11 March 2021

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

By Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

On Feb. 28, 2021 The New York Times (NYT), based on analysis by a U.S. based private intelligence firm Recorded Future, reported that a Chinese entity penetrated India’s power grid at multiple load dispatch points. Chinese malware intruded into the control systems that manage electric supply across India, along with a high-voltage transmission substation and a coal-fired power plant.

The NYT story gives the impression that the alleged activity against critical Indian infrastructure installations was as much meant to act as a deterrent against any Indian military thrust along the Line of Actual Control as it was to support future operations to cripple India’s power generation and distribution systems in event of war.

The Cost of Pakistan’s Dam Obsession

By Usmaan Farooqui

In this photo taken on Nov. 18, 2005, Pakistan’s biggest Tarbela Dam is observed from a helicopter in Tarbela, Pakistan.Credit: AP Photo/Anjum Naveed, File

In August 2018, seated behind a large desk and looking straight into the camera for his inaugural address, Prime Minister Imran Khan declared that building dams was the only way to tackle Pakistan’s existential water problems.

Fast forward a few years and the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has started construction on two major hydroelectric projects: Mohmand in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Diamer-Bhasha in Gilgit-Balististan. The latter, a 272-meter behemoth, is billed as the highest roller compacted dam in the world. With a storage capacity of 8.1 million-acre-feet, it’s also touted as a silver bullet for Pakistan’s water crisis.

On the face of it, dams seem to make imminent sense for Pakistan, where a water-intensive agricultural sector employs nearly half the workforce. With reports warning that the country could “run dry” by 2025, an increase in storage capacity should, in theory, increase the availability of freshwater during droughts.

But experts disagree.

Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law Clearly Doesn’t Protect Hinduism

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

Renowned Pakistani televangelist, Islamic scholar, and member of the National Assembly Aamir Liaquat Husain last week took a jab against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Sharif by mocking a Hindu deity on Twitter. The National Assembly member from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) used a doctored image of a Hindu goddess in a bid to degrade the PML-N leader, intrinsically attributing derogatory characteristics to the deity. While Husain has since deleted the tweet, and issued an apology, the incident is the latest reminder of the Islamist double standard of Pakistan’s stance on blasphemy and the correlated bloodthirsty laws.

In Pakistan, lives have been derailed, individuals burned alive, and entire colonies torched over false allegations of blasphemy against Islam. Unlike Husain, who didn’t even have to face any criminal inquiry for open sacrilege against Hinduism, those accused of blaspheming against Islam aren’t afforded the privilege of a retraction or apology. At least 75 have been extrajudicially killed, and hundreds imprisoned, over the intangible and victimless “crime” of sacrilege against Islam in Pakistan. The Islamist mob violence in the country is encouraged by gory blasphemy laws, which establish the capital punishment for outraging Islam alone, inherently relegating other religions and ideologies to the periphery of judicial egalitarianism and pushing non-Muslim minorities outside democratic bounds.

Vaccine Diplomacy in Central Asia: Russia vs. China?

By Catherine Putz

First there was “mask diplomacy” and now there’s “vaccine diplomacy.” In the context of Central Asia, vaccine diplomacy is a hot topic, which pairs well with preexisting narratives about the region as a geopolitical battlefield. Given that Russia and China are major figures in the COVID vaccine arena, it’s natural to contrast their efforts in the region. Can “vaccine diplomacy” change any minds in Central Asia when it comes to the Russia vs. China equation?

“What [vaccine diplomacy] does do is play into existing regional and global agendas,” Alexander Cooley, director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, said during an online event put together by IWPR in Central Asia and the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs.

In speaking about China’s “mask diplomacy” Cooley noted that there were as many positive stories as negative ones, with negative coverage focusing on “China’s wily intentions, the shoddy quality of the goods involved, on how it was trying to push its Belt and Road Initiative and pry EU countries from the EU” and so on. These are familiar themes and many have their Central Asian equivalents.

Despite all of China’s efforts in Central Asia over the past decade — much of it in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative — China’s biggest BRI partner in the region, Kazakhstan, doesn’t have present plans to use Chinese vaccines.

Op-ed: Biden and Xi are offering dueling worldviews — the winner will shape the global future

Frederick Kempe

Biden’s biggest departure from the Trump approach to China is the emphasis on working with partners and allies.

This week’s move by the U.S. and European Union to ease trade tensions, suspending a long list of tariffs and the Airbus-Boeing dispute of government subsidies, underscores President Biden’s seriousness of purpose.

Unsurprisingly, Beijing is offering up a different of view of the future around the second key event this past week, the National People’s Congress that convened Friday and will continue this coming week.

China sees the momentum on Beijing’s side in a world where “the East is rising, and the West is declining.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 4, 2013.

Has China’s Economy Hit a Speed Bump?

By Stratfor Worldview

Recent data suggests China’s economy may be struggling rather than roaring back from a seasonal slump, and that its impressive headline growth numbers in 2020 hid an incomplete and unbalanced recovery. Forward-looking purchasing manager indices (PMI) reported by China after the Lunar New Year were just slightly above 50, which shows a growing economy, but possibly at a slowing rate that could be worrying to Chinese officials. It’s too early to tell if the recent dips are temporary, cyclical or symptomatic of a greater slowdown, but dependence on the old model of credit-fueled investment and exports may not be sustainable. If not, then projected supercharged growth of 8-9% in 2021 could be unattainable and inconsistent with the Chinese government’s official narratives.

The Chinese government’s manufacturing PMI fell to 50.6 in February, a nine-month low, from 51.3 in January. Its non-manufacturing PMI, which covers construction and services, was 51.4 in February, down from 52.4 the previous month, possibly reflecting subdued transportation services both domestically and internationally.

The private IHS Markit-Caixin PMI, which is more statistically sound and has better seasonal adjustments than China’s official manufacturing PMI, showed similar results.

Why Taiwan matters


Taiwan’s successful handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is a model for the world,” announced the outgoing US ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, in a statement on 19 January. With a population of nearly 24 million, the self-styled Republic of China (a de facto independent democracy, but claimed by the People’s Republic of China, which has never ruled over it) has, as it stands, managed to limit case numbers to 941 and deaths to only nine.

This is not accidental. Taiwan’s painful brush with severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in 2003, when 181 people died, meant it was better prepared for a pandemic involving a highly transmissible and deadly virus than nearly all European nations or the US. I experienced this preparedness when flying from Taiwan Taoyuan International airport on 21 January 2020, where prominent signs with the characters for “Wuhan” directed arrivals from the stricken Chinese city through separate channels.

The raw numbers and the efficiency of the government response are not the only reasons Taiwan’s handling of Covid-19 has been exemplary. As Jeanette Chiang, a columnist for the Taiwanese daily China Times, explains, the “effort has been bottom-up rather than top-down, the achievement of grass-roots civil society as much as government”. Taiwan has avoided lockdowns and schools have stayed open. “We go to the theatre and pack restaurants wearing masks,” reports Lin Hwai-min, the founder of Taiwan’s acclaimed Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. “The good normal life in Taiwan seems surreal.”

The Continuing Mystery of the Belt and Road

By Yuan Jiang

Almost eight years have passed, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) still remains a mystery, raising much global furor. Is China too difficult to understand or does China intentionally not want to be understood?

The story begins with President Xi Jinping’s eye-catching proposals to establish a Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in 2013. However, Beijing took over a year to form its leading group on the subject, and a year and a half to issue a single BRI guideline, full of vague mottos. Even the name was not meticulously drafted, experiencing changes from “One Belt, One Road” to the “Belt and Road Initiative.” That said, these fluctuations are consistent with Beijing’s framing of the BRI as mutually discussed, open, and inclusive.

Unexpectedly, this framing has caused unfettered reinterpretations even within China, and some of them totally contradict the main leadership body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Some provincial governments simply talk of a “bridgehead” that vaguely alludes to a sense of growing military power. Other provinces have gone as far as to claim the BRI will restore China’s “historical glory,” recalling the ancient tribute system in Southeastern Asia. Some Chinese academics and military generals decipher the BRI as a shrewd geopolitical strategy, reinforcing China’s internal policy discoordination. The NDRC purportedly has struggled to play down all of these alternative explanations, instead emphasizing economic cooperation and peaceful development.

Of course, Beijing explicitly understands the strength of policy narrative and has attempted to control the narrative of the BRI. The leading group sought to prevent the abuse of the BRI concept. According to the interview cited by Jinghan Zeng, scholars at the Chinese Academy of Social Science were forbidden to speculate on the meaning and implications of the BRI after 2015.

What’s on the Agenda for China’s National People’s Congress?

By Shannon Tiezzi

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during the opening session of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Friday, March 5, 2021.Credit: AP Photo/Andy Wong

The annual session of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) opened on March 5, with Premier Li Keqiang delivering the government work report to the delegates. This year is an unusually eventful one for the legislature, which will not only approve the latest five-year plan but also remake Hong Kong’s electoral system.

One of the first takeaways from Li’s work report is that China’s GDP target is back. Last year, amid the economic turmoil caused by COVID-19, China did not set a specific growth target. This year, however, the target returned, with Li setting it at “over 6 percent” (essentially a return to 2019 growth levels). The broader goal, according to Xinhua, is to get the “economy firmly back to pre-pandemic vibrancy,” which will also require boosting demand and creating at least 11 million new urban jobs.

Economists have long urged China to drop the specific GDP target to give teeth to its assertion that it is prioritizing quality of growth over quantity. Some analysts suggested China could use the aberration of 2020 to set a new tradition, but, as China watcher Bill Bishop has pointed out, it’s not as simple as just cutting out a number from the work report. The current system requires a GDP target to function.

A Russian-Chinese Partnership Against America?

by Charles E. Ziegler

CHINA AND Russia consider themselves great powers, and there is agreement in both Beijing and Moscow on cooperating to limit or constrain America’s ability to dominate international relations and challenge their sovereignty. Moscow and Beijing are committed to multipolarity and a spheres of interest approach, where each state can regulate its periphery without U.S. interference. This close partnership will likely continue as long as Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin remain in office, and it is probably durable enough to survive if either or both of these leaders steps down or dies. Both have arranged for their rule to continue—indefinitely in the case of Xi, and to 2036 in the case of Putin, assuming he decides to stay in office that long. Each regime is acting as a pragmatic, nationalist great power, and each sees its interests as far more compatible with the other power than with the United States.

Russian and Chinese adherence to global rules is selective and cynical, though international law and institutions can be manipulated to frustrate American foreign policy goals. The two often vote together in the United Nations, for example, using their veto to counter U.S. and European Security Council resolutions on Syria. In 2018, Russian and Chinese diplomats discussed coordinating on the Middle East and agreed to maintain a dialogue on a range of issues in the region. The Middle East presents opportunities and security concerns for Russia and China as the United States disengages. Both opposed Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and have taken advantage of the situation by negotiating closer military and economic cooperation with Tehran. More broadly in the Middle East, China became the region’s largest investor in 2016, and in the following year established its first overseas base in Djibouti. Russia is engaged diplomatically across the region; is selling weapons to Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, the UAE, and Turkey; and recently concluded a twenty-five-year agreement for a naval base in Sudan to complement its base at Tartus, in Syria.

'Seizing Weakness’: The Geopolitical Dimension of U.S.-China Relations

By Francis P. Sempa

The Atlantic Council recently released “The Longer Telegram,” a China strategy proposal written by an anonymous former U.S. national security official consciously emulating the 1947 article “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” which appeared in Foreign Affairs under the pseudonym “X” (later revealed as the State Department’s Director of Policy Planning George F. Kennan) and advocated for the policy of containment. A year before “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” appeared, Kennan had written a 5000-word telegram from Moscow (which was known thereafter as “The Long Telegram”) warning Washington about the emerging Soviet threat to the global balance of power.

The Atlantic Council paper made headlines throughout the world. It presents China's economic, military and political challenges to U.S. global interests in stark terms. It analyzes China's strengths and potential vulnerabilities. It discusses China's internal political dynamics and suggests that the United States can favorably influence China’s internal political evolution. The paper also defines “core” U.S. global interests and contends that U.S. long-term strategy must be based on four fundamental pillars of American power: military, economic, technological, and values. It emphasizes the importance of alliances to counter both regional and global threats and calls for a U.S. "rebalance" in its relationship with Russia. It identifies areas of strategic competition and strategic cooperation between the U.S. and China. It concludes with a call for the current generation of Americans to be a worthy successor to the greatest generation “who defeated tyranny to preserve not just the nation, but the world.”

Less publicly heralded but more focused and persuasive is the recently released study of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments entitled Seizing On Weakness: Allied Strategy for Competing With China’s Globalizing Military. Written by Toshi Yoshihara and Jack Bianchi, the study is less concerned than "The Longer Telegram" is with "soft power" and instead highlights China’s strategic and geopolitical weaknesses that U.S. strategy should seek to exploit.

U.S. Needs a Strong Defense Against China’s Rare-Earth Weapon

James Stavridis

James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is also an operating executive consultant at the Carlyle Group and chairs the board of counselors at McLarty Associates. His latest book is "2034: A Novel of the Next World War."

You could be forgiven if you are confused about what’s going on with rare-earth elements. On the one hand, news reports indicate that China may increase production quotas of the minerals this quarter as a goodwill gesture to the Joe Biden administration. But other sources say that China may ultimately ban the export of the rare earths altogether on “security concerns.” What’s really going on here?

There are 17 elements considered rare earths — lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, scandium and yttrium — and while many aren’t actually rare in terms of global deposits, extracting them is difficult and expensive. They are used across high-tech manufacturing, including smartphones, fighter aircraft and components in virtually all advanced electronics. Of particular note, they are essential to many of the clean-energy technologies expected to come online in this decade.

China Has a Master Plan to Defeat America in a Hellish War

Michael Peck

Here's What You Need to Remember: “Chinese analysts often project an image of strength and confidence oriented at foreign audiences that is not always reflective of their genuine assessments of their own remaining weaknesses,” Harold told the National Interest. “Such an approach enables them to capture some deterrent or compellence advantages before such are really due to them if they can create an outsized image of their capabilities in the minds of adversaries.”

China's military isn't just aiming for mere parity or deterrence with the U.S., but rather military victory in a potential Sino-American war.

"The PLA [People's Liberation Army] is focused not merely on competing with the United States or other nations as a goal in and of itself, but instead on competing as a means to achieving the policy outcomes identified by the CCP [Communist Party of China] -- deterring U.S. intervention and defeating the U.S. military if the United States and China do come into open conflict," writes RAND Corp. researcher Scott Harold in a new study.

The study paints a picture of a nation with a focus on goals and what it needs to achieve them. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union bankrupted itself with an obsessive need to match U.S. capabilities such as ballistic missile defense. China won't make that same mistake. "The PLA appears not to compete in certain areas because it does not need certain capabilities to accomplish its directed mission, or it has other means to address the military problem at hand," Harold writes.

Understanding China’s 2021 Defense Budget

The annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) began on Friday, March 5, in Beijing. Like previous years, the first day of the new NPC session was highlighted by the widely anticipated announcement of China’s 2021 defense budget, which was set at 1.36 trillion yuan, a 6.8 percent increase from the 1.27 trillion yuan budget set last year. The new budget amounts to $209.16 billion based on the current exchange rate. Monitoring China’s defense budget provides critical insights into the ongoing modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Q1: What does the new defense budget tell us?

A1: Given that China’s defense budget has grown each year for decades, the increase in the 2021 defense budget is hardly surprising. What is more revealing are year-to-year fluctuations in the pace of growth. At 6.8 percent, the growth rate for 2021 stands out as only the third yearly increase during the last decade.

An Economic Showdown Brews in the Gulf

By Varsha Koduvayur

Saudi Arabia is laying the foundations for another Gulf crisis – this time provoking its ally, the United Arab Emirates. Just weeks after patching up a years-long dispute with Qatar, the kingdom has announced a new plan to require all foreign businesses to have a regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia, or risk getting locked out of contracts with the government. The decision constitutes a direct shot at the UAE and risks positioning Riyadh and Dubai for an eventual clash.

Starting in 2024, the Saudi government and state institutions will cease signing contracts with foreign companies that choose to locate their Middle East hubs outside Saudi Arabia. However, Riyadh will not completely lock out offending firms. According to Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid al Falih, firms in the Saudi private sector will be able sign contracts with them, and so will state-owned firms that are publicly traded. Saudi Arabia is offering carrots for companies to move, including zero corporate tax for 50 years; a waiver from Saudization quotas that require companies to hire Saudi nationals; loosened rules for spouses to get work permits; and potential favoring in tenders and contracts.

Foreign Policy for Pragmatists

Gideon Rose

Bismarck once said that the statesman’s task was to hear God’s footsteps marching through history and try to catch his coattails as he went past. U.S. President George W. Bush agreed. In his second inaugural address, Bush argued that “history has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.” President Donald Trump had a different take. His National Security Strategy claimed: “A central continuity in history is the contest for power. The present time period is no different.” The Bush team saw history moving forward along a sunlit path; the Trump team saw it as a gloomy eternal return. Those beliefs led them to care about different issues, expect different things of the world, and pursue different foreign policies.

Theories of history, fundamental beliefs about how the world works, are usually assumed rather than argued and rarely get subjected to serious scrutiny. Yet these general ideas set the parameters for all the specific policy choices an administration makes. Know an administration’s theory of history, and much of the rest is easy to fill in.

There are a lot of possible theories of history, but they tend to fall, like Bush’s and Trump’s, into two main camps: optimistic and pessimistic. Thus, the Clinton administration followed its own version of happy directionality—think of it as Bush with less muscular Christianity. And there have been earlier believers in Trump’s dark and stormy night, as well.

Proportionate Deterrence: A Model Nuclear Posture Review


Since the 1990s, every U.S. presidential administration has published a Nuclear Posture Review that explains the rationales behind its nuclear strategy, doctrine, and requested forces. The review envisioned and summarized here explicitly elucidates the dilemmas, uncertainties, and tradeoffs that come with current and possible alternative nuclear policies and forces.

Executive Summary

Ever since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, every U.S. presidential administration has published a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that explains the rationales behind its nuclear strategy, doctrine, and requested forces. These reviews have helped inform U.S. government personnel, citizens, allies, and adversaries of the country’s intentions and planned capabilities for conducting nuclear deterrence and, if necessary, war. The administration that takes office in January 2021 may or may not conduct a new NPR, but it will assess and update nuclear policies as part of its overall recalibration of national security strategy and policies.

Nongovernmental analysts can contribute to sound policymaking by being less constrained than officials often are in exploring the difficulties of achieving nuclear deterrence with prudently tolerable risks. Accordingly, the review envisioned and summarized here explicitly elucidates the dilemmas, uncertainties, and tradeoffs that come with current and possible alternative nuclear policies and forces. In the body of this review, we analyze extant declaratory policy, unclassified employment policy, and plans for offensive and defensive force postures, and then propose changes to several of them. We also will emphasize the need for innovative approaches to arms control.


The UK to Head East of Suez: Power Projection or Search for Trade?

By James Maclaren

Later this year, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the new Royal Navy aircraft carrier, will undertake its maiden deployment to the Asia-Pacific region. It will arrive as the flagship of a Carrier Strike Group, CSG21, that includes an air wing of U.S. Marine F-35s, nuclear submarines, and a number of U.S. and U.K. surface escort ships. The group is a bold statement of intent for a national defense policy that is tilting back toward the Indo-Pacific region after decades of contraction and focus on its NATO responsibilities to the North Atlantic. The deployment marks the Royal Navy’s return in force to east of the Suez Canal and reverses a government policy followed since 1967 that sustained operations in the Indo-Pacific were beyond the U.K.’s economic means or, with the loss of the empire, its strategic interests.

This deployment and its choice of operating area is significant for a number of reasons. Reaction to its announcement has focused on the alarm bells it will raise with China. It does show a new determination on the part of the U.K. government to expand the maritime influence of the Royal Navy with new and improved capability and to extend its reach to unfamiliar (at least in recent times) operational areas.

But why?

Rare earth unlocks copper, gold and silver secrets

by Silvia Dropulich

The research potentially has wide implications for the materials sector and industry. Credit: Monash University

A study by Monash scientists has found that a rare earth affects the fate of a key reaction with copper, gold, silver, and uranium mineralisation.

The work is part of the "Olympic Dam in a test tube" project, where researchers tried to reproduce the processes that resulted in the concentration of more than a trillion dollars worth of metals at Olympic Dam in South Australia in the laboratory.

The study, published in Nature Communications, found that Cerium, which belongs to the group of elements called 'rare earths' speeds up important reactions and plays other significant roles.

"Previous thinking was that Cerium just came along for the ride, that is, the ore fluids picked up some cerium on their way to Olympic Dam," said study author Professor Joël Brugger, from the Monash School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment.

"But our results place Cerium in the driver's seat, as the presence of Cerium affects the fate of one of the key reactions associated with copper, gold, silver, and uranium mineralisation at Olympic Dam," he said.

Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI)

Perspectives on Terrorism, February 2021, v. 15, no. 1

Bringing Religiosity Back In: Critical Reflection on the Explanation

of Western Homegrown Religious Terrorism (Part I)

Dying to Live: The "Love of Death" Narrative Driving the Taliban's

Suicide Bombings

The Use of Bay'ah by the Main Salafi-Jihadist Groeps

Counter-Terrorism in the Philippines: Revies of Key Issues

Variations on the Theme? Comparing 4chand, 8kun and other chans'

Far-right "/pol" Boards

Climate Change-Terrorism Nexus? A Preliminary Review/Analysis of the Literature

Inventory of 200+ Institutions and Centres in the Field of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Research

Counterterrorism Bookshelf: Eight Books on Terrorism & Counter-Terrorism-Related Subjects
Bibliography: Terrorism by Region - Southeast Asia

Bibliography: Civilian Casualties of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism

Preparedness for, and Resilience to, Terrorism: Bibliography of Theses

(60+ Full-Text Academic Theses (Ph. D. and M.A.) written in English between 2000 and 2020)

Recent Online Resources for the Analysis of Terrorism Related Subjects

War or peace? Understanding the grey zone

Much has been made of hybrid or 'grey zone' conflict between states in recent years. However, as John Raine argues, the ever widening list of actions viewed as belligerent only increases the likelihood of escalation.

The long and costly clean up after the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and the international debate on Huawei as an instrument of Chinese state power are reminders of the multifarious forms of state activity in the area between war and peace.

Similarly, President Trump’s reported obsession with intelligence briefings that relate to Germany and China’s commercial positioning rather than counter-terrorism matters, and President Macron’s recent broad definition of what constitutes a threat to Europe, are examples of how this area is being increasingly characterised as a domain of war rather than peace. It is the ‘grey zone’ where hybrid or asymmetric warfare is conducted.

But if this domain does constitute a battlespace, it is starting to look very congested, with a steadily growing number of players, capabilities and agendas. Organised crime should be considered as part of this domain, as well as state-backed troll farms, terrorists, political activists and IP thieves.

It’s Time for a Cybersecurity Quid Pro Quo

By Eric Noonan

The most intriguing suggestion at the first Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the SolarWinds attack came toward the end.

It seems to have bipartisan support. It would have a tremendous impact on our ability as a nation to quickly respond to attacks like SolarWinds that threaten both government agencies and businesses large and small, public and private. It’s been debated for years, but finally has a chance of coming to fruition.

It’s a mandatory, national data breach reporting law. It’s not every day that top executives of major technology companies openly call for more regulations on themselves. Of course, it wasn’t without a condition: They would commit to disclosing breaches to the government in exchange for legal liability limitations.

This is a major step toward the centralized cyber threat intelligence sharing we’ve long needed. Of course, as the committee Chairman Mark Warner pointed out, offering legal protection for disclosures could lead to “sloppy behavior” among companies. This is why we need a cybersecurity quid pro quo.

Microsoft hack: White House warns of 'active threat' of email attack

The US is expressing growing concern over a hack on Microsoft's Exchange email software that the tech company has blamed on China.

"This is an active threat," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday. "Everyone running these servers - government, private sector, academia - needs to act now to patch them."

Microsoft said hackers had used its mail server to attack their targets.

It is reported that tens of thousands of US organisations may be impacted.

The US has long accused the Chinese government of cyber-espionage, something Beijing denies.

Ms Psaki told reporters that the White House was "concerned that there are a large number of victims" and said the vulnerabilities found in Microsoft's servers "could have far reaching impacts".

On Saturday, the US National Security Council said it was "essential that any organisation with a vulnerable server take immediate measures" to determine if they had been targeted.

The British Army Is Shrinking: Smallest In 400 Years

By Peter Suciu

A Challenger 2 main battle tank with The Queen's Royal Hussars (QRH) at Hohne ranges in Germany. Challenger 2 (CR2) is the British Army's main battle tank. CR2 is based on the Challenger 1 tank, which served with distinction on operations in the Gulf War and the Balkans. Only five percent of Challenger 2 components are interchangeable with its predecessor, which has had more than 150 major modifications including a completely new turret, L30 CHARM 120mm gun and second generation Chobham armour. Challenger 2's thermal observation and gunnery displays a magnified image for the commander and gunner. The commander has a gyro-stabilised fully panoramic sight with laser range finder and thermal imager. The gunner is equipped with a gyro-stabilised primary sight with a laser range finder and coaxially mounted auxiliary sight. The driver's position has an image-intensifying day and night periscope, and the loader has a day sight.

Despite having an “empire” on which the sun never set, the British Army wasn’t exactly large in numbers. Yet, prior to the First World War, Great Britain had the only true “professional” army in Europe in that it was a small volunteer force made up of about 400,000 soldiers. Of those about 247,000 served in the Regular Army while another 145,000 served in the Territorial Force.

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It wasn’t until after the introduction of conscription, which began in January 1916, that the British Army reached its peak of strength. By the end of 1918, there were more than four million soldiers and seventy divisions serving for King and Country.

That was then.

What is the Tank Good For?

by Michael J. Rasmussen and Walker D. Mills

In March 2020 the United States Marine Corps announced that it would be disbanding its tank units. At the time the US Marines fielded three active-duty tank battalions and one reserve tank battalion. The news was formally announced in the Force Design 2030 Report, but word of the move came out a few days prior in the press. In August 2020, news broke the British Army was considering a similar move to scrap all of it’s 227 Challenger 2 main battle tanks. Both announcements garnered a flurry of criticism.

Despite this criticism, almost all of the naysayers have missed the critical point of the debate. Removing heavy armour is not a repudiation of the value of heavy armour on the battlefield. There is agreement that shock and mobile, protected, firepower are likely to remain valuable on future battlefields. The key question is not “are tanks valuable on the battlefield?” Because they are.

Rather, we need to ask how arguments for keeping armour in the US Marine Corps or the British Army weigh the resources necessary to train, maintain and sustain armoured units against other capabilities such as uncrewed systems, cyber, and air defence which achieve similar effects. This article explores the similarities and differences in US Marine Corps and British Army thinking regarding tanks and possible options.

A comparison

A hip-fired electromagnetic anti-drone rifle

By Greg Nichols 

A new anti-drone kit billed as the Swiss Army Knife of drone defenses just debuted from French company CERBAIR. The drone detection and mitigation tool -- the business end of which is a hip-fired electromagnetic rifle -- is emblematic of a growing urgency to develop security tools for guarding against rogue drone attacks.

The prevalence and growing sophistication of drones has created a serious obstacle for law enforcement. Commercially available drones can be used to threaten government officials and carry out attacks during public gatherings and events. A joint multi-agency threat assessment issued prior to then-incoming President Biden's inauguration listed drones as a potential threat. Violent non-state actors have already been known to use drones in combat.

"Although these drones are about the size of a watermelon and may have a range of only a few miles, they still pose a risk," writes Thomas Braun in his paper Miniature Menace in the journal Wild Blue Yonder. "In the hands of a [violent non-state actor], these small, inexpensive consumer drones are modified into "killer bees" capable of creating significant damage and terrorizing civilian and military populations."