21 March 2021

Boris Johnson Unveils His Post-Brexit ‘Tilt’ to Asia


The United States had its “pivot” to Asia. Australia has its Pacific “step up.” On Tuesday, Britain placed an Indo-Pacific “tilt” at the heart of a long-delayed national defense and security review, widely viewed as the most significant update of British foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. The tilt sees Prime Minister Boris Johnson talking up Asian economic opportunities—no surprise there—while arguing that a greater British security presence in the region can help to meet China’s strategic challenge. One of the new strategy’s more visible manifestations will be the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, steaming off for a maiden voyage to Asia in a few months’ time.

Tilt critics, of which there are many both in Britain and abroad, say Johnson’s buzzword marks yet another chapter in Britain’s confused search for a post-imperial role—albeit mixed now with a dash of post-Brexit hubris and Johnson’s romantic desire to reestablish the Asian presence that Britain junked in the late 1960s. More serious is the charge that it will leave Britain’s military overstretched, taking resources away from Europe and the growing threat from Russia. Following the United States’ lead and lavishing more money and attention on Asia might sound good. But some critics think that in time, it risks dragging Britain into a military conflict with China. The academic Anatol Lieven recently dubbed that scenario “a potential act of breath-taking—and dangerous—stupidity.”

Can India Mold the Quad for Its Own Gains?

By Mohamed Zeeshan

The Quad seems to have finally found itself a sweet spot. Last week’s meeting between the leaders of the United States, India, Australia and Japan resulted in the grouping’s first ever joint statement, pledging to meet important common challenges.

The secret to success seems to have been steering clear of sensitive security issues, finding common cause on a shared interest and investing in India’s capabilities. Among other things, the leaders pledged to boost India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity in the face of COVID-19. As reported, India will be manufacturing up to a billion single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, with the U.S and Japan providing financial support and Australia taking care of logistics.

Even as the threat from China was left unspoken by the Quad, Beijing was clearly a factor in driving this plan. The Quad hopes that India’s vaccine machine will help counter China’s vaccine supply and influence, especially in South and Southeast Asia. According to some estimates, China has sent as much as 62 percent of its global vaccine supply to Southeast Asia. Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Cambodia and Brunei are reported to have received over 2 million doses as donations. Boosting India’s vaccine production could help sway that region away from Beijing’s stranglehold.

If the Quad sees this as a template for its long-term engagement, India would gain immensely. New Delhi should, in fact, push the Quad to invest more in the years ahead to build its own domestic capabilities. Owing to the fact that the rest of the Quad are all far more economically advanced, the range of topics to work on is limitless – from modernizing Indian agriculture to developing defense technology; from building clean energy solutions for India’s ever-growing needs to improving the quality of India’s education sector.

Is the Growth of Sino-Nepal Relations Reducing Nepal’s Autonomy?

By: Dhanwati Yadav


Commonly held economic theory generally suggests that foreign aid benefits the recipient. But so far, China’s bilateral relations with Nepal—which are based upon generous pledges of foreign direct investment (FDI)—have created a power imbalance. China’s outsized influence in Nepal was most recently highlighted by overt Chinese involvement in a recent constitutional crisis that split the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). A week after Prime Minister Khagda Prasad Sharma Oli dissolved the Parliament on December 20, a delegation led by Guo Yezhou, vice minister of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) International Liaison Department visited Kathmandu to “assess the situation” and mediate discussions between conflicting factions within the NCP (Firstpost, December 29, 2020). China’s growing influence in Nepal and across the Himalayan region more broadly is closely tied to its wider economic, security, and foreign policy priorities (China Brief, November 12, 2020). For Nepal, the unprecedented deepening of the bilateral relationship has raised serious concerns about its ability to maintain political and economic autonomy.

Beijing’s Progressive Inroads and Influence Strategies in Nepal

The Sino-Nepalese relationship has been predicated upon foreign direct investment deals, capacity-building measures and diplomatic support in international forums. A 2019 report by AidData highlighted “financial diplomacy,” including infrastructure financing, budget support, debt relief, and humanitarian assistance as being a key element of China’s public diplomacy toolkit in the South and Central Asian region.[1] China has led FDI pledges to Nepal for the last five years. In October 2019, a top U.S. diplomat warned, “As Chinese influence has grown in Nepal, so has the government of Nepal’s restrictions on the Tibetan community,” signaling growing international concerns over the China-Nepal relationship (Kathmandu Post, October 23, 2019). Just as border tensions between China and India turned violent last June, Nepal rekindled a longstanding cartographic dispute with India that some on the Indian side saw as a signal of its growing closeness with China. The Nepalese government passed a new political map that marked the Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as Nepalese territory. One Indian government official described the act as drawing “red lines on the map to serve [Nepal’s] domestic and foreign interests” (Hindustan Times, June 10, 2020).

Is a War with Russia or China on the Horizon? The Army is Getting Ready

by Kris Osborn

Here's What You Need to Remember: While the Army naturally does not expect or seek a particular conflict with near-peer nations like Russia and China, the service is indeed acutely aware of the rapid pace of their military modernization and aggressive activities.

The Army is developing its weapons, technologies and platforms with a greater emphasis on being ready for great-power, mechanized force-on-force war in order maintain cross-the-board readiness and deter near-peer adversaries from unwanted aggression.

While the service aims to be prepared for any conceivable contingency, to include counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and hybrid-type conflicts, the Army has been shifting its focus from 15-years of counterinsurgency war and pivoting its weapons development toward major-power war.

“We are excellent at counterinsurgency,” Lt. Gen. Michael Williamson, Military Deputy, Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, told Scout Warrior in an exclusive interview last month. “We’re developing systems to be prepared for the full range of potential conflict.”

As a high-level leader for the Army’s weapons, vehicle and platform developmental efforts, Williamson explained that some technologies are specifically being engineered with a mind toward positioning the service for the prospect of massive great-power conflict; this would include combat with mechanized forces, armored vehicles, long-range precision weapons, helicopter air support and what’s called a Combined Arms Maneuver approach.

U.S. warns of China's growing threat to Taiwan


TOKYO — When President Joe Biden’s national security team prepares to meet their Chinese counterparts at a high-stakes summit in Alaska on Thursday, one of the most urgent issues they must tackle is Beijing’s growing threat to Taipei.

Top U.S. military officials are warning with increasing urgency that China could in the next few years invade Taiwan, the island nation whose disputed political status has long been a fraught subject of U.S.-China relations. It’s a timeline they say has been accelerated by the Trump administration’s repeated provocation of Beijing, China’s rapid military build-up, and recent indications that Taiwan could unilaterally declare its independence from the mainland.

Such an invasion would be an explosive event that could throw the whole region into chaos and potentially culminate in a shooting war between China and the United States, which according to the Taiwan Relations Act would consider a Chinese invasion a “grave concern” and is widely understood as a commitment to help Taiwan defend itself against Beijing.

“War over Taiwan would be unthinkable,” said Eric Sayers, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “A major challenge Washington faces is that Taiwan has been viewed by many as a 2035 planning problem. … The [Chinese army’s] capabilities have now matured to such a degree that this is no longer a dilemma we can afford to push off.”

What the U.S. Can Learn From China’s Economic Recovery

Howard W. French 

The last time the global economy cratered, in the fall of 2008 in the wake of an American banking crisis, it was China that set the pace—both in insulating itself from most of the damage, and in generating enough new demand in its own economy to prevent a far worse downturn than the already terrible recession suffered in much of the rest of the world.

Even now, years later, the scale of China’s response back then is poorly understood. As the economic historian Adam Tooze recounted in his 2019 book, “Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World,” the Chinese state directed roughly $1.2 trillion in stimulus between 2010 and 2012 at just one modest-sized province—Hubei, with a population of 57 million people, modest by China’s standards. “Taken at face value,” Tooze writes, “this meant that a single Chinese province with a population the size of the UK and a GDP the size of Greece was engaging in a program of investment larger than any stimulus ever attempted in the United States.” .

Op-Ed: Look to the Reagan administration for the answer to the China challenge


Among the best remembered summits of the 20th century are those of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan’s commitment to dialogue with America’s primary adversary and what then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz called his “personal chemistry” with his Soviet counterpart were hallmarks of his presidency. But even more important was the fact that Reagan had a clear strategy for victory in the global contest with the Soviet Union.

Reagan’s approach — applying intensive economic and military pressure to a superpower adversary — became foundational to American strategic thinking. It hastened the end of Soviet power and promoted a peaceful conclusion to the multi-decade Cold War.

Now it is useful to ask if a similar approach would be equally successful in America’s contest with an even more formidable rival, the People’s Republic of China, a challenger with whom the free world’s economies are intertwined and increasingly interdependent.

In 1983, Reagan approved National Security Decision Directive 75, which set the course for an assertive, competitive approach to the Soviets, in contrast to the “live and let live” aspirations of détente. Reagan drew on George F. Kennan’s innovative policy of containment, which acknowledged both the disastrous consequences of a hot war with the Soviet Union and the impracticality of cooperation with a Kremlin driven by communist ideology.

A New Step Forward in PLA Professionalization

By Joel Wuthnow & Phillip C. Saunders

A linchpin of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s transformation into a “world-class military” is whether it can recruit, cultivate, and retain talent, especially among the officer corps tasked with planning and conducting future wars. Uneven progress over the past few decades has meant that deeper reforms to the officer system are necessary under the leadership of Central Military Commission (CMC) Chairman Xi Jinping (习近平). New regulations announced in January 2021 suggest a commitment to clarifying hierarchical relationships between officers, improving the officer management system, incentivizing high performers, and recruiting and retaining officers with the right skills. Nonetheless, several challenges and complications remain.


The new regulations are the latest step in a long but uneven path towards professionalization. The process began in the 1950s under then-Defense Minister Peng Dehuai (彭德怀) but was suspended just prior to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), during which the PLA focused more on political indoctrination than developing professional skills, and even abandoned formal ranks for a time. Officer ranks were not restored until the issuance of the Active Duty Officer Law in 1988 (Xinhua, May 12, 2014), itself part of a larger effort under then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping (邓小平) to professionalize the personnel system through formal rules and policies. Under the leadership of former CMC chairmen Jiang Zemin (江泽民)(1989-2004) and Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) (2004-2012), the PLA made further changes to recruitment and retention policies, military training and education, pay and welfare, and related areas, to promote the army’s evolving focus on fighting and winning “high-tech local wars.”(高技术局部战争, gaojishu jubu zhanzheng)[1]

Directions Forward for Chinese Rare Earths After the Two Sessions

By: Elizabeth Chen

Following heightened U.S.-China tensions last year, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued the “Draft Regulations on Rare Earth Management” (稀土管理条例(征求意见稿), xitu guanli tiaolie (zhengqiu yijian gao)) on January 15. The new regulations propose stricter management of China’s rare earths industry, including quota management for mining, smelting and separation; stricter enforcement of environmental protection, new project investment approval procedures; and import and export management, describing rare earths as being “of irreplaceable significance for the transformation of traditional industries…and the advancement of national defense science and technology industries” (Xinhua, January 22). Shortly after the public comment period for the Regulations ended, MIIT issued its first batch of total control indexes for rare earths in 2021, mandating an 84,000 ton quota for mining, which marked a 27 percent increase from 2020 (MIIT, February 19). In 2020, China’s rare earth exports hit a five-year low amid the ongoing pandemic and increased demand from domestic industries.

Analysts were quick to note that whereas previous regulations were mostly focused on production, the new regulations seek to centralize Beijing’s control over the “entire industrial chain,” from production and refining to product transport and export. The regulation establishes a tracking system for rare earth products and states that companies shall abide by national laws and regulations for foreign trade, including a new national Export Control Law aimed at regulating the export of sensitive materials and technologies that went into effect on December 1, 2020 (Nikkei Asia, January 16; China Briefing, February 25).


China’s Xinjiang Propaganda and United Front Work in Turkey: Part Two

By: Ondřej Klimeš


The accelerated repression of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities inside and outside of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) since 2016 has highlighted the Chinese state’s extreme methods of governance and power projection abroad. The crisis in Xinjiang has become a liability for the People’s Republic of China (PRC), tarnishing its national image and triggering increased backlash from the international community and advocacy by the global Uyghur diaspora. In Turkey, China has sought to curb such activity through the securitization of its foreign relations and pandemic diplomacy, while simultaneously employing direct coercive tactics to incapacitate the sizeable Uyghur émigré community—apparently with the tolerance or assistance of local organs (China Brief: February 26; November 1, 2019). In addition to leveraging the Chinese state’s foreign affairs apparatus, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also carries out Xinjiang-related work (涉疆工作, shejiang gongzuo) in Turkey, which consists of both propaganda and thought work (思想宣传工作, sixiang xuanchuan gongzuo) and united front work (统一战线工作, tongyi zhanxian gongzuo). The CCP uses these tools to influence public debate in Turkey and legitimate anti-Uyghur policies in Xinjiang.

Coopting the Xinjiang Diaspora

Turkish messaging on Xinjiang is disseminated by both foreign affairs and propaganda organs via the websites of the Ankara embassy and the Istanbul consulate; China Radio International; and the Xinjiang.cn website, which is produced by the China International Communication Center (五洲传播中心, wuzhou chuanbo zhongxin). Through these channels, Xinjiang-related themes often appear alongside content designed to further related political objectives such as alleged benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); common interests in a multilateral system of international relations; and shared battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

U.S.-Chinese Rivalry Is a Battle Over Values

By Hal Brands and Zack Cooper

On the campaign trail, U.S. President Joe Biden pledged to put values at the heart of his administration’s China policy. Since entering office, he has called on the world’s democracies to gird for a new era of strategic competition with China in which they “work together to secure the peace and defend our shared values and advance our prosperity across the Pacific.” Biden’s interim National Security Strategic Guidance labels democracy “our most fundamental advantage” and insists “our model isn’t a relic of history; it’s the single best way to realize the promise of our future.” As the administration prepares for its first high-level meeting with Chinese officials this week, it has clearly embraced the view that the Washington-Beijing rivalry is driven by competing ideals and systems of government as much as by competing interests.

Some self-described foreign policy “realists” contend that ideology and geopolitics are a dangerous combination. Mixing the two, they believe, led the United States to adopt a Manichaean and counterproductive strategy during the Cold War. Better, these analysts argue, to approach the rivalry in realpolitik terms—as a cold-eyed contest over power—and leave values to the side.

Yet purging ideology from American statecraft would be both ahistorical and unstrategic. The United States won the Cold War precisely because it put values near the center of that competition. Likewise, if Washington hopes to understand Beijing today, to mobilize its democratic friends for a long struggle, and to exploit its asymmetric advantages, it must take ideology seriously. Compromises will be necessary: the United States never took an ideologically puritanical approach during the Cold War, and it cannot do so today. But now as in the past, a strategy that requires the United States to cast aside its values and ideals would be unwise and unrealistic.


China’s Strategic Standpoint

By George Friedman

One of the hardest problems of foreign policy is developing an accurate evaluation of a potential adversary’s intentions and capabilities, which are frequently separate realities. I discussed this recently in a piece that pointed out the degree to which the United States misinterpreted the Soviet Union’s intentions and capabilities. The Soviets were focused on reconstruction after World War II, something that required decades of work. A war that would devastate Western Europe gave them no incentive to start a war. The United States, meanwhile, was obsessed with counting equipment, not evaluating the ability of the Soviet logistical system to support a massive offensive. The U.S. focused on worst-case intentions and capabilities. The real ones were very different.

This was in part due to another miscalculation: the underestimation of Japanese capabilities in World War II. Washington knew war was likely and so had a plan designed to counter it. But planners underestimated the degree to which the Japanese understood the war plans and the flexibility of naval planners in declining combat on American terms. They also underestimated Japan’s naval command and failed to understand the actions that aircraft carriers made possible. They understood the intent to fight but not the intent to define the battle and the hardware needed to do so.

During the Cold War, the U.S. was on the defensive against a Russian attack that never came. Similarly, during World War II, Washington saw Japan as utterly dependent on raw materials from the south and assumed a direct thrust southward. It could not conceive that Japan would launch an indirect attack. In both cases, the U.S. ignored reality. Russian constraints militated against offensive war. Japanese constraints militated against direct attack. The U.S. had vast resources and could survive the misunderstandings, but the constancy of miscalculations in other wars such as Vietnam and Iraq indicate a central problem of military planning. If the U.S. ever faces China, nothing is more important in understanding how China sees its strategic position, or precisely how China’s strategic position will compel it to act.

Azerbaijani Leadership Envisages ‘Smart City’ Concepts for Karabakh

By: Rauf Mammadov

Four months have passed since the signing of the ceasefire agreement that ended the Second Karabakh War, on November 9, 2020. Armenia is now embroiled in a political crisis because of the fallout from its decisive defeat in that conflict, while the status of Karabakh remains a topic of political dispute between the hitherto warring parties. Even so, Azerbaijan has already started making plans for the future of its partially regained western region. On March 9, the Azerbaijani government reportedly decided on locations for constructing solar and wind power plants in six districts of Karabakh (Report.az, March 9). This is not the first time Baku has taken practical steps regarding its renewable energy plans for the area. Indeed, on February 15, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev inaugurated the first mini-hydropower plant in the Lachin district village of Gulebird (Aztv.az, February 15).

The realization of renewable energy projects across Karabakh fits into the Azerbaijani leadership’s vision to decrease the country’s dependence on fossil fuel-generated electricity. These plans are also compatible with Baku’s plans to radically transform Karabakh’s war-torn territories by building smart cities and villages there—something President Aliyev has repeatedly been vocal about since the signing of the ceasefire agreement last November. Although the Azerbaijani government has not been explicit about the details of these plans, it is now clear that an integral part involves establishing renewable sources of electricity generation in the liberated territories.

Hydroelectric dams are expected to account for most of the renewable power production in the region. Aliyev, in his speech dedicated to the return of Lachin, emphasized the significance of the Kalbajar and Lachin districts (still partially beyond Baku’s full administrative control) as source areas for ten important Azerbaijani rivers. Four of those rivers—Terterchay, Bazarchay, Khachincay and Hakari—are longer than 100 kilometers. For Azerbaijan, regaining full control over these rivers is extremely important as the headwaters of the country’s three largest rivers are all located abroad, either in Turkey (the Kur and Araz rivers) or Russia (Samur) (President.az, December 1, 2020).

The Uneven Global Response to Climate Change

Recently published climate science ultimately underscores the same points: The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. One blockbuster report, from a United Nations grouping of biodiversity experts in May 2019, found that 1 million species are now in danger of extinction unless dramatic changes are made to everything from fuel sources to agricultural production. Despite these warnings, however, scientists confirm that the world remains on pace to blow past the goal of restricting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, likely with catastrophic consequences.

Persistent climate skepticism from key global figures, motivated in part by national economic interests, is slowing diplomatic efforts to systematically address the drivers of climate change. In particular, former U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement upon taking office immediately undermined the pact. Despite these hurdles, negotiators made substantive progress during a U.N. climate change conference in December 2018, putting in place an ambitious system of monitoring and reporting on carbon emissions for nations that remain part of the agreement. But the latest round of talks in December 2019 ended in abject failure, and the coronavirus pandemic hobbled further diplomatic efforts in 2020.

Biden builds bridges to contend with Beijing

Ryan Hass

In 1949, American strategists feared that Soviet advances were generating an intensifying threat to the free world. That August, the Soviet Union broke the United States’ nuclear monopoly by successfully detonating an atomic device. Washington worried that Moscow’s build-up of military forces could be a prelude to an offensive against western Europe and the Middle East.

In response, former US secretary of state Dean Acheson led an effort to formulate a government-wide response. The result was NSC-68, a strategy document that concluded that massive rearmament would be necessary to ensure the viability of the free world.

Acheson distilled his thinking in a 1950 speech at the White House, arguing that ‘The only way to deal with the Soviet Union, as we have found from hard experience, is to create situations of strength. Wherever the Soviet detects weakness or disunity—and it is quick to detect them—it exploits them to the full’.

There are clear limits to historical analogies between the US–Soviet rivalry at the onset of the Cold War and the tense competition that exists between the United States and China today. Nevertheless, the core logic that Acheson articulated in 1950—that the United States must build ‘situations of strength’ with like-minded nations to respond to challenges posed by rival powers—is a central organising principle for how the Biden administration plans to compete with China.

Anti-Asian Attacks Are Blighting the United States


In recent weeks, a spate of high-profile violent crimes has caused widespread fear in the Asian American community. An 84-year-old man died in San Francisco after being pushed to the ground by a teenager for no apparent reason. Across the bay in Oakland, California, three people, including a 91-year-old man, suffered injuries after similar attacks. A shop owner in Washington, D.C. was pepper sprayed after being verbally abused with racist language.

These are just the latest examples of a worrisome trend—since the pandemic began, there have been more than 3,000 hate crimes reported against Americans of Asian descent.

These hate crimes violate the dignity and rights of Asian Americans. They also threaten the global reputation of the United States and its national security. During the Trump presidency, the world watched with horror as a U.S. leader utilized dog whistle language, such as the phrases “kung flu” and the “China plague,” to fan the flames of white nationalism and direct racism against Asian Americans.

Congressional leaders and prominent legislators, such as Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Tom Cotton, as well as senior executive branch officials, most notably the United States’ former top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, also used phrases like “China virus” even after the World Health Organization warned that these labels stigmatized individuals of Chinese descent. Such behaviors offered easy—and uncomfortably accurate—propaganda fodder for China, just as violence against Black Americans did for the Soviet Union during the civil rights era. But while Moscow attempted to pose as a leader for oppressed people worldwide, Beijing is instead attempting to portray itself as the head of the global Chinese diaspora.

While Zelenskyy Promises Peace, Ukraine’s Army Faces Serious Challenges

By: Mykola Vorobiov

On March 3, the Russian proxy representatives of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) reportedly gave permission to their military to launch preemptive attacks against Ukrainian forces along the frontline (Armiyadnr.su, RBC, March 3). Despite both sides announcing a comprehensive truce last July, 14 Ukrainian service members were killed since the start of 2021. Many more were injured by shelling, landmines and sniper fire that has intensified from the Russia-backed separatists’ side (Pravda.com.ua, February 28).

Throughout this time, Ukraine has continued to reach out to and develop its relations with strategic Western security partners. As recently as February 25, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who praised Ukraine’s ongoing reforms of its defense sector as well as reaffirmed the Alliance’s support for its Euro-Atlantic ambitions (President.gov.ua, February 25). Meanwhile, in Washington, the Joseph Biden administration recently announced an additional $125 military aid package to Ukraine (Kyiv Post, March 2).

Yet despite the notable military assistance and political backing the country has been receiving from its international allies, by some measures the situation within the Ukrainian Armed Forces remains gloomy. According to reporting published last autumn, throughout the period 2018–2020, around 77,000 contract soldiers resigned—a third of Ukraine’s total military personnel, numbering about 250,000. “If before, the Ministry of Defense was one of the most open bodies, now it is the most closed,” said Mykola Sungurovsky, the director of the military program at the Kyiv-based Razumkov Center. The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Colonel General Ruslan Khomchak, admits the military suffers from a problem of personnel turnover, but he noted that the same issue plagues all other armies around the world. And the reasons for these resignations among Ukrainian service members vary, including problem related to housing shortages or lack of fulfillment of some social guarantees. Khomchak asserted the Ukrainian military has to significantly change its mentality, its upbringing, ideology, military culture, and so on (BBC News—Ukrainian service, October 21, 2020).

INDOPACOM Drafts Regional Strategy For All-Domain Ops


WASHINGTON: Indo-Pacific Command has drafted a new warfighting concept for the Asian theater, designed to parallel the global Joint Warfighting Concept spearheaded by the Joint Staff, says George Ka’iliwai, INDOPACOM director for requirements.

The new INDOPACOM Warfighting Concept (IPWC) is being shepherded by the command’s J5 planning directorate, Ka’iliwai, who heads the J8 section (requirements), told reporters at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) POST conference on Friday.

“As far as progress, the J5 has completed the concepts behind the IPWC. The J5 has also done what we call a ‘roadshow,’ and as socialized and vetted the IPWC with our component commanders,” he said. “And we still have a ways to go as far as working through the Department of Defense.”

Ka’iliwai, who goes by the moniker “Dr. K,” explained that the new regional warfighting strategy is aimed at countering more aggressive China — pointing to the recent testimony by INDOPACOM Commander Adm. Phil Davidson to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

Davidson has been pushing hard for his his Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), a five-year, $27 billion effort. DoD asked for $4.6 for the PDI in 2022; more than double the $2.2 billion in the Trump administration’s 2021 request. His top priority in that plan is to get an Aegis Ashore air and missile defense system put in place on Guam.

UK plans ‘full spectrum’ approach to national cyber security

By Alex Scroxton

In this e-guide, we will explore the links between ransomware attacks, data breaches and identity theft. First, Nicholas Fearn investigates the phenomenon of the double extortion attack, and shares some insider advice on how to stop them, while we'll explore the top five ways data backups can protect against ransomware in the first place.

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In what is being described as the largest review of the UK’s defensive capabilities and national security stance since the end of the Cold War, the government will set out the importance of cyber security to the nation’s defence, ranging from cyber-enhanced battlefield capabilities for the Armed Forces, right down to internet security for home users.

The government said the proposals to be contained in the review will dramatically enhance the UK’s ability to detect, disrupt and deter enemies while taking advantage of the digital revolution. Recent attacks against the UK’s interests have shown that adversaries are also investing in their own capabilities, hence the need for a new approach, it will argue.

The Obama Administration Had a Plan to Stop Cyberattacks Like SolarWinds


It turns out that massive computer hacks—such as the ones recently launched by the Russians against SolarWinds and the Chinese against Microsoft—will be harder to fix and easier for attackers to replicate in the future.

The problem, as analysts have since determined, is that the hacks were mounted from servers based in the United States. This explains why the U.S. government didn’t notice the intrusions. (FireEye, one of the private cybersecurity firms targeted in the SolarWinds hack, detected them.) The National Security Agency, which monitors cybertraffic as well as any entity on earth, is legally barred from engaging in domestic surveillance. The Department of Homeland Security, which is supposed to track threats from within, has never been up to the task, lacking the money, manpower, or technology.

So the Biden administration is looking for a new, more effective, but still legal approach. The good news is that a decade ago, in a little-known episode of Barack Obama’s presidency, two Cabinet secretaries came up with a possible solution—but it was sabotaged by one of their underlings. Biden’s team might take a second look at the plan; the times, and the threats, have changed since then. This time, it might take hold.

Retaliation Options: US Cyber Responses To SolarWinds, Exchange Hacks


WASHINGTON: Less than two months in office, the Biden administration is grappling with how to respond to two large-scale, widespread cyberespionage campaigns conducted by nation-states against the U.S. public and private sectors. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has said that critical infrastructure operators have also been affected by the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange server hacking campaigns.

The administration’s response to each incident will set the tone for and perhaps the trajectory of U.S. cybersecurity strategy, policy, and operations in response to adversarial national-state hacks over the next four years. The administration is said to be working on a multipronged response that will likely include a cybersecurity executive order, economic sanctions, and what National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan characterized as “tools seen and unseen.”

Any cyber operations response to each incident, whatever it might entail, is fraught with difficult questions on challenging issues, such as proportionality, the risk of escalation, and “cyber norms,” which the U.S. and many other nations advocate, but which some nations do not.

To understand the potential cyber operations “menu of options” before the administration, as well as the strategic and policy implications, Breaking Defense this week interviewed three experts with distinct insights into these matters:

Adam Roosevelt is CEO of Arlington, Va.-based cybersecurity and intelligence firm A.R. International Consulting, a U.S. Army combat veteran, and former Department of Defense official who served in multiple roles, which included supervising military cyber activities and engaging senior military officials in support of cyber operations and exercises.

Intel Still Needs Humans In Age Of AI: Lt. Gen. Potter


WASHINGTON: The Army’s intelligence corps is embracing big data and artificial intelligence – but it has to balance that with preserving old school human skills at the same time, Lt. Gen. Laura Potter said Wednesday.

The intelligence force is furiously busy. It is creating new hybrid Intelligence/Electronic Warfare Battalions supporting Army divisions, meeting the unique intel needs of the new Multi-Domain Task Forces, and fielding the TITAN ground terminal and TLS signals intelligence/electronic warfare vehicle, said Potter, the service’s deputy chief of staff (G-2) for intelligence. But the impact of artificial intelligence is arguably the most fundamental change.

Given the overwhelming volume of both public and classified information that only AI can sort through, “we’re not going to be successful without it,” Potter said. But at the same time, she said, “it is not going to allow us to replace a human analyst.”

Even in a high-end conflict – with target data, jamming signals, and long-range missiles flying through the air every instant – you’re going to need someone who can step back from feeding the targeting machine and think about the big picture. That could well include thinking through how you’re going to stop the shooting.

Better Weapons or More Soldiers? Army Chief Says He's Being Forced to Choose


The U.S. Army’s top general said the budget he’s been given is forcing him to choose better weapons and smaller, less-expensive training over something he also wants: more soldiers.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said he would prefer to increase the size of the force, but he needs to fund new and improved weapon programs and make sure soldiers are properly trained and ready to deploy.

“We really don't want to make it any smaller,” McConville said Tuesday during a Association of the U.S. Army virtual event. “We'd like to make it bigger, but what we have to do is prioritize.”

Congress has authorized just shy of 486,000 active-duty Army troops. When the National Guard and Reserve troops are factored in, the Army has just north of 1 million soldiers.

The Army is roughly the size it was at the time of the 9/11 attacks, McConville said. The United States added nearly 100,000 soldiers between 2007 and 2012 to meet at the peaks of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2019, then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy called for an increase to 500,000 active-duty soldiers.

President Joe Biden, who has yet to nominate any service secretaries, is expected to request between $704 billion and $708 billion for the Pentagon when the administration sends its fiscal 2022 budget request to Congress in the coming weeks, according to Bloomberg. That’s roughly what lawmakers appropriated for the Defense Department in fiscal 2021.

The New Overmatch: All Domain Operations


As the U.S. military shifts from a focus on asymmetric threats to challenges from peer and near-peer military adversaries, pathfinder technologies and digital transformation are critical to success. They are key elements of the military’s doctrine for all-domain operations, which requires quick creation and deployment of a new, open, and integrated communications architecture with advanced processing capabilities. These technologies are essential to pulling together disparate data from across the DoD and sharing it on-demand with warfighters that need it across all warfighting domains and out to tactical units at the edge.

In this Q&A with Kenn Todorov, Sector Vice President and General Manager, Combat Systems and Mission Readiness, Northrop Grumman Defense System Sector, we discuss the enabling technologies for all-domain operations, how they connect with technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and suggestions for the new Biden Administration and secretary of defense.

Breaking Defense: What are the technological challenges associated with a transition from anti-terror activities to a peer/near-peer competition in the Great Power competition?

Get US ‘AI Ready’ By 2025: JAIC’s Lt. Gen. Groen, NSCAI’s McFarland


WASHINGTON: What’s the most significant challenge to getting the Defense Department ready for AI? It’s the idea held by many that “AI is some future thing,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Groen, head of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. AI is already here, he said. “If we want AI to be our future, then AI has to be our present.”

Groen currently leads to the DoD’s JAIC, which he characterized as a “do tank” in a town of think tanks. JAIC currently leads implementation and integration of AI across all departments of the DoD. Groen admitted it’s “an enormous challenge” and that it “takes time to turn this big defense ship.” One of JAIC’s goals is to “get the transformation to occur faster, accelerate it.”

Groen’s comments came during a virtual event on Wednesday. Katharina McFarland, a member of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, was the other panelist.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Groen and McFarland talked about what’s necessary to get the nation “AI ready” by 2025, which was a key finding in the NSCAI’s recently released final report.

Approximately half of NSCAI’s final recommendations focus on defense. “We’re already working on two-thirds of them,” Groen said, adding that partnerships with the U.S. domestic private sector and academia are important in pursuing JAIC’s defense-focused AI goals.