12 February 2023

An Alarming New Bill Takes Aim at Pakistan’s Shias

Asad Gokal and Jaffer A. Mirza

Instead of reforming its draconian and dangerous blasphemy law, the National Assembly of Pakistan has passed a bill that further strengthens and weaponizes it.

The bill, passed on January 17, proposes to increase the punishment in cases pertaining to the blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad’s companions and His progeny, an offense under section 298-A in Pakistan’s penal code. The bill seeks to increase the period of detention, currently set at three years, to a minimum of 10 years and extendable up to lifetime imprisonment, along with a fine of 1 million Pakistani rupees (around $3,600). It also suggests modifying blasphemy to a non-bailable offense.

In a religiously diverse country like Pakistan, the current blasphemy laws are already exploited to a tremendous degree to pursue personal vendettas against the vulnerable. The proposed amendments are destined to criminalize religious differences and persecute the religious and sectarian minorities even more. The ambiguities and unclear definitions of key terms in the bill leave huge space for exploitation.

China Can Fire Hypersonic Weapons, Conduct EMP Strikes With High-Altitude Balloons; Had Conducted Tests Back In 2017-18

Tanmay Kadam

The Chinese spy balloon, recently shot down by the US military, has captured the headlines in recent weeks, with other countries like India, Japan, and Taiwan currently looking into the possibility that similar Chinese balloons may have also violated their airspace in the past.

Even more concerning is that China could also use such balloons to deploy hypersonic weapons.

In 2018, Chinese state-owned television CCTV broadcast footage of a high-altitude balloon, not dissimilar from the one that traversed over the US and Canada last week, dropping what appeared to be hypersonic weapons.

The video showed a high-altitude balloon carrying three wedge-shaped payloads, which looked like hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs), up to a certain height and then dropping them as part of a weapons test.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that the balloon-dropped HGVs were part of an effort to develop precision warheads for hypersonic weapons, which would give the Chinese military an “unstoppable nuclear-capable weapon.”

Chinese Grey Zone Spy Balloons Over the American Heartland

Peter Layton

High-flying espionage went out of fashion in the 1960s, but the most recent sky crisis has reignited tensions.

Bizarrely, the Chinese have sent a high-flying spy balloon deep into the American heartland. The logic is that such balloons fly more than 22.2 kilometres above the surface. Under international law, a nation’s territorial seas and the airspace above it extend to 12 nautical miles (22.2km). Accordingly, China’s high-altitude balloons are arguably flying in international airspace. It’s plausibly legal but also highlights the fact that if a balloon overflies a country below 22.2 kilometres altitude, that country’s sovereignty has been infringed and the craft can be legally shot down. Both happened in this case over the weekend.

High-flying balloons are very common. Some 800 small weather balloons are launched daily and fly up to 40 kilometres altitude. The United States launched hundreds of spy balloons over the Soviet Union in the 1950s. The Soviets grumbled that these were “incompatible with normal relations between states”, and they had a point. Some 90 per cent failed, and then came the development of spy satellites that were more capable, reliable and less provocative. Using balloons for long-range spy missions went out of fashion.

China describes its balloon detected over the U.S. mainland last week as an airship with a limited self-steering capability. It was very large, with its instrumentation payload of surveillance equipment approximating the size of three buses, and solar panels some tens of metres in length. Unalerted observers on the ground could see it clearly in the sky; it was a second moon.

Can China Build a World-Class Military Using Artificial Intelligence?

Koichiro Takagi

Xi Jinping, at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on October 16, stated that China will more quickly elevate the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to a world-class military.

Throughout human history, new military technologies have changed the balance of power in the world. In Eurasia in the 2nd millennium B.C., the chariot was the dominant weapon, and counties that possessed it retained overwhelming military power. Then, after a long period of cavalry dominance, gunpowder transformed the political and military landscape. Gunpowder elevated the position of musketeers and degraded that of cavalry. It also changed the balance of power between fortifications and siege weapons, weakening the power of city-states. In 1453, cannons brought down the incomparable walls of Constantinople.

In the 21st century, the balance of power may shift as nations using advanced artificial intelligence acquire dominant military power. Artificial intelligence enhances or replaces the human brain. Weapons developed in previous human history have enhanced human muscles, eyes, and ears. Compared to primitive humans, modern humans have acquired powerful killing power and are able to see their enemies thousands of miles away and communicate with their allies thousands of miles away. But for the first time in the long history of human warfare, the brain is being enhanced. The changes brought about by artificial intelligence will therefore be unprecedented and distinctive in the history of humankind.

A message to Tehran: What drone attacks on Iranian critical infrastructure tell us

Abdolrasool Divsallar

For the first time in several months, Iranian critical military infrastructure again came under attack from an unknown assailant, with one of the workshop complexes of the Ministry of Defense (MOD) targeted by foreign combat drones on Jan. 28, 2023. The official statement from Iran’s MOD claimed the strike was unsuccessful, saying anti-aircraft systems destroyed one quadcopter and two others exploded after being caught in anti-drone traps. In contrast, The Jerusalem Post called the attack a “phenomenal success.”

Gray zone operations are characterized by their plausible deniability, yet there are few countries capable of damaging or destroying a protected site deep inside Iran. The likeliest suspects, namely Israel and the United States, have so far declined to comment or take responsibility for the raid, despite reports circulating that single out Israel as the mastermind behind it.

These uncertainties aside, the drone attack appeared designed to deliver a politico-strategic message to the target country rather than imposing a tactical cost on the Islamic Republic’s military. That presumed message is difficult to delink from the rising tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and Iranian support for Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Namely, it signals a willingness by the attacker(s) to take measured risks, reset thresholds, and show readiness to use every means available to compel the Islamic Republic’s leaders into revising their policies.

U.S. Outbound Investment into Chinese AI Companies

Emily S. Weinstein

U.S. policymakers are increasingly concerned about the national security implications of U.S. investments in China, and some are considering a new regime for reviewing outbound investment security. The authors identify the main U.S. investors active in the Chinese artificial intelligence market and the set of AI companies in China that have benefitted from U.S. capital. They also recommend next steps for U.S. policymakers to better address the concerns over capital flowing into the Chinese AI ecosystem.

Executive Summary

Policymakers in the United States and abroad are increasingly concerned about the national security implications associated with outbound investment, and some in Washington are advocating for a potential outbound investment security review or regime to address the national security risks associated with outgoing U.S. capital. This policy brief analyzes data from Crunchbase on U.S. outbound investment into Chinese artificial intelligence companies between 2015 and 2021 to better understand the scope and nature of these transactions. This report aims to identify: 1) the main U.S. investors active in the Chinese AI market, and 2) the set of AI companies in China that benefitted from U.S. capital during this period. It also lays out potential implications and next steps for U.S. policy. Our key findings include the following:Chinese investors remain the dominant investors in Chinese AI companies. Between 2015 and 2021, at least 71 percent of the transaction value and 92 percent of the investment transactions with no U.S. participation came from Chinese investors alone.Based on available data in Crunchbase, between 2015 and 2021, 167 U.S. investors participated in 401 investment transactions—or 17 percent of 2,299 global investment transactions—into Chinese AI companies.Collectively, observed transactions involving U.S. investors totaled $40.2 billion invested into 251 Chinese AI companies, which accounts for 37 percent of the $110 billion raised by all Chinese AI companies. However, we do not know the exact portion of the $40.2 billion that came from U.S. investors.Ninety-one percent of the observed U.S. investment transactions into Chinese AI companies during the covered time period came at venture capital (VC) investment stages, such as angel, seed, and pre-seed.

Biotech could be next for the U.S.-China breakup

Eduardo Jaramillo

In recent weeks, the membership of a new U.S. Congressional National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology has been finalized, shedding light on how biotech ties between the U.S. and China could come under scrutiny in 2023.

The commission was created by the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and requires commissioners to produce reports examining risks and threats related to military use of biotech, and make recommendations for how the U.S. can remain a global leader in the sector.

Mandated to include members of Congress as well as individuals with expertise on biotechnology and national security, the commission includes Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), Sen. Alex Padilla, (D-CA), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Rep Stephanie Bice (R-OK).

Given the generally hawkish sentiments toward China currently prevailing in the U.S. Congress, the new commission is likely to take a tough-on-China approach. In a statement on her appointment to the commission, Rep. Bice highlighted China as a key focus. “We must maintain our preparedness, especially as countries like China continue to integrate biotech into their strategic development,” she said. Todd Young, the other Republican on the commission, has in the past also expressed his support for competition with China in the technological domain.

US Shoots Down ‘Object’ Off Alaska Coast


An F-22 Raptor used an AIM-9X missile to down what U.S. officials described as a flying “object” off the coast of Alaska on Friday afternoon, the White House and the Pentagon said. It marks the second time within a week that the United States shot down an unmanned object that had entered U.S. airspace.

North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, detected the object Thursday evening, John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, told reporters at the White House on Friday. Kirby described the object as much smaller than the Chinese spy balloon that NORTHCOM shot down last week. This new object was roughly the size of a car, smaller than the bus-sized balloon, he said. But neither he nor Defense Department spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder were able to say where the second object came from, its intended purpose, or what sort of equipment it may have had on it.

President Joe Biden ordered the shoot-down on Friday because the object was flying at an altitude of around 40,000 feet, much lower and closer to the flight path of commercial aviation than the balloon, which flew half again as high.

“There was a reasonable concern that this could present a threat to or potential hazard to civilian air traffic,” Ryder told reporters at the Pentagon.

America and China: Whose Timeline Is It Anyway?

Dustin Walker

In recent years, Washington has become focused on when China will be ready to invade Taiwan. But while predictions such as 2027 and 2025 are driving much of the conversation about preparing for a conflict in the Pacific, Dustin Walker of the American Enterprise Institute believes that focusing on any specific timeline is missing the forest for the trees.

Will China invade Taiwan and, if so, when?

Attempts to answer this question are clouding rather than clarifying America’s national security debate. It’s long past time for policymakers and military leaders to stop speculating about China’s timeline for war and focus on America’s timeline for deterring it.

Two years ago, Adm. Phil Davidson, then-commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, testified to Congress that China may be prepared to act on its ambitions to control Taiwan by 2027. This so-called “Davidson window” has now become a central topic of debate in US defense strategy toward China. It’s a debate that grew more intense last month when Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, warned in a memo to his command that war with China was probable by 2025.

Straying off Course: A Spy Balloon Q&A with John Delury

On the evening of Friday February 3, about one day after news broke that a large balloon from China was surveilling the skies over Montana, ChinaFile’s Susan Jakes spoke with historian John Delury, whose recently published book, Agents of Subversion: The Fate of John T. Downey and the CIA’s Covert War in China, centers around a U.S. spy plane downed in China during the Korean War. Delury spoke from his home in Seoul and Jakes was in Washington, D.C.

The following transcript of their conversation was being edited as news broke that the U.S. had shot down the balloon over the Atlantic Ocean.

Susan Jakes: John, over the last several years you’ve become something of an expert on airborne espionage in the context of U.S.-China Relations. This balloon is kind of a Rorschach. When you first saw the news, what came to mind?

John Delury: After laughing for a little while, maybe because the word “balloon” makes us all laugh, I was struck by a series of ironies. I get this feeling a lot. And I use it when I teach U.S.-China history—about these reversals in the relationship. For me this is a classic ironic reversal moment. My book is all about one big mission of the CIA flying a plane into the People’s Republic of China to pick up an agent and instead being shot down and leaving behind two agents for 20-plus years. [In my research for the book] I was scouring for material on what was the full scope of what the U.S. did not only to spy on China but also to infiltrate it, to overthrow the regime during the Korean War and afterwards in the 1950s and ’60s. And there’s plenty of it.

Averting a New War between Armenia and Azerbaijan


What’s new? In January 2023, the EU announced a new mission to monitor the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Fighting had flared there the previous September, though high-level diplomacy helped prevent it from expanding into full-scale war. But with peace talks faltering, and Baku in a stronger military position, the risk of renewed clashes remains high.

Why does it matter? A new war between Armenia and Azerbaijan would have tremendous human costs, undermine the EU, Russian and U.S. goal of de-escalating regional tensions, and sow further instability in an already volatile Eurasia. The new monitoring mission could help lower the risk.

What should be done? Brussels should endow its new two-year civilian monitoring mission with adequate resources as well as a flexible mandate to foster communication and cooperation between the parties. It should seek Baku’s cooperation for the mission, including cross-border access, and (if possible) let the mission’s staff liaise with Russian border guards.

Executive Summary

In Bolivia, China Signs Deal For World’s Largest Lithium Reserves

Joseph Bouchard

In late January, Bolivia’s Luis Arce government signed a $1 billion agreement with the Chinese firms CATL, BRUNP, and CMOC (CBC) and the Bolivian state company Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) to explore lithium deposits in the South American nation.

The CBC are Chinese firms with past involvement in lithium extraction, battery recycling, and metal mining, respectively.

Arce and YLB estimate that lithium will be able to be exported by the first trimester of 2025. Arce called for the “era of industrialization of Bolivian lithium” in his announcement speech at Casa Grande del Pueblo in La Paz. Arce rhetorically asked, “how many years had to pass before the country came on the right track to enjoying one of its natural resources, so highly valued in this day and age?”

Arce affirmed that lithium is a high-value commodity, and exploiting it is in alignment with meeting the “energy and climate crisis,” creating the adequate moment to exploit the resource “in the most sustainable way possible.”

Responding to critics in the national and international opposition, Arce also contended that Bolivia had the right technology to exploit the resource and will start building two modern exploitation and transformation facilities in the salt flats of Uyuni (near Potosí) and Coipasa (near Oruro), in the southwest region of the country.

University of Texas

AustinTexas National Security Review, 6, no. 1, Winter 2022/2023 

It May Be Different than You Think
The Moral Legitimacy of Drone Strikes: How the Public Forms Its Judgments
Stabilization Lessons from the British Empire
The Organizational Determinants of Military Doctrine: A History of Army Information Operations
China’s Brute Force Economics: Waking Up from the Dream of a Level Playing Field
The Paradox of Europe’s Defense Moment

Russia Reconsiders Its Air Defense Strategy – Analysis

Maxim Starchak

Throughout January 2023, Russian Telegram channels worried Muscovites with footage of the placement of air defense systems on the rooftops of official government buildings in Moscow. For example, the Pantsir S-1 has been deployed at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Defense and Moscow Department of Education (Obozrevatel.com, January 22). These locations represent some of the tallest buildings in the city that can withstand the weight of such equipment.

In addition, the Telegram channel Sirena recently posted a video that supposedly shows a Pantsir battery standing next to Zarechye village in Moscow region—13 kilometers away from President Vladimir Putin’s residence in Novo-Ogaryovo. Sirena also published a video in which, presumably, Pantsir complexes were deployed in Voskresenskoye village near Moscow (T.me/news_sirena, January 23). Two S-400 air defense systems were also deployed in Moscow—one in Losiny Ostrov National Park (“Moose Island”) and the other in the experimental fields of Timiryazev Agricultural Academy.

All in all, the Kremlin has been fairly confident in the air defense capabilities in and around Moscow. In 2018, the commander of Russia’s air and missile defense forces, Lieutenant General Viktor Gumenny, declared that Moscow’s air and missile defense system is capable of automatically providing missile attack warnings, timely detecting all enemy threats and ensuring the defeat of the entire class of incoming targets (RIA Novosti, July 7, 2018). In December 2022, the former commander of the Russian Ground Forces, Army General Vladimir Boldyrev, confirmed Gumenny’s claims, declaring that Russian air defense systems are capable of repelling any attack (Nsn.fm, December 12, 2022).

We Don’t Need to Reinvent our Democracy to Save it from AI

Bruce Schneier

When is it time to start worrying about artificial intelligence interfering in our democracy? Maybe when an AI writes a letter to The New York Times opposing the regulation of its own technology.

That happened last month. And because the letter was responding to an essay we wrote, we're starting to get worried. And while the technology can be regulated, the real solution lies in recognizing that the problem is human actors—and those we can do something about.

Our essay argued that the much heralded launch of the AI chatbot ChatGPT, a system that can generate text realistic enough to appear to be written by a human, poses significant threats to democratic processes. The ability to produce high quality political messaging quickly and at scale, if combined with AI-assisted capabilities to strategically target those messages to policymakers and the public, could become a powerful accelerant of an already sprawling and poorly constrained force in modern democratic life: lobbying.

We speculated that AI-assisted lobbyists could use generative models to write op-eds and regulatory comments supporting a position, identify members of Congress who wield the most influence over pending legislation, use network pattern identification to discover undisclosed or illegal political coordination, or use supervised machine learning to calibrate the optimal contribution needed to sway the vote of a legislative committee member.

Year Two of the Ukraine War Is Going to Get Scary

Thomas L. Friedman

As we approach the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine — and the ferocious Ukrainian response backed by a U.S.-led Western coalition — the following question urgently needs answering: How is it that on Feb. 23, 2022, virtually no one in America was arguing that it was in our core national interest to enter into an indirect war with Russia to stop it from overrunning Ukraine, a country most Americans couldn’t find on a map in 10 tries? And yet now, nearly a year later, polls show solid (though slightly shrinking) American majorities for backing Ukraine with arms and aid, even though this risks a direct conflict with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

That’s a head-snapping shift in U.S. public opinion. Surely it’s partly explicable by the fact that no U.S. combat forces are in Ukraine, so it feels as if all that we’re risking, for now, is arms and treasure — while the full brunt of the war is borne by Ukrainians.

But there is another explanation, even if it’s one that most Americans might not be able to articulate and many might only reluctantly agree with.

They know at some deep level that the world we live in today is tilted the way it is because of American power. That doesn’t mean we have always used our power wisely, nor could we have succeeded without allies. But to the extent that we have used our power wisely and in concert with our allies, we have built and protected a liberal world order since 1945, which has been hugely in our interest — economically and geopolitically.

The Ukraine War and a Loss of Nuance

Ronald Suny

In every city in Russia and Ukraine there are monuments to past wars and the millions who were sacrificed to the ambitions of leaders who chose to realize their objectives with guns, bombs, and bayonets. With brutal battles raging now in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meaningless war against Ukraine, many of those monuments in Russian towns and cities have borne silent witness to opposition to the war and its attendant atrocities. In a country where open defiance of the government has become dangerous, people protest with flowers placed stealthily at the feet of Taras Shevchenko or Nikolai Gogol. The so-called “flower protests” are testimony that there exists, and has always existed, another Russia in opposition to official Russia.

I am a historian of Russia, the Soviet Union, and most particularly of the non-Russian peoples of those imperial states. Born in the United States, the descendant of Armenian immigrants from the tsarist and Ottoman empires, I have spent six decades as a scholar teaching and writing about the fraught past of the rulers and colonized subjects of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Istanbul and Ankara. Researching and writing within the standards of good scholarship, I have lived and worked in Armenia, Georgia, Russia and Turkey and consistently sought to demonstrate to whomever listened to my lectures or read my writing the complexities and contradictions of history.

Germany Is Giving Ukraine Old Leopard 1 Tanks: What Other Old Armor Could Fight Russia?

Sebastien Roblin

On Feb. 3, German media reported that Berlin has approved the transfer of retired Leopard 1A5 tanks, starting with an initial package of 29 refurbished vehicles. A mid-Cold War predecessor to the much better-armored, 60-to-70-ton Leopard 2 tanks Germany recently authorized for donation to Ukraine, the 40-to-45-ton Leopard 1 is more agile and can hit targets with its 105-millimeter gun while on the move.

While Kyiv is obviously excited to receive advanced Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams tanks that overmatch Russian armor, it also simply needs more tanks — any tanks — to generate mass across the frontline. That is why it might be interested in older tanks that are sitting in storage and can be bought cheaply, especially as it is unclear whether the Leopard 2 donations can account for the hundreds of tanks Kyiv says it needs.

If the U.S. and Germany are donating retired HAWK missiles and Gepard anti-aircraft vehicles, some wonder why the West should not send other old warhorses — tanks like America’s M60 Pattons, France’s AMX-30s, or Romanian TR-85s? Let’s look at some potential sources of vintage tanks.
Leopard 1A5

The Leopard 1 originated from a joint French-German tank development program in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, anti-tank munitions seemed to be outpacing the viability of tank armor, so the concept relied on relatively minimal armor, focusing instead on mobility and firepower. As happened with many Franco-German arms projects, disagreements — in this case over which gun to install — terminated the cooperation, leading both to produce distinct but conceptually similar vehicles.

Ukraine Heading to Another Showdown

George Friedman

I should say up front that I am not writing about Chinese balloons. Instead, I am writing about the situation in Ukraine, which is getting increasingly dangerous.

Until relatively recently, Russian assaults on Ukraine tended to be contained by the Ukrainian armed force – not universally but frequently enough to prevent Russia from keeping territory or achieving victory. But in the past month or so, Russia has begun to hold its ground. If that becomes the norm, then Ukraine is in serious trouble.

The United States has kept the front intact by introducing new weapons. The current weakness of the Ukrainian army is due to a lack of longer-range rockets that could strike the Russian rear, hitting reinforcements and supplies moving to the front. Without these elements, Russia can’t maintain its position.

The problem is that the range of the new munitions is so great that they can reach Russian territory. The U.S. has made it clear it has no intention of striking Russian soil. In fact, Washington has ordered Ukraine not to use the munitions at their fullest range, and there are rumors that the Americans modified the missiles to ensure they don’t. But Ukraine is fighting an existential war, and its willingness to use anything less than full power is inevitably questionable.

So far, Russia has not been struck, nor has Poland, where supplies and U.S. troops are based. The tacit agreement not to hit either has prevented the war from becoming a direct conflict between the U.S. and Russia. If either side deliberately attacked Russia or Poland, all bets would be off.

Targeting SpaceX’s Starlink in war is fair game, space warfare expert claims

Vilius Petkauskas

Elon Musk’s Starlink and other privately-owned space systems will always be in Russia’s or China’s line of sight as long as they provide essential national security services.

SpaceX supporting Ukraine with Starlink satellite constellation infrastructure put forward the question of private businesses’ role in warfare and the space domain. For example, researchers from China and Russia even explored ways to destroy Starlink.

However, the answer is clear to Dr. Bleddyn Bowen, an expert on strategic theory in outer space. Since financially sound commercial space companies rely on military contracts for survival, they are legitimate targets from an adversaries’ point of view.

Dr. Bowen, who is an associate professor of International Relations at the University of Leicester as well as the author of War in Space: Strategy, Spacepower, Geopolitics, and Original Sin: Power, Technology, and War in Outer Space, thinks that organizations that profit from institutions of war should not be surprised they’re seen as government contractors.

We sat down to discuss the hype surrounding Starlink’s use in Ukraine, the state of independence of commercial space companies, and how privately-owned satellite infrastructure looks from an international relations perspective.

Rethinking the AI wave in digital warfare

Michael Raska

Cyber operations have been evolving as part of major wars and conflicts over the past three decades. Yet modern militaries have struggled to align advanced cyber capabilities with conventional military power. If militaries can fully harness the next cyber revolution in potential conflict flashpoints, there could be enormous implications for the future of warfare.

The main source of strategic advantage in the next 10 years will lie in the ability of military organisations to fully integrate innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), cyber power and data science, cognitive science and robotics at all levels of military operations. This process will propel the next AI-driven revolution in military affairs (AI RMA). The AI RMA will fundamentally differ from the previous information technology or IT-RMAs, where cyber capabilities augmented but did not alter the use of force.

Early signs of the AI wave are already appearing. The Data Analytics Centre of the Israel Defence Force Unit 8200 uses machine learning algorithms to automate threat detection and identify anomalies in large data sets. The US military’s Project Maven uses AI systems for decision support, targeting and operational planning. They can process a large amount of data from diverse intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has recently established the Digital and Intelligence Service to integrate SAF’s military intelligence, cyber defences and information operation capabilities into a full-service branch.

Cyber Maneuver, Operations, and Combat: A Knowledge Wargame (CMOCKW)

Walter R. Dodson, Taylor Bradley

This presentation provides an overview of an IDA-developed cyber wargame that explores decisions about cyberspace force employment and network security postures. The wargame realistically emulates the nature of operational cyber conflict with a dynamic Opposing Force (OPFOR) that has a chance to “win,” a double-blind approach that replicates cyber uncertainties by revealing limited information to each side, and a force-on-force approach that assigns capability values to friendly and enemy units and networks to facilitate adjudication, and with no unrealistic constraints on the OPFOR. It may be planned and executed at the SECRET level or higher, simulates one week of “real scenario time” per one-hour game turn, can be tailored and scaled to examine the “customer's” decisions and cyberspace terrain and is relatively simple and “lightweight” to plan, teach and execute.

Managing the Risks of Biotechnology Innovation

Gigi Kwik Gronvall

Biotechnology Governance in a Time of New Risks and Opportunities

The benefits of biotechnology are tangible and obvious to the world. COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives, and CAR-T cell therapies are bringing the concept of personalized medicine to successful cancer treatment. Beyond the medical applications of biotechnologies, it is common to have biological enzymes in laundry detergents for stain removal, plant-based “meats” in burgers that “bleed,” and direct-to-consumer genetic testing ancestry services. These biotechnology advances are not just the result of sustained biological research and hard work by scientists around the world, but also the convergence of advances in computing, machine learning, and the accessibility of powerful research tools that accelerate discovery, allowing important scientific questions to be asked and answered. These sustained advances have influenced consumer expectations, and will lead to more biotechnology products used in everyday life.

However, there are also risks to biotechnological progress. Even in the early days of recombinant DNA technologies, it was understood that there were inherent risks in understanding biological mechanisms, as that improved understanding could be used to cause harm. Accidents are also possible if some biotechnology product “escapes” from containment, causing harm to people, animals, or the environment. In response to the potential safety concerns of this new field, a group of scientists, government officials, and journalists met at California’s Asilomar Conference Center in 1975 to discuss the possible risks of manipulating genetic material and to declare a moratorium on the work until safety questions were methodically addressed. Fortunately, there was little cause for the specific safety concerns that spurred the meeting, and biotechnology as a field rapidly progressed. Different conceptions of the risks of biotechnology development, however, did lead to divergent national governance approaches—especially regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—as well as different oversight mechanisms for biological research that involved manipulating genetic material. Those divergent governance mechanisms persist for the regulation of laboratory research and the fielding of GMO crops.

Why ChatGPT Will Change Higher Ed For The Better – OpEd

Peter Jacobsen

A new artificial intelligence (AI) system called ChatGPT has been released to the public, and many have been shocked to see the extent of its abilities. ChatGPT can accomplish many tasks. For example, it can write poems about any topic, give book recommendations, summarize specific chapters of books, and create workout routines.

If you’re asking whether the AI just Google-searches for responses, the answer is no. If you try to find the source of ChatGPT’s responses, you’ll find they are fresh writing.

This brings us to the most impactful thing ChatGPT can do when it comes to my fellow academics and me. ChatGPT can write reading responses, online discussion-forum posts, short answers, and even essays.

Admittedly, the essays aren’t perfect, but they’re certainly not worse than the worst essays students turn in. Now maybe you’re seeing the issue for education. For years, papers, essays, and other open-response assignments have been the gold standard in preventing cheating. Plagiarism can be an issue, but modern plagiarism detectors and a bit of work on the professors’ side basically eliminate the issue.

A Cost Estimating Framework for U.S. Marine Corps Joint Cyber Weapons

Bradley Wilson, Thomas Goughnour

U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command asked the RAND Corporation to assess the Marine Corps offensive cyber operations acquisition life cycle and identify ways to improve the transparency of related decisionmaking. The authors brought together data on operational capability, scheduling, and risk to develop a life-cycle cost-estimating framework. This framework should help Joint Cyber Weapons (JCW) program leadership understand the potential costs and provide additional guidance on budgeting considerations. It incorporates five classes of inputs and has three types of outputs.

In creating the framework, the authors considered the demand for exploits from the operational user, as well as the type of cyber weapon (e.g., exploit, implant, payload), the weapon's target environment (e.g., desktop or mobile systems), vulnerability decay rate, the adversary's defense capabilities, weapon cost, and how various acquisitions are phased in and out of service over time. The framework also addresses the production of cyber weapons, their costs, and how uncertainties are distributed over a specified period. The authors conducted exploratory modeling and simulation to better understand associated uncertainties and model inputs.

High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellites Are Ready for Launch

Captain W. Stone Holden, U.S. Marine Corps

High-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are moving rapidly toward maturity, thanks to trends in solar power, battery storage, and artificial intelligence (AI). HAPS could provide a key capability bridge for forces seeking to operate in areas defended by anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities. Launched from outside the range of A2/AD systems, a fleet of HAPS with various capabilities operating alone or in concert could support various forces on the ground. Their capabilities could enhance communication, sensing, and intelligence capabilities for long periods with minimal logistical support requirements.1 This makes HAPS highly attractive for supporting multiple purposes, including expeditionary advanced base operations.

HAPS have applications across a variety of missions.2 Experimentation with EABO has already produced musings about unconventional methods for sustainment and supporting combat through innovative technologies. Marines struggling to deal with the vast distances covered in these types of operations would benefit from the capabilities that HAPS will soon provide.

Operating at altitudes of 65,000 feet and higher, HAPS UAVs can bridge gaps between space-based assets and air-breathing platforms below. They are ultralight platforms with beyond line-of-sight communication and are controllable from remote locations. They are designed to be modular, carrying payloads that include a variety of sensors and navigation capabilities.3

Hidden hands: The failure of population-centric counterinsurgency in Afghanistan 2008-11

Christian Tripodi


The conflict in Afghanistan 2001–2021 pitched coalition forces into the midst of a civil war. Armed political rebellion of this sort presents practitioners with a deeply intricate problem; multiple, interdependent layers of conflict and competition creating an ever-shifting ecosystem of violent competition. But in their efforts to resolve the root-causes of political rebellion in Afghanistan, Western counterinsurgents unwittingly contributed a set of philosophical, constructionist and cognitive ingredients to the dynamics powering violence on the ground. Using a variety of theoretical approaches, this article explores aspects of the campaign in Helmand and Kandahar 2008–11 in order to better explore the intersection between COIN theory, COIN practice, and the layered complexities involved for stabilisation forces seeking to instrumentalise power and influence in another nation’s internal conflict.


In late 2007, the command team of the British Army’s 52 Brigade positioned itself outside the town of Musa Qala in the northern Helmand province. A controversial deal the previous year had seen British forces cede control of the town to local tribal elders, resulting in its re-capture by the Taliban. Developments now suggested that the insurgents were divided and open to exploitation. Coalition forces sought to capitalise upon this opportunity by assaulting the town and bringing it back under Afghan government control. Notably, their approach would be informed in detail by a new doctrine: Field Manual (FM) 3–24 Counterinsurgency. The capture of Musa Qala in December 2007 was set to be the first test of the doctrine’s ‘population-centric’ philosophy in civil-war Afghanistan. The physical seizure of Musa Qala would be followed by a series of political and developmental initiatives designed to ‘build’ upon military control and ultimately bring the town and its surroundings back into the political grasp of the Afghan Government. But whereas the military component of Operation MAR KARADAD worked well, the ensuing efforts to sustain government influence ultimately came to nought; Musa Qala would be back in the hands of insurgents once coalition forces withdrew from Helmand in 2014. But even before then, as early as 2011, in fact, COIN had failed to fulfil the expectations of its various proponents. What happened at Musa Qala helps us understand why.

Army wants ideas from industry on autonomous, anti-drone capabilities

Carten Cordell,
Army Futures Command is on the hunt for new tools ahead of its next Technology Gateway program this fall and is looking to industry to determine what solutions it will experiment with.

In a special notice released Friday, AFC called for industry white papers outlining potential technology capabilities it will look to deploy as part of its modernization strategy.

The Technology Gateway series is part of the military service's Project Convergence effort, a broader campaign that began in 2020 to integrate emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomy into plans for Joint Warfighting Concept and Joint All Domain Command and Control.

"Technology Gateway is a collaborative experiment between industry partners and the Army, intended to enable collective innovation and identify novel technology capabilities that will help the Army achieve its modernization goals," the notice said. "It provides industry a structured opportunity to demonstrate their technologies to government representatives in a controlled and operationally relevant environment."

AFC held its first Technology Gateway at the Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, in October 2022, as part of last fall's Project Convergence event, and this year's edition is also slated for October.

How M88 Hercules Vehicles Will Keep Abrams Tanks Out of Russia’s Grip


President Joe Biden announced late last month that he’s sending 31 M1A2 Abrams tanks to Ukraine—the equivalent of a Ukrainian tank battalion. But there’s another type of vehicle included in the $400 million aid package that has been lost in the headlines: the M88A2 Hercules, the standard heavy recovery vehicle of the U.S. Army.

First fielded in the 1960s, the Hercules has been upgraded over the past half-century to deal with larger, heavier tanks. The deployment of eight M88s to Ukraine means the Pentagon not only wants to keep the tanks fighting, but is concerned that Abrams tanks abandoned on the battlefield could fall into Russian hands.

What Is the M88 Hercules?

Russian T-90M Proryv tanks using drones to reach artillery accuracy in Ukraine

Joint operations by Russian crews of the most modern T-90M Proryv tanks and small-size drone operators in the area of the war in Ukraine make it possible to bring the accuracy of tank cannons to an artillery level, a drone operator codenamed Bird said.

“At present, we are learning to arc fire. It is when the target is invisible and the range of fire varies from 4 to 12 kilometers. Everything is done with the help of a drone, which monitors how a shell flies and makes adjustments in a bid to achieve maximum precision. This is a relatively new manner of shelling, which has not been practiced before. We are doing quite well — almost at the artillery level, " he said in a video released by the Russian Defense Ministry.

At the moment, the servicemen are undergoing joint training in the rear zone of the operations. A drone-assisted tank crew receives more accurate coordinates of targets and makes adjustments for more effective destruction of manpower and materiel. Besides, drones help servicemen gain control in the air and lower the probability that the tank will be destroyed by hostile subversive groups or by an enemy tank or antitank missile team.