5 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.

Russian LNG Shipments to India: Strategic Implications and Long-Term Prospects

Sergey Sukhankin

In late September, Russia’s first Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU)—specifically designed for emergency transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) via the Baltic Sea to Kaliningrad Oblast—successfully delivered its initial load of LNG from the Yamal LNG production facility to India’s Dabhol seaport. The vessel, called the Marshal Vasilevskiy, traversed the eastern part of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in ten days without the use of icebreakers (Interfax, September 24). It carried 505 cubic meters of the specially liquefied fuel.

The modest delivery may have nonetheless opened a new chapter in Indian-Russian energy ties: India is determined to increase the share of LNG in its energy mix from 6.2 to 15 percent by 2030 (Neftegaz.ru, October 26), unlocking a range of new commodity export prospects for Russia. In effect, India’s plans to boost cooperation with Russia in the realm of energy may eventually expand substantially. India’s largest gas-sector companies, including ONGC and Petronet LNG, have declared an interest in acquiring up to 9.9 percent of shares in the Russian Arktik LNG-2 mega project, which has a maximum annual capacity of up to 19.8 million tons of LNG. Moreover, India is interested in becoming a shareholder in the Rosneft-managed Taimyr LNG mega-project (between 35 million and 50 million cubic meters). As noted by Russian energy experts, by strengthening ties with Rosneft in the realm of LNG, New Delhi could kill two birds with one stone: in addition to securing its gas interests, it could also guarantee imports of “some quantities of oil” (EADaily, September 6). This was implicitly stated in March by Tarun Kapoor, the secretary to the government of India in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, who took part in inaugurating the Indian Energy Center in Moscow (TASS, March 2).

Bumpy Road Ahead for Talibanomics: DRI Experts

Experts consulted for the latest DRI report on the political drivers, Taliban strategies, domestic implications of the Taliban’s return to Kabul mid-August this year pointed out that there are essentially three distinct pathways through which the Taliban would seek to run the Afghan economy: foreign aid and investment; illicit and traditional means; and through internal resource reallocation. They point out that each of these pathways present their own challenges, and in the end, the Taliban may adopt an approach that mixes all three. Given that the shadow of the 1996-2001 period looms large over the Afghan population, creating fear, economic management may indeed be one of the key priorities in front of the Taliban. But some experts point out that the Taliban “itself is asking the question right now” about the economic choices it has to make in the near future.

Foreign Aid and Restrictions

One expert bluntly noted that the Taliban’s first preference would be to run the Afghan economy the way it has been for the past two decades. “They would depend entirely on what the other governments provide them, and on donations,” the expert said, adding that it is not clear how the Taliban would be able to regularize informal donation channels into a formal financial stream – or who would continue to donate to the Taliban (including jihadist groups). The expert also added that while international aid, including that from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank which remains paused for the moment, eventually it would resume, given Afghanistan’s endemic poverty – and end up in the Taliban’s coffers.

The Taliban Will Have Trouble Reining in Afghanistan’s Opium Economy

Robert Looney

In the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, a great deal of attention has been given to the causes and consequences of the failed intra-Afghan peace process, the factors leading to the collapse of the Afghan military and the role played by pervasive corruption at the highest levels of the country’s internationally backed government. Far less discussion has focused on the ways that economic factors, especially the illicit opium economy, strengthened the Taliban in their years as an insurgency, and how they will limit the Taliban’s options now that they are in power.

Shortly after the fall of Kabul, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid stated that Afghanistan under Taliban rule would not become a narco-state, announcing the group’s intention to curtail the production of opium. Nevertheless, the Taliban have historically taken an opportunistic approach toward opiates and heroin, forbidding their consumption, but not the cultivation of the poppies they are derived from or their processing and sale. During the last several years before the fall of Kabul, most opium production in Afghanistan occurred in areas already under Taliban control or influence. Rough estimates suggest the Taliban may have generated around 60 percent of their income, or up to $400 million each year, from the drug trade.

Duterte’s Dalliance With China Is Over

Derek Grossman

When Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, he pledged to shift his country’s foreign policy away from the United States—a long-standing treaty ally—in favor of China and Russia. On his first trip to Beijing that year, Duterte tried to butter up his hosts by proclaiming that it was “time to say goodbye to Washington.” Other actions and outbursts intended to curry favor with China and loosen ties to the United States followed. But consistency and principle were never Duterte’s strong suits. Now, just as easily as he flipped one way, he’s flopping the other: His China-friendly policy is effectively over, and he’s doing his best to align the Philippines with the United States again.

In recent months, Manila has moved to fully reinstate security ties and rebuild trust with Washington in a vigorous attempt to deter Beijing. Steps include a series of high-level visits; the restoration of wide-ranging defense agreements; Manila’s full endorsement of the AUKUS security pact joining Australia, Britain, and the United States; the reestablishment of the Philippines-United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue; and expanded joint military exercises next year.

How China Avoided Soviet-Style Collapse


For three days in the middle of May 1989, the Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev visited Beijing. It was the first visit by a Soviet leader to China since the Sino-Soviet split. It would be the last.

After Gorbachev went home, the two countries’ paths divided. Over the next two and a half years, the Soviet Union and its alliance system were dismembered. A world power was relegated to the status of a Eurasian spoiler with an outsized nuclear arsenal. As the apparatus of Soviet command was dismantled, the economies of the former Union and its allies imploded. People suffered a disastrous collapse in their standard of living. The life expectancy of Russian working-class men plunged.

China, by contrast, was on the path to Communist Party-led rocket-ship growth. National economic heft, a rising standard of living and political legitimacy all compounded each other to launch what Xi Jinping’s propagandists would dub the “China dream.”

Why China’s Property Bubble Is A Big Deal

Daniel Lacalle

No economy has been able to ignore a property bubble and even less so offset it and continue to grow, replacing the bust of the real estate sector with other parts of the economy. Heavily regulated economies from Iceland to Spain have failed to contain the negative impact of a real estate sector collapse. It will not be different in China.

China’s real estate problems are three: the massive size of the sector, its excessive leverage, and the amount of developer debt in the hands of average households and retail investors.

According to The Guardian, “China’s real estate market has been called the most important sector in the world economy. Valued at about $55 trillion, it is now twice the size of its US equivalent, and four times larger than China’s GDP.”

Considering construction and other real estate services, the sector accounts for more than 25 percent of China’s GDP. Just to consider other previous examples of property bubbles, the average size of the sector is somewhere between 15 to 20 percent of a country’s GDP. And none of those economies have managed the excess of the property sector.

Don’t Trust China In The South China Sea

James Holmes

Do tell.

At this month’s (online) 24th China-ASEAN summit, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) premier Li Keqiang observed that next year marks the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, a statement of principles meant to govern interactions among Southeast Asian seafaring states and China in the interest of regional harmony. The parties to the Declaration of Conduct reaffirmed their commitment to legal instruments such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and pledged to “resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force . . . in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

In 2002, in other words, the parties promised to comply with a treaty with which they had already agreed to comply. There is already a code of conduct for the South China Sea. It’s called the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Nevertheless, this statement of mutual goodwill seemed to augur well for peace and plenty in the region. Yet Li should have thought twice before calling attention to what has transpired during the almost twenty years since the Declaration of Conduct. Events give the lie to fraternal words issuing forth from Beijing. Let’s review some actions China has taken since it vowed to be a good neighbor at sea:

The U.S. Is Competing With the Wrong China

Howard W. French

A graphic illustration of China’s prowess in building its national high-speed passenger rail network caused a minor sensation as it made the rounds on Twitter last week.

Like a colorful time-lapse photograph, only employing bar graphs instead of, say, plant life, it showed a lively dance of nations contending for leadership in the rollout of high-speed rail, beginning in 1976. In the early years, Japan and France jousted for the crown, looking almost unassailable, only to be matched and then passed by Germany and Spain. Only well into the display, starting in 2003, did a new contender appear and then, in a blink, not just take over the lead, but completely dominate the field.

As most everyone who saw this graphic had to know, China, which has been building infrastructure at a world historic pace since late in the last century, was destined to come out as the leader in the end. That, in fact, is part of what made this display so powerful. How long could the predestined champion wait before beginning its efforts, only to crush the competition?

China-Russia Cooperation

China and Russia are perceived as major, long-term competitors with the United States. Since 2014, China and Russia have strengthened their relationship, increasing political, military, and economic cooperation. In this report, the authors seek to understand the history of cooperation between Beijing and Moscow, the drivers of and constraints on the relationship, the potential future of cooperation between China and Russia, the impact of the Chinese-Russian relationship on the United States, and implications for future U.S. policy.

The authors find that the main motivations for closer 21st century cooperation between China and Russia are the declining relative power of the United States and the persistent perceived threat from the United States to both China and Russia. If current trends continue, the authors expect the collaborative relationship between China and Russia to be sustained.

Absent major (and likely undesirable) changes in U.S. policy, there is little the U.S. government or Army can do to influence the trajectory of the China-Russia relationship. The U.S. military can prepare for the results of greater Sino-Russian cooperation, including by expecting further diffusion of Chinese and Russian military equipment, additional joint planning and exercises, potential joint basing, and eventually the possibility of joint military operations.

PDF file 1.8 MB

China’s Supply Chain Bottlenecks: Winners and Losers

Sara Hsu

China’s supply chains have taken hits from COVID-19, power outages, a shortage of shipping containers, and a sudden surge in consumer demand. Even though U.S. demand has rebounded after COVID-19 vaccines became available, supply and logistics have taken time to catch up. Order fulfillment delays have become pervasive and will continue at least through Christmas. The bottlenecks have produced stark winners and losers.

China’s factories made a comeback in 2020 after the country was shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but manufacturing activity has since declined throughout 2021. Yantian port in China remained semi-closed for a month-and-a-half in May and June 2021, while Ningbo was briefly closed in August due to COVID-19 concerns. Factory activity receded in September due to power outages resulting from curbs on electricity use.

At the same time, ports in the United States are overwhelmed with containers that will continue to result in a container shortage in China in the coming weeks. In the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, numerous cargo ships have been unable to go ashore, and the waiting period for unloading can be up to 12 days. The unloading event can take around 24 hours, and there is no place to store containers after they are unloaded. There is also a shortage of drivers to haul away empty containers, so there is a massive buildup of empty containers.

Yahoo Pulls out of China, Citing ‘Challenging’ Environment

Zen Soo

Yahoo Inc. said Tuesday it has pulled out of China, citing an increasingly challenging operating environment.

The withdrawal was largely symbolic, as many of the company’s services were already blocked by China’s digital censorship. But recent government moves to expand its control over tech companies generally, including its domestic giants, may have tipped the scales for Yahoo.

“In recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China, Yahoo’s suite of services will no longer be accessible from mainland China as of November 1,” the company said in a statement. It said it “remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet.”

The company’s move comes as the American and Chinese governments feud over technology and trade. The United States has put restrictions on telecom giant Huawei and other Chinese tech companies, alleging that they have ties with China’s government, military or both. China says the U.S. is unfairly suppressing competition and trying to block China’s technological rise.

Iraqi Voters Want Weaker Militias and a Stronger State

Shelly Kittleson

Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) were once heroes to some of the country’s Shiites. That was in 2017, when the PMF—with Iranian backing—helped end the Islamic State’s reign of terror through large parts of the country. Those victories on the battlefield, however, didn’t translate into success at the ballot box this month. The initial results of Iraq’s fifth parliamentary election since 2003 show Iran-backed groups, loosely represented by the Fatah Alliance, losing 28 of the 48 seats they previously held.

A political party backed by a designated terrorist organization in the northern Kurdish region of Iraq also fared poorly. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) had the firm support of the mainly Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the United States, the European Union, and Turkey have designated a terrorist group. The PUK’s rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), emerged the clear victor in the voting: It won 32 seats, twice the PUK’s 16 seats. In the 2018 elections, the KDP won 25 seats and the PUK won 18 seats.

Somewhat predictably, the election’s losing parties have alleged voter fraud. “We do not accept these fabricated results, whatever the cost,” said a statement released by the office of Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Fatah Alliance. “And we will defend the votes of our candidates and voters with full force.” Sometimes, such allegations were coupled with more specific threats of violence, such as one muqawama (“resistance”) linked commentator remarking during a televised interview that he had “accurate information” that “drones, precision missiles, and ballistic missiles will be launched from the Iraqi soil” at the United Arab Emirates. (Allegations have been made against the UAE for allegedly being part of a conspiracy against Iran-linked groups.)

Welcome to the American Century


On February 17, 1941, less than 10 months before the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor and the U.S. found itself in a global war, Henry Luce, in an editorial in Life magazine (which he founded along with Time and Fortune), declared the years to come “the American Century.” He then urged this country’s leaders to “exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit.”

And he wasn’t wrong, was he? Eight decades later, who would deny that we’ve lived through something like an American century? After all, in 1945, the U.S. emerged triumphant from World War II, a rare nation remarkably unravaged by that war (despite the 400,000 casualties it had suffered). With Great Britain heading for the imperial sub-basement, Washington found itself instantly the military and economic powerhouse on the planet.

As it turned out, however, to “exert upon the world the full impact of our influence,” one other thing was necessary and, fortunately, at hand: an enemy. From then on, America’s global stature and power would, in fact, be eternally based on facing down enemies. Fortunately, in 1945, there was that other potential, if war-ravaged, powerhouse, the Soviet Union. That future “superpower” had been an ally in World War II, but no longer. It would thereafter be the necessary enemy in a “cold war” that sometimes threatened to turn all too hot. And it would, of course, ensure that what later came to be known as the military-industrial complex (and a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying many planets like this one) would be funded in a way once historically inconceivable in what might still have passed for peacetime.

American Democracy and Soft Power


CAMBRIDGE – At a recent meeting of trans-Atlantic foreign policy experts, a European friend told the group that he used to worry about a decline in American hard power, but felt reassured. On the other hand, he now worried more about what was happening internally and how that would affect the soft power that underlies American foreign policy. Are his fears justified?

Smart political leaders have long understood that values can create power. If I can attract you and persuade you to want what I want, then I do not have to force you or pay you to do what I want. If the United States (or any country) represents values that others find attractive, it can economize on sticks and carrots. US soft power rests partly on American culture and foreign policies when they are attractive to others; but it also rests on our values and how we practice democracy at home.

How War With China Begins


President Xi Jinping declared in July that those who get in the way of China’s ascent will have their “heads bashed bloody against a Great Wall of steel.” The People’s Liberation Army Navy is churning out ships at a rate not seen since World War II, as Beijing issues threats against Taiwan and other neighbors. Top Pentagon officials have warned that China could start a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait or other geopolitical hot spots sometime this decade.

Analysts and officials in Washington are fretting over worsening tensions between the United States and China and the risks to the world of two superpowers once again clashing rather than cooperating. President Joe Biden has said that America “is not seeking a new cold war.” But that is the wrong way to look at U.S.-China relations. A cold war with Beijing is already under way. The right question, instead, is whether America can deter China from initiating a hot one.

Beijing is a remarkably ambitious revanchist power, one determined to make China whole again by “reuniting” Taiwan with the mainland, turning the East and South China Seas into Chinese lakes, and grabbing regional primacy as a stepping-stone to global power. It is also increasingly encircled, and faces growing resistance on many fronts—just the sort of scenario that has led it to lash out in the past.

Is Russia Using Energy as a Weapon Again?

Stephen Sestanovich

What’s happening?

Europe is experiencing energy turmoil, with spot prices for natural gas surging in the past month to levels five times those of a year ago. Some analysts see Russia as the villain in this new crisis, but the tight market has several other explanations: declining gas production in Europe itself, strong growth in Asia’s energy demand, depletion of gas reserves during the winter of 2020–21, and lower output from renewable sources such as wind and hydropower.

In recent years, European importers have expected to alleviate such shortages by boosting purchases of liquefied natural gas (LNG). However, cuts by many non-European LNG producers, including in the United States, have put that option at least temporarily out of reach.

Is Russia stoking the crisis?

Yes and no. Because so many global, regional, and local factors are contributing to tight markets, Moscow alone can hardly be blamed for high prices and shortages. Many experts point out that Russia itself has struggled to increase output (and sustain its own storage levels). President Vladimir Putin has called claims that his country is weaponizing energy “politically motivated blather.”

CSTO ‘Combat Brotherhood 2021’ Exercises Send Strong Message to Afghanistan

John C. K. Daly

On October 18–23, the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes Afghanistan as an observer, held its Combat Brotherhood 2021 strategic military exercises, with three drills codenamed Echelon-2021, Search-2021 and Interaction-2021, in southern Tajikistan’s Momirak and Harb Maydon military ranges. The scale was substantial, involving more than 4,000 military personnel and more than 500 pieces of equipment, including L-39, Su-25, Su-24MR and Il-76TD aircraft, as well as Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters (Avesta, October 25). The scope and scale of the operation by the CSTO’s Collective Rapid Reaction Forces, 12 miles from Tajikistan’s 843-mile-long border with Afghanistan, highlighted growing concerns among the former Soviet Central Asian “Stans” regarding the security situation to their south.

Despite bland Taliban security assurances, the United Nations has identified 20 terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan. And in particular, Islamic State jihadists have increased their attacks not only against the Taliban but also against the country’s Shiite minority (Un.org, August 6). The Taliban’s unwillingness or inability to clamp down on such behavior is unsettling the global community and neighboring Central Asia in particular.

Bulls, Bears, and Trolls: Social Media Influence Operations and Financial Market Risk

David Day

As the global economy continues to become more interconnected, communication networks and financial marketplaces present compelling battlefields for competition between states. State-driven financial market manipulation is not a new concept or practice in terms of pure economic interest as well as in terms of national security. China has long been accused of manipulating the value of its Yuan currency, much to the detriment of its trading partners.[1] China artificially decreased the value of its currency through “persistent one-sided intervention in the foreign exchange market,” essentially weakening the relative purchasing power of the Yuan by using it to buy and hold foreign currency reserves.[2] Although it manipulated its own currency, China’s actions have incentivized the amount of relatively cheap Chinese goods that its trading partners import. In turn, it also weakened the demand for the relatively more expensive goods produced by the competing domestic industries within those importing countries. In response, the United States Treasury has gone as far as formally labelling China as a Currency Manipulator and pursued remedies and relief through the International Monetary Fund.[3]


Commercial Radar Satellites Reveal Russian Stealth Fighters

H I Sutton

Back in 1955, the Soviet Union flew its bombers in a loop over an air show to give the illusion of having more aircraft than were actually in its arsenal, a move that caused alarm in the West. The resulting ‘bomber gap’ was finally disproven when U2 aircraft were able to systematically photograph Russian airbases. This allowed them to literally count the aircraft. Doing this took incredible resources and several years.

Now commercial satellites allow anyone with internet access to obtain the same information. More users can monitor Russian bombers in near real-time with improvements in high-frequency coverage, quality of imagery, and diversity of providers.

The monitoring of air bases to assess a potential adversary’s strength and readiness remains an important task for navies and other armed forces. Natural targets include long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, bombers and strike aircraft. A major way this can be done is by using space-based sensors, which can monitor airfields over time. Many strategically relevant airbases are likely under frequent observation by the myriad of passing satellites.

Would Russia or China Help Us if We Were Invaded by Space Aliens?

Thomas L. Friedman

In a recent essay on great-power competition and climate change, Rob Litwak, an arms control expert at the Wilson Center, recalled a question that President Ronald Reagan posed to Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, after they took a walk during their 1985 Lake Geneva summit.

As Gorbachev put it later: “President Reagan suddenly said to me, ‘What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?’”

“I said, ‘No doubt about it.’”

“He said, ‘We too.’”

“So that’s interesting,” Gorbachev concluded.

Cars Are Going Electric. What Happens to the Used Batteries?

THIS SUMMER, DIRK Spiers, a tall, rumpled Dutchman-turned-Oklahoman, got a heads-up from General Motors about more problems with the Chevrolet Bolt. Over the previous year, the car model that had once been celebrated as GM’s grand victory over Tesla—the United States’ first truly mass-market electric vehicle—had begun to look more like a slow-motion disaster. Bolts were being recalled because of a series of rare but destructive fires sparked when drivers left their cars charging overnight. GM had traced the problem to flaws in the lithium-ion battery cells manufactured by South Korea’s LG Chem.

Now the automaker was expanding the recall to all 141,000 Bolts sold worldwide since 2017. Fixing them would be a massive operation. Unlike the toaster-oven-sized lead-acid batteries inside most gas-powered vehicles, the lithium-ion battery pack inside the Bolt runs the full wheelbase of the car and weighs 960 pounds. It contains hundreds of battery cells that are delicate and finicky. When taken apart for repairs, they can be dangerous, and incorrect handling can lead to noxious fumes and fires.

Mission Hydrogen: Accelerating the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy

Executive Summary

To accelerate the global transition to a low-carbon economy, all energy systems must be actively decarbonized. While hydrogen has been a staple in the energy and chemical industries for decades, clean hydrogen – defined as hydrogen produced from water electrolysis with zero-carbon electricity – has captured increasing political and business momentum as a versatile and sustainable energy carrier in the future carbon-free energy puzzle. But taking full advantage of this potential will require a coordinated effort between the public and private sectors focused on scaling technologies, reducing costs, deploying enabling infrastructure, and defining appropriate policies and market structures. Only in this way can we avoid replicating the system-wide inefficiencies of the past that have characterized regional approaches to deploying new energy infrastructure.

Terrorism Monitor

Hijrah to Arakan? The Stunted Start of Rohingya Jihadism in Myanmar

Pakistan’s Peace Talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan: Ten Times a Failure?

Norway and England Bow-and-Arrow and Political Assassination Attacks Reveal Lone Actor Jihadist Terrorism Trend in Europe

Net Zero Is Not Zero


RIO DE JANEIRO/BERLIN – It may seem as if the world is finally taking the climate crisis seriously, judging by the number of pledges to reach “net-zero emissions.” Among the major emitters, both the United States and the European Union have promised to achieve this goal by 2050, while China intends to become carbon-neutral before 2060. Even oil giants Shell and BP plan to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.

Large tech corporations appear more ambitious still. Amazon has committed to reaching net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2040. Microsoft has pledged to be “carbon negative” by 2030, and by 2050 it aims to have removed from the air all the CO2 the firm has emitted since it was founded in 1975. Google claims to have been carbon neutral since 2007, and aims to be “carbon free” by 2030. In fact, net-zero pledges have come from all parts of the economy, including the meat and dairy industry, aviation, mining, finance, and retail.

But these seemingly ambitious goals in fact amount to yet another round of greenwashing and dangerous distractions that will delay and prevent the adoption of real climate solutions. That is because net zero is not really zero.

The big choices for oil and gas in navigating the energy transition

The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a material near-term drop in global energy demand, at one point leading to a 30 percent reduction. Yet this is not the biggest threat the oil and gas industry faces.

The recent crisis has proved just how vulnerable the global economy remains to systemic risks, one of the most important of which is climate change. Long before COVID-19, pressure was building to shift the energy system away from one dominated by hydrocarbons toward one in which low-carbon sources play the lead role. The events of the past year, as a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency shows, have “sharpened investors’ interest in sustainable and resilient assets, including renewables.”1 Investors are increasingly seeking out positions that reduce their exposure to climate change as well as the risk of stranded assets. According to analyses conducted by the Wall Street Journal, in the first three quarters of 2020 alone, oil and gas companies in North America and Europe wrote down asset values of $145 billion, roughly equivalent to 10 percent of their market value.2 Climate Action 100+, an investors initiative that aims to ensure major companies take necessary actions on climate issues, has more than 500 signatories which, combined, account for more than $50 trillion in assets under management.3 Likewise, many governments are making sustainable investments a keystone of their economic stimulus strategies. And in an unprecedented global decision, Denmark has cancelled all upcoming North Sea licensing rounds in anticipation of ending oil and gas production in the North Sea by 2050.4 Given these dynamics, this is a moment for oil and gas companies to make thoughtful choices: both to improve their economic and reputational resilience, and to consider whether and how to reposition themselves to take advantage of the accelerating low-carbon winds of change.

Article (11 pages)

Battle Networks and the Future Force

Todd Harrison

Battle Network Competition

Battle networks, and more specifically DoD’s vision for JADC2, should ultimately be about enabling better options for commanders, speeding the tempo of decisionmaking, and optimizing effects in the battlespace. Connecting platforms and units across domains and with allies and partners by seamlessly passing surveillance, targeting, damage assessment, and other information from one platform to another improves the accuracy, range, persistence, and speed of effects. These improvements increase in a nonlinear manner as more platforms, sensors, communication paths, and other nodes are added to a battle network, transforming what was traditionally thought of as a force multiplier effect into a force exponent effect. The ultimate objective is to see farther with greater clarity and to act faster with more precision than one’s adversary.

The hypothetical scenarios below help demonstrate how a battle network can use each of the functional elements discussed in the first brief in this series to close the sensor-to-shooter kill chain—or more appropriately, the sensor-to-shooter kill web. The first scenario illustrates the warfighting advantages integrated battle networks can provide. The second scenario shows the other side of the battle network competition—how an adversary can attempt to disrupt and degrade one’s battle network. While an adversary may not have (or be successful in using) all the capabilities described to attack a battle network, these attacks can have significant effects even if they are only partially successful. Importantly, many of the steps in the process for both closing and breaking the sensor-to-shooter kill web may occur in parallel as operations unfold, and some processes may take longer and only yield valuable intelligence for future operations.

A Concept for Stand-In Forces

General David H. Berger

Today in the western Pacific, China links sophisticated sensors with precision weapons to extend its strike regime over the territories of its neighbors. Under the perceived protection of this threatening umbrella, it uses a variety of coercive approaches to intimidate and bully U.S. allies and partners. Beijing’s investments in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and its precision-strike complex also target the United States. For at least the past three decades, China has studied U.S. concepts for joint force power projection and developed strategies and capabilities to counter them, aiming to keep the joint force at “arm’s length,” disrupt U.S. planning, and complicate U.S. decision-making. The hope is to discredit the United States in the eyes of its allies, partners, and neutral parties, who, it is believed, may come to doubt the extent of U.S. capabilities and commitment in the face of such challenges. By holding the joint force at arm’s length, China thinks it can apply the full weight of its coercive tools without interference.1

The Operational Environment (2021-2030): Great Power Competition, Crisis, and Conflict

The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) has approved and published The Operational Environment (2021-2030): Great Power Competition, Crisis, and Conflict. This document is intended to complement previously published Operational Environment (OE) documents, expanding and adding to our understanding of the OE in light of recent events — think of it as an addendum. The document explores the impact of COVID-19 on the OE and presents four potential post-pandemic alternative futures to consider in terms of Competition, Crisis, and Conflict. It addresses China as our designated Pacing Threat and Russia as a near-peer threat; and describes their respective efforts to modernize and challenge the Army’s dominance in the land power domain as they endeavor to prevail in Competition, Crisis, and Conflict against the United States. This document also explores the impact of Climate Change on the OE and the associated challenges and opportunities facing the Army. Additionally, it is aligned with, and informed by, the Joint Operating Environment 2040, the Interim National Security Strategy, and Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) Papers.