23 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.

India, Singapore and the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

Karthik Nachiappan, Nishant Rajeev

Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven technologies are percolating across society and are being deployed to address gaps in areas like healthcare, education, energy and transportation. To channel and streamline these efforts, several governments across the globe are launching national strategies for widespread AI adoption. While India launched the ‘AI for All’ initiative in 2018, the Singapore government has unveiled its ‘National Artificial Intelligence Strategy’.

To evaluate the various challenges arising out of the deployment of AI and how to leverage these innovations to tackle problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore and the Ananta Centre, New Delhi, jointly organised a roundtable on ‘India, Singapore and the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence’. This report is the outcome of the roundtable discussion.

‘Pakistan deep state pushing effective anti-India narrative’

Abhinandan Mishra

New Delhi: Pakistan’s deep state disinformation campaign against India, using media platforms and social media outlets, has reached a high level of sophistication and covertness, analysts and security observers have found.

According to them, the use of media outlets, especially news websites, by Pakistani agencies to spread false narrative is now working at the same advanced level that has traditionally been used by some of the rogue intelligence agencies against the United States and its allies. The use of articles—news and op-eds—mostly written by Islamabad-based actors and Washington-based PR companies, as a part of this disinformation campaign, are being used to spread damaging narrative about India, especially when it comes to its relation with its immediate neighbours.

As revealed by these observers to The Sunday Guardian, many global media outlets were unknowingly giving space to such actors under the impression that they are credible voices of their field. These pieces, which are claimed to be written by “independent analysts”, OSINT (Open source intelligence) experts, “Fellows’ and professors who are based outside Pakistan, are, in fact, being churned out by a team of writers engaged by the Pakistan security agencies. All the content that the named author uses as their own findings and analysis is, in fact, provided by the Pakistani intelligence assets.


Danny Nguyen

“It’s just like 1975,” my mother said to me as we both watched the unraveling of Afghanistan through news reports. For my mother, the news of well-equipped military forces falling like domino pieces followed by an ensuing panic and rush to exit the country ahead of a menacing occupying force is all too familiar. In April 1975, after experiencing years of war from the beginning of her childhood, my mother (at the age of fourteen) and her family were hastily put on the run as the final offensive by Communist forces in Vietnam began to pick up speed. The Americans were not coming. The country was disintegrating. The goal became survival. My grandfather, an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), would likely be captured and imprisoned in a reeducation camp if he stayed behind.

Terrorism and Counterterrorism Challenges for the Biden Administration


Abstract: As the Biden administration starts work in January, it will face a new raft of national security challenges. Counterterrorism, as with the previous three administrations, will once again be a central concern. The administration will be forced to grapple with old threats, including from the Islamic State and al-Qa`ida, as well as a rapidly changing—and deteriorating—domestic terrorism landscape. Despite 20 years of the so-called war on terror, the battle for the safety of the American homeland remains fraught with challenges and risks. Managing this war will require enduring vigilance and energy, as well as a new set of counterterrorism policies, to more effectively address the totality of the new terrorism threat.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” goes the famous 19th-century epigram by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The same might be said about both the new and ongoing terrorist threats President-elect Joe Biden and his incoming administration faces as it attempts to fashion an effective counterterrorism strategy.

Four years ago, an analysis assessing these same dangers for newly elected President Donald J. Trump identified three main challenges:

History’s rhymes in the fall of Kabul and Mosul: Flawed ideas, broken promises, and poisonous spin

Dr. Haroro J. Ingram, Omar Mohammed

As Afghanistan has unravelled, it’s been difficult to ignore a foreboding sense of déjà vu that has too-often arisen during these wars on terror. The nightmare goes something like this. In the aftermath of a withdrawal of US and allied forces, a jihadist insurgency once considered defeated triumphantly returns to capture thousands of square kilometres of territory and takes control of major cities. When the scale of the unfolding human tragedy and strategic defeat becomes clear, the triumphalism that justified the policy decision is replaced by deflection, blame, and self-justification. Meanwhile, almost two decades of slowly but surely establishing civil society where it had historically been crushed by an authoritarian regime, building schools and universities with the promises of a brighter future, and empowering women and girls to have civic, social, and economic lives are, seemingly overnight, destroyed. The grim future ahead for all is destined to be worse for some who, because of their ethnicity, gender, or sexuality, face violent persecution or even death.

Sadly, this describes both the unfolding tragedy in Afghanistan and the situation that faced millions of Iraqis seven years ago as the Islamic State made their own “impossible” comeback after the Obama administration’s US troop withdrawal. The similarities are viscerally obvious when listening to the perspectives of Iraqis who lived through this period and the desperate appeals of Afghans now. For listeners to Mosul and the Islamic State, a podcast which tells the story of Mosul’s occupation by the Islamic State via interviews with Mosulis, there are haunting similarities between the events leading to the Taliban’s capture of Kabul in 2021 and the fall of Mosul to the Islamic State in 2014. Certainly, the imagery is strikingly similar from average citizens desperately trying to escape (2014/2021) and victorious jihadists showing off the spoils of war (2014/2021) to the “before and after” spin of politicians and the mealy-mouthed justifications of spokespeople (2014/2021).

US Credibility and the Afghanistan Withdrawal

Riccardo Perissich

Whatever one may think of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, a decision that President Biden shared with his predecessor Donald Trump, most observers on the two sides of the Atlantic seem to agree that both the planning and the execution phases of the withdrawal were botched.

Europeans in particular, including the ever-faithful US allies in the UK, complain about not having been adequately consulted or involved in the decision and execution of the withdrawal. Whatever the merits of this debate, it has inevitably led to fundamental questions about US foreign policy and its future trajectories. After four years of Trump, many in Europe are legitimately concerned. Old and by now familiar academic debates about Washington’s priorities, credibility and handling of global affairs have resurfaced as a result.

The underlining question is: to what foreign policy tribe does Biden belong? Is he an optimist or a pessimist? A realist or an idealist? A liberal internationalist or a nationalist? Is he a Wilson or a Roosevelt and if the answer leans towards latter, which of the two Roosevelts’ are we referring to?

Reflections on Afghanistan: War is Folly for the Weak on Wisdom and Will

Robert Cassidy

The results of the South Asia war games over the last several decades became apparent last month. Pakistan and its Taliban creation won. China and Russia tied for second place. Iran came in third. America quit. The Afghans suffered most, and lost. Embarking on wars without knowing who your genuine enemies are and without understanding what the sine qua non for the defeat of those enemies might be, is reckless, malfeasant, and negligent in massive ways. It is the height of folly. If senior leaders make decisions to go to war without discussion and without arguments; if they emphasize action and revenge absent analysis and rationality; if they attend to the tactics and violence without thinking through an end to a war that links it to a durable peace, they most likely suffer from hubris, self-delusion, and ignorance. Folly is their fate. Their soldiers, citizens, and allies are destined to trauma, defeat, and tragedy.

The first two quotes below convey realities about policy, strategy, and war that endure over centuries. The theorists who penned them were so extraordinary that their work remains salient still. The third quote holds up over time too. It points to the folly of war when senior civilian and military leaders lack the intellectual capital, analytical capacity, and humility to think through the most important factors pertaining to war and strategy.

“No Friend of Iran”: Tehran’s Responses to the Taliban’s Return to Power in Afghanistan

Jamsheed K. Choksy and Carol E. B. Choksy

Taking a swipe at the Taliban’s newly-announced interim government of terrorists and criminals, Iran’s semi-official Mehr News Agency critiqued: “The Taliban … have repeatedly alleged they would form an inclusive government.” Given the Taliban’s current approach to governance, experts in Tehran at the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, that advises Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warn “relations between Iran and the Taliban or the government formed by the Taliban will not be amicable.” During July and August, as Iran’s executive branch transitioned from the presidency of Hassan Rouhani to that of Ebrahim Raisi, the government in Tehran began adapting to new realities on its eastern front. After two decades, the US can no longer use Afghanistan to strike Iran but the restoration of Taliban rule there does not bode well either. In the estimation of many in Tehran’s government and most of the Iranian public, takfīrīs or militant Sunni extremists are controlling Afghanistan again. It is not just the Taliban that Iran finds troubling but also the new Afghan regime’s longstanding partner Al-Qaida plus units of Da‘ish or the Islamic State—two more terrorist groups with which Iran has clashed—that have begun entrenching in Iran’s eastern neighbor. So, Iran is working to safeguard its internal security and regional influence.

The Taliban PR Campaign Has Not Ended, But Transformed


It was a slick media operation that, in the span of several years, morphed the Taliban’s public image from a movement known for sadistic executions in football stadiums into a band of young freedom fighters playing cricket in the snow. Yet, the persuasive rebranding campaign which suggested a more reasonable, more pragmatic “Taliban 2.0,” may be shifting back to “Taliban 1.0,” a new, darker phase resembling its pre-9/11 heritage. While some may suggest that the recent images of protest crackdowns, beheadings of soldiers and bearded, stone faced hardliners appointed to government positions are misunderstandings, excesses committed during a rapid takeover, or mistakes soon to be rectified, a closer examination suggests this is purposeful. Pre-takeover, the Taliban 2.0 communication objectives were to persuade internal and external audiences that the organization was reformed, liberal, patriotic and inclusive. Now they aim to intimidate, repress and control. Hardly a novel approach, this has been the playbook for totalitarian regimes throughout history.

In Panjshir, Few Signs of an Active Resistance, or Any Fight at All

Victor J. Blue

Torn posters of martyrs from previous wars at the entrance to the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan, this week.Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

On a recent visit, few civilians were about and signs of heavy fighting were scarce. What remained were opposing narratives and claims of massacres, ethnic cleansing and false charges.

Torn posters of martyrs from previous wars at the entrance to the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan, this week.Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

PANJSHIR, Afghanistan — In this lush strip of land — walled off from potential invaders by high mountain peaks and narrow, ambush-prone passes — former mujahedeen fighters and Afghan commandos regrouped in the days after the Taliban toppled the Afghan government, vowing to fight to the last man. With its history of resistance and its reputation for impenetrability, the Panjshir Valley seemed an ideal place for a determined force of renegades to base an insurgency.

‘It was a mistake.’ CENTCOM admits Aug. 29 drone strike killed civilians, not ISIS

Meghann Myers and Robert Burns

When officials signed off Aug. 29 on a Hellfire strike to obliterate a white Toyota they had been monitoring for eight hours, the belief was that it contained ISIS fighters carrying a bomb intended for U.S. troops outside the Kabul airport. The head of U.S. Central Command announced Friday that they were very wrong.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie concurred with previous media reports that the strike had killed as many as 10 people, including seven children.

“This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport, but it was a mistake,” he said, confirming that no ISIS fighters are believed to have been killed in the attack.

Why Panjshir Valley stood strong for decades and how it has fallen now

Mira Patel

The Panjshir valley, a rugged groove cut into the Hindu Kush mountains, has a storied reputation of resisting invasion. There are two main points of entry into the valley, both of which require passing through unforgiving terrain and complicated topography. Its towns are spread across the valley floor, surrounded by the icy blue waters of the Panjshir river and the daunting bare-ribbed mountains that tower above. Blending into the gorgeous scenery, the streets of Panjshir are littered with decaying tanks and machinery, remnants of the Soviet era that stand as a stark reminder of the region’s violent past.

The valley is perhaps best known for its most famous son, Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Lion of Panjshir. A commanding Mujahideen fighter, Massoud successfully mobilised the people of the region to resist both occupation from the Soviets and later the Taliban. Massoud was so highly regarded as an opponent that forces loyal to Al Qaeda assassinated him days before the 9/11 attacks as a means of consolidating support with the Taliban. His legacy still looms over the valley however, and his son, Ahmad Massoud, has followed in his father’s footsteps to form the Northern Resistance Front (NRF), the latest iteration of the famed Northern Alliance that fought against the Taliban in the late 1990s.

China Reader Special Edition

Leadership Remarks about Indo-Pacom Activities

Extracts taken from statements by Adm. John C. Aquilino, U.S. Navy; Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, U.S. Army, retired; Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III; and Adm. Philip S. Davidson, U.S. Navy Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The Question: Why Would China Not Invade Taiwan Now?

Tim Willasey-Wilsey

In a reprint from The Cipher Brief, a British geopolitical expert and career diplomat discusses whether China’s People’s Liberation Army is capable of achieving a quick victory over Taiwan in the near future. The article includes commentary by former senior U.S. military and intelligence officials.

The Long March: A Generational Approach to Achieving the People’s Republic of China Strategic Objective to Annex Taiwan

Military Review Staff

Editor’s commentary on the political dimension of the long-term generational approach the People’s Republic of China has taken in its decades-old political effort to strip away all diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and support from the world community of nations as a preparatory phase for possible invasion and annexation of the island.

Extract from “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019”

Office of the Secretary of Defense

An extract from the most recent Department of Defense report on the diverse security threats posed by China.

Steal the Firewood from Under the Pot: The Role of Intellectual Property Theft in Chinese Global Strategy

Capt. Scott Tosi, U.S. Army

Chinese intellectual property theft has broad implications for the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense, threatening U.S. military technological superiority in future decades.

Extract from “The FBI and the National Security Threat Landscape: The Next Paradigm Shift”

Christopher Wray, Director, FBI

An extract from an FBI transcript in which Wray discusses how China has pioneered a societal approach to stealing innovations using Chinese intelligence services, state-owned enterprises, private companies, and graduate students and researchers at U.S. universities through a wide variety of actors working on behalf of China.

Extract from “China’s Impact on the U.S. Education System”: Staff Report

United States Senate, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

A U.S. Senate subcommittee investigates the real purposes of Chinese government investment in establishing “Confucius Institutes,” which appear to be instruments aimed at promoting Chinese cultural, economic, and political influence in the United States.

Pivot Out of the Pacific: Oil and the Creation of a Chinese Empire in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

Capt. Philip Murray, U.S. Army

The author argues that in China’s rise to economic and political influence, it is behaving in a manner little different from any other historical example of a great power’s expansion of economic power and influence.

The People’s Bank of China’s Monetary Armament: Capabilities and Limitations of Evolving Institutional Power

Lt. Johnathan D. Falcone, U.S. Navy

The battlespace in modern warfare has expanded to the economic domain. According to the author, it is strategically necessary for the United States and the Federal Reserve to maintain influence over and leadership of the international financial system.


Col. John F. Troxell, U.S. Army, Retired

The author offers a detailed discourse on the importance of geoeconomics, specifically as it applies to competition between China and the United States, based on a review of War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft by Robert D. Blackwill and Jennifer M. Harris.

China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative and Its International Arms Sales: An Overlooked Aspect of Connectivity and Cooperation?

Capt. James Daniel, U.S. Army

The author discusses China’s efforts to rebuild international trade routes, establish a global network of ports, and proceed with other initiatives aimed at making China the centrifugal economic power of the world. He details the linkages between those activities and China’s parallel involvement in the international weapons trade.

Cover photo: This artwork is a dark homage to a proposed concept developed by U.S. Federal General-in-Chief Winfield Scott who recommended to President Abraham Lincoln a Federal strategy to suffocate the Southern state insurrection by blockading or seizing its life sustaining ports during the U.S. Civil War. This plan became known popularly as “Scott’s Great Snake” or also as the “Anaconda Plan.” The modern day Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative" reflects what appears to be a similar concept on a much grander, global scale. The Communist Chinese Party is undertaking a mammoth effort to develop a trade system in which China envisions itself becoming the global focus of all trade via highly developed land and sea trade routes. Part of this effort includes building or controlling facilities at the choke points of the worlds’ most important maritime shipping lanes—which would enable China to threaten competitors and adversaries by either impeding or controlling the transport of oil and other vital resources. (Graphic by Dale Cordes, Army University Press)

China’s Maritime Militia and Fishing Fleets: A Primer for Operational Staffs and Tactical Leaders

Shuxian Luo

Jonathan G. Panter

China uses its maritime militia and fishing fleets as policy instruments to bridge the economic, informational, and military realms. Two PhD candidates provide a thorough discussion on China’s maritime policies and activities; the strategic uses, strengths, and limitations of China’s maritime militia and fishing fleets; and the challenges they pose to U.S. forces.

The Strategic Significance of the Chinese Fishing Fleet

Lt. Cmdr. James M. Landreth, U.S. Navy

A naval officer discusses why China’s massive fishing fleet should be closely monitored by military planners because of its harmful activities below the threshold of conflict and its potential use as a paramilitary force.

Competing with China for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

Gen. Robert B. Brown, U.S. Army

Lt. Col. R. Blake Lackey, U.S. Army

Maj. Brian G. Forester, U.S. Army

The commander of U.S. Army Pacific discusses China and the role of the Army in dealing with Chinese activities in the Pacific theater.

Contemporary China: In Conflict, Not Competition

Timothy L. Faulkner

We must not misunderstand the Chinese approach to warfare, according to this senior intelligence officer. The conflict China is waging with the United States has put it in a positional advantage that, if left unchecked, will allow it to dominate in terms of diplomatic, intelligence, military, and economic power by 2050.

Chinese Soft Power: Creating Anti-Access Challenges in the Indo-Pacific

Maj. Robert F. Gold, U.S. Army

China is using soft power to isolate Taiwan and set the conditions to deny the United States access to the region. The U.S. Army must be prepared to conduct amphibious operations and work as part of the joint force to open critical infrastructure needed to sustain operations in the Indo-Pacific region.

Economic Warfare: China’s Financial Alternative to Military Reunification with Taiwan

1st Lt. Bethany G. Russell, U.S. Army

China is more likely to use economic means rather than military force to pressure Taiwan into reunification, according to this author. China can be expected to use its economic leverage to disrupt markets and implement sanctions to compel the island to agree to annexation for the sake of its economic survival.

How to Counter China’s Disinformation Campaign in Taiwan

Linda Zhang

The author describes how the People’s Republic of China’s malign influence in Taiwan’s traditional media and its ability to spread propaganda and disinformation on social media threatens Taiwan’s press freedom and democratic process.

Preparing for the Future: Marine Corps Support to Joint Operations in Contested Littorals

Gen. David H. Berger, U.S. Marine Corps

The commandant of the Marine Corps describes how the Marines are radically reorganizing and rearming to develop greatly expanded capabilities to support future joint operations in contested littoral areas of operation as a multi-domain reconnaissance and counterreconnaissance force.

Taiwan and the U.S. Army: New Opportunities amid Increasing Threats

Eric Setzekorn, PhD

The author discusses how the evolving security situation in the Taiwan Strait offers the U.S. Army a chance to play an important role in deterring Chinese military action and strengthening American strategic connections in East Asia.

Understanding the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force: Strategy, Armament, and Disposition

Maj. Christopher J. Mihal, PMP

The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force is perhaps China’s most valuable current military asset as it provides China both offensive and defensive capabilities against a wide range of opponents as well as the inherent value of deterrence that nuclear weapons provide any nation.

The Impact of Base Politics on Long-Range Precision Fires: A Closer Look at Japan

Maj. Richard M. Pazdzierski, U.S. Army

Japan’s political culture surrounding military bases and exercises have affected the security aspects of the U.S.-Japan alliance for many decades and will likely have a significant impact on the Army’s ability to train, fight, and win with long-range precision strike capabilities intended to deploy to Japan.

Drive Them into the Sea

Brian J. Dunn

An Army corps will be indispensable and must be fully incorporated into U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Taiwan contingency plans. The author espouses an aggressive offensive military response to a potential Chinese attack into Taiwan.

Deterring the Dragon: Returning U.S. Forces to Taiwan

Capt. Walker D. Mills, U.S. Marine Corps

A U.S. marine opines that if the United States wants to maintain credible conventional deterrence against a People’s Liberation Army attack on Taiwan, it needs to consider basing troops in Taiwan.

How Chinese Strategists Think AI Will Power a Military Leap Ahead


The People’s Liberation Army has yet to adopt a definition, let alone a formal plan, for “intelligentization (智能化),” a Chinese vision for the transformation of warfare through artificial intelligence and automation. But Chinese military theorists see it as a rare opportunity for “leapfrog development” over adversaries. One author suggests that Star Wars will “become a reality”; another says the fantasies from “mythological fiction” will come true. Their writings, while not authoritative, have coalesced around several key themes that offer a crucial glimpse into potential PLA thinking and ambitions.

The PLA internalized lessons on “mechanization” and “platform-centric warfare” from the Second World War, and on “informationization” and networked operations from U.S. operations in the 1991 Gulf War. Whereas these earlier eras of warfare turned on “mechanization” in the “physical space” and “informationization” in the “information space,” PLA theorists argue that intelligentization will center upon a “cognitive space” that privileges complex thinking and effective decision-making. On battlefields where advanced AI technology enables better decisions, they write, the side that can better integrate human creativity and robotic calculating capacity will hold the crucial edge.

Different Type of Refugee: Onward Journeys of Gulf-Born Migrants from Politically Volatile Countries

Idil Akinci-Perez

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is home to a sizeable Syrian community, a majority of whom have arrived there as temporary migrant workers following the oil boom in the 1970s. Many of them stayed on with their families, leading to second and third generation UAE-born Syrians living in the UAE under temporary renewable visas, due to the strict migration regimes that prevent permanent settlement and naturalisation of most migrants in the UAE. While this community’s multigenerational existence in the UAE may suggest that they are temporary on paper only, the war in Syria has had significant effects on their sense of long-term security in the UAE, as well as their global mobility as Syrian passport holders. As a result, most of them have strong incentives to try and circumvent both the restrictions tied to their citizenship by birth, and their temporary status in the UAE, by pursuing ‘stronger’ passports from elsewhere.

My research with UAE-born Syrians between 2016 and 2020 explored their considerations and experiences of onward migration from the UAE. My respondents considered on-migration to secure a less ambiguous future for themselves than is available in the UAE, which they see as ‘home’, but which has not been formalised as such. My research reveals that in the context of limited options for mobility and security, alternative pathways for long term security emerge, including through asylum-seeking in a third country. Drawing on debates on strategic citizenship and complex migration journeys, this paper illustrates how the experiences of UAE-born Syrians, in the context of the ongoing political turmoil in Syria, straddle the much critiqued yet on-going dichotomies in migration studies, such as between temporary and permanent, forced and voluntary forms of migration. This contribution argues that in a context where the option to citizenship acquisition in host country is foreclosed to migrants, and migrants have very limited (or no) options for residential security elsewhere, their onward journeys for citizenship acquisition can be considered strategic, but not out of volition.

Kyiv Airing Disappointment With Western Policies

Vladimir Socor

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is reverting to his earlier, forlorn hopes of improving relation with Russia through a personal meeting with President Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian president is eager to meet Putin “any time, any place”—whether bilaterally or in the framework of a “Normandy” summit (Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France). The chief of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, is negotiating the conditions for a Zelenskyy-Putin meeting in either of those formats. This track ended badly for Zelenskyy in 2019 (see EDM, October 3, 16, 17, December 5, 2019).

A fresh outreach to the Kremlin looks incongruous with Zelenskyy’s messages during his recent visit to the United States (August 31–September 2) and since. The Ukrainian authorities have flooded the country’s media with images of Zelenskyy’s efforts to advance Ukraine-US relations and the quest for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership. Those efforts are sincere beyond doubt, although they are also calculated to ensure the support of Ukrainian patriotic opinion for Zelenskyy’s reelection. At the same time, Zelenskyy’s strong emphasis on Ukraine’s Western orientation carries its costs for the president and his Servant of the People party in the country’s east and south. A Zelenskyy-Putin meeting—or at least a convincing effort by Zelenskyy to bring it about—could help rebalance that electoral equation.

Such rebalancing may become a political necessity for Zelenskyy if Ukraine’s main Western partners continue to disappoint Kyiv’s aspirations. It is, indeed, the case that Kyiv’s uphill reform efforts are being inadequately recognized or rewarded; its Western “strategic partners” have yet to develop a strategic (as distinct from ad hoc, or piecemeal) approach toward Ukraine; and the level of Western political support for Ukraine has, overall, actually declined in recent months.

How America Forgot It Needed to Understand The Enemy

Zachary Shore

America’s recent loss in Afghanistan is drawing understandable comparisons to Vietnam—two conflicts where the U.S. leadership supposedly never grasped the power of morale, the role of culture, or the reality on the ground. While these comparisons are inescapable, the United States has not always been so unsuccessful. There are valuable lessons in the U.S. approach to determining how the enemy thinks—from a war the United States won.

In 1943, many experts believed that the German will to fight would soon collapse. The Russians had just beaten back the Germans at Stalingrad, while Allied forces had routed the Germans in Tunisia, leading to the capture of more than a quarter of a million Italian and German troops. The tide had clearly turned against the Nazi juggernaut. Buoyed by this dramatic momentum shift, many U.S. military and political leaders at the time could not imagine Germans continuing to fight for a lost cause.

That, at least, was the prevailing view, but a small and unusual group of intelligence analysts inside the United States disagreed, warning that Germans would lose the will to fight only with the invasion and destruction of the Wehrmacht itself. And the opinion of those unique experts carried weight. They were not only Germans (many of them Jews who had fled the Nazi regime), but they were also trenchant social critics, leading members of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. (The name of the school itself was coined after World War II, although it existed as a social research institute.) As declassified records of their reports reveal, they were frequently correct in their assessments of how German social structures shaped the war. Their focus on cultural and societal forces proved invaluable.

A View from the CT Foxhole: Admiral (Retired) William H. McRaven, Former Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, and Nicholas Rasmussen, Former National Counterterrorism Center Director, Reflect on the Usama bin Ladin Raid


Admiral William H. McRaven is a retired U.S. Navy Four-Star admiral and the former Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Texas System. During his time in the military, he commanded special operations forces at every level, eventually taking charge of the U.S. Special Operations Command. His career included combat during Desert Storm and both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He commanded the troops that captured Saddam Hussein and rescued Captain Phillips. McRaven is also credited with developing the plan and leading the Usama bin Ladin mission in 2011.

McRaven is a recognized national authority on U.S. foreign policy and has advised Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and other U.S. leaders on defense issues. He currently serves on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the National Football Foundation, the International Crisis Group, The Mission Continues, and ConocoPhillips.

McRaven graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1977 with a degree in Journalism, and received his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey in 1991.

Antonio Guterres’ Ambitious Plan to Overhaul the Multilateral System

Stewart M. Patrick

Last September, the United Nations marked its 75th anniversary in somber style, against the backdrop of a once-in-a-century pandemic, a deepening climate crisis, geopolitical tensions and antipathy from its most powerful member. A year on, the United States has returned—for the most part—to the multilateral fold. Otherwise, much remains the same. COVID-19 continues its rampage; global warming and biodiversity loss proceed apace; and great power competition stymies international cooperation.

Into this maelstrom steps U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. As world leaders gather in person and virtually for this week’s annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly, Guterres will seek their support for his vision of a “stronger, more networked and inclusive multilateral system,” as outlined in a sweeping new report titled, “Our Common Agenda.” The report depicts the U.N. as the ultimate foundation for world order, while acknowledging the need to leverage diverse frameworks of cooperation and the capabilities of nonstate actors to deliver global public goods and manage the risks of an interconnected world. The document’s diagnosis of what ails the world, and its suggested course of treatment, merits robust discussion and debate.

Brief: North Korea Tests a Missile and Biden

Background: North Korea has been relatively quiet for the past year or so while it deals with pandemic pressures and other internal matters, which means it was late in its tradition of testing new U.S. presidents during their first few months in office. But a challenge was only a matter of time. Nothing has fundamentally changed about Pyongyang’s geopolitical situation: It has been in desperate need of sanctions relief for years, and it is perpetually upset about major annual U.S.-South Korean joint exercises that, from the North’s vantage point, are nearly indistinguishable from preparations for an invasion. Given enduring Western concerns about its nuclear and missile arsenals, Pyongyang feels like it has the upper hand.

What Happened: North Korea said it test-launched a pair of new long-range cruise missiles over the weekend. According to North Korean state media, the missiles hit targets around 1,500 miles away, ostensibly giving them the range to reach Japan. The missiles were described as a “strategic weapon,” implying that they’re capable of carrying nuclear payloads, though this has not been confirmed.

If you Can't Beat Them, Join Them: Should States Embrace Bitcoin?

Jesse Colzani

Bitcoin – the most secure and well-established technology to store value[1] – was created in 2008 to challenge the state’s centralised monopoly on money. It is a digital currency worth 1 trillion US dollars that knows no boundaries and is not controlled by any central authority. Although it is considered a threat to the established order, countries and institutional actors are gradually realising Bitcoin can also be a tool to advance their economic and geopolitical interests.

Today, governments find themselves in the difficult position of having to decide whether Bitcoin should be integrated into their economies and governance structures or if they should continue to oppose, block or seek to co-opt the digital currency. But to understand Bitcoin and make an informed decision, one has to first appreciate the different components of its ecosystem.

Bitcoin mining

Bitcoin is not only a widely distributed database. Like any other internet technology, it runs thanks to a network of machines which rely on an energy infrastructure of significant proportions. It is no coincidence that the way new bitcoins are produced is defined as “mining”:[2] if traditional mining consists of the extraction of resources from Earth, bitcoin mining can be considered the extraction of resources – coins – from its network. The mining process is an essential aspect of Bitcoin’s functioning: it is only by pooling computational power globally that trust in the whole system can be built and maintained.

Why Is Aluminum So Expensive Right Now?

Anna Weber

Everyone understands the link between commodity prices and geopolitics, even if they don’t know it. When things go south in Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Russia, prices at the pump go up. That’s because of the outsized role those countries play in the oil market.

But there are other commodity markets that people only pay attention to when it affects their wallets in surprising fashion. This summer, for instance, coffee prices spiked due to climate change and poor Arabica harvests in big coffee-producing regions. West African countries have whipsawed the price of cacao, making policy changes that protect the livelihood of small farmers, which affects the price of chocolate. What you pay for your smartphone or electric car depends in part on what happens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which overwhelmingly dominates the global production of cobalt.

What happened this week was a huge spike in the price of aluminum, which goes into everything from cars and trucks to phones and beverage cans. The metal touched $3,000 a ton—the highest it’s been since the 2008 great financial crisis—before settling down a wee bit after a couple days. But it’s still almost 70 percent more expensive than this time last year.

The Future of the IC Workforce: The Promise and Limits of Remote Work Technology

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic presented significant challenges to the U.S. intelligence and national security community (IC). Quarantine regulations, maximum occupancy rules, and social distancing guidelines forced the IC to embrace remote work. This initially proved challenging to a culture that primarily deals with classified information within sensitive compartmented information facilities (SCIFs) and has been resistant to change. The impact on teamwork, workplace relationships, and general wellbeing also raised concerns. As months passed and agencies were able to pivot their operations, the shift to remote work prompted deeper discussions about risks and benefits, impact on recruitment and retention efforts, and appropriate use of emerging technologies that facilitate secure remote work environments.

In pursuit of its mission to deepen understanding of the IC, The Intelligence and National Security Foundation (INSF), in partnership with Avantus Federal and ClearanceJobs.com, launched “The Future of the IC Workforce” videocast series in spring of 2021 to explore these questions. This three-part program examined these issues from the people, processes, and technological perspectives by eliciting key insights from top public and private sector leaders. The three discussions underscored key challenges and lessons learned from the shift to remote work. Moderated by ClearanceJobs’ Lindy Kyzer, “Episode One: Risks and Benefits of Remote Work” featured retired NSA Executive Director Harry Coker and Avantus Federal CEO Andy Maner; Acting Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) Kin Moy and Assistant Director of National Intelligence and the IC’s CFO Trey Treadwell participated in “Episode Two: Adapting the IC Workforce: Recruiting, Retaining, Training, and Re-Skilling;” and Marie Falkowski, Chief of Digital Innovation, Weapons and Counterproliferation Mission Center, CIA, and Dr. Eliahu Niewood, Vice President of Intelligence & Cross-Cutting Capabilities, MITRE closed out the series in “Episode Three: Enabling a Secure Hybrid Work Environment.”

Defense One Radio, Ep. 88: How Air Warfare is Changing

The end of America’s war in Afghanistan can be interpreted as many things to many people. But to me one observation that stands out more than most concerns the limits of military power and technological advantage. It’s a common point, and I’m sure you’ve heard it in some form before.

But one striking detail that I noticed walking through farmland in southern Afghanistan involved the many covered trenches we found that had been built not all that deep into the ground. And often quite randomly, as though distributed like seeds in the wind.

Inside, we’d find first aid kits and sometimes snacks. There was just one way in, usually. For the ones I saw, anyway. Sometimes reinforced above by metal I-beams. The tiny little den carved into the earth, its entrance only visible when you stepped up close.

They weren’t built to hide from American or NATO warplanes, though they were certainly used for that. They were built for defense against Soviet airstrikes in the 1980s.

Marine Corps University Press

Journal of Advanced Military Studies

“Napoleon at Waterloo”: The Events of 18 June 1815: Analyzed via Historical Simulation

Promise Unfulfilled: A Brief History of Educational Wargaming in the Marine Corps

Wargaming in Professional Military Education: Challenges and Solutions

Educational Wargaming: Design and Implementation into Professional Military Education

Assessment Strategies for Educational Wargames

Hedgemony: A Wargame to Evaluate Senior Joint Professional Military Education Learning Objectives

Developing Self-Confidence in Military Decision Making: An Imperative for Wargaming

Wargaming Development Series: Developing Impactful Wargame Narratives through Storytelling

I Know General Milley, and He Was Just Doing His Job

James Stavridis

I met Mark Milley, the now-embattled chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, almost 20 years ago in the Pentagon, and I met him because I had a problem. My job was senior military assistant to the secretary of defense, Don Rumsfeld, and every week we had to brief him on the “orders book.” This was a breakdown of the pending deployments that would send military units into combat – often complex and controversial decisions that only the secretary could make.

My problem was that Rumsfeld, a notoriously hard principal, was chewing through briefers. It needed to be a senior colonel or Navy captain with gravitas and battlefield experience, but more importantly someone who could gain the confidence of Rummy. The latter was the hard part, because the secretary was skeptical and a shrewd judge of character. He had fired a half-dozen briefers, a couple of them on the spot.

I went to my counterpart on the Joint Staff, which provided the briefers, and described what I needed: someone with strength to stand up to pressure, deep knowledge of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and inner character and self-confidence. Cue up Colonel Mark Milley, a Princeton graduate (like Rumsfeld), who has the gruff exterior and burly build of a New Jersey road-bar bouncer. Milley took a direct, confident and pragmatic tone. He was also a master of the most minute details in each operation, and added a sense of humor at appropriate moments. My problem was solved.

Austin Swears in Pentagon's New Special Operations Chief


Maier, who was administratively sworn in June, is the first Senate-confirmed SOLIC chief under new parameters for the job.

The assistant secretary job has two roles, Maier said in an interview. While it has the policy role it's always had supporting the undersecretary for policy, DOD and Congress have also directed SOLIC to serve as the service secretary for special operations forces.

"It's a bifurcated reporting structure [and] kind of tells you that SOLIC straddles a number of different areas," he said.

Maier will have civilian oversight of U.S. Special Operations Command in the administrative chain of command, but not in the operational chain of command. Wearing one hat, he will be the defense secretary's civilian advisor for special operations issues and will report directly to the secretary.

Wearing the other hat, he will serve as a more traditional assistant secretary in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy where he'll coordinate policies on special operations, counterterrorism, humanitarian issues and counternarcotics.