1 September 2021

Cyber Weapons – A Weapon of War?

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

The character of warfare has changed fundamentally over the last decade. In the past, it was essential for an adversary nation or insurgent to physically bring weapons to bear during combat. That requirement is no longer a necessity. In cyber operations, the only weapons that need to be used are bits and bytes. In this new era of warfare, logistics issues that often restrict and limit conventional warfare and weaponry are not impediments. This new weaponry moves at the speed of light, is available to every human on the planet and can be as surgical as a scalpel or as devastating as a nuclear bomb.

Cyber attacks in various forms have become a global problem. Cyber weapons are low-cost, low-risk, highly effective and easily deployable globally. This new class of weapons is within reach of many countries, extremist or terrorist groups, non-state actors, and even individuals. Cyber crime organisations are developing cyber weapons effectively. The use of offensive Cyber operations by nation-states directly against another or by co-opting cyber criminals has blurred the line between spies and non-state malicious hackers. New entrants, both nation-states and non-state actors have unmatched espionage and surveillance capabilities with significant capabilities. They are often the forerunners for criminal financial gain, destruction and disruption operations. Progressively, we see non-state actors including commercial entities, developing capabilities that were solely held by a handful of state actors.

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.

The Last U.S. Military Plane Has Left Kabul. What’s Next for Americans, Afghans Left Behind?


The last U.S. military plane has left Afghanistan, U.S. officials announced, ending 20 years of war but also closing down the main route home for stranded Americans and Afghans who are now running for their lives.

"I'm here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters via videoconference. “The last C-17 lifted off from Hamad Karzai International Airport on August 30, this afternoon, at 3:29 p.m., East Coast time. And the last manned aircraft is now clear of the airspace above Afghanistan.”

Pentagon and White House officials had earlier acknowledged that operations would end with some American citizens and others left behind.

For “Americans and other individuals that want to be able to leave Afghanistan after our withdrawal is complete, the State Department is going to continue to work across many different levers to facilitate that,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. “We do not anticipate a military role in that.”

Inside the Final Hours at Kabul Airport

Tara Copp
Source Link

The final hours of the 20-year war in Afghanistan were some of the most dangerous.

“The security perimeter was steadily collapsing around the planes” at Hamid Karzai International Airport, a defense official said on the condition they not be named.

The emergency airlift operation that began Aug. 14 had become the largest ever executed by the U.S. military. More than half of the U.S. Air Force’s fleet of 222 C-17 Globemaster IIIs had taking part. As the clock ticked toward Aug. 31, just five airlifters remained on the ground in Kabul, manned by handpicked joint tactical exfiltration crews who were taking care of the last tasks on the ground.

Each crew had a checklist, point-by-point steps everyone had to follow. They messaged each other on mIRC chat to confirm all people were accounted for and each step completed.

Earlier, U.S. forces had disabled all the aircraft, vehicles, and artillery that they would abandon at the airport. Left behind, but inoperable, were 70 MRAPs, 27 Humvees, and 73 aircraft.

What Does ISIS Want Now?


Fifty years ago, John Kerry asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a question that is probably occurring to many Americans right now: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Yesterday, at least 13 U.S. service members died in an attack on a crowd of Afghans seeking evacuation from Kabul’s airport. They died saving their allies from persecution or murder by the Taliban. This was no mistake, although their deaths were the result of a war in which the United States made just about every mistake possible. It was among the noblest moments of the war, and because it killed them and nearly a hundred Afghans, also one of its most tragic.

The perpetrator was the Islamic State’s local franchise, sometimes called ISIS-K or IS-K, for the group’s Khorasan offshoot in Afghanistan. Some have also sought to blame the Taliban, who control Kabul and are responsible for the attackers’ getting through the checkpoints that led to the edge of the airport. The Taliban have bombed crowds in Kabul, and among their members are many who believe that Americans and their collaborators deserve death and more. Even senior U.S. officials confuse these groups: Last week, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta told NPR he expected the Taliban to “provide a safe haven for al-Qaeda, for ISIS, and for terrorism in general.”

As the Taliban Tighten Their Grip, Fears of Retribution Grow

Carlotta Gall

ISTANBUL — When Taliban troops seized control of the Afghan capital two weeks ago, the invading units made a beeline for two critical targets: the headquarters of the National Security Directorate and the Ministry of Communications.

Their aim — recounted by two Afghan officials who had been briefed separately on the raid — was to secure the files of Afghan intelligence officers and their informers, and to obtain the means of tracking the telephone numbers of Afghan citizens.

The speed with which Kabul fell on Aug. 15, when President Ashraf Ghani fled, was potentially disastrous for hundreds of thousands of Afghans who had been working to counter the Taliban threat, from prominent officials to midlevel government workers, who have since been forced into hiding.

Who Abandoned Bagram Air Base?

The terrorist threat to U.S. troops, civilians and Afghans continues to loom over the frantic evacuation of Kabul airport. Thursday’s suicide bombing, which killed 13 Americans and nearly 200 Afghans, has been claimed by an Islamic State affiliate, which is plotting more.

Why are American troops in such a difficult-to-defend position? The evacuation is taking place at an urban airport with a civilian wing, and perimeter security is being provided, unbelievably, by the Taliban. Only about 40 miles away is Bagram airfield, the military base that the U.S. vacated in the dead of night in July, without even warning America’s Afghan allies.

President Biden on Thursday essentially blamed his generals for the Bagram pullout. “They concluded—the military—that Bagram was not much value added, that it was much wiser to focus on Kabul,” he said. “And so, I followed that recommendation.” What Mr. Biden neglected to mention is that the President sets the constraints under which the military draws up plans and evaluates options.

At a briefing last week, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that securing Bagram took “a significant level of military effort,” and “our task given to us at that time, our task was to protect the Embassy in order for the Embassy personnel to continue to function.” As a result, he added, “we had to collapse one or the other.”

U.S. Used a Special Hellfire Missile in Afghanistan Airstrike on Islamic State

Gordon Lubold and Warren P. Strobel

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon used a special Hellfire missile that packs no explosives to strike Islamic State militants in Afghanistan on Saturday in retaliation for a suicide bomb attack at the Kabul airport last week, according to two U.S. officials.

The airstrike, carried out by a Reaper drone flown from the Persian Gulf region, killed two militants associated with the Afghanistan offshoot of the Islamic State extremist group, and injured a third individual.

The Pentagon declined to release the identities of any of the individuals targeted. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Kabul airport attack that killed 13 American troops and nearly 200 Afghan civilians.

The missile used by the U.S. in the airstrike, called an R9X, is inert. Instead of exploding, the weapon ejects a halo of six large blades stowed inside the skin of the missile, which deploy at the last minute to shred the target of the strike, allowing military commanders to pinpoint their target and reduce the possibility for civilian casualties.

US says drone kills IS bombers targeting Kabul airport


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A U.S. drone strike blew up a vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate on Sunday before they could attack the ongoing military evacuation at Kabul’s international airport, American officials said. An Afghan official said three children were killed in the strike.

The strike came just two days before the U.S. is set to conclude a massive two-week-long airlift of more than 114,000 Afghans and foreigners and withdraw the last of its troops, ending America’s longest war with the Taliban back in power.

A statement from U.S. Central Command said that the U.S. is aware of reports of civilian casualties and is assessing the results of the strike. Navy Capt. William Urban, spokesman for Central Command, said that “substantial and powerful” subsequent explosions resulted from the destruction of the vehicle, which may have caused additional casualties.

All in or All Out? Biden Saw No Middle Ground in Afghanistan.

Peter Baker

As the American military withdrawal from Afghanistan capping an ill-fated 20-year war turned uglier and deadlier in recent days, President Biden has stood by his decision but at the same time repeatedly singled out one person in particular to blame: his predecessor.

Because President Donald J. Trump struck an agreement with the Taliban last year to pull out, Mr. Biden has insisted that he had no choice but to abide by the deal he inherited or send tens of thousands of American troops back to Afghanistan to risk their lives in a “forever war.” It was, in other words, all in or all out.

But that reductionist formula has prompted a profound debate over whether the mayhem in Kabul, the capital, was in fact inevitable or the result of a failure to consider other options that might have ended in a different outcome. The unusual confluence of two presidents of rival parties sharing the same goal and same approach has led to second-guessing and finger-pointing that may play out for years to come in history books yet unwritten.

The Taliban’s vast propaganda machine has a new target

Condé Nast 

The attack on Kabul airport was devastating, with more than 100 deaths from the terrorist attack reported at the time of writing. Following the attack, the Taliban’s first weeks in de facto control of Afghanistan will always be remembered as a time of chaos, violence, and despair.
The menace of ISKP, the Islamic State’s affiliate in the country, was already well-known, and unusual behaviour from it in the run-up to the attack, coupled with intelligence reports of an impending threat, meant that many expected it to launch an attack. But the speed, scale and precision with which it struck will leave an indelible mark on the Taliban’s first days as a ruling party.

These latest scenes of civilian suffering in Afghanistan come on the back of two decades of brutal conflict, one aspect of which appeared to come to a precipitous end earlier this month when the Taliban took Kabul. It was a moment that surprised Afghanistan watchers the world over as much as it did the Taliban itself. While most thought its takeover was a likelihood once the United States had completed its troop withdrawal in September, no one had predicted that the government of former president Ashraf Ghani would cede control as fast as it did.

As U.S. Troops Searched Afghans, a Bomber in the Crowd Moved In

Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff

WASHINGTON — The suicide bomber waited until the last possible moment, U.S. officials said.

A crowd straining to get into Hamid Karzai International Airport had converged on Abbey Gate, a main entryway patrolled by Marines and other service members. The troops knew that they could be targeted in an attack; just the day before, the State Department had warned of a “credible” threat at three gates at the airport, where more than 5,000 American troops had helped to evacuate more than 100,000 people in less than two weeks. Abbey Gate was on the list.

Airport security had closed two of the gates, but decided to leave Abbey Gate open, U.S. officials said.

They also said that, earlier in the day, Taliban commanders and fighters patrolling checkpoints along the airport route twice pushed back surging crowds, but they came back again.

That third time, someone else came with them.

Afghanistan and the big flaw in US counterinsurgency doctrine


While we struggle to understand the U.S. failure in Afghanistan, an important element that must be included in the discussion is a fundamental flaw at the heart of U.S. counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine. That doctrine has historical roots that go as far back as the Indian Wars and the Philippines. But in its contemporary iteration, American COIN doctrine is nearly synonymous with the U.S. Army’s Field Manual 3-24, originally published in 2006 under the imprimatur of General David Petraeus. Petraeus in turn drew heavily from French COIN doctrine, which itself has roots in France’s fin-de-siècle colonial adventures but achieved its fullest expression in the Algerian War (1954-1962). And that precisely is where the problem lies.

Petraeus’s direct inspiration was French Lieutenant Colonel David Galula (1919-1967), who was not the only French officer to develop COIN doctrine in the 1950s and not even necessarily the best, but he was the only one who wrote in English. Galula wrote convincingly about the need to provide security to local populations and to minimize combat operations in favor of hearts-and-minds efforts.

U.S. Holds Talks With Taliban Over Post-Aug. 31 Presence in Afghanistan

Gordon Lubold and Bojan Pancevski

U.S. military officials had been holding talks with the Taliban as they relied on the longtime enemy force to provide security around the Kabul airport, where an emergency U.S.-led evacuation has been taking place.

The U.S.-Taliban discussions over a possible diplomatic presence after the Aug. 31 evacuation deadline set by President Biden represent an expansion of those airport-security talks. The Biden administration has vowed to continue helping U.S. citizens and Afghan partners leave the country after the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline set by Mr. Biden.

In a CBS interview earlier this week, Ross Wilson, the acting U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said the two sides have held talks in Qatar about “potential ways forward.”

He declined to say whether there would be a continued U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, saying, “There are still decisions to be made in Washington about the future shape of our presence and activities here.”

What We Know—and Don’t Know—About ISIS-K

Thomas Joscelyn

The death toll from Thursday’s suicide bombing outside of the airport in Kabul continues to climb. At least 13 U.S. servicemembers were killed, while more than a dozen others were wounded. As of now, we still don’t know how many Afghans or others were killed. Current estimates say well more than 100 Afghans perished.

The Islamic State-Khorasan Province (often referred to as ISIS-K by the U.S. government) quickly claimed responsibility for the heinous attack. No one was surprised. In the days leading up to the bombing, American officials, including President Joe Biden, repeatedly warned that ISIS-K could strike at any time.

And so it did.

Here are answers to some of the basic questions that are being asked about ISIS-K.

Who is the leader of the Islamic State-Khorasan Province?

What Will the Terrorism Landscape Look Like in a Taliban-Led Afghanistan?

Colin P. Clarke

The Taliban’s recent capture of Kabul has the group poised to take back control over Afghanistan. Without question, a Taliban-led Afghanistan is going to be a hospitable operating environment for terrorists, insurgents, and militias of various stripes. But not all terrorist groups are created equal, in terms of capabilities, intent, or relationship to the Taliban. Counter-terrorism officials are alarmed that, capitalizing on the momentum from the Taliban’s frenetic storming of Kabul, Afghanistan may once again become a magnet or hub for foreign terrorist fighters. This fear includes foreign fighters from the West, but more immediately, battle-hardened jihadists from Pakistan, Xinjiang, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the Caucasus, to name just a few places.

Besides the Taliban themselves, the most significant beneficiary of recent events is al Qaeda. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the United States, the jihadist group is in a position to regenerate its networks throughout South Asia. In particular, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) will benefit from the Taliban’s ascendance. Over the past several years, al Qaeda has sought to recruit Indian and other South Asian Muslims who have grown disaffected from growing sectarianism in the region, including in India where Hindu nationalists have repeatedly targeted Indian Muslims.

In Taliban-Ruled Afghanistan, Al Qaeda-Linked Haqqani Network Rises to Power

Sune Engel Rasmussen and Nancy A. Youssef

Closely linked to al Qaeda, the network also has for decades been involved in the hostage-taking of Westerners, and currently holds at least one American citizen captive, according to U.S. officials.

“I do not believe that anyone in the West fully understands the reach of the Haqqani network,” said retired Lt. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, a former director of strategy for the National Counterterrorism Center. “It is the single most impressive nonstate militant group I have ever seen, with the exception of ISIS in the first two years of the caliphate.”

Experts who have followed the group for years worry that its consolidation of power will enable the kind of transnational terrorism that the U.S.-led invasion of 2001 aimed to eradicate.

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, the normally elusive Haqqani network, which is built around a family of the same name, has assumed a public role in the Afghan capital. Khalil Haqqani, brother of the group’s founder, Jalaluddin, addressed the faithful in public in Kabul’s Pol-e Khishti Mosque last week—despite a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head.

Japan, Taiwan Lawmakers Discuss China Threat

Shannon Tiezzi

Japan-Taiwan relations took a big step forward on Friday, with virtual talks between their ruling parties. Both sides emphasized the convergence between their governments on the perceived threat from China – and reaffirmed their desire to increase cooperation to counter that threat.

The discussions, which lasted roughly 90 minutes, were billed as the party-to-party equivalent of “2+2” meetings, which involve the foreign and defense ministers of two countries. As Japan and Taiwan don’t have formal diplomatic ties, a meeting at the government-to-government level is not feasible. Instead, the talks on August 27 brought together foreign affairs and defense officials from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

A DPP spokesperson, Hsieh Pei-fen, had previously said that the DPP has been promoting party-to-party diplomacy, which is one of the avenues available for Taiwan to interact with foreign counterparts in lieu of formal diplomatic relations.

China’s Tang Dynasty and Afghanistan, the Graveyard of Empires

Chan Kung

As a country located in the heart of Asia, Afghanistan is linked to China and East Asia in the east, the ex-Soviet Union controlled region in the north, South Asia in the south, and the oil-producing Middle Eastern region in the west. In modern history, the world’s major powers have understood the extremely important strategic position of Afghanistan, in terms of its geographic significance and resources. For this reason, Afghanistan was frequently invaded. The British for instance, attempted three invasions. In 1989, the Soviet Army withdrew from Afghanistan, and two years later the Soviet Union dissolved. Today, we are seeing the denouement of the tragic Afghan war, after the United States spent 20 years in the country, at the cost of over 2,300 American lives and more than $2 trillion.

Less well known in the West is that China, too, has its own historical experiences with the crucial strategic importance of Afghanistan.

U.S. Retaliation for the Kabul Bombing Won’t Stop ISIS or End Terrorism

Robin Wright

In April, 2017, the United States unleashed a twenty-two-thousand-pound bomb on a complex of caves and tunnels used by isis-k, or the Islamic State Khorasan, in eastern Afghanistan. Nicknamed “the mother of all bombs,” it was the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat. It was so big that it had to be pushed out of the rear of a warplane. The bomb was so controversial that the Pentagon had to conduct a legal review to insure that it did not violate the international Law of Armed Conflict. “It is expected that the weapon will have a substantial psychological effect on those who witness its use,” the Pentagon said, in an evaluation of it in 2003.

Only it didn’t. The mother of all bombs killed fewer than a hundred of the group’s fighters, and had a negligible long-term impact on isis-k. (The “K” stands for Khorasan, the name of an ancient province that once included parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.) isis-k is now arguably the most militant group in Afghanistan. It has also carried out some of the country’s worst recent atrocities. In the first four months of this year, the jihadi extremist movement carried out seventy-seven attacks across Afghanistan, the United Nations reported. In May, a bombing at a girls’ school in Kabul killed ninety people, many of them students, and injured more than two hundred and seventy others. On Thursday, a lone isis-k bomber wearing a suicide vest walked to the perimeter of Kabul’s international airport and blew himself up. Thirteen marines and Navy personnel were killed; at least a hundred and seventy Afghans died. It was one of the deadliest attacks in more than a decade against the United States, the world’s premier military power.


James Risen

IN THE IMMEDIATE aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, U.S.-backed Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum’s forces murdered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Taliban prisoners by jamming them into metal shipping containers and letting them suffocate. At the time, Dostum was on the CIA’s payroll and had been working with U.S. special forces to oust the Taliban from power.

The Bush administration blocked subsequent efforts to investigate the mass murder, even after the FBI interviewed witnesses among the surviving Afghans who had been moved to the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and after human rights officials publicly identified the mass grave site where Dostum’s forces had disposed of bodies. Later, President Barack Obama promised to investigate, and then took no action.

Instead, Hollywood stepped in and turned Dostum into a hero. The 2018 movie, “12 Strong,” a jingoistic account of the partnership between U.S. special forces and Dostum in the 2001 invasion, whitewashed Dostum — even as his crimes continued to pile up in the years after the prisoner massacre. At the time of the movie’s January 2018 release, Dostum was in exile, hiding from criminal charges in Afghanistan for having ordered his bodyguards to rape a political opponent, including with an assault rifle. The movie (filmed in New Mexico, not Afghanistan) was based on a book that a New York Times reviewer called “a rousing, uplifting, Toby Keith-singing piece of work.”

Kabul is only the start: US allies feel the draught as Biden turns his back

Simon Tisdall

It is, perhaps, dreadfully apt that an invasion which began 20 years ago as a counter-terrorism operation has ended in the horror of a mass casualty terrorist attack. The US-led attempt to destroy al-Qaida and rescue Afghanistan from the Taliban was undercut by the Iraq war, which spawned
Islamic State. Now the circle is complete as an Afghan IS offshoot emerges as America’s new nemesis.

The Kabul airport atrocity shows just how difficult it is to break the cycle of violence, vengeance and victimisation. Joe Biden’s swift vow to hunt down the perpetrators and “make them pay” presumably means US combat forces will again be in action in Afghanistan soon. If the past is any guide, mistakes will be made, civilians will die, local communities will be antagonised. Result: more terrorists.

It is an obvious irony that US military chiefs in Kabul are collaborating with the Taliban, their sworn enemy, against the common IS foe as the evacuation ends. This suggests negotiators, on both sides, could have tried harder to reach a workable peace deal. It may augur well for future cooperation, for example on humanitarian aid. But the Taliban has many faces – and many cannot be trusted.

Intervention: Unlearned Lessons, or the Gripes of a Professional


Iraq and Afghanistan were the latest in a 170-year history of American and State Department failure to figure out how to staff and run State’s part of military interventions. For the curious, I date State’s failure from 1848, when the department could not fill the U.S. Army’s request to send diplomats to help the Army manage civil affairs in conquered Mexican territory. Providing diplomatic personnel remained a problem in the latter half of the 20th century when every administration since President Harry Truman’s had foreign interventions that required diplomatic assistance. Nadia Schadlow has told much of this story in her book, War and the Art of Governance: Consolidating Combat Success into Political Victory (Georgetown University Press, 2017).

The staffing problem is an example of the persistent unwillingness to learn from our own past. I have lived some of the latest chapters of this story while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The difficulties in staffing interventions are many, but the underlying issue is that every intervention has been treated as a unique occurrence, often better forgotten than studied. Yet with more than 70 years of repeated military interventions requiring close civil-military operations in the field since the close of World War II, it is plainly unreasonable to assume that “never again” is a sufficient response.

Henry Kissinger on why America failed in Afghanistan

Henry Kissinger

THE TALIBAN takeover of Afghanistan focuses the immediate concern on the extrication of tens of thousands of Americans, allies and Afghans stranded all over the country. Their rescue needs to be our urgent priority. The more fundamental concern, however, is how America found itself moved to withdraw in a decision taken without much warning or consultation with allies or the people most directly involved in 20 years of sacrifice. And why the basic challenge in Afghanistan has been conceived and presented to the public as a choice between full control of Afghanistan or complete withdrawal.

An underlying issue has dogged our counterinsurgency efforts from Vietnam to Iraq for over a generation. When the United States risks the lives of its military, stakes its prestige and involves other countries, it must do so on the basis of a combination of strategic and political objectives. Strategic, to make clear the circumstances for which we fight; political, to define the governing framework to sustain the outcome both within the country concerned and internationally.

‘I demand accountability’: Marine battalion commander calls out senior leaders for Afghanistan failures

Chad Garland

A Marine officer who filmed a viral video says that he’s risking his career of nearly two decades to call out senior military and civilian leaders for failures in Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Stu Scheller posted the video on social media hours after a blast in Kabul killed 13 U.S. troops. He appears in uniform and responds directly to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger's letter to troops and veterans asking whether the nearly 20-year-long war in Afghanistan was worth it.

“The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down,” Scheller says. “People are upset because their senior leaders let them down. And none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, ‘We messed this up.’ ”

The video garnered more than 70,000 views and 6,000 shares in its first 10 hours on Facebook and LinkedIn, spurring both praise and criticism in the more than 1,000 comments.

Death of the JEDI: Pentagon Learning from Terminated Cloud Initiative

Meredith Roaten

When the Pentagon announced the cancelation of its highest-profile cloud computing initiative in July, not many were surprised.

The lucrative Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program, better known as JEDI, didn’t make sense from a business perspective, said Alex Rossino, an advisory research analyst at Deltek. “It didn’t make sense on any level, honestly.”

The Pentagon awarded an eye-popping $10 billion contract to Microsoft in 2019, a decision that was swiftly protested by competitor Amazon Web Services and led to prolonged legal wrangling until the contract’s cancelation this summer.

“Honestly, it was cursed from the beginning,” said Willie Hicks, public sector chief technology officer at Dynatrace, a software artificial intelligence company based in Waltham, Massachusetts.

France and UK to propose Kabul safe zone at UN meeting, says Macron

Patrick Wintour and Rajeev Syal

France and Britain plan to table an emergency UN security council resolution on Monday calling for the Taliban to back a civilian-run safe zone at Kabul airport that would allow the continued air evacuation of those who want to leave the country, the French president has said.

“What we are trying to do is to be able to organise targeted humanitarian operations for evacuations that will not take place through the military airport in Kabul,” Emmanuel Macron told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

“It is about protecting these threatened Afghans and getting them out of the country in the coming days or weeks. We will see if this can be done through the capital’s civilian airport or through neighbouring countries”.

He said such a deal would be a prerequisite for constructing a future western relationship with the Taliban.

The Future of Conflict in an Age of Climate Extremes

The working group on the futures of climate-related conflict considers climate change a major environmental threat. It is also likely to have a seismic impact on human security, access to resources and (violent and non-violent) conflicts. Climate change will create new challenges and dramatically exacerbate existing ones, including through increased pressure on land use, a diminishing availability of drinking water and damage to coastal areas. These challenges will affect the distribution of key resources and communal living within as well as across the confines of national borders. As such, climate change has the potential to become both a risk multiplier and direct cause of conflict.

We identified four key trends that pervade both of our scenarios for the years 2035: 1) decreasing volumes of drinking water for large parts of the world; 2) the growing political and economic power of China; 3) increasing urbanization across high- and middle-income economies; and 4) (violent and non-violent) conflict, contestation and cooperation between states. The use of technology, including (broadly understood) geo-engineering technology and, in particular, local and regional weather modification technology, is relevant for both our scenarios. While we understand geo-engineering as “the deliberate, large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change,” our analyses focus primarily on weather modification technology and some “nature-based” solutions at the local and regional levels.

Army Cyber Institute (ACI)

 Cyber Defense Review, Summer 2021, v. 6, no. 3

 Cybered Competition, Cooperation, and Conflict in a Game of Imperfect Information

 China’s Arctic Cyber Espionage

 Attack-Based Network Defense

Technology Adoption in Unconventional Warfare

RT and the Element of Disguise: Russia’s Information Weapon

Combined Information Overlay for Situational Awareness in the Digital-Anthropological Terrain

Risks to the Mission Partner Environment: Adversarial Access to Host Nation Network Infrastructure

The deaths of 2 Marines in Kabul underscore the evolving roles of women in the military

Alex Horton, Travis M. Andrews

Clad in body armor with her hair pulled back in a tight bun, Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee cradled the barefoot Afghan infant in her arm as softly as she could through thick work gloves.

"I love my job," the 23-year-old wrote in an Instagram caption last week, after her unit's enormous task of processing thousands of Afghan and American evacuees through the Kabul airport gates after the capital fell.

Gee, of Roseville, Calif., was one of the 13 U.S. service members killed in a terrorist attack in Kabul on Thursday when a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside Abbey Gate, where U.S. troops were focusing their efforts. Most were Marines in their early 20s, and two were women: Gee and Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.

The deaths of Gee and Rosario underscore the unique mission women in the military have played in two decades of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even as women were barred from officially serving in combat jobs until recent years, female service members were already on the front lines, exposed to the same danger as infantrymen and working in roles where risk did not discriminate according to gender.