30 January 2021

Satellite catches Chinese survey ship mapping seabed in eastern Indian Ocean


New Delhi: A Chinese government survey ship, the Xiang Yang Hong 03, is currently operating in the Indian Ocean and carrying out a search pattern west of Sumatra, the latest satellite and open source intelligence (OSINT) has revealed.

This same vessel was last week accused of ‘running dark’, i.e., operating without broadcasting its position, in Indonesian territorial waters.

China’s Xiang Yang Hong survey ships are suspected of operating underwater gliders in the Indian Ocean to map the sea bed.

The Forgotten People Fighting the Forever War


Both the Trump and Obama administrations relied heavily on highly trained Special Forces units to keep Afghanistan from collapse. The strategy has kept recent episodes of the 21-year Afghan War out of the public eye, but it is failing to stabilize the country and is straining the United States military’s elite troops, who serve back-to-back combat tours without an end in sight and disproportionately give their lives in service of a war the public knows almost nothing about.

When Kunduz, a major city in northern Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban in 2015, U.S. Special Forces were dispatched on a secret mission to help Afghan commandos recapture it. Under-resourced and unprepared, the soldiers found themselves in the midst of a pitched battle with conflicting orders. The story of how it led to one of the U.S. military’s worst disasters in Afghanistan shows the perils of relying on Special Operations alone to fight the nation’s wars. 

Major Michael Hutchinson, a Green Beret with the 3rd Special Forces Group, was in charge of the secret operation to help Afghan commandos recapture Kunduz. It was his fifth combat deployment, counting three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, yet he had never experienced such intense fighting.

The Case for an Imperfect Solution in Afghanistan


Among the more ambitious foreign policy objectives of the Trump administration was its pursuit of a decisive resolution to the war in Afghanistan. Despite the persistence of insurgent attacks since the signing of the preliminary peace deal on February 29, 2020, optimism for a negotiated peace settlement with the Taliban has prevailed among a significant number of Afghan and international political and military leaders, Afghanistan analysts and scholars, and the Afghan population. This optimism has been bolstered by the December 2 signing of a procedures and modalities agreement in Qatar.

This optimism is driven by a narrative in which the Taliban are characterized as war-weary, coming to grips with the dim prospects of achieving a military victory, and in which this plummeting morale is credited with softening the Taliban’s stance, bringing them around to a reduction in violence in favor of a negotiated political solution. Much has been made of the Taliban’s willingness to come to the table, or “come under the tent” (to invoke a turn of phrase suggested to me in conversation with a former vice-president of Afghanistan). This development has been highlighted as a sign of progress, and heralded as a breakthrough credited to the Trump administration, carrying with it the implication that the United States has brought a diminished and demoralized negotiating partner to the table by means of an effective military campaign, and is in a position of strength. In line with this narrative, the ongoing Taliban terror attacks targeting Afghan civilians and military personnel across Afghanistan are chalked up to efforts by the Taliban to gain leverage at the negotiating table, and the continued presence of Operation Resolute Support (the successor coalition to ISAF) forces is justified by citing the need to maintain leverage with a military presence.

Though a receptive audience has embraced and buoyed this narrative, it nonetheless presents inconsistencies and non sequiturs.

Asia’s Rise In The War For Talent with Dr. Parag Khanna

Michael Michelini

Excited to share with you this week’s show – we are talking about the future of Asia with our guest who has a lot of resources and amazing insights. Dr. Parag Khanna is based in Singapore and I have read his articles. I learned a few things and got re-inspired. Let’s tune in.
Topics Covered in this Episode

[00:00:00] Episode 342 of Global from Asia and the URL globalfromasia.com/asia-future. Let’s do this talking about the future of Asia. Is it a place to be, or not? Welcome to the Global from Asia podcast, where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down, into straight up actionable advice.

[00:00:26] And now your host, Michael Michelini. All right, everybody. Thank you so much for choosing to download and listen and watch or whatever you do. You know, maybe reading the transcript of globalfromasia.com/asia-future. 342 shows every other week. I kind of feel a little bit reinspired, you know. This whole lockdown is driving me crazy.

[00:00:51] We can’t even get things delivered here from other cities within China. Like my wife loves buying on these Taobao sites and everything, but delivery, People don’t even come here. So it’s, it’s really not. So like we have to find local delivery now they. At least I’m not doing a COVID tests.

[00:01:13] At least let’s keep hoping and you know, just excited to share with you this week’s show. We have a great guest. I, I read his articles. He’s got books, he’s got lots of resources. He is based in Singapore. Parag Khanna and he had some really amazing insights. It gets me reinspired too about being in Asia, being based, doing business cross border trade, you know, is this the right place to be in this conversation?

[00:01:40] So, so was obviously a little bit biased, but we talk about, he talks about reasons why the war for talent, you know, the up to rising of, of developing countries in Asia and things like that. It’s pretty cool. I learned a few things and it got me reinspired so definitely check out the show. We will go through this.

Artificial Intelligence Collaboration in Asia’s Security Landscape

By Prashanth Parameswaran

On January 18, during his keynote address at the Fullerton Forum, which helps set the stage for the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum, Singapore Senior Minister of State Zaqy Mohamad highlighted artificial intelligence (AI) as an area where Asia’s defense establishments could help contribute to the promotion of wider interstate collaboration. Though far from surprising, Mohamad’s inclusion of AI as an area of focus reinforces both the opportunities and challenges in forging potential pathways for collaboration in AI within regional and global frameworks, given ongoing trends.

Though the field of AI – a catchall term for a set of technologies that enable machines to perform tasks that require human-like capabilities – has been around for decades, interest in it has surged over the past few years, including across the Asia-Pacific, with individual countries beginning to develop their own national approaches and multilateral groupings such as the OECD formulating guidance such as principles on AI. In the security realm more specifically, AI is emerging as a key topic for defense policymakers and communities alike in a range of areas, from assessments of its impact on geopolitical competition to areas of potential collaboration between some Indo-Pacific partners and their expert communities. It has also been a topic of discussion among scholars and policymakers in annual Asian security fora such as the Shangri-La Dialogue and the Xiangshan Forum.

Looking Past China’s Rise for the Trends Shaping Asia

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has begun to more aggressively challenge America’s role as the key economic and political power in Asia. Increasingly repressive at home, Xi has not shied away from asserting China’s regional influence, positioning Beijing as the powerbroker on everything from trade routes to the ongoing efforts to denuclearize North Korea. And with its Belt and Road Initiative, China’s influence is spreading well beyond Asia, into much of Africa and even Europe. China’s ascendance is also evident in how much attention other global powers are paying to Beijing and its policies.

But while China’s rise often makes headlines, it is not the only trend shaping events in Asia. Nationalism has become a force in democracies like India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode the wave of Hindu nationalism to a massive victory in the country’s 2019 parliamentary elections, and the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte’s electoral gains in midterm elections in 2019 left even fewer checks on his increasingly autocratic behavior. Meanwhile, Myanmar’s government continues its persecutions of Rohingya Muslims.

Hong Kong’s Present Echoes Tibet’s Past

By Simon Shen

Tibetan monks walk past a police car on the streets of Kangding, Ganzi prefecture of southwestern China’s Sichuan province on Monday, March 9, 2009.Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The current socio-political re-engineering in Hong Kong — called the “Second Handover” by some — is following a script reminiscent of the happenings in Tibet in 1959. Per Beijing’s official accounts, both the “1959 Tibet Rebellion” and the “2019 Hong Kong riots” were flashpoints triggering the end of these region’s distinct ways of life under their respective autonomous frameworks. However, if we compare the histories of the two territories under Chinese rule, a pattern emerges illustrating Beijing’s consistent strategy of handling frontier regions since the 1950s.

The “One Country, Two Systems” Era

Following capture of the Tibetan border town Chamdo by the People’s Liberation Army in 1951, China and Tibet signed the Seventeen Point Agreement. It affirmed Chinese sovereignty over Tibet but granted the region autonomy. For a while, the Kashag (the Tibetan local government) remained in place and protected Tibetan’s religious and socioeconomic systems. This autonomy – an early version of “one country, two systems” – was instituted out of necessity, as it would take time to dissolve the existing network of local interest groups. The same consideration underlay the Hong Kong handover – “one country, two systems” as promised by the Joint Sino-British Declaration was a means to buy time to get rid of the complex, interdependent interest groups in British Hong Kong, which would hinder a complete “reunification with the motherland.”

The Global Reach of China’s Venture Capital

By Sophie Zinser

In this July 20, 2018, file photo, a deliveryman stands near a mural displaying Chinese yuan and other world currency symbols on the outside of a bank in Beijing.Credit: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

Over the past few months, the Chinese government has made critical efforts to quash its $12.9 trillion shadow banking system and slowly break up its most influential business conglomerates. Last Wednesday, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission made public a notice ensuring that companies would become regulated on a trial ranking system. This regulation comes on the back of the last-minute block of Ant Group’s planned November IPO – set to be the largest IPO in world history – and Alibaba co-founder and tech giant Jack Ma’s subsequent unexplained disappearance from public life. The Chinese government is clearly encouraging the consolidation of smaller companies while breaking up bigger ones.

This push will impact how China’s corporate tech giants leverage their massive global influence abroad. Some of the first companies likely to see any changes work first are those who are receiving massive Chinese venture capital (VC) funding across South and Southeast Asia.

2021: The Year China and Taiwan Clash?

by J. Michael Cole

Less than week after the inauguration of a new administration in Washington, China is already flexing its muscles in the Taiwan Strait with a sizable show of force over the weekend. This escalation suggests that even as Beijing seeks a “reset” with Washington, D.C., under the Joe Biden administration, its coercive strategy against the democratic island-nation of Taiwan that it claims as its own will continue apace.

On Saturday, thirteen Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and PLA Navy (PLAN) aircraft penetrated Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The incident involved a Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, eight Xian H-6K bombers and four Shenyang J-16 fighter jets. The next day, fifteen aircraft—two Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, two Su-30, four J-16 and six J-10 fighter jets, as well as one Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft—flew into the southwest part of the ADIZ. Then on Monday, fifteen aircraft intruded into Taiwan's ADIZ: two Chinese Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, two Su-30, four J-16 and six J-10 fighter jets, as well as one Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, those were the highest number of Chinese aircraft to penetrate Taiwan’s ADIZ in 2021, and the highest since September 2020. Eighteen aircraft penetrated the ADIZ on September 18 (two H-6 bombers, eight J-16s, four J-11s and four J-10s) and nineteen—in “pincer formation”—on September 19 (twelve J-16, two J-10s, two J-11s, two H-6s and one Y-8). Later that month, PLA aircraft also intruded across the median line in the Taiwan Strait, and Chinese officials announced that the tacit agreement that had underpinned the median line no longer (or had never) applied. 

Chinese Navy Faces Overseas Basing Weakness, Report Says

By: John Grady

A major weakness “the largest navy in the world” has yet to solve is where Beijing will find skilled shipyard workers and modern facilities to maintain its fleet’s combat readiness far from its shores, the co-author of a major study examining Chinese vulnerabilities said Thursday.

Speaking in a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis online forum, Toshi Yoshihara said, “Chinese analysts can only dream about this access” to the host nation’s workforce and facilities at places such as Yokosuka in Japan and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean that the United States enjoys.

China “has a long way to go” in finding nations in “far seas” that are willing to become more actively involved with the People’s Liberation Army Navy and expose themselves to risk if war breaks out. In addition, Beijing would have to work very hard and at substantial cost to overcome “this tremendous lead” the United States has established in basing, maintenance and alliances since the end of World War II.

Yoshihara said, “we can’t contest China everywhere,” which is why Washington and its allies and partners need to have options “to complicate Chinese plans.” An example of that would be “to demonstrate the ability to defend … in the Indian Ocean.” The targeting of potential Chinese weakness could come in demonstrating “fleet air defense of Diego Garcia,” an action “very pointed and very specific.” The report adds that showing leap-ahead technologies in action is another way to alter Chinese thinking.

China's Foreign Policy Weapons: Technology, Coercion, Corruption

Hal Brands

China’s drive for dominance combines timeless ambitions with 21st-century methods. Look no further than Beijing’s growing quest for spheres of influence. Like countless great powers before it, China aims to shape and control its surroundings. It aspires to create geopolitical domains in which its interests are protected and its prerogatives heeded.

Yet Beijing is doing so, in part, through a digital-age approach to strategic rivalry, one that is forcing its rivals to rethink what spheres of influence are and how best to contest them.

Nine hurdles to reviving the Iran nuclear deal

By Seyed Hossein Mousavian

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on January 8 that Tehran was in no rush for the United States to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but, he also said, sanctions on Iran must be lifted immediately. “If the sanctions are lifted, the return of the Americans makes sense,” he insisted. President-elect Joe Biden has announced his plan to return to the deal soon after he is sworn into office. “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal,” he wrote in an op-ed for CNN, “the United States would rejoin.” His Iranian counterpart, President Hassan Rouhani, has also expressed willingness to return to the deal, stating that, “Iran could come into compliance with the agreement within an hour of the United States doing so.”

Five years ago, after years of intensive negotiations, six world powers managed to sign the world’s most comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. While the agreement was a political one, it was also ratified by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2231. And, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the organization tasked with verifying the agreement’s technical aspects, Iran was fully complying with the deal for about three years, until President Trump withdrew from it in May 2018. In response to the US violations of the nuclear agreement, Iran too reduced some of its commitments. Most recently, on January 4, Iran announced that it had increased its uranium enrichment levels to 20 percent.

Although reviving the agreement is certainly still possible, it won’t be easy. The two sides will need to overcome nine hurdles to make it happen.

Opinion: The Biden administration’s Saudi problem

David Ignatius

As the Biden administration seeks a better pathway in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, one obstacle is the case of two young Saudis imprisoned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to pressure their father, a former top Saudi intelligence official.

Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, has been trying to force the former intelligence official, Saad Aljabri, to return to the kingdom from Toronto, where he has been living in exile. Two of his children, Omar and Sarah Aljabri, 22 and 20, were arrested and imprisoned last March. Saad Aljabri’s eldest son Khalid, a cardiologist who lives with his father in exile, said they are being used as “political hostages” to secure the former official’s return.

With the transition to a new administration, Khalid Aljabri argued in an email to me, securing his siblings’ freedom “will be the U.S.’s most accurate litmus test for their ability to influence and alter the behavior of MBS.”

Despite President Donald Trump’s strong support for MBS, the State Department said in August that pressuring the Aljabri children was “unacceptable” and urged their immediate release, according to a letter provided by the Aljabri family. The letter said that any Saudi allegations against Aljabri “should be addressed through established legal channels with full transparency.”

Delusions of Dominance

By Stephen Wertheim

Four years ago, as Joe Biden prepared to leave the vice-presidency, he told the World Economic Forum that the United States would continue to lead the “liberal international order” and “fulfill our historic responsibility as the indispensable nation.” The years that followed were not kind to Biden’s assurances. President Donald Trump rejected a world-ordering role for the United States, unleashing “America first” nationalism instead. More important, perhaps, Trump exposed the shallow domestic political support for the high-minded abstractions for which foreign policy elites ask soldiers to fight and citizens to pay. By the time of his presidential campaign in 2020, Biden no longer spoke much about the liberal international order or American indispensability. He emphasized healing the country’s domestic wounds and influencing others “not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.”

The Last Chance for American Internationalism

By Hal Brands

Donald Trump’s presidency will end on January 20, but his influence on U.S. foreign policy will not. For decades before Trump’s election in 2016, the United States pursued a strategy of hardheaded internationalism, employing its power on behalf of a relatively cooperative, open world order. The outgoing president rejected that tradition, marrying American muscle to a starkly nationalist and often illiberal agenda both at home and abroad. No longer was the United States an exceptional superpower, committed to democratic values and principled leadership. Trump, though not always the administration he led, envisioned the United States as a country exceptional only in the influence it could wield to secure its narrowly defined national interests.

Trump deserves credit for puncturing certain illusions of the post–Cold War era and creating some tactical opportunities that President-elect Joe Biden might be able to exploit. But by and large, he has taken U.S. strategy down a dangerous path. The Trump years revealed that illiberal nationalism will not help the United States navigate a stubbornly interdependent world or compete with predatory authoritarian powers. And by sowing doubts about the United States’ long-term commitment to democratic norms and constructive global leadership, Trump has created a crisis of American internationalism that will outlast his presidency.

The incoming Biden administration now faces a daunting task. U.S. allies may not come rushing back with open arms; the new president cannot simply declare that the United States has returned. Rather, Biden must update American internationalism for a new era of geopolitical and ideological rivalry and restore, domestically and globally, the credibility of a tradition that has been badly damaged. If he fails, history may look upon his presidency as the last gasp, rather than the second wind, of American internationalism.

Putin, Poison, and Self-Inflicted Wounds: Navalny’s Return to Russia

The dramatic arrest of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny at a Moscow airport on Sunday is the latest in a series of self-inflicted wounds by the Kremlin. The most egregious was the state-backed assassination attempt against Navalny using a military-grade nerve agent. Taken together, the Kremlin has indisputably propelled him to the leadership of Russia’s beleaguered opposition, and in the process undercut one of its long-running political strategies over the past two decades: strengthening President Vladimir Putin’s standing by ensuring that the political landscape remains free of any meaningful political challengers. 

Most of the current media attention focuses on Navalny’s bravery in returning home to face almost certain arrest and confinement. That decision was fairly straightforward: had Navalny remained in Germany, he would simply have joined the ranks of Putin’s many critics living in exile.

The Kremlin’s hard-edged treatment of Navalny has backfired spectacularly. Having miraculously survived the poisoning, he has become something of a mythical hero, resurrected and given a second chance: not to live out his days peacefully abroad, but to conquer evil, defy death, and defeat his enemies.

The Russian authorities faced their own dilemma of how better to demonstrate the insignificance of their opponent: arrest him (for the Orwellian charge of allegedly breaking the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence for embezzlement), or pretend to ignore his return? The plot to kill Navalny demanded a secret operation that could be denied for all eternity. Arresting him is an open act by the state that cannot be denied: it must be explained and justified. 

Will Angela Merkel’s Ambiguous Legacy Last?


Unless the coronavirus pandemic upends Germany’s federal elections in September 2021, Chancellor Angela Merkel will be political history.

This consummate politician—chancellor since 2005—will leave the center stage after winning four elections for her Christian Democratic Union party (CDU).

But before she does so, Merkel has to deal with some urgent matters. She must ensure that Germany and the EU can economically recover from the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping across Europe.

She has a few months to mend bilateral and transatlantic relations with the incoming U.S. administration of Joe Biden.

And she must give the EU the direction and strategy it needs to deal with China and Russia at a time when both countries are sowing divisions in Europe and exacerbating tensions in the transatlantic relationship.


Implementing Restraint Changes in U.S. Regional Security Policies to Operationalize a Realist Grand Strategy of Restraint

by Miranda Priebe

Research Questions

What broad and specific changes to U.S. security policies toward key regions have advocates of restraint already recommended?

Where do key policy prescriptions still need to be developed?

What type of analysis would help fill these gaps?

The United States is facing several national security challenges at the same time that the federal budget is under pressure because of public health and infrastructure crises. In response to these challenges, there has been growing public interest in rethinking the U.S. role in the world. Under one option, a realist grand strategy of restraint, the United States would adopt a more cooperative approach toward other powers, reduce the size of its military and forward military presence, and end or renegotiate some of its security commitments. To help U.S. policymakers and the public understand this option, the authors of this report explain how U.S. security policies toward key regions would change under a grand strategy of restraint, identify key unanswered questions, and propose next steps for developing the policy implications of this option.


OVERVIEWAt the start of 2021, the United States is the most powerful, politically divided, and economically unequal of the world's industrial democracies. China is America's strongest competitor, a state capitalist, authoritarian, and techno-surveillance regime that is increasingly mistrusted by most G20 countries. Germany and Japan are much more stable, but the most powerful leaders both have had in decades are out (former prime minister Abe Shinzo) or on their way out (Chancellor Angela Merkel). Russia is in decline and blames the US and the West for its woes. And the world is in the teeth of the worst crisis it has experienced in generations.DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT

You'd hope a global pandemic would prove an opportunity for the world's leaders to work together. That was at least mostly true after 9/11 and the 2008 global financial crisis. Both were smaller in scale but set against a broadly aligned geopolitical order … and politically functional United States. Not so today.

That matters because just as 2020 was overwhelmingly about healthcare responses to Covid-19 (and how much many governments got wrong), 2021 will overwhelmingly be about economic responses to Covid-19's lingering symptoms and scar tissue (debt burdens and misaligned politics), even as vaccines roll out and the healthcare emergency fades. As economic issues come to the fore, there is no global leadership on political models, trade standards, and international architecture to follow.

The Dawn of a New 30 Years’ Crisis

By Dr. Hasim Turker

After a few highly turbulent months, the Trump era will end on January 20, 2021. But the past four years have not only demonstrated that the United States is losing its ability to control the global system, but it has also made it clear that the domestic order is beginning to deteriorate back home. A much more painful period awaits America and the global system in the years ahead. America’s difficulties constitute its soft belly. These weaknesses could not only whet the appetite of the United States’ rivals, but also its allies and partners. This period has important similarities with the troubled decades between the two world wars. Therefore, it would be appropriate to question whether we are heading into a new ‘Thirty Year’s Crisis,’ with reference to Edward Hallett Carr.

Realism is on the rise

The most important proposition of realism is that the world system has an anarchic structure. No authority exists in this anarchic structure and power is the fundamental concept that determines the relations between states. Although the world system does not generally have a structure that determines the rules that all states must obey, forcing obedience and punishing those who resist, one state inevitably emerges that is relatively stronger than the others. The periods when such a state has the capacity to affect the entire globe in military, political, economic and cultural terms are referred to by the name of the state in question. For instance, Pax Romana denotes the ‘Roman Peace,’ when the Roman Empire was the dominant power in the world system and was able to impose its hegemony and set rules and norms. In such periods, realism is declared dead, or at least less important. Idealism prevails. This is at least so far as the dominant power of the system is concerned.

Intelligence Analysts Use U.S. Smartphone Location Data Without Warrants, Memo Says

By Charlie Savage

WASHINGTON — A military arm of the intelligence community buys commercially available databases containing location data from smartphone apps and searches it for Americans’ past movements without a warrant, according to an unclassified memo obtained by The New York Times.

Defense Intelligence Agency analysts have searched for the movements of Americans within a commercial database in five investigations over the past two and a half years, agency officials disclosed in a memo they wrote for Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.

The disclosure sheds light on an emerging loophole in privacy law during the digital age: In a landmark 2018 ruling known as the Carpenter decision, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution requires the government to obtain a warrant to compel phone companies to turn over location data about their customers. But the government can instead buy similar data from a broker — and does not believe it needs a warrant to do so.

“D.I.A. does not construe the Carpenter decision to require a judicial warrant endorsing purchase or use of commercially available data for intelligence purposes,” the agency memo said.

Mr. Wyden has made clear that he intends to propose legislation to add safeguards for Americans’ privacy in connection with commercially available location data. In a Senate speech this week, he denounced circumstances “in which the government, instead of getting an order, just goes out and purchases the private records of Americans from these sleazy and unregulated commercial data brokers who are simply above the law.”

Jamestown Foundation:Terrorism Monitor, January 15, 2021, v. 19, no. 1

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

Boko Haram’s Pan-Nigerian Affiliate System after the Kankara Kidnapping: A Microcosm of Islamic State’s ‘External Provinces’

Inside Duterte’s Failed Response to the Philippines’ Communist Insurgency and the Appeal of New People’s Army among Indigenous Peoples

The Electronic Warfare Revolution is Changing How the Army Operates

by Kris Osborn

The U.S. Army is moving quickly to build multi-functional, cyber-enabled electronic warfare (EW) applications into large and small combat platforms, including Stryker vehicles, helicopters, devices for the dismounted soldier and even small drones. 

Some of these are increasingly enabled by an emerging software-based technical system called Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT)

Raytheon’s EWPMT can operate out of a laptop or server stack configuration and the technology is now being finalized as part of a multi-function terrestrial layer for platforms such as Stryker vehicles. It is also built to sustain functionality in a GPS-denied environment and merge with newly emerging technologies designed to solidify Positioning, Navigation and Timing variables. To meet these requirements, EWPMT uses a chat function with technology to geolocate operational positions. The software can be set to provide “automated alerts” for users and also enable what’s called machine-to-machine interface wherein platforms can increasingly network signal-specific data across a dispersed battlefield. 

The Cyber Underground – Resistance to Active Measures and Propaganda: “The Disruptors” - Motto: “Think For Yourself”

David S. Maxwell

The open societies of the US and free and democratic nations are being subverted by active measures and propaganda to undermine political processes and sow cultural and political divisions to allow closed societies of revisionist and revolutionary powers to dominate in international affairs. The way to counter this effort is through a grass roots resistance movement that consists of an educated, activist, energetic, and empowered youth who seek to be part of something larger than themselves and validate their self-worth as disruptors of the status quo. However, the closed societies are challenging their ability to disrupt because active measures and propaganda have taken away their initiative. A new grass roots movement, a cyber underground, organized around special operations principles can create a nationwide and global network that will seek out, identify, understand, and expose active measures and propaganda from closed societies in order to protect free and open societies. In short our nation wide youth of disruptors will channel their abilities to beat the revisionist and revolutionary disruptors. The exposure of adversary active measures and propaganda will inoculate the population against their effects and render their efforts ineffective and useless. This movement will help to restore and sustain what George Kennan termed the “health and vigor of our own society” that is the vital antidote to the subversive threats that we face.


The values and political systems of open democratic societies are facing a world wide campaign of subversion by powers that seek to undermine democracies in order to strengthen their power in their region and throughout the world. This subversive campaign requires a global asymmetric response that cannot be organized by governments. It requires a grass roots resistance to conduct a counter cyber subversion campaign. An organizing principle may be found in both the modern concept of crowd sourcing and the application of special operations principles. 

Three Steps to Fight Online Disinformation and Extremism


It is no understatement to say that the last few weeks have reshaped the landscape of information warfare. The online playing field, long tilted toward toxicity by algorithms and social-media executives devoted to keeping people clicking, has begun to be righted. The biggest superspreader of online lies has been deplatformed, tens of thousands of conspiracy theorists and extremists have seen their accounts purged, and the plug has been pulled on various hubs of racism like Parler. These actions altered the online back-and-forth between truth and lies, separating the eras of “before Jan. 6” and “after.” 

Yet all this has merely halted our nation’s dangerous tumble down the rabbit hole of mis- and disinformation. Next must come short-, medium-, and long-term efforts to help us climb out — and make sure that we don’t fall back in.

Near-term: change the message

It took a violent insurrection seeking to overturn an election, but social-media companies finally moved to close the pathways of disinformation. Now they are being beaten up for doing the right thing.