22 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.

Cyber Weapons – A Weapon of War?

   Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

The character of warfare has changed fundamentally over the last decade. In the past, it was essential for an adversary nation or insurgent to physically bring weapons to bear during combat. That requirement is no longer a necessity. In cyber operations, the only weapons that need to be used are bits and bytes. In this new era of warfare, logistics issues that often restrict and limit conventional warfare and weaponry are not impediments. This new weaponry moves at the speed of light, is available to every human on the planet and can be as surgical as a scalpel or as devastating as a nuclear bomb.

Cyber attacks in various forms have become a global problem. Cyber weapons are low-cost, low-risk, highly effective and easily deployable globally. This new class of weapons is within reach of many countries, extremist or terrorist groups, non-state actors, and even individuals. Cyber crime organisations are developing cyber weapons effectively. The use of offensive Cyber operations by nation-states directly against another or by co-opting cyber criminals has blurred the line between spies and non-state malicious hackers. New entrants, both nation-states and non-state actors have unmatched espionage and surveillance capabilities with significant capabilities. They are often the forerunners for criminal financial gain, destruction and disruption operations. Progressively, we see non-state actors including commercial entities, developing capabilities that were solely held by a handful of state actors.

Don’t Let China Dictate US and Indian Policy on Sri Lanka

Madura Rasaratnam and Mario Arulthas

U.S. and Indian engagement in Sri Lanka, as in the other smaller South Asian states, is increasingly shaped by the fear of losing ground to China. In the past decade and a half China’s footprint in Sri Lanka has rapidly expanded through infrastructure projects, financial aid, as well as growing Chinese tourism. In the shadow of these changes, U.S. and Indian engagement has become increasingly wary of antagonizing the often intolerant Sinhala Buddhist sentiment that dominates the island’s politics and institutions.

In an effort to counter Chinese influence, and establish a strategic and economic foothold on the island, the United States and India have at times worked to appease Sinhala Buddhist sentiment by soft-pedaling on contentious issues such as accountability for mass atrocities and the rights of the island’s Tamil and Muslim communities. The problem with this approach is that the principal obstacle to U.S. and Indian interests on the island is not China per se but rather Sinhala Buddhist nationalism itself and the political as well as economic outcomes it seeks.

Pakistan’s Ruling Party Oblivious to People’s Economic Woes

Niha Dagia

In the past two months, Pakistanis have woken up twice to enormous hikes in fuel prices that the Imran Khan government decided on, amid a serious economic meltdown. Simultaneously, the government raised the power tariff and removed a 72 billion Pakistani rupee (approximately $40 million) subsidy, pushing energy rates to all-time highs.

Pakistan is seeing record inflation as the price of commodities skyrocket in the international market, leading to a spike at home.

With the country sliding deeper into an economic crisis, pressure mounts on Prime Minister Khan, who promised a “Naya” [new] Pakistan with an improved economy, poverty alleviation and creation of 10 million jobs under the vision of an Islamic welfare state.

Before coming to power, Khan strongly opposed International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans for their strict conditions. So, the PTI government negotiating a $6 billion bailout package to stave off the balance of payments crisis was a major U-turn in Khan’s position.

China Can’t Censor Away Growing Anger Over Athlete’s #MeToo Accusation

Alexandra Stevenson and Steven Lee Myers

First came the shocking #MeToo accusation by a famous athlete against one of China’s top leaders. Then came the accuser’s disappearance from public view, one so thorough that questions swirled about her health and personal safety.

The authorities in China had hoped the apparatus of a repressive state could simply make the whole thing go away. Instead, an accusation by the tennis player Peng Shuai that she was sexually assaulted by a former vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, continues to confront the political establishment as few things have.

The latest pushback on China’s effort to squelch the accusation came early on Thursday after Chinese state media tried to refute it, while saying Ms. Peng was safe and sound. It published an email purportedly written by Ms. Peng herself, saying the sexual assault accusations were not true and asking for officials who run women’s tennis to stop meddling.

Why China Wants More and Better Nukes

Abraham Denmark and Caitlin Talmadge

Recent weeks have seen an explosion of worry in the United States about China’s nuclear program. A Pentagon report released in early November warned that China is “accelerating the large-scale expansion of its nuclear forces” and building a larger, diversified, and more sophisticated nuclear arsenal. The report follows news that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic space weapon this summer, which General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described as “very close” to a “Sputnik moment.”

China’s push to enlarge and improve its nuclear arsenal is not terribly surprising in light of long-standing principles of China’s nuclear strategy and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitions to build a “world-class military” by the middle of this century. But these developments should nevertheless be concerning for the United States and its allies.

The main reason to be worried is that Beijing’s expanded and improved nuclear arsenal puts the United States and China into a deeper condition of nuclear stalemate in which both sides are vulnerable to the other’s nuclear forces, no matter who strikes first. It may seem paradoxical, but this nuclear stalemate might lead to more rather than less risk-taking by Chinese leaders: they could come to see conventional attacks or nonmilitary gray-zone aggression as a “safer” option, carrying little risk of nuclear escalation. That could mean a heightened likelihood of war.

China's move on Taiwan is all but inevitable unless Biden stops it


Deception and surprise are supposedly the stock-in-trade of China’s way of war, as famously articulated by the legendary ancient sage, Sun Tzu. In the modern era, communist and erstwhile communist powers — China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, North Vietnam, Serbia under Milosevic, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia — consistently have put that teaching into practice.

Of course, duplicity in the service of aggression is not the exclusive domain of communist powers, as the tyrannical raging of Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan demonstrated. But those powers are long gone, whereas China under Xi Jinping and autocratic Russia under Putin are, regrettably, still very much with us, as are their partners in international crime, North Korea and Iran.

So, Washington and the West, and those countries that rely on them — especially Taiwan — should be particularly on alert now that Beijing and Moscow have assured the world that all is calm in their regions and that talk of resurgent cold wars, let alone hot ones, should be put aside as historically outmoded thinking and self-serving histrionics. No doubt, Xi repeated that assurance to President Biden when they spoke last night.

China and Russia Cooperate on Rival to GPS

Emily Young Carr

On September 17, Russia’s largest, state-owned news agency, TASS, reported that state space corporation Roscosmos will install a satellite ground-monitoring station in Shanghai this year. Additional reports claimed China will place equivalent stations in Russia. This would be the first time either China or Russia allows another country to place monitoring stations on its soil.

The ground stations are the latest development in China and Russia’s deepening space cooperation. The two countries have been pursuing integration of their satellite systems since 2014 and collaborating on other projects aimed at countering U.S. influence, including a planned lunar base and missile early warning system. Individually, both countries are developing and testing counterspace weapons capable of imperiling U.S. satellites.

Although the United States remains the only country to have sent humans beyond low Earth orbit, budget reductions over the past decade have caused NASA to rely on Russian spacecraft for transit and allow China to take the lead in hypersonics development. China and Russia also boast the only space programs other than the United States’ to have completed crewed space missions, and Beijing and Moscow could both stand to gain from combining China’s deep pockets with Russia’s technological expertise.

Don’t Believe Predictions of a Rift Between Iran and Syria

David Adesnik
Source Link

Last week, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad reportedly expelled Javad Ghaffari, the top Iranian commander in Syria, spurring hopes that Damascus is on the brink of a realignment that would draw it closer to the Arab Gulf states, while distancing it from Tehran.

But don’t hold your breath.

When Assad’s downfall seemed imminent during the first years of the Syrian uprising, Iran came to his aid with billions of dollars, a steady supply of oil, and the deployment of Revolutionary Guard Corps advisers and Hezbollah militia fighters. At the height of the Syrian war in 2016, Tehran sent its own troops to fight and die on Assad’s behalf.

Still, gratitude is unlikely to drive Assad’s foreign policy. His grip on power is now secure, so Assad may consider whether a pivot from Iran to the Gulf states would unlock the billions of dollars of foreign capital he hopes would fuel Syria’s reconstruction. Saudi and Emirati investors played a prominent role in the partial economic opening that Assad implemented during his first decade in power, especially in the construction industry.


Scott Harr

According to Hollywood lore, directors fired A-list movie star Edward Norton from his role in the Marvel superhero films because he lacked the “collaborative spirit” working as a member of an ensemble cast. In other words, he failed to internalize the “support” requirements of an actor in a “supporting” role. In Hollywood, the price of such miscalculations is merely a bruised ego. In Great Power Competition, the price could be fatal.

As the United States operationalizes its shift from counterterrorism to nation-state competition, much discussion has occurred regarding how the Department of Defense (DoD) should address the challenges posed by nation-state competitors. Almost universally, the discussion of how DoD contributes to Great Power Competition involves increasing or adding capabilities to support a whole-of-government approach. That is, “expanding the competitive space” means expanding DoD capabilities to support all instruments of national power. However, even while correctly perceiving the expanded scope of conflict in the emerging operational environment, DoD should tread carefully in its zeal to expand the competitive space. Specifically, DoD needs to recognize and preserve the balance between three critical relationships as it aims to position itself for Great Power Competition. DoD must: expand competition without exacerbating it, internalize the salient lessons from adversary approaches without militarizing them, and integrate capabilities without duplicating them. Such is the essence of audacious stewardship–which seeks to align and position DoD as a supporting (not supported) effort in competition. Audacious stewardship will enhance DoD’s credibility, counterintuitively preserve capability, and truly enable the critical expertise located across the instruments of national power for nation-state competition.

What should Washington expect from US-China strategic stability talks?

David Santoro

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that US President Joe Biden proposed strategic stability talks to Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping during their virtual meeting on Nov. 15 and that “the two leaders agreed that we would look to begin to carry forward discussions on strategic stability.”

The United States has long sought such discussions with China, but Beijing has invariably declined, arguing that “conditions are not ripe” because the US nuclear arsenal is much larger than China’s. Yet while promising that it would stick to “minimum deterrence” (codewords for a small nuclear force), Beijing has been growing its arsenal and, per recent evidence, this growth is advancing much faster than anticipated, with no end in sight.

If strategic stability talks take place, what should Washington expect?

The findings of unofficial US-China meetings offer insights. In the absence of official strategic stability talks, these meetings were, for a long time, the only game in town. They stopped as the broader US-China relationship deteriorated, but some have resumed recently, and they provide important lessons for Washington. I offer five here.

‘We must work harder,’ SECDEF says as Pentagon grapples with civilian casualties of airstrikes

Meghann Myers

The Defense Department is in the middle of two reviews that will take a look at how it conducts air strikes and how it accounts for potential harm to civilians because of them, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters Wednesday.

One deals with operations in Syria, where an only recently publicized airstrike killed 70, including women and children, first reported by the New York Times.

The other is a broader, annual look at the civilian harm caused by U.S. strikes, ordered by Congress in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

“The American people deserve to know that we take this issue very seriously. And that we are committed to protecting civilians and getting this right both in terms of how we execute missions on their behalf and how we talk about them afterwards,” Austin said. “And I recognize that and I’m committed to doing this in full partnership with our military leaders.”

Is Russia Preparing to Invade Ukraine?

Emma Ashford

Matthew Kroenig: Hi, Emma! Greetings from Abu Dhabi! While you are dealing with cooler temperatures in Washington, I’m just getting back from a swim in the Arabian Gulf! How are things back home?

Emma Ashford: Ahem, it’s the “Persian Gulf” according to AP Style and the Foreign Policy copy editors. As far as aquatic adventures here, I got to go to Pittsburgh over the weekend, so I’m pretty jealous of you right now. I’m fairly confident one shouldn’t swim in the Allegheny River even when it isn’t freezing.

But Washington is still much the same as you left it: getting colder, and hyperfocused on the threat du jour. This week, Washington’s commentariat is pivoting back to Europe, as concerns about Russian troop deployments near Ukraine and Belarus’s increasingly provocative steps against the European Union are commanding a lot of attention. Shall we pivot with them?

MK: Yes. Let’s start there. I am quite concerned about the Russian troop buildup. I was relaxed after the first signs a few weeks ago; I thought it was typical Russian posturing. But the Russian forces near the border continue to grow (estimated now to be close to 100,000 troops), and many of my colleagues in government fear this time could be something significant—maybe a major Russian military invasion of Ukraine. What is your take?

What Does Russia Want?

James Holmes

What do Russians want? Moscow seems to be going out of its way to keep its “near abroad”—Russian-speak for the erstwhile Soviet empire, in particular former Soviet republics adjoining the Russian Federation—stirred up. This seems strange.

For instance, the Russian Army is reportedly staging a buildup along the Russo-Ukraine frontier. Moscow may be conniving with the Belarussian government to flood Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia with refugees from the Middle East. Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian officialdom called the effort to manufacture a refugee crisis a “hybrid attack” on the European Union. Meanwhile the Russian military tracks and decries NATO naval movements in the Black Sea basin; last summer Moscow threatened to “bomb” naval vessels exercising the right to innocent passage through Crimean waters.

At its root strategy is about setting and enforcing priorities. By exercising self-discipline, political and military leaders conserve resources for commitments that matter most. Proliferating commitments—trying to do it all—consumes and divides up diplomatic and military resources, attenuating the resources available to fulfill any one commitment. Vladimir Putin & Co. seem to be deliberately multiplying hotspots along their borders. Are they guilty of flagrant strategic indiscipline?

At COP26, leaders got a climate reality check. Here’s what they must do next.

Samantha Gross and María Fernanda Espinosa

We have been involved in climate negotiations and policy for nearly two decades. In that time, we’ve never seen so many new scientific analyses or so much media coverage. Street protests in Glasgow and elsewhere include angry calls for greater ambition, amid an awakening of young voices calling for intergenerational climate justice and responsibility. The Glasgow summit of the last two weeks was hyped as the world’s last best hope to save the climate, but such a lofty goal was never going to be achieved at one event. There is much more work for leaders to do before next year’s climate summit in Egypt.

Every speech or article cites terrifying data. The planet is already 1.1°C warmer than in pre-industrial times, and the temperature is rising. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, there is a fifty-fifty chance that global warming will exceed 1.5°C in the next two decades. Even if countries fulfill their pledges under the Paris Agreement, global warming is estimated to reach 2.7°C at the end of the century. The remaining carbon budget to limit warming to 1.5°C is 400 gigatons of carbon dioxide (GtCO2), but the current global emission rate is 40 GtCO2 a year, implying that drastic emissions reductions must occur in next decade if we are to achieve the goal.

What’s Next for Multilateralism and the Liberal International Order?

The United Nations’ ability to carry out its mission has been severely constrained in recent years by its member states. And many of its agencies are now facing funding shortages that could severely curtail their work. In fact, multilateralism of all stripes is under strain, from the International Criminal Court to the World Trade Organization—to the World Health Organization.

The United Nations is perhaps the most prominent manifestation of an international order built on balancing sovereign equality with great-power politics in a bid to maintain international peace. But its capacity to do that—and to meet its other objectives, which include protecting human rights and delivering aid—have been severely constrained in recent years by its member states.

The real power in the U.N. lies with the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council—the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain and France. And they have used their positions to limit the institution’s involvement in major recent conflicts, including civil wars in Syria and Yemen. Beyond the Security Council, the U.N. has sprouted additional specialized agencies to address specific issues—health, women’s rights and refugees, among others—that have met with varied degrees of success. In some instances, they have been able to galvanize global action around urgent goals, like UNAIDS’ work curbing the international AIDS crisis. But many of those agencies are now also facing funding shortages that could severely curtail their work, not least the World Health Organization, which is leading the global coronavirus response.

Kazakhstan’s Power Shortages: Crypto Miners and Geopolitics

Paolo Sorbello

Electricity deficits have caused repeated outages across Kazakhstan, and the government has turned to Russia to meet growing demand.

Officials said that a spike in consumption has strained the country’s grid. Deputy Energy Minister Murat Zhurebekov said the increase in demand was caused by both an 8 percent increase in domestic electricity consumption in 2021 and unregistered cryptocurrency miners, most of whom migrated in the past few months from China, where regulations caused a halt in cryptomining.

“We have officially registered 50 [cryptocurrency mining companies], the rest work in the shadows: These ‘gray’ miners have provoked the deficit,” Zhurebekov said.

Kazakhstan’s government has shifted its focus on cryptomining since the country became the second-largest producer of Bitcoin, the world’s most renowned cryptocurrency. Increased production, they argue, has substantially increased electricity demand.

Sanctions Are No Substitute for Deterrence

Noah Rothman

Earlier this month, media outlets using commercial satellite data confirmed that Russia was once again amassing troops and heavy equipment along its borders with Ukraine—both along the eastern Donbas region and inside the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia invaded and illegally annexed in 2014.

This isn’t the first time that Moscow has tested the West’s commitment to Ukraine. But now, something was different.

In the West, political officials became vocally alarmed by what NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called the “large and unusual” buildup of Russian troops. Rep. Mike Turner, a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, said the buildup is “very different” from previous Russian efforts to strike a provocative posture along the border, which suggests that Russia has “different intentions this time.” Indeed, “the information we gathered so far is rather worrying,” European Union spokesman Peter Stano admitted. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dispatched his minister of defense to Kyiv and pledged the U.K.’s “unwavering” support to Ukraine “in the face of Russian hostility.” French President Emmanuel Macron promised to support Ukraine’s “territorial integrity” in the event of another invasion.

Washington and Jerusalem Enhance Cooperation to Counter Ransomware

Annie Fixler, Enia Krivine

The United States and Israel are forming a new cyber partnership to combat ransomware threats, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo announced on Sunday during a trip to the Jewish state. The initiative comes on the heels of America’s counter-ransomware virtual summit last month — attended by more than 30 countries, including Israel — and turns principled pledges into concrete action.

Flanked by Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Director General of the National Cyber Directorate Yigal Unna, Adeyemo affirmed the importance of “international cooperation to address the abuse of virtual currency and disrupt the ransomware business model,” according to a Treasury press release.

The counter-ransomware effort, the press release continues, is part of a larger initiative, the U.S.-Israel Task Force on FinTech Innovation and Cybersecurity, which will encourage “cross-border cybersecurity exercises” focused on global “financial and investment flows.” The task force will also conduct expert technical exchanges aim at promoting innovation in financial services technologies to enhance both cybersecurity and compliance with anti-money laundering standards.

Is Belarus migrant crisis a new type of war?


For months, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been accused of using illegal migrants as a tool to punish the European Union for imposing sanctions on his regime.

In July, Belarus loosened its restrictions on visas and increased flights on its state-run airline from the Middle East, allowing thousands of would-be migrants to arrive from Iraq,

Syria and other countries. Belarusian security forces then funneled the migrants to the borders with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia – all members of the European Union – and even gave them wire cutters to breach the fences.

In recent weeks, the situation has grown dire, with thousands of migrants now trapped in tents in freezing conditions and nowhere to go. At least 11 migrants have died.

A Dying Empire — America. A Working Empire — the EU. An Emerging Empire — China

Tessa Schlesinger

Let’s start with the European Union

This morning I received a mind-blowing email from the European Commission. I want to quote from it, because if you have arrived at the same conclusions that I have, it will blow your mind.

Notably, the EU has reached a crucial milestone as more than 70 % of Europe’s adult population are now fully vaccinated. … Thanks to the EU Digital COVID Certificate it is now possible for you to travel safely again. … The EU leaders have decided to look forward and invest heavily in our future through NextGenerationEU — our historic recovery plan. It is a once in a lifetime chance to emerge stronger from the pandemic, transform our economies and societies, and design a Europe that works for everyone. Together we are investing the unprecedented amount of over 800 billion euro in initiatives that will make Europe healthier, greener, more digital and more just.

The Elusive Peril of Space Junk

Raffi Khatchadourian

For decades, the International Space Station has been hovering over Earth, in an orbit somewhere between two hundred and three hundred miles above sea level. Its massive rectilinear structure, resembling an Eisenhower-era TV antenna, contains hundreds of thousands of solar cells and a series of pressurized modules that can support life and equipment, all of it weighing close to a million pounds. Since 2000, people have been living on the station, in an area comparable to a six-bedroom house: humanity’s most expensive real estate. The station is also the fastest structure a person can live in. It orbits the planet at more than seventeen thousand miles an hour, many times faster than the Earth’s rotation. A day on the station, from sunrise to sunrise, lasts just ninety minutes.

In the early hours of July 16, 2015, members of the U.S. Air Force noticed an alarming development involving the I.S.S. Since the Cold War, the military has maintained an extensive space-surveillance network. Every minute, tracking stations across the globe relay a cascade of data to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, in a bunker carved deep beneath two thousand feet of granite in Colorado. Some of the information is set aside for NORAD and other national-security organizations. Other portions are forwarded to the 18th Space Control Squadron, in California, which works to prevent collisions in the sky.

3 Years After the Project Maven Uproar, Google Cozies to the Pentagon


IN 2018, THOUSANDS of Google employees protested a Pentagon contract dubbed Project Maven that used the company’s artificial intelligence technology to analyze drone surveillance footage. Google said it wouldn’t renew the contract and announced guiding principles for future AI projects that forbid work on weapons and surveillance projects “violating internationally accepted norms.”

At the same time, Google made clear it would still seek defense contracts. “While we are not developing AI for use in weapons,” CEO Sundar Pichai wrote, “we will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas.”

In the three years since, Google has stayed true to his word. The company has built a significant line of business atop deep relationships with defense and intelligence agencies, including a series of contracts that haven’t drawn the same scrutiny or outcry as Project Maven.

Amazon's Dark Secret: It Has Failed to Protect Your Data

ON SEPTEMBER 26, 2018, a row of tech executives filed into a marble- and wood-paneled hearing room and sat down behind a row of tabletop microphones and tiny water bottles. They had all been called to testify before the US Senate Commerce Committee on a dry subject—the safekeeping and privacy of customer data—that had recently been making large numbers of people mad as hell.

Committee chair John Thune, of South Dakota, gaveled the hearing to order, then began listing events from the past year that had shown how an economy built on data can go luridly wrong. It had been 12 months since the news broke that an eminently preventable breach at the credit agency Equifax had claimed the names, social security numbers, and other sensitive credentials of more than 145 million Americans. And it had been six months since Facebook was engulfed in scandal over Cambridge Analytica, a political intelligence firm that had managed to harvest private information from up to 87 million Facebook users for a seemingly Bond-villainesque psychographic scheme to help put Donald Trump in the White House.

To prevent abuses like these, the European Union and the state of California had both passed sweeping new data privacy regulations. Now Congress, Thune said, was poised to write regulations of its own. “The question is no longer whether we need a federal law to protect consumers' privacy,” he declared. “The question is, what shape will that law take?” Sitting in front of the senator, ready to help answer that question, were representatives from two telecom firms, Apple, Google, Twitter, and Amazon.

Has AI Hit a Dead-End?

Dimitris Poulopoulos

There has been a lot of hype around artificial intelligence (AI) and its subfields (machine learning, deep learning, etc.) for quite some time now. Yet, we may be on the verge of another AI winter — a period of reduced funding and interest in artificial intelligence research — despite the significant advances in algorithms and infrastructure, even with the vast amount of information and data that we have at our disposal.

We may be on the verge of another AI winter, despite the great advances in algorithms and infrastructure, even with the vast amount of information and data that we have at our disposal.

However, AI itself is not accountable for this letdown. This time, technology is entering the trough of disillusionment because we do not know how to benefit from it. We do not have a robust methodology for transforming breakthrough research ideas into practical applications yet.

For JADC2 to have a chance, DoD needs to get serious about data standards


The Pentagon is focused on making All Domain Operations, in all its various forms, come to fruition. And few are as familiar with the issues involved as Robert Work, who served as deputy secretary of defense from 2014-2017. In this op-ed, he is joined by Billy Fabian of decision-sciences company Govini to argue for why the Pentagon needs to refocus its investments in this critical area.

We are past the tipping point where information and decision-centric capabilities are more important instruments of war than kinetic weapons. That is to say, victory in future high-intensity conflicts may no longer hinge on who has the best warships, planes, and tanks, but rather on who can better harness information to act faster and more effectively than their adversary.

The Defense Department is betting that its emerging Joint All-Domain Command & Control (JADC2) concept— which seeks to connect sensors, deciders, and shooters from across all services and domains into a theater-wide, or even global, battle network — will provide the US military with just such an advantage should a war against a near military peer like China or Russia break out sometime in the future. But actually implementing JADC2 will force the Department to grapple with significant technological and interoperability challenges.


Alex Waterman

In February 2020, the United States and the Afghan Taliban negotiated a seven-day reduction in violence levels. As part of the deal, the two sides agreed to a series of rules and exceptions that governed the places and circumstances in which the parties reserved the right to resort to violence. Following this agreement, the United States did not suffer a combat death in Afghanistan until August 2021. Yet during this period, the Taliban successfully set the conditions for a rapid transition of power. The United States found itself managing the seams between war and peace during a negotiated ceasefire—with an ultimately disappointing strategic result.

This is a situation in which the United States and its partner forces will find themselves again in future engagements. Analysts of irregular warfare have drawn attention to the gray areas between war and peace, where both state and nonstate adversaries are increasingly comfortable operating. But the United States remains uncomfortable in this space. Today, the idea that “where peace ends, war starts, and when the war is over, politics resumes” pervades strategic thinking. Most doctrine focuses on the “war” end of the spectrum—the battle to win the support of the population, establish control over the territory, and secure the state’s monopoly over the use of force. Yet as the political scientist Paul Staniland argued in 2014, interactions with insurgents do not always reflect this aggressive and decisive process of monopolizing state power. In fact, they sometimes entail more limited campaigns of what he describes as “violence management,” containing or managing violence within certain political thresholds while coexisting, cooperating, or at least adhering to certain red lines with armed groups.

Algorithmic Warfare: Air Force Flexing Cyber, Info-Warfare Muscles

Yasmin Tadjdeh

Two years after its redesignation, the Air Force’s cyber component is making headway thwarting digital adversaries.

Located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, the 16th Air Force — which was redesignated as Air Forces Cyber in October 2019 — focuses on cyber and electronic warfare, signals intelligence, information operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“When we stood up 16th Air Force, … [we wanted] to bring together all of the different elements of information warfare — ISR, SIGNT, cyber, electronic warfare, IO,” Air Forces Cyber Commander Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh told National Defense at the Air Force Association’s annual confab in October.

The organization has now reached full operational capability and has created airmen with the necessary expertise to compete in cyberspace, he said.

The challenge of extremism in the military is not going away without a new perspective

Anne Speckhard, Molly Ellenberg and TM Garret

In February of 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that the U.S. military needs the troops’ help to both prevent and eliminate extremism and extremist ideologies within the ranks. The statement was made in response to the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot.

George Washington University’s Program on Extremism showed that 12 percent of those charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6 2021, included military veterans or active-duty members. More than 25 percent of the rioters with military experience were commissioned officers, and 44 percent had been deployed at least once, raising legitimate concerns that they were weapons trained by our military and could be potentially very lethal actors. Perhaps the starkest finding regarding rioters with military experience, however, was that 37 percent of those with military experience were associated with violent extremist groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, making them four times more likely to be part of a such a group than rioters without military experience. Even more recently, Franklin Barrett Sechriest, a member of the Texas National Guard, was charged with using an accelerant to set a fire outside of an Austin synagogue, causing $25,000 in damage. According to NBC News, the offender had stickers in his car displaying swastikas and anti-Semitic statements.

Are U.S. Missile Defenses Vulnerable To Cyberattacks?

Daniel Goure

China and Russia are rapidly expanding their strategic ballistic missile arsenals. China recently tested an intercontinental hypersonic weapon that would allow it to strike critical targets in the United States in a matter of minutes. To counter this threat, the U.S. is rethinking what kind of missile defenses it requires to protect the homeland, forces abroad, and allies.

The strategic balance is changing in real-time. China is building hundreds of ballistic missile silos and could deploy more than 1,000 strategic nuclear warheads capable of reaching the U.S. mainland by 2030. China also has a massive arsenal of theater-range ballistic missiles capable of threatening U.S. forward-deployed forces and allies in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Chinese test of a hypersonic missile with global reach is a potential game-changer. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, called this a “Sputnik moment.” Hypersonic weapons fly at five times the speed of sound or more and can maneuver to evade detection or engagement by missile defenses designed for current types of ballistic missiles. With such a weapon, in theory, China could not only defeat existing missile defenses but execute an incapacitating attack against even our National Command Authority (NCA). A senior U.S. Air Force missile defense commander explained the threat thusly: