13 November 2022

Russia’s New Cyberwarfare in Ukraine Is Fast, Dirty, and Relentless

SINCE RUSSIA LAUNCHED its catastrophic full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, the cyberwar that it has long waged against its neighbor has entered a new era too—one in which Russia has at times seemed to be trying to determine the role of its hacking operations in the midst of a brutal, physical ground war. Now, according to the findings of a team of cybersecurity analysts and first responders, at least one Russian intelligence agency seems to have settled into a new set of cyberwarfare tactics: ones that allow for quicker intrusions, often breaching the same target multiple times within just months, and sometimes even maintaining stealthy access to Ukrainian networks while destroying as many as possible of the computers within them.

At the CyberwarCon security conference in Arlington, Virginia, today, analysts from the security firm Mandiant laid out a new set of tools and techniques that they say Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency is using against targets in Ukraine, where the GRU’s hackers have for years carried out many of the most aggressive and destructive cyberattacks in history. According to Mandiant analysts Gabby Roncone and John Wolfram, who say their findings are based on months of Mandiant’s Ukrainian incident response cases, the GRU has shifted in particular to what they call “living on the edge.” Instead of the phishing attacks that GRU hackers typically used in the past to steal victims’ credentials or plant backdoors on unwitting users’ computers inside target organizations, they're now targeting “edge” devices like firewalls, routers, and email servers, often exploiting vulnerabilities in those machines that give them more immediate access.

Crafting Strategy for Irregular Warfare: A Framework for Analysis and Action (2nd Edition)

David H. Ucko and Thomas A. 

The 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy made headlines by officially downgrading terrorism as a national security priority in favor of “inter-state strategic competition.” Many interpreted the statement as signifying a return to “conventional combat,” yet a closer reading suggests that even state-based competition is likely to be “irregular.” Much like insurgent adversaries, revisionist states blend separate lines of effort to offset military weakness, weaponize narratives to ease strategic progress, and exploit social and political contradictions to undermine and divide target societies. This approach is appealing because it allows for gains that, although incremental, are less likely to face backlash and are therefore more sustainable. Indeed, it was precisely when Russia abandoned this playbook, through its conventional invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, that it succeeded in mobilizing significant local and global resistance, greatly complicating its military and political effort. Thus, for several reasons, irregular warfare is likely to be the strategy of choice for states seeking to contest international order.

The United States, and the West, struggle to understand and respond to irregular warfare, whether by states or nonstate actors. Attempts to master the art have generated much new jargon, ranging from “hybrid war” to “the gray zone,” and most recently “integrated deterrence.” The terminology belies a struggle to overcome entrenched presumptions about war—a confusion that generates cognitive friction with implications for strategy. To inform a better approach, this monograph presents an analytical framework to assess and respond to irregular threats. The framework is based on the pedagogical approach of the College of International Security Affairs (CISA) within the National Defense University (NDU), the only U.S. irregular warfare college. It is designed to cut through the analytical ambiguities of irregular warfare and map such strategies to design an effective counter. Though an analytical framework is no panacea for the malaise facing Western strategy, it is an indispensable starting point for all that must follow.

The Future of Global Economic Power

Seth G. Benzell, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Maria Kazakova

Which region(s) will come to dominate the world economy? This paper develops the Global Gaidar Model (GGM), a 17-region, 2-skills, 100-period OLG model, to address this and other questions. The model is carefully calibrated to 2017 UN demographic and IMF fiscal data. Productivity growth and its interaction with demographic change are the main drivers of future economic power. Fiscal conditions and automation matter are secondary factors. Our baseline simulations, which forecast productivity growth using each region’s long-term record, predict China and India becoming the world’s top two economic hegemons. GGM also predicts an evolving global savings glut, major reductions in world interest rates, substantial increases in tax rates in China and other regions due to population aging, and permanent differences in regional living standards. Our findings are, however, highly sensitive to productivity growth. If productivity growth continues at each region’s very recent pace, India will account for one third of 2100 world output and China for over one fifth. The US output share will grow slightly. Under other scenarios, productivity growth in China and India dramatically slows; Sub Saharan Africa’s sky rockets, leaving China’s plus India’s 2100 output share at only 16 percent and Africa’s at an astounding 17 percent.

Kevin Rudd’s The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the U.S. and Xi Jinping's China

Susan Thornton, Rory Medcalf, Joseph Chinyong Liow

Susan Thornton is a Senior Fellow and Visiting Lecturer at Yale Law School (United States). She is a retired senior U.S. diplomat with almost three decades of experience with the U.S. State Department in Eurasia and East Asia.

Rory Medcalf is Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University (Australia) and author of Indo-Pacific Empire: China, America and the Contest for the World’s Pivotal Region (2020).

Joseph Chinyong Liow is the Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore).

Carla P. Freeman is a Senior Expert on China at the United States Institute of Peace (United States). Previously, she was a member of the China Studies faculty at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where she also directed the SAIS Foreign Policy Institute. Dr. Freeman specializes in China’s foreign policy, nontraditional security issues, and U.S.-China relations.


Christopher Blattman

Whether it is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats of nuclear strikes or Chinese belligerence in the Taiwan Strait, the United States seems closer to a great power war than at any time in recent decades. But while the risks are real and the United States must prepare for each of these conflicts, by focusing on the times states fight—and ignoring the times they resolve their conflicts peacefully and prevent escalation—analysts and policymakers risk misjudging our rivals and pursuing the wrong paths to peace.

The fact is that fighting—at all levels from irregular warfare to large-scale combat operations—is ruinous and so nations do their best to avoid open conflict. The costs of war also mean that when they do fight countries have powerful incentives not to escalate and expand those wars—to keep the fighting contained, especially when it could go nuclear. This is one of the most powerful insights from both history and game theory: war is a last resort, and the costlier that war, the harder both sides will work to avoid it.

When analysts forget this fact, not only do they exaggerate the chances of war, they do something much worse: they get the causes all wrong and take the wrong steps to avert the violence.

The Weakness Behind China’s Strong Façade

Bonny Lin and Joel Wuthnow

In late October, Chinese leader Xi Jinping kicked off the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress—a twice-a-decade, agenda-setting conclave of the party’s key leaders—with a report that touted China’s achievements and laid out a vision for the years ahead. In a move that was widely expected, Xi extended his own rule. But he surprised even the closest China watchers by unveiling a roster of leaders in which his confidants now occupy all the top positions within the party and state apparatus. Using direct and forceful language, Xi consolidated his hold on power and projected a strong and ambitious China to the world.

But the façade of a confident and robust Xi masked deep anxiety. Xi sees China hemmed in on all sides and facing intensifying security threats. This anxiety is driven by Beijing’s perception of a hostile Washington, its problematic relations with its neighbors, and the fact that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army still has a long way to go to become a force capable of fighting and winning local wars—never mind larger conflicts. Such a bleak outlook motivated Xi’s selection of new military leaders, underscored the urgency with which he has pressed the PLA to modernize, and resulted in a daunting list of tasks that the PLA must meet in the years ahead. Indeed, Xi’s insistence on Chinese military strength at the party congress was in truth an admission of weakness: China cannot yet defeat its rivals, and Beijing knows it.

One facet of China’s unrestricted hybrid war on America — TikTok

Laurence F Sanford

TikTok is a worldwide social media platform app with 1 billion active users who enjoy its easy yet sophisticated video sharing. It has become a major player in targeted advertising by its ability to collect sensitive personal data from users without their knowledge.

TikTok has 100 million American users, up 800% since 2018. ByteDance, headquartered in Beijing, China, founded TikTok in 2016.

Sensitive personal data from users collected by TikTok is a national security threat to America due to the 2017 Chinese National Intelligence Law, which states, “any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work.” The collection of personal data on the enemy (United States citizens) is of strategic value.

The U.S. military plan to keep ISIS down: Infrastructure


The focus may be on the midterms and the Russia-Ukraine war, but the Pentagon is quietly starting to build infrastructure in Syria for a long-haul fight with the Islamic State.

Roughly 900 special forces are still working overtime to help local forces hunt ISIS remnants to keep the terrorist group at bay. The Department of Defense’s latest weapon of choice, though, is improved facilities and services so ISIS can’t break out the 10,000 or so former fighters languishing in crumbling detention centers across Syria.

ISIS fighters have targeted these areas multiple times in recent months, most brazenly attacking the Hasakah prison in northeastern Syria in January. Scores of prisoners escaped during the 10-day battle that ensued.

“We know that ISIS sees the detention centers, the detainee population, as the path to reconstitute its ranks,” said one defense official, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the situation. “So even though ISIS doesn’t hold territory… the inspiration and the will to reconstitute is not going away.”

JUST IN: Emerging Tech Essential for Logistics in Contested Battlespace

Josh Luckenbaugh

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Defense Department looks to build a joint force capable of operating in a contested logistics environment, it must harness advanced technology to address this challenge, officials said.

According to the 2022 National Defense Strategy, “The most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security is [China]’s coercive and increasingly aggressive endeavor to refashion the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to suit its interests and authoritarian preferences.”

Given China’s rapidly increasing military capability and the vastness of the Indo-Pacific, the region presents a unique logistics challenge in a potential conflict, the deputy commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Steve Sklenka said.

“We're going to be operating in an environment unlike anything any of us have ever experienced,” Sklenka said during a panel discussion hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association and the Institute for Defense & Business Nov. 9.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Descending Into Chaos and Full-Scale War

Paul Goble

What had been a long-running local conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan regarding the delimitation of borders and the fate of exclaves has now expanded over the past two weeks to include major military units and the targeting of infrastructure deep within the territory of both countries. As a result, the chance for a full-scale war between the two Central Asian countries has become ever more likely (see EDM, September 23; Ia-centr.ru, October 30). At the same time, a potential agreement resolving border disputes between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan has now sparked protests by Kyrgyzstani citizens opposed to the accord, which threatens to further destabilize the already troubled country and possibly drive it into war (Cabar.asia, November 1). These developments would be serious enough on their own, but they have been compounded by the meddling of outside powers, including Russia, China and the United States (see EDM, February 15, June 22, October 25), as well as the growing threat emanating from Afghanistan for Tajikistan most directly but also for Kyrgyzstan and other parts of Central Asia (see EDM, September 20).

While the Kyrgyzstani-Tajikistani conflict is intertwined with the Kyrgyzstani-Uzbekistani clash, it is far more likely to lead to a major war than the latter, according to Aleksandr Knyazev, a specialist on Central Asia at St. Petersburg State University (Ia-centr.ru, October 30). Knyazev points out that the border clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have not only increasingly involved regular army units from both sides but have also led to the arming of both populations, something that raises the possibility of a partisan war in either country—one that could resemble the anti-Soviet Basmachi movement in the 1920s and 1930s. But what is most worrisome, he says, is that both countries are using drones and other long-distance weaponry to attack regions far from their shared border, including as distant as the Pamirs in southern Tajikistan on its border with Afghanistan.

Russia’s Position in Central Asia Continues to Slip

Stephen Blank

A major casualty of Russia’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine has been its weakening position and leverage in Central Asia. In truth, this war has plainly demonstrated Moscow’s risky imperial impulses are clearly damaging the region. The most obvious example of the region distancing itself from the Kremlin is Kazakhstan, which has repeatedly asserted its independence from Russia (Trendsreserach.org, August 26). But more recently, other Central Asian states have followed suit. For example, Kyrgyzstani analysts have reported a distinct cooling of ties (The Diplomat, October 11). Indeed, Kyrgyzstani President Sadyr Japarov cancelled joint military drills with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) due to Russia’s support for Dushanbe against Bishkek in the controversies over their shared border; opposed the railroad project to connect Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and China; as well as decried Russia’s overall colonial hauteur directed against Kyrgyzstan (if not all of Central Asia).

Similarly, Tajikistani President Emomali Rahmon, normally a dependable Russian client, publicly upbraided Russian President Vladimir Putin for not respecting “small states” and for not paying sufficient attention to the needs of all the Central Asian states (Al Jazeera, October 18). He also complained that Moscow did not treat Tajikistan as an equal strategic partner. Finally, Rahmon further lamented that Russian businessmen only care about hydrocarbons and are not helping develop Tajikistan’s economy. These signs of common disapproval of Russian policy and the willingness to reprimand Russia and Putin publicly clearly derive inspiration from Kazakhstan’s example, which, like these actions of regional assertiveness, also continues to affirm its more independent course.

China’s Dominance Over Critical Minerals Faces New Challengers

Bruce Shen

It was only 10 months ago that François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s industry minister, waved through the acquisition of Canadian miner Neo Lithium by China’s state-backed Zijin Mining Group. Brushing aside national security concerns, Champagne pointed to Neo Lithium’ assets in Argentina and assured skeptics that Neo Lithium is “really not a Canadian company.”

Chinese miners may have interpreted the deal as a welcome signal that they could continue buying up Canadian minerals unimpeded. Their relief would turn out to be short-lived.

In a dramatic twist, Ottawa announced on October 28 that foreign state-owned firms that pursue deals in Canada’s critical minerals sector would from now on “be approved on an exceptional basis.” A week later, Champagne ordered three Chinese firms to divest from three Canadian lithium miners, including two that operate in Argentina.

Pentagon: Russian Invasion of Ukraine a ‘Massive Strategic Failure’

Trevor Filseth L

U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy Colin Kahl announced on Tuesday that the Russian military had lost more than half of its main battle tanks during its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, describing the war as a “massive strategic failure” and asserting that the Kremlin would be far weaker after the conflict ended.

During a scheduled press briefing, Kahl suggested that Russian forces had “probably lost half of their main battle tanks” during the war, which is now in its ninth month. He observed that these losses could not be easily replaced by the Russian military, noting that the country would consequently “emerge from this war weaker than it went in.”

Kahl assigned much of the blame for the disaster to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who he said had ordered the invasion of Ukraine in order to “extinguish” the country’s independence. The undersecretary emphasized that the fight in Ukraine had global ramifications, chiefly regarding the consequences of the use of military force around the world. He noted that most nations had participated in an international order since 1945 that did not allow for the invasion and annexation of other nations’ territory, a key cause of World War II and consequently a major prohibition in the United Nations Charter.

Iranian Drones Are Changing the Battlefields of Eurasia

Sine Ozkarasahin

On October 10, Iranian loitering munitions rained over Ukraine’s urban centers, including Kiev. Two weeks later, Israeli forces struck an Iranian drone factory in Syria (Al Arabiya, October 23). This demonstrated how Iran’s drone program is now beyond Iran, both in terms of production and operational impact. Iran has become a drone-exporting nation and Iranian drones are creating new flashpoints in different geopolitical axes.

Tehran’s drone program is hardly new, however. In fact, it dates back to the 1980s war of attrition with Iraq and rests on a decades-long significant research and development (R&D) effort. Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) strategy is aggressive (Farsi Al Arabiya, April 23, 2021). It mainly focuses on utilizing UAVs to support the government’s capabilities and strengthen its proxy forces abroad. Led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its drone-maker Qods Aviation Industries (QAI), some of Iran’s existing drone technologies are developed from reverse-engineering Western systems that have crashed or landed on or near Iranian territory (including the ones allegedly intercepted or captured near its coast). For example, some of the Iranian government’s most sophisticated systems, including the Shahed-141 and 191, are modeled after the American RQ-171 Sentinel UAV that crashed in Iran back in late 2011 (Iran Press, December 16, 2020).

Defend. Resist. Repeat: Ukraine’s lessons for European defence

Hanna Shelest


Ukraine’s response to the Russian invasion holds vital lessons for the rest of Europe. Kyiv has placed cross-society resistance at the heart of its national defence, bringing all military and security agencies under a single command, assisted by support from the civilian population. Since 2014, the country has transformed its armed forces, upgrading logistics and communications and empowering mid-level officers; put in place a network of reservists; and taken measures to ensure Ukrainian society’s broader resilience to crises. It built this approach both on the adoption of NATO best practices and on a unique movement of volunteers who raise funds to support the war effort, merging defence and measures to increase national resilience into a single system.

This constitutes a ‘third way’ between the ‘total defence’ model of Sweden, Finland, Singapore, and Switzerland, which brings together military and civilian actors in a whole-of-society approach to security; and the strongly hierarchical model of the United States, Russia, and China, where decision-making is centralised in the political leadership. The total defence approach concentrates on defence and deterrence, while Ukraine’s approach also prioritises resilience – including a comprehensive but agile coordination of a variety of forces within and beyond the government.

The Trilemma of Central Bank Digital Currencies


PARIS – Central banks around the world continue to contemplate issuing their own digital currencies (CBDCs). Some have already taken steps in this direction. The People’s Bank of China launched a trial of its e-CNY in Shenzhen in 2020 and has since extended its use to other cities. The Sveriges Riksbank is testing its e-krona for commercial and retail payments. Even the relatively staid US Federal Reserve Board has issued a paper weighing CBDC pros and cons.

Evidently, central banks are scrambling to board the CBDC train before it leaves the station. But what motivates this mad dash?

Don’t Let Geopolitics Kill the World Economy


CAMBRIDGE – At the Communist Party of China’s 20th National Congress last month, the country’s one-man rule under Xi Jinping became fully entrenched. Though communist China has never been a democracy, its post-Mao leaders kept their ears to the ground, paid attention to voices from below, and thus were able to reverse failing policies before they became disastrous. Xi’s centralization of power represents a different approach, and it does not bode well for how the country will deal with its mounting problems – the tanking economy, the costly zero-COVID policies, growing human-rights abuses, and political repression.

US President Joe Biden has significantly added to these challenges by launching what Edward Luce of the Financial Times has appropriately called “a full-blown economic war on China.” Just before the Party Congress, the US announced a vast array of new restrictions on the sale of advanced technologies to Chinese firms. As Luce notes, Biden has gone much further than his predecessor, Donald Trump, who had targeted individual companies such as Huawei. The new measures are astounding in their ambition, aiming at nothing less than preventing China’s rise as a high-tech power.

Strategic Ambiguity Out of Balance: Updating an Outdated Taiwan Policy

Yvonne Chiu

The Asymmetry of “Dual Deterrence”

In September of 2022, for the fourth time in little over a year, U.S. President Biden said that Americans would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion only to be followed by White House aides walking back his statement, because it contradicted an American strategy developed in the late 1970s of deliberate ambiguity about whether or not it would come to Taiwan’s aid if it were attacked. The most recent occasion prompted yet another round of questions about whether strategic ambiguity is dead and warnings that abandoning strategic ambiguity is unwise.[1]

Many policymakers and analysts are concerned that Biden’s declarations of military support will dampen Taiwan’s incentives to reform its defenses or encourage Taiwan to declare formal independence and precipitate a Chinese invasion. There are certainly risks to abandoning a posture of strategic ambiguity but also many good reasons to do so, including that both Taiwan and China have taken unexpected paths that now moot the normative and geopolitical functions of strategic ambiguity.

What Nigeria Can Teach Us About China’s Belt and Road

Tola Amusan

China’s presence in Africa has sparked widespread debate about whether Beijing is a development partner or a new neocolonizer. For the most part, such a debate has left out the role African nations themselves play in this relationship.

Such a relationship is essential for both sides. African economies receive China investments and aid, exemplified by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). At the same time, China gets access to crucial resources, export markets, and international support for issues the Chinese regard as sensitive, including the One China policy, human rights violations in Xinjiang, and suppression of democratic institutions in Hong Kong. However, the relationship between China and any single African nation is severely unbalanced in favor of Beijing.

China has been the preferred partner for many African nations due to its deep pockets, “non-interference” principle, and rhetoric of its benign intentions. This has been exemplified by China’s 2021 Africa White Paper, which claimed that Beijing’s goal on the continent is “giving more and taking less, giving before taking, and giving without asking for something in return. It [China] welcomes African countries aboard the express train of China’s development with open arms.”

How the Pentagon Is Preparing for War in Europe and Asia

Caleb Larson

In comments provided during a press conference, Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder explained how the United States is preparing to counter Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and prepare for anticipated aggression in Asia against Taiwan.

During the press conference, Brigadier General Ryder explained that “the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is participating in Exercise Silent Wolverine in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean along with six NATO ally nations in support of multi-domain carrier training and to enhance integrated NATO interoperability and deterrence.”

With the flames of war still alight in Ukraine, America’s allies in Europe are understandably jittery about that conflict. Russian president Vladimir Putin has made several speeches in which he rattled Russia’s nuclear saber and threatened Ukraine with nuclear retaliation in response to Russia’s significant setbacks on the battlefield.

“Exercise participants include the United States, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Spain,” the general explained. He added that “Silent Wolverine demonstrates the U.S. commitment to supporting regional stability and security through seamless interchangeability amongst participating NATO allies. The exercise will conclude on November 14th.”

Though the war in Ukraine is unlikely to expand across the European continent, it is nonetheless the most significant geopolitical development in Europe in eighty years.

It is also proof-positive that the rules-based international order, built in the wake of World War II, has implications for security in Asia.

Brigadier General Ryder explained that “opening ceremonies for Exercise Malabar 2022 commenced today, as well, and will be followed by scheduled at-sea exercises involving naval ships, aircraft, and personnel from Australia, India, Japan, and the United States in the Philippines Sea, off the coast of Japan.”

Malabar 2022 is a multi-domain “field training exercise” that involves the four members of the Quad, a loose cooperation between the United States, Japan, India, and Australia. The exercise aims to “enhance interoperability between participating maritime forces, strengthen critical partnerships and further demonstrate DOD presence in the Indo-Pacific region.”

And while China is the pacing threat that the United States must pay attention to and prepare for, the United States has not taken its eye off of the conflict in Ukraine.

“Finally, the Department of Defense continues to consult closely with allies and partners on Ukraine's security assistance needs, in support of their fight to defend their country. As you're aware, we announced additional security assistance for Ukraine on Friday under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative worth approximately $400 million.”

Xi Jinping tells China’s army to focus on preparation for war

Verna Yu

Xi Jinping has told the People’s Liberation Army to “focus all its energy on fighting” in preparation for war, a Chinese Communist party mouthpiece has reported.

Pictures of Xi, who recently secured a third term as party leader, in his army uniform during a visit to a command centre featured prominently on the front page of the People’s Daily on Wednesday.

Xi said the army must “comprehensively strengthen military training in preparation for war”, having warned at a recent party congress of “dangerous storms” on the horizon.

“Focus all [your] energy on fighting, work hard on fighting and improve [your] capability to win,” he was quoted as saying. The army must also “resolutely defend national sovereignty and national security” as China was in an “unstable and uncertain” security situation, he reportedly said.

Responding to Russian Attacks on Ukraine’s Power Sector

Joseph Majkut

As winter approaches, steady access to energy supply has become a major concern for cities across Ukraine. Since October 10, Russia has attacked Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with waves of missile and drone attacks. Ukrainian officials have reported that this has left up to 40 percent of the power system damaged, with around 30 percent of the country’s power stations destroyed. Attacks on energy infrastructure and generating facilities have occurred throughout the war, but the recent escalation has substantially eroded the power grid’s resilience and operational integrity.

Under these conditions, Ukraine has taken steps to reduce electricity consumption, including planned blackouts in Kyiv and other major cities across the country. A winter with intermittent power supply is likely. EU nations expect the latest attacks to prompt a new wave of refugees and current refugees have been urged to remain abroad over the winter. Disrupted power supply also threatens military operations particularly if communication lines are impaired.

Protecting Ukraine’s power supply is then essential both for humanitarian and martial purposes. In the short term, international allies and donors should prioritize the provision of critical components to repair damaged energy infrastructure and provide generators and fuel supply to protect the operation of essential facilities and services. Resources dedicated to Ukraine’s energy sector should not only repair what has been damaged. Investments should also be directed toward efforts to increase the resilience of Ukraine’s power supply in the coming years and to begin longer-term work to modernize and integrate Ukraine’s grid with the European Union.

The Case for Keeping U.S. Troops in Syria America’s Presence Helps Check Regional Powers

James Jeffrey

In his October 10 article, “An Exit Strategy for Syria,” Christopher Alkhoury argues that the United States has achieved its main objective in Syria—eliminating an Islamic State (also known as ISIS) safe haven—and should therefore focus on negotiating a swift withdrawal from the country that both preserves U.S. access to Syrian airspace and protects the Syrian partners who fought alongside U.S. troops. At first blush, this argument seems sensible—after all, who wants another endless war? But Alkhoury quickly rebuts his own argument by citing the destabilizing effects of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, an event that sent shock waves through the international system even though the U.S.-led campaign was failing and Washington had few strategic interests there. In Syria, by contrast, the U.S. approach is succeeding, if modestly, and U.S. strategic interests abound. An Afghanistan-style withdrawal from Syria would generate an even more destabilizing shock, one that would make the chaos that accompanied U.S. President Donald Trump’s brief call to pull U.S. troops out of Syria in 2019 look mild by comparison.

But the problems with Alkhoury’s proposal run far deeper than the Afghan analogy. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not won the war in Syria, as Alkhoury asserted. Nor did the Trump administration freeze Syrian humanitarian funding, as Alkhoury’s piece claimed when it was originally published (it halted and then partially reinstituted a smaller stabilization program). More important than these errors of judgment and fact is the reality that withdrawing from Syria would endanger regional interests of the United States and of the international community. That is why the Trump administration rejected an approach similar to Alkhoury’s in 2018, a decision that subsequent events have vindicated.

Pink Flamingo: The U.S. Military Will Pay for Its Munition Shortage

Dan Goure

The Biden administration’s efforts to assist Ukraine in its war with Russia shine a light on two serious national security problems: the Department of Defense’s inadequate stockpiles of munitions and the difficulties facing the defense industrial base to respond to quickly increase production of critical items. Unfortunately, these problems were not a surprise to senior defense decision-makers.

It has long been recognized both in and out of government that the Pentagon’s inventory of munitions, particularly precision weapons, is inadequate to support a high-end conflict lasting more than a few months. Nor are the munitions industrial base and supporting supply chains in a position to rapidly refill depleted stocks or surge the production of critical weapons systems. Immediate action is necessary to address these two problems.

U.S. national security elites are continually surprised by real-world events. You might recall the term “Black Swans,” which was a popular concept for a while in defense discussions and publications. This was a phrase taken from a book about forecasting written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb that referred to highly improbable, usually unanticipated events with significant impacts. In defense circles, Black Swans were national security challenges that were difficult to foresee. For example, improvised explosive devices were seen by many as a Black Swan which the U.S. military was initially ill-prepared to counter in Southwest Asia.


Ryan C. Maness, Brandon Valeriano, Kathryn Hedgecock

What does cyber conflict actually look like? Do adversary states exhibit patterns of behavior in the cyber domain that make them susceptible to deterrence efforts? And are cyber operations better understood as a constellation of one-off events, or are there rhythms and discernible trends that connect these operations into a defined landscape?

These are questions researchers have long grappled with, and they have implications for both planners, policymakers, and the public. We can speculate and hypothesize—and there is value in doing so in an informed fashion—but answering these questions with the maximum degree of detail and nuance requires a very specific input: data.

That’s why our research team recently published version 2.0 of the Dyadic Cyber Incident Dataset (DCID). We explain in detail why we believe this dataset is important in an upcoming article in The Cyber Defense Review, to appear early in 2023, (available now on SSRN). We believe there is an immediate need for this data in the policy and strategic community, and we invite others to use the data to further their own research.