24 June 2022

Countering Hypersonics

Seth Cropsey

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrust conventional capabilities back into the fore, particularly cruise missiles. Russia has demonstrated its hypersonic capabilities multiple times, testing an anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile in May and a super-heavy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capable of carrying hypersonic glide vehicles in April. It has also used hypersonics in combat against Ukrainian targets.

Hypersonics have not transformed the strategic situation within Ukraine. But their growing employment and obvious Russian and Chinese technical advances demonstrate a sobering reality: the U.S. and its allies must contend with hypersonic-armed adversaries.

The U.S. has improved its hypersonic offensive capabilities. But its hypersonic defenses lag behind. The American defense establishment should apply the same focus and energy to hypersonic defense as it has to hypersonic offense. Specifically, the U.S. should retain the same rapid program development protocols it has used to accelerate hypersonic development for hypersonic defenses, increase funding commensurately with the threat, accelerate platform testing, and coordinate with valuable allies on hypersonic questions. Without intense focus, the U.S. risks remaining vulnerable to a crucial capability in an impending confrontation with China or Russia.

The Ukrainian War and a New World Order


The war in Ukraine poses numerous questions: What will be the country’s fate?; what will happen to the Ukrainian people?; will Russia be held accountable?; and what is the U.S.’s role in the war? One question that often goes unasked is: what does the war say about the nature of the international world order?

The Committee for Isolation Moderation offers the following definitions often used to describe the different structures of world order:

Unipolarity – a system in where a single nation holds dominance over much of the world.

Bipolarity – an international system where two nations hold dominance over much of the world.

Multipolarity – a system in which more than two nations hold power over the world or regions; multiple superpowers ….

The Committee acknowledged, “the Cold War era between the end of World War II and the falls of the Berlin Wall [1989] and Soviet Union [1991] was bipolar in nature and resulted in relentless competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, with much of the rest of world forced to choose a side or being caught up in proxy wars between the two sole superpowers.”

The Petrochemical Industry Is Set To Explode

Felicity Bradstock

As countries around the globe are setting ambitious targets to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels, many will remain reliant on oil and gas for petrochemical production for decades to come. However, the decarbonization of oil and gas operations may well become key to the success of the industry, as many governments strive to keep their climate pledges while also responding to global demand. A recent petrochemical report suggests that the petrochemical market size will reach around $1 trillion by 2030, increasing at a CAGR of 6.2 percent over the next eight years. The increase in demand will be mainly centered around the construction, textile, medical, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, automotive, and electronics industries.

At present, ethylene, propylene, and benzene are the main petrochemicals being used across the packaging, electronics, plastics, and rubber industries. Most petrochemical products are manufactured using crude oil and natural gas, making many industries highly reliant on the fossil fuel sector.

The Asia Pacific region is expected to dominate the petrochemical market over the next decade thanks to strong regulatory policies supporting the industry. And an increase in natural gas production – to bridge the gap in the energy transition to renewable alternatives – will support the development of the petrochemical industry.

Asia and the War in Ukraine

Nigel Gould-Davies

Asian defense ministers speaking at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2022 were nearly unanimous in expressing grave concerns about Russia’s actions in Ukraine. That a European issue played so prominent a role at the summit – and that ministers from so many diverse countries spoke from a similar position – is encouraging news for those who are seeking to hold together the broad international coalition opposing Russia’s invasion.

For the first time a crisis in Europe loomed large over Asia’s premier defense summit, the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, which took place this year from June 10-12. It was no surprise that Western officials, united in opposition to Russia’s aggression, addressed Russia’s war in Ukraine. But nearly every Asian defense minister did so, too. The conflict is having “seismic repercussions” for the region, according to Malaysia’s Senior Minister of Defense Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. He and his counterparts raised three concerns.

Firstly, a flagrant challenge to international law in one part of the world weakens it elsewhere. Japanese Minister of Defense Kishi Nobuo noted that the response to Russia’s aggression would influence “not only the fate of Ukraine but also that of the rules-based international order.” His prime minister, Kishida Fumio, was even clearer in his keynote address: “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow.” Others echoed this concern.

Experimental Wargaming at the Tactical Level: An Example

Jim Rohrer

Examples of wargaming at the tactical level are scarce in the military literature and army manuals (Hodge, 2012). Courses of action are tested at the strategic and operational level using a paradigm based on a three-legged stool for “What If” analysis: computer simulation, experimentation, and wargaming (Alberts & Hayes, 2002). The legs of the stool represent different approaches to What If analysis that are useful in different situations. Unfortunately, this paradigm might become limiting as the legs turn into silos. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that tactical wargaming is feasible by crossing the barriers between simulation, wargaming and experimentation. Fair warning: this demonstration involves dice despite objections to their use in military wargaming (Guyer, Rovzar, & Sprang, 2021).

The Scenario

Kämärä was the first battle of the Finnish Civil War (Wikipedia, Downloaded June 21, 2022). In the Russian and Finnish civil wars, the soviets were called Reds and their opponents were called Whites. An army of 500 Finnish Whites was driven out of Vyborg in Karelia on January 25, 1918. They crossed Vyborg Bay on the ice and camped on an island. They were headed toward White-controlled territory so their next stop was the village of Säiniö. They drove Reds out of the railway station but a train filled with Russian sailors arrived and the Whites were forced to retreat. This was January 26. Revolution was declared by the Reds in Helsinki that same evening. On January 27, the Whites captured the village of Kämärä where there was another railway station. Finding a telegram saying a large shipment of weapons intended for the Red Army would come through from Petrograd on January 28, Colonel Adolf Aminoff detached sixty soldiers to ambush and disrupt the shipment. He did not use his entire force because he judged capturing the weapons was not realistic. Two trains arrived, one with the weapons and one with 400 Red soldiers led by Finnish Reds based in Petrograd. The Whites were able to derail the locomotive but the Reds set up their machine guns and drove them away. The Whites escaped on skis despite being targeted by artillery fire.

Artillery: King of the Battlefield in Ukraine

Thomas Anders Bailey

As the shock of the Russian invasion of Ukraine died down and the two belligerents began to prepare for a long and grinding attritional war, it became clear that technology and advanced weapons systems would play a vital role. The West has been systematically sending weapons to Ukraine, from the British Starstreak MANPADS and Turkish TB2 drone to the American-made tank-busting FGM-148 Javelin, and has remained steadfast in its resolve to tip the balance in Ukraine’s favor. But what has also become clear, is that this is a war of artillery, and there are several Western artillery systems that could really help drive back the Russian army along the front.

Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, artillery has undoubtedly revealed itself to be the most consequential battlefield weapon. High-ranking Ukrainian military personnel have said as much. An adviser to General Valery Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine’s top commander, stated that “anti-tank missiles slowed the Russians down, but what killed them was our artillery. That was what broke their units.” The power of indirect fire on enemy positions miles away cannot be underestimated and if Ukraine is to come out on top in this war, then an acceleration of shipments of modern weapons systems from the West is crucial.

Ukrainian Victory is Possible

Back on February 24, when Russian VDV airborne forces began to descend on the area around Kyiv, notably the Hostomel airfield just north of the city, Western observers were surprised at the resilience and effectiveness of Ukrainian defenses, as well as the motivation and morale of its defending units.

How the West Can Pull Russia to the Negotiating Table

Amin E. Aghjeh

As Russian president Vladimir Putin talks about “returning” Russian lands and compares himself to Peter the Great while Russia advances near Severodonetsk, the prospects of peace wane. But will a prolonged war of attrition really benefit Russia? Probably not.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dymetro Kuleba argued last week that only Ukrainian advances on the battlefield can persuade Russia to come to the negotiating table. If Ukraine gains momentum on the southern and eastern fronts, the likelihood of this outcome will certainly increase, but it is an open question whether Ukraine can make significant advances on the battlefield. Ukrainian forces have higher morale than the Russians, but they are outgunned by a significant margin. In Kuleba’s own words, Russia has a fifteen-to-one superiority over Ukraine in terms of artillery power. So, how many rocket launchers and howitzers will Ukraine need in order to launch an effective counter-offensive? “Hundreds of multiple-launch rocket systems and various 155-mm artillery pieces,” says Kuleba. “We also need anti-ship missiles, tanks, armored vehicles, air defense, and combat aircraft to be able to launch effective counterattacks,” he adds.

Why Cyber Dogs Have Yet to Bark Loudly in Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

As Russia’s massive armored buildup on the Ukrainian border became apparent in the fall of 2021, pundits began to offer contrasting predictions about the likely role that cyber war would play in any escalation of the crisis.1 These disparate claims mirror a larger ongoing debate about whether cyber war is more likely to supplant or exacerbate traditional modes of warfare in the 21st century. Specifically, advocates of the theory that cyber operations will increasingly substitute for conventional conflict argue that cyber conflict today and in the future could achieve what tanks did in the 20th century.2 Advocates of a competing theory argue that cyber operations will tend to coincide with, rather than replace, any significant use of military force.

While Russia has conducted some cyber operations in Ukraine, both in the lead-up to and after the February invasion, these have neither supplanted nor significantly supplemented conventional combat activities. Given Russia’s highly sophisticated cyber capabilities and its long-term presence in Ukrainian networks,3 why has it failed to utilize such apparently potent tools in seeking strategic or tactical advantages?

The Causes and Consequences of the Ukraine Crisis

John J. Mearsheimer

The war in Ukraine is a multi-dimensional disaster, which is likely to get much worse in the foreseeable future. When a war is successful, little attention is paid to its causes, but when the outcome is disastrous, understanding how it happened becomes paramount. People want to know: how did we get into this terrible situation?

I have witnessed this phenomenon twice in my lifetime—first with the Vietnam war and second with the Iraq war. In both cases, Americans wanted to know how their country could have miscalculated so badly. Given that the United States and its NATO allies played a crucial role in the events that led to the Ukraine war—and are now playing a central role in the conduct of that war—it is appropriate to evaluate the West’s responsibility for this calamity.

I will make two main arguments today.

First, the United States is principally responsible for causing the Ukraine crisis. This is not to deny that Putin started the war and that he is responsible for Russia’s conduct of the war. Nor is it to deny that America’s allies bear some responsibility, but they largely follow Washington’s lead on Ukraine. My central claim is that the United States has pushed forward policies toward Ukraine that Putin and other Russian leaders see as an existential threat, a point they have made repeatedly for many years. Specifically, I am talking about America’s obsession with bringing Ukraine into NATO and making it a Western bulwark on Russia’s border. The Biden administration was unwilling to eliminate that threat through diplomacy and indeed in 2021 recommitted the United States to bringing Ukraine into NATO. Putin responded by invading Ukraine on February 24th of this year.

Book Review: Information Technology and Military Power

Taylor Grossman

A cynical attitude toward technology is certainly nothing new in military analysis. Naysaying is a perennial accompaniment to technical change in warfighting, from early reactions to the machine gun to some of the current rhetoric around unmanned aerial vehicles.1 You can find echoes of this strain of thought in almost any contemporary analysis of conflict: examinations of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, overviews of the Russian military threat, explorations of U.S.-Chinese competition, and so on.

In the first chapter of Information Technology and Military Power, Jon Lindsay offers a concise but rich outline of the underlying scholarship on military innovation and effectiveness, including the classical Clausewitzian “fog of war” school of thought, and the related view of the impermeable chaos of the battlefield.2 Lindsay’s new book describes the persistent and cyclical challenges that seem to plague the American warfighting community, despite — or perhaps even because of — supposedly revolutionary achievements in technology.3 Lindsay asserts that “information technology becomes more complex and increasingly essential for military performance without, however, providing any lasting decisive advantage on the battlefield.”4 The advent of modern computing has proved no different. “[W]ar,” he writes, “has neither changed its nature nor become any more decisive in the information age.”5

Have we reached peak China?


Maximilian Mayer is a junior-professor of international relations and global politics of technology at the University of Bonn. Emilian Kavalski is the NAWA chair professor at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

Chinese President Xi Jinping would like the world to think he has good reason to be confident about the state of international affairs. But look a little closer, and China, it seems, is far more fragile than it would like to project.

Much ink has been spilled about the shockwaves created by the controversial AUKUS defense pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, and what it means for France and the transatlantic alliance. Much less has been written about what it means for China. And yet, Beijing’s response to the deal, which aims at hemming it in, and the reactions of other countries in the region speak volumes about China’s position internationally.

Canada to ban China's Huawei and ZTE from its 5G networks

Annabelle Liang

The restrictions against Huawei and ZTE were announced by the country's industry minister on Thursday.

Francois-Philippe Champagne says the move will improve Canada's mobile internet services and "protect the safety and security of Canadians".

But Huawei Canada said it was "disappointed" by the decision, which it said was "political".

"This is an unfortunate political decision that has nothing to do with cyber security or any of the technologies in question," a statement said.

Several nations - including the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand - have already put restrictions on the firms.

The four countries, along with Canada, make up an intelligence-sharing arrangement named "Five Eyes". It evolved during the Cold War as a mechanism for monitoring the Soviet Union and sharing classified information.

Ukrainian Strikes On Russian-Occupied Snake Island Confirmed In Satellite Imagery


Asatellite image The War Zone has obtained from Planet labs shows evidence supporting the Ukrainian military's claims that they have recently carried out air and artillery strikes on Russian positions on Snake Island in the western end of the Black Sea. Unconfirmed details about these strikes had first begun to emerge yesterday, along with news that Russian-occupied gas drilling rigs elsewhere in the region had been struck, as you can read more about in our initial reporting here.

The Planet Labs satellite image, which was shot on June 21, 2022, shows at least three newly darkened areas on Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island. These appear to be scorch marks reflecting recent explosions and/or fires. These visibly discolored spots were not seen in an earlier satellite image of the island from Planet Labs, which was taken just before noon local time on June 20.

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Scientists Just Built a Laser That Can Run Forever


In new research, scientists reveal a special laser made with a Bose-Einstein Condensate that can run forever. The secret is to manipulate the atoms, themselves, into behaving as contained waves, a principle that underpins quantum mechanics. A team of physicists from the University of Amsterdam, most from the Van der Waals-Zeeman Institute, conducted this research on the nature and duration of atom lasers. They published their findings on June 8 in the journal Nature.

A Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) is a special phase of matter where the atoms combine into a homogeneous cloudy mass that acts as one body. Researchers must specially treat the atoms both to get into BEC state and to stay there, but the matter has special properties while in this phase. Typically, BECs are induced by taking very sparse gases and cooling them so that their interactive properties are further diminished. It’s at this point that the branches between atoms start to express themselves on a macroscopic level. Thus, the BEC is formed.

Analysis: Russia hand's demotion signals shift in Xi's strategy


Katsuji Nakazawa is a Tokyo-based senior staff and editorial writer at Nikkei. He spent seven years in China as a correspondent and later as China bureau chief. He was the 2014 recipient of the Vaughn-Ueda International Journalist prize.

The demotion of Le Yucheng, China's first vice foreign minister, has sent shock waves through national political circles.

On June 14, it was announced that Le had been appointed deputy head of the National Radio and Television Administration and "no longer serves as vice foreign minister."

That meant the pro-Russian diplomat was no longer frontrunner in the race to become foreign minister.

After studying Russian, Le was assigned to the Foreign Ministry's Soviet and East European affairs department and served two stints at the Chinese embassy in Russia. He also served as China's ambassador to India at a young age.

China’s Military Is The World’s Largest Fighting Force

Harrison Kass

China’s Military, Explained – It should come as no surprise that the world’s most populous nation has the world’s largest fighting force. China, with a population of 1.4 billion people, has the human capital to support a massive army, with 2 million active-duty personnel. By comparison, the world’s second and third largest armies, India and the United States, respectively have 1.45 and 1.39 million soldiers, making China’s army 33 percent larger than the next closest competitor. China’s principal fighting force is the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The PLA consists of five distinct branches: the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and Strategic Support Force.

The People’s Liberation Army in Force

Nearly half of China’s 2 million soldiers are assigned to the PLA’s Ground Force. The Ground Force is organized into five separate theaters of command: Northern, Eastern, Southern, Western, and Central. The PLA is further organized into roughly 35 group armies, which break down into 118 infantry divisions, 13 armored divisions, 33 artillery/anti-aircraft artillery divisions, 71 independent divisions, and 21 support divisions. During the 21st century, the Ground Forces have undergone an impressive modernization campaign, concerning both equipment and doctrine. The PLA’s contemporary operational doctrine emphasizes information and electronic warfare, long-range precision strikes, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Sustaining and Growing the U.S. Semiconductor Advantage: A Primer

Will Hunt


The United States and several allies and partners presently enjoy an advantage over China in collectively producing the advanced semiconductors necessary for artificial intelligence (AI) and other leading-edge computing technologies. This advantage stems from their tight control over many parts of the semiconductor supply chain, including over design and advanced inputs to production like the semiconductor manufacturing equipment (SME) necessary for advanced chips, and it has promoted comparatively safe and ethical technology development. Yet the complexities of the global semiconductor industry do not guarantee a future edge for the United States and other democratic chipmaking leaders amid strategic competition with China.

Despite its advantages in research, equipment, design software, and intellectual property (IP), the United States lacks onshore semiconductor fabrication facilities (fabs) that covert these and other inputs into leading-edge chips. This reality could undermine the country’s chip access and its leading role in advanced semiconductor supply chains. The United States overwhelmingly depends on Taiwanese and South Korean manufacturers for leading-edge logic chip imports, exposing its access to geopolitical risk. Meanwhile, China hopes to lessen its long-term dependence on foreign advanced chips by supporting its domestic manufacturers like SMIC and YMTC and, increasingly, by investing across other parts of the semiconductor supply chain. With unfettered access to advanced chips, China could pursue leading-edge computing capabilities in AI and other areas that threaten the interests, values, and security of the United States and its allies.

The United States should therefore work toward two primary objectives when it comes to sustaining and growing its semiconductor advantages over China. First, protecting the U.S. SME advantage entails preventing China from producing leading-edge chips. The United States will need to work with its allies and partners to protect SME supply chains from Chinese access and promote their development on friendly shores, safeguarding U.S. economic and military advantages using tools such as export controls and end-use monitoring. Navigating competitive economic dynamics among governments and multinational private sector firms while working toward shared goals may prove challenging, but will be critically important.

Second, the United States needs to limit potential risks to its own semiconductor supply by reshoring chipmaking capacity. It can achieve this goal by prioritizing and allocating incentives to domestic and allied firms through vehicles like CHIPS for America Act funding that, coupled with regulatory reforms that ease burdens on firms, would decrease the attractiveness of offshoring chip manufacturing. This brief discusses incentive prioritization in terms of leading-edge logic, leading-edge memory, and legacy logic chips. At the same time, exploring legislation to secure access to skilled foreign labor while investing in domestic education and retraining can help build the future U.S. semiconductor workforce. Holistically approaching the protection and reshoring goals could bolster U.S. control over both the IP behind SME and advanced chips and the physical fabs that produce them.

Download Full Report.

If the Metaverse Is Left Unregulated, Companies Will Track Your Gaze and Emotions


The world’s leading neurologists assembled in Seattle earlier this month for a Symposium on Eye Tracking Research and Applications. Sponsors of the event included Google and Reality Labs, a division of Meta Platforms, Inc., the company formerly known as Facebook.

Poets say the eyes are the window into a person’s soul. Neurologists are less romantic, finding that eye movements can reveal our thought processes. The companies that once harnessed psychological research to design products that would hold the user’s attention are now probing how to build a new business—the metaverse—around neurological science.

One way of thinking about the move from the internet we know today to the metaverse is as a move from observation to participation. In the 2-D internet experience, the user observes what is on the screen. The 3-D metaverse utilizes optical equipment to connect the user to algorithms that put them “inside” a pseudo-world. Facebook is so convinced it is the future that it changed its name to Meta Systems, Inc., and last year invested $10 billion in developing metaverse products and services.

After a Pivotal Period in Ukraine, U.S. Officials Predict the War’s Path

 Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes

WASHINGTON — When Russia shifted its military campaign to focus on eastern Ukraine this spring, senior officials in the Biden administration said the next four to six weeks of fighting would determine the war’s eventual path.

That time has passed, and officials say the picture is increasingly clear: Russia is likely to end up with more territory, they said, but neither side will gain full control of the region as a depleted Russian military faces an opponent armed with increasingly sophisticated weapons.

While Russia has seized territory in the easternmost region of Luhansk, its progress has been plodding. Meanwhile, the arrival of American long-range artillery systems, and Ukrainians trained on how to use them, should help Ukraine in the battles to come, said Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Intel chair ‘amazed’ Russia hasn’t launched full-scale cyberwarfare


Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Monday he was surprised Russia hasn’t launched more destructive cyberattacks against Ukraine and the West despite having the capability to do so.

“I am still relatively amazed that they have not really launched the level of maliciousness that their cyber arsenal includes,” Warner said during a cyber webinar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Many cyber experts and U.S. intelligence officials predicted that Russia would launch massive cyberattacks, especially following crippling economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe, but so far those predictions haven’t materialized.

Warner predicted on Feb. 28 that Russia would launch cyberattacks “in the coming days and weeks.”

It’s Time for Regulators to Put Crypto Down

David Gerard

The bank run is burnt into the collective U.S. imagination for good reason. When the Great Depression hit, the savings of millions of Americans were wiped out when their banks collapsed. That’s why the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) was introduced in 1933. Since then, not a penny of FDIC-insured funds has been lost when banks go under.

It’s a different story when your “bank” is a cryptocurrency firm. As crypto prices collapse, customers’ deposits are disappearing with them—or being swiped by the people behind the company. Unregulated markets are looking very much the same now as they did in the 1920s.

Bitcoin advocates have largely switched away from claiming that the cryptocurrency can function as an actual currency, mainly due to it still being largely unfeasible to pay for anything in it. Now the claim is that bitcoin is a “store of value”—that is, an asset that won’t lose its worth over time. This has been dramatically shown untrue. More than that, the storekeepers were shoveling the valuables into their own—U.S. dollar-denominated—vaults.

Why Russia Keeps Turning to Mass Firepower

Lucian Staiano-Daniels

Russia did not intend to fight a war like this. After their initial dash toward Kyiv failed, Russian forces have resorted to grinding sieges, encircling Mariupol and other cities in Ukraine’s east.

With it has come a return to a familiar practice in Russian doctrine for centuries: the use of massed heavy artillery. In contrast to U.S. doctrine, which emphasizes the relatively precise use of high explosives, Russian doctrine emphasizes massed firepower—and has for generations.

Russian artillery has been technologically inventive and intellectually interesting since the early 18th century, when Russian Field Marshal Peter Ivanovich Shuvalov developed several experimental forms of cannons. During the wars of the 18th century, Russian artillery was consistently better than that of powers such as Prussia. Russia was already interested in amassing big guns: Regulations adopted during the reign of Elizabeth Petrovna in the 1750s recommended concentrating them in combinations of 16 or 24. The Imperial Russian Army maintained its focus on technological and theoretical excellence during the first half of the 19th century. Although Russian artillery was not modernized as much as it should have been during the latter half of that century, it remained creative: For instance, the Russian army was supposedly the first to make use of indirect fire in combat, during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05.

Germany Confronts Its Nuclear Demons

Allison Meakem

On March 30, the German Council of Economic Experts, a group of five leading economists who evaluate German government policy, made a recommendation that broke a long-standing cultural and political taboo. To confront the looming energy crisis linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the economists wrote, Germany should consider delaying the phaseout of its three remaining nuclear power plants, slated for the end of this year.

The country is heavily dependent on imports of Russian natural gas, and most experts agree it is only a matter of time before Germans—whether through their own political will or that of Russian President Vladimir Putin—are cut off for good. The European Union has already finalized plans to embargo most imports of Russian coal and oil, which make up a much smaller—but still significant—share of Germany’s energy mix. Though gas remains the last unsanctioned holdout, Putin in May cut 3 percent of his country’s gas exports to Germany in what was largely seen as a power move. They were reduced further last week.

Lawmakers want clarity on JADC2 efforts: Who’s getting what, when?


WASHINGTON: Concerned with the Pentagon’s progress on implementing it’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept — an effort to connect sensors to shooters across land, sea, air, space and cyberspace domains — lawmakers are directing the defense secretary to submit a report by the end of this year on exactly what capabilities will be delivered to warfighters and when.

In its mark of the fiscal 2023 defense authorization bill, released today, the House Armed Services Committee’s cyber, innovative technologies and information systems (CITI) subcommittee says that every military service has its own separate effort to address the JADC2 requirements concept and that it’s unclear how the efforts are progressing and how much they’ll cost.

In a briefing to reporters, HASC committee staff said the report will help the committee “fully understand the state of play and understand how to support these efforts.”

Ukraine war raises questions about military insight into commercial SATCOM


WASHINGTON: The Russia-Ukraine conflict has expanded global military use of commercial satellite communications while raising questions about how much insight US European Command has into the commercial SATCOM industry, EUCOM’s chief information officer said this week.

Speaking at a C4ISRNET event Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Chad Raduege, who also serves as the director of EUCOM’s command, control, communications and computers/cyber directorate, said the war, now in its 113th day of conflict, has resulted in an “explosion of activity” for commercial SATCOM.

“We have seen no step down in performance and, in fact, in many ways, probably a step up in performance just because our commercial partners have been able to keep up with the technology and they’re putting newer and newer capabilities and technology into place,” Radeuge said. “And so that’s absolutely going to be one [area] that as we move forward, we will have to integrate in. The constellations that our commercial partners are putting up help fill in a whole bunch of gaps and make us more connected than ever.”

Russian refinery says it was struck by drones from direction of Ukraine

MOSCOW, June 22 (Reuters) - Two drones flying from the direction of Ukraine hit a major Russian oil refinery near the border on Wednesday, the plant said, sending a ball of flame and black smoke billowing into the sky and prompting the plant to suspend production.

Russian regions bordering Ukraine have reported numerous attacks and shelling after Moscow sent its troops into its former Soviet neighbour on Feb. 24 for what it calls a "special military operation".

The Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Russia's Rostov region said the first drone struck at 8.40 a.m. (0540 GMT) hitting acrude distillation unit, triggering a blast and ball of fire.

The second strike at 0623 GMT was aimed at crude oil reservoirs at the refinery, the largest supplier of oil products in southern Russia, but caused no fire, the plant said. No one was injured.

The Summit of the Americas Amounted to a Long To-Do List

Steve Liston

The U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas wrapped up in Los Angeles on June 10 with decidedly mixed results. After a run-up to the summit dominated by discussions over who would attend, the event itself was a flurry of activity by hundreds of government, business and civil society participants. Those who care about outcomes were left to sort through five official accords, a slew of side agreements and several U.S. government announcements.

In making sense of the summit’s outcomes, three overarching themes become clear. First, dysfunctional relations between the U.S. and many regional governments continue to hobble U.S. diplomacy in the Americas. Second, Washington’s hemispheric agenda is primarily shaped by its global preoccupations. And finally, in areas where global concerns are less prominent, U.S. domestic politics loom in the background of its regional agenda.

This year’s gathering of regional leaders, the ninth since the inaugural summit in 1994, highlighted the stale and dysfunctional political dynamics that continue to burden relations between the U.S. and regional governments. The first Summit of the Americas, held in Miami, was animated by a post-Cold War sense that unity in the Western Hemisphere could be achieved through democracy and market-led growth. But that optimistic vision was never able to overcome the painful legacy of U.S. intervention in the region, often ignored by U.S. officials, as well as the self-serving opposition by many leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean to a U.S.-led hemisphere-wide project.

Digital public technology can help drive sustainable development progress

George Ingram, John W. McArthur, and Priya Vora

Digital technology is receiving growing attention in international dialogues on global prosperity and stability. In August 2021, the G-20 digital ministers identified ways digitalization can enhance the ability of the economy and government to contribute to a “resilient, strong, sustainable, and inclusive recovery” following COVID-19. In May 2022, the Indonesian government, as part of its G-20 presidency this year, encouraged the G-20 Digital Economy Working Group to prioritize digital connectivity, digital skills and literacy, and cross-border data flows. Meanwhile, for this year’s upcoming G-7 Summit at Schloss Elmau, the German presidency has proposed that the objective of “stronger together” should prioritize “social justice, equality, and inclusive digitalization.”

In the best cases, digital technologies are contributing to massive improvements in access to public services, the provision of social protection, and economic opportunities for millions of people. Nonetheless, profound questions are being raised. Some of these focus on corporate control and ownership of digital infrastructure and platforms. Large private firms own and manage many of the world’s underlying digital systems, with enormous influence over users of the technologies and potentially even the governments with a mandate to regulate them. Others focus on how digital technologies have opened the door to new forms of government surveillance, empowered autocrats with repressive digital tools, exacerbated inequalities, and encouraged social divisions through the spread of disinformation.


Maggie Smith and Teddy MacDonald

On November 27, 2020, Iran’s top nuclear scientist was assassinated. The initial accounts differed wildly, and it took roughly ten months for the New York Times to break the real story. In prose that could have come from a sci-fi novel, the world learned that Israeli intelligence operatives had carried out the assassination with “a high-tech, computerized sharpshooter [rifle] kitted out with artificial intelligence and multiple-camera eyes, operated via satellite and capable of firing 600 rounds a minute.” A more salient, tactical manifestation of autonomous capabilities is drone warfare. Particularly lethal is the American-made, multipurpose, loitering munition Altius 600 that has a range of 276 miles and can operate at a ceiling of twenty-five thousand feet, providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, counter–unmanned aircraft systems effects, and precision-strike capabilities against ground targets. Many systems like the Altius “will use artificial intelligence to operate with increasing autonomy in the coming years.” But AI-enabled weapons systems are already being used for lethal targeting—for example, the Israeli-made Orbiter 1K unmanned aircraft system, a loitering munition recently used by the Azerbaijani military in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, independently scans an area and automatically detects and destroys stationary or moving targets kamikaze­-style. If the Orbiter 1K does not observe a target right away, it will loiter above the battlespace and wait until it does. As two instances of AI-augmented, autonomous weapons being used to kill remotely, the assassination and the drone warfare of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War draw attention to longstanding concerns about AI-enabled machines and warfare.

Importantly, for the United States to retain its technological edge, it must prioritize AI investment and military modernization by focusing on the development of artificial intelligence and derivative technologies to secure the large, enterprise-sized, and distributed networks relied on for all warfighting functions and to the maintain tactical and strategic advantage in the current competitive environment. However, modernization must also be thoughtful and purposeful to allow for a careful consideration of the ethical and moral questions related to using autonomous systems and AI-enabled technologies in lethal military targeting. Military ethics naturally evolve alongside military technology and, as weapons and their effects become better understood with use and time, ethical considerations are revised and updated. But with AI-enabled battlefield technology, we should engage in discussions about morals and ethics before employment, and continue those discussions in parallel to the development, testing, adoption, and use of AI-enabled weapons systems. Even though a breakthrough in AI by any adversary is an existential threat to national security—and a breakthrough by the United States will likely save American lives on the battlefield—any premature adoption of such technologies in warfare presents an equally dangerous threat to our national values. However, short-term risk avoidance is really long-term risk-seeking behavior, which will result in our adversaries eventually outpacing the United States and achieving technological overmatch.

Roots of Concern

Today’s AI is rooted in machine learning (ML) and is nearly ubiquitous, impacting how we live, work, interact, and make decisions. Beyond the battlefield, technological advancements driven by AI are having similar impacts, both large and small, on society, disrupting how we work and live in tangible ways and changing the nature of relationships across and between people and institutions. Disruptions are occurring at an increasing rate, prompting us to reconceptualize and update how we think about work, the labor force, investments in time, resources, manpower, and policies to adapt to the new reality of technology in the twenty-first century and its implications for the modern world order.

Presently, human interaction with ML-based AI is limited. A human writes the algorithm designed to execute a specific task and is then removed from the system, allowing the AI to receive data feedback, change its behavior based on that feedback, and gradually become more efficient at the original, human-assigned task. Critical to the learning process is access to large data pools (the more data available, the better, more quickly, and more robustly the AI is optimized), which are becoming commonplace as people adopt an internet-of-things way of life and use the internet to access services and information. Some simple examples of ML-based AI include purchasing recommendations on Amazon or movie recommendations on Netflix—recommendations based on a user’s previous behavior on the respective platform or service. Tesla’s autonomous driving is another example—the autonomous system receives a steady data stream from its vehicles to continually learn about roads and driving behaviors to optimize the autonomous driving system.

Different Futures

But as the autonomous systems revolution unfolds, there is divergence in how ML-based AI is perceived and in predictions about the technology’s future. One perspective is rooted in optimism, offering a utopian future in which AI benefits humankind and has a net-positive impact. Jobs will be created; catastrophes such as climate change and nuclear holocaust will be averted; and humans will be better able to self-actualize. The alternative perspective envisions a dystopian future in which AI takes over but lacks the ability to understand humanity and therefore wreaks havoc on humankind and society. Predictions that account for Moore’s Law increase the complexity of how AI could shape the future: as processors reach the atomic level, experts speculate that exponential growth in processing power may end, thereby creating a physical limit that will prevent AI from reaching singularity—or the time when the abilities of a computer overtake the abilities of the human brain. And even though quantum computing holds potential for AI, and may bridge the current theoretical limits on processing, unknowns abound.

Specifically, there are two key areas of concern—especially for the implementation of AI-powered technologies on the battlefield: AI development and AI implementation. Namely, it is unclear if developers should wait for a notionally perfect, safe solution before implementing AI technology, or if they should introduce AI technology after it reaches an acceptable level of proficiency and allow it to organically develop in the wild. For example, the several companies pursuing autonomous driving technology are understandably cautious, and some remain unwilling to make their technology available for public or widespread use. The hesitancy is, in part, related to a desire to avoid fatal accidents and a fear of being held liable for mistakes made by an immature technology.

However, a few companies, most notably Tesla, are more eager to take their autonomous driving technology public and seek rapid AI employment. Tesla is willing to accept risk and chooses to rely on iteration and data amalgamation with the expectation that the company’s cars will drive better over time, as they accrue experience in real environments with real hazards. Supporting Tesla’s approach of rapid implementation, some experts say that most of the difficult development work on AI has been done, so now it is up to businesses to incorporate AI into their products and strategies to push the technology forward. But adopting new technology is never easy—especially when the new technology is likely to change the character of warfare and be used to kill.

Robots and Warfare

The use of autonomous systems and AI in warfare and military operations is understandably provocative: on the one hand, autonomous and AI-enabled systems save friendly-force lives by keeping troops physically removed from the battlefield, and on the other hand, their use raises ethical and moral questions about targeting, positively identifying, and executing lethal-force missions from thousands of miles away. Critically, researchers argue, “if humans increasingly leverage AI to inform, derive, and justify decisions, it also becomes important to quantify when, how, and why and under which conditions they tend to overly trust or mistrust those systems.” Their point is especially salient for the military-use cases because there are incongruities between control and responsibility when control of an autonomous system has become so distributed (i.e., spread across multiple actors—both nonhuman and human) that it is unclear which party or system is to blame for a mistake. On a battlefield, mistakes can result in fatal consequences—like the killing of Afghan civilians—and, if an autonomous system determines positive identification of an enemy target and signals to its operator to fire, the larger question is if the human operator will ever question the computer’s information.

Currently, most existing AI technologies are not fully autonomous and are instead implemented to augment human decision-making. Decision-assistance tools seek to improve upon a human’s capacity to interact with, assess, and draw inferences from large amounts of information. The Department of Defense’s push to develop the Joint All-Domain Command and Control system that will aggregate data from the thousands of military sensors deployed around the globe is an example of an AI-enhanced decision-making tool intended to unify battlefield information for better outcomes. Because users of decision-assistance tools interact with the AI by incorporating the technology into their processes and procedures, it is difficult to assign blame when something goes wrong. Notably, by “inserting a layer of inscrutable, unintuitive, and statistically derived code in between a human decisionmaker and the consequences of her decisions, AI disrupts our typical understanding of responsibility for choices gone wrong.” Humans tend to like things that are explainable, but AI and ML algorithms are often unexplainable either due to secrecy, a lack of transparency, or a general lack of technical expertise.

Algorithms, because of their “inscrutability” and “nonintuitiveness,” prevent humans from evaluating them to assess their effectiveness or veracity. If a model is not understandable through human intuition, it is also inscrutable, making it difficult to determine when or how a mistake or mishap occurs. For example, causal relationships are prone to be highly complex and nonintuitive, especially relationships that deal with human behavior. If we account for all the factors that influence a single human action, we quickly realize that many actions are the result of factors that defy human intuition—not every action is rational. AI-generated conclusions are subject to the same opaque processes—machine-derived causal relationships are subject to opaque correlations that defy human comprehension.

In the August 29, 2021, US drone strike that mistakenly killed ten Afghan civilians just days after a suicide bomber killed thirteen US service members and 169 Afghans at the Kabul airport, an independent investigation determined no violation of law, including the law of war. United States Air Force Lieutenant General Sami D. Said stated that the individuals involved “truly believed at the time that they were targeting an imminent threat to U.S. forces” and that, “regrettably, the interpretation or the correlation of the intelligence to what was being perceived at the time, in real time, was inaccurate.” Add the confusion of the ongoing force withdrawal from Afghanistan, the emotional response to the loss of American lives, and the chaos of the information environment, and a thick fog of war quickly blankets all operations. Human decision-making on the battlefield is complicated and must account for a variety of unstable factors, to include emotional factors, and defaulting to an AI-informed decision is likely in the chaotic seconds before authorizing an attack—the time to question an opaque, algorithm-derived decision or data for accuracy simply does not exist in warfare.

Social Changes

Another strategic national security concern is how the adoption of AI and automation is changing society. How data and technology are used, and to what ends, raise questions about privacy, data protection, and civil liberties. As companies and governments generate, seek out, and collect increasingly large pools of data, concerns over AI and how data is used, maintained, and shared are also increasing. Technology companies that accumulate data will seek to protect and even expand their ability to collect information on users if they remain incentivized by advertisement dollars to configure information feeds to keep users on their sites or applications for longer periods of time. And, even while American society is considered the vanguard of individual liberties, as AI employment continues, more algorithms will gain access to individual data and threaten our traditional understanding of privacy.

From a consumer marketing perspective, AI allows companies to know what their customers want before they even search for an item, relying on purchase and search engine history to curate recommendations that nudge consumers toward products that are likely to catch their eyes. Big data coupled with online shopping has enabled microtargeting at a low cost, changing how companies engage with consumers and how people shop for goods. The use of AI to monitor and track all sorts of daily activities is also concerning from a privacy perspective—from fitness trackers to shopping habits, data is generated by individuals constantly. However, limiting or preventing data collection will stymie growth and limit the potential of AI because the technology requires tons of data to mature and evolve. While hotly debated, concerns over data privacy and protection have equally concerning implications for America’s position as a global technology leader and also impact the US military’s ability to counter foreign aggression in the current era of strategic competition.

Outnumbered and Outpaced

Private companies and many governments make use of the volumes of data amassed from the ever-growing internet-of-things and the many devices individuals have incorporated into their lives to power AI development for noble purposes. But, our competitors and adversaries work tirelessly to outpace the United States: China is stealing large data sets and prioritizing AI development and Russia is conducting relentless and sophisticated cyberattacks against US critical and information systems. The middle powers of Iran and North Korea are also launching attacks on US systems and democratic institutions. Malign activities move across organizational boundaries, pivoting from insecure to well-protected networks, and from networks to hosts, to access key assets and resources. Because national security concerns related to our networks and federal and national security information systems abound, the US military is investing in research and development to create sophisticated AI systems that meet and surpass our adversaries’ capabilities in cyberspace and the information environment to maintain a competitive advantage.

However, with the largest population on the planet, China has access to, and harvests, massive amounts of human data through its social monitoring programs. In 2017, China publicly announced its AI ambitions and its intent to lead the world in AI technology, charting a path to win the race toward computers performing tasks that traditionally require human intelligence to accomplish, like finding patterns in speech, data, or faces. Social monitoring, surveillance, and authoritarian tactics have enabled AI advancements at a social cost impossible to fathom in a free, open, and democratic country—China simply does not have to concern itself with privacy or the social risks inherent to testing, developing, and implementing new technologies. And to augment what its own population already generates, China actively steals data—Chinese actors hacked into the Unique Identification Authority of India database, containing large quantities of biometric information, for example. China has also gathered data from the United States, hacking into the Office of Personnel Management among other US entities. China’s goal appears to be data aggregation—the data available from the Chinese population is large, but by adding foreign data, as well, the potential for AI growth and maturation expands exponentially.

Time to Get Comfortable with Risk

Ultimately, the United States is lagging in AI implementation and, China—in part due to the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party and state-led industry—is much quicker to implement new technologies that may facilitate superior capabilities and lead to an information, military, and economic overmatch. This may include superior weapons, a greater ability to influence the world’s information environment, and economic growth to rival or undermine America’s global leadership and the US dollar’s centrality to the international financial system. In the modern era, information and technology are tightly woven, making it difficult to contain a disruptive technology within national borders. Therefore, despite concerns over the changing nature of work and job security, and a general fear of unknown or unfamiliar technology, the relative advantages of accepting short-term risk and implementing AI-enabled technologies may prove to be the decisive factor in strategic competition and on the future battlefield.

Consequently, AI and the struggle over data, human rights, and ethical use have set the stage for a power struggle between China’s authoritarian state system and the liberal democracy of the West. Until we engage in public dialogue over the ethics and morals of AI development and implementation—on the battlefield and in society as a whole—the United States is destined to fall behind our adversaries by remaining risk averse regarding new technologies. Partly because AI development requires massive data sets to evolve and learn from, and partly because the United States is just beginning to debate the ethics of microtargeting, big data amalgamation, and corporate use of private but publicly available information, the United States has been sluggish and hesitant in its AI implementation. Risk is necessary to AI development, but without an ethical framework through which to assess risk, the United States has little more than business and corporate interests to guide AI implementation. Ultimately, short-term risk aversion is really long-term risk seeking, and the United States should accept risk now to avert a future beholden to Chinese technological overmatch.