26 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 ...

‘The return of the Taliban will have grave consequences for India,’ says C Christine Fair

Ullekh NP

C.Christine Fair is a renowned scholar of military affairs and politics in South Asia and has lived and worked in Afghanistan and Pakistan besides other countries. Early on, she was a political officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul. Fair, Professor, Security Studies, at Georgetown University, is one of the foremost authorities on anti-India terror groups that had found sanctuary in Afghanistan such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. Her books include In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba; Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War; and Urban Battle Fields of South Asia: Lessons Learned from Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. She has co-authored and edited several other books. A polyglot, Fair has access to original literature written in South Asian languages that often makes her analyses of terror groups in the region profound and original. She speaks to Open about the consequences of the US war in Afghanistan, withdrawal, the rise of the Taliban, the Pakistan army’s designs and the threat to Indian interests.

Reimagining the US-India trade relationship

Ridhika Batra, Mark Linscott, Anand Raghuraman, Harsha Vardhana Singh

The United States and India have long striven to maintain and deepen bilateral ties, weathering Cold War tensions and antagonisms over India’s nuclear tests to reinvigorate linkages and strengthen cooperation. Today’s modern US-India relationship continues to develop under a broad-based and multisectoral framework nurtured by common strategic interests and an engaged Indian diaspora in the United States, yet advancements in trade relations have faltered in comparison: though US-India trade has grown steadily, from a mere $16 billion in 1999 to a more robust $146 billion in 2019, long-standing disagreements over critical issues and the lack of structural trade agreements between both countries mar attempts to achieve the full perceived potential of the relationship. Most recent, last year’s failure to conclude even a mini trade deal, in spite of much rhetoric emphasizing its importance, highlights the gulf between trade orientations and negotiating postures in New Delhi and Washington, and is a stark reminder of the challenges and limitations of the present relationship.

What Russia, China, Iran Want in Afghanistan When U.S. Troops Leave


Russia, China and Iran, all influential powers in Asia, are preparing for the U.S. military to leave Afghanistan at a time of aggravated tensions and soaring violence in the war-torn nation with which they have unique and historical ties.

As these plans take form, Newsweek has contacted officials from the three countries with respect to their plans to balance the risks and opportunities associated with the volatile developments in Afghanistan.

All three seek to ensure stability in Afghanistan and its periphery while securing their own interests. as friendly ties with Kabul are tested by a desire to engage with the powerful Taliban movement that has retaken much of the country.

Taliban in Strongest Position Since 2001 as Troops Leave Afghanistan, CIA Director Says


CIA Director William Burns said Friday that Taliban forces are likely "in the strongest military position that they've been in since 2001," as U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

In an interview with National Public Radio that aired on Friday, Burns acknowledged that it's possible that the Afghan government could fall as the Taliban advances. But he also said that Afghan officials have the capabilities to fight the Taliban forces.

"The big question it seems to me and to all of my colleagues at CIA and across the intelligence community is whether or not those capabilities can be exercised with the kind of political willpower and unity of leadership that's absolutely essential to resist the Taliban," Burns told NPR.

"The trend lines are certainly troubling, I don't think that that should lead us to foregone conclusions, or a sense of imminence or inevitability," he added.

A Taliban Victory Is Not Inevitable

Seth G. Jones

The withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan has unleashed a fresh wave of violence. Taliban forces have stepped up attacks across the country and overrun a growing number of districts. They have positioned soldiers and materiel around major cities for eventual sieges. Iran and Russia have ramped up their covert support to the Taliban and other antigovernment groups. In June, General Scott Miller, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, admitted that the security situation was dire, saying, “Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if this continues on the trajectory it’s on right now.”

U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces was a mistake. A far better choice would have been to keep roughly 2,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan—as well as a small number of aircraft and helicopters at major bases—to provide training and other aid to Afghan forces. But that ship has sailed, and now an increasingly violent civil war in Afghanistan presents U.S. policymakers with a difficult choice: Should the United States remain engaged and, if so, how?

Preventing catastrophe—a complete Taliban military victory and the reestablishment of terrorist safe

What Does a Taliban Government Mean for the Rest of South Asia?

Aditya Gowdara Shivamurthy

For decades, India has had a security policy that is preoccupied with its north (China) and west (Pakistan). Facilitating this preoccupation is the fact that, in a decade or so, India has had no major terrorist and internal security challenge from its neighbors to the east and south. However, there is an emerging strategic change, that now seems to challenge India’s security from these directions.

With the Taliban making sweeping gains and capturing new territories in Afghanistan, transnational threats such as radicalization and terrorism pose an increasing threat to the region. This has become more and more clear as several reports indicate that the Taliban are sheltering several affiliates and commanders of al-Qaida, including the al-Qaida Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) branch, which has cadres and operational bases across the subcontinent.

Although there has been much discussion of how the Taliban would impact India, Pakistan and China, less thought has been given to how the Taliban could impact other smaller South Asian states, and thereby India.

Cooling Off China-US Technological Competition: A Blueprint in Shared Purpose

Kangkyu Lee

Perhaps to the surprise of few, U.S President Joe Biden has maintained a robust, multidimensional counter posture against many of China’s policy priorities. Of the gamut of domains the countries contend in, the battle for technological hegemony appears front and center. However, if history is any teacher, the status quo of ratcheting up competitive rhetoric, disengaged policymaking, and tit-for-tat exchanges is a recipe for disaster. The larger state of diplomatic relations notwithstanding, the U.S. and China must broach the onerous conversation of how to cooperate over technological self-sufficiencies, including discussions of technological norms that can remain foolproof for decades. A China-U.S. led framework on the R&D and use of frontier technologies such as AI, robotics, and Internet of Things (IoT) can serve as the foundation for multilateral initiatives vested in disseminating socioeconomic prosperity worldwide.

In his book “The Great Decoupling,” former British intelligence operations director Nigel Inkster describes the practical difficulties of a technological divorce between the U.S. and China, despite status quo tensions. Inkster’s writing is rooted in decades of intelligence and diplomatic experience with China. He presciently touches on an issue often absent in orthodox China-U.S. international relations thinking: the notion that Beijing’s technological ambitions are grounded in perennial reminders of the Century of Humiliation. China’s neo-ethos — the cultural and narrative importance of Beijing’s technological ambitions — symbolizes its leadership’s desire to establish the country as a hallmark of technological and a priori economic success.

Can China’s Economy Overtake the United States?

Robert Farley

When will China’s economy surpass that of the United States in aggregate terms? A recent Bloomberg article estimated the point of China’s overtaking of the United States at between 2031 and “never.” The magnitude and growth of the Chinese economy have immense global implications, and it is worth taking some time to unpack our beliefs about Chinese growth and its international consequences.

As most know, China already has a larger GDP than the U.S. in purchasing power parity (PPP) adjusted figures, but it continues to lag in nominal terms. The size of China’s economy is absolutely critical to thinking about the future of competition between China and the United States. It is well understood that China already offers a more potent economic power than any competitor that the United States has faced since the late 19th century.

Will China’s Middle East Policy Change?

Lee Dong Gyu

The Core of China’s Middle East Policy: Economic Cooperation and the Status Quo

Despite the complicated dynamics of the Middle East, China has expanded its influence in the region by seeking partnerships based on economic cooperation. China has built strategic partnerships with key countries in the Middle East in the process of promoting the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The strategic goals of China’s Middle East policy are clear: to secure energy access and to continue promoting the BRI. In that sense, what is important to China is not to solve political or religious conflicts in the region, but rather to maintain the status quo without becoming involving in those conflicts and to obtain economic interests by avoiding confrontation with the US. Therefore, China has highlighted economic relations with various countries in the region by maintaining the principle of non-intervention and ‘seeking common ground while putting differences aside’.

The Possibility of Change in China’s Middle East Policy as its Core Interests are Infringed

What a top intelligence analyst on China thinks you should know

Tom Rogan

In late June, former acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Mike Morell interviewed John Culver on his CBS News podcast.

That should interest you because Culver was a career CIA analyst (like Morell, retired) who ended up as the intelligence community's top officer for East Asia. Culver is extremely well regarded at the CIA. He was seen as a leader committed to his people and to speaking truth to power, especially on matters concerning China. That makes him worth listening to.

Here are some top takeaways from the podcast episode.

Culver says that China poses a "strategic challenge decades in the making, it's not Germany in the 1930s." Resisting the notion that the best intelligence material comes from secret sources and the shadows, Culver observes a need for the U.S. intelligence community to leverage open-source and commercial opportunities to gather valuable information. An example of what Culver is talking about is offered by the Bellingcat investigative journalist outlet. Making heavy use of commercially available cellphone records and data, Bellingcat has tracked the movement of Russian intelligence officers in proximity to incidents of major significance. These include the attempted murder of activist Alexei Navalny, for example.

A New Revolution in the Middle East

Jon B. Alterman
Source Link

To hear some people describe it, the global energy transition is nigh. Widespread awareness of climate change has galvanized consumers and governments alike to get serious about abandoning hydrocarbons. The financial world has read the new sentiment and pivoted away from oil and gas. Investors are now pouring billions into renewables, and China sees renewable energy as a national security imperative. Soon, oil production will outstrip demand, and as prices fall, producers will produce even more to make up for lower volumes, suppressing prices still further. Oil prices are going to drop off a cliff.

An alternative view is that the energy transition will take decades, and the built infrastructure to consume hydrocarbons ensures a robust market for many years. While electric cars get attention, approximately 90 percent of new car sales are still gas-fueled, and charging infrastructure is still billions of dollars and decades away. Existing homes have gas furnaces and gas stoves, and they last decades. Virtually all of the world’s jet fuel is petroleum based, and the world is becoming ever more reliant on plastics, which are derived from oil. That is to say nothing of the developing world, where most of the world’s population lives, and which often operates on smaller economic margins than wealthier nations. These countries’ consumption is rising sharply as incomes increase, and they are likely to rely on existing equipment and technology for longer. While the wealthy can spend thousands on green products, for much of the world’s population, oil and gas will remain the affordable and available fuels.

US Playing Long Game To Pressure China On Cyber Ops: Experts


WASHINGTON: Leading cyber policy and strategy experts say that while the US’s Monday formal attribution and response to China for a widespread cyberespionage campaign earlier this year may not be as strong as some would like, it must be viewed as just the first step in a longer campaign to pressure China on its cyberspace activities.

“It’s part of a larger diplomatic strategy,” James Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Breaking Defense in an interview. “And so, this is better seen as a first move. Some people are looking at too short a timescale. They say there weren’t consequences this time, but I think [the US government] is looking at all the parts of strategy that will put pressure on China.”

The next step in that diplomatic strategy could happen as soon as Sunday and Monday, when Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will meet with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials in the city of Tianjin, the State Department announced yesterday.

JUST IN: National Reconnaissance Office Embracing Commercial Tech

Yasmin Tadjdeh

The National Reconnaissance Office — which is tasked with collecting and distributing imagery and other intelligence data to federal agencies such as the Pentagon — is investing in new commercial technology as threats around the globe increase, said the head of the organization July 20.

The NRO currently has a diversified space architecture made up of government and commercial satellites as well as large and small constellations across multiple orbits, said Director Christopher Scolese.

“Commercial systems are a part of our current architecture and are [expected to be] a more important part of our future architecture,” he said during an online meeting hosted by the Washington Space Business Roundtable. “They're providing capabilities that in some cases replace capabilities that the NRO has traditionally" provided.

Biden’s Dangerous Doctrine

Jonathan Tepperman

Six months into U.S. President Joe Biden’s term, the race is already on to identify a Biden Doctrine: an organizing principle that can explain the president’s overarching foreign policy. In the last few weeks, several pundits have zeroed in on the global contest between democracies and autocracies—and, more specifically, on America’s intensifying showdown with China. As Hal Brands, Thomas Wright, and others have rightly pointed out, only that struggle can explain and link together the administration’s various foreign-policy moves and pronouncements: its emphasis on serving the U.S. middle class, on cooperation among democracies, on defending human rights, on boosting U.S. competitiveness through investment in infrastructure and research and development, and on trade protectionism and industrial policy.

Biden’s choice of target is no surprise. China is the closest thing to a peer competitor the United States has faced in 30 years. It’s led by an increasingly abusive, aggressive, and tyrannical regime. China’s actions, in manufacturing, technology, trade, or cybersecurity, directly affect millions of Americans every day, in a way you can’t say about Russia or any other country. So Biden’s decision to confront Beijing and make that confrontation central to his foreign policy makes political sense.

The Real National Security Concerns over Data Localization

Lindsey R. Sheppard

The Issue
As the internet has grown to be an integral part of society, so too have the needs of citizens, companies, and governments to consider how and where data is stored and who has access to it.

Whether for data sovereignty, national security and intelligence gathering, commercial, or privacy reasons, governments are increasingly seeking to maintain “digital sovereignty” and control through protectionist data localization mandates.

National security justifications for these mandates are often thinly veiled attempts at asserting greater control of the domestic digital domain; meanwhile, data localization has had negative impacts on human rights, privacy, and economic interests.

This brief focuses on the real national security implications—which have received relatively little attention—of policies that mandate certain data be stored or processed within specific geographic boundaries.

Trans-Atlantic Scorecard — July 2021

Welcome to the twelfth edition of the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard, a quarterly evaluation of U.S.-European relations produced by Brookings’s Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE), as part of the Brookings – Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative. To produce the Scorecard, we poll Brookings scholars and other experts on the present state of U.S. relations with Europe — overall and in the political, security, and economic dimensions — as well as on the state of U.S. relations with five key countries and the European Union itself. We also ask about several major issues in the news. The poll for this edition of the survey was conducted from July 6 to July 9, 2021. The experts’ analyses are complemented by a timeline of significant moments over the previous three calendar months and a snapshot of the relationship, including a tracker of President Biden’s telephone conversations with European leaders, figures presenting data relevant to the relationship, and CUSE Director Thomas Wright’s take on what to watch in the coming months.

Data Sharing Between the United States and the European Union

Madalina Murariu

In July of 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rendered its decision in the Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland Ltd, Maximilian Schrems, also known as the Schrems II case.1 The case struck at the core of the agreements between the United States and the European Union in regard to the transfer of data, constituting the most recent setback in a series of attempted agreements seeking to enable transfers between the two jurisdictions.

The implications of this decision have substantial short and long-term repercussions. This paper will seek to briefly explain the history of the Schrems cases, then outline the options available to decision makers seeking to enable transatlantic cooperation. The paper will also argue that short-term solutions such as the ones leveraged up till now will increasingly be unfeasible, and therefore present four proposals for consideration on how a revived data transfer ecosystem could be shaped through national and international tools and mechanisms.

Why Tackling Corruption Is So Urgent—and So Difficult

The world is constantly reminded that corruption knows no geographic boundaries. In South Africa, former President Jacob Zuma was just jailed for refusing to testify before an anti-graft commission and remains embroiled in several other court cases involving corruption allegations that helped remove him from power. In Malaysia, former Prime Minister Najib Razak was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison last year over the fraud and embezzling charges that precipitated his downfall. A money laundering investigation launched in Brazil in 2008 expanded to take down a vast network of politicians and business leaders across Central and South America over the course of the following decade. And former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration saw a steady stream of officials who were forced to resign after being caught using their offices for private gain.

The impact of actual corruption is devastating, whether it siphons money from government coffers or drives policy that is not in the public interest. The effects can be particularly pernicious in developing countries, where budgets are tight and needs are vast. The United Nations estimates that corruption costs $2.6 trillion in losses every year.

The Top 100 Companies Of The World - The U.S. Vs Everyone Else

The world's top 100 companies account for a massive $31.7 trillion in market cap, but that wealth is not distributed evenly. Between companies, there's a wide range of market caps. For example, the difference between the world's largest company (Apple) and the 100th largest (Anheuser-Busch) is $1.9 trillion. And between countries, that divide becomes even more stark. Of the 16 countries with companies making the top 100 ranking, the U.S. accounts for 65% of the total market cap value.

Killer Facebook

George Friedman

Social media began as an oddity growing out of another oddity, the internet. It has grown into a powerful global force, both instrumental in shaping public opinion and instrumentalized by national governments to shape the relations between them and inside of them. In addition, social media companies have become massive economic forces, shaping how economies work. This process has been underway for years and has now reached the point where presidents confront social media companies as enemies potentially more powerful than they are. Again, this is not new, but it is far more problematic than ever before.

Asked last week about COVID-19 disinformation on social media, President Joe Biden said Facebook is killing Americans. That is a pretty serious charge coming from a president, proving at least my thesis that at the end of a social and economic cycle, public discourse and presidents get strange. The charge is rooted in the fact that anti-vaccine claims are being posted on Facebook, and Facebook is permitting them to remain there. This in turn persuades readers not to get vaccinated, and these people are in turn killed by COVID-19.

NATO Futures: Three Trajectories

Rachel Ellehuus
Source Link

One secret to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) longevity has been its ability to continually adapt to the ever-changing external security environment and needs of its members. This is all the more needed today in a world that is at once more complex and more interconnected. Over the next decade, NATO’s ability to adapt and remain relevant for the future will depend on both external and internal drivers of cohesion and division. External drivers include the threats and opportunities facing the alliance and its individual members, the availability of other competent security and defense partners, and the degree of countervailing influence by competitors. Internal drivers for NATO include shared identity and values, political cohesion around shared interests, the presence or absence of U.S. leadership, the degree of responsibility sharing in NATO; and the orientation and cohesiveness of national governments. Taken together, these factors create centrifugal and centripetal forces that can alternately drive NATO member countries together or pull them apart.

Trajectory 1 (Baseline): Muddling Through

To Win Friends and Influence People, America Should Learn From the CCP

Jim Richardson

Why is China winning the race for global influence? After all, the United States has almost twice as many diplomats stationed worldwide, spends 10 times as much on foreign assistance, and its contributions to international organizations—such as the United Nations—are 20 times larger. Yet Beijing is gaining new economic and security allies (especially in the developing world), increasing its influence in the international system, advancing key national security priorities, and growing the Chinese economy. Nearly 140 countries have signed on to China’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure-development strategy to link the world to Beijing and control global flows of data. And at the U.N., Chinese nationals now hold the top position in four of the organization’s 15 major agencies.

So how does the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) do it, and what can the United States learn? Beijing’s global efforts are fast, flashy, and relevant. At every turn, the CCP is building international support and increasing its influence and reach. Washington needs to do the same—and beat Beijing at its own game.

Army University Press

Project Athena: Enabling Leader Self-Development

Understanding the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force: Strategy, Armament, and Disposition

The Impact of Base Politics on Long-Range Precision Fires: A Closer Look at Japan

The Evolution of Economic Compellence

Winning the Deep Fight: Planning, Preparing, and Executing Aviation Attacks Out of Friendly Contact

Chasing the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence: A Cavalry Squadron’s Business School Approach to Fixing Maintenance

The Army’s Training Problem: The Missing Correlation between Home Station Training and Combat Readiness

“We Have Come a Long Ways … We Have a Ways to Go”

U.S. Army, Toxic Followership, and the Balance of Responsibility

Whose Rights Are They, Anyway?

Survival in the Russian Occupied Zone: Command and Organization in Resistance Underground Operations

Future Mobility: The Cardinal Principle in Northern Operations

Admiral John S. McCain and the Triumph of Naval Air Power

Colonel Ralph Puckett Jr. — Medal of Honor Recipient

Directed Energy: From Counter-Drone To Force Fields?


WASHINGTON: The Air Force and Army are rapidly pushing to expand development of directed energy weapons beyond the high-priority counter-drone mission, officials said yesterday.

“The Air Force and the Army both, we have ongoing efforts to build counter-UAS systems,” Craig Robin, head of directed energy at the Army Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), explained during a webinar sponsored by Defence iQ. “UAVs are in the threat set … they’re just not the only threat.”

Meanwhile, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is looking to the future of DE weapons in a new paper released last Friday, Directed Energy Futures 2060. It sees promise in a broad array of future missions from AI-driven laser systems to enable machine-speed drone kill chains to space-based missile defenses (a concept that has gone in and out of fashion for decades).

DoD’s Technology Imperative: How Industry Is Answering DoD’s Call For A Competitive Edge

In this Viewpoint from Rolls-Royce North America Defense, Darryl Roberson, Senior Vice President and retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General, discusses how the company is developing advanced technology to support the Air Force.

Breaking Defense: Flying the latest and greatest aircraft has always been important to the Air Force, but there has been an increasingly high interest in a broader level of innovation within the service in recent years.

Darryl Roberson: There is no doubt the U.S. Air Force has always wanted to have the most advanced and capable aircraft to defend the nation. I’ve been very fortunate to fly a few of those incredible birds. But the key to increased lethality and advantage over our adversaries is the introduction of new technology and capabilities from industry. It’s no longer just about better aircraft, it is more about integrating capabilities across the board, especially electronic warfare and cross-domain integration. That’s our goal at Rolls-Royce, which has been proud to support Air Force missions by delivering tens of thousands of engines for more than 100 years. We Pioneer the Power that Matters. We are constantly innovating – whether it is to deliver hypersonic solutions, digital designs, rapid prototyping, improved fuel efficiency or enhanced survivability through our infrared suppression systems. Rolls-Royce Defense, specifically, is relentlessly focused on providing the Power to Protect.

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

Derek Solen

From April to May 2021, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) conducted a second exercise to test the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept and also committed to training units to implement ACE (U.S. Air Force, May 15; Air Combat Command, May 12). ACE is the method by which the USAF intends to counteract the capabilities of adversaries such as Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to strike its airbases and, ultimately, deny the USAF access to theaters of operations along their peripheries. These are generally referred to as “anti-access and area denial” capabilities. ACE, in combination with similar efforts by other U.S. military services, aims to improve America’s military advantage and its deterrence capability against Moscow’s and Beijing’s increasing aggression in Europe and East Asia.

It is important to understand how America’s adversaries are perceiving and planning to counteract ACE. This article analyzes the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) publicly available assessment of ACE. Although there is a dearth of sources, the available information shows that the PLA perceives exploitable weaknesses in ACE.
The Imperative of ACE

An Object Suspended Between Three Magnets? A Closer Look at Clausewitz’s Trinity

Nikolas Gardner

Of the many concepts in Clausewitz’s On War, the trinity stands apart in its explanatory scope. While terms such as friction and the culminating point of victory are apt descriptions of specific phenomena or situations, the trinity offers a succinct characterization of the nature of war itself. Our understanding of the trinity and its implications for the development and implementation of military strategy has evolved significantly since 1982, when Harry Summers first used Clausewitz’s simplified “secondary” trinity of people, army, and government as a tool to explain America’s defeat in Vietnam. Numerous scholars have elucidated the fundamental tendencies that comprise the trinity and the relationship between them.[i] Drawing on the pioneering work of Alan Beyerchen, they have demonstrated that the trinity is a metaphor for war as a complex system. The behavior of this system is nonlinear, in that outputs are not necessarily proportionate to inputs, and the whole of the system is not simply the sum of its parts. In other words, a small shift in the relationship between the tendencies of reason, passion and uncertainty can produce disproportionately large consequences, or vice versa. Moreover, the interaction between tendencies produces results that cannot be understood by considering each in isolation.[ii] In order to reflect this nonlinearity, Clausewitz argues that any theory seeking to explain war must behave like “an object suspended between three magnets,” referring to the tendency of an object released equidistant from three points of attraction to move toward each point in an unpredictable pattern.[iii] As Beyerchen explains, this image “implicitly confronts us with the chaos inherent in a nonlinear system sensitive to initial conditions.”[iv]

Can the Royal Navy Help America Deter China in Asia?

James Holmes

Two cheers for Great Britain!

Why only two? London merits two cheers because it has accepted that “Global Britain” must play its part in a democratic armada meant to face down aggressors who menace their neighbors while degrading freedom of the sea. At present, the Royal Navy-led multinational carrier strike group is making its inaugural grand tour of the Indo-Pacific. Carrier Strike Group 21 has been far from idle. While transiting the Mediterranean Sea it struck into Syria with naval air power manifest in F-35B stealth fighters. In June its commanders detached a British and a Dutch warship to the Black Sea, in part to challenge excessive Russian claims to jurisdiction over that body of water. This side deployment kindled Moscow’s ire in a major way.

And then the British-led task force moved on.

Centered on the supercarrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the flotilla is now plying the Indian Ocean. In mid-July, it operated alongside the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group and the USS Iwo Jima amphibious ready group in the Gulf of Aden. And then it moved on again. CSG-21 is slated to conduct exercises with forces from the United States, Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea in the Philippine Sea next month. Come September, Queen Elizabeth and her retinue will tarry in Yokosuka, Japan, home to the U.S. Seventh Fleet and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force escort and submarine flotillas. Better still, British spokesmen announced that the Royal Navy intends to base two vessels in Asian seas on a permanent basis. The offshore patrol vessels HMS Spey and HMS Tamar will call regional waters home.