16 April 2023

Disadvantage to PLA on Indo –Tibet Border

Rajiv Kumar Srivastava- Defence Analyst

China is constantly keeping Indo- Tibet border issue alive. It creates headline and gets in to acrimonious domestic political discourse in India. In midst of these noises, operational preparedness of defence forces gets a backstage. How serious is Chinese PLA threat. There are many parameters to compare and gets a critical look at the end state of war. Defence forces all over the world take recourse to scenario build-up, play up various eventualities which may come up at tactical, operational and strategic levels and formulate military aim for the zone and PLA is no exception.

First and foremost in such scenario build up is scan of international and regional situations, basically to see various alignments with particular reference to neighbouring countries and their inter alia relations with the adversary. Herein, almost all the neighbouring countries of India are under Chinese obligations. They are not even expected to remain neutral towards India in war time. Pakistan may even actively collaborate with China to make it two front war a reality, thus dividing Indian strategic forces wide and separate. China and Pakistan will make efforts to revive terrorists activities in North, East and Left Wing Extremism. This also requires additional dedicated forces to manage rear area security. Russian dependence on China for military as well as economic help due to Ukrainian war precludes their direct support to India. Now, American is interested in waging war with China to safeguard their economic interest and designated battlefield away from their homeland. Indian dependence on foreign made weaponry system makes it vulnerable as weapons spare parts and constant supply of ammunition will be critical, if not a part of defence procurement clause.

Issue of Tibet is not discussed in detail in any forum or operational war rooms. A book, The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong: The untold story, written by Anne F Thurston and Gyalo Thondup, elder brother of HH Dalai Lama lays bare covert relations between Tibetan rebels and American CIA in training and sending young and dedicated band of youths to resist Chinese occupation since 1950. Status of this intelligence operation is ultra secret, but will have definite bearing on any full fledged war with China. This alliance between CIA and Tibetans in the past is the reason for severe criticism from China on any joint US- India defence forces exercise near Northern India – Tibet border.

The second issue is what may be trigger for a full scale war. Few perceived one are. A local incident with international fall out in East Laddakh , Doklam or any other part of Arunachal Pradesh , where PLA patrol may get bare hand thrashing beyond their apprehension, causing deaths to PLA soldiers. An incident at Indian Ocean, misfiring of missiles in to Tibet or upsrising of Tibetan against Chinese government, wherein they blame Indian government.

The third issue is, whether PLA will contact on the entire front of Indo- Tibetan border or seek outcomes on selected pockets. Answer comes from PLA four stage War Zone Concept itself. First postulate is External Calm, Internal pace, implying by maintaining false sense of talks and near absence of military activities near border areas , PLA to continue preparation for war quietly. In Tibet, PLA undertakes integrated training of their three services at Yanbaijan Training area located North West of Lhasa. Light tanks, Artillery and special units train for operations in the areas similar to Indo- Tibetan border. Troops from all other commands of PLA congregate here for real time training. Second postulate is Sharp Arm, Elite Force. It implies troops specially raised for higher altitude warfare. This has now been a regular feature at their training near Lhasa, wherein they bring in air borne or troops specifically trained to wage war in high altitude areas. Third postulate, Gain Initiative, Strike First gives out their constant state of alertness. PLA commanders are constantly probing for weaknesses on the border which they could utilise effectively. They have intentionally developed border disputes on Indo- Myanmar, Bhutan and Pakistan in Aksai Chin extending to Eastern Laddakh. Therefore, China instead of contacting all along Indo-Tibetan border areas, war will be restricted to few pockets of their choice. The fourth and final postulate, quick battle, quick resolution gives out short duration of war. These four postulates confirm to their overall strategy of Local War under high technology conditions.

Having gone through strategic and conceptual aspect, how PLA formulate its terminal objective synonymous with their military aim on Indo- Tibet border and force allocation in relation to this. For China, since 1950 their Terminal objective has been to gain legitimacy on land mass illegally occupied in Aksai Chin . For this purpose they have created artificial land dispute all along the border areas for swapping and burial of dispute. Therefore, it is crucial that they bring in adequate force level opposite Arunachal Pradesh and Doklam Plateau by designating them as Initial Objective of their claim. Thus, they will address all these disputed pockets along the border. Doklam and one or two more key areas will be designates as High Value Target near border for an early result. Now, this requires concentration of huge forces on Tibetan Plateau, drawn across China, which may not go unnoticed through high level of satellite sensors and surveillance. Maximum, PLA can concentrate their troops in garb of mega training. One thing which is worth mentioning here is that harsh weather conditions , limited number of axis available to them and Tibetan people sentiments are stacked against them. Their surprise factor may not work, giving an example of American claim that they had shared intelligence on movement of small detachment of PLA troops towards Yangtse , near Tawang in December 2022.

Ongoing Ukraine War is redefining rules of engagement . Morale of troops has been proved to be a key element in putting up stiff resistance and fight to the last. PLA conscripts devoid of ideological passion to fight for Communists China in Tibet will be crucial. In all the hand to hand fight with Indian Forces along Indo- Tibetan border they have witnessed valour and indomitable spirit of Indian soldiers. PLA troops are in panic and expressed reluctance to fight Indian soldiers. Emergence of Wenger, a group of convicted criminals fighting alongside Russian troops are making headlines. China is aware that a band of irregular dedicated youths will also rise against them and capable to disrupt their logistics severly. All the high technology war waging capabilities based on high speed processor will not work for PLA at high altitude plateau where circular error probability will be high. Human factors will override technological advantages .They may fire arrays of missiles to grab international headlines but with low morale of troops , they will not be able to hold too long against Agniveer, a band of Young Indian soldiers whose age profile , ability to sustain war stress and sense of nationalism will definitely have edge and war wining factor against PLA.

Could this Bank in China Bring an End to the U.S. Dollar's World Dominance?


In his first visit to China since taking office at the beginning of this year, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called on countries across the globe to ditch the U.S. dollar in favor of trading in a common currency or existing national currencies, something he did in his own trade with Beijing just weeks earlier.

"Every night, I ask myself why all countries are forced to do their trade backed by the dollar?" Lula asked. "Why can't we do trade backed by our currency?"

Perhaps even more significant than the message Lula delivered was where he delivered it. Lula spoke Thursday at the New Development Bank (NDB), which serves as the Shanghai-based financial institution of the informal BRICS coalition. BRICS, comprised of Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa, was first devised some 16 years ago as a vehicle for large emerging economies. But the group has taken on a new life in recent years, with a growing list of nations seeking to forge partnerships.

And though shared geopolitical aims among the five core BRICS members and those seeking to join the expanding group are few, a common goal has increasingly emerged to provide new alternatives to Western-led institutions.

"The NDB is a great example in terms of non-Western multilateral development banks trying to promote an alternative development financing mechanism that is not dominated by the U.S. dollar or by an American standard or Western standard," Zongyuan Zoe Liu, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Newsweek.

Fundamentally, it boils down to two things: money and politics.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gestures during a ministerial meeting to celebrate the first 100 days of his government at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on April 10, 2023.

Xi Seeks to Reinvigorate Military-Civilian Integration

Arthur Ding, K. Tristan Tang


In a speech to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police Force (PAP) delegation to the National People’s Congress (NPC) on March 8, Chinese President and Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping called for accelerating the development of “integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities” (INSSC:一体化国家战略体系和能力) (Xinhua, March 8). Xi defined the key elements of developing INSSC in the defense and military portion of his political report to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 20th Party Congress last October. He stated that:

“We will consolidate and enhance integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities. We will better coordinate strategies and plans, align policies and systems, and share resources and production factors between the military and civilian sectors. We will improve the system and layout of science, technology and industries related to national defense and step up capacity building in these areas. We will raise public awareness of the importance of national defense. We will improve our national defense mobilization capacity and the development of our reserve forces and modernize our border, coastal and air defenses. We will better motivate service personnel and their family members through military honors and do more to protect their rights and interests. Better services and support will be provided to ex-service personnel. We will consolidate and boost unity between the military and the government and between the military and the people” (Xinhua, October 25, 2022).

While Xi’s vision of INSSC is extremely comprehensive and all-encompassing, it has also been persistent. The concept was raised in Xi’s work report to the 19th Party Congress in October 2017. At that time Xi, stated:

“We will accelerate implementation of major projects, deepen reform of defense-related science, technology, and industry, achieve greater military-civilian integration, and build integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities. We will improve our national defense mobilization system and build a strong, well-structured, and modern border defense, coastal defense, and air defense. We will establish an administration for veterans; we will protect the legitimate rights and interests of military personnel and their families; and we will make military service an occupation that enjoys public respect…” (Xinhua, October 27, 2017).

Rooted in Military-Civilian Integration

ChatGPT and China: How to think about Large Language Models and the generative AI race Business & Technology

Paul Triolo 

Baidu's founding CEO Robin Li (李彦宏 Lǐ Yànhóng) launches his company’s generative AI platform Ernie Bot at the company's headquarters in Beijing, China March 16, 2023. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang.

Much ink has been spilled in the last few months talking about the implications of large language models (LLMs) for society, the coup scored by OpenAI in bringing out and popularizing ChatGPT, Chinese company and government reactions, and how China might shape up in terms of data, training, censorship, and use of high-end graphics processing units (GPUs) under exports controls from the U.S.

But what is really at stake here? The issue needs to be explored first outside the usual lens of great power competition. Here is a framework for thinking about this problem which you have likely not read about in all the many columns on the subject written by generalists, people with a clear China axe to grind, or investors plugging a particular technology. Then we can get to great power competition.

China’s approach to LLMs and ChatGPT-like platforms will be different

For China, the OpenAI phenomena is somewhat novel, as there are few equivalent organizations in China.

OpenAI is an artificial intelligence (AI) research laboratory consisting of the non-profit OpenAI Incorporated, and its for-profit subsidiary OpenAI Limited Partnership. Small and run like a startup, OpenAI has been able to move more nimbly than some of the major U.S. AI players, all of which have been working on similar services. But Google, AWS, and Meta all have other businesses and reputations to protect, and so have been more circumspect in rolling out new generations of generative AI applications. Not OpenAI.

In China, the rough equivalent of OpenAI is the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence (BAAI). BAAI has developed Wu Dao, a GPT platform it claims is trained on 1.75 trillion parameters, and is able to simulate conversational speech, write poems, understand images, and even generate recipes.

Last month a major conference was sponsored by a district government part of Beijing, there were pledges to support LLMs, and a growing number of Chinese companies including Baidu, Alibaba, and SenseTime have indicated that they are working on ChatGPT-like platforms for both general and domain-specific applications. Naturally, this type of buzz around generative AI has drawn the attention of regulators.

United Front Work and Beyond: How the Chinese Communist Party Penetrates the United States and Western Societies

Martin Purbrick

Growing concerns exist in the US and other Western countries that there are systematic efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to undermine their societies. This concern has arisen from the developing observation and analysis of more offensive-based CCP activities outside of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

These offensive activities have become far more apparent during the tenure of CCP Secretary Xi Jinping (from 2012), and seem to be part of efforts to move from a defensive to an offensive posture in a variety of areas. This can be characterized as a “Strategy of Sowing Discord,” a Chinese proverb that refers to efforts to make internal disputes amongst the enemy so deep that they become distracted from the conflict. By taking offensive influencing measures against US and other Western societies, the CCP aims to distract foreign attention from repression within China’s borders and also to pressure the increasingly broad diaspora of dissidents from the Mainland, Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, as well as Taiwanese separatists. In addition, this offensive posture is part of efforts to promote a more positive perspective of the PRC around the world, which may resonate with potential partner countries in the “Global South,” used here to refer generally to low or middle income states across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The FBI and Britain’s MI5 have made clear statements regarding the threat to their societies from malevolent PRC government agencies. Their concerns relate to actions against Chinese dissidents outside the PRC, influencing the Chinese diaspora to support the CCP, the coerced return of fugitives to the PRC, the covert theft of trade secrets, the acquisition of intellectual property by the purchase of specialized companies, the exploitation of academic research for military uses, the use of cyber-attacks, and interference in US and Western political systems through “United Front” work and other methods.

China Fires Back in its Tech War with the United States


In response to the United States’ passing of its Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act , China announced it intended to conduct a cybersecurity probe into Micron Technology, one of the United States’ largest memory chip makers. In accordance to China’s National Security Law and Cybersecurity Law, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), Beijing’s central internet regulator, censor, oversight, and control agency, will conduct the review for the purposes of ensuring that critical information-infrastructure supply chains were secure and did not contain any potential threats to China’s national security. One Chinese official said the potential of manipulation, data theft, or disruption due to political, diplomatic, or trade issues, could have prompted the review. The intent is clear and clearly parrot the justifications that the United States and Western for banning Huawei and Tik Tok. The CAC did not provide any additional information as to what products it intended to inspect, intimating that the decision is up to the CAC’s discretion.

In August 2022, the United States signed into the law the CHIPS and Science Act , which allocates approximately USD $280 billion (USD $50 billion dedicated for the design and production of chips domestically) to strengthen U.S. semiconductor capacity, catalyze research and development, and create regional high-tech hubs. Additionally, CHIPS aims to create a larger, and more inclusive skilled science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) government workforce. The intent behind the law is clear: policymakers needed to catalyze U.S. self-sufficiency in critical technology. And while there is evidence that this has encouraged private sector investment as of the end of 2022, the United States

still relies on other countries for input into semiconductors, including China and Russia, showing that the road to self-sufficiency is a winding path and not a straight line.

Europe Is Disastrously Split on China

Thorsten Benner

Over the past two weeks, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been holding court for visiting European dignitaries. In late March, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was the first European statesman to meet the Chinese leader after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. French President Emmanuel Macron followed last week together with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The only winner from these visits is Xi. Not only did he not make any concession on any issue vital to European interests, from Russia’s war to economic relations, his European visitors treated Xi to a display of European and transatlantic disunity serving the Chinese leader a major strategic objective on a silver platter and leaving Europe’s China policy in disarray.

The World Could Move Toward Russia and China

Ross Douthat

Last fall, eight months into the new world disorder created by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the University of Cambridge’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy produced a long report on trends in global public opinion before and after the outbreak of the war.

Not surprisingly, the data showed that the conflict had shifted public sentiment in developed democracies in East Asia and Europe, as well as the United States, uniting their citizens against both Russia and China and shifting mass opinion in a more pro-American direction.

But outside this democratic bloc, the trends were very different. For a decade before the Ukraine war, public opinion across “a vast span of countries stretching from continental Eurasia to the north and west of Africa,” in the report’s words, had become more favorable to Russia even as Western public opinion became more hostile. Similarly, people in Europe, the Anglosphere and Pacific Rim democracies like Japan and South Korea all turned against China even before Covid-19, but China was regarded much more favorably across the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia.

Putin’s war in Ukraine shifted these trends only at the margins. Russia did become less popular in 2022, but overall, developing-world public opinion after the invasion was still slightly warmer to Russia than to the United States, and (for the first time) warmer to China than to America, too. To the extent that the Ukraine conflict betokened a new geopolitical struggle between an American-led “maritime alliance of democracies,” as the report put it, and an alliance of authoritarian regimes anchored in Eurasia, the authoritarian alliance seemed to have surprisingly deep reservoirs of potential popular support.

This reading of the geopolitical landscape has found vindication in the months since. Outside the Anglosphere and Europe, the attempts to quarantine the Russian economy have found little sustained support, and the attempts at diplomatic isolation likewise.

How to survive a superpower split

Caught between America, China and Russia, many countries are determined not to pick sides. As the American-led order in place since 1945 fragments and economic decoupling accelerates, they seek deals across divides. This transactional approach is reshaping geopolitics.

One way of capturing the sheer scale and heft of these non-aligned powers is through a Russian lens. Our sister organisation, eiu, has analysed countries based on their economic and military ties to Moscow, their diplomatic stances including votes at the un and whether they support and implement sanctions. Although 52 countries comprising 15% of the global population—the West and its friends—lambast and punish Russia’s actions, and just 12 countries laud Russia, some 127 states are categorised as not being clearly in either camp (see map).

Defying Doom: How a Strategic Munitions Stockpile Can Avert War Over Taiwan

Caleb Larson

A game-changing munitions cache can avoid catastrophe and protect partners across the Indo-Pacific

July 2026, Taiwan Strait — An opening Chinese bombardment of Taiwan has destroyed most of the island’s air and naval forces. Protected underneath an umbrella of long-range standoff munitions, Beijing effectively blockades the island.

One of the largest amphibious invasion forces ever assembled in the history of warfare steams across the Strait toward the smoldering Taiwanese coastline, and thousands of Chinese paratroopers land on Taiwan proper miles behind the beach. Crippled Taiwanese forces waver. Reeling like a stunned boxer, Taipei calls for aid.

And the United States answers.

Beneath the waves, U.S. Navy attack submarines make hay, picking off dozens of Chinese ships, and U.S. Navy surface ships charge into the breach. Augmented by carrier-based fighters and several dozen Air Force bombers scrambled from Japan, salvos of long-range anti-ship missiles burn at the Chinese flotilla, and hundreds of ships founder and sink.

On Taiwan’s western approaches, the disembarked Chinese invasion force carves out a lengthy but shallow toehold along the coast and rolls eastward to link up with airborne troops on the island. Like the fanatical Imperial Japanese soldier of World War II, the PLA’s resistance is stiff. But it is ultimately futile. Cut off from supplies and reinforcements, The PLA’s beachhead rapidly shrinks, and thousands are taken prisoner. Beijing’s invasion has ultimately been in vain.

Taiwan’s beaches are a circus of carnage that beggars description. American and Taiwanese forces have won the day, but the cost is colossal.

Tens of thousands of Taiwanese and American Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines are dead. Nearly two dozen U.S. Navy ships — including two aircraft carriers — are at the bottom of the Taiwan Strait, and hundreds of aircraft are damaged or destroyed.

What does China want in Ukraine?


Strategic clarity arises in a crisis. When the world is relatively stable, the strategic calculations of the major powers are deliberately couched and clouded. Conflicts clear our minds. The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is resulting in havoc. However, it also allows us to step back and see where everyone stands.

Over the last 13 months, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s misadventure in Ukraine has reignited the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It was not long ago that NATO countries were squabbling among themselves. However, a common threat is a great unifier. That is exactly what Putin did. He gave NATO a new life. If Putin feared NATO’s expansion before his invasion, his actions have further accelerated the grouping’s enlargement. Once neutral, Finland and Sweden have been quick to yank off the badge of non-alignment and apply to join the alliance.
Russia and China have consistently strengthened their bilateral relationship in the last few years.

The war in Ukraine is also alarming chancelleries in Asia. Japan’s leader Fumio Kishida has warned that East Asia could be the next Ukraine. This was not the case a few years ago. Like Germany, Japan too believed that trade and commercial interdependence with Russia would mollify Moscow. When then Chancellor Angela Merkel was courting Moscow, Japan’s Shinzo Abe was engaging Putin to reach a compromise on their dispute over the four southernmost Kuril Islands in the North Pacific.

China’s President Xi Jinping’s growing ambitions in Asia and Putin’s assault on Ukraine have cleared the strategic illusion in Tokyo. Under Kishida, Japan has demonstrated considerable interest in developing sophisticated weaponry and has pledged to double its defence expenditure.

CENTCOM eyeing artificial intelligence to counter Iran’s drones, says Kurilla

Jared Szuba

The top commander of US forces in the Middle East expressed concerns over China's inroads the region and told Al-Monitor he wants to turn up the heat at the next Red Sands exercise in Saudi Arabia to simulate more complex drone attacks.
The US Central Command Commander General Michael Kurilla speaks at the 18th IISS Manama Dialogue in Bahrain's capital on November 19, 2022. - AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Last month, at the Al-Khurais electronic warfare range in Saudi Arabia, US and Royal Saudi air defense units teamed up for live-fire drills to shoot down a series of training drones mimicking the speed and altitude of a variety of Iranian attack UAVs.

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Army Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, the top commander of US forces in the Middle East, described the first Red Sands counter-drone experimentation exercise as “very successful.”

Not every new weapon system worked for every scenario – but that was the point. Several US and Saudi-owned weapons hit the targets successfully, including LIDS (Low, Slow, Unmanned Aircraft Integrated Defeat System), Coyote and other new counter-drone systems brought in by the US Army.

“Everything that we're trying to do is to enhance the capabilities we have,” Kurilla explained. “It’s helping make our partners better as well.”

Kurilla, who took the helm at Central Command (CENTCOM) last year at the onset of a two-decade low in the US military’s footprint in the Middle East, said he wants to raise the stakes during the next Red Sands event in September.

“Maybe we’ll invite one or two other countries” after the next exercise, Kurilla suggested. “We want to make sure we get it right on the first two iterations."

Who Is Jack Teixeira? Discord Chat Leader Linked to Leaked Intel Revealed


Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard's intelligence wing, was arrested Thursday in connection with the leaking of hundreds of pages of classified documents from the Defense Department.

The documents revealed weaknesses in the Ukrainian military, U.S. intelligence gathering directed at South Korea and Israel and other sensitive information.

President Joe Biden has said he is not concerned about the leak, but it has upended U.S. international relations.

The suspect in the classified intelligence documents leak has been identified as Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard's intelligence wing, and is in custody, according to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

On Thursday, the FBI encircled Teixeira's home with an armored vehicle and a dozen of uniformed officers. Garland announced his arrest at an afternoon news conference.

Hundreds of pages of sensitive documents from the Department of Defense were found online last month in a small Discord chatroom of about 20 to 30 teenagers, called Thug Shaker Central. The chat group's leader was Teixeira, The New York Times reported Thursday. The leaking of sensitive information has upended U.S. international relations, revealing weaknesses in the Ukrainian military and exposing details of U.S. intelligence gathering on South Korea and Israel.

Members of the Discord group told the Times that the documents posted online by Teixeira were meant to be "purely informative" but received wider attention when one member posted some of the materials on a larger public online forum. However, the Pentagon called the leak a "deliberate, criminal act." It's unclear how long the documents had been circulating online before they were discovered in March.

Crimea Beaches Closed To Build Trenches As Ukraine Counteroffensive Looms


Beaches in Crimea have reportedly been closed for swimmers throughout the Black Sea peninsula as Russian forces dig trenches and prepare new defensive positions in anticipation of a counteroffensive from Ukraine this spring.

According to the Telegram channel of Information Resistance, a Ukrainian non-governmental group that works to combat disinformation, local authorities have closed beaches for swimming throughout Crimea. It published an image showing an empty beach with what appears to be Russian defense fortifications along the shore. Crimean Wind, a Ukrainian news channel on Telegram posted a video that appears to show trenches being built along beaches in Crimea.

Crimea was annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin from Ukraine in 2014, a move that has not been recognized internationally. A yellow terror threat level has been in place in parts of the peninsula since April 11, 2022, weeks after Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began. Russian forces have been fortifying the area amid fears of a Ukrainian advance.
People relax on a beach of the Black Sea in Sevastopol, the largest city on the Crimean Peninsula and its most important port and naval base, with a Russian warship seen in the background on July 15, 2022. Beaches in Crimea have reportedly been closed for swimmers throughout the Black Sea peninsula as Russian forces dig trenches and prepare new defensive positions in anticipation of a counteroffensive from Ukraine this spring.

The Washington Post recently published satellite imagery from Maxar, a space solutions company, that shows Russian forces building an extensive web of defense fortifications on the Black Sea peninsula and along its approaches from occupied southern Ukraine. Al Jazeera has published satellite images that show the reinforcement of the defenses around the Russian Sevastopol naval base.

Is America’s global preeminence under threat?


The American and Chinese flags wave at Genting Snow Park ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 2, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China. The Commerce Department is tightening export controls to limit China’s ability to get advanced computing chips, develop and maintain supercomputers, and make advanced semiconductors. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

If it is to remain the world’s preeminent power, the United States must focus its attention on the globally ascendant and expansionist China, which, as President Biden acknowledged in his 48-page national security strategy in October, “is the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to advance that objective.”

The subsequently released National Defense Strategy bluntly stated that China represents “the most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security.”

Yet America’s deepening involvement in the proxy war with Russia over Ukraine’s future is deflecting U.S. attention from the core challenge posed by China. Instead of exploring a ceasefire agreement to halt what has increasingly become a war of attrition, with neither side in a position to make major advances on the battlefield, the Biden administration and several U.S. allies are training thousands of new Ukrainian military recruits and rapidly arming Ukraine for a spring offensive to help it regain some of its Russia-occupied territories.

With the West sending 40 percent of all its weapons to Ukraine since December, the flow of arms has become a torrent. But offense is inherently much tougher than defense. A major spring offensive by Ukrainian forces (relying on newly supplied Western equipment and with mostly new recruits) could result in massive casualties on their side.

In fact, the longer the war in Ukraine extends, the greater is the likelihood of two tectonic developments unfolding: Russia and China cementing a strategic axis against the West; and Chinese President Xi Jinping launching aggression against Taiwan.

F.B.I. Arrests National Guardsman in Leak of Classified Documents

Haley Willis, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Aric Toler, Christiaan Triebert, Julian E. Barnes and Malachy Browne

NORTH DIGHTON, Mass. — The F.B.I. arrested a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard on Thursday in connection with the leak of dozens of highly classified documents containing an array of national security secrets, including the breadth of surveillance the United States is able to conduct on Russia.

Airman First Class Jack Douglas Teixeira was taken into custody to face charges of leaking classified documents after federal authorities said he had posted batches of sensitive intelligence to an online gaming chat group, called Thug Shaker Central.

As reporters from The New York Times gathered near the house on Thursday afternoon, about a half-dozen F.B.I. agents pushed into the home of Airman Teixeira’s mother in North Dighton, with a twin-engine government surveillance plane keeping watch overhead.

Some of the agents arrived heavily armed. Law enforcement officials learned before the search that Airman Teixeira was in possession of multiple weapons, according to a person familiar with the investigation, and the F.B.I. found guns at the house.

Not long after, cameras caught a handcuffed Airman Teixeira, wearing red shorts and boots, being led away from the home by two heavily armed men.

0:48F.B.I. Arrests Air National Guardsman in MassachusettsFederal authorities arrested Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman, who they believe is linked to a trove of leaked classified U.S. intelligence documents.

A Quick Guide to What the Leaked U.S. Intelligence Documents Say

Eric Nagourney

Leak or hack? Information or disinformation? A coup for Russia or a ploy by the United States?

For days after U.S. intelligence documents were found circulating on social media, some marked “top secret,” questions have swirled about how dozens of pages from Pentagon briefings became public, and how much stock to put in them.

The federal authorities have made their first arrest in the case, taking into custody a young national guardsman who, friends say, first posted the documents online.

Here is what we know about the leak.
Where did the materials come from?

Federal investigators on Thursday arrested Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old air national guardsman from Massachusetts. The airman was the leader of a small online gaming chat group where a cache of the documents first appeared.

Hours before the arrest, The New York Times reported that Airman Teixeira oversaw a private online group named Thug Shaker Central where about 20 to 30 people, mostly young men and teenagers, came together over a shared love of guns, racist online memes and video games.

The material — photographs of printed briefing reports — eventually began circulating on platforms like Twitter, 4chan and Telegram, but the files had sat on Discord, a social media messaging platform, since early March, analysts said.

The images look like hastily taken photographs of pieces of paper sitting atop what appears to be a hunting magazine. Experts who have reviewed the material say it appears that a classified briefing was folded up, placed in a pocket and then taken out of a secure area to be photographed.

Discord member details how documents leaked from closed chat group

Shane Harris and Samuel Oakford

The man behind a massive leak of U.S. government secrets that has exposed spying on allies, revealed the grim prospects for Ukraine’s war with Russia and ignited diplomatic fires for the White House is a young, charismatic gun enthusiast who shared highly classified documents with a group of far-flung acquaintances searching for companionship amid the isolation of the pandemic.

United by their mutual love of guns, military gear and God, the group of roughly two dozen — mostly men and boys — formed an invitation-only clubhouse in 2020 on Discord, an online platform popular with gamers. But they paid little attention last year when the man some call “OG” posted a message laden with strange acronyms and jargon. The words were unfamiliar, and few people read the long note, one of the members explained. But he revered OG, the elder leader of their tiny tribe, who claimed to know secrets that the government withheld from ordinary people.

The young member read OG’s message closely, and the hundreds more that he said followed on a regular basis for months. They were, he recalled, what appeared to be near-verbatim transcripts of classified intelligence documents that OG indicated he had brought home from his job on a “military base,” which the member declined to identify. OG claimed he spent at least some of his day inside a secure facility that prohibited cellphones and other electronic devices, which could be used to document the secret information housed on government computer networks or spooling out from printers. He annotated some of the hand-typed documents, the member said, translating arcane intel-speak for the uninitiated, such as explaining that “NOFORN” meant the information in the document was so sensitive it must not be shared with foreign nationals.

OG told the group he toiled for hours writing up the classified documents to share with his companions in the Discord server he controlled. The gathering spot had been a pandemic refuge, particularly for teen gamers locked in their houses and cut off from their real-world friends. The members swapped memes, offensive jokes and idle chitchat. They watched movies together, joked around and prayed. But OG also lectured them about world affairs and secretive government operations. He wanted to “keep us in the loop,” the member said, and seemed to think that his insider knowledge would offer the others protection from the troubled world around them.

“He’s a smart person. He knew what he was doing when he posted these documents, of course. These weren’t accidental leaks of any kind,” the member said.

The West Needs a New Strategy in Ukraine

Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan

After just over a year, the war in Ukraine has turned out far better for Ukraine than most predicted. Russia’s effort to subjugate its neighbor has failed. Ukraine remains an independent, sovereign, functioning democracy, holding on to roughly 85 percent of the territory it controlled before Russia’s 2014 invasion. At the same time, it is difficult to feel sanguine about where the war is headed. The human and economic costs, already enormous, are poised to climb as both Moscow and Kyiv ready their next moves on the battlefield. The Russian military’s numerical superiority likely gives it the ability to counter Ukraine’s greater operational skill and morale, as well as its access to Western support. Accordingly, the most likely outcome of the conflict is not a complete Ukrainian victory but a bloody stalemate.

Against this backdrop, calls for a diplomatic end to the conflict are understandably growing. But with Moscow and Kyiv both vowing to keep up the fight, conditions are not yet ripe for a negotiated settlement. Russia seems determined to occupy a larger chunk of the Donbas. Ukraine appears to be preparing an assault to break the land bridge between the Donbas and Crimea, clearing the way, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky often asserts, for Ukraine to fully expel Russian forces and restore its territorial integrity.

The West needs an approach that recognizes these realities without sacrificing its principles. The best path forward is a sequenced two-pronged strategy aimed at first bolstering Ukraine’s military capability and then, when the fighting season winds down late this year, ushering Moscow and Kyiv from the battlefield to the negotiating table. The West should start by immediately expediting the flow of weapons to Ukraine and increasing their quantity and quality. The goal should be to bolster Ukraine’s defenses while making its coming offensive as successful as possible, imposing heavy losses on Russia, foreclosing Moscow’s military options, and increasing its willingness to contemplate a diplomatic settlement. By the time Ukraine’s anticipated offensive is over, Kyiv may also warm up to the idea of a negotiated settlement, having given its best shot on the battlefield and facing growing constraints on both its own manpower and help from abroad.

NATO — The Frenemy Within

Jan Kallberg

During the Cold War, the insider threat to the transatlantic alliance was either infiltration by the Warsaw Pact or some form of theft. The central focus was on counterintelligence and the main enemy was Soviet espionage.

Today, in 2023, the insider threat is not only spies and sabotage; it is any misalignment with the mission, which undermines the mission and its ability to conclude the tasks successfully. Regretfully, that can mean elements of some member states — including governments — are an issue.

This is of course a problem of success. As the alliance grows — Finland’s entry on April 4 making it member state number 31 — was a wonderful moment, reflecting the free choice of a representative democracy to seek the security offered by a military alliance with its fellows.

But not every alliance applicant is Finland, as the case of member state number 32 makes clear. Sweden too is a democracy that ranks at the top of just about every global ranking, from wealth to personal freedom and personal contentment. It is, as Shakespeare once said of England, the envy of less happy lands. Its entry is being blocked by two NATO members — Turkey and Hungary — run by illiberal rulers using their veto power to punish a likely future ally for past slights. Sweden is no more a paragon of virtue than any other country, and can no doubt be very irritating in some of its positions, but there seems more than a hint of malice in this process.

The issue of Swedish membership is a case study of the problems inherent in a military alliance relying on consensus. It is inevitable that in such a huge organization there will be enormous cultural width, differing perceptions, call it weltanschauung or political views, as well as old and new cleavages. Several NATO countries have relatively large far-left and far-right parties, demanding everything from the rejection of the market economy to an illusionary condition of ethnic homogeneity, free from any foreign influence or influx.

The Link Between Geography and U.S. Foreign Policy Has Grown More Complex


In the real estate business, the old saw goes, the key to success is all about location, location, location. But location is also central to an enterprise much further afield: foreign policy.

A decade ago, I examined this idea in a piece for Foreign Policy. I concluded that our physical location is the single most important factor in shaping our attitudes and actions abroad. Sure, location can’t explain everything (no single factor can): culture, religion, politics, and the lack or presence of natural resources play roles as well, as do the vagaries of chance. But location speaks volumes about the American view of the world and how we operate in it, and if where you stand in life has a great deal to do with where you sit, then America’s sitting pretty.

Aaron David Miller is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, focusing on U.S. foreign policy.

Having served at the Department of State during several administrations and watched events unfold over the past decade, I’m even more convinced of geography’s relevance and salience in shaping the way we view the world. But I’ve also come to three other conclusions that make the interaction between geography and U.S. foreign policy a bit more complex.

The first concerns the overriding purpose of U.S. foreign policy. In the broadest sense, the organizing principle of any nation’s foreign policy—democracy, autocracy, or something in between—is the protection of the homeland. And here America occupies a truly unique position.

With a few exceptions—in the late eighteenth century, when the young republic had three great imperial powers in its backyard, and in 1814, when the British burned much of Washington—the United States has faced no existential threats from invasion or occupation. Neither Germany’s submarine warfare in the run-up to World War I nor Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor were preludes to an invasion of the United States. As traumatic and tragic as 9/11 was, jihadi terror never presented an existential threat to the country, though some would argue that nonstate actors with biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons could. Still, in the twenty-two years after 9/11, the United States has not faced a single successful terrorist attack directed by a foreign terror organization against the homeland. The real security threat, one could argue, came from within: homegrown jihadi terrorists and white nationalist extremist groups.

Drone Wrecking Crews Are Decimating Russia’s Tanks

David Hambling

A steady stream of videos on social media shows Ukrainian drones dropping grenades through open hatches into Russian tanks. Sometimes it takes several tries, but the video ends with a shot of a burning vehicle. Commenters sometimes remark that the tank was already abandoned, as if this meant the kill did not count. In fact, the systematic destruction of Russian tanks which would otherwise be repaired, turning minor damage into a total write-off, is steadily eroding the tank force.

Modern armies place great emphasis on being able to regenerate lost vehicles, with repair units at several levels from company-level sections with spare parts and tools to fix broken-down vehicles, through battalion workshops for field repairs to larger division-level facilities, plus armored recovery vehicles able to pull a 70-ton tank off the battlefield under fire, and other specialized gear.

Abandoned, damaged and broken-down Russian tanks are being turned into smoldering wrecks by a concerted drone bombing campaign GETTY IMAGES

The proportion of vehicles that can be recovered depends very much on the cause. If a vehicle has simply got stuck in mud or fallen into water (as often seem to happen to Russian armor) then it’s just a matter of waiting for a tow. Similarly, for a mechanical breakdown, the repair rate should be something like 100%. Such breakdowns are common; one point the M1 Abrams was breaking down on average after every 101 miles driven and Russia’s aging and poorly-maintained fleet may be performing even wore.

Many combat losses can also be recovered. If a tank runs over a pressure mine, usually a track will be broken or a wheel destroyed, a ‘mobility kill’ rather than a ‘catastrophic’ kill. More advanced mines can kill tanks, but these have been rare in this conflict. Even a hit by an anti-tank missile or cannon may disable a vehicle rather than destroying it.

US Cyber Command requests nearly $90M for offensive platform


Cyber warfare operators assigned to the 275th Cyber Operations Squadron of the 175th Cyberspace Operations Group of the Maryland Air National Guard configure a threat intelligence feed for daily watch in the Hunter's Den at Warfield Air National Guard Base, Middle River, Md., Dec. 2, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

U.S. Cyber Command is requesting $89.4 million for a key offensive cyber platform for fiscal 2024, the first such budget numbers for the system that are publicly available.

The Joint Common Access Platform (JCAP) will allow the Department of Defense’s cyber operators to connect to their targets beyond friendly firewalls. It had been run by the Army since 2020 as the executive agent for Cybercom. Previously, it had been classified in budget documents, lending little information regarding its programmatic details and funding numbers. To date, what had been known regarding the program was that ManTech had been awarded a $265 million contract in 2020 to support the program over three-and-a-half years.

The funding numbers are found in Cybercom’s research and development budget for fiscal 2024. Previously, the services were responsible for funding capabilities and personnel that fed up to Cybercom. However, in the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress granted Cyber Command enhanced budget authority, which provides direct control and management of planning, programming, budgeting and execution of the resources to maintain the cyber mission force.

The services have historically had their own platforms for delivering cyber effects. But as Cybercom has sought to bring capabilities under its Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture, which guides the command’s acquisition priorities and efforts for the joint cyber mission force across all the services, it has sought to consolidate disparate systems.

US Pentagon must create a level playing field for subcontractors

John Hill

The Pentagon will respond to the new Defense Contract Finance Study findings by helping to protect suppliers and subcontractors in its defence industrial base.

In 2019, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that the US Department of Defense (DoD) conduct a comprehensive assessment of the effect of their contract financing and profit policies on the defence industry.

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Accordingly, the DoD launched a comprehensive Defense Contract Finance Study (DCFS) at the end of 2019 to assess defence industry financial performance over a twenty-year timeframe. The DoD has now released their DCFS findings on 10 April 2023.

The DCFS integrates the results of studies undertaken by universities, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center, public comments, and analyses by the Department. General investigative areas included financial health, financing regulations, insight into the commercial marketplace, and impacts to subcontractors, including small businesses.

This assessment is the first study of the financial implications of the DoD’s procurement process in 37 years. The last was conducted in 1985 in the Defense Financial and Investment Review.

The latest DCFS findings tell us that in aggregate the defence industry is financially healthy and the DoD does not need to modify its weighted guidelines that arrive at objective profit positions for negotiation. Although, the department does need to change their impact on subcontractors and suppliers, those that do not receive favourable cash flow benefits.

The DoD is keen to attract new entrants into their defence industrial base (DIB) while retaining existing participants. At the cost of maintaining considerable benefit to large defence companies, smaller businesses supplying resources and subcontracting work hardly benefit in comparison.

No end to this story: Expect a drip-drip or steady trickle of US military leaks

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

UPDATE 4/12: On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the arrest “without incident” of a young Massachusetts Air National Guardsman named Jack Teixeira in connection with the classified documents leak.

According to a Washington Post exclusive on the origins of the U.S. military leaks now roiling official Washington and its allies and partners today, there may be an untold number of classified documents still out there, yet to be reported.

The Post talked with two of the members of a Discord (online gaming) group who say the “leader” of their tight knit channel had been sharing with them top secret information gleaned from the secure facility/military base from which he presumably worked for some time, but photographs of those documents started coming “beginning late last year.”

The leader of the group — called “OG” — had been literally writing out and annotating classified documents he had access to in his day job up until then, but then began photographing and posting them “several times a week.” Many were quite recent, including, according to the Washington Post, “eye-level” images of the recent Chinese spy balloon incident in early February.

The Post also reviewed approximately 300 photos of classified documents, most of which have not been made public; some of the text documents OG is said to have written out; an audio recording of a man the two group members identified as OG speaking to his companions; and chat records and photographs that show OG communicating with them on the Discord server. ….

The breadth of the military and intelligence reports was extensive. For months, OG regularly uploaded page after page of classified U.S. assessments, offering a window into how deeply American intelligence had penetrated the Russian military, showing that Egypt had planned to sell Russia tens of thousands of rockets and suggesting that Russian mercenaries had approached Turkey, a NATO ally, to buy weapons to fight against Ukraine.

South Korea and Japan Try to Mend Ties Without Stirring Trouble

Christopher Green

On March 16, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol made his first official trip to Tokyo, where he met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. It was the first summit between leaders of the two countries in more than a decade, marking the culmination of a diplomatic revival that began on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly last autumn.

Pentagon deems Army’s Integrated Battle Command System ready for prime time


An IBCS engagement operations center set up at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, for the limited user test in 2020. (US Army)

WASHINGTON — Pentagon acquisition authorities have approved full-rate production for the Army’s delayed Integrated Battle Command System, the service announced on Wednesday, a move that enables it to proceed producing the centerpiece of its air and missile defense modernization strategy.

The Army’s IBCS is billed as the command-and-control heart of its air and missile defense architecture, but the program has been plagued with technical delays as the Army expanded the mission set and necessary capabilities over the years. However, this week’s announcement signifies Pentagon approval of program improvements, in part, because Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante is the one who made the call.

Prime contractor Northrop Grumman said in a statement today, “The full-rate production decision enables the US Army to set the fielding schedule for IBCS to operational air defense units.”

It also noted that this week’s decision paves the path for future foreign military sales, like Poland’s decision to acquire the IBCS to support its Patriot air defense systems, which was approved by the US back in 2017.

“Poland selected IBCS to serve as the centerpiece of the country’s air and missile defense modernization, and as it is adopted by more US allies and partners, IBCS will enable high levels of coalition forces interoperability and network integration,” Northrop said.

IBCS work began in 2009 but the program hit numerous hurdles along the way including a disastrous limited user test in 2016 that forced the Army to reboot the program. The service then gave that test another go in 2020 and dubbed it a “success.” The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester later agreed that “preliminary indications show improved reliability and stability from the previous LUT” while also noting some areas ripe for improvement.