29 May 2021

China’s Cyber-Influence Operations

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd) 

The digital era has transformed the way we communicate. Using social media like Facebook and Instagram, and social applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram, one can be in contact with friends and family, share pictures, videos, messages, posts and share our experiences. Social media has become an effective way of influencing human society and behavior, and shaping public opinion. By sharing a post, tweeting an idea, contributing a discussion in a forum and sharing a sentimental picture, we can influence others and sometimes convince into with our opinion.

Use of cyber tools and methods to manipulate public opinion is called ‘Cyber Influence Operation’. In the present day, many countries use cyberspace, especially the social media, to accomplish Cyber Influence Operations as a part of Information Warfare. Most of these operations are done covertly. It is difficult to differentiate between legitimate or malicious influence operations. Continue Reading..... 

China’s Nuclear and Missile Capabilities: An Overview

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Since China first conducted a nuclear weapon test in 1964, its nuclear doctrine has remained unchanged and is underpinned by two principles: a minimum deterrent doctrine and a No First Use (NFU) policy. China’s 2019 defence white paper states, “China is always committed to a nuclear policy of NFU of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally.”

However, a recent U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) report claims that the scope of China’s nuclear modernisation and its lack of transparency “raise concern that China is not only shifting its requirements for what constitutes a minimal deterrence but that it could shift away from its longstanding minimalist force posture.” The data available show that China is modernising and expanding virtually every element of its nuclear forces, including each aspect of its nuclear weapons and missile, sea, and air delivery systems. What is not clear are China’s current and planned holdings of nuclear weapons, China’s future plans for deploying additional delivery systems, its commitment to some form of NFU, first preemption, or launch on warning, and the extent to which it will accept what might be called a form of ‘minimum assured destruction.

To Help India, Biden Must Unclog the Vaccine Supply Chains


On 17 May 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden stated that the United States had “secured enough supply to vaccinate all adults and children above the age of twelve.” The next step, he made plain, was “to help fight the disease [COVID-19] around the world,” emphasizing that 80 million doses of American-made vaccines would be shared with the world. Giving his remarks a geopolitical twist, the president did not miss the opportunity to underline that this would be more than the 15 million doses that Russia and China have donated globally.

Biden’s announcement is great news for the world. Large-scale vaccination, according to almost all experts, is the only way out of this pandemic. For India, which has been ravaged by another deadly wave of COVID-19, the news of any excess supply of much-needed vaccines is a welcome development. How exactly the 80 million doses (60 million AstraZeneca vaccines and 20 million other U.S.-authorized vaccines) will be distributed is yet unclear. However, that countries are beginning to rally to meet global needs is encouraging. Accessing a sizable portion of the 80 million doses for India will be one of the key topics for discussion for External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during his visit to the United States between May 24 and 28.

Power struggle on Afghanistan's frontline over key dam


In the heart of territory under siege from the Taliban, one of Afghanistan's most important hydroelectric dams is at the centre of a power struggle that symbolises the battle between the government and insurgents.

Kajaki Dam, which provides power to more than three million people in the south -- including the cities of Kandahar and Lashkar Gah -- is controlled by government forces. But an extraordinary compromise sees authorities effectively allow the insurgents surrounding it to charge locals for energy.

This kind of compromise could become more common as US forces withdraw, leaving local government officials and Taliban commanders to find ways to grudgingly live with the status quo even as their leaders fail to agree on terms.

"It is not our choice. How can we refuse them electricity?" said Ghulam Raza, an executive of Turkish firm 77 Construction, which is working to triple the capacity of the dam.

Officials at the plant told AFP during a recent visit that about a fifth of the output was used by the Taliban-controlled districts of Kajaki, Sangin and Musa Qala.

The areas contain hundreds of hamlets and villages that are home to thousands of people.

Taliban overruns district in central Afghanistan


The Taliban seized control of the district of Dawlat Shah in the eastern Afghan province of Laghman on May 19. The district is the fourth to fall to the Taliban in the past two weeks and the second in a province that borders Kabul, the ultimate prize for the Taliban in its efforts to reestablish its Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

“Gulzar Sangarwal, a member of the Laghman provincial council confirmed to Khaama Press that the district has fallen to the Taliban,” Khaama Press reported. “[S]ecurity forced retreated from the region on Wednesday night, as they had been under the Taliban siege for several days”.

“[T]he government forces retreated from the region due to lack of supplies, support, and backup,” after the district center was “under the Taliban siege,” Khaama Press noted.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also noted the fall of the district and posted an image of the abandoned district center.

How China and Pakistan Negotiate


China has become a global power, but there is too little debate about how this has happened and what it means. Many argue that China exports its developmental model and imposes it on other countries. But Chinese players also extend their influence by working through local actors and institutions while adapting and assimilating local and traditional forms, norms, and practices.

With a generous multiyear grant from the Ford Foundation, Carnegie has launched an innovative body of research on Chinese engagement strategies in seven regions of the world—Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, the Pacific, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Through a mix of research and strategic convening, this project explores these complex dynamics, including the ways Chinese firms are adapting to local labor laws in Latin America, Chinese banks and funds are exploring traditional Islamic financial and credit products in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and Chinese actors are helping local workers upgrade their skills in Central Asia. These adaptive Chinese strategies that accommodate and work within local realities are mostly ignored by Western policymakers in particular.

Ultimately, the project aims to significantly broaden understanding and debate about China’s role in the world and to generate innovative policy ideas. These could enable local players to better channel Chinese energies to support their societies and economies; provide lessons for Western engagement around the world, especially in developing countries; help China’s own policy community learn from the diversity of Chinese experience; and potentially reduce frictions.

Myanmar’s Opposition Wants U.S. Intervention. Here Are Some Options.

By Michael F. Martin

While the U.S. Congress is considering modifications of the Biden administration’s modest sanctions on Myanmar’s military junta, some voices among the protesters have called on the United States and the international community to consider armed intervention. Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations for the pre-coup Union Government, Kyaw Moe Tun, who continues to oppose the junta from abroad, asked the U.N. Security Council to enforce a no-fly zone over the country and impose a global arms embargo.

The United States has had a unilateral arms embargo on trade with Myanmar since 1988, and Congress has placed restrictions on U.S. relations with the country’s military since 2011. In addition, there are a range of options on the table for harder interventions, although some are more plausible than others.

This article does not advocate or endorse any U.S. military action in Myanmar in response to the Feb. 1 coup; the goal is to provide a brief overview of the options and examine the merits of each option. Given the impending end to two decades of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, military options in Myanmar are unlikely to be popular with either the Biden administration or Congress. Yet, as opposition calls for aid grow, it’s worth examining what the scope of U.S. military action could be.

Opinion – The Coming of Age of the European Union’s Indo-Pacific Strategy

Shreya Sinha

At a time when the Indo-Pacific narrative is getting well-established across the globe amidst great conflict of military tensions and civil unrest, the European Union has also released its own strategy towards it. Given that the region has been ignored by the supranational Union for decades, there are several factors as to why the EU chose to act on constructively associating itself with the Indo-Pacific now. The reasons for this move include pressures from its Member States namely France, Germany and Netherlands. Further, the need to counter China’s revisionist challenge and its politico-economic rise along with the quest of the EU to establish itself as a relevant geopolitical actor to realize its global power aspirations remain primary triggers.

The geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific is at its highest developed stage in history, contributing to nearly 60% of the global GDP and being home to three of the four largest economies outside of the EU (India, China, Japan). Owing to its geographical reality, the region is central to global value chains, international trade and investment flows and is also at the forefront of digital economy. The Strategy launched in April 2021 recommits the EU politically to the region with the aim of “contributing to its stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development, based on the promotion of democracy, rule of law, human rights and international law”. Through its said commitments, the EU realizes the need to build upon its existing relationships with multiple regional players, India, Japan and South Korea, given the international air of mutual distrust and competition.

U.S. Options to Counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Cadet Third Class Sierra Hillard is a History and Biology major at the United States Air Force Academy. The views expressed are the author’s and do not represent the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Department of the Air Force, or the Department of Defense. PA#: USAFA-DF-2021-146 Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.

National Security Situation: As China’s Belt and Road Initiative solidifies, the United States faces a rising threat from their near-peer adversary with several possible response options outlined below.

Author and / or Article Point of View: The author is a cadet (active duty military member) at the United States Air Force Academy and believes the United States must take a stance toward China’s actions with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Background: The U.S. National Security Strategy outlines China as a challenge to American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity, and thus a near-peer adversary requiring the attention of the United States[1]. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) created by President Xi Jinping in 2013 poses one such threat. The BRI represents China’s growing ambitions to create connections and influence across the world[2]. Currently, the BRI includes 71 countries representing almost two-thirds of the world’s population and a third of the world’s Gross Domestic Product[3]. The BRI refers to the countries China has given financial aid to in exchange for influence and control of that country.

Look to Classical Geopolitics to Understand China’s Challenge

By Francis P. Sempa

Winston Churchill once remarked that Soviet Russia was “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” China today should pose no such problem for Western prognosticators. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders have made it clear that their goals are to replace the United States as the world's leading power and replace today's "liberal" world order with one based on their autocratic system. And they are attempting to achieve those goals by extending their influence and attaining effective political control of as much of Eurasia-Africa as possible.

Western strategists and statesmen need to become acquainted or reacquainted with classical geopolitics to understand the challenge that confronts us. To start with, they should read Sir Halford Mackinder’s 1904 paper “The Geographical Pivot of History” and his 1919 book Democratic Ideals and Reality. Mackinder viewed the Eurasian-African landmass as the “World-Island” that combined unmatchable human and natural resources and potential insularity for a great power or alliance of powers that controlled its key regions. Mackinder warned that a great Eurasian power or alliance of powers could use the vast resources of the World-Island to build such a powerful navy that it could become the world’s most powerful land and sea power, emulating Ancient Rome’s effective control of the Mediterranean Sea and its surrounding lands. Today, add into that equation air, space, and cyber power to fully understand the nature of China’s challenge. In fact, a recently published novel of a future war between China and the United States, written by a former Marine/special operations commander who served several combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and a retired American admiral, emphasizes the danger of China's growing cyberwar capabilities

Semiconductor Shortage Shines Light On Weak Supply Chain

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

Semiconductors are the foundation of the advanced technologies that regular citizens and military officials rely on — from cell phones and laptops to fighter jets. But the global shortage amidst soaring demand during the pandemic for electronic devices is illuminating supply chain issues and vulnerabilities for the United States.

While the nation is a leader in the design of semiconductors, in recent decades the manufacturing and production of microelectronics has moved offshore and is now concentrated in places such as Taiwan and China. Officials and experts say that creates a major risk.

“It is not an exaggeration to say at the moment that we have a crisis in our supply chain,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during an April hearing before the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Global semiconductor sales increased by 6.5 percent in 2020, according to a paper by the Semiconductor Industry Association, “Semiconductor Shortage Highlights Need to Strengthen U.S. Chip Manufacturing, Research.”

Drones add little to rocket-filled Israel-Palestine skies, but represent growing global threat

By Thomas Gaulkin

Beneath the ongoing collision of Israel’s cutting-edge and costly missile defense systems and imprecise but inexpensive Palestinian-built rockets, Hamas has begun using so-called “kamikaze drones” to try penetrating Israeli defenses another way.

The Israeli government has claimed that its Iron Dome rocket defense system is effectively blocking most incoming rockets that pose a threat to Israel’s cities. Hamas has launched more than 3,000 rockets from Gaza since May 10, but Israeli officials claim most have either been intercepted by Iron Dome’s missile interceptors or did not reach significant targets (landing in unpopulated areas or failing in flight).

The current barrage is widely understood as an attempt by Hamas to overwhelm Iron Dome’s defenses. But according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), over the past week Iron Dome successfully shot down nearly half as many rockets as it had in its entire decade of operation prior to this month. Images of Tamir interceptor missiles soaring upward to destroy inbound rockets have spread all over social media and led to sometimes spellbound news coverage.

No One Is Coming to Help the Palestinians


“Today Iran, tomorrow Palestine.” Thus cheered the crowd in Tehran in February 1979, during the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s visit to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini just days after the success of the Iranian revolution. Arafat was the first foreign dignitary to visit Iran after the fall of the shah. For him, Khomeini’s success was a win for the Palestinian cause: His guerrilla fighters had helped train Iranian revolutionaries in Lebanon, and he was hopeful that, with Khomeini’s help, he would soon be on his way to establishing a Palestinian state.

This fascinating and relatively little-known episode in the Middle East’s history altered the region’s political landscape, and still informs the context in which today’s events in the Palestinian territories and Israel are unfolding. Although the personal relationship between Arafat and Khomeini soured within a year, their encounter marks the moment when revolutionary Iran’s involvement with the Palestinians began, and when the Palestinian issue inserted itself into a then-still-nascent regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Pointlessness of Mahmoud Abbas

By Anchal Vohra

At 2 a.m. on Friday, an 11-day-long cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians came to an end as a cease-fire brokered by Egypt was enforced by both sides. The rockets fired by the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas and Israeli airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip only went silent, however, after claiming 12 Israeli and around 250 Palestinian lives. While the balance of power clearly tilted in Israel’s favor, a superior military power, many Palestinians felt the recent round of conflict brought them a tiny but significant victory since peaceful negotiations have yielded nothing.

For the first time in a long time, Palestinians felt they actively displayed their resentment against Israeli excesses instead of yet again swallowing their pride and merely hoping for the world to take notice. They were united not only in their anger at Israel’s disproportionate use of force on Gazans but also in their support of Hamas’s response to Israel. Palestinians saw the barrage of rockets fired at Israel as a befitting reply on behalf of a disaffected people, not a provocation. As the battle came to an end without either side conceding, thousands of Palestinians celebrated.

In Gaza, an Impasse Cannot Be Mistaken for Stability

By Steve Coll

In early May, Palestinians protesting the pending eviction of six families from their homes in East Jerusalem clashed with Israeli police. For many Palestinians, the eviction cases evoked a long history of dispossession while presenting evidence of continued efforts to remove them from the city. These protests and others regarding Palestinian rights in Jerusalem devolved into street fights, and Hamas, from its redoubt in the Gaza Strip, warned that it might “not stand idly by.” On May 10th, its forces fired a fusillade of rockets and missiles at Israeli villages and cities, and the Israel Defense Forces responded with air strikes on Gaza, inaugurating a mini-war of depressingly familiar dimensions—the fourth in a dozen years between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Last Thursday, after eleven days of destruction and loss of life, and behind-the-scenes mediation by the Biden Administration and Egypt, the combatants declared a ceasefire. The conflict and its announced termination had a ritualized aspect: Israel and Hamas both knew from the start that international diplomacy would offer an exit ramp whenever both were ready, and although past ceasefires have not always held initially, neither side seemed to want a prolonged war. For the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu—who is facing corruption charges and has struggled to hold on to power after several indecisive elections—thumping Hamas, even briefly, offered a reprise of his self-mythologizing role as the unbowed protector of Israel. For Hamas, a limited battle in the name of Jerusalem allowed it to advance claims to Palestinian leadership at a time when the group’s main rival, the Fatah Party, appeared weak, after its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority President, recently postponed long-awaited elections.

Secretary of Defense Austin Remarks for the U.S. Military Academy Graduation Ceremony

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: Thank you so much General Williams and thank you for that warm introduction. You know, it's always tough to spend behind General Williams. He's such a -- such a great speaker. Every time I come back here it feels like I'm coming home. By the way General, what do you call this group of fine men and women that I see assemble on the field in front of us?


SEC. AUSTIN: OK. “Soup” says he calls you warriors. I'm going to call you Lieutenants. Is that OK with you?



This is a big deal guys. I want your Secretary of Defense to be the first to call you Lieutenant. So – Hooah.

The Race for the Arctic: A Neorealist Case Study of Russia and the United States

Dominik Stojkovic

For most of human history, the very top of the world has remained out of play: too cold, too remote, and too hazardous for the intense exploitations that have reshaped other regions. However, today, the Arctic is warming faster than any other place, and its protective sea ice barrier, which had once kept economic and military activities in check, is melting away. NASA (2020) studies discovered that the region loses 13.1% of its ice mass every decade. 2020 has shown the second-lowest sea ice extent since records began (cf. Ramsayer 2020), and recent projections emphasize that the Arctic Ocean may be ice-free as early as 2035 (cf. Guarino et al. 2020). Indeed, an ocean is opening up in front of us, and the world above 66° latitude may become the new frontier for global competition, with potentially vast natural resources and the prospect of drastically shortened shipping routes.

The Arctic is open for business. And many want to participate in this 21st-century gold rush. Several circumpolar states are already struggling to access the region’s rich stores of gas, oil, fish, and precious minerals. Even nations without Arctic borders are striving for their share. The United States, by most measures, has lagged far behind others, including Russia and even China, in this race. That may be about to change.

How France Undermines Democracy in Chad

By Jérôme Tubiana

I only saw the late Chadian ruler Idriss Déby twice. The first was in 2014 at the first Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security, the now yearly event organized by the French Defense Ministry in Senegal’s capital to strengthen ties with African allies fighting against terrorism in the Sahel. The five presidents of the new French and U.S.-backed G-5 Sahel coalition (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad) were present. Among them, Déby was obviously the king, thanks to the key role his army, reputed as the strongest in the region, was already playing alongside the French in Mali.

My second sighting of Déby was in 2016 in Am Djéress, his small capital in the desert of northeastern Chad. When Déby became a prominent army officer in the 1980s, many members of his Zaghawa ethnic group left their Saharan homeland for the real capital, N’Djamena. In the early 2000s, Am Djéress had no more than a few huts made of branches until Déby decided to build a new town, beginning with his own house. Willingly or not, his clansmen had to follow.

A brand new Italian plane usually dedicated to troop transports flew me and other guests up to the 2-mile asphalt airfield Déby built in the desert. Then we drove to town on the longest strip of asphalt in the Chadian Sahara—a 10-mile road built by a formerly state-owned company now belonging to the president’s family.

Belarus Is Becoming Europe’s North Korea

By Vladislav Davidzon,

On Sunday, a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, was forced out of the sky as it traversed Belarusian airspace. The government of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who has clung to power despite widespread protests following a rigged election last August, ordered the plane to make an emergency landing in Minsk under the pretext of a faked bomb threat, carried out by Belarusian security operatives. In an audacious move that sparked a European security crisis, Belarus authorities scrambled a fully armed MiG-29 fighter jet to intercept the civilian flight.

This unprecedented act, denounced by European officials as air piracy, was all aimed at capturing a single man: Roman Protasevich, one of the Belarussian dissidents who has been a constant thorn in Lukashenko’s side. Protasevich was pulled off the plane, along with several other Belarusian and Russian nationals. Vilnius has become a hub of opposition to Lukashenko’s rule, with Lithuania rejecting Lukashenko’s legitimacy and providing support and protection to exiles.

I was already in Vilnius to interview Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as the crisis began. She told Foreign Policy: “We demand the invitation of an investigation into this incident and the start of the process of suspending Belarus’s membership … in the International Civil Aviation Organization. The time for statements has passed. It is obvious that the Belarusians expect decisive action and help from the international community. From now on, not a single person from any country in the world who flies over Belarus is guaranteed basic security.”

The Dark Side of Congo’s Cobalt Rush

By Nicolas Niarchos

In June, 2014, a man began digging into the soft red earth in the back yard of his house, on the outskirts of Kolwezi, a city in the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the man later told neighbors, he had intended to create a pit for a new toilet. About eight feet into the soil, his shovel hit a slab of gray rock that was streaked with black and punctuated with what looked like blobs of bright-turquoise mold. He had struck a seam of heterogenite, an ore that can be refined into cobalt, one of the elements used in lithium-ion batteries. Among other things, cobalt keeps the batteries, which power everything from cell phones to electric cars, from catching fire. As global demand for lithium-ion batteries has grown, so has the price of cobalt. The man suspected that his discovery would make him wealthy—if he could get it out of the ground before others did.

Southern Congo sits atop an estimated 3.4 million metric tons of cobalt, almost half the world’s known supply. In recent decades, hundreds of thousands of Congolese have moved to the formerly remote area. Kolwezi now has more than half a million residents. Many Congolese have taken jobs at industrial mines in the region; others have become “artisanal diggers,” or creuseurs. Some creuseurs secure permits to work freelance at officially licensed pits, but many more sneak onto the sites at night or dig their own holes and tunnels, risking cave-ins and other dangers in pursuit of buried treasure.

Russia Is Accelerating Its Own Link-Everything Network


The United States isn’t the only major military power trying to digitally link all of its weapons and execute operations faster with artificial intelligence. Russia has been making gains in its own version of centralized command and control across land, sea, space, and cyberspace, according to a new paper from a Navy-linked think tank.

Over the past several years, Russian military leaders have steadily advanced an AI-linked concept called automated control systems, or ACS, says the paper, to be published Monday by the Center for Naval Analyses, or CNA. The Russian military’s encyclopedia describes it as: “A system that automates such processes or functions of command and control of troops and (or) weapons (combat assets) such as: collection, processing, storage and delivery of information necessary to optimize command and control of troops and weapons.”

The concept bears an uncanny resemblance to the U.S. military’s own vision for AI-fueled, network-centric operations.

In 2017, U.S. service chiefs began speaking about digitally linking planes, ships, drones, satellites and troops in a comprehensive data web. The idea was to allow any “shooter” on the battlefield to hit any target. If an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter crashed on the way to bomb a radar station, another weapon — a long-range artillery cannon, a drone, a ship-launched cruise missile — would take the shot without commanders having to figure out the next best option. Artificial intelligence would play a key role, analyzing rapidly incoming data streams about targets and the state of U.S. forces and then determining best courses of action for commanders to execute.

Cyber and EMP Preparedness

By Peter Pry

Congratulations on your appointment as the President’s White House “Cybersecurity Czar.”

Condolences that your appointment coincides with a looming existential threat to our nation from Cyber Warfare. Russia's cyber-attack on the Colonial Pipeline that provides 45% of petroleum needed by the eastern U.S. for civilian and military use, preceded by Russia's unprecedented SolarWinds cyber-attack on hundreds of federal departments and agencies, and thousands of industries and utilities, highlights U.S. vulnerability.

Just a few weeks ago, amidst concerns that Russia might invade Ukraine, Russia’s state-owned media warned that a Russia-U.S. Cyber War targeting critical infrastructures is “inevitable.” Russia threatens it can win a Cyber War decisively by attacking the U.S. electric grid. Russian TV described cyber-attack options ranging from small-scale to existential threats, including blacking-out part of New York City (Harlem was mentioned), or blacking-out the state of Florida, or blacking-out the entire continental United States.[i]

Now Colonial Pipeline has been hacked, shut down temporarily. Cyber-attacks can destroy pipelines, causing them to explode. Colonial Pipeline is crucial to fueling U.S. military power projection capabilities from the east coast to protect NATO or to help Ukraine during a Russian invasion.[ii] That is why the Colonial Pipeline was really targeted, not for the millions paid in ransom, but as a demonstration of Russia’s cyber-power.

The Colonial Pipeline cyber-attack proves Russia is not bluffing.

The BRICS Bloc: A Pound-for-Pound Challenger to Western Dominance?

Nazrul Nazri

The BRICS bloc materialized from a desired transition towards multipolarity, often becoming the subject of debate on the future of international politics, as experts attempt to determine whether BRICS is the real deal or a global flash in the pan. First coined by Goldman Sachs economists Jim O’Neill and Roopa Purushothaman in 2001, and bolstered by the addition of South Africa in December 2010, the ‘BRICS’ union has showcased promising cooperation and institutionalization in the global political economy, stirring a sense of alarm among the Western world. Backed by their respective economic advancement and the rise of China as an emerging superpower in the economic, military, technological, and diplomatic domain, the BRICS of recent years looks set to expand on their current spheres of regional influence to global heights. Their association, consolidated by strong criticism of Western institutions, looks to recalibrate the American-led, post-Second World War liberal world order. The following analysis looks to examine the current potential of BRICS as a legitimate challenger to Western dominance of the international system. This comprises discussions on their initiatives, capabilities, and potential hurdles they need to collectively surpass to become a genuine contender to the West in the international system.

When will America protect itself against EMP, cyber and ransomware attacks?


“A long-term outage owing to EMP could disable most critical supply chains, leaving the U.S. population living in conditions similar to centuries past, prior to the advent of electric power. In the 1800s, the U.S. population was less than 60 million, and those people had many skills and assets necessary for survival without today’s infrastructure. An extended blackout today could result in the death of a large fraction of the American people through the effects of societal collapse, disease and starvation. While national planning and preparation for such events could help mitigate the damage, few such actions are currently under way or even being contemplated.” — Congressional EMP Commission (2017)

The people of Rangely, Colo., are not waiting for Washington to protect them from a Great American Blackout caused by a solar superstorm or cyber warfare or electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. Like several other Western municipalities, Rangely, a town of 2,300 in northwest Colorado, home to a community college, has rolled up its sleeves and, in the best traditions of Western pioneering spirit, independence and self-sufficiency, is building redundant microgrids so they can survive anything.

Texas state Sen. Bob Hall and his colleagues aren’t waiting for Washington to “provide for the common defense,” either. Hall’s bill to protect the Texas electric grid from all hazards — including EMP, cyber warfare and sabotage — recently passed the state Senate.

Army Cyber Pivots To Pacific: Fogarty


WASHINGTON: Army commanders in the Pacific “really get it” when it comes to cyber/electronic warfare so Army Cyber Command is stepping up collaboration and exercises with them, said ARCYBER’s three-star chief.

Army Cyber has grown dramatically since its founding a decade ago, Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty told AFCEA’s TechNet Augusta conference Tuesday. “I would give ourselves probably a solid B, B-plus,” he said candidly. “It’s not for lack of effort. It’s just this is really complex.”

“As we continue to increase the amount of operations, the variety of operations we’re conducting, we learn something every single day,” he said.

ARCYBER’s central mission is to support commanders around the world, and the cyber-savvy of those commanders matters immensely to how well cyber capabilities get used. “Our commanders are seeing [that] wherever they’re deployed – particularly those that are in Europe and in the Pacific – they’re just under constant, constant assault,” Fogarty said, both in cyberspace and by electronic warfare. But, he admitted, “not all commanders are at the same level.”

Space Organizations Partner To Boost Cybersecurity


WASHINGTON: Two prominent aerospace industry groups are cooperating on cyber information sharing, awareness, education, and outreach to improve the security of space operations.

The agreement between the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center comes at a time when recent cyber incidents in other industries have highlighted a deficit of info sharing. The apparent lack of info sharing has recently been raised numerous times by Congress and others, as well as addressed for defense contractors and federal entities in the recent cyber executive order.

This agreement is noteworthy because the space industry is proactively moving ahead on cyber info sharing instead of waiting to be compelled to act by the government through law or regulation. There is broad consensus across the cybersecurity industry, key federal agencies (e.g., CISA), and Congress on the need for and benefits of improved cyber info sharing, but such initiatives can stall on sticking points of how, precisely, to do so. This partnership could serve as a model of what’s possible for other industries on cybersecurity info sharing, awareness, education, and communication.


Ethical hacking follows the safety hacking guidelines for effective system operation. While several factors contribute to its development, one of the most important is its availability of IoT hacking tools that make the job easier to handle. An ethical hacker is a security expert’s who legally hacks a computer to detect risks and illegal access.

Every security professional must know all devices within the network, including the Internet of things (IoT), thoroughly in the core of Ethical Hacking. IoT Hacking tools enable ethical hacking as they help to automate the necessary steps. Ethical hackers can use them to perform certain features that help to detect device vulnerabilities.

In this blog, you’ll learn how these tools function and how to secure the infrastructure when they go online. This article will discuss the Top 5 IoT Hacking tools and their uses.
What Are IoT Ethical Tools?

Ethical hacking IoT tools help collect information, malicious behavior and payloads, password cracking, and a range of other activities. Hacking Tools are computer programs and scripts that aid in detecting and exploiting defects in computer systems, web applications, and networks.

SOCOM Leaders Say ‘Digital Spectrum’ Key To Next Fight


WASHINGTON: After spending the past two decades kicking in doors and hunting insurgent targets in the Middle East, special operations leaders are looking to the digital domain as the key to their future.

“The future will be won by those who dominate the full digital spectrum,” Lt. Gen. Francis Beaudette, commander of Army Special Operations Command said at the annual Special Operations force Industry Conference this week. “It will be as important as seizing and holding terrain.”

Information warfare will be a central component of any future operation, and will include “psychological operations…cyberspace, deception and electronic warfare at the tactical and operational levels,” he said.

It was a theme addressed by SOCOM commander Gen. Richard Clarke this week, who held up “infospace” as an area that will affect all other domains in any future conflict with a peer adversary. Information dominance “will impact all forces in all missions,” he said. “It is a battle in the cognitive space.”

Paratroopers Pioneer New Army Network, Tactics


WASHINGTON: The first thing you notice about the Army’s new tactical radios is how much clearer everyone sounds.

“When the network is connected … the clarity of the communication and the clarity of the transmission are better than what I would use to hear via FM,” said Lt. Col. Andy Harris. “When everything is connected and it’s working … it’s very, very good quality. And to me that matters, as a commander, because you need to know what they’re saying.”

But, Harris and Army procurement officials told me, the network upgrade – called Capability Set 21 – has a steep learning curve, which means that troops require both technical training and tactical adaption to get the most out of it.

In fact, when the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne parachuted into the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk for wargames in March, not every commander felt comfortable bringing the newly issued kit, which they were the first brigade in the Army to get. But the battalion Harris commands, the 1st Battalion of the storied 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, had extra experience with the new HMS Manpack and Leader radios, having run the program’s official Operational Test back in January.

Army Generals Are Not Prepared for the Future


The Army continues to build general officers who are not adequately prepared to succeed as technology advances. The Army has always done a terrible job at developing and deploying new technology, and though there may be many reasons for the Army's endless failures in innovation, the final responsibility lies with the generals. While it is popular to compare military generals with corporate Chief Executive Officers, these analogies lack empirical analysis. Compared to the top CEOs, Army generals are sorely undereducated in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

Innovation Leadership and STEM

High performing CEOs increasingly have STEM degrees. In 2018, Harvard Business Review noted that more of the top 100 CEOs have engineering degrees than MBAs. According to Boston Consulting Group's 2020 list, of the top 20 most innovative companies roughly 65 percent have STEM undergraduate degrees, and 30 percent have STEM graduate degrees. There are many reasons companies may seek STEM-educated CEOs, including better data-driven decision-making skills, better understanding of complex systems, and a generally different approach to problem solving, but the correlation with STEM and private-sector innovation is strong.