3 July 2021

The PLA’s Developing Cyber Warfare Capabilities and India's Options

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it clear that his objective for China is to emerge as a ‘cyber superpower’. China wants to be the world’s largest nation in cyberspace and also one of the most powerful. The information technology revolution has produced both momentous opportunities and likely vulnerabilities for china. China is home of largest number of ‘netizens’ in the world. It also hosts some of the world’s most vibrant and successful technology companies. It also remains a major victim of cyber crime. 

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) believes that with the rise of the Information Age future wars will be contests in the ability to exploit information. Wars will be decided by the side who is more capable to generate, gather, transmit, analyse and exploit information.

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, China and the Quad’s defining test

Arzan Tarapore

The Quad is stronger than ever. The informal ‘minilateral’ grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the United States has in the past year held its first stand-alone ministerial meeting and its first leaders’ summit, and launched an ambitious project to deliver Covid-19 vaccines. This ‘golden age’ of the Quad is a product of newfound Indian enthusiasm for the grouping, in turn spurred by the military crisis in Ladakh, where India faces ongoing Chinese troop incursions across the two countries’ disputed border.

But the Quad is not bulletproof. Some experts have suggested that the economic and diplomatic effects of the devastating second wave of the pandemic in India will preoccupy the Indian government, sapping the Quad of capacity for any new initiatives. Others counter that India remains committed to competition with China—which is what really matters for the Quad—although its partners always expected ‘two steps forward, one step back’ from India.

The pandemic may well prove to be a hiccup in the Quad’s evolution; but a potentially much larger disruption may come from the ongoing Ladakh crisis itself. As I argue in a new ASPI Strategic Insights paper, the crisis has greatly increased the risk of a border war between India and China, which would present a defining test of the Quad. A possible war could either strengthen or enervate the Quad—depending on how India and its partners, including Australia, act now to shape the strategic environment.

From surveillance to combat: Decoding India's drone mission

Abhishek Bhalla 

Aswarm of drones covered the parade ground during the Army Day parade on January 15 this year as the Indian Army put up a unique display of its recently acquired indigenous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The Indian Army showed its new unmanned warfare tactics for the first time with the use of such drones.

Referred to as 'swarm drones', the tactic of unleashing a number of UAVs at the same time can wreak havoc, since jammers and radars fail to detect multiple drones and see the 'swarm' as just one big object. Decoded | Use of drones for terrorism

With a range of 50 km, these armed drones can make deep inroads behind enemy lines and are capable of hitting targets from a distance of 500 metres. The UAV has a mother drone that has an attached child drone meant to fire and self-destruct after hitting the target.

U.S. Questioned Whether Afghan Government Could Survive Taliban Onslaught

Jack Detsch,  and Robbie Gramer

The Biden administration is mapping out a strategy for Afghanistan after the U.S. military completes its withdrawal that is centered around the boosting of economic support for the government, even as many Afghans are “increasingly skeptical” of the government’s competence, according to an internal State Department document submitted to Congress and newly obtained by Foreign Policy.

The assessment offers one of the most detailed accounts yet of how the Biden administration is thinking through U.S. engagement with Afghanistan after it winds down 20 years of war and nation-building that cost American taxpayers some $2 trillion. It also provides a more sober, behind-the-scenes assessment of how the Biden administration views Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his ability to tackle corruption and manage the economy after the United States departs.

Inside the U.S. administration, officials are privately voicing concern that the fragile government lacks the basic ability to govern, even as a surge in Taliban offensives threatens to topple the government or plunge the country deeper into civil war.

China sets hopes on blockchain to close cyber security gaps

Kai von Carnap

With an already large and growing digital economy and increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT), China is in dire need of strong data security standards, data privacy protection and an efficient digital infrastructure. Kai von Carnap looks at how China is deploying blockchain technology to meet these challenges and analyzes both its rate of success and the implications China’s approach has for other parts of the world, including Europe. His analysis is accompanied by a slidedeck that provides context for and deeper insights on China’s attempts to develop and control this strategic technology.

Every three months China’s population with access to the Internet increases by the size of a medium-sized EU country. By February 2021, it had already reached a staggering one billion people. At the same time, its cyber security issues are growing too. In January 2020, for example, 200 million phone numbers were lost by China Telecom (中国电信), one of China’s three telecom SOEs. A month later, 538 million leaked accounts on Weibo, a microblogging platform often compared to Twitter, were found on the dark web - a worrying number, given that only 500 million users are active on the platform every month. Reporting on these security breaches and on a 4.4-fold increase in malware-hosting websites, CCID, a Chinese ministry-led think tank that specializes in the development of information industries, said recently that it was “not optimistic” about the state of China’s overall cybersecurity.

Chinese FDI in Europe: 2020 Update

Agatha Kratz, Max J. Zenglein, Gregor Sebastian
Source Link

Executive summary
China’s global outbound investment hit a 13-year low in 2020: Concerns that the Covid-19 global pandemic slump might trigger another round of Chinese distressed asset-buying proved unfounded. Instead, China’s global outbound M&A activity dropped to a 13-year low, as completed merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions totaled just EUR 25 billion, down 45 percent from 2019.

China’s FDI in Europe continued to fall, to a 10-year low: Shrinking M&A activity meant the EU-27 and the United Kingdom saw a 45 percent decline in completed Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) last year, down to EUR 6.5 billion from EUR 11.7 billion in 2019, taking investment in Europe to a 10-year low. However, greenfield Chinese investment reached its highest level since 2016 at nearly EUR 1.3 billion.

The “Big-3” reclaimed their top spot, Poland emerged as a key recipient: More than half of total Chinese investment in Europe went to the “Big Three” economies – Germany, the UK and France. However, the UK saw Chinese investment plummet by 77 percent. Poland rose to become the second most popular destination, though inflows of EUR 815 million were largely concentrated on one acquisition.

China-Russia: A Strategic Partnership Short on Strategy

Nicholas Trickett

The recent bilateral summit between presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin has launched a geopolitical summit craze. On June 24, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron launched a spectacularly ill-conceived effort to secure an EU-Russia summit that immediately fell apart. The next day, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a video conference between Putin and Xi Jinping scheduled for June 28. The question was what, exactly, they intended to talk about and whether there are any significant bilateral initiatives to announce or else be discerned in motion.

The video conference made for decent theater. The two leaders marked the upcoming 20th anniversary of the bilateral signing of their nations’ 2001 Treaty of Friendship and ran through the traditional laundry list of thematic priorities: the extension of said treaty, reaffirmation of the value of the strategic partnership, boilerplate statements about the Belt and Road Initiative and Russia’s Greater Eurasia Partnership, and the same about the Northern Sea Route. Nowhere, however, was there any public statement of a significant new policy development regarding a wide range of areas of mutual interest.

China, Russia and the Strategy of Indirection

George Friedman

Europe was the primary battleground of the Cold War. NATO adopted a defensive strategy because it saw no value in conquering Eastern Europe and Western Russia. The Soviets, however, had an interest in securing the European peninsula to secure its western frontier and to take advantage of Western European technology and naval capabilities. Moscow could never launch an attack though. Its western satellites were unpredictable. The long logistical line needed to support an armored offensive was both uncertain and vulnerable to air attack. In addition, the Soviets did not know what exactly would trigger an American nuclear response. Risking a nuclear exchange was not worth any possible advantage that could be gained from a full-scale offensive. So for over 40 years, there was a stalemate in Europe.

The Soviets incurred costs that could not be sustained as they limited economic development. Nor could they modify their military posture without significant political consequences at home or in Eastern Europe. Thus they moved to supplement their position in Europe with a strategy of indirection. The core of this strategy was to create low-cost threats to American power that the United States had to respond to and that forced the U.S. to disperse forces and invite political blowback.

The Plot Against China?

Wang Jisi

The United States and China are embroiled in a contest that might prove more enduring, more wide-ranging, and more intense than any other international competition in modern history, including the Cold War. In both countries, fears have grown that the contest might escalate into open conflict. In the past decade, the consensus in Washington has shifted decisively in favor of a more confrontational posture toward Beijing, a process that reached its peak during the Trump administration, which expressed open hostility to China and vilified the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The recent change in U.S. administration has produced a different tone, but not a dramatic shift in substance: the Biden administration’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, released in March, asserts that China “is the only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system.” Many in Washington argue that this tougher new consensus on China has emerged in response to more assertive, even aggressive moves on Beijing’s part: in their view, China has forced the United States to take a firmer stance.

To Really Compete With China, Invest in America’s Human Capital

Howard W. French

In July 1971, one month after the publication of the Pentagon Papers and a year before the Watergate break-in that would eventually cause his downfall, Richard Nixon gave one of the most interesting, and in retrospect, important, speeches of his political career.

Still relatively unblemished by scandal, Nixon was cruising toward what would become a gigantic reelection win. He had his eyes fixed firmly on the future and on his long-standing penchant, if not obsession, with international affairs. ...

Iran and U.S. Strategy: Looking beyond the JCPOA

Anthony H. Cordesman

The Burke Chair at CSIS has released a new analysis on U.S. strategy with Iran, which shows that the U.S. must consider a range of critical issues that will not be solved by simply renewing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This assessment provides figures on Iran’s current conventional strike capabilities, Iran’s older unguided delivery systems, a comparison between Iran’s aging Air Force and the Arab gulf countries’ air modernization, as well an annex containing the World Bank’s economic assessment of Iran.

It highlights the critical limits to the present structure of the debate over the JCPOA and Iran’s nuclear program. It also shows that Iran’s increasing ability to use its proxies and engage the U.S. in gray area warfare means that the United States must reshape its strategy to comprehensively engage Iran beyond the JCPOA.

The Biden Administration’s present focus on Iran as one of the main threats to U.S. national security is currently driven by its efforts to return to the JCPOA with Iran and to make it a fully functioning agreement.

The Palestinians Will Not—and Cannot—Be Ignored

Rashid Khalidi

The intense violence in Israel and Palestine in May resembled similar episodes in recent decades. But it also had several distinct features, chief among them the newfound unity of Palestinians everywhere. Palestinians rose up together in the face of the divisions that Israel has imposed on them and those created by the shortsighted partisanship of their leaders. They mounted demonstrations throughout the country in response to Israel’s heavy-handed repression in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and the al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and its bombardments of Gaza that killed over 250 people. Israel tried to squash these protests, leading to eruptions of mob violence mainly directed against Palestinians in cities inside Israel such as Acre, Haifa, and Jaffa. Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinian protesters in the West Bank. Then on May 18, Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, inside Israel, and in diaspora communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and elsewhere mounted a general strike, the first to encompass all of historic Palestine since the six-month general strike of 1936.

Biden Needs an International Organizations Strategy

Richard Goldberg

When U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. intelligence community to dig deeper into the possibility that COVID-19 might have spread from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, he underscored a basic truth: Multilateral agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) are frequently blocked or manipulated by authoritarian regimes and increasingly incapable of protecting either U.S. or global interests. The Biden administration and U.S. Congress face a fundamental question: What is the United States’ strategy to counter the systematic exploitation of international organizations by hostile countries while defending U.S. sovereignty, national security, allies, and democratic values?

Every year, Congress appropriates billions of dollars to the United Nations and related bodies, yet neither Congress nor the executive branch exercise sufficient oversight. This funding is also devoid of a comprehensive strategy to advance U.S. interests and counter manipulation by China, Russia, and other adversaries. It’s not a partisan issue: Republican and Democratic administrations have proven equally shortsighted.

China’s and Russia’s disruptive efforts are most visible in the U.N. Security Council, where both have used their permanent member veto power to block, for example, attempts to provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people or hold the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad accountable for using chemical weapons. However, the actions of U.S. adversaries inside organizations under the U.N. umbrella pose an even bigger challenge.

White House Plans to Attribute the Microsoft Exchange Hack Soon

Mariam Baksh

The White House will soon officially assign responsibility for an extensive attack on Microsoft Exchange servers and decide on next steps, according to a top cybersecurity official.

“I think you saw the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan say that we will attribute that activity,” Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger said Tuesday. More on the decision and follow-on action will be announced “in the coming weeks.”

Neuberger was speaking with Dmitri Alperovitch, executive chairman of Silverado Policy Accelerator and co-founder and former chief technology officer of the security firm CrowdStrike.

After noting President Joe Biden’s actions against Russia in response to the SolarWinds hack, Alperovich asked what was being done to address the Microsoft Exchange hackers. Microsoft already attributed the attack on its servers to a group it called HAFNIUM and described as Chinese state-sponsored actors.


Roderick Kefferpütz, Claire Luzia Leifert

Over the past two years, we have conducted five workshops with German think tankers, think tank funders, and policy-makers, led interviews and followed the debate on the future of think tanks to understand the state of the German think tank system. In this blog series, we want to share with you what we learned, what needs change, and how we want to contribute to that change with a new initiative – the Think Tank Lab.
External Challenges

The think tank landscape in Germany is a peculiar one. The first policy research institutes as we know them today were founded after World War II. Public mistrust in political elites in that period meant German think tanks had a different starting position to their older sister institutes in the UK and the US. Moreover, they existed alongside many German political foundations, founded to guarantee pluralistic political debate and civic education in the young democracy, and almost entirely financed by tax money. Even today, these are some of the biggest players in forming public opinion and policy advice in Germany. Meanwhile, there are now several other external factors that challenge the role German think tanks play.

Russia and China Could Team Up to Challenge US Space Superiority, Experts Say

Abraham Mahshie

Sanctions are crushing Russia’s efforts to counter American space superiority, but analysts have a rising concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin may link up with China’s wealth to develop the weapons that could stop American war fighters in their tracks.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond has warned that America’s adversaries are already operating as if space was a war fighting domain, exhibiting ground and space-based weapons capabilities that can target vulnerable American satellites. House Armed Services Committee chairman Adam Smith admitted to Air Force Magazine on June 29 that satellite survivability and redundancy were his priorities for fending off adversaries, but a closer look at the budget was necessary.

“I don’t think ‘catch-up,’ is the right word,” Smith said when asked about American space weapons compared to adversaries in a Defense Writers Group discussion. “We’re not behind in this area.”



China’s long-term success will depend primarily on addressing its internal challenges

In 2012 the Chinese government set a long-term goal: build China into a fully developed and prosperous country by 2049, 100 years after the founding of the People’s Republic. Given its success since the beginning of economic reform in 1978, this kind of transformation is certainly possible. But it is difficult and not guaranteed.

China faces serious domestic challenges such as an aging population, a rural-urban divide, an underdeveloped financial system, insufficient innovation, and reliance on carbon-based energy sources. Furthermore, China’s external economic relations have become contentious with a number of major partners, resulting in growing trade and investment barriers in both directions. Our book, China 2049, examines the policies that can help the country achieve this ambitious goal.

An older population

A Better Boom

James Manyika and Michael Spence

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, much of the global economy came to a grinding halt. In the United States, industrial production and retail sales plunged to historic lows. In the eurozone, employment contracted at the fastest rate ever recorded. And around the world, many economies went into a sudden and deep recession.

The pandemic did more than temporarily paralyze the global economy, however. It spurred businesses in practically every sector to radically rethink their operations, often accelerating plans for technological and organizational innovation that were already in the works. Overwhelmingly, firms adopted new digital technologies that enabled them to continue doing business even under severe coronavirus restrictions. The result was a profound economic transformation, one that has hastened the potential for productivity gains even in sectors that have historically been slow to change. In health care, for example, telemedicine had long promised new efficiencies and added value, but it was not until the COVID-19 crisis that it took off. In retail, with the exception of e-commerce players, firms had been slow to adopt digital sales strategies, doing so mostly as a way to complement Main Street retailing. That changed rapidly with the pandemic.

After the End of the ‘Pink Tide,’ What’s Next for South America?

It may not be a return of the “Pink Tide” of leftist governments that swept into power across South America in the early 2000s—and were largely swept out again amid a conservative backlash in the mid-2010s. But the region’s left has been showing signs of revival.

In Argentina’s October 2019 presidential election, the moderate-left Peronist candidate, Alberto Fernandez, ousted the market-friendly incumbent, Mauricio Macri, whose austerity measures and heavy borrowing triggered an economic crisis that cost him the presidency. Also in 2019, violent protests erupted in Colombia in September against mounting police brutality under law-and-order President Ivan Duque. And both Ecuador and Chile saw massive demonstrations that forced Ecuador’s government to backtrack on austerity measures and challenged Chile’s longstanding neoliberal economic model. More recently, in October 2020, Bolivia returned the Movement Toward Socialism to power in the first presidential election since Evo Morales was ousted.

Reengaging the Northern Triangle

Allison Fedirka

In recent years, there’s been a periodic and predictable exchange between the United States and the Northern Triangle countries – Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. A group of immigrants heads north to the U.S. to escape poverty and insecurity, whereupon U.S. policymakers argue either that the immigrants should be stopped in their tracks or that conditions should be improved in their home countries so that they don’t need to migrate in the first place. This rote episode inevitably falls into the background of international affairs, only to resurface a few months later when another “caravan” forms. Occasionally, some security assistance or added consular support would be introduced, but nothing really happens that alters the relationship between the U.S. and the Northern Triangle or that upsets the regional balance of power.

But the status quo is beginning to change, however slowly. Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala certainly continue to call for greater cooperation and funding from Washington, but they are also entertaining overtures from China, a tactic Washington will be unable to ignore.

The Geopolitics of Empathy

Stephen M. Walt

States compete and contend for many reasons, and sometimes those reasons are abundantly clear to the protagonists. But in other cases, the root causes of the disagreement are not well understood, and the level of animosity is greater than it should be. In this latter case, states know they disagree, but they are either confused or mistaken about the underlying source(s) of the problem. In these circumstances, remedying the problem will be much more difficult, and escalatory spirals are more likely.

For this reason, one of the lessons I try hardest to impart in my courses is the importance of empathy: the ability to see problems from another person’s (or country’s) perspective. To do this does not require agreeing with their view; it is about grasping how others see a situation and understanding why they are acting as they are. The reason to do this is eminently practical: It’s harder to persuade a rival to alter its behavior if you don’t understand its origins.

I was reminded of this problem when I read several obituaries for Lee Ross, a pioneering social psychologist who taught for many years at Stanford University. Ross is best known for his work on what he called the “fundamental attribution error,” which became a core concept in the field and had broad applications. In brief, fundamental attribution error is the human tendency to emphasize “dispositional” explanations of behavior over “situational” explanations. In other words, humans tend to see the behavior of others as reflections of the latter’s personality, character, desires, or basic dispositions rather than as response to the situations others are in. Yet we tend to see our own behavior as a response to the circumstances we are facing rather than as being solely a manifestation of “who we are.”

Notes from a CSIS Virtual Event: Cybersecurity in the Quantum Future

Jacqueline Lee

On June 15, CSIS hosted a panel discussion on the future of cybersecurity and quantum technologies with experts Lisa O’Connor, Director of Global Security Research and Development at Accenture Labs; Josyula R. Rao, CTO of Security Research at IBM; and Dustin Moody, a mathematician at NIST that leads their Post-Quantum Cryptography project. The panel was moderated by James A. Lewis, SVP and Director of the CSIS Strategic Technologies Program.

The conversation started out with an assessment on the current state of quantum computing and what organizations can do to prepare for what a quantum future may entail. While there is great excitement for the potential behind quantum computing, increased availability of quantum capabilities also introduces new risks. All agreed that we may be closer than we think to a future where quantum technology poses a significant threat to the nation’s digital infrastructure. O’Connor asserted that we are in a “borrowed time” space and should be preparing for quantum by thinking how to re-architect our infrastructure for crypto-agility. Rao echoed this sentiment, stating that “the threat is today.”

Moody explained how core to this problem is quantum computing’s ability to perform computationally expensive calculations at unprecedented speeds. This capability deployed at a large scale will threaten existing cryptographic techniques—leaving a range of applications from ATMs to emails vulnerable—unless we replace those algorithms with those that are “quantum-safe”.

Hackers Attacking Companies Through Employee Online Activities


Since the onset of the pandemic, the FBI has seen cyberattacks jump by at least 300%. As the office space entered the home, more workers became lax with their cyber precautions.

Twenty percent of U.S. companies reported a security breach tied to a remote worker, according to a report by Malwarebytes.

The May attack on the Colonial Pipeline is believed to have originated through the compromising of an employee password that allowed hackers to infiltrate company accounts. Last year's attack on SolarWinds was launched in part through hackers breaching an employee's email account.

This method continues to serve as a hacking model, with Nobelium, the Russian group responsible for the SolarWinds attack, targeting more than 150 other organizations using malicious email downloads.

Military drones are transforming war — we need a doctrine to use them right


The weekend news that the U.S. launched airstrikes on the Iraq-Syria border in response to recent drone attacks on U.S. troops underscores the fact that drones in various forms are transforming the battlefield and pose increasing challenges for countries that seek to incorporate them — and the necessary defenses against them — in a way that is not just piecemeal.

A menagerie of systems — from the “loyal wingman” program in Australia, where drones act as a potential Sherpa alongside a manned aircraft, to Iran’s influence on kamikaze drone technology in the Middle East — is changing the role of drones on the battlefield. Attempts to incorporate small tactical drones into ground forces illustrate the daunting challenges.

Though these challenges are not new, most militaries have yet to adopt a systematic drone doctrine that deploys unmanned systems throughout their services. Drones have been around for decades — Israel used them in the 1980s to find Syrian air defense, for example. In the U.S., the Pentagon acquired the Predator and Global Hawk unmanned systems that came to be a staple of counter-insurgency operations. A 2005 roadmap for American unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) noted that there were some 20 types of drones in use that had flown 100,000 hours during operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their range of missions was rapidly expanding, as was their diversity in size, from micro drones weighing less than a pound to the 32,000-pound Global Hawk.

Commercial Products and Services for the Warfighter

Stephanie Halcrow

A preference for commercial products and services would improve the Department of Defense's ability to put weapon systems in warfighter's hands faster, cheaper, and with more innovative technologies. Commercial buying procedures leverage a competitive marketplace to achieve the best price, avoid sole source situations, and minimize life cycle costs. Procuring a commercial product is the ultimate streamlined acquisition process – one that does not require any creative workarounds.

In May of this year, a group of 47 companies and industry groups in the commercial technology sector, many from Silicon Valley, sent a letter to the President urging the Office of Management and Budget to direct the federal government to prioritize buying commercial products and services over custom developed technology solutions. This group argued that government developed technology solutions are more expensive to build, have higher life cycle costs, are mired in bureaucracy, and often fail even to be fielded. Commercial solutions avoid these problems.

With all these advantages, one might be surprised to learn that the Department of Defense uses commercial buying procedures less now than 15 years ago. A study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2017 found the DoD’s use of commercial buying procedures declined from fiscal years 2007-2016. Changing this trend requires a renewed commitment from the Department to commercial buying procedures and a cultural change within the acquisition workforce.


Paul J. Kern, Walker Mills, Erik Limpaecher, Matt Santoli and Ben Flanagan

Energy is the lifeblood of our warfighting capabilities.— Retired General David Petraeus

It was 1969, during Capt. Kern’s second tour of Vietnam. His fuel logistics hassles were even worse than those he faced his first time in the country when he was a cavalry platoon leader. During that tour, his soldiers had resorted to hanging bags of fuel from trees so that gravity would refuel their M113 armored personnel carriers. If they were in a good spot, they could drive the vehicles into a ditch and rest the fuel bags on the ground. Now Kern was responsible for not just M113s, but an assortment of forty vehicles including M551 Sheridan armored reconnaissance assault vehicles, a borrowed M548 cargo carrier, occasionally an M48 Patton tank, and M118 trailers. Diesel “recipes” were not standardized at the time and varied based on the season and the region. It took a while for the logisticians to get the local mix right. But the real hassle was the M48 and its gasoline. The gas evaporated so quickly in the hot climate and the engines ran so inefficiently that the beast required refueling twice a day. When soldiers unknowingly supplied a bladder full of jet aviation fuel for the affected vehicles it all had to be pumped out after the fact. Little did Kern know that when he arrived at Ft. Stewart years later as a battalion commander, he’d be dealing with an even greater variety of local diesel recipes, gasoline, and jet fuels for his vehicles.

‘The Future Is About Information Dominance:’ Gen. Nakasone


WASHINGTON: Future competition and conflict will hinge on “information dominance” — a mission that will play out largely in cyberspace but that cannot be separated from conventional military operations, CYBERCOM chief Gen. Paul Nakasone said today.

“The future is about information — information dominance,” Nakasone said during the U.S Naval Institute and Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association annual WEST Conference. For context, Nakasone made the comment about the future after reflecting on key moments in the decade-long existence of CYBERCOM, an organization he has been involved with since the beginning and took leadership of in 2018. Nakasone also leads the NSA and the Central Security Service.

“Too often we think of cyberspace as distinct from the physical fight. That’s not always the case,” Nakasone said, adding that the virtual and the physical are increasingly intertwined. In this way, he said, “events in the virtual battlefield inform and reflect the physical battlefield.”

How to Stay Cool Without Air-Conditioning

IF YOU HAVEN'T noticed lately, the Earth is getting hotter and climate change is to blame, with a dash of the heat island effect—when urban spaces trap heat—also making it worse. This summer, the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada are roasting under the hottest temperatures recorded there ever, the US Southwest and Northeast are roiling again, and the West Coast is entering its Mad Maxian wildfire season that's making once-in-a-lifetime destruction a regular occurrence. This is the only planet we've got, at least until enough of us are living on Mars, so you may as well learn a few tricks on coping with the heat.

Air-conditioning is still a luxury for many people, and even in the US and Canada, it's not ubiquitous. Also, people trying to reduce their environmental footprint often choose to go without energy-sucking air conditioners, which raise city temperatures by pumping heat outdoors. Plus, the power could go out during an ill-timed heat wave. This guide has tips on how to stay cool when it's incredibly hot and air-conditioning is nowhere to be found.

New Radar Method Could Reveal Space Junk, Super Fast Missiles, Objects Behind Walls


A new take on radar could enable the military to better monitor space junk and track hypersonic missiles. It might also help soldiers to see enemies through urban walls or first responders locate people in collapsed buildings.

Conventional radar uses a transmitter to send a signal that bounces off of an object and then is picked up by one or more receivers. The time it takes the signal to hit the receiver reveals the distance between the object and the transmitter, thus, roughly, where it is and how fast it’s moving.

The new method, dubbed m-Widar, uses multiple transmitters and a single receiver. This setup allows much faster scanning and returns much more data, which is processed to produce an image within microseconds, far faster than conventional radars.

The method was developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, by Fabio da Silva, who is now the CEO of Wavesens, a company he founded after patenting the method. Da Silva said he was inspired by single-pixel cameras.