2 February 2023

Pak habitual of making unnecessary noise: India on Indus Waters Treaty

Hemant Waje

Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday said Pakistan is habitual of making unnecessary noises alleging violations of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), even though there has been none and India has always stood by its end of the pact.

The statement of the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's office comes on the heels of India issuing a notice to Pakistan seeking a review and modification of the IWT in view of Islamabad's "intransigence" in complying with the dispute redressal mechanism of the pact that was inked over six decades ago for sharing of waters of cross-border rivers.

The step comes around 10 months after the World Bank announced appointing a neutral expert and a chair of the Court of Arbitration under two separate processes to resolve the differences over the Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro Electric Projects following Islamabad's refusal to address the matter through bilateral talks.

"IWT has a long history after it was signed in 1960, giving control of three rivers each to India and Pakistan. While Jhelum, Chenab and Indus were given to Pakistan, India was given the control of Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej.

"The first phase of Shahpur Kandi dam project on river Ravi is nearing completion. The project was in limbo for the last 40 years and our share of water was also flowing across the border.

"Similarly, the Ratle project in Kishtwar over Chenab was abandoned for eight years and the work on it started only last year under joint venture between the Centre and the UT administration," Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a function in Kathua district.

He said Pakistan has raised an objection and is claiming violation of the IWT but India's position is strong as there was no violation and the waters are allowed to flow into Pakistan as per the agreement, despite construction of dams and other projects.

PS Commentators Respond: Could the “Chinese Century” Belong to India?

As India considers how to make the most of its demographic dividend, China has reported its first annual population decline since 1961. At the same time, the West is courting India for trade and security partnerships, and attempting to shift its supply chains away from China, in part to limit Chinese technological development. And while analysts predict that India will become the world’s third-largest economy by 2027, many are now questioning China’s ability to overtake the United States as the world’s largest within the next few decades.

In this Big Question, we ask Pranab Bardhan, Brahma Chellaney, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, and Yi Fuxian whether the economic fortunes of India and China will continue to diverge, and what that could mean for the global economy.


I think the century will probably not belong to China or India – or any country, for that matter. Chinese achievements in the last few decades have been phenomenal, but it is now experiencing a palpable – and expected – slowdown. And while international financial media have been hyping the arrival of “India’s moment,” a cold look at the facts suggests that such assessments are premature at best.

A key reason for this is demographic. Yes, India has most likely already surpassed China as the world’s largest country by population, and its youth bulge is substantial. But far from delivering a “demographic dividend,” India’s relatively young population may turn out to be a liability, as the country struggles to generate sufficient productive employment.

India has found the most success in skill-intensive sectors – such as software, digital technology, and pharmaceuticals – which do not have much need for the low-skill workers who comprise a huge share of India’s working-age population. In fact, the share of unskilled labor-intensive industries in India’s merchandise exports declined by almost half over the last two decades. Massive numbers of Indians are now un- or under-employed, and many discouraged workers have dropped out of the labor force.

It does not help that Indians lag even on elementary health indicators: household survey data show that the proportion of children who are stunted or otherwise malnourished remains extremely high. Simply put, while India has a large quantity of people, the quality is lacking, with productivity levels insufficient to enable the country to compete internationally in many sectors.

India has banned TikTok and over 300 Chinese apps. Some US officials see it as a model to follow.

Benjamin Powers

The United States isn’t the only country locked into an uneasy technological rivalry with China.

India has banned hundreds of China-based apps and digital games over the last three years, most notably TikTok, in a sign of the growing tension between the two technology powers. And this week, India’s commerce minister said that Apple was considering moving up to 25 percent of iPhone production to the country — and out of China. While Apple hasn’t confirmed his remarks, they are in line with analyst projections.

The decisions India has made could spill far beyond its own borders. Federal Communications Commission member Brendan Carr told the India-based Economic Times that India set an “incredibly important precedent” when it banned TikTok in 2020, presenting India as a counterexample for those who claimed there is no way to ban the app in the United States. More broadly, India’s decisions have charted an uncertain course for the web and an internet-altering precedent were the U.S. to follow that road map.

“I think that the big issue is they don’t really seem to be discriminating or shutting down different forms of apps and technologies on the basis of predefined criteria about why they’re banning them other than just that it’s owned by China, and China is bad, for a wide range of strategic reasons that may make sense for them,” said Chris Meserole, director of the Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Tech Initiative at the Brookings Institution. “But I would be reluctant to endorse a similar approach to Chinese apps and Chinese technology or Chinese-owned apps and technology in the U.S.”

The India case study

India and China are two great powers locked in a friction-filled relationship based on geography, politics and economics. In 2020, skirmishes around the Line of Actual Control, a disputed border area in the Himalayan mountains, left 20 Indian soldiers dead. The incident provided the political support to begin banning Chinese apps, which the Indian government already had security concerns about.

A roadmap for US-China relations in 2023

Ryan Hass

China’s leaders confront mounting domestic social, economic, and public health-related stresses in 2023. If past is prologue, it is reasonable to expect China’s leaders will respond by seeking to calm their external environment to concentrate on challenges at home. To help counter scrutiny of their domestic governance record, they will want to present an image to their people of being afforded dignity and respect abroad. Nowhere will such symbolism matter more than in the U.S.-China context. How China’s leaders are seen to be managing relations with the United States often is a factor in how their performance is perceived at home. Even as the broadly competitive framework of the U.S.-China relationship is unlikely to change, opportunities may emerge for the United States to advance discrete affirmative priorities with China in the year ahead.

To be clear, there are no credible indicators of any softening in China’s foreign policy toward the United States, nor any accommodation of American concerns about Chinese behavior. In his 20th Party Congress work report, President Xi Jinping emphasized repeatedly that China will need to “struggle” in the face of Western opposition to China’s rise. Other Chinese officials similarly echoed at the Party Congress that the spirit of “struggle” will define the country’s foreign policy.


If anything, China in the coming year likely will double-down on its pressure on Taiwan and its efforts to impose its will on Hong Kong. Beijing will continue to exert an iron fist against any hints of domestic dissent. It will maintain a tight grip over regions with large minority ethnic populations, including Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia. Beijing will continue to favor state intervention in its economy and likely will intensify efforts to acquire intellectual property from abroad by hook or crook. China’s diplomatic activism is unlikely to abate. The People’s Liberation Army will expand its range and frequency of operations as its capabilities grow. China will not do the United States any favors on North Korea. Xi also will continue to invest in his — and China’s — relationship with Putin and Russia.

Sanctions move China to replace chips supply chain


The US chip war on China will have many unintended, negative effects. Image: Twitter

The chief executive officer of ASML, the overwhelmingly dominant supplier of lithography equipment to the semiconductor industry, says that China will eventually learn how to make the semiconductor production equipment it cannot import due to sanctions imposed by the US.

In an interview with Bloomberg News published on January 25, Peter Wennink said, “If they cannot get those machines, they will develop them themselves. That will take time, but ultimately they will get there.”

He also said, “The more you put them under pressure, the more likely it is that they will double up their efforts.”

It is only natural that the Chinese would redouble their efforts in the face of American attempts to stifle their high-tech industry. They probably already have.

But the CEO of ASML implies something more: that the sanctions may lead to the creation of what the US is trying to prevent – an independent Chinese semiconductor industry.

The most important type of semiconductor production equipment subject to US export restrictions is EUV (Extreme Ultra-Violet) lithography, which is monopolized by ASML. In the company’s own words, EUV is “used in high-volume manufacturing to create the highly complex foundation layers of the most advanced microchips (7 nm, 5 nm and 3 nm nodes).”

It’s true that previous-generation DUV (Deep Ultra-Violet) lithography has been used by Chinese foundry SMIC to make 7-nm chips while Japanese equipment maker Nikon claims that its most advanced DUV lithography system, the NSR-S635E immersion scanner, can “ensure world-class device patterning and optimum fab productivity to fully satisfy 5 nm node requirements and beyond.”

Pentagon Distances Itself from Minihan Memo Suggesting Possible War with China in 2025

Chris Gordon

Comments by Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, the head of Air Mobility Command, about a potential war with China in the next few years have generated international headlines and led the Department of Defense to formally distance itself from the remarks.

Minihan, who is known for his energetic, passionate style, prepared a memo saying that Airmen under his command at AMC should prepare to be at war with China within two years.

“I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.” Minihan wrote in the memo, which circulated on social media and was confirmed as authentic by Air & Space Forces Magazine.

“Xi secured his third term and set his war council in October 2022,” Minihan wrote. “Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025.”

The memo was dated Feb. 1 and intended for Minihan’s subordinates at AMC, but it attracted worldwide attention when it made the rounds on social media Jan. 27.

The Department of Defense has sought to make it clear that it does not agree with Minihan’s assessment.

“These comments are not representative of the department’s view on China,” a defense official said in comments emailed to Air & Space Forces Magazine on Jan. 28.

A statement from Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder reiterated the department’s formal policy on China.

Chinese Cellular IoT technology: Understanding and mitigating the threat

Charlie Parton

Editor’s note: This post is the third of a three part series based on a paper examining Chinese use of cellular technologies (including the threat to US interests) by Charlie Parton. For the full paper see: Cellular IoT Modules- Supply Chain Security -bg

Because so little work has been done on the threat from Chinese cellular IoT modules, it is difficult to point to specific examples where data has been sent back to China to the detriment of the interests of free and open countries. But given the CCP’s record in other areas (there have recently been instances where Tik Tok and Huawei have assured that information is not sent to China, only for evidence to emerge that it is[1]), this is not a risk which other countries should take. CCP support for Russia, its behaviour in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea, its repudiation of universal values in the infamous “document no 9” and demonstration of that disregard in Hong Kong and Xinjiang should convince our policy makers that if the CCP does not represent a hostile power now, it is likely to in future. Therefore, with cellular IoT modules, it is a question of identifying the vulnerabilities and taking measures to close them off.

Dependency of free and open countries on Chinese companies would give the CCP a significant lever for use against them. We have seen how during the Covid crisis, the Party was not averse to manipulating the supply of medical goods. Hostility does not need to be carried out only in traditional armed conflict.

The threat can be broken down into four areas. This section takes a brief look at them.
National security threat

The national security arguments which apply to Chinese hardware and software in the telecoms, semiconductors and other sectors and upon which governments have acted apply to the IoT. This national security threat is wide ranging. Interference in CNI, or the threat thereof as a lever on policy, is at the extreme end.

Israel Launched Drone Attack on Iranian Facility, Officials Say

Ronen Bergman, David E. Sanger and Farnaz Fassihi

TEL AVIV — A drone attack on an Iranian military facility that resulted in a large explosion in the center of the city of Isfahan on Saturday was the work of the Mossad, Israel’s premier intelligence agency, according to senior intelligence officials who were familiar with the dialogue between Israel and the United States about the incident.

The facility’s purpose was not clear, and neither was how much damage the strike caused. But Isfahan is a major center of missile production, research and development for Iran, including the assembly of many of its Shahab medium-range missiles, which can reach Israel and beyond.

Weeks ago, American officials publicly identified Iran as the primary supplier of drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, and they said they believed Russia was also trying to obtain Iranian missiles to use in the conflict. But U.S. officials said they believed this strike was prompted by Israel’s concerns about its own security, not the potential for missile exports to Russia.

The strike came just as Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was beginning a visit to Israel, his first since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to office as prime minister. The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, William J. Burns, visited Israel last week, though it is not clear anything about the operation in Isfahan was discussed.

American officials quickly sent out word on Sunday morning that the United States was not responsible for the attack. One official confirmed that it had been conducted by Israel but did not have details about the target. Sometimes Israel gives the United States advance warning of an attack or informs American officials as an operation is being launched. It is unclear what happened in this case.

Iran says drone attack targets defense facility in Isfahan


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bomb-carrying drones targeted an Iranian defense factory in the central city of Isfahan overnight, authorities said Sunday, causing some damage at the plant amid heightened regional and international tensions engulfing the Islamic Republic.

The Iranian Defense Ministry offered no information on who it suspected carried out the attack, which came as a refinery fire separately broke out in the country’s northwest and a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck nearby, killing three people.

However, Tehran has been targeted in suspected Israeli drone strikes amid a shadow war with its Mideast rival as its nuclear deal with world powers collapsed. Meanwhile, tensions also remain high with neighboring Azerbaijan after a gunman attacked that country’s embassy in Tehran, killing its security chief and wounding two others.

Details on the Isfahan attack, which happened around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, remained scarce. A Defense Ministry statement described three drones being launched at the facility, with two of them successfully shot down. A third apparently made it through to strike the building, causing “minor damage” to its roof and wounding no one, the ministry said.

The state-run IRNA news agency later described the drones as “quadcopters equipped with bomblets.” Quadcopters, which get their name from having four rotors, typically operate from short ranges by remote control. Iranian state television later aired footage of debris from the drones, which resembled commercially available quadcopters.

State TV aired mobile phone video apparently showing the moment that drone struck along the busy Imam Khomeini Expressway that heads northwest out of Isfahan, one of several ways for drivers to go to the holy city of Qom and Tehran, Iran’s capital. A small crowd stood gathered, drawn by anti-aircraft fire, watching as an explosion and sparks struck a dark building.


Matt Fratus

Military service draws recruits from all walks of life — from inner-city kids and country folks to Ivy Leaguers and corporate dropouts. Included in this diverse group are people with the potential to become great authors. And sometimes those people leave the military with enough story material to fill a book or two — that, or simply the discipline and drive necessary to pursue a serious writing career.

Of course, not every author who served chooses to write about the military. Likewise, not every author who writes compellingly about the military served themselves. Some of America’s greatest novelists fall under this category. Both Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck tried and failed to join the military, yet each drew from their experiences as civilians in conflict zones to produce some of the most captivating war novels in the genre.

All of this is to say that there is no exact definition of a “military writer.” Nevertheless, we have compiled a list of 10 American authors to whom the term can be truthfully applied. There are many more writers who belong on this list, but for the sake of brevity we whittled it down to our all-time favorites.

How U.S. Abrams Compare to Russia's T-14 Armata Tanks


The U.S.-made Abrams tank, widely considered to be the gold standard of main battle tanks, will roll towards the Ukrainian front lines, President Joe Biden announced last week. However, the Russian T-14 Armata, dubbed a "super tank," could also be heading for battle, according to recent defense assessments.

The Abrams tanks "are the most capable tanks in the world," Biden said last Wednesday as he committed 31 Abrams to Kyiv. The tank "sends a message to those who would oppose the United States," the U.S. Army Acquisition Center wrote in a summary of the main battle tank.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov responded to the announcement, which came just after Germany promised Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, by commenting that the Abrams "would burn up just like all the others" on the front lines. Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said the reaction from Moscow was not new, and Washington, D.C., had "heard that line before."

A Russian T-14 Armata tank participates in a Victory Day Parade night rehearsal on Tverskaya street on May 4, 2022 in Moscow, Russia, with an inset of an M1A1 Abrams Tank with U.S. Task Force 1-64 from the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia, during a combined live fire exercise in 2002. The U.S. will send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, and the British defense ministry has suggested Russia could deploy its T-14 Armata tanks.

In a clip uploaded and subtitled by Gerashchenko, a Russian state presenter can be heard detailing the best methods to destroy a U.S. Abrams tank, then contrasted with a list of advantages it claimed the Russian T-14 Armata possessed.

"They are high-tech vehicles with complex sensors, data transmitters and on-board drones," the translation reads.

Ukraine's battlefield success surprised Russia, but US troops who trained Ukrainians saw it coming, National Guard chief says

Christopher Woody

A Ukrainian noncommissioned officer leads a US-Ukrainian NCO professional development class at a training center in Ukraine in October 2017.Oklahoma Army National Guard/Sgt. Anthony Jones

Many expected Russia's military to overwhelm Ukraine's forces when it attacked in February 2022.

Ukraine's success has been attributed in part to the skill of its noncommissioned officers.

Since 2015, US troops have trained Ukraine's NCOs to "feed initiative and make tactical decisions."

Ukraine's stiff but flexible defense in the days after Russia's invasion a year ago surprised the Russians, but US National Guard troops who trained those Ukrainians saw it coming, the head of the US National Guard said this week.

US and Ukrainian officials have emphasized the role of Ukraine's noncommissioned officers — higher-ranking enlisted troops who have not been commissioned as officers — as front-line leaders who were able to adapt and make decisions in the hectic early days of the war, contrasting their performance with that of Russian units reliant on senior officers for battlefield guidance.

After Russia's 2014 invasion, the US National Guard "worked very closely" with Ukraine's military "to identify those areas where they felt that they could really improve to prepare themselves if anything like that occurred again," US Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday, adding that one of those areas "was NCO development."

Russia Sidesteps Western Punishments, With Help From Friends

Ana Swanson

WASHINGTON — A strange thing happened with smartphones in Armenia last summer.

Shipments from other parts of the world into the tiny former Soviet republic began to balloon to more than 10 times the value of phone imports in previous months. At the same time, Armenia recorded an explosion in its exports of smartphones to a beleaguered ally: Russia.

The trend, which was repeated for washing machines, computer chips and other products in a handful of other Asian countries last year, provides evidence of some of the new lifelines that are keeping the Russian economy afloat. Recent data show surges in trade for some of Russia’s neighbors and allies, suggesting that countries like Turkey, China, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are stepping in to provide Russia with many of the products that Western countries have tried to cut off as punishment for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Those sanctions — which include restrictions on Russia’s largest banks along with limits on the sale of technology that its military could use — are blocking access to a variety of products. Reports regularly filter out of Russia about consumers frustrated by high-priced or shoddy goods, ranging from milk and household appliances to computer software and medication, said Maria Snegovaya, a senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in an event at the think tank this month.

Even so, Russian trade appears to have largely bounced back to where it was before the invasion of Ukraine last February. Analysts estimate that Russia’s imports may have already recovered to prewar levels, or will soon do so, depending on their models.

In part, that could be because many nations have found Russia hard to quit. Recent research showed that fewer than 9 percent of companies based in the European Union and Group of 7 nations had divested one of their Russian subsidiaries. And maritime tracking firms have seen a surge in activity by shipping fleets that may be helping Russia to export its energy, apparently bypassing Western restrictions on those sales.

Syria’s dissolving line between state and nonstate actors

Steven Heydemann 

In Syria’s civil war, now entering its 12th year, the state/nonstate divide has become increasingly blurred. Nowhere is this more evident than in the practices adopted by ruling elites in regime- and opposition-held areas to ensure access to resources. Over time, both state actors and nonstate armed groups have produced parallel, interconnected, and interdependent political economies in which the boundaries between formal and informal, licit and illicit, regulation and coercion have largely vanished. Border areas in Syria now constitute a single economic ecosystem, linked by dense ties among networks of traders, smugglers, regime officials, brokers, and armed groups. Competing zones of political control have had little effect on economic collaboration across conflict lines. When it comes to trade, pragmatism reigns.

Regime-held areas, Turkey, and to a smaller extent the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq now function as the economic hinterlands that sustain the economies controlled by armed actors across northern Syria. Trade across conflict lines and international borders brings unrefined oil from northeast Syria to regime refineries along the coast. Syrian-owned factories in southern Turkey, many relocated from northern Syria, supply a vast range of household goods to opposition-held areas. Medicines and other essential supplies travel from regime areas into opposition zones of control. Trade has also influenced patterns of conflict. Cross-line and cross-border checkpoints have become areas of particular volatility, where outbursts of violence may have less to do with efforts to secure military advantage than with economic disputes.

These trends deepen civilian populations’ vulnerability to predation, extortion, and abuse. Mitigating civilian harm and strengthening human security must be core criteria in assessing humanitarian provision and engagement with both the regime and rebel groups in Syria.

Stocking Ukraine could generate foreign military sales boom

Ryan Brobst
Source Link

Replacing the military equipment transferred to Ukraine by the United States’ NATO allies could lead to roughly $21.7 billion in foreign military sales or direct commercial sales for American industry, according to research by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Military and Political Power.

At the same time, backfilling the weapons these allies have sent to Ukraine with U.S. equipment could improve their capabilities and build a more effective military deterrent while lowering the Pentagon’s cost to procure these weapons. It would also enhance the quality of the weapons U.S. warfighters wield and strengthen U.S. defense industrial base capacity.

In addition to the $26.7 billion worth of security assistance the United States has committed (as of Jan. 20) to Ukraine since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, other NATO members have contributed billions of dollars’ worth of equipment. It is difficult to calculate precisely the cumulative value because many countries, unlike the United States, do not publish detailed lists.

CMPP relied on open-source information from the military analysis site Oryx to establish a baseline regarding the types and quantities of arms non-U.S. NATO countries have committed to Ukraine. It then identified an analogous U.S. system and used data from Defense Security Cooperation Agency announcements of FMS sales to estimate the unit price of the respective American system. The center then added the cost of all replacement systems the U.S. could and would likely provide, which totals roughly $21.7 billion as of Dec. 5.

Ryan Brobst is a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Bradley Bowman is the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power. Follow Brad on Twitter at @Brad_L_Bowman. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

A mass exodus from Christianity is underway in America. Here’s why.

Suzette Lohmeyer, Anna Deen

While the number of Americans who celebrate Christmas as a cultural holiday is going strong, there has been a shocking rise in the number of people ditching Christianity — what sociologists call “nonverts.”

Pew Research Center estimates that Christians will be a minority of Americans by 2070 if current trends continue.

And it likely will, with the largest percentage of those losing their religion being young adults who are about as old as that REM reference: people around 30 and under.

It’s a kind of “cultural whiplash” from religion to secularism that’s hit the United States much faster than it has other parts of the world, said theology and sociology professor Stephen Bullivant.

Bullivant, a practicing Catholic who teaches at St. Mary’s University in London and the University of Notre Dame in Sydney, spoke to Grid about why Americans are leaving Christianity in droves and the demographics that are seeing the (ahem) ungodliest declines. His new book, “Nonverts: The Making of Ex-Christian America,” came out in the U.S. on Dec. 1.
Young adults are leading the mass exodus

Bullivant made it clear that it’s important not to glom all young adult nonverts as having one big reason for leaving the church. “Each person has a complex story, and we need to recognize the personal journey,” he told Grid. That said, he added, there are larger trends we can examine.

For example, the largest demographic of nonverts, younger adults, will raise their children as “nones” — people from nonreligious families. And while a tiny percentage of nonverts return to religion, nones rarely embrace religion at any point in their lives.

Inside the Marine Corps’ project to automate the journey through key ‘last mile’


A Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) approaches Red Beach during Project Convergence 2022 (PC22) at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Juan Magadan)

WASHINGTON — Amid the US Navy’s hyperactive interest in advancing unmanned maritime drones, the Marine Corps has been developing an autonomous navigation kit built specifically for closing the critical “last mile” where amphibious watercraft meet cluttered, rough beaches — areas especially vulnerable during combat.

The effort has been dubbed the “Autonomous Littoral Connector,” and while its mission is harder than it sounds, the tech is wading towards operational use, according to exclusive interviews with officials from the forward-leaning Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.

“It’s [making it through] that last mile with as little risk as possible, knowing that we’ll be in a contested environment,” Lt. Col. Timothy Smith, an officer at MCWL overseeing the program, told Breaking Defense. The whole premise of the Autonomous Littoral Connector is “about reducing risk, and that means people.”

Imagine any amphibious watercraft in the Navy’s inventory having been loaded up with supplies and deployed from a dock landing ship with the coast visible just over the horizon. The craft’s driver expertly dodges sandbars and other vessels as it approaches the beach where the pilot will keep the craft steady while Marines unload the supplies. Once empty, the craft is turned around and makes the same journey back to its ship.

Because of the shallow water dangers involved, it’s a daunting task for skilled human pilots, doubly so in combat situations. Dawn Dahn, the lead engineer for the program at the MCWL, summed up the challenge succinctly: “Flat bottom boats are hard to drive… They’re really hard to drive,” she told Breaking Defense earlier this month.

The Untold Story of a Crippling Ransomware Attack


IT WAS A Sunday morning in mid-October 2020 when Rob Miller first heard there was a problem. The databases and IT systems at Hackney Council, in East London, were suffering from outages. At the time, the UK was heading into its second deadly wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with millions living under lockdown restrictions and normal life severely disrupted. But for Miller, a strategic director at the public authority, things were about to get much worse. “By lunchtime, it was apparent that it was more than technical stuff,” Miller says.

Two days later, the leaders of Hackney Council—which is one of London’s 32 local authorities and responsible for the lives of more than 250,000 people—revealed it had been hit by a cyberattack. Criminal hackers had deployed ransomware that severely crippled its systems, limiting the council’s ability to look after the people who depend on it. The Pysa ransomware gang later claimed responsibility for the attack and, weeks later, claimed to be publishing data it stole from the council.

Today, more than two years later, Hackney Council is still dealing with the colossal aftermath of the ransomware attack. For around a year, many council services weren’t available. Crucial council systems—including housing benefit payments and social care services—weren’t functioning properly. While its services are now back up and running, parts of the council are still not operating as they were prior to the attack.

A WIRED analysis of dozens of council meetings, minutes, and documents reveals the scale of disruption the ransomware caused to the council and, crucially, the thousands of people it serves. People’s health, housing situations, and finances suffered as a result of the insidious criminal group’s attack. The attack against Hackney stands out not just because of its severity, but also the amount of time it has taken for the organization to recover and help people in need.

Ransom Demands

Avoiding a Long War

Samuel Charap

Discussion of the Russia-Ukraine war in Washington is increasingly dominated by the question of how it might end. To inform this discussion, this Perspective identifies ways in which the war could evolve and how alternative trajectories would affect U.S. interests. The authors argue that, in addition to minimizing the risks of major escalation, U.S. interests would be best served by avoiding a protracted conflict. The costs and risks of a long war in Ukraine are significant and outweigh the possible benefits of such a trajectory for the United States. Although Washington cannot by itself determine the war's duration, it can take steps that make an eventual negotiated end to the conflict more likely. Drawing on the literature on war termination, the authors identify key impediments to Russia-Ukraine talks, such as mutual optimism about the future of the war and mutual pessimism about the implications of peace. The Perspective highlights four policy instruments the United States could use to mitigate these impediments: clarifying plans for future support to Ukraine, making commitments to Ukraine's security, issuing assurances regarding the country's neutrality, and setting conditions for sanctions relief for Russia.

Is Anybody Telling The American People About The War?

Rod Dreher

The Pentagon will keep several thousand American troops in southeast Romania for at least nine more months, closer to the war in neighboring Ukraine than any other U.S. Army unit, officials said on Saturday.

Over the last year, the sprawling Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, just a seven-minute rocket flight across the Black Sea from where Russian forces have settled in Crimea, has become a training hub for NATO forces in southeast Europe. The forces would be a first line of defense should Russia invade further west.

There are around 4,000 U.S. soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division who have been stationed at the air base since last summer, including small groups of troops that frequently train right on Romania’s border with Ukraine. Before that, there was a smaller contingent from the 82nd Airborne that was sent as part of a quick-response force after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

The 101st Airborne Division troops will leave in the next two months, and officials said they would be replaced by a different brigade from the 101st Division, which is based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

A month ago, the Russian foreign minister said that the West "is at war" with Russia. That's how they see it. Last week, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban said this is a fact -- a fact he decries, because he has been pushing for a negotiated end to the hostilities before the fighting spreads out of control. His belief seems to be that the West is deluding itself about what it's doing, and marching the world towards catastrophe. He got in trouble with the Ukrainian government for telling visiting journalists and others that the Russians have wrecked Ukraine. Well:

Here's what the fictional Cardinal Richelieu told Spengler in his imagined conversation with the wily French strategist last summer:

Zelensky urges allies to send long-range missiles


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks alongside Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a photo op following their meeting at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, December 21, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed that his country needs long-range missiles to help combat Russian missile attacks following a blast in the Donetsk region on Saturday that killed three people.

“It would have been possible to stop this Russian terror if we could provide the appropriate missile capabilities of our military,” Zelensky said in an address posted to the president’s website on Saturday.

“Ukraine needs long-range missiles — in particular, to remove this possibility of the occupiers to place their missile launchers somewhere far from the front line and destroy Ukrainian cities with them,” he added.

Russia has been able to attack regions in Ukraine that are far from the front lines, such as the Donetsk region, because of its long-range missile capability. As Zelensky pleads with foreign allies to provide more military aid, the U.S. has held back on providing such weaponry, worried that Kyiv would launch an aerial attack on Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. U.S. defense leaders believe militarily taking back Crimea is nearly impossible in the short term.Fertility rate increases for first time since 2014: CDCSurvey: Nearly two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck

But that hasn’t stopped Zelensky from repeated requests for long-range support.

Is helping Ukraine reducing US preparedness, security?


Questions are mounting as to how long the United States can continue to supply Ukraine from its own weapons stockpiles without hindering its own security.

With more than $27 billion in weapons committed to Kyiv since the start of Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, attack on the country, Washington shows no sign of slowing down on shipping munitions and other lethal aid overseas.

But experts question what that might mean for U.S. military readiness should another conflict arise with China in the near future, with a U.S. defense industry that is far behind where it needs to be to account for a major war.

That concern is merited, according to a new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which found that the U.S. defense-industrial base is ill-prepared for Washington to enter a fight with Beijing over Taiwan’s independence, in addition to aiding Kyiv.

Among the most alarming points in the report was the estimate that the U.S. military would run out of critical long-range, precision-guided munitions within a week should China start a fight in the Taiwan Strait.

The war in Ukraine has “exposed serious deficiencies in the U.S. defense industrial base,” according to Seth Jones, the report’s author.

“Given the lead time for industrial production, it would likely be too late for the defense industry to ramp up production if a war were to occur without major changes,” he said.

The estimate as to how long the U.S. can continue to pull from its own weapons stocks and how fast defense firms can refill them has been a topic of discussion since shortly after the war began.

A decade of quiet preparations helped Ukraine turn the tables on Russia's bigger, better-armed military, experts say


When Russia annexed Crimea and stoked a conflict in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region in 2014, Ukraine's military was in poor condition, with only 6,000 combat-ready troops out of a 140,000-strong force.

In the years that followed, Ukraine's military underwent a period of preparation that helped it blunt the full-scale invasion that Russia launched in February 2022.

According to a report by the Royal United Services Institute assessing the first five months of the war, decisions made by Kyiv during those years modernized its hardware and enabled its troops to hold off Russia's assault.
Artillery in recoveryUkrainian troops fire a howitzer in the Zaporizhzhia Region in December 2022.Dmytro Smoliyenko / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

What War Leaders Most Underestimate: Duration and Deaths

Michael O’Hanlon

In most of American higher education and even most policy schools, military history is relegated to the sidelines. Rarely is it taught in its own right, with a focus on the technologies and tactics of war, the strategies and major campaign plans of the participants, the mistakes made and lessons learned, the great “what ifs?” of history. This is regrettable, not least because it impoverishes our own debates on issues of war and peace.

Military history doesn’t provide lessons in simple cookbook style, as Richard Neustadt and Ernest May underscored in their classic 1986 book, “Thinking in Time.” It needs to be taken in, mulled over and discussed. Surveying the major wars of modern history, I would propose two general themes that have special relevance for today.

The first, so seemingly obvious but so difficult to absorb, is that outcomes in wars are not preordained. History, written and studied after the fact, sometimes makes the great events of human affairs seem as if they had to turn out as they did. That is rarely the case.

Consider the U.S. Civil War, which the Confederacy could very easily have won. The clearest path to victory would have been the electoral defeat of Abraham Lincoln in 1864 (or his assassination earlier in the war). Without Gen. William T. Sherman’s taking of Atlanta in late summer of that year and subsequent march to the sea, Lincoln might well have lost the election. His opponent, the very same George McClellan who had failed to find a path to victory in 1862 as commanding general of Union forces, might have negotiated an end to the conflict that left the U.S. divided in two.

Gauging the Efficacy of Western Sanctions Against Russia

Matthew Becerra

As the Russo-Ukrainian war enters 2023, its sustained intensity raises consternation amongst various policymakers in the US and Western Europe as to whether sanctions against Moscow are achieving desirable results. Despite the imposition of Western sanctions, there is no apparent end to the invasion in sight, nor are there any serious attempts at negotiations from Russia’s President Vladmir Putin. Thus, months into an aggressive sanctions regime on Russia, an assessment of the effectiveness of those measures on the Russian economy is necessary to determine whether policy goals are making satisfactory progress.

When the war began last spring, the United States sought to implement a maximum pressure campaign strategy against the Kremlin. Such a strategy materialized into a multilateral collaborative effort aiming to weaken key sectors of the Russian economy and isolate Moscow financially.

Yet Western sanctions aimed Russia aggression have existed well before Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. Current US sanctions on Russia predate Moscow’s most recent military incursion into Ukraine, beginning with President Obama’s EO(Executive Order) 13660 in 2014. EO 13660 authorized sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people. Succeeding orders such as EO 13622, EO 13685, EO 14065, and EO 10466 prohibited the importation of hydrocarbons, agriculture, and minerals from Russia. They further prevented US persons from conducting business with Kremlin- connected elites. As these examples elucidate, the United States has and continues to be committed to the imposition of economic restrictions against Putin and his enablers.

What, where, how: After the Abrams-for-Ukraine announcement, a host of questions


An M1A2 fires during a competition at Fort Benning, Ga. in 2022 (Army photo by Spc. Joshua Taeckens)

WASHINGTON — In the wake of the dramatic announcement by President Joe Biden this week that American-made Abrams main battle tanks will be sent to Ukraine, the White House and the Pentagon have left a myriad of questions unanswered. What specific kind of Abrams will be fending off Russian forces? When exactly will these tanks be delivered and ready for combat? And what kind of process did the Pentagon go through, or is still going through, to come to those decisions?

Statements from senior military officials suggest key details remain unresolved — including the specific variant and sub-variant of the Abrams in play. The same day as Biden’s announcement, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Douglas Bush told reporters that he was still creating a laundry list of options for Pentagon officials to consider before deciding which way to go.

“It’s not just the tanks,” he said. “We have to be able to [deliver] tanks, support equipment, the training, the ammunition, the fuel… It’s really a bigger picture.”

Just a day later, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters the Defense Department had settled on the M1A2 variant. The decision was made, in part, because the US does not have an “excess” of Abrams tanks of the earlier, less sophisticated M1A1 model in its stock, she said.

Later that day, however, a Pentagon spokesperson told Breaking Defense, “While we’re not able to provide specific details on the specifications of the variant at this time, it is our intent to procure the M1A2 tank through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funding even as we consider several other options.” That wording suggests the question of the M1A2 remained at least partly open, as is the question of which of several sub-variants the US was comfortable giving Kyiv.

DoD to assess department-wide guidance on ‘contested information environment’ training


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon plans to develop department-wide guidance on what content it should include in its training and education efforts for decision-making in a “contested information environment,” following recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office.

The information environment, which a new GAO report released on Thursday [PDF] defines as “the aggregate of factors that affect how humans and automated systems derive meaning from, act upon, and are impacted by information,” isn’t limited by geographic boundaries, posing a risk for the US where adversaries, like Russia or China, can attack.

“For example, the widespread availability of wireless communications, expansion of information technology, dependence on the electromagnetic spectrum, and the far-reaching effect of social media to disseminate disinformation and influence decisions has led to the rapid evolution of the information environment,” according to the report. “These factors pose new and complex challenges for national security.”

Potential disruptions are described in a series of graphics in the report, including warning how adversaries could interfere with GPS signals, spoof radio frequencies or spread disinformation online.

The Army’s Distributed Command Posts of the Future Will Need More than Videochats


A recent Army exercise out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord sought largely to test ways to distribute command and control—to, say, replace big command posts with small cloud-connected teams scattered around the Pacific region. But what the I Corps’ IT team discovered was just how much of the service’s vision of future warfare will depend on turning a morass of data into well-structured bundles.

The experiment was set up to use unstructured data, the kind that accounts for much of the information the Army moves around: PDFs, PowerPoint slides, emails, calendar invites, etc. It takes a lot of human brainpower to assemble this information into forms that can help commanders make decisions.

That’s not good enough for the future battlefield, says Col. Elizabeth Casely, who runs I Corps’ communications, networks, and services.

“We're now beginning to understand how much we were using, I would say, human-in-the-loop cognitive processing to achieve a result that could be easily achievable if we had exposed data that was structured in some way, [if] we had access to a data environment, or a tool if you will, to put it in,” Casely told Defense One recently. “And then the big lift that has to occur inside the Corps is this data-engineering lift: this move from unstructured to structured. Because you can't begin to imagine what questions you might ask of the data until you begin to understand what sorts of things you have access to.”

Toward “distributed mission command”

Headquartered at JBLM in Washington state, I Corps supports operations in the vast U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, whose area of responsibility stretches over more than half the Earth’s surface. As has much of the U.S. military, the Corps has been re-thinking its methods as a potential fight with China looms larger. Key to these changes is a new concept called “distributed mission command,” which is intended to allow small teams in various locations to perform all the functions of today’s big command posts.

This requires better data networks, better cloud storage, and a lot more, said Casely, who is I Corps’ G6.