foundation

Though Iran professes neutrality in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, calls for an immediate ceasefire, and offers to mediate between the warring sides (see EDM, October 21), Tehran’s political elite is sharply split on how to respond to the fighting in the South Caucasus. Their diverging approaches are driven by both foreign and domestic considerations. On the one hand, Iran is deeply worried about the growing influence of Turkey and Israel, two of its traditional foes in the region. And on the other hand, it is concerned that Azerbaijan’s advance may lead some of the around 20 million ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran to shift their loyalties away from Tehran and toward Baku. For now, this is an unlikely development to be sure. But it is one that, nonetheless, inspires fear within the Iranian government and lies behind much of what the Islamic Republic has been doing amidst the fighting on its northwestern border.

“Officially,” Nikita Smagin of the Moscow-based Russian Council of International Affairs writes, “Tehran recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan; but in reality, each new sharpening of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict shows that Iran wants only one thing—that the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh not enter a sharper phase” and thus pull in outside powers, including, quite possibly, itself (Profile.ru, October 28). The Iranian government is not ready to “choose sides,” the expert says; but it finds itself pushed and pulled in various directions, with these motivations increasingly exacerbated by domestic concerns.

Iran has had good relations with Armenia since the latter acquired independence in 1991. The ethnic-Armenian minority in Iran is small—only about 150,000—and has given no signs of interest in pursuit of autonomy or closer ties with Yerevan. The country’s ties with Azerbaijan, in contrast, have reflected “mutual phobias,” Smagin says. Baku, proud of its secular state, has feared the spread of Islamic influence from Iran given that more than two-thirds of Azerbaijanis north of the Arax River are Shiites, like most of the population in Iran. And Tehran has always been nervous about the personal loyalties of the millions of ethnic Azerbaijanis inside Iran (Profile.ru, October 28). Those fears have only been exacerbated in recent weeks by the response of Azerbaijani-Iranians to Baku’s military victories (see EDM, October 22).

Europe Is Losing Patience With Erdogan’s Islamist Rhetoric

Frida Ghitis

As a terrorist attack was unfolding late Monday night in Vienna, where four people were killed and 22 others injured in a shooting rampage on crowded bars, speculation about the culprit, unsurprisingly, was rife on social media. Many of those offering theories were quick to accuse Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of stoking the rage of militant Islamists. There is no indication that the attacker—a young extremist who it turned out had previously been convicted in Austria for trying to join the Islamic State—was motivated by Erdogan, as Austrian authorities have pointed to his ISIS sympathies and the Islamic State’s subsequent claims of responsibility for the attack. But the immediate suspicions that Turkey’s leader was indirectly responsible reflect anger in Europe at Erdogan’s response to recent jihadist attacks on the continent.

Erdogan, in keeping with a well-worn pattern, has deliberately made himself a lightning rod, trying to benefit from the tensions within Europe over Islam by claiming he is the defender of all Muslims. In doing so, he is inflaming Turkey’s already fraught relations with its fellow NATO members and adding to his unpopularity among many Europeans. Erdogan is also paradoxically making the position of Turkish immigrants living in countries like Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe more difficult, as they are increasingly seen there as potential weapons for Erdogan in his political battle against the West. Erdogan has already tried to do this elsewhere in Europe. As I pointed out in a column in 2017, Erdogan inserted himself into parliamentary elections in the Netherlands that year, sending his foreign minister to hold a campaign rally against the wishes of the Dutch government and openly seeking to influence voters of Turkish descent.

But the epicenter of these tensions lies in the relationship between Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron, who has responded forcefully—some argue too forcefully—to recent terrorist attacks in France. Bilateral relations between Turkey and France, already on shaky ground before, are now at the breaking point.

How the Iranian Government Shut Off the Internet

AMID WIDESPREAD DEMONSTRATIONS over rising gasoline prices, Iranians began experiencing internet slowdowns over the past few days that became a near-total internet and mobile data blackout on Saturday. The government is apparently seeking to silence protesters and quell unrest. So how does a country like Iran switch off internet access to a population of more than 80 million? It's not an easy thing to do.

Though some countries, namely China, architected their internet infrastructure from the start with government control in mind, most don't have a central set of levers they can pull to influence countrywide access to content or connectivity. But regimes around the world, including those in Russia and Iran, have increasingly been retrofitting traditional private and decentralized networks with cooperation agreements, technical implants, or a combination to give officials more influence. In countries like Ethiopia, Venezuela, and Iraq, along with disputed regions like Kashmir, government-led social media blocking and more extensive outages have become the norm.

“This is the most wide-scale internet shutdown that we’ve seen in Iran,” says Adrian Shahbaz, research director at the pro-democracy group Freedom House, which tracks internet censorship and restriction worldwide. “It’s surprising to see the Iranian authorities block all internet connections rather than only international internet connections, because the latter is a tactic that they’ve used in the past. It could mean they are more fearful of their own people and worry that they cannot control the information space amidst these economic protests.”

How the European Union Should Tackle Turkey’s Hostility


When dealing with Turkey in recent years, puzzled European governments have often oscillated between countering Ankara’s animosity and showing openness to dialogue.

It is now beyond doubt that the trajectory chosen by Turkey’s leaders is going against the interests and values of the EU in a host of different ways.

Rule of law is being systematically destroyed. An absurd economic policy is weakening a large partner country and jeopardizing the stock of European investment. Turkey’s relations with its neighbors have sharply deteriorated, and the EU’s calls for dialogue remain unheeded.

The path to a comprehensive agreement on Cyprus has been closed by the Turkish president, who has said he favors a two-state solution for the island, which has been divided since 1974.

Ankara’s defense choices have played in favor of Russia, not NATO. Foreign policy has been militarized and become unpredictable. The intervention in Libya has created risks for European interests and could destabilize countries in the Sahel. Refugees have been weaponized, as seen in February 2020 at the land border with Greece.

In addition, the permanent narrative against a supposedly Islamophobic Europe is utterly ambiguous and seen more as a political instrument than anything akin to religious concerns. For example, Turkey long waged a massive campaign against Beijing’s repression of Uighurs, a Muslim minority in Western China, only to cancel it entirely when a few billion dollars of Chinese help was at stake.

How To Maintain Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge

Jacob Nagel, Jonathan Schanzer

The Arab-Israel conflict appears to be waning. Three Arab countries—the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Sudan—recently announced normalization agreements with Israel. More (Oman, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait and other African or Asian states) may soon follow. This suggest that Israel, an embattled country since its founding in 1948, is safer. But the reality is more complicated.

One key to Israel’s survival can be summed up in the acronym “QME,” or “Qualitative Military Edge.” The concept is enshrined in American law: Israel must have qualitatively better weapons than its neighbors. In recent years, after many Middle East states went on weapons-shopping sprees, Israel has also scrutinized the impact of quantity, yielding a new acronym: “QQME” (“Qualitative and Quantitative Military Edge”).

No matter how one assesses it, that edge could soon be imperiled. The United States is tempted to sell advanced weapons systems to Israel’s new Arab partners. In particular, the UAE would like to purchase F-35 stealth multirole aircraft.

The urge to sell, given the clear economic benefits for America, is great. After all, the UAE has deep pockets, and COVID-19 has thrust America’s economy into protracted uncertainty. The sale of big-ticket items could be a real boon. Moreover, positioning the F-35 so close to Iran could serve as an important deterrent. It also wouldn’t hurt to demonstrate to the people of the UAE the tangible benefits of peace-making with Israel.

Not so fast. History is replete with examples of Middle East arms sales gone wrong. The country of Iran, before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the current radical regime to power, was the beneficiary of many American military deals. The Iranian air force today is comprised largely of (antiquated) American F-4 Phantom jet fighters. In 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood regime that took power in Egypt nearly turned a fleet of F-16s into enemy aircraft. And America recently dodged a bullet with the government in Turkey, which was a partner in the F-35 program. After Ankara purchased the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system—raising significant concerns about interoperability with U.S. systems—Congress cut Turkey from the program.

For the U.S. and its allies, hypersonic weapons are more than a counterbalance to Russia and China.

by Dan Goure

Winning the race to deploy hypersonic weapons will be one of the most important achievements in U.S. national security of the 21st Century. This is why the former Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Dr. Michael Griffin, called hypersonics his number one priority in 2018. With the appropriate enablers, particularly sophisticated ISR and targeting, these weapons could radically alter the character and pace of modern warfare.

For the U.S. and its allies, hypersonic weapons are more than a counterbalance to Russia and China. They hold out the prospect for fundamentally undermining competitors’ massive investments in so-called anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. The Department of Defense has put together a well-thought-out and -funded program to provide all Services with hypersonic weapons. Equally important, the aerospace and defense industries of the U.S. and several allies are demonstrating the technical expertise and innovative approaches that are likely to make hypersonic weapons a near-term reality.

Because hypersonic weapons are still so new, it is worth explaining what they are and how they differ from traditional ballistic and cruise missiles. Hypersonic weapons fly at least five times the speed of sound but retain the capability to maneuver in the atmosphere. There are two basic varieties of hypersonic weapons.

First, a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle (HGV) is launched aboard a ballistic missile into the upper atmosphere, at which point it is deployed. The HGV then uses the ballistic missile's speed to skip along the upper layers of the atmosphere with much greater maneuverability than traditional warheads.

Securing the final frontier: Digital twins, satellites and cybersecurity

Kevin Coggins

The United States and our allies are increasingly dependent on unfettered access to space. However, it has become abundantly clear that our space systems have significant cybersecurity vulnerabilities that our adversaries are eager to exploit.

Earlier this year, William Akoto wrote about the growing constellations of satellites operated by private industry, led by SpaceX, Blue Origin and others: “If hackers were to take control of these satellites, the consequences could be dire. On the mundane end of scale, hackers could simply shut satellites down, denying access to their services. Hackers could also jam or spoof the signals from satellites, creating havoc for critical infrastructure. This includes electric grids, water networks and transportation systems.”

Space Policy Directive 5, recently issued by the White House, notes that “cybersecurity principles and practices that apply to terrestrial systems also apply to space systems” and that we must integrate these principles and practices into every phase of the space system life cycle.

SPD-5 is charting the right course toward assuring our cybersecurity in the space domain. This article highlights the unique vulnerabilities of space systems and how innovative solutions like “digital twins” can help us protect systems in orbit today and design more secure ones for the future.

Promote and Build: A Strategic Approach to Digital Authoritarianism

Erol Yayboke, Samuel Brannen

The Issue

Digital authoritarianism presents overlapping and expanding challenges within autocracies and democracies. The ever evolving tools and techniques of digital authoritarianism transcend boundaries and have over the past decade advanced the interests of authoritarian states while subverting human rights, democratic principles, and more. A new strategic approach is needed to address this broad challenge set. It should be grounded in fundamental principles and framed around promoting resilience while building affirmative alternatives, then executed across the U.S. government and multilateral system.

Digital Authoritarianism on the Rise

As the world turns its eyes to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, many are wondering what role Russia, China, and others may play and how both external and internal actors will use digital technologies and applications as disruptive tools. Misinformation and disinformation may get the most attention (especially during an election year), but they are far from the only digital tools authoritarians use to repress, disrupt, and spar with strategic competitors.

The growing threat of digital authoritarianism is well understood in Washington and other capitals around the world. The problem has been exquisitely documented, described, and diagnosed. And yet the trend is not only continuing, it is accelerating within virtually every nation on Earth. Digital authoritarianism presents overlapping and expanding challenges (1) within autocracies, (2) as tools to undermine adversaries, (3) via export to like-minded regimes, and (4) within and by democracies themselves.

Jot Down Your Thoughts With These Great Note-Taking Apps

YOU’VE GOT IT! That genius epiphany, that brilliant screenplay idea, that jolt of terror that you’ll forget to pick up the dry cleaning. It’s come to you in a flash, and you need to jot it down now before this ephemeral whiff of remembrance floats out of your brain forever. So you pull out your phone (obviously, no one carries a pen and paper anymore) and start swiping through your apps. But the note-taking app you've been using is so cluttered and unorganized that your wonderful idea vanishes into the void, following all the other half-formed notions before it.

What you need is a great notes app, one that makes it easy to organize all the disparate thought-ingots in your life. Every app in this list covers the essentials. You can use these options to jot down quick ideas, make checklists, set reminder notifications, or incorporate drawings and images. Beyond that, they each have a few unique features that fulfill specific needs. There isn’t any single "best app" for taking notes. But out of all the options, these are the best we’ve used.

Will the Army change the size of the infantry squad? A new study is looking at it.

Todd South

The Army is conducting a study to determine whether it should change the size of its infantry squads as it adds “Next Generation” technology to the force’s elemental fighting unit.

Col. Alexis Rivera Espada, head of the Army’s Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning, Georgia, referenced the “squad study” Thursday during a presentation at the National Defense Industrial Association’s virtual Armaments, Robotics and Munitions annual event. The study commenced this year and will include experimentation in force on force events next year.

The colonel called the study, directed by Army Headquarters, the first of its kind in decades.

In recent years, the Marine Corps ran its own series of infantry squad experiments, eventually shifting its size from 13, which had been in place for decades, to 15.

The 15-Marine squad adds a squad systems operator to take on the new array of small drones and coming ground robots available to the unit. The other add-on was an assistant squad leader to better manage coordinating fires and the flood of information coming to the squad.

The Army has held infantry squads in nine-soldier formations for decades, preferring to keep the company as a base of maneuver for its dismounted troops, meaning the smaller squads were simply components of that larger group.


Ashley Franz Holzmann, Assad Raza, Travis D. Johnson and Robert K. Kava 

“We are in a war of ideas.” This is how Murray Dyer, in 1959, described the standoff between the United States and its allies and their Soviet-led adversaries. While some of those adversaries have changed, the war of ideas and the weaponization of information in both times of peace and times of war remain—and have continued to evolve.

The term “information warfare” has become an inseparable component of both the operating concept of Multi-Domain Operations and the more general large-scale combat operations that the US military is increasingly preparing for—as the United States enters a new period of great power competition. The term itself predates the period, appearing increasingly in the early 1990s. Its widespread usage since then speaks to the need for the United States to more readily acknowledge the current threat environment. That acknowledgement must also include lessons learned from the recent conflicts—among which are the importance of flat organizations, Red Team concepts integrated into small teams, and a little-known entity called the special operations forces effects cell.

Special operations forces (SOF) organizations throughout the Army have learned lessons that could benefit the US military’s shift toward Multi-Domain Operations and leverage information warfare capabilities. The Army’s Civil Affairs (CA) Regiment has discussed the need for additional knowledge-management tools, and the Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Regiment has established sections to begin addressing the requirements for continuity, achievable effects, and conflict within the information environment that may be further operationalized and empowered.

March of the Generals: In World War II, America’s Military Leaders Saved the World

Here's What You Need To Remember: Nearly 1,100 U.S. Army generals served at some point during World War II, and of those about 40 died during or immediately following the war. Not all were in combat units, and some were not in enemy territory when they died.

General George S. Patton, Jr., once said, “An army is like a piece of cooked spaghetti. You can’t push it, you have to pull it after you.” He was referring to commanders being leaders as he had little use for commanders that were not out in front of their units. This attitude was the norm in the U.S. military in World War II, and the amazement is not that a few dozen general officers were lost, but that U.S. armed forces did not lose more!

Leaders being out front or is not a unique military concept, nor exclusively that of the United States. Since the earliest days of recorded warfare, the good leaders have always been at the forefront of battle.

Some nations have a unique concept of control over military leadership. This was especially evident in the Soviet Union in the years before the onset of World War II. During the war, Hitler not only directed military battles, but controlled the general officer corps to an incredible, and as it turned out, disastrous degree.

Russia and Germany Both Hard Up for Officers

How the Army plans to revolutionize tanks with artificial intelligence

Nathan Strout

Even as the U.S. Army attempts to integrate cutting edge technologies into its operations, many of its platforms remain fundamentally in the 20th century.

Take tanks, for example.

The way tank crews operate their machine has gone essentially unchanged over the last 40 years. At a time when the military is enamored with robotics, artificial intelligence and next generation networks, operating a tank relies entirely on manual inputs from highly trained operators.

“Currently, tank crews use a very manual process to detect, identify and engage targets,” explained Abrams Master Gunner Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Harris. “Tank commanders and gunners are manually slewing, trying to detect targets using their sensors. Once they come across a target they have to manually select the ammunition that they’re going to use to service that target, lase the target to get an accurate range to it, and a few other factors.”

The process has to be repeated for each target.

“That can take time,” he added. “Everything is done manually still.”

On the 21st century battlefield, it’s an anachronism.

The FBI Says ‘Boogaloo’ Extremists Bought 3D-Printed Machine Gun Parts

SINCE THE FIRST 3D-printed gun was fired more than seven years ago, the technique has loomed as a potential tool to arm individuals with lethal weapons they couldn't otherwise legally obtain. Now criminal charges against one West Virginia man suggest that the digital gunsmithing method has been adopted by violent, anti-government domestic extremists: the Boogaloo movement.

A criminal complaint filed last week accuses Timothy Watson, a resident of Ranson, West Virginia, of selling more than 600 3D-printed plastic components of automatic rifles through his website, Portablewallhanger.com. The FBI says Watson attempted to disguise the devices as wall hooks for keys or coats. Remove an extraneous bracket from the "wall hooks," and the remaining small plastic piece functions perfectly as a "drop-in auto sear," a simple but precisely shaped rifle part that can convert a legal AR-15 into an illegal, fully automatic machine gun. Those simple components have been banned in the US—aside from rare, grandfathered-in automatic rifle registration—for more than 20 years.

According to the FBI, Watson's customers included multiple members of the Boogaloo movement, a heavily armed extremist anti-government group whose adherents have allegedly wounded and killed multiple law enforcement officials in incidents across the US. The so-called Boogaloo Boys have aimed to incite violence amidst racial justice protests like those that followed the police killing of George Floyd, reportedly in an effort to start a civil war they call the Boogaloo. The FBI alleges that one of the recipients of Watson's 3D-printed auto sears, a California man named Steven Carrillo, is likely the same man accused of shooting members of the Santa Cruz police department and two Oakland courthouse security guards in May and June of this year, killing one guard and one police officer.



The idea of nuclear war became unimaginable almost overnight when the United States and Soviet Union tested the first hydrogen bombs in the early 1950s. But for President Dwight Eisenhower, preventing nuclear war meant convincing everyone that you weren’t afraid to fight one. Was Eisenhower playing with fire – or taking the only sensible path? This episode explores the challenges and contradictions of nuclear deterrence. Usha examines the strategy of “massive retaliation,” the challenge of defending America’s European allies, and Eisenhower’s nuclear threats against Khrushchev, asking the question at the heart of nuclear history: Did nuclear weapons make the world safer or more dangerous? Figuring out the answer is more complicated than you might think.