12 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.

The PLA’s Developing Cyber Warfare Capabilities and India's Options

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)


Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it clear that his objective for China is to emerge as a ‘cyber superpower’. China wants to be the world’s largest nation in cyberspace and also one of the most powerful. The information technology revolution has produced both momentous opportunities and likely vulnerabilities for china. China is home of largest number of ‘netizens’ in the world. It also hosts some of the world’s most vibrant and successful technology companies. It also remains a major victim of cyber crime.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) believes that with the rise of the Information Age future wars will be contests in the ability to exploit information. Wars will be decided by the side who is more capable to generate, gather, transmit, analyse and exploit information.

The steadily increasing risk of war between China and India

Brahma Chellaney

LEH, India -- China and India are engaged in an infrastructure war along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh where a brutal hand-to-hand clash in the Galwan Valley in June last year left 20 Indians dead while China refused to disclose its casualties.

In the area of Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, China is thought to have built at least 10 new air bases.

India has responded by constructing 73 "operationally significant" pieces of infrastructure -- roads, bridges and tunnels -- along its tense border with China. New Delhi's expected budget to increase connectivity in the region is 1.4 trillion Indian rupees ($18.8 billion).

A strategic, all-weather road has been built to facilitate Indian troop and artillery deployment. Along its route is the 14.5 km Zoji La that cost 46 billion rupees and was built by Megha Engineering and Infrastructure.


Peter Mills

Key Takeaway:

Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-KP) is expanding its support zones and attack zones across Afghanistan as part of a campaign to undermine and replace the Taliban government. Most IS-KP attacks target Taliban fighters and officials in Nangarhar and Kunar Provinces. The presence of IS-KP propaganda materials indicates that IS-KP is expanding in northern and southern Afghanistan. Bombings at major Shi’a mosques in Kunduz on October 8 and Kandahar on October 15 indicate that IS-KP is attempting to incite sectarian conflict in Afghanistan.[1] Taliban land expropriations from largely Shi’a communities to Sunni Taliban fighters are also increasing sectarian tensions. The contradictory efforts to protect these communities while redistributing their land will complicate the Taliban’s efforts to pose as a defender of Afghanistan’s Shi’a. If IS-KP continues to expand and strengthen, it could develop havens that enable it to conduct attacks outside Afghanistan.

Islamic State violence dents Taliban claims of safer Afghanistan

James Mackenzie

ISLAMABAD, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Last month, the family of Mawlavi Ezzatullah, a member of Afghanistan's Hizb-e Islami party, received a WhatsApp message from his phone: "We have slaughtered your Mawlavi Ezzat, come and collect his body."

Ezzatullah's killing, in the eastern province of Nangarhar, was one of a steady stream of assassinations and bombings that have undermined Taliban claims that they have brought greater security to Afghanistan after 40 years of war.

Victims have ranged from former security officials from the ousted government to journalists, civil society activists, mullahs, Taliban fighters and apparently random targets like Ezzatullah, whose family said he had no enemies they knew of.

The Taliban have said their victory has brought stability to Afghanistan, where thousands of people were killed in fighting between the group and Western-backed forces between 2001 and 2021 before the hardline Islamists emerged victorious.

Addressing Afghanistan’s Crisis Will Require Dealing With the Taliban

Erica Gaston

After the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan in August, the world watched in horror as Afghans tried to escape the new regime by boarding evacuation flights at the Kabul airport—crossing gunfire, braving suicide bombs and slogging through sewage ditches to do so, and even clinging to airplane landing gear when they failed to board the flights themselves. The horror was compounded by a widely felt sense that international policymakers were unprepared, and that the nightmare scenario unfolding could have been prevented, or at least mitigated.

This winter, however, an even worse catastrophe could unfold: Afghanistan’s economy is in ruins, and millions of Afghans are suffering from a lack of food and other basic needs, even as parts of the country remain wracked by violence. The current distaste in many foreign capitals for granting legitimacy to the Taliban, along with a lack of long-term strategic thinking among outside powers, are poised to make the international community as unprepared as ever.

How Taiwan Underwrites the US Defense Industrial Complex

Eric Lee

Advanced semiconductors play an important role in the defense industry. This is increasingly so as the U.S. military posture relies on relatively few high-quality systems that are underwritten by advanced microelectronics. While supply chain visibility is low, especially in the defense sector, it’s clear that semiconductors increasingly provide significant value to complex weapons systems – and that Taiwan provides the steel in the spine for the U.S. defense industrial complex.

Semiconductors for commercial and military applications are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Electronic components in sophisticated military systems use many of the same logic and memory chips that appear in consumer electronics. For example, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are frequently used in military systems due to their low-cost and high modularity. However, there are military-specific requirements that call for semiconductors with certain features. While commercial chip production is heavily driven by cost and timely, large-scale production, the defense sector’s demand for chips emphasizes performance. Namely, military-specific chips must be more durable and reliable, have a higher heat tolerance, and in some cases, be radiation tolerant.

For China, Private Military Companies are the Future

Emil Avdaliani

On August 11, nine Chinese workers were killed in a blast in Pakistan, the latest in the string of attacks targeting Chinese citizens. The incident highlighted the vulnerability of Chinese nationals and assets abroad and the need to improve protection and security for workers in foreign countries. As a solution, China has come to see private military companies (PMC) as an eminently necessary tool.

PMCs and Chin

Though first emerging in the 1990s, the need for Chinese PMCs became clearer from the 2000s onward. This is because threats to China’s international ambitions grew in tandem with the country’s economic impact and clout abroad.

These risks were particularly pronounced as China and its business community expanded their interests into unstable areas of the globe. For example, inroads to Afghanistan led to the killing of eleven Chinese nationals in the country in 2004. These types of threats were only amplified with the launch and spread of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013 as hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals were employed on projects overseas. A series of unfortunate incidents involving Chinese workers across a number of African countries, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, East Timor, and, most recently, in Pakistan followed. Overall, these events seemed to loudly signal the need for more effective protection of Chinese assets and nationals.

China ‘Clearly’ Developing Aviation and Maritime Capabilities to Counter U.S. in Indo-Pacific, Says Pentagon

Mallory Shelbourne

China continues to pursue both aviation and maritime capabilities to counter the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

Asked about China’s range targets that are shaped like U.S. warships, Defense Department spokesman John Kirby pointed to the Pentagon’s recent assessment of China’s military power.

“They can speak to their exercises and what they’re training against. It’s been pretty fairly obvious and we just released the China military report a week ago that I think makes it very clear what our understanding of their intentions are and their capabilities are and how they’re developing those capabilities and to what ends,” Kirby told reporters today.
“And clearly they have invested a lot in particularly air and maritime capabilities that are designed largely to try to prevent the United States from having access to certain areas in the Indo-Pacific. What we’re focused on is that pacing challenge and making sure that we maintain the right capabilities and the right operational concepts to meet our security commitments in that part of the world.”

China is rising as a nuclear power. Its ambitions warrant global attention.

The Pentagon’s latest report to Congress on China’s military strength carries a significant and worrisome conclusion. Last year, it estimated China’s nuclear warhead stockpile was in the “low-200s” — where it had been for years — and might double by the end of the decade. The new report asserts China may possess up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027 and “likely intends” to have at least 1,000 by 2030. What is going on?

After many years of relatively modest ambitions, China apparently intends to join the United States and Russia as a strategic nuclear power. It is building new intercontinental ballistic missile silo fields and missiles, has a nascent land-sea-air triad of nuclear forces, is investing in hypersonic glide vehicles and is pushing toward higher alert status. Tangible evidence of the expansion is the three missile silo fields that have come to light in recent months. If China eventually deploys missiles in all 300 new silos, plus a force of 100 road-mobile missiles, it would potentially be in the same ballpark as the United States (400 land-based missiles) and Russia (about 320), although the U.S. and Russian warhead stockpiles are larger. As in the past, it is important to watch closely China’s actual performance in strategic weapons; estimates can be wrong, and plans change.

FAST THINKING: China’s stunning military buildup


The arms race is on. The US Defense Department’s annual report on the Chinese military, released Wednesday, revealed a chilling reality: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could field one thousand nuclear warheads by 2030—and has the ability to deliver them. So what should the United States do to prepare for this fresh challenge from its chief geopolitical rival? Our experts weigh in.

Growing fast

According to Matt, the report suggests that China is quickly moving to match US nuclear capabilities: “China will quintuple its nuclear arsenal at a faster pace than the Defense Department had estimated in last year’s China report—or even in statements earlier this year.”
And it’s not just about nuclear arms. The report states the Pentagon’s concerns about China’s “dual-use” research, which could violate international bans on biological and chemical weapons, and its swift gains in military space capabilities.

5 key updates in the Pentagon’s 2021 China Military Power Report

Last week, the Pentagon released its 2021 China Military Power Report, an annual review of military and security developments in China. The report includes a number of updates on last year’s version — here are five top items to take note of:

1. Nuclear advancements: Whereas the 2020 report surprised many by estimating that China’s stockpile of nuclear warheads was in the low 200s, the 2021 version states: “The accelerating pace of the PRC’s nuclear expansion may enable the PRC to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027. The PRC likely intends to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030.” In addition, China “is implementing a launch-on warning posture, called ‘early warning counterstrike.’” The report notes that “China has commenced building three solid-fueled ICBM silo fields, which will cumulatively contain hundreds of new ICBM silos.” These developments place China “on the cusp of a large silo-based ICBM force expansion comparable to those undertaken by other major powers.” Furthermore, “The PRC is also supporting this expansion by increasing its capacity to produce and separate plutonium by constructing fast breeder reactors and reprocessing facilities.” In sum, these changes suggest that Beijing is reshaping its nuclear posture, with significant implications for both nuclear and conventional escalation dynamics.

Canada, Mexico and America’s Reality

George Friedman

The United States lives in a fundamentally unique geopolitical reality. It’s the only major power that doesn’t face the risk of a land war, so it doesn’t need a massive force to defend the homeland. Instead, it can concentrate on maintaining control of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. If it retains control of the seas, the only threat to the United States would be air and missile attacks. These are not trivial threats, but they are far more manageable without having to worry about an invasion by land or sea. The United States itself has offensive options it can indulge in – even if it doesn’t always use them prudently, and even if it leads to defeat elsewhere. The U.S. has not faced a foreign presence on its soil since the 19th century. Even nuclear weapons are countered by mutual assured destruction, which has protected the U.S. homeland for over half a century.

This happy condition is the foundation of American power. During the harshest of wars, World War II, where much of Europe and Asia was torn asunder, the American homeland remained untouched. This is such an obvious fact that it tends to be neglected.

Pentagon scaremongering in bid to justify US' aggressive nuclear policy: China Daily editorial

A report released last week by the US Department of Defense on China's military development, which alleges that China is increasing its nuclear weapons arsenal much more quickly than anticipated, narrowing the gap with the United States, is simply wild and biased speculation.

The claims have been denounced by China, as they are not based on facts and are aimed at misleading the international community and diverting attention from the US building up its nuclear strike capabilities. It is known to all that the US already boasts the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world, making it the biggest nuclear threat. Statistics from international think tanks indicate, as of early 2021, the US had 5,550 nuclear warheads.

But even that formidably destructive arsenal is not enough. With the world's sole superpower adopting an increasingly aggressive global strategy, it is investing trillions of dollars to upgrade its "nuclear triad" — its nuclear forces on land, in the sea and in the skies. It has not only developed low-yield nuclear weapons but also resumed research and development of land-based medium-range ballistic missiles and sought to deploy them in Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

Ten trends to watch in the coming year


If 2021 was the year the world turned the tide against the pandemic, 2022 will be dominated by the need to adjust to new realities, both in areas reshaped by the crisis (the new world of work, the future of travel) and as deeper trends reassert themselves (the rise of China, accelerating climate change). Here are ten themes and trends to watch in the year ahead.

1 Democracy v autocracy. America’s mid-term elections and China’s Communist Party congress will vividly contrast their rival political systems. Which is better at delivering stability, growth and innovation? This rivalry will play out in everything from trade to tech regulation, vaccinations to space stations. As President Joe Biden tries to rally the free world under the flag of democracy, his dysfunctional, divided country is a poor advertisement for its merits.

2 Pandemic to endemic. New antiviral pills, improved antibody treatments and more vaccines are coming. For vaccinated folks in the developed world, the virus will no longer be life-threatening. But it will still pose a deadly danger in the developing world. Unless vaccinations can be stepped up, covid-19 will have become just another of the many endemic diseases that afflict the poor but not the rich.

Economic Interests At Core Of Uzbekistan’s Pragmatic Approach Toward Taliban

Fozil Mashrab

Since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in mid-August, it has struggled to win friends. Achieving international recognition and acceptance still remains an uphill challenge, subject to its ability and, perhaps, willingness to meet the international community’s expectations. The ultra-conservative Islam the Taliban preaches and wants to reinstall in Afghanistan could possibly find acceptance among some Middle Eastern monarchies or even (on some level) by the Shiite theocracy next door, in Iran. However, few would have expected that the strongly secularist government of Uzbekistan, which has been suppressing radical Islamism at home for many years, would emerge as one of the Taliban’s most vocal advocates. Now, Tashkent is calling on Western countries to unfreeze billions of dollars of international aid assigned to the previous government of Afghanistan (Vzglyad, September 17).

Uzbekistani officials argue that isolating the “Taliban 2.0” regime and turning it into another “hermit kingdom” will only lead to negative consequences for both Afghanistan and the international community. They argue that close trans-border engagement and cooperation is essential to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a failed state that violates its people’s rights and a “safe haven” for international terrorists (Gazeta.uz, October 8).

A last security option

Kim Min-seok

In early 2015, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) head entered the defense minister’s office at the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul to brief the minister about an advanced SLBM and submarine being developed by North Korea. A few years later, North Korea identified the SLBM and submarine as the “Bukguksong missile” and the “8.24 Yongung” submarine. North Korea recently said it fired an SLBM capable of carrying nuclear warheads from the submarine. If the announcement is correct, North Korea completed the development of the SLBM and submarine seven years after the move was first detected by South Korea-U.S. intelligence authorities — and about 10 years after North Korea started to develop them.

After the briefing, the defense minister was deeply concerned about the possibility of the missile and submarine. At that time, one of the attendees at the briefing gallantly proposed to just “sink them into the deep East Sea by sending our subs before their deployment for a real battle.” The attendee went on to say, “If you were the defense minister of Israel, you would have done that just as the Israeli Air Force raided the Osirak nuclear reactor being built by Iraq to develop nuclear weapons.” As the minister mulled for a second, the official added, “North Korea does not have the ability to find out the reason for the sinking of the sub or salvage it from the deep sea bed.”

The Russian Military Buildup Around Ukraine: Routine, Seasonal Maneuvers

Volodymyr Havrylov

Recent publications in the Western media about the Russian military buildup along the border with Ukraine (Kyiv Post, October 31) provoked a new round of discussions about whether Moscow intends to resolve the Ukrainian issue by force. This worry was based on satellite images of massed armored units and support equipment at Yelnya, in the Smolensk region of Russia (Kyiv Post, November 2), combined with social media reports of apparent movements of Russian military personnel and materiel in areas close to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian defense ministry tried to calm the situation by declaring that it had not observed any anomalies in the movements of Russian units (Mil.gov.ua, November 2). The chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Serhiy Shaptala, stressed that “there was no increase in [Russian] forces on the state border with Ukraine” (Censor, November 5). Yelnya is less than 80 miles from the eastern border of Belarus, but more than 160 miles from the northern border of Ukraine.

The last significant increase in the grouping of the Russian Armed Forces in the Western and Southern military districts (MD), which border on Ukraine, took place in March–April 2021. That rapid buildup involved the active use of Russian military training grounds near the Ukrainian border and in occupied Crimea. And those activities were accompanied by a constant movement of troops between bases and training grounds (see EDM, April 8, 20, 27, May 3, 12). In contrast, the Ukrainian side does not consider these latest Russian military movements an anomaly.

Germany: The Weak Link In The Transatlantic Community?

Silviu Nate and James Jay Carafano

Germany should be a leader in countering the destabilization efforts of China and Russia. Yet the new German government could end up being the weak link in the transatlantic community. And, unfortunately, President Biden thus far looks more like an enabler for the downfall of dependable German leadership.

The U.S. needs to be more than “back.” Not everything can be resolved in quick trips to Berlin, Paris, and Brussels. Washington must double down on strengthening bilateral relationships across Europe that can preserve a strong Atlantic community.

Paris, as it is wont to do, has lately resumed its push for European “strategic autonomy,” particularly for defense and foreign policy. But outside of Brussels, there is really little appetite for the French vision. What European solidarity truly needs is stronger leadership from Berlin. Yet Germany seems averse to taking strong pro-European stands against the dangers posed by Moscow and Beijing.

Despite Abuses of NSO Spyware, Israel Will Lobby U.S. to Defend It

Ronen Bergman and Patrick Kingsley

JERUSALEM — Hacking software sold by the NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, has been used to spy on journalists, opposition groups and rights activists. There have been so many accusations of abuse that the Biden administration slapped sanctions on the company last week.

But the company’s biggest backer, the government of Israel, considers the software a crucial element of its foreign policy and is lobbying Washington to remove the company from the blacklist, two senior Israeli officials said Monday.

NSO insists that the software — which allows governments to remotely and secretly penetrate a phone, monitor its location and extract it contents — is intended to help countries combat organized crime and terrorism.

But there has been a drumbeat of periodic revelations of abuse, with the company’s Pegasus software used to hack the phones of political opponents in dozens of countries.

Initiative Persistence and the Consequence for Cyber Norms

Michael P. Fischerkeller

In a useful thought experiment considering the implications of other cyber powers adopting the approach of “defend forward” and “persistent engagement,” Herb Lin focuses on the potential impact on cyber norms. He suggests that, to best support the U.S. Department of State effort to establish international cyber norms, U.S. Cyber Command’s (CYBERCOM’s) 2018 Command Vision should be explicit in how it does or, at least, does not violate those norms. This is a curious recommendation that seems to be rooted in a belief that “the USCC Command Vision articulates what the United States believes Cyber Command should be doing in cyberspace”—but that is not the purpose of the vision. Additionally, Lin’s post indirectly raises the far more important matter of the respective roles of the State Department and the U.S. Department of Defense in creating cyber norms of acceptable and unacceptable cyber behavior. Richard Harknett and I have argued elsewhere, and I will revisit and update the argument here, that although the State Department plays an indispensable role, the Department of Defense is far better positioned to play a more comprehensive, sustainable role.

The digital pandemic of ransomware attacks will continue


A digital pandemic swept the world in 2021. Prominent ransomware attacks struck Colonial Pipeline, the operator of the largest fuel pipeline on America’s east coast, as well as the largest meat-processing company in North America and Ireland’s health-care system. Attackers scramble an organisation’s files and demand a payment to unlock them. American firms lost hundreds of millions of dollars to the problem in 2021 according to the Department of Homeland Security. The topic even dominated the first summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in June. In 2022 governments and firms will fight back, but the pandemic will rage on.

Tired of the economic disruption caused by ransomware, governments will strike back. Many countries have developed offensive cyber-forces run by military and intelligence agencies. These have been designed with state adversaries in mind, but they are perfectly capable of being turned on smaller fry.

Former CYBERCOM Leader Urges Collective Defense Against Cyber Threats

Patience Wait,

The former leader of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency shared his vision of a collaborative network of companies sharing cyber threat information in near-real time—a “radar picture,” he termed it—that could be anonymized and shared with the federal agencies tasked with protecting the United States.

“We couldn’t see attacks on the country,” retired four-star general Keith Alexander told a Washington Post Live webcast about his time leading the combatant command. “We weren’t doing defense. We were doing response.”

The government will never have enough workers in cybersecurity, he said, especially since the private sector has its own needs. “We have this huge network, but every company defends its own [part],” Alexander said. “The adversary sees this as a great opportunity, because they know if they can get into one company it gets them” into all the parts of the larger network it connects to.



The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is faced with the challenge of preparing for future warfare during peacetime as a force that lacks contemporary operational experience. Among the methods through which the PLA seeks to enhance its combat readiness are sophisticated wargaming and realistic, force-on-force exercises. Chinese military leaders regard wargaming (bingqi tuiyan, 兵棋推演) as an important technique by which to “learn warfare from the laboratory” for training purposes and to promote insights on the dynamics of future combat. This style of learning is complemented by the PLA’s study of military history and emulation of the experiences and innovations of foreign militaries, including through creating “blue forces” that simulate potential adversaries against which to train. Beyond improving its current capabilities and readiness, the PLA also aspires to achieve an edge in military competition, seeking to “design” the dynamics of and develop capabilities for future warfare.

The Scope for Dialogue with Security Forces in Hybrid Regimes

Andrés García Trujillo, Alejandro Urrutia and Michael Penfold

Hybrid regimes are generally defined as governments that combine democratic and authoritarian traits. They are flexible by definition and design and can quickly transform from what appears to be a democratic phase with competitive elections and some political openness, to a phase that is more politically restrictive and repressive – and then back again.

This IFIT discussion paper – which draws upon in-depth IFIT research, interviews, and convenings with leading experts on the role of security forces in hybrid regimes – offers evidence-informed analysis of 1) the typical sources of resilience of hybrid regimes, 2) the mechanisms used by ruling parties to gain control or secure the loyalty of security forces, and 3) how civic and democratic forces can overcome common dilemmas when attempting to engage and dialogue with security sector actors in such contexts.


Jules Hurst

Fires and protection are ever-competing warfighting functions. In every era of warfare, technology, tactics, and operating concepts set the conditions that determine the balance of power between fires and protection. In the Middle Ages, armored knights dominated the battlefield until tactical improvements in archery eroded their advantage. This trend of fires domination continued nearly unabated until the development of armored personnel carriers, air defense artillery, radar, and tanks during World War II. Today, the maturation and proliferation of long-range surveillance and target acquisition, precision guidance, and missile and drone technologies have expanded the advantage of fires over protection once again. Overhead and over-the-horizon reconnaissance systems paired with precision-guided fires can engage static and moving targets continents away. Even non-kinetic fires benefit from the current paradigm: it is much easier to launch a cyberattack, jam frequencies, or initiate an information operation than defend against these effects.

Military Can’t Find ISIS Safe House That Prompted Kabul Drone Strike

By Eric Schmitt

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has not located a suspected Islamic State safe house in Kabul, Afghanistan, that officials initially said led to an American drone strike on Aug. 29 that mistakenly killed 10 civilians, including seven children, according to two senior military officials.

Two days before the drone strike, military officials said they had determined through electronic intercepts, aerial surveillance and informants that ISIS planners were using a compound about three miles northwest of the Kabul airport to facilitate future attacks involving rockets, suicide explosive vests and car bombs.

But an inquiry into the drone strike by the Air Force’s inspector general, Lt. Gen. Sami D. Said, said that was wrong. “We have not found any particular safe house,” he said in a telephone interview after making his findings public last week.

General Said would not discuss the underlying information that led military analysts to focus on the safe house — and even dispatch six Reaper drones to monitor it — other than to say, “It was not faulty intelligence; it was just not specific.” A second U.S. military official confirmed that the available intelligence on the location was not precise enough.

Salami Tactics: Faits Accomplis and International Expansion in the Shadow of Major War

Richard W. Maass

U.S. relations with both China and Russia have become increasingly antagonistic in recent years, illustrated by competitive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, trade war, election interference, and cyber attacks, as well as provocative maneuvering in the South China Sea, the Arctic, and elsewhere. Yet even as great-power competition has “returned,” clashing interests are far from guaranteed to produce major war.1 Instead, strategists and scholars alike warn of “a new Cold War” plagued by “hybrid warfare” and “gray-zone conflicts.”2 As the U.S.-Chinese relationship takes center stage, some of the most policy-relevant questions in the 21st century concern how states compete in the shadow of major war, rather than through it.

Salami tactics are one such method: using repetitive, limited faits accomplis to expand influence within a local context while avoiding potential escalation. The basic notion — gaining ground slice by slice rather than all at once — has recently manifested in China’s assertions of maritime control in the South China Sea and Russia’s territorial seizures in Georgia and Ukraine,3 as well as in other contexts from Israel’s expanding settlements in the West Bank to India’s and Pakistan’s efforts to alter the status quo in Kashmir.4 Such behavior is particularly challenging for U.S. foreign policy given the inherent fragility of extended deterrence when facing “less-than-existential conflict.”5

The Russian T-90 Tank Got Smashed to Bits in Syria

Sebastien Roblin

Here's What You Need to Remember: Ultimately, the losses in Syria show that any tank—whether T-90, M-1 or Leopard 2—is vulnerable on a battlefield in which long-range ATGMs have proliferated.

The interconnected conflicts raging across the Middle East today have amounted to a dreadful human catastrophe with spiraling global consequence. One of their lesser effects has been to deflate the reputations of Western main battle tanks mistakenly thought to be night-invulnerable in the popular imagination.

Iraqi M1 Abrams tanks not only failed to prevent he capture of Mosul in 2014, but they were captured and turned against their owners. In Yemen, numerous Saudi M1s were knocked out by Houthi rebels. Turkey, which had lost a number of M60 Pattons and upgrade M60T Sabra tanks to Kurdish and ISIS fighters eventually deployed its fearsome German-built Leopard 2A4 tanks. ISIS destroyed eight to ten in a matter of days.

Could U.S. Missiles Defenses Really Kill China's Hypersonic Weapons?

Kris Osborn

Anew Defense Department report on China says the country is developing dual-use hypersonic weapons, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles able to attack as both conventional and nuclear strikes.

Recently, China has successfully tested its Dong Feng-17 (DF-17) hypersonic glide vehicle, according to a Defense Department report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.

“The DF-17 passed several tests successfully and is deployed operationally,” according to the report. “While the DF-17 is primarily a conventional platform, it may be equipped with nuclear warheads.” The report shows that the glide vehicle was built to attack foreign military bases and fleets in the Western Pacific region. This would suggest that it will be primarily used for conventional warfare. Still, a nuclear-armed hypersonic glide vehicle would introduce a new threat for U.S. and allied forces operating in and around the Pacific Ocean. An attack weapon traveling at hypersonic speeds within the Pacific region seems nearly impossible to defend. Commanders within the Pacific region would have little to no time to track an approaching hypersonic attack, intercept it, and launch a counterattack. While the United States does have some Patriot Missiles and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptors, they simply might not be fast enough to stay on track targeting a hypersonic glide vehicle.