3 August 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 ...

‘We will do this again,’ Afghanistan IG warns of future drawn-out wars

Meghann Myers

The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction ripped apart the government’s handling of two decades of operations in Afghanistan on Thursday, pointing to shifting goal posts and unrealistic timelines as key reasons why the U.S. withdrawal is yielding Taliban gains against ineffective Afghan security forces.

The most recent SIGAR quarterly report, released Thursday, tells the same story it’s been telling all along, John Sopko told reporters at Defense Writers Group event.

“You know, you really shouldn’t be surprised if you’ve been reading our reports for at least the nine years ... that I’ve been there,” he said. “We’ve been highlighting problems with our train, advise and assist mission with the Afghan military.”

The Uncomfortable Truth of Biden’s Rapid Afghanistan Withdrawal

Jane Ferguson

On a recent afternoon in Kabul, three Afghan men walked up to the table where I was sitting with colleagues in a local restaurant. We had arrived early for an interview, and our presence had somehow drawn their attention. “Are you journalists?” one of the men asked, his voice muffled by the Lebanese pop music blaring overhead. I answered yes with a sense of unease. As security has deteriorated in the Afghan capital, fewer foreigners have ventured out in public. “We would like to talk to you, please,” the man said. “We came here from Baghlan two weeks ago and are civil-rights activists.”

The men politely explained that they and fellow-activists had fled the northern province after advancing Taliban forces threatened to take over its largest city. Now seven of them were living together in a small hotel room in Kabul and pleading with foreigners in restaurants for help. “Even here, we are constantly changing our locations,” the man later told me. “So the enemy can’t track us.” The very nature of their work has been to act as visible supporters of the United States, they said, holding local press conferences in order to call out human-rights abuses by the Taliban and other groups. “Our faces are known as the people who went in the media and spoke in the name of human rights,” one of the Afghans told me, as his colleagues leaned in close to listen and nodded in agreement. “We are known across the country.”

Oversight After the US Withdrawal From Afghanistan

Catherine Putz

Another quarter, another Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) quarterly report. In its 52nd quarterly report, published today, SIGAR notes that fewer than a thousand U.S. military personnel remain in Afghanistan as the withdrawal nears completion. At the same time “The news coming out of Afghanistan this quarter has been bleak.”

U.S. data suggested that that enemy-initiated attacks have increased “significantly” since the signing of the February 2020 deal between the United States and the Taliban. Although the Taliban have avoided attacking withdrawing U.S. and coalition troops, they nevertheless launched an offensive against Afghan forces. The Taliban have taken control of a number of districts, some estimates indicating as many as half of the country’s districts, but SIGAR points out that the government continues to control all 34 provincial capitals, including the capital, Kabul. Nevertheless, the “overall trend is clearly unfavorable to the Afghan government, which could face an existential crisis if it isn’t addressed and reversed.”

Duterte restores Philippines as ‘sick man of Asia’


Five years into his chaotic tenure, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is suddenly remembering why he was elected back in 2016.

On Monday, his sixth and final State of the Nation Address channeled his predecessor Benigno Aquino’s reformist energy more than Duterte’s spin doctors would admit. His full-throated appeal to foreign investors to give the Philippine economy a look was ripped right from the “we’re-open-for-business” Aquino era.

Aquino, who died in June at 61, won the presidency in 2010 on pledges to restore trust in government and repair a long-neglected economy.

He hit the ground running, strengthening the national balance sheet, curbing graft, increasing accountability and transparency, going after tax cheats and taking on the Catholic Church’s meddling in politics to tame overpopulation.

What Are The Best Ways To Shield Taiwan From A Hungry China?


WASHINGTON: Should America bang out a treaty clearly and unequivocally committing it to the defense of Taiwan? Will Japan, Australia and other allies come to America’s aid should China invade Taiwan? Should the US provide money to help Taiwan buy weapons that the island currently buys from US firms? What is a “porcupine defense,” anyway, and is it the right approach for Taiwan?

Those were among the top issues hammered out Wednesday by a former special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and professor at the National War College, a former top international security official at the Pentagon and an Asia expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

Basically, the three experts agreed that Taiwan needed to beef up its own defense. They agreed that the United States had to exercise caution in how it shaped its deterrence so as not to back China into a corner, leading it to the conclusion it has to act or fail. And they agreed that Taiwan is, ultimately, more important to deterring China than is the US.

Be Careful What You Wish For: Russia, China and Afghanistan after the Withdrawal

Jeffrey Mankoff

The ongoing withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan aims to put an end to what has been the United States’ longest war. The departure is accelerating the long-running effort on the part of Afghanistan’s neighbors, including Russia, China and other regional stakeholders, to shape Afghanistan’s future and secure their own interests in the wider region. Their ability to do so will depend on multiple factors, not least the extent to which the U.S.-backed Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani can maintain control in the face of escalating Taliban attacks and the questionable willingness and capacity of the security forces to fight back.

For Russia and China, the U.S. departure will be a moment of truth. Both argue that the U.S. is leaving behind a failed state, risking not only renewed civil war in Afghanistan but also wider regional destabilization. At the same time, Beijing and Moscow have long been skeptical of the U.S. ability to solve the Afghan problem, and worry that the conflict was providing Washington an excuse to maintain a military presence in Eurasia that could be used to check their own ambitions.

China Is Providing an Alternative Regional Framework for South Asia

Bipin Ghimire and Apoorva Pathak

China has managed to chaperone its South Asian neighbors by launching the China-South Asia Emergency Supplies Reserve and Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center, the results of a virtual meeting convened by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and attended by the foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (excluding India, Bhutan, and the Maldives) on April 27. The assistant foreign minister of China and the ambassadors of the above-mentioned South Asian countries got together in Chengdu on July 9 to set up these platforms, which aim to work for COVID-19 vaccination and poverty alleviation in South Asian states.

The emergency reserve aims to devise a common strategy for combating the COVID-19 pandemic through vaccine development and distribution. It also aims to create an emergency reserve to combat contingencies caused by climate change. The Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center aims to pool strength and integrate resources to assist South Asian countries’ economic development, livelihood improvement, and poverty reduction. Such issues require long-term partnership, indicating that China intends to engage with South Asia for the long haul.

Will Beijing Invade Taiwan?

On July 1, Xi Jinping gave a speech marking the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. After walking Party members through China’s recent past and glorious future, Xi turned to Taiwan. “Resolving the Taiwan question and realizing China’s complete reunification is a historic mission and an unshakable commitment of the Communist Party of China,” he said. “We must take resolute action to utterly defeat any attempt toward “Taiwan independence,” and work together to create a bright future for national rejuvenation.”

What, precisely, are Beijing’s plans for Taiwan? In recent years, there has been no small amount of saber rattling, with aggressive naval drills, aerial incursions, and warnings that force would be used for reunification if necessary. But given the steep domestic and international costs of war, how likely is it that Beijing will attempt to force reunification militarily? Will the People’s Republic of China wage war on Taiwan? — Abby Seiff

The US and China say they want to avoid military conflict, but no one can agree on how

Ben Westcott and Nectar Gan

Hong Kong (CNN)Among the recriminations and accusations, there was one point of consensus when American and Chinese diplomats met in the coastal city of Tianjin earlier this week: no one wants to see the world's most important relationship deteriorate into armed conflict.

But there was little consensus on a concrete way to avoid that catastrophe. And that has experts worried.

Washington and Beijing have been trapped in a spiral of anger and suspicion for several years, but the situation has deteriorated rapidly since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, amid finger-pointing over the origins of the virus.

Meetings between the two sides are few and far between — and when they occur, such as in Alaska in March, they are bitter and confrontational. The US is without an ambassador in Beijing. There have been no moves to reopen the recently shuttered United States consulate in Chengdu or the Chinese consulate in Houston. And the appointment of a new Chinese ambassador to Washington, while a positive step, is unlikely to deescalate tensions in the short term.

The Challenges to China’s National Rejuvenation – Part Three: The Lure and Threat of Central Asia

Lindsay Hughes

China’s deteriorating international relationships could see countries work with the United States to curb China’s ability to use the South China Sea, or provide basing and logistical support to the US, or both, leaving China prevented from importing its sea-borne energy requirements and exporting its manufactured goods. Beijing, therefore, needs to be able to access its energy sources from Turkmenistan and Iran via overland routes that run through Central Asia, and to export its manufactured goods along them. Those routes need to be securitised, however, requiring China to extend its influence over Central Asia. That objective could encounter some severe challenges.

Key Points
China faces looming demographic issues that could hinder its plan to increase domestic consumption, forcing it to continue to depend on its exports to maintain economic growth.

It also appears to have over-estimated its capability to design and manufacture computer semiconductors, which will hinder its drive towards technological hegemony.


Alice Ekman

China was initially cautious in the development and application of blockchain technology. Among the technology’s best-known attributes are the relative anonymity and immutability of the information, as every blockchain transaction has a digital record and signature that can be identified, validated, stored and shared. This technology could therefore become a double-edged sword for the Communist Party of China (CPC), as it goes against the government’s efforts to censor content it considers sensitive and, in more general terms, efforts to assert its cyber-sovereignty.

However, after at first observing the emergence of blockchain technology with concern, China’s central government has increasingly seen it as an opportunity, as has been the case with most emerging technologies. Since the launch of the 13th five-year plan in 2016 and the release of the first White Paper on Blockchain Technology and Application Development by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology the same year, the CPC has increasingly considered that blockchain could become an economic, political and geopolitical asset for the country, if ‘guided’ well.

Russia beefs up Tajik base, warns of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan

MOSCOW, July 28 (Reuters) - Russia said on Wednesday it was beefing up the combat capabilities of its military base in Tajikistan and training local soldiers, as Moscow warned that Islamic State militants were moving into neighbouring Afghanistan.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, who was in Tajikistan on Wednesday for talks, said the security situation had rapidly deteriorated in Afghanistan amid a U.S. troop withdrawal.

That withdrawal has prompted Moscow to prepare for a potentially major security challenge on the edge of its Muslim-majority Central Asian backyard.

In particular, Moscow has expressed alarm over what it has described as the growing strength of Islamic State elements in northern Afghanistan.

Shoigu said that Islamic State fighters were moving into Afghanistan from Syria, Libya and several other countries.

Who’s against the jab

Afourth wave of covid-19 infections is sweeping across America. It is strongest in the heartland and southern states: cases per 100,000 people are highest in Louisiana, Florida and Arkansas; Missouri has the highest hospitalisations. But the rapidly spreading Delta variant threatens other places, too. Since vaccinations have stalled at around 155m adults, or 60% of the population aged 18 or over, few if any parts of the country have reached herd immunity. The new wave is likely to crash everywhere.

Identifying the causes of vaccine hesitancy can help policymakers decide where to target their efforts. The Economist has collaborated with YouGov, a pollster, to collect weekly surveys on Americans’ intent to get vaccinated for covid-19. Using the demographic profiles of some 24,000 Americans, we have built a statistical model to estimate how likely each respondent is to say they have received, or will get, their jab—and to reveal the biggest causes of hesitancy.

U.S. Leads International Efforts to Attribute China’s Microsoft Hack

Dr. Georgianna Shea
Source Link

In an unprecedented show of international coordination, the United States, European Union, and NATO last week attributed the recent hack of Microsoft’s Exchange Server and other “malicious cyber activity” to the People’s Republic of China and its Ministry of State Security (MSS). As attribution is a prerequisite for punishing those responsible, this collective action is a leap forward in establishing international norms and standards in cyberspace.

The White House explained that in the Microsoft breach, MSS-affiliated hackers compromised tens of thousands of networks around the world. The European Union noted that the operation was particularly “irresponsible and harmful” because numerous other hackers have continued to exploit the vulnerability first used by Chinese operatives, causing “significant economic loss.” Meanwhile, in its first-ever condemnation of Chinese cyber operations, NATO stated that this kind of malicious cyber activity “undermine[s] security, confidence and stability in cyberspace.”

These statements by the United States and its allies come months after private cybersecurity and technology firms first pointed fingers at the Chinese government. This delay stems partly from the different ways that the U.S. government and private industry attribute cyberattacks. The U.S. government relies on the intelligence community for attribution based on a combination of signals and human intelligence along with assessments of the tradecraft, infrastructure, and malware the hackers employed.

Learning from the War: “Who Lost Afghanistan?” versus Learning “Why We Lost”

Anthony H. Cordesman

It does not take much vision to predict that the collapse of the present Afghan government is now all too likely, and that if the current Afghan central government collapses, a partisan U.S. political battle over who lost Afghanistan will follow. It is also nearly certain that any such partisan battle will become part of a bitter mid-term 2022 election. It takes equally little vision to foresee that any such partisan political debate will be largely dishonest and focus on blaming the opposing party. “Dishonesty” seems to be the growing definition of American political dialogue.

It is possible that neither party will really want to debate the collapse and the loss of the war. However, it seems all too likely that the debate will focus on Democrats blaming President Trump and Republicans blaming President Biden.

The Democratic Party argument will be that the Trump administration horribly mismanaged the initial peace agreement it signed on February 22, 2020. The argument will be that the February agreement traded withdrawal for negotiations, but that it never defined a possible peace and never created an effective peace process, and in doing so, effectively “lost” Afghanistan by defining a date for U.S. withdrawal in 14 months: May 1, 2020. Democrats will claim this agreement led to major U.S. withdrawals and Afghan political turmoil before the Biden Administration took office, making the “loss” of Afghanistan inevitable.

The Forever Wars Aren’t Ending. They’re Just Being Rebranded.

Jacob Silverman

After 18 years of illegal warfare, corruption, and untold numbers of innocent people killed or made into refugees, the U.S. combat mission in Iraq will be declared finished—for the third time. Sort of. This week, President Joe Biden said that the United States is “not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission” in Iraq. The 2,500 U.S. soldiers officially staged there—almost certainly an undercount, as military leaders tend to fudge deployment numbers and reorganize troops under intelligence authorities or noncombat roles so as to disguise the scale of our overseas footprint—will be moving on.

But they won’t necessarily be going home, or even leaving the region. The change in status, while pleasing to anti-war advocates and to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, who met with Biden this week, is mostly a distinction without a difference. The U.S. will be moving into an “advise-and-assist role,” as it’s euphemistically described, providing many of the same services it does now. According to ABC News, “the change in mission is more of a semantic one, and the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will not dramatically differ as they shift their emphasis to training and assisting.” U.S. soldiers will be doing “the exact same things they’re already doing, just fewer doing it,” said Wesley Morgan, author of a book about America’s war in Afghanistan.

The International Community Must Use Its Leverage in Tunisia

Sarah Yerkes

Tunisian President Kais Saied dissolved parliament, sacked the prime minister, and declared himself chief executive on July 25—actions that reek of a coup in the Arab world’s only democracy. Tunisians carried out a successful revolution in 2011, ousting longtime dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and ushering in a democratic transition—one that was still ongoing when Saied was elected in 2019. Although Saied has sought to couch his actions in a constitutional article that allows the president to take exceptional measures when the state is in imminent danger, his power grab is still extralegal and comes against Tunisia’s short- and long-term interests.

Tunisia currently faces three crises. Its economy, which has struggled since the revolution, is close to collapse, leading some observers to compare it to Lebanon. The coronavirus pandemic decimated the tourism industry and sent unemployment skyrocketing; this month, amid a brutal fourth wave, Tunisia has seen its highest number of new COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. And a political crisis preceded Saied’s recent actions: The 2019 elections ushered in the most fractured government in Tunisia’s history, with the largest party holding just one quarter of the seats.

Globalization Strikes Back

Richard N. Haass

The summer of 2021 has come to be largely defined by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and accelerating climate change. Both are manifestations of globalization and the reality of a world increasingly defined by the vast and fast cross-border flows of just about everything, from goods, services, and capital to data, terrorists, and disease.

Little nowadays stays local for long. The lethal coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan, China did not remain there, and greenhouse gases emitted anywhere warm the atmosphere and ocean everywhere.

These two crises demonstrate the woeful inadequacy of efforts to address the problematic aspects of globalization. The so-called international community has again shown itself to be anything but a community. The supply of COVID-19 vaccines is billions of doses short of what is needed. The funds to pay for global immunization are likewise billions of dollars short. Governments are putting their countries first, even though fast-spreading variants are emerging in under-vaccinated populations elsewhere and are indifferent to political borders.

Security News This Week: The Top 30 Vulnerabilities Include Plenty of Usual Suspects

THIS WEEK, WIRED reported on an alarming phenomenon of real warships having their locations faked by some unknown miscreant. Over the past several months, dozens of vessels have appeared to cross into disputed waters when they were in fact hundreds of miles away. The misinformation has come in the form of simulated AIS tracking data, which shows up on aggregation sites like MarineTraffic and AISHub. It's unclear who's responsible, or how exactly they're pulling it off, but it holds a match dangerously close to powder kegs in Crimea and elsewhere.

Speaking of controversy, a pair of researchers this week released a tool into the world that crawls every website looking for vulnerabilities that are low-hanging fruit—think SQL injections and cross-site scripting—and makes the results not only public but searchable. This is actually the second iteration of the system, known as Punkspider; they shut the first down after numerous complaints to their hosting provider. Many of the same criticisms remain this time around, leaving Punkspider's long-term fate uncertain.

Huawei launches new smartphones without 5G as U.S. sanctions, chip shortage bite

Ryan Browne

Huawei on Thursday launched its new P50 and P50 Pro smartphones without support for super-fast 5G internet.

It's a sign of the toll that U.S. sanctions and a global chip shortage are taking on the Chinese tech firm.

5G phones are "beyond our reach" due to U.S. trade restrictions, Huawei's Richard Yu said.

Huawei on Thursday unveiled its new P50 smartphone line, which lacks support for super-fast 5G internet, as the Chinese tech giant grapples with both U.S. sanctions and a global chip shortage.

The company is launching two models: the P50 and a more expensive P50 Pro. Huawei's P series is mainly known for its cutting-edge camera tech, and the P50 lineup builds on that with two huge circular camera units.

Artificial Intelligence:An Accountability Framework for Federal Agencies and Other Entities

Fast Facts
As a nation, we have yet to grasp the full benefits or unwanted effects of artificial intelligence. AI is widely used, but how do we know it's working appropriately?

This report identifies key accountability practices—centered around the principles of governance, data, performance, and monitoring—to help federal agencies and others use AI responsibly. For example, the governance principle calls for users to set clear goals and engage with diverse stakeholders.

To develop these practices, we held a forum on AI oversight with experts from government, industry, and nonprofits. We also interviewed federal inspector general officials and AI experts.

What GAO Found

A Resilient Future For Cyber: Warfare ROE, Tech Alliances And Legislation

Andrew Rubin

The United States, which spent approximately $714 billion on national defense last year, has long been heralded for its military prowess. Adversaries know our strength on the battlefield, but as rising ransomware attacks show (e.g., JBS, Colonial Pipeline, Microsoft Exchange, SolarWinds, etc.), we’re increasingly vulnerable in cyberspace.

These recent attacks underscore a larger trend: the shifting tides of traditional warfare. Wars have historically been fought over land, air or sea, but increasingly, they are now moving to cyberspace. And the unfortunate reality is, the United States is, for once, behind the curve. We’re losing this battle. We need to be more resilient — here’s how.

A Case For Cyber Rules Of Engagement

AI Gives ‘Days of Advanced’ Warning in Recent NORTHCOM Networked Warfare Experiment


Using artificial intelligence for rapid data collection and integration of shrunk the commander's decision cycle from days to minutes in some instances in a recent information experiment by U.S. Northern Command, the head of NORTHCOM said Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Gen. Glen VanHerck said the Global Information Dominance Exercise or GIDE, “focused a lot on contested logistics to give us a scenario where maybe a line of communication such as the Panama Canal may be challenged,” by a peer competitor such as China or Russia. The experiment wrapped up during the second week of July.

The experiment was hosted by NORTHCOM but included 11 combatant commands, which illustrated how they can integrate and act on data from satellites, planes, and other sources. It also tested the command’s ability to use new artificial intelligence abilities to monitor and predict potential threats using those data sources.

Avoiding Great Power Phony Wars

Brent D. Sadler

History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

—Mark Twain (attributed)

For some, the end of the Cold War in 1991 was a vindication of democracy’s supremacy over dogmatic Marxist ideology—a victory underwritten by the free flow of capital leading to sustained improvements in prosperity wherever capitalism was embraced. Euphoria was so high that, by 1992, ideologically driven war had become a relic, or what Francis Fukuyama called the “end of history.”1 In the years immediately following, an explosion of freely moving capital across opening markets underwrote the greatest growth of prosperity and reduction in poverty the world had ever seen. That period in history is over, however, having been replaced with the stark realism of Great Power competition.

Air Force special operations’ next big battlefield: Facebook


There’s a war going on and, like it or not, you’ve already been drafted into it. But there’s no battlefield, no explosions, and no uniforms in this fight. Instead, it’s unfolding in Reddit threads, Facebook comments, and other social media forums where people swap information and, unwittingly or not, disinformation. Unlike misinformation, which includes false, incomplete, or misleading information shared without the intent to mislead a target population, disinformation is deliberately designed to mislead targeted groups of people, and is being used by other countries such as Russia and Iran to advance their own interests in the United States.

That, at least, is the picture painted by a new RAND report about foreign disinformation being spread on social media. The results are grim: nearly five years after disinformation first made headlines after Russian troll farms spread millions of misleading Facebook, Instagram and other social media posts in the midst of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the U.S. government’s response to the threat “remains fractured, uncoordinated, and—by many actors’ own admission—dubiously effective,” the report says.


Steven Metz

Twenty years of costly counterinsurgency (COIN) efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have left many national security experts—and the American public—ready to move on. However, while the United States may be over COIN, COIN is not done with the United States. Over the past seventy-five years, the US military has been involved in COIN efforts around the world, often engaged in multiple fights at once. Given the prominent role insurgency played in the past and the fact that civil wars and nonstate violence remain consistent features of the international system, we should expect COIN will continue to play an important role in US national security.

The challenge for the United States is not just maintaining COIN expertise as national security attention shifts to great power competition, but also understanding how the character of insurgencies will evolve in the future. The persistent requirement to engage in COIN over many decades has led to an extensive body of both research and military doctrine on how to defeat insurgencies. However, the character of insurgency has evolved due to societal shifts in the areas of technology, economics, social networks, and other changes that shape human interaction. New forms of insurgency will likely emerge in the coming decades, and the United States may once again become involved. As the character of insurgency evolves, the strategies and tools necessary to counter it also need to adapt.

The U.S. Army Has a Good Modernization Strategy—It Must Stick With It

Dan Gouré

The FY2022 proposed defense budget was the first test of the U.S. Army’s commitment to its modernization program. Despite a stressful budget environment where the Army took a $5 billion cut compared to its FY2021 request, the entire modernization effort consisting of the high priority “31+4” programs were protected. This was the right thing to do. These are good programs backed up by a sensible acquisition strategy, so the Army needs to stick with the plan.

The Army is about to see critical parts of its modernization effort come to fruition. Despite anxiety from within and criticism from the outside regarding its ability to bring its modernization agenda to fruition, the Service must press ahead. Without modernization, the Army could find itself irrelevant in future high-end conflicts.

In 2017, the Army announced plans to undertake the most radical modernization program in more than thirty years. It went well beyond the legendary Big Five programs that shaped the way the Army fought since the 1980s. The Army’s new modernization drive envisioned a Big Six set of priorities that would allow the Army to restore combat overmatch and engage in a new type of warfare called Multi-Domain Operations. The six priority areas are: Long Range Precision Strike, Air and Missile Defense, Future Vertical Lift, Next Generation Combat Vehicle, Networking, and Soldier Lethality.

US Navy Unveils Strategy for Autonomous Vehicles

Steven Stashwick

The U.S. Navy’s research arm has released a strategy for developing intelligent autonomous systems and integrating them with the fleet.

Despite splashy Trump administration plans to build a 355-ship fleet and general bipartisan agreement that the U.S. fleet should be larger, the U.S. Navy is struggling to build up its numbers. Meanwhile, the Chinese navy surpassed the U.S. Navy in raw numbers – though not tonnage – in 2019 and continues to grow, commissioning increasingly capable warships and building up its own carrier fleet, a traditional area of U.S. superiority. To blunt China’s numerical advantages in a potential conflict, the U.S. Navy has increasingly looked to unmanned craft to supplement its traditional ships and submarines.

In the last weeks of the Trump administration, the Pentagon released an ambitious, and unfunded, plan for an enormously expanded navy by 2045 that included more than 200 unmanned ships and submarines. While many of those unmanned craft would likely still be controlled remotely by crews of operators, the navy is increasingly thinking about how to use advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide autonomous control.