24 November 2022



For months, commentary on Ukraine focused on stalemate and the prospect that changing technology augured a looming age of defense dominance in warfare. Russia’s assault on Kyiv had failed. Its assault on Odessa had ground to a halt well short of the city. Its offensive in eastern Ukraine had stalled. Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive in the south had made limited early progress, and Ukraine’s defense minister had said that Ukraine lacked the materiel to take ground on any large scale. A spring and summer of intense combat had produced almost no meaningful change in territorial control.

Many saw this pattern as a harbinger of profound change in warfare. In this view, tanks, piloted aircraft, surface warships, and massed infantry formations were now just large, slow targets for small, cheap, precision weapons. As weapons have grown more accurate and lethal, the argument holds, concentrated formations operating in the open had become unable to survive long enough to overrun enemy positions. Surprise had become impossible in the face of long-range surveillance by drones and airborne radar. Breakthrough had thus become unachievable, and exploitation would be impossible even if breakthrough were not. In the 21st century, the kinds of sweeping, decisive offensive maneuver seen in the German conquest of France in 1940, or the Six Day War of 1967, or Operation Desert Storm in 1991 were thus a thing of the past, many claimed.

Russia’s War in Ukraine: Misleading Doctrine, Misguided Strategy

Dr. Pavel K. Baev

The scope of problems with the chain of command and logistics, scant air support and poor morale indicates that Russian planning and preparations for the war were seriously flawed and misguided.

On the level of doctrine, the assertion of Russia’s ability to deter North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), defined as the main adversary, by employing the complete set of nuclear, conventional and “hybrid” capabilities, laid the foundation for the failure of attack on what was presumed to be a frangible Ukraine. Strategic guidelines on gaining a quick and complete victory by establishing air dominance and executing offensive maneuvers by armored battalion tactical groups (BTGs), led to the confusion of poorly coordinated attacks without proper air support. The strategic culture, pro-forma conservative but distorted by bureaucratic sycophancy and corruption, produced inflexible chains of command, demoralization of poorly led combat units and ugly atrocities.

“Reunification” with Taiwan through Force Would Be a Pyrrhic Victory for China

Jude Blanchette and Gerard DiPippo

Speculation has increased over the past several years that Beijing is accelerating plans for an invasion of Taiwan. While there is little doubt that Beijing seeks to fully annex Taiwan into the People’s Republic of China (PRC) one day, questions remain about the timing and methods that China might use to achieve this goal.1

There are several reasons Beijing might undertake a military campaign against Taiwan:

1. Long-standing territorial and national identity aspirations

2. Xi’s own personal ambitions and sense of legacy

3. Addressing a perceived threat to its own security stemming from deepening U.S.-Taiwan defense cooperation

4. Responding to perceived provocations from Taiwan, specifically a formal declaration of de jure and permanent independence from the PRC

While a great deal of commentary and analysis has explored how the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) might undertake a military campaign to annex Taiwan, a critical—yet underemphasized—question remains regarding the types and magnitudes of costs Beijing would pay for such actions. Nearly all discussions of China’s potential invasion of Taiwan ignore the economic and diplomatic costs of such a move, make unrealistic assumptions about what China could achieve (including technological and economic gains), or otherwise minimize the challenges that China would face if an invasion of Taiwan were successful.

Emerging Strategic & Geopolitical Challenges: Operational Implications for US Combatant Commands

In this report, entitled “Emerging Strategic & Geopolitical Challenges: Operational Implications for US Combatant Commands,” ten military Combatant Commands provide overviews of the challenges they face in their respective areas of responsibility (AORs) and how they plan to ameliorate the risks and maximize the opportunities that these challenges present. The report provides the Commands a platform to articulate how they plan to manage the multiplicity of challenges they face. By doing so, it helps identify the types of capabilities and activities the Services must be able to plan for and field in defense of US interests in a competitive future international environment.

The bumpy road ahead in China for Germany's carmakers

1. Strategic alignment between Germany’s government and car industry is no longer a given

The deep entanglement of Germany’s automotive companies in China has long been a main driver of Berlin’s China policy. CEOs of German carmakers have been frequent participants in government-organized trips to China. All-cabinet government consultations were used to shape corridors for future cooperation, for instance, on autonomous driving.

Germany’s government has frequently lobbied on behalf of the country’s automotive industry and used foreign economic policy tools to create a supportive environment. The logic for this has long been that what is good for German carmakers in China is also good for Germany (and Europe). After all, in Germany the automotive sector accounts for nearly 10 percent of GDP, 40 percent of research and development (R&D) spending and employs 800,000 people in manufacturing.

However, the combination of a more assertive China and emerging Chinese competition create new risks for this long-standing symbiotic relationship. While there is a lot of uncertainty in their boardrooms, Germany’s carmakers still want to increase investment and deepen their R&D footprint in China. Meanwhile, many policymakers increasingly highlight growing economic dependencies, human rights, and geopolitical concerns, often with an undercurrent of fear that Europe could lose its industrial competitiveness.

Harsh winter looms as Russian attacks hobble Ukraine's power capacity

Pavel Polityuk

KYIV, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Ukraine's government on Tuesday urged people to conserve energy amid relentless Russian strikes that have halved the country's power capacity, as the United Nations health body warned of a humanitarian disaster in Ukraine this winter.

Authorities said millions of Ukrainians, including in the capital Kyiv, could face power cuts at least until the end of March due to the missile attacks, which Ukraine's national grid operator Ukrenergo said had wreaked "colossal" damage.

Temperatures have been unseasonably mild in Ukraine this autumn, but are starting to dip below zero and are expected to drop to -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) or even lower in some areas during the winter months.

Russia's attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities follow a series of battlefield setbacks that have included a pullout of Russian forces from the southern city of Kherson to the east bank of the mighty Dnipro River that bisects the country.

Ukraine confronts tougher fight in push to extend battlefield wins

Isabelle KhurshudyanPaul SonneLiz Sly and Kamila Hrabchuk

KIVSHARIVKA, Ukraine — Not far from this village on the east bank of the Oskil River, Ukrainian forces have hit a wall of Russian resistance as they try to extend a counteroffensive that just two months ago was sweeping across nearby lands at a stunning clip.

Andriy, a soldier with Ukraine’s 92nd Mechanized Brigade, was not sure what to say on a recent day, when a group of Ukrainian intelligence officers showed up and asked about his unit’s push toward Svatove, a small city in the Luhansk region occupied since March.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russia fired at least 85 missiles on at least six major cities in Ukraine on November 15, in one of the most widespread attacks of the war so far. The strikes came just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking by video link, presented a 10-point peace plan to G-20 leaders at a summit in Indonesia. As in previous Russian missile attacks, critical civilian infrastructure appeared to be primary targets. Parts of several cities that were hit were left without electrical power on Tuesday afternoon.


George Packer

Anational mood disorder afflicts America, causing wild swings between mania and despair, superhuman exertion and bruised withdrawal. We overdo our foreign crusades, and then we overdo our retrenchments, never pausing in between, where an ordinary country would try to reach a fine balance. American exceptionalism has two faces, equally transfixed with a sense of specialness—one radiant with the nation’s unique beneficence, the other sunk in its unrivaled malignity. These extremes, confounding friends as well as enemies, are unrealistic and unsustainable.

Until the early hours of February 24, when Russian tank columns crossed the Ukrainian border and airborne troops targeted Kyiv, the United States was a chastened and declining superpower. The Biden administration seemed to have picked up where the Trump administration left off, accepting the harsh diagnosis of critics: After 20 years of failed wars, the age of intervention was over. Any thought of using force to transform other countries met the definition of insanity. A wave of recent books—Spencer Ackerman’s Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump, Andrew Bacevich’s After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World Transformed, Samuel Moyn’s Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War, Luke Mogelson’s The Storm Is Here: An American Crucible—portrays a country so warped by endless war, white supremacy, and violence that its very nature now drives it to dominate and destroy. Ackerman concludes that it is “increasingly difficult to see America as anything more than its War on Terror.”

The U.S. And China Are Now In An Economic War

Doug Bandow

The US is at economic war with China. No formal congressional declaration was necessary. However, the Biden administration has imposed draconian restrictions on Chinese access to semiconductor chips, while Congress has approved significant subsidies for the chip industry.

Unfortunately, this sort of “industrial policy,” a favorite of ambitious politicians worldwide, is unlikely to turn out well. Government-directed “investment” failed to spur Japan past the US decades ago. So far government-backed enterprises have not delivered chip superiority to China. Expanding US outlays for the industry is unlikely to achieve better results.

A half century ago the People’s Republic of China was isolated and impoverished, a threat to few people other than its own. Today the PRC has dramatically imposed itself on the world. Beijing’s geopolitical ambitions have expanded accordingly.

CIA, Spec Ops roles in Kabul’s collapse belie official versions

C. Tatum

America’s longest war, Afghanistan, has been called “the forgotten war,” which, for those who fought in it and are still suffering from it, is an insult added to its horrible end only a little over a year ago. Many questions, meanwhile, remain about its open-ended mission, such as why we stayed on a decade after killing the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks and dismantling his lethal networks. But it’s the chaotic ending of the conflict last year that’s about to get renewed attention at the hands of House Republicans, who, having won a narrow majority in the midterms, have declared their intent to launch a new investigation of President Biden’s botched evacuation and raise it to a boil by the 2024 election season. They will have plenty to work with.

C-17 photo from the unattributed video at The Aviationist

Such an inquiry will be sticky for the GOP, however, since President Trump’s 2020 Doha Agreement with the Taliban to end the U.S.-led war, which excluded the democratic government in Kabul from all negotiations and teed up the disaster of August 2021. Republicans will also struggle to escape the fact that Trump’s anti-immigrant policies the previous year also meant that less than 2,000 Special Immigrant Visas—a quarter of the annual allotment—were approved for Afghans, leaving a backlog of 18,000 applications of interpreters and other contractors by the time the Taliban took Kabul, thus creating the urgent need for the “largest U.S. military airlift in history.”

If they desire a credible inquiry, House investigators should also consider scrutinizing the role the U.S. intelligence community played in the final outcome of the war—the good, the bad and the ugly—when their efforts cost some lives while saving others.

They might begin with the untold story behind the defining image of the ignominious ending, the sight of that behemoth U.S. Air Force cargo plane taking off from Hamid Karzai International Airport with desperate Afghans plummeting from its massive fuselage and wheel coverings onto the runway and through Kabul rooftops. (Human remains were found in the wheel wells when the C-17 landed in Qatar.) The world watched, aghast, as the viral video spread across Twitter and TV.

Secrets of the C-17

Why the C-17 Globemaster III took off with so many civilians clinging to it remains officially unanswered. An Air Force spokesperson at the time said an investigation had been initiated but also offered spin: “Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, the C-17 crew decided to depart the airfield as quickly as possible.”

But the real reason, according to a new book on the chaotic August 2021 evacuation, was that the plane held an MH-47G Special Operations helicopter stocked with sensitive and classified systems for flying clandestine, low-altitude night sorties for special mission units like the Army’s Delta Force. According to accounts gathered together by retired Green Beret Lt. Col. Scott Mann for his book Operation Pineapple Express, the top U.S. military commander at the airport, a Navy SEAL admiral, feared the twin-rotary chopper, a modified version of the venerable Chinook and flown by the Army’s elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, would fall into the hands of the marauding Taliban. So off they went.

The horrifying sight of bodies falling from the C-17 was just one of several incidents in which U.S. clandestine services’ priorities during the hasty Noncombatant Evacuation Operation, or NEO, were often placed above all else—particularly human life. President Joe Biden had promised Americans that the Kabul evacuation would not have a “Saigon moment,” like the one captured in the indelible photograph of Americans scrambling aboard a helicopter from a rooftop as communist troops descended on the South Vietnamese capital in 1975.

There was “zero” comparison between Afghanistan teetering on the edge, Biden assured nervous Americans, and Saigon’s shocking collapse, in which thousands of Vietnamese who had worked with U.S. forces, including the CIA, were abandoned.

“There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a [sic] embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable,” Biden told a press conference on July 7, 2021.

In mid-August the entire U.S. diplomatic and security contingent at the embassy in the Kabul Green Zone was hastily evacuated by helicopters—not from the embassy’s rooftop, to be sure, but from an adjacent soccer field. Some 1,800 Americans were flown two miles away to HKIA by the morning of August 16. Diplomatic Security agents involved in the embassy evacuation and NEO were recently decorated for heroism.

How similar was it to Saigon? The answer is a “walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction,” as Kris Kristofferson might say. Whatever, the end was a rout, recorded in countless hours of deeply shocking and saddening photos and videos that are certain to be resurrected come the 2024 presidential election season, shredding Biden’s boasts about evacuating an astonishing 124,000 people the last two weeks of August.

Fact: The C-17 Globemaster III was on an intelligence mission to ferry a highly advanced special operations chopper for use in last-minute clandestine rescue missions in Afghanistan. But it landed on a concrete sea of chaos. The huge runway was being overrun by 10,000 or more civilians who soon forced all air ops to halt. Rather than unload the sensitive cargo, the crisis forced the top commander at the airfield, U.S. Navy SEAL Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, to order the C-17 back in the air, even as other planes remained parked. Why? It was to protect the chopper in its belly from capture or its classified systems from being pilfered by the Taliban or the crowds, according to author Scott Mann.

The decision was confirmed in the transcript of an interview Vasely later gave to U.S. Central Command investigators: “Late morning [August] 16th, the mass of civilians on HKIA slowly began moving north across the runway, overwhelming the U.S. security forces aligned to attempt to contain the crowd. I ordered the one C-17 and two C-130s to leave.”

Unsaid was whether Vasely knew that civilians had piled onto the retractable wheel covers (called humps) of the massive cargo plane as it taxied to take off on the single runway. Apache AH-64 attack helicopters were hovering low over the asphalt using their rotor wash to blow civilians out of the plane’s path. He likely did not know about the civilians until the plane was long gone.

And yet the killing of innocent civilians around the airfield didn’t stop there. It was more deliberate and committed more often by “friendlies” than Taliban, who were busy outside beating those clustered around the airport with rubber batons and rifle butts.

During the mad scramble by the U.S. to exit Afghanistan after the stunningly rapid collapse of the U.S.-supported government, U.S. military senior commanders and diplomats made deals with numerous devils to exit without further calamities. The airport was the only place left to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan green card holders, legal permanent residents and “special interest” persons after the controversial decision to close Bagram Airfield north of the capital and desert it overnight on July 2.

Another consequential decision by American commanders inside HKIA was to accept a CIA offer on August 16, as revealed in Operation Pineapple Express, to clear up to 10,000 civilians from the runway and ramps by using the spy agency’s large Afghan paramilitary “surrogate” force, hardline fighters who had carried out the Agency’s capture/kill ops. The airport crowds had forced air ops to cease after the infamous C-17 was wheels up that sunny Monday morning.

That group of seasoned Afghan militiamen were known as National Strike Units (NSU), a notorious outfit that had to change its name from “Counter-Terrorist Pursuit Teams” after years of human rights abuses came to light. The price demanded for clearing HKIA of the civilian crowds was a guarantee that the U.S. military would airlift the CIA’s surrogate forces and their families out of Kabul.

Almost immediately it became clear that the price paid was much higher.

Bridge Too Far

The 82nd Airborne Division failed at its fundamental mission of securing the airfield, insiders note, because they could not get enough paratroopers on the ground when the crowds flooding the runway forced a stop to air operations the day after Kabul fell. But the CIA’s NSU paramilitaries—ironically, all clad in retro Vietnam tiger stripe camouflage fatigues—quickly cleared the airfield of the civilians with help from the Army’s Delta Force, a smattering of 82nd Airborne paratroopers, and Taliban teams, with U.S. Marines creating a buffer between the once warring parties. “Within two hours, [they] had 400 [Afghan paramilitary] guards protecting the south side,” one U.S. official told CENTCOM’s investigators.

“The Afghan unit that was there, the way they got people off [the airfield], to the point, was just running everyone over and shooting them,” Marine Lt. Col. Chris Richardella, a battalion commander, said in the film.

“They killed them,” another Marine officer bluntly told the filmmakers. A third Marine officer in the documentary said he witnessed “people being executed on the airfield.”

Richardella said it was after dark and he observed civilians dying in the headlights of the NSU paramilitaries’ trucks as they plowed into the crowds—but, he added, the brutal tactics succeeded. By 10:30 that night, the airfield was once again secured and planes were landing and taking off again just after midnight.

The brutality of the four NSU teams, known as units 01, 02, 03 and 04, didn’t end there. Their violence was often directed at Afghan Special Operations soldiers on the run from the Taliban. Call it a violent twist on the “crabs-in-a-barrel” cultural phenomenon—the CIA surrogate forces were now inside HKIA and a nearby CIA base, and the Afghan government forces simply were not.

At North, East and Abbey Gates, CIA’s tiger-striped paramilitaries were often more violent toward their countrymen than the Taliban outside the coils of concertina wire, who were trying to control the teeming masses of civilians and partner forces, such as Commandos, Special Forces and others, attempting to flee the country. This is evidenced in photos, video and by eyewitnesses beaten by the surrogate forces or who witnessed them kill fellow Afghans in cold blood.

“When I stood outside North Gate, one CIA paramilitary came and beat me on my back with his AK-47 stock, striking on my shoulder. He hurt me really badly,” Zahir, a former interpreter for U.S. special operations who remains in hiding in Kabul, told SpyTalk.

Others I’ve spoken to witnessed NSU men firing into the crowds or suffered themselves from Kalashnikov butt strokes, like Zahir. This brutality by NSU fighters is on display in the opening scenes of another forthcoming documentary, NatGeo's Retrograde.

Once Army Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, a former Delta operator and the 82nd Airborne’s commanding general, arrived at HKIA on August 18, he began to have daily face-to-face meetings in the South Terminal with the commander of the Taliban’s Red Unit to discuss securing HKIA from ISIS attacks and facilitate the exodus of Americans and Afghan allies, according to soldiers from his paratroop division and the CENTCOM report.

To that end, Biden even did something extraordinary, as CENTCOM’s report explained. “POTUS directed … the sharing of intelligence for force protection threats with the Taliban (en extremis),” which were on paper handed to the Red Unit commander. “This intelligence sharing built trust and opened critical lines of communication with the Taliban commander,” the CENTCOM report added.

Few trusted the Taliban to allow evacuees to pass unharmed.

CIA operatives did many good things, too. They acted swiftly to help secure the airfield, even bribing individual Taliban commanders securing the enormous perimeter as the race was on to evacuate at-risk Afghans and Americans, according to one officer there at the time. CIA officers also helped some Afghan special operators gain access to the base and guided American citizens and “special-interest Afghans” into HKIA using a secret entrance named Liberty Gate on the north side of the airfield.

Top military and Biden administration officials have boasted of evacuating 124,000 people during the NEO airlift, but have skillfully avoided questions about how those evacuees navigated the world’s most dangerous airport commute in order to get on a plane, or who helped get them safely to the entry control points.

In reality, it was not the United States government. Most got inside HKIA with their own perseverance and luck or with the help of ad hoc veterans groups located in the U.S. who used encrypted app group chats, such as Operation Dunkirk, Task Force Pineapple, Allied Airlift and others, to communicate with their Afghan brothers.

When an AP story revealed that special operations forces had choppered 169 Americans to HKIA from the Baron Hotel on August 21—a compound that overlooks the airport’s Abbey Gate—CNN quoted Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby as confirming that the mission was approved by the ground commander. “He executed a mission that he believed was in the best interest of helping these Americans, and he did,” Kirby said.

But, few if any among those 169 people were Americans. They were British, and the mission was flown by the 82nd Airborne’s pilots, not special ops, at the request of Her Majesty’s armed forces, senior military sources have told me.

That incident and other rumors of SAS “rescue missions” of British nationals perpetuated a myth during the evacuation that American special operators were also rounding up U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghan allies throughout Kabul or even outside the capital.

On Their Own

Those wishing to leave had to get to the last U.S. outpost on their own, with the exception of 3,000 U.S. embassy Afghan staff and their families who were brought into HKIA aboard chartered buses.

Delta Force operators were only permitted by senior U.S. military and political leaders to execute a few rescue missions outside the wire of HKIA or from the CIA’s nearby Eagle Base, retrieving only a few dozen at-risk people—a statistical drop in the bucket, as thousands of frightened U.S. citizens and partner forces in Afghanistan desperately tried to find a way out. The SAS rumors, incidentally, were also untrue.

Why weren’t special mission units allowed to rescue more people? It was Washington’s chronic aversion to risk, senior officers have told me, citing fears of a disastrous “Blackhawk Down”-style urban street fight with the Taliban.

As a result, planeloads of U.S. citizens were left behind in Kabul, along with tens of thousands of Afghan Special Operations soldiers, while the CIA evacuated almost all of its surrogate forces. At least 600 Americans made it out months later on Qatar-organized flights with the aid of volunteer groups such as Project Dynamo.

But in the utter chaos of August 2021, Americans waving blue passports were beaten by Taliban outside HKIA— even while Pentagon spokesman John Kirby was shrugging off such reports in his daily televised briefings.

America and all its military might could not help its own citizens.

Abandoned en masse among Afghan forces were two groups most at risk of Taliban retribution after America had cut its losses and retreated from the war. Most of the 18,000 Afghans—mostly former interpreters—who were awaiting processing of their special immigrant visas were not evacuated, as well as most of the 18,000 Afghan Special Operations soldiers who had fought side-by-side with American Green Berets, SEALs, Marine Raiders and Rangers for two decades.

(NatGeo's Retrograde takes you inside a 10th Special Forces Group team room at Fort Carson, Colorado, where Green Berets discuss the Taliban's sudden victory over Kabul and how to leverage the volunteer groups to get their Afghan brothers stateside. The active-duty soldiers used those non-government resources successfully, and avoided the Afghans' capture and Taliban interrogation about those Germany-based Green Berets who had been training Ukrainians for years ahead of the Russian invasion.)

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the likely new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee come January, issued his own report in August deploring the abandonment of partner forces.

"As the Taliban's advance on Kabul progressed, there was no organized effort to prioritize the evacuation of critical Afghan military personnel who possessed unique knowledge of the U.S. military’s tactics, techniques, and procedures and could thereby pose a security risk to America if they could be forced to divulge their knowledge to a U.S. adversary,” he said.

Their American friends, mostly active-duty and retired Green Berets, have received countless photos and videos in the 15 months since the U.S. exit of Afghan commandos, Special Forces and National Mine Removal Group operatives murdered by the Talibs now in power, who had publicly promised all was forgiven.

Amid the chaos, thousands of NSU surrogate fighters with their families were transported from Eagle Base (which CIA operatives burned to the ground on August 26) to HKIA for evacuation from Kabul. That effort contributed to the over-crowding of the airport that day and was among the reasons U.S. commanders stopped most entries of Afghans into the airport in the hours leading up to the ISIS suicide blast at Abbey Gate that night, according to sources who were there. The other reason for the long gate closure was ISIS threat reporting, which was constant for several days.

Approximately 200 civilians and 13 American service members were killed in the ISIS suicide bombing just after 5:30 PM local time, which effectively ended the NEO.

Some have called what happened an intelligence failure, but that’s not quite right. No intelligence assessments anticipated the fall of Ghani’s government would come within six weeks of the U.S. withdrawal from Bagram Airfield. But sources also say there were no classified assessments that gave Afghanistan’s elected, albeit corrupt, government any chance of survival once the U.S completely left, sources told SpyTalk. Various assessments predicted that the collapse would occur in October or December 2021, or, most optimistically, by February of this year.

And yet throughout 2021, senior leaders receiving these intelligence assessments had publicly denied the collapse of Afghanistan’s democracy was a foregone conclusion. The CIA, of course, knew differently: It was already planning how to evacuate its people and assets. One Saigon was enough for the spies. For the rest left behind, only suffering and tragedy awaited.

Could The Ukraine War Turn Russia Into North Korea?

Peter Suciu

Russia: The New North Korea? As of last week, the Kremlin has reportedly lost more than 18,000 units of equipment – including tanks, armored personnel carriers, military vessels, combat aircraft, and large artillery – since it launched its unprovoked and ill-fated invasion in February. The losses are the greatest a military power has seen destroyed or captured since the Second World War.

Russian forces are believed to have seen more than 420 troops killed in the past week, while six tanks and seven APCs were destroyed. In total, nearly 2,900 Russian tanks have been destroyed or captured, along with more than 5,800 APCs.

Earlier this month, the Kremlin also lost 24 tanks and 800 men in a single day as its defense of Kherson crumbled. During the week-long fighting for the city, Russian forces saw 2,600 soldiers killed. The Russian death toll since the start of the full-scale invasion is believed to have surpassed 83,000.

Iran Caught Again Trying to Kill Israeli Civilians Abroad

Latest Developments

Georgia’s state security announced last Tuesday the arrest of a Pakistani national affiliated with al-Qaeda and of two Iranian nationals who attempted to murder a prominent Israeli in the capital of Tbilisi. An Israeli media report, citing an unnamed Israeli security official, said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force orchestrated the assassination attempt, which sought to target Israeli-Georgian businessman Itzik Moshe. Georgian security alleged the would-be attacker received weapons from Iranian citizens living in the country via drop-offs and hideouts.

Expert Analysis

“The arrest of operatives in Tbilisi acting under the guidance of the Quds Force demonstrates Iran has not abandoned its attempts to murder Israelis abroad. The use of an al-Qaeda affiliate shouldn’t come as a surprise due to Iran’s extensive history of training, funding, and providing other material support to al-Qaeda and its partners.”

A History of Iranian Plots Against Israelis Abroad

Operatives acting under Iranian guidance have attempted to murder Israelis in multiple countries. On October 4, 2021, Israel accused Iran of orchestrating a plot to murder Israelis in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia. Local authorities reportedly conducted surveillance on a 38-year-old Azeri national using a Russian passport for several weeks before they arrested him. They found a pistol and a silencer in his rental car.

How Ukraine can win a war of attrition against Russia


Ukraine and Russia are locked into a grinding war of attrition in which the first side to become exhausted will lose.

On paper, Russia went into this conflict with a tremendous advantage in manpower over Ukraine. Russia has a population of roughly 142 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, although several hundred thousand Russian men fled the country this year to avoid being drafted. Ukraine has a much smaller population of about 43.5 million, according to Census Bureau data.

Even though Russia has a much larger pool of military-aged people to draw upon than Ukraine, Russia’s efforts to replace its combat losses have bordered on acts of desperation. Russia has been forced to mobilize old men, and the Wagner Group private military company has reportedly recruited Russian prisoners, including those convicted for sex crimes, to fight in Ukraine. Earlier this month, video emerged of a 51-year-old Russian man who had joined Wagner being executed with a sledgehammer for allegedly defecting to the Ukrainian side.

The Army piece of a growing U.S. footprint in Philippines, Indonesia

Todd South

The United States wants a bigger military footprint in the Philippines and Indonesia, which could mean more Army rotations with the key Indo-Pacific partner in the coming years.

The decision, one of the initiatives Vice President Kamala Harris launched Monday during her visit to America’s oldest treaty ally in Asia, was announced the same day as a meeting between Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin and his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta, Indonesia to discuss stronger defense ties.

In talks with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the presidential palace in Manila, Harris also reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to defend the Philippines under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

The high-level assurance from the vice president came one day after China’s coast guard forcibly seized Chinese rocket debris that Filipino navy personnel found and were towing to a Philippines-occupied island in the disputed South China Sea. China, the Philippines and four other governments are locked in increasingly tense territorial disputes in the strategic waterway.

Ukraine, Irregular-War Changes Are Reshaping Pentagon’s Info-Ops Strategy


Lessons from Ukraine and changes in irregular warfare will be reflected in the upcoming revision of the Pentagon’s information-operations strategy, defense policy leaders said.

“Everyone has a cell phone; that’s what we’re seeing in the Ukraine. Not just soldiers having cell phones and watching the Javelin strike. Civilians are reporting the movement of Russian forces,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew Easley, a top information-ops advisor to the assistant defense secretary for special operations.

Among other things, Easley said, this means special operators need to be thinking about public narratives—how they might change and how U.S. forces can shape them—long before fighting erupts. And that means ensuring that troops have the right digital skills, including data analysis and messaging.

Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's Meeting With People's Republic of China (PRC) Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe

Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met today with General Wei Fenghe, Minister of National Defense of the People's Republic of China (PRC), on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Secretary Austin and General Wei discussed U.S.-PRC defense relations and regional and global security issues. Secretary Austin emphasized the need to responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication.

The Secretary also discussed the importance of substantive dialogue on reducing strategic risk, improving crisis communications, and enhancing operational safety. He raised concerns about the increasingly dangerous behavior demonstrated by PLA aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region that increases the risk of an accident. The Secretary also affirmed that the United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.

The Afghan National Resistance Front Outlines Its Strategy: Implications For US Foreign Policy

Philip Wasielewski

(FPRI) — On November 15, 2022, the Foreign Policy Research Institute conducted an in-person and Zoom event titled, “The Future of Resistance in Afghanistan,” with Ali M. Nazary, the head of foreign relations for the National Resistance Front (NRF). Nazary, an articulate spokesman for the NRF and the anti-Taliban cause in Afghanistan, presented one of the most comprehensive briefings to a general American audience to date of the NRF’s goals and strategy. This short essay will provide a brief description of those goals and strategy and assess what this may mean for U.S. foreign policy.

The event with Nazary was the third Afghan-centric event or publication produced by FPRI in the past three months as part of its efforts to showcase the wide range of challenges to American foreign policy beyond current headlines. All three concentrated on the two main issues for US foreign policy towards Afghanistan since the Taliban’s seizure of power: the presence in Afghanistan of multiple international and regional terrorist groups, the presence of a resistance movement to Taliban rule, and how to deal with both.

How do Terrorists use Financial Technologies?

Joe Whittaker

There have been substantial concerns within policy and the media that online technologies present a challenge to counter-terror finance. This is particularly the case for virtual currencies – the US Department of Treasury notes that such financial services are “vulnerable to abuse by terrorist financiers because they enable potentially anonymous cross-border person-to-person fund transfers.” Similarly, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is concerned that “electronic online and new payment methods pose an emerging [vulnerability]…Many of these systems can be accessed globally and used to transfer funds quickly… [while being] difficult to identify the actual end-user.’ Although the FATF highlight several anecdotal case studies which demonstrate this, they note that the prevalence of such technologies is unclear. In essence, policymakers are highlighting a potential concern, yet there is little robust data to either support or challenge it.

A recently published open access article by this author seeks to explore this, assessing how terrorists are using financial technologies in three ways: 

How are terrorists moving money?

How are terrorists making purchases?

Does the use of technology affect terrorists’ success?

To Deter China, the U.S. Must Have the Political Courage to Retaliate Against Russia

Ben Ollerenshaw & Julian Spencer-Churchill

The principal lesson Beijing is learning from the 2022 Russia-Ukraine War is that Western politicians are fearful of risking military engagements with a nuclear-armed power, fearing nuclear war. Aside from the provision of arms, and a small number of Western military advisors in Ukraine, the NATO members have strenuously sought to avoid involvement, stressing that Ukraine is not covered by any provision of the NATO Treaty. Lately, there was a brief moment of crisis when a purportedly Russian missile struck the Polish village of Przewodów, killing two non-combatants, until denials from Moscow, and evidence from NATO suggested it was more likely an errant Ukrainian air defense rocket. The prevailing impression is that NATO would have been very reluctant to retaliate by striking Russian military targets.

American caution originated in the non-violent resolution of the 1948 Berlin Crisis, when the three million strong Soviet army dwarfed the war-damaged economies of Central Europe. During the Cold War, NATO forces in West Germany, and at sea, were very concerned that an accidental encounter could escalate to a skirmish and war. Although most NATO and Warsaw Pact land formations were deployed about half a day from the border, incursions by combat aircraft did occasionally occur, typically in error, in the constrained airspace of Central Europe. To name just a few examples: in August of 1976, an intruding Turkish fighter was shot down in Soviet airspace, and in 1980, a Soviet Tu-95 Bear violated U.S. airspace near Langley Virginia. U.S. helicopters were fired on when they crossed into Czechoslovak airspace in 1984, and Czechoslovak interceptors again attacked U.S. helicopters within West Germany in 1985. There was sufficient concern that the U.S. and USSR signed an Incidents at Sea Agreement in 1972 to avoid escalation in maritime encounters; just one year later, American and Soviet fleets were nose - to - nose in the dangerous Mediterranean Crisis. To be sure, deliberate provocation intended to justify war is as often a cause of war as accidental escalation, but the latter mechanism has had a major impact on world history, playing a significant role in cases such as the First World War, the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six Day War, and the 1969 Sino-Soviet Border Conflict.

Security Assistance Group – Ukraine (SAG-U)

The United States has established Security Assistance Group – Ukraine or SAG-U, a three-star command to oversee support to Ukraine. The new joint forces command will be stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany to handle weapons shipments, personnel training, and other related tasks for the Ukraine conflict.

The joint service command will be manned by personnel from across the military services. The members of this organization will be pulled from units and organizations in the United States from all of the military branches – Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force. SAG-U will coordinate closely with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group – a coalition of 40 countries that the DoD created to assist Ukraine.

It will also be monitoring the use , disposition, and accountability of the more advanced weapons being provided to Ukraine – ensuring they don’t fall into Russian hands or get diverted from their intended purpose. This monitoring function could be performed, in part, by a small team located with the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv; most likely personnel from, attached to, or working in coordination with the Office of the Defense Attaché.