23 January 2021

Disaster on the Sittang: How Japanese Forces Smashed the 17th Indian Division in Burma

by Warfare History Network

The Japanese looked unstoppable. Two divisions of the 15th Army had crossed from Thailand into Burma in mid-January 1942, bent on capturing Rangoon before the British could land reinforcements and block the seizing of the Burma Road.

Burma was critical to the entire Allied defense of the Far East. By taking Rangoon and then the Burma Road, the Japanese would cut the vital land link to China, where half of the Imperial Army was already tied down fighting Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces. Burma was also the gateway to India, and Rangoon was the key to everything. In addition to being Burma’s administrative capital, it was a crucial communications and industrial center and had the only port capable of handling troop ships. The loss of Rangoon would mean the loss of Burma.

Organizing the Allied Defensive Forces

Opposing the two Japanese divisions fighting their way northward through the Tenasserim District of lower Burma was only the recently arrived 17th Indian Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Sir John G. “Jackie” Smyth, who had won a Victoria Cross in World War I. Smyth was a courageous and dedicated soldier, but he was a sick man. In September 1941, he had undergone an operation for an anal fissure and piles, which had gone badly. Although pronounced fit for duty, by January 1942 he was still in constant pain, and in the light of subsequent events, it has been speculated that his military judgment was affected.

A Chinese-Indian Nuclear War Would Ruin the Whole Planet

by Kyle Mizokami

A hypothetical war between India and China would be one of the largest and most destructive conflicts in Asia. A war between the two powers would rock the Indo-Pacific region, cause thousands of casualties on both sides and take a significant toll on the global economy. Geography and demographics would play a unique role, limiting the war’s scope and ultimately the conditions of victory.

This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.

India and China border one another in two locations, northern India/western China and eastern India/southern China, with territorial disputes in both areas. China attacked both theaters in October 1962, starting a monthlong war that resulted in minor Chinese gains on the ground.

Both countries’ “No First Use” policies regarding nuclear weapons make the outbreak of nuclear war very unlikely. Both countries have such large populations, each over 1.3 billion, that they are essentially unconquerable. Like all modern wars, a war between India and China would be fought over land, sea, and air; geography would limit the scope of the land conflict, while it would be the air conflict, fought with both aircraft and missiles, that would do the most damage to both countries. The trump card, however, may be India’s unique position to dominate a sea conflict, with dire consequences for the Chinese economy.

Inside India’s booming dark data economy


Ayushi Sahu was ambushed. One evening in 2018, five months after her wedding, the 21-year-old college student was visiting her parents in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, when her husband showed up unannounced, his father and uncle in tow.

As the men settled in the living room, her husband said he had something he wanted them to hear. He took out his mobile phone and pressed “play.” The audio was loud and clear: private conversations between Sahu and her friends and family, which had been recorded without her permission. And it wasn’t only audio: “call logs, SMS, and WhatsApp messages, each photo and video, recordings of my video calls — he claimed to have accessed everything,” Sahu said. That was when she realized that her husband had, for months, been spying on her.

This was also how Sahu learned of certain things he had been holding against her. (Her name has been changed to protect against retaliation.) He had been offended to hear her complaining to her mother about problems with her in-laws. And he objected to her talking to a male friend. “He made a scene as if he was ‘exposing’ me,” Sahu recalled. “I was just sharing my concerns. That’s normal.”

Her husband played several more recordings, until his father eventually intervened. “I don’t want to listen to any more of this. You have heard it all? Okay, then,” he said, before reaching out to comfort Sahu, who was still in shock.

Will China Really Build Militarized Drone Swarms?

by Kris Osborn

The Chinese military is launching drones in an apparent effort to support an amphibious assault operation by overwhelming beachhead defenses with swarms of explosive attack drones launched from ships, vehicles and helicopters. 

This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.

Large drone swarms, intended for coordinated surveillance and attack, were launched from truck-based, forty-eight-unit launchers and helicopters in a recent test cited by the Chinese-government backed Global Times newspaper. 

“The drones were rapidly and simultaneously deployed while the transport platforms were on the move, and the system can launch as many as 200 drones in one go,” the story states. 

Some of the drones were described as “loitering munitions,” meaning they could function as explosives after first surveilling a target area. 

Drone swarms bring a number of new tactical possibilities, yet their effectiveness would likely depend in large measure upon the extent to which they were successfully networked together. Large numbers of coordinated drones could blanket an area with surveillance, build in redundancy by ensuring functionality if several of them were shot down, test enemy defenses and potentially function as precision-guided attack weapons. 

Taiwan Visit by Trump’s UN Envoy Canceled, Ending a Wild Ride in Taiwan-US Relations

By Nick Aspinwall

Taiwan avoided a brewing domestic controversy this week after a planned visit by Kelly Craft, the outgoing United States ambassador to the United Nations, was called off at the last minute.

The planned three-day visit was canceled, along with all foreign travel by executive officials serving under President Donald Trump, in the wake of the deadly invasion of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled his own European trip after being snubbed by top officials in Luxembourg and the European Union, Reuters reported.

Taiwan, which relies heavily on its unofficial alliance with the United States, was prepared to host Craft anyway and likely had little room to snub a visiting U.S. official, even one set to be replaced within the week, when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20.

Still, Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang (KMT) had used the planned visit to criticize the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), alleging it was being overly deferential to the U.S. by planning to host Craft.

China Enters the Arctic Digitization Race

by Maria Shagina Elizabeth Buchanan

In our global information age, connectivity plays a central role. The geopolitics of connectivity is increasingly garnering attention, presenting various challenges and opportunities. Unfolding in real-time is a new great game of sorts: the digitalization of the Arctic. Stakeholders range from public to private enterprises and include autocratic and democratic governments. The “prize” is control over the flow of information within the Arctic, which affords both political and economic windfalls. Of course, restricting access to information is a well-known playbook of states like China, North Korea and Iran. After all, information is power

Economically, digitalization directly improves living standards, an important precursor to socio-economic development. Indeed, the key economic drawcard for digitalization in the Arctic is the geographic reality that the region is the shortest distance connecting Europe to Asia. In tech-speak, this means data fiber-cables are shorter which translates to optimal latency. Latency, the holy grail of digital communication, is essentially the “delay” in which information moves between origin and destination. The global financial system is merely one key sector that has its eye on the prime latency which Arctic digital avenues provide.

China is Striving to Deter and Defeat the U.S. Military

by Michael Peck

Here's What You Need To Remember: China has only recently enhanced its aerial refueling and air transport capabilities, or has flown long-range bomber over the Pacific. Until a few years ago, Beijing wasn't trying to project its power, but when it did, it started acquiring the capabilities it needed.

China's military isn't just aiming for mere parity or deterrence with the U.S., but rather military victory in a potential Sino-American war.

"The PLA [People's Liberation Army] is focused not merely on competing with the United States or other nations as a goal in and of itself, but instead on competing as a means to achieving the policy outcomes identified by the CCP [Communist Party of China] -- deterring U.S. intervention and defeating the U.S. military if the United States and China do come into open conflict," writes RAND Corp. researcher Scott Harold in a recent study.

The study paints a picture of a nation with a focus on goals and what it needs to achieve them. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union bankrupted itself with an obsessive need to match U.S. capabilities such as ballistic missile defense. China won't make that same mistake. "The PLA appears not to compete in certain areas because it does not need certain capabilities to accomplish its directed mission, or it has other means to address the military problem at hand," Harold writes.

The Eternal Promise of the Arab Spring


VIENNA – The Arab Spring that erupted a decade ago was a quest for human dignity whose protagonists sought to overcome decades of repression, poverty, and inequality. It occurred in two waves, the first cresting in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, followed by a second in 2019-20 in Algeria, Sudan, and Lebanon.

Sadly, neither wave fully achieved the protesters’ aims. Instead of undergoing a genuine transition to freedom and social justice, almost all Arab Spring countries have reverted to various combinations of autocracy and various degrees of poverty and violence. Except for Tunisia, to a certain extent, most Arab societies are more polarized and fragmented today than they were before.

Democracy is not like instant coffee. It needs an enabling environment and a hospitable culture to flourish and grow. A history of colonialism, followed by decades of authoritarianism, meant that this environment was absent in the Arab world. The people who revolted and took to the streets loathed the regimes that had tyrannized them for so long. But they lacked a clear, unified vision of the change they sought.

“Bread, freedom, and social justice” was the rallying call, but translating this into a more democratic reality proved hugely problematic. Without a robust and vibrant civil society – labor unions, political parties, associations, and independent media – it was impossible to agree on a transitional road map following the swift fall of Arab dictators. The institutions needed to enable true social cohesion were simply not there.

Once the lid of repression was lifted, the revolutionaries splintered along a variety of ideological lines. The region’s dire political, social, and economic conditions had previously led many Muslims to believe that only the certainties of their faith could offer them a refuge from misery and the promise of a better future. And after the Arab Spring erupted, a deep schism divided Islamists and secularists.

Merkel era may only just be beginning


Angela Merkel’s name was not on the ballot at the convention of her Christian Democrats (CDU) on Saturday. She didn’t even make a cameo appearance on stage. And yet, her presence hung over the event like a velvet curtain.

The party’s decision Saturday to endorse her preferred candidate — Armin Laschet, the affable premier of North Rhine-Westphalia — was more than a signal that the CDU will stay Merkel’s course in the short term. It amounted to formal recognition that Merkel has left an indelible stamp on Germany’s largest political party, one that will likely define it for years to come.

Many German conservatives object to Merkel’s policies on refugees, the economy and even the pandemic. Over the past two years, they have been handed not just one, but two opportunities to put an end to the Merkel era, failing on both tries. 

Given the opportunity to turn back the clock and renew the CDU’s traditional conservative approach to matters both social and economic, party delegates opted instead to stick with Merkel’s inclusive centrism.

The UK and EU are heading for bad-tempered rivalry, unless we can avert it

Timothy Garton Ash

After Brexit, Britain and the European Union face the Gore Vidal trap. As the waspish American writer once said: “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” There is now a powerful political logic pushing both sides to make the relative failure of the other the measure of their own success.

We have seen it already over covid-19 vaccinations, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson boasting that Britain has done more than all the rest of Europe together. Gavin Williamson, Britain’s education secretary, took it to a juvenile extreme, claiming this is because “we’re a much better country than every single one of them”. What we might call “Vidalism” is baked into the Brexiteers’ project. After all, the whole point of the exercise is supposed to be that Britain will be “better off out”.

This logic is less central for the EU side, not least because it has so much else on its plate. But it is still definitely there, especially in countries where strong Eurosceptic politicians (such as Marine Le Pen) might otherwise highlight the success of a “liberated” Britain. The logic can be seen clearly on the Twitter feed of France’s talented Europe minister, Clément Beaune. On the night of Britain’s final departure last month, for example, Beaune tweeted a comment he made to the LCI news channel. Britain is punishing itself by Brexit, he rightly observed, but “it was also necessary to show the price to be paid for leaving”.

But, you may object, surely the negotiations are over. We have a deal. Brexit is done. Well, think again. For years ahead, Britain will be in a state of permanent negotiation with the EU. The Johnson government said the choice came down to being “Australia or Canada” but, in fact, we will be more like Switzerland, which endures endless rounds of nitpicky negotiations with the EU, punctuated by fits of retribution from Brussels. To be sure, Britain will be a Greater Switzerland with rockets, but the dilemma is fundamentally the same.

Italy's government is like Schrödinger's cat


Italian politics is in chaos, but a less chaotic one than it might seem to a Swedish or German observer.

In a highly awaited press conference on Wednesday (13 January) evening, former prime minister Matteo Renzi announced that the two ministers of his small neo-centrist party, Italia Viva, will no longer be part of the centre-left government led by Giuseppe Conte.

According to Renzi, Conte does not respect the rules of democracy.

The move sparked outrage among the other parties in Conte's government: the centre-left Democratic Party, the populist Five Star Movement, and the small, leftist LEU.

For Zingaretti, the leader of the Democratic Party, "the move of Renzi was a very harmful one".

Immediately after the press conference, Matteo Salvini's far-right League and Giorgia Meloni's conservative Brothers of Italy, called for Conte's resignation and new elections.

An election is unlikely though. Renzi's move certainly weakens Conte, but it does not necessarily mean the end of his government.

Renzi himself, during the press conference, said he has no bias against the current prime minister, although there were other names in the hat as well.

American ‘Boojahideen’: The Boogaloo Bois’ Blueprint for Extreme Libertarianism and Response to the Biden Administration

By: Angela Ramirez

The Boogaloo Bois is a recently formed decentralized armed movement comprised of loosely knit cells scattered throughout the United States. Boogaloo participants have also been involved in several attacks and plots, including the attempted kidnapping of Michigan’s governor, an attempt to sell weapons to Hamas, and a deadly attack on a federal security officer in northern California. The movement is centered on participants’ belief that the U.S. government has become excessively tyrannical. Participants, therefore, have concluded that a second civil war is unfortunate, but inevitable, in order to obtain “true liberty.” The movement refers to this idealized second civil war as “the Boogaloo” (Spotify [Buck Johsnon], July 2020). Occasionally, the word “Boogaloo” is exchanged for slang terms, however, such as “the big luau,” the “Bungalow,” or the “Big Igloo.”

Boogaloo, Internet Culture, and Black Lives Matter

Boogaloo cells contain a mix of civilians and former military personnel. These participants call themselves “boojahideen,” a linguistic spin-off of “mujahideen” (Liberty Actual, Boojahideen Shop). They have also been forced to utilize secondary online public forums like Reddit, Gab, and Parler because mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter have prohibited their content. (Reddit [RealRhettEBoogie]; Parler [Boojahideen Outfitters]). Despite this deplatforming, they are still able to circulate their ideology and connect with boojahideen in different regions of the United States.

After Trump, Is American Democracy Doomed by Populism?

By Yascha Mounk

The Trump presidency has demonstrated the appeal of populist authoritarianism to many Americans. The way the country responds to the attack on the U.S. Capitol will indicate how long this movement lasts.

What do the riots at the U.S. Capitol and their aftermath say about the extent of populism in the United States?

President Donald J. Trump is an authoritarian populist. And one of the key characteristics of populism lies in a leader’s belief that they, and they alone, truly represent the people.

That explains why Trump has kept clashing with democratic institutions over the course of his presidency. Whenever he ran up against the limits of his constitutional authority, he balked at the idea that somebody else—a judge, a bureaucrat, or a member of Congress—could tell him what to do. In his mind, only he had the right to speak for the country.

This helps to make sense of the storming of the Capitol. On one hand, it was a terrible surprise. Before January 6, nobody had expected that a mob of insurrectionists could so easily enter “the People’s House.” But on the other hand, it was a fitting end point for Trump’s presidency: the mob was incited by the populist president of the United States—and that president incited it to action because somebody who believes that he, and only he, represents the people could not possibly accept the legitimacy of an election he lost.

Economic and Diplomatic Power is not a Substitute for Military Strength

By Seth Cropsey & Harry Halem

The current chaos in Washington DC has given U.S. political discourse a distinct focus, a focus that will remain until 20 January, when Mr. Biden is inaugurated. Fortunately, the guardrails of democracy have held despite the stresses of the past year, particularly over the past three months. But Americans would do well to remember that administrations and presidents create and execute policy, rather than solely soothing disgruntled citizens. 

The internal divisions that confront the American polity are most relevant when considered alongside international political trends. No relationship will be more defining in the 21st century than that between China and the United States. The self-styled People’s Republic remained guarded and coy throughout the late 20th century, began asserting itself in the 2000s, and since the mid-2010s has embarked upon a concerted campaign to expand its own influence, dominate the Asia-Pacific, and revise the international political order. It has used the COVID-19 pandemic to act without resistance, conducting its genocide against Muslims in East Turkestan, eliminating the last vestiges of Hong Kong’s parliamentary democracy, and isolating Taiwan diplomatically while probing it militarily. 

PRC aggression calls for a concerted campaign to contain Chinese expansion, preserve the independence of Asia’s smaller polities, combat China’s support for authoritarianism and illiberalism, and ensure the preservation of a liberal, open, commercial international society. 

Should Europe Worry About Kyrgyzstan?

By Ana-Maria Anghelescu

The results of the January 10 elections — which completed the elevation of Sadyr Japarov from prisoner to president — came as a bitter confirmation of the fears of many observers of Kyrgyzstan. In the elections, less than 40 percent of registered voters cast ballots and 79 percent chose Japarov, while more than 80 percent supported his proposal of amending the constitution to allow for a return to presidentialism. 

When writing about Central Asia, many occasional observers appeal to the same old clichés. Among the most used state Kyrgyzstan as an “island of democracy” or, less frequently, dub it a “vibrant democracy.” This is usually intended to give the uninformed reader a comparative reference point, setting the Kyrgyz political landscape apart from the more autocratic regimes in the region. 

Nevertheless, these clichés fail to account for the complexities of the democratic endeavor in Kyrgyzstan. Democracy in Bishkek has never fully complied with Western standards, and after the January 10 elections, Western-style democracy in Kyrgyzstan is even more under threat. Did the many democracy promotion activities funded by international donors not have a deep impact on the way the population views political systems? Kyrgyz political scientist Asel Doolotkeldieva expressed such concerns on Twitter, commenting, “I wonder how many millions of western taxpayers money were wasted to promote democratization, rule of law, parliamentarism and party politics? To arrive today at this embarrassing situation…” 

Will Brexit Be a Barrier for Retooling the Economy?

by Joergen Oerstroem Moeller

The ghost haunting the British economy is low productivity. A study covering 2007–2016 shows a productivity growth per year of 0.1 percent, below Germany, France and Spain and at par with Italy. In 2015, just before Brexit came on stage, productivity in France was 27 percent and in Germany 35 percent higher than in Britain. Since then, until 2019 it has risen in the eurozone with 2.4 percent, Germany 3.1, France 3.4, Spain 1.5 and Britain on a par with Italy at 0.5 percent.

Inexplicably, no one has bothered to discuss whether Brexit will enhance productivity constituting the most serious barrier for retooling the economy. 

Education is vital, but feedback from universities paint Brexit as more harmful than helpful. The Erasmus Programme, orchestrating student exchange among EU member states, has scored high marks from teachers and students. Britain has left the program, which was regarded as a boon for students and a boost for British universities.

The Galileo satellite navigation program unmask how costly it is to launch programs on the edge of high-tech. After Brexit, Britain will not participate in its operation and development. The plan to build a more or less similar national system was abandoned because of costs. An alternative is being considered, but it will be neither easy nor cheap. These kinds of programs may in the long run engineer spin-offs that benefit the economy as a whole. Inside of the EU, the cost-benefit through cost-sharing may have been profitable for Britain. Outside of the EU, the cost-benefit turns against Britain.

Navigating the Future Tribulations and Triumphs of Transatlantic Digital Policy

by Ken Propp

Hopes are high in Brussels and Washington for restoring a more constructive transatlantic economic relationship. In early December, the European Commission presented some ideas for rebuilding ties with the United States. President-elect Joe Biden and his nominee for secretary of state Antony Blinken are confirmed transatlanticists, so the stage seems to be set for rapprochement. The prospect of better economic relations may not quickly materialize, however. Two difficult issues—data privacy and digital services tax—have the potential to throw the “reset” off-track before it has a chance to even be properly launched.

A crisis is brewing over possible interruption in transatlantic commercial data transfers. Last summer, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) handed down a sweeping judgment invalidating overnight the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, used by more than five thousand companies to send personal data to the United States for commercial purposes, over concerns about lack of legal protection for Europeans if their transferred data was surveilled by the U.S. National Security Agency. 

Anxiety grew in November when the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) advised companies that transfer to the United States utilizing contractual privacy protection clauses—the principal alternative to the Privacy Shield—should employ end-to-end encryption to keep the NSA at bay. The EDPB added that since end-to-end encryption is not feasible for certain data transfers, to cloud service providers or within a corporate group for purposes like customer service, they should not occur at all. Public comment on this aspect of the EDPB draft recommendations, including from European business groups, has been critical. Final guidance is due early in 2021. Unless Europe’s data protection regulators accept that some risk of government surveillance accompanies the movement of data beyond the EU’s borders, companies may lose the ability to rely on standard contract clauses for important categories of transatlantic data transfers. 

How Long Will It Take for the Whole World to Have the Coronavirus Vaccine?

by Stratfor Worldview

The United States and Europe will overcome the slow and problematic rollout of COVID vaccination campaigns in the coming months, but concerns about new strains of the virus will likely push governments to adjust protocols in order to speed up distribution. Changing the timing of doses, skipping a dose or combining vaccines are all high-risk endeavors in that they would disrupt data collection and analysis of vaccine efficacy in ongoing studies. But such vaccine protocol changes may nonetheless be deemed necessary to increase vaccination rates as policymakers scramble to quickly secure herd immunity and bring an end to the pandemic. Vaccination rates, however, will still likely hit a roadblock once skeptics from broader swaths of the population begin to defer immunization in successive vaccination waves. 

Twitter, Facebook and Co.The Growing Problem of Online Radicalization

By Markus Becker, Patrick Beuth, Markus Böhm, Max Hoppenstedt, Janne Knödler, Guido Mingels, Mathieu von Rohr, Marcel Rosenbach und Hilmar Schmundt

When the right-wing nationalist and Trump follower Tim Gionet forced his way into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he brought his social network along with him. He was broadcasting live on the streaming platform DLive, popular in the gaming scene – and he even collected money from his supporters in real time from the in-app donation function. Gionet, who has become a well-known, right-wing internet agitator under the alias "Baked Alaska," streamed for around 20 minutes, even trying to fire up his audience like a blowhard publicity hound. "We've got over 10,000 people live, watching. Let's go!" he said. "Hit that follow button! I appreciate you guys."

As Gionet and the rest of the mob pillaged their way through the halls of Congress, Gionet's followers typed encouraging messages into the app's chat channel – things like: "SMASH THE WINDOW," and "HANG ALL THE CONGRESSMEN." Indeed, it's just like a live chat among gamers, which is what DLive is primarily used for. During the broadcast, his followers rewarded him with lemons, the currency used by the platform, which has become popular among right-wing extremists because it allows its users to do pretty much whatever they want.

The 33-year-old is thought to have brought in around $2,000 during his rampage through the Capitol.

How Much Power Should Social Media Giants Have?

by Stratfor Worldview 

Large technology firms' content-moderation decisions in the wake of the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 will add to long-standing debates regarding their influence over online speech, which may accelerate global regulatory action. Media reports outline U.S. President Donald Trump's use of his social media accounts encouraging his supporters who ultimately broke into the Capitol. Similarly, significant attention has focused on how rioters used Parler, a Twitter-like microblogging and social networking site popular with right-wing groups and individuals, to organize and communicate, at times violently, before and during their siege.

Facebook announced it would ban the president's personal account at least through the Jan. 20 Inauguration Day; while Twitter, after initially only suspending his account temporarily, permanently banned it after two tweets the company said violated its policy against the glorification of violence. In making their announcements, each firm cited its responsibilities to remove content linked to violence.

Apple and Google removed Parler from their online app stores. Both cited Parler's failure to moderate violent language exchanged on the platform as justification for their actions.

How to Save Democracy From Technology

Francis Fukuyama, Barak Richman, and Ashish Goel

Among the many transformations taking place in the U.S. economy, none is more salient than the growth of gigantic Internet platforms. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, already powerful before the COVID-19 pandemic, have become even more so during it, as so much of everyday life moves online. As convenient as their technology is, the emergence of such dominant corporations should ring alarm bells—not just because they hold so much economic power but also because they wield so much control over political communication. These behemoths now dominate the dissemination of information and the coordination of political mobilization. That poses unique threats to a well-functioning democracy. 

While the EU has sought to enforce antitrust laws against these platforms, the United States has been much more tepid in its response. But that is beginning to change. Over the past two years, the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of state

Why the Tank Is Here to Stay

by Peter Suciu

Key point: These weapons are common all over the world ever since they were invented. Here is why even now many countries will keep tanks around.

After more than 100 years since the first tanks rolled into action during the Battle of the Somme in the First World War, the tank continues to evolve, but it is unlikely that these metal behemoths will likely disappear anytime soon. As the weapons systems improve and more autonomous functionality comes into play, the main battle tank (MBT) is proving that it is going to be hard to replace.

Simply put, the tank can do things only a tank can do. Despite the increasingly high price tags, research suggests tanks are a worthwhile investment. A new poll from the UK-based Army Technology found that 74 percent of respondents believe a main battle tank is worth the cost, while only 26 percent disagreed.

The main battle tank, which has been a mainstay of militaries around the world, essentially grew out of the medium tank in the 1960s. However, in recent years with the focus on the Global War on Terror and asymmetric counter-insurgent operations, the tank was seen by many to be a relic from the Cold War.

Kursk: This Climactic Tank Battle Sealed Hitler's Fate

by Warfare History Network

Here's What You Need to Know: Only the relatively recent declassification of Waffen SS combat records and the public accessibility of Russian archival material has revealed the true nature of Kursk: a brilliant tactical victory for the Germans, but a decisive strategic victory for the Soviets.

With the German Sixth Army destroyed at Stalingrad, the Soviet juggernaut lunged west and southwest across the River Donets. The Soviets seemed unstoppable, recapturing the major city of Kharkov from the Germans on February 14, 1943, roughly five months before the Battle of Kursk. At the time, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein was only waiting for the Soviets to overextend themselves. 

Once the Soviet armor ran dry of fuel and low on ammunition, Manstein unleashed Army Group South’s riposte. Fresh panzer formations sliced into the startled Soviet flanks, ripping apart two Soviet Fronts (Army Groups). Manstein’s brilliant counteroffensive restored the southern front and culminated in an SS frontal assault and a triumphant recapture of Kharkov.

Meanwhile, to the north of the Donets campaign, the Soviet winter offensive was held at bay before Orel by Field Marshal Günther von Kluge’s Army Group Center. Operations everywhere then bogged down to a standstill as the Russian spring thawed the frozen earth and turned it to mud. The thick “rasputitsa” clung to steel tank tracks, to truck tires, to the hoofs of tired horses, and to the boots of exhausted soldiers.

How the Military Wants to Kill Enemy Drone Swarms

by Kris Osborn

Swarms of enemy drones approaching a forward operating base or groups of dismounted soldiers present a unique and increasingly challenging threat. Enemy drones can blanket areas with surveillance, test enemy defenses, jam communications and even themselves become explosives to attack targets. 

This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.

The variety of uses of small drones, and the guidance systems which direct them, can be very difficult to defend against, a reality inspiring the current Air Force effort to solicit new ideas on ways to destroy them. The Air Force recently released a Request for Information (RFI) to industry, asking for new innovations able to counter small enemy drones. 

Certain small drones can hit speeds of 60-to-70 miles per hour, and some are small enough to fit in the palm of the hand. Swarms of these can be dispatched to cover an area with ISR and build-in redundancy so a mission can continue if one is destroyed.

Portions of the Air Force’s RFI describing the threats were quoted in Air Force Magazine as having “characteristics such as small size, low radar cross-sections, low infrared or radio frequency signatures (or no RF signatures), ability to hover, and low-altitude flight capability, which may render them difficult to detect and/or defeat. These UAS are typically either controlled remotely from a ground control station or capable of flying pre-planned routes.”