29 April 2021

The Problem With India’s Economic Diplomacy in South Asia

By Granth Vanaik

Even though Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi touts the vision of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas” (“everyone together, everyone’s development, everyone’s trust”), India has failed to deliver on its promises. Trade totals with South Asian neighbors remain low, many Indian infrastructure projects in the region are still incomplete, and its neighbors are disappointed with discrimination in aid. China, on the other hand, has extensively made inroads into the region. What are the significant issues hampering India’s economic diplomacy? Furthermore, why has India not been able to resolve its challenges?


One major problem is that India has increased its protectionist approach since Modi’s election in 2014, which has a significant impact on economic diplomacy. The Asian Development Bank, in a December 2020 report looking at 25 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, ranked India 24th on trade openness – only Pakistan scored lower. Despite having implemented economic reforms with liberalization, privatization and globalization (LPG) policies starting in 1991 and signing the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement for greater economic integration and free trade in 2006, India’s overall trade with South Asia has been low accounting for between 1.7 percent and 3.8 percent of its global trade. India exports in bulk; however, imports are minimal, due to trade barriers.

A Preview of Post-Withdrawal Problems in Afghanistan

By Bryce Klehm 

On Tuesday, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing to address “national security challenges and U.S. force posture” in the Middle East and Africa. Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, appeared alongside Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of U.S. Africa Command, and Amanda Dory, the acting under secretary of defense for defense policy. The hearing touched on a variety of issues, from China and Russia’s influence in Africa to the U.S.’s potential return to the Iran nuclear deal. But it was also the first time that Gen. McKenzie, the head of all U.S. forces in the Middle East, has publicly appeared before Congress since President Biden announced the withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021. (Gen. Austin Miller, the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, did not appear before the committee.) The hearing delivered a preview of the issues that U.S. lawmakers and military personnel anticipate as the U.S. leaves the country.

Gen. McKenzie and Dory provided early, if incomplete, answers to key questions about the Afghanistan withdrawal: How will the U.S. military ensure that there will not be another terrorist attack emanating from Afghanistan? Could other extremist groups gain a foothold in Afghanistan? How will the military ensure that the same mistakes of the Iraq withdrawal are not repeated? What will the drawdown mean for the Afghan Security Forces that currently depend on U.S. contractors?

Japan says Chinese military likely behind cyberattacks


TOKYO -- Tokyo police are investigating cyberattacks on about 200 Japanese companies and research organizations, including the country’s space agency, by a hacking group believed to be linked to the Chinese military, the government said Tuesday.

Police have forwarded the case involving attacks on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to prosecutors for further investigation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.

Police believe a series of hacks of JAXA were conducted in 2016-2017 by “Tick,” a Chinese cyberattack group under the direction of a unit of the People’s Liberation Army, Kato said.

A suspect in the JAXA case, a Chinese systems engineer based in Japan, allegedly gained access to a rental server by registering himself under a false identity to launch the cyberattacks, Kato said, citing the police investigation.

NHK public television said another Chinese national with suspected links to the PLA unit who was in Japan as an exchange student was also investigated in the case. Both men have since left the country, it said.

China’s Creative Challenge—and the Threat to America

by Hal Brands

CHINA HAS the look of a self-confident superpower. Beijing is testing geopolitical limits and asserting its influence almost everywhere; it is no laonger content to accept second-tier status among the great powers. This much was clear from a stormy meeting between high-ranking U.S. and Chinese officials in Alaska in March 2021. After Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan began by briefly enumerating American grievances with Chinese behavior, their counterparts—Foreign Minister Wang Yi and foreign-affairs potentate Yang Jiechi—responded with a blistering critique of U.S. diplomatic and domestic practices. Their tirade was reminiscent of Soviet propaganda attacks during the Cold War. “Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States,” Yang taunted. “The leaders of China have the wide support of the Chinese people.”

Over the past half-decade, it has become ever more difficult for foreign observers to deny what Beijing itself admits—that China is pursuing a dramatic revision of the U.S.-led international order in Asia and globally. Yet that hegemonic challenge is not simply bringing China into competition with the established superpower. It is also bringing Premier Xi Jinping’s regime up against the most deeply entrenched patterns of modern geopolitics.

The impression Chinese officials seek to create is that history is now firmly on the side of a rising Communist regime rather than a decadent American democracy. History, however, might beg to differ. It shows that autocracies like China have consistently been outmatched by more liberal states over the past 400 years. History also suggests that China confronts a daunting strategic geography—including a beleaguered but intact international order—that is more likely to obstruct than enable its efforts. China’s path to primacy is harder than it might once have seemed since one traditional lane of advance—military aggression—is riskier than it was in previous eras. Finally, China is going up against a country that has destroyed, physically or geopolitically, every one of its great-power rivals over the last century. China may be the most formidable competitor America has ever faced—but America is perhaps the most dangerous enemy the world has ever produced.

The fact that China has risen so fast, so far, and with—until recently—so little global resistance is a tribute to the creativity of Beijing’s strategies for addressing these challenges. Yet many of those strategies worked best in a world that had been complacent about China’s trajectory. Today, America and other nations are beginning to focus in earnest on thwarting Beijing’s ascent. One wonders whether Xi and his subordinates are really as confident as they seem.

Open-source analysis of Iran’s missile and UAV capabilities and proliferation

Iran’s ballistic missile systems, supplemented by cruise missiles and UAVs, are intended not only for deterrence, but for battle, including by Iran’s regional partners. In a new report, the IISS provides a detailed assessment of Iran’s missiles, and the manner and purposes for which it has been proliferating them.

Nuclear issues are the exclusive focus of the negotiations on the restoration of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which have taken place in Vienna. The Western powers are keen, however, to engage in follow-on talks to address Iran’s missiles and activities in the region. To inform the public policy debate on the latter matters, the IISS has produced a fact-rich technical assessment of Iran’s current missile and uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities and its proliferation of these technologies to Iran’s regional partners.
Robust arsenal

Drawing exclusively from open sources, including Persian-language material, the IISS report details Iran’s roughly 20 different ballistic missiles (the exact number depends on how variants are counted), as well as cruise missiles and UAVs. For now, all of Iran’s ballistic missiles apparently adhere to a self-imposed range limit of 2,000 kilometres. Iran’s priority is to improve precision, notable in several missile systems: ­

The Qiam-1, which is an 800 km-range variant of the Shahab-2 short-range ballistic missile with a 500kg separable warhead and ground-based guidance augmentation. Qiams have been smuggled to Houthi rebels, who have named it the Burkan-2H and have used it against Saudi sites. A modified version of the Qiam, which appears to have a manoeuvrable re-entry vehicle (MaRV) to further improve its accuracy, was used in the January 2020 attack against Ayn al Asad airbase in Iraq. ­

STRATCOM Head Tells Hill He’s ‘Confident’ In NC3 Cybersecurity


WASHINGTON: The head of Strategic Command testified to Congress today that the US nuclear command, control and communications network is well protected against cyber attack, but he added that more investment is needed in the long-term.

“Fundamentally, I am confident in our NC3 cyber-resiliency,” Adm. Charles Richard told the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) today during a joint hearing with Space Command head Gen. James Dickinson. “It exists in relative isolation. It has tremendous redundancy. It gets the best intelligence.”

Richard noted in his written remarks for the hearing that STRATCOM already is “taking actions to enhance cyber resiliency for systems under development,” but added that cybersecurtiy needs to be “a prioritized investment to ensure ongoing modernization initiatives remain operationally relevant.”

STRATCOM is in the midst of a sweeping modernization of NC3, called NC3 Next, as part of its larger modernization plans for the US nuclear force structure.

Indeed, Richard told senators at the SASC hearing, “the number one thing I need to do” to have the same level of confidence in the future is “to modernize” the NC3 system. “I have to get it out of legacy modes of operation in order to pace this threat going in the future.”

These countries are leading the transition to sustainable energy

Sean Fleming

The Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 report highlights global progress in tackling greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation.

More than 70% of tracked countries have made progress on energy access and security.

But just 13 out of 115 countries have made consistent improvements over the past 10 years.

Fossil fuels accounted for 81% of all power in 2018.

More than 770 million people still lack access to electricity.

Sweden, Norway and Denmark have topped the World Economic Forum’s latest Energy Transition Index (ETI).

Marking the 10th anniversary of the index, the Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 report highlights the progress being made around the world to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation – at a time when more than 770 million people still lack reliable access to electricity.

The ETI ranks 115 countries on their energy performance, including the resilience and efficiency of generation and transmission, and progress to cleaner forms of energy.

Sustainable transport can’t just depend on batteries. Here’s why

Lars Stenqvist

Batteries are an ideal solution for shorter/medium-range applications (such as for buses within a city) but they are less practical for long-haul transport and heavy duty applications.

Hydrogen fuel technology and combustion engines can complement batteries if we invest in those innovations and solutions.

Industry leaders and policy makers must collaborate to shape the regulatory environment that will make sustainable transport feasible.

When we try to envision what our future world will be like, we picture cleaner, quieter, emission-free streets and transport corridors. But with a growing global population, congested cities, booming e-commerce and climate change top of the agenda, it’s clear there are significant challenges ahead. A shift to electric transport is inevitable, especially if we are to deliver on our commitments to the Paris Agreement and the EU Green Deal. Whilst the value of battery electric vehicles is widely acknowledged, a single solution response will not be sufficient to meet increased demand for sustainable transport and infrastructure solutions. Investing in innovations such as hydrogen fuel cell technology will be key.

No Server Left Behind: The Justice Department’s Novel Law Enforcement Operation to Protect Victims

By Alex Iftimie 

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on April 13 that it undertook a law enforcement operation in the preceding days to remove malware from hundreds of victim systems in the United States. A state-sponsored group referred to as HAFNIUM (as attributed by Microsoft and reporters, but not yet the U.S. government) compromised the systems in question using recently discovered zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server—an on-premises software used by tens of thousands of entities to provide corporate email services. Using a search and seizure warrant, the FBI accessed the malware left by hackers on servers located in the United States and issued a command to copy and subsequently delete the malware from those servers. The Justice Department operation contributed to disrupting what security experts (including on Lawfare) have referred to as a reckless and indiscriminate hacking campaign against tens of thousands of victims.

The Strategic Context for the Operation

The operation signals that the Justice Department is willing to take novel and increasingly robust action as part of the department’s long-standing strategy to protect American businesses and individuals from foreign cyber operations—particularly those executed by well-funded, state-sponsored actors. Whereas the FBI could have simply notified each of the hundreds of victims that their systems were compromised (a process that would have taken time and still left victims at risk of continued compromise), the Justice Department instead took proactive action to disable malware that was being used to infiltrate networks across the United States. Although the department has undertaken botnet disruptions in the past, this operation goes beyond those in its scope and strategic approach.

Current International Law Is Not an Adequate Regime for Cyberspace

By Michael P. Fischerkeller 

States increasingly agree that international law, specifically the U.N. Charter and rules of customary international law (CIL) derived from the charter’s principles, applies to cyberspace. Yet both are a poor fit for cyber activities. The charter reflects a bias toward what has been termed the conventional strategic environment, and CIL has evolved in the shadow of both the conventional and nuclear environments. In these environments, states threaten international stability by seeking strategic gains through either coercion or brute force. The cyber strategic environment differs in that threats to stability derive from exploitation—that is, states unilaterally using code to take advantage of others’ cyber vulnerabilities for the purpose of realizing strategic gains.

It should be unsurprising, then, that states have struggled to offer comprehensive and in-depth opinio juris on how international law applies to the cyber context. States will struggle to find cyber relevance in international law until new instruments of international law—or adaptations of current law—account for the core features of the cyber strategic environment, the state behaviors they obligate, and how strategic advantage can be achieved lawfully and unlawfully through those behaviors. The rule of nonintervention is a good candidate for adaptation.

Strategic Environments

Why Is Joe Biden Risking War With Russia Over Ukraine?

By Ted Galen Carpenter

POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii (May 15, 2019) - U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Troy Mole, section leader, Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, fires a shoulder-fired Javelin missile during Exercise Bougainville II on Range 20A, Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, May 15, 2019. Bougainville II is the second phase of pre-deployment training conducted by the battalion in order to enhance unit cohesion and combat readiness. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jacob Wilson) 190515-M-LK264-0004.

It is bad enough when the United States incurs grave risks to defend even indisputably democratic allies, if those countries lack sufficient importance to America’s economic and security interests. Too many U.S. allies, such as the Baltic republics, fail that crucial risk-benefit calculation. However, it is even worse when the United States incurs excessive risks on behalf of undemocratic allies or clients that have little intrinsic importance. And yet, Washington is making precisely that blunder with respect to Ukraine.
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The United States has no treaty obligation to defend Ukraine from an adversary. Indeed, the notion that Ukraine should be an important U.S. ally is a rather recent phenomenon. Until the end of 1991, Ukraine merely was part of the Soviet Union, and before that, the Russian empire, and no credible American ever argued that the territory was a significant U.S. interest. That attitude began to change during George W. Bush’s presidency, but Ukraine still remained outside Washington’s geostrategic orbit. Even though both Bush and Barack Obama pushed NATO allies to make Kiev a member of the Alliance, Germany, France, and other key powers balked at doing so. Although they (correctly) worried that such a move might antagonize Russia beyond endurance, German and French leaders also had another objection. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recalled that German Chancellor Angela Merkel regarded the government that had emerged from Ukraine’s ostensibly democratic “Orange Revolution” in 2004 as a corrupt “mess.”


Samuel Bendett

Numerous militaries, including that of the United States, are now developing and conceptualizing drone swarms—groups of uncrewed systems working together to overcome air or ground defenses, acquire and strike multiple targets at once, and create confusion among defending forces. The use of drones in recent and ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Nagorno-Karabakh has underscored the significance and utility of mass application of unmanned and autonomous vehicles. Such swarms also force the adversary to expend munitions and other military resources, thus signaling positions in a way that enables further precise attacks or electronic countermeasures. The Russian military is also working on developing swarms of robotic systems in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Some of these projects are close to reality and will likely be available to directly challenge Moscow’ s opponents in the near future. In short, allowing Russian forces to gain such an advantage via numerous uncrewed systems cooperating with their regular forces across multiple domains would have dramatic consequences for any military force that confronts them on the battlefield.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) and its affiliated institutions and organizations have in fact discussed swarm and group use for autonomous and robotics systems for a number of years. The main logic behind the mass fielding of military robotics—and one Russian military leaders have acknowledged—is to take soldiers out of a dangerous frontline tasks and replace them with expendable robotic systems. In Syria, Russian military bases and forces were subject to multiple rounds of attacks by groups of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), impressing upon the MOD the utility of such a concept for targeting its own adversaries. As early as 2017, during the annual conference on the “robotization of the Russian Armed Forces” chaired by the MOD, the participants drawn from the military, academia, and the defense industry deliberated the robotic swarm concept. Following its observations on the utility of using robotic systems in Syria, the Russian military launched multiple concept developments for using such technology, including for urban-type warfare and operations that involve light and heavy unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) working together with aerial drones in identifying and striking targets.

Military Aid for Ukraine: Offsetting Moscow’s Asymmetric Edge

By Stephen Blank

Russia’s continuing threats to invade Ukraine, or otherwise traumatize it by military force, are predicated on Russia maintaining its asymmetric edge over Ukraine in several key areas of non-nuclear military capability. Russia’s Soviet-derived military thinking emphasizes moving only when the “(Correlation of Forces) offers enough of an advantage that a decisive outcome is produced.

While many Western observers see the invasion of 2014 to have been an outstanding success for Russia and defeat for Ukraine, against Russia’s sought objectives in the Novorossiya campaign, this is not really the case. The hastily reconstituted Ukrainian forces and militias drove Russia’s irregular forces out of two-thirds of initially held Donbas territory, and deep raids by Ukrainian paratroopers catastrophically disrupted Russia’s attempt to regain momentum. Russia was able to hold what it has now by virtue of numbers and by inserting large numbers of its regular forces alone.

Therefore Moscow’s toxic reaction to the meeting between Zelensky and Erdogan in Istanbul did not come as a surprise. Turkey and Ukraine have developed close defense industry ties since 2014 with multiple joint projects, in which both nations provide complementary military technologies to gain mutual benefit. Cooperation in the development of drones is an example where the Turks intend to use Ukrainian-made engines. Turkey has supplied a wide range of equipment to Ukraine, but Russia has been especially irked by the supply of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones that distinguished themselves in Syria, Libya and especially Nagorno-Karabakh. Constructed from composite materials and smaller than U.S. Predator drones, the TB2 is often undetectable by the radar systems on Soviet and Russian short-range air defense systems and can attack using up to four Turkish developed MAM-L/C miniature laser-guided bombs.

The Price of Nostalgia America’s Self-Defeating Economic Retreat

By Adam S. Posen

Anew consensus has emerged in American politics: that the United States has recklessly pursued international economic openness at the expense of workers and the result has been economic inequality, social pain, and political strife. Both Democrats and Republicans are now advocating “a trade policy for the middle class.” In practice, this seems to mean tariffs and “Buy American” programs aimed at saving jobs from unfair foreign competition.

Any presidency that cares about the survival of American democracy, let alone social justice, must assess its economic policies in terms of overcoming populism. The protectionist instinct rests on a syllogism: the populist anger that elected President Donald Trump was largely the product of economic displacement, economic displacement is largely the product of a laissez-faire approach to global competition, and therefore the best way to capture the support of populist voters is to firmly stand up against unfettered global competition. This syllogism is embraced by many Democrats, who are determined to recapture an industrial working-class base, and many Republicans, who use it as evidence that the government has sold out American workers in the heartland. For politicians of any stripe, playing to districts where deindustrialization has taken place seems to offer a sure path to election.

Every step of this syllogism, however, is wrong. Populist anger is the result not of economic anxiety but of perceived declines in relative status. The U.S. government has not been pursuing openness and integration over the last two decades. To the contrary, it has increasingly insulated the economy from foreign competition, while the rest of the world has continued to open up and integrate. Protecting manufacturing jobs benefits only a small percentage of the workforce, while imposing substantial costs on the rest. Nor will there be any political payoff from trying to do so: after all, even as the United States has stepped back from global commerce, anger and extremism have mounted.

The United States Needs a Public Strategy for Deterring Disinformation

by Justin Sherman Simon Handler

On April 15, the Biden administration imposed a suite of sanctions and punitive measures directed at Russian entities with the goal of “imposing costs for harmful foreign activities by the Russian government.” The executive order, in particular, called out Russia’s efforts to undermine the free and fair elections of the United States in 2020, one Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), had declared the most secure in U.S. history. The Russians, Krebs pointed out, did not pursue the widespread hacking campaign they did in 2016. The administration also came down with punitive measures directed at entities involved in the Sunburst/SolarWinds campaign by Russia’s foreign intelligence service's leveraging of software supply chain vulnerabilities to infiltrate dozens of government agencies and private firms in one of the most significant known cyber espionage campaigns to date.

Yet, the U.S. national security community must recognize that conflict and contestation in cyberspace is as much about combating disinformation as it is protecting 1s and 0s transmitted across networks. To give the disinformation threat the credence it deserves, the government must create a public strategy on combating disinformation, with deterrence as a main component. Such a strategy should emphasize deterrence by punishment, where the government should take an active role, as well as deterrence by denial, where the government should take a backseat to the private sector.

US Agencies, Defense Companies Hacked Via VPNs


WASHINGTON: US government agencies, critical infrastructure entities, and private sector organizations are back in the cyber crosshairs, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said today — first in an alert and later in an emergency directive issued within hours of each other.

CISA’s emergency directive and alert were issued as US security companies FireEye and Ivanti disclosed separately — but in coordination with each other — that threat actors are targeting one newly discovered and three previously known vulnerabilities in Pulse Connect Secure appliances. Security patches are currently available for the three known vulnerabilities. A patch for the newly disclosed vulnerability is expected within weeks.

Ivanti, FireEye, Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center, and government and law enforcement agencies are said to be working together on this incident.

Pulse Connect Secure is an enterprise virtual private network (VPN) product. VPNs encrypt data as it’s transmitted across public networks, such as the internet. Pulse Connect Secure enables remote workers to securely access enterprise networks.

The emergency directive says, “CISA has determined that this exploitation of Pulse Connect Secure products poses an unacceptable risk to Federal Civilian Executive Branch agencies and requires emergency action. This determination is based on the current exploitation of these vulnerabilities by threat actors in external network environments, the likelihood of the vulnerabilities being exploited, the prevalence of the affected software in the federal enterprise, the high potential for a compromise of agency information systems, and the potential impact of a successful compromise.”

Today’s Generals and Admirals What Has Happened to our Senior Military Officers?

BY MG Paul E. Vallely US Army (Ret)

The anti-Trump political moves by disloyal left-wing (Democrats) retired Generals and Admirals is wrong and should not be tolerated. Enforcing and endorsing the WOKE movement through the ranks is the latest example. These are the same senior officers that could not win a war. America lost so many of its proud soldiers, sailors and airman and thousands wounded because of their flawed war-fighting strategies and policies (all documented). They have destroyed their reputation and credibility among the ranks and the Constitutional Patriots of America.

It became clear to many of us that the Obama administration (with some help from Bill Clinton’s presidency) had seeded the Pentagon with leftist generals whose allegiance was to the Deep

State, to cultural leftism, and to the infamous and profitable “military-industrial complex” that Eisenhower warned about in 1961. Now Biden is following the same path with a “purge” of the ranks of so called “extremists. In only five years, Obama had conducted a major Pentagon purge, firing almost 200 senior officers who held the oldfashioned belief that the military exists to protect America and should not be a social justice institution with limited firepower.

The upper-level officers who remained were hardcore Democrats. Several were assigned to our Military academies at US Military Academy at West Point, The Naval and Air Force Academies. bringing their liberal, left-wing philosophies with them. All the above says there is something rotten happening in the Pentagon. The implications are not just in the past. They are also in the future. Michael Anton has written the best article spelling out the fact that the Democrats are openly planning a coup if Biden doesn’t win. One of the crucial points about this planned coup is that the Democrats have been explicit about military involvement.

A cyber tool that started at DARPA moves to Cyber Command

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — A critical cyber tool, one that could help military commanders make better decisions during cyber operations and has been in development for many years, has officially transitioned to U.S. Cyber Command.

Project Ike is a prototyping effort that once got its start under the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency under the name Plan X in 2013. It was later moved to the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office in July 2019 with an award to contractor Two Six Labs for $95 million dollars. Then in early April, the program officially transitioned to a program under the Joint Cyber Command and Control (JCC2) program management office, a Department of Defense spokesperson told C4ISRNET. Ike, will be used to map networks, assess the readiness of cyber teams and command forces in cyberspace.

Project Ike was thought by many to be a precursor to JCC2, which is one pillar of Cyber Command’s Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture, which will guide how Cyber Command leaders develop and procure capabilities. The Air Force is managing JCC2 on behalf of Cyber Command and the joint cyber force.

Few details about the work of JCC2 program have surfaced in recent years. The Department of Defense requested $38.4 million for the initiative in the fiscal 2021 budget with efforts primarily dedicated toward developing new capabilities, expanding the program office, building up DevSecOps teams for pilot programs at combatant commands, creating a development environment and infrastructure and integrating situational awareness capabilities.

Re-Engineering America’s Cyber Glass House

Dr. Georgianna Shea

Blackouts caused by an explosion hit the Natanz uranium enrichment site in Iran last Sunday in what appears to be an attack aimed at slowing down nuclear weapons development. Iran blamed Israel for the blast, and press reports speculated it was a result of an Israeli cyberattack. Although the attack is broadly consistent with Washington’s goal of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, the episode is yet another reminder of the vulnerability of America’s own infrastructure to cyberattack.

The attack on Natanz provides an immediate reminder of the 2009-2010 Stuxnet attack on Iran in which malware caused 1,000 centrifuges to break by spinning out of control. This time, instead of developing highly tailored malware and carefully placing the virus on USB drives to evade Natanz’s airgaps, the attackers took out the facility’s power source. To this day, analysts have debated the long-term impact of Stuxnet on Iran’s nuclear progress. Sunday’s incident, however, is likely to cause long-term headaches for Iran, as some intelligence officials are estimating it may take nine months to restore Natanz’s full productivity.

Did a cyberattack cause the blackout? Maybe. The lack of immediate certainty regarding the cause of the power source failure implicitly acknowledges the potential kinetic effects caused by cyberattacks. Just as the days of moats and castle walls are obsolete, the end has also come to the safety provided by virtual firewalls. Today’s cyberattacks are complex and multidimensional. Hackers spend significant time formulating an effective attack strategy, not only targeting vulnerabilities in the bits and bytes but also exploiting the people and processes of the enterprise. Too many private companies and public utilities narrowly focus their cybersecurity fixes, implementing a series of controls and standards with little understanding of how the system as a whole may respond to an attack.

Hybrid War and What to Do About It

Jeffrey Bristol

The National Security Strategy (NSS) dictates America’s transition to “Great Power Competition.” While the 2017 NSS fails to define the term and uses it only once, the tone of the document is rife with its essential idea: The United States is no longer the hegemon and must operate in a global milieu of rising nations whose interests only sometimes align with the United States’ own. Within this context, the NSS dedicates itself to “preserv(ing) peace through strength.”[1] In no environment since the Cold War has the adage si vis pacem, para bellum--if one wants peace, (prepare) for war--rung louder or truer. Perhaps nothing is more essential in this effort than asking the question “What is hybrid war?” and then answering the follow-on: “what should we do about it?”


The Russian General Valery Gerasimov articulated the best-known articulation of hybrid war in his article “The Value of Science Is in the Foresight.”[2] According to Gerasimov, hybrid war combines military activities with the “protest potential of the population.”[3] Local politics provide entrée to the Russian military. Information operations shape the environment initially. Once organized protest solidifies, military operators infiltrate covertly. Conventional forces then invade, finalizing the conquest. This cycle, presented by Gerasimov as the result of new technologies and political realities, is hybrid war. Despite this 2016 article’s claims to innovation, the Russain use of hybrid war is much older. In fact, Russia’s Cold War strategy was hybrid war avant la lettre.[4]