30 November 2020

India-Pakistan: JeM Intensifying Efforts – Analysis

By Ajit Kumar Singh*

Four Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists were killed in an encounter with the Security Forces (SFs) on November 19, 2020, at Nagrota in Jammu District, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Senior Superintendent of Police, Jammu District, Shridhar Patil stated, “Around 5 am some terrorists opened fire at security forces near Ban Toll Plaza in Nagrota area. They were hiding in a vehicle”. Two SF personnel suffered injuries in the operation. However, the driver fled from the spot as security personnel approached the vehicle. A large consignment of arms and ammunition, including six AK-56 rifles, five AK-47 rifles, three pistols, 16 AK magazines, a packet of RDX, 20 Chinese hand grenades, six UBGL grenades and 20 kilograms of explosive were recovered from the encounter site.

Investigations so far have revealed that the terrorists trained in ‘commando warfare’ walked nearly 30 kilometers from the JeM camp at Shakargah in Pakistan to the Samba (Jammu and Kashmir) border and then to the ‘pick-up’ point at Jatwal. There then boarded a truck (JK01AL 1055) between 2.30 and 3 am [IST] in the night and were seen crossing the Sarore toll plaza towards Jammu at 3.44 AM. The truck then moved towards Kashmir, using the Narwal bypass route. The SFs intercepted the truck around 4.45 AM at the Ban toll plaza in the Nagrota area.

Afghanistan: A Pervasive Darkness – Analysis

By S. Binodkumar Singh*

On November 21, 2020, eight civilians were killed and another 31 were injured in a series of rocket attacks in Kabul city. The Interior Affairs Ministry said 23 rockets were fired on different parts of Kabul.

On November 18, 2020, seven civilians were killed and six were injured in a Taliban mortar attack in the Taloka area in Kunduz city (Kunduz Province).

On November 10, 2020 the Taliban shot and killed three civilians while they were praying in a mosque in the Faizabad District of Jowzjan Province. On the same day, a mortar fired by the Taliban landed in a house in Zari District, Kandahar Province, killing four women.

On November 8, 2020, eight civilians were killed and seven were injured after three mortars fired by Taliban hit residential houses in the Naw Abad area in Ghazni city.

Will Joe Biden Push Iran and Pakistan Closer Together?

by Rupert Stone

Shortly after Joe Biden’s win in the U.S. presidential election, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif traveled to Islamabad for two days of talks. Political ties between Iran and Pakistan are warm, but their relationship has grossly underperformed in the economic and security domains.

That is partly owing to Donald Trump, who withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018 and reimposed draconian sanctions, while adding a raft of new penalties relating to terrorism and human rights. But Trump will soon be gone, and his replacement, Joe Biden, has vowed to re-enter the JCPOA.

Zarif and his Pakistani counterpart discussed ways to expand trade and economic cooperation. In theory, sanctions relief resulting from a revived JCPOA could help to realize their goals. But there is reason to doubt that Iran-Pakistan relations will significantly improve during Biden’s presidency.

Islamic State Khorasan Province’s Peshawar Seminary Attack and War Against Afghan Taliban Hanafis

By: Abdul Sayed

On October 27, a major attack targeting a pro-Afghan Taliban religious seminary took place in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan. Although it remains unclaimed, there is strong evidence Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) was behind this attack (Dawn, October 29). In the attack, a seminary belonging to the Deobandi sect of Hanafi jurisprudence, which represents the Afghan Taliban’s school of Islamic law, was targeted by a bomb that killed ten students and injured more than 100 others.

This attack’s main target was the seminary’s head, Shaikh Rahim Ullah Haqqani, who is affiliated with the Afghan Taliban (IBC Urdu, October 27). Shaikh Rahim Ullah Haqqani leads a militant brigade affiliated with Afghan Taliban in the Pachir Aw Agam district of Nangarhar, Afghanistan, which is adjacent to the Tora Bora mountains (Twitter/abdsayedd, October 28). That area has been a frontline for brutal infighting between the Afghan Taliban and IS-K.

This article examines IS-K’s role in the Peshawar seminary attack from the angle of Salafist-Hanafi sectarian rivalry in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Can China Defend its South China Sea Bases? The Answer Is No.

by Robert Farley

Here's What You Need To Remember: The islands of the SCS have some military relevance, but are more important as a political claim to waterways and undersea resources. Militarily, they represent a thin crust on China’s A2/AD system. Under certain conditions this crust could disrupt U.S. freedom of action, but it won’t be hard for the United States’ Air Force and Navy to punch through.

China has built some islands in the South China Sea. Can it protect them?

During World War II Japan found that control of islands offered some strategic advantages, but not enough to force the United States to reduce each island individually. Moreover, over time the islands became a strategic liability, as Japan struggled to keep them supplied with food, fuel and equipment. The islands of the SCS are conveniently located for China, but do they really represent an asset to China’s military? The answer is yes, but in an actual conflict the value would dwindle quickly.

The Current Situation in China

Over the last two decades, China has expanded its presence internationally, including in conflict zones and fragile states of strategic interest to the United States. From civil wars in neighboring countries, such as Afghanistan and Myanmar, to more distant conflicts in Africa, China’s growing influence has a substantial impact on local, regional, and international conflict dynamics. Beijing is actively working to revise global governance institutions and norms to make them compatible with its authoritarian political model, and escalating tensions between the United States and China have reduced the space for cooperation and increased the risk of conflict between the two countries. Updating institutions and systems for cooperation among the United States and like-minded partners, and where possible, with competitors like China, could help stabilize the international system, manage conflicts, and tackle transnational challenges such as nuclear proliferation, climate change, and infectious diseases.


As part of its Bipartisan Congressional Dialogue series, USIP frequently hosts members of Congress from both parties to discuss issues such as U.S. policy toward China and China’s impact on U.S. national interests. USIP has twice hosted conversations with Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), co-chairs of the House U.S.-China Working Group.

China’s Digital Silk Road: Economic and Political Significance

Damian Wnukowski

China announced the DSR in 2015 as part of its Belt and Road
Initiative (BRI). It is primarily intended to support the expansion of major Chinese companies such as Huawei, ZTE, and Alibaba into new markets and gaining access to big data. It complements the “Made in China 2025” strategy, which aims to make China the leader in modern technologies. DSR activities are not only initiated by the Chinese government but also by companies, which often seek to integrate their commercial projects into the DSR framework to obtain political and financial support.

Elements of the DSR

One key area is the development of telecommunications infrastructure, in particular 5G networks. Chinese companies, mainly Huawei and ZTE, are significant players in this market. Shenzhen, where Huawei has its headquarters, was the world’s first city fully covered by a 5G network. Huawei is involved in 5G projects in Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Cambodia, Thailand and elsewhere. An important element is the expansion of the optical fibre system, supporting new connections between Asia, Africa, and Europe (the PEACE project).

Secret Flight Shows Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman Joining to Face Biden

By Jonathan H. Ferziger

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apparent trip to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday raises the tantalizing prospect of Saudi Arabia joining the new alliance of Gulf Arab states with Israel. It also seems to show how the former enemies are relying on each other to dispel the ill winds already blowing in their direction from the incoming Biden administration. As arguably the greatest beneficiaries of U.S. President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman now seek to insulate themselves against indications they’ll soon be shunned by the Biden White House as rogue actors.

So Netanyahu canceled a cabinet meeting on Sunday and, according to multiple accounts, slipped into a private business jet for the one-hour flight across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia’s western coast. In the desert city of Neom, under construction as a $500 billion showcase of technological innovation, the Israeli leader spent as much as five hours with Saudi Arabia’s heir to the throne, joined by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mossad Director Yossi Cohen.

Saudi Arabia Says Jeddah Fuel Tank Blast Caused By Houthi Missile

A missile fired by Houthi militants in Yemen sparked an explosion and fire at a fuel distribution site near Jeddah on Monday.

The blast took place at 3.50 a.m. and causing a fire in a fuel tank at the petroleum products distribution station, north of the city, Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said. 

The blast was the result of “a terrorist attack with a projectile,” the ministry said.

Firefighting teams managed to extinguish the blaze, and no injuries or loss of life occurred as a result of this attack.

Saudi Aramco’s supply of fuel to its customers was not affected.

The Arab coalition fighting to restore the internationally recognised government in Yemen said those responsible would be held to account. 

“The terrorist, Iran-backed Houthi militia has been positively identified as the culprits of this cowardly terrorist assault,” coalition spokesman Brig.-Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said. 

Yemen’s War Tests Oman’s Neutrality: Focusing on the Saudi Footprint in al-Mahra

By: Michael Horton

Neutrality is one of Oman’s greatest assets. Under the leadership of the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman successfully navigated the fall of the Shah in Iran, the Cold War and its end, the U.S.-led War on Terror, and the Arab Spring. Through all these global and region shape events, Oman has maintained its neutrality and independence. Oman, for example, maintains longstanding relationships with the United States and Great Britain while, at the same time, it enjoys constructive relations with Iran. Moreover, although Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are aligned against Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, Oman has managed to work with all of these countries to address regional issues.

The foreign policy charted by the late Sultan Qaboos resulted in Oman’s becoming a valuable intermediary between rival countries in the Gulf and world powers with interests in the Gulf. In its role as an intermediary, Oman has facilitated negotiations between warring parties, and has secured the release of prisoners held in Iran, including three American hikers in 2010 and 2011 (Times of Israel, November 29, 2013). Numerous countries, including the United States, have availed themselves of Oman’s trusted position as an interlocutor for conducting backchannel negotiations with Iran as well as with political and military factions like the Taliban and Yemen’s Houthis (The National, October 16, 2017; Inside Arabia, October 12, 2018).

Central Asia’s Specter of Insecurity: The View from Badakhshan to Fergana

By: Sergey Sukhankin

Amid ongoing negotiations between the United States and the Afghan Taliban, the period between late September and November was marked by increasing violence in Afghanistan, which resulted in hundreds of casualties among the Afghan military and police as well as civilians (Stanradar.com, October 5). On September 27, the Taliban launched a massive offensive in more than ten provinces (Southasiamonitor.org, September 28). Badakhshan was especially targeted. The province is a strategically important part of Afghanistan, sharing a 450-kilometer border with Pakistan, 90-kilometer border with China, and an 800-kilometer border with Tajikistan. Among others, the police chief of Kohistan district in Badakhshan, Abdul Zahir, was killed (Tolonews.com, September 30).

Critical Cases in Badakhshan and Fergana

According to the commander of the second battalion of 217 Pamir Army Corps, Lotufullah Alizai, local militants in Badakhshan are mixing with fighters coming into the region, including from abroad, who represent a conglomeration of various group affiliations. Badakshani governor Zakaria Sawda also stated that, “They [extremists] want to reinforce their third base in Badakhshan” (Tolonews.com, April 21). Like Alizai and Sawda, Abdullah Naji Nazari, who is a member of the Badakhshan Provincial Council, asserted that the main long-term goal of the militants is “to get access to Tajikistan and China” (Thefrontierpost.com, October 17).

Biden Has the Team Obama Always Wanted

By James Traub

In the summer of 2007, when I spent many hours talking to presidential candidate Barack Obama about his view of world affairs, I was surprised to find that he looked to the administration of George H. W. Bush as a model of professionalism, prudence, and stewardship of American national interests. For all his own transformational impulses, he wanted to put together a team like the one led by Secretary of State James Baker and national security advisor Brent Scowcroft.

Unlike Bush, Obama arrived in the White House with scant experience in national security. He needed to demonstrate his seriousness. And so when it came time to choose his own team, Obama turned to a superstar, Hillary Clinton, for secretary of state, and to James Jones, an erudite general he barely knew, as national security advisor. Clinton turned out to be a fine choice; Jones was a disaster, soon replaced. Obama did finally put together the team he wanted, though it never meshed quite as smoothly as the Bush machine.

Donald Trump Has Been a Failure on Iran

by Paul R. Pillar

Given what originally drove Donald Trump’s policy on Iran, it is not surprising that the policy has gone badly and is ending badly. The policy was shaped not by any calculation about what would best advance the causes of nuclear nonproliferation, de-escalation of Middle East conflicts, or other U.S. interests. It was driven instead by Trump’s compulsion to do the opposite of whatever Barack Obama did. Obama’s leading foreign policy achievement was the diplomacy that led to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the multilateral agreement that closed all possible paths to an Iranian nuclear weapon. And so the JCPOA had to go. 

Trump’s administration has moved beyond trashing the JCPOA and for the past two and a half years has waged unrestricted economic warfare against Iran. That is plenty of time for Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran to show positive results if it ever were going to show any. The policy has instead failed on every front. 

Kishore Mahbubani Says More…

This week in Say More, PS talks with Kishore Mahbubani, a distinguished fellow at the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore.

Project Syndicate: You’ve warned that “the international order has lagged dangerously behind shifting global power dynamics.” Will US President-elect Joe Biden’s administration improve prospects of reform?

Kishore Mahbubani: Sadly, the answer is no. The combination of intellectual laziness and political inertia has fueled the belief in Washington, DC, that weaker multilateral institutions are better for America’s national interests. But, while that logic may have had some merit in a unipolar world, it does not suit the multipolar world in which we live. As Bill Clinton put it in 2003, the United States should be trying to create the kind of world in which it would like to live when it is “no longer the military, political, and economic superpower.”1

America’s proclivity for constraining multilateral institutions goes back decades, perhaps as far as Ronald Reagan’s presidency. For example, the US has long fought to reduce its contributions to the United Nations, and has even withheld payments, even though the money saved is a drop in the bucket of the US budget.

Providing for the Casualties of War

by Bernard D. Rostker

War has always been a dangerous business, bringing injury, wounds, and death, and—until recently—often disease. What has changed over time, most dramatically in the last 150 or so years, is the care these casualties receive and who provides it. Medical services have become highly organized and are state sponsored. Diseases are now prevented through vaccination and good sanitation. Sedation now ameliorates pain, and antibiotics combat infection. Wounds that once meant amputation or death no longer do so. Transfers from the field to more-capable hospitals are now as swift as aircraft can make them. The mental consequences of war are now seen as genuine illnesses and treated accordingly, rather than punished to the extreme. Likewise, treatment of those disabled by war and of veterans generally has changed markedly—along with who supplies these and other benefits. The first book in this set looked at the history of how humanity has cared for its war casualties, from ancient times through the aftermath of World War II. This book takes up where the first left off, starting just before the Korean War and continuing through to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. For each historical period, the author examines the care the sick and wounded received in the field and in hospitals, the care given to disabled veterans and their dependents, and who provided that care and how. He shows how the lessons of history have informed the American experience over time. Finally, the author sums up this history thematically, focusing on changes in the nature and treatment of injuries, organization of services on and off the battlefield, the role of the state in providing care, and the invisible wounds of war.

On the Offensive: The UK’s New Cyber ForceConrad Prince

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of a four-year funding deal for defence highlighted a number of technology-focused initiatives. Prominent among them was the establishment of the National Cyber Force (NCF), a new organisational construct bringing together skills, capabilities and resources from across government (predominantly, but not exclusively, GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence) to focus on offensive cyber – the use of hacking and other cyber techniques to have a direct effect on the UK’s adversaries. What does this mean in practice?


The first thing to say is that this is simply the next step in the UK’s long-standing work in this area. As far back as 2013, Philip Hammond, then defence secretary, announced that the UK was ‘developing a full spectrum military cyber capability, including a strike capability’.

The 2016 UK National Cyber Security Strategy acknowledged the existence of the government’s National Offensive Cyber Programme. In 2018, GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming said that GCHQ had been pioneering the development and use of offensive cyber techniques ‘for well over a decade’, and referred to the conflict in Afghanistan, and operations against the Islamic State.

Indicting Russia's Most Destructive Cyberwar Unit: The Implications of Public Attribution

On October 19, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed charges accusing six Russian military intelligence officers of an aggressive worldwide hacking campaign. According to the indictment, the officers, who are believed to be members of Unit 74455 of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), were responsible for some of the most high profile cyberattacks of the last few years, including the devastating NotPetya worm in 2017 that cost $10 billion in damages, the targeting of the French presidential election in 2018, the hacking of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, interfering with electric grid in Ukraine in 2016, and others.

Cybersecurity and national security experts [PDF] had long maintained that the attacks were Russia’s doing, and along with investigative journalists, were expecting this to become public sooner or later. The indictment is unlikely to change the way Russia operates in the cyber domain; however, it demonstrates clearly to like-minded countries that the United States will (eventually) hold Russia accountable for its devastating cyberattacks.

The Syrian Civil War’s Never-Ending Endgame

The Syrian civil war that has decimated the country for nine years now, provoking a regional humanitarian crisis and drawing in actors ranging from the United States to Russia, appears to be drawing inexorably to a conclusion. President Bashar al-Assad, with the backing of Iran and Russia, seems to have emerged militarily victorious from the conflict, which began after his government violently repressed civilian protests in 2011. The armed insurgency that followed soon morphed into a regional and global proxy war that, at the height of the fighting, saw radical Islamist groups seize control over vast swathes of the country, only to lose it in the face of sustained counteroffensives by pro-government forces as well as a U.S.-led coalition of Western militaries.

The fighting is not yet fully over, though, with the northwestern Idlib region remaining outside of government control. Earlier this year, the Syrian army’s Russian-backed campaign to retake Idlib from the last remaining armed opposition groups concentrated there resulted in clashes with Turkish forces deployed to protect Ankara’s client militias. The skirmishes were a reminder that the conflict, though seemingly in its final stages, could still escalate into a regional conflagration. The situation in the northeast also remains volatile following the removal of U.S. forces from the border with Turkey, with Turkish, Syrian and Russian forces all now deployed in the region, alongside proxies and Syrian Kurdish militias.

The Last, ‘Ultra-Cold’ Mile for Covid-19 Vaccines

Maryn McKenna

Two vaccines are nearly here—but their unusual storage requirements could deprive the rural areas that need them most. A tech fix might be coming.

The pace of countering the coronavirus in the US is about to pick up. Two manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, have announced that their formulas are up to 95 percent effective at preventing Covid-19; Pfizer officials backed up their statement with a full report on their Phase III data, and one from Moderna should follow soon. On Friday, Pfizer announced that company officials are asking the Food and Drug Administration for an EUA—an emergency use authorization—a shortcut around the standard lengthy approval process. An advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meets today, and another committee reporting to the FDA has scheduled a meeting to assess both formulas on December 10.

How to Revive Real Diplomacy Between Armenia and Azerbaijan

by Michael Rubin

STEPANAKERT, NAGORNO-KARABAKH - The Holy Mother of God Cathedral in Stepanakert, the largest city in Nagorno-Karabakh and the capital of the self-declared Republic of Artsakh, symbolizes the tragedy of recent fighting. Refugees—or “displaced Armenians” as UN bureaucrats call them—sleep in the basement with little hope of returning to Shusha, a mountaintop town, now controlled by Azerbaijani forces. The buildings of Shusha are visible when fog lifts, but Russian peacekeepers have blocked the road less than two miles away from the cathedral and warn that they cannot protect anyone who goes closer from the possibility of being shot by Azerbaijani snipers or the Syrian Arab mercenaries brought in by Turkey who support them.

Armenians are shell-shocked. The Nagorno-Karabakh dispute in its current iteration predates the fall of the Soviet Union when the largely Armenian region separated from Armenia proper by Josef Stalin and made an autonomous oblast within Azerbaijan. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh voted overwhelmingly for independence, a move Azerbaijan tried—and failed—to crush militarily. The local military trained to defend their mountainous terrain from Azerbaijani soldiers and a stalemate persisted for the past thirty-six years. But when air raid sirens sounded early on September 27, a Sunday morning when most residents were home or at church, the regional military found itself fighting not only Azeris, but also Turks, Syrian mercenaries handpicked by Turkey from amongst their most radical proxy groups, and Israeli-made drones. The Armenians managed to hold their Azeri adversaries at bay for almost six weeks but, in the end, the qualitative edge given to the Azerbaijanis by Turkey and Israel proved too much.

A Tale of Two Economies


NEW HAVEN – Suddenly, there is a credible case for a vaccine-led economic recovery. Modern science has delivered what must certainly be one of the greatest miracles of my long lifetime. Just as COVID-19 dragged the world economy into the sharpest and deepest recession on record, an equally powerful symmetry on the upside now seems possible.

If only it were that easy. With COVID-19 still raging – and rates of infection, hospitalization, and death now spiraling out of control (again) – the near-term risks to economic activity have tipped decidedly to the downside in the United States and Europe. The combination of pandemic fatigue and the politicization of public health practices has come into play at precisely the moment when the long anticipated second wave of COVID-19 is at hand.

Unfortunately, this fits the script of the dreaded double-dip recession that I warned of recently. The bottom-line bears repeating: Apparent economic recoveries in the US have given way to relapses in eight of the 11 business cycles since World War II. The relapses reflect two conditions: lingering vulnerability from the recession, itself, and the likelihood of aftershocks. Unfortunately, both conditions have now been satisfied.

Army War College

Challenging Prevailing Models of US Army Suicide

Gender Blindness in US Doctrine

Civilians, Urban Warfare, and US Doctrine

Stability Operations in WW II: Insights and Lessons

Contribution Warfare: Sweden's Lessons from the War in Afghanistan

Never Again? Germany's Lessons from the War in Afghanistan

India and Pakistan: Managing Tensions

Diverging Interests: US Strategy in the Middle East

On "Projecting Stability: A Deployable NATO Police Command

Streamline Cybersecurity Operations to Enable Decisive Action

In today’s evolving threat landscape, it is imperative to consider the art of the possible to streamline cybersecurity operations that would enable decisive action against our most advanced threats. At this year’s AFCEA Alamo ACE, the message from keynote speakers was clear: accelerate change in order to arm our nation’s warfighters to compete against our adversaries. Normally held in San Antonio or “Military City USA,” AFCEA Alamo ACE brought together military leaders, security professionals and industry supporters to address problems with current systems and discuss new and innovative ways to fight in the ever-present cyber war.

Change is constant and change must happen in order to stay ahead of attackers. One key tenet is embedding a culture of modernization in security teams and leaders by understanding the operational environment. Repeatedly, keynote speakers mentioned that cyber warriors must be organized, trained and equipped in order to achieve cybersecurity superiority over adversaries. But there are challenges that slow down progress.
The Challenges Facing Warfighters Today

Cyber’s uncertain future: These radical technologies and negative trends must be overcome

James Van de Velde

The fate of the world may literally hinge on which states develop and appropriately introduce the radical technologies that are likely to disrupt cyberspace and the world. What are they, and what disruption do they pose? Here are a few, split into two categories:

Radical-leveling technologies have leapt from linear to exponential capabilities and will shape the future competition:
Additive manufacturing (i.e., 3D printing): “Who can manufacture what” may no longer be decided by governments.

Human-machine interfacing: Where will this lead intelligence collection, privacy and security?
The Internet of Things' expanded attack surface: The IoT may invite a near-constant struggle between good and malicious cyberspace actors throughout our government, intelligence, defense and commercial lives.

US Cyber Command’s capability efforts lack clarity, says government watchdog

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — U.S. Cyber Command’s vision for developing its core cyber platforms and capabilities lacks clear goals and guidance, according to an audit by the Government Accountability Office.

The audit was directed by Congress — which has also expressed concern — and released Nov. 19. The government watchdog examined Cyber Command’s Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture, which was created by the command to guide its capabilities.

JCWA was broken up into five elements: common firing platforms for a comprehensive suite of cyber tools; Unified Platform that will integrate and analyze data from offensive and defensive operations with partners; joint command-and-control mechanisms for situational awareness and battle management; sensors that support defense of the network and drive operational decisions; and the Persistent Cyber Training Environment, which will provide individual and collective training as well as mission rehearsal.

Is the F-35 Stealth Fighter Safe From Hacking?

by Kris Osborn

They call the F-35 a “flying computer” armed with artificial intelligence-like sensor fusion, 360-degree cameras, advanced data links, an extensive database of threat information and a complex computerized logistics systems. So what happens if the stealth fighter jet is hacked? Its threat data could be compromised, weapons guidance derailed or, perhaps worst of all, its entire flight path or data sharing systems could be destroyed. 

The greater the advantage afforded by advanced computing and a new-generation of processing speed and AI-enabled algorithms, the greater the need to “harden” the system and ensure it is sufficiently resilient. This reality is not lost, for example, upon Lockheed developers or Air Force cyber specialists who have in recent years been immersed in an accelerated effort to secure weapons systems and major platforms against cyber attackers. 

The Air Force has, for several years now, been taking new strides with an ambitious, yet crucial effort known as Cyber Resilience Office for Weapons Systems, or CROWS. The concept for the office, established by Air Force Materiel Command several years ago, is grounded upon the premise that countermeasures and cyber protections, such as emerging technologies such as Boot Shield or Countervail, need to be “baked in” early and “layered” into prototypes for weapons systems early in the developmental process.