26 April 2023

India Will Be One Key to Countering China

Michael Rubin

Under President Xi Jinping, China has grown more militaristic, aggressive, and hostile. It pursues the greatest industrial genocide since the Holocaust against its Uyghur population, practices Taiwan’s conquest, and uses fictional claims to encroach upon its neighbors in the East and South China Seas.

But while the United States increasingly supports Taiwan and bolsters Australia’s defense capabilities, ignoring India will likely condemn any counter-China strategy to failure. Of the 14 countries that border China (21 if maritime boundaries are included), India is the only one that holds its own militarily. That it does so with just one-third the size of China’s defense budget — $74 billion to $225 billion — is impressive.

There is a shortsighted tendency in Washington, however, to devalue the importance of India. President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser Henry Kissinger gratuitously bashed democratically elected Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in order to ingratiate himself to Communist China’s Premier Zhou Enlai as he sought to cultivate China. Today, there is a parallel as American officials who dislike democratically elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi bash him or use human rights concerns to slow partnership, even as such actions empower Xi’s China, whose disdain for human rights is the rule rather than the exception.

India is the most important bulwark against China for two other reasons. First, it is now the world’s most populated country. This population is part of an irreversible trend that will only grow wider in the coming decades. By the end of the century, however, China’s population will only be 42% of what it is now, according to the Shanghai Academy of Social Science. Demographers believe India’s population will peak in 2047 but still be twice the size of China’s in 2100. This demographic reality has an immediate impact on army morale and capabilities. Every Chinese soldier is an only child. His Indian counterpart, on average, has three brothers or sisters.

My Interview on Chinese Influence in India and Globally

Joshua Kurlantzick

China has used both soft and sharp power to strengthen its media influence in India and around the globe.

China's President Xi Jinping and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive for a signing ceremony during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China, on June 10, 2018. Aly Song/Reuters

In a new interview with The Wire India, I discuss how China has cultivated media and information influence efforts in India and around the globe. Although China’s efforts have been most successful in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Beijing still tries to flood India’s media sphere with its point of view. Additionally, I argue that democracies’ enforcement of media restrictions creates a vacuum for Chinese influence. For more, see my new interview here.

US–India Relations: Growing Military Cooperation, Lagging Economic Ties, and Managing the Russia Problem

Aparna Pande

India and the United States have overcome the distance and suspicions that arose out of India’s refusal to align itself with the US soon after its independence in 1947. Over the last three decades, the world’s oldest and largest democracies have built a multi-layered and likely enduring partnership.

Public opinion in both countries favors close relations. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, 77 percent of Americans have a favorable view of India. In a 2021 poll, 79 percent of Indians had a favorable image of the United States. There are few countries in the world where public opinion is so strongly supportive of the United States.

Under both Trump and Biden administrations, US national security strategy documents portray India as a key American partner not only in the Indo-Pacific but also in South and Southeast Asia. India is referred to in both strategy documents as a key partner with whom the US works both in bilateral and multilateral settings and a country that supports “our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

India is central to two of America’s strategic blocs – the Pacific Quad of Australia, India, Japan, and the US and the West Asia Quad launched in October 2021 and now referred to as I2U2 – comprising India, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

The importance of the relationship can be seen also in the US Congress. A Senate amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2023, introduced by Senators Mark Warner, Jack Reed, and Jim Inhofe, echoed a similar House resolution, proposed by Congressman Ro Khanna. It noted that India faced military aggression from China and that the United States should support India’s defense needs and also help India “accelerate its transition away from weapons and defense systems manufactured in the Russian Federation.”

Strengthening Military and Technology Ties

Failings that Led to the Collapse of Afghanistan Now Fund the Taliban and Prevent Allies from Entering the United States

Anthony H. Cordesman

The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has just issued two devastating reports to Congress on American Failures in Afghanistan. Both should be required reading for everyone in the U.S. national security community.

The first is has a remarkably bland title for its contents: Testimony of John F. Sopko Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. It was presented as part of Sopko’s testimony to the Committee on Oversight and Accountability of the U.S. House of Representatives on April 19, 2023. The testimony is available here.

The sheer blandness of the title hides the fact that it is probably the best and frankest description to date of the problems that led to the collapse of the Afghan government and forces – and a sweeping Taliban victory. Unlike far too many other reports, it does not focus on the final days of the Afghan government or the problems in evacuating Americans and Afghans out of the airport in Kabul.

This testimony for the record is actually a detailed report that builds on more than a decade of SIGAR’s warnings to Congress about the major problems in the U.S. military and civil aid efforts. It traces the key causes of the collapse that were triggered by the decision of the United States to leave Afghanistan under the Trump and Biden Administrations, and by the fact the United States engaged in unilateral peace negotiations with the Taliban—and an agreement to leave the country—because it could not deal effectively with the Ghani government.

It shows, however, that the United States had little other choice in dealing with Ghani, and that the collapse of the Afghan government and forces were the result of policies that began long before both the Trump and Biden Administrations, which led to major failures in building up effective Afghan forces and governance, as well as massive corruption.

Sudan Conflict: More Complex Than Meets The Eye – Analysis

Dr. Mohamed ELDoh

After weeks of escalating tensions, open military clashes broke out on April 15 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), where the latter is a powerful paramilitary group. Despite the fact that both groups were previously close allies who jointly seized control of Sudan in 2021, subsequent tensions over control and decision-making on national key issues have driven them apart. This includes, but is not limited to, opposing views on the integration of the RSF into the Sudanese military and transitional planning for eventual civilian rule in Sudan. The currently developing events in Sudan resemble a typical power struggle seen in fragile states, where more than one powerful armed group exists and each is vying for control. However, the political conflict and escalating military confrontation is actually much more complex than a simplistic power struggle.

Generally, Sudan has a long history of authoritarian rulership, with the military frequently intervening in the political ecosystem of the country. In this respect, the RSF was formed in 2013 by the Sudanese government under the leadership of the former Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, whom the RSF would eventually play a key role in overthrowing in 2019. Regardless of the military groups involved in overthrowing al-Bashir, the move was highly supported by regional players, particularly in the Middle East.

However, back in 2013, the RSF was established under the willingness and “blessing” of the Sudanese government to crush the rebellions in the western region of Darfur and fight on behalf of the Sudanese government. The RSF originally evolved from the Janjaweed militias, mainly located in Darfur, and their role grew over time over the course of the Darfur crisis in the 2000s, when the group was accused of numerous human rights abuses and war crimes amid an estimated 300,000 deaths and 2.5 million displaced. The paramilitary group’s influence grew, and in 2013 it was designated under the name of RSF; later in 2015, the RSF was granted the status of a regular force. In addition, in 2017, a new law was passed making the RSF an independent security force, allowing it to expand its operations across the entire country.

What Russia’s First Gas Pipeline to China Reveals About a Planned Second One

Sergey Vakulenko

Russia is now in a far worse negotiating position than in 2014. Finding itself at the mercy of a monopsonist buyer, there is very little it can actually do.

A key topic of discussion during the Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow was the Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline project planned to export Russian natural gas from the Yamal Peninsula in Western Siberia to China. In the wake of the war in Ukraine and ensuing collapse of trade with Europe that has left Russia’s gas reserves stranded, the pipeline has taken on new importance and urgency. While the terms of the contract remain under negotiation and shrouded in secrecy, the future outlines of its pricing formula can be discerned from the existing Russian-Chinese gas contract: for the original Power of Siberia pipeline.

Gazprom has long touted the first Power of Siberia as a highly profitable and successful project—while going to great lengths not to disclose the actual parameters of ongoing trade. In June 2014, when the project was launched, the following figures were made public: Russia would sell China 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually, totaling 1,000 bcm over a thirty-year contract, with an estimated sale price of $350 to $400 per 1,000 cubic meters.

China’s Take on Changing Global Space Governance: A Moral Realist Argument

Lea Marlene Korb

This content was originally written for an undergraduate or Master's program. It is published as part of our mission to showcase peer-leading papers written by students during their studies. This work can be used for background reading and research, but should not be cited as an expert source or used in place of scholarly articles/books.

In January 2022, the Chinese government published a whitepaper summarising past years’ accomplishments in space. “To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry and build China into a space power is our eternal dream,” Xi Jinping, state president, is quoted (Xi, 2022, in The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter: State Council Information Office), 2022). This indicates how China expects to substantially change the contemporary global space governance structure. Global space governance, which can be understood as the international regimes which regulate and bring together space actors’ expectations and attempt to regulate their behaviour, is dominated by the United States (Oltrogge & Christensen, 2020). This paper aims to answer the research question: how does China aim to change the structure of global space governance? In order to provide a well-founded answer, the paper provides background information on the topic and introduces moral realism, as described by Yan (2016), to analyze then both the status quo in global space governance as well as the efforts China makes to change it. Using moral realism, a Chinese International Relations theory, the issue of global space governance can be analyzed from the perspective of the emerging player, China, instead of describing it through a Western lens. The paper goes on to question the effectiveness of China’s approaches. It concludes that China aims to reposition itself within and change the current system of global space governance by aiming to increase its strategic credibility through moral conduct in space regarding peace and cooperation.

Contemporary Global Space Governance

China’s Space Dream Is a Legal Nightmare

Benjamin Silverstein

In January, Hong Kong Aerospace Technology Group, a Chinese company, signed an agreement with the government of Djibouti to build a rocket launch facility in Obock, a small port town in the country’s north. If completed, it would mark the first instance of a launch facility funded by China or a private Chinese company in foreign territory. Building a spaceport is a difficult endeavor, and building such a facility on foreign soil is even more complicated. While challenges may ultimately stall or scupper the arrangement, the potential site in Obock serves an important case study for how China or other actors could expand their geopolitical playbook to circumvent the international space governance regime.

China regularly exports space-related applications as tools of global influence, and the potential investment in Obock fits into Beijing’s broader efforts to project power on the African continent. The burgeoning space industry there offers huge potential for investment, job creation, and economic growth. However, given the limited strategic utility of a single launch facility in the Horn of Africa, it seems that China may have ulterior motives for its interest in foreign spaceports. Specifically, because Djibouti is a nonparty to the major treaties governing outer space behavior, China may see this new partnership as an opportunity to enable a potentially rogue actor and reshape global expectations of responsible behavior in space. Worryingly, should Beijing follow this model, there’s not much the United States or likeminded states could do to rectify the situation—if not in Djibouti today, then potentially elsewhere in Africa, Central America, South America, and beyond.

Over the past decade, Chinese state-led and commercial demand for access to outer space has surged, but the supply of viable launch facilities hasn’t kept up. Beijing has expanded launch facilities and options at home, and now, commercial entities seek to add foreign nodes to this network.

A spaceport in Obock may be attractive to China because launches close to the equator are more fuel-efficient than those from higher latitudes. Even with this benefit, given the inherent logistical challenges of operating a single commercial space facility on nonallied soil thousands of miles away from mainland China, this investment would be unlikely to provide the obvious strategic value that China’s overseas military bases offer. It would, however, give China a stage to present its alternative interpretations of international space law and create a haven for satellite operators looking to act outside the confines of the existing system.

Brazilian soybeans and China’s food security

Genevieve Donnellon-May and Filipe Porto

China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) has announced a three-year plan to reduce the amount of soybean meal in animal feed to help decrease reliance on imports. The proportion of soybean meal in the feed will be cut from 14.5% in 2022 to under 13% by 2025. Estimates suggest that by 2030, the ratio could drop to 12%, lowering China’s soybean imports to 84 million tonnes.

Although China has issued similar guidelines to its animal feed industry in previous years, this announcement comes in an increasingly complex and fractured geopolitical environment, continued competition with the United States, and rising concerns about food security.

It also coincides with the visit of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the new president of agricultural powerhouse Brazil, to Beijing.

The US and Brazil provide over 80% of China’s soybean imports. In 2022, China imported 54.39 million tonnes from Brazil and 29.5 million tonnes from the US, according to its General Administration of Customs.

While China’s central authorities insist that food security plans and decisions are considered from a technical perspective they are, in practice, also political. The removal of a ban on Brazilian beef imports reflected Beijing’s calculation that Sino-Brazilian relations would likely improve under the new government.

China has an enormous appetite for soybeans as the world’s fourth-biggest grower and largest importer, accounting for more than 60% of global trade. MARA says over 88% of its domestic consumption relies on imports.

Most of that consumption is in animal feed, particularly pig feed. Soybean oil, most of it imported, is China’s primary edible oil, accounting for about 40% of oil consumption.

China’s Game Plan for a Taiwan Invasion Is Not a Secret

James Stavridis

James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. A retired U.S. Navy admiral, former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, he is vice chairman of global affairs at the Carlyle Group. He is on the boards of American Water Works, Fortinet, PreVeil, NFP, Ankura Consulting Group, Michael Baker and Neuberger Berman, and has advised Shield Capital, a firm that invests in the cybersecurity sector. 

As increasing tensions between China and the US roil international relations, I am often asked a deceptively simple question: “What would a war over Taiwan look like?”

Frankly, we don’t have to guess much, because two recent sets of Chinese military exercises around the island gave us a pretty good idea of Beijing’s well-formulated battle plan.

5 Sun Tzu quotes to help you overcome conflict

Kevin Dickinson

Few other books can claim as great an influence on the history of warfare as Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Composed in China around 2,500 years ago, the military treatise founded an ideology of war that would echo down to Mao Zedong’s Communist Revolution. Spreading throughout East Asia, it guided Japan’s warrior class during its own war-torn era and shaped the tactics of the Viet Cong. And after the protracted struggles of the Vietnam War, U.S. brass brought Sun Tzu with them across the Pacific. Today, The Art of War is studied in military academies worldwide.

However, this staying power is not the result of Sun Tzu’s unbeatable battle plans. War has transformed invariably since China’s Warring States period. Any practical advice for navigating terrain, committing espionage, or leading a siege would be useless in the face of tanks, the internet, and precision-guided munitions. If Sun Tzu could have witnessed the destructive capability of modern warfare — to say nothing of the horrors of nuclear weapons — his treatise might have been considerably shorter: “Better not.”

Instead, The Art of War remains relevant today because its author recognized conflict as a universal part of life. As such, it wasn’t enough for him to review the battle tactics of his day. He sought to explore the psychology of war and how we might harness it wisely.

Sun Tzu and way of war

The Art of War‘s universal approach has extended its influence far beyond the martial disciplines. Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari cited the treatise as the inspiration behind the strategies he deployed to win the 2002 World Cup, and its guidance has been further co-opted to apply to fields as far-ranging as politics, business management, and even esports.

With that in mind, here are five Sun Tzu quotes to help you strategically overcome conflict wherever you may encounter it.

Hoover Institution Launches New Report On China’s Strategy For Global Data Dominance

The Hoover Institution has launched a new report about China’s strategy to achieve a global edge in the accumulation and control of data with a presentation by its author, Matthew Johnson, Hoover visiting fellow and expert on the Chinese Communist Party’s politics, strategic thinking, and the power it exerts over its country’s financial sector and private economy.Friday, April 21, 2023 3 min readResearch Team: China's Global Sharp Power Projectfeaturing Matthew Johnson

Hoover Institution (Stanford, CA) – The Hoover Institution has launched a new report about China’s strategy to achieve a global edge in the accumulation and control of data with a presentation by its author, Matthew Johnson, Hoover visiting fellow and expert on the Chinese Communist Party’s politics, strategic thinking, and the power it exerts over its country’s financial sector and private economy.

The new report is a product of Hoover’s Global Sharp Power Project, chaired by Wiliam L. Clayton Senior Fellow Larry Diamond and research fellow Glenn Tiffert.

During his remarks, Johnson provided an overview of the report’s main arguments and recommendations. He explained that China’s strategy to accumulate and control data at a global scale starts at the very top of the Communist Party’s apparatus with its premier, Xi Jinping.

Johnson said that the origin of this strategy points to a 2013 speech Xi gave to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, shortly after assuming the post of president and party leader. Xi told his audience, “The vast ocean of data, just like oil resources during industrialization, contains immense productive power and opportunities. Who controls big data technologies will control the resources for development and have the upper hand.”

The key instruments of this strategy are commercial enterprises that operate and siphon data at a global scale, Johnson explained. Undergirding this activity is what Johnson referred to as an “accumulation espionage ecosystem,” that is, a network of internal data storage and processing facilities. From there, data is absorbed into military, technology, and surveillance projects in China and is potentially shared with like-minded international partners such as the Russian Federation or the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Why China-Taiwan Relations Are So Tense

Lindsay Maizland

Taiwan has been governed independently of China since 1949, but Beijing views the island as part of its territory. Beijing has vowed to eventually “unify” Taiwan with the mainland, using force if necessary.

Tensions are rising. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party platform favors independence, has rebuked Beijing’s efforts to undermine democracy. Beijing has ramped up political and military pressure on Taipei.

Some analysts fear the United States and China could go to war over Taiwan. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the island in 2022 heightened tensions between the countries.


Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), is an island separated from China by the Taiwan Strait. It has been governed independently of mainland China, officially the People’s Republic of China (PRC), since 1949. The PRC views the island as a renegade province and vows to eventually “unify” Taiwan with the mainland. In Taiwan, which has its own democratically elected government and is home to twenty-three million people, political leaders have differing views on the island’s status and relations with the mainland.

Cross-strait tensions have escalated since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016. Tsai has refused to accept a formula that her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, endorsed to allow for increased cross-strait ties. Meanwhile, Beijing has taken increasingly aggressive actions, including by flying fighter jets near the island. Some analysts fear a Chinese attack on Taiwan has the potential to draw the United States into a war with China.

Is Taiwan part of China?

China’s Humanitarian Efforts Fail to Measure up in the Middle East

Jesse Marks

In this photo released by the official Syrian state news agency SANA, workers unload humanitarian aid sent from China for Syria following a devastating earthquake, at the airport in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023.Credit: SANA via AP

China’s successful mediation of the Iran-Saudi rivalry has raised expectations for a larger Chinese role in resolving other conflicts in the region, including in Yemen and Syria, and most recently, between Israel and Palestine. The Iran-Saudi mediation also reinforced Chinese claims to regional leadership in the Middle East made at the China-Arab Summit in December 2022.

Beijing has indeed presented itself as a political partner for resolving regional conflicts, but it has rejected any such role in resolving the region’s many humanitarian crises. Despite being one of the most influential and powerful nations, China has largely remained on the sidelines of humanitarian efforts in the region and resigned itself to the pursuit of economic interests. Instead, it has been pouring development assistance and investment under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), normally reserved for developing countries, into Saudi Arabia – the country which has the least need for economic aid in the region – while leaving those affected by conflicts across the region in dire straits.

Beijing’s View of Humanitarian Crises

Beijing’s stance on humanitarian crises is that “war, conflict, and poverty” are the primary drivers of refugee crises, and that the only way to resolve them is through “peace and development.” Using that framework, China participates in many of the United Nations’ forums and processes on refugees and migration, particularly high visibility events that align with its foreign policy priorities and improve its image.

France and China's Search for European Strategic Autonomy

Moksh Suri

On China, disunity, not strategic autonomy, has come to define Europe’s struggles for improved relations. This ensures that on the important questions of Ukraine, China maintains the upper hand.

The European Union’s (EU) top diplomatic officials are adapting incrementally to Beijing’s turn towards peace talks and diplomacy. Much of the recent EU diplomatic activity is owed to the optimism surrounding China’s mediatory role in the Persian Gulf to broker an Iran-Saudi Arabia peace settlement. This is not also to detract from the pessimism surrounding China’s position on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Hoping for cessation of hostilities and a return to peace talks in Ukraine, high ranking EU leaders are increasingly travelling to China to persuade President Xi Jinping to assert his growing leverage over Vladimir Putin for peace talks.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz began this trend when he visited China in November 2022, prompting some disapproval within his coalition government partners. In March 2023, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was in Beijing to meet with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Qin Gang, and finally Xi – where both sides exchanged views on the Ukraine crisis. The Spanish side spoke “positively” about the Chinese position paper on Ukraine.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron and his foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, received a VIP red carpet welcome in Beijing and brought along a sizeable French business delegation to strengthen Sino-French commercial relations, ignoring much of the new “de-risking” discourse being emphasised in Brussels. Macron’s delegation also included European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the advocate of the de-risking approach and a firm critic of the Chinese paper on Ukraine.

Finally, the EU-China Strategic Dialogue will soon take place in Beijing led by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. The purpose of these visits is to push China to take a much more active role on Ukraine and to stabilise what has been a problematic period in EU-China trade relations.

The Follies of the Victors

Francis P. Sempa

In the first chapter of The Gathering Storm, the first volume of his history of the Second World War, Winston Churchill lamented that the war resulted not only from the actions of the aggressor nations of Germany, Italy, and Japan, but also because of the “follies of the victors” of the First World War. If, God forbid, the current war in Ukraine and the rising tensions in the western Pacific escalate into a Third World War, future historians may, like Churchill, blame not only the aggressor nations of Russia and China but also the “follies of the victors” of the Cold War.

After the First World War, the victorious powers blamed Germany for the war, imposed economic reparations that Churchill called “malignant and silly” and “futile,” and “imposed upon the Germans all the long-sought ideals of the liberal nations of the West” which large segments of the German people “regarded as an imposition of the enemy.” And the victorious powers disarmed even as the two pariah nations--Germany and the Soviet Union--secretly rearmed, and as Japan sought to construct an Asia-western Pacific empire.

After the Cold War, the victorious powers, led by the United States, in a fit of victor’s hubris responded to the collapse of the defeated Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact alliance by broadly and relentlessly expanding NATO to virtually the entire western border of Russia and thereby fueling the resentment among Russians of an imposed peace and igniting the worst aspects of Russian nationalist and imperialist tendencies. Meanwhile, those same Western victorious powers financially invested in China, helping to fuel China’s economic and military growth. And perhaps forgetting that the West’s victory in the Cold War rested in part on exploiting the Sino-Soviet rift, the victorious powers watched and did nothing as China and Russia formed a “strategic partnership” that effectively undid nearly three decades of triangular diplomacy begun by the Nixon administration and continued by Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush 41. What Churchill wrote in The Gathering Storm echoes in today’s precarious world situation: “[B]oth in Europe and in Asia, conditions were swiftly created by the victorious Allies which, in the name of peace, cleared the way for the renewal of war.”

US will receive unlimited rounds for M1 Abrams

John Hill

US soldier carries an M829A4 main battle tank round to load into the loader hatch on a M1A2 SEP V2 Abrams Tank, Fort Benning, GA., July 20, 2021. Credit: DVIDS.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s metal specialist subsidiary, Aerojet Ordnance Tennessee (AOT), has been awarded a multi-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract worth up to $75m.

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Leading Guide to Ammunition and Fuses for the Land Defence Industry
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The company will provide the US Army with M829A4 120mm kinetic energy rounds, which are specifically designed for the M1 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs).

These rounds are the latest type of ammunition to be used by the American-made Abrams. It is the materiel solution for the Abrams’ lethality capability gap against threat vehicles equipped with third-generation explosive reactive armour.

This flight projectile includes a low-drag fin with a tracer, windshield and tip assembly. The latest feature to the M829A4, compared with previous cartidges, is the ammunition data link (ADL) on the base of the cartridge. This functions as an interface between the Abrams’ fire-control system and the M829A4. The ADL enables the Abrams’ fire control system to send information to the M829A4.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s CEO and president Eileen Drake stated: “We are pleased to continue supporting the [US] Army with the cutting-edge, armour-piercing technology that protects our forces and keeps our adversaries on the defensive.

“In terms of precision and lethality, the M829A4 [main battle] tank round is second to none, which is what our brave men and women in uniform deserve.”

Supplying Ukraine’s counter-offensive

Ukraine Situation Report: The Brutal Wait For Ukraine’s Counteroffensive


Those Ukrainians who have endured this winter's Russian onslaught in the ruins of Marinka, Avdiivka, Bakhmut, and all the trenches in between, know the counteroffensive is coming, but no one knows whether they'll live to see it.

Ruined towns and cratered fields turned into no man’s land have bore the brunt of Russia’s war machine while Ukrainian units spent much of this winter training on Western equipment with NATO partners. As they ready their Bradleys, Leopards, and more to take back territory, each day at the frontline brings a high cost.

The Institute for the Study of War’s (@TheStudyofWar) latest assessed control of terrain maps show the frontline towns continue to see heavy fighting and video from the Russian side. It also shows tanks from Russia’s 150th Motorized Rifle Division in action in Mariinka, with shells from tanks and artillery landing throughout the piles of debris.

Haunting accounts from the frontline confirm just how badly Ukraine needs the initiative back with some help from its NATO-trained mechanized units. The besieged town of Bakhmut perhaps illustrates this best, the grueling battle now a bloody street-by-street fight as Russia attempts to punch through the city’s ruins. Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) with the Financial Times wrote about combat training for Ukraine’s provisional units as the country scrounges for manpower, and it includes a grim anecdote of Ukraine’s casualties.

A soldier in a Kyiv Territorial Defense Brigade told Miller that, in a single day at Bakhmut’s frontline, he was one of only three in his platoon of 21 to escape alive and without injury.

Outside the city’s ruins, fighting continues along the trench lines. Francis Farrell (@francisjfarrell) of The Kyiv Independent brings us to the harrowing situation at Bakhmut’s “zero line” for Ukrainian soldiers while embedded with the storied Ukrainian 10th Mountain Assault Brigade to the north near Soledar.

Airman Shared Sensitive Intelligence More Widely and for Longer Than Previously Known

Aric Toler, Malachy Browne and Julian E. Barnes

The Air National Guardsman accused of leaking classified documents to a small group of gamers had been posting sensitive information months earlier than previously known and to a much larger chat group, according to online postings reviewed by The New York Times.

In February 2022, soon after the invasion of Ukraine, a user profile matching that of Airman Jack Teixeira began posting secret intelligence on the Russian war effort on a previously undisclosed chat group on Discord, a social media platform popular among gamers. The chat group contained about 600 members.

The case against Airman Teixeira, 21, who was arrested on April 13, pertains to the leaking of classified documents on another Discord group of about 50 members, called Thug Shaker Central. There, he began posting sensitive information in October 2022, members of the group told The Times. His job as an information technology specialist at an Air Force base in Massachusetts gave him top secret clearance.

It is not clear whether authorities are aware of the classified material posted on this additional Discord chat group.

The newly discovered information posted on the larger chat group included details about Russian and Ukrainian casualties, activities of Moscow’s spy agencies and updates on aid being provided to Ukraine. The user claimed to be posting information from the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies.

The additional information raises questions about why authorities did not discover the leaks sooner, particularly since hundreds more people would have been able to see the posts.

Dangerously Hungry: The Link between Food Insecurity and Conflict

Chase Sova and Eilish Zembilci

Economist Paul Collier once wrote that “war is development in reverse.” That conflict inevitably produces poverty and hunger is a theory that has been tested—and proven true—in every major clash across human history. It is believed, for example, that more people died of starvation and starvation-related disease than from combat during the Second World War.

But it is also true that hunger and food insecurity can lead to instability. There is a vicious feedback loop between conflict and hunger currently at play in dozens of countries around the world. War drives hunger and hunger drives war.

In 2017, the World Food Program USA (WFP USA) produced a report titled Winning the Peace: Hunger and Instability. It was a comprehensive review of the literature on “food-related instability”—or the ways that hunger drives conflict. At the time, U.S. lawmakers knew anecdotally that this relationship existed. Former Senate Agriculture Committee chair Pat Roberts (D-KS) said in a 2015 speech, “Show me a nation that cannot feed itself, and I’ll show you a nation in chaos.” Others, like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), frequently warned that providing humanitarian assistance in some of the world’s most complex emergencies was necessary to avoid more costly—in both blood and treasure—engagements.

Winning the Peace provided a snapshot of what the academic community knew about the relationship between food insecurity and conflict. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, the lingering economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and a rise in extreme climate events around the world, 2022 was a year of unprecedented global hunger. Predictably, global instability rose in tandem. At least 12,500 protests occurred last year in countries facing rapid food and fuel price increases.

Academic literature on food-related instability has grown significantly in the last half decade. In fact, almost 50 percent of all the research to be published on food-related instability over the past 20 years has been produced in the last five years alone. A new report by WFP USA, launched in April of 2023, aims to capture this latest thinking in a review of 60 peer-reviewed academic studies produced between 2017 and 2022. Dangerously Hungry is a study of studies. This commentary is a literature review of such studies and discusses specific drivers and motivators of food-related instability, and how to create an improved framework for understanding of the complex relationship between food insecurity and conflict.
Drivers of Food-Related Instability

How Does the Conflict in Sudan Affect Russia and the Wagner Group?

Catrina Doxsee

Over the past year, the world has closely watched the Wagner Group—a private military company closely linked to the Russian government and led by Yevgeny Prigozhin—as it fights on the front lines in Ukraine, but less attention has been given to the roughly 30 other countries where Wagner is active. This oversight leaves policymakers and security analysts at a disadvantage as they work to understand and respond to Wagner’s motives, opportunities, and vulnerabilities in the context of local crises, as evidenced by the current conflict in Sudan. The U.S. government should more comprehensively and transparently collect, analyze, and—when possible—publicize evidence of Wagner’s global activities in order to hold it accountable and undermine the advantage it gains from secrecy.

The violent power struggle in Sudan between General Mohammad Fattah al-Burhan’s Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and General Mohamed Mamdan Dagalo’s (Hemedti’s) Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is deeply rooted in Sudanese domestic politics. Even so, it creates opportunities for foreign actors—including Russia, through Wagner—to intervene to shape a political future conducive to their own interests.

Wagner, which routinely advances Moscow’s political, military, and economic goals, deployed to Sudan in December 2017 to provide political and military support to then-president Omar al-Bashir. The previous month, Moscow negotiated a series of economic and security deals with al-Bashir to facilitate this partnership—agreements that most notably included a set of gold mining concessions for M-Invest, a Russian firm linked to Prigozhin and Wagner.

Wagner’s activities in Sudan continued even after the April 2019 coup d'état that removed al-Bashir from power. Rather than inextricably tying itself to the fortunes of the governing administration, Wagner remained adaptable and opportunistic under the transition government. It then supported the 2021 military coup, which introduced a government more interested in continuing to strengthen ties with Russia.

How Kim Jong-un's Fears Shape North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Agenda

Bruce W. Bennett

North Korea has ramped up the frequency and intensity of its missile launches and other provocations over the last year, continuing its nuclear weapon–buildup while threatening attacks against South Korea and the United States.

Leader Kim Jong-un now claims that he plans to put 180 tactical nuclear weapons on just one of his new types of short-range ballistic missiles. He has also announced plans for an “exponential increase” in his nuclear weapons, suggesting that his target is likely more in the 300 to 500 range, well beyond what experts had once anticipated.

This campaign has also seen the increasing diversification of the DPRK's arsenal to include a wide array of missiles and other weapons, ranging from a new liquid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and long-range cruise missiles to a newly introduced underwater nuclear drone.

All of this raises the question of why North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is making such excessive investments in his nuclear and weapons programs and dramatically showing off his country's military capabilities, even though the United States and South Korea have no intention of invading as the DPRK claims.

And while it's impossible to divine Kim's exact motivations, available evidence suggests he is a paranoid ruler who cares less for his country than for his own life and power, as he faces not only his sworn enemy the United States, but his own population suffering under pandemic hardships.

Overhyped Threats

Militaries, Metals, and Mining

Fabian Villalobos and Morgan Bazilian

In the early 1960s, Soviet fulfillment officers at the Berezniki and Zaporozh'ye (PDF) ilmenite mines must have noticed an uptick in worldwide demand for titanium. Orders for titanium sponge were increasing around the globe, and the Soviet Union reacted by increasing production rapidly.

Yet some of these deliveries resulting from this boost in production were not reaching their intended customers. In fact, some of their customers didn't even exist. Little did the Soviet producers know that it was actually the CIA on the receiving end of these shipments.

The goal of the subterfuge? Supply Lockheed Martin with high-temperature titanium to build the A12 spy plane, a forerunner to the SR-71 Blackbird.

Russia, and a few other Soviet republics, had won the geological lottery and possessed secure access to the ilmenite ore needed to produce titanium. The United States did not have what it took to manufacture this wonder metal.

Deep concern over access to titanium prompted the CIA to launch its bold plan—and resulted in the USSR unwittingly supplying metals for a plane that would soon be used to spy on the Soviet Union itself.

Today, the U.S. aerospace and defense industries still need access to critical minerals. Yet securing them today may be an even more-complex task—one that requires more than deploying audacious subterfuge. These minerals are now very much in the public eye, and they are also needed for the clean energy technologies that will help combat climate change.
The Chains of Supply

Military requirements for platforms like the SR-71 pushed metallurgical science, processing, and technology forward throughout much of the 20th century. The resultant nickel and cobalt superalloys, titanium 6-aluminum 4-vanadium (Ti6Al4V), and others transformed not only military aircraft and munitions, but also global air travel, space flight, communications, and medical equipment.

Could US Cyber Command play a larger role in electronic warfare in the future?


U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to "Wild Bill" Platoon, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment and 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment conduct electronic warfare training during Combined Resolve XV, Feb. 23, 2021 at the Hohenfels Training Area. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Julian Padua)

Cyberspace and electronic warfare are very closely linked. The former is considered by the Department of Defense to be a full-fledged “domain” of warfare while the latter is not, much to the chagrin of its impassioned EW community. While cyber has a dedicated combatant command, electronic warfare is merely a functional area under the combatant commands.

Authorities to launch cyber effects have traditionally been held at the highest levels of government, while electronic warfare capabilities have been held at much lower levels on the battlefield.

While U.S. Cyber Command conducts and coordinates the offensive cyber operations at the strategic and operational levels, there has been a blending of sorts among organizations at the tactical level.

However, for the time being, it seems, Cybercom is leaving EW operations — and the closely related radio frequency-enabled cyber operations — to the services to conduct.

“Traditionally, the services had electronic warfare capabilities that they deployed with their forces … It is not part of my command. But again, a lot of the electronic warfare done is done in support of service requirements. They have service forces that do this,” Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of Cybercom, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March when asked about the relationship between EW and cyber and who is in charge of coordinating EW.

The worry, at least for one senator, is duplication of effort and how these effects will be coordinated and synchronized.

Using Big Data to Reduce Leaks

Emily Harding and Benjamin Jensen

The latest leak of sensitive intelligence is cause for concern about how the national security community secures its reports, sources, and methods. Millions of people have access to classified information—including 21-year-old National Guardsmen—and occasionally those people make terrible decisions motivated by ego, greed, or ideology. This leak is likely not the last. It is, however, an opportunity to reexamine existing operational security measures—many of which reflect an outdated bureaucratic model—for safeguarding the nation’s most sensitive intelligence estimates. Just as businesses have adapted to using big data and analytics to secure information, the national security community needs to move into the twenty-first century and embrace the promise of novel technologies for stopping leaks before they spill.

Today’s security focus is physical: emphasis is placed on having local security managers and passing clearances, which is known as security by site. Instead, DOD needs to shift to creating security across the network, finding the blinking red signal in the noise of network activity.

To begin to address this gap, DOD and the intelligence community (IC) in the past few years have implemented a method called Continuous Evaluation (CE) for clearance holders. Meant to urgently flag a development in a clearance holder’s life that could make them vulnerable to recruitment by a foreign intelligence service, CE (also sometimes called continuous vetting) uses data scrapes to immediately flag issues like an arrest or financial trouble. Under previous methods, security violations or risky behavior could sit for years unnoticed between reinvestigations.

This same mindset shift toward intensive, real-time monitoring needs to happen for unusual activity within a classified system. Agencies and departments are beginning to shift their network security practices from a moat approach to a zero trust approach. For the moat, once an individual passes the initial security checks to get onto a system, they have relatively free access within the secure environment. Under zero trust, an individual must demonstrate they have legitimate access not just to the system, but to a particular part of the system. This approach can help flag actors like Edward Snowden, who stole vast quantities of information he had no need to access.

Big Centralization, Small Bets, and the Warfighting Implications of Middling Progress: Three Concerns about JADC2’s Trajectory

Travis Sharp, Tyler Hacker

Warfare has always been a contest of incomplete information and imperfect control, with each side straining to find the enemy in an unfavorable position and coordinate his destruction. Although the technologies used to surveil, communicate, and attack have changed throughout history, the advantages gained from scouting and synchronizing more effectively than one’s opponent have endured. Stripped of its jargon, the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) vision of integrating sensors and shooters comprises merely the latest Pentagon effort to provide U.S. forces with the timeless military advantages of superior information and control. This basic thrust of JADC2 represents a vital objective worth pursuing – even if the idealized outcome, fully integrated C2, likely remains as unattainable today as when the epigram appeared 60 years ago.

Despite JADC2’s worthy goal, its programs and governance present great difficulties. Commonly cited problems include ambiguous concepts, disjointed programs, and overemphasis on technology. To spur constructive dialogue, this policy brief raises three additional concerns that have received less attention.Although the Pentagon has steadily added centralized controls to focus JADC2 efforts, further centralization risks curtailing the messiness essential to innovation and transforming stakeholders into opponents.

JADC2’s annual funding, which we estimate at $1.4 billion to $3.5 billion in the fiscal year 2024 request, appears modest relative to its colossal ambitions, indicating a potentially risky reliance on small bets to produce large payoffs.

War, What Is It Good For?


I was born on July 20, 1944, amid a vast global conflict already known as World War II. Though it ended with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 before I could say much more than “Mama” or “Dada,” in some strange fashion, I grew up at war.

Living in New York City, I was near no conflict in those years or in any since. My dad, however, had volunteered for the Army Air Corps at age 35 on December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He fought in Burma, was painfully silent about his wartime experiences, and died on Pearl Harbor Day in 1983. He was the operations officer for the 1st Air Commandos and his war, in some strange sense, came home with him.

Like so many vets, then and now, he was never willing to talk to his son about what he had experienced, though in my early years he still liked his friends to call him “Major,” his rank on leaving the military. When his war did come up in our house, it was usually in the form of anger — because my mother had shopped at a nearby grocery store whose owners, he claimed, had been “war profiteers” while he was overseas, or because my first car, shared with a friend, was a used Volkswagen (German!), or my mom was curious to go — god save us! — to a Japanese restaurant!

The strange thing, though, was that, in those same years, for reasons we never discussed, he allowed me briefly to have a Japanese pen pal and, though my dad and I never talked about the letters that boy and I exchanged, we did soak the stamps off the envelopes he sent and paste them into our latest Scott stamp album.

As for evidence of my father’s wartime experience, I had two sources. In the guest room closet in our apartment, he had an old green duffle bag, which he’d go through now and then. It was filled to the brim with everything from Army Air Corps documents to his portable mess kit and even — though I didn’t know it then — his pistol and bullets from the war. (I would turn them over to the police upon his death a quarter-century later.)

U.S. spent more on military in 2022 than next 10 countries combined

Dave Lawler

Countries around the world spent a combined $2.24 trillion on their militaries last year, a 3.7% increase on last year's previous record high when adjusted for inflation, according to an annual report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The big picture: Many of the biggest increases came in Europe as countries responded to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. continued to top the chart, spending $877 billion on defense last year. That was more than the next 10 countries combined.U.S. spending increased only slightly over 2021, even when factoring in an estimated $20 billion in direct military aid to Ukraine. China's military budget grew by 4% in Beijing's 28th consecutive annual increase, according to SIPRI's data.
Russia increased its spending by 9% to $86 billion last year. Meanwhile, Ukraine ($44 billion) increased spending by a whopping 640% to move from 36th to 11th on SIPRI's annual list of the 40 biggest spenders.

Next came India ($81 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($75 billion), which both spent significantly more in 2022 than the previous year.The rest of the top 15 is made up mainly of U.S. allies like the U.K. ($69 billion), Germany ($59 billion), Japan ($46 billion), South Korea ($46 billion), Australia ($32 billion) and Israel ($23 billion).
Iran ($7 billion), the only country in the top 40 after China and Russia that has adversarial relations with the U.S., sits 34th between Belgium and Switzerland.

Zoom in: Several countries in Europe including Poland (+11%), Sweden (+12%) and the Netherlands (+12%), increased spending significantly last year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.While European spending jumped significantly, the increases were not uniform. Military spending was flat in France and actually fell in Italy when adjusted for inflation. Most allies remain below NATO's spending target of 2% of GDP, though many (including Italy) have plans to get there.

Military spending in Taiwan ($13 billion) increased slightly last year but remains at just 1.6% of GDP despite growing fears of a Chinese invasion.

Among the top 40 spenders, Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia (7.4%) and Qatar (7.0%) spent the highest shares of GDP on their militaries, with the exception of Ukraine (34%).
Otherwise, only Russia (4.1%), Israel (4.5%), Algeria (4.8%) and Greece (3.7%) spent higher percentages of GDP than the U.S. (3.5%).