17 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 Is Scrambling to Get on the Taliban’s Good Side

Anchal Vohra

India is worried. As the last U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan, there is palpable fear in New Delhi that the return of the Taliban to power might mean the return of Pakistan-funded jihadi groups that have a history of attacking India. The growing possibility that Indian troops might be called on to enter Afghanistan sparks the greatest fear of all.

The Indian government is not alone. Russia, Iran, and China are also worried about spillover from an extended Afghan civil war, including a large-scale refugee crisis. India, however, is in the most disadvantageous position. While Russia, China, and Iran started talking to the Taliban years ago, to be better able to address their concerns directly with the group if it returned to power, India stuck to its principled opposition to the group and stood by its allies in the Afghan government.

Now, as a civil war in Afghanistan seems imminent and even Indian experts agree that the Afghan government’s writ will be limited to urban centers, New Delhi has reportedly been scrambling to send reconciliatory messages to the Taliban—messages that have thus far gone unanswered.

Pakistan to Host Afghan Leaders for Peace Talks

Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is set to host prominent Afghan political leaders at a conference in a bid to speed up the intra-Afghan peace process as the U.S.-led foreign military withdrawal from the neighboring country nears completion.

The Pakistani diplomatic initiative takes place after Taliban insurgents rapidly made territorial advances by capturing scores of new Afghan districts across the war-torn country since early May, when U.S. and NATO allied troops formally began the withdrawal process.

The ensuing security deterioration has fueled fears the vacuum left by the departure of foreign troops could turn the conflict into a full-blown civil war and enable transnational terrorist groups to find more space on Afghan soil to attack their respective targets in neighboring countries and beyond.

China’s Belt and Road won’t readily reach Afghanistan


When suspected militants killed nine Chinese nationals in a blast that sent a bus plunging into a high mountain ravine in northern Pakistan, it marked the latest in a rising string of attacks on Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the country.

The bus was carrying over 30 Chinese engineers to the site of the Dasu dam, a hydroelectric project being built as part of the BRI’s associated US$60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

As China seeks to lure Afghanistan’s Taliban into its BRI, rising security concerns and stalled progress on the CPEC in neighboring Pakistan raises doubts about Beijing’s grand plan for Central Asian connectivity.

China has recently dangled big-ticket infrastructure projects in recent meetings with representatives of the Taliban, coincident with the militant group’s seizure of ever-greater swathes of territory as US troops withdrawal from the war-torn country.

With The U.S. Military Gone, The CIA Faces Tough Challenges In Afghanistan


Afghan soldiers stand guard after the American military left the Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul, on July 5. While the U.S. military is now largely gone from Afghanistan, the CIA is still monitoring the Taliban and developments in the country, though under much more difficult circumstances.Rahmat Gul/AP

Just days after the Sept. 11 attacks, a handful of CIA officers were the first Americans sent into Afghanistan. Gary Schroen was one of them, and he recalled his marching orders.

"Link up with the Northern Alliance [rebels], get their cooperation militarily, and they will take on the Taliban," he said in a 2005 interview with NPR. "And when we break the Taliban, your job is to capture [Osama] bin Laden, kill him and bring his head back in a box on dry ice."

CIA paramilitary operations date back to the agency's founding. Yet in Afghanistan and elsewhere, these actions against the Taliban, al-Qaida and others became a defining feature of the spy agency over the past two decades. They've been marked by successes — and major controversies.

Looking Past China’s Rise for the Trends Shaping Asia

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has begun to more aggressively challenge America’s role as the key economic and political power in Asia. Increasingly repressive at home, Xi has not shied away from asserting China’s regional influence, positioning Beijing as the powerbroker on everything from trade routes to the ongoing efforts to denuclearize North Korea. And with its Belt and Road Initiative, China’s influence is spreading well beyond Asia, into much of Africa and even Europe. China’s ascendance is also evident in how much attention other global powers are paying to Beijing and its policies.

But while China’s rise often makes headlines, it is not the only trend shaping events in Asia. Illiberalism has become a force in democracies like India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode the wave of Hindu nationalism to a massive victory in the country’s 2019 parliamentary elections. And in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte’s electoral gains in midterm elections in 2019 left even fewer checks on his increasingly autocratic behavior. Meanwhile, Myanmar’s already faltering process of democratization came to an abrupt end in February, when the military seized power from the democratically elected government. The subsequent protests and the military’s violent crackdown in response have left the country teetering on the edge of civil war and failed state status.

Progress Report on China’s Type 003 Carrier

Matthew P. Funaiole

Recent satellite imagery reveals that China has made considerable progress in the construction of its third aircraft carrier, known as the Type 003, since CSIS reported on the vessel last month. Imagery of Jiangnan Shipyard captured by Maxar Technologies on July 12 shows that construction of the carrier’s flight deck, basic superstructure, and sponsons is nearly complete. The Type 003 now measures approximately 318 meters in length, which is in line with earlier estimates offered by CSIS.

Several key elements of the Type 003’s design can now be confirmed:
China’s newest carrier will feature a flat-top flight deck; three channels for operation of the Type 003’s catapult-assisted launch system, each measuring approximately 105 meters, are clearly visible on the vessel’s deck.

Although partially obscured in the image, the Type 003’s two aircraft elevators appear to be several meters wider than those of its predecessor, the Shandong.

Reduce the Pentagon’s Dependence on China by Recharging US Battery, Electronics Industry


It is long past time to wean American defense systems off high-tech supply chains originating in or dominated by China. Congress should act to encourage this in two product areas in particular.

First, batteries. Large and small, they form a crucial component in many critical U.S. military systems: submarines, surface warships, 5th-generation jet fighters; P-8 surveillance aircraft; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems; satellites, and much more. It is impossible to conduct most serious military operations—whether air, sea, space, land, or cyber—without the ubiquitous presence of batteries. Yet China dominates much of the world’s lithium supply, and nearly every step in the battery supply chain, from processing of critical and rare earth minerals to production of anodes, cathodes, and lithium-ion cells.

Xi Jinping Doesn’t Want to Admit He’s an Autocrat

Thomas Joscelyn
Source Link

On July 1, Xi Jinping delivered a speech commemorating the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). For longtime Xi watchers, his address contained little, if anything, that was new. Still, the speech, which was transcribed into English and released on state-controlled media websites, provides a useful window into how Xi continues to see his party 100 years after its founding. With that framework in mind, here are some observations.

To be sure, Xi relied on standard CCP motifs. He preached the greatness of China’s ancient civilization and obsessed over the need for “national rejuvenation”—the main justification the CCP offers for its own existence. Xi repeated all of the historical grievances that the CCP has used as a pretext for its absolute power. “After the Opium War of 1840…China was gradually reduced to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society and suffered greater ravages than ever before,” Xi lamented. This led to the country enduring decades of “intense humiliation,” in which the people “were subjected to great pain, and the Chinese civilization was plunged into darkness.” Since then, Xi said, “national rejuvenation has been the greatest dream of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation.” It’s a “dream” Xi says he and the CCP are making a reality.

A Blueprint for Getting Out of the Middle East

Doug Bandow

America’s presence in Afghanistan is set to finally end. Despite desperate attempts by the bipartisan war lobby to extend Washington’s role, President Joe Biden appears determined to bring 20 years of costly effort and tragic failure to a close.

However, he shouldn’t stop there. The U.S. should remove its military forces from the Middle East. The arguments of decades past for their presence have expired. The artificial balance of power created by the U.S. has resulted in both moral and military hazards. America’s foreign policy should finally change to reflect new circumstances.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared that the U.S. would go to war in the Middle East, a policy which his successors tragically followed. Biden was part of that militaristic consensus, serving in his second Senate term when Carter was president.

Now, however, Biden has an opportunity to set a new course. He should permanently downgrade the region’s importance and halt the disastrous era of “endless war.” Afghanistan should be only the start. The U.S. is fighting Iranian‐​backed militias in Iraq for no good reason. As well as sanctioning and illegally occupying much of Syria, also against America’s interests. Worse, the administration is continuing to aid Saudi Arabia in some degree in Yemen. And more.

SecDef Austin Commits US To ‘Responsible AI’


WASHINGTON: In a clear sign of the fundamental importance of ethics and human control to the coming age of artificial intelligence in the US military, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declared his department will “do it the right way,” even as competitors like China use AI to better monitor and suppress their citizens.

“In the AI realm, as in many others, we understand that China is our pacing challenge. We’re going to compete to win, but we’re going to do it the right way,” Austin told a day-long conference of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NACAI). “So our use of AI must reinforce our democratic values, protect our rights, ensure our safety, and defend our privacy. Of course, we understand the pressures and the tensions. And we know that evaluations of the legal and ethical implications of novel tech can take time.”

One of the most difficult challenges experts have identified with AI-directed weapons is the temptation of accepting their immense speed of response as an advantage regardless of the consequences. “AI is going to change many things about military operations, but nothing is going to change America’s commitment to the laws of war and the principles of our democracy,” Austin said.

Sullivan: Data Privacy Key To AI Race Against China


If the United States is going to bring allies together to set norms around new technologies like AI, they’ll have to address concerns about privacy, said Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to U.S. President Joe Biden, said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the National Security Commission for Artificial Intelligence summit in Washington, D.C., Sullivan noted several recent Biden-administration initiatives aimed at setting multinational standards on 5G and other new technologies, and coordinating on supply-chain issues. One is the Quad Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group, composed of representatives from India, Australia, Japan and the United States.

But there is a lot of relationship repair work with allies to do. Areas of disagreement have emerged over the last several years between the United States and Europe around consumer data and how some American companies were treating it. In 2018, the European Union enacted a massive privacy law called the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, squarely aimed at how Silicon Valley companies were using Europeans’ data. And the European Union has since taken steps to further restrict how European companies’ data is shared.

Israeli tech sets yet another record, raising $11.9 billion in H1 of 2021

Meir Orbach

Israeli tech is showing no signs of slowing down, displaying a sharp upsurge in capital raising in the second quarter of 2021, according to data published on Wednesday by the IVC Research Center and the law firm Meitar.

According to the Israeli IVC-Meitar Tech Review for the first half of 2021, an all-time record was set in the first half of 2021 with $11.9 billion being raised, more than the total amount raised in 2020 ($10.3 billion).

The report shows that in the second quarter of 2021, 230 transactions were completed with a total record investment amount of $6.52 billion. As a result, the number of transactions completed in the first half of 2021 was equal to 66% of all transactions completed in 2020.

A new US-Europe rare earths supply chain is using a “very Chinese model” to counter China

Mary Hui

Last week, the first container of mixed rare earth carbonates began making its way from the US for further processing in Estonia, marking a major step in the launch of US-Europe rare earth supply chain that’s aimed at reducing reliance on China for the critical minerals.

Still, segments of the US-Europe supply chain have significant exposure to China, illustrating just how intertwined global supply chains are. What’s more, the effort to curb dependence on Beijing is actually, to a certain degree, modeled off of China’s successful rare earth strategy.
How China made rare earths mining cheaper

The transatlantic supply chain was first announced in March, bringing together two North American companies in a joint initiative to diversify rare earth supplies. New York-listed Energy Fuels, a major American uranium miner, is processing monazite sands to produce rare earth carbonates, which are then sent to Estonia, where the Canada-headquartered Neo Performance Materials has a processing facility to separate the mixed rare earth carbonates into individual elements for use in manufacturing high-tech products like rare earth magnets.

U.S.-German-Polish Cooperation Key to Securing Europe’s Eastern Flank

Andrew A. Michta & James Carafano

On his recent diplomatic run through Europe, President Joe Biden declared that “America is back” and ready to “engage.” If we are to take him at his word — and we think we should — the administration could take on no better project than forming key action partnerships that nest under the European Union and NATO.

On a national level, countries can take on projects and facilitate cooperation that builds strong superstructures underneath collective defense frameworks and builds trust and confidence between friends and allies. One of the most fruitful partnerships could be joint German-Polish-U.S. cooperation and initiatives.

The NATO alliance of 30 member nations is grappling with the challenge of adapting to resurgent great power competition with China and Russia. While the United States was at war over the past two decades in secondary theaters, China and Russia were building up their military capabilities.

It’s Time to Cut Funding for Orbán

Ralf Neukirch

Last week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán published a full-page advertisement in Bild, the mass-circulation German daily, and a number of European newspapers, in which he set out his views on the European Union. In it, we learn that he rejects a European empire, that he wants to protect "the European people” from migration and pandemics and that he thinks nothing of the European Parliament.

Orbán has chained up the press and restricted freedom in his country. He vilifies the LGBTQ community and has made friends and family members rich with money from Brussels. Nevertheless, he must feel very safe publicly mocking the EU.

Why shouldn’t he? The dismantling of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary has been sharply criticized by its European partners and the EU institutions in Brussels. So far, though, Orbán hasn’t had to fear any consequences – at least not any that would truly hurt. When Orbán ignores a ruling of the European Court of Justice, the European Commission doesn’t even apply to institute punitive damages. Countries like Poland, where the ruling PiS party has largely brought the judiciary under its control, can also expect leniency.

Why Greece Can Be a Powerful Ally

William Antholis and Eric Edelman

This summer, Americans are flocking to Greece. President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken should take the hint and consider making a trip of their own. It would be as good for America as it would be for Greece. Two centuries after Greece declared its independence from Ottoman rule—inspired by the American revolution—the United States could not find a better partner in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and renewing democracy across the globe.

The surge of American tourists has its roots in successful policies that both countries have pursued, proving government can actually get things done—a key element in beating back the wave of populism that has washed over Western and global politics. America’s fast and effective rollout of COVID vaccines propelled it ahead of Europe, both in the number and pace of vaccinations. The Greek government saw this coming, and targeted the lucrative U.S. market. Greece established the safest protocols possible for tourism—including requiring proof of vaccination for all foreign tourists, and mandatory masks inside hotels and restaurants. “We branded Greece as a safe destination and we said we would open on 14 May,” Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis told the Observer recently. “We didn’t change dates. It was unequivocal. The message was clear.”

The High Political Costs of Russia's New Pipeline to Germany

Markus Becker, Frank Dohmen, Konstantin von Hammerstein

It's early last Wednesday morning, and work in the harbor of Sassnitz-Mukran on the island of Rügen, on Germany’s Baltic coast, is going ahead at full steam. Dark-blue pipes are loaded onto the Oslap Scheremeta, a 90-meter-long cargo ship flying the Russian flag behind its bridge. It belongs to Gazprom, the Russian state energy company.

A ship-tracking website shows that Russian ships are waiting for the pipes about 90 kilometers to the east, south of the Danish island of Bornholm, where they are to be installed by the Fortuna, a pipe-laying ship. They’re installing the final section of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

The first of the two planned pipes is already completed. The second is set to be finished when the weather is a bit calmer. After years of planning and construction, the pipeline has the potential to provide around 55 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe every year.

Haiti’s Crisis Is Familiar. Its History, Less So

Howard W. French

During my first reporting trip to Haiti, in January 1988, on my very first day in the country, I rode 50 miles from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to St. Marc, a coastal city to the north, to write about the atmosphere in the provinces on the eve of national elections.

At a roadblock just shy of St. Marc, armed remnants of the feared militia of the country’s former dictatorship, the Tonton Macoutes, were burning vehicles and extorting money from passengers in broad daylight. One of the militiamen warned me that if they allowed me to pass, I would not be permitted back through the roadblock again to return to the capital before the next day’s vote. I took my chances and interviewed people in St. Marc, getting back on the road in time to send my story to New York by the deadline. The driver I had hired was roughed up when we were stopped a second time, but we made it. ...

Asia's Sinking Cities

Katharina Buchholz

Climate change, rising sea levels and flooding are expected to have an outsized impact on Asia where millions of people live on low-lying land in close proximity to the ocean. A new report by Greenpeace East Asia looks at the risks in seven regional cities, concluding that in these metropolises alone, more than 15 million people could be affected by rising sea levels and flooding by 2030.

While problems surrounding the sinking of Indonesian capital Jakarta have been well known, the report actually puts Bangkok at the top of the most affected cities. Greenpeace expects more than ten million people will be at risk in the Thai capital if a ten-year flood occurred at 2030 sea levels, jeopardizing 96 percent of the city’s GDP - more than $500 billion calculated at purchasing power parity.

The economic risk is also higher in Filipino capital Manila, where 87 percent of GDP ($39.2 billion) and around 1.5 million people would be at risk in 2030 during such an event, which is defined as a flood which has a 1:10 chance of occurring in any given year in the respective location.

Understanding Power

Richard Heinberg

Homo sapiens is Earth’s unequivocal champion at gaining and wielding power. We shoot probes to other planets and plumb the depths of the seas. Each year our species extracts and processes 100 billion tons of natural resources that end up as consumer products and building materials. In order to obtain these resources, we move more soil and rock than are displaced by all of nature’s forces combined - including wind, rivers, rain, volcanoes, and earthquakes. We do so much mining, transporting, manufacturing, and waste dumping that, purely as a side effect, we’re also significantly and perilously altering the chemistry of our planet’s atmosphere and oceans. That’s power.

Moreover, we have found a multitude of ways to use our outsized human power to subjugate and control one another. We’ve generated so much economic inequality that a mere seven individuals now enjoy as much wealth as the poorer half of humanity - roughly four billion people. At the same time, we’ve developed weapons so lethal that the survival of our species depends on our never using them. We influence one another’s behavior with debt, laws, prisons, taxes, regulations, borders, facial recognition technology, property rights, advertising, hiring and firing, propaganda, internet and social media algorithms, and a thousand other means.

Russia’s most aggressive ransomware group disappeared. It’s unclear who made that happen.

David E. Sanger

Just days after President Biden demanded that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia shut down ransomware groups attacking American targets, the most aggressive of the groups suddenly went off-line early Tuesday.

The mystery is who made it happen.

The group, called REvil, short for “Ransomware evil,” has been identified by U.S. intelligence agencies as responsible for the attack on one of America’s largest beef producers, JBS. Two weeks after Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin met in Geneva last month, REvil took credit for a hack that affected thousands of businesses around the world over the July 4 holiday.

That latest attack led to Mr. Biden’s ultimatum in a phone call on Friday to the Russian president. Later, Mr. Biden said that “we expect them to act,” and when asked by a reporter later if he would take down the group’s servers if Mr. Putin did not, the president simply said, “Yes.”

Plywood Satellite Cleared for Space Launch


A tiny Finnish cubesat could make history later this year as the world’s first plywood satellite—and it will even have a selfie stick to record the moment.

The WISA Woodsat is being developed by Finland-based Arctic Astronautics, Ltd.; the European Space Agency, or ESA; and Finland-based forester UPM, maker of WISA plywood.

On July 9, after technical testing of the Woodsat’s birch-plywood outer shell, the ESA certified it for flight.

“The world’s first wooden satellite is now certified for a rocket ride and the final pre-launch phase can begin,” UPM said in a July 9 press release. The satellite is scheduled to launch into space from New Zealand on Rocket Lab’s reusable Electron rocket before the end of the year.

339. Young Minds on Competition and Conflict

Jessica Budlong, MAJ Amos Fox

Younger generations are particularly interested in the future of Competition and Conflict, and seek to be heard and have an impact in the national security arena. They recognize that although it is difficult to predict the future security landscape, our Nation’s agility in responding to rapidly evolving threats will be critical to mission success. As such, they conceptualize strategy and competition as a constant process that must be continuously adjusted and maintained. These generations conceptualize the future of national security in novel ways and can help the Army frame its vision for the future.

1. Although new to us, most trends and threats in national security will have historical precedent. Conceptualizing national security in this way embodies the idea of “combinatorial creativity,” in which ideas and techniques from one industry are applied to a new one. Thus, integrating security efforts across Government agencies and with the private sector can promote the flow of ideas, and allow for more creative solutions to emerging threats.

The panelists noted that China’s Military-Civil Fusion facilitates this integrated “triple helix” approach. They argued that the United States should consider new ways to expedite the flow of ideas beyond the creation of task forces, which are often temporary in nature. One way in which this could be done would be by increasing investment in Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), which enlist creative thinkers to solve problems and promote new ideas.


Jhumpa Lahiri

In a hospital waiting room in Cambridge, Ashoke Ganguli hunches over a Boston Globe from a month ago, abandoned on a neighboring chair. He reads about the riots that took place during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and about Dr. Benjamin Spock, the baby doctor, being sentenced to two years in jail for threatening to counsel draft evaders. The Favre Leuba strapped to his wrist is running six minutes ahead of the large gray-faced clock on the wall. It is four-thirty in the morning.

He desperately needs a cup of tea, not having managed to make one before leaving the house. But the machine in the corridor dispenses only coffee, tepid at best, in paper cups. He takes off his thick-rimmed glasses, fitted by a Calcutta optometrist, and polishes the lenses with the cotton handkerchief he always keeps in his pocket, “A” for Ashoke embroidered by his mother in light-blue thread. His black hair, normally combed back neatly from his forehead, is dishevelled, sections of it on end. He stands and begins pacing, as the other expectant fathers do. The men wait with cigars, flowers, address books, bottles of champagne. They smoke cigarettes, ashing onto the floor. Ashoke, a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering at M.I.T., is indifferent to such indulgences. He neither smokes nor drinks alcohol of any kind. Ashima is the one who keeps all their addresses, in a small notebook she carries in her purse. It has never occurred to him to buy his wife flowers.

China Emerging As World’s Largest Military Force; Can US Money-Power ‘Tame’ Chinese Man-Power?

Apoorva Jain

China aims to modernize its Army – the PLA by 2027 to mark the centenary year of its founding and carves out a clear path to dethrone the US as the strongest military in the world.

The two world powers — the US and China — are currently at loggerhead on several fronts, the most important being the South China Sea and Taiwan.

Beijing claims the self-ruled island as its territory and does not like the US military’s presence in the vicinity, especially the disputed South China Sea. While the situation is still under control, the possibility of a military conflict in the near future cannot be ruled out.

Recently, addressing the nation on the occasion of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) anniversary celebrations, President Xi Jinping reiterated Beijing’s goal of transforming PLA into a world-class military.

The Air Force Is Going to Navigate Jets Using Earth’s Magnetic Field


The Air Force is researching the use of Earth’s magnetic field to provide positioning for aircraft and other U.S. forces.

In wartime, U.S. GPS satellites could be disabled or jammed, leaving troops scrambling for an alternative means to determine their positions—and those of adversaries.

Earth’s magnetic field could provide an alternative that is difficult to jam or spoof.

The U.S. Air Force is preparing to test a new pod-based positioning system that should be able to replace satellite-based GPS in an emergency. The system would look down—not up—for positioning data using Earth’s own magnetic field. If successful, the tech could provide an effective backup in the event space satellites aren’t available.

Satellite-based position, navigation, and timing (PNT) is one of the most revolutionary technological innovations of the last half century. PNT satellites like the American GPS, European Galileo, Russian GLONASS, and Chinese Beido allow anyone with a PNT receiver to know their location with a high level of precision around the world. In the civilian sector, that means turn-based navigation in cars and smartphones and basically never being lost again.


Robert Stelmack and Don Gomez

In the past few years, joint force and interagency leaders have increasingly emphasized the growing importance of information warfare. The US military services have each made strides toward updating doctrine, procuring the right equipment, and reorganizing force structure to better compete with our adversaries. The Joint Staff is working to publish JP 3-XX, which will define the joint lexicon of operations in the information environment (OIE), information warfare (IW), and the roles and responsibilities of the services both for organizing, training, and equipping their OIE forces as well as how to employ them.*

While these strategic updates are important and will assist in ensuring that the joint force plans and executes operations from a point of shared understanding, there are activities and initiatives that can be done now to ensure that we are best postured to compete globally.


Richard D. Hooker

Earlier this year, a video of 10th Mountain Division soldiers conducting live-fire room-clearing training—the famous “Battle Drill 6”—went viral. In the video, the soldiers repeatedly “flagged” each other, pointing loaded weapons at fellow soldiers during the drill. Experts also condemned the poor techniques shown during the exercise. The resulting furor led the division’s command sergeant major to comment publicly, promising to “fix this.”

There is a deeper question here. Why are conventional infantry soldiers doing room clearing at all?

This question may shock many. After all, every infantry soldier in the force today, from private to sergeant major, has been brought up in a culture of room clearing. All infantry units train on it. But this wasn’t always the case. Through the early 1980s, infantry soldiers did not “stack up” and rush into rooms full of enemy soldiers, guns blazing. So what happened?