10 March 2021

Biden Has a Plan to Not Break Afghanistan


One of the many problems with the perpetually reiterated cry to “end the forever wars” is that it only tells you what the United States should stop doing rather than what it should actually do to address the problems that caused the war in question in the first place. Exhibit A is Afghanistan, on which a growing chorus of voices has advised the Biden administration to withdraw all U.S. troops by May 1, the date envisioned in the agreement signed last February in Doha, Qatar, between the United States and the Taliban.

What about the fear that a Taliban-controlled government will make common cause with al Qaeda extremists, whom they reportedly continue to shelter? “It is hard to believe these reports,” writes Amitai Etzioni. What about the terrifying consequences to human rights, and above all women’s rights, of a Taliban-dominated government? “The past two decades have taught us … that fixing Afghan politics and society while keeping the Taliban out is beyond our considerable abilities,” notes William Ruger, an Afghanistan War veteran and vice president at the Charles Koch Institute. This is one subject that left and right can agree on.

The Doha agreement provided for talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government to work out the terms of a cease-fire and an ensuing transitional government. Those talks have remained stalled, leading to the fear—the terror, among many Afghans—that the United States would pull out its troops before any understanding had been reached. The “forever wars” crowd claims that a U.S. departure would force the regime in Kabul to get serious about negotiations. Afghan hawks, including the authors of the recent Afghanistan Study Group report, claim, with no more plausibility, that if the United States not only stays but increases its troop strength, it can help foster an “independent, democratic, and sovereign Afghan state” that can suppress the terrorist threat to the West.

Responding to the Myanmar Coup

What’s new? The Myanmar military’s 1 February coup d’état brought a sudden halt to the country’s democratic transition and showed disdain for the will of the people, overwhelmingly expressed in the November 202o elections which returned the National League for Democracy government in a landslide.

Why does it matter? The coup has arrested a decade of political and economic liberalisation. It has prompted almost universal outrage from Myanmar’s people, who have taken to streets across the country to demand its reversal. The military is unlikely to back down, and the risk of deadly violence against protesters is high.

What should be done? Foreign governments must unanimously condemn the coup. Nonetheless, all should be realistic about the limits of international leverage over the generals. Those responsible for the coup should be sanctioned but the population and economy should be protected from harm. Asian and Western powers should work together to deter violence.


The Myanmar military took the world by surprise on 1 February, staging a coup d’état that abruptly curtailed the country’s democratic transition and has sparked mass protests that could lead to deadly violence. The generals say their move is constitutional, alleging fraud in November 2020 elections that saw the National League for Democracy (NLD) defeat the military-backed party. These claims lack substantiation. The detention of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as her anointed president, Win Myint, has generated immense popular anger. Foreign governments are now grappling with how to respond. Some (largely Western) governments threaten sanctions to punish democratic backsliding; the U.S. has already imposed some restrictions. Asian powers that have expressed concern focus on the risk of instability. Governments that impose sanctions should adopt measures that target coup leaders and insulate Myanmar’s people and broader economy from their effects. Regional governments should consider such steps to protect regional stability. All external actors should cooperate to prevent violence.

China's Counter-Strategy to American Export Controls in Integrated Circuits

Douglas B. Fuller

This article examines China’s efforts to counter American sanctions against Huawei that in effect try to weaponize the silicon supply chain. While China has taken tentative steps to try to decouple from the American semiconductor industry, it faces three continuing challenges. First, the areas of technological dependence that the Huawei Entity List sanctions highlighted, fabrication capital equipment and electronic design automation (EDA) software, are areas in which China has very weak capabilities. Second, the wider the scope of the sanctions is, the more likely local and foreign firms will be willing to cooperate with Chinese efforts to create substitutes for controlled American technologies. But the scope of the sanctions appears to be in stasis and may even narrow during the Biden administration. Finally, the progressive expansion of China’s silicon ambitions has elicited foreign industrial policies to counter China’s own policies. This expanding market outside of China will lessen the effectiveness of Chinese policy and at the same time make a certain level of controls over IC technology palatable to American partners as Chinese customers are replaced by others.

Techno-nationalist concerns about technological independence have always been a motivating factor for the PRC government. However, outside of the defense industry, these concerns have frequently been due to two factors. First, the obvious wide gap between China’s technological capabilities and international technological frontiers in many areas made eschewing foreign technology difficult or even impossible. Second, the global availability of many technologies for commercial use continually undermined the appeal of employing existing or developing new Chinese alternatives that would be inferior and more costly in the short term.

Several developments have served to dampen these restraints on techno-nationalist gambits. The growth and development of China’s economy has narrowed or even erased the gap with international technological frontiers in many areas. Equally important, Xi’s confidence in China’s rise spurred ambitious foreign and industrial policies[1] that in turn eventually provoked a strong policy reaction in Washington. In the integrated circuit (IC)[2] industry, the ultimate American policy backlash against what American policy circles now widely perceive to be China’s state-driven and state-controlled technological rise was the use of the Entity List against Huawei. This American attempt to drive Huawei out of the 5G telecommunication equipment industry marked a turning point for China toward a much greater emphasis on building domestic alternatives across the IC supply chain. Prior to the Huawei export controls, the Chinese government made appropriate nods to building domestic capabilities across the supply chain, but its spending priorities focused on design and fabrication.

Grid Management: China’s Latest Institutional Tool of Social Control

Minxin Pei

The Chinese government began to implement a new form of social control – grid management – about fifteen years ago. On paper, the country has largely finished setting up more than one million grids in local communities. Grid management, which entails dividing communities into small units (1,000 residents per unit, as in most cases) and equipping them with information and surveillance technology, appeals to the top Chinese leadership because it promises to provide the party-state a new and more capable instrument of social control and delivery of public services. Publicly available materials suggest that most localities adapt their existing local organizations, such as neighborhood and village committees, into grids to comply with the central government’s order. As fully effective grid management requires enormous investments in well-trained manpower and reliable technology, it will likely take years for China to build such a system. At the moment, only wealthy cities seem to have made genuine progress in the development of grid management, while most grids are likely no more than relabeled neighborhood committees. Like China’s social credit system, grid management is evidence, but not yet reality, of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s aspirations to construct a well-organized and technologically sophisticated surveillance state.

The drastic containment measures the Chinese government adopted to contain the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 have played a critical role in the country’s success in suppressing the virus and limiting the number of infections and fatalities. One of the tools deployed in China’s war on the coronavirus was “grid management” (网格化管理), a tool of social control initially conceived and endorsed by the Chinese leadership because of its enormous potential to strengthen the state’s capacity of surveillance and delivery of public services (such as sanitation, public safety, and upkeep of public infrastructure). Indeed, on January 24, 2020, one day after Wuhan was locked down, the National Health Commission (NHC) issued a document (关于加强新型冠状病毒感染的肺炎疫情社区防控工作的通知) outlining a coordinated mechanism to prevent community spread of the virus. Among other things, the NHC required that local governments adopt “grid management” and treat each community as a “grid.” Full-time and part-time personnel would perform health checks, acquire information about the movement of local residents, conduct contact tracing, and implement preventive measures.[1] Chen Yixin (陈一新), secretary-general of the Central Politics and Law Commission (中央政法委秘书长) dispatched to Wuhan by General Secretary Xi Jinping to help oversee the lockdown, emphasized that grid management must play a critical role in enforcing the lockdown, creating “pandemic-free” communities, maintaining social stability, and ensuring the delivery of services to residents in lockdown.[2]

Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy bears fruit in Central and Eastern Europe

As the EU struggles with shortages and delays in vaccine supplies, Central and Eastern European countries have looked to Beijing for support. Serbia – EU candidate country and close friend of China – has already received 1,500,000 doses of the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm. Hungary received its first 550,000 doses in February. The Hungarian government plans to inoculate 250,000 people a month with the Chinese product between now and April. Meanwhile, Montenegro is waiting to receive a donation of 30,000 doses.

China’s vaccine diplomacy appears to be bearing fruit in these countries, and that threatens to deepen the rift between them and Brussels. Eurosceptic leaders have consistently played up Chinese support at the same time as discrediting the EU. "I come to the airport not only to receive the high-quality vaccines, but to demonstrate the friendship between China and Serbia," said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic as he welcomed the first batch of the Sinopharm vaccine at Belgrade airport in January. He did not grant the Pfizer-Biontech and Sputnik V vaccines a similar high-profile reception. In Hungary, the first EU country to approve a purchase of Sinopharm, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the EU’s vaccine procurement “scandalously slow”.

Beijing works hard to shape the narrative of its role in the pandemic

Such statements are usually swiftly picked up by Chinese party-state media. They play into the hands of China’s propaganda efforts to present a favorable story of its successful pandemic response. Beijing has used mask and vaccine diplomacy to counter an image widespread in Europe – that of China being responsible for the pandemic due to its lack of transparency and sluggish measures in the first months of the outbreak. As part of this public diplomacy push, Chinese vaccine makers are reportedly exporting more doses abroad than have been distributed in China.

The US-China global vaccine competition

American Enterprise Institute

American COVID-19 vaccine technology is the world’s best. Moreover, potential competitors face greater obstacles in efficacy, transparency, and production.

Once vaccination at home is well along, the Joe Biden administration can subsidize international distribution of American vaccines. In addition to humanitarian motives, there is also an important foreign policy opportunity.

US-China competition has intensified during the pandemic and could intensify further this decade. China caused the COVID-19 problem, while the US can lead in solving it—a powerful contrast.

The single most important area of competition is Southeast Asia. The populous countries of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam naturally face vaccination challenges. American assistance would have substantial value.

After a year of a devastating health crisis, economic wreckage, and foreign attempts to capitalize on American misfortunes, the Biden administration is looking for ways to reestablish world leadership. The US pharmaceutical industry has provided President Joe Biden with a powerful tool to protect public health: the world’s best vaccine technology. Combined with production capacity to match or exceed all global competitors, this technology should also be leveraged for diplomatic gain.

Global strategy 2021: An allied strategy for China

This strategy was produced in collaboration with experts from ten leading democracies.

Following World War II, the United States and its allies and partners established a rules-based international system. While never perfect, it contributed to decades without great-power war, extraordinary economic growth, and a reduction of world poverty. But this system today faces trials ranging from a global pandemic and climate change to economic disruptions and a revival of great-power competition.

As Henry Kissinger has pointed out, world order depends on the balance of power and principles of legitimacy. The rise of Chinese power is straining both aspects of the existing rules-based system. China benefited from the system and does not seek to kick over the table as Hitler did with the 1930s international order, but China wants to use its power to change the rules and tilt the table to enhance its winnings. Beijing is directing its growing economic, diplomatic, and military heft toward revisionist geopolitical aims. While we once hoped that China would become what we considered a “responsible stakeholder” in a rules-based system, President Xi Jinping has led his country in a more confrontational direction.

Some analysts portray a new Cold War, but this historical metaphor misunderstands the nature of the new challenge. The Soviet Union was a direct military and ideological threat, and there was almost no economic or social interdependence in our relationship. With China today, we have half a trillion dollars in trade and millions of social interchanges. Moreover, with its “market-Leninist” system, China has learned to harness the creativity of markets to authoritarian Communist party control. It announced its intent to use this system to dominate ten key technologies by 2025. We and our allies are not threatened by the export of communism – few people are taking to the streets in favor of Xi Jinping thought – but by a hybrid system of interdependence. China has become the leading trading partner of more countries than the US. Partial decoupling on security issues like Huawei (discussed below) is necessary, but total decoupling from our overall economic interdependence would be extremely costly, and even impossible in the case of ecological interdependence such as climate change or future pandemics. For better and worse, we are locked in a “cooperative rivalry” in which we have to do two contradictory things at the same time.

Leaping across the ocean: The port operators behind China's naval expansion

By Charlie Lyons Jones and Raphael Veit

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has become increasingly willing to project military power overseas while coercing and co-opting countries into accepting the objectives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Beijing’s greater willingness to flex its muscles, both politically and militarily, is supported by its overseas investments in critical infrastructure, which provide the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with the logistical enablers needed to project military power beyond the ‘first island chain’ in the Western Pacific. ‘Controlling the seas in the region, leaping across the ocean for force projection’ (区域控海,跨洋投送) is the term Chinese naval commentators use when referring to the PLA Navy’s bid to project power across the world.

Australia should build its research and analytical capacity to better understand the nexus between the CCP and SOEs. That due diligence, building on open-source research conducted for this report, will better illuminate the PRC’s global expansion, potential grey-zone operations and the companies and individuals involved.

To outpace China on technology, the US needs a 'full-stack' strategy


From the COVID-19 pandemic and a deeply struggling economy to the critical need for racial justice and immediate action on climate change, President Biden now confronts one of the most daunting inheritances of any U.S. president in at least a century. His administration also faces a looming strategic challenge: whether the United States and its allies and partners will be able to find common cause in accelerating the development of next-generation technologies.

If the United States and its democratic partners develop and deploy next wave technologies first, they will generate significant strategic advantages and strengthen their position in rule-setting forums. In turn, this will enable them to help craft norms and regulations for emerging technologies that are reflective of democratic values.

Simply put, technological competition sits at the core of great power competition and ideological rivalry for the 21st century and beyond. And with the U.S. and its democratic allies seeking to outpace authoritarian regimes such as those in Beijing and Moscow, tech innovation will be a critical determinant of the continued strength and resilience of the liberal international order.

The Trump administration deserves credit for recognizing the importance of technology competition with China in particular, and for raising awareness of the stakes of this competition. The Biden administration will need to move quickly to begin crafting solutions to the challenge that the Trump team identified. Put another way, to succeed in outpacing China in the race for technological leadership, the United States will need to find its friends. By building technology coalitions and alliances, the Biden White House can reinvigorate liberal rules, norms and institutions for a new era of ideological competition in which technology serves as a central fault line of global politics.

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.”

Online Extremism and Terrorism Researcher Security and Privacy: Some Practical Advice

By Dr. Maura Conway

Fortunately for Western scholars, as pointed out by Berger, “[t]o date, jihadist extremists have not systematically targeted researchers for potential violence outside of conflict zones. Indeed, groups such as al Qaeda have often sought to benefit from adversary research.” But as also pointed out in the same report, “[a]s research increases on right-wing movements with a larger and more diffuse presence, researchers may need to be more conscious of potential threats closer to home.” Aside from posing physical dangers to researchers, both jihadist and right-wing extremists have been known to engage in networked forms of abuse, some of which also have the potential to spill over into ‘real world’ settings.

Researcher online harassment and other forms of networked abuse can take a variety of forms, including ‘doxxing’ (i.e. posting individuals’ private information online oftentimes accompanied by implicit or explicit requests to use it for online and/or ‘real world’ harassment), ‘brigading’ (i.e. a group of users coordinating to ‘pile on’ another user for harassment purposes), and ‘swatting’ (i.e. making a hoax telephone call to emergency services in an attempt to have them dispatch heavily armed police—in the US, a ‘SWAT team’—to a particular address), which may also be used in combination. In fact, the extreme right have a long history of this type of behaviour, having carried out “perhaps the world’s first instance of doxxing” in the 1980s and employing swatting in their much more recent online harassment campaign against women in computer gaming known as ‘Gamergate.’

Suffice it to say, there is no way, if researching extremism and terrorism, to definitively avoid becoming the subject of such harassment and abuse, but there are ways to seek to get out ahead of it.

Pentagon Accused of Giving Iran Cover after Iraq Attack as Joe Biden Mulls Retaliation


Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby has come under fire for his apparent hesitation to link Iran to Shia militias operating in Iraq and launching attacks against U.S. and allied troops, following the latest rocket barrage against Iraq's Ain Al Asad air base this week.

Kirby spoke with reporters on Wednesday shortly after the attack, during which one American civilian contractor died of a heart attack. The U.S. has not yet apportioned blame for the rocket attack, and no group has claimed responsibility.

But the operation bears the hallmarks of attacks by Iran-aligned Shia Iraqi militias, which regularly target American, Iraqi and allied forces with artillery, IEDs, rockets, and other weapons.

This week's attack on Ain Al Asad follows a similar strike on the Erbil International Airport in Iraqi Kurdistan last month that killed one civilian contractor and wounded several Americans. That attack prompted American retaliatory airstrikes in Syria, targeting fighters belonging to Iran-backed Iraqi militia groups.

But Kirby's apparent hesitance to link Iran to this week's attack has prompted criticism online. The Pentagon spokesperson broke with common parlance to describe the suspected perpetrators as "Shia-backed militias," rather than Iran-backed groups, even after reporters in Wednesday's briefing challenged the phrase.

"Obviously it's a rocket attack and we have seen rocket attacks come from Shia-backed militia groups in the past," Kirby said of this week's operation.

Revisiting the EU Cybersecurity Strategy: A Call for EU Cyber Diplomacy

In December 2020, the European Union (EU) presented its new strategy on cybersecurity with the aim of strengthening Europe’s technological and digital sovereignty. The document lists reform projects that will link cybersecurity more closely with the EU’s new rules on data, algorithms, markets, and Internet services. However, it clearly falls short of the development of a European cyber diplomacy that is committed to both “strategic openness” and the protection of the digital single market. In order to achieve this, EU cyber diplomacy should be made more coherent in its supranational, demo­cratic, and economic/technological dimensions. Germany can make an important con­tribution to that by providing the necessary legal, technical, and financial resources for the European External Action Service (EEAS).

In 2019, the EU registered around 450 attacks on critical infrastructures in the energy and water supply sectors as well as information and communication technologies in the health, transport, and finance sectors. The vulnerabilities of technologically inter­depend­ent societies became particularly evident during the Covid-19 pandemic. In December, cybercriminals targeted the Euro­pean Medicines Agency. In order to preserve its socio-political model, the EU must assert itself in a security environment that is characterized by mutual threat per­ceptions and an increasingly dynamic tech­nological arms race. The director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, Paul Scharre, pointed out some time ago that the technology race is repeating the security dilemma of the nuclear age (Foreign Affairs, May/June 2019). How is the EU re­sponding strategically to the changed global political environment? What role can the EU play in preventing cyberattacks, for exam­ple on power plants, in advance? Are there crises management structures in place at the European level to ensure immediate and comprehensive action if necessary?

EU Cybersecurity Strategy

The US Brings Israel into CENTCOM

By Yaakov Lappin

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Pentagon’s decision last month to relocate Israel to the area of responsibility of the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) is a milestone development. It reflects a growing need to coordinate operational military activities among Israel, the US, and pragmatic Gulf States in the face of the common threat posed by the Iranian axis.

Though the move will take some time to go into effect, the Pentagon’s recent decision to relocate Israel to the area of responsibility (AOR) of the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM, which operates in the Middle East) is a direct operational reflection of the Abraham Accords, in which Israel normalized relations with the UAE and Bahrain with Saudi support.

The Head of CENTCOM, Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, recently told the Middle East Institute, “We do a lot of business with Israel now just as a practical matter of fact, because their threats generally emanate from the east. In a certain way, this is just a natural recognition of that at the operational level.”

In comments reported by Defense News, McKenzie said bringing Israel into CENTCOM will enable the US to place an “operational perspective” on the Abraham Accords, setting up “further corridors and opportunities to open up between Israel and Arab countries in the region” on a military-to-military level.

Enabling U.S. Technological Leadership for the 2050 Net-zero Market

Jake Taylor 

Securing a safe, livable climate for humanity requires substantial investments in technologies and policies and a comprehensive, multi-time-scale and multi-path approach. Critically, many scientific and technological areas are presently underdeveloped yet are likely to be necessary parts of the long-term sustainable future. A key example is the technology that enables the direct capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air.

Direct air capture (DAC) of CO2 has high promise for large impact. Many developed and developing nations have affirmed a net-zero carbon goal by 2050 which requires both substantial changes in emissions and the use of negative emission technologies like DAC. Furthermore, DAC has an additional potential: offsetting difficult-to-transition emission sources, providing better options for a sustainable future. Still, these technologies must be deployed and scaled. The corresponding market—potentially a trillion dollars per year—will be realized by those countries that have the capability and know-how to execute carbon removal at scale. At present, a host of methods for carbon removal show promise, from use of known biological solutions in forestry and oceans to the development of novel chemical and industrial approaches. However, none have been tested at scale, nor have the technological impediments and the unanticipated developmental challenges been explored and overcome (NAS 2019).

Jamestown Foundation

China Brief, February 26, 2021, v. 21, no. 3

China Moves Ahead on Digital Yuan Before 2022 Winter Olympics

China’s Updated National Defense Law: Going for Broke

The Xinjiang Crisis and Sino-Turkish Relations During the Pandemic: Part One

Development Lending is Down, But the BRI Lives to Fight Another Day

The Vatican, Chinese Catholicism, and the Diplomatic Isolation of Taiwan

Terrorism Monitor, February 26, 2021, v. 19, no. 4

Antifa’s “J20” Campaign: Anarcho-Communist Actions Since the New Year

Islamic State Khorasan Province Attack on Haz-aras Endangers

Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province

Yemen’s Fate Hinges on The Battle for Marib

The landscape of Hybrid Threats: A Conceptual Model (Public Version)

During the last years, the topic of Hybrid Threats (HT) dominates the security landscape in Europe. Whereas it may be considered by several stakeholders as a new topic, in fact it is not. It is as old as conflict and warfare, however, repackaged and empowered by new tools, concepts and technologies targeting vulnerabilities in several domains in an unprecedented manner. This new reality increases the outreach and effectiveness of HT towards achieving very strategic and overarching objectives such as undermining public trust in democratic institutions, challenging the core values of societies, gaining geopolitical influence and power and affecting the decision making capability of the political leaders. 

As a consequence, it is not a surprise that HT belong to the sphere of serious and acute threats to the EU and NATO and its Member States and are recognized as such by policymakers across Europe and beyond. Addressing effectively Hybrid Threats requires a common understanding by policymakers and politicians, early identification of the hybrid activity, identification of gaps in prevention, preparedness and response and development of the right actions in order to bolster resilience both at national and European/NATO level. There is significant ongoing activity at academic, policymaking and operational level. In the academic level, new scientific knowledge is been produced. At EU policy making level, two Joint Communications have paved the way for acting in this area and Hybrid Threats are mentioned in a number of security-related policies. In the EU and NATO member states, significant changes have been made already in the political level, however, more is needed to. At operational level, the EU has conducted the largest ever tabletop exercise on Hybrid Threats (Parallel and Coordinated Exercise, PACE 18) in collaboration with NATO. These efforts leave no doubt on the importance of Hybrid Threats for the EU. 

Cyber Conscription: Experience and Best Practice from Selected Countrie

Martin Hurt Tiia Sõmer

Cyber conscription is quite a new phenomenon and there is no common definition of the term. Cyber conscripts may carry out a range of functions including technical cybersecurity and cyber defence, as well as IT support, programming and development. They may also serve in more traditional branches such as communications/signals, intelligence, and even social media.

This report aims to identify best practices in the use of conscripts and reservists with information and communications technology (ICT)-related education and/or experience, bearing in mind the limited time that they serve. It examines the selection, training and employment of cyber conscripts and reservists in six countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

In the countries analysed, the number of volunteers applying for cyber conscription exceeds the military’s needs—there is no immediate need to increase the attractiveness of this type of service. This may change, however, since several nations plan to increase the annual requirement for cyber conscripts. Interviews conducted for this report found that cyber conscripts receive basic military training that mostly follows a uniform pattern common to all conscripts. Only after completing basic military training are cyber conscripts given more specific training, including on cyberspace operations. Several of the armed forces of the countries studied cooperate with universities and have either developed or are planning to launch partnerships with the private sector. Some also provide cyber conscripts with training that gives them a specialist certificate or university credit points.

Comparing the Cost-Effectiveness of Expendable Versus Reusable Small Air Vehicles

by Thomas Hamilton

When using UAVs, what are the relative costs of using expendable systems versus reusable systems?

RAND Corporation researchers reviewed the comparative cost-effectiveness of reusable and expendable platforms for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The authors specifically analyzed costs to achieve fixed effectiveness. In particular, they examine the life-cycle costs of alternative small UAVs that would operate in defended airspace in support of other systems, such as strike aircraft, and either be expended after their mission or recovered via aircraft or on the ground. The findings show that, in many cases, current technology makes reusable platforms relatively inexpensive. This suggests that small, reusable UAVs may be attractive as decoys, jammers, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms.

Key Findings

The reusable platform is favored by a substantial margin if the conflict requires more than a few sorties.

Land-based recovery is much less expensive than midair recovery.

The expendable platform is only a desirable solution if the U.S. Department of Defense can be certain that the system will not be used more than a few times over its lifetime, attrition will remain high for long periods of time, or if recovery costs will be quite high.

Technology Factsheet: Battery Technology

Daniel Remler Supratim Das Amritha Jayanti Related:

A battery is a device which stores chemical energy and converts it to electrical energy. Battery technology is pervasive for individual consumers and in scaled operations, whether that is through the use of smartphone, automotive vehicles, or even large-scale data centers. The most popular battery type currently is lithium-ion, which ranges in application from powering small cellular devices to the electrical grid.

Advancements in battery technology have been relatively slow due to the complex chemistry involved and the challenges to commercialize while maintaining safety. Improvements in battery technology, though, would mean enhanced energy availability and consumer electronics performance. The promises of emerging battery technology include enhanced smartphone battery life, reliable electric transportation, more efficient energy storage for large-scale buildings, and even energy storage for the grid. New designs could also address environmental and safety concerns regarding raw material sourcing, as well as battery disposal. However, it remains difficult for even the most promising battery experiments to find their way out of research labs and into the devices we carry. Despite these conditions, there are many researchers and innovators working towards the cause.BATTERY TECHNOLOGY (PDF)

Human-Machine Teaming and the Future of Military AI

Margarita Konaev, Tina Huang, Husanjot Chahal

As the U.S. military integrates artificial intelligence into its systems and missions, there are outstanding questions about the role of trust in human-machine teams. This report examines the drivers and effects of such trust, assesses the risks from too much or too little trust in intelligent technologies, reviews efforts to build trustworthy AI systems, and offers future directions for research on trust relevant to the U.S. military.Download Full Report

The Department of Defense wants to harness AI-enabled tools and systems to support and protect U.S. servicemembers, defend U.S. allies, and improve the affordability, effectiveness, and speed of U.S. military operations.1 Ultimately, all AI systems that are being developed to complement and augment human intelligence and capabilities will have an element of human-AI interaction.2 The U.S. military’s vision for human-machine teaming, however, entails using intelligent machines not only as tools that facilitate human action but as trusted partners to human operators.

By pairing humans with machines, the U.S. military aims to both mitigate the risks from unchecked machine autonomy and capitalize on inherent human strengths such as contextualized judgement and creative problem solving.3 There are, however, open questions about human trust and intelligent technologies in high-risk settings: What drives trust in human-machine teams? What are the risks from breakdowns in trust between humans and machines or alternatively, from uncritical and excessive trust? And how should AI systems be designed to ensure that humans can rely on them, especially in safety-critical situations?

Privacy Without Monopoly: Data Protection and Interoperability


The problems of corporate concentration and privacy on the Internet are inextricably linked. A new regime of interoperability can revitalize competition in the space, encourage innovation, and give users more agency over their data; it may also create new risks to user privacy and data security. This paper considers those risks and argues that they are outweighed by the benefits. New interoperability, done correctly, will not just foster competition, it can be a net benefit for user privacy rights.

In section 2 we provide background. First, we outline how the competition crisis in tech intersects with EFF issues and explain how interoperability can help alleviate it. In “The Status Quo,” we describe how monopoly power has woven the surveillance business model into the fabric of the Internet, undermining the institutions that are supposed to protect users. Finally we introduce the “privacy paradox”—the apparent tension between new interoperability and user privacy—that frames this paper.

In section 3, we present EFF’s proposals for interoperability policy.

The first is “competitive compatibility” or ComCom: encouraging tinkerers and startups to interoperate with incumbent services without their permission. A ComCom policy regime would dismantle the legal tools that corporations use to shut down interactions with their services that they don’t approve of. We propose better interpretations of, and reforms to, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and contract law pertaining to Terms of Service (ToS) and End User License Agreements (EULAs).

The second proposal would require some companies to provide a baseline of interoperable access to their services. Data portability gives users the right to access and transfer their data from the companies that hold it. Back-end interoperability would require very large companies—those that dominate a particular market segment—to maintain interfaces that allow their users to interact fluidly with users on other services. Finally, delegability would require those large companies to build interfaces that allow third-party software to interact with their services on a user’s behalf.

CYBERCOM Plays ‘Key Role’ As SolarWinds Unfolds: Gen. Nakasone


Cyber Command chief Gen. Paul Nakasone said Thursday that “CYBERCOM plays a continuing key role in the government-wide response” to the massive cyberespionage campaign against U.S. government entities and companies. “Certainly over the past few months,” he said, “the SolarWinds breach has focused our attention.”

Nakasone’s comments came on the same day security company FireEye, which was the first to publicize the SolarWinds hack after becoming a stage-two victim itself, published a blog post detailing a newly discovered backdoor it’s calling SUNSHUTTLE. The company said SUNSHUTTLE has a “possible connection to UNC2452” — the name FireEye has given to a threat actor associated with the SolarWinds campaign.

Nakasone made the remarks during his opening keynote speech at the eighth CYBERCOM Annual Legal Conference, which was held virtually for the first time this year due to COVID-19 and had over 1,400 attendees from around the world, including 200 foreign partners. In addition to leading CYBERCOM, Nakasone currently serves as the Director of the National Security Agency and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

Nakasone did not detail what CYBERCOM’s “key role” or the “ongoing response” is to the SolarWinds hack, but he highlighted supporting the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. CYBERCOM’s broad mission includes protecting Department of Defense networks, guarding the nation against cyberattacks, and supporting Joint Forces. His speech placed notable emphasis on CYBERCOM’s “defend forward” concept. Nakasone said defend forward includes “executing operations outside U.S. military networks.”

Winning the Battle of the Airfields

by Alan J. Vick, Mark Ashby

Research Questions

How has RAND analysis of ABD/A contributed to the resiliency of U.S. air power?
What enduring lessons do RAND's seven decades of work on ABD/A provide?

From the dawn of the air power age to today, airfields have been recognized as essential military facilities, and combatants have gone to great lengths to destroy enemy aircraft on the ground (where they are most vulnerable) and to deny the use of airfields through attacks on runways, fuel storage, and other supporting assets.

The RAND Corporation has worked on issues related to analyzing air base defense and attack (ABD/A) for 70 years — supporting the analysis of its U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. Air Force (USAF) sponsors and sometimes leading the way. This report documents and highlights RAND's many contributions to the analysis of ABD/A over time and identifies enduring insights for improving the resiliency of U.S. air bases in the face of modern threats.

Key Findings

RAND has made far-reaching contributions to the resiliency of U.S. air power, and sometimes led the way

The Real Threat to Civilian Control of the Military: The Officer Corps Can No Longer Simply Ignore Politics

Risa Brooks

As soon as Joe Biden announced that he would nominate General Lloyd Austin to serve as his secretary of defense, critics began to question the choice. Austin retired from a long career in the U.S. Army just four years ago and, like General James Mattis before him, would thus require a congressional waiver of the rule requiring active-duty military personnel to wait seven years before becoming defense secretary. Under Mattis, the critics contend, civilian control of the military had already decayed considerably. Austin’s confirmation, in hearings that begin this week, would risk accelerating that decay by handing the job over to a recently retired general—one who may lack the political experience and comfort relying on a robust civilian staff—for the second time in four years.

But to focus entirely on the implications of Austin’s (or Mattis’s) nomination neglects a much deeper challenge to civilian control of the military—above all, in the culture of professionalism that dominates the U.S. military’s officer corps today. The problem is not, as many might suspect, that officers are too political; it is that they think they can ignore politics altogether. The dominant culture of professionalism in the military today maintains a strict separation between the military and civilian spheres and bars officers from thinking about politics. It consequently undercuts the military’s role in ensuring the United States wins its wars and absolves military leaders of responsibility when the country fails to do so. That culture also leads the military to resent when civilian leaders intervene in battlefield decisions, hindering civilians’ ability to scrutinize military activity and ensure it serves civilians’ goals. Simply put, the prevailing culture of military professionalism undermines U.S. national security.