27 November 2021

Army to work with satellite radar imagery provider ICEYE

Nathan Strout

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army will work with radar satellite imagery provider ICEYE to understand how that technology can be integrated into current and future Army missions and technologies.

Based in Finland, ICEYE operates the world’s largest fleet of commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites. Unlike the traditional electro-optical sensors military and intelligence agencies use to scan the Earth from space, SAR uses radar to create high-resolution imagery of the Earth’s surface. Because SAR isn’t dependent on visibility, it can be used to produce imagery any time of day or night. It also has the distinct advantage of being able to “see” through cloud cover, something that hinders electro-optical imagery collection.

ICEYE will collaborate with the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Technical Center through a cooperative research and development agreement, or CRADA, a tool that allows the government to explore commercial capabilities without financial commitments.


  Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Microsoft released its second annual Digital Defense Report, covering July 2020 to June 2021. This year s 134 pages report is quite detailed, with sections on cybercrime, nationstate threats, supply-chain attacks and Internet of Things attacks. The report includes security suggestions for organizations with remote workforces. It has a section describing the use of social media to spread disinformation. The report is a compilation of integrated data and actionable insights from across 

Social Media in Violent Conflicts – Recent Examples

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


Alan Rusbridger, the then editor-in-chief of the Guardian in his 2010 Andrew Olle Media Lecture, stated, “News organisations still break lots of news. But, increasingly, news happens first on Twitter. If you’re a regular Twitter user, even if you’re in the news business and have access to wires, the chances are that you’ll check out many rumours of breaking news on Twitter first. There are millions of human monitors out there who will pick up on the smallest things and who have the same instincts as the agencies—to be the first with the news. As more people join, the better it will get. ”

The most important and unique feature of social media and its role in future conflicts is the speed at which it can disseminate information to audiences and the audiences to provide feedback.

Afghan refugees are being recruited to join an Iranian paramilitary


As hundreds of thousands of Afghans flee their homeland following the Taliban’s victory, the United States and international community face an under-appreciated challenge: Some of these refugees could be recruited into state militaries and paramilitaries. As Western policymakers consider how to deal with Afghan evacuees, including former members of the Afghan security forces, they might consider how to prevent adversaries such as Iran from recruiting Afghan refugees for dangerous and destabilizing operations.

Recently, Iran has recruited thousands of Afghans into its Liwa Fatemiyoun, which it has used as “cannon fodder” in the war in Syria. But the recruitment of refugees into paramilitaries is not a new phenomenon, and its recurrence may point to its attractiveness to governments.

During the Cold War, the United States recruited Cuban refugees for the Bay of Pigs operation and the British recruited heavily from exile communities during World War II. Research shows that states tend to recruit “legionnaires” — foreign-born individuals — into their military forces when they face recruitment challenges and external threats. An increasing supply of refugees may make recruitment even more attractive, especially if potential recruits have few other options. The United Nations estimates that up to a half-million Afghans may flee into neighboring countries and join over 2.6 million existing Afghan refugees.

In fight against Islamic State, the Taliban holds major advantage


After defeating the Islamic Government of Afghanistan and taking control of the country on Aug. 15, the Taliban is beginning to ramp up its fight against the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province.

The Islamic State’s Khorasan Province or ISKP, which is often referred to as ISIS-K, has increased attacks against the Taliban over the past two months. ISKP has orchestrated a handful of high-profile suicide attacks on soft targets such as mosques and hospitals, and conducted smaller but more numerous IED and small arms attacks against Taliban military forces. In response, the Taliban has sent more than 1,000 fighters to battle the group in Nangarhar province, the hub of ISKP operations, according to The Washington Post.

Much of the reporting from Afghanistan has boosted the threat of ISKP while ignoring the Taliban’s very real advantages in the fight. The Taliban has the advantage in all of the key areas, save one. The Taliban has state sponsors, terrorist allies, regional support, a marked superiority in weapons and numbers, and controls all of Afghanistan. ISKP can only match the Taliban in one area, and this their will to fight and persevere.

Afghan Women: The Endangered Sex – Analysis

Sanchita Bhattacharya

On November 13, 2021, two female officers affiliated with the former Afghan National Army were found dead in Gardez, the capital of Paktia Province. Sources indicated that the killing took place on November 12.

On November 6, 2021, the Taliban stated that rights activist and university lecturer, Frozan Safi, was killed in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif in Balkh Province. Reports indicate that the woman received a call – an invitation to join an evacuation flight – and was picked up by a car, only to be found dead later. There are conflicting reports regarding the actual number of her dead associates, with some suggesting that Safi and three other women were killed, while others suggest Safi and another female were found dead.

On September 4, 2021, a pregnant Policewoman, Banu Negar, was mutilated and killed, suspectedly by the Taliban, in front of her husband and children in Firozkoh, the capital of Ghor Province.

Israel’s Success Must Not Obscure Increase in Hamas Capabilities .

Richard Natonski & Thomas Trask

One of the most indelible images from this spring’s Gaza conflict is the Israeli night sky streaked with rockets and Iron Dome interceptors rising to meet them. However, as the authors found on a detailed fact-finding trip to Israel this summer, the remarkable success of Israel’s air defenses must not obscure real advances in Hamas’ military capabilities or their implications for U.S. operations.

A new report from the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) shows how Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) used the seven-year relative lull preceding this May’s fighting to absorb lessons and adapt their forces after the demanding 50-day conflict in 2014. Parallel to Israel’s interwar improvements, including its innovative uses of artificial intelligence and counter-tunnel technology, Hamas’ development of new weapons and tactics flew largely under the radar before debuting this spring.

At first glance, this year's conflict was more of the same, as Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza launched rocket barrages indiscriminately at Israel. But May 2021 saw a much higher tempo than ever before, with almost 4,500 munitions fired at Israel in just 11 days – roughly the same amount as in the entire 2014 conflict. With Iranian encouragement, Hamas' fire plan also became more sophisticated. It ditched previous efforts to overwhelm Iron Dome's command and control with small salvos fired simultaneously toward multiple fronts in Israel, favoring much larger volleys to overpower a single battery.

Why ‘Confrontation’ with China Cannot Be Avoided

Matthew Kroenig Dan Negrea

Last week, President Joe Biden held a high-profile virtual summit with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. The summit was intended to place relations between Washington and Beijing on a more stable footing, but (other than several platitudinous statements) the meeting produced no new breakthroughs for Sino-U.S. cooperation. Indeed, the inefficacious exchange raises a bigger question about the true nature of the U.S.-China relationship.

Earlier this year, U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken stated that U.S. policy toward China includes a mix of “cooperation, competition, and confrontation.” Unfortunately, he is only about one-third right.

Despite the fond hopes for cooperation on shared challenges, and all the talk in Washington about great power “competition,” the sobering reality is that the Sino-U.S. relationship is increasingly dominated by its most confrontational elements.

China Warms Up to Myanmar’s Generals

John Liu and Thompson Chau

In September, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) invited a representative from Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to its virtual summit for political parties in South and Southeast Asia. The overture came shortly after Beijing’s special envoy for Asian affairs, Sun Guoxiang, paid a low-key visit to Myanmar, where he asked to meet Aung San Suu Kyi and was denied access by the authorities. Sun made another unannounced visit this month.

These moves underscore China’s desire to maintain its rapprochement with the NLD, which the military ousted from government on Feb. 1, even as it shifts toward recognizing the junta’s rule. A September editorial from the Global Times, a CCP-owned newspaper, called the NLD the “legitimate party in Myanmar.” But Beijing sees a fine line between supporting the NLD and supporting the underground National Unity Government (NUG), which seeks to overthrow the junta and upend the pre-coup status quo. Although the NUG is stacked with NLD members and former ministers, to China it appears a force of instability.

Why China Can’t Bury Peng Shuai and Its #MeToo Scandal

Li Yuan

The Chinese government has become extremely effective in controlling what the country’s 1.4 billion people think and talk about.

But influencing the rest of the world is a different matter, as Peng Shuai has aptly demonstrated.

Chinese state media and its journalists have offered one piece of evidence after another to prove the star Chinese tennis player was safe and sound despite her public accusation of sexual assault against a powerful former vice premier.

One Beijing-controlled outlet claimed it had obtained an email she wrote in which she denied the accusations. Another offered up a video of Ms. Peng at a dinner, in which she and her companions rather conspicuously discussed the date to prove that it was recorded this past weekend.

The international outcry grew only louder. Instead of persuading the world, China’s ham-handed response has become a textbook example of its inability to communicate with an audience that it can’t control through censorship and coercion.

The ruling Communist Party communicates through one-way, top-down messaging. It seems to have a hard time understanding that persuasive narratives must be backed by facts and verified by credible, independent sources.

Chinese hypersonic test included pathbreaking 2nd missile launch: reports

China's test of a globe-circling hypersonic weapon in July included the unprecedented launch of a separate missile from the ultra-high-speed vehicle, according to the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal.

The test showed China's development of its strategic, nuclear-capable weapons as more advanced than any had thought, surprising Pentagon officials, the two newspapers said.

Neither the United States nor Russia has demonstrated the same ability, which requires launching a missile from a parent vehicle traveling five times the speed of sound.

The Financial Times, which first reported the test over the weekend, said US military experts are trying to understand how China mastered the technology, which puts them in advance of rivals in the hypersonic arms race.

The Wall Street Journal confirmed the report Monday.

China May Steal Encrypted Data Now to Decrypt In Years to Come, Report Warns


Though they are years from being fully realized, quantum technologies are altering the U.S. cyber threat landscape in serious ways and organizations should start acting now to ensure their infrastructure and data will be protected as the field evolves, according to a new report from Booz Allen Hamilton.

In the recently released 32-page document, experts warn that China, specifically, has become a major player in quantum computing and will likely soon collect encrypted American data in hopes to eventually decrypt it when the advanced quantum systems go into operation.

“Quantum computing is a rapidly evolving technology with far-reaching disruptive potential, and China is a leading developer of it,” BAH’s Head of Strategic Cyber Threat Intelligence Nate Beach-Westmoreland told Nextgov. “So, Booz Allen wanted to know how and when Chinese cyber threats might be shaped by this change to help our clients manage their changing risk profile.”

This report is a result of a multi-month collaborative effort, Beach-Westmoreland noted, that blended insights from the firm’s experts in threat intelligence, cybersecurity risk management, and quantum information science.

Fear and Hand-Wringing in Halifax

Robbie Gramer

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia—Hundreds of senior lawmakers, diplomats, and experts gathered in the Canadian city of Halifax over the weekend for the first big in-person security conference since the pandemic began, where they showcased an atmosphere of broad anxiety and unease over the West’s ability to manage a series of global crises.

Foreign Policy interviewed 17 participants at the Halifax International Security Forum, including former prime ministers, foreign diplomats, and other experts, many of whom made clear that even a year after Donald Trump left office, U.S. allies are still uncertain about Washington’s ability to lead the West amid China’s steady rise to global superpower status, all while keeping its own house in order.

“There is some real soul-searching going on,” one European diplomat said. “These conferences didn’t use to be like this, but now … there’s just a real sense of deep unease and concern among your allies that I’m not sure Washington really appreciates.”

Taiwan Is Safe Until at Least 2027, but with One Big Caveat

Derek Grossman

Six years. That is how long Taiwan might have left before suffering a Chinese military attack. At least that was the estimate according to outgoing commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson, back in March during open Congressional testimony.

Since then, observers have seized on Davidson's comments—which apparently reference the 100th anniversary of the founding of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in 2027 as an event worth celebrating with the conquest of Taiwan—to support their respective positions on whether Beijing is poised to make a dangerous move soon.

For those aligning with Davidson's view, the unprecedented number of warplanes challenging Taiwan in its air defense identification zone, nearly 150 over the first few days of last month, is the latest proof that something is afoot.

For the deniers, it is easy to explain away the recent air incursions as simply being part and parcel of Beijing's general uptick in military assertiveness aimed at deterring further deepening in U.S.-Taiwan relations.

The U.S. Doesn't Need More Nuclear Weapons to Counter China's New Missile Silos

Edward Geist

The discovery of what appear to be hundreds of new missile silos under construction in China has inspired arguments that imply the United States needs more nuclear weapons. Matthew Kroenig, a Defense Department adviser during the Trump administration, suggested in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed that “the Pentagon should study whether it can meet its deterrence requirements with existing stockpile numbers” in case “an increase…is necessary.”

Senior U.S. military officials have also sounded the alarm. “We are witnessing a strategic breakout by China,” said Adm. Charles Richard, who oversees America's nuclear arsenal as commander of U.S. Strategic Command. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall III echoed that concern, saying, “If they continue down the path that they seem to be on—to substantially increase their ICBM force—they will have a de facto first-strike capability.” He added, “I'm not sure they fully appreciate the risks that they're adding to the entire global nuclear equation.”

But there's little reason for the United States to worry much about whatever the Chinese military is building in these silos—and plenty of alternatives to building more nuclear weapons for dealing with it. The current U.S. nuclear arsenal was designed to guarantee deterrence even in the case of surprises such as this one. The nuclear weapons the United States already has should be adequate to counter the threat posed by new Chinese missiles even under very pessimistic assumptions. And if U.S. officials eventually decide they have to target the Chinese silos, nonnuclear weapons and sensors would provide a more credible deterrent than building additional nuclear weapons would.

How America Lost Its Leverage on Iran

Richard Goldberg

Next week, President Joe Biden will send his envoys back to Vienna for yet another round of indirect talks with Iran. This will be Iran’s first multilateral engagement over its nuclear program since President Ebrahim Raisi took office in August. But while the cast has changed, the Iranian script remains the same as it was when negotiations began during Barack Obama’s first term: buy time to stabilize an economy freed of the burdens imposed by U.S. sanctions enforcement, obscure its clandestine nuclear activities from international inspectors, and secure future pathways to nuclear weapons.

Without an unexpected change in direction, it should come as no surprise if, in the months ahead, we learn of an Israeli airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities—or that Iran has tested a nuclear weapon. But for those in Congress who still hold out hope that Iran’s nuclear program can be dismantled through coercive diplomacy, the window for taking action is closing fast. A showdown in Congress about whether to preserve any economic leverage over Tehran may soon emerge from Biden’s diplomatic foray in Vienna. The results may leave America with only two options: military action or a nuclear-armed Iran.

This month marks the tenth anniversary of one of the most impressive foreign-policy accomplishments in the history of the Senate. Facing the ever-growing threat from Iran’s nuclear program, alongside the regime’s continued sponsorship of terrorism and accelerated ballistic-missile development, two U.S. senators—the Republican Mark Kirk and the Democrat Robert Menendez—introduced an amendment to the annual defense bill that would impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran. The sanctions would attack the economic lifeblood of the Islamic Republic—its oil export revenue—and cut the country off from the international financial system.

It’s time to drain the foreign influence swamp — for real

Josh RoginColumnist

In Washington, foreign interests use money to influence policy through a variety of schemes, often hidden. Foreign lobbying must be reported, by law, but that’s only one conduit foreign money can use to enter U.S. politics. Dozens of D.C. think tanks and other policy organizations take money from foreign countries and corporations without ever disclosing the details. The staffers who have received this financing then write policy papers and testify before Congress, posing as objective, disinterested experts.

It’s a win-win for the think tanks, which collect millions, and for the foreign actors, who can successfully spread their influence in D.C. without scrutiny. But our democracy loses, because this system of soft corruption undermines the integrity of our policymaking process. Americans have now woken up to the risks of foreign influence on Facebook, but think-tankers are still allowed to use loopholes to testify to Congress without disclosing which foreign countries are funding them. Why are we letting them get away with it?

As a New Republic investigation released last month illustrated, even though House Democrats strengthened the conflict-of-interest disclosure requirements for witnesses last January, think-tankers and others are abusing huge loopholes to skirt the intent of the new rules. It’s easy for witnesses to claim they are representing themselves rather than their organization (which is the one actually taking cash from a foreign government) — so many witnesses do just that.

Networks as ‘center of gravity’: Project Convergence highlights military’s new battle with bandwidth


YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz: Soldiers are packed into a UH-60 Black Hawk flying to their objective. A small drone carrying ISR sensors launches off the side of the helicopter, buzzing off to scout ahead. The drone streams back a live video feed to the pilots and alerts them to an enemy threat on the ground.

The pilots communicate the threat information to other Black Hawk pilots transporting troops, and the fleet quickly changes its route. As the Black Hawks land at the objective, cameras on the outside of the choppers send live videos to soldiers’ augmented reality goggles, giving them a look outside before they even dismount.

This scenario from the Army’s Project Convergence, an annual experiment in connecting sensors and shooters that wrapped earlier this month, showcased potentially life-saving and battle-winning equipment — all of which rely squarely on resilient, uninterrupted and invisible network connections to pass all that data back and forth.

The U.K. as a Responsible Cyber Power: Brilliant Branding or Empty Bluster?

James Shires, Max Smeets

The current U.K. Conservative government has an impressive record on one particular thing: punchy but highly malleable slogans. These range from “get Brexit done” to “levelling up,” not to mention the many COVID-19 mantras emblazoned on lecterns over the past two years. Now, the government is trying a similar tactic in foreign policy and international cybersecurity.

In March, the government published its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, setting out the U.K.’s position as a “responsible democratic cyber power.” Although it is fresh out of the oven (rather than “oven-ready”), this new combination of responsibility and cyber power already deserves a place among Boris Johnson’s more well-known linguistic escape acts.

The language of “responsibility” comes from decades-long cybersecurity negotiations at the United Nations, where the U.K. has been at the forefront of efforts to agree to norms of “responsible state behaviour” in cyberspace.

Russia, China Sign Roadmap for Closer Military Cooperation

Vladimir Isachenkov

MOSCOW — Russia's defense chief on Tuesday signed a roadmap for closer military ties with China, pointing to increasingly frequent U.S. strategic bomber flights near both countries' borders.

During a video call, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe “expressed a shared interest in stepping up strategic military exercises and joint patrols by Russia and China,” according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

“China and Russia have been strategic partners for many years,” Shoigu said. “Today, in conditions of increasing geopolitical turbulence and growing conflict potential in various parts of the world, the development of our interaction is especially relevant.”

Shoigu pointed to increasingly intensive flights by the U.S. strategic bombers near Russian borders, saying that there were 30 such missions over the past month alone.

Countering Aggression in the Gray Zone

Elisabeth Braw 

In recent years, much has been written and said about conflict in the so-called “gray zone,” often described as conflict below the threshold of combat. Gray zone aggression is an attractive option for Western rivals because it exploits the openness of Western societies. The fact that Western countries are characterized by small governments with limited powers to dictate the activities of their populations and businesses makes these countries even more attractive targets for nonkinetic aggression, ranging from hostile business activities, to cyber attacks, to kidnappings, assassinations, and even occupation by unofficial militias aligned with foreign powers. Resourceful adversaries use such actions to force wedges into the fault lines of open societies. With innovative thinking, however, liberal democracies can develop effective gray zone deterrence while staying within the norms of behavior they have set for themselves.
The Case of Sergey Skripal

On March 4, 2018, former Russian intelligence officer Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found in “an extremely serious condition” on a park bench in the English cathedral town of Salisbury.1 The UK government’s first task was to determine precisely what had happened to the Skripals and who was responsible. On March 12, then-Prime Minister Theresa May informed the UK Parliament of the findings of the government’s investigation: “It is now clear that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. . . . The Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.” She continued ominously, “Mr Speaker, there are therefore only two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury on the 4th of March. Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”2

Xi’s Confidence Game

Jude Blanchette

In recent months and weeks, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has displayed a growing sense of urgency. He has launched an unprecedented crackdown on domestic technology giants, stepped up military activities in the Taiwan Strait, and bullied countries that have crossed Beijing’s shifting redlines. Some analysts and experts argue that this behavior marks an increasingly desperate leader trying to stave off the country’s all-but-inevitable decline, perhaps even the coming collapse of Communist Party rule.

Yet if Xi is feeling truly anxious about his grip on power, he’s doing a remarkably effective job of hiding it. Despite far-reaching domestic challenges, the Chinese leader exudes confidence about China’s political system, its position vis-à-vis the United States, and the long-term stability of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Xi has also eradicated all possible opposition within the regime, as evidenced at this month’s Sixth Plenum of the party’s Central Committee, where a bold “history resolution” enshrined his political position alongside Mao Zedong, all but guaranteeing him a third term in power at next year’s 20th Party Congress.

Is Russia about to checkmate US in Europe?


While we were grabbing drinks at a bar near Capitol Hill, a Ukrainian friend of mine living in Washington during the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 ruefully quipped to me, “Russia will devour Ukraine no matter what the West says. It’s just a question of how long it’ll take.”

For Russia, Ukraine is a vital component of its defensive perimeter. For the United States, Ukraine is an abstract idea. It is a symbol of democratic resistance to authoritarianism, a lucrative addition to the ailing European Union, and a potential new base to place NATO military assets nearer to an increasingly assertive Russia.

But Moscow’s leaders believe Ukraine is an existential component of their national survival. Russian leaders have long viewed Ukraine in the same way that many American leaders have viewed Mexico or Canada: an essential buffer zone protecting the core of their nation from more aggressive powers beyond their territory.

Terrorism Monitor

Ethiopia’s Tigray Defense Forces Advance Toward Addis Ababa

The Haqqani Network’s Martyr: Inside Afghan Taliban Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani’s Reception Honoring Suicide Bombers

Iran’s Impending Military Intervention in Iraqi Kurdistan: Catalysts and Unintended Consequences

Countering the Ransomware Threat: A Whole-of-Government Effort

Alvaro Marañon, Stephanie Pell

On Nov. 8, the Justice Department held a press conference, along with the FBI and the Treasury Department, to announce a variety of actions taken against REvil, the ransomware group responsible for the Kaseya and JBS attacks. Those actions included indictments, arrests, the seizure of funds, the designation of a virtual currency exchange and a reward offered to those who provide relevant information about individuals holding leadership positions in REvil.

While ransomware attacks are often perpetrated by criminal gangs seeking to make a profit, digital extortion efforts directed at U.S. critical infrastructure have raised the stakes for both ransomware groups and the U.S., turning what once might have been classified simply as cybercrime into a national security issue. Accordingly, the U.S. government has begun to leverage a range of criminal, diplomatic, economic and military capabilities in order to combat the ongoing ransomware threat.

Based on developments over the past several months, this post will provide an account of how the Biden administration is going about the business of countering the ransomware threat through a whole-of-government approach. This approach includes initiatives and actions by the Justice Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security and other agency-specific efforts. In an effort to begin to assess the efficacy of these activities, this post will also describe the impact such efforts appear to be having on at least some ransomware threat actors, most notably the decision by REvil to take itself “offline” and the ripple effects in the ransomware ecosystem stemming from that action.

Finding the Appropriate Balance of Risk in Over-the-Horizon Strikes

Brian Hausle, Matt Montazzoli

On the evening of Aug. 26, a suicide bomber attacked the crowded entrance to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, killing 13 U.S. service members and scores of Afghan civilians. NATO forces continued evacuation operations while, hundreds of miles away, U.S. Central Command’s “over-the-horizon strike cell” began an intense effort to interdict additional attacks. U.S. analysts in the strike cell believed they identified individuals planning another attack against the airport based on “threat streams indicating imminent attacks that looked similar to the attack that happened three days prior.” The strike cell employed a drone-delivered missile to destroy a suspected car bomb in downtown Kabul. As exhaustive New York Times reporting quickly revealed, the military later admitted, and an investigation eventually concluded, the car belonged to a U.S.-employed aid worker with no connection to any impending attack. The strike killed 10 civilians, including seven children.

The United States must learn from this tragedy, but there is grave risk in overlearning the lessons of that Aug. 29 strike. Imposing policy constraints or inflexible processes that unduly restrict over-the-horizon counterterrorism efforts may deny practitioners the tools to prevent extremist attacks outside Afghanistan. The best way to balance the risks inherent in a lethal, over-the-horizon counterterrorism campaign is to set a standard of “near certainty” for both target identification and protection of civilians. This elevated standard allows the United States to act against extremist networks while reducing the risk of catastrophic errors.


WEST POINT, N.Y. – Four U.S. Military Academy cadets were among the 32 U.S. Rhodes Scholarship awardees named Sunday. Class of 2021 cadets Hannah Blakey, Krista Flinkstrom, Veronica Lucian, and Holland Pratt will study at the University of Oxford in the fall of 2022. This is the first time in West Point’s history to have four women Rhode Scholars awarded concurrently. The last time West Point had four American Rhodes scholars was in 1959.

“These cadets epitomize what it means to be a soldier-scholar. Their studies span numerous disciplines, illustrating the diverse intellectual capital that West Point provides for the Nation,” said Dean of the Academic Board, Brig. Gen. Shane Reeves. “We are immensely proud of all they’ve accomplished and the bright future ahead of them. Their success is a win for the whole team. As we celebrate this historic Rhodes cohort, we also celebrate the tremendous team that supported them through this process and their four years at West Point.”