13 February 2021

Rebooting the Indian Army: A Doctrinal Approach to Force Restructuring


The ongoing conflict on the Sino-Indian border has highlighted the need for structural reforms in the Indian Army. This paper examines the impact of the Joint Doctrine of Indian Armed Forces, 2017 (JDIAF) and the Indian Army’s Land Warfare Doctrine, 2018 (LWD) on the development of the Indian Army’s tactical concepts, organisational structures, and the weapons and equipment profile. It discusses the importance of formulating a formal National Security Strategy and suggests specific doctrinal imperatives that must be taken into consideration while articulating India’s LWD to counter emerging threats effectively.

Attribution: Deepak Sinha, “Rebooting the Indian Army: A Doctrinal Approach to Force Restructuring,” ORF Issue Brief No. 439, February 2021, Observer Research Foundation.

“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

In early May 2020, tensions flared up along the Sino-Indian border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC), in Eastern Ladakh, the casus belli being the unprovoked and unexpected belligerence on the part of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in an attempt to change the status quo on the LAC by occupying large tracts of disputed territory claimed by both sides. The PLA has prevented the Indian Army (IA) from conducting routine patrolling along its Claim Line—the standard practice that has been followed by both sides for years.[1] The IA responded to China’s actions under the ambit of “Operation Snow Leopard,”[2] raising the stakes by occupying dominating heights in the Chushul and Pangong Tso Sub-Sectors.

Gender Reality in Bangladesh: Issues and Possibilities

Bikram Keshari Mishra

Bangladesh has made marked strides in many social development indicators such as: structural, economic, cultural, education, healthcare, and political policies. Experience reveals that the influence of patriarchy has not stood in the way of the country’s progress and has not hindered women’s development or minimization of the gender gap. The country now ranks 50 in the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) covering 153 countries leaving India, China, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan far behind. The present paper is a modest endeavor to make sense of the country’s trajectory of women’s development: its attainments and initiatives, problems, and possibilities. 

JADC2 May Be Built To Fight The Wrong War


JADC2, Lockheed Martin image

Although it is one of the US military’s highest priorities, service and industry leaders remain confused about Joint All-Domain Command and Control, variously describing it as a communication architecture, a data-sharing approach, an operational concept, or a decision-making tool. Last week the Joint Staff J-6, Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, provided much-needed clarity by characterizing JADC2 as a new decision-making approach to support the emerging Joint Warfighting Concept.

Reframing JADC2 as a decision-making approach is a welcome development. Most discussions of JADC2 reference the flawed goal of connecting every sensor with every shooter across a theater, which risks a massive misallocation of money and effort. The failure of Network-Centric Warfare during the 2000s should have dissuaded US military leaders from once again pursuing theater-wide situational awareness and control. Not only is perfect connectivity unlikely in the contested electromagnetic spectrum US forces will face against capable enemies, only a portion of the US military’s multiple generations of diverse equipment is useful in any given situation.

Instead of attempting to build networks that can support a fixed hierarchical command structure under all conditions, DoD should establish command relationships and capabilities that can adapt to changing communications availability. JADC2 should therefore focus on providing decision support that reduces the force’s reliance on wide-area networks and improves a commander’s options.

It’s All About “Optionality”

Toward a new American China strategy

by Frederick Kempe

Today the Atlantic Council publishes an extraordinary new strategy paper that offers one of the most insightful and rigorous examinations to date of Chinese geopolitical strategy and how an informed American strategy would address the challenges of China’s own strategic ambitions.

Written by a former senior government official with deep expertise and experience dealing with China, the strategy sets out a comprehensive approach, and details the ways to execute it, in terms that will invite comparison with George Kennan’s historic 1946 “long telegram” on Soviet grand strategy. We have maintained the author’s preferred title for the work, “The Longer Telegram,” given the author’s aspiration to provide a similarly durable and actionable approach to China.

The focus of the paper is China’s leader and his behavior. “The single most important challenge facing the United States in the twenty-first century is the rise of an increasingly authoritarian China under President and General Secretary Xi Jinping,” it says. “US strategy must remain laser focused on Xi, his inner circle, and the Chinese political context in which they rule. Changing their decision-making will require understanding, operating within, and changing their political and strategic paradigm. All US policy aimed at altering China’s behavior should revolve around this fact, or it is likely to prove ineffectual.”

The author of this work has requested to remain anonymous, and the Atlantic Council has honored this for reasons we consider legitimate but that will remain confidential. The Council has not taken such a measure before, but it made the decision to do so given the extraordinary significance of the author’s insights and recommendations as the United States confronts the signature geopolitical challenge of the era. The Council will not be confirming the author’s identity unless and until the author decides to take that step.

Once a Jihadist, Always a Jihadist? A Deradicalization Program Seen from the Inside


France has traditionally taken a security-based approach to the fight against terror. It was a latecomer to the field of radicalization prevention and the establishment of disengagement programs aimed at jihadists. It only started to think seriously about the issue in 2013 and its first attempts involved certain irregularities.

For that reason, deradicalization suffers from a persistent bad reputation in France. The disengagement and reintegration programs established since 2016—RIVE from 2016 until 2018 and PAIRS, which started in 2018 and is still running—have operated behind closed doors. Discreetness was preferred to overcommunication. This study—the result of a long-term field survey of the staff, participants, and partners of PAIRS—opens the black box of disengagement methods. It offers a nuanced assessment of these initiatives, which, after four years of operations, have produced reassuring results: among the dozens of terrorist offenders who have participated in RIVE and PAIRS in open custody, none have reoffended.

Biden’s First Middle East Moves

By George Friedman

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden took two steps in the Middle East. The first was that he notified Congress of his intention to remove the Houthis fighting in Yemen from the government’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. The second was that he said the U.S. would end its support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen and would review its relationship with Saudi Arabia over concerns about that country’s human rights record. In and of themselves, these two actions have little meaning. Viewed together, they may represent a radical shift in U.S. Middle East policy. The question, of course, is how and even whether this shift will affect the reality of the region. As I have so often written, policy is the list of things we wish for. Geopolitical reality is what we get.

The Houthis are a major faction in what seems the eternal Yemeni civil war. They are aligned with Iran, facing off against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The war in Yemen has to a great extent morphed from a civil war into a war between other countries’ proxies. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been carrying out airstrikes and providing some support on the ground in the fight against the Houthis. Iran, on the other hand, has been providing missiles to the Houthis (or Houthi-appearing Iranian forces), which have been fired into Saudi Arabia.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Puts the Spotlight on Global Health Governance

The novel coronavirus caught many world leaders unprepared, despite consistent warnings that a global pandemic was inevitable. And it has revealed the flaws in a global health architecture headed by the World Health Organization, which had already been faulted for its response to the 2014 Ebola pandemic in West Africa. Will there be an overhaul of the WHO when the pandemic is over?

After the novel coronavirus first emerged late last year in Wuhan, China, its combination of transmissibility and lethality brought the world to a virtual standstill. Governments restricted movement, closed borders and froze economic activity in a desperate attempt to curb the spread of the virus. At best, they partially succeeded at slowing down the first wave, with the second wave experts warned about now upon us. According to official records so far, more than 103 million people worldwide have been infected, and more than 2.2 million have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The actual toll of the virus is far worse and will continue to climb.

Governments will now have to balance the need to resume economic activity with measures that limit the virus’s spread until a vaccine is discovered and distributed—an outcome that is still months away, at best, despite promising test results from rapidly developed vaccine candidates. How they attempt to resolve that tension could have implications for how long they remain in power.

Counterinsurgency Isn’t the Answer


Okay, let’s put an end to this silliness before it gets out of hand: We do not need a counterinsurgency strategy to defeat right-wing extremism in the United States of America.

Say it with me once more, for the people in the back: We do not need a counterinsurgency strategy to defeat right-wing extremism in the United States of America.

Not only that, but we shouldn’t listen to those who seek to apply the lessons of our failed campaigns abroad to our political challenges here.

In the past several weeks, some folks who are, like me, veterans of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have suggested that some of the extremists we face in the United States are akin to the forces we struggled to defeat abroad. On NPR Tuesday afternoon, for example, Robert Grenier, a former senior intelligence officer, made this argument (with—surprise—more nuance than social media gave him credit for).

Vaccine Nationalism Harms Everyone and Protects No One

By Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

We are in a race against time. The development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in record time is a remarkable testament to modern scientific capabilities. Whether it will bring an end to this terrible pandemic is a test of the world’s political will and moral commitment.

Despite the growing number of vaccine options, current manufacturing capacity meets only a fraction of global need. Vaccines are the best chance of bringing this pandemic under control—unless leaders succumb to vaccine nationalism.

International collaboration among scientists was critical to vaccine development, but now weak cooperation between nations is a major barrier to achieving worldwide vaccination at the scale needed to end the pandemic. Vaccine equity isn’t just a slogan; it protects people everywhere, protects the existing shots from new vaccine-resistant variants, and strengthens the international community’s ability to stop COVID-19.

Into the Grey Zone: The 'offensive cyber' used to confuse Islamic State militants and prevent drone attacks

Deborah Haynes

The UK has revealed new details about a secret cyber operation against Islamic State that targeted the group's ability to fly drones, meddled with their phones and hit their propaganda.

The mission - told to Sky News by the head of GCHQ and a top general in their first joint interview - gives a sense of the kind of hacks and other covert attacks Britain is able to conduct against countries, criminals and terrorists in the grey zone of cyberspace.

Speaking about the challenge, General Sir Patrick Sanders, commander of Strategic Command, warned that the UK's enemies are using social media to sow division, spread conspiracy theories and tear "the fabric of society apart".

He and Jeremy Fleming, the GCHQ director, said a new cyber force launched last year could be used to help protect the UK from disinformation attacks spreading online.

The two men were speaking on Sky News's Into The Grey Zone podcast about the National Cyber Force as well as the action against Islamic State (IS), which is the only avowed offensive cyber operation by the UK to-date. It was most active in 2016 into 2017.

Biden’s ‘Foreign Policy for the Middle Class’ Takes Shape

Stewart M. Patrick

In his first foreign policy address as president, delivered last week at the State Department, Joe Biden drew the curtain on the disastrous Trump era, rededicating the United States to repairing its tattered alliances, reengaging the world and defending freedom. “We are ready to take up the mantle of global leadership yet again,” he declared. “America is back. Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.”

The most novel aspect of Biden’s plainspoken speech was how he erased any clear distinction between foreign and domestic policy. The nation’s strength at home determines its success abroad—and vice versa. But there were still two lingering questions. First, are others are prepared to follow America’s lead, particularly in defending freedom, when its own democratic experiment is so tarnished? Second, can Biden reconcile his democracy promotion agenda with the need for practical cooperation with rivals in China and Russia on shared global challenges? 

Welcome to the Era of Competitive Climate Statecraft


2020 wasn’t only the year a pandemic hit the world; it was also the second hottest in history. Regions around the world faced wildfires, droughts, severe weather, and much more. The magnitude of the COVID-19 challenge should have brought nations together to cooperate and coordinate action. However, in many cases, the varying and shambolic responses illustrate the global system’s dysfunction when seeking to respond to a worldwide crisis. Will climate change be a different story?

Climate has moved from a lower-rung priority to a top-tier one—ushering in a new era of climate statecraft. What this means in practice is how countries employ a climate-driven agenda around trade, finance, development, and national and international security, as well as the tools of state management. Even the two carbon hegemons—the United States and China—are taking bolder climate action. The United States, China, and the European Union account for over 50 percent of all global carbon emissions. The decisive acceleration in national climate pledges means most of the world’s big economies now have net-zero emissions targets in place. To achieve these ambitious targets, both domestic policies and foreign policy will have to change. Climate statecraft is becoming a centralizing force for many countries.

Can Putin Change Russia’s Role From Spoiler to Global Power?

Russia occupies an unusual position on the world stage. Under President Vladimir Putin, Moscow has repeatedly demonstrated that it has the capacity to destabilize the international order, but not the capacity to fill the vacuum it is creating. While Russia lacks the military strength to challenge U.S. supremacy, no one—particularly not the NATO alliance—is ignoring its capabilities. Moscow’s use of arms sales and military engagements to build ties to countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and especially the Middle East has also attracted attention. And its massive exports of fossil fuels to Europe offers Russia additional leverage.

Even as Moscow maintains an outsized influence on the global stage, discontent is brewing at home. Putin has dominated the Russian political scene for more than two decades, but his popularity is waning amid a slowing economy and following a deeply unpopular pension reform effort. That didn’t stop him from engineering a way to hold onto power after his current presidential term ends in 2024, despite a constitutional term limit. But it has opened space for Putin’s long-suffering political opponents to call attention to the corruption and violence that have marked his tenure. The most prominent among them, Alexei Navalny, almost paid for his life for doing so, and still might pay with his freedom.

Russian Crisis Behavior, Nagorno-Karabakh and Turkey?

Richard Giragosian, David G. Lewis and Graeme P. Herd

On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan initiated a war to retake the disputed Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven districts of Azerbaijan held by Armenian forces.1 The forty-four-day war resulted in a resounding defeat for the Armenian forces and only halted with the acceptance of a Russian-imposed agreement for a cessation of hostilities on November 9-10, 2020. Although the war was initially expected to unfold as a war of attrition with an eventual stalemate based on the advantages of terrain of the Armenian defenders, reality differed in terms of duration, intensity, and outcome.


Both the timing and the terms of the Russian-crafted ceasefire agreement displayed a deft and sophisticated approach to coercive mediation by Moscow, acknowledging both the complexity of competing interests and the “red lines” of the combatants. We can point to four ways in which the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict strengthened Russia’s power and position.

First, Nagorno-Karabakh represents an important success in reasserting Russian influence in the post-Soviet space through its demonstration effect. Russia was able to assert its status as the decisive and indispensable deal-maker. Russia can use the peacekeeping operation as a mechanism to conduct direct mediation between Baku, Yerevan, and the remnants of Nagorno-Karabakh, rather than indirectly as the leading arms provider to both sides. Indeed, the greater the number of disagreements between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the more indispensable Russian mediation and arbitration becomes. The convening power of Putin is demonstrated by his capacity to summon and cajole both Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev to Moscow to accept the implementation of the ceasefire. Whereas Nagorno-Karabakh was formerly the only conflict in the Former Soviet Union with no Russian presence, Russia now has military bases in all three states in the South Caucasus (over 11,000 troops) and expanded its economic leverage through its presence in policing transport corridors (Megri and Lachin). The Russian narrative that “Color Revolutions”— such as the “Velvet Revolution” that brought Prime Minster Pashinyan to power in 2018—end in violence and defeat is reinforced.

Russia’s Peacekeeping Operation in Nagorno-Karabakh: Goals and Challenges

During a meeting in Moscow on 11 January, the representatives of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan discussed the situation after the ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict. The peacekeeping force of the Russian Federation located in NK remains the guarantor of the cessation of the fighting. The practice of Russian conciliation so far differs from that of UN peacekeeping operations and strengthens Russia’s military position in the region. A challenge for it will be Turkey’s growing ambitions in the South Caucasus, as well as the lack of an agreed status for NK, which in the future may lead to the resumption of military operations in this territory.

The agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, signed under the auspices of Russia on 9 November 2020, ended the 44-day military operation in NK and other areas occupied by the Armenians outside the disputed region. Oversight of the implementation of the agreement was entrusted to Russian peacekeeping forces deployed on the territory of NK and the Lachin Corridor. The core of the peace contingent consists of units of the 15th Separate Motorised Rifle Brigade from the Central Military District with a total of 1,960 troops. Their task is to clear the area, assist in the return of refugees, and monitor the implementation of the ceasefire by the parties to the conflict.
Russia’s Goals in NK

What Is So Foreign About Foreign Influence Operations?


The Lines in the Sand paper series, produced by Carnegie’s Partnership on Countering Influence Operations, uses multiple perspectives to analyze difficult policy questions and key challenges related to combating influence operations. The series seeks to draw lines in the sand to help industry leaders and government policymakers at the forefront of these efforts to develop effective countervailing policies.

Influence operations are increasingly seen as a threat to democratic societies because they can corrupt the integrity of political deliberation. As individuals engage in debate on social media, political deliberation becomes vulnerable to potentially destructive forms of interference. Many debates on what to do about influence operations emphasize that these operations constitute what is deemed to be a foreign threat. But does the notion of foreignness, viewed in isolation, constitute a helpful lens for distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate influence operations?

Ultimately, the lens of foreignness is only helpful when applied to a narrow set of cases. One sensible way of reviewing when the concept of foreignness can be useful in distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate influence operations is to consider three separate conceptions of how to determine what counts as foreign: foreign states, foreign citizens, and foreign interests. In the first case, influence operations are seen as threatening acts directed at a targeted state by foreign states, using behaviors seen as analogous to acts of war. In the second instance, influence operations are considered threatening acts conducted by foreign citizens that undermine domestic democratic systems in a targeted state. In cases of the third sort, influence operations are viewed as acts aimed at advancing foreign interests through the illegitimate employment of soft power.

Highlights from the U.S. Navy War College Conference on Climate Change and National Security

By Elsa Barron

On January 9th, climate and security experts, many from the Center on Climate and Security (CCS), virtually convened for a US Naval War College conference, “The National Security Significance of a Changing Climate.” The conference organizer, Dr. Andrea Cameron, highlighted the timeliness of this conversation, as the United States enters an executive transition that will bring a heightened focus on climate change as a serious national security threat. However, even with that prioritization, comprehensively addressing the security implications of climate change will be a hefty task. Keynote speaker, Hon. Alice Hill, Member of the CCS Advisory Board, highlighted that the two largest challenges on this front are a lack of education about climate change and its politicization in the United States (see keynote here). By providing a space for a robust and nonpartisan discussion of climate change and its national security risks, the Naval War College hopes to help address those concerns.

The conference followed five major themes in environmental security: global power competition, ocean competition and the blue economy, impacts on fragile states, domestic security implications, and Department of Defense (DoD) budget and infrastructure. In each of these discussions, experts analyzed the past but largely looked to future risks, echoing Hill’s recognition that, “The past is no longer a safe guide to the future when it comes to climate change.”

A Climate Security Plan for America Part 2: Assess Climate Risks

By Erin Sikorsky

If the first pillar of the Climate Security Plan for America is all about leadership, the second pillar is about ensuring those leaders have the information they need to take decisive, effective action. In this section of the plan, we note that though climate change poses unprecedented risks, we’re also in a moment of unprecedented foresight – a combination that gives us a Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent. Advanced climate modeling allows us to project the implications of a range of emissions levels on risks such as sea level rise, rainfall variability, wildfires, impacts on biodiversity and marine and terrestrial ecosystems and functions, and new disease ranges.

Foresight does not automatically translate to action, however. In order to leverage these models for national security insights, the U.S. government must have the personnel, programs, and systems in place to conduct robust and actionable assessments of climate risks. Our plan calls on the administration to “take advantage of unprecedented foresight about climate change.” President Biden’s new Executive Order (EO), Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, takes important steps in this direction–his actions and our recommendations for what should come next are below:
Prioritize Intelligence Assessments on Climate Security: The EO fulfills President Biden’s campaign pledge to task a National Intelligence Estimate on the economic and security impacts from climate change. Such a report should build on previous climate warnings, including the ODNI’s annual Worldwide Threat Assessment and the 2016 NIC climate report, and its findings should shape regional threat analysis as well. Further, the establishment of an interagency Climate Security Crisis Watch Center would strengthen the intelligence community’s ability to rapidly analyze and warn of key climate threats, and serve as a central resource for the national security apparatus.

The Evolution of Russian Hybrid Warfare: Introduction

Alina Polyakova

In 2018, CEPA examined Russia’s approach to nonlinear competition in its well-received report “Chaos as a Strategy: Putin’s ‘Promethean’ Gamble.”1 The report’s initial assessment was that Kremlin leaders were applying military and nonmilitary means as one in the same, that they were strategic in intention and opportunistic in their use of chaos, and that they were succeeding by effectively managing two of the most essential variables in their strategy: time and risk.

The result is a form of strategic competition whereby Russia sows chaos to achieve its agenda beyond its borders by deploying an array of hybrid warfare tools. This “chaos strategy” calculates that a relatively weakened Kremlin can avoid direct competition with the West to still successfully compete by splintering its opponents’ alliances, dividing them internally, and undermining their political systems, and by doing so ensure long-term regime survival.2

From the Kremlin’s perspective, hybrid warfare is a tactical application of the chaos strategy. It is full spectrum warfare that deploys a blend of conventional and nonconventional means aimed at affecting on the ground changes in target while seeking to avoid direct military confrontation with Western states. Hybrid warfare is employed in a tailored way to sow chaos in target countries. Such efforts generally include irregular warfare, active measures, and special operations.3 Unable to compete in direct confrontation, the Kremlin’s use of hybrid warfare is a means to compensate for its weaknesses vis-à-vis the United States and NATO.

EU–US Collaboration on Quantum Technologies

Martin Everett

The development of quantum technologies represents a significant scientific advance with the potential to benefit many. However, security concerns over quantum technologies in the fields of computing and communications – chiefly in relation to encryption and decryption – have limited international cooperation.

Existing discussions between the EU and US on quantum technologies remain low key. However, closer partnerships in the sector are possible in basic scientific research and communications standards.

In order to remain a relevant player in the advancement of quantum technology, EU-based researchers and start-ups are in need of additional support – in terms of funding and policy – to enable closer cooperation with global researchers and institutions, particularly in the US.

While claims of ‘quantum supremacy’ – where a quantum computer outperforms a classical computer by orders of magnitude – continue to be contested, the security implications of such an achievement have adversely impacted the potential for future partnerships in the field.

Quantum communications infrastructure continues to develop, though technological obstacles remain. The EU has linked development of quantum capacity and capability to its recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to make rapid progress through its Quantum Communication Initiative.

‘Spectrum Superiority’ Key To All Domain Operations: Gen. Hyten


WASHINGTON: As the Joint Staff develops a Joint Warfighting Concept to guide America’s new way of war, All Domain Operations, it’s becoming increasingly clear that control of the electromagnetic spectrum is key to its success, says Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten. And that means setting spectrum requirements will be key to ADO.

“We have to be able to effectively fight and win the electromagnetic spectrum fight right from the beginning — that is, electronic warfare in every domain,” Hyten told the Association of Old Crows (AOC). Hyten chairs the Joint Staff’s Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations Cross Functional Team, and, in addition, is the “senior designated official for EMSO, electromagnetic spectrum operations, in the Department of Defense.”

“Information advantage,” as Breaking D readers know, is one of four subcomponents to the Joint Warfighting Concept, along with joint fires, all-domain command and control, and contested logistics. While JCS Chair Gen. Mark Milley tasked the Navy to flesh out the approach to joint fires; the Air Force, Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), and the Army, contested logistics, Hyten back in September said the Joint Staff itself is working to conceptualize “information advantage” because no service volunteered.

Who’ll Fix EW? Task Force Gropes For Answers


Next Generation Jammer on EA-18G Growler

ARLINGTON: Five years ago, Pentagon research & engineering chief Alan Shaffer warned that “we have lost the electromagnetic spectrum.” Today, after the Russians have jammed US and allied radio, radar, and GPS from Syria to Ukraine to Norway, are we doing better?

“I’m going to characterize it this way….I want to be careful,” Maj. Gen. Lance Landrum told reporters at an Association of Old Crows roundtable this morning: “I can very firmly say we’re challenged in the electromagnetic spectrum.”

Landrum, an Air Force fighter pilot on the Joint Staff, leads the group Congress ordered the Pentagon to create, the Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations Cross Functional Team. (Officially, the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. John Hyten, is the task force’s director, but Landrum runs things day to day as deputy director).

The team is tiny – just 13 government personnel, all borrowed from other organizations, plus some contractors – but it represents 11 organizations across the Defense Department. That’s all four armed services, the joint staff, the Pentagon CIO, the undersecretariats for acquisition, research, and intelligence, Cyber Command, and Strategic Command, which historically had responsibility for electronic warfare but very little authority or funding to do anything about it.

The problem is that literally everyone in the Defense Department – for that matter, everyone reading this article – depends on the spectrum to do their job. Who doesn’t need to be at the table, when the spectrum is essential to every walkie-talkie and cellphone, to every radar, radio, jamming pod, and GPS on every plane, helicopter, ship, tank, and truck? Who gets to be in charge of something that affects everybody?

Pathologies of obfuscation: Nobody understands cyber operations or wargaming

Nina Kollars

National security and defense professionals have long utilized wargames to better understand hypothetical conflict scenarios. With conflict in the cyber domain becoming a more prominent piece in wargames in the national security community, this issue brief seeks to identify the common pathologies, or potential pitfalls, of cyber wargaming. It argues that the inherent turbulence of the cyber domain and segmented knowledge about cyber weapons negatively affect three components of cyber wargaming: the scenario development, the data usability, and the cross-participant comprehensibility. The brief offers some initial solutions to these problems, but, ultimately, the purpose of identifying pathologies is to prepare designers to meet these challenges in each unique design. 

Wargaming is seeing a resurgence in popularity among future warfighting thinkers. This is doubly so with respect to its cyber form. Wargaming places human players into complex and uncertain environments, and asks them to make choices in a steadily unfolding scenario of the designer’s choosing. For veteran wargame designers, managing the game toward its desired end state is a matter of balancing art and science. This is particularly because wargame designers are not omnipotent, they rely upon the cooperative spirit of experts across the broad range of military and civilian practitioners. Every person participating in and facilitating the game controls a piece of the game’s outcome.

The problem is that both cyberspace and wargaming are fraught with technical and infrastructural perplexities. Experts in cyberspace are often not experts in wargaming, and vice versa. Moreover, players, observers, and report readers frequently don’t understand the specifics of cyber or wargaming very well. Thus, bringing the two together complicates both.


Dr. Charles Clancy

A series of actions, if taken by the software development community and the larger information technology ecosystem, can significantly reduce the risk of compromise, exploitation, exfiltration, or sabotage from software supply chain attacks.

While no silver bullet exists, establishing and implementing an end-to-end framework for software supply chain integrity will reduce risks from too-big-to-fail applications that are central to private sector enterprises, governments, and the critical capabilities they rely upon each day.

The current state of practice in software supply chain security lacks systematic integrity. There are insufficient interoperable tools for preventing, detecting, or remediating software supply chain attacks that go beyond tools available for general cybersecurity threats. Given the potential impacts from software supply chain attacks, we cannot treat them as just another cybersecurity breach.PRINT DOWNLOAD PDF (3.02 MB)

Command Accountability for AI Weapon Systems in the Law of Armed Conflict

James Kraska, U.S. Naval War College

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in weapon systems enhances the ability of operational forces to fuse multispectral sensors to understand the warfighting environment, positively identify, track, and select targets, and engage them with the most appropriate effects. The potential for AI to help close the “kill chain” has raised concern that this creates a gap in accountability between the decisions of humans and the acts of machines, with humans no longer accountable for decisions made during armed conflict. This study suggests that there is no gap because the military commander is always directly and individually accountable for the employment of all methods and means of warfare. The commander’s military accountability pervades the battlefield. This accountability inures to the force structure, weapon systems and tactics used in war, including the use of AI weapon systems. Military accountability is the foundation of military duty and includes the legal obligation to comply with the law of armed conflict or international humanitarian law. The commander is accountable to superior military and civilian leaders, and is subject to political, institutional, and legal sanctions enforced through military order and discipline, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The doctrine of the commander’s direct and individual accountability ensures that senior military leaders are answerable to and liable for breaches of law and leadership, including oversight, selection, and employment of autonomous weapon systems.

The Department of Defense's Posture for Artificial Intelligence

by Danielle C. Tarraf

DoD should adapt AI governance structures that align authorities and resources with its mission of scaling AI.

The JAIC should develop a five-year strategic roadmap that is backed by baselines and metrics.

Each centralized AI service organization should develop a five-year strategic roadmap also backed by baselines and metrics.

There should be annual or biannual portfolio reviews of DoD investments in AI.

The JAIC should organize an annual or biannual workshop that showcases DoD's AI programs.

DoD should advance the science and practice of verification, validation, testing, and evaluation (VVT&E) of AI systems.

All funded AI efforts should include a budget for AI VVT&E.

Exploring National Cyber Security Strategies: Policy Approaches and ImplicationsSneha Dawda

The UK’s 2016 National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) is reaching its conclusion. In 2021, the UK government is due to release a new strategy. To complement the increasing popularity of NCSSs around the world, this paper explores 22 strategies. In doing so, it identifies six recurring policy challenges to be considered when building a national cyber strategy:

An overarching challenge is to set and appropriately communicate actionable strategic objectives. Metrics to track progress and investment should be aligned with these objectives.

States need to clearly articulate their perception of the threat landscape, their priorities and greatest challenges. This may be based on an overall national threat assessment, or if little has changed from a previous strategy, simply rearticulating the threat.

Closely aligned to the threat landscape, a strategy should outline the approach to tackling cybercrime. Cybercrime can cost the economy a great deal and erode trust between citizens and technology, further damaging the digital economy.Download the Paper (PDF)

Raising cyber security standards in critical national infrastructure (CNI) is a major challenge for all states and should be a priority alongside investment in emerging technology to modernise CNI.

Technology Innovation and the Future of Air Force Intelligence Analysis

by Lance Menthe

What are the challenges within the current enterprise?

How can tools and technologies — including AI/ML methods, available today or in the foreseeable future — help the AF DCGS evolve to meet the challenges of synthesizing data effectively and efficiently?

How might AI/ML be used and how can it help lay out a road map for incorporating technologies as they become available?

There is growing demand for the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (AF DCGS) to analyze sensor data. Getting the right intelligence to the right people at the right time is increasingly difficult as the amount of data grows and timelines shrink. The need to exploit all collections limits the ability of analysts to address higher-level intelligence problems. Current tools and databases do not facilitate access to needed information.

Air Force/A2 asked researchers at RAND Project AIR FORCE to analyze how new tools and technologies can help meet these demands, including how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can be integrated into the analysis process. PAF assessed AF DCGS tools and processes, surveyed the state of the art in AI/ML methods, and examined best practices to encourage innovation and to incorporate new tools.

Why is America getting a new $100 billion nuclear weapon?

By Elisabeth Eaves

America is building a new weapon of mass destruction, a nuclear missile the length of a bowling lane. It will be able to travel some 6,000 miles, carrying a warhead more than 20 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It will be able to kill hundreds of thousands of people in a single shot.

The US Air Force plans to order more than 600 of them.

On September 8, the Air Force gave the defense company Northrop Grumman an initial contract of $13.3 billion to begin engineering and manufacturing the missile, but that will be just a fraction of the total bill. Based on a Pentagon report cited by the Arms Control Association Association and Bloomberg News, the government will spend roughly $100 billion to build the weapon, which will be ready to use around 2029.

To put that price tag in perspective, $100 billion could pay 1.24 million elementary school teacher salaries for a year, provide 2.84 million four-year university scholarships, or cover 3.3 million hospital stays for covid-19 patients. It’s enough to build a massive mechanical wall to protect New York City from sea level rise. It’s enough to get to Mars.

CO21017 | 4IR: The RMA We Are Finally Looking For?

Richard Bitzinger

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical and contemporary issues. The authors’ views are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email to Mr Yang Razali Kassim, Editor RSIS Commentary at RSISPublications@ntu.edu.sg.


Past “revolutions in military affairs” have tended to overpromise and underdeliver. We may currently be in the process a new RMA powered by “fourth industrial revolution” technologies like artificial intelligence. Despite challenges, this RMA may actually deliver on its promises.