11 September 2021

Deterrence Theory– Is it Applicable in Cyber Domain?

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


The Deterrence Theory was developed in the 1950s, mainly to address new strategic challenges posed by nuclear weapons from the Cold War nuclear scenario. During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union adopted a survivable nuclear force to present a ‘credible’ deterrent that maintained the ‘uncertainty’ inherent in a strategic balance as understood through the accepted theories of major theorists like Bernard Brodie, Herman Kahn, and Thomas Schelling.1 Nuclear deterrence was the art of convincing the enemy not to take a specific action by threatening it with an extreme punishment or an unacceptable failure.

Chinese Cyber Exploitation in India’s Power Grid – Is There a linkage to Mumbai Power Outage?

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


On Feb. 28, 2021 The New York Times (NYT), based on analysis by a U.S. based private intelligence firm Recorded Future, reported that a Chinese entity penetrated India’s power grid at multiple load dispatch points. Chinese malware intruded into the control systems that manage electric supply across India, along with a high-voltage transmission substation and a coal-fired power plant.

The NYT story1 gives the impression that the alleged activity against critical Indian infrastructure installations was as much meant to act as a deterrent against any Indian military thrust along the Line of Actual Control as it was to support future operations to cripple India’s power generation and distribution systems in event of war.

Are Indo-Russian Ties the Next Casualty of Great-Power Shifts?

C. Raja Mohan

On his first trip abroad in 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveled to Fortaleza, Brazil, to join a BRICS summit bringing together the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines, Modi emphasized the depth of Indians’ goodwill toward Russia. Modi told Putin that “even a child in India, if asked to say who is India’s best friend, will reply it is Russia because Russia has been with India in times of crisis.”

That BRICS summit was a long time ago. Today, Modi has drawn India more closely than ever to the United States and the West and is locked in a deepening conflict with China under its President Xi Jinping. That also means Modi now has to manage a more complex relationship with Russia.

All these shifts will be on full view this month. On Wednesday, Modi will host Putin and Xi at the BRICS summit, where the mood is likely to be a lot tenser than it was in 2014. Modi is also preparing to join U.S. President Joe Biden for an in-person meeting at the White House later this month.

Bin Laden’s legacy probably surpasses his wildest dreams

James M. Dorsey

At the very outset of the 21st century, Osama bin Laden wittingly or unwittingly positioned himself with the 9/11 attacks as one of its most important figures.

The attacks initially served to undermine multi-cultural policies in relatively ethnically and religiously homogeneous European societies, which struggled to with migration from other continents, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds. The legacy of the attacks has brought identity politics back to the fore not only in the West but also in Africa and Asia.

In doing so, the attacks reshaped global politics and attitudes towards large numbers of people fleeing political and economic collapse as the ‘other’ instead of viewing them as victims of misconceived Western policies that backfired in countries governed and mismanaged by corrupt politicians and political and economic structures.

Taliban accuses the US of violating Doha Agreement

The Taliban has accused the United States of violating the peace deal the two signed in 2020, for keeping its new interior minister Sirrajudin Haqqani on the US terror list.

The new minister, who is part of the Haqqani Network, had been accused of attacks on US forces in Afghanistan during the 20 years of war. The US has a $5m bounty for Haqqani. He also remains on a United Nations terror list.

Several other members of the group, including the acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, are blacklisted internationally.

“Pentagon officials have remarked that some cabinet members of the Islamic Emirate or family members of the late Haqqani Sahib are on the US blacklists and still targets,” said a statement from the ministry of foreign affairs late on Wednesday.

The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Regional Responses and Security Threats

Tanya Mehra LL.M, Matthew Wentworth

Whilst Kabul airport faces a deadly terrorist attack, the window is closing to evacuate all international troops and the thousands of Afghan civilians by 31 August. The Taliban is trying to both maintain control of the country, and counter armed resistance from the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) in the Panjshir valley. Resistance leader, Ahmad Massoud, has pleaded to the international community for more weapons, ammunition, and supplies. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s neighbours have their own security concerns regarding the Taliban seizing power in the country. Although the Taliban formally denies the presence of any foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), a recent UN report highlighting the continued links between the Taliban and al-Qaeda also indicates that between 8,000 to 10,000 FTFs are present in the country, most of whom originate in Central Asia, the Caucasus, Pakistan, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. Most of these foreign fighters are aligned with the Taliban, although others have also joined the ranks of al-Qaeda and Islamic State in the Khorasan Province (ISKP).

From the press conference held by the Taliban on 17 August, but also their recent tour through the region to Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, it is clear that the group is seeking international recognition and support from its regional neighbours. The Taliban is desperate to attract funding to rebuild the country and will thus have to rely heavily on foreign investments, especially now that they have been denied access to $450 million of funds allocated for Afghanistan by the IMF. Regional co-operation will be vital to achieve this.

China Weighing Occupation of Former U.S. Air Base at Bagram: Sources

Paul D. Shinkman

China is considering deploying military personnel and economic development officials to Bagram airfield, perhaps the single-most prominent symbol of the 20-year U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

The Chinese military is currently conducting a feasibility study about the effect of sending workers, soldiers and other staff related to its foreign economic investment program known as the Belt and Road Initiative in the coming years to Bagram, according to a source briefed on the study by Chinese military officials, who spoke to U.S. News on the condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday issued a carefully crafted denial of plans for an imminent takeover of the military airfield roughly an hour from Kabul, first established by the Soviets during their own occupation in Afghanistan and which at the height of the U.S. military presence there was its busiest in the world.

In Afghanistan, Opium Is as Big a Winner as Islamic Extremism

Giada Ferrucci

After more than 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan, the withdrawal of United States-led forces is causing a humanitarian crisis as the Taliban takes control of the country.

Heroin, morphine, opium, hashish and poppy have mostly benefited the Taliban in recent years, and that likely means destitute Afghans will be dependent on the opium trade for survival.

Afghanistan’s opium boom began in the 1980s as drug traffickers capitalized on the chaos following the invasion by the Soviet Union in 1979.

But Gen. Tommy Franks, who co-ordinated the invasion of Afghanistan by American ground troops, declared in 2002: “We are not a drug task force. This is not our mission.” That was a message to the opium lords not to side with the Taliban because the U.S. had no intention of interfering with production.

‘Like Game of Thrones’: how triple crisis on China’s borders will shape its global identity

Vincent Ni

First it was North Korea. Then came Myanmar. Now it is Afghanistan. The three ongoing crises in China’s neighbourhood seem to have little in common. But for Beijing they pose the same question: how to deal with strategically important yet failing states on its border, and how will China’s response define its identity as a global power.

For many years China watchers in the west have been looking for clues to how a rising power will exercise its influence on the world stage through its involvement in Africa or its relations with the US. But the way China approaches the three neighbouring countries may provide a clearer picture.

“Afghanistan, Myanmar, and North Korea are all tests for China as a rising superpower: of whether Beijing, at a time of American withdrawal, can fill the vacuum in a skilful way,” said Thant Myint-U, a well-known Burmese historian and former presidential adviser.

“We’ve seen the western approach to failing states, rooted in ideas around elections, democracy, and human rights but we don’t really know what China, which in recent decades has been reluctant to export its own model of development, would do instead.”

Chinese, Russian narratives following US Afghanistan withdrawal present a US in decline

Kenton Thibaut and Roman Osadchuk

As the world watched scenes of chaos and violence unfold as the US withdrew from Afghanistan, Russia and China seized the opportunity to spread narratives designed to undermine faith in the United States as a global leader. The US and democracy as a whole are popular targets of both Russia and China; however, the speed with which the Afghan government fell and the criticism the US faced both domestically and among partner countries provided fertile ground for both countries to amplify and disseminate these narratives, especially around the time of the final phase of the US withdrawal. The recent events at the airport in Kabul, in particular, provided fertile ground for a new wave of criticism of the US emphasizing its “unreliability” and “hypocrisy,” especially over human rights.

The DFRLab identified two core narratives being pushed by Russia and China in the immediate aftermath of the US withdrawal, in both state-owned media outlets and on social media. This article will explore the first narrative, which emphasized the chaotic and allegedly disgraceful nature of the US exit, taking it as evidence of US “decline” and highlighting Russia and China’s roles as stabilizing powers in the region. In our second story, we examine how Russia and China highlighted what they considered US hypocrisy over human rights with what they depict as negligence of non-American lives.

Watch Out: China Is Buying Suicide Drones

Michael Peck

Here's What You Need to Remember: For the U.S. military and other potential Chinese adversaries, this is one more advanced weapon that they may encounter in battle. Like drones in general, loitering munitions can be hard to detect and shoot down, especially the smaller models.

China’s military is looking to buy suicide drones.

The military wants two types of suicide drones, according to an announcement posted on a Chinese military procurement Web site. The desired technical specifications of the drones, or the number to be purchased, is classified.

But Chinese drone manufacturers do have products that might satisfy the demands of the People’s Liberation Army. In 2018, China Aerospace unveiled the CH-901, which Chinese media described as being 4 feet long and weighing 20 pounds, with a speed of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, a range of 15 kilometers (9 miles) and an endurance of two hours. The larger WS-43 is a 500-pound weapon with a range of 60 kilometers (37 miles) and an endurance of 30 minutes.

Iran’s Interests in Afghanistan

Jon Alterman: Colin Clark is a senior research fellow and the director of policy and research at The Soufan Center. He taught at Carnegie Mellon and worked at the Rand corporation for 10 years. Colin, welcome to Babel.

Colin Clarke: Thank you for having me.

Jon Alterman: You've looked at Afghanistan, and you've looked at Iran for a long time. What's at stake for Iran in Afghanistan right now?

Colin Clarke: Other countries and other regional powers are going to fill that void. Chief atop that list is Iran looking to extend influence into Afghanistan. The Iranian regime has worked with the Taliban in the past— despite the ideological differences—and the bond between Iran and the Taliban can be strengthened by their common enemy, the Islamic State Khorasan (ISK). Iran suffered a number of Islamic State attacks itself. There's great concern that given the Islamic State’s sectarian agenda, more could be on the way—particularly if that group grows and spreads throughout Afghanistan as some expect.

Cruise missiles in the Middle East

Cruise missiles are an often-overlooked and opaque regional proliferation challenge in the Middle East. This MDI paper provides a technical analysis of current national inventories and development programmes in the Middle East. Considering these programmes, this paper also assesses what drives regional states to develop cruise-missile technology and what the potential implications of this are for regional stability.

While both the proliferation and combat use of ballistic missiles in the Middle East have attracted a lot of attention, cruise missiles remain an often-overlooked regional proliferation challenge. Once the exclusive realm of the Middle East’s sole nuclear power, Israel, the proliferation of cruise-missile systems has steadily picked up pace in the last two decades. Iran and Turkey have joined Israel in the club of nations developing and producing their own cruise missiles, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) appearing to take first steps in this direction. Other countries, such as Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have already purchased cruise missiles from abroad or appear intent on doing so in the near future. This trend is not limited to state actors, however. With strong technical and material support from Iran, Yemen’s Houthi rebels have employed cruise missiles in their ongoing missile and uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) campaign against the Saudi-led coalition.

The Biden Administration’s Emerging Approach on Technology Controls

Sourabh Gupta

Key Takeaways
During its last eight months in office, the Trump administration issued a blizzard of U.S.-China decoupling-related Executive Orders and Rulemaking with a focus on the digital economy and advanced manufacturing sectors. Some were shoddily drafted in haste, leaving the Biden administration to sort through these orders and regulations.

A common feature of the Biden administration’s emerging approach on technology controls has been its refusal to be rushed into a hasty rollout of revised policies and rules without broad internal vetting or external stakeholder input. As a result, a few admittedly unsatisfactory Trump-era rules continue to survive on the books during this interim. Thus far, there has been no knee-jerk revocation of a Trump-era rule.

In cases where the Biden administration has reached an internal consensus on a Trump-era technology controls rule, it has implemented a variety of responses. These range from the outright voiding of a deeply compromised Trump-era Executive Order to the methodical stripping-out and revision of deficient provisions within a Trump-era Rule to the amplification – not narrowing-down – of scope and coverage of a Trump-era Executive Order.

U.S. Startups Seek to Claw Back China’s Share of ‘Technology Minerals’ Market (Updated)

Stew Magnuson

MOUNTAIN PASS, Calif. — Atop an arid mountain about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, an excavator scooped up giant boulders mined from a nearby open pit and dumped them into a machine designed to reduce them to pebbles about the size of a marble.

Down in the pit, some 500 feet below, miners were preparing explosive charges that would blast basalt out of the mountain later that afternoon. Inside that rock were rare earth minerals, 17 different elements valued as building blocks for some of today’s most ubiquitous technologies — everything from electric cars to smartphones.

Despite all the activity and the dozens of workers moving tons of material at the site, Michael Rosenthal, chief operating officer of MP Materials, said mining is only about 10 percent of what the company did there.

Opinion: In defense of the much-maligned foreign policy establishment

Max Boot

After America’s first military defeat, in the Vietnam War, there were understandable attacks on the foreign policy establishment — “the best and the brightest,” in David Halberstam’s biting phrase. Now, after America’s second military defeat, in the Afghanistan War, there is equally understandable criticism of what some call “the Blob” or “the deep state.”

From the right: “The lesson to American voters should be clear: The foreign-policy and military establishment has failed and failed miserably.” From the left: “The real threat to Western security and credibility comes not from what happens in the Pashtun countryside, or from any regrouping of al-Qaida, but from what has passed for thinking in much of the Beltway.”

I understand the impulse, and to some extent applaud it. Only by studying what went wrong in the past can we avoid making the same mistakes in the future. (Instead, we’ll probably make different mistakes.) But I worry about attacks that go too far and focus only on the establishment’s failures while ignoring its more numerous successes. That can only empower populists such as former president Donald Trump whose track record is far worse than the establishment’s. (His mishandling of covid-19 may have caused 160,000 unnecessary deaths — more than the number of Americans killed in all of our post-1945 wars combined.)

Biden Administration Releases Draft Zero-Trust Guidance

Aaron Boyd

The federal government is pushing hard for agencies to adopt zero-trust cybersecurity architectures, with new guidance released Tuesday from the administration’s policy arm—the Office of Management and Budget—and lead cybersecurity agency—the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

The administration released several documents Tuesday for public comment, seeking feedback on the overarching federal policy from OMB and draft technical reference architecture and maturity model from CISA. The guidance follows a May executive order on bolstering cybersecurity across the federal government, which cited specific security methods and tools such as multifactor authentication, encryption and zero trust.

Zero-trust models continuously check on a user’s credentials as they move throughout a network, verifying not only that they are who they claim to be but also that the user has appropriate privileges to access secure apps and data. In a mature zero-trust architecture, these checks are performed routinely, including whenever a user attempts to access different segments of the network.

America’s anti-hacking laws pose a risk to national security

Riana Pfefferkorn

When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Van Buren v. United States, cybersecurity professionals nationwide breathed a sigh of relief. Asked to determine the scope of the United States’ main federal anti-hacking law, the court adopted a limited interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Had the ruling come out differently, it could have created more risk for so-called “white hat” hackers who search for flaws in software as a public service.

But even after Van Buren, white hats continue to face some lingering legal uncertainty under the CFAA and other laws. Meanwhile, the United States faces nothing short of a cybersecurity crisis, and U.S. authorities have begun to acknowledge that “black hat” hackers (particularly those overseas) appear largely unmoved by the threat of prosecution. That is, the specter of liability may be discouraging white hats from doing innocuous or beneficial security research, without meaningfully deterring malicious hacking. This topsy-turvy state of the law—and those who wield it as a cudgel to threaten researchers—is a weakness in U.S. national security.

To Compete with China, Take a Page from the Reagan Playbook


If the United States is to take the initiative in its great power competition with China, we should study America’s last victorious grand strategy. The Reagan administration moved the Cold War to its endgame by taking the initiative through measures short of warfare, and that era’s technology competition holds lessons relevant for a strategy of geoeconomics today. At stake in the Sino-American rivalry is who gets to tilt the table of the twenty-first century and slide trillions of dollars of prosperity and international political influence toward a center of gravity in Beijing or Washington.

Some commentators on the American right roll their eyes at “zombie Reaganism” in the form of a warmed-over 1980s policy agenda, while liberal skeptics have dismissed the accounts of Reaganites who touted a coherent grand strategy pursued by their administration. Yet, for contemporary strategists and diplomatic historians, Reagan’s results stand the test of time. Of course, we cannot and should not try to replay the Reagan performance like an episode of VH1’s I Love the ’80s. Sound answers to a historical set of geostrategic problems underpinned Reagan’s success, but America’s problems of the 1980s are not those of the 2020s. What we need to replicate is that era’s mode of geostrategic thinking and the lessons learned for how to get America out of a rut.

America’s flight from Afghanistan will embolden jihadists around the world

When a new American president takes office, the leaders of other countries compete to be the first to speak to him. When the Taliban took over Kabul, there was a similar rush to speak to Abdul Ghani Baradar, the public face of the Afghan militant group’s leadership. The winner was Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, the Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip. The read-out of the call posted on Hamas’s website has Mr Haniyeh congratulating Mr Baradar on his victory against the “American occupation” of Afghanistan. It would, he said, be “a prelude to the demise of all occupation forces, foremost of which is the Israeli occupation of Palestine”. Mr Baradar responded in kind, wishing Hamas “victory and empowerment as a result of their resistance”.

Such diplomatic niceties were matched with an outpouring of celebration from other jihadists. In the Idlib province of Syria, occupied by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group thought to have ties to al-Qaeda, the organisation which launched the attacks of September 11th 2001, fighters held a parade and handed out baklava on street corners. Three days of celebration were announced in the districts of southern Somalia controlled by al-Shabab, another al-Qaeda affiliate (pictured, training, above). On social media jihadists from all over the world shared memes celebrating the Taliban’s victory, notably a pastiche of Joe Rosenthal’s famous picture of American marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima.

A First Look at Angela Merkel's Legacy

Dirk Kurbjuweit

The Merkel era was a time of unseen menaces. It was riddled with crises that were invisible at first, which is what made them seem so sinister. That was true for the financial crisis and the euro crisis, for the pandemic and for climate change. Something was happening out there, but it was really only understood by the experts and the scientists.

The rest of us were left with a feeling of uncertainty, even fear. Will my life be affected? All of these crises held the potential for personal catastrophe: for the loss of job and assets, for illness and even death.

Angela Merkel had much to recommend her as the perfect chancellor for such an era, the potential to be a godsend of history. In her first life, she worked as a scientist, as a woman of numbers, tables and curves. She is extremely intelligent and imbued with rationality. Unseen menaces aren’t enough to frighten her because she is able to discern their true nature and understand the facts behind them.

The COVID Charter

Rajiv J. Shah

In August 1941, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met aboard the USS Augusta in the waters off Newfoundland to discuss the war then raging in Europe and Asia. As they considered the future, the two leaders remembered the past. The deprivations and divisions fueled by World War I and the Great Depression, they knew, had eventually led to the devastation of World War II.

The president and the prime minister were determined not only to win the war but also to establish the foundation for a more durable peace. The Atlantic Charter, which Roosevelt and Churchill released during this meeting, famously set out the two leaders’ grand vision for the postwar world. But one of its key areas of focus often goes overlooked: the charter promoted a global economic recovery designed to unleash a slow, steady convergence between wealthy and poor nations. The goal was to rebuild and industrialize countries, paving the way for a planet free from “fear and want.”

For EU, Afghanistan is now a four-letter word


The 20-year, U.S.-led effort to turn Afghanistan into a stable, democratic country failed. But when it comes to the political and policy implications for the EU, a different F-word comes to mind.

In the days since the West’s bailout from Kabul, the 27 member countries and the EU institutions in Brussels have been confronting the humiliating reality of their collective lack of military capability and they have been grasping desperately for policy options, some of which seem wildly unrealistic or woefully insufficient.

The inability to keep the Kabul airport functioning, and maintain evacuations, even for just a few days longer without help from the U.S. has led to a sobering conclusion: The European Union can neither protect, nor project, its so-called “European way of life.”

A Full-Spectrum Response to Sharp Power

Christopher Walker

As globalization has deepened integration between democracies and autocracies, the compromising effects of sharp power—which impairs free expression, neutralizes independent institutions, and distorts the political environment—have grown apparent across crucial sectors of open societies. Building upon its groundbreaking 2017 report, Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence, the International Forum for Democratic Studies undertook a two-year initiative to assess how modern forms of authoritarian influence affect the democratic infrastructure of open societies. The final report in the Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience series reviews the findings of eight papers that highlight serious vulnerabilities in a cluster of institutions related to information and ideas, commerce, media, and technology. During a period in which democracies have been preoccupied with internal problems, authoritarian regimes in Russia, China, and elsewhere have pushed boundaries and successfully exploited these vulnerabilities. Authoritarian powers’ compromising activities in these four sectors, among others, amount to a constant probing of democratic integrity. A response from the full spectrum of institutions within open societies is essential. Actors in the nongovernmental sector—including but not limited to media, universities, publishers, and technology and entertainment firms—must develop strategies for resilience in the face of authoritarian influence that reinforce standards of openness, accountability, and institutional integrity.

Open-source intelligence challenges state monopolies on information

In 1960 john kennedy, the Democratic candidate for the American presidency, accused the incumbent Republican administration of having allowed a “missile gap” to open up between America and the Soviet Union. The idea seemed plausible. The Soviet Union’s success in launching the first satellite, Sputnik, on a rocket which could double as an intercontinental ballistic missile (icbm) had naturally led to speculation that it was far ahead of America in the deployment of such weapons.

Plausible, but wrong. Soviet icbms could be counted on the fingers of one hand. But although, by the final days of the campaign, President Dwight Eisenhower had strong evidence of this from the corona spy-satellite programme, he could make no mention of it. The ability to spot icbm sites from space was so precious that it was worth risking the White House to keep it secret.

Marine Special Ops Command Hones its ‘Cognitive Raiders’

Scott R. Gourley

Marine Raiders are some of the nation’s most elite warfighters, but Marine Corps Special Operations Command is pushing to make them even better with its “Cognitive Raider” initiative.

The Marine Corps Special Operations Forces 2030 strategic vision outlined the Cognitive Raider innovation pathway, asserting that troops sent into future special operations environments “must be able to understand them and then adapt their approaches across an expanded range of solutions,” adding, “While tough, close-in, violent actions will remain a feature of future warfare, MARSOF must increasingly integrate tactical capabilities and partnered operations with evolving national, theater and interagency capabilities across all operational domains, to include those of information and cyber.”

To facilitate that understanding and adaptation, MARSOC has implemented an annual event called the Cognitive Raider Symposium, also known as CRS. Co-hosted with the Naval Postgraduate School’s Defense Analysis Department, the multi-day gatherings provide myriad learning venues designed to hone the Marine Raiders’ tactical edges. Significantly, the symposium not only addresses the Cognitive Raider pathway, but also illustrates MARSOF as a true connector of ideas and concepts.

US over-the-horizon capabilities robust, but use requires ‘strategic refinement,’ experts say

James Webb

On Aug. 29, days after a suicide attack that claimed the lives of 13 U.S. troops, the Defense Department carried out a drone strike it claimed intercepted a car bomb targeting Hamid Karzai International Airport. According to DoD officials, “significant” secondary explosions confirmed a successful over-the-horizon strike on a legitimate target. But several civilians were killed in the attack, leading to questions about the Biden administration’s aim to lean on an “over-the-horizon” approach to fight terrorism in places such as Afghanistan.

While over-the-horizon capabilities, such as drones and intelligence collection, have grown significantly over the years, Washington should lay out a specific counter-terrorism strategy before utilizing it, specifically in a place such as Afghanistan, experts told Military Times.

Prosecuting an over-the-horizon counter-terrorism campaign against ISIS-K in Afghanistan needs to be part of a larger strategic picture laid out by Washington, said Wes Bryant, former Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller. Without it, such operations in Afghanistan run the risk of “us continuing down the road to nowhere.” Further, strikes against ISIS-K would primarily benefit the Taliban, a group Bryant describes as having “similar” goals to the Taliban with a “near-equal history of oppression, brutality, and atrocities.”

Combatting Defense Supply Chain and Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability with AI

McDaniel Wicker

“Amateurs talk about strategy…Professionals talk about logistics,” said U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Robert Barrow when discussing the true key to warfighting. The advice holds true in the wider context of national security, and over the past weeks, the professionals in Washington have spent plenty of time talking about logistics. Recently, the House Armed Services Committee released a bipartisan report on the need to protect defense supply chains, and the White House has issued a National Security Memorandum about the strategic importance of defending the country’s critical infrastructure.

While separate initiatives, both the Congressional report and the memo address the need to secure the logistics networks that underpin both our daily lives and America’s ability to defend itself. The two documents also emphasize the necessity of leveraging technology and private sector expertise to overcome security challenges. Whether ensuring pipelines and energy networks remain online or guaranteeing the U.S. military has the required tools and equipment, effective use of publicly available information is critical to success.


Brandon Morgan

On a distant Pacific Island battlefield, a section of US Army air defenders mans its perimeter on a relatively quiet night. The war, if you could call it that, had carried on for years. The US government continued to slog through painful negotiations with an adversary determined to leverage the American public’s growing disdain for the conflict against the diplomats and senior military officers. The air defenders, observing no threats on their state-of-the-art radar, turn their conversation to the upcoming baseball season. One soldier, tired of the banter, turns the radio to his favorite broadcast for a moment of solitude. Like the rest of his section, he is entirely unaware that a cheap, low-tech biplane is rumbling toward the air defenders’ position, flying so low that the highly advanced American radars cannot distinguish the enemy plane from the surrounding ground clutter. Without warning, a tremendous blast throws him across his entrenchment—his right side numb and seemingly dysfunctional—but he is the lucky one. On the other side of their firing position, his fellow soldiers lie dead, with their gun emplacement twisted, disfigured, and completely destroyed.

Assessing Shortcomings of the U.S. Approach for Addressing Conflict Below the Threshold of War

Joe McGiffin

Summary: The current U.S. national security approach is not suitable for addressing threats below the threshold of war. This approach focuses on achieving security through military superiority. A more effective approach would achieve national security objectives derived from an analysis of geopolitical trends. This new approach will allow for more unified, synergistic use of national resources in the defense of U.S. interests.

Text: By its own estimate, the United States is losing global influence as a result of strategic atrophy, permitting other actors the freedom to reshape the weakening world order through “all-of-nation long-term strategy[1].” However, myopia, not atrophy, has eroded U.S. advantages. A new approach, one that can frame its national security problems within the changing geopolitical context, will result in a more resilient and agile security strategy.

The current U.S. approach is a dangerous misinterpretation of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) theory that originated from Soviet observations of the United States’ Second Offset Strategy which ended the Cold War[2]. Nuclear weapons created a conflict threshold, which neither power would cross, and spurred a race to tactical dominance in conflict below that level. Between their own success and the proliferation of assets which promised dominant battlefield knowledge, maneuver, and precision[3], the United States concluded that military supremacy was synonymous with national security. Though the defense community rebrands it as a new concept every decade (i.e., Transformation and Defense Innovative Initiative), the intellectual underpinnings do not change[4].