1 November 2021

India in Space Domain - Pathbreaking Developments

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


India is now a major spacefaring nation. Initially, the Indian space programme was focused primarily on societal and developmental utilities. Today, like many other countries, India is compelled to use space for several military requirements like intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Hence, India is looking to space to gain operational and informational advantages.

India has had its fair share of achievements in the space domain. It includes the launch of the country’s heaviest satellite, the GSAT-11 which will boost India’s broadband services by enabling 16 Gbps data links across the country, GSAT-7A, the military communication satellite and the launch of the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk III-D2, the GSAT 29. The Anti-Satellite (ASAT) test is an intrinsic part of today’s geopolitics and the national security context.

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.

Taking India’s Cost-Effective Space Launches To the Next Level

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

India’s space program has been known for credible and cost-effective space launch missions. Speaking at a recent webinar, Jitendra Singh, India’s minister of state for atomic energy and space, highlighted the country’s emergence as a “hub” for cost-effective satellite launches. He also spoke about India’s major space milestones, including its lunar probe and Mars missions. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is one of the rare Indian public sector organizations that has been very successful in its field, placing India among the top global space powers.

Earlier in the month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the creation of the Indian Space Association (ISpA), an industry association of space and satellite industries, meant to contribute to making India Atmanirbhar (self-sufficient) as well as “a global leader in the space arena,” which is seen as “the next growth frontier for mankind.” The ISpA is expected to engage the different stakeholders across the entire space ecosystem in order to formulate “an enabling policy framework,” taking India closer to the goal of self-sufficiency. The new association is supposed to establish global linkages for the Indian space industry in order to facilitate transfer of critical technologies and bring in funds that could result in the creation of more high skilled jobs.

Why Tajikistan Is Taking a Stand Against the Taliban

Temur Umarov

In recent weeks, Tajikistan has hit the headlines for its hardline stance on Afghanistan, where the Taliban recently returned to power. It might seem that if anyone should be concerned about maintaining good relations with the Taliban, it’s Tajikistan. It has an extensive mountainous border with Afghanistan that is difficult to control, and the Tajik military is believed to be the weakest in Central Asia. Tajikistan is a transit stop for most of the drug traffic from Afghanistan to Russia and Europe, and the country has suffered numerous terrorist attacks in the last few years.

Yet unlike its Central Asian neighbors, plus Russia and China, Tajikistan isn’t rushing to establish ties with the new government in Kabul. On the contrary, it has assumed the role of the Taliban’s main adversary, allegedly supporting the remnants of the Afghan opposition forces (though Dushanbe denies this).

President Emomali Rahmon has returned to the topic of Afghanistan’s misfortunes under the Taliban in practically every recent public speech he has made, even those unrelated to foreign policy. At international meetings and forums, Rahmon has repeatedly said that Tajikistan will not recognize any other government formed in Afghanistan through oppression and persecution, without considering the position of the entire Afghan people, especially all of its ethnic minorities. According to Rahmon, ethnic Tajiks comprise over 46 percent of Afghanistan’s population, though most researchers’ estimates hover around 20 percent.

China needs to learn lessons from Japan’s 1990s collapse

Robin Harding

When Chinese policymakers think about the economy, one of their main goals is to avoid what happened to Japan in 1990, when the excesses from years of rapid growth culminated in the collapse of a spectacular asset price bubble. Japanese officials who were active in that era tell tales of visits from their Chinese counterparts throughout the 2000s and 2010s, eager to learn the secrets of what went wrong and how they might avoid a similar fate.

China itself has enjoyed an enormous housing boom in recent decades: prices per square meter have quadrupled or more, even as the construction of hundreds of millions of dwellings turned it into a nation of homeowners. The recent woes of property developer Evergrande, which is struggling to pay its debts, show how that boom could turn to bust. There are, however, significant differences between Japan in 1990 and China today, suggesting the outcome will be different too, with time still left for Beijing to learn the biggest lesson of Japan’s experience.

China Will Pay To Build A New Military Base On Tajikistan's Border With Afghanistan


Tajikistan's parliament had approved a plan to establish a new border security base with Chinese funding. This news comes amid other reports that Tajik authorities have offered to turn over control of a separate base in their country entirely to the Chinese government. All of this would seem to reflect a broader response from Beijing to the newly emerging security situation following the Taliban's takeover of neighboring Afghanistan and the U.S. military's controversial withdrawal from that country. There are particular fears that Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist organizations will be able to exploit the current situation to step up activities inside Afghanistan, as well as the surrounding region and elsewhere around the world.

The lower house of Tajikistan's Supreme Assembly signed off on the proposed base construction, which is part of a larger deal between the country's Interior Ministry and China’s Public Security Ministry, on Oct. 27, 2021. Tajik First Deputy Interior Minister Abdurahmon Alamshozoda said that the facility would be situated in the village of Vakhon in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) Tajik Service. Gorno-Badakhshan lies to the north of Afghanistan's narrow Wakhan Corridor, which is wedged in between Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan.

How China Learned to Harness Israel’s Media and Booming Tech Scene



China has become a global power, but there is too little debate about how this has happened and what it means. Many argue that China exports its developmental model and imposes it on other countries. But Chinese players also extend their influence by working through local actors and institutions while adapting and assimilating local and traditional forms, norms, and practices.

With a generous multiyear grant from the Ford Foundation, Carnegie has launched an innovative body of research on Chinese engagement strategies in seven regions of the world—Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, the Pacific, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Through a mix of research and strategic convening, this project explores these complex dynamics, including the ways Chinese firms are adapting to local labor laws in Latin America, Chinese banks and funds are exploring traditional Islamic financial and credit products in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and Chinese actors are helping local workers upgrade their skills in Central Asia. These adaptive Chinese strategies that accommodate and work within local realities are mostly ignored by Western policymakers in particular.

Iran Responds to Israeli Cyber Attack

Asharq Al-Awsat

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Wednesday that the cyber-attack that disrupted the sale of heavily subsidized gasoline in the country aimed to stir chaos and anger citizens.

“We have to be seriously prepared in the field of cyber warfare,” stressed Raisi in statements to state media. He noted that the cyber-attack was an “attempt to annoy citizens.”

Tehran responded to the Israeli attack by publishing information about the life of Security Minister Benny Gantz, and personal details of hundreds of soldiers in one of the Israeli army brigades.

Tuesday’s disruption of fuel services came ahead of the second anniversary of the bloody protests that swept Iran due to the sharp rise of fuel prices in November 2019, which later turned into political demonstrations calling for the resignation of the country’s senior rulers.

What Comes Next in the Standoff Between the U.S. and Iran?

President Joe Biden entered office promising to return the U.S. to the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. But doing so has proven tricky for Biden’s administration, in part because of the complex politics surrounding the deal in both Washington and Tehran, but also because of the tense relations between the two countries, which soured significantly under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.

In May 2018, when Trump followed through on a campaign promise to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 multilateral deal limiting Iran’s uranium enrichment program, Tehran initially reacted by adopting a posture of strategic patience. But after European attempts to keep the deal afloat failed to deliver any respite from the U.S. campaign of “maximum pressure,” and amid increasingly bellicose rhetoric out of Washington, Iran shifted gears.

Beginning in early 2019, Iran gradually announced a series of what it called reversible breaches of its obligations under the nuclear deal, exceeding limits on its stockpile of enriched uranium and the level to which it is enriched. More recently, Iran suspended its Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency, a side-agreement that provided the nuclear watchdog’s inspectors with even more robust mechanisms to monitor every stage of Iran’s nuclear program than the agency’s standard oversight agreement.

GAO Sides With Microsoft in Massive NSA Contract Protest

Frank Konkel

The Government Accountability Office Friday sustained Microsoft’s protest of a secret National Security Agency cloud computing contract dubbed “WildandStormy,” recommending the agency reevaluate proposals submitted by both Microsoft and the winning bidder, Amazon Web Services.

NSA awarded the contract, worth up to $10 billion, to AWS in July to support the agency’s classified and unclassified cloud services. Microsoft protested the award of the contract on July 21 and added to its legal argument on Sept. 2 in a supplemental protest.

“GAO found certain aspects of the agency’s evaluation to be unreasonable and, in light thereof, recommended that NSA reevaluate the proposals consistent with the decision and make a new source selection determination,” Ralph O. White, Managing Associate General Counsel for the Procurement Law Division at GAO, said in a statement to Nextgov. “GAO’s decision expresses no view as to the relative merits of the AWS and Microsoft proposals. Judgments about which offeror will most successfully meet the government’s needs are reserved for the procuring agencies, subject only to statutory and regulatory procurement requirements.”

Could the U.S. Lose a War with China Over Taiwan?

Graham Allison

During a town hall last week, when asked whether America would defend Taiwan against a Chinese assault, President Joe Biden answered: “yes.” In response, China’s foreign ministry stated unambiguously that, to prevent the loss of Taiwan, Beijing is prepared to go to war. If China were to attack Taiwan, and the United States sent military forces to Taiwan’s defense, could the United States lose a war with China?

When current Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and her fellow members of the National Defense Strategy Review Commission examined this question in 2018, they concluded: maybe. In their words, America “might struggle to win, or perhaps lose a war against China.” As they explained, if in response to a provocative move by Taiwan, China were to launch an attack to take control of that island that is as close to its mainland as Cuba is to the United States, it might succeed before the U.S. military could move enough assets into the region to matter. As former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld and former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell wrote last year, China has the capability to deliver a fait accompli to Taiwan before Washington would be able to decide how to respond.

Next Steps in Critical Infrastructure Protection: Challenges for CISA and Congress

James Andrew Lewis: Good afternoon. Welcome to CSIS. Our event today is “Next Steps in Critical Infrastructure Protection: Challenges for Congress and CISA.” We’re lucky to have two leaders in this field, Representative John Katko and Director Jen easterly of CISA. I’m going to give a brief overview of their bios, because they’re both overachievers and if I read their whole bio, it would take the full hour.

Our format today will be I’ll introduce them, they will make opening remarks – first Representative Katko and then Director Easterly. I’ll ask a few questions, and then we’ll turn and open it up to the audience for questions. So I’m looking forward to today’s event. I’ve actually been looking forward to it all week. So a great way to close out cybersecurity month here at CSIS.

Let me start. Representative John Katko is the Republican leader of the House Committee on Homeland Security. And he represents the 24th District, which we were talking before is sort of around Syracuse. A former prosecutor in New York, he worked on numerous cases. I saw he has extensive RICO experience. I think RICO is perfect for cybersecurity. So he comes in well-prepared. He’s served on the Homeland Security Committee since joining Congress and held a number of leadership roles, including ranking member of the cybersecurity infrastructure protection and innovation subcommittee. And he’ll tell us about some of the legislation he’s got in the works.

US Military ‘Well Postured’ For Any Chinese Cyber Onslaught, CIO Nominee Says


WASHINGTON: The Department of Defense is “well postured” to fend off any potential Chinese cyberattack deluge in the event of conflict over Taiwan, the Pentagon’s presumptive chief information officer told a Congressional hearing today.

“I believe DoD is well postured, based on what I know right now. That is, with any defensive mechanisms we can always improve,” DoD CIO nominee John Sherman told lawmakers.

Sherman, who currently serves as Acting DoD CIO and was previously CIO for the intelligence community, said it would also be a “top priority” of his, should he be confirmed, to work with US Cyber Command to “keep the Chinese back on their heels.”

That last comment reflects a shift in strategy in recent years by US Cyber Command, where Gen. Paul Nakasone has said his organization aims to “defend forward” and disrupt cyberattacks before they reach US networks.

‘Hundreds’ Of China Hypersonic Tests Vs. 9 US; Hyten Says US Moves Too Slowly


WASHINGTON: In what may be his valedictory remarks as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Hyten continued his quest to prod the Pentagon acquisition elephant to move faster. One telling example: China, he said, has performed “hundreds” of tests of hypersonic weapons in the last five years, compared to nine the United States has performed.

How did it come to this? Hyten pointed to a a painting, located on the fourth floor of the Pentagon, to illustrate how things have changed for the US military since the days of the space race.

“So I like rockets, but it’s just a rocket taking off, and it’s a little rocket. And there’s actually nothing else in the picture except the rocket taking off, but there’s the little label on the bottom. It says, Discover 14. And why that’s so cool to me, is that Discover One through 13 failed.” Discover 14, in fact, carried America’s first spy satellite, one of the Corona series, into orbit.

Pentagon officials, unable to secure basing near Afghanistan, warn of terrorist threat

Karen DeYoung

The United States hasn’t reached any agreements with Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan for bases or other facilities to use in counterterrorism operations there against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, senior defense officials said Tuesday.

“We have had extensive conversations” and expect to have more, with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and others, Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said at a Senate hearing.

U.S. forces “need to build out more capability so we’re not just reliant on facilities we have in the Arabian Gulf,” Kahl said. The closest major U.S. facilities, in Qatar and Bahrain, are more than 1,500 flight miles away.

“We have not secured firm basing agreements” with any of Afghanistan’s direct neighbors, he said. He said U.S. intelligence estimated that the Islamic State-Khorasan, the Afghanistan faction of the terrorist group, could build the capacity to plan and conduct international operations within six months if unchecked.

Nirupama Rao on America’s need for wisdom and allies in Asia


In south asia and the Indo-Pacific, we see ourselves as a region in churn—the geopolitical pathways wind their way to conflict and to peace; they crisscross in perpetual motion. India through its history has been a hub country, porous and permeable, weathering waves of migration, conquest and assimilation, and providing the ultimate definition of being (as the English poet Kathleen Raine put it) “the place of every arrival”.

The region is uneasy about the likelihood of intensified America-China rivalry, particularly after America’s debacle in Afghanistan. The two powers’ competition, confrontation and conflict—or the alternative, an unbridled Chinese hegemony—ought not be the sole, binary choice. A healthy multipolarity among countries, with roles for mid-sized ones as much as for great powers, would provide the ideal political equilibrium for the region.

All involved must understand that the strategy of each country is to safeguard national power, uphold self-interest but also to ensure survival. When superpowers try to trample each other, the ground trembles and fissures deepen for everyone else. The creation of aukus, an agglomeration of Australia, Britain and America, marks a new iteration of naval power in the Indo-Pacific. It is clearly designed to counter China’s capabilities, yet it gives rise to new uncertainties and greater risks of confrontation.

COP26 and the Foreign Policy Blind Spot in Europe’s Climate Action


In the run-up to the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, the EU has moved up a gear in its climate action commitments and has pressured other states to do the same. Burnishing its claim to global leadership, the union portrays international climate politics largely as a matter of others catching up with Europe.

However, the EU’s record is less positive if we consider the wider geostrategic elements of ecological disruption. And crucially, this foreign policy dimension of environmental challenges is not on the COP26 agenda.

While the EU has made strong commitments to reduce carbon emissions, it has not yet devised policies to deal fully with the strategic ramifications of ecological stresses around the world.

Despite its impressive leadership in select areas of climate action, the EU is nowhere near having developed a full-spectrum ecological foreign policy. On the longstanding climate security agenda, the EU does not have an especially good story to tell, just a slightly less bad one than other powers.

How Facebook Failed the World


In the fall of 2019, Facebook launched a massive effort to combat the use of its platforms for human trafficking. Working around the clock, its employees searched Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram for keywords and hashtags that promoted domestic servitude in the Middle East and elsewhere. Over the course of a few weeks, the company took down 129,191 pieces of content, disabled more than 1,000 accounts, tightened its policies, and added new ways to detect this kind of behavior. After they were through, employees congratulated one another on a job well done.

It was a job well done. It just came a little late. In fact, a group of Facebook researchers focused on the Middle East and North Africa had found numerous Instagram profiles being used as advertisements for trafficked domestic servants as early as March 2018. “Indonesian brought with Tourist Visa,” one photo caption on a picture of a woman reads, in Arabic. “We have more of them.” But these profiles weren’t “actioned”—disabled or taken down—an internal report would explain, because Facebook’s policies “did not acknowledge the violation.” A year and a half later, an undercover BBC investigation revealed the full scope of the problem: a broad network that illegally trafficked domestic workers, facilitated by internet platforms and aided by algorithmically boosted hashtags. In response, Facebook banned one hashtag and took down some 700 Instagram profiles. But according to another internal report, “domestic servitude content remained on the platform.”

The G-20 Can’t Ignore the World’s China Problem

Nathan Law and Rahima Mahmut

As world leaders gather in Rome this weekend for the G-20, their focus will understandably be post-COVID-19 recovery and climate change. These are undeniable priorities, but there is a third challenge facing the world that is the elephant in the room: The threat to freedom and in particular the rise of authoritarianism led by the Chinese Communist Party.

Over the past decade, the regime in Beijing has intensified its repression at home and increased its aggression abroad. Under Xi Jinping, China’s dictatorship has relentlessly cracked down on all dissent, closing down whatever limited space previously existed for civil society, citizen journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders, and religious believers. In the early days of COVID-19, the regime repressed the truth instead of the virus, silencing whistleblowers and failing to alert the World Health Organization in a timely manner, in breach of its international obligations. It has completely dismantled Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy, in violation of an international treaty, and is credibly accused by a growing number of governments, parliaments, lawyers, and academics of committing genocide against the Uyghurs. Repression in Tibet has intensified, and in recent weeks Beijing has accelerated its threats to Taiwan, with an unprecedented number of fighter jet incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone. It has proven what a mendacious, cruel, and dangerous totalitarian regime it is.

The Bonfire of the Currencies?


SANTA BARBARA – Ready or not, the financial world is being forced to face the possibility of a future without traditional notes and coins. Is cash going the way of the dodo? Should the prospect of its extinction be welcomed or feared? And what would its disappearance mean for domestic and global markets and politics?

Two recent books by renowned economists have set the stage for the coming debates, highlighting two questions in particular. The first is whether cash should disappear. The second is whether it actually will disappear. Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University and Eswar Prasad of Cornell University have much to say on both issues.


For Rogoff, cash is a curse. Paper currency, he argues, “lies at the heart of some of today’s most intractable public finance and monetary problems,” and thus should be phased out as quickly as possible. He highlights two big problems. On one hand, by permitting large recurrent and anonymous transactions, cash facilitates tax evasion and other crimes. High-denomination bills like US “Benjamins” ($100 notes) or Switzerland’s 1,000 franc note play a starring role in a broad range of criminal activities, from drug trafficking and money laundering to racketeering and extortion.

Population, Climate, and Conflict: New Data Point to Greater Challenges Ahead

Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba

The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) recently released its 2021 World Population Data Sheet and its data on fertility and contraceptive needs indicate that issues with economic development, instability, governance, and climate change vulnerability will persist for a handful of key countries high on the U.S. national security agenda. As political will to tackle climate change grows and leaders negotiate the way forward at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), here’s what they need to know about the role of population pressures in exacerbating the effects of climate change.

While the world’s more developed countries are experiencing low fertility rates and aging populations, and some countries in sub-Saharan Africa—such as Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa—have seen remarkable fertility declines in recent years, fertility remains high in most of the world’s most fragile and economically depressed states. These include Somalia (with a total fertility rate, or TFR, of 6.9), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (6.2), Chad (6.4), Mozambique (5.0), and Nigeria (5.2). Women in these countries have tremendous unmet need for family planning resources. In Mozambique, for example, only 50 percent of married women say their demand for modern family planning methods is met, according to PRB data. The same is true in Papua New Guinea (49 percent), where the TFR is 4.0 and the population is doubling every generation.

Judy Asks: Is Europe’s Energy Crisis Self-Inflicted?


Europe learned from the 2006 and 2009 gas cut-offs and put in place a series of regulations that make an outright cut-off unlikely today.

In 2021, a cut-off is not the problem. Instead, Europe is suffering from a gas price spike and a drop in the volumes of gas it receives. Russia has learned that it cannot play the 2006 and 2009 game again. But Moscow still has numerous tools it can use to put pressure on Europe and make itself richer.

In 2021, as in 2009, EU member states need to ask themselves how the EU can use Russian gas without falling prey to an energy weapon. Europe is still importing a strategically significant amount of gas from Russia—in recent years around 40 percent. And constructing pipelines like Nord Stream 2 only increases the extent and duration of Europe’s reliance on Russian energy.

So is Europe’s energy crisis self-inflicted? Yes. Rather than taking the 2006 and 2009 crises as signs of the need to dramatically reduce reliance on Russia, Europe adjusted its rules and made states feel they could increase reliance on Russian gas.

Global Mobility: Future Force Design 2040

Lucia Retter, Zudik Hernandez, Ben Caves, Megan Hughes, Anna Knack

The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, published by the UK Government in March 2021, presents an ambitious vision of a 'Global Britain' that has a persistent presence around the world and contributes to tackling a range of crises both at home and abroad.

To deliver on this vision, the UK Armed Forces will need the right force design and mix of military capabilities to enable them to be 'in the right place at the right time', while also supporting wider cross-government priorities.

This study identifies the likely changes in mobility requirements between now and 2040 and outlines a range of options to deliver global mobility in dynamic threat and policy environments. The following options were explored in greater detail: the use of multi-role platforms; international collaboration; commercial solutions; uncrewed or optionally crewed lightweight assets; data-driven and data-enabled mobility and additive manufacturing.


Russian Media Landscape: Structures, Mechanisms, and Technologies of Information Operations

Monika Hanley Andrey Kuzichkin

Executive Summary
The present study contains a brief analysis of the political, financial, and legislative influence brought to bear on the Russian media environment, making it possible for the Kremlin to influence opinion domestically and to conductspecial media operations against Western countries and their allies.

This report is devoted to deep aspects of Russian information influence activities that have rarely been the subject of detailed studies. It is an analysis of the structure created by the Russian state to control the flow of information in the paradigm of a ‘hybrid war’ against democratic countries. The paper is presented in three parts:

The Fall and Rise of Techno-Globalism

Graham Webster and Justin Sherman

Two key words were missing from the statements that followed the inaugural in-person summit in September of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as the Quad, which features Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. The first absent word was predictable: “China.” Although the country’s growing strength is the clear geopolitical impetus for this Indo-Pacific grouping, officials are at pains to portray their efforts as positive and not about containing a rival. The other omitted word, however, was both less obvious and more important. The four governments released a set of joint principles on technology, emphasizing shared values, fair competition, and an “open, accessible, and secure technology ecosystem.” That rhetoric may sound familiar enough from four countries meeting to champion a “free, open, rules-based order.” But for years, each of these governments, almost reflexively, would also have advocated for an even bigger technological vision: a “global” one.

Almost from its inception, idealists saw in the Internet the radical potential to help bridge divides among people. Digital connectivity spread rapidly during the heady post–Cold War period in which globalization surged and democracy, to many, seemed triumphant. Techno-globalism took root as an ideal among diplomats, scholars, and technologists who believed in free and open exchange both as a virtue in and of itself and as a means to spread political and economic freedoms.

Army Expects Fierce, Close Combat in Next War Despite Advanced Tech

Steve Beynon

While the Army recovers from decades of fighting guerrilla forces in the Middle East, leaders are setting their eyes on the wars of tomorrow. And despite rapid advances in cyberweapons, drones and artificial intelligence, they're stressing the next war will still feature bloody, close quarters combat

"All this technology is awesome, but it's going to come down to city fighting chucking grenades, and being able to do that over and over," Lt. Gen. Ted Martin told Military.com in an interview Thursday.

The U.S. has spent its last several campaigns mostly fighting enemies without much in the way of advanced technology. That wouldn't be true in a conflict with Russia or China, the two potential adversaries military planners continue to focus on in their preparations.

In Defense of Pure Sovereignty in Cyberspace

Kevin Jon Heller

States currently endorse three different positions concerning the international wrongfulness of cyber operations that penetrate computer systems located on the territory of another state but do not rise to the level of a use of force or prohibited intervention. The first position is that such low-intensity cyber operations are never wrongful, because sovereignty is a principle of international law, not a primary rule that can be independently violated. The second is that low-intensity cyber operations are always wrongful, because sovereignty is a primary rule of international law that is violated by any non-consensual penetration of a computer system located on the territory of another state – what has been called the “pure sovereigntist” approach. And the third position is that although sovereignty is a primary rule of international law, low-intensity cyber operations are internationally wrongful only insofar as they cause some kind of physical damage to the territorial state or render its cyber-infrastructure inoperable – what has been called the “relative sovereigntist” approach. This article provides a comprehensive analysis of these three positions on low-intensity cyber operations. It begins by discussing why sovereignty is a primary rule of international law, not simply a principle from which specific primary rules can be derived. It then argues that the pure-sovereigntist position has a stronger foundation in general international law than the relative-sovereigntist position. And finally, it explains why a variety of policy considerations favor pure sovereignty over either sovereignty as a principle or relative sovereignty.

Other People’s Wars: The US Military and the Challenge of Learning from Foreign Conflicts

In our interview with Dr. Sterling, we discuss how militaries learn (or don’t!) from foreign conflicts, what pitfalls await those trying to learn from historical conflicts, how focusing only on “relevant” observations hampers our creativity in analyzing warfare, and what strategists can do to avoid past mistakes. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview:

In Other People’s Wars, Dr. Sterling provides a longitudinal evaluation spanning the 19th and 20th centuries on what the U.S. military learned from foreign conflicts. Exploring the Crimean, Russo-Japanese, Spanish Civil, and Yom Kippur Wars as use cases, Dr. Sterling identifies how effectively the U.S. assimilated key lessons from each of these conflicts and developed responsive capabilities across doctrine, organization, training and education, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P); drew erroneous conclusions; or failed to act altogether. Importantly, Dr. Sterling compares the success of learning from these wars across the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Studying foreign conflicts allows the U.S. military to learn about new technologies, their applications, and novel problem sets, facilitating proactive responses to problems before they are encountered in the field. For example, at the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S. Army was reconsidering the future of the bayonet. Observations from the Russo-Japanese War, where knife fighting was prevalent — especially in night assaults, given the heightened risk of friendly fire — led Army Leaders to determine that the weapon was still relevant, and should be maintained.


Jahara Matisek

Over the course of two decades and at a price tag of over $88 billion, the United States and its NATO partners built a modern and well-equipped Afghan military—one that, like a Fabergé egg, boasted a glossy exterior but shattered under stress after US military advisors departed.

Confronted by a smaller, technologically outmatched military, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) rapidly disintegrated, in most cases avoiding major battles and negotiating their surrenders to Taliban commanders instead of fighting. Within weeks of the US withdrawal, the Taliban had seized the majority of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals with little to no bloodshed.

If the United States ever wants to build a partner military again, it had better learn the lessons of Afghanistan—and overhaul how it plans and implements US security assistance programs.

No Time To Go Wobbly On Hypersonics


The push towards hypersonic military technologies has never been as pronounced as it is now. After years of being on the fringe, the capability is now receiving major pushes from the Pentagon, the US Congress — and potential adversary nations. Just as the weapons have gone mainstream, however, there is a seed of skepticism forming among Air Force leadership. In this op-ed, Mark Lewis and Richard P. Hallion argue that hypersonics need to keep doing what they are designed to do: move fast.

In August 1991, with an international coalition gathering to expel Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait facing all manner of uncertainties and challenges, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s famed “Iron Lady,” had some words of advice for President George H. W. Bush. It was, she cautioned, “no time to go wobbly.”

America’s national defense leadership should take her words to heart regarding the state of military hypersonics — dealing with weapons and systems that operate in excess of five times the speed of sound. For decades viewed with skepticism by certain elements of the weapons development community, hypersonics over the last decade have enjoyed a surprising turnaround from a state of both malignant and benign neglect and to one of energetic recovery.