11 June 2021

Water Security as Part of Non-Traditional Security: Threat - Implications for India

 Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Like oil or data, water is an integral part of the world’s economy. Although about 71 per cent of the earth’s surface is water-covered, the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water which is salt water. Freshwater, most of it is frozen in glaciers, accounts for the rest. That leaves less than 1 per cent of the world’s water available to support human and ecological processes. We withdraw 4.3 trillion cubic meters of freshwater every year from the earth’s water basins. We use it in agriculture, which accounts for 70 per cent of the withdrawals. Industry and households consume 19 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively. However, these percentages fluctuate widely across the globe. In the United States, industrial and agricultural usage is almost the same around 40 per cent. In India, agriculture uses 90 per cent of water withdrawals, while only 2 per cent is consumed by industry. Over the past century, rate of withdrawal of available freshwater resources have risen almost six times, outpacing global population growth.

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.

US Could Close Kabul Embassy If Future Afghanistan Government Includes Taliban, Top General Says


The United States is planning to keep an embassy in Kabul after U.S. troops depart unless Afghanistan’s next government tells U.S. officials to leave, the head of U.S. Central Command conceded Monday.

U.S. and coalition forces and the international embassies supporting them are there at the invitation of the current Aghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani. But that welcome may disappear if a new governing structure emerges that includes the Taliban.

“We won’t be there unless we’re, you know, we are invited to be there,” Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters on a Dubai media phone interview Monday.

Australia closed its embassy last month, citing the inability to guarantee security for its diplomats after withdrawal. In April, U.S. Embassy-Kabul ordered all staff whose jobs do not require them to physically be in Afghanistan to depart..

Taliban demand ‘remorse’ from fearful Afghan interpreters

The Taliban said Monday that Afghans who worked with foreign forces in the past have nothing to fear once international troops leave, as long as they "show remorse".

Thousands of Afghans have received visas to live abroad after serving alongside US and NATO troops — particularly as interpreters — but hundreds more are scrambling to leave before US President Joe Biden’s September 11 withdrawal deadline.

In recent weeks many interpreters have demonstrated in Kabul, demanding foreign forces and embassies that they worked with help them relocate.

“They shall not be in any danger on our part,” the Taliban said in a statement.

“The Islamic Emirate would like to inform all the above people that they should show remorse for their past actions and must not engage in such activities in the future that amount to treason against Islam and the country.”

C.I.A. Scrambles for New Approach in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — The rapid U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan is creating intense pressure on the C.I.A. to find new ways to gather intelligence and carry out counterterrorism strikes in the country, but the agency has few good options.

The C.I.A., which has been at the heart of the 20-year American presence in Afghanistan, will soon lose bases in the country from where it has run combat missions and drone strikes while closely monitoring the Taliban and other groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The agency’s analysts are warning of the ever-growing risks of a Taliban takeover.

United States officials are in last-minute efforts to secure bases close to Afghanistan for future operations. But the complexity of the continuing conflict has led to thorny diplomatic negotiations as the military pushes to have all forces out by early to mid-July, well before President Biden’s deadline of Sept. 11, according to American officials and regional experts.

One focus has been Pakistan. The C.I.A. used a base there for years to launch drone strikes against militants in the country’s western mountains, but was kicked out of the facility in 2011, when U.S. relations with Pakistan unraveled.

Maldives Foreign Minister Elected as UN Assembly President

By Edith M. Lederer

Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives won election as the next president of the U.N. General Assembly on Monday. He pledged to push for equal access to coronavirus vaccines, a stronger and greener economic recovery, and stepped up efforts to tackle climate change.

Shahid defeated a former Afghan foreign minister, Zalmai Rassoul, in a 143-48 vote by secret ballot, with two of the assembly’s 193 member nations not voting. Diplomats from member nations, all wearing masks because of the pandemic, were called to the front of the assembly chamber one-by-one to deposit their ballot in a large wooden box.

Turkey’s Volkan Bozkir, the current assembly president, said Shahid brings to the job “extensive experience in multilateral diplomacy,” serving his Indian Ocean island nation twice as foreign minister and for 10 years before that as chief of staff to the president.

Shahid has been “a strong voice in calling attention to the impact on small island developing states” by the pandemic and by climate change, which threatens people’s lives and livelihoods, Bozkir said.

Indonesia Is Quietly Warming Up to China

By Derek Grossman

In late 2019 and early 2020, China and Indonesia were inching toward armed conflict. China’s coast guard and fishing militia were making continued incursions into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone in the Natuna Sea, a region of the Pacific Ocean located between Borneo and Sumatra and considered a traditional Chinese fishing region by Beijing. The intrusions into Indonesian waters prompted Jakarta to
dispatch warships and F-16 fighter jets, and to call for Indonesian fishing vessels to relocate to the area. In the end, China decided to pull back, though occasional incursions still occur.

Since that potentially explosive confrontation, Chinese-Indonesian relations have quietly and steadily healed. This could have profound geostrategic significance for the United States and its competition with China in the Indo-Pacific. Washington views Indonesia—the world’s fourth-most-populous nation, whose more than 17,000 islands straddle the Pacific and Indian Oceans—as an increasingly important economic and security partner willing to stand up to Beijing. China likewise seeks to enhance engagement with Indonesia to have a friend in regional disputes, secure access to Indonesian resources, and perhaps leverage Indonesia as a strategic bulwark against Australia. For its part, Indonesia, like most other Southeast Asian nations, has traditionally followed a policy of nonalignment to avoid angering either the United States or China while simultaneously accruing benefits from both. From the U.S. vantage point, improving China-Indonesia relations—even if they don’t fundamentally depart from nonalignment—would be very much unwelcome.

No, China will not invade Taiwan

Stephen J. Hartnett

Will China invade Taiwan? The question has recently leapt to the forefront of international debate, with observers pondering the imagined consequences: Would the U.S. come to Taiwan’s defense? Would Taiwan retaliate by bombing the mainland? Would the conflict draw regional players into the devastation? How quickly, and how far, would the fighting spread? Just how many people would die?

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in early March, Admiral Philip Davidson warned that China could invade Taiwan in the next six years. MoneyWeek followed the admiral’s provocation with an article in April asking, “Will China invade Taiwan?” By May, worries over China’s intentions led the Economist to dub Taiwan “the most dangerous place on Earth.”

Allow me to step in and put the matter to rest: No, China will not invade Taiwan.

And we have lift off: China’s space program advances

Evan Freidin

The first week of May brought significant media attention to the Chinese rocket Long March-5B Y2, launched on April 29, which fell back to Earth in an uncontrolled freefall. While it was feared that the 20-tonne rocket might affect a populated area, the rocket landed safely in the Indian Ocean. The rocket brought the first part of China’s future space station into orbit above the Earth and marked the first of four launches to bring the other parts into space for construction. The space station, Tiangong, has been designed to support the long-term stay of astronauts, conduct scientific experiments and “contribute to the peaceful development and utilisation of space resources.”

The launch marks a new era for China’s ambitions for outer space. China is slowly but surely becoming a major player in space, as the final frontier finds itself becoming another playing field for great power politics.


China's Military Expansion in the Pacific Is One Threat The Pentagon Won't Laugh Off

by Kris Osborn

Arecently released U.S. Maritime warfare strategy document specifies China as the only major threat to the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines, given the fast-expanding size, scope, and technological sophistication of its Navy. The strategy, called “Advantage at Sea: Prevailing With Integrated All Domain Naval Power,” specifies a number of particular concerns regarding Chinese maneuvers in the Pacific.

“China has implemented a strategy and revisionist approach that aims at the heart of the United States’ maritime power. It seeks to corrode international maritime governance, deny access to traditional logistical hubs, inhibit freedom of the seas, control use of key chokepoints, deter our engagement in regional disputes, and displace the United States as the preferred partner in countries around the world,” the strategy writes.

As part of its in-depth description of the maritime threats posed by China, the strategy raises the significant point that China has a particular mass or concentration of large Naval forces in the Pacific, one much larger than the U.S. presence in the region. While China is well known for its expansionist global ambitions in places like Africa and the Middle East, among others. Its forces do operate in large concentrated numbers in the Pacific, creating a disproportionate advantage in the region.

Nine lessons for Israel following Gaza operation

Micky Aharonson, Aiman Mansour

One of the first challenges for the new Israeli government will be the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip. As Hamas’ behavior is not expected to change much in the future, and following the lessons learned from the recent Operation Guardian of the Walls, in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different outcome Israel should draw up a to-do list that includes the following items.

Lesson #1 Negotiate, discreetly, with the preferred mediator as soon as possible. Regionally, there were two contending parties attempting to mediate the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. The Egyptians, who have been speaking to both sides in previous escalations, and the Qataris, who for years have supported Hamas openly, by providing it with funds — either with Israeli consent or covertly by facilitating money transfers.

Despite Egypt's resentment of Hamas as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the conflict in Gaza created a rare opportunity where both Egypt and Hamas have a common interest in ending the fighting, each for its own reasons. Egypt sees every armed conflict between Israel and Hamas as a potential trigger for internal unrest. This derives from the contentious peace agreement with Israel and from the possibility that the conflict could buttress the position of the Muslim Brotherhood, Cairo’s archenemy. But it does not mind Israel giving a bloody nose to Hamas.

US recovers most of ransom paid after Colonial Pipeline hack


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has recovered most of a multimillion-dollar ransom payment made to hackers after a cyberattack that caused the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline to halt its operations last month, officials said Monday.

The operation to seize cryptocurrency paid to the Russia-based hacker group is the first of its kind to be undertaken by a specialized ransomware task force created by the Biden administration Justice Department. It reflects a rare victory in the fight against ransomware as U.S. officials scramble to confront a rapidly accelerating threat targeting critical industries around the world.

“By going after the entire ecosystem that fuels ransomware and digital extortion attacks — including criminal proceeds in the form of digital currency — we will continue to use all of our resources to increase the cost and consequences of ransomware and other cyber-based attacks,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a news conference announcing the operation.

The Shifting Sino-American Trade Story

by Milton Ezrati

Trade issues with China have these days taken a back seat to more pressing geopolitical considerations. That is probably as it should be, but still, U.S.-China trade has taken a turn that deserves attention. It has become apparent that American business and industry have shifted decisively away from Chinese sourcing, in part because of China’s nationalist positioning during the pandemic but also because of more lasting and fundamental cost considerations. The data also show that China is buying more from U.S. producers than previously, no doubt in compliance with the trade deal hammered out in 2019 with the Trump White House and announced just before the onset of the pandemic. While it is unfashionable in the extreme these days to ascribe any success to the Trump administration, success on this front is what the data describe.

When Former President Donald Trump first imposed tariffs on Chinese imports, he seemed to be playing with fire. Commentators warned of the risks of a “trade war” and threats to the global trading system on which this country and most others depended for much of their prosperity. There was, to be sure, evidence that China needed trade with the United States more than the United States needed trade with China and so might bow to Washington’s demands. The administration even had support from the father of free trade, Adam Smith, who in his classic, The Wealth of Nations, found room in his thinking to support tariffs if they were used to pressure others to abandon restrictive trade practices, whether tariffs or other less obvious ways, such as those pursued by China. But even in light of such considerations, the behavior of the Trump White House seemed reckless.

Finally! A Cybersecurity Safety Review Board

By Steven M. Bellovin, Adam Shostack

One element of President Biden’s executive order on cybersecurity establishes a board to investigate major incidents involving government computers in somewhat the way that the National Transportation Safety Board investigates aviation disasters. The two of us, among many others, have been advocating for such a board for many years. The creation of the board is a good first step, possibly as much as can be done without legislative action. But we think that additional action is needed and will magnify the value the board offers.

Section 5 of the order establishes a Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB) in the Department of Homeland Security. The board “shall review and assess, with respect to significant cyber incidents […] affecting Federal Civilian Executive Branch Information Systems or non-Federal systems, threat activity, vulnerabilities, mitigation activities, and agency responses.” The board will include both government staff and private sector representatives and is charged with protecting information that it collects. The board will convene at the discretion of the president or the secretary of Homeland Security or whenever an entity known as the Cyber Unified Coordination Group is triggered. That group was created during the Obama administration and serves “as the primary method for coordinating between and among Federal agencies in response to a significant cyber incident.”

Cyber Diplomacy for Strategic Competition


Cyber diplomacy is the use of diplomatic tools to address issues arising in and through cyberspace. Those issues span a range of security, economic and human rights topics including international cybersecurity standards, internet access, privacy, internet freedom, intellectual property, cybercrime, state-sponsored cyber conflict and competition, the ethical use of digital technologies and trade.

Cyberspace now undergirds the prosperity, security and future of America and its allies in ways impossible to fathom only a few years ago. It is central to the ability to transport commodities and information, to generate and store wealth, and to coordinate and carry out functions essential to the order and operations of modern economies, societies and governments. This is why cyberspace—and the broader digital environment—has become a major arena for strategic competition.

For this reason, new thinking on cyber diplomacy is necessary. The diplomatic focus on cooperation among like-minded states to reduce the risk of conflict and to respond collectively after the fact is valuable; but it misses where the strategically consequential cyber action has been occurring for the past decade—in the competitive arena outside of armed conflict.

Is the Space Force about to acquire SpaceX Starships?


Eric Berger over at Ars Technica has noticed something in the Department of the Air Force section of President Biden’s fiscal 2022 budget proposal. The Air Force is proposing to spend money to study how the Starship rocket being developed by SpaceX could be used to deliver 100 tons of cargo anywhere in the world within one hour. The Starship as a point-to-point cargo hauler may be just the first task that the SpaceX rocket ship is asked to perform.

Certainly, the military would appreciate having the ability to send supplies to any place in the world within an hour. The practical problems of making the Starship work as a cargo hauler would be formidable. A single insurgent with a ground-to-air missile might turn a landing into a fireball.

The Motley Fool, a private investment advice company, is quite bullish on the military potential of the Starship. The company envisions the SpaceX rocket ship performing a variety of military missions from low Earth orbit to the vicinity of the moon. Starship could be used as a mobile, versatile reconnaissance platform, using its store of fuel and six vacuum-optimized Raptor engines to maneuver where it needs to go.

Despite Recent Growth, Turkey’s Economy Remains Fragile

By Stratfor Worldview

The economic growth Turkey’s seen this year is unlikely to be sustainable in the long term, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushes to cut interest rates in ways that further destabilize the country’s already fragile currency and financial situation. Erdogan has been clear in recent statements that he wants to begin easing Turkey’s high-interest rates despite ongoing high inflation in the country, which doesn’t bode well to begin an easing cycle. Currency, balance of payments and debt crises are not imminent, but capital flight and tighter financial market conditions will accelerate trends in that direction.

Erdogan is well known for his unorthodox monetary policy, which embraces easing at all costs to promote economic growth and, in his view, help tame high inflation.

This unorthodox approach has spurred numerous personnel shake-ups at the helm of Turkey’s central bank in recent years, prompting currency outflows by damaging confidence in the bank’s political independence.

A recent small dip in inflation will add fuel to Erdogan’s push to cut interest rates before the central bank is ready to embrace easing. May's inflation numbers show the first slowdown in seven months, halting the record rise for now but still leaving Turkey with some of the highest inflation rates in the world. Annual consumer price index (CPI) inflation went down to 16.6% last month from 17.1% in April. Despite remaining well above Turkey’s official inflation target of 5%, the recent dip — even if temporary — will fuel Erdogan’s calls for lower interest rates, making an interest rate cut more likely in the coming months. The governor of Turkey’s central bank, Sahap Kavcioglu, followed Erdogan’s latest calls for easing with the assertion that “expectations for an early easing of policy...need to disappear.”

Nigeria’s Twitter Ban Is Another Sign Dictatorship Is Back

By Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún

Nigeria has slipped back to dictatorship.

It was already clear when dozens of protesters were shot in October 2020 for demanding a change to the behavior of heavy-handed security agencies. But it has become even clearer. President Muhammadu Buhari, formerly the military dictator of the country from 1983-85, used threatening language on Twitter last week in response to agitations in the southeastern part of the country. The tweet in question, a threat to use “the language they will understand” against civilian protesters, was deleted shortly afterward by Twitter for violating its policies. Two days later, the government announced an indefinite ban on Twitter, because its actions in the country were “capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” As of today, millions of citizens can only access the social media platform through VPNs.

The real reason for the ban, of course, is to silence a citizenry that found, through social media, an unfettered speech and a way to hold the leadership accountable through screenshots, quote tweets, replies, satire, mockery, and humor. This has not gone down well with their political leaders who consider it an affront to the old ways of ruling, as Minister of Information Lai Mohammed accidentally implied during the week. “Books and all forms of writing have always been objects of terror to those who seek to suppress truth,” as Wole Soyinka once wrote.

Artificial Intelligence Act: What Is the European Approach for AI?

By Eve Gaumond

On April 21, the European Commission unveiled the first-ever legal framework on artificial intelligence (AI): the Artificial Intelligence Act. The extensive AI Act addresses the risks stemming from the various uses of AI systems and aims to promote innovation in the field of AI. Mark MacCarthy and Kenneth Propp have called the proposed regulation “a comprehensive and thoughtful start to the legislative process in Europe [that] might prove to be the basis for trans-Atlantic cooperation.” This post builds on MacCarthy and Propp’s discussion and closely examines the key elements of the proposal—the provisions most likely to shape the discussion regarding the regulation of AI on this side of the Atlantic.

Before diving deep into the legislation itself, it is important to recognize the significant amount of work that the European Union has done to come up with this text.

Responding to Gray Zone Conflict: Countering Russia in the Donbas and Beyond

By Barnett S. Koven

Gray Zone conflict offers revisionist states the opportunity to expand their territorial control and/or influence through approaches that are ambiguous in nature and that do not rise to the level of war. As a result, the risk of retaliation by the U.S.-led international community is substantially reduced. This is the case given the tendency of U.S. defense planning to view conflict as dichotomous – instead of continuous – either peace or war. While this thinking may be appropriate enough for planning conventional campaigns, it handicaps defense planners when responding to unconventional challenges, such as Gray Zone conflict. Given the difficulty of constructing appropriate responses and the absence of a clear casus belli necessitating an immediate response, it is tempting to ignore Gray Zone threats. However, doing so merely emboldens challengers who utilize these strategies. Consequently, this article leverages the Russian Federation’s intervention in the Donbas in order to explore potential responses. Nevertheless, the types of approaches advocated herein are likely to be more broadly applicable as the U.S. government continues to engage in great power competition with both Russia and China in numerous regions of the world.

This article proceeds in four sections. Given that various competing conceptions of Gray Zone conflict exist; the first section is devoted to defining Gray Zone conflict. The second section provides an overview of the crisis in the Donbas. In doing so, it also offers a brief history of the crisis in Crimea, given that this history is instructive for understanding the Donbas. The penultimate section is devoted to countering this threat. The final section concludes.

Vulnerabilities in Weapons Systems

“If you think any of these systems are going to work as expected in wartime, you’re fooling yourself.”

That was Bruce’s response at a conference hosted by US Transportation Command in 2017, after learning that their computerized logistical systems were mostly unclassified and on the Internet. That may be necessary to keep in touch with civilian companies like FedEx in peacetime or when fighting terrorists or insurgents. But in a new era facing off with China or Russia, it is dangerously complacent.

Any twenty-first century war will include cyber operations. Weapons and support systems will be successfully attacked. Rifles and pistols won’t work properly. Drones will be hijacked midair. Boats won’t sail, or will be misdirected. Hospitals won’t function. Equipment and supplies will arrive late or not at all.

Our military systems are vulnerable. We need to face that reality by halting the purchase of insecure weapons and support systems and by incorporating the realities of offensive cyberattacks into our military planning.

Ransomware attacks show we're getting clobbered on cybersecurity


Eastern Seaboard Americans actually sat in lines last month waiting to buy gas. For baby boomers and those older, it was a trip down memory lane to the late ’70s when gas shortages were purposefully engineered by oil-producing countries in the Middle East.

This time, the disruption in gas flow was caused by criminals armed with software, not rich men wearing keffiyehs. And now, last week, we learned that it might be tough to buy beef for a little while because crooks have extorted a major meat distributor with ransomware.

Suddenly, Americans are getting a taste of a specific threat the intelligence community and cybersecurity experts have warned about for years: cyber attacks, engineered overseas, can evolve to a point where they interfere with basic services we all depend on.

Make no mistake, we are at a worrisome, if not yet fully dangerous, inflection point.

He spent years at war in Afghanistan. Now he commands the U.S. withdrawal.

By Dan Lamothe

During his first two years in command in America’s longest war, Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller oversaw a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that came in waves under President Donald Trump. Now he was meeting with the new president for the first time, via video feed from the White House.

Miller and other senior military officers had urged Trump to leave a couple thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan to counter threats posed by terrorist groups, and they were recommending roughly the same to President Biden. While Biden and Trump disagreed on many issues, both had vowed to end U.S. involvement in a conflict that Pentagon officials said they could not win on the battlefield.

Biden and Miller would meet only that one time before the president announced in April that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from the country by September, U.S. officials said.

After 2,400 U.S. military deaths, more than $2 trillion spent and about a dozen generals under four presidents, Miller expects to be the last U.S. commander in the war. He won’t be able to rewrite history. But he’ll command the departure.


Thomas G. Pledger

Setting the Board
In the Pacific Ocean, a submarine mast quietly broke the surface of the warm water just before midnight. Its hatch cracked open, and its crew quickly went to work opening dry storage containers and inspecting their contents on the fore and aft decks. The submarine’s captain was thankful for the low winds, calm seas, and dark blanket provided by the new moon. Although off the coast by more than twelve miles, the submarine could not afford to be identified. Capt. Zhao hoped his fellow captains farther up the coast were laboring under equally favorable conditions.

Almost three hundred miles away, Capt. Matt Chandler had just gotten his children to sleep; they were fighting off colds, and bedtime had taken longer than anyone preferred. Being that Matt was a spouse in a dual-military marriage, the kids were his to care for this evening while his wife was flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from a small control building at Creech Air Force Base. Out of habit, he checked his phone, though knowing there would not be a text message from her. As a UAV pilot himself, he knew that her phone would be turned off and locked in a box at the entrance of the secure facility while she was flying. Matt sent text messages to his mom and his sister, both to check in with them and to confirm that the upcoming family gathering on Labor Day was still on.

Assessing U.S. Army Diversity Efforts in the Context of Great Power Competition

Summary: The heuristics (mental shortcuts that ease the cognitive load of making a decision) that people rely on matter. Relying on outdated heuristics can be problematic. While U.S. Army talent management efforts have been important in realizing increased diversity, the effort to create matching heuristics is lacking. The result will likely undermine the U.S. Army’s efforts at achieving diversity.

Text: On May 20, 2021, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz made comments about U.S. Army recruiting advertisements[1]. Twitter users responded to the senator’s tweet quickly and in a highly negative manner. Beyond these twitter responses, the situation Senator Cruz’s comments created highlights a larger implication of similar behaviors in the U.S. Army. The issue at hand is a reliance on flawed heuristics; approximations of knowledge that are useful in making immediate, though not necessarily the most efficient, decisions.

Despite Senator Cruz’s attempts to back away from his position about the efficacy of the U.S. Army compared to the Russian military[2], the heuristic that he used is clear: efficacy of a military is defined by its ability shape its members into a similar, unthinking mold; a vessel to contain violence, unleashed automatically in response to a command given by their masters. The senator’s tweet illustrates a belief that soldiers are identical cogs in the machine of an army; when a cog breaks, it is replaced, and the machine grinds on. This heuristic echoes the industrial revolution and does an adequate job of describing Queen Victoria’s army[3], but is not useful today.