31 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.

India Won't Like This: Why China Wants Mortar Weapons for Mountainous Regions

by Kris Osborn

In what could be seen as a massive modernization push and military build-up, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to plus-up its Western high-altitude plateau regions with new weapons systems.

Following announcements about mobile artillery and new armored vehicles for the region, the PLA is now announcing the deployment of new self-propelled rapid-fire mortars to conduct “mobile, hit-and-run firing positions,” according to the Chinese Global Times.

Due to the parabola-like trajectory of how they fire, mortar weapons can be particularly useful in mountainous regions as they can enable advancing forces to attack otherwise tough to reach enemy positions at higher or significantly lower altitudes. Precision, however, seems to be crucial here as the logistical burden would likely make it very difficult if not impossible to transport large amounts of mortar munitions up to higher altitudes, even if they were air-dropped by helicopters.

The paper says the self-propelled mortar system is based upon a “four-wheeled off-road assault vehicle,” something which seems to indicate a possibility for mountain warfare in the plateau regions. A large-scale combat capability and warfare technology build-up in the plateau regions of Western China continue to receive accelerated attention from the PLA. The arrival of the self-propelled mortars are the fourth new type of weapons systems the PLA is bringing to the region, an effort including the addition of a new 122-millimeter caliber self-propelled howitzer, armored assault vehicles and long-range multiple rocket launcher systems.

Key Decision Point Coming for the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal sits at the nexus of international political and economic concerns. Following the Canal’s expansion in 2016, the waterway annually registers nearly 14,000 transits, a value equal to 6 percent of global trade. The Canal’s global shipping role has only increased amid the disruption of global supply chains during the Covid-19 pandemic and U.S. calls for nearshoring away from China. The United States remains the top user of the Canal—in 2019, 66 percent of the cargo traffic transiting the Canal began or ended its journey at a U.S. port; cargo from or destined to China made up 13 percent of Canal traffic. Still, China is the primary source of products going through the Colón Free Trade Zone and its increasing presence in and around the Canal has made the waterway a flashpoint for U.S.-China competition over spheres of influence. China’s influence in the Panama Canal has only grown since 2017 when then-president Carlos Varela severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognized China, further opening the door to China’s expanded footprint in critical Canal infrastructure and laying the groundwork for alignment with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Q1: How is the Panama Canal currently governed?

A1: The Panama Canal has been fully owned and administered by the Republic of Panama since the transfer of management from the joint U.S.-Panamanian Panama Canal Commission in 1999. Today, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is charged with the administration and maintenance of the waterway’s resources and security as an independent entity of the national government. Governed by the 11 members of its board of directors, the ACP’s members maintain overlapping terms to ensure independence from each presidential administration. Designated by Panama’s president, the chairman of the board holds the rank of minister of state for Canal affairs and under the supervision of the board, the designated Canal administrator heads the ACP, implementing the decisions of the board. Through contract awards, the ACP in turn grants concession agreements to companies for port operations.

What I Learned From the PLA’s Latest Strategy Textbook

By Joel Wuthnow


In August 2020, China’s National Defense University (NDU) released a revised version of its Science of Military Strategy (战略学, zhanlüe xue) (SMS), a core textbook for senior PLA officers on how wars should be planned and conducted at the strategic level. This article compares the 2020 version of this book with its last revision, in 2017, and finds that the former contains new details on wartime political work, “intelligentization” concepts, China’s military strategic guidelines, major war operations, joint logistics and the People’s Armed Police. It should be a go-to reference for those seeking to understand Chinese military thinking as it is currently explained to PLA officers themselves.

Over the last three decades, China’s two premier defense institutes—the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS) and NDU—have produced several editions of the Science of Military Strategy. AMS published new editions in 1987, 2001 and 2013. NDU published new editions in 1999 and 2015. In May 2017, NDU released a revision (修订, xiuding) to the 2015 edition, and then released another revision in August 2020.[1]

The postscript to the 2020 SMS explains that the recent revisions were necessary to “better adapt to the major trend in the form of warfare shifting from informationization (信息化, xinxi hua) to intelligentization (智能化, zhineng hua), elucidate the characteristics and rules of military struggle in the new era, reflect the newest results of national defense and army reforms, and promote innovation in our strategic theories” (p. 452).These volumes are best described as doctrinal teaching materials: previous editions have been included in the curricula at NDU, whose function is to train commanders at the senior colonel level and above.[2]

China Is Training to Fire Artillery at 'High Altitudes'. Why Bother?

by Kris Osborn

The People’s Liberation Army is firing off towed artillery in the plateau regions of Western China to prepare for high altitude warfare in extreme weather conditions, a development which is just a small part of a broader Chinese military effort to massively up-gun its mountain warfare force.

While the weapons plus up involves many different systems to include self-propelled howitzers and armored assault vehicles, a more transportable towed gun howitzer seems of particular relevance when it comes to high altitude warfare.

The Chinese government-backed Global Times newspaper reported that PLA forces were firing a PL-66 152mm towed howitzer against mock targets in snow-covered plateau areas at elevations greater than 4,500 meters. The live-fire exercises, according to the Chinese paper, took place in the well-known Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwestern China near its border with Russia and Central Asia.

What seems most significant about a towed howitzer of this kind may rest upon the answer to one clear, simple question. Is it air-droppable?

If so, it would offer China what may be a new expeditionary attack capability for higher altitude warfare. The possibility brings the U.S. Army’s M777 Howitzer to mind, as it is a mobile 155mm artillery weapon that can sling load beneath a Chinook transport helicopter. Air droppable mobile artillery naturally introduces new tactical options for ground war commanders looking to forward position suppressive fires or precision attack weapons in otherwise impossible to reach locations. Self-propelled howitzers or other kinds of heavier armored vehicles of course face the challenge of deployability, meaning can it be brought to mountainous areas not transitable by most wheeled platforms.

A 'People's War': China's Plan To Dominate The South China Sea?

by James Holmes

Here's What You Need to Remember: Party leaders have regaled the populace with how they will use seagoing forces to right historical wrongs and win the nation nautical renown. They must now follow through.

Last year China’s defense minister, General Chang Wanquan, implored the nation to ready itself for a “people’s war at sea.” The purpose of such a campaign? To “safeguard sovereignty” after an adverse ruling from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The tribunal upheld the plain meaning of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ruling that Beijing’s claims to “indisputable sovereignty” spanning some 80-90 percent of the South China Sea are bunk.

A strong coastal state, in other words, cannot simply wrest away the high seas or waters allocated to weaker neighbors and make them its own.

Or, at any rate, it can’t do so lawfully. It could conceivably do so through conquest, enforced afterward by a constant military presence. Defenders of freedom of the sea, consequently, must heed General Chang’s entreaty. Southeast Asians and their external allies must take such statements seriously—devoting ample forethought to the prospect of marine combat in the South China Sea.

That’s the first point about a people’s war at sea. A clash of arms is possible. Statesmen and commanders in places like Manila, Hanoi, and Washington must not discount Chang’s words as mere bluster.

Deterrence, Not Domination: How to Deal with a Rising China

by John Isaacs

Many American leaders have expressed concern over great power competition between the United States and China, often alluding to—if not downright calling for—a military confrontation. However, the United States should focus on deterring, not dominating, China militarily, while pursuing social and economic competition with the goal of China participating in, not undermining, the international system.

China offers the world a highly authoritarian system that brooks no dissent and uses advanced technology to monitor the thoughts and actions of its people. Chinese citizens are free to make money but barred from expressing dissent or listening to media accounts that their leaders object to. The booming Chinese economy has lifted millions of people out of poverty but has been aided by substantial intellectual property theft from other countries and businesses.

General Secretary Xi Jinping’s government is slowly eliminating all vestiges of democracy in Hong Kong. The Xinjiang internment camps have been widely decried as part of a systematic genocide. China has ignored international rulings on control of the seas to assert control of international waters and the resources they contain.

All this criticism, to be sure, is not to say that the United States is without problems of its own. But almost no matter where you stand on the American political spectrum, the challenge China poses to U.S. national interests is very real.

China's Disappeared Uyghurs: What Satellite Images Reveal

One million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, maybe more, have vanished into a sprawling network of camps and prisons in China's far west. Chinese officials at first denied the camps even existed. Then they claimed they were for training workers, or for re-educating potential radicals. Then they said it didn't matter—everyone had graduated and was free to go.

Satellite data reviewed by RAND tell a different story. They show bright-lit compounds in the desert dark, wall after wall of barbed wire, and a sudden rush to build what appear to be fortified preschools.

“This gives us clear evidence of what's happening on the ground in western China,” said Katherine Pfrommer, a quantitative analyst at RAND who helped review the images. “In such a denied area, it's hard to know how conditions are changing and evolving. Satellite images gave us a way to get that information.”

China, the United States, and the Gaza Crisis: Israel for Xinjiang?

Eyal Propper

In the course of the recent campaign against Hamas, Israel found itself dragged into a greater struggle – between two superpowers. China used media photographs from Gaza as a tool against the United States, while siding with the Palestinians and accusing Washington of hypocritical policies. Will China continue to upset its ties with Israel as part of its struggle against the United States?

China identified the crisis between Israel and Hamas in Gaza as a political opportunity to bolster its national interests, particularly in the context of Xinjiang, through vehement opposition to the United States policy towards Muslims. As rotating UN Security Council president in May 2021, China sponsored a statement calling for an immediate halt in the violence against the Palestinian Muslims, while accusing the United States of thwarting a joint declaration through its one-sided support for Israel. At the same time, China claimed that the United States was acting hypocritically with false accusations against China regarding Chinese policy toward Muslims in Xinjiang. China has made Israel an unwitting part of the dispute between the two major powers by using it to attack the United States image. No high-level contacts have taken place between China and Israel over the past year, which has not helped Israel present its interests to the Chinese leadership. Israel should make it clear to China that taking a one-sided position and ignoring Israel politically will make it difficult for Israel to regard China as an unbiased mediator in future contacts for solving the conflict in the Middle East.

How Israel Lost the Culture War

By Alia Brahimi

After accepting an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed “an achievement no military has ever achieved” in Israel’s 11-day bombing campaign in Gaza. At the same time, Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that had indiscriminately fired more than 4,300 missiles into Israel, reflexively expressed “the euphoria of victory.”

Whatever the military outcome, it seems increasingly likely the final reckoning of this latest round of conflict will be decided far away from the battlefield. Netanyahu may have picked the wrong time to doggedly pursue airstrikes against one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, where 50 percent of the inhabitants are under the age of 15; more specifically, he may have chosen the wrong cultural moment.

Of course, there are grim continuities between the latest war and previous onslaughts on Gaza. For example, as with Operation Protective Edge in 2014, roughly 1 in 4 fatalities in Gaza was not only civilian but also a child (66 out of a total 248 deaths). Yet as of this month, the Israeli military did not change its tactics or recalibrate its use of force, continuing to deploy the aerial prowess of a military superpower against the tower blocks of an impoverished, captive population.

Gen Z Reclaims the Palestinian Cause

By Dalia Hatuqa

RAMALLAH, West Bank—As Israel pummeled Gaza with airstrikes for 11 days before a cease-fire went into effect on May 21, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was eerily absent from the scene, doing little beyond issuing pro forma statements of condemnation of the Israeli bombing campaign and the staggering death toll it caused.

But on the ground, civic leaders, especially Palestinian youth, have taken over the vacuum left by this rudderless leadership. Last week, they, together with Palestinian civil society groups, held a general strike throughout the occupied West Bank and Israel. The strike was significant in that it was strictly adhered to on both sides of the Green Line, essentially erasing—albeit temporarily—the pervasive geographical and political divide between Palestinians who are citizens of Israel and those who are not.

Before the current crisis, Palestinians’ frustration with their leadership had already reached unprecedented levels. The potential of Palestinian democracy has long been limited by Israel’s control of every facet of daily life in the occupied Palestinian territories, including of the electoral system. The last time a Palestinian legislative election was held, in 2006, Israel heavily obstructed voting in East Jerusalem. When Hamas then won a decisive victory, the United States and Israel destabilized the new government, installing PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his party, Fatah, into power in the West Bank.

Learn From Gaza, Prepare For Hezbollah


With a ceasefire announced in Gaza, it’s crucial to apply the lessons-learned to a likely future conflict with Hezbollah, and likely Iran, in Lebanon and beyond.

As The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) has laid out in a comprehensive report, this looming war will be unprecedentedly destructive. Hezbollah’s arsenals are an order of magnitude more potent than anything in Gaza, including at least 130,000 rockets and missiles that will do what Hamas conspicuously has yet to accomplish – namely, overpower Israel’s world-class multi-layered air defense network.

President Biden’s welcome decision last Thursday to replenish interceptor stocks for Israel’s short-range Iron Dome air defenses – which were called upon more than ever in the latest flareup – is only a small glimpse of what Israel will need to defend itself in the next war. In addition to Iron Dome, Washington must ensure adequate U.S.-Israel coproduction of David’s Sling and Arrow air defense systems that will be crucial for defending against Hezbollah’s and Iran’s much more sophisticated, powerful and longer-range projectiles, including precision munitions.


Tara Heidger and Victor Garcia 

Editor’s note: This article is the eleventh in a series, “Full-Spectrum: Capabilities and Authorities in Cyber and the Information Environment.” The series endeavors to present expert commentary on diverse issues surrounding US competition with peer and near-peer competitors in the cyber and information spaces. Read all articles in the series here.

Special thanks to series editors Capt. Maggie Smith, PhD of the Army Cyber Institute and MWI fellow Dr. Barnett S. Koven.

The US Department of Defense has long regarded Africa as a difficult operating environment in which to conduct information and cyber operations. While over a half a billion people across the continent access the internet monthly, the relative percentage of internet penetration remains the lowest in the world at just 40 percent. In addition to low internet penetration rates, other forms of media such as newspapers or television are expensive, while phone and internet lines are underdeveloped across a significant portion of the continent. This leaves much of the population to rely on hyper-local radio broadcasts in hundreds of dialects as their main sources of information.

China has long had its eyes on building a presence in Africa and over the past decade its footprint has become increasingly prevalent. The international headlines about debt-trap diplomacy, the Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure development, and leadership summits between Chinese President Xi Jinping and African leaders grab attention. Although facing the same information environment challenges as the United States, China has successfully monopolized the headlines through its massive economic investments across the continent. For the international news media this is at little or no cost to China. Locally, China is investing heavily and working to drive the narrative as well. For example, driving across Nairobi, there is no shortage of billboards advertising China Global Television Network standing alongside overtly advertised construction projects funded and managed by the Chinese Communist Party. In many urban markets, Chinese goods sold by Chinese nationals are ubiquitous. Almost every mile of road construction currently taking place is overseen directly by at least one worker sent from China. The pervasive Chinese presence throughout the African continent puts China at an advantage—not just within the online information environment, but also as an integral part of the African fabric.

Operating in the shadows: US Cyber Command

If the Pentagon's Cyber Command launches an online attack and nobody knows about it, does it deter anyone?

Many Americans are asking what the country's army of cyber warriors are doing after repeated attacks on US computer systems by Chinese, Russian and other hackers.

The answer may have been in the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade's subtle retweet on May 14 of a security firm's scoop that ransomware extortionist Darkside had been digitally shut down.

No one knows who took control of Darkside's servers, a week after the shady Russia-based hackers forced the closure of a major US oil pipeline, causing gasoline shortages across the Eastern US.

But suspicions are that the 10-year-old CyberCom may have stepped in, to punish Darkside and to signal the small army of ransomware providers operating out of Eastern Europe that they too are vulnerable.

Even as it remains quiet, CyberCom's role is hotly debated: is it to undertake strategic attacks during war, or to constantly joust online with adversaries' military and intelligence hackers, or to go after non-military hackers like Darkside, normally the purview of law enforcement?

- Malware strike on Iran -

The Art of War in the Age of Peace

by Michael O'Hanlon 

As President Joe Biden and his team settle into their new jobs, how should they view the national security challenges facing the United States at his juncture in history? And what should U.S. national security policy seek to achieve? Four months into the new administration, it is no longer enough to be the antidote to Donald Trump’s unilateralism; a more forward-looking and visionary foreign policy framework is needed.

As for the state of the world, for some, the headlines say it all. There’s an aggressive China, a vengeful Russia, a nuclear-minded North Korea, a hostile Iran, and a disintegrating Afghanistan. All of these foreign policy problems are superimposed on top of warming climates, rising oceans and spreading pandemics. This troubling state of affairs would suggest that Biden must be hypervigilant against more threats than the nation has perhaps ever confronted at once.

In fact, while these threats are all real, and while the coronavirus will cause misery for at least another one to two years on much of the planet, there is a much happier narrative as well. The world has never been more prosperous, democratic, or—for most of us at least—safe and secure. However oxymoronic, these competing realities need to be understood correctly if U.S. foreign policy is to be rightsized for the dangers the country faces. There is clearly no basis for complacency, retrenchment, or a lowering of America’s guard (although it seems the Biden team has already made a big mistake in deciding to withdraw from Afghanistan in the hope that the dangers there will easily be contained without a small American or NATO presence). Yet at the same time, America need not overreact to each and every provocation, by China or Russia in particular. The world order is fraying a bit around the edges, but its central core remains strong. Getting this diagnosis roughly right is important if the United States is to avoid the twin but opposing dangers of overreacting and underreacting to various possible and perceived threats.

The U.S. Can Wage War By Remote Control But It Can't Win Them

by James Holmes

Here's What You Need to Remember: Remote war is remote in more than the technical sense that operators may hit hostile forces with unmanned aircraft, cyberattacks, and other means that don’t expose them to personal risk. It’s remote in the political sense. Precisely because U.S. military folk are exempt from harm, war can rage on faraway battlefields while arousing little public sentiment—or even interest—back home.

Over at MIT Technology Review, U.S. Marine Corps infantry veteran and Jarhead author Anthony Swofford declares that that warmaking by remote control constitutes a bad way to make war.


War is a deeply human undertaking. Trying to take human beings out of it is fraught with unintended consequences. I had a similar inkling about the future after Desert Storm, where Swofford and I both deployed. In March 1991, to herald the armistice, a Navy Times headline blared out that the “ghost of Vietnam” had faded in the desert as U.S. expeditionary forces displayed “unrivaled military might.” That was a bold claim. It was also a plaintive way to announce a victory. Why situate a freshly won triumph in the context of a past defeat?

Because military folk still fretted constantly about losing in Southeast Asia. The ghosts of Vietnam, better known as the “Vietnam Syndrome,” had haunted the U.S. armed forces since the downfall and destruction of South Vietnam almost sixteen years before. President Richard Nixon, who presided over the denouement in Indochina, reputedly coined the phrase to describe a malaise afflicting the American armed forces, government, and society.

Could U.S. Military Lasers Soon Disable Enemy Missiles?

by Sebastien Roblin

After decades of being confined to experimental prototypes and Star Wars movies, laser weapons today are on the verge of entering wide-scale service, whether in the hands of infantry, mounted on trucks, armored vehicles, warships and even Air Force fighters.

Lasers focus beams of light to produce intense heat. They have virtually inexhaustible “ammunition” and are very cheap per shot compared to a missile or even a cannon shell. They are also extremely quick and precise, though they tend to lose coherence over distance. The more powerful the laser, the further it can go and the quicker it burns through its target—but the larger its power supply and cooling system have to be.

The Army hopes that ground-based lasers will provide an effective and cost-efficient means to defend against two major new threats which threaten to overwhelm existing air defenses: drones and surface-skimming cruise missiles. Both are proliferating rapidly around the globe, and both were employed in a recent attack that knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s daily oil production—despite the facilities being covered by both short- and long-range air defense systems.

Lasers are particularly effective as short-range air defense systems against Unmanned Aerial Vehicles because most of them are fairly slow. That gives a laser ample time to burn through the drone’s skin and damage critical bits of the airframe. Anti-drone lasers have been extensively tested (see a video here), and were recently reportedly used in combat for the first time when a Turkish laser used by a faction in Syria shot down an enemy drone.

The Real Significance of the Biden-Putin Summit in Geneva

by Mark Episkopos

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16. The White House confirmed details of the Geneva summit, which will mark the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Biden took office, on Tuesday. “The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. National security advisor Jake Sullivan traveled to Geneva to meet with his counterpart Nikolay Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Security Council, in what a White House press statement described as an “important step in the preparation for a planned U.S.-Russia summit.” The statement added that the two sides “agreed that a normalization of U.S.-Russian relations would be in the interest of both countries and contribute to global predictability and stability.”

Biden proposed a possible summit to Putin in a phone call last month. Moscow did not formally accept the proposal until earlier this week. "They mean to discuss the current condition of Russian-US relations and the outlook for their development, strategic stability, and crucial issues on the international agenda, such as interaction in the struggle against the coronavirus pandemic and the settlement of regional conflicts," said the Kremlin’s press service. Several other locations — including Vienna and Helsinki, as well as more unorthodox choices like Baku and Ljubljana — were reportedly considered as possible venues for the Biden-Putin summit. The full extent of the discussion has not been revealed, though the talks will reportedly cover nuclear arms control issues. It is not yet clear if the emerging wave of tensions over Belarus will make its way onto the agenda.

Pentagon Studying How Counterterrorism Fits Into Great Power Competition


The Pentagon is looking at how counterterrorism capabilities honed over the past two decades fighting insurgents can contribute to future competition with Russia and China, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.

The Defense Department has called China its pacing threat, and the Biden administration has focused much of its attention on the Indopacific, including two state visits with Asian allies. At the same time, the White House announced the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan this year, marking a dramatic shift in the military’s counterterrorism mission that will force troops to track and stop insurgent plots that threaten the homeland from a distance.

But the people and platforms that spent the past two decades fighting terrorists must also contribute to great power competition if the Pentagon wants to successfully do both missions at the same time, said Milancy Harris, the deputy assistant defense secretary for special operations and combatting terrorism.

“I’d really like to...by the end of this year have a solid understanding of how we’re going to kind of fit the puzzle pieces of CT and great power competition together…[including] where we can credibly say, ‘We’re doing this CT thing, but it also helps with these great power objectives,’” she said at an event hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Biden Is Continuing the Trump Administration’s Revised Stance on Tibet

By Kelsang Dolma

History is proverbially written by the victors. When it comes to the United States’ position on Tibet, that is often true. Washington was willing to accept Beijing’s language about a conquered country to keep relations smoothed over. Yet the Biden administration has unexpectedly continued firm relationships with Tibetan leaders that were strengthened by the Trump administration, a move that redefines Washington’s consensus on the Tibet-China conflict.

Many speculated U.S. President Joe Biden would be soft on China based on his past record as a senator. But just a few months into the Biden administration’s tenure, the U.S. State Department’s annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” omitted the “[Tibet] as a part of China” portion—a major departure from past reports. The State Department adopted the same measure in its annual “International Religious Freedom” report. And in an unprecedented feat, State Department spokesperson Ned Price congratulated Penpa Tsering, president-elect of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), in a tweet that stated, “We look forward to working with him and the CTA to support the global Tibetan diaspora.”

The most contentious aspect of the Tibet-China conflict relates to sovereignty: Is Tibet a part of China? For decades, the U.S. government had made a Faustian pact with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). By adopting China’s language on Tibet, the U.S. government had better access to the contentious yet powerful country. The State Department’s human rights report had routinely adopted language that affirmed the Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibetan autonomous prefectures, and counties in Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai, and Gansu as parts of China.

Biden’s Dangerous, Risk-Averse Inaction on North Korea

Van Jackson 

The Biden administration is using an outdated script to justify doing very little about North Korea. As a consequence, it’s blowing a unique opportunity to avoid a future crisis, stabilize the Korean Peninsula for the long term and rectify one of America’s longest-running foreign policy mistakes.

On April 30, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the White House had concluded its months-long policy review on North Korea. There was no official rollout or fanfare, no glossy document with a government logo—just a brief verbal statement to reporters aboard Air Force One. In this case, the low-key reveal was fitting, not just because the urgency of the North Korean nuclear issue pales in comparison to the others on Biden’s plate, but also because the policy review apparently had nothing insightful to offer. ...

Terrorism Monitor

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Abu Walaa’s Islamic State Network and Germany’s Counter-Terrorism Prosecutions

The Key to Future Readiness Is Big Data

Pam Braden & Mike Schwartz

In the quest for military readiness, are defense decision makers over-investing in “ready to fight tonight” forces at the cost of preparing for the conflicts to come? In two recent op-eds, General Charles Q. Brown, chief of staff of the Air Force, and General David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, make a compelling case for re-evaluating the current measurement of military readiness to better balance urgent near-term needs with equally important modernization efforts.

Failure to make the shift, they argue, could leave the U.S. military unprepared to deter and defeat future threats from near peer competitors like China and Russia. To assess strategic decisions under their new readiness framework, the Joint Chiefs call on the Pentagon to harness advances in big data and artificial intelligence to deliver rigorous, data-driven analytics about legacy platforms and future capabilities.

The analytic tools they envision are not futuristic and don’t have to be expensive. There are cost-effective analytic tools and techniques which are real, readily available, and already being deployed with great success on a smaller scale for this very purpose. We at Gryphon Technologies are experts in model-based systems engineering and associated analytics, which provide a clear picture of the immediate, ongoing, and future needs of existing systems. The rapid analysis is comprehensive, efficient, and cost-effective.

How the Military Might Expand Its Cyber Skills

by James Ryseff

As software has become an ever more integral part of life, national security experts have come to recognize that the U.S. military will need to improve its software fluency if it wants to remain dominant on the battlefields of the future. Already, one of the first priorities of the Biden administration has been to enhance its efforts to attract cyber, technology, and STEM knowledge into the national security workforce so it is prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. Yet merely attracting additional civilian technical experts may not be enough.

As history has demonstrated, military innovation during peacetime is most successful when senior military officers who have earned the respect of their peers recognize the potential for a major disruption in the way war is fought. In the past, these senior personnel have established new promotion pathways to cultivate younger officers more fluent in these new technologies, enabling them to fill roles critical to the evolution of novel weapon systems and military doctrines that depend upon the fresh advancements. Without this, innovators have struggled to be promoted over other officers who remain tied to the established way of doing things, and they have quickly left military service for alternative careers where their talents were better appreciated. If the U.S. military is to succeed at leveraging the full power of the cyber domain, it could strive to avoid this fate.

Analyzing a More Resilient National Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Capability

by Richard Mason, James Bonomo, Tim Conley, Ryan Consaul, David R. Frelinger, David A. Galvan, Dahlia Anne Goldfeld, Scott A. Grossman, Brian A. Jackson, Michael Kennedy, et al.

Research Questions

What are the technology-neutral requirements to back up and complement the positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) capabilities of the Global Positioning System (GPS) for homeland security and critical infrastructure?

What are non-GPS sources for the PNT ecosystem?

Of these sources, what PNT capabilities are already implemented?

What are the threats to the functioning of the GPS satellite system and to other PNT parts of the national PNT ecosystem, both existing capabilities and potential backups or additions?

How do the costs of potential additions compare to the threats they would mitigate?

RAND's Scalable Warning and Resilience Model (SWARM)

by Bilyana Lilly, Adam S. Moore, Quentin E. Hodgson, Daniel Weishoff

Research Questions
How can organizations proactively protect themselves against cyber threats?
What are the current frameworks in use to protect organizations against cyber threats?
How can SWARM improve on previously existing frameworks to proactively defend against cyber threats?

How is SWARM applied in practice?

In the first two decades of the 21st century, the coevolutionary adaptation of cyber threat actors and technology has been akin to an escalatory arms race between cyber offense and cyber defense. Paradigm-shifting technology advancement, transparent unclassified reporting on cyber incidents, and the proliferation of open-source hacking tools in the context of complex geopolitical dynamics further exacerbate the cyber defense challenge. Although the integration of such practices as cyber threat modeling, information-sharing, and threat-hunting into defensive strategies has become more common in recent years, the cyber defense community needs to continue to push the envelope to become more resilient and, ideally, get ahead of the threats facing organizations.

Air Force held first information warfare test exercises

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force conducted its first information warfare-focused exercises to test the concept at a new range in the New Mexico desert.

To date, Air Combat Command led 10 “proof of concept” exercises, Jeffrey Phillips, commander of the 67th Cyberspace Wing, said May 18 during an AFCEA Alamo Chapter online event.

These information warfare flags followed the theme of “convergence,” a key concept championed by Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, commander of 16th Air Force, the service’s first information warfare numbered force that integrates global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber, electronic warfare, and information operations under a single commander.

Since its minting in the fall of 2019, the organization has had to chart how to consolidate and operationalize all the capabilities to provide Air Force and joint commanders integrated information warfare packages.

“How do we organize ourselves around problems that also [don’t] constrain us by the geography? Because in many cases, that information that’s available to us will not necessarily be collocated with the adversary we’re targeting,” Haugh said last year regarding the imperative and importance of convergence. “It’s taking advantage of our global access, our global access to the data and unique authorities, whether that’s intelligence authorities or the role that we play as a cyber component or the capabilities that we now stood up from an information warfare and an [information operations] perspective. How those come together and integrate are the outcomes that we are producing and will produce with our partners.”

Responsible Space Behavior for the New Space Era

by Bruce McClintock, Katie Feistel, Douglas C. Ligor, Kathryn O'Connor

Humans have explored and exploited near-earth space for more than six decades. More recently, the past two decades have seen the start of a New Space Era, characterized by more spacefaring nations and companies and a growing risk of collisions and conflict. Yet the basic treaties and mechanisms that were crafted 50 years ago to govern space activities have only marginally changed.

The calls for more progress on space governance and responsible space behavior are growing louder and coming from a larger group. To help address the gap between current space governance and future needs, the authors of this Perspective summarize the development of space governance and key problem areas, identify challenges and barriers to further progress, and, most importantly, offer recommended first steps on a trajectory toward responsible space behavior norms appropriate for the New Space Era. The authors used a review of relevant literature and official documents, expert workshops, and subject-matter expert interviews and discussions to identify these challenges, barriers, and potential solutions.

What Do We Know About China’s Newest Missiles?


As “great power competition” becomes the lingua franca of American strategy, U.S. policymakers and analysts must build a greater familiarity with the Chinese strategic systems that increasingly worry combatant commanders and which would play an essential role in any Indo-Pacific crisis.

The situation is analogous to the Cold War, when knowledge of Soviet ICBMs was not limited to Sovietologists. Yet unlike in the last century, an extensive amount of information about these systems lies in the open to be analyzed. Instead of awaiting Moscow May Day parades, we can glean a great deal about the systems and their deployments through everything from official announcements to social-media tracking to unit commanders’ bios.

Since 2017, the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, the service responsible for China’s conventional and nuclear missiles, has added 10 brigades — more than a one-third increase — and deployed an array of formidable new weapons. These new systems include the intermediate-range DF-26 ballistic missile, DF-31AG and DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles, CJ-100 cruise missile, and DF-17 hypersonic glide vehicle. A new nuclear-armed DF-21 variant, speculatively referred to as the DF-21E, may have also been deployed but has not yet been officially unveiled.