28 December 2021

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.

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.

Explaining Putin’s efforts to broker peace between India, China


Media have been abuzz with speculations about Russian President Vladimir Putin making efforts to broker peace between India and China, to bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping face-to-face to explore a breakthrough in the prolonged and painful stalemate in their border negotiations.

It all began last week with Russia’s TASS news reporting that presidential aide Yury Ushakov said that in their December 15 video call, while Putin not only briefed Xi about his December 6 visit to New Delhi, the two leaders agreed “to endeavor to hold the next summit within the RIC [Russia-India-China] framework in the near future.”

In spite of pointed questions to that effect, neither the Chinese nor Indian spokesmen have confirmed or denied these reports.

Meanwhile, the more than 20 months of border tensions between India and China have entered a stage of a mutually painful stalemate. These border tensions have not just brought their inter-ministry talks and more that a dozen core commanders’ meetings to naught but put an unceremonious end to their much-hyped annual informal Modi-Xi summits.

Indian Army To Deploy Suicide Drones to Boost Artillery in Forward Posts Along China Border

Rishikesh Kumar

Recent satellite imagery shows that China is continuously building-up military assets in the friction areas along the Line of Actual Control — that border dividing it from China from Ladakh in the north to Arunachal Pradesh way to the east. The Indian Army is equipping its forces in forward posts with advanced weaponry.

The Indian army has aimed to procure at least 10 sets of medium-range precision kill system (MRPKS) - comprising 120 loitering munitions - to deploy them in the areas of the northern border.

These loitering munitions, also known as suicide drones, will enhance the capabilities of the army's artillery units.

"The current and future battlefield milieu necessitates precision-guided munitions to achieve first strike kill and psychological ascendance over the enemy," the army document read.

The army said that the need for such a weapon system would be intensified because of the wide spectrum of conflict - ranging from sub-conventional operations to full-scale war.

China launches three warships; one vessel for Pakistan Navy, another for Thai Navy

China this week launched three warships with one meant for the Pakistan Navy and another for the Royal Thailand Navy as it continues on its grand shipbuilding projects.

The warships were launched from China's Hudong Zhonghua shipyard located near Shanghai.

The Type 054AP Tughril-class warship was meant for the Pakistan Navy. The Pakistan government had signed the agreement for two warships in 2017 and an additional contract for two more ships three years ago.

PNS Tughril was commissioned into the Pakistan Navy last month. The first warship was launched in August last year with the other two warships launched this year.

According to reports, the Type 054AP is fitted with 3D multifunction radar including long-range metric wave radar. The Tughril-class warship is the final ship which was delivered to Pakistan completing the order.

The third vessel was meant for the Chinese Navy. The Type 054A warship is fitted with surface-to-air missiles, torpedo launchers and anti-ship missiles. PNS Tughril also possesses air and surface surveillance systems including anti-air and anti-submarine missiles including HHQ-16 SAMs.

The Chinese technicians also delivered the Type 071E LPD to the Thailand Navy. The landing platform dock reportedly cost $200 million.

It is the first time China has delivered the Type 071-class amphibious vessel to Thailand which is also part of the Chinese Navy. The warship can reportedly carry 800 marines and 20 amphibious vehicles.

India’s Dilemmas in Engaging the Taliban in Afghanistan: Too Little, Too Late?

Sudha Ramachandran

On November 10, India hosted the Third Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan, which saw the participation of National Security Advisers from India, Iran, Russia and three Central Asian states. Given the long-running India-Pakistan battle for influence in Afghanistan and ongoing Sino-Indian border tensions, Pakistan and its main backer, China, did not attend the event (India Today, November 9). Although India does not have a diplomatic presence on the ground in Afghanistan, its hosting of the dialogue signaled that it still has political, economic and strategic interests in Afghanistan, and remains concerned regarding developments there.

Over the past two decades, India had a warm relationship with successive governments in Afghanistan. It wielded significant influence in Kabul and was playing an important role in Afghanistan’s capacity building, economic development, and reconstruction. This, in turn, strengthened India’s ambitions of trading with Central Asian countries through Iran and Afghanistan. With the Taliban’s capture of power in Kabul, India’s influence has shrunk significantly as India’s relationship with new Taliban rulers has not only been hostile, but lacking the development of any channels of communication. Moreover, the rise of the Taliban to power resulted in an increase in Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s Aid Infrastructure Is Unraveling

Kelly Kimball

As acting president of the Afghan Midwives Association, Fahima Naziri is a sounding board and triage center for fellow midwives across the country.

One told her how her hospital had to deliver the babies of five mothers with just one pair of gloves. Another described how they had to deliver several babies using the flashlights of their mobile phones due to a lack of stable electricity. Others have shared their worry over a lack of oxytocin to induce labor and control bleeding, oxygen, and other basic supplies such as masks, soap, and clean water. Still others have asked expectant fathers to scrounge for firewood to keep rooms warm as winter approaches. Record keeping over the last three months has been scanty, at best, but Naziri believes the rate of infant and maternal mortality in Afghanistan—already among the highest in the world—just keeps climbing.

“Sometimes I think, how many mothers are dying because their death was preventable but there is no support for them? These are the things that we are facing every day in Afghanistan,” Naziri said.

The travails in maternity wards are a microcosm of what the whole country is facing—with little prospect of relief from the outside. In 2018, Afghanistan had more than 3,135 functioning health facilities, the World Health Organization found. Since the Taliban took over Kabul and the country in August, they’ve closed left and right; Naziri figures as many as 2,500 may have shut down.

China's rise in semiconductors and Europe: Recommendations for policy makers

John Lee, Jan-Peter Kleinhans
Source Link

Executive summary
Semiconductors are on the mind of many European policy makers, not least because of the intensifying US-China technology rivalry and the chip shortages that forced most European car makers to temporarily stop production from 2020. As a result, the European Commission is working on an EU Chips Act, a draft of which is scheduled to be ready in mid-2022. Europe’s semiconductor industry has not received this level of attention from policy makers in a long time, and the EU has now a window of opportunity to substantially invest in its semiconductor ecosystem and strengthen international partnerships. The only questions are what, how and where?

In our previous report of June-2021, “Mapping China’s semiconductor ecosystem in global context”, we argued that Europe is already highly dependent on Chinese companies in certain value chain steps and that this dependence will likely grow over the short-term future. As China is now considered from a European viewpoint to be an “economic competitor” and “systemic rival” as well as a “cooperation partner”, these dependencies must be assessed across different dimensions of the national interest: national security, technological competitiveness and supply chain resilience. Based on these assessments, we argue that EU’s forthcoming semiconductor strategy should include three focus areas.

China's Risky Business Crackdown


CHICAGO – Is there a larger purpose to the Chinese government’s recent actions against the country’s largest corporations, and does its cleanup of the financial sector fit into its economic strategy?

China has sought for at least 15 years to rebalance its growth from exports and fixed-asset investment to greater domestic consumption – efforts that have assumed a new urgency, owing to conflicts with the United States and other countries. As long as its domestic market expands, China will be able to reduce the strategic vulnerabilities its dependence on exports implies, and foreign firms will become more dependent on the Chinese market, giving China new sources of strategic leverage. But there are serious impediments to this strategy.

For Chinese domestic consumption to increase, both wages and household incomes from invested savings must grow. And for that to happen, China must depart from a growth model that has hitherto relied on significant repression to keep workers’ wages and returns paid to savers low. That means moving toward higher-skill industries that pay workers more, with investment intermediated by a sophisticated financial sector that can generate reasonable returns even without access to cheap capital.

Why China Continues to Rise


SHANGHAI – In just four decades, China’s economy has achieved an unprecedented level of wealth and development, and, until recently, its upward trajectory of economic growth and prosperity seemed set to continue. But as political pressures and the coronavirus push many countries – particularly the United States – to embrace more nationalist policies, the heyday of globalization soon could be replaced by a post-pandemic era shaped by national-security concerns and border controls.

This is not good news for China, which would prefer that the world maintain the economic openness it achieved in recent decades. For that reason, China had been working hard to align its economic and trade activities with international rules and norms. But now it seems that China must prepare for a future characterized by higher trade barriers and restrictions.

To this end, China’s 14th Five-Year Plan makes clear that the country will seek to reduce its dependence on external demand. The “dual-circulation strategy” announced in the plan instead emphasizes reliance on the country’s huge population. China also plans to invest heavily in cutting-edge sectors, such as artificial intelligence and semiconductors, and work to achieve self-sufficiency in core technologies.

The lessons of China's WTO accession, 20 years later


With the Biden administration’s first calendar year coming to an end, efforts to curb China’s pernicious behavior have borne little fruit. In the past few months, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has increased its military capabilities and aggressive behavior. The PLA’s activities include increasingly provocative actions toward Taiwan, the successful testing of a hypersonic missile — which Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley called a “near-Sputnik moment” for the U.S. — and construction of military bases around the world, including locations in the United Arab Emirates and now, reportedly, Equatorial Guinea.

There has been no shortage of Beijing’s pervasive and unauthorized data collection efforts, widespread intellectual property theft and currency manipulation, among other indiscretions. These are acute reminders that the Chinese Communist Party’s path to replace the United States as the world’s leading power is accelerating — and it can be traced in considerable degree to China’s admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) 20 years ago this month. Understanding the sources and U.S. foreign policy missteps that enabled China’s autocratic rise can offer fertile lessons when calibrating current and future postures. Beijing’s WTO admission and its unchecked non-market practices that precipitated its rise offer insights into the present Sino-American relationship, and important lessons to be heeded.

Prestige Aid: The Case of Turkey

Henok Gebremedhin Teka

Foreign aid[1] refers to the transfer of public funds to promote social and economic development in underdeveloped countries. However, aid’s role in promoting development is highly contested. Critics of foreign aid suspiciously view aid as a foreign policy (FP) tool to achieve economic, political and strategic goals. Despite such criticism over failure to bring meaningful development through aid, emerging donors such as China, India, Brazil and Turkey continue to provide foreign aid to other developing countries. Hans Morgenthau suggests that an understanding of traditional aid motivation is the most baffling subject.[2] However, what is more baffling is to understand the motives of emerging donors since most of them are aid recipients themselves and have similar development challenges as their recipients. Plenty of studies on aid motivation suggest that traditional donors pursue economic, political, and security related interests through aid.[3] Despite the dearth of studies on emerging donors, existing literature found similar motivations for aid in emerging donors such as China and Brazil.[4] Although the existing literature emphasis on donors’ materialistic motives on aid giving, the symbolic drivers of foreign aid are overlooked. This article tries to fill this gap in literature by focusing on Turkey’s use of foreign aid as a foreign policy tool to garner prestige globally. In doing so, the article first analyzes the theoretical and empirical perspectives on aid motivation by giving much weight to the symbolic aspects of aid giving. Next, the article focuses on analyzing the importance of prestige related goals in the previous and current regimes in Turkey. The article concludes that as an emerging power that lacks a hard power to influence global politics, Turkey will continue to use its aid as a soft power tool to earn prestige and good-will globally.

Christmas arrives in Saudi Arabia as kingdom plays catch-up in religious soft power rivalry

James M. Dorsey

Long banned, Christmas has finally, at least tacitly, arrived in Saudi Arabia; just don’t use the name in marketing or be ostentatious about your tree.

Coffeeshops serving beverages in red cups with snowflakes on them are ok. So is the sale of soap bars named ‘Tis the Season and Vanilla Bean Noel.

Christmas trees that sell at up to US$3,000 a piece are slightly more complicated. The religious police no longer harass shopkeepers for selling items that reference a non-Muslim holiday. But shopkeepers remain uncertain about trees and sometimes still keep them in a backroom. Religious references and carols remain beyond the pale.

The loosening of the rules of the game in a country that still bans non-Muslim worship in public and the building of non-Muslim houses of worship is part of an effort to ensure that the kingdom does not lag in the competition with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to project itself as an enlightened, modern country that can attract foreign investment and vie for foreign talent and tourists.

DARPA taps Northrop, Martin Defense Group for Manta Ray UUV Phase 2


WASHINGTON: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has selected Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. and Martin Defense Group to advance to the second phase of its Manta Ray unmanned undersea vehicle program.

Both companies will develop full-scale demonstration models of the vehicle tasked “to operate on long-duration, long-range missions in ocean environments,” according to a Dec. 20 statement from the Pentagon research agency.

“DARPA’s Manta Ray program has made significant breakthroughs toward enabling payload-capable autonomous underwater vehicles to operate independently of crewed vessels or support infrastructure,” said Cmdr. Kyle Woerner, Manta Ray’s program manager. “Manta Ray is uniquely positioning itself to simultaneously introduce a new class of underwater vehicle while contributing key component technologies to other vital undersea programs.”

The first phase of Manta Ray began in 2020 and focused on preliminary testing approaches for vehicle energy management, reliability, navigation and obstacle avoidance, among other things.

A video published by DARPA illustrates how the UUV might operate, gliding just a few feet off the ocean floor. At one point in the video, the vehicle deploys a smaller sensor-like payload that leaves the UUV for several moments, begins to emit a signal and then returns to the Manta Ray.

“The Manta Ray program concluded Phase 1 with Critical Design Reviews that demonstrated design maturity and readiness for advancement to Phase 2,” according to DARPA’s statement. “The selected performers will now work on subsystem testing followed by fabrication and in-water demonstrations of full-scale integrated vehicles.”

Manta Ray is one of several unmanned maritime systems moving through the Pentagon’s research agencies that will likely end up in the Navy’s fleet. The sea service recently announced it started construction on a California-based facility that will house many of these systems as well as the testing activities they undergo.

Why America Should Rejoin UN Peacekeeping Missions

Arslan Malik

During the 2000 U.S. presidential campaign, former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, then adviser to the George W. Bush campaign, stated that “extended peacekeeping detracts from our readiness.” She was alluding to preparedness in terms of what she viewed as the U.S. military’s global priorities: combat and deterrence. Although her comments were in reference to NATO missions, they might as well have been directed at United Nations peacekeeping. Small wonder that during the Bush administration the United States stopped providing military forces for UN peacekeeping, as it instead waged war on multiple fronts.

Ever since their inception in 1948, UN peacekeeping operations have helped prevent conflict between states as well as stabilized countries emerging from war. Unfortunately, the need for such operations is likely to grow in the coming years as climate change, economic inequality, overpopulation, resource scarcity, extremist ideologies, and mass migration fuel conflict around the world. Naturally, as a consequence, the demand for peacekeeping soldiers, commonly known as “blue helmets” for their emblematic headgear, will also increase.

Drones, Drones, Drones: UAVs are the Future of Warfare

Charlie Gao

Here's What You Need To Remember: In this role, the loitering munition is seen to provide a more precise alternative to guided artillery and traditional drones to a small unit leader.

In August 2018, suicide attack drones grabbed headlines when used in an assassination attempt against Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro. Similar drones were used by ISIS in Iraq and Syria to attack coalition and regime forces. While some media outlets have suggested that ISIS has pioneered the use of the “suicide drone,” regular militaries have been using suicide drones for nearly three decades under a different name: Loitering Munitions.

While the loitering munitions fielded by regular militaries are significantly more advanced than the modified drones used by ISIS, the basic concept is the same. An explosive warhead on a flying unmanned air vehicle (UAV) is flown into a target to deliver precision strike effects.

By most accounts, Israel pioneered the development of loitering munitions in the late 1980s or early 1990s as an anti-radar solution. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was always a pioneer in UAV usage—they reduced casualties and political risk, key considerations with a conscripted force.

Where Russia Once Triumphed, Ukrainians Prepare to Resist Putin

James Marson

Mr. Khanko is a veteran of the war that Russia whipped up in Ukraine’s east in 2014 to hinder its neighbor from integrating with the West. While the U.S. and its allies have been fretting that Mr. Putin will order a forceful military thrust to rein in Ukraine again, Mr. Khanko has been laying plans to send his wife and small child westward so he can wage a partisan war from the woods around Poltava.

“Even if they get to Poltava, they won’t be here for long,” said Mr. Khanko, who sports a buzzcut and long black beard.

Anatoliy Khanko is a veteran of the war that Russia whipped up in Ukraine’s east in 2014.

Mr. Putin has described Ukraine as an artificial country glued together by Soviet leaders and named Poltava, some 100 miles from the modern border, among historical Russian lands that he says were wrongly cleaved from Moscow’s control. The city lies on the main highway westward from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, to Kyiv, the capital.

But there are thousands of veterans in this region alone, and while the powerful Russian army would likely overrun Ukrainian forces, holding the territory would come at a huge cost, Mr. Khanko said. A recent national survey by a Kyiv pollster showed that one-third of Ukrainians are willing to take up arms if Russia launches an all-out war.

Can the EU really re-engage with China?

Francesca Ghiretti

After a difficult year, Brussels appears to be attempting to mend fences with China and reestablish a dialogue.

Since September, the key word in Brussels has been “re-engage”. What re-engage means and how it will look like is still open for debate. In any case, China’s ongoing coercive pressure on Lithuania and the proposal of an European anti-coercion instrument will make re-engagement extremely difficult.

The year in EU-China relations began in a downright rosy fashion. The newly concluded Comprehensive Agreement on Investments (CAI) brought a positive outlook to the relationship. As Chancellor Merkel, President Macron, and the Presidents of both the EU Council and Commission joined a call with President Xi, the image conveyed was certainly one of closer ties.

Review: Amitav Ghosh’s New Book Challenges the Dominant View of Development


I did not ‘like’ The Nutmeg’s Curse by Amitav Ghosh. I have a strong suspicion that he did not write it for ‘likes’. He challenges every shibboleth of establishment ‘wisdom’, every prevailing paradigm, because he wants to make us think outside our comfort zones. He has succeeded.

The biggest challenge Ghosh throws down is to the prevailing understanding of when the climate crisis started. Most of us have accepted – without thinking about it ourselves – that it started with the widespread use of coal at the beginning of the Industrial Age in the 18th century and worsened with the mass adoption of oil and natural gas in the 20th.

Global and human exploitation

Ghosh takes this history at least three centuries back, to the start of European colonialism in the 15th century. He makes this point most tellingly by starting the book with a 1621 massacre by Dutch invaders determined to impose a monopoly on nutmeg cultivation and trade in the Banda islands in today’s Indonesia. Not only do the Dutch systematically depopulate the islands through genocide, they also try their best to bring nutmeg cultivation into plantation mode.

Renegotiation Isn’t Disaster in Northern Ireland

Azeem Ibrahim

David Frost, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s longtime Brexit advisor and functionary, recently resigned from the government after a turbulent couple of weeks for Johnson. Frost was integrally connected to the British strategy of dealing with the European Union and largely the bearer of U.K. policy. His speeches set the government tone and served as opening gambits for future negotiation.

Frost’s resignation leaves some confusion about the shape of Britain’s future Brexit policy. Debate for the past few months has centered on whether the United Kingdom will terminate the prevailing legal and economic arrangements along the border with Ireland by triggering Article 16 of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol—which allows either the EU or U.K. to dissolve the arrangements in the event of unspecified serious difficulties. Frost’s departure solves none of these questions. U.S. and European policymakers have greeted his departure with surprise and uncertainty.

But Frost’s resignation was largely about domestic politics, namely his objections to Johnson’s “Plan B” restrictions to arrest the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19. Frost’s departure does not mean the U.K.’s position on Northern Ireland has fundamentally changed—nor should it be a prompt for dramatic steps by Britain’s partners in the United States or EU.

Hybrid Warfare: Explaining Russia's Assault on Ukraine

Dan Goure

Here's What You Need to Know: Russia has sought to use many of the processes, traditions and norms of the current international system as part of its hybrid warfare arsenal not only in the pursuit of its national interests but to undermine that global order.

Over the past two decades, the world has been subjected to an unprecedented peacetime assault. Unlike past major conflicts, this one is taking place largely below the level of overt hostilities. It involves the use of non-military or, at the most, paramilitary means to attack an adversary’s critical national assets – the economy, military and security services, infrastructure, political system, and media. As explained by Frank Hoffman, perhaps the best scholar on the subject: “The most distinctive change in the character of modern war is the blurred or blended nature of combat. We do not face a widening number of distinct challenges but their convergence into hybrid wars.”

What happens when US rejects Putin’s ultimatum?


Russian President Vladimir Putin does not seem ready to burn his bridges with the West just yet, judging by his highly anticipated end-of-year speech delivered on December 23.

Despite threats and harsh rhetoric amid a threatened war on Ukraine, the Russian leader at the same time says that the United States’ response to the Kremlin’s demands for legally binding security guarantees to defuse the stand-off has been “positive”, even though Washington still has not formally responded to Moscow’s proposals.

Does that mean Russia is actually not poised to invade the neighboring country that was part of the former Soviet Union?

Not necessarily. If Ukraine launches a full-scale military offensive in the Donbass, Moscow will likely have to intervene to protect the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic.

The Backbone of JADC2: Satellite Communications for Information Age Warfare

Arlington, VA | December 15, 2021 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Policy Paper series, The Backbone of JADC2: Satellite Communications for Information Age Warfare by Gen Kevin Chilton, USAF (Ret.) Explorer Chair for Space Warfighting Studies, and Lukas Autenried, Senior Analyst, at the Mitchell Institute Spacepower Advantage Research Center.

Today, DOD’s SATCOM enterprise is at a crossroads. Current systems and architectures are simply not designed for the speed, scale, and complexity that information age, all-domain operations demand, nor are they sufficiently resilient against modern counterspace threats. At the same time, consolidation of responsibility for SATCOM under the new Space Force presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to chart a new path that ensures U.S. forces have the assured connectivity needed to defeat great power aggression.

Meta’s Adversarial Threat Report

Nathaniel Gleicher

We’re sharing a detailed, end-of-year threat report on six adversarial networks we found and removed for Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB), Brigading and Mass Reporting.

We removed four CIB operations from China, Palestine, Poland and Belarus; one network in Italy and France for Brigading; and one network in Vietnam for Mass Reporting.

We’re expanding our CrowdTangle-enabled beta platform to more researchers worldwide to share CIB data with more security researchers over the next several months.

The global threats we tackle have significantly evolved since we first started sharing our findings about Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior in 2017. In addition, adversarial networks don’t strive to neatly fit our policies or only violate one at a time. To account for this constantly shifting threat environment, we build our defenses with the expectation that they will not stop, but rather adapt and try new tactics. We add new layers of defense to address potential gaps from multiple angles. Our goal over time is to make these behaviors more costly and difficult to hide, and less effective.




The Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting a growing range of economic and social activity across national borders, while simultaneously expanding the security challenges implied by these connections, including to Chinese state power.

Despite US-led efforts to exclude Chinese actors from digital networks worldwide, the economies of East and Southeast Asia are becoming more densely integrated with China through evolving IoT ecosystems and supply chains.

These trends threaten to disadvantage Australia and require policies to build up the country’s own technological capacities while devising innovative ways to manage, rather than avoid, the risks entailed in growing digital connections with China.

Training Civilians, Ukraine Nurtures a Resistance in Waiting

Andrew E. Kramer

KYIV, Ukraine — In a pine forest not far from Ukraine’s capital, a mock battle raged. Commanders barked orders. Figures in camouflage huddled behind trees. A soldier fell to the ground, yelling for help.

His cries provided the cue for Anastasia Biloshitska, 25, to run into the line of fire, kneel in the mud and open her medical kit.

“People who are prepared won’t panic,” Ms. Biloshitska said.

Ms. Biloshitska is one of thousands of Ukrainian civilians who have signed up to learn combat skills in training programs created and run by the government and private paramilitary groups. The programs are part of the country’s strategic defense plan in the event of a potential invasion by Russia — to foster a civilian resistance that can carry on the fight if the Ukrainian military is overwhelmed.

There is no indication that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has made up his mind whether to launch an attack. But if one should come, even Ukraine’s own generals say their regular military stands little chance in a full-fledged invasion.

Taking Down the Caliphate: The story of an ad-hoc SOF task force that helped turn the tide against the Islamic state

Andrew Milburn

Rutbah, Iraq - 2016

“The battle showed how the campaign against the Islamic State [...] is supposed to work:

This month, a US drone attack on a nearby highway killed Shaker Wahib, the terrorists ‘military emir’ in Anbar, shaking morale. The day before the battle the United States dropped two huge bombs on minefields and berms surrounding the town.”

“Then came the attack from a combined force of Iraqi Army troops and hundreds of recently recruited tribal fighters who had been trained by US Special Operations Forces. When they moved in, only thirty Islamic State fighters stayed to fight.”

David Ignatius, “The U.S.’s Show of Power Against the Islamic State,” Washington Post, (March 2016)

India’s hypersonics hint at nuclear strike policy shift


With little fanfare, India successfully tested its Shaurya hypersonic weapon with a strike range of 1,000 kilometers back in October. But analysts are now starting to wonder whether the weapon’s development could signal a move away from New Delhi’s stated “no first use” (NFU) nuclear policy.

The missile was launched from Abdul Kalam Island, maneuvered during its terminal phase and struck its designated impact point in the Bay of Bengal. Because India keeps the Shaurya program under a tight shroud of secrecy, scant technical details are publicly available.

The weapon is allegedly an improved land-based version of the Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which was first developed in the 1990s.

In September 2020, India successfully tested its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), which flew at Mach-6 speed while being tracked by a ship in the Bay of Bengal. That success was followed by a failed test in 2019, where the HSTDV’s Agni-I rocket booster became uncontrollable and it did not reach the desired altitude.

From Environmental Scarcity to ‘Rage of the Rich’ – Causes of Conflict in Mali

Sarah M. El-Abd

The conflict in Mali, particularly known as the Northern Mali Conflict, refers to the armed conflict that began in 2012 between the northern and southern parts of Mali (Ghauzal & Van Damme, 2015). Nevertheless, the sources of conflict stem further back than 2012, as this paper will go on to explore. In January 2012, several groups within Mali began an armed campaign against the Malian Government in aspiration for the independence of northern Mali, the area referred to as Azawad by many. Although Mali has taken the steps of formal peace agreements in attempts and with aspirations of settling peace and creating stability and security, the true validity of the peace processes lies in understanding, and subsequently solving the root causes of the violent conflict (McCoy, 2008). The very multidimensional threats to Malian security can be observed as a result of cumulative continuous micro-conflicts since the 1960s after Malian independence (Farah, Gandhi & Robidoux, 2019). Thus, this paper will take a wider scope in examining the underlying causes, the horizontal inequalities, the individual motivations for violent conflict, the concerns for environmental scarcity, failure of the social contract, and lastly the proximate causes, as the possible triggers or reasonings for the violent Malian intra-state conflict.

Underlying Causes

The underlying causes, or permissive conditions, of the Malian intra-state conflict are extensive, yet they tie together under the general realms of structural factors, political factors, economic factors, and cultural factors (Brown, 1997). These factors are so interknitted that it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate. The political factors – the evident discriminatory political Malian institutions, the exclusionary national ideologies, the inter-group politics, and the elite politics – have manifested themselves extensively as underlying causes of the conflict. Historically, it is clear that a lack of cohesive understanding mixed with mutual distrust between Central Mali and Northern Mali has fed into the increasing Malian instability.

Takshashila Discussion Document – Governance of DCNs II: Opportunities and Benefits


We have defined DCNs as composite entities consisting of:

Capability: Internet-based products/services that enable instantaneous low-cost or free communication across geographic, social, and cultural boundaries. This communication may be private (1:1), limited (1:n e.g. messaging groups), or broad (Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, YouTube videos, live streaming ), and so on.

Operator(s): Firms/groups that design/operate these products and services.

Networks: The entities/groups/individuals that adopt/use these products and services, and their interactions with each other.

Executive Summary

This Discussion Document identifies benefits attributable to Digital Communication Networks. This document continues from the findings of Governance of DCNs I: Categorisation of Harms to inform policymaking from an Indian perspective.

The document notes that aspects of DCNs such as low entry costs, change in scale and structure of human networks, and the speed of information flows enable harms and benefits. It then proceeds to identify the benefits accrued in two interdependent areas – Markets and Society.