5 April 2021

Defining China’s Intelligentized Warfare and Role of Artificial Intelligence

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd), Consultant, VIF

China feels that U.S. is its main adversary ... China is trying to match U.S. technological capabilities with its own strength in AI as a leap frog technology and a new concept of war ... But there will be lot of problems in implementing this concept of Intelligentization Warfare to reality. However, President Xi Jinping has thrown the gauntlet, and it is up to the U.S. the other adversaries and the rest of the world to follow this concept keenly.

Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh: Geopolitical Implications

 Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd), Consultant, VIF

The geostrategic sensitive region of region of Nagorno-Karabakh lies at an intersection of political, ethnic and religious borders of Iran, Turkey, Russia and Georgia. On September 27, 2020 the war broke out with Azerbaijan launching an offensive retake Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding previously Azerbaijani-populated regions. The war was won by Azerbaijan.

Russia brokered a peace deal with Armenia and Azerbaijan agreeing to a Russian-mediated settlement to end the six-week war. The cease-fire is seen as a victory in Azerbaijan and as a capitulation in Armenia. Russia’s leading role in stopping the fighting also shows that Moscow continues to be the most influential player in the southern Caucasus.

This monograph provides the background of the conflict, its geopolitical dimensions, details of the cease fire deal and the role of different stakeholders in this conflict.

What Is Happening in the Indian Ocean?



The Indian Ocean is a vast theater, stretching from the Strait of Malacca and western coast of Australia in the East to the Mozambique Channel in the West. It encompasses the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea in the North, all the way down to the southern Indian Ocean.

Along the coasts of this huge geographic expanse are countries that are home to some 2.7 billion people. The Indian Ocean’s key subregions are South Asia, the Middle East, the eastern coast of Africa, and the islands dotting the ocean from Sri Lanka in the East to the Comoros Archipelago in the West.

The region’s size and diversity explains its geoeconomic importance. Its regional forum, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, includes countries as politically and socially different as Australia, Indonesia, Iran, and South Africa, leading to striking new power dynamics. From resource-rich Africa and the energy-dense Middle East to South Asia’s labor markets and manufacturing industries, the stability of the Indian Ocean is crucial to the global economy.

While it may be difficult today for one nation to control the entire expanse of the Indian Ocean the way the British, French, or Portuguese empires did during the colonial period, the strategic significance of the Indian Ocean remains the same. In fact, the advent of the Indo-Pacific—the new geopolitical framework that includes both the Indian and Pacific Oceans—has pushed the Indian Ocean back into the spotlight after a period with no serious great power competition in the region, following the end of the Cold War.

Biden Looks to Contain China—but Where’s the Asian NATO?


he Biden administration has found a receptive ear in Asian capitals for pushing back on China’s territorial expansion. It is getting increased buy-in for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue from Japan, as well as from long-wary partners India and Australia, which recently began military exercises together again after a long pause. And the new team is trying to make strides with Japan and South Korea by burying the hatchet on negotiations over the cost of hosting U.S. troops there.

But in the rare moments that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin weren’t slammed with meetings, calls, and press conferences in their first overseas visit last week, U.S. officials were wrestling with a more far-reaching question: What should the American alliance structure look like in a continent that houses nearly two-thirds of the world’s population and America’s biggest strategic rival?

The Biden administration, like the Trump administration before it, has tagged China as its top geopolitical rival. But President Joe Biden and his team, unlike their direct predecessors, want to contain any threat from China with the help of allies and partners, rather than unilaterally. In the early days of the Cold War, Washington helped shepherd a group of like-minded European countries to counter the Soviet threat. In the confrontation with China, the United States doesn’t have those same options. The question, essentially, is how to contain China with a very different mix of partners.

What’s safe to assume, U.S. officials said, is that the United States isn’t going to assemble a NATO-like group to counter China. But, after World War II, Washington did build a constellation of treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand, which became the much-vaunted hub-and-spoke model for U.S. security in Asia for more than half a century. Today, the Biden administration hopes to turn to smaller groupings—bilateral, trilateral, or even multilateral clusters of countries that can do something similar.

Why Attempts to Build a New Anti-China Alliance Will Fail


Australia, India, Japan, and the United States have perfectly legitimate concerns about China. It will be uncomfortable living with a more powerful China. And it’s equally legitimate for them to hedge by cooperating in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, informally known as the Quad. Unfortunately, the Quad will not alter the course of Asian history for two simple reasons: First, the four countries have different geopolitical interests and vulnerabilities. Second, and more fundamentally, they are in the wrong game. The big strategic game in Asia isn’t military but economic.

Australia is the most vulnerable. Its economy is highly dependent on China. Australians have been proud of their remarkable three decades of recession-free growth. That happened only because Australia became, functionally, an economic province of China: In 2018-2019, 33 percent of its exports went to China, whereas only 5 percent went to the United States.

This is why it was unwise for Australia to slap China in the face publicly by calling for an international inquiry on China and COVID-19. It would have been wiser and more prudent to make such a call privately. Now Australia has dug itself into a hole. All of Asia is watching intently to see who will blink in the current Australia-China standoff. In many ways, the outcome is pre-determined. If Beijing blinks, other countries may follow Australia in humiliating China. Hence, effectively, Australia has blocked it into a corner.

Quad Summit’s Vaccine Deal Is Biden’s Bold First Move in Asia


On Friday morning, U.S. President Joe Biden is hosting the first-ever Quad summit with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The deliverables are set to be impressive: In addition to the maritime security cooperation usually associated with the Quad—short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue—Biden and his counterparts will agree on a major initiative for the region on COVID-19, officials familiar with the discussions say. With U.S. biotechnology, Japanese funding, Indian production, and Australian logistics, the four leaders will commit to providing 1 billion doses of vaccine to Southeast Asia, the region most directly exposed to Chinese pressure and expansionism.

After months of Beijing’s self-congratulatory “wolf warrior” diplomacy leveraging its successes in handling the pandemic, the maritime democracies in the Indo-Pacific will thereby deliver a stunning coup that is likely to permanently reverse the vaccine diplomacy wars. The four leaders will also agree to strengthen cooperation on securing supplies of rare-earth metals, driven by wariness of dependence on China for these critical inputs to technology and defense production at a time when Beijing is slapping boycotts on any country that displeases it.

Myanmar After the Coup

By Thompson Chau

Anti-coup protesters stage a sit-in protest after riot policemen blocked their march in Mandalay, Myanmar, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.Credit: AP Photo

At the start of February, Myanmar’s powerful military declared a state of emergency after toppling the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD), with a pledge of delivering a “free and fair” election within 12 months. It is unclear how the regime can effectively run the country in the face of a civil disobedience movement backed by swathes of the population, protests disrupting economic and financial activities, refusal from ethnic armed groups to engage, and a bureaucracy that has ground to a halt.

The junta’s cabinet appointees are similar to the 2011-2016 quasi-civilian administration of Thein Sein, but both the domestic situation and external environment point to a very different set of circumstances and challenges, with a return of sanctions, economic damage from COVID-19, investors mulling an exit, and the possibility of severe political instability as well as collapse of the banking and energy industries.

Protests across cities and towns have continued and a civil disobedience movement has shown no sign of abating weeks after the coup, despite explicit warnings from the regime and the use of force by the security forces. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, summoned industry leaders and tycoons and stated the regime’s desire to welcome investments, but businesses are bracing for a very tough time while journalists and activists worry about the dramatic reversal of democratic freedom previously possible.

US Must Relearn How To Contain China: Gen. Murray EXCLUSIVE


Gen. John “Mike” Murray (left) with former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy

WASHINGTON: The US must relearn the lessons of Cold War-era containment in order to compete strategically with China, the head of Army Futures Command told us. That means everything from better coordination among US government agencies — both military and civilian — to a robust deterrence based on forward-positioned forces.

In recent years, Army Cyber Command has been improving its information warfare capabilities so it’s not out-tweeted and outmaneuvered by online propagandists for China, Russia, ISIS, and other adversaries. The Army also has a long history of boosting friends and deterring adversaries with advisors, training missions and exercises. Those are both aspects of what’s variously called “information warfare,” “political warfare,” or “great power competition.”

The new HQ for Army Cyber Command, Fortitude Hall on Fort Gordon, Ga.

But the Army can’t solve this huge problem on its own, Gen. Mike Murray told me and BD’s Theresa Hitchens in an exclusive interview. (Click here for Part I and here for Part II). The whole US military isn’t enough: Civilian agencies have to act effectively too.

“This is not something that the Army can do. It’s not something the joint forces or the DoD can do on its own,” Murray said. “The competition has to be a whole-of-government effort.”

“The Chinese see competition as a whole of government effort, a whole of party effort,” he noted, “and I think they’re actually pretty good at it.”

Understanding Beijing’s motives regarding Taiwan, and America’s role

John Culver and Ryan Hass

John Culver retired in 2020 after a distinguished 35-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency. During that time, he analyzed East Asian affairs, including security, economic, and foreign policy dimensions. As national intelligence officer for East Asia from 2015 to 2018, he drove the intelligence community’s support to top policymakers on East Asian issues. He routinely participated in meetings at the White House, with leaders throughout the United States government, and with foreign government officials. In a conversation with Brookings Senior Fellow and interim Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies Ryan Hass, the two discussed the risk of future conflict in the Taiwan Strait, how Taiwan is responding to rising pressure from China, and steps the United States could take to support Taiwan in consideration of its interests.

Ryan Hass: How do you see cross-Strait issues playing in China’s domestic politics? Is Taiwan policy a high priority or a source of debate? And do you expect the role of Taiwan in China’s politics to change as the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) draws nearer in fall 2022?

John Culver: One of my core assumptions is that things said by the CCP about Taiwan are generally not directed solely or principally at the Taiwan public, but instead at China’s own domestic population, or at the U.S. government and a few other foreign governments — principally Tokyo and Canberra. This reflects the fact that Taipei has not taken highly provocative or precipitous actions since 2008, when then-President Chen Shui-bian stirred controversy by advocating, through a public referendum, for Taipei to pursue U.N. membership under the name “Taiwan.”

The not-so-secret value of sharing commercial geospatial and open-source information

Mir Sadat and Michael Sinclair

Commercial geospacial intelligence will play an increasingly integral role in the near future, write Mir Sadat and Michael Sinclair, as space launch services become more cost effective and as artificial intelligence/machine learning-based imagery and processing technology advance. This piece originally appeared in The Hill.

Two years ago, reports surfaced that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was detaining hundreds of thousands of China’s Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in so-called “re-education” camps. Chinese authorities initially denied the existence of these camps until human rights organizations and media sources provided indisputable evidence that they do exist.

Discovering human rights abuses such as this would be nearly impossible without access to commercial geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) provided by satellite imagery that established visual evidence of the camps. Beyond the discovery of the camps, GEOINT also provided the ability to track developments at the camps by comparing images taken over time.

Commercial GEOINT is unclassified and exists in the public domain. The information is accessible to commercial customers, the public and nongovernmental organizations. It is available to the federal government for purchase.

Space information services use large constellations of small satellites with autonomous image processing that, when combined, have revolutionized GEOINT capabilities. Consequently, commercial GEOINT will play an increasingly integral role in the near future, as space launch services continue to become more cost effective and as artificial intelligence/machine learning-based imagery and processing technology continues to advance.

China's rulers have a new and unimproved version of rules-based order

By Clifford D. May

Top officials of the Biden administration met in Anchorage this month with top officials of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Reporters characterized their exchange as an “ugly verbal spat,” “an exchange of insults” and “an unusually undiplomatic sparring match.”

But if you listen closely, you’ll comprehend that something more significant and alarming is happening: China’s Communist rulers are making clear that they intend to wrest the torch of global leadership from America’s hands.

In his opening remarks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that the goal of the Biden administration is “to strengthen the rules-based international order” — shorthand for the global institutions, laws, values and norms established by the U.S. and its allies following World War II.

“The alternative to a rules-based order,” he argued, “is a world in which might makes right and winners take all, and that would be a far more violent and unstable world for all of us.”

The United States, he said, wants the PRC to be a good and respected member of the rules-based order. For that reason, he expressed “deep concerns” about Beijing’s brutal repression of China’s ethnic and religious minorities, its egregious violations of its treaty obligations vis-a-vis Hong Kong, its menacing of Taiwan, and its “cyberattacks on the United States, economic coercion toward our allies.”

He added: “Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability. That’s why they’re not merely internal matters, and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.”

Foreign Minister Wang Yi brusquely dismissed the charges. And then he went further — rejecting the rules-based order as Americans define it.

The New China Shock


BERLIN – Some months ago, the Chinese authorities approached some of the biggest foreign companies in the country and asked them to tap a representative to participate in a small closed-door gathering on China’s new economic strategy. The meeting was to be with a senior official at an undisclosed time and location, and, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter who insisted on anonymity to discuss it, companies were asked to send only ethnic Chinese representatives. In both content and form, the episode captured China’s eagerness to make its economy more recognizably Chinese, developing its own technologies and energy sources while relying on domestic consumption rather than on foreign demand.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s new strategy centers on the concept of “dual circulation.” Behind the technical-sounding phrase lies an idea that could change the global economic order. Instead of operating as a single economy that is linked to the world through trade and investment, China is fashioning itself into a bifurcated economy. One realm (“external circulation”) will remain in contact with the rest of the world, but it will gradually be overshadowed by another one (“internal circulation”) that will cultivate domestic demand, capital, and ideas.

The purpose of dual circulation is to make China more self-reliant. After previously basing China’s development on export-led growth, policymakers are trying to diversify the country’s supply chains so that it can access technology and know-how without being bullied by the United States. In doing so, China will also seek to make other countries more dependent on it, thereby converting its external economic links into global political power.

The very real risks of a dangerous confrontation with China

Alexander Neill

Alexander Neill runs a strategic advisory consultancy in Singapore, with 20 years of experience focusing on Indo-Pacific security and geopolitics.

Twenty years ago today, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. Navy spy plane patrolling close to China's Hainan Island in the South China Sea.

The fighter pilot, Wang Wei, known for his appetite for dangerous maneuvers, was killed and his jet plummeted into the sea. The commander of the severely damaged U.S. aircraft narrowly avoided the same fate by regaining control and making a risky landing on a Chinese air force base on Hainan. The 24 crew members were detained at gunpoint and faced 10 days of interrogation.

Following an ominous silence from Beijing, U.S. defense officials and diplomats frantically negotiated their release. The aircraft was returned to its owners in several pieces three months later, its intelligence-gathering equipment and codes having been thoroughly inspected by Chinese experts. Key observations from that dramatic episode were the big gaps in understanding of China's crisis management mechanisms and the absence of communications channels with Beijing. Alarmingly, these problems persist today.

What Do the US and China Want From Africa?

By Bob Wekesa

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, walks with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attend the 2018 Beijing Summit Of The Forum On China-Africa Cooperation – Round Table Conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.Credit: Lintao Zhang/Pool Photo via AP

It is often unavoidable that discussions involving relations between Africa and the United States or Africa and China trigger questions of implications for all three regions. Since the November 3, 2020 U.S. elections, commentators looking to understand the implications of the new Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration for Africa have accordingly factored in what the new administration would mean for Africa-China relations.

Notably, Chinese and U.S. interests in Africa may not always align well with African interests toward China or the United States. But that is a discussion for another day.

Under the Biden administration, it is expected that the United States will design a new policy framework for Africa. That might mean China also reviewing its own Africa policy. What are some of the issues and factors that will influence the Biden and the Xi Jinping administrations’ approaches to their competition in Africa? The broad pillars of consideration can be segmented into public diplomacy and soft power, as well as economic, political, and security interests.

As the United States and China continue to vie for close economic and political ties with Africa, the image, credibility, and influence of each of the two powers has come into sharp focus. A few examples suffice.

How the U.S. Should Respond to Russia’s New Escalation in Ukraine

Candace Rondeaux 

For the better part of six years since Russia and Ukraine signed the Minsk II cease-fire accord for the disputed eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass, one question has loomed: How will the U.S. and NATO respond if Russian troops again cross back over the so-called Line of Contact, dividing Ukrainian forces from Russian-backed separatists? With reports now trickling in of
a buildup of Russian military forces along the border and in Crimea, Washington and Brussels may need quick answers soon.

In response to those reports, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke this week with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, called top Russian and Ukrainian military officials. The State Department said Blinken reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine “in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression” and “expressed concern about the security situation in eastern Ukraine.” The commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, Ruslan Khomchak, and his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov, traded accusations about the escalation of clashes in the Donetsk area of Donbass that has led to a number of deaths. Social media posts on Twitter showing Russian tanks being transported by train across Crimean territory and near the Russian city of Krasnodar have not yet been verified. Nonetheless, Gen. Tod D. Wolters, the head of the U.S. European Command, told The New York Times that it has placed American troops on heightened alert.

Book Review Roundtable: Surveying H.R. McMaster’s “Battlegrounds”

Jim Golby

1. Introduction: Defending the Free World in the Post-Trump Era

H.R. McMaster is one of the most distinguished and rightly heralded soldier-scholars of his generation. With his appointment to the role of assistant to the president for national security affairs, he was also thrust into the role of statesman in the midst of one of the most controversial administrations in recent history. McMaster’s appointment also raised some civil-military concerns. The three-star general was only the third active-duty military officer to fill this highly political role and one of a handful of appointees dubbed the “adults in the room,” who many Americans hoped would serve as a check on President Donald Trump’s worst tendencies.

Against this backdrop, it is understandable that McMaster didn’t want to write a tell-all memoir about his White House tenure that focused primarily on his experiences and interactions with Trump. Already the author of an acclaimed civil-military history of the Vietnam War, McMaster instead staked out a more ambitious task:

I wanted to write a book that might help transcend the vitriol of partisan political discourse and help readers understand better the most significant challenges to security, freedom, and prosperity. I hoped that improved understanding might inspire the meaningful discussion and resolute action necessary to overcome those challenges.1

As this roundtable demonstrates, the retired general already has inspired meaningful dialogue about some of the central national security challenges America will face in a post-Trump world. But these discussions are not without controversy. These impressive contributors engage McMaster’s core arguments and explore their implications for U.S. national security policy, the future of conservative national security policy, and American civil-military relations. They often disagree on key aspects or implications of McMaster’s claims, including what brought about the current challenges on each of the “battlegrounds” he describes and whether “resolute action” is necessary to overcome those challenges in some, or perhaps even all, cases.2 There should be little doubt that the debates McMaster sparked with this volume will be of far greater value to U.S. national security than the gossip he would have created by writing one more Trump-centric tabloid.

The Battlegrounds

These 4-Stars Want to Help Commanders Avoid Information Overload in the Next War

By Matthew Cox and Oriana Pawlyk

The real challenge facing commanders in the next war will be sorting through the overflow of information coming at them as they struggle to act faster than the enemy, according to the U.S.
Air Force's top general.

"You can either have information overload or information that is not necessarily clear or it could be deceptive," Chief of Staff Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown told an audience Monday during the "Future of Defense Summit" webinar hosted by the news outlet The Hill.

"It's really about connecting the right sensor to the right shooter to the decision maker and being able to move forward and really being able to really make decisions when you have imperfect information," Brown said.

Each U.S. service is conducting experiments to test how artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies can be used to create more efficient command-and-control networks in an effort to develop the Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2.

JADC2 is meant to link the services' radars and sensors. In the future, a fused, streamlined network could track incoming missiles and other threats and then feed targeting information to the right weapons system to destroy them much faster than today.

The Next Suez Threat? A Big Hack

Victoria Coates and Robert Greenway

The world breathed a collective sigh of relief on Monday as the Ever Given, a colossal container ship, was freed from the Suez Canal. But we shouldn't celebrate just yet. The Ever Given brought traffic through one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors to a halt for almost a week, at a cost of roughly $10 billion a day.

Every day the Ever Given blocked the Canal compounded the problem as containers already booked on future voyages sat in stranded ships and supply chains began to break down. The U.S. Department of Defense has offered to help in the recovery, and that assistance should include addressing Suez security more broadly. The Ever Given can serve as a wake-up call to bring the canal’s security architecture into the 21st century and ensure that it continues to fulfill its historic role as the vital channel between Europe, Africa and Asia.

While proposals for physical upgrades to the Suez are already being proffered, a less-discussed issue is that the current legal architecture governing the Suez is hopelessly antiquated and new mechanisms are needed to deal with modern vessels and potential threats. The Convention of Constantinople that regulates the canal's traffic has been in place since 1888 (even after former Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez in 1956) on the premise that the canal is such a collective good, no one would be foolhardy enough to try to harm it, and it should therefore simply be kept open to all properly flagged and insured vessels, regardless of origin.

What Did Gen. Nakasone Say About Defense Department Operations (Not Just Cyber Operations)?

By Herb Lin

In prepared testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 25, 2021, Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, stated:

The DoD depends on USCYBERCOM and its performance. Every operational plan and every mission across the Department builds from the assumption that we will be able to assure that the bandwidth and data that military forces require will be accessible and trustworthy.

This might not seem like much, but it is a most interesting statement. It raises a major question: What will happen to U.S. operational plans and missions should the plan-required or mission-required bandwidth and data not be accessible or trustworthy? The answer to this question has implications for all operational plan development and mission planning—not just the cyber aspects but for the kinetic forces and their support elements as well.

Nakasone’s use of “builds from” is ambiguous in this context, and resolving that ambiguity is crucial to understanding the implications of his statement. One interpretation is that it means “depends on”—that is, that the success of every U.S. operational plan and mission depends on the assumption of bandwidth and data accessibility and trustworthiness. A second interpretation is that “builds from” means “starts from”—that is, the formulation of every operational plan and mission starts with the assumption of adequate bandwidth and data, and then addresses backup arrangements for when connectivity and quality of service is degraded or lost entirely.

U.S. Foreign Policy Under Biden

President Joe Biden took office with an ambitious foreign policy agenda summed up by his favorite campaign tagline: “America is back.” Above all, that will mean repairing the damage done to America’s global standing by his predecessor, former President Donald Trump. During his four years in office, Trump strained ties with America’s allies in Europe and Asia, raised tensions with adversaries like Iran and Venezuela, and engaged in a trade war with China that left bilateral relations in their worst state in decades.

Biden’s agenda is rooted in a repudiation of Trump’s “America First” legacy and the restoration of the multilateral order, reflected in his early moves to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization. The COVID-19 pandemic offers Biden a unique opportunity to reassert America’s global leadership role and begin repairing ties that began to fray under Trump. He is also attempting to sell greater international engagement to Americans with his vision of a “foreign policy for the middle class,” which ties U.S. diplomacy to peace, security and prosperity at home.

As cyber wars escalate, Israeli tech gains an edge

Sophie Shulman

2020 will go down in history as the year of the war against the coronavirus pandemic. However, although invisible to the eye, another battle has been waging in the wake of the online migration caused by people being forced to remain at home: the cyber war. The string of attacks on online services reached its peak with the exposure of the large Russian cyberattack on U.S. government institutions and companies who exploited a loophole in SolarWinds software, which lent the attack its name. The Israeli cybersecurity sector, which is considered a world leader in the field, finds itself at a key moment, which positions it to benefit from the escalation. Over the past year, against the backdrop of the growing need for cyber solutions, the local industry’s exports climbed by 20% compared to the previous year, hitting a new peak of $10 billion. And so, a single industry, which employs only 1% of the workforce is responsible for 10% of total exports and a third of all tech exports.

Israel itself is on the top of hackers’ target lists. Last December, F5 Networks reported that Israel was the most attacked country in the world during the third quarter of 2020, with 180,000 identified attempts. “Although Israel is multi-talented in the cybersecurity arena, it falls victim to cyberattacks that aren’t always sophisticated, and that’s a reminder that vulnerabilities can be exploited anywhere, and basic information security infrastructure must be bolstered,” Aran Erel who F5’s Israel operations said.

The French armed forces are planning for high-intensity war

In the forests and plains of the Champagne-Ardenne region, where once the great powers went into battle, the French armed forces are beginning to prepare for the return of a major conflict. Planned for 2023, Exercise Orion is a full-scale divisional exercise that will last several days, based probably out of camps at Suippes, Mailly and Mourmelon. It will involve the full range of French military capacity on a scale not tested for decades. The drill will include command-post exercises, hybrid scenarios, simulation and live-fire drills. Around 10,000 soldiers could take part, as well as the air force and, in a separate maritime sequence, the navy. Belgian, British and American forces may join in.

There are other signs that the French armed forces are in the midst of a generational transformation. In January the general staff quietly established ten working groups to examine the country’s readiness for high-intensity war. French generals reckon that they have a decade or so to prepare for it. The groups cover everything from munition shortages to the resilience of society, including whether citizens are “ready to accept the level of casualties we have never seen since world war two”, says one participant. The spectre of high-end war is now so widespread in French military thinking that the scenario has its own acronym: hem, or hypothèse d'engagement majeur (hypothesis of major engagement). The presumed opponents are unnamed, but analysts point not only to Russia, but also Turkey or a North African country.

The Emotional Intelligence of Google CEO Sundar Pichai


I couldn't believe I was actually asking this question. I was working on a story about Google when my contact offered an amazing opportunity: an exclusive interview with Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

There was only one problem: The time they offered conflicted with a very important personal appointment--one I couldn't reschedule.

"Why don't you just ask if they can start later," my wife suggested. "I know he's 'the CEO of Google.' And I'm sure he's extremely busy. But you could give it a try."

Umm ... OK. So, I did.

A few minutes later, I got my reply:

"No problem! Totally understand. Let me check ... "

Followed a few hours later by:

"Sounds like Sundar can do that time tomorrow! Will send a calendar invite shortly."

Hybrid: An Adjective Describing the Current War

by SFC Charles Reno

Asymmetric warfare, irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, protracted warfare, conventional warfare, and political warfare are just a few terms used to define conflict. Now, add hybrid warfare. War is continuously evolving and attempting to define war poses trouble. Opinions and personal preferences do appear in research, which further serves to increase the breadth of reasonable definitions for hybrid warfare. Hybrid warfare has many different definitions, but the importance must shift to having an in-depth knowledge of the activities conducted by our adversaries. We limit ourselves by continuously seeking definitions.

Meanwhile, our adversaries continue to make advances. We need to spend more time understanding than naming (Maxwell, 2021). This research paper not only serves to answer the question of what hybrid warfare is but also the Russian application. As well as recommendations for United States government (USG) action. Hybrid warfare uses all methods to create a favorable desired condition and is the holistic approach used by Russia. The United States Government (USG) must confront Russia’s methods by defining the operational environment and defining red lines for adversaries not to cross. The biggest threat is the lack of understanding of how many methods can be used by everyday media consumption and the advances in technology.

Defining Hybrid Warfare

Hybrid warfare is the use of all methods used to create a favorable desired condition. As an adjective, hybrid means having two or more distinct elements. Some argue that hybrid warfare is the blurred combination of regular and irregular components within the same battlespace (Hoffman, 2007). Or the integration of instruments of national power at the operational level. Another definition is using military, non-military, lethal, non-lethal, forcing the enemy to act in specific ways (Fridman, 2018). Additionally, hybrid warfare is the employment of political warfare that applies economic pressure, diplomatic pressure, information pressure, and subversive activities to achieve a pre-determined end state.

Marines Lack Trust in Artificial Intelligence

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

Before the Marine Corps can fully utilize the power of AI technology and the efficiencies it brings, the service must overcome one major hurdle: trust.

That’s the message from Commandant Gen. David Berger.

“We’re going to have to trust artificial intelligence,” he said during remarks at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Expeditionary Warfare Conference in February. “We’re not trusting today.”

Whether it’s “sensor-to-shooter or fuel to a frontline unit, we put humans in the loop at about 16 places because we don’t trust it yet,” he said.

The best way to boost confidence in the technology is to have Marines train machines, he said. “Then we’ll trust it.”
Brig. Gen. Eric Austin, director of the Marine Corps’ Capabilities Development Directorate, said building that faith in artificial intelligence will unlock its potential.

Service leaders believe the technology will be a key enabler for troops.

Punitive Response to SolarWinds Would Be Misplaced, But Cyber Deterrence Still Matters

Erica D. Borghard

In a recent Russia Matters article, Paul Kolbe argues that the United States should respond to the SolarWinds breach by focusing on improving defenses, rather than on conducting a retaliatory response such as some government officials have been advocating. Kolbe claims that prior U.S. responses to Russian cyber behavior—which have involved imposing sanctions, issuing indictments or conducting cyber operations—have failed to deter Russian operations or meaningfully change Moscow’s calculus.

Kolbe is right that, when it comes to SolarWinds, it is unlikely that retaliatory measures aiming to impose costs against Russia (inside or outside of cyberspace) will work to shift the Russian government’s risk-benefit assessment—but he’s right for the wrong reasons. It is also important to note that Russia continues to deny responsibility for the SolarWinds incident. Regardless, a punitive response to SolarWinds is unwise because the available evidence indicates that the objective of the operation was national security espionage. However, this does not mean that the pursuit of deterrence strategies to address other types of malicious behavior in cyberspace, beyond espionage, is a fool’s errand. Deterrence is not a one-size-fits-all concept in cyberspace—or in any other domain.

Space Threat Assessment 2021

Space Threat Assessment 2021 reviews the open-source information available on the counterspace capabilities developed in the past year that can threaten U.S. space systems and which countries are developing such systems. The report is intended to raise awareness and understanding of the newest threats, debunk myths and misinformation, and highlight areas in which senior leaders and policymakers should focus their attention.

This report focuses on five specific countries that are either avidly pursuing counterspace capabilities or that present the greatest risk to U.S. National Security: China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and India. A sixth section analyzes the counterspace capabilities of select other countries, including some allies and partners of the United States and some non-state actors. This report is not a comprehensive assessment of all known threats to U.S. space systems because much of the information on what other countries are doing to advance their counterspace systems is not publicly available. Instead, it serves as an unclassified assessment that aggregates and highlights open-source information on counterspace capabilities for policymakers and the general public. This is the fourth annual update of this report, and more in-depth information can be found in past iterations. DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

What Would Happen If States Started Looking at Cyber Operations as a “Threat” to Use Force?

By Duncan B. Hollis, Tsvetelina van Benthem 

How are threats of force conveyed in cyberspace? When hackers compromised the SolarWinds Orion software in the spring of 2020, they trojanized the so-called Sunburst backdoor, a system designed to communicate with third-party providers. Through that backdoor, the hackers could execute commands, including disabling services and rebooting machines. This operation was effectively a power transfer and a significant one, at once giving those actors an “eye” into all of the victim’s data and a finger on the trigger. Regardless of how one qualifies the operation against SolarWinds, how the features of such operations interact with the rules of international law requires attention. Public reporting about SolarWinds suggests the operation was limited to data exfiltration from a circumscribed group of victims that did not suggest any future use of force. Nonetheless, the case raises a question: If the presence of backdoors in a victim’s network allows for future exploits capable of causing functionality losses generating destruction (or even deaths), could their presence be seen as threatening such results? More broadly, when does a cyber operation that does not itself constitute a use of force threaten force?

Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter requires member states to refrain from both the “threat” and the “use” of force. When it comes to cyberspace, the latter prohibition has spawned seemingly endless discussions among states (for recent roundups, see, for example, here and here) and scholars alike (see here, here, here, here, and, of course, here). International legal discourse is entering its third decade of debates on what constitutes a use of force in cyberspace, how to assess scale and effects in this new environment, and whether cyber operations that the international community has already observed, such as Stuxnet or NotPetya, qualify as a use of force or even rise to the level of an armed attack to which states can respond in self-defense. In contrast, the prohibition on the threat to use force has received almost no attention. Considering the recent drastic upsurge in cyber operations, and their diverse means, methods, and effects that individually (or collectively) imply a risk of further operations, there is a need for more dialogue about the obligation to refrain from the threat of force in cyberspace. Here, we hope to launch that conversation, exploring an otherwise underutilized obligation in the international legal arsenal that may yet have an important role to play in regulating state and state-sponsored cyber operations.