23 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.

Can U.S.-Russia Cooperation Bolster Afghanistan and Central Asia?

John Herbst

The future and the past clashed at a fascinating conference that Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev convened in Tashkent July 15-16: The Central and South Asia Summit on Interconnectivity. The event brought together heads of state and governments, ministers, and other senior officials from the two regions, as well as from major outside powers including China, the EU, Russia, and the United States.

A Bold Vision for Central Asia, and South Asia

The summit played off perhaps the most significant development in Central Asia in recent years: the initiative of Mirziyoyev to establish cordial relations with his neighbors and to actively pursue closer economic relations and even integration in the region. Since Uzbekistan sits in the very heart of Central Asia and has the region’s largest population, this policy was bound to have a large, positive impact. And so it has: border issues have been resolved, communications and transportation links developed, and intra-regional trade spurred.

Can Iran Save Afghanistan's Shiites and Help China, Russia Prevent War Next Door?


Faced with a surge of unrest across its border with Afghanistan as the U.S. military withdraws from a two-decade conflict, Iran is seeking to leverage local and regional relationships in an effort to secure the stability of its fellow Islamic Republic.

But it is a delicate balance.

Tehran must carefully measure its support for Shiite Muslim Afghans mobilizing against forces threatening their very identity, culture and lives, while simultaneously engaging diplomatically with the resurgent Sunni Muslim Taliban movement now in control of most of the country. And for that balance to succeed, they must take into account the interests of top regional powers China and Russia.

And, over the weekend, a potentially explosive headline emerged from Tehran. The Jomhouri-e Eslami newspaper ran a front-page article alleging that a "Hashed al-Shia" had risen up against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Why Strategic Ambiguity Over Taiwan Stabilizes East Asia

Matthew Mai

Japan, America’s closest ally in Asia, has been raising the alarm over Taiwan in recent days. Last week, a new white paper from the Defense Ministry called for “stabilizing the situation surrounding Taiwan” given that the geopolitical climate has “a sense of crisis more than ever before”. This echoes comments made by the Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso last week who noted that a “major incident” over Taiwan would be viewed as a direct threat to his country’s security. These headlines are a reminder about why the U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity—which has helped avoid a crisis—remains valuable today.

For its part, the Biden administration has been forthcoming in acknowledging that it is not looking to upset the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell recently reiterated that the United States does “not support Taiwan independence.” And in a telling clarification, Japan’s deputy prime minister backtracked his previous comments into the official position.

Beijing Expanding Size and Role of Its ‘Private’ Military Companies in Central Asia

Paul Goble

For the last several years, China has made use of its own private military companies (PMC) to guard Chinese industrial sites and transportation networks across Central Asia that it views as essential to its broader “One Belt, One Road” (more recently known as the Belt and Road Initiative—BRI) project. But now, in the wake of the withdrawal of the United States’ forces from Afghanistan, the rising strength of the Taliban and the militant group’s growing threats to Central Asian countries (see EDM, July 13), Beijing is expanding the presence and mission of these PMC troops. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during a recent swing through Central Asia, told regional leaders that Beijing’s reliance on imported PMCs to guard local strategic infrastructure will be an important new form of security assistance to them against any threat from the outside (Eurasia Today, July 16). This expanded Chinese activity inevitably challenges other players in the region, including the Russian Federation, Turkey and the United States.

Like Russia and the US, China has developed so-called private military companies, groups that operate in the gray area between formal military establishments and private enterprise (particularly if the local law governing them is hazy). Crucially, PMCs can undertake a form of covert operations by giving the governments that use them the flexibility and deniability that the use of regular troops does not always offer. In contrast to other countries, China’s employment of PMCs has, in most cases, focused on the defense of Chinese economic and infrastructure sites in foreign countries, where these companies in effect serve as armed guards. Both because of that and because the Chinese have been reluctant to speak about what else they may be doing, information about such “private” Chinese military companies is relatively scarce (see China Brief, May 15, 2020; Topwar.ru, February 7, 2019; Current Time, February 2, 2019; RIA Novosti, March 23, 2017; Stan Radar, December 5, 2019).

Flooding in China’s Henan Province Kills at Least 25

China’s military has blasted a dam to release floodwaters threatening one of its most heavily populated provinces, as the death toll in widespread flooding rose to at least 25.

The dam operation was carried out late Tuesday night in the city of Luoyang, just as severe flooding overwhelmed the Henan provincial capital of Zhengzhou, trapping residents in the subway system and stranding them at schools, apartments and offices.

Another seven people were reported missing, provincial officials said at a news conference.

A video posted on Twitter by news site The Paper showed subway passengers standing in chest-high muddy brown water as torrents raged in the tunnel outside. Other images posted on social media appeared to show dead bodies on subway platforms after a rescue operation was mounted to evacuate passengers.

The Chinese Growth Trap That Could Cripple Beijing’s Economy

Joergen Oerstroem Moeller

The Chinese labor force peaked in 2017 with 787 million people. Demography tells that the fall will continue. There is some leverage to increase the number of people working. The participation rate for women can be improved somewhat. Now it is about 43 percent compared to 75 percent for men. Lessons from other countries clearly indicate that it is easier said than done though. Chinese women have moved towards prioritizing their careers above raising a family. The one-child policy (1979 to 2016) has resulted in a lopsided sex ratio. For the age group under twenty-four years, there are more than 110 boys for 100 girls. Politically, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has just softened up the rules for having children and may see a drive to get more women on the labor market as subverting this turnaround in policy.

Over recent decades several countries have tried to get out of the demographic trap by enhancing productivity defined as higher output per production factor: How much more production can the system squeeze out of one work hour. OECD statistics reveal how difficult it is. Despite strenuous efforts, average annual productivity growth in Japan since 2005 is below 1 percent. Italy, likewise a country with a falling population, has done even worse with annual productivity growth below 0.5 percent. The Euro area is at 0.8 percent. Britain at 0.6 percent. The United States is doing better with 1.25 percent.

China hits back at US-led accusations over cyber attacks

Edward White and Christian Shepherd

China has challenged US-led accusations that Beijing was at the heart of a wave of global cyber attacks including an offensive against a Microsoft email application that affected tens of thousands of organisations.

Diplomats across the EU, UK, Canada, Norway and New Zealand issued statements on Tuesday slamming the allegations as “groundless” and a “malicious smear”.

“China urges Canada to abandon its cold war mentality and ideological prejudice . . . stop political manipulation on relevant issues, and stop unprovoked attacks and deliberate slander against China,” said Beijing’s embassy in Ottawa.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, stressed that the claims of a small number of countries did not represent the international community and called on the US to stop its own cyber attacks against his country.

How China Transformed Into a Prime Cyber Threat to the U.S.

Nicole Perlroth

Nearly a decade ago, the United States began naming and shaming China for an onslaught of online espionage, the bulk of it conducted using low-level phishing emails against American companies for intellectual property theft.

On Monday, the United States again accused China of cyberattacks. But these attacks were highly aggressive, and they reveal that China has transformed into a far more sophisticated and mature digital adversary than the one that flummoxed U.S. officials a decade ago.

The Biden administration’s indictment for the cyberattacks, along with interviews with dozens of current and former American officials, shows that China has reorganized its hacking operations in the intervening years. While it once conducted relatively unsophisticated hacks of foreign companies, think tanks and government agencies, China is now perpetrating stealthy, decentralized digital assaults of American companies and interests around the world.

China Accuses CIA of Hacking Beijing for Over a Decade


China has repeated claims that a CIA group had hacked its key industries for over a decade, just one day after a U.S.-led coalition rebuked Beijing over alleged state-sponsored cyberattacks on Microsoft.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said charges that its Ministry of State Security had sanctioned contract hackers to conduct cyber operations around the world were "unwarranted" and a "political smear."

The allegations put forward by the U.S. and its allies—including NATO, the European Union, Five Eyes and Japan—lacked evidence, he told reporters at a daily press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.

U.S. Says China Behind Microsoft Exchange Hack, Working With Criminal Gangs

Chinese Disinformation Efforts on Social Media

Scott W. Harold, Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga, Jeffrey W. Hornung

The Chinese military's focus on information warfare is expanding to include information operations on social media. Given the possibility of U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan or another regional contingency, understanding how the People's Liberation Army (PLA) thinks about the use of disinformation campaigns on social media has emerged as an important question for U.S. national security policymakers and defense planners. This report describes how the PLA might direct social media disinformation campaigns against the United States and its armed forces, especially the U.S. Air Force. The authors conducted interviews with regional experts during three trips to Asia and reviewed Chinese-language writings and analyses of publicly attributed, or at least reasonably suspected, examples of Chinese disinformation and other malign social media activity on both Chinese and foreign platforms. The authors identify key Chinese practices and the supporting infrastructure and conditions needed to engage in successful social media disinformation campaigns and conclude that China is using Taiwan as a test bed for developing attack vectors. The authors recommend being competitive in shaping and countering messages on social media, working to engage and protect Chinese-American service members (China's most likely targets), and incorporating adversary social media disinformation into future wargames.

China playing the cybersecurity long game


China’s leadership is ready to take its cyberwarfare capabilities to the next level.

For some time, cybersecurity has been “on the bench” while other aspects of Chinese cyber capabilities, mostly those related to the economy, were developed. Under the guidance of the 13th Five-Year Plan, China intends to have a robust architecture in place both for defending against cyberattacks and for launching attacks against their nation-state rivals (read, the United States) by 2025.

Wu Yunkun, president of the Qi An Xin Group, describes the national-security side of cyberspace as being the “network confrontation between nations.” Wu correctly assesses that “informatization supports individuals, enterprises, society, and the country. If informatization is destroyed, these will not survive.”

Not just the money: Ransomware a growing political threat to U.S. interests

Guy Taylor

The rising frequency of ransomware attacks against private companies involved in banking, gasoline supplies, beef production and other crucial business may feel like an overhyped national security threat, but a growing number of experts are warning that the attacks represent a cyberwar trend that U.S. adversaries are poised to exploit not for money but for serious geopolitical gain.

Analysts predict that as the scope and sophistication of the incidents grow in the coming months and years, states such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are likely to accelerate the use of ransomware to exact foreign policy concessions either directly from Washington or from U.S. allies around the world.

“I think it’s a matter of time before key adversaries like Iran and North Korea are leveraging ransomware for political gain,” said Jenny Jun, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative.

The U.S. Has Formally Accused China Of A Massive Cyberattack On Microsoft


An alert on a suspected attack by state-backed Chinese hackers from the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in April.Jon Elswick/AP

The White House is publicly blaming China for an attack on Microsoft's Exchange email server software that compromised tens of thousands of computers worldwide, allowing hackers to gain access to troves of sensitive data.

Separately, the Department of Justice announced Monday that a federal grand jury in May had indicted Chinese nationals accused of working with official sanction from Beijing to break into computer systems belonging to U.S. companies, universities and governments.

The cyberattack on Microsoft, which is believed to have begun in January, reportedly injected computers with malware that secretly monitored systems belonging to small businesses, local and state governments and some military contractors.

Biden opens new cyber fight with China


President Biden is putting new pressure on China by publicly attributing the wide-ranging Microsoft Exchange Server cyberattack to hackers affiliated with Beijing.

The coordinated effort by the United States and its allies on Monday to condemn China’s aggressive behavior in cyberspace marks the first time NATO has formally rebuked Beijing for cyberattacks.

White House officials touted the effort as unprecedented given the breadth of nations that joined together.

“We’ve crossed the line on what can be tolerated anymore. China is more aggressive when it comes to espionage,” James Lewis, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Hill. “This is to make sure that the Chinese don’t think we forgot about them and they had an open door.”

'We lost': Some U.S. veterans say blood spilled in Afghanistan was wasted

Tim Reid

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (Reuters) - Jason Lilley was a special operations forces Marine Raider who fought in multiple battles in Iraq and Afghanistan during America’s longest war.

As Lilley, 41, reflects on President Joe Biden’s decision to end America’s military mission in Afghanistan on Aug. 31, he expresses love for his country, but disgust at its politicians and dismay at the blood and money squandered. Comrades were killed and maimed in wars he says were unwinnable, making him rethink his country and his life.

“A hundred percent we lost the war,” Lilley said. “The whole point was to get rid of the Taliban and we didn’t do that. The Taliban will take over.”

Biden says that the Afghan people must decide their own future and that America should not have to sacrifice another generation in an unwinnable war.

Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks on America triggered a nearly 20-year conflict that led to more than 3,500 U.S. and allied military deaths, the deaths of more than 47,000 Afghan civilians, the killing of at least 66,000 Afghan troops, and over 2.7 million Afghans fleeing the county, according to the nonpartisan Costs of War project at Brown University.

The Next 75 Years of US Science and Innovation Policy: An Introduction


In the future, science and technology will be called upon to address many challenges, from pandemics to climate change to food and water shortages to crises that cannot be foreseen today. Scientific research must be structured to meet society’s needs.

Since the end of World War II, a particular conception of the relationship between scientific research and societal benefits has dominated US science and technology policy. As laid out in Vannevar Bush’s seminal 1945 report, Science, the Endless Frontier, the federal government, by funding basic research at the nation’s universities and independent research institutions, would generate both new scientific knowledge and the skilled practitioners needed to apply that knowledge to societal problems, thereby ensuring “our health, prosperity, and security as a nation in the modern world.”

The vision at the heart of Science, the Endless Frontier—that society would benefit from new knowledge and should therefore support the generation of that knowledge—has been abundantly realized. Research conducted by America’s universities and independent research institutions on behalf of the federal government has opened pathways to improved living standards, public health, and national security not only in the United States but around the world.

Algorithmic Warfare: Russia Expanding Fleet of AI-Enabled Weapons

Yasmin Tadjdeh

Russia — which has made no secret of its artificial intelligence ambitions — is building a cadre of AI-enabled, autonomous weapon systems that could one day threaten the United States.

“The Russian military seeks to be a leader in weaponizing AI technology,” Lt. Gen. Michael Groen, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, told National Defense.

The JAIC — which has been working to facilitate AI adoption across the Defense Department since 2018 — recently commissioned a report by CNA, a research organization based in Arlington, Virginia, to examine Russia’s developments.

The report — titled “Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy in Russia” — identified more than 150 AI-enabled military systems in various stages of development, Groen said in an email in June. Key areas of interest include autonomous air, underwater, surface and ground platforms.

The Spyware Tool Tracking Dissidents Around the World

Isaac Chotiner

On Sunday, a group of seventeen media organizations launched the Pegasus Project, a series of articles investigating the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group. The consortium of journalists, which works in conjunction with Amnesty International and the French nonprofit Forbidden Stories, found that dissidents, human-rights workers, and opposition politicians around the world have been tracked by an NSO Group spyware tool called Pegasus. Among the thousands of people targeted were reporters at the Times, political opponents of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and the two women closest to the murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

One of the newspapers involved in the Pegasus Project is the Guardian. Its lead reporter on the series is Stephanie Kirchgaessner, who has written extensively about surveillance as the paper’s U.S. investigations correspondent. We spoke, by phone, on Monday morning, after the first wave of stories was released. (They will continue to be published throughout the week.) During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed how the story came together, why the spyware industry remains so unregulated, and what role the Israeli government played in allowing this to happen.

Jamestown Foundation

Rapidly Implementing a Chinese Data Security Regime

Expanding and Escalating the China-Bhutan Territorial Dispute

The PLA’s Critical Assessment of the Agile Combat Employment Concept

Implications of 2020 and 2021 Chinese Domestic Legislative Moves in the South China Sea

Ramping the Strait: Quick and Dirty Solutions to Boost Amphibious Lift

Brief: Russia Accuses Ukraine of Smuggling Fuel

Background: Relations between Russia and Ukraine have been severely strained for years. Russia wants to bring Ukraine, part of the buffer between it and the West, back into its sphere of influence. Kyiv wants to reclaim Crimea from Russia and restore its authority in breakaway, pro-Russian eastern regions.

What Happened: Russia’s Federal Customs Service accused a tanker of smuggling 80,000 tons of Russian oil, worth more than 2 billion rubles ($27 million), to Ukraine. According to the customs agency, the oil was loaded in Novorossiysk and was supposed to go to an Italian port, but it was unloaded at Ukraine’s Yuzhny port instead. This violated a Russian ban on the export of fuel and energy products to Ukraine.

Bottom Line: This is not the first case of fuel smuggling into Ukraine since Russia imposed sanctions, but it’s a hot issue at the moment because Ukraine is threatened with potential shortages. A supply agreement with Russia could offer a way out, if the two governments can work out their differences. Interestingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote an article earlier this week arguing that Ukrainians and Russians were one people and that Ukraine could achieve true sovereignty only through partnership with Russia. Needless to say, Kyiv’s pro-Western government is unlikely to read Putin’s article as an attempt at reconciliation.

Constant but Camouflaged, Flurry of Cyberattacks Offers Glimpse of New Era

Max Fisher

The world woke up on Monday to revelations of a sort that have become disconcertingly routine.

Chinese hackers had breached governments and universities in a yearslong campaign to steal scientific research, according to a U.S. Justice Department indictment.

Separately, several governments, including the Biden administration, accused Beijing of hiring criminal hackers to infiltrate the world’s largest companies and governments for profit.

Only hours before, a consortium of news agencies reported that governments worldwide have used spyware sold by an Israeli company to monitor journalists, rights workers, opposition politicians and foreign heads of state.

How to Make Sure Peace Endures Once the Fighting Ends

The need for peacebuilding in post-conflict societies grew out of the realization that signing agreements to bring fighting to an end is a necessary but insufficient step toward true and enduring peace. Peacebuilding is now conceived of as a multistage process to strengthen the peace accord and begin unifying communities through approaches ranging from governmental capacity-building and economic development to reforms of the legal and security sectors. Each initiative is intended to be a step toward improving human security, and the process often includes a transitional justice mechanism to foster societal healing and reconciliation.

Peacebuilding is often a laborious and expensive process—and one that can easily be undone. Witness Brexit’s triggering of the long-dormant fault lines between unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland. Moreover, as peacebuilding has evolved, there is still no consensus on who should lead these efforts. In the wake of Sept. 11, the United Nations introduced a Peacebuilding Commission, intended to push for the adoption of post-conflict interventions and then aid and track their implementation. But it lacks enforcement capacity, and key member states can block its activities. Regional bodies, including the European Union and especially the African Union, have shown an interest in prioritizing post-conflict peacebuilding, but their track records are mixed.

[OPINION] Fighting the virus of lies


Thank you so much to UNESCO, the independent jury, the more than 80 press freedom and news organizations who have helped us hold the line. This is for Rappler and all Filipino journalists who – despite the increased risks just to be able to do our jobs – continue to hold power to account. It's also a reflection of how the world looks at the Duterte administration today and the death by a thousand cuts of our democracy happening in front of our eyes.

I wish I were with you today in Namibia, but I’m in Manila, prevented from traveling by court order – which I continue to fight as State-led legal attacks are waged against me on multiple fronts. I also can’t travel because my nation is suffering the consequences of putting retired military generals in charge of a public health crisis – when political patronage and loyalty, not competence, is the metric of power.

This is a time when lies and incompetence kill.

Why space debris is a threat to the world

Thomas Harding

In the late 1970s, when the space race between the United States and the USSR was thriving and more and more satellites were being sent into orbit, scientist Don Kessler sounded a warning.

The amount of space junk could become so great that collisions would become inevitable, he predicted. A chain reaction would be created, causing even more collisions, making it impossible to navigate any spacecraft or equipment.

He estimated it would take three or four decades to become a reality.

At that point it was dreams of people routinely flying into outer space that experts envisaged were under threat.

How a Full-Blown Cyberwarfare Can Change the World

James Hogan

Check How a Full-Blown Cyberwarfare Can Change the World

The Internet is a beautiful thing. It has no borders and the only limitation it has is the imagination of its users. That is why new cultures have been born, and they are developing more every day. New technology, many new things. On the Internet you do not need a visa to travel to another country.

The Internet itself is a unclaimed territory with more than 2 billion citizens. Easy to say, the world’s superpowers are busy trying to get their own share. And just like in a physical territory, there is also espionage, espionage and a war in the cyber world. You may not realize it, but it has been going on for several years.

What is happening in the cyber world?

Erosion by Deference: Civilian Control and the Military in Policymaking

Polina Beliakova
“[I]f you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

Sarah Sanders, White House Press Secretary1

The United States has experienced multiple episodes of civil-military tension that have bordered on eroding norms of civilian control over the last 30 years.2 The Trump administration amplified the politicization of the military to the degree that it became a distinct feature of civil-military relations during former President Donald Trump’s presidency.3 Specifically, the increased reliance on the military in policymaking became a salient feature of U.S. civil-military relations during the Trump administration and is likely to have lasting consequences. Trump’s initial set of appointees included Gen. (Ret.) James Mattis as secretary of defense, Gen. (Ret.) John Kelly as secretary of homeland security, and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Flynn as national security adviser. Even before Trump’s inauguration, scholars of civil-military relations voiced concerns about the growing influence of former military members in his administration.4 It did not seem, however, that the new president shared this concern. Regardless of the retired or active-duty status of his team members, Trump referred to them as “my generals,” underscoring their connection to the military profession and institution.

Skyborg Takes the Drone Wars to the Next Level

Kris Osborn

The U.S. Air Force flew one of its General Atomics MQ-20 Avenger tactical unmanned aircraft with a first-of-its-kind advanced sensor and technology suite payload able to massively increase the scope of in-flight drone autonomy.

It was the second flight for a program the Air Force calls Skyborg Autonomy Core System program, a suite of integrated sensing, computing and payload technologies engineered for greater operational autonomy and manned-unmanned systems.

The tactical advantages are numerous, as a greater ability for drones to perform a wider range of functions without needing human intervention could enable extended ranges, greater mission scopes, in-flight adjustments and perhaps an ability for a single pilot to supervise a small fleet of drones. Humans will continue to play a command and control role while many procedural functions such as target data processing, route adjustments, networking and information analysis will be done by artificial intelligence-enabled computers, freeing up the human pilot to use those faculties unique to human cognition such as intuition, reasoning and ability to weight numerous more subjective variables in relation to one another.

DOD Operations Need Enhanced Leadership and Integration of Capabilities

Joseph W. Kirschbaum

What GAO Found

At its core, information operations (IO) are the integration of information-related capabilities during military operations to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own. (See figure.) For example, in seeking to facilitate safe and orderly humanitarian assistance, the Department of Defense (DOD) would conduct IO by influencing host nation and regional cooperation through the integration of public affairs activities and military information support operations.

GAO found, in 2019, that DOD had made limited progress in implementing the 2016 DOD IO strategy and faced a number of challenges in overseeing the IO enterprise and integrating its IO capabilities. Specifically:

In seeking to implement the strategy, DOD had not developed an implementation plan or an investment framework to identify planning priorities to address IO gaps.

The Colombian War Machine Has Gone Global

Joshua Collins, Parker Asmann

BOGOTA, Colombia—Carlos Martinez joined the Colombian military at the age of 17, a minor who had to obtain his parents’ written permission to enlist. “I didn’t have many options. There aren’t a lot of opportunities in this country for someone like me who grew up poor,” he said, “but war will always be profitable.”

Martinez spent almost 10 years on active duty in the army, eventually joining an elite special forces unit that fought armed groups and drug traffickers in the Andean countryside. Colombia, which currently boasts some 250,000 active-duty armed forces personnel, produced millions of soldiers like Martínez during its five-decade conflict with guerilla groups, as well as its ongoing campaign on the front lines of the so-called War on Drugs—both efforts heavily subsidized by the United States. ...

Technology Adoption: Are we too late to the party?

Jan Havránek and Daniel P. Bagge

NATO and the West are experiencing a reversed kind of revolution in military affairs (RMA) with new technologies bearing far-reaching implications beyond the conduct of war. Past revolutions in military spilled from the battlefield to the civilian sector. They had an effect either by directly impacting the result of a given conflict or through adoption of military technical advantages in non-military aspects of life. Today, we see an opposite trend brought by the private and non-military, non-governmental actors. In their everyday lives, general publics and governments alike face military-grade technologies developed and applied by the commercial sector. And it is the private sector that enjoys exclusivity over these technologies while the military lags behind.

Re-Thinking the Strategic Approach to Asymmetrical Warfare

Daniel Riggs

Asymmetrical Warfare: “Warfare that is between opposing forces which differ greatly in military power and that typically involves the use of unconventional weapons and tactics (such as those associated with guerrilla warfare and terrorist attacks.” Merriam Webster Dictionary

Asymmetrical Warfare: “Unconventional strategies and tactics adopted by a force when the military capabilities of belligerent powers are not simply unequal but are so significantly different that they cannot make the same sorts of attacks on each other.” Encyclopedia Britannica

The Present Asymmetric Orientation

In October 2020, the US Army announced it was going to disband the Asymmetric Warfare Group[i]. Founded in 2003, AWG was formed to counter the improvised explosive device (IED) threat that emerged early in the Iraq War.[ii] AWG was composed of military experts who could use their extensive experience to formulate solutions to problems that were upending deployed units. Until 2012, AWG focused on the atypical means (notably IEDs) in which various insurgencies were preventing US success in both Iraq and Afghanistan.[iii] After 2012, the focus shifted to planning for potential environments soldiers might find themselves in. A recent example of this was AWG training 82nd Airborne paratroopers in subterranean warfare.[iv]

Missile War: Both China and America are Stockpiling Carrier Killer Missiles

James Holmes

Here's What You Need to Remember: The U.S. Navy, it seems, is optimized for the blue-water conflagration that’s least likely to occur. Question marks surround who would prevail in the scenarios that are most menacing and most likely to occur. Carrier-killing munitions may make the fortress fleet a going concern at last, long after the age of Mahan. And that suits Beijing fine.

Ah, yes, the “carrier-killer.” China is forever touting the array of guided missiles its weaponeers have devised to pummel U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs). Most prominent among them are its DF-21D and DF-26 antiship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has made a mainstay of China’s anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) defenses.

Beijing has made believers of important audiences, including the scribes who toil away at the Pentagon producing estimates of Chinese martial might. Indeed, the most recent annual report on Chinese military power states matter-of-factly that the PLA can now use DF-21Ds to “attack ships, including aircraft carriers,” more than nine hundred statute miles from China’s shorelines.

Russia Tests Hypersonic Missile, Hits Target More Than 200 Miles Away


Russia has announced it has conducted another successful test launch of a Zircon [Tsirkon] hypersonic cruise missile.

In a statement, Russia's Defence Ministry said its Admiral Gorshkov warship fired the hypersonic cruise missile at a ground target located on the coast of the Barents Sea.

The missile is said to have traveled at seven times the speed of sound and hit its intended target from a distance of 350 km (217 miles).

"During the tests, the tactical and technical characteristics of the Zircon missile were confirmed," the Defence Ministry said.

The missile launch test was also posted on social media.