13 October 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’s Fog of Misunderstanding Surrounding Nepal–China Relations



India’s postindependence ties with Nepal were predicated on the intimate cultural and historical links between the two countries. As India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, noted, “though Nepal was an independent country, it was very closely allied to India in culture and tradition and we did not look upon it as a foreign country.” New Delhi also regarded China as an “interloper” in Nepal in 1950 who threatened India’s security and interests in the region, ignoring at least a century of Sino-Nepali history centering around Tibet. This paper argues that New Delhi’s close relationship with Nepal, bound in history and culture, and the misperception about China’s relations with Nepal before 1950 have contributed to a skewed understanding of Sino-Nepali relations. The Working Paper looks at the impact that New Delhi’s misperceptions of Sino-Nepali relations, termed the “fog of misunderstanding,” has had in the context of the triangular relations between China, India, and Nepal.

The paper is divided into four sections arranged chronologically. The first section looks at the historical Sino-Nepali relationship from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. It establishes that this early relationship was centered on Tibet. While the Gorkha kings of Nepal sought to preserve their trade privileges in the region, the Chinese were concerned about the security of their southwestern frontier. Notably though, Beijing’s concern with security does not appear to have extended into any desire to conquer Nepal. This section also touches upon British India’s policy toward Nepal in the nineteenth century, and the subsequent approach that the government of independent India took in the first few years, without an adequate appreciation of Kathmandu’s history with China. As a consequence, India developed a suspicious attitude toward Beijing’s desire to re-establish ties with Kathmandu after the Chinese Civil War, and shaped its policy toward Nepal with this factor in mind.

Afghanistan: The West Fails – a Win for China and Russia?

In the Western debate, the prevailing belief is that Moscow and Beijing are now using the power vacuum left by the United States (US) and its allies in Afghanistan to expand their own positions. This is certainly true in part: The US is withdrawing from Af­ghani­stan in order to transform its global strat­egy. European allies have little choice but to follow Washington. Thus, from the Chi­nese and Russian perspectives, the with­drawal from Afghanistan is further evi­dence of the progressive weakening of the Western alliance. This alone is a boost to Moscow and Beijing, which for years have been calling for the end of a Western-dominated liberal world order. But those who limit the perspectives of both actors to the global level will fall short. For the failure of the West does not automatically mean gains for Beijing and Moscow. After all, China and Russia must also confront the dangers that could emanate from Afghanistan at the regional level and directly endanger Chinese and Russian interests.

Decline of the West – Beginning of a New World Order

From Moscow’s perspective, the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan is an indica­tion of the decline of American hegemony. According to this view, the withdrawal from Afghanistan deepens the crisis of American identity and testifies to the grow­ing instability and vulnerability of Western democracies and their foreign policy. The Western failure in Afghanistan is seen by Moscow as a further milestone on the way to a multipolar world order in which the US is merely one great power among others and is visibly coming under Chinese pressure.

Pakistan’s “Moderate Taliban” Strategy Won’t Hold Up—For Anyone


Since the Taliban captured Kabul over a month ago, Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders have been desperately trying to convince the world that the Taliban are a newer, more moderate version of the Islamist militant group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Downplaying international fears about the egregiousness of Taliban rule, Pakistani leaders have claimed that the Taliban are, this time, open to sharing power and protecting basic human rights—if only the international community would give them time and money.

The Taliban have been in power for six weeks, but their actions clearly belie these claims of moderation. The Taliban have violated each of the four key promises they made to the international community: the creation of an inclusive government, general amnesty for those who had worked in the previous government or with U.S. forces, the protection of women’s rights, and the denial of Afghan soil to transnational terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

But having long nurtured the Taliban as a proxy to exert its influence over Afghanistan, Pakistan’s government continues its feverish diplomatic efforts to convince the international community of the group’s newly found moderation. Even so, its bid to legitimize the Taliban’s usurpation of state power in Afghanistan may be undermined by the group’s intransigence.

The Genius of Jokowi


JAKARTA – Bad news travels. Good news doesn’t. When Afghanistan’s government collapsed recently, the whole world watched. But when Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country, produces the world’s most effective democratically elected leader today – President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi – almost no one outside the archipelago knows the story.

That story is all the more remarkable because Jokowi has succeeded in one of the world’s most difficult countries to govern. Indonesia stretches 5,125 kilometers (3,185 miles) from east to west, making it wider than the continental United States, and consists of 17,508 islands. Moreover, few large countries can match its ethnic diversity. When the Indonesian economy shrank by 13.1% in 1998 as a result of the Asian financial crisis, many pundits predicted that the country would fall apart, like Yugoslavia.

Against this backdrop, Jokowi has done far more than govern competently. He has set new standards of governance that should be the envy of other large democracies.

Global Money Shifts to India as Xi Cracks Down on Tech

Bhaskar Chakravorti

You would think Chinese President Xi Jinping is dead set on kneecapping his country’s much-vaunted tech industry, which makes up nearly 40 percent of China’s GDP. His government’s crackdown on some of China’s biggest internet companies has already wiped out $1.5 trillion in stock market value. This comes at a troubling time for the Chinese economy. Even as it is letting the air out of tech, Beijing must scramble to control the popping bubble in the country’s infamously inflated real estate sector. These problems are now compounded by an energy crisis that has led to power blackouts and could soon impact manufacturing.

How these cascading Chinese crises will affect markets elsewhere is still unclear, with one exception: Capital with fewer opportunities in China clearly needs a refuge, and some of that money has found one in neighboring India. But although this shift in global capital flows certainly isn’t good news for China, it may not be good news for India either. The problem: India is not yet ready to absorb vast new flows of hot capital. The result would likely be a tech bubble whose bursting would hurt a society hobbled by the ravages of the pandemic and persistent government mismanagement.

Countering China’s Gray Zone Strategy

Dr. Peter Layton


China’s gray zone activities grind remorseless on but in so doing are creating an opposing pushback. As is customary, the paradoxical nature of war applies in that those impacted by a damaging strategy will over time devise optimized counter-moves.

In general, gray-zone activities involve purposefully pursuing political objectives through carefully designed operations; moving cautiously towards the objectives rather than seeking decisive results quickly; acting to remain below key escalatory thresholds so as to avoid war; and using all instruments of national power, particularly non-military and non-kinetic tools.

These characteristics mean gray zone is not hybrid war. This is, as the name suggests, a type of warfare, that deliberately uses armed violence to try to conclusively win a campaign, as Russia’s involvements in the Ukraine, Syria and Libya highlight. Some argue that modern Russian hybrid war approach uses all means up to conventional military operations to support an information campaign aiming to gain “control over the fundamental worldview and orientation of a state”, shift its geostrategic alignment, and shape its governance. China’s gray zone actions aim for strategic advantage as is explained below, but today’s Russian hybrid war model much more ambitiously tries for regime change.

CIA’s New China Mission Center: How To Do It Right


WASHINGTON: Several experts with extensive intelligence experience are raising questions about just how effective the CIA’s new China Mission Center will be and offering advice on how to ensure it functions as well as it must.

The CIA announced Thursday the creation of the CMC, the newest of almost a dozen at the agency. “CMC will further strengthen our collective work on the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century, an increasingly adversarial Chinese government,” CIA Director William Burns said in a statement.

The statement echoed what US officials and experts have said for years about China, but one former senior intelligence officer was immediately skeptical.

“We continue to follow the Brennan re-org, which emasculated the organization’s mission of stealing secrets,” the former officer told Breaking Defense, referring to former CIA Director John Brennan. “No doubt this new mission center, headed up by the analysts, will require a hiring surge, more people and a new building in Reston. (I thought the ‘pivot’ to Asia happened several years ago? With a new Powerpoint presentation, the latest pivot begins!!)”

The Real Reasons Behind China’s Energy Crisis

Lauri Myllyvirta

More than half of China’s provinces have been rationing electricity over the past couple weeks, disrupting the daily lives of tens of millions of people. Elevators have been turned off, stores’ opening hours have shortened, and factories have had to reduce operating days and power consumption. Some provinces have experienced outright blackouts. Meanwhile, September saw industrial output decline for the first time since China started recovering from the COVID-19 lockdowns.

It’s the worst electricity crisis China has faced in a decade. The immediate cause is that China is still highly dependent on coal, which provides 70 percent of the country’s power generation. The electricity prices paid to generators are regulated by the central government, while coal prices are set on the market. When coal prices rise, unless regulators increase electricity prices, it doesn’t make economic sense for coal power plants to keep supplying electricity. Plants can then avoid generating at a loss by claiming they have a technical malfunction or by failing to purchase the coal they need to run, both of which happened in the run-up to the current crisis.

Gulf security: It’s not all bad news

James M. Dorsey

They fear that the emerging parameters of a reconfigured US commitment to security in the Middle East threaten to upend a more-than-a-century-old pillar of regional security and leave them with no good alternatives.

The shaky pillar is the Gulf monarchies’ reliance on a powerful external ally that, in the words of Middle East scholar Roby C. Barrett, “shares the strategic, if not dynastic, interests of the Arab States.” The ally was Britain and France in the first half of the 20th century and the United States since then.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the revered founder of the United Arab Emirates, implicitly recognised Gulf states’ need for external support when he noted in a 2001 contribution to a book that the six monarchies that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) “only support the GCC when it suited them.”

What Developing Countries Need to Reach Net Zero


DUBAI – The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the planet will warm by 1.5º Celsius by 2040 unless urgent measures are taken to eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions. After the report’s release, UN Secretary-General António Guterres aptly called it “a code red for humanity.” Global warming is becoming an increasingly urgent problem, and all countries have a role to play in combating it. But as government officials from around the world prepare to set sustainability targets at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow next month, they cannot ignore developing countries’ economic distress.

The climate crisis is occurring at a time when governments and businesses in the developing world are wrestling with the impact of COVID-19. As the global economy begins to emerge from the pandemic, it is obvious that developing countries will recover at a slower rate. And the pace of vaccine delivery will complicate the economic situation further. For example, the poorest countries in Africa may not receive enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations before 2023 at the earliest.

The United States Must Reckon With Its Own Genocides

Emily Prey

Today is Indigenous Peoples Day in the United States, and U.S. President Joe Biden has become the first president ever to issue a proclamation marking the day. But the United States can do far more. Just as Canada is reckoning with its genocidal history of colonization, so must the United States. This is not only a moral necessity at home but one vital if Washington wants to be a credible opponent of abusive regimes worldwide.

In May, 215 unmarked graves were uncovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. In June, 751 additional graves were discovered near a former residential school in Saskatchewan province. Some of the children were as young as 3 years old. It is believed that between 4,000 and 10,000 children died in such “schools” across Canada.

But forcing Indigenous children to attend residential boarding schools was not a practice exclusive to Canada. The United States has a long and dark history of the same government-sanctioned abuses. Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, there were more than 350 government funded, and often church run, Indigenous boarding schools across the United States.

How Well Can AI Pick Targets From Satellite Photos? Army Test Aims to Find Out


Two live GBU-32 bombs will be dropped on range targets selected by an artificial-intelligence tool on Thursday, part of a U.S. Army effort to see how AI might soon be used on the battlefield.

The F-35 strikes are part of the fourth iteration of the XVIII Airborne Corps’s Scarlet Dragon exercise, which aims to test whether applying AI to multiple data streams can speed up finding and hitting pre-invasion targets. The test will be run by operators with the XVIII Airborne Corps out of Fort Bragg.

The exercise uses the seed software behind Project Maven, the military’s flagship AI-for-targeting effort. But whereas Maven looked at full-motion video feeds from drones, the Army effort applies that same technology to satellite images. That opens up an opportunity to operate in a much larger area. The exercise spans multiple ranges from Virginia to Georgia, with thousands of potential targets spread over some 7,200 square kilometers.

Rational Not Reactive

James Shires and Lauren Zabierek

Executive Summary

The increasing tempo of offensive cyber operations by Iran and its adversaries, including the U.S. and Israel, has led many commentators to label them as “tit-for-tat”: a cyclical action-reaction dynamic where each side seeks to respond appropriately to an earlier violation by the other. However, this interpretation has significant theoretical and empirical deficiencies. Why, then, does a tit-for-tat narrative dominate our understanding of Iranian cyber activity, and what are the consequences?

This paper revisits the longer-term arc of Iranian cyber operations, as well as examining a key “negative” case of the aftermath of the U.S. killing of IRGC General Qassem Suleimani in January 2020, where relevant expert and policy communities expected an Iranian cyber response that was not forthcoming. It argues that unfulfilled U.S. expectations of Iranian cyber responses can be explained by two key factors.

NSA Renews Focus On Securing Military Weapons Systems Against ‘Capable’ Rivals


WASHINGTON: The head of the National Security Agency’s Cybersecurity Directorate said that one of his agency’s top priorities has become protecting US weapons systems from cyber threats, representing a shift in focus brought about by the rise of an increasingly multipolar world with highly capable cyber adversaries.

“We spent the past 20 years in Afghanistan, where our weapons systems were not targeted by the foe,” because it lacked the technical capability, NSA’s Rob Joyce told the annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit on Wednesday. “But near-peer adversaries have the capabilities to exploit us when we do things incorrectly,” Joyce continued, referring to China and Russia. Joyce also said Iran and North Korea remain a concern as increasingly capable cyber adversaries.

“In terms of weapons systems, we have computers on wings, at sea, and on land. We don’t think of [weapons systems] that way, but none of them work without computers,” Joyce observed.

Working toward responsible competition with China

Patricia M. Kim

The announcement that Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will meet in a virtual summit before the end of the year have raised prospects that Washington and Beijing can begin to set “guardrails” to prevent U.S.-China competition from tipping into outright conflict. Despite Biden’s emphasis in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly that the United States is “not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs” and Xi’s statement that disputes should “be handled through dialogue and cooperation,” the intensifying rivalry between the two states has been very much in the spotlight. The current trajectory of U.S.-China relations and trendlines in the Indo-Pacific are concerning, and wise leadership on the part of Washington, Beijing, and the middle powers of the region will be essential to prevent a drift toward zero-sum conflict.


Since coming into office, the Biden administration has proposed that the United States will simultaneously confront and compete with China, while seeking cooperation in areas of common interest. Beijing, however, has rejected this framework, making the case that Washington should not expect China’s cooperation on issues like climate change as long as it continues to challenge China’s policies elsewhere. Chinese leaders have expressed that the “ball is in the U.S. court” to rectify its “misguided policies.” This past July, Beijing presented U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman with “three bottom lines” and “two lists.” Included in these are demands that the U.S. must refrain from criticizing China’s domestic system and its policies toward Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan, and that all sanctions, tariffs, and export restrictions imposed on China be removed.

The Metamorphosis of Growth Policy


CAMBRIDGE – Development policy has long been divided between two types of approaches. One approach targets poor people directly and seeks to alleviate the poverty of individual households – through income support, health and education interventions, and enhanced access to credit. The other focuses on enhancing economic opportunities and raising overall productivity – through economy-wide macroeconomic and trade policies or legal and regulatory reforms. Call the first social policy and the second growth policy.

These two types of policies are generally complementary. Aggregate growth may not always help everyone, especially the poor. Consequently, anti-poverty programs will be necessary even when growth policy is doing its job properly. Occasionally, however, social and growth policies have been viewed as substitutes.

For example, the increased use of randomized policy experiments has allowed analysts to develop causal evidence about social policies – such as cash grants or education and health interventions – in ways that are rarely possible with macroeconomic or economy-wide policies. This, in turn, has led many academics and practitioners to downgrade the practical importance of growth policy relative to social policy.

Taming Techno-Nationalism: A Policy Agenda

This is creating incentives for states to treat access to sensitive technologies as a zero-sum game and to pursue policies to expand national control over and international influence through sensitive technologies. The “geopoliticization” of sensitive technologies – even those which, on first sight, appear banal and/or consumer-focused in nature – are on clear display in debates surrounding European telecom providers’ use of Huawei technologies within their 5G networks, fresh discussions regarding Johnson & Johnson’s purchase of Crucell, and the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) response to NVIDIA’s proposed acquisition of ARM.

Sensitive technologies are, in other words, growing to be more and more closely associated with “European strategic autonomy,” the notion that European Member States should be able to make consequential decisions without being constrained by their relationships with countries like the US or China.


Florence Schimmel

The aim and purpose of this undertaking was to test a foresight methodology for developing an EU Civilian Capability Profile for EU crisis management. An important first step for this exercise was to sketch out a panorama of conflicts that the EU could be confronted with in and around 2030. Subsequently, the scenarios provided the foundation for an exercise in strategic planning. During follow-up sessions in October 2020, we established capability areas for possible civilian CSDP missions for the scenarios. Details and lessons learned can be found in the accompanying Policy Brief.

The foresight methodology that was used does not claim to predict the future, but rather to develop a probable version of the future. Exploring a well-thought-out possible future is an opportunity to improve early warning, more efficiently allocate resources, and future-proof overall decision-making. Therefore, this methodology can help the EU and its member states make long-term decisions about the future of EU civilian crisis management and its role in the EU’s external action toolbox. For this purpose, we tweaked a classic foresight methodology to accommodate our field of interest, and transferred it online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cryptocurrencies' Next Stage


NEW HAVEN – Regulators around the world are cracking down on cryptocurrencies. China has banned them. The United States is considering a range of measures aimed at reining them in. The Bank of England is developing capital requirements for financial institutions that hold them. But, far from spelling disaster for the crypto industry, regulation is vital to its long-term prospects.

The crypto market’s development began with what can best be described as the “product innovation” stage. Blockchain technology enabled people to approach old questions (What is money? How can art be created and valued?) in new ways. This resulted in highly visible applications, such as virtual currencies and tokenized artworks. But it also enabled less glamorous innovations in a wide range of areas, from tracking container shipments to improving the integrity of health-care records.

Will blockchain’s impact be revolutionary? It depends what you consider a “revolution.” Northwestern University’s Robert Gordon, for example, questions whether the impact of more recent technological innovations will be as far-reaching as that of previous breakthroughs. Will smart phones prove to be as important as electricity? Will e-commerce be as transformative as steam power? Can the internet’s impact compare to that of radio and the telegraph?

Hybrid Warfare and Active Measures

Gabriel Lloyd


Since Vladimir Putin’s inauguration as Russia’s president following the tumultuous tenure of Boris Yeltsin, Russia has implemented a coordinated policy of conventional espionage measures, cyber intrusions, and information operations targeting the United States. Validated on the multi-domain battlefields and computer networks of vulnerable Baltic neighbors, Russia’s active campaigns of intelligence and influence operations have caught the United States off-guard. Four successive U.S. presidential administrations have grappled with Russian aggression, but U.S. responses have consistently lacked cohesion, strategy and effectiveness in deterrence. Russia’s weaponization of social media and willingness to attack the foundations of American democracy have made the development of a coherent U.S. strategy a matter of urgent national importance. By examining the underlying doctrine of hybrid warfare, the specific tactics that Putin’s Russia is using against the United States and highlighting recent U.S. responses to Russian espionage and cyber influence campaigns, this paper identifies the potent tools and patterns of hybrid warfare strategy that collectively constitute a growing threat to U.S. national security. While hybrid warfare falls short of conventional military conflict in the metric of physical destruction, its deleterious effects on American security are undeniable and suggest the need for a long-term, comprehensive strategy from the United States.

Behind NATO’s ‘cognitive warfare’: ‘Battle for your brain’ waged by Western militaries

NATO is developing new forms of warfare to wage a “battle for the brain,” as the military alliance put it.

The US-led NATO military cartel has tested novel modes of hybrid warfare against its self-declared adversaries, including economic warfare, cyber warfare, information warfare, and psychological warfare.

Now, NATO is spinning out an entirely new kind of combat it has branded cognitive warfare. Described as the “weaponization of brain sciences,” the new method involves “hacking the individual” by exploiting “the vulnerabilities of the human brain” in order to implement more sophisticated “social engineering.”

Until recently, NATO had divided war into five different operational domains: air, land, sea, space, and cyber. But with its development of cognitive warfare strategies, the military alliance is discussing a new, sixth level: the “human domain.”

A 2020 NATO-sponsored study of this new form of warfare clearly explained, “While actions taken in the five domains are executed in order to have an effect on the human domain, cognitive warfare’s objective is to make everyone a weapon.”

NGA Must ‘Treat Data As A Strategic Asset,’ Director Says


GEOINT 2021: The explosion of available observational data about the Earth and human activity around the world is challenging the ability of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to be able to make sense of it all — especially on the shortened timelines desired by warfighters, said the agency’s director, Vice Adm. Robert Sharp.

“The growth in GEOINT data from government and commercial sources here and around the world is staggering. This exponential growth in data leads us to one of our biggest challenges: managing all of the data,” Sharp said in his keynote Wednesday at the GEOINT 2021 conference in St. Louis, Mo., sponsored by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.

“Kind of like the mountains Lewis and Clark had to scale, data is a mountain we have to climb,” he said. “So, as I see it, it’s critical that we team up with others who are experts in data integration.”

Q&A with Gen. Murray, Leader of Army Futures Command

Jon Harper

Taking a big picture view, how would you assess Army Futures Command’s efforts so far in terms of shepherding the service’s modernization? And are there areas where you are further ahead or further behind than you expected to be by this point?

If you go back four or five years and where we were with modernization, and you look at where we are today, I think we’ve made great progress. … You've got a requirements process that used to take three to five years just to write the requirement, and we've gotten that down to well under a year, in a lot of cases three to five months, for our signature programs. We've got efforts that, from the identification of a need to the delivery of the capability to our soldiers, in one case [it took just] 23 months, which is significantly different and faster than we've done in the past.

We have several efforts that faltered. And I think it's a tribute to the Army senior leadership and the Army writ large, [that a decision was made] to step back and admit that we may not have this right before we get into a program that costs us billions of dollars or tens of billions of dollars before we decide that we can’t execute.