22 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 ...

‘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.

The Economist recently described the American invasion of Afghanistan of 2001 and its ‘forever war’ in that country a misadventure. What are your thoughts?

Defining Change: Who Are The Taliban That Conquered Afghanistan? – Analysis

James M. Dorsey

Having taken control, the Taliban want the world to believe that they have become more pragmatic and inclusive in the twenty years since they brutally ruled Afghanistan. Whether true or not, will be determined by the group’s attitudes towards jihadists and other militants, ethnic and religious minorities, women, and governance.

To be fair, the Taliban despite controlling all of Afghanistan since Sunday, including the capital Kabul, have yet to announce a government and the precise principles on which their governance will be based.

The Taliban were negotiating on Tuesday with political leaders associated with former president Ashraf Ghani on a formal handover of power. Mr. Ghani left Afghanistan on Sunday to in his words avert further bloodshed.

The Taliban sought in the meantime to calm concerns about their rule by urging women to join a government that has yet to be formed, declaring an amnesty for people employed by the former government or US and other foreign forces, and cracking down on criminals disguising themselves as Taliban to hijack vehicles.

The Taliban Takeover: Plan Now for the Next Crisis in Afghanistan

Anthony H. Cordesman
Source Link

The U.S. already faces a crisis over managing its evacuation from Afghanistan, over how to treat Afghans that aided the U.S. in the war, and over which refugees it should allow to enter the United States. This crisis, however, is only the prelude to a far more serious crisis: How will the Taliban govern and what can be done to protect the nearly 38 to 40 million people that will now remain in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s rule.

Humanitarian aid is clearly not the answer. Such aid is necessary, and it can be an important bridge to a more stable future for those caught up in the actual fighting and in the immediate social and economic impact following the collapse of the previous Afghan government. The real challenge, however, is what can be done – if anything – to moderate the way in which the Taliban governs, shapes the Afghan economy, creates a new justice system, and enforces its interpretation of Islamic law and customs. It will be to limit repression, violence, and the tolerance of terrorism and attacks on targets outside Afghanistan.

Here, U.S. leverage is clearly limited. It is the defeated enemy. It is the symbol of the reforms and changes the Taliban rejects. It is not a major trading partner or source of commercial investment, and its definition of human rights and the rule of law is fundamentally different from the values the Taliban has lived by and has shown so far as it takes power. The U.S. also has already shown signs of turning away from any further involvement or challenges in the country. It never proposed any credible peace plan or future options for its involvement in Afghanistan after the first peace agreement in February 2020, and President Biden has rejected “nation building” without mentioning any need to consider how the U.S. will treat – or try to influence the new regime.

Condoleezza Rice: The Afghan people didn’t choose the Taliban. They fought and died alongside us.

Condoleezza Rice

It didn’t have to happen this way. The images of Afghans hanging from American transport planes at the Kabul airport are heartbreaking and harrowing. That this moment comes less than one month from the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is hard to believe and harder to accept.

The past years in Afghanistan have been difficult for every president, our armed forces, our allies and our country. The sacrifices of those who served — and those who died — will forever sear our national memory.

Each of us who held positions of authority over those years made mistakes — not because we didn’t try or were heedless of the challenges. But the United States could not afford to ignore the rogue state that harbored those who attacked us on 9/11. The time will come to assess where we failed — and what we achieved.

In the wake of Kabul’s fall, though, a corrosive and deeply unfair narrative is emerging: to blame the Afghans for how it all ended. The Afghan security forces failed. The Afghan government failed. The Afghan people failed. “We gave them every chance to determine their own future,” President Biden said in his address Monday — as if the Afghans had somehow chosen the Taliban.

Unrealistic timelines, unsustainable goals made ‘victorious US withdrawal’ from Afghanistan impossible, watchdog finds


WASHINGTON — A “victorious U.S. withdrawal” from Afghanistan was impossible to achieve because the U.S. government created unrealistic timelines to rebuild the country, leading to short-term fixes such as injections of troops, money and resources, according to the watchdog agency created by Congress to provide oversight.

U.S. officials also pushed their own political aims without taking into account what was achievable, a report released Tuesday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, concluded in its final “lessons learned.” By relying on quick-fix solutions, U.S. programs ultimately worsened the issues that they were meant to address.

“By design, these timelines often ignored conditions on the ground and forced reckless compromises in U.S. programs, creating perverse incentives to spend quickly and focus on short-term, unsustainable goals that could not create the conditions to allow a victorious U.S. withdrawal,” according to the report.

In the End, the Afghan Army Was Always Doomed

James Stavridis

In 2006, as a Navy vice admiral, I was in Iraq traveling with Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld. At a town hall with U.S. troops, he famously answered a question about the U.S. Army’s lack of armored vehicles by saying, “You go to war with the army you have — not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” It was an honest but tone-deaf comment, and it was rattling through my mind over the weekend watching the stunning collapse of the Afghan security forces in the face of a Taliban onslaught.

After my Pentagon service, I ended up as the Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. One of the key missions over four years, from 2009-2013, was to build an Afghan national army that could take over fighting from the 150,000 U.S. and International Security Assistance Force troops at the center of the fight with the Taliban. When we pulled out the final few thousand troops over the past several weeks, Afghanistan went to war with the “army we had,” and it collapsed miserably.

The David Kilcullen Interview: An Afghan and Iraq War Retrospective


David Kilcullen is Professor of International and Political Studies at UNSW Canberra, Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, and CEO of the research firm Cordillera Applications Group. His expertise is future warfare, guerrilla and unconventional warfare, special operations, and counterterrorism. Over a 25-year career with the Australian and U.S. governments as a soldier, intelligence officer and diplomat, he served in Iraq as senior counterinsurgency advisor to General David Petraeus, as advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and in Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and Colombia. He has worked extensively for NATO and other international organisations, helping to analyse and predict the nature of future threats and conflicts, and has written five prize-winning books and numerous scholarly articles on terrorism, insurgency, urbanisation, and future warfare.

At Empire’s End


How do empires end? The answer seems to be what Mike Campbell says in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises when he’s asked how he went bankrupt: “gradually, then suddenly.”

We’ve known for years that our wars overseas aren’t accomplishing their missions, that in Afghanistan we’d eventually have to settle for something less than total victory. Routing the Taliban and growing a Madisonian republic out of the desert sand long ago proved futile. Yet the images that emerged last weekend, helicopters rising portentously over Kabul while Afghans begged for mercy, have jolted the national consciousness all the same. In an instant, whatever remained of our imperial mirages blinked into harsh reality.

We thought we were a hyper-competent humanitarian empire once. No longer.

The key thing about our departure was not that we were leaving. We all knew that was coming even if the “when” was until recently a known unknown. It was that the Afghans proved so woefully incapable of defending their own country. The project of training the Afghan security forces, which spanned two decades and some $83 billion in taxpayer dollars, proved a ludicrous farce, as the army melted away before the Taliban’s onslaught. Taliban fighters were all but waved into Kabul. The head of security at the presidential palace even shook hands with the Taliban commander as he handed the place over.

Malala: I Survived the Taliban. I Fear for My Afghan Sisters.

Malala Yousafzai

In the past two decades, millions of Afghan women and girls received an education. Now the future they were promised is dangerously close to slipping away. The Taliban — who until losing power 20 years ago barred nearly all girls and women from attending school and doled out harsh punishment to those who defied them — are back in control. Like many women, I fear for my Afghan sisters.

I cannot help but think of my own childhood. When the Taliban took over my hometown in Pakistan’s Swat Valley in 2007 and shortly thereafter barred girls from getting an education, I hid my books under my long, hefty shawl and walked to school in fear. Five years later, when I was 15, the Taliban tried to kill me for speaking out about my right to go to school.

I cannot help but be grateful for my life now. After graduating from college last year and starting to carve out my own career path, I cannot imagine losing it all — going back to a life defined for me by men with guns.

How the Afghan Army Collapsed Under the Taliban’s Pressure

Max Boot

A reporter asked U.S. President Joe Biden in July whether a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was inevitable. “No, it is not,” he said, pointing to the presence of three hundred thousand “well-equipped” Afghan security personnel.

Little more than a month later, the Afghan military completely collapsed. It lost control of much of the country, often without putting up a fight, and allowed the Taliban to take over. Near the end, provincial capitals fell with dizzying rapidity. On August 15, Taliban fighters marched into Kabul.

How did the $83 billion U.S. effort to train and equip the Afghan military go so wrong? Why didn’t the Afghan military fight harder to stop the Taliban?
Fatally Demoralized

The answer could be found in Napoleon Bonaparte’s maxim: “In war, the moral is to the physical as ten is to one.” Quite simply, an Afghan military that over the past twenty years had learned to rely on U.S. support for airpower, intelligence, logistics, planning, and other vital enablers was fatally demoralized by the U.S. decision to abandon it. An Afghan special forces officer told the Washington Post that many Afghans saw the troop withdrawal deal that the Donald Trump administration signed with the Taliban in February 2020 as “the end” and that the United States “left [the Afghan military] to fail.” As a result, he said, “Everyone was just looking out for himself.”

Why the Taliban Won

Vanda Felbab-Brown

In the end, it took astoundingly little time after U.S. forces left Afghanistan for the Taliban to bring down its government: ten days. On Friday and Saturday, hour by hour, some of Afghanistan’s biggest provinces surrendered to the Taliban as the Islamist insurgent group carried out a terrifying blitz. And on Sunday, as the Taliban entered Kabul, the U.S.-backed government fled, leaving the Taliban in charge of the entire country.

Perhaps no one predicted that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces would fold so quickly. But for several years, there had been signs that the Taliban were becoming militarily ascendant and that the ANDSF suffered from critical deficiencies that the Afghan government ignored and was itself exacerbating. All the problems that allowed the Taliban to defeat the army so quickly in 2021 were on display in 2015, when the group temporarily seized Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan: poor morale, desertion, attrition, corruption, ethnic factionalism, bad logistics, and an overreliance on backup from Afghan special operations forces. And for years, it was no secret that ANDSF units were making deals with their supposed enemy—warning the Taliban of forthcoming offenses, refusing to fight, and selling the


John McLaughlin

Among the many questions in the aftermath of the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, two stand out: How and why did the Afghan security forces collapse so quickly and will the U.S. withdrawal lead to a resurgence of terrorism there?

On the first question, many commentators have expressed astonishment that years of training by U.S. and allied forces, along with the provision of advanced and costly military equipment, did not create a force able to resist the Taliban resurgence. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the dynamics of war. My views on this were forged in a very different conflict, Vietnam, where I served in the U.S. Army during 1968, the bloodiest year of that war.

I took away the view that in war, training, sophisticated equipment and personal courage are not enough to ensure effective combat performance. In the end, it is all very personal and is about whether you are ready to risk your life to defeat the enemy. You come to that readiness through some combination of four means: strong identification with a cause you support and respect (usually embodied in a government you trust), gifted military leadership you trust that shares those values and inspires you to overcome fear, a government that can compel you to serve with the threat of sanctions and a conviction that you must destroy the adversary to save yourself. When most of those are not present simultaneously, as they seldom were for many South Vietnamese soldiers, the level of bravery, fine training and equipment become close to irrelevant.

China Blames US for Chaos in Afghanistan But Offers Cooperation Toward Stability

China has expressed a willingness to hold talks with the U.S. to promote a “soft landing” in Afghanistan, while heavily criticizing Washington and again demanding that the Biden administration halt its attacks on China.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a phone call Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, blamed what he called America’s “hasty” military withdrawal for the chaos accompanying the Talibain’s seizure of power in Afghanistan, according to a Foreign Ministry statement dated Tuesday.

“China is willing to conduct communication and dialogue with the U.S. to promote the soft landing of the Afghan issue and avoid a new civil war or humanitarian disaster … and not let it become a breeding ground and shelter for terrorism once again,” Wang was quoted as saying in the call.

To China, Afghan Fall Proves U.S. Hubris. It Also Brings New Dangers.

Chris Buckley and Steven Lee Myers

For China’s leaders, the chaotic scenes unfolding in Afghanistan have served as stinging vindication of their hostility to American might. “The last dusk of empire,” China’s official news agency said. The Chinese foreign ministry called it a lesson in “reckless military adventures.”

Any smugness in Beijing could be premature. China is now left scrambling to judge how the American defeat could reshape the contest between the world’s two great powers. While the Taliban’s rout has weakened American prestige and its influence on China’s western frontier, it could also create new geopolitical dangers and security risks.

Officials in Beijing worry that extremists could use Afghanistan to regroup on China’s flank and sow violence around the region, even as the Taliban look to deep-pocketed countries like China for aid and investment. The American military withdrawal could also allow the United States to direct its planning and matériel toward countering Chinese power across Asia.

After Afghanistan, the Crux of Biden’s Mideast Challenge Lies in Tehran

Ahmed Charai

When he took the oath of office in January, President Joe Biden vowed “to make America, once again, the leading force for good in the world,” as well as to “repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.”

In the months since, he and his administration have worked to make good on that pledge, pursuing multiple diplomatic lines of effort across the broader Middle East. Of course, their signature effort is in renewed negotiations with Iran over the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). And on that front, Biden’s foreign policy team—Secretary of State Tony Blinken, CIA Director Bill Burns, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, among others—harbor core convictions with much to offer a renewed diplomatic process.

As Burns and Sullivan argued in a jointly written article that contact with Tehran is "not a reward for bad behavior," On the contrary, “diplomacy is the best way to test intentions and define the realm of the possible, repair the damage our unilateral turn has inflicted on our international partnerships, and invest in more effective coercion if and when it’s needed to focus minds in Tehran.”

Leaving Afghanistan was America’s Most Moral Choice

John Allen Gay

“Afghanistan,” wrote Johns Hopkins professor Hal Brands in 2019, “is best seen not as a morality play but as a classic foreign policy dilemma in which all the options are bad ones.” The tragic scenes unfolding in the country this week must be understood in this context. Some pundits are proclaiming that the U.S. withdrawal was an evil act and that continued U.S. participation in the conflict was clearly the morally superior choice. They hold that the ongoing U.S. presence was cheap—their view of tens of U.S. casualties and tens of billions of U.S. dollars per year. Their position ignores the high moral costs of remaining in the war, our duties to our own nation, and the profound moral failures of our partner government. Afghanistan was a land of nasty tradeoffs that any moral declamations must reckon with. These are tradeoffs that we will no longer be making.

Mike Pence: Biden Broke Our Deal With the Taliban

Mike Pence

The Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan is a foreign-policy humiliation unlike anything our country has endured since the Iran hostage crisis.

It has embarrassed America on the world stage, caused allies to doubt our dependability, and emboldened enemies to test our resolve. Worst of all, it has dishonored the memory of the heroic Americans who helped bring terrorists to justice after 9/11, and all who served in Afghanistan over the past 20 years.

In February 2020, the Trump administration reached an agreement that required the Taliban to end all attacks on U.S. military personnel, to refuse terrorists safe harbor, and to negotiate with Afghan leaders on creating a new government. As long as these conditions were met, the U.S. would conduct a gradual and orderly withdrawal of military forces.

Unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, the agreement immediately brought to Afghanistan a stability unseen in decades. In the past 18 months, the U.S. has not suffered a single combat casualty there.

The Afghan debacle will destroy the Biden presidency

Frank Luntz

Some people are comparing the chaotic end of US involvement in Afghanistan to the final days of South Vietnam. They’ve got it wrong. What’s happening in Kabul is more akin to the Bay of Pigs under JFK or the disaster in Iran in 1979. That failure cost Jimmy Carter the presidency in 1980, and Afghanistan could cost Democrats the White House in 2024.

President Biden had been flying high in the polls. Thanks to bipartisan support on a host of issues, he had been running 10 per cent above his predecessor at the same point in their respective administrations. With his carefully manicured image and his refusal to face reporters on a daily basis, Biden had looked, for the most part, competent and confident. No longer.

It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Biden, not wanting another Vietnam, told the American people it was time to leave Afghanistan. The public agreed. In April, 69 per cent of Americans supported Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, while only 16 per cent were opposed. For a nation hopelessly divided on just about every issue, this is as unanimous as it gets.

Biden Wanted to Leave Afghanistan. He Knew the Risks.

Ken Thomas and Vivian Salama

WASHINGTON—In his Monday speech defending America’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden said he would not shrink from his share of responsibility.

That would include his decision to bring home U.S. troops, which was made against the recommendations of his top military generals and many diplomats, who warned that a hasty withdrawal would undermine security in Afghanistan, several administration and defense officials said.

The president’s top generals, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, urged Mr. Biden to keep a force of about 2,500 troops, the size he inherited, while seeking a peace agreement between warring Afghan factions, to help maintain stability. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who previously served as a military commander in the region, said a full withdrawal wouldn’t provide any insurance against instability.

Biden is blaming everyone but himself. But he’s the one who gave the Taliban a green light.

Marc A. Thiessen

On Sep. 11, 2001, Americans literally fell from the sky — jumping from the top floors of the World Trade Center to escape the fires set by al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime that aided and abetted them. Today, almost two decades later, it is our Afghan allies who are falling from the sky — after clinging to the fuselage of a U.S. military aircraft taking off from the Kabul airport, in a desperate effort to escape the Taliban regime.

The debacle President Biden has unleashed in Afghanistan today is the most shameful thing I have witnessed over three decades in Washington. Biden has said it’s not comparable to the U.S. departure from Saigon. That’s true; it’s far worse. As former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker put it, “I’m left with some grave questions in my mind about his ability to lead our nation as commander in chief. To have read this so wrong — or, even worse, to have understood what was likely to happen and not care.” He’s right. Either Biden had no idea this disaster was going to happen, in which case he is incompetent; or he knew that this would be the result but doesn’t care, in which case he is morally complicit in an intentional humanitarian catastrophe.

The generals lied and the fantasy died

Anatol Lieven

An opening move in the U.S. military high command’s campaign to deflect blame for the 20-year-long American debacle in Afghanistan has come with a Sunday article by General H.R. McMaster and Bradley Bowman in the Wall Street Journal, “In Afghanistan, the Tragic Toll of Washington Delusion.”

The delusions have indeed been real, and now cruelly exposed. As amply documented by the reports of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko, and the The Afghanistan Papers by Washington Post journalist Craig Whitlock, the deceptions are largely the work of McMaster himself and his military colleagues.

The first question to ask though is why General McMaster thinks he has the right to say anything at all on the subject of Afghanistan? In the 1980s, the Afghan Mujahedin fighting against the Afghan communist government and its Soviet backers were equipped by the West with sophisticated equipment including Stinger missiles that cleared the Soviet air force from the skies. The Taliban have had no heavy weapons at all, a budget a tiny fraction enjoyed by the Afghan state, let alone the United States, and numbers that have also been much smaller than those (on paper at least) of the Afghan security forces. Yet the Taliban have won, by sheer resilience, better strategy, and superior public appeal.

‘A Total and Unmitigated Defeat’


At this horrifying moment, if you’ve been at all involved in foreign policy and foreign policy debates, you’re tempted to write, to share your own thoughts. Others have written eloquently and insightfully over the past few days, and I’ve profited from reading them. But in my case at least, looking at this unnecessary and unfolding catastrophe, I’m overcome by the sense that, as the expression goes, there are no words.

So I’m not inclined to opine much at this moment.

Except to say this: The Biden administration and Congress have an obligation do everything they can to overcome all the bureaucratic obstacles and business-as-usual procedures, and to get as many Afghans as possible out to safety. This does not mean only those on the Special Immigrant Visas list. And if this means maintaining a military presence for more days than currently planned, or, for example, using the military to clear roads to the airport, we should do so.

Joe Biden’s Afghanistan Speech Proves He Will Be President Chaos

James Jay Carafano

Before President Joe Biden addressed the nation on the crisis in Afghanistan, someone should have reminded him of the adage “When you are in a deep hole, stop digging.” Because on top of his strategic failures in Afghanistan, he has now made a massive political misjudgment.

Here is the problem with a White House rebuttal that just blames anybody other than Biden for the collapse in Afghanistan: Every claim can be fact-checked. Military and intelligence leaders can be asked to testify. Documents can be reviewed. None of this will make the administration or Biden’s abrupt and irresponsible decision look good.

Remember when certain politicians found out that just blaming President George W. Bush for 9/11 and believing Michael Moore’s documentary didn’t work so well after the September 11 commission started calling witnesses and showing there was plenty of blame to go around for both Republicans and Democrats? Likewise, the Biden team will discover that truth finds a way, and a cover-up won’t cut it.

Russia’s Battle for the Black Sea

Angela Stent

On July 25, President Vladimir Putin gave a rousing speech in St. Petersburg to mark the 325th anniversary of the founding of Russia’s navy. Speaking in front of a statue of the fleet’s founder (and Putin’s favorite tsar), Peter the Great, he declared, “Today, the Russian Navy has everything it needs to secure the defense of our native country and our national interests. We are capable of detecting any submarine, surface or airborne adversary and dealing them an imminent strike if necessary.”

Putin’s speech was accompanied by an impressive parade of naval hardware—evidence of his assertions and of Russia’s military modernization over the last two decades. The country’s resurgence as a naval power has made the biggest waves in the Black Sea, where Russia has sought to create a new nautical sphere of influence. Moscow’s moves there, including upgrading its Black Sea fleet and laying claim to the territorial waters around Crimea, threaten to upend the balance of power in the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean Sea and to endanger freedom of navigation—not just in those waters but in waters around the world.

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Precision Strike in 21st-Century Multidomain Operations Conference Report

Dr Sidharth Kaushal

On 13 and 14 May 2021, RUSI held its inaugural precision strike conference, a successor to the annual missile defence conference it held for two decades. The purpose of this reframing was to emphasise the erosion of the line between offence and defence in efforts to counter adversary concepts of operations that have long-range strike assets at their core. Discussions examined the role of strike assets in the context of multidomain operations and the evolutionary steps that the arrival of strike assets ranging from expensive hypersonics to lower-cost UAVs and cruise missiles will compel.

Several core themes emerged, including: the centrality of long-range precision strike to peer competitor effects to dislocate the preferred Western model of operations; the critical importance of delivering deep effects to create the windows of opportunity needed for the successful conduct of contemporary operations in contested environments; and the resulting importance of offence–defence integration to achieve these effects and deny them to an opponent.

Acquiring a Mosaic Force

Joel B. Predd, Jon Schmid, Elizabeth M. Bartels

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a vision for Mosaic Warfare, conceived as both a warfighting concept and a means to accelerate capability development and fielding. Mosaic Warfare entails a more fractionated, heterogenous force that can be dynamically composed on tactical timelines. It entails shifting away from monolithic platforms, which can be slow to develop and field, to simpler force elements that can be developed and fielded quickly and integrated at mission execution.

The Mosaic Warfare vision is more challenging to transition than a single program or technology. Anticipating this, DARPA asked RAND Corporation researchers to examine the opportunities and challenges associated with developing and fielding a Mosaic force under existing or alternative governance models, as would be required for the vision to move from DARPA to widespread acceptance by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

Can the U.S. Military Strengthen Deterrence by Becoming More Operationally Unpredictable?

Miranda Priebe, Angela O'Mahony, Bryan Frederick

The recent U.S. emphasis on strategic competition with China and Russia has renewed attention on how to dissuade adversaries from attacking U.S. allies, a concept known as extended deterrence. Some in U.S. policymaking circles believe that U.S. military activities have become overly predictable, allowing potential adversaries to anticipate where, when, and how U.S. forces will operate.

The 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy suggests that the United States might strengthen deterrence by becoming more operationally unpredictable—that is, by increasing adversary uncertainty about how the United States would fight.[1] To implement this guidance, the U.S. Army asked RAND Arroyo Center to examine how the United States could increase operational unpredictability and what the effect would be on extended deterrence.