7 March 2021

Chinese Cyber Exploitation in India’s Power Grid – Is There a linkage to Mumbai Power Outage?

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

New York Times report on U.S. based intelligence firm Recorded future giving details of Chinese penetration of India’s power grid and its possible linkage to power outage in Mumbai on October 13, 2020 has caused a furor in Indian media.

I decided to strike when iron is hot. I wrote the paper on the next day based on open sources information titled Chinese Cyber Exploitation in India’s Power Grid – Is There a linkage to Mumbai Power Outage? To be published by any think tank it would taken time because of requirements of peer review and other requirements.

I have published in my own blog site the paper Chinese Cyber Exploitation in India’s Power Grid – Is There a linkage to Mumbai Power Outage?, for earlier dissemination.

Any feedback is welcome.

Govt can ban Bitcoin but for ‘digital rupee’ to succeed, India has to do a lot


The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2021 signals India’s first clear intent to launch the ‘digital rupee’. Once passed, the Reserve Bank of India will join a growing list of central banks across the world that are seriously exploring the introduction of a Central Bank Digital Currency, or CBDC.

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) defines CBDCs as “central bank-issued digital money denominated in the national unit of account, and it represents a liability of the central bank.” Most central banks view CBDCs as sovereign-backed issuance of M0 — the monetary supply measure in an economy that includes currency notes and coins-in-circulation and reserves. While the text of the Bill is not public yet, it is highly likely that this is the type of CBDC that India is looking at. A survey by the Bank of International Settlement (BIS) found that the key motivations for ‘retail’ CBDCs are financial inclusion and enhancing payments efficiency. India is a diverse country with varying levels of digital literacy. For the ‘digital rupee’ (India’s CBDC) to gain acceptance, it would need to be designed in a manner that makes it easily recognisable, accessible, and usable, much like physical cash. Further, its design would have to consider the various languages and varying levels of digital literacy across India.

With this backdrop, the design of the proposed CBDC for India would need to consider the following key elements to ensure widespread acceptability and usage:

Offline vs online capabilities

Myanmar's crisis is ASEAN's crisis

Kavi Chongkittavorn

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has made it clear in the wake of the Feb. 1 military coup in Myanmar that it will no longer defend the country's behavior. But rather than isolate the junta, regional leaders have indicated they would prefer to work toward restoring the democratic process.

If they fail, it will greatly damage ASEAN's credibility -- and centrality -- in the eyes of the international community. More than that, it will dash international hopes for any kind of mediation process to resolve the crisis. While ASEAN's charter lacks any provision for expelling a member country, the 10-nation grouping has some leverage. It could pressure Myanmar to leave ASEAN temporarily.

Still, ASEAN foreign ministers -- at Indonesia's urging -- are preparing to discuss the situation in the hope of forging a consensus, but time is running out. They know they must reach an agreement before confrontations between the demonstrators and security forces in Myanmar turn more violent and spin out of control.

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi recently held talks with Singapore and Brunei, the current ASEAN chair, and on Wednesday met with her Thai counterpart, Don Pramudwinai, in Bangkok. Unexpectedly, the junta's foreign affairs spokesman, Wunna Maung Lwin, also arrived in Bangkok on Wednesday to meet Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Wunna Maung Lwin met separately with Marsudi and Don to discuss "developments in Myanmar," and prospects for an informal ASEAN meeting on the situation, preparing the ground for a special ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting to be held next week in Jakarta, which will not feature a specific agenda nor issue any outcome document.

Internet Access Complicates the Coup in Myanmar

By Doug Bock Clark

Not long after midnight on February 1st, a squad of Myanmar Army soldiers surrounded a housing complex in the nation’s capital, where elected leaders had gathered before parliament was to convene that morning. Another team was descending on the data centers of one of the largest telecommunications companies in the country. Inside, engineers were up late, upgrading the networks while there was minimal traffic. According to one senior engineer, the soldiers forced the team to turn off some equipment, and cut the wires to other systems. At another major telecommunications company, this one co-owned by the military, there was no need to slash cables; employees obeyed the shutdown orders, an engineer said. But, at both locations, the soldiers stood guard over the data centers with guns.

Myanmar’s military staged its first coup in 1962, when the country was still called Burma, deposing an unsteady parliamentary democracy that had been established in the aftermath of British colonialism and the Second World War. For decades, the junta kept a stranglehold on the country, tamping down democracy movements with ruthless violence and dominating the nation’s communications systems. As late as 2010, only one per cent of Myanmar’s population had cell-phone subscriptions, the lowest percentage on earth (along with the Marshall Islands), and roughly zero per cent was using the Internet. But, in 2011, the junta disbanded and reconstituted itself as a political party. Four years later, the opposition, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide victory over the generals in a genuinely democratic election. This past November, the N.L.D. expanded its control even further, winning three hundred and ninety-six seats in parliament; the military’s proxy party won only thirty-three. Since then, the military has complained, without evidence, that the election was marred by extensive electoral fraud. Now, just hours before the new parliament was to convene, the military moved to retake power, and once again it sought to control the flow of information.

China Is Losing Influence—and That Makes It Dangerous


Over the last two decades, China has moved from the periphery to the very center of the world’s international relations. Given that China’s economy is now more than five times as large as it was at the turn of the millennium, that transition is hardly surprising. But many of China’s new international relationships, initially hopeful, have now turned hostile. China still has some down-at-the-heel allies, such as Pakistan and North Korea, but it is increasingly isolated from the developed countries that alone can facilitate its continued economic growth.

For China, that means trouble. Its promises are no longer taken seriously, and its propaganda falls on deaf ears. Many of its Belt and Road Initiative projects have ground to a halt. Virtually no one supports its nine-dash line in the South China Sea, and Western countries have been lining up to offer immigration pathways to professionals fleeing Hong Kong after Beijing’s takeover last year. Many countries have banned China’s Huawei and ZTE from their telecommunications networks. And India, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan are all modernizing their armed forces in response to potential Chinese threats.

Under these circumstances, the best thing that U.S. President Joe Biden can do to stem the rising tide of Chinese expansionism is … nothing. China’s red tide is already rolling out all on its own. Biden can afford to pursue a policy of “masterly inactivity,” relying on China’s own aggressive foreign policy to further isolate the country from the rest of the world. Instead of increasing the pressure on China, now is the time for him to lighten up a bit.

Human Rights Are Under Attack. Who Will Protect Them?

Globally, human rights remain under attack, whether by populist movements desperate to gain power or authoritarian governments eager to maintain it. Technology has opened up new frontiers for curbing people’s ability to express and share dissenting ideas. And broad assaults are underway on institutions like the International Criminal Court, which was established not only to offer recourse for the victims of rights violations, but to establish an international human rights benchmark. Instead, respect for human rights is being replaced by a dangerous intolerance.

Around the world, populist authoritarians have built their movements by demonizing minorities. In Brazil, for instance, President Jair Bolsonaro has reveled in his provocations, calling into question women’s rights as well as those of the LGBT and indigenous communities. In Poland, incumbent President Andrzej Duda recently ran for reelection—and won—on an explicitly anti-LGBT platform.

Meanwhile, in China, the central government is carrying out an organized campaign in Xinjiang to strip the predominantly Muslim ethnic Uighur population of its cultural identity, including through the use of concentration camps and forced labor. And in Venezuela, the government of President Nicolas Maduro was recently accused by investigators for the U.N. Human Rights Council of having engaged in crimes against humanity, targeting political dissenters with arbitrary detention, torture and extralegal killings.

At the same time, the populist rise has invigorated civil society efforts to protect historically marginalized communities, including members of the LGBT community, religious minorities and Indigenous groups. And with the emergence of a tougher line on China in the U.S., but also in Europe, governments are beginning to impose sanctions on Chinese officials and enterprises involved in the abuses in Xinjiang.

WPR has covered human rights issues in detail and continues to examine key questions about new developments. What are the most effective ways to protect human rights, and what additional steps might be taken? What role will technology play in both preserving and circumscribing human rights? And how will changes in the international order and global balance of power affect the human rights landscape?

Tech-Nationalism Threatens the Internet Itself

Emily Taylor 

“Keep the politics out of the network”—that was the mantra of the tech community back in the day. There was wisdom in that sentiment, and it worked fairly well for the first 20 years of the internet’s build-out. But today, controversies over next generation 5G networks and how many of them will be built by China’s telecom giant, Huawei, have demonstrated how far geopolitics have infected digital infrastructure. The latest tensions are now over undersea cables.

The argument over digital networks goes like this. It’s to be expected that politics, culture, language and all sorts of complex, contested issues will be present at the points where people interact with technology—that is, the things you can see, and increasingly summon with your voice. For the engineering community, this is called “the application layer,” and is the world of tech’s household names: Facebook, Google, Twitter, TikTok, Alexa, Zoom.

In the ordered minds of the engineering community, the people who built the protocols and standards that enable today’s internet, the application layer is distinct and separate from the deeper architectural layers. If regulators come your way, send them up to the application layer, where they can puzzle over intractable policy issues to their hearts’ content. Hopefully, they will stay there forever and leave us alone to just build out the network and make things work.

A Solid Plan to Compete with China in Artificial Intelligence


If the United States is to keep ahead of a rapidly gaining China in the field of artificial intelligence, it needs a concrete and comprehensive plan for action. Such a plan is presented in the final report, released today, of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, or NSCAI. Critically, this report is about more than AI. It is the opening salvo of a much-needed effort to create an overarching national strategy for technology, a whole-of-government effort to safeguard American technological leadership.

Congress created the NSCAI three years ago to determine how the United States could develop AI and machine learning systems to address U.S. national security and defense needs. The Commission’s recommendations, and the urgency it conveys, are likely to shape the U.S. government’s AI strategy in the years to come, particularly within the Defense Department. The report makes clear that U.S. supremacy in AI is not a given, and that the government must act swiftly and effectively to harness the technology’s transformative power.

At more than 700 pages, the report is one of the most comprehensive documents on AI competitiveness ever written. Its first half describes how the U.S. can adopt AI to “change the way we defend America, deter adversaries, use intelligence to make sense of the world, and fight and win wars.” Among the myriad of recommendations, two sets stand out. One is a call for an “AI-Ready DoD” by 2025, which amounts to a comprehensive overhaul of the Department’s approach to AI. It spans digital literacy and infrastructure to crafting new concepts and operations to integrate AI technologies. The underlying admonition is that the U.S. military is at serious risk of failing to effectively wield AI-enabled technologies despite enjoying access to world-leading capabilities.

US Unprepared for AI Competition with China, Commission Finds


The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence is out with its comprehensive final report recommending a path forward for ensuring U.S. superiority in AI that calls for the Defense Department and the intelligence community to become “AI-ready” by 2025.

NSCAI on Monday during a public meeting voted to approve its final report, which will also be sent to Congress. The report culminates two years of work that began after the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act established the commission to review advances in AI, machine learning and associated technologies.

“The bottom line … is we don't feel this is the time for incremental toggles to federal research budgets or adding a few new positions in the Pentagon for Silicon Valley technologists,” Commission Vice Chair Robert Work, former deputy secretary of defense, said during the meeting. “Those just won't cut it. This will be expensive and requires significant change in mindset at the national, and agency, and Cabinet levels. America needs White House leadership, Cabinet member action, and bipartisan congressional support to win the AI competition and the broader technology competition.”

The report details recommendations—along with detailed blueprints for action—around 16 different topics under two main umbrellas—defense in the AI era and winning the technology competition. Commissioners also identified four main pillars of interest orienting their recommendations: leadership, talent, hardware and innovation investment.

What Could Cause a US-China War?


CAMBRIDGE – When China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, recently called for a reset of bilateral relations with the United States, a White House spokesperson replied that the US saw the relationship as one of strong competition that required a position of strength. It is clear that President Joe Biden’s administration is not simply reversing Trump’s policies.

Some analysts, citing Thucydides’ attribution of the Peloponnesian War to Sparta’s fear of a rising Athens, believe the US-China relationship is entering a period of conflict pitting an established hegemon against an increasingly powerful challenger.

I am not that pessimistic. In my view, economic and ecological interdependence reduces the probability of a real cold war, much less a hot one, because both countries have an incentive to cooperate in a number of areas. At the same time, miscalculation is always possible, and some see the danger of “sleepwalking” into catastrophe, as happened with World War I.

History is replete with cases of misperception about changing power balances. For example, when President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, he wanted to balance what he saw as a growing Soviet threat to a declining America. But what Nixon interpreted as decline was really the return to normal of America’s artificially high share of global output after World War II.

Nixon proclaimed multipolarity, but what followed was the end of the Soviet Union and America’s unipolar moment two decades later. Today, some Chinese analysts underestimate America’s resilience and predict Chinese dominance, but this, too, could turn out to be a dangerous miscalculation.

Getting Yemen’s Houthis to “yes” on a ceasefire

Bruce Riedel

President Joe Biden has rightly made ending the horrific war in Yemen a top foreign policy priority. He has cut off American support for offensive operations by the Saudis, although it is uncertain what that covers. But perhaps the biggest barrier to ending the fighting is now the Zaydi Shia rebel Houthis, who believe — correctly — that they are winning the war. The administration needs to develop incentives to get the Houthis to agree to a ceasefire, when they believe that they are on the cusp of a major victory against the Saudi-backed government in Marib.

Yemen today is a fractured state. The Houthis control most of the north and 80% of the population. The last major holdout is Marib province in the northeast, which is controlled by loyalists to President Abdu Mansour Hadi. The Houthis are engaged in a major campaign to take Marib. The Saudis have responded with air strikes. Hadi shares control of Aden and the surrounding area uneasily with southern separatists and local militias. There are few Zaydis in the south. The far eastern provinces of Mahra and Hadrawmuat are occupied by the Saudis, who see them as a gateway to the Indian Ocean.

Top US general in the Middle East says troops were evacuated at just the right moment before a ballistic missile attack so Iran wouldn't know they left


A top US general says troops were evacuated at just the right moment before an Iranian missile attack last year.

The US military planned its movements on Iran's collection of commercial satellite images, the general indicated on "60 Minutes."

An expert who relies on commercial satellite imagery for research questioned the general's account.

A top US general says that the evacuation of US troops at a military base in Iraq before an Iranian ballistic missile attack last year was carefully planned so that Iran would not know that roughly half the troops on base had moved out, but at least one expert says the story is a bit questionable.

On Jan. 8, 2020, just days after then-President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike that killed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian military fired a barrage of ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq hosting US and coalition troops, specifically Al Asad and Irbil.Marine Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, head of US Central Command, recently told "60 Minutes" reporter David Martin that "the blood of many Americans is on the hands of Qassem Soleimani."

The general said that not only had Soleimani been connected to past attacks on US civilian and military personnel, but there was intelligence that he was preparing to strike again at the time a drone struck his convoy.

Biden’s Syria Strikes Fuel New Debate on War Powers


U.S. President Joe Biden’s directive to carry out airstrikes in Syria has fueled new debates about the president’s war powers authorities, with top Democratic allies on Capitol Hill voicing unease about military action without prior congressional approval.

Biden authorized strikes on Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria on Thursday, marking the first significant military action of his presidency. Almost immediately, senior Democratic lawmakers began pressuring the White House for answers on what legal justifications were used to carry out the strikes, reviving questions on a president’s constitutional war powers authorities that became a fixture of former President Donald Trump’s foreign-policy battles with Capitol Hill.

“I am very concerned that last night’s strike by U.S. forces in Syria puts our country on the path of continuing the forever war instead of ending it,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders in a statement. “This is the same path we’ve been on for almost two decades. For far too long administrations of both parties have interpreted their authorities in an extremely expansive way to continue military interventions across the Middle East region and elsewhere. This must end.”

Biden’s response to renewed pressure from Capitol Hill, congressional aides said, will be an important bellwether of how he manages relations with Congress and whether he accedes to pressure from the left flank of his party on foreign policy.

Air Force Research Institute (AFRI)

Strategic Studies Quarterly, Spring 2021, v. 15, no. 1

The Missile Defense “Arms Race” Myth

Codifying Jus in Bello Spatialis— The Space Law of Tomorrow

Deterring, Countering, and Defeating Conventional-Nuclear Integration

Corporate Hackers: Outsourcing US Cyber Capabilities

Europe as a Secondary Theater? Competition with China and the Future of America’s European Strategy

An Interoperable Information Umbrella: Sharing Space Information Technology

America’s Forever Wars Have Come Back Home


“Fortress America” is a derogatory term that usually refers to extreme forms of isolationism. Last week, however, CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria gave the idea a new and equally disturbing twist. In a thought-provoking column in the Washington Post, Zakaria described how excessive concerns for security are making the United States more “imperial” in appearance than the old colonial empires, with embassies, public buildings, and even the U.S. Capitol itself surrounded by barricades, moats, or fortifications. Instead of presenting a welcoming visage to the outside world and to the American people, one that conveys confidence, strength, and openness, America’s public face appears uncertain, vulnerable, fearful, and distant.

According to Zakaria, such concerns have also encouraged an excessive regard for secrecy, new layers of hierarchy and restriction, and a timid and sclerotic approach to public policy. In his words, “the U.S. government now resembles a dinosaur—a large, lumbering beast with much body and little brain, increasingly well-protected but distant from ordinary people and unresponsive to the real challenges that confront the nation.”

I couldn’t agree more, having noticed much the same tendency a few years ago. But the big question is: Why is this happening? Is it simply because the world has gotten more dangerous, or is there a connection between how the United States has been acting abroad and various threats to liberty at home?

I think there is. What follows is somewhat speculative, but there are several obvious ways in which America’s recent conduct abroad has led to greater insecurity, paranoia, loss of trust, and division within the United States, so much so that officials now have to erect barricades all over Washington (and in plenty of other cities as well).

The Kremlin’s Latest Target Is Online Media


Recent events in Russia, most significantly the government’s Feb. 1 sentencing of Alexei Navalny to years in prison on false criminal charges following its failed assassination attempt against the opposition leader last summer, mark a transition to a new level of repression. But while most coverage has focused on the dramas playing out in the courtroom and on the streets, there has also been a less-noticed crackdown on freedom of expression online.

Threats against social media platforms for allowing users to post about the Navalny protests have been part of a broader effort to tighten control over the media and information ecosystem in Russia. This has also included the Kremlin’s recent decision to begin labeling select digital media as foreign agents—a key shift, but one rooted in Russian practice.

The “foreign agent” pressure campaign against both international and domestic independent media outlets saw a significant escalation on Feb. 10, when the Russian government announced it was fining U.S. government broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) nearly $150,000 for failing to comply with the law. These moves exemplify a classic Russian government tactic: mimicking the language of other countries’ efforts to insulate their politics against foreign influence in order to provide a veneer of legitimacy to its own attempts to suppress domestic dissent.

A billion-plus covid-19 shots in 2021. Can Serum Institute do it?

On march 5th 2020 Mumbai’s horseracing season culminated with the Poonawalla Breeders’ Multimillion, a day-long extravaganza dominated by India’s first family of the sport, the Poonawallas. Triumphs at the track were accompanied by news reports on the Bollywood lifestyles of Adar Poonawalla and his wife, Natasha, whom Elle magazine described as “India’s first lady of fabulousness”. Only cursory attention spilled over to the couple’s day job running Serum Institute of India, the press-shy vaccine-maker at the root of the family fortune.

A year on it is the company, not its flamboyant owners, that is making headlines. As the covid-19 vaccination drive encounters production glitches in Europe, hits distribution snags in America and faces a geopolitical scramble for supply everywhere, Serum Institute has emerged as the one firm apparently able to ramp up production fast and export the doses without courting controversy. By the end of the year, Mr Poonawalla says, it will add 1.5bn covid-19 shots to 1.3bn-1.5bn doses against diseases from measles to tuberculosis that it already produces annually. On February 23rd it dispatched the first mass shipment, of 70m shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, to India and two dozen other poor countries in the covax vaccine-sharing programme. On March 1st Canada said it will procure 500,000 doses from the company. The relatively small family concern, which entered last year with annual revenues of $735m and a workforce of 6,000, is becoming mission-critical to the global fight against the coronavirus.

Which Governments Ordered Johnson And Johnson's Vaccine?

by Niall McCarthy

Last week, U.S. regulators announced that Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine being developed by its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Belgium is effective at preventing moderate to severe cases of the disease. The jab has been deemed safe with 66 percent efficacy and the FDA is likely to approve it for use in the U.S. within days.

The Ad26.COV2.S vaccine can be stored for up to three months in a refrigerator and requires a single shot, unlike some of the other Covid-19 vaccines currently in use that need special freezing units and two doses. It will also require less medical personnel and should speed up the pace of he vaccination campaign considerably.

The United States has ordered 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine according to tracking conducted by Duke University but its rollout is set to be hindered by production shortfalls. The company committed to delivering 10 million doses by the end of February but it recently states that only 4 million are going to be ready to ship. By the end of March, the company hopes to distribute 20 million doses.

How Japan Is Upgrading Its Military

By Sheila A. Smith

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga intends to continue Japan’s sweeping upgrades of its defense capabilities amid a major buildup of China’s military forces, increasing pressure from North Korea’s growing missile arsenal, and continued activities by Russia’s military in East Asia.

But Suga’s efforts, including boosting the military’s budget, could have to compete with other domestic priorities as he struggles to bring Japan out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
How much does Japan spend on its military?

The Ministry of Defense’s budget for fiscal year 2021, which begins in April, is expected to be around $51 billion, growing for the ninth year in a row.

In 2019, Japan ranked eighth in global military spending, but relative to other countries, it spends a small share (1 percent) of its wealth on its military.

How did Prime Minister Shinzo Abe boost Japan’s defenses?

Much of the credit for upgrading Japanese defenses belongs to former Prime Minister Abe. With almost eight years in office and a supermajority in the lower house of the National Diet, Abe implemented an unprecedented series of security reforms.

Why Invest in Hypersonic Technology?


A recent study that criticizes U.S. investment in hypersonic weapons misses the opportunity such technologies present for something beyond missiles: dual-use hypersonic aircraft that can solve critical national security challenges today and shrink the world of tomorrow.

The Union of Concerned Scientists report challenged the value of hypersonic weapons and sparked a public discussion on the utility of recent research and development. As Pentagon officials and others have observed, the study relied on flawed assumptions and broad arguments based on a narrowly-scoped problem definition. Like other critics, I believe it is imperative that the Defense Department continue investing in hypersonic technologies, including weapons, to remain competitive with near-peer adversaries. What’s the endgame, though? Faster missiles aren’t the only reason for investing in hypersonic technology. We should also be investing in additional research and development because of what comes after weapons: aircraft.

Speed matters. Hypersonic aircraft can fill the capability gaps of combatant commanders seeking to responsively and unpredictably gather information, share it across a networked Joint Force, and act on it faster than adversaries can react. They could prove especially useful amid the large distances and sophisticated adversaries that characterize the Indo-Pacific region.

Modeling Software Once Led Us to the Precipice of Nuclear War. What Will AI Do?


In 1983, the world’s superpowers drew near to accidental nuclear war, largely because the Soviet Union relied on software to make predictions that were based on false assumptions. Today, as the Pentagon moves to infuse artificial-intelligence tools into just about every aspect of its workings, it’s worth remembering the lessons of RYAN and Able Archer.

Two years earlier, the Soviet Union had deployed a software program dubbed RYAN, for Raketno Yadernoye Napadenie, or sudden nuclear missile attack. Massive for its time, RYAN sought to compute the relative power of the two superpowers by modeling 40,000 military, political, and economic factors, including 292 “indicators” reported from agents (spies) abroad. It was run by the KGB, which employed more than 200 people just to input the data.

The Soviets built RYAN to warn them when their country’s relative strength had declined to a point that the U.S. might launch a preemptive first strike on the Soviet Union. Leaders decided that if Soviet power was at least 70 percent of that of the United States the balance of power was stable. As the months went by, this number plummeted. By 1983, RYAN reported that Soviet power had declined to just 45 percent of that of the United States.

Tech-Nationalism Threatens the Internet Itself

Emily Taylor 

“Keep the politics out of the network”—that was the mantra of the tech community back in the day. There was wisdom in that sentiment, and it worked fairly well for the first 20 years of the internet’s build-out. But today, controversies over next generation 5G networks and how many of them will be built by China’s telecom giant, Huawei, have demonstrated how far geopolitics have infected digital infrastructure. The latest tensions are now over undersea cables.

The argument over digital networks goes like this. It’s to be expected that politics, culture, language and all sorts of complex, contested issues will be present at the points where people interact with technology—that is, the things you can see, and increasingly summon with your voice. For the engineering community, this is called “the application layer,” and is the world of tech’s household names: Facebook, Google, Twitter, TikTok, Alexa, Zoom.

Why a Return to the JCPOA Will Be Even Harder Than Many Think

By Stephen Rademaker

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden will find that Iran is not the only constraint on its options as it seeks a negotiated return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The administration will also find its hands tied by a nearly forgotten law enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2015: the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, or INARA.

Designed by a Republican Congress to permit oversight of what had been a secretive negotiating process, INARA granted Congress the opportunity to review, and potentially disapprove of, former President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. While INARA didn’t stop the deal, it remains the law of the land. The Act mandates congressional review — and provides for potential disapproval — of not just the JCPOA, but any “agreement related to the nuclear program of Iran … regardless of the form it takes.” Further, the Act prohibits the extension of sanctions relief during the 30-day period the law sets aside for congressional review of any nuclear agreement with Iran.

Thus, the Biden administration will face two obstacles as it seeks to revive the JCPOA. The first has been widely noted: Iran is violating the agreement, and bringing Tehran back into compliance will not be easy. The second obstacle, rarely mentioned, will be INARA.

To be once again compliant with the JCPOA, Iran will need to dispose of the excess enriched uranium it has produced, which is now more than ten times the amount permitted. The same is true for uranium that has been enriched to higher levels than allowed. Ditto for prohibited centrifuge cascades and the advanced centrifuges it has installed. Harder still, Tehran must provide better responses to verification concerns than the ones the International Atomic Energy Agency recently pronounced “unsatisfactory” and “not technically credible.” Resolving all these issues will take months.

Key Elements Expected This Year for Pentagon’s Link-Everything Effort


PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, COLORADO—Several foundational elements of the Pentagon’s effort to network virtually all of its weapons, vehicles, and troops should fall into place this year, the chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Monday.

Among them is a new joint warfare concept to guide the services as they develop doctrine to take advantage of better networked forces, Gen. Mark A. Milley told reporters traveling with him. Milley said he would soon send the document to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, and hoped to receive approval before he and Austin testify in upcoming congressional budget hearings.

Milley called it “Joint Warfighting Concept 1.0,” hinting at an expectation that the concept will change quickly in the light of more input, and said it will become the “intellectual foundation” for the force’s budgets and postures. He said he expected it to take several years for the services to turn the concept into doctrine that “sergeants and captains and colonels can actually apply” in operations.

“Concepts are used to develop doctrine, to develop organizations that will employ the doctrine and to do force development, force design for weapons systems that you will need to execute the doctrine,” he said.

What Is “Battle Force 2045” and Why Does It Matter?

Brent Sadler

Strategy must lead in deciding what if any cuts or additions to defense are made.

Today’s military investments, especially for the Navy, will look to building the forces needed to fight and win a war in the South and East China Seas.

It is high time the Navy get on with its business and make its case for a fleet that can compete with China and Russia in peace and when called on win in war.

After a flurry of tantalizing but incomplete public announcements throughout October, the much-delayed future force plan for the U.S. Navy known as Battle Force 2045 is no longer missing in action. Its prolonged absence, though, will not be without consequence.

In the meantime, as maritime competition with China and Russia sharpens and COVID-19 costs drag on the economy, some have begun calling to cut defense by as much as 10 percent. Such cuts are ill-advised, given the Army and Marine Corps are still shifting from 20 years of counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Navy will need years to recover its fleet’s readiness after prolonged overwork and under-resourcing.

Without Battle Force 2045’s shipbuilding plan—formally known as the Future Naval Force Study (FNFS)—Congress had no guide to prioritize nor judge its budgetary decisions weighed against building the Navy the nation needs in the current budget proposal—NDAA 2021.

Army EW Targets Foes For Infantry


Troops practice assaulting a building under cover of smoke as an observer looks on during last year’s AEWE exercises.

WASHINGTON: As the Army rebuilds its long-neglected electronic warfare arm, it’s finding simple tools can have a big impact – at the right place and time.

While EW is best known for disrupting radio and radar, recent wargames at Fort Benning showed tremendous tactical value to simply detecting hostile transmissions. EW troops following behind the frontline infantry used portable sensors to detect “enemy” units’ transmissions a kilometer or more away, long before regular soldiers could see them.

“It provides that ground force commander early warning,” said Capt. Bryan McCoskey, Fort Benning’s liaison office from the Army’s Cyber Center. “It gives him more time to make those tactical decisions … than ‘I’m walking thru the woods and I just received contact 300 meters away’” after the enemy opened fire.

That early warning lets the infantry fly a drone to confirm the report, get into prime position for any infantry attack, or artillery Maj. Joe Tague told me, “call up a fire mission and destroy the enemy entirely… before the mission has even started.”

The experiment was part of Fort Benning’s annual Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE), for which Tague is the senior uniformed officer. Benning, the Army’s center for armor, infantry, and scouts, has previously gotten tech support for its tactical networks from the Army’s Cyber Center at Fort Gordon, on the other side of Georgia. But this is the first time the Cyber Center has sent a tactical EW detachment, combining part of its own Cyber Quest exercise with Benning’s AEWE.