10 August 2021

Social Media in Violent Conflicts – Recent Examples

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Alan Rusbridger, the then editor-in-chief of the Guardian in his 2010 Andrew Olle Media Lecture, stated, “News organisations still break lots of news. But, increasingly, news happens first on Twitter. If you’re a regular Twitter user, even if you’re in the news business and have access to wires, the chances are that you’ll check out many rumours of breaking news on Twitter first. There are millions of human monitors out there who will pick up on the smallest things and who have the same instincts as the agencies—to be the first with the news. As more people join, the better it will get. ”

The most important and unique feature of social media and its role in future conflicts is the speed at which it can disseminate information to audiences and the audiences to provide feedback.

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 ...

With Biden's withdrawal of US forces in Afghanistan, America's longest war is ending: 5 Things podcast

Claire Thornton

On today's episode of the 5 Things podcast: Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have hung over the US and the world for nearly two decades — taking hundreds of thousands of lives, costing taxpayer money and leaving America war-weary.

Now, Biden's full withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and decision to end combat missions in Iraq marks an end to the post-9/11 era and represents a renewed focus on combatting threats from China.

We're mapping out Biden's skepticism toward our engagement in the Middle East and remembering the human life our wars have cost — Afghan, Iraqi and American lives and those touched by the far-flung effects of our "forever wars."

USA TODAY White House correspondent Courtney Subramanian, along with foreign policy reporter Deirdre Shesgreen and Pentagon correspondent Tom Vanden Brook explain what to keep in mind as US troops leave these two countries: What have these wars costs us? What happens if the Taliban regains control in Afghanistan?

Who's Who In The Taliban: The Men Who Run The Extremist Group And How They Operate

Ron Synovitz

With the Taliban in control of more than half of all districts in Afghanistan, promises made by Taliban political negotiators in Doha appear to be falling by the wayside.

The movement’s so-called Political Affairs Commission in Doha had vowed in a February 2020 peace deal with the United States that the Taliban would respect human rights and keep foreign fighters out of the territory it controls.

But recent reporting by RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi and Tajik Service belies Taliban claims that it has no foreign fighters in Afghanistan, as there are thousands of them -- mostly Pakistanis -- fighting under the Taliban banner.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said Taliban militants who’ve recently advanced in Ghazni, Kandahar, and other Afghan provinces have been detaining and summarily executing soldiers, police, and civilians with suspected ties to the Afghan government.

Searching for the Next War: What Happens When Contractors Leave Afghanistan?

Noah Coburn and Peter Gill

Gyanendra Shrestha* spent most of the past 13 years in Afghanistan, helping the United States fight its longest war. A month and a half ago, he was laid off from his job guarding a gate at Bagram Airbase, in preparation for the U.S. troop withdrawal. His employer, the defense contracting company AC First, sent him home to Sindhuli District, in Nepal’s Himalayan foothills. Speaking with The Diplomat by phone, Shrestha says that some of his former colleagues in private security contracting are now finding work in other war zones and he, too, is considering whether to venture abroad again.

The U.S. war effort in Afghanistan has relied heavily on so-called Third Country Nationals (TCNs) like Shrestha — workers from poor countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and beyond — who work for contracting companies that serve the military, Department of State, and USAID. Often invisible in media presentations of the war, TCNs perform work ranging from guarding convoys to cooking meals on bases, and from building installations to defusing mines. Many do work nearly identical to that of U.S. soldiers. Now, as U.S. troops withdraw, many TCNs are leaving Afghanistan — and fanning out around the world.

Is Taiwan Next?

Sarah A. Topol

Under the sharp light of Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport, the 19-year-old was easy to find. He stood alone where Nancy Tao Chen Ying had instructed.

Nancy was at her office when she received the message. It was a hot and humid Friday afternoon in July 2019, and a friend in Hong Kong asked if she could get to the airport: A young anti-government protester was fleeing the semiautonomous Chinese territory; could she pick him up once he landed? Nancy had never done this before, but when she agreed, the protester sent her an encrypted message with his flight details, and she left work to meet him.

Slightly less than five feet tall and 26 years old, Nancy wore her long dark hair side swept, the layers framing her face. She dressed well, often in pastels, changing styles like moods. As Nancy approached him, the boy seemed unsettled. Tall and slim, he loomed over her, clutching a small backpack. He told her that while he had brought some clothes, he had little money. “It’s OK,” Nancy told him, leading him to the metro. “Let’s just go to Taipei first.”

Taiwan Will Fight China in a War For Its Freedom

Christian Whiton

Donald Trump was never pro-Taiwan. What I mean by that is that he never saw the nation as an asset in our struggle with China.

Some believe that Taiwan is a liability for America. They fear that China will inevitably swallow the democratic island of 24 million people by force, and that while the United States should try to deter such a calamity, there is no need to risk World War III by fighting the Chinese over an island in their backyard.

The pro-Taiwan camp differs. It holds that Taiwan puts the lie to the entire reason for existence of the Chinese Community Party (CCP). The CCP says the Chinese people need the iron fist of the Party to stave off the chaos and the humiliation at the hands of foreigners that marked China’s chaotic modern history. In Taiwan, ethnically Chinese people live in freedom, govern themselves democratically, and have the rule of law. They’re also better off economically: according to the Central Intelligence Agency, Taiwan has a per capita income of $24,502, compared to $16,117 for China.

Prospects for a people’s war in Myanmar


BANGKOK – It has taken peaceful protests, bloody massacres, economic collapse and a lethal pandemic but six months after Myanmar’s military seized power from an elected government, one reality has become entirely clear: For all the anguished outrage and diplomatic hand-wringing, the “international community” is not coming to the rescue.

The people of Myanmar are on their own with their military jailers and face a simple choice: roll over or fight back. As a countrywide campaign of bombings, targeted killings and armed clashes launched by local “People’s Defense Forces” or PDFs indicates, many of the country’s youth made that choice some time ago.

More difficult to gauge is where this campaign of grass-roots resistance is headed, what it might realistically achieve and how. Media hyperbole aside, Myanmar is not yet at the point of civil war.

NATO, Emerging Technologies, and Taiwan’s Potential Cooperative Security Role in the Indo-Pacific

Dr Christina Lin

On June 14, 2021, NATO leaders convened for a summit in Brussels and expressed concern over China’s behavior as a “systemic challenge” to the security of the NATO alliance.1 The following day, the People’s Republic deployed a dozen warplanes to swarm Taiwan’s air defense zone in what Newsweek describes as “gray-zone” activity to display Beijing’s displeasure.2 Against this backdrop, NATO’s new emphasis on China reveals that the attention of the alliance is shifting eastward from its traditional focus on Russia and Europe’s immediate neighborhood. Moreover, the alliance is especially concerned about Beijing’s global power in high technology. In response to cyber, space, artificial intelligence (AI), and other asymmetric threats enabled by emerging and disruptive technologies (EDT), NATO needs to adapt to China’s military rise in areas where it poses a challenge to the alliance. As observed by Kate Hansen Bundt, Secretary General of the Norwegian Atlantic Committee, this includes China’s ambitions in the development of technology standards and global governance, and its “race to control and influence the global digital infrastructure.

Simona Soare noted in a recent German Marshall Fund policy brief that, while NATO is concerned with Russia’s adoption of EDTs, “Chinese investment and leadership ambitions in the adoption of these technologies is the main geopolitical driver behind allied innovation plans.”4 In June 2020 NATO created an Advisory Group on Emerging and Disruptive Technologies to develop an allied innovation ecosystem with partners and external EDT stakeholders.5 In April 2021, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly issued a report on how NATO should enhance science and technology (S&T) cooperation with Asian partners to further its mission.6 Given that AsiaPacific nations such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan are leaders in the development of EDTs (as well as semiconductors that enable these technologies), this provides an opportunity for them to partner with NATO—and to enhance the transatlantic alliance’s defense technological edge, alongside their own.

China’s Strategy To Control The South China Sea: Defense Of The Indefensible

James Holmes

The perils of imprecise language obsessed George Orwell. Vague, abstract, or euphemistic language made it possible to entertain foolish thoughts. Foolish thoughts gave rise to even vaguer, more abstract, and more euphemistic language. And on and on the cycle toward decadence went. Even worse than inadvertent corruption of the English language was deliberate corruption meant to obscure political misdeeds or shroud them in righteousness. Orwell called willful obfuscation the “defense of the indefensible.” His verdict: political language consisted “largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.”

George Orwell, meet General Secretary Xi Jinping.

Linguistic hygiene is a must when interpreting and replying to a Chinese Communist Party diplomatic offensive. More often than not, party potentates deploy tricksy and false wordplay to salve foreign worries about their motives and deeds. Demanding precision is more and more critical the higher the stakes are for Beijing. High stakes amplify the incentive to deceive. Things commanding surpassing value to party leaders, the armed forces, and ordinary Chinese include such real estate as the Senkaku Islands, Taiwan, and the 80-90 percent of the South China Sea enclosed by Beijing’s “nine-dashed line.”

China’s Call For More Coal May Defy Climate Goals – Analysis

Michael Lelyveld

China’s emergency response to power shortages and demand for more coal are raising questions about its ability to meet its climate change goals.

Summer heat waves and floods appear to have set back plans to reduce reliance on coal as China’s energy mainstay while the government battles back against soaring demand and rising prices with orders to produce more.

On July 18, the nation’s top economic planning agency ordered major power producers to increase their coal stockpiles to at least seven days’ worth of consumption by July 21, Reuters reported.

“We are in the peak power consumption period and must guarantee coal supply to power plants … and will not allow the shutdown of power generation units due to a lack of coal,” the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said.

Is China Gaming the System or Playing the Game?

Ian Johnson

For many, a quick glance at the Olympics medals table reinforces the idea of China as a threat—a country pursuing victory at any cost. Its surge up the table in recent years seems like a perfect allegory for its rising military and economic power—a modern-day Soviet Union that uses a state-sponsored sports machine to game its way to international glory.

The numbers buttress this view. As of Thursday, the People's Republic sits atop the gold medal race with thirty-four to twenty-nine for the United States. But it has relatively few silver and bronze, a sign that resources have been aimed at disciplines with a higher probability of success. This perception is reinforced by golds being concentrated in a few sports: relatively marginal, rarely involving teams, and disproportionately female.

These are smart choices for winning gold. But it feels against the spirit of the Olympics—the work of a sports bureaucracy that aims to win in the standings rather than create a national sporting culture that organically produces elite athletes.

‘Greater China’ is a harmful myth

James Lee 

We all had a similar experience when we were kids: “Broccoli or spinach?” mom asked.

“Spinach,” I would respond, not knowing that any vegetables aside from the two presented greens were available. Mom’s trick influenced her kids to eat healthy.

Choice of words can influence human thinking and actions, and even shape people’s perceptions of the world.

Taiwanese understand that words matter. Over the past few weeks when “Taiwan” was spoken in place of the oppressive “Chinese Taipei” at the Tokyo Olympics, it symbolized a fundamental geopolitical shift that was heartwarming to freedom-loving people around the world.

There is also a dark side to the art of language, which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has mastered from its long historical roots of “political struggle.”

COLUMN-As nuclear negotiations stall, Iran and Israel wage secret war: Peter Apps

Peter Apps

LONDON, Aug 5 (Reuters) - On April 24, a suspected unmanned drone struck an Iranian oil tanker off the Syrian port of Baniyas, reportedly killing at least three people and sparking a blaze that took firefighters several hours to extinguish. It was the latest sign of an escalating shadow war between Iran and its enemies, principally Israel but also the Gulf states, the United States and European allies.

This week, as hardliners cemented their power in Tehran, that conflict appears to have escalated, first with a suspected Iranian drone attack on a Israeli-operated, British-owned tanker in the Gulf on Saturday that killed two people, then the apparent temporary hijacking of an asphalt carrier on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defence Minister Benny Gantz specifically accused Saeed Ara Jani, head of Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps UAV Command, of being behind the attack on the "Mercer Street" tanker this weekend that killed the Romanian captain as well as a British security guard.

Hot Issue – Turkey’s Political-Military Strategy to Stabilize Afghanistan

Colonel (ret.) Rich Outzen

Executive Summary: Executive Summary: Whatever the battlefield outcome after the completion of U.S. military drawdown in Afghanistan at the end of this month, Turkey will be a pivotal player in the country moving forward. This will likely be the case not only for the security of Kabul and its airport, but for the domestic balance of power that emerges and the regional geopolitical maneuvering that follows. Turkey’s hedging strategy of triangulation may seem unsavory to the West, but it may also be the best chance NATO, and the U.S., have for salvaging interests in a deteriorating situation.

The end of August 2021 marks a significant turning point in Afghanistan’s long-running Taliban war, which neither began nor will end with the American combat role. The nature of the turning point is easy to misportray: the U.S. is not withdrawing all forces or assistance, the Taliban’s territorial control is less in extent and degree than claimed, and Afghans remain willing to fight the Taliban while their government retains the means to do so (White House, June 25; Ozy, July 28; al-Jazeera, July 25). The Taliban may well achieve control of heavily Pashtun areas in the south and east of the country, but it has no demonstrated aptitude to run a modern economy or national government, let alone win the hearts and minds of Afghanistan’s non-Pashtun majority (al-Jazeera, October 26, 2020; Caravanserai, August 2).

The US military plainly failed in Afghanistan. The generals need to answer for it.


The US military hasn't been defeated in Afghanistan, but it was nowhere near to accomplishing its mission.

As US forces leave Afghanistan, the generals who led them need to explain how the war reached such a dismal end.

Andrew J. Bacevich is the president of the Quincy Institute.

David Petraeus - remember him? - recently confided to a nationwide television audience that prospects in Afghanistan are looking grim.

"The situation on the ground," the retired general told CNN's Fareed Zakaria, "has become increasingly dire with each passing week."

Mustering all the authority of a former soldier once ranked alongside such immortals as Grant and Sherman, Petraeus went even further.

The United States is determined to dominate the semiconductor tech war

June Park

The United States is home to ‘state-of-the-art’ integrated device manufacturers and fabless chip firms, but the global chip shortage during COVID-19 has revealed weaknesses in US chip manufacturing capacities at foundries. The Biden administration’s assessment of global semiconductor supply chains acknowledges that while the United States leads in system-on-chip designs, it severely lacks foundries to boost chip production in scale to mitigate the risk of future chip shortages.

The United States aims to synthesise the entire chip production process by overcoming constraints in subsidies and infrastructure. It is also mobilising funding via the Chips for America Act and by pressuring allies with chip manufacturing capacity to contribute. The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has committed to aiding the United States in resolving the chip shortage after considerable pressure from the White House to invest in the United States. Samsung’s commitment to invest US$17 billion in foundries for semiconductor production in the United States followed under similar pressures.

The Cold War is over — or is it?


The Cold War has been over for more than three decades following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the Soviet Union’s later collapse. But with the emergence of China and Russia as potential adversaries, the specter of a new cold war cannot be dismissed. This new cold war, if it materializes, would be profoundly different than the first one for several reasons.

First, it will be waged across a broader front in which so-called non-kinetic means will be far more prominent vis-a-vis trade, investment and economic competition, social media, the internet, and other forms of espionage, propaganda, disinformation and misinformation.

Second, unlike the old Soviet Union, China is an economic superpower whose GDP may one day eclipse that of the U.S. Third, both China and Russia have formidable, highly capable militaries, in some cases with technologies equal to America’s.

Rubio's chilling warning: China has weaponized US ‘corporate lust for profits'

Caitlin McFall

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday that China has weaponized America's own "corporate lust for profits" against the U.S.

In a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Rubio said, "It is time to wake up" and look at corporate America’s reliance on the Chinese Communist Party.

"U.S. corporations are so desperate to have access to the Chinese market that they’ll lead costly boycotts in an American state that passes a law that they don’t like," Rubio said. "American companies have actually fired Americans who live in America for saying or writing something that China doesn’t like."

Rubio pointed to several instances where American businesses fired employees, removed certain articles of clothing from U.S. shelves, and severed ties to other U.S. businesses due to CCP pressure.

The Florida Republican warned that China’s threat to U.S. interests expands beyond corporate control and amounts to the "biggest illegal wealth transfer from one nation to another in the history of mankind."

The defining lie at the heart of American foreign policy

Andrew Bacevich

"The thirty-year interregnum of U.S. global hegemony," writes David Bromwich in the journal Raritan, "has been exposed as a fraud, a decoy, a cheat, [and] a sell." Today, he continues, "the armies of the cheated are struggling to find the word for something that happened and happened wrong."

In fact, the armies of the cheated know exactly what happened, even if they haven't yet settled on precisely the right term to describe the disaster that has befallen this nation.

What happened was this: shortly after the end of the Cold War, virtually the entire American foreign-policy establishment succumbed to a monumentally self-destructive ideological fever.

Call it INS, shorthand for Indispensable Nation Syndrome. Like Covid-19, INS exacts a painful toll of victims. Unlike Covid, we await the vaccine that can prevent its spread. We know that preexisting medical conditions can increase a person's susceptibility to the coronavirus. The preexisting condition that increases someone's vulnerability to INS is the worship of power.

US weighs the cost of Indo-Pacific readiness


“There are very few things as expensive as preventing a war. But there are two that are more expensive. One is fighting a war. And the most expensive of all is fighting and losing a war.”
– Army General Mark A Milley

The man who may very well have stopped a disastrous coup attempt on US democracy, hatched by an unhinged former president, was speaking at the Navy League of the United States’ Sea-Air-Space Global Maritime Exposition at National Harbor in Maryland.

And basically, it had to do with the high cost of maintaining US military readiness in the Indo-Pacific and other regions.

Milley, the 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized that sea control and power projection are critical to sea power superiority.

The U.S. Won Afghanistan Before Losing It

Toby Harnden

The tragedy of the U.S. retreat from Afghanistan is that days after 9/11, President George W. Bush had settled on a plan based on principles that could have ensured enduring success.

Remarkably, the Pentagon had no contingency for Afghanistan in 2001. The Central Intelligence Agency filled the void. Its plan was for small teams of CIA officers, along with Green Berets and U.S. air power, to assist the indigenous Afghan resistance—the Northern Alliance. On Oct. 17, 2001, eight members of the CIA’s Team Alpha became the first Americans behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. They linked up with the ethnic Uzbek fighters of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, along with Tajik and Hazara forces.

This wasn’t an invasion. The Afghans did most of the fighting. The “foreigners” weren’t the Americans, but the mainly Arab fighters of al Qaeda. The role of Team Alpha and the 10 or so other CIA teams in Afghanistan was clear: to hunt down the perpetrators of 9/11. The Taliban regime had to be toppled because it was providing sanctuary for Osama bin Laden, but America’s enemy was al Qaeda.

Racing for the New Rice - Japan’s Plans For its Semiconductor Industry

Mathieu Duchâtel

There are striking similarities between Europe’s and Japan’s semiconductor industries, and between how the European Commission and the Japanese government are reinvesting in their industrial policy to cope with an international environment characterized by increased US-China rivalry.

Last June, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) released its Strategy for Semiconductors and the Digital Industry. According to METI, semiconductors are for the digital revolution not what oil was in the 1970s or the steam engine during the industrial revolution - instead they are the "rice of the industry, essential and irreplaceable to all industries." The metaphor combines an evocation of national survival - everyone needs rice to survive - and a vision of Japanese pride, as one of the world’s producers of rice of the highest international standard.

Japan’s industrial survival at stake

Mining Of Minerals And The Limits To Growth

Steve Keen

A patron just alerted me to this video by an Finland-based Associate Professor of Mineral Processing, Simon Michaux (he's obviously an Australian from his accent). He makes the point that minerals have been declining in availability and quantity pretty much as predicted by the "Standard Run" of the Limits to Growth Report from 1972.

He also emphasises that mineral production and energy use are linked at the hip--and that energy use rises as mineral quality declines--so that an industrial future based on fossil fuels is impossible, while the future envisioned by a transition to renewable energy is also flawed.

I highly recommend watching the video, and reading the attached report. Here's part of the abstract:

It becomes highly relevant then to examine how mining ecosystem interacts with the energy ecosystem. The IMF Metals Index and the Crude Oil Price Index correlates strongly. This suggests that the mining industrial operations to meet metal demand for the future are unlikely to go as planned.

Combating Terrorism Exchange (CTX)

At the Very End, I Smiled

ISIS Medical System as a Target for Counterterrorism Efforts

The Future of Islamic Extremism in Pakistan: An Ethnography, Part Two

The CTX Interview | GEN David Petraeus, US Army (ret.)

The Game Floor | Facilitating CT Virtual Games: The Transition to the Virtual World

Ethics and Insights | Sometimes

Huawei to America: You're not taking cyber-security seriously until you let China vouch for us

Simon Sharwood

Huawei has decided to school America on cyber-security, and its lesson is to co-operate with China so its vendors – including Huawei – can be trusted around the world.

A post from Huawei's CSO for the USA, Andy Purdy, rates President Biden's sweeping May 2021 Executive Order on Improving the Nation's Cybersecurity as "the bare minimum that companies should be doing".

Purdy, a former White House adviser on cyber security, makes some decent points – especially when pointing out that the Executive Order is only binding on federal agencies and their private sector suppliers.

"For companies that don't do business with the government, they're simply guidelines," Purdy wrote. The CSO therefore called for the USA's Securities and Exchange Commission to force businesses to adopt sound security frameworks like that offered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Without An Enforced Honor Code, Can The Military Academies Survive?

Scott Sturman

“We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does”

Upon returning to USAFA for our 30th Class Reunion in 2002, we found locked doors to cadet dormitory rooms. A simple security issue we were told, but gone were the days when a $100 bill could be left unmolested on one’s desk. Later that day in a formal briefing, the Commandant of Cadets informed us that the Honor Code could not be enforced as it was in the 1970s. Doing so would decimate present classes, whose members adhered to a less rigid standard of morality and honor. And now 20 years hence the Academy is embroiled in yet another scandal with 243 cadets accused of cheating with no resolution in sight.

Academy alumni, who watched the decline in academic standards, military rigor, and ethical expectations over the past several decades, wonder if the Academy can withstand the onslaught of doctrines like Critical Race Theory (CRT) that are incompatible with training future Air Force officers. A new breed of ideological, senior officers argues a new ethos better aligns Academy values with evolving cultural realities. Once aligned, what will distinguish the Academy from other institutions involved in academic and military training? If the answer is “nothing,” then the value of the Academy’s contribution comes into question.


Robert S. Burrell

Ever since the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the watchword for the US military has been competition. “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism,” the NDS declares, “is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.” But in the two years since the document’s publication, how exactly the Department of Defense might best address competition has remained a subject of intense debate. And at the same time as the joint force attempts to incorporate competition into doctrine, it has also begun to readdress irregular warfare, publishing an annex to the defense strategy in 2020 in an attempt to institutionalize irregular warfare as a core competency.

The two priorities of competition and irregular warfare have become conflated with one another. In fact, the Joint Staff has renamed its Office of Irregular Warfare the Office of Irregular Warfare and Competition. These new priorities have led to much introspection on the inability of joint doctrine to address the totality of warfare. One issue derives from the conceptual limitations placed by current doctrine on warfare as a violent struggle. Such a definition fails to address the realities of current interstate competition, which often entails nonviolent means. Take unconventional warfare, for instance. Supporting the armed component of a resistance movement would certainly qualify as violence, but opposition to an oppressive government can come in many forms; assisting a resistance movement that is employing nonviolent protests can prove decisive. The mass movement that brought down the Berlin Wall, for example, accomplished far more than an armed conflict ever could have.

A new Air Force weapon will wipe out drone swarms with the push of a button


One of the biggest threats to U.S. troops abroad isn’t a stealth fighter, a nuclear missile, or a massive cyber attack. It’s a swarm of cheap drones that can overwhelm the expensive defense systems troops have on hand now.

“I’m talking about the [drone] you can go out and buy at Costco right now in the United States for a thousand dollars, four quad, rotorcraft or something like that that can be launched and flown,” Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command said last summer. “And with very simple modifications, it can be made into something that can drop a weapon like a hand grenade or something else.”

In sufficient numbers, those drones can spy on friendly bases, destroy infrastructure and attack personnel, explained the Air Force Research Laboratory in a recent video. How? Because machine guns don’t have the range or accuracy to destroy the nimble fliers; anti-aircraft missiles are too expensive to use on the cheap devices; and most military bases don’t have enough missiles to destroy an entire swarm.

Kratos Says Secret "Off-Board Sensing Station" Unmanned Aircraft Will Be Transformative


The U.S. Air Force is looking to field a new type of low-cost yet advanced drone to be used as an “Off-Board Sensing Station,” or OBSS. Details remain very limited, and the few publicly available Air Force Research Laboratory documents on the program state that specifics are only available to approved contractors. Still, according to Kratos, one of the companies involved with the effort, the new unmanned platform could potentially end up being as revolutionary as the firm's stealthy XQ-58 Valkyrie has been.

The remarks about the OBSS program were made by Eric DeMarco, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, during a company earnings call this week. DeMarco says that if the program is successful, the company believes it “could ultimately be as significant and transformational to Kratos as we expect Valkyrie to be." The CEO added that the OBSS program is a signal that “the total addressable market opportunity for Kratos' class of tactical drones is rapidly expanding and clarifying, as the Department of Defense strives for affordable force multiplier systems and technologies.”