26 December 2022

Indian Buddhist Organization Says No To Beijing-Appointed Dalai Lama Successor

Pema Ngodup and Sonam Lhamo

An India-based Buddhist organization has declared that it would not support any Chinese-appointed successor to the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s foremost spiritual leader, and neither would the people of the Himalayan region.

“If the government of the People’s Republic of China, for political ends, chooses a candidate for the Dalai Lama, the people of the Himalayas will never accept it, never pay devotional obeisance to such a political appointee and publicly denounce such a move by anyone,” the Indian Himalayan Council of the Nalanda Buddhist Tradition said in a resolution issued Tuesday.

“The system of recognizing reincarnated spiritual beings is a religious practice unique to Nalanda Buddhism and the philosophy of the principle of life after death,” the council said.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of a failed 1959 national uprising against rule from Beijing. Now 87 years old, concerns on how succession will be handled have arisen.

Tibetan tradition holds that senior Buddhist monks are reincarnated in the body of a child after they die. The Dalai Lama has said that his successor will be born in a country outside of Chinese control.

Maldives’ 2023 Election Will Shape Indian Ocean Geopolitics

Mimrah Ghafoor

The Maldives will hold its next presidential elections in September 2023. As Maldivians brace for elections portending important domestic consequences, regional powers will be watching keenly – albeit with their own considerations in mind. Long famed as a luxury tourist destination, the Maldives has gained a strategic importance belying its small size, owing to its central location in the Indian Ocean, with critical sea lanes of communication cutting through its territory.

These facts no longer escape the attention of larger and more powerful actors eager to consolidate their competing regional interests. The Maldives’ politics – and thus the upcoming elections – are increasingly entangled with those competitions, particularly the maritime rivalry between India and China, the latter of which has been steadily expanding its Indian Ocean presence.

A Maritime Great Game

China began its naval expansion into the Indian Ocean in earnest in 2008, under the aegis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851, which authorized an international taskforce to combat piracy off the Gulf of Aden. China has only expanded its maritime presence since then.

China’s relations with Russia, India, and Europe

Célia Belin, James Goldgeier, Tanvi Madan and Angela Stent


The Russia-Ukraine war has generated or accelerated negative trends in China’s relations with Russia, India, and Europe. By fall 2022, the growing limitations in China’s relationships with all three were evident. Russia is now a less reliable partner given the uncertainties over the longevity of President Vladimir Putin’s regime; China’s rhetorical support of Moscow’s justifications for its brutal invasion of Ukraine has heightened European concerns about Chinese influence on the continent; and India’s attempts to balance its ties with Russia and the West have not created new openings for Beijing.


The Russia-Ukraine war has generated or accelerated negative trends in China’s relations with Russia, India, and Europe. Before February 24, 2022, China largely viewed Russia as a stable, reliable partner as the two worked in tandem to undermine U.S. dominance of the international system. While Europe was moving closer to the U.S. position that China posed military, political, economic, and technological challenges to Western interests, many in Europe were reluctant to harm Chinese investments across the continent. India’s ties with China were already at a low point due to the 2020 Sino-Indian border crisis.

China’s Threat to Global Democracy

Michael Beckley and Hal Brands

Since ancient times, contests among great powers have often involved contests of ideas. The Peloponnesian War was not simply a clash between a regnant Sparta and a rising Athens, but also pitted a liberal, seagoing protodemocracy that saw itself as the “school of Hellas” against a militarized, agrarian slave state. The ideological threat that revolutionary France posed to the European order was just as serious as the military one. In the run-up to the Second World War, fascist powers and democracies squared off; during the Cold War, the superpowers divided much of the world along ideological lines.

The intertwining of ideology and geopolitics should not be surprising: At root, foreign policy is how a country seeks to make the world safe for its own way of life. Many analysts accept that U.S. foreign policy is driven by ideological impulses. Even hardcore international-relations “realists” concede the importance of ideology when they bemoan the grip that liberal passions have on Washington’s statecraft. Curiously, though, there has been more resistance to the idea that there may be an ideological component to the grand strategy of America’s chief rival—the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Beijing is not making any “grand strategic effort to undermine democracy and spread autocracy,” writes one leading Sinologist. Its foreign policy is based on “pragmatic decisions about Chinese interests.” Realists say that China plays Realpolitik while America ignores John Quincy Adams’s 1821 advice to go “not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Other analysts suggest that it is a distraction or even a “delusion” to emphasize the ideological aspects of Sino-American rivalry at the expense of Beijing’s military and economic challenge.

Strategy, not economics, should govern high-tech trade with China


The Biden administration’s creation of a “China House,” the Office of China Coordination, in the Department of State could be a positive step forward to address the China threat. The office is tasked with providing information regarding the China threat and accelerating and coordinating the government’s reaction to it. Last year, the CIA created the “China Mission Center” to aid the Intelligence Community with direct resources, funding and personnel to counter Beijing’s expanding diplomatic, technological and military power.

However positive, these actions are overdue. Together, they indicate that the flame of strategic thought is not completely extinguished in Washington. Sadly, for decades it was. Wall Street and the United States government supported China’s economic growth in the disastrous belief that a wealthier, more prosperous China would be more democratic and peaceful, becoming a “responsible stakeholder” in the liberal international order. The camarilla of the “engagement school” held profoundly mistaken, naïve and misguided assumptions regarding the behavior of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Lamentably, these “experts” were completely divorced from an understanding of the motivations and objectives of the CCP, a strategic conception of U.S. national interests, and an understanding of the importance of the relative balance of power for securing America’s position as the world’s dominant military power. The consequence was a richer China that siphoned off its riches to increase its military might, technological prowess and diplomatic influence, and yielded a U.S. economy that was dependent upon China for critical manufacturing and goods, including pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment and antibiotics. Today, China is more prosperous, more bellicose, and more determined to supplant the liberal order and the U.S. position in the world.

The Pentagon with one eye on Ukraine and the other on China: 2022 in Review


WASHINGTON — As 2022 started, the Western defense establishment was focused on a singular question: Would Russia go through with its planned invasion of Ukraine, a scenario that US intelligence officials had warned could occur in the early months of the year?

The answer, as the world tragically found out on Feb. 24, was that Russian President Vladimir Putin was wholly willing to risk thousands of lives — both Russian and Ukrainian — in the hopes of overthrowing a sovereign nation, decapitating its leadership and turning it into a puppet state.

But while analysts predicted that the Ukrainian government would crumble in weeks, or even days, when faced with Russia’s much larger and more advanced military, what followed was a series of events that seemed out of a Hollywood script. It turns out that Russia’s military was far less capable than anyone had imagined, with the combination of inexperienced troops, poor command decisions and shoddy logistics leading to a string of embarrassing losses on the battlefield.

Europe Is Learning to Live Without Russian Energy

Emily Schultheis

BERLIN—Last weekend, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other top officials traveled to the northern port city of Wilhelmshaven to inaugurate Germany’s first floating terminal for liquified natural gas (LNG). The terminal, the first of five planned at ports across the North and Baltic Seas, is one part of Germany’s strategy to survive this winter—and the next, and the one after that—without the Russian gas imports it and other European Union countries have become deeply dependent on.

“This is a good day for our country and a good signal to the whole world that the German economy will be in a position to continue being strong, to produce, and to deal with this challenge,” Scholz said. “When we said that, for example, such a terminal should be built here in Wilhelmshaven this year already, many said that’s never possible, that it would never succeed. And the opposite is true.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly 10 months ago, European countries like Germany have learned the hard way what it’s like to live without Russian energy. From the start, the Kremlin has gone all-in on energy politics, seeking to use Europe’s energy reliance as a weapon to sow discord among European leaders and weaken the EU’s unified front in supporting Ukraine. It’s mostly failed.

The WTO’s War on National Sovereignty Has Begun

William R. Hawkins

China has filed a case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the United States for the export controls it placed on computer chips in October. The controls devised by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) include a variety of tools to manage the export of U.S.-origin and certain foreign-produced commodities, software, and technology, as well as specific activities of U.S. persons involved in the computer chip sector regarding trade in goods and services with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). According to a BIS statement released when the new rules were announced, they aim to:

Restrict the PRC’s ability to obtain advanced computing chips, develop and maintain supercomputers, and manufacture advanced semiconductors. These items and capabilities are used by the PRC to produce advanced military systems including weapons of mass destruction; improve the speed and accuracy of its military decision making, planning, and logistics, as well as of its autonomous military systems; and commit human rights abuses.

The U.S. position is that these measures are immune to challenge because of WTO Article XXI, which exempts actions taken for reasons of national security. In particular, Article XXI states:

Open Secrets: Ukraine and the Next Intelligence Revolution

Amy Zegart

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a watershed moment for the world of intelligence. For weeks before the shelling began, Washington publicly released a relentless stream of remarkably detailed findings about everything from Russian troop movements to false-flag attacks the Kremlin would use to justify the invasion.

This disclosure strategy was new: spy agencies are accustomed to concealing intelligence, not revealing it. But it was very effective. By getting the truth out before Russian lies took hold, the United States was able to rally allies and quickly coordinate hard-hitting sanctions. Intelligence disclosures set Russian President Vladimir Putin on his back foot, wondering who and what in his government had been penetrated so deeply by U.S. agencies, and made it more difficult for other countries to hide behind Putin’s lies and side with Russia.

The disclosures were just the beginning. The war has ushered in a new era of intelligence sharing between Ukraine, the United States, and other allies and partners, which has helped counter false Russian narratives, defend digital systems from cyberattacks, and assisted Ukrainian forces in striking Russian targets on the battlefield. And it has brought to light a profound new reality: intelligence isn’t just for government spy agencies anymore.

The Secret Postmodern Radicalism of Francis Fukuyama

Blake Smith

In his most recent book, Liberalism and Its Discontents, published this year, author Francis Fukuyama argues that the “virtues” of liberal democracy must be “clearly articulated and celebrated.” This injunction is a curious one. For more than three decades, Fukuyama has been one of the most prominent public intellectuals making the case—again and again, in various genres—that liberal democracy is the best form of government available. What has he been doing all this time, if the case for this regime is not yet clear?

Fukuyama presents himself in this book as an advocate rather than a scholar or philosopher. The premise of social science as practiced in modern universities is that it is possible to consider political things without assigning praise or blame; the premise of philosophy is that it is possible to consider such things in theory in at least a temporary withdrawal from the practice of politics. Fukuyama tells readers from the outset that these are not his aims. Shaping public opinion through paeans to one’s regime seems to him to be not only a reasonable, avowable goal but one that he faults other political thinkers and activists for abandoning.

He scolds both conservatives and progressives in the United States for their growing distrust of the “democratic process”—that is, from the shaping of opinion through discourse. Republicans aligned with former U.S. President Donald Trump are ever more skeptical of the fairness of elections or, indeed, of the idea that those opposed to their agenda can be considered so-called real Americans. The left, meanwhile, has promoted what Fukuyama sees as a divisive form of politics organized around group identities through “courts, executive agencies, and their substantial social and cultural power.” Neither side appears able or interested in attempting to secure a “broad social consensus” for a version of their agenda that could appeal to the material interests and values of most of their compatriots using traditional democratic means: rhetorical appeals, substantiated by political action, aimed at the legitimate demands of ordinary people.

Billionaires Are A Security Threat

ELON MUSK’S ACQUISITION of Twitter is particularly hard to swallow because every report of internal chaos reminds us that we may have sacrificed the most promising mode of online communication invented in decades by failing to identify it for what it was back when we had the chance. Musk’s purchase should never have been possible in the first place because Twitter should never have been an asset. It is “the public conversation layer of the internet,” as founder Jack Dorsey once put it, and consequently has functioned as the de facto center of our global alert system through the pandemic. It is astonishing that it is even still possible for one person to own this. It’s like owning email.

In the field of information security, there’s a kind of vulnerability known as the evil maid attack whereby an untrusted party gains physical access to important hardware, such as the housekeeping staff coming into your hotel room when you’ve left your laptop unattended, thereby compromising it. We have here a new analog, just as capable of wrecking systems and leaking data. Call it the “evil billionaire attack” if you’d like. The weapon is money, and more specifically, the likelihood that when the moment arrives you won’t have enough of it to make a difference. The call is coming from inside the house.

Kissinger’s ‘realism’ matches Biden’s policy, but not Putin’s reality


Henry KIssinger is returning to his intellectual and geostrategic roots. In a Spectator article last week, entitled “How to avoid another world war,” he recounts the origins of World War I, which was a key chapter in his early academic work at Harvard.

He repeats a point that he and many others have made over the years — that, had the governments of the warring countries known at the time what the consequences of their decisions would be, they would have decided differently: “Europe’s leaders sleepwalked … into a conflict which none of them would have entered had they foreseen the world at war’s end in 1918.”

Of course, that also could be said of World War II and other conflicts throughout history, especially from the perspective of the losing parties. And there is the reverse lesson that WWII also taught — and that the Korean War taught — about the consequences of leaders’ failure to act and to make their intentions clear to potential adversaries.

Here in Madrid, viewing Pablo Picasso’s ghastly 1937 depiction of the carnage at Guernica recalls historian Paul Preston’s statement that, had the British and other countries responded more forcefully at the time, “[T]here probably wouldn’t have been a Second World War.”

We Haven’t Seen the Worst of Fake News

Matteo Wong

It was 2018, and the world as we knew it—or rather, how we knew it—teetered on a precipice. Against a rising drone of misinformation, The New York Times, the BBC, Good Morning America, and just about everyone else sounded the alarm over a new strain of fake but highly realistic videos. Using artificial intelligence, bad actors could manipulate someone’s voice and face in recorded footage almost like a virtual puppet and pass the product off as real. In a famous example engineered by BuzzFeed, Barack Obama seemed to say, “President Trump is a total and complete dipshit.” Synthetic photos, audio, and videos, collectively dubbed “deepfakes,” threatened to destabilize society and push us into a full-blown “infocalypse.”

More than four years later, despite a growing trickle of synthetic videos, the deepfake doomsday hasn’t quite materialized. Deepfakes’ harms have certainly been seen in the realm of pornography—where individuals have had their likeness used without their consent—but there’s been “nothing like what people have been really fearing, which is the incriminating, hyperrealistic deepfake of a presidential candidate saying something which swings major voting centers,” says Henry Ajder, an expert on synthetic media and AI. Compared with 2018’s disaster scenarios, which predicted outcomes such as the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declaring nuclear war, “the state we’re at is nowhere near that,” says Sam Gregory, who studies deepfakes and directs the human-rights nonprofit Witness.

Zelensky Knows the Clock Is Ticking

Tom Nichols

When Volodymyr Zelensky arrives in Washington—his first time leaving Ukraine since the Russian invasion last winter—he will find a city that is even more obsessed with itself than usual. The Republicans are about to take over the House with a tiny majority and a passel of empowered kooks, and a congressional committee has recommended that a former president of the United States be prosecuted for an attempt to defeat the constitutional transfer of power.

The American drama is important and the stakes for democracy are high, but President Zelensky will touch down in D.C. for a visit to the White House and a joint address to Congress after leaving a war zone where he and his compatriots are literally fighting for their lives and for the survival of their nation against a Russian dictator who intends to erase Ukraine as an independent state from the map.

Washington is already shutting down for the holidays, but the timing of Zelensky’s visit makes sense. Ukrainian cities have been bombarded by the Russians yet again over the past few days in an attempt to break the country’s will to fight. The ground war is otherwise in something like a strategic pause, as Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his forces time to regroup in advance of what will likely be another set of offensives. Putin is in Belarus—the logical jumping-off point for another run at Kyiv—where he is making a public show of giving a belly scratch to his favorite foreign sheepdog, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

No One Would Win a Long War in Ukraine

Vladislav Zubok

In November 2022, General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent shock waves through Western capitals when he declared that the war in Ukraine is unwinnable by purely military means. Milley suggested that Ukraine is now in a position of strength and that this winter might be the moment to consider peace talks with Russia. He also recalled World War I, when the adversaries’ refusal to negotiate led to millions of additional deaths, suggesting that failure to “seize” the moment could lead to greatly more human suffering. His remarks challenged not only the position of Kyiv but also that of many of its Western backers, including Poland, the Baltics, North America, and the United Kingdom, which have endorsed Ukraine’s pursuit of complete military victory. As Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas argues in Foreign Affairs, “The only path to peace is to push Russia out of Ukraine.” Russia’s defeat, Ukrainian membership in NATO, the trial of Russia’s political and military leadership for war crimes, the payment of damages—these are essential to peace, she concludes. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ten-point peace plan unveiled in November takes the same approach.

If Milley’s comments were controversial, however, they pointed to a larger problem with seeking complete victory. Complete victory could require a very long war, and it would also mean that its ultimate duration would depend on political factors beyond the West’s control. For those calling for complete victory, the West must simply keep supplying Ukraine with the weapons and resources it needs to continue fighting, and wait for Russia to lose and, ideally, for Putin to go.

What Does the World Need to Achieve Sustainable, Inclusive Growth?


BALI – In November, hundreds of corporate CEOs and heads of state convened in Bali, Indonesia, for the B20 global business summit. The topics on the agenda this year revolved around three interconnected goals: sustainability, inclusion, and economic growth.

Far from being in conflict with one another, these three goals could be mutually reinforcing. A sustainable world could contain climate change and preserve natural capital and biodiversity. Inclusivity would create economic opportunities and shared progress for everyone. And while some believe that economic growth is incompatible with fighting climate change, it is necessary to produce the financial resources needed to create a sustainable, inclusive world – provided that those resources are used correctly.

To estimate the scope of the challenges ahead, we examined two crucially important indicators. First, we measured the sustainability gap, which is the additional investment in low-emissions technologies that every country must make to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Given that the world is on track to deplete its “carbon budget” – the amount of carbon dioxide it can emit without triggering dangerous levels of global warming – by 2030, there is little time left to make critical investments. The transition to a net-zero economy will require taking decisive steps by the end of this decade.

China Relations Key to Situation in North Korea

ISOZAKI Atsuhito

The Rodong Sinmun is obviously the organ of the Workers’ Party of Korea, but the October 24 issue of the newspaper was so peculiar that one might assume that it had been published by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The top of the front page showed a congratulatory message sent by Kim Jong Un to Xi Jinping upon the latter’s election as the Party’s General Secretary at the 20th Party Congress of the CCP. Reports about Kim’s activities usually appear above the fold on the front page of the newspaper, and congratulatory messages in themselves are not unusual, but Xi Jinping is the only foreign leader to have been given the qualifier “respected.”

Not only that, but the contents were high praise indeed. For instance: “Please accept my warmest congratulations to you … I am convinced that the CCP and the Chinese people would win shining victory in the new journey for maintaining and developing socialism with the Chinese characteristics and for building a comprehensively well-off modern socialist state under your leadership.” This contrasts with the cold congratulatory message sent to the Party Congress five years ago, when relations between China and North Korea had deteriorated considerably following North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests.

Will Russia Survive Until 2084?

Philip Wasielewsk

Will Russia survive until 2084? Readers may recognize the query as an allusion to Andrei Amalrik’s historic 1969 essay, “Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?,” which itself was an allusion to Orwell’s famed novel. As with Amalrik’s question about the Soviet Union’s future, this query focuses on Russia’s future foreign relations and territorial integrity. It envisions that a Russian defeat in Ukraine is likely to initiate chaos in Russia, equal to or greater than that experienced when the Soviet Union fell. This will exacerbate an on-going process where China, Turkey, and the European Union and NATO are replacing Russia as the gravitational centers of influence for its so-called “near abroad” in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Domestic unrest may also serve as a catalyst for disintegration of parts of Russia similar to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Though Russia is a millennium-old civilization and cannot dissolve as the ideologically based Soviet Union did, as a multinational state it can become smaller. As a result of a combination of a military defeat, domestic political chaos, economic malaise, and continuing demographic decline, Russia’s borders could implode to the extent they resemble those at the close of the 16th century, known in Russia as the Time of Troubles.


The currently raging Russian-Ukrainian war contains many unknowns—from the possible use of nuclear weapons to how the conflict finally ends. What we do know now is that the war has been a military disaster for Russia. Throughout Russian history, military disasters are usually followed by revolutions and/or a leadership change. There is no reason to believe that this war will be an exception. To cite just one example, Russia’s revolution of February 1917 was sparked by a combination of economic deprivation and military defeatism. There are strong parallels between that event and Russia’s current situation.

Adding years to life and life to years

Erica Coe, Martin Dewhurst, Lars Hartenstein, Anna Hextall, and Tom Latkovic

This is a decisive moment in the history of human health.

In many respects, health is a remarkable success story. Over the past century, life expectancy has dramatically increased in most parts of the world. But the portion of life we human beings spend in moderate and poor health hasn’t changed, meaning we spend more years in poor health than at any point in history. Moreover, significant inequity continues to exist across and within countries.

We can do better—quickly.

Humanity mobilized against COVID-19 at a speed and scale previously unseen. While far from perfect, our success should inspire us to challenge what we think is possible. At its best, our response to COVID-19 demonstrates that when resources and motivation coalesce, scientific breakthroughs and large-scale behavior change are possible in very short periods of time.

It’s time to set a new, more ambitious, more relevant goal for human health—a goal that galvanizes across continents, sectors, and communities to support everyone on the planet in adding years to their lives and life to their years. Humanity needs a goal that yields more time with loved ones, more accomplishments, and more time free from cognitive or physical impairment.

More Money For Info Ops, Army Recruiting, Cyber In Omnibus


Defense research and development spending would rise again in 2023 if the House approves the omnibus spending bill passed by the Senate on Thursday. The bill contains $136.7 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation funding, nearly $10 billion more than the Biden administration asked and $20.5 billion up from last year.

A quick look at defense tech investments for existing programs shows continued support for autonomous technologies across a myriad of platforms, money for cybersecurity, missions, and forces, and more funds for research and development.

Here are some other things that stood out: 

Information operations would get $238.8 million for military information support operations, which is nearly $40 million more than requested. Most of that boost goes toward the info ops program at INDOPACOM.

Army recruiting and advertising would get $791 million, $100 above its request.

The Army would get $314 million for commercial-ready communications technologies, and got several program increases for high-frequency radios, and software and services for Joint All Domain Command and Control.

What is 5G?

Fifth time’s the charm: 5G—or fifth-generation wireless technology—is powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Sure, 5G is faster than 4G. But 5G is more than just (a lot) faster: the connectivity made possible with 5G is significantly more secure and more stable than its predecessors. Plus, 5G enables data to travel from one place to another with a significantly shorter delay between data submission and arrival—this delay is known as latency.

Here are a few big numbers from the International Telecommunications Union. 5G networks aim to deliver:1,000 times higher mobile data volume per area
100 times the number of connected devices
100 times higher user data rate
ten times longer battery life for low-power massive-machine communications
five times reduced end-to-end latency

Here’s how it works: like all cellular networks, the service area of 5G networks is divided into geographic sub-areas called cells. Each cell has local antennae, through which all wireless devices in the cell are connected to the internet and telephone network via radio waves. To achieve its very high speeds, 5G utilizes low- and midbands on the radio spectrum (below six gigahertz), as well as whole new bands of the radio spectrum. These are so-called “millimeter waves,” broadcast at frequencies between 30 and 300 gigahertz, which have previously been used only for communication between satellites and radar systems.

Algorithmic Warfare: New Chip Makes Quantum Leap in Processing Power

Meredith Roaten

NEW YORK, New York — As the world grapples with how to take advantage of emerging quantum computing technologies, IBM recently debuted its most advanced quantum processor ever — and broke its own world record in the process.

Unveiled at the annual IBM Quantum Summit in New York, the Osprey quantum processor has more than three times the processing power of the previous model. While the advancements in quantum are expected to impact all industries, the technology could have unique implications for how nations defend themselves, researchers said at the recent summit.

Quantum computers utilize basic units known as qubits as opposed to the 1s and 0s used by traditional computers. The computing power stems from the potential for each qubit to be both 1 and 0 simultaneously, rather than being restricted to one or the other.

At 433 qubits, IBM’s Osprey is the world’s most powerful quantum processor, surpassing the former largest system in the world, IBM’s 127-qubit Eagle.

US DoD elevates Cyber National Mission Force. The rising threat of cyber warfare in the new year.


At a glance.
  • US DoD elevates Cyber National Mission Force.
  • The rising threat of cyber warfare in the new year.

US DoD elevates Cyber National Mission Force.

Yesterday the US Department of Defense (DoD) established the Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), a digital warfighting force composed of thirty-nine joint cyber teams, as a permanent “subordinate unified command” underneath Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). First activated in 2014, the CNMF supports CYBERCOM with a focus on election security, ransomware, cyber and espionage. CYBERCOM head Army General Paul M. Nakasone, who officiated the elevation ceremony, stated, “This [CNMF] command is so special because they’ve always been on the cutting-edge in terms of the operations we’ve conducted. This is the command within US Cyber Command that has always taken that first step forward. The future holds a lot for the Cyber National Mission Force.” As the Record by Recorded Future notes, CNMF has been a key player in the deployment of “hunt forward” teams, and since 2018 the force has sent out personnel thirty-eight times to twenty-one countries across the globe, probing over sixty networks in the process. Major General William Hartman, commander of the CNMF, says he recently witnessed hunt forward missions to an undisclosed Middle Eastern country and a nation in the EU. “The elevation of CNMF to a sub-unified command reflects the incredible dedication, professionalism and commitment of unit members, past and present,” Hartman stated. “We are immensely proud of the contributions of all who made this happen.”

What the Russian Invasion Reveals About the Future of Cyber Warfare


What does cyber competition in the war look like so far?

Gavin Wilde: In many ways, February 2022 was the culmination of one of the most long-running and extensive information assaults by one state on another in history. If Ukraine could be considered Russia’s testing ground for offensive cyber and information operations—primarily to wage political warfare—since 2014, after this year, it seems fair to consider it the best testing ground for Western assumptions about information weapons in conventional warfare more broadly.

Jon Bateman: Ukraine has faced intense levels of Russian offensive cyber operations since the invasion, but these do not seem to have contributed very much to Moscow’s overall war effort. As the war began, Moscow launched what may have been the world’s largest-ever salvo of destructive cyber attacks against dozens of Ukrainian networks. Most notably, Russia disrupted the Viasat satellite communications network just before tanks rolled across the border, plausibly hindering Ukraine’s initial defense of Kyiv. But no subsequent Russian cyber attack has had visible effects of comparable military significance, and the pace of attacks plummeted after just a few weeks of war.

Although destructive attacks are most attention-grabbing, Russia’s main cyber activity in Ukraine has probably been intelligence collection. Russian hackers have most likely sought to gather data to inform Moscow’s prewar planning, kinetic targeting, occupation activities, influence operations, and future negotiations with Kyiv. However, Russian brutality and incompetence seem to have prevented Moscow from properly leveraging cyber intelligence. Additionally, non-cyber intelligence sources—like imagery, human agents, and signals intercepts—have been more practically useful to Russia.

A ‘good’ war gave the algorithm its opening, but dangers lurk

David Ignatius

NORTHEASTERN ENGLAND — To see the human face of the “algorithm war” being fought in Ukraine, visit a company of raw recruits during their five rushed weeks at a training camp here in Britain before they’re sent to the front in Ukraine.

They will soon have a battery of high-tech systems to aid them, but they must face the squalor of the trenches and the roar of unrelenting artillery fire alone. The digital battlefield has not supplanted the real one.

At the British camp, instructors have dug 300 yards of trenches across a frigid hillside. The trenches are 4 feet deep, girded with sandbags and planks, and slick with mud and water at the bottom. The Ukrainian recruits, who’ve never been in battle before, have to spend 48 hours in these hellholes. Sometimes, there’s simulated artillery fire overhead and rotting animal flesh nearby to prepare the trainees for the smell of death.

The recruits practice attacking the trenches and defending them. But mostly they learn to stay alive and as warm as they can, protecting their wet, freezing feet from rot and disease. “Nobody likes the trenches,” says Oleh, the Ukrainian officer who oversees the training with his British colleagues. (I’m not using his full name to respect concerns about his security.) “We tell them it will be easier in battle. If it’s hard now, that’s the goal.”

How the algorithm tipped the balance in Ukraine

David Ignatius

KYIV, Ukraine — Two Ukrainian military officers peer at a laptop computer operated by a Ukrainian technician using software provided by the American technology company Palantir. On the screen are detailed digital maps of the battlefield at Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, overlaid with other targeting intelligence — most of it obtained from commercial satellites.

As we lean closer, we see can jagged trenches on the Bakhmut front, where Russian and Ukrainian forces are separated by a few hundred yards in one of the bloodiest battles of the war. A click of the computer mouse displays thermal images of Russian and Ukrainian artillery fire; another click shows a Russian tank marked with a “Z,” seen through a picket fence, an image uploaded by a Ukrainian spy on the ground.

If this were a working combat operations center, rather than a demonstration for a visiting journalist, the Ukrainian officers could use a targeting program to select a missile, artillery piece or armed drone to attack the Russian positions displayed on the screen. Then drones could confirm the strike, and a damage assessment would be fed back into the system.

This is the “wizard war” in the Ukraine conflict — a secret digital campaign that has never been reported before in detail — and it’s a big reason David is beating Goliath here. The Ukrainians are fusing their courageous fighting spirit with the most advanced intelligence and battle-management software ever seen in combat.

Cyber Command conducted offensive operations to protect midterm elections

Martin Matishak

FORT MEADE, Md. — U.S. Cyber Command conducted both defensive and offensive operations to thwart foreign actors from interfering in the 2022 midterms, according to the digital combat unit’s chief.

Cyber Command executed so-called “full spectrum” operations to safeguard the latest U.S. election, Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, who leads both the National Security Agency and CYBERCOM, said earlier this month during a rare briefing for reporters.

He previously defined that to mean defensive and offensive actions, as well as information operations.

“We did conduct operations persistently to make sure that our foreign adversaries couldn’t utilize infrastructure to impact us,” Nakasone said. “We understood how foreign adversaries utilize infrastructure throughout the world, we had that mapped pretty well, and we wanted to make sure that we took it down at key times.”

“There was a campaign plan that we followed and it wasn’t just November 8: it covered before, during, and until the elections were certified,” he added.

Cybercom disrupted Russian and Iranian hackers throughout the midterms

Ellen Nakashima

U.S. Cyber Command has begun to make routine use of offensive cyber actions to defend the nation, taking aim this fall at Russian and Iranian hackers before they had a chance to disrupt the midterm elections, according to three U.S. officials.

The 13-year-old command took down the digital platform of a Russian troll farm in the 2018 midterm elections to prevent it from seeding material on American social media sites intended to agitate the already divided electorate and to diminish confidence in the election.

Then in 2020, Cybercom moved against Iranian hackers working for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, shortly after they launched an operation posing as a far-right group to send threatening emails to American voters.

This year, the command’s Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) went after many of the same foreign entities, including those affiliated with the Russian and Iranian governments and their proxies, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

Space strategies, ops and tech go into hyperdrive: 5 stories from 2022


WASHINGTON — The problem with space is that there is just so dang much of it. There are, according to the late, great Carl Sagan, “billions and billions” of stars out there.

Even on a relatively minuscule scale, cislunar space — the vast reaches between the orbits of the Earth and the Moon that space operators all around the world are itching to exploit — involves a distance of some 500,000 kilometers, and more importantly because spacecraft do not travel in a straight line, a volume of around 2 million kilometers, according to Air Force Research Laboratory’s 2021 primer [PDF] on the region.

And just like in 2021, there were way too many stories this year in Breaking Defense’s little corner of the Universe to be able to come up with a list of the five most consequential. So, find below instead a highly subjective roundup of those that were most interesting, or just plain fun to write and, hopefully, read.

Ukraine's heavy artillery, not high-tech anti-tank missiles, is what stopped Russia's rush to Kyiv, experts say

Ukrainian troops fended off a Russian advance on Kyiv in the first weeks of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Coverage of the fighting often focused on the role of anti-tank missiles in stopping that advance.

But it was "massed fires" from artillery units that enabled Ukraine to turn back Russia's tanks.

In the first days of the Ukraine war, when Russian armored columns seemed poised to capture Kyiv, the world watched outgunned and outnumbered Ukrainian troops use an array of missiles to fend off Russian tanks and decimate Russian convoys — or so it seemed.

Many people believe the initial Russian offensive was halted in large part by Ukraine's diverse arsenal of anti-tank missiles. This included Ukrainian-designed Stuhna-Ps, laser-guided weapons fired from Turkish-made TB2 Bayraktar drones, and US-made Javelins and British/Swedish-designed NLAWs.

In reality, it was Ukrainian artillery that frustrated the Russian advance, according to a Royal United Service Institute report on lessons of the Ukraine war.