17 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.

In Afghanistan, China Is Ready to Step Into the Void

The speed and scope of the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan have prompted introspection in the West over what went wrong, and how, after billions of dollars spent on a 20-year war effort, it could all end so ignominiously. China, though, is looking forward. It is ready to step into the void left by the hasty U.S. retreat to seize a golden opportunity.

While Beijing has yet to formally recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s new government, China issued a statement on Monday saying that it “respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny” and will develop “friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan.”

The message here is clear: Beijing has few qualms about fostering a closer relationship with the Taliban and is ready to assert itself as the most influential outside player in an Afghanistan now all but abandoned by the United States.

How stable is the Taliban government?

Some western governments and media have been involved in a collective act of wishful thinking in recent months over the Taliban—believing them somehow to be ‘moderate’ and on the way to forming an inclusive government. The idea began with their elevation of status as a partner in negotiations with the US in Doha. They were legitimised, so some believed they had changed.

The last remnants of that belief must have been burnt out by the appointment of the Taliban cabinet this week, which was not inclusive in any sense, but was the result of three weeks of bartering between different Taliban factions, only resolved by the intervention of the head of Pakistani intelligence, the ISI, General Faiz Hameed.

More than half of the members of the new government face international sanctions as terrorists. The list includes four of the five men released from Guantanamo in a prisoner swap in 2014 and four members of the Haqqani family, whose terrorist network was responsible for the largest attacks in Kabul in recent years, and who have US bounties on their heads.
The failure to form an inclusive administration means that the Taliban will have to rule by force as they do not have wide consent

Afghan American woman’s escape highlights secretive CIA role in Kabul rescues

Dan Lamothe and Ellen Nakashima

Five days after Afghanistan’s fall, Shaqaiq Birashk, holed up in her Kabul apartment, was contacted by a stranger offering to have her picked up and escorted to the airport for evacuation. The man claimed to work for the U.S. government, said Birashk, an American citizen who, until the Taliban’s takeover, worked on a USAID project.

After some trepidation and encouragement from a friend who had already gone through the process, she accepted. That night, dressed in a flowing abaya that concealed a backpack stuffed with clean clothes, Birashk, 37, nervously walked past the Taliban guards who had taken over security at her building and climbed into the back seat of a green Toyota Corolla, hopeful it would lead to her freedom.

“We were driving against the traffic,” she recalled in an interview. “You would see male and female, young and old, all walks of life, just walking toward the airport.”

Those Still Left Behind in Afghanistan

The Taliban finally let more than 100 Americans, Canadians, Brits, U.S. permanent residents, and others fly out of Afghanistan Thursday and Friday. The State Department said it expects more departures, but the Biden Administration still isn’t doing nearly enough to save thousands of Afghans who earned the right to emigrate to the U.S.

Americans, U.S. residents and endangered Afghans are still scattered throughout the country. The Taliban have effectively taken hundreds hostage at the airport in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Some Americans have been told to travel to Kabul, but no one knows how many can do so safely.

“The United States has pulled every lever available to us to facilitate the departure of these charter flights from Mazar,” a State Department spokesman said Thursday, adding that “we were very clear” they should be allowed to leave. This helplessness is humiliating, and across Afghanistan a massive tragedy is unfolding.

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan Take Different Approaches to Afghanistan

Umida Hashimova

Of the three Central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have been actively dealing with the consequences of Afghanistan’s fallout. While Tashkent is more in a wait-and-accept mode toward the Taliban, Dushanbe has been vocal about its opposition to the group.

Tashkent’s position toward the new government in Afghanistan has been to urge the formation of an inclusive government that encompasses various rivaling powers. But a Taliban-only government seems to be an acceptable alternative for Uzbekistan. When Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev recently said “our defense is ready for any situation, we are in control of the situation… They [Afghanistan] are our dear neighbors, they can’t move, neither can we,” the statement sounded like an acceptance of the recently announced non-inclusive Taliban-only government.

RCEP Leverages Chinese Backdoor Entry Into India: Vietnam Is The Potential Gateway – Analysis

Subrata Majumder

Notwithstanding that India quit RCEP, paranoia looms large on China’s backdoor entry in India. After a gap of two years, China reemerged the biggest trading partner of India in 2020-21, outsmarting USA. The surge in imports from China continued to be the trigger for Chinese behemoth in the global trade of India.

Chinese fear for damaging domestic industry, supported by the BJP’s political outfits, viz, RSS and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, forced India to refrain from joining RCEP. Further, the past records of FTAs, which portrayed FTA members reaping more benefits than India, resisted India to be member of mega multilateral FTA, RCEP. The main fear which crippled Indian policy makers to distance from RCEP was China’s predatory in Indian market. Had India joined RCEP, it would have been dumping ground for China, particularly after it lost a big market in USA due to Trumponomics. In terms of global imports by members of RCEP, India would have been the fourth biggest market in RCEP, after China, Japan and S. Korea, had India joined.

The Limits of China’s Engagement in Afghanistan

Jon Hoffman

In the wake of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan amid the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces and their allies, China has rhetorically seized upon America’s failures. The official Xinhua news agency lambasted the United States as “the world’s largest exporter of unrest,” arguing that “its hegemonic policies” have led to far too many human tragedies, and that the fall of Kabul marked the collapse of America’s international image and credibility.

Beijing also appears to be extending an enthusiastic hand to the Taliban. In late July, several of the group’s leaders visited China and met directly with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who referred to the Taliban as “a pivotal military and political force” that is expected to play “an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan,” according to a subsequent Chinese readout of the meeting. More recently, following the fall of Kabul, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing said it has established “open and effective communication and consultation with the Afghan Taliban,” and that it seeks to “play a constructive role in the peace and reconstruction of the country.” The Taliban, for their part, have also made known their desire for Chinese investment in the country and help from Beijing in the reconstruction process.

China’s Afghanistan Dilemma

Seth G. Jones and Jude Blanchette

The hasty and tumultuous U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s subsequent military victory have occasioned more than a little gloating from China. According to Chinese state media, the U.S. withdrawal marked “the last dusk of empire.” China’s Foreign Ministry declared that the experience of the war in Afghanistan should teach Washington a lesson in “reckless military adventures.” And some in Beijing even claimed that China would succeed where the United States had failed. “Afghanistan has long been considered a graveyard for conquerors—Alexander the Great, the British Empire, the Soviet Union and now the United States. Now China enters—armed not with bombs but construction blueprints, and a chance to prove the curse can be broken,” Zhou Bo, a retired senior officer in the People’s Liberation Army, opined in The New York Times.

Beijing’s triumphalism has stoked fears in the United States that China will capitalize on the shifting strategic landscape in Central Asia. As John Bolton, who served as national security adviser to President Donald Trump, warned last month, “China and Russia, our main global adversaries, are already seeking to reap advantages.”

9/11 and Iraq: The Making of a Tragedy

Bruce Riedel

Twenty years after the al-Qaeda attack on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States is still involved in a war in Iraq that it started. President George W. Bush was obsessed with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and deliberately misled the American people about who was responsible for the 9/11 attack.

I was in the White House on Sept. 12, 2001, on the staff of the National Security Council. I recently came across my pocket diary for 2001. In it, I wrote brief notes on each day’s activity in the White House where I was senior director for the Near East. I met with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice every day and Bush almost as frequently because of the second intifada. We were constantly trying to contain the violence and prevent a wider regional conflict. In reviewing the diary I was intrigued by two notes.

On Sept. 14, I was with Bush when he had his first phone call after 9/11 with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bush immediately said he was planning to “hit” Iraq soon. Blair was audibly taken aback. He pressed Bush for evidence of Iraq’s connection to the 9/11 attack and to al-Qaeda. Of course, there was none, which British intelligence knew.

The Next Lebanon War


The rule for watching the Israel-Lebanon frontier is that although nothing seems to be going on, something always is. Nothing seemed to be going on, for example, on one of the afternoons I recently spent along the electrified fence trying to sense the course of events this fraught summer, gazing out at a green blanket of shrubbery stretching toward a cluster of Lebanese homes nearby. All was still in the late summer heat.

A bush rustled just across the fence and a gray sunhat appeared, followed by a bearded face and then a purposeful body belonging to a young man in a black Adidas soccer jersey—Hezbollah, but armed only with a camera. Anyone who’s ever spent time in an ambush or on guard duty knows how thrilling it is to have something to do after hours of boredom, and there was a spring in the man’s step as he strode in our direction. He raised his telephoto lens at a spot about 50 yards from where I watched with an Israeli officer and two soldiers. The guerrillas don’t operate alone, but the photographer’s comrades, presumably equipped with more than cameras, remained in the bushes, unseen.

Khamenei’s Big Mistake In Afghanistan

Cyrus Yaqubi

US troop’s withdrawal from Afghanistan seemed to bear some good news for Iran. Khamenei (Iran’s Supreme Leader) welcomed the idea because his regime would have felt no threat from the US forces in its eastern borders.

Furthermore, he was banking on a coalition between Ashraf Ghani’s government and the Taliban. This relatively weak and fragile alliance could create an opportunity and pave the way for an increase in Iran’s influence in Afghanistan.

With this in mind, Khamenei had ordered then-Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to invite Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to Iran while the Taliban was still considered a terrorist group. It was evident that inviting Mullah Baradar was not within the authority of the Foreign Minister and even President Hassan Rouhani.

In his speech on May 2nd of this year, Khamenei made it clear that “everyone should know that foreign policy is not determined anywhere in the world in the Foreign Ministry. There are high-ranking officials beyond the Foreign Ministry who manifest Iran’s foreign policies. “(Which, of course, meant himself) and continued; “the decision-maker is not Foreign Ministry”. The Foreign Ministry is just the executor.”

The War on Terror Has Not Yet Failed: A Net Assessment After 20 Years

Hal Brands & Michael O’Hanlon

The error that American policymakers are most likely to make is abandoning a struggle that the United States has now developed a reasonably efficient approach to waging.

A generational struggle has reached a sobering milestone: this year marks two decades since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. The result of those attacks was what the George W. Bush administration called the ‘global war on terror’, or GWOT. Though the name and tactics have varied, the basic goal of using all forms of American power to prevent major terrorist attacks on the United States and its key interests and allies has persisted. With the advent of the Biden administration, the campaign against transnational violent extremism – and particularly Salafist extremism, a movement based on a perverted interpretation of Sunni Islam – has now continued into its fourth US presidency. Yet it is hard to find many observers who would declare that campaign a strategic success.
Norman T. Roule

History makes for an uncomfortable mirror if only because it shows us how we have aged. In January 1961, President Kennedy famously stated, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Kennedy spoke to a global generation that had endured the human and economic catastrophe of the Great Depression. That world also lived through the cataclysms of World War II and the inconclusive Korean conflict, which alone cost the United States 36,000 lives, $300 billion (in current dollars), and put the United States in combat with communist China. The era also faced the omnipresent threat of superpower nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union. The United States viewed the world of the 1960s through the lens of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and alliance with Europe, Japan, and South Korea. Yet, the U.S. split with Britain and France over Egypt in 1956 demonstrated the limits of that historic alliance. It is hard to say that the demands of recent years exceed those of Kennedy’s time.

How the war on terror changed America

Emily Tamkin

The “theatre of war” is a term used to describe the area in land, sea or air that becomes a site of military operations. Carl von Clausewitz described it in On War (1832) as denoting “a portion of the space over which war prevails as has its boundaries protected, and thus possesses a kind of independence”.

On the evening of 11 September 2001, a few hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the downing of United Airlines 93, President George W Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office. “The search is under way for those who were behind these evil acts,” he said, warning the world that the US would make “no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them”. Just over a week later, Bush struck a similar note in a speech to Congress: “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there.” It was a declaration of war on terror itself.

Pearl Harbor And 9/11: How Surprise Attacks Changed US History Forever

Robert Farley

Where will the next 9/11 fall? This question dominated American security thinking for the seventy years prior to September 11, 2001. The answer is likely less surprising than we think.

12/7 and 9/11

The US national security state experienced two shocks seventy years apart that effectively recreated our systems of intelligence and preparation. The differences between September 11 and December 7 remain stark; one was a terrorist attack, the other a strike against military units. December 7 resulted in a long, costly great power war that was nevertheless successfully concluded with a decisive victory. September 11 resulted in a series of costly, indecisive, and ultimately unsatisfying conflicts.

Why Americans Die So Much

Derek Thompson

America has a death problem.

No, I’m not just talking about the past year and a half, during which COVID-19 deaths per capita in the United States outpaced those in similarly rich countries, such as Canada, Japan, and France. And I’m not just talking about the past decade, during which drug overdoses skyrocketed in the U.S., creating a social epidemic of what are often called “deaths of despair.”

I’m talking about the past 30 years. Before the 1990s, average life expectancy in the U.S. was not much different than it was in Germany, the United Kingdom, or France. But since the 1990s, American life spans started falling significantly behind those in similarly wealthy European countries.

Top US commanders in Afghanistan wrestle with mistakes and regrets as America's longest war ends

Nicole Gaouette, Jake Tapper

(CNN)US commanders who led the war in Afghanistan are wrestling with the country's collapse to the Taliban, with some ruing the "pretty horrible mistakes" the US military made along the way and one of them flatly declaring America's longest war was not worth the price.
"The 20-year war in Afghanistan was -- for the results that we have achieved -- not worth the cost," Karl Eikenberry, both a commander in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007 and ambassador to the country from 2009 to 2011, tells CNN's Jake Tapper in a two-hour documentary that airs Sunday.

In "America's Longest War: What Went Wrong in Afghanistan," Tapper conducts in-depth interviews with eight US commanders who led the war effort over two decades and four administrations, and who speak with new candor about decisions made by their commanders-in-chief that they believe undermined the war effort and might have prevented its success.

In the interviews with the former military leaders and others, Tapper examines the mission and the missteps, how political decisions hurt the ability of service members to succeed, whether the Pentagon misrepresented the Afghan military's abilities to the public, and how after 20 years of sacrifice, the US withdrawal resulted in the return to power by the Taliban in August.

Why the Next Cyber War Should be Fought by the Heartland


With Afghanistan in the news, national security is once again a subject of national debate, engaging even those of us who normally focus their attention on more domestic concerns. This is why it's the right moment to pause and inquire whether the challenges we're imagining are the actual ones we're likely to face. Ask average Americans to describe the ultimate national security nightmare scenario, and they would probably reach into their collective, Hollywood-inspired imagination to come up with a script that involves foreign foes invading our shores or any other combination of dramatic doomsday scenarios unfolding at a fast and furious pace.

But as we learned earlier this spring, the threats we face are far less cinematic in nature, involving nothing more than a few strokes of a computer keyboard. On May 7, a cybercriminal organization known as DarkSide attacked the Colonial Pipeline, which runs out of Houston and carries gas and jet fuel to several southeastern states. The hackers demanded 75 bitcoin—or $4.4 million—in ransom, and then watched as mayhem ensued. Fuel shortages kept planes grounded and rerouted at least two flights midair. Panicked drivers lined up outside gas stations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, with many turned away. In Washington, D.C., a whopping 88 percent of filling stations had no fuel to offer. As a result, fuel prices spiked to the highest rate in nearly a decade, crossing the $3-per-gallon mark.

Why Putin Is Obsessed With ‘Foreign Agents’

Natia Seskuria

Ahead of Russia’s State Duma elections this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reason to be concerned: The popularity of his party, United Russia, has been in steep decline in recent years, and the party’s two-thirds supermajority in the lower house of parliament is surprisingly vulnerable. Putin’s response to this predicament is less startling: He’s branding his most influential political enemies and critics “foreign agents.”

Putin has used Russia’s “foreign agents” law for nearly a decade, but now he’s enhanced it. A series of amendments, enacted on Dec. 30 last year, allows the regime to target any organization that receives foreign funds or any individual who voices criticism of Putin, even on social media.

Already, the law has been used to harass and intimidate anti-Kremlin and pro-democracy activists, forcing most of them to remain silent or flee the country. Those unable to avoid the “foreign agent” label are required to report their activities to the Ministry of Justice every six months—or face up to five years in prison.

In Response to Climate Change, Citizens in Advanced Economies Are Willing To Alter How They Live and Work


A new Pew Research Center survey in 17 advanced economies spanning North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region finds widespread concern about the personal impact of global climate change. Most citizens say they are willing to change how they live and work at least some to combat the effects of global warming, but whether their efforts will make an impact is unclear.

On Geoeconomics

Antonia Colibasanu

Last week, I spoke and moderated at several conferences in person – a rare thing since the pandemic began – whose topics ranged from defense and security to regional commerce to European affairs. The common denominator, of course, was geopolitics, but what struck me most about my conversations was that, rather than the withdrawal from Afghanistan or the elections in Germany, nearly everyone was concerned foremost by inflation and the green economic shift underway in Europe.

In fact, nearly every conversation had one thing in common: Our society’s economic challenges in light of the pandemic. Until August, inflation was generally triggered by the energy sector and by a narrow set of goods such as semiconductors whose price increases were linked to the supply chain crisis. But, as evidenced by recent upticks in food and services prices, it seems as though the effects are widening. Bad weather conditions, unusual droughts and floods that destroyed harvests, often cited as the collateral damage of climate change, have contributed to an increase in food prices.

The Age of Global Protest

Popular protests are on the rise, and they are increasingly going global. Over the past two years, popular movements demonstrating against fiscal austerity and corruption have brought down governments—in democracies and authoritarian regimes alike—from Europe and Latin America to Africa and Asia. And with the advent of new communication technologies and media platforms, what happens anywhere can be seen everywhere. The messages and actions of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, for instance, have inspired and guided demonstrators in other continents.

The Black Lives Matter protests in the United States during the summer of 2020 have been particularly resonant. Building on centuries of international abolitionist and anti-colonialist protest, the demonstrations, sparked by the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by a white police officer who kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes, spread rapidly around the world. In addition to standing in solidarity with U.S. protesters, demonstrators in Europe, South America and Asia connected the movement to their own experiences of colonialism, racism and state violence that have been perpetrated by their governments.

Europe’s reputation as a cosmopolitan haven has been exposed as a mirage

Hans Kundnani

When Kabul fell in mid-August, almost the first reaction of European leaders was fear of another wave of refugees arriving on the continent. “We must anticipate and protect ourselves against major irregular migratory flows,” said the French president, Emmanuel Macron. Armin Laschet, the Christian Democrat candidate hoping to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor in the election that takes place in two weeks, said there could be no repeat of the refugee crisis of 2015, when Germany received more than a million asylum seekers. By the end of the month, the European Council had agreed to “act jointly to prevent the recurrence of uncontrolled large-scale illegal migration movements faced in the past”.

The focus on “protecting” Europe from an influx of asylum seekers reflects a troubling transformation of the European Union over the past decade. There was a time when “pro-Europeans” were confident that the world would almost inevitably be remade in the image of the EU, as it endlessly expanded its rules and exported its model centred on the “social market economy” and the welfare state. Since the eurozone debt crisis began in 2010, however, Europeans have become more defensive and now see the world largely in terms of threats.

Space, Climate, and Comprehensive Defense Options Below the Threshold of War

Joe McGiffin

Background: Conflict below the threshold of war is characterized by subversive tactics and the amoral use of force[1]. Democratic states cannot justify the use of these means in the defense of their national security interests[2]. The United States requires alternative strategies to bolster the free world order and deter or defeat adversaries through legitimate, transparent methods.

Significance: The strategic environment is a fluid expression of geopolitical changes. A state’s ability to predict, adapt to, and manipulate those variables will determine its relative influence and security over the next thirty years. To be competitive strategically, free nations will need to synergize their private and public assets into courses of action which maximize effective and efficient use of resources.

Option #1: Diversify Space Exploitation: The Techno-National Approach


Elisabeth Suh, Miriam Heß

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that reshaped how Western governments thought about security and terrorism. Measured by the number of causalities, they remain among the most severe terrorist events that have ever occurred. Yet, that day, the threshold to another, even more devastating form of attack was alarmingly low: According to the 9/11 Commission Report, although the perpetrators chose more feasible and symbolic targets in the end, they had considered targeting the Indian Point Energy Center – a nuclear power plant 40 kilometers north of Manhattan – to create a massive release of radioactivity.

While the human and environmental consequences of a terrorist attack with nuclear or radiological materials are barely imaginable, the threat of nuclear terrorism is real. Several terrorist groups – including Al Qaeda, North Caucasian terrorists, and the so-called Islamic State (IS) – have demonstrated their nuclear ambitions as a means of communicating with and targeting their “enemies.” Al Qaeda generally targets “the West”; North Caucasian terrorists have chosen Russia as a less abstract enemy. As a more recent example, the perpetrators of the 2015 attacks in Paris gathered information about nuclear research facilities in Belgium and Germany. Generally, European countries that engage in international counterterrorism campaigns and operate nuclear power or research programs, such as France and Germany, present high-risk targets for potential nuclear terrorist attacks.

Ransomware Lessons for a Nation Held Hostage

Danielle Gilbert

“Hold on, is it just me or did there not used to be a massive ransomware attack every two months?” In a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver confronted the apparent explosion of ransomware incidents. These attacks, which involve infecting a digital device like a smartphone or computer with malicious software and encrypting and/or threatening to release data until a ransom is paid, have been around for 20 years. But they have recently reached a fever pitch, as perpetrators have targeted critical infrastructure and exponentially increased their demands. This year alone, ransomware attacks disrupted the largest oil pipeline in the United States and the meatpacking plant responsible for a fifth of America’s beef; one ransomware gang carried out the largest attack on record, demanding $70 million to unscramble devices in 17 countries. Attacks on hospital systems and local governments are as devastating as they are common: Software company Emsisoft reported that 2,354 local governments, health care facilities and schools in the United States were hit with ransomware in 2020—a figure almost certainly dramatically underreported.

Governments and Mercenaries: A New Era of Cooperation after Afghanistan?

Christopher Kinsey

Images of appalling violence and humanitarian distress surrounding the recently completed crisis evacuations from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul have brought into sharp relief the failure of the Afghan Armed Forces to contain a Taliban insurgency mounted by inferior numbers of poorly equipped men. Despite being resourced with a decade or more of training and sophisticated military hardware valued at more than 100 billion US dollars, soldiers of the Afghan state succumbed to a fractionalised force of religious zealots driving pick-up trucks and wearing leather sandals.

The reasons for this failure are manifold, and no doubt will be subject to commentary, analysis and debate for years to come. Whilst it appears self-evident that President Ashraf Ghani’s decision to flee overseas rather than remain in Afghanistan and exhort his soldiers to hold out played a big part in the rapid collapse of state resistance to the Taliban’s advance, the bigger question is why, after so much investment in the country’s Armed Forces across such a protracted period, had the insurgents not already been effectively contained, or even defeated?

Thoughts on 11 September: A Special Operations Perspective

Maj Gen (Ret.) Buck Elton and LTC Mike Kelvington

September 11th, 2001 was the day our generation realized our world had forever changed. At 0846 New York Time, American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles impacted the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center North Tower at 500 miles per hour, instantly killing the 87 passengers and crew and hundreds of people working on the upper floors. We all watched one of our nation’s iconic buildings burn and wondered how a commercial airliner could accidentally fly into this enormous landmark on a clear, blue-sky morning. Millions of Americans were virtually paralyzed 17 minutes later as it became shockingly obvious we were under attack when we watched the second aircraft, United Airlines Flight 175, collide into the upper South Tower. We were attacked again 34 minutes later when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the western side of the Pentagon, killing the 59 passengers and 125 military and civilian personnel working near the Fifth Corridor. Reports of more hijacked airliners headed for the nation’s capital forced the hasty evacuation of the White House and Capitol buildings.