10 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 Cyber-Influence Operations

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

… With its growing assertiveness in the international arena, China uses new technologies to achieve its foreign policy goals and project an image of responsible global power … spending billions on influence operations across the world ... fits in with China’s larger aim of expanding its soft power alongside its growing economic and military power … reach of Beijing’s overseas media is impressive and should not be underestimated. But the results are mixed ...

Decoding India’s Taliban Outreach

Aishwaria Sonavane

India’s “quiet” rendezvous with the Taliban in Doha was confirmed by a senior Qatar official, thereby marking a striking policy shift in New Delhi’s approach to Afghanistan. The development highlights the transition from a nonexistent relationship to the onset of a diplomatic engagement, underscoring New Delhi’s acknowledgment of the Taliban as a critical component of future Afghanistan. However, communication was predictably restricted to the “nationalist” factions of the Taliban and those outside the influence of Iranian and Pakistani deep states. In the past, while Indian intelligence agencies have purportedly maintained contact with various Taliban factions, the transition of intelligence-motivated association into a diplomatic outreach policy will necessitate governmental intervention.

New Delhi’s willingness to engage largely stems from the concern about a potential upswing in anti-India militant groups in Afghanistan, including the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), and al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), particularly with the Taliban’s increasing territorial dominance. The security threat is highly pertinent given the deep-rooted historic ties of the aforementioned militant outfits with the Afghan Taliban, as well as the association of certain factions with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). After all, the Taliban-supported 1999 Kandahar hijacking served as a watershed in India’s history of terrorism.

If the Taliban Wins the War, Can It Still Lose the Peace?

Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch

In early October 2001, then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a cable to his envoy in Pakistan, ordering her to get a message to the head of the Taliban through Pakistani middlemen: Stop harboring al Qaeda or else. The message, channeled through U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, came days before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, amid fears al Qaeda was planning more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil following Sept. 11.

“We will hold leaders of the Taliban personally responsible for any such actions. Every pillar of the Taliban regime will be destroyed,” the cable read.

Now, two decades later, the U.S. war in Afghanistan is coming to a close. And the Taliban, once threatened so bluntly by Washington with total annihilation, have never been stronger.

Taliban forces have taken control of an estimated 188 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts. They are close to seizing dozens of others. Some Afghan government forces have fled the country to escape Taliban advances, seeking refuge in neighboring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. And amid the retreat, the militant group is seizing containers full of weapons and military hardware left behind by Afghan forces, in scenes some experts compare to Iraqi forces’ retreat from the Islamic State in 2014 that precipitated the rise of the Islamic State caliphate.

Russia is bigger in Southeast Asia than you might think


In the long years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was the communist superpower with a global footprint – and that most certainly included Southeast Asia. The “domino effect” was feared by capitalist countries in the region, lest they fall, one-by-one, to the “red menace”, as Cambodia, Laos and then the whole of Vietnam did in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the USSR ploughed so many billions of dollars into supporting the three countries militarily and economically that it became a significant burden on its own finances.

And then the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. No more arms and money flowed from Moscow to these client states. Russia withdrew from Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, which had once been its biggest forward-deployment naval base outside home territory. The “Cuba of Southeast Asia”, as some US strategists called the country, was effectively abandoned.

Some in the three communist states were bitter that they had been cut off so precipitously. But as Professor Zachary Abuza of the National War College in Washington wrote in a recent essay for The Diplomat: “Russia had little to show for its investments in the region. Indochina was a black hole that Moscow shovelled roubles into, and its influence immediately dissipated.”

How To Lose A War Over Taiwan—Get Hacked, Panic

David Axe

When Ian Sullivan fights a war over Taiwan on the side of the Taiwanese and their allies, he loses big. But the severity of his defeat belies just how close the fighting is until the very end.

The decisive battle isn’t on the ground or the sea or in the air, according to Sullivan. It’s online. Chinese hackers delay American reinforcements just long enough for Beijing’s troops to flatten Taipei.

Sullivan’s war isn’t real, of course. It’s a simulation based on Next War: Taiwan, a tabletop war game from GMT Games.

But as a simulation, it’s a surprising one. Despite decades of intensive modernization, a bold—some might say “reckless”—brute-force strategy and a firepower advantage in key phases of the fighting, China loses many of the most important pitched battles.

China ultimately wins the war not because it dominates the battlefield, but because it manages to delay U.S. reinforcements—oh, and it’s willing to wreck Taipei, kill countless civilians and target Taiwanese politicians.

China’s Communist Party Turns 100: A Major Force in Global Governance, But Cracks Exist in the Xi Era

Joshua Kurlantzick

China’s Communist Party (CCP) celebrates its one hundredth anniversary in July, although the specific date of its founding remains a bit unclear. It has long outlived most of the world’s other communist parties, and has outlived numerous predictions by both foreign and some Chinese scholars that the Party-state would collapse. It has pursued policies that lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and modernized large portions of the country, which contributed to Beijing’s legitimacy. It also has, at least between the Deng Xiaoping and the beginning of the Xi Jinping era, proven more adaptable in its economic policy–making, some of its domestic policy–making related to social issues, and some of its foreign policy–making than many observers expected.

For instance, after alienating many Southeast Asian states in the 1970s and 1980s, Beijing pursued a relatively effective soft power effort in the 1990s and early 2000s designed to bolster its regional image and smooth the way for China to become the dominant trading partner with Southeast Asia, and to sign a trade deal with Southeast Asian states. The CCP also has, in the past two decades, inculcated nationalism among younger Chinese, tying that nationalism to the CCP itself. And it has skillfully used a crackdown on links to the outside world, and a portrayal of wealthy democracies as failing to contain COVID-19 and rife with internal problems to boost the image of the CCP. It has become confident enough that Xi and the CCP in general have, on multiple occasions, sought to promote China’s model of authoritarian state capitalism, enabled by technology, to multiple other countries.

China's 'Tone-Deaf' Diplomacy Hardens Attitudes in Europe, Brussels Expert Says


China may be losing friends in Europe faster than it can gain them as Beijing and Brussels continue to spar over widespread reports of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Their most notable scrap involved tit-for-tat penalties in March when the European Union said it sanctioned four Chinese officials and one entity responsible for the ongoing rights violations against Uyghurs in northwestern China. Beijing responded immediately with dramatic super sanctions of its own.

The episode led to the breakdown of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), a deal nearly a decade in the making, which was said to be highly coveted by Chinese President Xi Jinping as a geopolitical tool to drive a wedge in Europe's transatlantic partnership with the United States.

On Friday, the Chinese mission in Brussels again accused the European bloc of interfering in its internal affairs. It came a day after the EU's diplomatic arm, the European External Action Service, reiterated its "grave concerns" about the situation in Xinjiang, and renewed its call for the United Nations' top human rights official to be granted access to the region for an independent assessment.

Battle of the Barrels


The public disagreement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia this week in the OPEC+ group has shaken international markets given the high stakes involved for a deal supporting a global economic recovery. The UAE opposed the extension and expansion of a supply deal without first increasing its baseline production. Closer to home, the dispute has been touted as another crack in the Saudi-UAE strategic partnership after the 2011 Arab uprisings, especially since 2015 and the ascension of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and his son Mohammed bin Salman.

However, the unfolding events represent more than a bilateral relationship gone awry. The relationship will survive the latest disagreement just as it did when the two diverged over other key issues such as Yemen, Qatar, Israel, and Turkey, to name a few, because the benefits far outweigh the costs. Beyond the relationship itself, the standoff speaks to dynamics in a region undergoing major recalibration. Rising economic competition in the Gulf and a more assertive Emirati voice are two of its clearest manifestations.

Saudi and Emirati figures have gone on Twitter, as they often do amid disagreements, to subtly express reservations about one another. The latest tug of war reflected a hypernationalism apparent in both states in recent years. Turki Al Sheikh, an advisor to the Saudi Royal Court and a confidant of Mohammed bin Salman, vented after the OPEC+ spat: “My friend … You are no longer my friend … time … and circumstances have changed you … [but] they did not change me.”

IT Modernization Strategy, Spectrum Plan Imminent: DoD CIO


WASHINGTON: The Pentagon will release a new IT modernization strategy later this summer, acting DoD CIO John Sherman told the House Armed Services subcommittee on cyber, innovative technologies, and information systems.

The new strategy will based on existing guidance, such as the DevSecOps 2.0 guidance released last month, Sherman said during the subcommittee’s first hearing on the 2022 defense budget.

Sherman provided few specifics on the strategy. The DoD CIO oversees an array of the department’s technologies, including cyber, networks, communications, information systems, and enterprise IT, such as cloud computing.

Speaking on the 2022 defense budget, Sherman said it reflects President Biden’s and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s IT priorities, to include the department’s cloud computing; software and network modernization; cybersecurity workforce; command, control, and communications (C3); and data, which Sherman characterized as “the ammunition of the future” and key to achieving the advantage in All Domain Operations.

What Did Biden Achieve in Geneva?


CAMBRIDGE – When US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first summit in Geneva last month, cyber weapons played a larger role on the agenda than the nuclear kind. Clearly the world has changed since the Cold War, but what, if anything, did Biden accomplish?

For more than two decades, Russia has proposed a United Nations cyber treaty. But the United States regarded such a pact as unverifiable. Unlike nuclear weapons, the difference between a cyber weapon and other computer code can depend simply on the programmer’s intent.

Instead of a treaty, Russia, the US, and 13 other states agreed to voluntary norms, outlined by UN-sponsored groups of governmental experts, prohibiting attacks on each other’s civilian infrastructure and not barring wrongful acts staged from their territory. Although these norms were reaffirmed at the UN this past spring, skeptics note that shortly after it agreed to a 2015 report, Russia attacked Ukraine’s power grid and interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.

America's 5G Era

Timothy M. Bonds, James Bonomo, Daniel Gonzales, C. Richard Neu

The latest generation of wireless networks, called 5G (for "fifth generation"), has launched with great expectations and amid significant concerns. A theme running through discussions of the 5G era is that this is a race, that first movers will dominate all others, and that this dominance will provide enduring economic and technical benefits to those first movers' home countries and populations. Influential leaders from government and industry have argued that leadership in wireless communication is a crucial determinant of the country's economic success in the mobile technology era. The White House has made the case that leadership in wireless technology helps nations "win" in the information age.

This Perspective serves as a policy primer for the 5G era and summarizes our observations from the RAND-Initiated Research project titled "America's 5G Era: Securing Its Advantages and Ourselves." As the authors assessed the 5G wireless ecosystem, they began to see the development of its markets and technologies as an enduring competition rather than a "race." A key observation is that past technical or market leadership does not guarantee a lasting advantage. The authors also highlight important implications of 5G-era devices, networks, and services for securing data and protecting individual privacy.

Succession in South Sudan

Colum Lynch

I. Founding Fathers
On July 9, 2011, South Sudan’s first day of independence, the country’s new president, Salva Kiir, received a copy of Ron Chernow’s biography of the American Founding Father George Washington. It was a gift from a former American diplomat, intended to serve as a guide to democratic governance and to underscore the connection between the world’s oldest democracy and the nation it helped birth.

Kiir, a former bush fighter who never finished grade school, frequently read the book for inspiration and to reflect on the importance of serving the public interest and the common good, recalled Andrew Natsios, the former U.S. diplomat who gave it to Kiir. Natsios, a former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, served as President George W. Bush’s special envoy in Sudan from September 2006 to December 2007. South Sudan’s founding would have been unthinkable without the fervent backing of an assortment of American supporters, including Bush, who championed a landmark 2005 peace agreement that paved the way to independence.

But after a decade in office, South Sudan’s founding president has largely failed to establish a viable state, let alone a fledgling democracy modeled on Washington’s America. Instead he has led the country through a self-destructive ethnic civil war, repeatedly put off commitments to hold elections, and squandered the country’s considerable oil wealth to erect a security apparatus devoted to guaranteeing his political survival.

What’s Behind China’s Growing Push into Central America?


For nearly 60 years, the preeminent Asian power in Central America was not the People’s Republic of China, but Taiwan. Yet in rapid succession starting in 2017, Panama, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador surprised many by switching their diplomatic recognition to Beijing, joining Costa Rica, which had done so in 2007. While four Central American nations remain today within Taiwan’s shrinking circle of international supporters – Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and, curiously, Nicaragua – it is fair to wonder whether those alliances, too, may now be in danger.

Today, China’s methodical push for a bigger foothold in Central America is no longer surprising anyone. While Beijing’s relationships in the isthmus are not yet as deep as those in South America, the Chinese government clearly sees an opportunity to expand its presence for both commercial and geopolitical reasons. China hopes to turn Panama into another axis of its “Belt and Road Initiative” for the Americas and gain preferential access to the only real strategic asset in the area: the interoceanic canal. Meanwhile, Central American countries’ acute need to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as some governments’ growing desire for a “more accommodating” alternate partner to the United States, may constitute a favorable context that pushes the isthmus even further into Beijing’s embrace in coming years.

What Would It Take to Abolish the Monarchy in Britain?


Anti-monarchy campaigners have launched a billboard campaign against Prince Charles—showing they see the future king as their best chance for abolition.

Pressure group Republic put the royal family on notice this week that the heir to the throne is in their sights.

They are taking out 24 billboards emblazoned with the next-in-line's face and one early draft included the slogan: "No man should be King."

While that was not a final, approved version of the advert, the presence of the word "man" may speak to just one problem the royals face in a world where companies, political parties and public bodies seek diversity within senior leadership teams.

Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, put the point more bluntly, telling Newsweek: "It's going to be men. We know who our heads of state are going to be until the end of this century, which is nonsense. It's going to be Charles, William, George, so its all about kings and men from now on which I don't think helps their image at all."

East Germany Is Still a Country of Its Own

Emily Schultheis

DESSAU-ROSSLAU, Germany—Earlier this summer, on the eve of regional elections in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, German politician Marco Wanderwitz was asked about the region’s strong support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Wanderwitz, the German government’s special commissioner for eastern Germany, attributed the AfD’s successes in the east to the region’s authoritarian past and said he believes only a small fraction of those voters are “potentially recoverable” for mainstream parties like his center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

“We are dealing with people who are partially socialized by dictatorship in such a way that they have not reached democracy, even after 30 years,” Wanderwitz told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Cue immediate outrage. Many in the region immediately blasted Wanderwitz’s comments as ill-informed and condescending—and saw them as only the latest dismissal of eastern German voters in a country where they often feel undervalued and misunderstood by the government or their counterparts in the west.

Regional Disparity Trap: Why China's Economy Resembles Europe

Yang Lu

Professor Lu Ming of Shanghai Jiaotong University was the first to refer to the sharp differences within China as the "Europeanization" (or Eurozoneization) of the Chinese economy.

The Eurozone consists of 19 European countries with a unified market and a single currency, but with large differences in productivity between them. This, of course, has many advantages, such as promoting the internal common market, reducing transaction costs and so on. However, the smooth operation of the Eurozone depends on whether its members have similar levels of productivity or public debt. If they aren't, it will create a divergence in interests between the "core" countries with high productivity and low debt and the "peripheral" countries with low productivity and high debt.

For example, Greece and Germany use the euro, but Germany's GDP per capita is more than twice that of Greece, with much higher productivity levels. But the Euro exchange rate is the same in Germany and Greece. So, if the European Central Bank sets the exchange rate under conditions favorable to Germany, then the currency will be "too expensive" for Greece. That would Greek exports and limit its credit scale. But if the ECB sets the exchange rate according to Greece's economic standards, then the euro will be "too cheap" for Germany. That could lead to inflation and bubbles. It is difficult for the ECB to satisfy both Germany and Greece, and the difficulty causes all sorts of political, economic and social problems.

The Promise of Africa’s “Youth Bulge”

Zachariah Mampilly

In September of last year, thousands of young protesters took to the streets in Cameroon to demand the resignation of President Paul Biya, who has ruled the West African country since 1982. Biya’s government responded predictably, with a brutal crackdown. His forces arrested opposition leaders and killed protesters while the rest of the world remained mostly silent. Now 88 years old and still firmly in power, Biya is almost 70 years older than the average Cameroonian, making him the most senior leader in the world relative to his citizens. Two generations of Cameroonians have grown up under his authoritarian rule, and a third could conceivably, as well; Biya did away with term limits in 2008, so he will be eligible to run for reelection in 2024.

Aging, out-of-touch leaders are a problem across Africa. The average African ruler is 63 years old, while the continent’s population—the youngest in the world—has a median age of only about 20 years. Remarkably, that 43-year age gap marks an improvement over a decade ago: the wave of African protests that began with the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and continued in Senegal, Malawi, and elsewhere toppled a host of geriatric leaders.

Difficult Choices in the Race to Innovate and Compete

Daniel M. Gerstein

The Senate passage of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA)—supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the chamber in a 68–32 vote—recognizes the fierce competition across the globe, and particularly with China, for leadership in key technology areas. To this end, part of the draft legislation is the Endless Frontier Act which would prioritize investments in key technologies areas on the front lines of the competition with China.

The potential for such a momentous national investment in resources and attention brings with it options and choices for policymakers to consider. For instance, a quarter of a trillion dollars over a five-year period is a sizable investment of approximately $50 billion a year in “new” spending. But should that be accompanied by an enterprise dedicated to do the research, development, and innovation? The version passed by the Senate does not develop or name one. The closest it comes is the creation of an interagency working group (PDF) led by the Office of the Science and Technology Policy which would include the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and the Department of Commerce and other agencies as needed to coordinate implementation of the legislation and associated activities.

Supply Chains Have a Cyber Problem

Jonathan Welburn

In May, JBS S.A., the world's largest meat producer, suffered a ransomware attack disrupting beef production in the United States, Canada, and Australia. That came after another ransomware attack, then against Colonial, disrupted gas supplies in the eastern United States and drove up prices. If it wasn't before, it's now painfully clear that the intersection of cyberattacks and supply chains creates a wicked new form of risk—and the stakes are as much about national security as they are economics.

Last December, for example, hackers breached the company SolarWinds and compromised a software product called Orion. Orion, sitting within the software supply chain of numerous government agencies and nearly all of the Fortune 500's firms, gave the hackers unfettered and trusted access to sensitive systems for months without detection. This was the most prominent example to date of what cybersecurity analysts call a “supply chain attack”—one in which hackers gain entry to an organization's systems through its computer hardware or software vendors.

Why Was Syria Just Elected to the WHO’s Executive Board?

Zaher Sahloul

Throughout the course of the Syrian civil war, the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has displaced half the country’s population. It has depopulated whole cities and villages by bombing hospitals and schools, thereby undermining the principle of medical neutrality and impartiality—which mandates noninterference with medical services in times of armed conflict and civil unrest. The regime has moreover starved its people by blocking convoys of humanitarian aid—including those carrying baby formula—from reaching besieged civilians. It has also used prohibited chemical weapons more than 300 times, with children frequently among the victims, and allowed infections like polio and leishmaniasis that were effectively eradicated in Syria to resurface by blocking vaccines and medications from reaching regions that fell under the control of the opposition. The life expectancy of a Syrian child has been reduced by 13 years.

In return, the Assad regime has been rewarded by being elected to a leading role in the World Health Organization (WHO). In May, Syria won a seat on the WHO Executive Board—atop the same organization that reported last year that it had documented 494 attacks on health care facilities in Syria from 2016 to 2019, mainly in areas under assault by Assad’s forces.

Cyber Warfare Is The Last Competitive Advantage No One Sees & Why SolarWinds Is The Wakeup Call No One Heard.

Steve Andriole

Afghanistan was not the US’s longest war. Not even close. We’ve been at cyberwar for half a century – and we’re losing. Globally, the US is losing, and the homeland is far from safe. Hell, why not just hack a municipality for a few hundred k? It’s easy. There’s no cybersecurity strategy good enough to win a cyberwar. Sure, everyone talks a good game, but the very structure of American (and other businesses around the globe) makes it nearly impossible to, for example, deliberately and significantly reduce EBITDA to prepare for cyber warfare.

It’s Sometimes Horrible to Be Right

“The number of severity of cyberattacks will explode in 2020. Cyberwarfare has now leveled the playing field in industry, in government, and in national defense: why spend ten or fifteen billion dollars on an aircraft carrier when you can disable it digitally? Why spend billions on new product R&D when you can hack into your competition’s strategic plans? Why not just phish around municipalities for a quick $100K? Cyberwarfare is a cost-effective solution to all sorts of problems – and opportunities: cyberwarfare is a revenue stream, a new business model, digital transformation with its own unique flavor … but regardless of inexplicably unheeded warnings, (it’s) much worse than it’s ever been. Why? Simply because it’s the cheapest, easiest, fastest and most effective form of warfare we’ve ever seen, and because cyberwarfare defenses are more vulnerable than they’ve ever been.”

Attempted Hack of R.N.C. and Russian Ransomware Attack Test Biden

Russian hackers are accused of breaching a contractor for the Republican National Committee last week, around the same time that Russian cybercriminals launched the single largest global ransomware attack on record, incidents that are testing the red lines set by President Biden during his high-stakes summit with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia last month.

The R.N.C. said in a statement on Tuesday that one of its technology providers, Synnex, had been hacked. While the extent of the attempted breach remained unclear, the committee said none of its data had been accessed.

Early indications were that the culprit was Russia’s S.V.R. intelligence agency, according to investigators in the case. The S.V.R. is the group that initially hacked the Democratic National Committee six years ago and more recently conducted the SolarWinds attack that penetrated more than a half-dozen government agencies and many of the largest U.S. corporations.

The R.N.C. attack was the second of apparent Russian origin to become public in the last few days, and it was unclear late Tuesday whether the two were related. On Sunday, a Russian-based cybercriminal organization known as REvil claimed responsibility for a cyberattack over the long holiday weekend that has spread to 800 to 1,500 businesses around the world. It was one of the largest attacks in history in which hackers shut down systems until a ransom is paid, security researchers said.

Competition and Cooperation in the Maritime Domain

Competition over the world’s maritime resources and territorial disputes over maritime borders are becoming increasingly prominent in international affairs. At the same time, depleted fish stocks and polluted waters make the question of how countries can collectively manage maritime resources a central one, particularly in discussions over climate change.

Against the backdrop of heightened competition in the maritime domain, China has been rapidly modernizing and expanding its naval capabilities thanks to an unprecedented shipbuilding effort. By contrast, the U.S. Navy is struggling to meet its ambitious goals toward expanding its fleet while nevertheless maintaining a demanding operational tempo.

Meanwhile, the resources that lie beneath the ocean’s surface are increasingly at risk of overexploitation. Illegal fishing is devastating already diminished global stocks and may soon present a severe crisis to countries whose populations depend on seafood for their diets. In the South China Sea, competition over fishing rights as well as offshore oil and gas reserves has been a major driver of tensions and conflict.


Benjamin J. Fernandes

Remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA), i.e., drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), revolutionized how the U.S. military conducts military operations against insurgents and terrorists. This revolution resulted from an early outside push from Congress and a change to U.S. foreign policy (namely, the prioritization of counterterrorism).1 The RPA revolution substantially changed the U.S. military’s doctrine and structure for fighting terrorists, which led to a substantial improvement in tactical and operational military capabilities for counterterrorism operations. A change is now necessary to revolutionize the U.S. Army’s combat capabilities for dealing with great-power adversaries and other 21st-century national security challenges beyond just terrorists. The Army’s attachment to legacy equipment, originally designed in the 1970s, wastes resources and slows investment in the equipment, force structure, training and doctrine needed to successfully overcome 21st-century threats. The U.S. Army should significantly curtail investments in upgrades for heavy, manned tanks that cannot effectively or efficiently address current or future problems—better investments exist.

War In A Time Of Peace – Is Hybrid Warfare The New Norm?

Jason Woodroofe

In the 21st century, many scholars of international relations have claimed the world has learned lessons of the past and that direct, open conflict between major world powers is no longer worth it. Economic interdependence, nuclear weapons, and the lack of will for war from the general public means that the world hasn’t seen the kind of great power conflicts that defined the first half of the 20th century. But this doesn’t mean that world power’s aren’t still competing in the great game. Tensions between the United States, Russia and China are arguably at an all time high, and a number of smaller regional confrontations are simmering away still. What is clear to see is that world powers, while they may not wish to go directly to war, are competing with and undermining each other daily.

The famous Chinese strategist and General Sun Tzu provides insight into the great game that world powers find themselves in today. He wrote in The Art of War that “[T]he supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Cyber attacks, sanctions, assassinations, espionage and political games have become more common in recent years. Take for example the U.S. assassination of Qassim Solemani, recent cyber attacks on its critical infrastructure, covert Israeli operations against Iranian nuclear facilities, and foreign interference in elections.