12 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.

How a steel plant in India tapped the value of data—and won global acclaim

By Rajiv Kumar, Namrata Dubashi, Rajat Gupta, and Kunwar Singh

Shortly before molten steel is cast into solid shapes at Tata Steel’s plant in Kalinganagar, India, frontline operators put the metal through a process known as superheating, which is necessary to bring the steel to the proper temperature for casting. Superheating can be tricky to get right. Steel reaches more than 1600 degrees Celsius during superheating, and the ideal temperature range spans only 15 degrees. If the steel comes out too hot, the equipment operators must slow the casting step. If the steel isn’t hot enough, it can “freeze” before it has been cast, which compromises its quality.

VideoInsights to Impact: Tata Steel Kalinganagar's analytics transformation with Kunwar Singh
McKinsey partner Kunwar Singh describes key insights from this impact story. Learn more about Kunwar here.

The frontline operators at the secondary-metallurgy station were used to running the superheating process based on past experiences. They would consider prompts from control systems, which were loaded with standard formulas, and then decide what set points to apply so the steel temperature would end up in the target range. Most of the time, they heated two of every three batches of steel into the optimal range. That “strike rate” allowed them to complete 25 “heats” per day, but it also left room for improvement. Bringing the strike rate up to 85 percent or so would result in 28 to 30 heats per day, enough to boost throughput by roughly 8 to 12 percent, or 600 to 900 daily tons.

How Can Less Powerful European States Enhance Their Relations With India?

By Krzysztof Iwanek

India’s relations with Europe tend to focus on the Old Continent’s western side – and for good reasons. France has emerged as a significant supplier of military equipment, Germany is India’s biggest trading partner within the EU, and the U.K. is a hub for Indian companies. And yet there is certainly room for New Delhi’s relations with other European states to grow, even though their capabilities are much more limited.

For instance, as most of Central Eastern Europe is a part of the EU, the region offers foreign companies access to the European Union’s markets but with lower operation costs than further west. The Apollo Tyres factory in Hungary is a rare case of a major Indian firm investing in the region with probably those considerations in mind.

On another level of relations, India’s diplomatic outreach to Poland after tensions with Pakistan in 2019 – outreach that included the visit of the Indian foreign minister to Warsaw – was connected to the fact that the European country was at the time presiding over the United Nations Security Council. Europe’s less powerful countries, in this way, can use what opportunities they do have to enhance relations with India. Perhaps Portugal’s declaration that during its current presidency of the European Union, Lisbon will give priority to enhancing EU-India ties is also an example of this approach.

Preparing for Retaliation Against Russia, U.S. Confronts Hacking by China

By David E. Sanger, Julian E. Barnes and Nicole Perlroth

WASHINGTON — Just as it plans to begin retaliating against Russia for the large-scale hacking of American government agencies and corporations discovered late last year, the Biden administration faces a new cyberattack that raises the question of whether it will have to strike back at another major adversary: China.

Taken together, the responses will start to define how President Biden fashions his new administration’s response to escalating cyberconflict and whether he can find a way to impose a steeper penalty on rivals who regularly exploit vulnerabilities in government and corporate defenses to spy, steal information and potentially damage critical components of the nation’s infrastructure.

The first major move is expected over the next three weeks, officials said, with a series of clandestine actions across Russian networks that are intended to be evident to President Vladimir V. Putin and his intelligence services and military but not to the wider world.

The officials said the actions would be combined with some kind of economic sanctions — though there are few truly effective sanctions left to impose — and an executive order from Mr. Biden to accelerate the hardening of federal government networks after the Russian hacking, which went undetected for months until it was discovered by a private cybersecurity firm.

China's Desert Storm Education

By Commander Michael Dahm, U.S. Navy (Retired)

THE 1991 GULF WAR was a harbinger of change for the Chinese military. In just 42 days, a United States–led coalition eviscerated the Iraqi military and expelled it from Kuwait. Before Operation Desert Storm, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was aware of its shortcomings relative to the West, but the war underscored the magnitude of the problem. The similarities between the PLA and the vanquished Iraqi military—an army-centric force organized for a defensive campaign—created a sense of urgency, as Beijing realized its military was ill-prepared to face a modern foe like the United States. The transformations in Chinese military strategy, technology, and force structure born out of the Gulf War have been seismic, shifting the balance of power in East Asia and portending global challenges for the U.S. military.

The 30th anniversary of the Gulf War is an appropriate time to examine where the PLA was three decades ago and what it may become. Chinese President Xi Jinping recently set a goal for the PLA to become a “world class military” by 2049, the centennial of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. What the U.S. military accomplished in Operation Desert Storm certainly represents a world-class standard in terms of joint force, expeditionary operations. Well before Xi’s edict to achieve this status, however, China understood its military needed a complete overhaul to achieve three outcomes: a joint force featuring a substantially improved air force and navy; precision-strike capabilities; and a modern command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) system. As impossible as those lofty goals may have seemed in 1991, in just a few decades, the PLA has made stunning progress toward them.

Guam: The Foundation Of Any U.S. Military Strategy On China

By James Holmes

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command supremo Admiral Philip Davidson wittingly or unwittingly fortified deterrence in the Western Pacific this week. Admiral Davidson
told a webinar at the American Enterprise Institute that augmenting Guam’s defenses is his top priority. “Guam is absolutely critical in maintaining deterrence and stability in the region,” he declared. “It is our most critical operating location west of the International Dateline. Funding for the air and missile defense of Guam is my Number 1 priority—most importantly because Guam is U.S. homeland.”
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That last part is the key part.

China hands, yours truly included, tend to put the accent on Guam’s military value when discussing how the island fits into U.S. maritime strategy in the Pacific. It is a strategic outpost, the westernmost in a series of U.S. island steppingstones that connects the U.S. west coast (and Panama Canal) to East Asia. So it is invaluable from a logistical standpoint. It plays host to powerful U.S. military forces, including Andersen Air Force Base and Marine Corps Base Camp Blaine, not to mention Naval Base Guam, home to Submarine Squadron 15 and submarine tender USS Frank Cable. It sits around the midpoint of the “second island chain” that roughly parallels the Asian continental shoreline and bounds China’s maritime ambitions. Etc.

What China Really Wants: A New World Order


Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 4, 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)Translated speeches from a leading Beijing scholar-adviser provide a rare guide to the Chinese Communist Party’s plans for domination. Call it a rhapsody in red.

What does the Chinese Communist Party actually want? Sometimes, the regime’s plans can seem inscrutable. Other times, they are more blunt. The latter is certainly the case for one high-profile Chinese scholar serving the Party: Jin Canrong, the Chinese “State Master,” a professor at the Chinese People’s University in Beijing, a U.S. expert, and an adviser to the Chinese Communist Party’s Organization Department and United Front Department. It’s unclear how close he is to Xi Jinping. But he is one of the intellectuals sarcastically referred to in China as “the Emperor’s Literary Men” or “the State Masters.” He has spoken throughout China and is well-known among Netizens. That the U.S. State Department suspended the ten-year visa of this State Master, along with nine other Chinese scholars, in January 2020 suggests that Donald Trump’s administration must have been aware of him as well.

His speeches may reflect the thought of CCP leaders. In 2018, I first read the transcripts of two of his public speeches from two years earlier. I was greatly alarmed. His words contradicted all the beautiful public utterances of CCP leaders, such as, “We will never become a hegemon” and, “We have no intention to challenge the U.S. leadership.” That was the first time I was truly impressed by the degree of China’s power and ambition. I have kept the transcripts. As the U.S. reckons with the growing CCP threat not only to the U.S.-led international order but also to the U.S. itself, now seems a good time to share the content of these speeches.

China’s new Five-Year Plan and 2021 budget: what do they mean for defence?

While China’s defence budget growth for 2021 will be modest, its military modernisation plans are anything but. Fenella McGerty and Meia Nouwens explain what Beijing’s latest policy announcements reveal about the scale of its defence expenditure and ambitions.

PLA and China defence watchers eagerly awaited this year’s ‘Two Sessions’ meeting of China’s National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference for announcements relating to the country’s 2021 defence budget, and other defence-related policy announcements. Though there were few real surprises, the statements at the meeting and details in the accompanying Five-Year Plan documents confirm the current understanding of China’s priorities for the next five years in security, defence and technological innovation.
Slight uptick in China’s 2021 defence budget

The 2021 Chinese defence budget of CNY1.355 trillion (US$202 billion) represents a 6.8% nominal increase over the core 2020 budget of CNY1.268 trillion (US$188bn). In 2020, the government sought to shield the PLA and the defence economy from wider pandemic-driven economic concerns by only marginally slowing the rate of defence budget growth to 6.7%. The slightly stronger nominal growth for 2021 is, therefore, indicative of the sturdier footing that China’s economy is on compared to this time last year. While the rates of growth for 2020 and 2021 are considerably lower than the 12.8% notched up between 2014 and 2019, they are only slightly below the 8.1% average annual growth seen between 2015 and 2019.

In real terms, 2021 defence budget growth is actually slightly lower than in 2020 owing to the 3% annual inflation rate in China. But in value terms, the increase amounts to US$13bn, a figure comparable with the entire Taiwanese defence budget. Similarly in 2020, despite slower real growth in China’s defence budget, the nominal US$12bn increase was greater than the combined defence budget increases of all other Asian states. The 2020 defence budget, including funding for local militias, came to US$193bn, although total expenditure is estimated to be much higher if foreign weapons purchases, military R&D funding, and the People’s Armed Police central budget are included.

Why China’s Hong Kong Crackdown Could Backfire


CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – The year of the ox has begun darkly for the people of Hong Kong. On February 16, nine pro-democracy activists, including 82-year-old Martin Lee, the revered long-time leader of the city’s Democratic Party, went on trial facing charges of illegal assembly.

A week later, the Hong Kong government announced that it would enact a law allowing only “patriots” to serve on district councils, the lowest level of the city’s administrative apparatus, with responsibilities ranging from sanitation to traffic. This will likely result in the expulsion of democratically elected council members and the disqualification of future candidates deemed disloyal to the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

Then, on February 28, in the most sweeping crackdown yet since China imposed a draconian national security law on the former British colony last July, the Hong Kong authorities charged 47 leaders of the city’s pro-democracy movement with “conspiracy to commit subversion” under the law. Because the law rigs the trial process to ensure conviction, these activists face the prospect of years in prison.

Several considerations may have prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to escalate the repression in Hong Kong. For starters, indications that the national security law has succeeded in instilling the rule of fear in the once-defiant city may be encouraging Xi to take advantage of the despotic momentum and try to decapitate Hong Kong’s pro-democracy forces.

Huawei’s Highway to Success Goes Through Russia

by Dimitri Alexander Simes

The year 2020 was a difficult one for Huawei. In August, the Trump administration imposed new restrictions aimed at depriving Huawei access to computer chips made with U.S. technology. At the same time, the company found itself under growing pressure in Europe. The United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Poland, and Romania all banned Huawei from participating in their fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks. The one country where Huawei continues to receive a warm welcome, however, is Russia. That’s where the Chinese telecommunications giant held its annual partner conference on Tuesday—in Moscow. Speaking before an audience of Russian information and technology (IT) entrepreneurs, Huawei’s regional executives boasted that last year, the company worked with over one thousand partners to implement more than four thousand projects in Russia. They also revealed that the company certified three hundred Russian specialists and opened thirty-eight new information and communications academies in the country, which will provide free training seminars to Russian university students.

Huawei’s interest in Russia is nothing new. Over the past several years, Huawei has shifted investments and operations to Russia to counter growing tensions with the West. In the process, the Chinese tech giant has emerged as the linchpin in a burgeoning technological partnership between Moscow and Beijing.

“The results of this partnership are overwhelmingly provided by Huawei,” said Samuel Bendett, a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses in Washington DC. “This is actual pedal to the metal, actually investing in Russia, actually seeing some level of results already.”

The Vaccine Race: China Expands its Global Influence

Hiddai Segev, Galia Lavi

Many countries are looking to the COVID-19 vaccines with the hope of overcoming the pandemic and beginning economic recovery. While the drug companies in the West operate as independent for-profit businesses, in China the government directs the research and development efforts of both state and privately owned companies, and uses them as a tool in its policy through official visits in the international theater, cooperation agreements, commitments to supply vaccines, and the provision of loans and other financial assistance. The vaccines developed in China are also among the most sought-after: a map of vaccine approvals in various countries illustrates China's growing global economic and political influence.

With over 100 million infections and 2.3 million deaths from COVID-19 worldwide (as of early February 2021), many countries are looking to vaccines in the hope of overcoming the pandemic. Some 70 vaccines are currently in trial stages in various countries, but only 11 vaccines have been approved to date for use in at least one country. Among the vaccines developed in the West, the approved vaccines are those developed by the German-American company Pfizer and the American company Moderna, which are already used in Israel. Other vaccines that have successfully passed the three development stages and been approved are the Russian vaccines Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona, the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca, and the Chinese vaccines developed by Sinopharm, Sinovac, and CanSino.

The New ‘End of History’

Parag Khanna

And so, rather than the global hierarchy freezing in 1989, we have arrived at a landscape of at least four coherent and viable centers of global leadership: the United States, Europe, China, and democratic Asia (especially the budding entente among Japan, Australia, and India). Geopolitically, it’s three against one. Economically, it’s every power for itself. And ideologically, each holds itself to be superior to the rest. Thirty years ago, “The End of History?” challenged Western declinism with a recipe for triumphalism. Today it is clear that no model will prevail over the others.

Linear ideologies are by their very nature teleological, whereas today’s complex world presents a series of ever unfolding dialectical collisions producing novel outcomes that pull the system in new directions. Europe’s return to Asia as a commercial rather than colonial power and its tense co-development with China of the new Eurasian Silk Roads is just one example.

The antithesis, then, of Fukuyama’s putative thesis isn’t any singular ideological proclamation but a panoramic shift from small ‘h’ history to big “H” History, a recognition that the end of one phase of history already contains the seeds of the next phase’s dynamics. The foresight we need to cope with the complexity of today and tomorrow will derive more from unpacking these collisions through a holistic geopolitical frame rather than with the ideological blinders of political science. The past three decades have proven to be anything but boring. We should expect nothing less from those lying ahead.

Parag Khanna is the founder and managing partner of FutureMap, a data and scenario-based strategic advisory firm. His most recent books include The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict, and Culture in the 21st Century (2019) and Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization (2016).

COVID disruption shows there’s no margin for error in port cyber security.

With the global shipping industry already under pressure, Joel Snape, Security Researcher at Nettitude, explains why addressing the risk to port infrastructure from cyber-attack has never been more critical.

In early November 2020, the 20,400 TEU Ever Grade was forced to skip its scheduled call at the UK’s Felixstowe port, instead heading straight to Rotterdam and unloading UK-bound containers there for onward transport via London Thamesport. Similarly, the first call of CMA CGM’s new ultra-large container vessel to Southampton was cut short with around a thousand containers staying aboard until a later visit.

The UK’s port infrastructure has never before been under such strain – the double challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit mean that freight volumes are at an all-time high. This has caused significant backlog with importers struggling to obtain their goods and factories pausing manufacturing lines due to a shortage of component parts.

Although this is not the result of any kind of malicious activity, it has sharply highlighted the significant impact that port disruptions can have on the wider economy. With the global shipping industry already under pressure, and the UK facing new challenges in 2021 as the Brexit transition period has ended, addressing the risk to port infrastructure from cyber-attack has never been more critical.

Battery Metals: Explosive Growth

by Frank Holmes

Gold hasn’t been getting much love from investors lately due to rising bond yields, and bullion-backed gold mutual funds and ETFs have seen significant outflows so far this year through the end of February.

Before pulling your money out, though, I would advise investors double-check what’s in the fund. During this period, we’ve managed to outperform many of our peers thanks to a substantial rotation into metals and minerals that will increasingly be needed in advanced technology, including lithium-ion batteries. Besides lithium, we like copper, nickel, cobalt and graphite, and we see great upside potential in companies that not only produce these minerals but also develop the technology behind the batteries.

Further down, I’ll be sharing one of these companies with you and how it’s helped us outperform during the gold correction.
Record-Setting Money Printing Increases the Attractiveness of Hard Assets

First, I think it’s important for me to say upfront that we still have strong conviction in gold and believe one of its most convincing long-term investment cases is the alarming growth in money supply in the U.S. There are different ways to define “money," but let’s look at highly liquid M1, which includes cash outside the U.S. Treasury, money market deposit accounts and other forms of so-called “near money."

Foreign Policy for Pragmatists

By 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.

How Russia Is Responding to Joe Biden’s Syria Airstrike

by Anna Borshchevskaya

The omissions in Moscow’s statements on the U.S. operation are as revealing as the predictable hyperbole and hypocrisy.

By any objective measure, strikes against secondary facilities in retaliation for targeting key state assets show restraint. Such were President Joe Biden’s February 25 airstrikes in eastern Syria against facilities of Iran-backed Shia militias, ordered after earlier rocket attacks by Iran-backed militias against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and American troops stationed at Erbil airport. But now Russian officials predictably rush to express outrage at perceived American aggression and unilateralism.

Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova expressed condemnation, adding, “we reaffirm our rejection of any attempts to turn the Syrian territory into an arena for settling geopolitical scores.” Member of the upper-house Federation Council’s foreign affairs committee Senator Sergei Tsekov blasted the strikes as “extremely outrageous.”

Timing became another point of contention. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov claimed the Kremlin was unaware whether the U.S. gave advance warning to Russia, while foreign affairs minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S. gave several minutes warning. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said at a press briefing the U.S. used the proper de-confliction channel as Lavrov himself confirmed and, “we did what we believe were the proper amount of notification.” Given that the U.S. and Russia back opposing forces in Syria and that Moscow has provided extensive support to Shia militias, fought alongside them, and condemned previous retaliatory American strikes against them, to say nothing of Moscow’s deep partnership with Tehran, the Biden team could have had a legitimate concern about Moscow tipping someone off about the coming strikes.

Armenia’s nuclear power plant is dangerous. Time to close it.

Brenda Shaffer

In late 2020, the Armenian government announced that its Metsamor nuclear power plant would close for five months in 2021 to attempt significant upgrades. Soon after, the EU urged Armenia to make the closure permanent since the plant “cannot be updated to fully meet internationally accepted safety standards.” A major nuclear or radiation accident at Metsamor would not only affect the people of Armenia, but citizens in neighboring Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, and southern Europe. Besides, Armenia can meet its energy needs without Metsamor’s output, especially as it exports to Iran over half of the plant’s electricity. Further, thermal plants and renewable sources could replace what is used domestically. Metsamor does not even help Armenia achieve its declared goal of energy independence, as Russia–Armenia’s main energy supplier–provides the country with most of its natural gas, along with nuclear fuel and specialized technicians for the plant. But none of these arguments have swayed Armenia to close Metsamor in the past.

Is there an argument that could work now?

The EU might urge Armenia to consider a closure in light of recent developments. Post-war road, railway, and energy-development plans should increase trade and transportation linkages in the South Caucasus region after the recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The new infrastructure and financing provide Armenia with a fresh opportunity to tap newer, safer, and more diverse energy supplies. By closing Metsamor, Armenia would not only contribute to the safety of its own citizens and those in neighboring countries but strengthen peace in the South Caucasus.

Georgia’s Political Crisis Puts Its Democratic Future in Doubt

Paul Stronski

In late February, police raided the party headquarters of the opposition United National Movement in Tbilisi, Georgia, to arrest its chairman, Nika Melia. The raid and arrest, which were live-streamed and video-recorded by observers, have thrown the country deep into political crisis. Given Melia’s longstanding role as a thorn in the side of the ruling Georgian Dream party, his detention appears to be a politically motivated show of force to intimidate the government’s critics. The move provoked outrage in Georgia, the European Union and the United States, where members of the U.S. Congress and human rights organizations have expressed concern.

The incident raises clear questions about Georgia’s democratic trajectory. For almost two decades, the former Soviet republic has been lauded as one of the region’s shining star democracies. However, a closer look at political developments since its 2003 “Rose Revolution” reveals repeated swings between democratic promise and authoritarian backsliding.

The country is now experiencing yet another one of those swings. Melia’s arrest could also complicate President Joe Biden’s renewed efforts to prioritize human rights in U.S. foreign policy, as Georgia normally would be a natural partner for promoting political reform and a likely participant in the administration’s anticipated democracy summit.

DARPA to Hire Biz Execs to Help Its Researchers Take Tech to Market


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is formalizing and expanding a pilot program that connects its research teams to business expertise to help take technologies out of the lab and into production.

In a partnership with nonprofit venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, the Embedded Entrepreneurship Initiative will provide 150 DARPA research teams with funds to hire business executives to develop go-to-market strategies, commercialization mentors and engagement with a DARPA working group stacked with corporate investors over the next five years.

The EEI pilot program kicked off two years ago because DARPA sees the development of its projects—for technologies like 5G and 6G telecommunications, infectious disease therapeutics and diagnostics, microelectronics, and artificial intelligence—as foundational for U.S. military and economic power in the next century, Kacy Gerst, DARPA’s chief of commercial strategy, told Nextgov. The ultimate goal of the program is to help research teams create dual-use, go-to-market strategies for both defense and commercial markets.

“More and more DARPA is investing in spaces that have a massive commercial market and a small defense market, like for example, microelectronics and biotechnology,” Gerst said. “If we want the [Defense Department]DOD to be able to use these technologies in the future, they need to be sitting within sustainable businesses.”

Microsoft Pushes Urgent Fixes Overnight As Threat Actors Compromise Exchange Servers Worldwide


WASHINGTON: Microsoft urgently updated its free Exchange server Indicators of Compromise tool and released emergency alternative mitigation measures overnight as the extent of damage globally from four recently disclosed zero-day vulnerabilities becomes clearer.

The IoC tool can be used to scan Exchange server log files to determine whether or not they are compromised. The emergency alternative mitigations, which are only partial and not considered the best fix, can be taken temporarily by organizations unable to immediately patch the four Exchange vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited in the wild. The severity of the vulnerabilities, as well as the widespread use of Exchange servers globally, prompted Microsoft to release out-of-band patches on Mar. 2.

The quartet of zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s email server software is the initial threat vector in what is emerging as one of the largest known cyberespionage campaigns ever conducted. Microsoft is implicating China. The news comes on the heels of the large-scale SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign, first disclosed by security company FireEye in December and widely attributed to Russia. Initial threat intelligence and forensic evidence suggest the two campaigns are not in any way connected.

On Friday, Brian Krebs of the blog Krebs on Security reported that “at least 30,000” U.S. organizations and “hundreds of thousands” of organizations worldwide have been impacted by the Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities, based on his sources familiar with the investigation. Reuters reported on Friday that its sources said “more than 20,000” organizations have been compromised in the campaign.

A cybersecurity expert and industry consultant told Breaking Defense this cyberespionage campaign is “especially bad because email services were affected.”

Agora, Anarchy, Action! A New Approach to Unconventional Warfare

By Daniel Riggs

“Unconventional warfare is defined as activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area.”

Definition from Joint Publication 3-05.1, Unconventional Warfare:

The “New” Unconventional Warfare

The return of Great Power Conflict (GPC) has brought a return of Unconventional Warfare (UW) (see definition above) to the Department of Defense (DoD) lexicon. In lieu of destructive power of a nation state conflict (but still requiring a means to push back adversaries), UW is a requisite environment US soldiers should be training for in the 21st century. Defense leaders and politicians are right in realizing the utility, effectiveness, importance, and necessity of UW implementation in the GPC struggle (Fowler, 2019). However, a returned emphasis to UW needs to move away from the Hollywood tactic of merely re-booting a previously successful movie or television show with a slight contemporary twist.[1] DoD UW thinking needs to consider radical and novel approaches to engage its adversaries. Merely spending more money and employing the same forces and strategies from a few decades ago is less likely to work than before as most of these adversaries have thriving economies. In addition, as Eisenhower astutely pointed out, “We need an adequate defense, but every arms dollar we spend above adequacy has a long-term weakening effect upon the nation and its security" (Bowie and Immerman, Waging Peace, 622).

One approach that factors in dynamism and affordability is Agorism, the brainchild of libertarian philosopher Samuel Edward Konkin III (hereafter referred to as SEK3). Agorism is “a social philosophy that advocates creating a society in which all relations between people are voluntary exchanges by means of counter-economics, engaging with aspects of nonviolent revolution” (Konkin, 1980, 76). The DoD should consider employing Agorism in UW environments, because an Agorist movement is equipped to operate in a complex system and might be more cost effective than traditional support to resistance. To justify this claim, the following will cover a brief history of Agorism (likely new to many readers), the three Agorism strategies, the role of DoD in supporting Agorism, and the benefits of Agorism in a UW environment

Experiments seek to put artificial intelligence (AI) and networking in the hands of Marine Corps infantry

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa – Marines and soldiers at the squad level could soon have their own kind of attention warning system while on infantry patrol -- much like modern car drivers have for lane changing on busy highways. Marine Corps Times reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

8 March 2020 -- A combination of systems being tested soon by Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, are helping Marines at the lowest-unit levels use artificial intelligence (AI) and sensing capabilities to know if there are threats of enemy unmanned aircraft overhead or simply to remind them to check their left flank.

The experiments are the last for a years-long program called Squad X, run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va. Since at least 2017, the program delved into four key technology areas as they applied to the squad: precision engagement, non-kinetic engagement, squad sensing and squad autonomy.

The goal is to put electronic warfare (EW), sensing, and networking options usually only available at the platoon or even company level in the hands of a squad of Marines or soldiers. The long-term goal is to give a squad the capability to patrol what used to be a brigade-sized area through connecting with a suite of sensors and a network of fires options.

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.

William Astore, Military Cancel Culture

Here’s the strange thing. In 2020, America was indeed invaded. Its national security was smashed to bits. Hundreds of thousands of its citizens were slaughtered on the battlefields of the conflict that followed. And yet the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state, the institutions in which American taxpayers had, through their congressional representatives, invested essentially everything in this century, were missing in action. Yes, in the years 2018-2020, as Stephanie Savell of the Costs of War Project recently pointed out, the U.S. military was indeed conducting counter-terrorism operations of one sort or another, ranging from actual ground combat to air and drone strikes to training allied forces, in 85 countries across this planet. (Only the other day, some of its planes struck supposedly Iranian-backed militia targets in Syria, killing a number of militiamen, a first of the Biden era.) In addition, more than 200,000 American military personnel are deployed on hundreds of military bases around the world. But in the U.S., in the midst of a national security crisis, that military has essentially had no impact at all. Not a shot did it fire, not a drone or plane did it call into action. All those trillions of dollars that had been invested in its advanced weaponry and its endless wars of this century mattered not at all when Covid-19 arrived on our shores.

In the last year, from burning California to freezing Texas to a country in the clutches of the kind of pandemic that hadn’t been seen in a century, national security crises have eternally been front and center. And yet, this country was anything but ready. After all, crucial American taxpayer funds had, for years, been sunk not into what might truly protect us here at home but into a military-industrial complex and weaponry whose cost topped the military investments of the next 10 countries combined. When you think about it (if you even do), that’s quite a record of disastrous investment choices. As retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, historian, and TomDispatch regular William Astore points out so tellingly today, just when this country desperately needs to fund what can only be thought of as a national-security crisis of the first order, its tax dollars still flow at a staggering pace into a Pentagon that knows nothing about cancel culture when it comes to its own stunningly expensive and ineffective new weaponry. Tom

Why is military history in retreat at universities?

Nathan M Greenfield 

In 2019, Trip Advisor rated the Canadian War Museum the second-most important destination in Ottawa, just after the nation’s parliament buildings.

The museum’s more than 500,000 on-site visitors, and tens of thousands more online, as well as travelling exhibitions across Canada, are all signs that Canadians, like their counterparts in the United States, Britain, Israel and New Zealand, have an almost insatiable interest in military history.

“And yet,” says Tim Cook, an award-winning and best-selling historian at the Canadian War Museum, “you’d think, with the interest in the museum, my books and those of people like Jack Granatstein and Ted Barris, the two universities in the city and those across the country would have military history programmes instead of a smattering of courses.

“But, even though I teach a few courses at Carleton University [in Ottawa], military history is in bad odour; it doesn’t fit with the present view of most universities.”

While McGill University and University of Toronto offer some military history courses, at both of Canada’s most prestigious universities, you can go all the way through your history PhD and never take a military history course.

The nation’s only military studies department (outside military colleges) is at the University of Calgary. Tellingly, the Peace and Conflict Studies programme at British Columbia’s University of the Fraser Valley requires only two or three courses in military history.

Opinion/Middendorf: Military risks and potential of artificial intelligence

J. William Middendorf II

Former Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf II, of Little Compton, lays out the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party in his recent book, "The Great Nightfall."

With the emerging priority of artificial intelligence (AI), China is shifting away from a strategy of neutralizing or destroying an enemy’s conventional military assets — its planes, ships and army units. AI strategy is now evolving into dominating what are termed adversaries’ “systems-of-systems” — the combinations of all their intelligence and conventional military assets.

What China would attempt first is to disable all of its adversaries’ information networks that bind their military systems and assets. It would destroy individual elements of these now-disaggregated forces, probably with missiles and naval strikes.

Now, everything from submarines to satellites, tanks to jets, destroyers to drones, are AI connected by China. The People’s Liberation Army is developing autonomous vehicles that scout ahead of manned machines or provide supporting fire alongside them. These machines would be smart enough that a single human could supervise a whole pack of them. By replacing humans with electronics, combat vehicles will be more fuel-efficient, harder to hit and cheaper to build and operate. With AI at the helm, a central command could launch a multi-pronged attack from land, air and water simultaneously without any humans at the warfront.