8 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.

Non-Allied Forever: India’s Grand Strategy According to Subrahmanyam Jaishankar


When Chinese aggression intensified along the Sino-Indian border in May last year, many analysts and policymakers wondered whether this crisis would, as the Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman phrased it, finally push India to “consider a formal alliance with the United States.” After all, China’s increased global belligerence of the last several years has threatened both U.S. and Indian interests in significant ways, and the transformation in U.S.-Indian ties that has been underway for some two decades was intended largely to deal with the challenges posed by a rising China. This danger has a special resonance for New Delhi given that an emerging superpower now resides on India’s borders for the first time in its millennia-long history.

U.S.-Indian strategic cooperation since the onset of the Sino-Indian crisis clearly demonstrated that practical, even if asymmetric, collaboration between the two democratic nations was indeed possible. Washington vocally supported India in its efforts to confront China’s occupation of the disputed territories, it moved quickly to provide the defense equipment requested by New Delhi, and it shared real time operational intelligence about Chinese military activities with India. The Indian government, for its part, responded by dramatically changing course on the Quadrilateral Dialogue (the Quad)—the diplomatic forum that brings it together with the United States, Japan, and Australia. From its earlier opposition to ministerial-level Quad meetings even on the margins of the UN General Assembly, India visibly shifted to promoting high-profile stand-alone meetings at different levels. Indian policymakers also encouraged the development of concrete Quad initiatives in diverse areas to push back against China, while stepping up their criticism of Beijing’s pugnacity in the East and South China Seas and its Belt and Road Initiative. These actions increasingly converged with U.S. positions, especially during Donald Trump’s administration, and raised once again the hope that New Delhi might finally “junk [its] hoary shibboleths—can’t change neighbors, Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam, strategic autonomy, non-alignment, and what have you”—in favor of “a much closer alliance with the United States and its allies, assuming that such an alliance is on offer,” as Sushant Sareen argued in the Economic Times.

JUST IN: Mumbai Incident Spotlights China's Cyber Capabilities

By Meredith Roaten

Digital attacks targeting India’s power grid — which have been widely attributed to China-linked hackers — may have emboldened Beijing to further flex its muscles in the cyber domain, warned a former top U.S. military official.

After recent border clashes between Chinese and Indian troops, power outages knocked out crucial functions, including hospitals, transportation systems and the stock market in Mumbai. Chinese malware was found in Indian goverment-owned infrastructure, according to a new study, "China-Linked Group RedEcho Targets the Indian Power Sector," by Recorded Future, a Somerville, Massachusetts-based cybersecuirty company.

These types of offensive cyber operations require the United States to seriously evaluate whether China is trying to send a message about its military strength, said retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. T.J. White, former commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and the U.S. Tenth Fleet.

China could be demonstrating its ability to use offensive cyber tools to apply pressure in global power struggles, he noted March 3 during an event hosted by the National Security Institute.

"As we interact on the world stage ... [the Chinese] may have outsized ability to have an impact on your domestic security and stability,” White said.

U.S. officials have been banging the drum about the Chinese cyber threat, including intellectual property theft, which has cost the U.S. economy up to $1 trillion, according to a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and security firm McAfee, "The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime."

An Indian Dalai Lama


Tawang is very much a part of India, and if the present Dalai Lama decides one day to take rebirth in Tawang, the Indian government will openly welcome him and support him, notes Claude Arpi.

In January 1951, a few months after the invasion of Tibet and sensing a threat from China, the then Assam governor Jairamdas Daulatram ordered a young Naga officer to march to Tawang and start administrating the area.

On February 9, 1951, Major Ralengnao (Bob) Khathing, accompanied by 200 troops of the 5 Assam Rifles and 600 porters, arrived in Tawang in the then Kameng Frontier Division of the North East Frontier Agency.

A month earlier, Bob had left the foothills on his historic mission. A few days after his arrival, he selected a high-ground near the Tawang monastery for meeting the Dzongpens, the commissioners from Tsona in Tibet and the village elders.

Bob walked to the place, while 100 riflemen encircled the ground. The Assistant Political officer (this was Khathing's designation) instructed his second-in-command to 'fix bayonet': 'One hundred click sounds of bayonets coming in unison seemed to say, we are even ready for blood,' wrote his biographer; then Bob spoke to the people about the Indian nation.

Thereafter, everything went smoothly. In fact, the Monpas were delighted by Khathing's arrival.

Senate Armed Services Stands By Afghanistan & Taiwan


A Special Forces soldier relays information to his chain of command via radio during an operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

WASHINGTON: The bipartisan response to Tuesday’s testimony on Afghanistan and Taiwan shows the Senate Armed Services Committee aims to support both allies, despite calls from both the further reaches of the left and right for the US to focus on its domestic troubles.

The US needs “capable joint forces positioned forward” around the world to defend its interests and deter rivals, from China to Russia to the Taliban, former National Security Advisor and retired three-star Army general H.R. McMaster told the SASC on Tuesday. In stark contrast to McMaster’s bitter disagreements with his ex-boss, Donald Trump, both Republican and Democratic senators seemed receptive.

The context is crucial here. President Joe Biden is struggling with whether to complete Trump’s promised May 1st pullout from Afghanistan, an end to what some call America’s “forever wars” there and in Iraq. Sen. Jack Reed, the new Democratic chairman of Armed Services, has publicly urged delay. And a massive bipartisan majority overrode Trump’s veto of a National Defense Authorization Act that included, among many other provisions, restrictions on further troop withdrawals.

Ditch the Afghanistan Experts

By Daniel Davis

U.S. President Joe Biden is coming under heavy pressure to abandon the May 1 deadline to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan. The push to move the deadline might come from a former secretary of state, the congressionally mandated Afghan Study Group, or even NATO’s secretary-general. Opposing the pleas of these popular figures are 20 years of unbroken strategic failure. There is ample evidence to suggest that 20 more years of failure await, should the president give in to the wishes of these personalities.

In February, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright argued Biden should ignore the May 1 withdrawal date and instead adopt a series of five new steps. The Afghan Study Group likewise advocated to abandon the withdrawal date and offered its own objectives. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the May 1 date was a “conditions-based” deal and declared the Taliban hadn’t met the conditions, and therefore NATO should continue the war.

All of these advocates ignore that every tactic and objective they advocate has been tried over the past two decades, usually multiple times, and uniformly they have failed.

When Barack Obama came into office, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Commander of U.S. Central Command David Petraeus convinced the new president that they had a better strategy than that employed by Obama’s predecessor. They advocated for a dramatic troop increase and the adoption of a counterinsurgency strategy. Obama listened. He authorized a surge of 17,000 troops to Afghanistan in February 2009, and another surge of 30,000 that December.

Obama was himself unsure the strategy would work. According to Jonathan Alter, however, Obama pressed all his senior officials before making the final decision on Nov. 29 of that year, and he pointedly asked whether they could complete the mission in the 18 months they had promised. All said yes. "If you can't do the things you say you can in 18 months,” Obama demanded, “then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?" All agreed.

COMMENT 207 – Pakistan’s vision to reset its ties with the U.S. and the implications for the Afghan peace negotiations

By Siegfried O. Wolf

Pakistan is in the process of realigning its foreign policy parameters. Since last year, it became clear that Islamabad is trying to achieve more independence from Saudi Arabia in order to enlarge the room for collaboration with Iran.[1] Currently, in a second major move to change the paradigm in its foreign affairs, Pakistan is envisaging a fundamental reset of its relations with the U.S. Islamabad now expresses its interests in an engaged cooperation with Washington. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is convinced that there is (still) a ‘convergence of interests’[2] between his country and the U.S. However, Pakistan does not want to be seen anymore solely through the ‘Afghan lens’[3]. Islamabad wishes Afghanistan to cease “exclusively” determining the framework of future collaboration between Islamabad and Washington. Instead, the Pakistani leadership aims to focus on economics, trade, and other investments, particularly within the larger framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor/CPEC (Wolf, 2019).

Besides the Afghan issue, Islamabad also wills the U.S. to ‘de-couple’ Pakistan-China relations from Pakistan-U.S. ties. Qureshi stated that the U.S. should not see ties between Islamabad and Beijing as ‘a zero-sum game’. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Prime Minister Imran Khan pointed out: ‘why does it have to be an “either, or” formula’; ‘why does Pakistan have to be in any camp?’ Further: ‘Every country looks to its own interests. Why can’t we have good relations with everyone?’ Moreover, Pakistan offered to serve as a mediator between the US and China (creating some kind of a déjà vu moment relating to 1972[4]). Nevertheless, despite the attempts to follow a “dual-trac approach”, the PM made his country’s preference clear: ‘Our relationship with China is better than ever before. For us, the way we look at it is…our future, economic future is now linked with China.’

U.S. Places Restrictions on China’s Leading Chip Maker

By Ana Swanson and Raymond Zhong

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has placed new restrictions on exports to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China’s most advanced maker of computer chips, a measure that could deepen the technology conflict between China and the United States.

In a letter on Friday, the Department of Commerce told American companies in the chip industry that they must first acquire a license to sell technology to SMIC and its subsidiaries. The department said it was taking the action after a review in which it determined that the Chinese company “may pose an unacceptable risk of diversion to a military end use in the People’s Republic of China.”

The measure, which could cut SMIC off from the American software and other technology it needs to make its products, comes as the Trump administration takes a harsher stance against Chinese technology companies that it has deemed a national security threat. The administration has clamped down on shipments to the Chinese tech giant Huawei, restricted exports to dozens of other Chinese companies by placing them on a blacklist this year and moved to ban the Chinese-owned social media services WeChat and TikTok.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Industry and Security, a division of the Commerce Department, said the bureau could not comment on specific licensing issues, but that it was “constantly monitoring and assessing any potential threats to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests” and would “take appropriate action as warranted.”

The letter was first reported by The Financial Times.

China's Three Information Warfares

By Major Morgan Martin, U.S. Army

The United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are on a trajectory toward conflict. Simply put, the PRC seeks to regain what it sees as China’s proper place in the world, and a major impediment to that aspiration is the United States’ activities in the Pacific, including its support for Taiwan.1 Several factors, to include Chinese history, culture, and military philosophy, guide the Chinese Communist Party’s (CPC’s) decision-making processes as it pertains to waging war. Juxtaposing China’s “Three Warfares” strategy with current events, it is clear that the opening salvos in China’s information war against the United States already are ongoing.2

The span between 1839 and 1949, known in China as the “Century of Humiliation,” is central to how the nation sees the outside world, its place in the world, and its future. According to the CPC, the Century of Humiliation was characterized by unjust wars, unequal treaties, and massive reductions in territory, including the loss of Hong Kong and Taiwan and independence movements in Tibet, Mongolia, and Xinjiang. Although the PRC has regained control of Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and Xinjiang, control of Taiwan has eluded it, in large part because of support from the United States.3

U.S. military support to Taiwan is a major impediment to the realization of the PRC’s wishes for a reunified China.4 It is likely the PRC will pursue a course of action that will render the United States unwilling or unable to continue to guarantee the de facto independence of Taiwan. An understanding of the PRC’s military philosophy helps illustrate how it might achieve this objective.

The Three Warfares

Germany is a flashpoint in the US-China cold war

Second in a five-part series on countries at the center of the U.S.-China rivalry. Read part one here.

As goes Germany, so goes Europe — and that’s a real challenge for the U.S. During the Cold War, West Germany was America’s crucial European ally. Today, Berlin leads a European bloc that could cast a geopolitical swing vote in the U.S.-China rivalry.

Yet Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is seeking strategic “equidistance” rather than strategic alignment. In doing so, she is creating a great deal of uncertainty about a free-world coalition the U.S. needs.

It is hard to overstate Germany’s strategic importance. Berlin is nowhere near Beijing, but in a U.S.-China standoff, Europe represents the largest remaining concentration of economic power, technological innovation, democratic values and military potential. Any U.S. strategy for blocking China’s influence in international bodies, resisting its economic coercion, or keeping the democracies dominant in technologies from artificial intelligence to 5G telecommunications, requires strong transatlantic cooperation.

Germany can unlock that cooperation, given its economic dominance within the European Union. That was one reason why Donald Trump’s often gratuitous antagonism toward Merkel seemed so self-defeating.

Yet Trump had no monopoly on damaging behavior. In December 2020, Merkel rushed through a Europe-China investment deal while also declining to bar Huawei from Germany’s 5G networks. Both were curious decisions given what Covid-19 had revealed about China’s willingness to wield aspects of economic interdependence — such as its production of key pharmaceuticals — as geopolitical weapons.

Red Flags: Triaging China's Projects in the Western Balkans

This report, the third in a series on Chinese economic activities in the Western Balkans, provides recommendations for U.S. and partner responses to China's growing economic and political influence in the region and a “red flags” checklist to help identify activities that warrant further scrutiny.

This report was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.Download the Full Report

China Is Not Ten Feet Tall

By Ryan Hass

China, the story goes, is inexorably rising and on the verge of overtaking a faltering United States. China has become the largest engine of global economic growth, the largest trading nation, and the largest destination for foreign investment. It has locked in major trade and investment deals in Asia and Europe and is using the Belt and Road Initiative—the largest development project of the twenty-first century—to win greater influence in every corner of the world. It is exporting surveillance tools, embedding technology in 5G communications networks, and using cyber-capabilities to both steal sensitive information and shape political discourse overseas. It is converting economic and political weight into military might, using civil-military fusion to develop cutting-edge capabilities and bullying its neighbors, including U.S. allies and partners such as Australia, India, and Taiwan. And at home, it is ruthlessly cracking down everywhere from Hong Kong to Xinjiang, with little concern about criticism from the United States and other democratic governments.

Among the most eager purveyors of this story line are China’s government-affiliated media outlets. Projecting self-assurance, they have also gone out of their way to contrast their own achievements with plentiful examples of American dysfunction. They point to images of insurrectionists storming the U.S. Capitol and of American citizens standing in line for water during power outages in Texas as evidence of the decay of “Western democracy.” They celebrate China’s success in “defeating” COVID-19 and reopening the country, while the United States and other Western countries still struggle to stop the spread of the virus. “Time and momentum are on our side,” Chinese President Xi Jinping declared in a speech at the Communist Party’s Fifth Plenum last fall. In January, Chen Yixin, a top security official, told a Chinese Communist Party study session, “The rise of the East and decline of the West has become a trend.”

Authoritarian systems excel at showcasing their strengths and concealing their weaknesses. But policymakers in Washington must be able to distinguish between the image Beijing presents and the realities it confronts. China is the second most powerful country in the world and the most formidable competitor the United States has faced in decades. Yet at the same time, and in spite of its many visible defects, the United States remains the stronger power in the U.S.-Chinese relationship—and it has good reason to think it can stay that way. For all the obstacles facing the United States, those facing China are considerably greater.

The US, Iran and Bargaining Positions

By George Friedman

The Iranian government has announced that it will not attend the first round of negotiations over restoring the agreement that limited its ability to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says sanctions imposed by the administration of former President Donald Trump must first be removed for talks to begin.

Obviously, this is a tactic meant to improve its bargaining position with the United States. But that position must be credible, and read that way by both sides. Iran reads President Joe Biden to be particularly vulnerable on this issue. Biden has long maintained that abandoning the nuclear agreement was a mistake that he would correct at the first opportunity.

Biden therefore needs to resurrect the original agreement or replace it with something similar. Iran understands U.S. politics as well as anyone, and it has proved to be an excellent negotiator. If officials believe Biden must restore the agreement, they will make it as difficult as possible.

One of the best ways to negotiate is to appear irrational. Rational actors believe themselves to be reasonable and operate under the assumption that their counterparts believe them to be rational too. Negotiators might well be rational, but showing their cards in a reasonable way gives the counterpart a roadmap of how to calm the talks. Iran is a master at appearing suicidal, when, in fact, it is as scared of nuclear annihilation as any other country. Religious fanaticism about the annihilation of Israel, for example, doesn’t comport with reality. The Israelis have a substantial nuclear arsenal and years of experience gaming possible Iranian threats. Any planned Iranian attack would be detected early in the process, and Israel would strike preemptively. In other words, the worst place Iran could be is close to completing a nuclear weapon, and its leaders know it.

Biden Gives Turkey the Silent Treatment


Joe Biden spent the first month of his presidency making routine calls to world leaders. For Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the call never came.

The quiet phone line became a major news story in Ankara, despite—or perhaps because of—years of perceived slights between the NATO allies, from jostling over Syria to Turkey’s purchase of a Russian air defense system. But interviews with over a dozen officials, lawmakers, and other experts make clear that the U.S. president’s radio silence is indicative of a tougher American tone toward Turkey: Ankara will keep getting the cold shoulder unless it cleans up its act—and fast.

“The relationship is very challenged, and we are not in a position where we can rely on Turkey in the same way that we’ve relied on, or that we feel confident that we can rely on, other NATO allies,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Yet most agree there are few good answers to stop ties from spiraling further downward, even as Biden’s secretary of state and some of his top aides call up their Turkish counterparts, and few policy options for Biden beyond continuing to pressure Erdogan on human rights.

“This is the lowest point in U.S.-Turkish relations,” said Aykan Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish parliament now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank.

Army University Press

Military Review, March-April 2021, v. 101, no. 2

The Eighteenth Gap: Preserving the Commander’s Legal Maneuver Space on “Battlefield Next”

One Profession, Two Communities, and the Third Rail We Cannot Ignore

Thinking outside of the Sandbox: Succeeding at Security Force

Assistance beyond the Middle East

Mobilizing in the Twenty-First Century

The Red Ball Express: Past Lessons for Future Wars

Army Counter-UAS 2021-2028

Leveraging Multi-Domain Military Deception to Expose the Enemy in 2035

Analytic Tradecraft Standards: An Opportunity to Provide Decision

Advantage for Army Commanders

From Cambrai to Cyberspace: How the U.S. Military Can Achieve

Convergence between the Cyber and Physical Domains

Operationalizing Culture: Addressing the Army’s People Crisis

The Impact of Subordinate Feedback in Officer Development:

Assessments, Feedback, and Leadership

The Well-Intentioned, Zero-Defect Officer Corps

Adaptation under Fire: How Militaries Change in Wartime

Army Training, Sir: The Impact of the World War I Experience on the Evolution of Training Doctrine in the US Army

Biden Secretly Limits Counterterrorism Drone Strikes Away From War Zones

By Charlie Savage and Eric Schmitt

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has quietly imposed temporary limits on counterterrorism drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefield zones like Afghanistan and Syria, and it has begun a broad review of whether to tighten Trump-era rules for such operations, according to officials.

The military and the C.I.A. must now obtain White House permission to attack terrorism suspects in poorly governed places where there are scant American ground troops, like Somalia and Yemen. Under the Trump administration, they had been allowed to decide for themselves whether circumstances on the ground met certain conditions and an attack was justified.

Officials characterized the tighter controls as a stopgap while the Biden administration reviewed how targeting worked — both on paper and in practice — under former President Donald J. Trump and developed its own policy and procedures for counterterrorism kill-or-capture operations outside war zones, including how to minimize the risk of civilian casualties.

The Biden administration did not announce the new limits. But the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, issued the order on Jan. 20, the day of President Biden’s inauguration, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Any changes resulting from the review would be the latest turn in a long-running evolution over rules for drone strikes outside conventional battlefield zones, a gray-area intermittent combat action that has become central to America’s long-running counterterrorism wars that took root with the response to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Nigeria’s Internal Security Problem

by Nkasi Wodu

Nkasi Wodu, a New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute, is a lawyer, peacebuilding practitioner, and development expert based in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

The Nigerian minister of defense recently enjoined Nigerians to take up arms to defend themselves against marauding bandits in their communities. The minister’s statement aligns with the grim reality that Nigeria has a serious internal security problem—and nobody knows exactly how to solve it.

Nigeria has experienced devastating attacks from armed bandits for more than two years. While these attacks initially started in the North West region of Nigeria, they have since spread to other parts of the country. Armed bandits frequently kidnap unsuspecting members of the public before using their captives to secure huge ransoms in return for their release. Ransom frequently comes in the form of opaque government payments, a strategy that tends to undermine government authority. The level of coordination in the attacks seems to betray some type of paramilitary training or, at the very least, organization by leaders with military training.

What Should Biden Do About Venezuela?


CAMBRIDGE – Imagine you are driving down a road and arrive at a junction. You are not sure where to go, so you turn right. After some time, the road becomes unpaved, bumpy, and steep. The first thought that comes to mind is that you should have gone left. But, truth be told, you do not know if that would have led to a dead-end street. This is how many within and outside Venezuela feel about the country today.

After all, former US President Donald Trump’s strategy of maximum pressure on the dictatorship, reflected in myriad sanctions imposed on the country, neither restored democracy nor addressed the country’s catastrophic economic and humanitarian crisis. According to the International Monetary Fund, Venezuela’s GDP in 2020 was over 75% below its 2013 level – a globally unprecedented peacetime collapse (and worse than the impact of most wars). Small wonder that over five million people, some 15% of the population, have left the country since 2015.

With Trump out, President Joe Biden’s administration has announced a foreign policy centered around the defense of democracy. How should it deal with Venezuela, given that previous efforts to restore democracy and prosperity have not delivered either?

Venezuela’s regime turned away from electoral democracy when it lost the capacity to win elections. In 2010, the opposition won control of local governments in the country’s major cities and states, only to see their power and budgets hollowed out, as parallel structures, controlled by the regime’s founder, President Hugo Chávez, were created in their stead.

America’s Strategic Materials Problem

by Brent Sadler

During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, the belligerents attacked neutral shipping in the Persian Gulf, putting the free world’s oil supply at risk. The Cold War was still very cold, and the United States and its allies were reliant on Persian Gulf oil to drive their economies and militaries.

To safeguard the supply of this strategic resource, Washington initiated Operation Earnest Will on July 24, 1987. It was, and remains, the largest maritime convoy operation since World War II. The cost to the Navy was thirty-seven sailors killed, more than thirty injured and two warships severely damaged.

Today the United States relies on other foreign-sourced strategic materials that will have to be secured in times of crisis or conflict. It is a risk that has been acknowledged by both political parties and reaffirmed by a presidential executive order, also known as the Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains on the thirty-sixth day of the Biden administration. As such, the Navy can be expected to execute one of its traditional roles—safeguarding the nation’s maritime trade. The question is what essential materials will need to be secured, and where will the Navy be required to operate in order to secure them?

Alfred Thayer Mahan’s 1890 seminal work The Influence of Sea Power Upon History remains relevant in today’s age of global supply chains, distributed manufacturing, and instantaneous global communications via undersea cables. A central lesson of this book comes from Mahan’s account of the Dutch war with England in 1653–54. Blockaded by the British, the Dutch Republic’s maritime commerce was choked off. Its Navy was unable to gain the timber it needed to build and sustain it, leaving the country powerless to break the blockade. Driven by such historical lessons, the British initiated the Suez Crisis in 1956 in an attempt to secure access to oil supplies in the Persian Gulf, and the United States fought the 1990–91 Gulf War at a time it imported over half its oil from the region.

The Fractured Power

By Reuben E. Brigety

When the United States looks abroad to assess the risk of conflict, it relies on a host of tools to understand other countries’ social and political divisions and how likely they are to result in unrest or violence. These techniques reflect decades of research, in both government and academia, into the root causes of civil disorder and state failure. The idea is that by better understanding those causes, policymakers can prevent conflict before it breaks out or, failing that, help states recover quickly once it does.

One such tool is the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Conflict Assessment Framework, which is designed to illuminate the underlying dynamics of countries in various stages of civil strife. Analysts use the CAF to understand local grievances and divisions in a particular country, the resilience of the country’s political system, and events that could trigger violence. The process can require dozens of personnel and take months to complete. Diplomats and development experts scrutinize confidential cables in secure facilities in Washington and conduct public surveys in conflict-prone countries. They interview local stakeholders on the ground and consult experts in capitals around the world. They make every effort to understand fractured societies in granular detail, both to predict potential conflicts and to propose interventions to stop them.

The Mice Who Caught the Cat—and Rattled the Kremlin


In late January, as people took to the streets in more than 100 towns and cities across Russia to protest the arrest of the opposition leader Alexey Navalny, my Foreign Policy colleague shared a meme that was circulating on Twitter. It showed a row of planks lined up like dominoes. The catalyst was labeled “Eliot Higgins unemployed, bored.” The end of the row was titled “Putin regime in danger.”

Higgins, who a decade ago was a college dropout with a rapacious appetite for news, wasn’t quite unemployed, but he was bored. Stuck in a grim administrative job in Leicester, England, Higgins set out to do what he felt traditional news media weren’t doing: get to the heart of what was really happening as the Arab Spring exploded. He scoured social media and online forums for new tidbits of information on the rapidly escalating crisis in Syria, Yemen, and Libya. Later, he would turn his sights on Russia—culminating in this year’s explosive revelations about Moscow’s failed efforts to assassinate by poison its biggest gadfly, Navalny.

We Are Bellingcat offers a firsthand account of just how those dominoes got set up—and how they have fallen so far. It’s Higgins’s firsthand account of how his team of digital sleuths, who publish their detailed findings online, has again and again exposed the Kremlin’s lies, outed the Russian poison squad that trailed Navalny, and proved the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. It’s a David-and-Goliath story for the digital age but one that relies on cutting-edge mining of open-source information rather than a primitive sling.

DARPA’s Rapid Power Grid Restoration Tech Goes Live


WASHINGTON: DARPA’s program to develop technologies for rapidly restoring power after a grid cyberattack successfully completed its seventh live exercise in a testbed environment. Some of the program’s technologies have already been transitioned to operational use on parts of the U.S. power grid, with plans for wider deployment in the future.

“The tools and technologies developed under the RADICS program could provide situational awareness and other measures to aid in recovery efforts following a cyberattack on the U.S. grid,” Walter Weiss, DARPA program manager in the Information Innovation Office (I2O), said in an interview.

The tech developed under DARPA’s program — which was dubbed Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation, and Characterization Systems (RADICS) — emerges at a time when U.S. authorities are increasingly wary of cyberattacks by adversaries. One RADICS toolset is now operationally deployed by several electric co-ops and another is in use on parts of the U.S. grid.

DARPA’s announcement came just days before security company Recorded Future published a report on RedEcho, a threat actor group with links to China. Amid ongoing India-China border skirmishes, RedEcho conducted a targeted cyber campaign against Indian critical infrastructure, particularly the power grid, according to Recorded Future. It’s just the latest example of nation-states pre-positioning for a potential cyberattack on an adversary’s power grid.

Rethinking the Role of Remotely Crewed Systems in the Future Force

One of the promises of remotely crewed systems is that they could be a force multiplier for the military, either allowing it to increase force structure without a proportionate increase in personnel or to reduce personnel without cutting overall force structure.

As remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) have been adopted into the military in large numbers for airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (AISR), they have demonstrated much higher utilization rates and lower personnel and operating costs on a per-aircraft and a per-flying-hour basis than crewed AISR aircraft.

However, high demand from the combatant commands has prevented overall reductions in personnel and operating costs or the substitution of RPAs for crewed AISR aircraft.

For remotely crewed systems to become an affordable and scalable alternative to crewed systems across all domains, the U.S. military will need to rethink how units are staffed, organized, and trained to better leverage automation and develop new concepts for in-garrison operations.


In the wake of the cuts driven by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), many senior military and political leaders lamented the effects these cuts were having on the U.S. military. In a major speech on national security during the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump called for significant increases in the military and promised to “submit a new budget to rebuild our military.” Specifically, he called for a Navy of 350 ships, an active-duty Army of 540,000 soldiers, a Marine Corps of 36 active component infantry battalions, and an Air Force with 1,200 active component fighters.1 The Navy later refined this goal to 355 ships, and the Air Force broadened its target to 386 squadrons overall. DOWNLOAD THE BRIEF

JADC2 Faces ‘Huge Weakness’: Old Policies, Old Tech


WASHINGTON: The Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) strategy document could land on Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s desk within the next week, but the head of the Pentagon effort says huge hurdles remain to actually make it work.

Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, who leads the Joint Staff’s J6 command and control directorate, said Tuesday the options being presented by industry for connecting far-flung forces have been lackluster. “I am looking for good enough and I have not found a good enough,” the Marine told an industry audience at an AFCEA event.

The draft JADC2 strategy is currently under review by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. Developing common data standards, improving networking and opening up linkages to allies are key elements under the strategy.

Crall pointed to issues the services have when trying to communicate while deployed. For example, he said when a Marine leaves their home base workstation and embarks on a Navy ship as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, “it’s almost impossible to deliver an email, and we’re going to be doing processing on the edge and conclusion delivery to systems with a human in the middle of that decision-making apparatus. And this is a huge weakness,” Crall said.

The issues become particularly acute when the US wants to share data with members of the Five Eyes group, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The countries are considered America’s closest allies with whom the US would be expected to be able to communicate most easily.

8 ideas for successful technology convergence

Vince Vlasho

Convergence. That one word is key to understanding critical technology trends for the U.S. military in the coming years.

The information-driven, multidomain battlefield of the future is already here. Victory depends as much, if not more, on speed, agility and integrity in decision-making as it does on strength of force.

That’s the reality today for many conflicts: a classic observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) loop advantage reimagined for 21stcentury technology. In 2021, three maturing technologies — artificial intelligence, big data and ubiquitous cloud computing — will finally come together to create a disruptive wave that revolutionizes the art of combat for a generation.

These technologies, innovative themselves, become truly transformational when combined: dissolving communication stovepipes; giving U.S. military forces real-time command and control of multidomain operations; and providing a vital decision advantage to commanders.

Artificial intelligence programs, based in a cloud deployed at the operational edge, could automatically correlate sensor data from multiple sources, such as UAV video feeds, signals intelligence, and satellite surveillance — cutting through information overload to provide a continually updated, enhanced and orchestrated situational awareness of the theater.

And they could offer that all-source view, not only on screens back at headquarters, but on mobile devices in the hands of front-line warfighters and at every echelon in between.

Military Mobility Project Appendix 2: Suwałki Corridor

Ben Hodges

Security of mobility was a central theme in this high-end scenario on NATO’s eastern flank. Procedures for the military’s use of infrastructure have not been updated since the Cold War. Such modernization will be critical during an emergency to avoid the dangerous slowing of military mobility as it transitions from disembarkation at port to multimode transport systems. This scenario highlighted the vital need to test coordination and deconfliction of processes under duress and beyond the usual planning timelines. For example, it is well-established that in peacetime, allied forces can be moved into Bremerhaven and projected into Poland. But what about during an emergency?

Dealing with Legal/Diplomatic Standards

Rapid responsiveness: Key mobility stakeholders, who are vital to military mobility in a high-end emergency such as played out by this scenario, will need to be identified early in the planning process. Close working relationships will be particularly important in transit nations between national and local governments, relevant industries, those responsible for the management of critical infrastructure and organizations, and between sending and transit nations through the reconciliation of border-crossing procedures by both the European Union (EU) and NATO. Authorization procedures must also be resilient to the sudden changes any emergency tends to generate. For example, the importance to rapid mobility of robust administrative systems cannot be overstated. Potential errors in cargo lists and the order of arrival of shipping could lead to significant delays. The importance of effective and robust regulatory regimes will also be vital. In peacetime, industry and civilian activities and regulations that compete with military requirements can cause friction. As soon as a crisis is formally declared as such friction should be brought to an end by the necessary political and statutory instruments. The critical need will be to declare a crisis early which, in turn, will require the indicators and decision-making capacity for such a judgment to be made. Thereafter, national coordination centers would promote the seamless mobility of forces and resources. There is already a process to formally recognize a crisis — the NATO crisis response system. As soon as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) has been authorized by the North Atlantic Council (NAC), Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) issues an activation order to all participating nations and commands, initiating the deployment of NATO forces.

Loyal Wingman’s First Flight Shows Fourth Industrial Revolution in Defence Capability Has Arrived

By Marcus Hellyer

With the ongoing gloom hanging around Australia’s future submarine program and signs that the future frigate is facing some big problems, it’s great to see some good news out of the Defence Department and its Australian industry partners. And to be honest, it’s really good news. Last weekend, the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, aka the ‘loyal wingman’, successfully completed its first test flight.

This is much bigger than yet another drone taking to the sky. Certainly, the Royal Australian Air Force, Boeing and their 35 industry partners can be justifiably proud of flying the first military aircraft to be designed and built in Australia in more than 50 years. But there’s a lot more here to digest.

The ATS has gone from the start of detailed design to successful flight in three years. Those are the kind of timelines we saw back in the world wars, when technology was simpler, national survival was on the line, and governments didn’t care too much about losing some test pilots in the development process.

In more recent times, the development of combat aircraft has taken decades. The rapid progress of the ATS shows how the ecosystem of technologies that make up the fourth industrial revolution is bringing its transformative potential to the defence sector.

Key elements including advanced digital design technologies that make use of ‘digital twins’ to test and fly a virtual version of the aircraft thousands of times, allowing problems to be identified and addressed well before it takes flight. Boeing is also developing a robotic assembly line to build the aircraft.

Army researchers make major breakthrough in quantum electronic warfare (EW) to monitor entire RF spectrum

ADELPHI, Md. – Scientists with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Md., say they recently made a significant breakthrough in quantum electronic warfare (EW). The Debrief reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

2 March 2021 -- Using laser beams to create excited Rydberg atoms, Army researchers say they built a quantum sensor to detect the complete radio frequency spectrum. The findings, published in the Physical Review Applied, show the Rydberg sensor can pick up Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AM and FM radio, and other communications signals on frequencies as high as 20 GHz.

Although more engineering and physics work is necessary, the device has the potential to unleash new potentials for military communications, spectrum awareness, and quantum electronic warfare (EW).

Using the lasers, rubidium atoms are excited into desired Rydberg states, allowing researchers to measure atoms’ response to an electric field and hone in on a portion of the spectrum they wanted to measure. Because Rydberg atoms are extremely sensitive to the circuit’s electric fields, the device can expose the wide-range of faint signals in the RF spectrum.