25 December 2022

Indian, Chinese Army Commanders Meet to End Border Standoff

Ashok Sharma

Indian and Chinese military commanders met in yet another attempt to end a more-than-two-year-old standoff between tens of thousands of their soldiers along their disputed border that triggered bloody clashes in 2020, an Indian Defense Ministry statement said on Thursday.

The 17th round of talks was held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side on Tuesday, the statement said. It gave no indication of whether a breakthrough had been reached to end the impasse.

There was no immediate comment from the Chinese side.

Indian army chief Manoj Pande said last month there had been “no significant reduction” in Chinese troop strength in Ladakh. He said the border situation was “stable but unpredictable.”

However, Tuesday’s meeting between the army commanders is expected to lower tensions as it came less than two weeks after another clash between soldiers in India’s eastern Arunachal Pradesh state that left some injured on both sides.

As TTP Attacks Mount, Pakistan Runs out of Patience With Afghan Taliban

Umair Jamal

On December 20, soldiers from the Special Service Group (SSG), an elite commando unit of the Pakistan Army, killed 25 militants belonging to the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Just days earlier, the TTP had taken several policemen and others hostage at a counterterrorism center at Bannu in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media wing, a militant at the center snatched weapons from a guard and was able to free 34 other detained fighters.

The efforts of the Pakistani government and security agencies to persuade the TTP terrorists to agree to an unconditional surrender failed as the latter insisted they be offered free passage to Afghanistan, where the Afghan Taliban are in power. Reportedly, Pakistani security agencies also sought the Afghan Taliban’s help in the matter, but it was of no use.

The Bannu incident provides more evidence that the TTP, an internationally recognized terror group, is not only receiving support from Afghanistan but also has established sanctuaries deep inside that country as well. The TTP’s demand for safe passage for its militants to Afghanistan via a ground route or by air cannot materialize without support from the Kabul regime for such a passageway.

What Does a Taliban School Curriculum Look Like?

Lauryn Oates

The U.S. decision to leave Afghanistan in the way that it did last year has had terrible consequences. The most consequential of all may prove to be the Taliban’s overhaul of Afghanistan’s public education system.

The Afghan newspaper Hasht-e-Subh obtained a copy of the Taliban’s proposed modification of the country’s school curricula. The Dari translation begins: “the current curriculum was made under the Kabul puppet administration, and funded by Jewish and non-religious countries,” which sets up both the document’s tone – one fueled by conspiracy, paranoia, and defensiveness and void of any pedagogical principles – and the proposed gutting of the curriculum that follows.

Hasht-e-Subh’s December 17 story provides a detailed summary of the document, which proposes removing entire subjects from the curriculum, and much more. Textbooks will be stripped of all images of living things; of particular concern are depictions of little girls and people doing sports, as well as anatomy images in biology textbooks. Also prohibited will be any mention of democracy and human rights in a positive light; the encouragement of peace, women’s rights and education; the United Nations (an “evil organization” according to the report); mention of music, television, parties, and celebrations including birthdays; non-Muslim figures such as scientists or inventors (Thomas Edison is highlighted as an example); mention of mines and their dangers (because of their association to the Taliban); radio (“colonial media”); population management; and mention of elections.

Terrorist Group TTP Is The Biggest Challenge To Pakistan

P. K. Balachandran

It is commonly believed in Pakistan that its existence is under threat from its eastern neighbor India with which it has an unending dispute over Kashmir. But the threat actually comes from the outlawed Teheeik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an offshoot and ally the Afghan Taliban that now rules Pakistan’s Western neighbor, Afghanistan.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s commitment to forcing sharia on Pakistan and its belief in violence should worry Islamabad, particularly in the context of the on-going Pakistan-Afghanistan standoff.

In November, the TTP had withdrawn from its June 2022 ceasefire agreement with the Pakistan government, and the war against the Pakistani security forces was resumed. On November 18, the TTP stormed the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) office at Bannu in the Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province, held the police interrogators of its cadres hostage, and demanded safe evacuation to Afghanistan.

This set off alarm bells in Washington too, where the State Department Spokesman, Ned Price, said that the US will “unconditionally” support Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.

China’s Soaring Covid Cases Push Economic Activity Off A Cliff

China’s soaring Covid infections are keeping people home and causing a slump in travel and economic activity, according to the latest high-frequency data.

Following the recent abrupt end to Covid Zero controls, more cities have been hit by an exit wave of infections in the past week, leading to crowded hospitals and queues at funeral parlors. That’s keeping people in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere from going out despite workers in some places being told to return to work even if sick.

Subway Usage Is Low or Plunging in Major Cities

Several measures of mobility including traffic congestion in major cities, subway usage and the number of domestic flights have all slumped. In recent days subway passenger numbers have plummeted in cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xi’an and Nanjing as infections surged, while in Beijing, one of the cities that experienced the infection wave the earliest, subway usage steadied and picked up slightly over the past four days, although it is still around 80% below the level on the same period in 2019.

Olaf Scholz’s China Gamble

Alain Tao

On November 4, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz travelled to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Scholz was the first European leader to do so in three years. In these three years, the “Middle Kingdom” Xi presides over has come to resemble more of a “Hermit Kingdom,” thanks to the harsh zero-COVID policy that isolated the nation from the rest of the world. Xi’s administration is also responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses seen in decades, as well as employing economic coercion against countries that disagree with its policies.

In light of Beijing’s autocratic slide, it is no wonder why there are strong calls for a fundamental rethink of Europe’s engagement with the East Asian giant. Therefore, when Scholz announced that he would be accompanied by a business delegation of German CEOs, critics cried foul. It appeared to be business as usual for Scholz, who seemed to intend on continuing the Wende durch Handel (change through trade) policy of his predecessor, Angela Merkel. Many pundits also questioned the utility of such a visit, as Scholz would have been able to meet Xi in mid-November at the G-20 conference in Bali.

Is the Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict About to Escalate?

Mark Temnycky

For decades, Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought an unresolved conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Numerous ceasefires have been violated, and the ongoing war has resulted in the deaths of thousands, with many more injured. The West has also tried to help resolve the conflict by sending millions of dollars of financial and humanitarian assistance. Despite these efforts, the situation continues without end.

Earlier this year, it appeared that progress was being made. In July, Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev met in Georgia, where they debated a plan on normalizing relations. Armenian officials stated that they would withdraw their forces from Nagorno-Karabakh, while Karabakh authorities ordered residents of the Lachin region to relocate. Azerbaijani leaders then said they would retake control of the area.

But then everything changed. In August, one Azerbaijani soldier and two Karabakh soldiers were killed. Armenia and Azerbaijan immediately accused one another of violating the current ceasefire. Shortly after, tens of thousands of Armenian residents protested their government’s decision to cede control of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan. New ceasefire violations were reported in November and December. Given these developments, it appears that matters are becoming worse in the region.

Are the Geopolitics of the Middle East Changing?

Paul R. Pillar

Several developments in recent months have raised questions about whether the Middle East is undergoing a sea change in patterns of cooperation and conflict among states in the region and with outside powers. Chief among these was the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia and his meetings there with Arab leaders. Especially noticed was a joint statement by China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states that many interpreted as evidence of China taking the side of the United Arab Emirates in its dispute with Iran over the possession of some small islands in the Persian Gulf.

Meanwhile, an apparent deepening of ties between Russia and Iran has featured a partial reversal of the normal flow of arms in Russia’s relationships, with Iranian-made drones having become part of Russia’s aerial assault on Ukraine. Israel is installing its most extreme right-wing government ever, raising questions about the future of Israel’s upgraded relations with some Arab states, but without visible effects on those relations so far. And a soccer tournament in Qatar got the attention not only of sports fans but of observers of the political sideshow and its possible implications regarding relations between Gulf Arab states and others.

The Lachin Crisis: Ongoing Geopolitical Struggles in Karabakh

Rusif Huseynov, Shujaat Ahmadzada

Touting the slogans “Stop Ecological Terrorism” and “Ecology Has No Boundaries,” a group of Azerbaijanis launched an ongoing protest and blockade on December 12 along the section of the Lachin Corridor that passes close to the Azerbaijani city of Shusha. Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the area and surrounded the demonstrators on either side of the road to stop them from marching in the direction of Khankendi (Eurasianet, December 15). As a result, this spat has led to the effective closure of the only road connecting the Armenian-inhabited parts of Karabakh with Armenia.

There is some history behind the ongoing standoff. In early December 2022, the Azerbaijani side raised the issue of natural resource extraction, illegal from Baku`s point of view, in the areas under the control of the secessionist authorities in Karabakh (Top-Center, December 16). Even while Baku has long protested the economic activities in the occupied Azerbaijani territories, this subject has recently gained increased attention. On December 3, representatives of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources were sent to the Lachin Corridor to deliver their demands to the commander of the Russian peacekeeping force (Eurasianet, December 3).

Joe Biden Inches Toward War with Iran, Makes Israel Full Military Partner


Preparing for any potential war against Iran, the Biden administration has formally elevated Israel in military planning. Israel's changed status comes as the U.S. military refocuses from the 'war on terror' to potential combat with the big four—China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

As Israel has become a full-fledged military partner, the U.S. intelligence community is also putting more emphasis on its Hebrew language program to spy on its number-one Mideast ally.

For the Pentagon, Israel is the most prized military and intelligence partner in the Middle East, with its vast combat experience and advanced technologies. With the end of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and with the brokering of the Abraham Accords by the Trump administration, Washington sees an opportunity to incorporate Israel into a new regional alliance. The Accords established diplomatic relations between Israel and several of its Arab neighbors.

"Israel is coming out of the closet, allowed now to openly cooperate with the [U.S.] military while at the same time being denied access to another closet," says a senior intelligence official, referring to the world of American intelligence. The official, who requested anonymity to discuss military planning, says that for some things, such as targeting, exchanges are part of the new military alliance. But where U.S.-Israeli interests might diverge, such as counterintelligence against Israeli spying, or uncovering secrets about Israel's own nuclear arsenal, the United States has redoubled its collection efforts.

Solving America’s Strategic Metals Supply Crisis

Carl Delfeld

America’s strategic metals supply chain fragility is both dangerous and puzzling.

A few highlights of this debacle include closing the U.S. Bureau of Mines in 1996, allowing America’s only rare earths mine to go bankrupt, winding down our defense stockpile, and standing passively by as China became the world’s manufacturing superpower while gobbling up strategic resources all over the world.

With all our domestic natural resources plus commodity-rich Canada and South America, how did we ever become dependent on China for the supply of critical metals for our technology and defense base?

This all could have been prevented with just a modicum of foresight. After all, unlike America, our allies took steps to blunt and hedge these risks, such as South Korea’s mining investments in the Philippines and Japan’s financial partnership with Lynas of Australia—the world’s second-largest producer of rare earths.

Biden Drains 40 Percent Of America’s Oil Reserve

Andrew Moran

President Joe Biden plans to add three million barrels to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) after wiping out more than 40% of the nation’s emergency oil supplies. As a result, the country’s stocks now stand at their lowest levels since January 1984, totaling a little more than 380 million barrels. The administration had intended for the withdrawals to last for six months, with October being the end date. However, the White House sought an extension to ensure petroleum prices would keep coming down – and the suspicion is that this was due to the midterm elections. When was it decided that the oil reserve would be used as a political tool instead of its initial purpose of securing America’s energy needs in times of crisis?
Emergency Oil Reserve Give and Take

The Department of Energy announced on Dec. 16 that it would purchase three million barrels of oil to replace a fraction of what was eliminated from the SPR. This means that US taxpayers will be paying more than $70 per barrel. Interestingly enough, former President Donald Trump had proposed buying barrels of crude in the $20 range when prices had crashed, which faced Democratic opposition.

Five Things to Watch in 2023

Matthew P. Goodman, Erin Murphy, Stephanie Segal, Matthew Reynolds

After another tumultuous year in 2022 that upended some of our predictions this time last year, the CSIS Economics Program is ready to try again to make sense of the year ahead. Here are five things we will be watching in 2023:

Global Economy: Global economic growth is likely to slow next year amid persistent, albeit probably moderating, inflation. The economic boost from loosening Covid-19 restrictions will fade in major economies except perhaps China. Governments are not planning major stimulus measures, and key central banks will continue tightening to address inflation. The International Monetary Fund in October estimated that global GDP growth would decline to 2.7 percent in 2023, down from 3.2 percent in 2022 and the slowest rate in the past 20 years apart from the global financial crisis in 2009 and initial Covid-19 shock in 2020.In the United States, the key question is whether the Federal Reserve can engineer a “soft landing” or if a recession is the only way to get the rate of inflation down from 40-year highs to something approaching the 2 percent target. Many investors foresee a recession, and markets are in the odd position of reacting negatively to signs of sustained wage or job growth because they suggest the Fed might have to raise benchmark rates above 5 percent next year.In China, the government’s “Zero Covid” policy has ended abruptly, and Beijing has pivoted to economic stabilization. After the wave of widespread infections passes, reopening will probably boost consumption, which otherwise has received little direct policy support. China’s real estate sector could stabilize in response to recent support measures. Exports are unlikely to offer much support to economic growth given weakening demand elsewhere. The annual growth target announced in March will be a key indicator, with a target above 5 percent suggesting either a return to investment-oriented stimulus or optimistic assumptions about how much consumption will improve.In Europe, the energy crisis and supply-side inflation could lead to a regional recession. The European Central Bank will probably continue to raise rates, although less so than the Fed, while national governments balance fiscal consolidation with the need to help consumers and firms manage high energy prices.The world will continue to grapple with the effects of higher rates and a strong dollar. Many developing countries could default on their foreign currency debts next year. Monetary tightening in the United States has contributed to a decline in the liquidity of U.S. Treasury securities, which could make this vital market vulnerable to shocks. (GD)

Cryptocurrencies and U.S. Sanctions Evasion: Implications for Russia

William Alan Reinsch, Andrea L. Palazzi

A current risk in today’s trade ecosystem is that countries leverage cryptocurrencies to circumvent U.S. sanctions. Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that are not backed by central banks and are also traded outside the international banking system. In crypto transactions, individuals’ accounts, or wallets, are encrypted through alphanumeric aliases and are validated by a decentralized network of users, rather than financial intermediaries. Due to their deregulated and decentralized nature, cryptocurrencies can be a useful tool to circumvent the global domain of the dollar.

Q1: What features of cryptocurrencies make them suitable for sanctions evasion?

A1: Cryptocurrencies are a powerful tool for sanctions evasion for two main reasons: transactions are (1) not processed by commercial banks and (2) vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Absence of Commercial Banks

Commercial banks are often key to sanctions enforcement because they track the source of money and check whether individuals or companies appear on entity lists. In contrast, cryptocurrencies are exchanged through encrypted transfers between wallets. Wallet ownership is encrypted by a two-key mechanism: transfers require a public key, which is the address of the wallet, and a private key, which works as a password. Both keys are alphanumerical codes.

Drones, sats and rockets: As Sweden looks to boost spending, it’s taking lessons from Ukraine


HALIFAX — Drones, space-based surveillance capabilities and munitions could get increased attention from Sweden as the Nordic nation attempts to boost spending for modernization in the coming years, according to its new defense minister.

Since coming into power this fall, Sweden’s new government has laid out three defense priorities. The first is joining NATO, and the second is increasing military support for Ukraine “including the transfer of more advanced military weapons systems,” Pål Jonson, who became Sweden’s top defense official in October, told Breaking Defense.

The third priority involves increasing Sweden’s defense budget over time. In November, Sweden’s armed forces put forward a proposal to increase military spending to 2 percent of its gross domestic product — the longheld goal for NATO members — by 2026 instead of its previous declaration to do so by 2028.

“I think what became crystal clear on the 24th of February this year was that Russia is willing to take bigger political and military risks … and the threshold for the use of military force is very low,” Jonson said in an interview on the sidelines of Halifax International security Forum. “And that’s a reality that we have to take into consideration.”

China-US Competition: Who Will Win the Digital Infrastructure Contest?

Kenson Yeoh and Dingding Chen

With the rapid escalation of the United States’ suppression strategy against China’s digital economy, U.S. allies and an increasing number of developing nations have joined the “de-Sinicization” bloc led by Washington. In an effort to impede the growth of China’s digital economy, the United States has promoted not only protectionist policies safeguarding its dominant general-purpose technology, but also an ideologically-driven digital security governance model designed to contain Chinese technology and companies.

In certain fields, China’s technology has even surpassed that of the developed nations, causing growing concern in the United States. From the virtual digital economy to digital infrastructure, it is evident that competitive rivalry between China and the United States has intensified and even altered the geopolitical structure.

Since 1993, the “Information Superhighway” proposed by Bill Clinton has made the United States the leading proponent and beneficiary of the digital economy. Cisco, Amazon, Microsoft, and other world-leading tech corporations came to dominate the global market. Relying on its first-mover advantage in internet and communication technology, the United States has secured self-preferential rights in digital technology and set broad laws and regulations centered on U.S. interests.

Whether, when and how the war in Ukraine will end


Whether, when and how the war in Ukraine will end are crucial and unanswerable questions. For some, the war is going well for Ukraine. Russian forces have been severely mauled. Regrouping and responding to battlefield setbacks may exceed Moscow’s capacity. Ultimately, if this continues, Russia will have to negotiate or compromise to end the war.

But others, including Ukraine’s senior military leadership, take a more cautionary view. Some in the Pentagon who do not wish attribution characterize the war as “Big Russia versus Little Russia,” meaning that Ukraine is unlikely to prevail over a larger and more powerful Russia if the fighting continues for the long term. Who proves correct is only a guess as of now.

A starting point is to assess the strategies of the key participants and then analyze the possible outcomes to determine what might be done to expedite ending the war on favorable terms for Ukraine.

Russia Acknowledges a Prolonged War: What Does That Mean?

Stephen Blank

Vladimir Putin has now acknowledged that Russia is fighting a protracted war in Ukraine. He has also stated that there will not be another mobilization in the foreseeable future and reiterated that Russia’s strategy is a defensive retaliatory one and that this suggested no nuclear weapons would be used. While the remarks about nuclear weapons should have been gratefully received abroad; Putin on December 8 publicly mused about using them preemptively against the U.S. and NATO. In other words, he is back to making nuclear threats despite pressure from China and India and the West to forego such threats. Since Putin also has recently said that only he can be trusted, and his reputation for mendacity has long since been incontrovertibly established, we are once again left in the position of reading his tea leaves. For example, it is widely believed that the announcement of no new mobilization was intended to allay domestic, if not foreign apprehensions of just such a mobilization. But are these really the takeaways we should grasp as a result of Putin’s remarks?

First, despite Putin’s remarks Russian officials are still conducting mobilization operations inside Russia. This suggests that while Putin may have sought to calm domestic opinion, especially in the wake of Ukrainian drone attacks upon Russian air and naval bases, he is actually preparing the way, as he has done for several months, not only to wage a protracted war but also to ensure his unchallenged domestic authority against challenges of incompetent leadership. We must understand that while Putin may or may not call up another mobilization of several hundred thousand men; we cannot doubt that he is tightening controls and moving Russia in a more totalitarian direction with ever tightening restrictions on culture, education, and the mobilization of the economy for purposes of the war. Indeed, Tatiana Stanovaya, an acute analyst of Russian politics, claims he is building a miliary dictatorship.

Unleashing Clean Fusion Power Is America's Best Defense against Tyranny

Lawrence Kadish

It may prove to be as historic as the harnessing of fire, invention of the wheel, or the channeling of electricity. It will certainly rank on a par with the first release of nuclear energy in an experimental Chicago reactor or its first test as an atomic weapon near Los Alamos, New Mexico.

It is the first successful experiment to extract power from controlled fusion.

It may take a decade or more to convert their successful experiment into commercially available power, but what it offers is an inexhaustible, readily available source of clean energy that eliminates pollution, greenhouse gases, or radioactive waste from the current generation of nuclear reactors. In short, it has the means to be as powerful and transformative than any advance in energy technology mankind as ever deployed to run its society.

Fusion occurs within our Sun and the stars that fill our night sky. The process combines hydrogen atoms, turning it into helium and producing the sunlight that allows civilization to exist orbiting some 93 million miles from the Sun. In an effort to replicate that law of physics, American scientists have used reactors and lasers to determine how they can harness its enormous power. (It has been estimated that a modest container of the "fusion fuel" is equivalent to one million gallons of oil, generating some 9 million kilowatt hours of electricity.)

A Free World, If You Can Keep It: Ukraine and American Interests

Robert Kagan

Before February 24, 2022, most Americans agreed that the United States had no vital interests at stake in Ukraine. “If there is somebody in this town that would claim that we would consider going to war with Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview with The Atlantic in 2016, “they should speak up.” Few did.

Yet the consensus shifted when Russia invaded Ukraine. Suddenly, Ukraine’s fate was important enough to justify spending billions of dollars in resources and enduring rising gas prices; enough to expand security commitments in Europe, including bringing Finland and Sweden into NATO; enough to make the United States a virtual co-belligerent in the war against Russia, with consequences yet to be seen. All these steps have so far enjoyed substantial support in both political parties and among the public. A poll in August last year found that four in ten Americans support sending U.S. troops to help defend Ukraine if necessary, although the Biden administration insists it has no intention of doing so.

Why Germany and Japan are rebuilding their military power 8 decades after World War II

Joshua Keating

We’re now about as far removed, in years, from the end of the Second World War as people then were from the American Civil War. And yet there are days when it feels like World War II is still being fought. Russian President Vladimir Putin is battling phantom Nazis in Ukraine. Western leaders constantly invoke World War II — President Joe Biden did so four times in one day — to convey the importance of standing up to Putin. Some observers believe that the Chinese government under President Xi Jinping is attempting to reframe the country’s memory of the war years from a moment of national trauma into one of unity and victory against foreign occupation.

But nowhere has the legacy of the war and its aftermath continued to influence political debate as much as it has in Germany and Japan — particularly when it comes to military matters. Anti-militarist principles are hard-wired into the postwar constitutions of both former Axis powers: Both have strong pacifist movements that continue to wield substantial political influence, both have relied heavily on U.S. security guarantees, and while both have built substantial military forces, they’ve also shown far more reluctance to deploy them overseas than countries with comparable political and economic clout.

Russia Struggles to Maintain Munition Stocks (Part Two)

Hlib Parfonov

While the Kremlin stubbornly contends that the Russian defense industry will have no issues in replenishing those munitions that have been heavily depleted in Ukraine, closer analysis of the production rates within the industry reveal otherwise. First and foremost, Russia’s heavy shelling of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure has led to a growing shortage of artillery and Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) shells. And the Russian defense industry’s capacity may not be enough to sustain the current rate of fire.

In truth, how many artillery shells could be produced by the Plastmass Plant and Research Machine Building Institute? Roughly speaking, the number of shells can be obtained by dividing the manufacturer’s revenue by the cost of one shell (see Part One). However, it is not clear what share of this production involves the ammunition we are primarily interested in—the 152-millimeter (mm) shells. Given the insignificant share of 203 mm ammunition being used in Ukraine, this type of projectile was ignored, and 122 mm ammunition was also not taken into account.

Air University Press

Air & Space Operations Review, Winter 2022, v. 1, no. 4 
  • Combat Drones in Ukraine
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft C2 Latency during Air-to-Air Combat
  • Refocusing Reapers Tangible Improvements Today That Prepare for the Future
  • DoD Labs Back to the Future?
  • Stars on Tombstones Honorary Promotions of Air Corps and Air Force Leaders
  • Canada’s “Open Door” on 9/11 Adapting NORAD
  • Hypersonics between Rhetoric and Reality

Is AI the right fit for predictive military maintenance?


OPINION — The DoD is continually challenged to provide battle-ready ground combat systems, ships, submarines and aircraft to its warfighters, spending nearly $90 billion each year on weapon systems maintenance, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that was sent to Congress on December 8.

Predictive maintenance defined – is a computer-driven technique used to predict the future failure of a component of a weapon or delivery system, so that the Defense Department (DoD) and military services can plan to replace components before they fail.

As the GAO report put it, “Often used in the private sector, predictive maintenance relies on personnel to use condition-monitoring technology and data analytics to schedule maintenance based on evidence of need.”

However, the report said, “The performance of maintenance depends on having a sufficient number of skilled personnel available to perform the work, parts available to use in maintenance, and a sufficient understanding of technology and the technological resources to complete maintenance.”

Army network plan will offset contested comms with multi-path transport-agnostic capabilities


To discuss the US Army’s progress in developing a layered terrestrial- and space-based tactical network that will be a main building block for Joint All Domain Command and Control, Breaking Defense talked with Col. Shane Taylor, project manager, Tactical Network, Program Executive Office Command Control Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), and John Anglin, technical management division chief for PM TN.

Breaking Defense: A recent Army article quoted US Army Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. John Morrison as saying: “The Army’s Unified Network is the Army’s contribution to JADC2, and at the core of the unified network is space.” The unified network almost sounds like a concept of operations like Joint All Domain Command and Control. But it’s more than that. Describe what is meant by the “unified network.”

Anglin: The two main components of the Unified Network are the Integrated Tactical Network and the Integrated Enterprise Network, ITN and IEN. For ITN, we’re fielding kit from the company up through the battalion and brigade to division, with other maneuver type elements sprinkled in.

Pentagon Cloud Computing Enterprise Finally Moves Forward

Sean Carberry

ARLINGTON, Virginia ­ — After years of awards, protests, revisions and delays, the Defense Department issued a $9 billion enterprise cloud contract it believes fixes flaws that led to the cancellation of its predecessor, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI.

Whereas the JEDI was a single-vendor award —that was protested and later scrapped — the Joint War­fighting Cloud Capability contract, or JWCC, has been awarded to Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft and Oracle. Each vendor is guaranteed $100,000 and will then bid for task orders, explained Defense Department Chief Information Officer John Sherman during a press conference.

“What this brings us is direct access to these cloud service providers without going through an intermediary or reseller,” he said.

The contract — which runs for three years with two option years — requires all four vendors to be able to provide services at the unclassified, secret and top-secret levels, he said.

Have Soldiers Forgotten How to Use a Map and Compass?

Steve Beynon

About seven months after the Army reintroduced land navigation to its Basic Leader Course, or BLC, half of the soldiers in that pilot program have failed the training.

BLC is a 22-day school for the Army's junior leaders to rise to the rank of sergeant. Land navigation was brought back after a roughly four-year hiatus. The school is supposed to teach young noncommissioned officers about the service's policies, including legal authorities, processing paperwork for awards, and sexual assault and prevention efforts.

Service leaders have been aiming to add fieldcraft and combat tactics to the training, part of a larger effort to get non-combat arms troops up to snuff on basic soldiering skills. At the center of that push is land navigation, which tasks soldiers with plotting points on a map with a protractor and finding spots in the woods using a compass during both day and night. No GPS, which has become ubiquitous in combat with an approximation on just about every smartphone, is allowed.

But of the 914 soldiers who have been through the training, half have failed that portion of BLC, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex, the top enlisted leader for the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC.

Offset-X: How To Ensure The U.S. Military Stays Ahead Of Russia And China

James Holmes

Over at the Atlantic Monthly earlier this month, big brains Robert Work and Eric Schmidt recapped a longer report from the Special Competitive Studies Project detailing “Offset-X,” an aspirational effort aimed at “achieving and maintaining military-technological superiority over all potential adversaries, thwarting China’s theories of victory, restoring America’s ability to more freely project power in the Indo-Pacific region, and positioning the United States to honor its commitments to the stability of the region.”

An ambitious agenda. Both entries are crisply written, manageable in length, and worth your time. Pick one, read the whole thing, and come right back!

Offset strategies aren’t strategies in the classic sense of figuring how to deploy economic or military resources on hand to achieve larger goals. They’re more about foreseeing and leveraging the basic character of conflict. Offset-X, say the coauthors, is “a technology-centered strategic approach” to extending current U.S. technological advantages while redressing gains made by the red teams of the world in recent years. Nuclear weapons constituted an early offset strategy. U.S. forces fielded doomsday weaponry to counter the Soviet Union’s conventional weight of numbers in Europe during the early Cold War. Precision-guided arms used in inventive ways constituted a second. The ability to launch deep strikes with precision helped the West keep pace with the Soviets and ultimately prevail during the late Cold War.

Just How Radioactive Are Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons?


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated nuclear threats against member-states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for interfering in Russia’s invasion, occupation, and annexation of Ukraine are escalating as the war goes badly for Moscow. His threats are not going unnoticed as the American public shows significant concern amid a renewed interest in the role of nuclear weapons in national security.

For many Americans, any discussion of nuclear weapons use generates images of large-scale exchanges of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), and strategic bomber–delivered nuclear cruise missiles. This is, broadly speaking, an image of the United States and Russia engaging in, what the military calls, a full-scale nuclear exchange. Fortunately, this image of nuclear Armageddon is far less likely than a limited use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine. Unfortunately, Russia possesses an estimated 3,000–6,000 low-yield non-strategic nuclear weapons designed for use in just this type of conflict.

Before we go any further, let us specify that the term ‘yield’ is used to compare a nuclear weapon’s energy output by equating it to an equivalent explosive energy of TNT, where a kiloton (kt) is a thousand tons. It is also worth noting that there is no universally accepted yield range for categorizing nuclear weapons. We suggest that a low-yield weapon produces between one and ten kilotons.

Ten Ways Hypersonic Weapons Can Strengthen Strategic Deterrence

Loren Thompson

The Department of Defense is funding at least eight programs aimed at equipping each of the military departments with hypersonic weapons by the end of the decade.

Hypersonic systems are designed to fly at velocities of five times the speed of sound or greater. Unlike ballistic missiles, their flight paths are mainly within the atmosphere and they can maneuver in unexpected ways.

Their speed, relatively low operating altitude and lack of a predictable trajectory make them exceedingly difficult to intercept until they are in the immediate vicinity of their intended targets—which leaves defenders little time to act.

The hypersonic weapons being developed by the Pentagon are different from those being tested in Russia and China, because the U.S. weapons are not designed to carry nuclear warheads. The kinetic force generated by their speed at impact is sufficient to destroy many types of targets.