14 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.

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.

How Equipment Left In Afghanistan Will Expose US Secrets


The ultimate winner of two decades of war in Afghanistan is likely China. The aircraft and armored vehicles left behind when U.S. forces withdrew will give China—through their eager partners, the Taliban—a broad window into how the U.S. military builds and uses some of its most important tools of war. Expect the Chinese military to use this windfall to create—and export to client states—a new generation of weapons and tactics tailored to U.S. vulnerabilities, said several experts who spent years building, acquiring, and testing some of the equipment that the Taliban now controls.

To understand how big a potential loss this is for the United States, look beyond the headlines foretelling a Taliban air force. Look instead to the bespoke and relatively primitive pieces of command, control, and communication equipment sitting around in vehicles the United States left on tarmacs and on airfields. These purpose-built items aren’t nearly as invincible to penetration as even your own phone.

Afghanistan Will Not Make Europe a Defense Player


The European Union thrives in every crisis.

That’s what European leaders want to believe. Crises, they say, galvanize the bloc. They give a push for more integration. They help the EU develop what it has long lacked: a credible defense and security policy. That, supposedly, is now the lesson of Afghanistan for the Europeans, judging by the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Slovenia on September 2-3.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said Afghanistan had “shown in a striking way that deficiencies in EU capacity to act autonomously comes with a price.”

As if those deficiencies were not well-known: weak capabilities, duplication, the lobbying power of defense industries, and the overriding lack of trust and divisions among member states when it comes to defining security ambitions and threats.

Borrell said the only way forward was “to combine our forces and strengthen not only our capabilities, but also our will to act.”

Corruption and Self-Dealing in Afghanistan and Other U.S.-Backed Security Sectors


In the wake of Kabul’s fall, it is worth asking: How did corruption help lead to the collapse of the Afghan security forces and the triumph of the Taliban? The answer lies in a famous quote from the novel The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. A character named Mike Campbell is asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he replies. “Gradually, then suddenly.”

Like this bankruptcy, corruption in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces gradually undermined the U.S.-backed forces’ willingness and ability to fight before the dramatic final downfall.


The seeds of the hollowing out of the Afghan security forces began soon after the 2001 U.S.-led occupation. First was a decision to focus on a counterterrorism mission. This choice was understandable at the time given the West’s need to defeat al-Qaeda and prevent future attacks like those that occurred on September 11, 2001. To bolster their own forces and provide the necessary on-the-ground knowledge and access, the United States and its allies turned to the very warlords whose rapacious regime had enabled the Taliban to overthrow the prior Afghan government.

Can CPEC Move Beyond Infrastructure?

Muhammad Tayyab Safdar and Max C. Barte

Pakistan and China’s “all-weather friendship” has come under increasing stress in recent months. The two countries have been strong diplomatic partners for 70 years, at first as a geostrategic counterweight to the ties between India and the Soviet Union, but increasingly because of China’s enormous investments in Pakistan. Today, Pakistan is one of China’s few close allies, with officials on both sides frequently invoking their “iron brotherhood” and “sweet as honey” relationship.

That relationship grew even stronger with the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, and in particular the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2015. CPEC aims to connect western China, which borders Pakistan, to the southern Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. To that end, Chinese actors have funneled billions of dollars into transportation and energy infrastructure in Pakistan, including road networks, power plants, and transmission lines.

The Real Lesson of the Afghanistan Debacle

Jonathan Ariel

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Afghanistan has proved once again that even a superpower cannot win a war against a proxy as long as it refuses to confront the power that supports it. This is of vital importance to Israel, which is facing a proxy war being waged against it by Iran via its regional proxies Hezbollah and Hamas.

The seeds of the humiliating American withdrawal from Afghanistan were laid shortly after the post 9/11 US invasion of the country, when it refrained from confronting Pakistan over its continued support of its Taliban proxy.

The Taliban was founded in 1980 as a joint US-Pakistani-Saudi effort to combat Soviet troops in Afghanistan shortly after the USSR invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.

To include or not include? China-led SCO weighs Iranian membership

James M. Dorsey

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan may help Iran reduce its international isolation. At least, that’s what the Islamic Republic hopes when leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) gather in Tajikistan next weekend.

Members are admitted to the eight-member China-led SCO that also groups Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, by unanimous consensus. Iran, unlike its rivals in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has long had observer status with the SCO.

The Gulf states have so far kept their distance to the China-dominated regional alliance created to counter the ‘evils’ of ‘terrorism, separatism, and extremism” so as not to irritate their main security ally, the United States.

NC3 Vulnerabilities Risk Nuclear War In Asia, APLN Study Finds


WASHINGTON: Two-thirds of the world’s nuclear armed nations are in the Asia-Pacific region. Now, a new report warns that Nuclear command, control and communication (NC3) among the increasingly mistrustful powers if the Asia-Pacific are ripe for failure, creating elevated risks of nuclear war, whether by accident or as the result of uncontrollable escalation in conventional conflict.

The Asia-Pacific Leadership Network study, released today and provided to Breaking Defense in advance, finds that “serious incidents with the potential to escalate to nuclear war have occurred on average once every three years between nuclear-armed states and in each case NC3 has been integral to the cause of the crisis, contributing to the risk of possible nuclear use.”

The report, written by APNL research director Peter Hayes and titled “Nuclear Command, Control, Communications (NC3) in Asia-Pacific,” reviews in depth and compares/contrasts the NC3 systems of the six nuclear nations in the Pacific — the United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea — from types of sensors to communications systems to computers to organizational structure.

The Soviet Water Legacy in Central Asia

Asel Murzakulova

The Soviet water and energy legacy has been a painful issue for the countries of Central Asia for a long time. But the dynamics of relations between the countries of the region in the last five years demonstrate a shift in which that legacy is an important element both in conflict and cooperation, and the struggle to mitigate the stresses of climate change. Also adding new complexity to an old issue was the introduction of land ownership in disputed territories following the region’s independence.

Water Infrastructure and Conflicts Over Borders

Following World War II, Soviet authorities intensively built water and energy infrastructure based on the topographic features of territory, crossing administrative boundaries between the constituent Soviet republics. This wasn’t a problem until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which left separate independent states sharing a complex network of critical infrastructure. After gaining independence, the countries of the Central Asian region began to dispute the ownership of a significant number of water and energy facilities, particularly in the Fergana Valley, located across the border territories of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Kazakhstan to Let Russia Do the Heavy Lifting on Afghanistan

George Voloshin

The recent fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban took many a government by surprise. Kazakhstan—Central Asia’s biggest economy, which has no shared border with Afghanistan but is nonetheless actively involved in the regional security dialogue—was no exception. On August 15, the day the Taliban conquered Kabul but before the takeover was formally announced, Kazakhstani President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev wrote on Twitter, “Kazakhstan is preoccupied with the escalation of violence in Afghanistan and is watching the events there closely” (Twitter.com/TokayevKZ, August 15). The president quickly ordered unspecified measures aimed at protecting Kazakhstani citizens within the troubled country; he also promised that the embassy of Kazakhstan in Kabul would continue to operate as normal (Twitter.com/TokayevKZ, Akorda.kz, Tengrinews.kz, Kazinform, August 15).

On both August 15 and 16, Tokayev held meetings with key members of his administration to discuss the constantly evolving security threat emanating from the Afghan direction. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported at the second such meeting that all Kazakhstani citizens had by then left Afghanistan, with the exception of core diplomatic staff. The Tokayev administration also had to deny rumors of a coordinated plan to admit some 2,000 Afghan refugees into Kazakhstani territory, which had earlier started circulating on social media. The original rumor emerged after a phone conversation between United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Kazakhstani counterpart, Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi, on August 13. Several days later, Kazakhstan did admit 135 staff members of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA), established pursuant to a UN Security Council resolution dated March 2002 (Tengrinews.kz, August 20; Akorda.kz, August 15, 16; Kursiv.kz, Kapital.kz, Radio Azattyq, August 16).

Tajikistan Breaks From Neighbors in Policy Toward Afghanistan

Edward Lemon

Confronted with the new Taliban government in Afghanistan, adjacent Tajikistan has broken from its Central Asian neighbors, which have largely adopted a conciliatory posture, and opted for a more confrontational approach. Speaking on the eve of Tajikistan’s 30th anniversary of independence and one day after the Taliban announced its loyalist cabinet, President Emomali Rahmon declared he supported an “inclusive [Afghan] government taking into account the interests of all its peoples,” adding that the international community “has no moral right to leave the people of Afghanistan alone with the problems that have arisen” (President.tj, September 8). Rahmon has increasingly positioned himself as the protector of Afghanistan’s Tajik community, which makes up approximately one third of Afghanistan’s population.

Tajikistan’s government still classifies the Taliban as an extremist organization, with the state media referring to it, even after the fall of Kabul, as “radical” (Khovar, August 23). In another signal that it aims to support ethnic Tajiks in Afghanistan, on September 2 the government of Tajikistan posthumously awarded Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud and former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, both of whom were ethnic Tajiks, with the country’s third-highest honor, the Order of Ismoili Somoni (President.tj, September 2).

How China hijacked the war on terror — with U.S. help


Today’s China Watcher provides a preview of a longer article that will be published later today on how China joined the "Global War on Terrorism" with a steely focus on domestic social control at all costs.

China's ruling Chinese Communist Party exploited the international revulsion toward terrorism sparked by the 9/11 attacks to reframe state repression of Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. And it did so with America's blessing.

“Framing [Xinjiang] as a terrorist threat suddenly gave a lot of latitude to China in terms of what it could do in the eyes of the international community because, of course, the U.S. in many ways set a precedent for suspending human rights for anybody considered a ‘terrorist,’” said Sean R. Roberts, associate professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and author of “The War on the Uyghurs: China’s Campaign Against Xinjiang’s Muslims."

Global Power Puzzle: Why China’s Rise Doesn’t Cause a Problem

Joergen Oerstroem Moeller

China is increasingly classified as a threat to the world order by the United States and Europe. A kind of behemoth harboring evil designs. This image makes light of its domestic problems epitomized by its struggle since unification 221 BC to achieve peace, prosperity, and harmony. Recipients of policy statements are the Chinese population, not the United States and Europe. Formulations and vocabulary are chosen to that effect. It is Sino-centric and entails no tradition for imperialism as adopted by Western powers over the past five hundred years.

The Duke of Wellington always wondered what was “on the other side of the hill.” In 1946 George Kennan took a look with the “long telegram,” which he later expanded into an op-ed published by Foreign Affairs in 1947 under the title The Sources of Soviet Conduct. These two great men acted sagaciously trying to figure out what opponents were thinking and planning, whether they constituted a threat, and if so, then how to respond.

Joe Biden Wants to Honor 9/11—By Moving On From National Security Priorities That Defined the Past 20 Years


On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, it was Joe Biden’s wife Jill who told him on the phone that a second plane had crashed into New York’s Twin Towers.

Biden was on board an Amtrak commuter train from Wilmington and Washington, and when he walked out of the station on Capitol Hill, he saw brown smoke in the sky from the impact of another plane that rammed into the Pentagon across the Potomac River in Virginia. There were concerns that a fourth plane, which passengers would later force down in a field in Shanksville, PA, was headed for the Capitol Building, which was being evacuated. Biden, then a Senator from Delaware, wanted to give a speech from the Senate chamber to show Americans the government was still functioning. Capitol Police refused to let Biden inside, he wrote in his 2007 memoir “Promises to Keep.” Instead, he spoke to an ABC News crew a few blocks away. “Terrorism wins when, in fact, they alter our civil liberties or shut down our institutions,” Biden said.

Over the next two decades, Biden watched, first as a Senator, then as Vice President, as leaders reshaped American institutions to make fighting terrorism more central to the function of government, launched two doomed wars, approved torture in interrogations, and pushed the limits of civil liberties protections at home to hunt potential terrorists.

20 Years After 9/11, Surveillance Has Become a Way of Life

TWO DECADES AFTER 9/11, many simple acts that were once taken for granted now seem unfathomable: strolling with loved ones to the gate of their flight, meandering through a corporate plaza, using streets near government buildings. Our metropolises’ commons are now enclosed with steel and surveillance. Amid the perpetual pandemic of the past year and a half, cities have become even more walled off. With each new barrier erected, more of the city’s defining feature erodes: the freedom to move, wander, and even, as Walter Benjamin said, to “lose one’s way … as one loses one’s way in a forest.”

It’s harder to get lost amid constant tracking. It’s also harder to freely gather when the public spaces between home and work are stripped away. Known as third places, they are the connective tissue that stitches together the fabric of modern communities: the public park where teens can skateboard next to grandparents playing chess, the library where children can learn to read and unhoused individuals can find a digital lifeline. When third places vanish, as they have since the attacks, communities can falter.

US officials have much to learn from Afghanistan's 'Digital Dunkirk'


Some are calling it a “Digital Dunkirk” — an allusion to the World War II rescue and evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, France to England. Except this time, it’s a virtual network linking arms and phones around the world to assist in evacuating tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan.

This ad-hoc group of frontline civilians, veterans, active duty service members, members of Congress, government and nonprofit workers, open source technology specialists and others came together across borders over hundreds of Signal threads, WhatsApp groups, Slack channels, and Facebook Messenger chats. Volunteers shared information (and misinformation), vetted partners, liaised with government officials and generally tried to organize a mass of people thousands of miles away.

Initially focused on supporting Afghans seeking to leave the country via Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), this effort has now moved to supporting those still in the country and assisting with the rapid resettlement of those who made it out.

Biden the Realist

Joshua Shifrinson and Stephen Wertheim

President Joe Biden was supposed to return U.S. foreign policy to its pre-Trump path. A septuagenarian with a half century of experience in national politics, he was the presidential candidate who most clearly embodied the American establishment. Surely, the expectation went, he would bring back the United States’ pursuit of political and military preeminence designed to reshape the world in its own image. Biden even presented the restoration of U.S. leadership in global affairs as his hallmark: “America is back,” he proclaimed after taking office.

But Biden’s decision to terminate the U.S. war in Afghanistan has revealed another side of the United States’ 46th president. In ending the two-decades-long war, Biden rejected every “liberal internationalist” premise of the enterprise, including the notion that building a democratic Afghanistan and transforming the region served U.S. interests or advanced universal values. He repeatedly argued that the United States had only one valid reason to use force there: to “get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11” and might attack again. Once that objective had been achieved, the United States had no business waging war. It was for “the Afghan people alone to decide their future,” he said, including whether they would live in a Western-style democracy or under Taliban rule.

How America Can Win the Middle East

Kim Ghattas

Since taking office, President Joe Biden has talked repeatedly about competition with China. To fight off Beijing and other autocracies, he has said, democracies must uphold their values. He has talked much less about the Middle East in that time, and although he has never phrased it in so many words, Biden appears to be trying to deprioritize a region that he believes has consumed too much of America’s attention and resources.

But the competition between the United States and China does not exist in a vacuum, nor is it fenced off within Asia; it is global. In the Middle East, whether it be over China’s infrastructure spending via the Belt and Road Initiative, its thirst for oil, or its cozying up to autocracies and foes of America, the battle between Washington and Beijing is fast playing out. Biden should consider how his foreign-policy priorities—China and democracy—connect in the Middle East, and why pulling too far away from the region could undermine his work on the international stage. This has become even more urgent and difficult in the aftermath of the damaging images of the chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the doubts the debacle has cast over the Biden administration’s commitment to values and international engagement.

U.S. Foreign Policy Under Biden

President Joe Biden took office with an ambitious foreign policy agenda summed up by his favorite campaign tagline: “America is back.” Above all, that meant repairing the damage done to America’s global standing by his predecessor, former President Donald Trump. During his four years in office, Trump strained ties with America’s allies in Europe and Asia, raised tensions with adversaries like Iran and Venezuela, and engaged in a trade war with China that left bilateral relations in their worst state in decades.

In principle, Biden’s agenda is rooted in a repudiation of Trump’s “America First” legacy and the restoration of the multilateral order. That was reflected in his early moves to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization, and reestablish U.S. leadership on climate diplomacy. The COVID-19 pandemic has also offered Biden an opportunity to reassert America’s global leadership role and begin repairing ties that began to fray under Trump.

US Threat Perceptions, Then and Now

The Attacks of 9/11 and the Pernicious Mirage of Victory

Candace Rondeaux

Twenty years ago, a major terrorist attack against the U.S. homeland shocked a country many imagined to be as indispensable as it was exceptional. Today, it seems almost fitting that the United States should mark the 20th anniversary of that attack under the shock of the ignominious end to the intervention in Afghanistan. Whether shock will be enough to prompt a reckoning with the mistakes of the past 20 years, though, is far from certain.

That reckoning is necessary, because if the interminable global war on terror that followed 9/11 prevented another terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland, it did so at huge cost. While most of America is naturally reflecting this week on all the different ways the 9/11 attacks transformed country and the world, what seems to have changed most is our understanding of the impact and limits of the kind of military power unleashed over the past 20 years.

US-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Gets Another Lease on Life (Part Two)

Vladimir Socor

The Joint Statement on the US-Ukraine Strategic Partnership was released during President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Washington visit (Whitehouse.gov, President.gov.ua, September 1), but surprisingly it carries no signatures. This document’s two direct predecessors, in 2008 and 2018, respectively, had been signed by the US secretaries of state and the Ukrainian foreign ministers.

This document falls, on the whole, short of substantiating the notion of strategic partnership as such. It does not spell out the major, shared national interests and mutual strategic objectives underlying such a partnership. The United States has yet to focus on integrating Ukraine (along with like-minded allies) into a coherent strategy of containing Russia in Europe’s East.

US military assistance to Ukraine is not commensurate to the challenge. According to the Joint Statement, that assistance has totaled $2.5 billion since 2014, including more than $400 million in 2021 (of which $60 million, previously appropriated but held up by the White House in the spring, is finally being disbursed now). Ukrainian commentators ruefully compare these amounts with the $88 billion that the US spent on Afghanistan’s army and police forces, averaging $4.4 billion annually, to no strategic payoff. Ukraine itself bears the heaviest defense spending burden in Europe, at 5.4 percent of GDP in 2020 and 5.93 percent of GDP in 2021 (USCC.org.ua, August 27).

The growing threat of cybercrime in the space domain

Andre Kwok

In July 2021, Richard Branson made global headlines with his journey to outer space on Virgin Galactic’s spaceship. This historical feat proved the feasibility of space tourism and the many interests of corporations in outer space. As a major non-state actor, corporations have joined the increasingly crowded space domain, prompting new discussions on regulating commercial, military and technological activities in outer space.

The conversation on non-state actors often focuses on corporations, overlooking illegitimate non-state actors like terrorists and transnational organised crime groups. In the post-9/11 world, illegitimate non-state actors have caused much strain on international law. Reflecting the growing space sector, terrorist acquisition of space-applicable cyberattack tools will further test international law.

In 2007, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers rebel group hijacked an Intelsat satellite to broadcast ethno-nationalist propaganda to Europe and Asia. Representing Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority population, the Tamil Tigers fought a devastating civil war with the Sri Lankan military that led to extensive war crimes and crimes against humanity.

After Afghanistan, Europe wonders if France was right about America

The annual ritual of Bastille Day is a moment for the French to put up bunting, down champagne and celebrate the republic’s founding myths. On July 14th this year, however, when the French ambassador to Kabul, David Martinon, recorded a message to fellow citizens, gravity crushed festivity. “Mes chers compatriotes”, he began, “the situation in Afghanistan is extremely concerning.” The French embassy, he said, had completed its evacuation of Afghan employees. French nationals were told to leave on a special flight three days later. After that, given the “predictable evolution” of events in Afghanistan, he declared—a full month before the fall of Kabul—France could no longer guarantee them a safe exit.

When the French began to pull out Afghan staff and their families in May, even friends accused them of defeatism, and of hastening the regime’s collapse. Their evacuation effort in August (of 2,834 people, on 42 flights) was imperfect, and left some vulnerable Afghans behind. As allies scrambled to get their Afghan employees out of Kabul, the French found themselves as dependent as anybody on American security. Yet there has been quiet satisfaction in Paris. Their plans showed “impressive foresight”, says Lord Ricketts, a former British ambassador to France.

Takshashila Discussion Document – Space as a Geopolitical Environment


Executive Summary

The ability to use space for commercial, military, and scientific purposes has become a vital determinant of national power. Yet space is a novel environment for human activity and the strategic implications of using it are poorly understood. This document seeks to understand how space functions as a geopolitical environment and provide a useful set of ideas for both scholars and practitioners. Focusing on orbital space, it looks at space as both a physical and strategic geography as well as a potential arena for military operations. It examines strategic theories of space, the structure and logic of space warfare, and the potential for putting in place legal and normative arrangements for space activity.

Download the Discussion Document as a PDF

Massive Zapad 2021 War Games Begin

Pavel Felgenhauer

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has begun massive Zapad 2021 operational-strategic war games together with its smallish ally Belarus. The quadrennial Zapad (“West”) exercises are designed to test the ability of a joint Russo-Belarus military force to defend the Russo-Belarus Union State against enemies, presumably the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. Of course, according to the MoD, Zapad 2021 will be “defensive in nature” and “not aimed against any particular nation.” The official Zapad scenario this year envisages a clash between a fictitious “Polar Republic” (the aggressor) and the “Central Federation” (the good guys). The scenario apparently does not mention any rogue terrorist armed groups, as many of Russia’s post–Cold War military exercises did. Both the “Polar Republic” and “Central Federation” are supposed to be militarily on par with each other, with modern, well-developed armed forces. The “Polar Republic” uses its military to put pressure on the “Central Federation.” The standoff escalates into war with massive air offensives (the invented stand-in for the West attempting to use its presumed air and precision weapons superiority). Ultimately in the scenario, the “Central Federation” fights back and defeats the aggressor (Militarynews.ru, August 20).

Like a Cell Phone Plan: Army Tees Up SATCOM Services Pilot


SATELLITE 2021: The Army hopes to kick off a pilot program next year for buying satellite communications services provided by commercial firms in the same way that civilians subscribe to a mobile phone plan.

The service is “shooting for” issuance of a request for proposals to industry to launch the pilot program early in 2022, Col. Shane Taylor, told Breaking Defense today at the SATELLITE 2021 conference in Maryland.

Taylor works for the Program Executive Office (PEO) Command, Control, & Communications – Tactical (C3T) headed by Brig. Gen. Rob Collins, which is responsible for the “SATCOM as a Managed Service (SaaMS)” program.

Eventually, the Army could buy services from industry that “include everything from a piece of hardware to the operations center to the bandwidth,” Collins told a panel on military uses of commercial SATCOM networks.

Small Sats at DoD: Let Hundreds Of Programs Bloom


UPDATED. WASHINGTON: The Defense Department has formed a new group to coordinate small satellite efforts across the department and services, according to Doug Schroeder, who oversees prototyping of command, control and communications networks at the Pentagon’s Research & Engineering office.

UPDATE BEGINS The group, called the Small Satellite Coordinating Activity, reports to Arsenio Gumahad, director of command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4/ISR) in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S). It includes representatives of all of the military services, as well as the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (OUSDR&E) where Schroeder himself works. The group completed an initial report three months ago, reviewing who is doing what, where. UPDATE ENDS


Rebecca Jensen and Steve Leonard

At the Munich Security Conference in February, US President Joe Biden confidently declared, “We are not looking backward; we are looking forward, together.” Yet, even as he foretold a better future, he invoked the ghosts of the country’s Cold War past: “We must prepare together for a long-term strategic competition.” Great power competition, largely now a distant memory of America’s past, was roaring back.

Unlike halcyon days bygone, however, the competition to shape the international order is focused mainly on the United States and China, with Russia often left lurking in the shadows. The competitive norms of the old Cold War have been replaced with those of the new Cold War: the nine-dash line and the South China Sea, conflict across the cyber domain, and widespread diffusion of military technology. Understandably, debate has raged over the inevitability of military conflict, defense budgets are rising in response, and emergent concepts are framed around a vision of large-scale conflict unimaginable since the fall of the Soviet Union.