13 March 2023

China Loses Ground in Nepal

Arpan Gelal

Since the formation of a new government following elections in November, Nepal has witnessed an escalated Chinese engagement on the political front. The post-election coalition saw the Communist Party of Nepal–Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and Communist Party of Nepal–Maoist Center, led by K.P. Sharma Oli and Puspa Kamal Dahal respectively, join together to form the government with Dahal as prime minister. China seemed confident about renewing its political space in Nepal, winning back the advantage Beijing enjoyed during the rule of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), formed by the merger of the CPN-UML and the Maoists, under the leadership of Oli until 2021.

New Chinese envoy Chen Song, since his arrival in January of this year, has been aggressively engaging with Nepal’s political leaders, following in the footsteps of former Ambassador Hou Yanqi. A few recent incidences include the Chinese embassy’s announcement of Pokhara International airport as a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on the eve of the airport’s inauguration; the arrival of a technical team to undertake the feasibility study of the proposed Trans-Himalayan Railway Network; and an assertive press conference by Chen Song on his arrival on January 8 at the airport. These rapid-fire moves signify Beijing’s desperation to capitalize on the presence of a friendly government under Dahal’s leadership.

The recent upheaval in the political environment in Kathmandu has taken an inimical turn for Beijing. The revival of the pre-election Nepali Congress (NC)- and Maoist Center-led five-party coalition, has scuttled China’s hopes for an extended period of influence.

Challenges Facing China’s Two Sessions This Year – Analysis

China’s Lianghui (literally, “Two Sessions”) for the year 2023, the annual meetings of the legislature and political advisory body, is set to begin this weekend, and this year’s session is notable for several reasons.

Firstly, it will be the first Lianghui since the 20th National Congress. Additionally, it will be the first session of both the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Finally, it will be the first session since China relaxed its COVID-19 control measures.

When providing strategic advisory services, many of our foreign clients who have been in China for many years ask ANBOUND researchers about potential personnel changes and adjustments to government institutional reform that may arise from this year’s Lianghui. They are also interested in whether China’s economic recovery is progressing smoothly and if issues such as real estate problems and increasing debt could trigger systemic financial risks. Additionally, they want to know if China’s open-door policy will change as geopolitical tensions continue to rise and if the country will restrict foreign investment in more areas.

Indeed, China’s economic and policy changes in a world dealing with multiple shocks such as war, pandemic, and reverse globalization are the concerns of many. Yet, we believe that this year’s Lianghui, or Two sessions, will generally be unpredictable and perhaps even “uneventful” in terms of major policies and personnel changes. This is because the sessions will mainly focus on the turnover of the State Council system and the arrangement of economic matters. The critical issues such as development direction, goals, strategies, main paths, development frameworks, and key timetables were already determined during last year’s 20th Congress. Therefore, this year’s session is an important meeting to implement the strategic arrangements of the 20th National Congress, and its primary role is not to make decisions but to execute and implement them. After completing the change of the State Council, the Two Sessions are likely to set economic development goals for this year.

Domestic Politics and the US-China Chip War

Manoj Harjani, Stefanie Kam

Semiconductor chip technology has for some time been widely viewed as a key battleground in the ongoing rivalry between China and the United States. This is unsurprising because the expertise to develop and manufacture chips is concentrated in a few companies globally. What is surprising is the tendency to draw conclusions about the broader state of US-China relations from developments related to chips. Closer attention should be paid to the impact of domestic political developments on both countries’ strategic calculations.


Chinese chipmakers’ cooperation with US export control verification measures in recent months has been interpreted as a conciliatory gesture by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) towards the Biden administration. However, this did not stop China from filing a request for dispute consultations with the United States at the World Trade Organization meeting in December 2022, signalling its determination to challenge attempts to cripple its chip technology capabilities.

China has also shown no signs of abandoning long-standing efforts to develop self-sufficiency in chip technology, with reports of a 1 trillion RMB (~US$143bn) package on the cards to support its manufacturers over the next five years. The CHIPS Act passed by the United States in August 2022, which similarly aims to support American chipmakers, promised only US$52.7 billion in comparison.

U.S. Assistance to Ukraine in the Information Space: Intelligence, Cyber, and Signaling


This study assesses several key aspects of U.S. assistance to Ukraine in the information domain over the course of 2022. The public sharing of intelligence in anticipation of Russia’s incursion and subsequent exchange of intelligence with Ukrainian partners during the war constitute the bulk of the analysis. Indeed, in Ukraine the United States has gone particularly far in bilateral intelligence sharing—a level of exchanges associated more closely with the Five Eyes countries or Israel—while Ukraine remained somewhat guarded in its disclosures. Nevertheless, the course of war during 2022 has revealed other information domain aspects where U.S. —and international—assistance has proved significant. Namely, these aspects extent to joint defenses of the cyber space, notably showing how Russia’s efforts have already turned directly against NATO states assisting Ukraine, as well as the impact of information campaigns by Ukrainian leadership. The public resilience aspect is also analyzed, as this turned out to be a significant factor in this war, sustained in no small part by the information campaigns, and was also largely missed by the external intelligence assessments.

New IGP Research Paper: TikTok and US National Security

Karim Farhat

A new research paper by IGP conducts the first thorough national security threat analysis of TikTok, given recent drives to ban the application entirely from the US market.

A bipartisan group of China hawks in Congress and a couple of government agencies have argued that TikTok is a Trojan horse for malign influence, espionage, or offensive operations by the Chinese government. However, these voices fail to explain how a single app’s ownership and control can threaten an entire nation’s security. We take these warnings at face value and provide a comprehensive threat analysis framework to consider the viability of those arguments.

Is TikTok benign, a long-term influence operation, or a convenient stooge whose rapid growth can be leveraged to weaken or destabilize the US politically or militarily? To the best of our knowledge, this work represents the first serious attempt at answering those questions while including an in-depth look at ByteDance’s financials, corporate structure, and business model.

Among the key takeaways:TikTok is not exporting censorship, either directly by blocking material, or indirectly via its recommendation algorithm.

The data collected by TikTok can only be of espionage value if it comes from users who are intimately connected to national security functions and use the app in ways that expose sensitive information. These risks arise from the use of any social media app, not just TikTok, and cannot be mitigated by arbitrarily banning one app.

The U.S.-Zambia-DRC Agreement on EV Batteries Production: What Comes Next?

Christian Géraud Neema Byamungu

The United States, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the electric vehicles (EV) batteries industries in December 2022. This agreement, “Memorandum of Understanding among the United States of America, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the the Republic of Zambia Concerning Support for the Development of a Value Chain in the Electric Vehicle Battery Sector,” aims “to facilitate the development of an integrated value chain for the production of electric vehicle (EV) batteries in the DRC and Zambia.” The MOU has been widely perceived as a major and concrete U.S. move to counter China in the supply chain of critical minerals in Africa. The agreement will have to overcome major challenges to be a success story for three countries but mainly for DRC and Zambia.

DRC and Zambia are among the main world producers of copper and cobalt—the DRC itself produces 67–70 percent of the world's cobalt—which are key to the production of batteries for electric vehicles, and Zambia ranking as the world's eighth-largest copper producer and second in Africa. In these two countries, China has been the dominant player for many years. In DRC it controls close to 80 percent of the copper and cobalt production and worldwide process 73 percent of the world's cobalt.

China's dominance over the supply chain of key minerals to the energy transition had many in the West worried, especially in the United States, where the Biden administration is looking to scale up EV sales by 2030. The agreement signed last December in Washington at the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit is signaling the Biden administration's willingness to act and reduce dependence on China as much as possible.

Deterrence Lessons from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: One Year After

Dr. Keith B. Payne


According to Admiral Charles Richard, then Commander of Strategic Command, deterrence working as we expect is needed for U.S. military planning at all levels: “Every operational plan in the Department of Defense, and every other capability we have in DOD, rests on the assumption that strategic deterrence, and in particular nuclear deterrence, … is holding right. And, if that assumption is not met, particularly with nuclear deterrence, nothing else in the Department of Defense is going to work the way it was designed.”[1] That reality should make U.S. defense planners truly uncomfortable because the functioning of deterrence is increasingly problematic. When deterrence is essential but problematic, America has a significant challenge ahead.

This point is pertinent to developments in the war in Ukraine over the past year because those developments illustrate in an irrefutable way that today’s deterrence challenge exceeds that of our Cold War experience and policy. The basic principles of deterrence theory endure, but its application must be adjusted to specific conditions and circumstances. The contemporary developments fully on display in Ukraine cast doubt on our accumulated wisdom about the application of deterrence and what we think we know about how deterrence will work.

This brief essay will discuss several of these developments readily apparent in Ukraine and their implications for deterrence.


Ian Bond , Elisabetta Cornago , Zach Meyers

Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly expected a quick victory when his forces invaded Ukraine. He did not get it. Ukraine has suffered terrible losses, but has inflicted significant defeats on Russian forces. The West has rallied to its aid. After decades of asking, Ukraine finally has gained EU candidate status.

Overall, it would be an exaggeration to say that Ukraine is winning the war; but it is not losing it. Russia has also suffered enormous military casualties. With a much larger population and defence industrial sector than Ukraine, it would be wrong to say that it is losing the war, but it cannot win it either.

NATO has been revived – no other organisation can deter Russia. The EU has played a complementary role, including in co-ordinating economic aid and helping supply Ukraine with weapons. The US role in defending Europe remains essential, but Europeans are taking defence more seriously, with budgets increasing. Over time, with more money and more joint defence procurement, the EU could make a bigger contribution to European defence and security.

Western sanctions have not led to the collapse of the Russian economy but they are damaging it. Shortages of key goods and increased prices for imports are causing economic disruption. The goal for sanctions at this stage should be to weaken Russia’s military industrial capabilities and make it harder for Moscow to win the war.


Ian Bond

There’s been a lot of talk in the last year about the Russian army’s inability to learn from its disastrous performance in Ukraine. But before Westerners get complacent, they should remember that despite its shortcomings, the Russian army occupies about a fifth of Ukraine’s territory. Ukraine has not yet won this war. Western leaders need to learn from past mistakes as well. Here are four things the West has not yet done but needs to, for its own sake as well as Ukraine’s.Define its aims based on a clear vision of Ukrainian victory. Despite all the military and financial aid that Ukraine has received, Kyiv’s allies still can’t decide what Ukrainian success should look like.

Some, like Poland, say that Ukraine should recover all its occupied territories, including Crimea. Others worry that trying to recapture Crimea may provoke Putin to escalate the conflict. The Pentagon seems to think that it is beyond Ukraine’s capabilities to defeat the Russians there anyway. French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 17th, said that he wanted Russia to be defeated in Ukraine, but he did not want it crushed – an echo of his comment last June that Putin should not be humiliated – though it’s hard to know how one would identify the lines between “defeated”, “crushed” and “humiliated”.

For the West, supporting Ukraine’s recovery of all its territory, including Crimea, is not only the moral course but the best option strategically. As long as Russia controls Crimea and a land-bridge to it from Donetsk, it can strangle Ukraine’s economy by closing its ports.Provide the resources to achieve those aims. The West has supplied many more weapons to Ukraine than anyone could have anticipated this time last year. But help has often consisted of old equipment pulled out of storage like donations to a jumble sale – a few howitzers made in East Germany before unification; some British armoured cars that first saw service in the 1960s; tanks exported to its Warsaw Pact allies by the Soviet Union. When countries send modern equipment, the quantities sometimes seem calibrated to ensure that Ukraine doesn’t lose, not that it wins.

The Quad’s role in tech diplomacy

Guy Boekenstein

In 1943, Thomas Watson, the chair of IBM, famously said, ‘I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.’ Senior engineers at the corporation dismissed the future use of microchips.

Scepticism of emerging technologies is not uncommon and reflects a fear or misunderstanding of the new and unknown. But we are now on the cusp of a range of next-generation technologies that will shape our daily lives and add another dimension to shaping geostrategic settings.

There are increasing concerns for citizenry around data and information protection, cybersecurity, job security from the rise of artificial intelligence and so on. These developments are occurring at a rapid rate. According to a report by EY, ‘By 2030, the world will be entering the 6G era; an intelligently autonomous, sensory, massively distributed but highly networked world that blends our physical, digital and human systems.’

This has not only potential personal consequences, but also enormous geostrategic and economic implications. For defence planners, those effects may prove as critical as traditional military power projection. Technology is also driving innovation in industry not seen for decades, and the private sector needs to understand where its efforts are best placed given the strategic consequences.

Jamestown Foundation

  • Assessing the Role of the PLA Southern Theater Command in a China-India Contingency
  • The Lion, the Wolf Warrior and the Crossroads: UK-China Relations at a Turning Point
  • In Search of Self-Reliance: Xi Overhauls China’s Innovation System
  • Full Circle: As Spy Balloon Fallout Mounts, Xi Reverts to Old Policy Playbook
  • Party Pushes National Defense Education for All

What It Will Take to End the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Mark Temnycky

Over the past two months, Azerbaijani forces have established a blockade around the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, cutting off the area’s residents from Armenia. Ethnic Armenians in this region in the South Caucasus are worried they will be forced out of their homes, and matters have escalated. According to reports, the Armenians residing in Nagorno-Karabakh have lost access to food, medicine, and fuel.

The developments have finally caught the attention of the international community.

Azerbaijanis and Armenians have fought over Nagorno-Karabakh for decades. Numerous skirmishes in the region have led to the deaths of thousands, and countless cease-fires have been violated.

The current Azerbaijani blockade is the most recent development in a long conflict. Last year, Armenian government officials stated they would withdraw from the region by September. Karabakh authorities also demanded that residents in the Lachin region relocate. Despite these announcements and requests, tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians continued to reside in the area. This upset Azerbaijani authorities, who now aim to take matters into their own hands.

Russia and Turkey served as intermediaries during the renewed Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in 2020, but their efforts have proven unsuccessful. Russian forces in the region have been unable to keep the peace, and the Russian federation has less attention to give to the conflict since it is preoccupied with its own failed invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Turkey is burdened with various domestic issues ranging from inflation to a declining economy. All of this forces the Azerbaijanis and the Armenians to try and resolve the conflict on their own.

The Challenges Of Mining For Electric-Vehicle Batteries

In August 2022, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Signed by President Joe Biden, the legislation attempted to curb inflation, lower the deficit, and invest heavily into domestic clean energy.

One aspect of the bill was setting a market value-based target for battery-critical mineral content in electric vehicles (EVs). By 2027, for an EV to be tax-credit eligible, 80 percent of the market value of critical minerals in its battery must be extracted or processed domestically or by US free-trade partners (FTPs).

While this goal is well-intended, there are reasons to believe the mandate is unreachable and could create new problems.

In a commentary published in the journal Nature Sustainability, Northwestern Engineering professor Jennifer Dunn and PhD student Jenna Trost determined the 80-percent target could be achievable for some types of batteries for plug-in hybrid vehicles, but meeting demand for fully electric vehicles with batteries that meet IRA criteria would be challenging. Instead, a mass-based target could avoid some of the challenges posed by a market-value target, such as pinning down a consistent market value for each mineral when market prices are volatile.

Dunn and Trost also concluded the approach taken by the IRA discounts the environmental effects of mining, non-critical minerals supply, and definitions that avoid gamesmanship.

Below are three takeaways from their paper.

The Treacherous Triangle Of Syria, Iran, And Russia – Analysis

Anna Borshchevskaya

Both Russia and Iran have deep, multifaceted, and long-standing connections to Syria. During the Cold War, Damascus emerged as the Soviet Union’s most loyal Middle Eastern ally, and the relationship regained vibrancy in the 2000s as Vladimir Putin strove to reestablish Moscow’s regional preeminence. Meanwhile, the 1979 Iranian revolution reversed Tehran’s pro-U.S. orientation. Hafez al-Assad’s Syria was the first Arab state to recognize the Islamic Republic of Iran and the only Arab state (apart from Libya) to support Iran during its 8-year war against Iraq (1980-88). In subsequent decades, Tehran intensified its political, economic, and military ties with Damascus.[1]

The Syrian civil war ushered in a new era in Moscow and Tehran’s relations with Damascus as both states used their military intervention in the conflict to deepen their Syrian entrenchment. And while the Ukraine invasion has made Moscow dependent on Tehran’s military support, rather than lead to any disengagement from Syria, this strategic reconfiguration has intensified the Iranian-Russian security collaboration in general and in Syria in particular. This is bound to have far-reaching implications not only for the decade-long Israeli-Iranian “quiet war” in Syria but for the entire Middle East.[2]
Russia, Iran, and Syria

Bashar Assad’s ascendency following his father’s death in June 2000 brought Syrian-Iranian relations to new heights with Tehran engaging in sensitive security and defense issues and using Syria’s territory to transfer weaponry to its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. In 2004, Damascus and Tehran signed a strategic cooperation agreement, which was upgraded to a mutual defense pact two years later, and was followed by yet another military cooperation agreement in March 2007.[3] With Iran’s tentacles reaching deep into Syria’s political, cultural, and economic spheres, Damascus emerged as the main pillar of the Tehran-led, anti-Western (chiefly anti-U.S.) and anti-Israel “axis of resistance” along with Hezbollah and Hamas.

Post-War Security for Ukraine: Eventually the Fighting Will End. What Then?

Stefano Stefanini

One year on, no end to the war in Ukraine is in sight. The conflict is escalating. But at some point, the fighting will come to a halt, and it is not too early to think about what should come next.

Since both a Ukraine-Russia peace treaty and a comprehensive European security framework will only become possible in the long term, even after cessation of active hostilities, it will be necessary to fill the security vacuum in the short-to-medium term. The most realistic option, in my view, would be for the West to provide Ukraine with a comprehensive “security safety blanket,” including bespoke, fool-proof international security guarantees—specifically, by an ad hoc group of countries—while pragmatically engaging Russia in negotiations on arms control and limitations, inclusive of conventional weapons and forces, and on establishing a safety net of confidence-building-measures across the Euro-Atlantic space.

Securing Ukraine will be the most pressing task. But international guarantees to that effect will be influenced by the wider state of European security. First and foremost, they will have to spell out clear terms and mechanisms for military support to Kyiv in case of further Russian aggression. At the same time, Ukraine policy cannot be disconnected from Russia policy, with the latter aimed at lowering the risk of military confrontation and at resuming talks on arms control and limitations.

Clues to the U.S.-Dutch-Japanese Semiconductor Export Controls Deal Are Hiding in Plain Sight

Gregory C. Allen and Emily Benson

On October 7, 2022, the Biden administration upended more than two decades of U.S. trade policy toward China when it issued sweeping new regulations on U.S. exports to China of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and semiconductor technology. These export controls were designed after consultation with key U.S. allies, but the United States originally implemented them unilaterally.

This was a major diplomatic gamble.

In the face of rapidly advancing Chinese AI and semiconductor capabilities, the United States wanted to move fast, so it was willing to take the risk of moving first alone. The United States has the strongest overall position in the global semiconductor industry, and it was by itself strong enough to reshape the Chinese semiconductor industry in the short term. Over the medium to long term, however, this move could have backfired disastrously if other countries, particularly Japan and the Netherlands, moved to fill the gaps in the Chinese market that the partial U.S. exit left.

But that is not going to happen. In late January 2023, the Biden administration’s gamble paid off when the United States secured a deal with both the Netherlands and Japan to join in the new semiconductor export controls. Some officials suggested to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that the result of the dialogues is better characterized as an “understanding” rather than a formal deal, as some details have yet to be worked out. Regardless, the United States has secured the top three international partners needed to ensure the policy’s success. Taiwan had already made a public announcement that it would support enforcement of the October 7 regulation’s application of the U.S. Foreign Direct Product (FDP) rule.

ChatGPT broke the EU plan to regulate AI


Artificial intelligence's newest sensation — the gabby chatbot-on-steroids ChatGPT — is sending European rulemakers back to the drawing board on how to regulate AI.

The chatbot dazzled the internet in past months with its rapid-fire production of human-like prose. It declared its love for a New York Times journalist. It wrote a haiku about monkeys breaking free from a laboratory. It even got to the floor of the European Parliament, where two German members gave speeches drafted by ChatGPT to highlight the need to rein in AI technology.

But after months of internet lolz — and doomsaying from critics — the technology is now confronting European Union regulators with a puzzling question: How do we bring this thing under control?

The technology has already upended work done by the European Commission, European Parliament and Council of the EU on the bloc’s draft artificial intelligence rulebook, the Artificial Intelligence Act. The regulation, proposed by the Commission in 2021, was designed to ban some AI applications like social scoring, manipulation and some instances of facial recognition. It would also designate some specific uses of AI as “high-risk,” binding developers to stricter requirements of transparency, safety and human oversight.

The relationship between research spending and research performance

Joachim Krapels, Marco Hafner

The United Kingdom has a world-class research system and, in comparison with similar industrialised countries, appears to be 'punching above its weight' in terms of research excellence. However, it could be at a comparative disadvantage in other areas of the research system, particularly in terms of investment.

This study investigates the relationship between spending and research performance through an econometric analysis that aims to understand the consequences of lower levels of investment in research. It also investigates potential nonlinearities in the relationship between spending and performance through a series of case studies.

Promoting Strong International Collaboration in Quantum Technology Research and Development

Edward Parker

Quantum technology is still at an early stage of maturity, but it could eventually have major impacts on both economic prosperity and national security. Many U.S. allied and partner nations have strong technical capacity in quantum research and development, and effective collaboration will be critical for keeping the United States and its allies and partners competitive with other nations that are also investing significant resources into this area.

This Perspective gives a broad and mostly nontechnical overview of the current quantum technology landscape and the strategic importance of (and challenges of) research collaboration with allied and partner nations. It includes a discussion of five key policy areas in this space—talent flows, standard-setting, supply chains, export controls, and technology approach diversification—and concludes with a proposal for a desired strategic end state that may serve as a helpful unifying framework for policy decisions on this topic.

The primary audience for this Perspective is policymakers throughout the U.S. government who are working on quantum technology issues, but the material may also be of interest to officials in allied and partner nations, scientific researchers, or industry workers with stakes in U.S. policy decisions in this area.

Loitering Munitions are the Future of Division Shaping Operations

Brennan Deveraux

The U.S. Army has a glaring hole in its transformation for large-scale combat operations: its inability to shape the tactical battlefield with fires. While the Army is improving the accuracy and range of its indirect fire systems through modernization efforts, this is only a partial solution. Without a significant overhaul, current U.S. indirect fire systems are insufficient and ineffective for division-centric operations, and organic airpower is too vulnerable to supplement many requirements. Instead, to shape the future battlefield at the tactical level, the Army must move beyond its conventional approach to warfare and embrace loitering munitions as an emerging fire support asset.

Often referred to as kamikaze or suicide drones, this emerging technology is a drone-missile hybrid, staying afloat and waiting to strike a target of opportunity. While the U.S. military has generally relegated this unique tool to supporting small unit tactics, other nations, like Israel, have developed models that can search hundreds of kilometers, stay airborne for hours, find and validate targets, and strike with devastating lethality. Stated another way, if the U.S. Army invests in loitering munitions, divisions can augment their lacking artillery capabilities to shape the future battlefield with organic assets.

Insufficient Artillery

The Army does not have artillery systems in abundance, especially at a division headquarters. Whereas artillery was a staple of division-level operations in conflicts such as Desert Storm and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, modern-day division artillery finds itself absent essential equipment. Cannon artillery remains with the brigades—a holdover from the global war on terror—with a single artillery battalion supporting each brigade combat team. While the division may consolidate these systems, it would be at a significant opportunity cost to maneuver operations with a limited gain to the division’s shaping effort based on current cannon limitations. Similarly, rocket artillery resides at the corps, with a field artillery brigade per, some as small as two battalions for the entire corps.

Terrorists Will Use Artificial Intelligence, Too

Sam Hunter & Joel Elson

As AI technology has exploded into public view, it has raised complex questions about the future of education, the employment landscape for arts and media, and even the nature of sentience. These are all important conversations. But, as terrorism researchers with a particular focus on new and emerging threats, we find ourselves asking a different, darker question:

How will extremists use AI to hurt people?

Stated bluntly, AI will allow malign actors to develop plans and ideas that were more challenging or even impossible prior to widespread access of such technology. In the coming years, we believe that understanding the scope of the threat and developing solutions will be critical. As we’ve explored in previous work on cognition and creativity, expertise is comprised of two components: knowledge (i.e., possessing information) and how that knowledge is organized. The internet has provided just about anyone with access to knowledge. AI, however, organizes that information in a useful way and provides a user-friendly output.

Witness, for example, schoolteachers requesting lesson plans complete with discussion questions, exercises, quizzes, and worksheets. Colloquially, we can think of AI as a pocket expert. On any topic. At any given moment. Indefinitely. Without fatigue. There are four key reasons why tools like these can be dangerous in the hands of terrorists.

AI Chatbot ChatGPT Mirrors Its Users To Appear Intelligent

The artificial intelligence (AI) language model ChatGPT has captured the world’s attention in recent months. This trained computer chatbot can generate text, answer questions, provide translations, and learn based on the user’s feedback. Large language models like ChatGPT may have many applications in science and business, but how much do these tools understand what we say to them and how do they decide what to say back?

In new paper published in Neural Computation, Salk Professor Terrence Sejnowski, author of The Deep Learning Revolution, explores the relationship between the human interviewer and language models to uncover why chatbots respond in particular ways, why those responses vary, and how to improve them in the future.

According to Sejnowski, language models reflect the intelligence and diversity of their interviewer.

“Language models, like ChatGPT, take on personas. The persona of the interviewer is mirrored back,” says Sejnowski, who is also a distinguished professor at UC San Diego and holder of the Francis Crick Chair at Salk. “For example, when I talk to ChatGPT it seems as though another neuroscientist is talking back to me. It’s fascinating and sparks larger questions about intelligence and what ‘artificial’ truly means.”

From Maybe-Secure to Responsible Security: The New National Cybersecurity Strategy

Emily Harding

The new National Cybersecurity Strategy will face an onslaught of criticism on one particular front: allegations that this is regulation and red tape by another name, and that the administration does not care about innovation or business interests. These critiques are wrong.

Imagine you bought a new car. It’s the first of its kind: sleek modern design, a new generation of hybrid, and it comes with all the navigational and communications gadgets you could want. You plan to use it to drive your kids to school, go to the bank, and deliver packages for your small business. You’re taking it on a road trip in a week, and the family can’t wait.

Then, a package arrives in the mail. It’s the airbags, accompanied by a perfunctory note: update to your new car now available! The manufacturer was so focused on meeting the public launch date they ran out of time to engineer new airbags. But they are here now, with only one small problem: you have to install the airbags yourself.

In the car industry, that level of security lapse would be unforgivable, and likely criminal. But that’s how too many developers have treated security for software—as an afterthought. The new cybersecurity strategy states it plainly: “Too often, we are layering new functionality and technology onto already intricate and brittle systems at the expense of security and resilience.” In other words, the focus has been on features and functions, not defense and resilience.

The Language of War: Why the talk about kinetic and non-kinetic warfare?

Lawrence Freedman

In discussions of contemporary war, including the current one between Russia and Ukraine, one can find many references to ‘kinetic warfare’. This is a term that entered the military lexicon quite recently. A kinetic war is normally described as one involving the use of lethal force, though that might be thought to be a natural feature of all wars and not just a special sort. This raises the interesting question of what might constitute a ‘non-kinetic war’. In this post I consider how this kinetic/non-kinetic dichotomy, and other developments in the language used to describe contemporary conflict reflect an attempt to find a place for activities which can be hostile and hurtful but not necessarily lethal alongside those which are unambiguously lethal. As the most prominent of these is cyberattacks I conclude with an assessment of their limited impact in the Russo-Ukraine war.

Military Language and Concepts

The language military professionals use to talk about war reflects their need to manage its inherent complexity and chaos, often cloaking naturally brutish and vicious activities in technical terminology, a role ‘kinetic’ performs. In this they are perhaps not different from other professions, for example medicine, where ways must also be found to discuss deeply unpleasant subjects dispassionately, without constantly dwelling on their full human meaning. The tranquilising effect of the language is not helped by the military propensity for acronyms, especially when referring to weapons systems, which can make conversations bewildering, especially for those who don’t know their ATACMS from their HIMARS (Army Tactical Missile System which can be fired from the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System).

Deterrence Failure in a Cross-Strait Conflict: The Role of Alliances, Military Balance and Emerging Technology

Both regionally and globally, governments and researchers consider Taiwan to be a growing source of contention between China and the United States, with the possibility of armed confrontation or conflict in the near future mounting. Understanding the factors that might contribute to, or deter, any decision by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to employ military force on a large scale and how they interact with each other remains challenging due to the largely opaque nature of high-level decision-making within the CCP. This report reflects on discussions by regional and extra-regional experts at a contingency scenario workshop convened by the IISS in late 2022. Three scenarios, respectively set in 2027, 2032 and 2037, all posit a decision by Beijing to undertake large-scale military action against Taiwan, but against a backdrop of differing domestic and international political situations, focussing on the role of three key variables in possible cross-Strait deterrence failure: the role of alliances, conventional military balance, and integration of emerging technologies. While the workshop and report do not aim to be predictive, cross-comparisons of responses to all three scenarios for each variable offer overarching thoughts for government, industry and academia.

The status of Taiwan as a major potential flashpoint between China and the United States and the possibility of a large-scale military confrontation over the island in the near future are now widely acknowledged by Indo-Pacific and extra-regional governments and researchers. Following the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has devoted significant time and resources into modernising and increasing the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army for high-intensity war fighting. In October 2022, at the 20th National Congress of the CCP, President Xi Jinping emphasised that, although ‘Peaceful Reunification’ remained the CCP’s preferred approach, China ‘will never promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary’.

Western tanks will bring their own complexities to Ukraine’s fight against Russia

Clive Williams

The extensive debate about the provision of a relatively small number of Western tanks to Ukraine has created the impression in some quarters that the additional armour will be a game-changer. That’s unlikely to be the case.

Modern main battle tanks are complex pieces of equipment requiring a high level of crew training and expertise to operate effectively. For example, the US training course for the M1 Abrams tanks takes six months to complete.

A third-generation Western tank is a world away from the old basic Soviet-era tanks that Ukraine has been accustomed to operating. (Third-generation main battle tanks are characterised by composite armour and computer-stabilised fire-control systems that allow firing on the move, as well as very high first-hit probability on targets up to 2,000 metres away.)

Ukraine is likely to end up with a mix of 14 British Challenger 2s, 112 German Leopard 2s (only 14 in the short term) and 31 American M1 Abrams tanks. Delivery of the M1s could be delayed by US federal policy that forbids the export of tanks with classified content, which includes depleted uranium armour. Supply will therefore depend on availability of the less sophisticated export version of the M1. Ukraine could also end up with Leopard 2s from other donors, as well as 100 refurbished Leopard 1 tanks. In terms of military organisation, 14 tanks form a tank company and 56 a tank battalion.

Tank types have their own unique characteristics, and strengths and weaknesses, but something they share in common is that they are all fuel guzzlers, particularly the M1. Tanks operate on litres to the kilometre rather than the other way around.



We are at a similar inflection point to the one our leaders faced coming out of Vietnam, and like them we have to ask ourselves: Are we building the Army than can compete and win for the next 40 years?

—Chief of Staff of the Army General James C. McConville1

This paper defines and presents tenets of Army modernization to foster a practical understanding of the concept supportive of the broader discourse on the topic. The content is particularly beneficial to succeeding generations of Army professionals who will join the Army modernization enterprise, continuing the institution’s ongoing efforts to progressively transform for victory.

What is Army modernization? It is the progressive transformation of the critical elements by which the Army defines, constructs and operates itself—Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities and Policy (DOTMLPF-P)—from the present or traditional context to the future. Specifically, modernization occurs when progressive transformation ventures, successfully implemented across DOTMLPF-P components, holistically enhance the Army’s ability to accomplish its mission.

The ensuing analysis of this definition of modernization and of the DOTMLPF-P framework will provide a collective understanding to facilitate dialogue and application to Army modernization planning and execution. Moreover, this discourse is particularly valuable in the contemporary era of volatile global security affairs compounded by defense resource constraints.


George Hand

How will I be in combat… how will I do? Lads who (think they) want to join the military after school try to seriously think about that question, but combat is still far away and they are still very young. They are so young and still eliminating video-game legions of ape-like giants with blood canons that turn the apes into blood balls. The computer screen becomes solid red for a few tenths of seconds and:


Combat — it can’t be all that — just grab your chest as you fall, and crunch the red movie capsule in your mouth to simulate blood ejecting from your mouth — looks so real! So thought the lad and the time ticked away with the solid *THUMP* of a prime heart; the heat of a burning heart.

A million and one things happened to steer the lad’s course away from joining the military: the electronic apprentice job offer, the hiring for store-management-grade employees, the Bucca di Bepo server… But porting an illegal substance, some of which he had on his person during his rocket race through a red intersection, finally steered his course back to the military.

“Yooz got a death wish, son?” the judge asked him puzzled, “Matt, if yooz got one, why don’t you take it to the fight in one of these damned wars we got piled up at our front porch.” And as such, the bright lad stood before the judge and accepted a military tour of duty. The fine young lad felt a twinge as his memory reproduced thoughts he had had years ago about going to war and saving the West.

Irregular Warfare, American Style

James Holmes

Of late there’s been a lively discussion in the halls of U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. (where I serve as the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy) about whether and how the U.S. military should try to preserve lessons about irregular warfare learned through hard experience during the global war on terror.

The consensus, by my unscientific impression, is that it is important to retain what we’ve learned even as the world ambles into an age of great-power competition. We should not do what the armed forces did after the Vietnam War, and more or less resolve to forget the painful experience with counterinsurgent warfare and resume doing what they did well: preparing to fight conventional force-on-force battles.

Forgetfulness is not a virtue for martial institutions.

And that consensus in favor of institutional memory makes sense. While the U.S. leadership envisions waging long-term competitions against the likes of China and Russia, events have a way of clouding the looking glass through which human beings try to glimpse the future. The republic could again find itself dueling terrorist or insurgent groups, whether it wants to or not. Indeed, counterterror operations still sputter in such quarters as Iraq and Somalia. It would be pointless if not counterproductive to let go of the lessons from the past two decades, and be forced to relearn them yet again under the press of events.

Repair, replace, reimburse: Sustaining a European tank coalition for Ukraine

Gustav Gressel

On 25 January, the German government authorised the transfer of European stocks of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The decision by Chancellor Olaf Scholz came five days after the most recent Ramstein format meeting, where expectations had been high for such an announcement. Germany will now provide Ukraine with 14 of its own Leopard 2 tanks and allow other European countries to supply theirs as well; deliveries are set to begin soon. Previously, the governments of Poland and Finland had stated their readiness to do so as part of a coalition of European countries. But the deafening silence from some capitals about actually sending Leopards is an early reminder that much work remains to be done to sustain, and eventually expand, Ukraine’s future fleet of European tanks.

From the early 1990s onwards, the number of operational main battle tanks in European armies dropped considerably. Belief was widespread in Europe that large-scale conflict was a thing of the past; austerity measures led to a reduction in cold-war era reserve stockpiles of tanks, spare parts, and ammunition. This legacy means that only a European coalition can mobilise, refurbish, and supply a significant number of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. In September 2022, we made the case for just such a European-Ukrainian Leopard 2 coalition given Kyiv’s pressing need for Western-produced heavy armour and the limited national stocks of these systems in individual European countries. It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge we had hoped Germany’s European partners would show greater support for this initiative once Berlin had made its decision.