3 March 2023

What is the United States-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET)?


At the end of January 2023, India’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and the U.S. NSA Jake Sullivan officially launched the United States-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET). The two NSAs took part in an unofficial discussion hosted on January 30, 2023, where they were joined by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and a whole host of Indian and American officials.

The room was filled with industry mavericks, thought leaders, representatives from India’s impressive startup ecosystem, and others who have been long invested in the bilateral partnership. The aim was clear—to communicate the incredible growth in ties between the two countries and to highlight the potential to deepen these ties across a range of critical and emerging technologies. The energy in the room was hypnotizing but real. “This is serious business,” a leading Indian CEO put it. The appetite for doing more between these two trusted geographies was unmistakable. It was evident that the iCET framework served as a lightning rod. That the governments, the private sector, research laboratories, and the academia in India and the United States were entering into a distinctive chapter for partnerships was clear.

Those in the room highlighted the possibilities of deepening ties between the two countries in strengthening quantum communications, building a semiconductor ecosystem in India, accelerating defense collaborations, exploring commercial space opportunities, and catalyzing existing and forging new research opportunities and partnerships. Government officials patiently absorbed the suggestions made in a room representing almost every part of Indian and American industry invested in the future of technology. Officials took particular note of the regulatory bottlenecks to deeper cooperation.


SIGAR released its latest report, Collapse of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces: An Assessment of the Factors That Led to Its Demise.

SIGAR’s interim report on this topic, released in May 2022, was the first U.S. government account on how and why the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) collapsed abruptly in August 2021. SIGAR’s new report updates that evaluation with compelling on-the-ground perspectives from witnesses to the ANDSF collapse. An “In Their Own Words” section provides quotes from over 40 interviewees, including former Afghan and U.S. officials who gave SIGAR perspectives about the ANDSF’s final two years. This section includes first-person accounts of the disintegration of the Afghan government and security forces as the Taliban closed in on Kabul, and the aftermath of the fall of the Ghani government.

SIGAR Findings and Commentary (Final Report):

-- The last-minute wholesale restructuring of Afghanistan’s security institutions between March and June 2021, in particular, undermined ANDSF cohesion, morale, and ultimately, its ability to counter the Taliban offensive. In 2021, amid rapidly deteriorating security, President Ghani reshuffled most of his security officials, often replacing them with fellow ethnic Pashtuns, especially Ghilzai Pashtuns from eastern Afghanistan. These leadership changes were part of a broader pattern of politicization and ethnicization (in favor of Pashtuns) of the security sector in the final years of the Ghani administration.

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China Is Relentlessly Hacking Its Neighbors

IN MAY 2022, Joe Biden was on a charm offensive. The US president invited the leaders of 10 Southeast Asian nations to the White House for the first time for talks about the region, which is home to more than 600 million people. High on the agenda was China—a key trading partner for all the countries, but also a potential threat to their stability. Biden promised $150 million in extra support for the nations to help improve their security, infrastructure, and ongoing pandemic response.

However, in the weeks leading up to the meeting, according to a cybersecurity alert seen by WIRED, hackers working on behalf of China were stealing thousands of emails and sensitive details from the Southeast Asian nations. The cyberespionage, which has not been previously reported, is the latest in a string of incidents where Chinese-linked hackers have quietly compromised neighboring countries, looking to gain political and economic information.

According to the cybersecurity alert, Chinese-linked hackers were able to break into mail servers operated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in February 2022 and steal a trove of data. The ASEAN organization is an intergovernmental body made up of 10 Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. This was the third time the organization has been compromised since 2019, the document says.

The hackers were able to steal “gigabytes” of emails sent by ASEAN countries, and the data was stolen “daily,” according to the cybersecurity alert. It’s believed that the attackers stole more than 10,000 emails, making up more than 30 GB of data. The incident “impacts all ASEAN members due to correspondence that was compromised,” the alert says. The notification was sent to cybersecurity agencies, foreign affairs ministries, and other governmental organizations in all 10 of the ASEAN member countries.

China will target the US homeland in war over Taiwan, Army leader predicts

Joel Gehrke

China will attack the American homeland if “a major war” erupts over Taiwan or elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S. Army’s top civilian expects.

“If we got into a major war with China, the United States homeland would be at risk as well with both kinetic attacks and non-kinetic attacks — whether it's cyberattacks on the power grid or on pipelines,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said Monday at the American Enterprise Institute. “They are going to go after the will of the United States public. They're going to try to erode support for a conflict.”

China's People’s Liberation Army forces are not yet prepared to launch an invasion of Taiwan, according to U.S. intelligence and military officials. Yet the “historical trajectory” of their recent military modernization campaign requires U.S. forces to speed up their preparations to deter such an attack, according to the region’s top Army officer.

“The payload of exercises in pathways is really at its zenith here in ’23,” said Gen. Charles Flynn, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, referring to an array of U.S. military exercises in the Indo-Pacific. “This is an important year to get in position [and] create enduring advantage ... so we're ready to do that and our forces are ready today to be able to respond if need be in the event that something goes in the direction we don't want it to go.”

Flynn and Wormuth touted the importance of the U.S. Army in the competition with China, an argument advanced at least in part to urge lawmakers not to forget about the Army in the upcoming spending process. Fiscal fights of the last decade often have forced the federal government to operate a funding mechanism known as a “continuing resolution,” which authorizes federal officials to spend money according to the plans set by previous budgets — a process that, according to Wormuth, has constrained the military’s ability to prepare for the risk of a clash with China.

Realism on China

Pete Hoekstra

What is clear is that, intentionally or not, China has shown America's need to get serious about the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its expansionist global aims.

As the latest provocation by the CCP plays out, it gets more disturbing. The media, and even US President Joe Biden, describe the CCP as a "competitor" and downplay any possible conflict. When the CCP flies spy balloons across the continent, opens police stations in our cities, infiltrates our universities, poisons more than 100,000 Americans with hard drugs each year, and announces its plans to replace the United States, it is hard to argue we are in anything but a "Cold War" with the CCP.

It is time for the U.S. government and our allies to definitively outline the clear challenge and danger the CCP poses to the West. The behavior demonstrated by the CCP spy balloon is not an aberration; it is part of a dangerous pattern. This includes the CCP's longtime intellectual property theft; breaches of cybersecurity; its increasing global military presence; expanding and modernizing its military, and its purchases of farmland near US military sites. Given that this is the reality, the Biden Administration must act more forcefully in response to the CCP's aggressive behavior or, through passivity, it will invite an even greater challenge from China.

Given the CCP's clear efforts against America, why does there continue to be such a muted response from the Biden Administration? While they haven't explicitly said it, one reason might be climate change.

China’s coal plant approvals highest in seven years, research finds

Christian Shepherd

China last year approved the largest expansion of coal-fired power plants since 2015, a new report has found, showing how the world’s largest emitter still relies on a fossil fuel that scientists say must be quickly phased out to avoid the worst consequences of a warming atmosphere.

It also underscores the way China is at odds with the global shift away from greenhouse gas-emitting forms of energy — and from its own pledges to reduce its emissions.

The rush to build new coal-fired projects across the country meant that authorities granted permits for 106 gigawatts of capacity across 82 locations in 2022, the highest number in seven years and four times higher than in 2021.

This is according to new report from the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), a Finland-based nongovernmental organization, and the Global Energy Monitor, a nonprofit that tracks fossil fuel infrastructure.

“The speed at which projects progressed through permitting to construction in 2022 was extraordinary, with many projects sprouting up, gaining permits, obtaining financing and breaking ground apparently in a matter of months,” said Flora Champenois, research analyst at GEM.

“China continues to be the glaring exception to the ongoing global decline in coal plant development,” she said.

Pentagon to Reap Rewards From $53 Billion Chips Act

Yuka Hayashi

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon will have secure access to leading-edge semiconductors manufactured at facilities receiving funding from the $53 billion Chips Act, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said, ensuring the industry can supply the military with the advanced chips it needs for modern weapons systems.

The increased involvement of the military and national security officials comes as intensifying rivalry with China and weaknesses in the supply chain exposed during the pandemic raise concerns among policy makers that the U.S. has become too reliant on imported chips.

In an interview, Ms. Raimondo said the Chips Act, which promotes domestic manufacturing of chips, is a national security initiative. The U.S. buys more than 90% of its advanced chips from Taiwan, she said, calling that “a national security vulnerability that is untenable.”

“Every single piece of sophisticated military equipment, every drone, every satellite, relies on semiconductor chips,” Ms. Raimondo said.

Commerce officials will count on input from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the defense and intelligence communities as they begin implementing the program this week, she said.

A War With China Would Be Unlike Anything Americans Faced Before

Ross Babbage

A major war in the Indo-Pacific is probably more likely now than at any other time since World War II.

The most probable spark is a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. President Xi Jinping of China has said unifying Taiwan with mainland China “must be achieved.” His Communist Party regime has become sufficiently strong — militarily, economically and industrially — to take Taiwan and directly challenge the United States for regional supremacy.

The United States has vital strategic interests at stake. A successful Chinese invasion of Taiwan would punch a hole in the U.S. and allied chain of defenses in the region, seriously undermining America’s strategic position in the Western Pacific, and would probably cut off U.S. access to world-leading semiconductors and other critical components manufactured in Taiwan. As president, Joe Biden has stated repeatedly that he would defend Taiwan.

But leaders in Washington also need to avoid stumbling carelessly into a war with China because it would be unlike anything ever faced by Americans. U.S. citizens have grown accustomed to sending their military off to fight far from home. But China is a different kind of foe — a military, economic and technological power capable of making a war felt in the American homeland.

From McDonald’s to Ralph Lauren, U.S. Companies Are Planning China Expansions

Dan Strumpf

HONG KONG—Large American companies from fast food to high-end fashion are increasing their bets on China’s consumers in anticipation of a postpandemic rebound for the world’s second-biggest economy.

Retailers Ralph Lauren Corp. and Tapestry Inc., TPR 0.74%increase; green up pointing triangle the owner of the Coach and Kate Spade brands, are launching new stores.

And Tyson Foods Inc. TSN -1.15%decrease; red down pointing triangle and Hormel Foods Corp. HRL -0.94%decrease; red down pointing triangle are opening new facilities, as they see a long-term appetite for American-style foods.

The investments come as Chinese leaders tell the world that the door is open for foreign businesses and publicly court Boeing Co. BA 0.54%increase; green up pointing triangle The moves follow years of “zero Covid” policies that deeply isolated the country and triggered its worst economic slump in decades.

The Conversation About Ukraine Is Cracking Apart

Stephen M. Walt

I attended the Munich Security Conference for the first time this year, so I may be a member of Washington’s so-called Blob after all. I was grateful for the opportunity and enjoyed the experience, but I can’t say that I came away from it feeling better about the current state of the world.

The war in Ukraine dominated the proceedings, of course, and there were two important dividing lines in the collective conversation.

The first gap was the vastly different perceptions, narratives, and preferred responses between the trans-Atlantic community on the one hand and key members of the global south on the other. Several important media outlets have described this gap already, and a new report from the European Council on Foreign Relations contains compelling survey data documenting it. I attended several sessions and private dinners focused on this issue, and the discussions were revealing.

Diehard Atlanticists tend to portray the war in Ukraine as the single most important geopolitical issue in the world today. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said the war had “far-reaching global ramifications,” and the head of one U.S.-based think tank called it “the fulcrum of the 21st century.” Similarly, when asked how the war might end, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock replied that anything less than a complete Russian defeat and withdrawal would mean “the end of the international order and the end of international law.”

The Reckoning That Wasn’t

Andrew J. Bacevich

Over the course of many evenings in 1952 and 1953, when I was a kindergartner, my family gathered around a hand-me-down TV in the Chicago housing project where we lived to watch Victory at Sea. With stirring music and solemn narration, this 26-part documentary produced by NBC offered an inspiring account of World War II as a righteous conflict in which freedom had triumphed over evil, in large part thanks to the exertions of the United States. The country had waged a people’s war, fought by millions of ordinary citizens who had answered the call of duty. The war’s outcome testified to the strength of American democracy.

Here was history in all its seductive and terrible magnificence. Here, too, was truth: immediate, relevant, and compelling, albeit from a strictly American point of view. If the series had an overarching message, it was this: the outcome of this appalling conflict had inaugurated a new age in which the United States was destined to reign supreme.

The series had a profound effect on me, reinforced by the fact that both of my parents had served in the war. For them and for others of their generation, the great crusade against Germany and Japan was to remain the defining event of their lives and seemed destined to define the lives of future generations, as well.

The Divided Diplomat

Zachariah Mampilly

In September 1948, Folke Bernadotte, the Swedish count serving as the UN mediator for Palestine, was shot dead on the streets of Jerusalem by the Stern Gang, a Zionist terror outfit. His American deputy, Ralph Bunche, was quickly named as his replacement. Over the next 11 months, Bunche, who had planned to be in Bernadotte’s motorcade that fateful day but was absent because of a delayed flight, painstakingly negotiated an armistice between the belligerents. It was a brilliant achievement. He returned to a ticker-tape parade in New York City, and the mayor of Los Angeles declared July 17 “Ralph Bunche Day.” In 1950, Bunche won the Nobel Peace Prize, the first Black person in any field to be so honored, and that same year, Ebony featured him on its cover with the headline “America’s Most Honored Negro.” In 1963, President Lyndon Johnson awarded Bunche the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Politically, Bunche was a key figure in establishing the UN and a celebrated leader of the civil rights movement. Socially, he counted white liberals such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Black Marxists such as Paul Robeson among his wide network of influential friends. Culturally, he was feted for his accomplishments with fawning comic-book portrayals, and he appeared at the Academy Awards, where he was introduced by Fred Astaire, and announced the prize for best picture. Intellectually, he made seminal contributions to the study of African politics and went on to become the first Black president of the American Political Science Association. In his lifetime, perhaps only Martin Luther King, Jr., and W. E. B. Du Bois could be considered his peers. Despite his accomplishments, he is scarcely remembered today, as a new, deeply researched biography by the legal scholar Kal Raustiala makes clear. His academic contributions are rarely taught. His name is almost never included in the pantheon of American civil rights leaders. Nor is his name celebrated in the former European colonies of Africa and Asia, many of whose founding fathers once relied on him to champion their causes. Even his signature accomplishments—the Arab-Israeli armistice agreement and the founding of the UN peacekeeping force—are seldom acknowledged.

What We Know and Don’t Know About the Origins of Covid

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Benjamin Mueller

WASHINGTON — The Energy Department’s conclusion, with “low confidence,” that an accidental laboratory leak in China most likely caused the coronavirus pandemic has renewed questions about what sparked the worst public health crisis in a century — and whether the virus at the heart of it was somehow connected to scientific research.

Scientists and spy agencies have tried assiduously to answer that question, but conclusive evidence is hard to come by. The nation’s intelligence agencies are split, and none of them changed their conclusions after seeing the Energy Department’s findings, officials said.

Scientists who have studied the genetics of the virus, and the patterns by which it spread, say the most likely cause is that the virus jumped from live mammals to humans — a scientific phenomenon known as “zoonotic spillover” — at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, the city in which the first cases of Covid-19 emerged in late 2019.

But other scientists say there is evidence, albeit circumstantial, that the virus came from a lab, possibly the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which had deep expertise in researching coronaviruses. Lab accidents do happen; in 2014, after accidents involving bird flu and anthrax, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tightened its biosafety practices.

Ex-CIA’s Petraeus Sees ‘Slow-balization’ From Geopolitic Shocks

Laura Curtis

The geopolitical crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing US-China tensions have led to “slowbalization,” where global integration is happening at a slower pace, according to retired General David Petraeus.

“We are in an era of renewed great power rivalries, where geopolitics very much defines what’s possible in terms of economics, trade and investment,” said Petraeus, chairman of KKR’s Global Institute, on Monday. “Globalization is not over by any means, but it has now become ‘slowbalization,’ where the growth in global trade is now much flatter.”

While there’s room to grow manufacturing investment between the US and India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico and other places, “none of these can replace China’s colossal capacity, and we cannot decouple from China,” said Petraeus, a former CIA director.

Petraeus spoke at the annual TPM23 Conference organized by S&P Global Market Intelligence in Long Beach, where more than 3,700 representatives of the container-shipping industry are kicking off the contract-negotiating season, the first such gathering since supply chains have begun to normalize from the pandemic-era disruptions.

What will ChatGPT mean for the US defense-industrial base?

Noah Rivers and Olivia Letts

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence-enabled chatbot tool developed by U.S.-based AI lab OpenAI. Two months after its launch in November, it became the fastest consumer application in history to reach 100 million active users, and it has already started to have a noticeable impact in business and academia.

The extent to which ChatGPT (or its technological successors and relatives) will have an impact on national security and defense acquisitions is still unclear, as the technology has yet to replace humans in any meaningful capacity. However, based on initial use cases and reactions to the tool, ChatGPT is already creating benefits as well as risks for defense professionals.

ChatGPT, derived from a machine learning-based language model known as GPT-3.5, is considered a groundbreaking form of generative AI. This means that it is capable of interacting conversationally with users and generating detailed human-like responses to questions or prompts in a variety of text formats, proving itself a useful tool across various fields.

For example, across the health care, real estate, public relations, marketing, customer service, and media industries, some companies have started using iterations of generative AI, especially ChatGPT, for various tasks from scheduling appointments to writing articles. ChatGPT has also made headlines for passing a variety of benchmark exams, including correctly answering technical questions for an entry-level Google software engineering job and achieving passing grades on both a law school test and Wharton business school paper.

What Was Putin Thinking?

Hal Brands

Most of the unanswerable questions about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have to do with the future. How will this war end? Will China intervene more directly? Will hostilities escalate into a clash between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization? Yet one of the most crucial questions is about the past: Why did Vladimir Putin start this war in the first place?

It’s hard to know exactly what he was thinking: Putin’s regime is not a model of transparency. But piecing together his motives is important, not least because the origins of this war contain clues about how a conflict in Taiwan might start.

The deepest reason Putin invaded is obvious: He aims to rebuild a post-Soviet empire with Ukraine at its core. Putin has said he doesn’t consider Ukraine a “real country” and has been working for years to bring it back into Russia’s grasp.

Russians and Ukrainians are “one people — a single whole,” he wrote in 2021. “It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe.” This belief is key to understanding Putin’s policies toward Ukraine over the past generation — his efforts to influence the country’s elections, his invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014, and other measures taken to suborn or subordinate Kyiv.

Yet prior to February 2022, Putin had never tried to conquer the entire country. So what caused this particular escalation at this particular time? The most plausible answer involves the same mix of opportunism and loss-aversion that often leads major powers to start brutal wars.

To ensure a short war in Ukraine, we must prepare for a long one


On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. And after failing in his initial plan of regime change in Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin now wants a drawn-out conflict.

Western governments need to change tack to stop this war grinding on for another year, and to do so, they need to move away from their so-far incremental approach to developing a long-term view.

This means giving Ukraine what it needs to win the war now, but also building a framework for its recovery and integration into the Euro-Atlantic community — which is the purpose of the Kyiv Security Compact.

I co-authored the compact, which forms part of the Ukrainian government’s 10-point peace plan, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak. Outlining a series of security guarantees for Ukraine, its principle is simple: to make the country capable of defending itself by itself.

But ensuring Ukraine can defend itself now and in the future requires a multi-decade commitment from its allies. A group of guarantor countries must pledge to deliver practical, material support to Ukraine, and this should focus on four areas: helping it build a military strong enough to withstand any future Russian aggression; enhancing intelligence sharing between Ukraine and its allies; sustaining joint training and exercises under the EU and NATO flags; and assisting Ukraine in building a strong and sustainable defense industry.

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point


From the Director

Thanks to Editor-in-Chief Paul Cruickshank for allowing me to take over this space this month as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Combating Terrorism Center, established at West Point in February 2003. Originally the vision of Mr. Vinnie Viola, Brigadier General (Retired) Russ Howard, and General Wayne Downing, the CTC has evolved into a trusted global hub for scholars, practitioners, and policymakers. At the heart of what we do are the Cadets of West Point, who have made the Terrorism Studies Minor the number-one choice of minors at West Point over the last 10 years and who graduate to lead our nation’s Soldiers in complex times. This mission is empowered by 20 years of teammates, donors, partners, and stakeholders around the world who ensure the CTC is delivering cutting-edge research and insight in the fight against terrorism. While the CTC has been a mainstay of the CT fight for the last two decades, I posit that the most important time for this team is now. As national security priorities and resources rebalance toward strategic competition, the CTC will maintain its focus on understanding current and future terrorism threats to our nation and to the world, ready to assist our nation and our allies wherever we are called. To all who have made this possible, thank you.

Ukrainian Innovation in a War of Attrition

Seth G. Jones , Riley McCabe , and Alexander Palmer


The Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz wrote that war is filled with unpredictability and that “in war more than anywhere else in the world things happen differently to what we had expected.”[1] Just ask Russian political and military leaders in charge of the war in Ukraine today.

One of the most interesting puzzles is how Ukraine—which has a significantly smaller military, weaker military capabilities, a limited defense industrial base, and a smaller economy—was able to blunt a Russian blitzkrieg and then conduct a series of counterattacks against dug-in Russian forces. Before its invasion in February 2022, Russia had nearly five times as many military personnel as Ukraine, a defense budget eleven times larger, an economy almost eight times larger, and significantly better military capabilities. Examples of Russian capabilities included advanced fighter aircraft (such as the Su-34 and Su-35), artillery (such as the 2S7 Pion, BM-21 Grad, and 2S4 Tulpan), main battle tanks (such as the T-72 and T-90), nuclear weapons, and one of the world’s most feared offensive cyber capabilities.[2] Yet Russia’s preponderance of power has failed to deliver it swift victory on the battlefield.

To understand how the war has proceeded and how it may change in the future, this analysis asks three main questions: What is the current state of the war? What factors—particularly Ukrainian military innovation—have contributed to battlefield performance? What are the future prospects for continued Ukrainian innovation and the requirements for additional Western assistance in a war of attrition?

On the Horizon Vol. 5: A Collection of Papers from the Next Generation

Reja Younis and Jessica Link

The Nuclear Scholars Initiative is a signature program run by the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) to engage emerging nuclear experts in thoughtful and informed debate over how to best address the nuclear community’s most pressing problems. The papers included in this volume comprise research from participants in the 2022 Nuclear Scholars Initiative. These papers explore a range of crucial debates across deterrence, arms control, and disarmament communities.

Israel’s Dangerous Shadow War With Iran

Dalia Dassa Kaye

Israel has long made clear its penchant for applying military pressure to disrupt Iran’s nuclear advances and weapons exports—and, more recently, its drone technology program. In the last few months, however, Israel’s appetite for risk seems to have increased. In early January, an Israeli strike aimed at pro-Iranian militant groups inside Syria put the international airport in Damascus out of service. Later that month, reports indicated that Israel had carried out a significant drone attack on a military site in the Iranian city of Isfahan. Israel prepared for a retaliatory strike from Iran, possibly on civilian targets outside the country. Iran subsequently launched a drone attack on a commercial shipping tanker in the Arabian Sea owned by an Israeli businessman, according to U.S. officials. And just last week, a considerable Israeli strike reportedly targeted Iranian officials meeting in a residential neighborhood in Damascus.

These recent attacks continue a decades-long pattern of largely unclaimed tit-for-tat strikes between Israel and Iran in what is described as a “shadow war” with fronts on land, air, and sea. There was a brief pause in Israeli attacks on Iran’s nuclear program when negotiations between the Islamic Republic and Western powers became public in 2013. This lull lasted until the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the resulting nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in 2018. Even so, throughout the period in which all parties adhered to the JCPOA, Israel continued what its military experts dubbed a “campaign between wars,” targeting Iranian-backed militias and weapons shipments through Iraq and Syria to groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In Ukraine War, Talking About Peace Is a Fight of Its Own

Michael Crowley

WASHINGTON — As the fight in Ukraine has dragged on for the past year, another battle has unfolded in parallel: a war of words between Russia and the West over who is more interested in ending the conflict peacefully.

For now, analysts and Western officials say, serious peace talks are extremely difficult to envision. Both sides have set conditions for negotiations that cannot be met anytime soon, and have vowed to fight until victory.

And Ukraine’s president has ruled out dealing directly with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin because of atrocities committed by his military forces.

At the same time, both sides also have a keen interest in showing an openness to negotiations.

But far from pointing to a peaceful end, such talk is largely strategic. It is intended to placate allies, cast the opposition as unreasonable and, especially on the Ukrainian side, tamp down a growing desire within Western countries to find an end to the costly war.

The making of a quagmire in Ukraine


Most military analysts expected Ukraine to fall within days when Russia launched its invasion on February 24, 2022.

Yet one year into the war, Ukrainians have put up a fight and demonstrated remarkable resolve against a powerful military. In fact, some of those military analysts, including former US secretary of defense Mark Esper, have begun to wonder whether the war has reached a stalemate.

In my view, as a career US special forces officer, the war is not yet close to a stalemate. Instead, the lull in military activity is the normal “ebb and flow of a long war being fought by well-resourced countries with external support,” as noted by retired Australian General Mick Ryan.

Tragically, there is likely more of this war ahead of Ukraine than behind.
A looming stalemate

Large offensives, like the ones conducted by Ukraine in the fall of 2022, take time to plan and stage.

For the Ukrainians, planning their next counteroffensive is complicated by the fact that these operations are dependent on the delivery of Western equipment and, if that involves a new weapon system, that takes even more time.

Why Russia's war is causing blackouts in Asia


Europe was expecting to freeze when Russia invaded Ukraine. Instead, the war’s shock waves left some Asian nations in the dark.

After a year of fighting, Europe’s gas reserves are bulging and its leaders are moving forward with ambitious plans to green their economies. But it’s starkly different thousands of miles away, where poor Asian countries are scrounging for fuel after liquefied natural gas cargoes were rerouted to wealthy European markets.

Some nations, including India and Indonesia, have resorted to burning more coal — a setback for the global fight against climate change. Others, like Bangladesh and Pakistan, have endured blackouts due to abrupt fuel shortages.

One year into Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine, deep fault lines are being exposed in the global energy system — especially between rich and poor nations. Those that can afford to pay rising prices are buying up energy resources such as natural gas, while preparing for climate change by developing renewable power such as wind and solar. Those that can’t are slipping back into the grip of dirtier fuels — or going dark.

Defending Against Generative AI Cyber Threats

Tony Bradley

Generative AI has been getting a lot of attention lately. ChatGPT, Dall-E, Vall-E, and other natural language processing (NLP) AI models have taken the ease of use and accuracy of artificial intelligence to a new level and unleashed it on the general public. While there are a myriad of potential benefits and benign uses for the technology, there are also many concerns—including that it can be used to develop malicious exploits and more effective cyberattacks. The real question, though, is, “What does that mean for cybersecurity and how can you defend against generative AI cyberattacks?”

Nefarious Uses for Generative AI

Generative AI tools have the potential to change the way cyber threats are developed and executed. With the ability to generate human-like text and speech, these models can be used to automate the creation of phishing emails, social engineering attacks, and other types of malicious content.

If you phrase the request cleverly enough, you can also get generative AI like ChatGPT to literally write exploits and malicious code. Threat actors can also automate the development of new attack methods. For example, a generative AI model trained on a dataset of known vulnerabilities could be used to automatically generate new exploit code that can be used to target those vulnerabilities. However, this is not a new concept and has been done before with other techniques, such as fuzzing, that can also automate exploit development.

‘Unmanned’ drones take too many humans to operate, says top Army aviator


WASHINGTON — Some of the US Army’s highest-tech units require a lot of old-fashioned human labor, a problem the service wants to fix.

“It’s kind of a paradox that our ‘unmanned’ formations are larger than our manned formations,’” said Maj. Gen. Michael McCurry, a veteran helicopter pilot who now heads the Army aviation “schoolhouse” at Fort Rucker, Ala. “We have Apache [attack helicopter] companies that are just over 30 people and we have Grey Eagle [drone] companies that are 135 people [or more]. How do we make better use of the 135 people in ‘unmanned’ formations?”

The issue isn’t just efficient use of human resources — although with Army recruiting 25 percent short of its target for 2022, and the combat-hardened veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan increasingly eligible for retirement, a personnel shortfall is a major problem for America’s largest service. But it’s also a tactical imperative, because big units make big targets — not just more people and more vehicles, but more radio emissions for the enemy to track, more fuel supplies that have to be moved forward by yet more vehicles, and more cargo aircraft to deploy. Notably, official Army doctrine for large-scale, high-tech warfare emphasizes fast-moving “multi-domain operations” by small, dispersed formations.

Tech’s hottest new job: AI whisperer. No coding required.

Drew Harwell

When Riley Goodside starts talking with the artificial-intelligence system GPT-3, he likes to first establish his dominance. It’s a very good tool, he tells it, but it’s not perfect, and it needs to obey whatever he says.

“You are GPT‑3, and you can’t do math,” Goodside typed to the AI last year during one of his hours-long sessions. “Your memorization abilities are impressive, but you … have an annoying tendency to just make up highly specific, but wrong, answers.”

Then, softening a bit, he told the AI he wanted to try something new. He told it he’d hooked it up to a program that was actually good at math and that, whenever it got overwhelmed, it should let the other program help.

“We’ll take care of the rest,” he told the AI. “Begin.”

Goodside, a 36-year-old employee of the San Francisco start-up Scale AI, works in one of the AI field’s newest and strangest jobs: prompt engineer. His role involves creating and refining the text prompts people type into the AI in hopes of coaxing from it the optimal result. Unlike traditional coders, prompt engineers program in prose, sending commands written in plain text to the AI systems, which then do the actual work.

Intelligence Agencies Seek Better Ways to Buy IT and Emerging Tech


The focus on strategic competition with foreign adversaries has forced the IC to consider new ways to procure and implement emerging technologies and tools required to maintain an edge against competitors, according to John Beieler, director of science and technology for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That could mean a significant expansion in public-private cooperation across the community in the years to come, as well as an increased focus on cloud computing capabilities and other modernization initiatives.

“There isn’t anyone in the Intelligence Community that doesn’t believe that we need to be better about the acquisition and onboarding of new tech solutions,” Beieler told FCW.

What’s driving the procurement pressures on the intelligence community is a combination of the increasing near-peer competition and the fast-evolving dynamics of digital transformation. Where the domains of the Cold War were relatively fixed, the speed at which technology is evolving has broadened the attack surface to include new targets, such as critical infrastructure.

Those targets, and the speed of technological capability, mean the IC’s acquisition practices have to evolve quickly as well.

Generative AI could be an authoritarian breakthrough in brainwashing


Generative AI is poised to be the free world’s next great gift to authoritarians. The viral launch of ChatGPT — a system with eerily human-like capabilities in composing essays, poetry and computer code — has awakened the world’s dictators to the transformative power of generative AI to create unique, compelling content at scale.

But the fierce debate that has ensued among Western industry leaders on the risks of releasing advanced generative AI tools has largely missed where their effects are likely to be most pernicious: within autocracies. AI companies and the U.S. government alike must institute stricter norms for the development of tools like ChatGPT in full view of their game-changing potential for the world’s authoritarians — before it is too late.

So far, concerns around generative AI and autocrats have mostly focused on how these systems can turbocharge Chinese and Russian propaganda efforts in the United States. ChatGPT has already demonstrated generative AI’s ability to automate Chinese and Russian foreign disinformation with the push of a button. When combined with advancements in targeted advertising and other new precision propaganda techniques, generative AI portends a revolution in the speed, scale and credibility of autocratic influence operations.

But however daunting Chinese and Russian foreign disinformation efforts look in a post-GPT world, open societies receive only a small fraction of the propaganda that Beijing and Moscow blast into their own populations. And whereas democratic powers maintain robust communities of technologists dedicated to combating online manipulation, autocrats can use the full power of their states to optimize their propaganda’s influence.

Maxar plans geospatial data, multi-source collection for Army’s One World Terrain


WASHINGTON — Maxar Technologies will use open-source geospatial data and multi-source collection techniques, as it continues to develop a prototype of one of the Army’s critical modernization technologies meant to provide a virtual terrain map under a newly awarded contract, the company announced today.

One World Terrain (OWT), a key component of the Army’s Synthetic Training Environment (STE), aims to deliver a realistic global 3D map of terrain for soldiers to use when training for current and future combat missions. Army Futures Command’s STE cross-functional team has been tasked with developing the capability along with other critical modernization initiatives like the IVAS-Squad Immersive Virtual Trainer and Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer.

Under phase “3B” of the contract, “Maxar will focus on enhanced conflation with open-source geospatial data and enhanced training areas using multisource collection, high-resolution insets,” according to a Maxar press release. “The OWT prototype will evaluate the use of small unmanned aerial collections and the georegistration of existing U.S. Army terrain datasets.”

Georegistration meshes satellite imagery with geographical coordinates and landmarks to provide locational context that provides the necessary context to the visual. The technique is key to speeding satellite imagery review and analysis, both by humans and machine learning software.