5 May 2023

China Says India Border Stable, Contrasting With Indian View

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, seated third left, attends a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu, right, during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Defense Minister’s Meeting in New Delhi, India, Thursday, April 27, 2023.Credit: Twitter/Rajnath Singh

China’s defense minister says conditions along the tense, high-altitude border with India are “stable overall,” in sharp contrast with the far more pessimistic view from New Delhi.

The remarks from Li Shangfu came in a statement issued shortly after a meeting Thursday with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh in New Delhi. “China and India have far more common interests than differences,” Li was quoted as saying.

“At present, conditions on the China-Indian border are stable overall,” Li said. The sides should “take a long-term view, put the border issue at an appropriate place in bilateral relations, and promote the normalization of the border situation as soon as possible,” he said.

In its own statement, India’s Defense Ministry quoted Singh as saying China had eroded the “entire basis” of ties between the countries by violating bilateral agreements, in reference to a nearly 3-year-old standoff involving thousands of soldiers stationed along their disputed border in the Ladakh region.

The differing tone of the statements reflects India’s desire to draw attention to what it says is the deployment of a large number of Chinese troops, their aggressive behavior, and attempts to unilaterally alter the border status quo between the countries.

China, for its part, has tried to downplay moves to consolidate its border presence and often portrays the frictions as part of deliberate U.S. attempts to sow discord between the two nuclear-armed Asian giants.

America’s Bad Bet on India

Ashley J. Tellis

For the past two decades, Washington has made an enormous bet in the Indo-Pacific—that treating India as a key partner will help the United States in its geopolitical rivalry with China. From George W. Bush onward, successive U.S. presidents have bolstered India’s capabilities on the assumption that doing so automatically strengthens the forces that favor freedom in Asia.

The administration of President Joe Biden has enthusiastically embraced this playbook. In fact, it has taken it one step further: the administration has launched an ambitious new initiative to expand India’s access to cutting-edge technologies, further deepened defense cooperation, and made the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), which includes Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, a pillar of its regional strategy. It has also overlooked India’s democratic erosion and its unhelpful foreign policy choices, such as its refusal to condemn Moscow’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine. It has done all of this on the presumption that New Delhi will respond favorably when Washington calls in a favor during a regional crisis involving China.

Washington’s current expectations of India are misplaced. India’s significant weaknesses compared with China, and its inescapable proximity to it, guarantee that New Delhi will never involve itself in any U.S. confrontation with Beijing that does not directly threaten its own security. India values cooperation with Washington for the tangible benefits it brings but does not believe that it must, in turn, materially support the United States in any crisis—even one involving a common threat such as China.

The fundamental problem is that the United States and India have divergent ambitions for their security partnership. As it has done with allies across the globe, Washington has sought to strengthen India’s standing within the liberal international order and, when necessary, solicit its contributions toward coalition defense. Yet New Delhi sees things differently. It does not harbor any innate allegiance toward preserving the liberal international order and retains an enduring aversion toward participating in mutual defense. It seeks to acquire advanced technologies from the United States to bolster its own economic and military capabilities and thus facilitate its rise as a great power capable of balancing China independently, but it does not presume that American assistance imposes any further obligations on itself.

Life under the rule of the Taliban 2.0

For two decades America and its allies expended thousands of lives and some two trillion dollars in Afghanistan to stop, they said, the Taliban returning the Central Asian country to al-Qaeda plotting and chaos. After the Islamist militants regained power 20 months ago, it was feared that would be Afghanistan’s fate. The reality is a little different.

Ask the hawala dealers, operators of a vast money-transfer market, clustered in a warren-like bazaar beside the Kabul river. Having for years helped the Taliban finance their insurgency, these well-connected moneymen, who are estimated to provide twice the volume of commercial loans that Afghanistan’s banking industry does, thought they had nothing to fear from them. The hawaladars had foiled previous efforts to regulate their largely untaxed trade by Ashraf Ghani, the country’s last nato-backed leader, and his predecessor Hamid Karzai. Yet the Taliban government has proved a more committed reformer. It has forced the hawaladars to keep computerised records and follow “Know Your Customer” requirements. Non-compliant businesses have been shut down. The boss of the money-changers’ union was stripped of his licence to operate. “With these guys, you do what you’re told,” says Babarak Amiri, a veteran hawaladar.


IN BRIEFMore advanced military capabilities, particularly in the air and maritime domains, are essential to deterring the People’s Republic of China, but implementing or operationalizing the National Defense Strategy (NDS) in the Indo-Pacific fundamentally requires landpower to practically integrate joint and combined military operations.

The Army has long provided foundational capabilities that underpin unity of effort among all military services—which is a cornerstone of conventional deterrence—but the Army faces persistent challenges when describing its value in the Indo-Pacific because the region is considered predominantly an air and maritime theater.

Three signature Army efforts in the Indo-Pacific—the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center, Operation Pathways and Joint Interior Lines—best illustrate how the Army is allowing DoD to implement the three pillars of the 2022 NDS: integrated deterrence, campaigning and actions that build enduring advantage.


The 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) “directs the Department [of Defense] to act urgently to sustain and strengthen U.S. deterrence, with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the pacing challenge for the Department.”1 However, slashes to Army endstrength, topline additions favoring other services and a flattening budget for the nation’s land force suggest that the importance of landpower in the Indo-Pacific remains undervalued and misunderstood. Unlike in Europe or in the Middle East, communicating the value of the Army in the Indo-Pacific—the priority theater—faces headwinds from skeptical majorities, both from inside and outside of DoD, who are unaware of the role that land forces perform in a theater long considered, according to one prominent historian, “a special preserve of the navy.”2 However, joint and combined military operations in the Indo-Pacific, including large-scale protracted conflicts across air, land and sea, have in fact relied on the Army’s foundational capabilities for well over a century.

Italy signed up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Now it’s having second thoughts

Silvia Amaro

Italy’s rather surprising decision to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative a few years back is being thrust back into the fore, with a deadline to potentially end it fast approaching under Rome’s new leadership.

Italy has previously been described as a “middle-power” bridge used by Beijing and Moscow to strike deals with a country that’s a member of NATO, the European Union, and the G-7 group of advanced economies.

In 2019, Rome sent shockwaves throughout the Western world when it signed up to the BRI — China’s massive infrastructure and investment plan aimed at boosting its influence across the world. At the time, analysts said that by joining the project, Italy was undermining Europe’s ability to stand up to Beijing.

When former European Central Bank governor Mario Draghi took power in Rome in 2021, he froze the agreement and led a critical screening of Chinese investments in the country — having vetoed at least three Chinese takeovers during that year.

Two years down the line and with a new government in place, Rome is now having another think about its ties with China.

“It is a very controversial issue for the Italian government,” Silvia Menegazzi, professor of international relations and Chinese studies at Luiss University, said over the phone, adding that this is due to one key reason: Taiwan.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province, while Taiwan sees itself as separate from China, having ruled itself since splitting from the mainland in 1949 following a protracted civil war. Tensions between the two have risen over the years, and high-level U.S. politicians’ visits to Taiwan have drawn Beijing’s ire.

China could play a crucial role in ending the war in Ukraine

Russia needs its ally’s support but the prolonged conflict has become a strategic liability for Beijing GIDEON RACHMANAdd to myFT © James Ferguson China could play a crucial role in ending the war in Ukraine on twitter (opens in a new window) China could play a crucial role in ending the war in Ukraine on facebook (opens in a new window) China could play a crucial role in ending the war in Ukraine on linkedin (opens in a new window) Save current progress 0% Gideon Rachman MAY 1 2023 572 Print this page Receive free War in Ukraine updates We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest War in Ukraine news every morning. Will the deadlock in the Ukraine war be broken in Bakhmut or Beijing? At the moment, all eyes are focused on the much-trailed Ukrainian counter-offensive — which is likely to begin soon. But there are also significant developments on the diplomatic front. Last week, Xi Jinping called Volodymyr Zelenskyy. On a recent visit to Kyiv, I was surprised by the eager anticipation — in both the president’s office and the foreign ministry — of that conversation with China’s leader. Now the Xi-Zelenskyy call has finally taken place and, according to the Ukrainian president, it was “long and meaningful”. Beijing later announced that it would appoint an envoy to work towards a peace settlement. There are obvious reasons to be wary of China’s diplomatic efforts. Xi has repeatedly emphasised his regard for his “dear friend”, Vladimir Putin. 

China’s peace plan for Ukraine, released earlier this year, was vague and did not call for the withdrawal of Russian troops. There are clear propaganda benefits for Beijing to proclaim itself interested in “peace”, while doing not terribly much. Even if China is in earnest, it will be fearsomely difficult to bridge the gap between Kyiv and Moscow. And yet, it is wrong to dismiss the idea that China could play a big role in ending this brutal conflict. For different reasons, Ukraine, Russia, the US, Europe and China itself all have a potential interest in Beijing’s involvement. One Must-Read This article was featured in the One Must-Read newsletter, where we recommend one remarkable story each weekday. Sign up for the newsletter here The Ukrainians understand that Xi has unique leverage over Putin — should he choose to use it. In the face of western sanctions, Russia is reliant on China to keep its economy afloat. 

Managed Competition: Finding Answers in U.S.-China Diplomatic History

Dennis Wilder

We are in a new era in U.S.-China relations as precarious as any since the Tiananmen crackdown of 1989. Channels of meaningful communication have broken down, mutual trust is at an all-time low, the Chinese Communist Party has become a bipartisan issue of focus in U.S. politics, and senior Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, now explicitly assert that the United States is leading a Western effort to “contain and suppress” China. Simply put, the Chinese leaders strongly suspect that the U.S. end game is to destroy Chinese communism. U.S. leaders strongly suspect the Chinese end game is to replace the United States as the world’s leading military and economic power.

So, the question we face is whether there are ways to mute the levels of strategic suspicion while still engaging in intense competition. Is there a way to create an equilibrium so that strategic competition does not become an end unto itself and crowds out efforts to tackle worldwide challenges like climate change, pandemics, and food insecurity in the Global South?

There is no question that this is a large, seemingly impossible, task in the current environment. However, during my four decades of government service I have experienced similar crises before in U.S.-China relations, and I have seen how the use of tried-and-true diplomatic tools has successfully bridged the divide. One of the most successful avenues, for example, has been the intense engagement of the U.S. national security advisor with Chinese counterparts. This has proven incredibly productive because it has cut through the bureaucracies on both sides and taken the discussion to a strategic level authorized by the top leaders—but it does take a greater commitment of time on both sides than periodic virtual meetings.

As U.S.-China tensions mounted in 1995 and 1996 over the visit of Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui to the United States and subsequent Taiwan elections, U.S. National Security Advisor Tony Lake was convinced by his National Security Council staff that the only way to diffuse the crisis was by face-to-face engagement with his counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Huaqiu. On President Bill Clinton’s orders, Lake invited Liu to Washington in March 1996, and they held intense negotiations at the estate of Averill and Pamela Harriman in the Virginia countryside, even as Beijing was firing missiles and conducting exercises around Taiwan as an act of intimidation. This first round of talks did not end the crisis, and President Clinton subsequently announced the deployment of two carrier battlegroups near Taiwan to deter Chinese aggression. However, Tony Lake was sent by President Clinton to Beijing in July 1996 and, while no new U.S.-China communiques were issued, his candid discussions were credited with resetting the bilateral strategic framework, in particular the U.S.-China understanding over Taiwan.


Dmitry Filipoff

China’s arsenal of anti-ship weapons is truly a force to be reckoned with, and is superior to that of the United States in many respects. These weapons and the tactics that make use of them can be at the forefront of China’s ability to deny U.S. forces access to the Western Pacific. As both great powers build up and evolve their anti-ship firepower, it is critical to assess their respective schemes of massing fires, and how these schemes may compete and interact in a specific operational context, such as a war sparked by a Taiwan contingency. Whichever side wields the superior combination of tools and methods for massing fires may earn a major advantage in deterrence and in conflict.

China’s Anti-Ship Missile Firepower

China has assembled a wide array of anti-ship missiles and naval force structure for generating massed fires. These weapons and the way they have been distributed across platform types come together to form an outline for how China can mass fires against warships. These weapons should be assessed through a framework of the specific traits that highlight their mass firing potential, including launch cell compatibility, platform compatibility, range, maximum flight time, numbers of weapons procured, and numbers of weapons fielded per platform.

China’s main anti-ship missiles are the YJ-12, YJ-18, YJ-83, DF-21, and DF-26. The YJ-12 serves as a primary weapon for bombers and coastal launchers; the YJ-18 is a primary weapon for submarines and large surface warships; the YJ-83 is fielded by multirole aircraft and surface warships smaller than destroyers; and the DF-21 and DF-26 ballistic missiles are China’s most long-ranged land-based anti-ship weapons.1 While there are other anti-ship missiles in China’s inventory, those appear relatively uncommon compared to these five weapons.

Integrating Cyber Into Warfighting: Some Early Takeaways From the Ukraine Conflict



It is too early to draw definitive conclusions about cyber warfare in the lead-up to and the execution of the Ukraine war. Data are lacking, and the outcome of the conflict remains uncertain. Yet through monitoring and analysis of a single year in the first major war into which cyber has been extensively woven, we do know enough to be able to generate some tentative, high-level, generic propositions on the nature of cyber conflict. These propositions draw on wide-ranging press reporting and extrapolate from several superb pieces recently published by my colleagues Jon Bateman, Nick Beecroft, and Gavin Wilde, as well as Microsoft’s recent report on the cyber dynamics of the conflict.1

However, we must still tread cautiously. Our propositions draw on highly imperfect empirical knowledge of a single historical case that is still unfolding.2 Current and future antagonists are also constantly learning from their own and others’ analyses and enhancing their performance, which can render current assessments obsolete.3 For this and other reasons it is quite possible that some of the cyber dynamics unfolding in and around Ukraine may play out differently later in Ukraine as well as in other, future confrontations. As we have observed over millennia, the balance between offense and defense can shift over time; this dynamic may well play out in cyberspace as well.

It is also important to note at the outset that widespread assessments disparaging the utility and expediency of Russian cyber operations in the Ukrainian conflict (and projections regarding future conflicts) are presently limited by far more than a lack of comprehensive and reliable empirical data. We also lack insights into the metrics and criteria that each of the protagonists uses to assess the success and failure of cyber’s overall performance in the conflict, and we have only fragmentary evidence of the role each party expected cyber operations to perform. Moreover, even if we had such information, Ukraine-specific answers might not apply elsewhere because the expectations for cyber and the metrics for assessing its performance may vary not only over time and between protagonists but also from one conflict to another. In this context it is important to underscore that some specific factors that possibly helped diminish the efficacy of Russia’s offensive cyber operations in Ukraine may not apply elsewhere. Three in particular deserve to be noted here: Russia’s unique approach toward cyber warfare; the level of external support that Ukraine received before and during the war from some leading national and multinational cyber powers; and the sophistication and battle-tested experience of Ukraine’s cyber warriors.4

Army University Press

Journal of Military Learning, April 2023 

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US-ROK nuclear coordination group ‘more effective’ than NATO analog: Yoon

Shreyas Reddy 

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol hailed a new U.S.-ROK platform for discussing nuclear deterrence against North Korean threats on Tuesday as “more effective” than NATO’s analog for nuclear sharing, though experts say the two mechanisms cannot be compared as they are designed for different roles.

Yoon made the comments in his first cabinet meeting since agreeing to establish the Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) in a summit with U.S. counterpart Joe Biden last week. The Washington Declaration released after the summit, he said, “upgraded” the alliance to “a new paradigm based on nuclear weapons.”

“The Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG), which was established as a high-level permanent consultative body between South Korea and the U.S., is more effective than NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) in that it meets more frequently in one-on-one relations between South Korea and the U.S.,” Yoon said in the meeting, according to the presidential office.

Calling the U.S.-ROK alliance “the centerpiece of our diplomacy and economy” over the past 70 years, Yoon said his summit with Biden established an action plan for “South Korean-style extended deterrence.”

But despite the South Korean president’s attempts to portray the NCG as superior to NATO’s NPG, experts have stated that there are limitations to U.S. nuclear support for the ROK under the declaration.

Jina Kim, a professor and defense analyst at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, told NK News after the summit that the two nuclear coordination groups are distinct and that Washington “can never redeploy nuclear weapons” in South Korea.

The politics of the new space race

Lawrence Freedman

As an eight-year-old in October 1957, I recall listening to Radio Moscow broadcasting the beep-beep-beep of Sputnik 1, the first Earth satellite, on my brother’s tinny transistor radio. The Americans’ embarrassment at being beaten by this first dramatic move in what became the space race was compounded a few weeks later when the US Vanguard rocket barely managed to rise a single metre before it fell back and exploded. I also recall a playground ditty (to the tune of Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star”) – “Catch a falling Sputnik, put it in a matchbox, send it to the USA”.

At issue was not just the success of the supposedly backwards Soviets but the military implications of their apparent lead in rocket technology. The power that could take a satellite into space could also send a nuclear warhead across continents. As imaginations leapt ahead, the science fiction of spaceships and interplanetary expeditions started to be spoken of as real possibilities. Military strategists always thought the strategic advantages were to be found on the high ground – and what could be higher than outer space? A struggle for space dominance was a natural corollary of the intense geopolitical rivalry of the Cold War.

The Soviets kept their early lead when, in 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Frustrated, President Kennedy raised the stakes. He announced that the US would get a man on the moon by the end of the decade and bring him back to Earth. This ambition was realised with a few months to spare. The Soviet programme, hampered by accidents and inefficiencies, faltered. Once the US had succeeded, the Kremlin concluded that there was no point in coming second and abandoned its effort.

Pentagon Network Chiefs Are Putting Automation to Work


BALTIMORE—If pilots can use automation to take off and land, then the Defense Department can use it to run its networks, said Lt. Gen. Maria Barrett, commander of Army Cyber Command.

“We fly planes on autopilot. We land them on autopilot. This is not scary to run a network in an automated way,” Barrett said Tuesday during the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference.

The Pentagon and military services are all working to convert their networks and processes to zero trust architectures, which rely on automation to continuously verify that no one’s accessing data they shouldn’t. The goal is a fully zero trust Pentagon by 2027.

Zero trust is all about looking at the data. And so it's not just about the human being who logs in as an identity, because at the end of the day, that is a data element. But it's also some of those machine-to-machine interactions, which—so far in some of our tools and applications, those interactions where the adversary can hide—those have been largely hidden to us,” Barrett said during a panel discussion with the service cyber component commands. “Let's start getting down to understanding how that software interacts, to seeing it, and then we can start to really defend our networks much better.”

Looking at data based on how it flows — from outside of a network to inside or bouncing around from servers internally — is outdated. But automating cybersecurity in a way that continuously monitors who and what is accessing the network will have its own challenges.

Barrett mentioned the Defense Department’s Joint Regional Security Stacks, or JRSS, program, which is the toolkit DOD used to protect its IT infrastructure, that has suffered from latency and security weaknesses.

“It was a good idea,” Barrett said, “but I think that we have run its course and we do really need to get to this piece where we're now starting to think about looking for the anomalous data that occurs in several different aspects of our network in order to identify where the adversary is much sooner and…in an automated way.”

The Defense Information Systems Agency is phasing out JRSS as it brings its zero trust prototype system, dubbed Thunderdome, online. Moreover, DISA wants to improve that boundary defense with commercial technologies that can make it “simpler and less complex,” Lt. Gen. Robert Skinner, the agency’s director, said during his keynote.

JRSS, and the IT it protects, “is so complex that we cannot harmonize user experience and cybersecurity. It just can't be done,” said Skinner, who challenged the agency’s Digital Capabilities and Security Center to push Thunderdome into production by the summer.

With Lessons from Ukraine, US Special Forces Reinvents Itself for a Fight with China


FORT BRAGG, North Carolina—The only sign the Switchblade suicide drone was overhead was its mosquito-like whine. Its slim gray body merged into the overcast sky over a U.S. Army training range.

But the presence of the drone, which has been delivered in large numbers to Ukraine, in an exercise explicitly targeting China spoke volumes about how the U.S. Army Special Forces is reinventing itself after decades of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Everyone is watching the lessons learned from Ukraine,” said Gen. Jonathan Braga, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command. “We're trans-regionally applying those lessons learned.”

Among those lessons: Russia can target a Ukrainian artillery battery within a minute of its first barrage. Battlefield decoys still work. Information is king.

“I think the overall macro lesson is the importance of information operations,” Braga said.

Many such lessons are being gleaned in Germany, where U.S. Special Forces are training their Ukrainian counterparts and helping them with information operations, said the U.S. Army special forces officer in charge of work with Ukraine. He spoke by video call to the audience observing the Army exercise here on Thursday. Like others interviewed for this article, the officer was granted anonymity for the sake of security.

Information gleaned from this work with Ukrainian forces is sent on to the training programs run by Army Special Operations Command.

For example, Army special forces have observed Ukrainian forces “detect, fix, and jam” Russian drones, said Lt. Col. Mike Burns, the command’s communications director. That has shaped the command’s new course on robotics and unmanned systems, which teaches students how to build their own drones and counter those of the enemy.

Ukraine live briefing: Russia has suffered 100,000 casualties since December, U.S. says

By Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit and Adam Taylor

A previous version of this article included information from a Monday briefing where National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russia suffered 100,000 casualties, including more than 20,000 killed in action, in Bakhmut since December. NSC deputy spokesman Sean Savett said later Monday that those figure account for all of Russia's losses across Ukraine, not just in Bakhmut, since December. Additionally, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the day that the White House correspondents’ dinner took place. It was on Saturday night, not Sunday night.

The United States estimates Russia has suffered 100,000 casualties since December, including more than 20,000 killed in action, the National Security Council said Monday. Roughly half of those killed, NSC spokesman John Kirby said, were working with the Wagner mercenary group, often ex-convicts who had been recruited from prison.

The figures were first shared by Kirby on a call with reporters Monday; NSC deputy spokesman Sean Savett said later that the casualty count referred to Russia’s losses across Ukraine since December. The numbers are based on “some information and intelligence that we were able to corroborate over a period of some time,” Kirby said. He declined to discuss Ukrainian casualties. “That’s up to them to speak to,” he said.

Russia targeted Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities with a “massive” wave of missiles overnight, Ukrainian officials said. The assault on the capital lasted several hours early Monday, but no casualties were reported, as local authorities said air defenses worked to intercept most of the missiles. Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that it carried out strikes against facilities that produce ammunition and weapons for Ukrainian troops. Ukraine said residential areas were hit.

The attack followed a weekend drone strike by Ukrainian forces on an oil depot in Russian-occupied Crimea, as Ukraine prepares for an anticipated counteroffensive.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Overnight attacks

Cyber lessons from Ukraine: Prepare for prolonged conflict, not a knockout blow


WASHINGTON — Russia’s failed cyber “blitzkrieg” in Ukraine has turned into a long slog that puts a premium on adaptability, resilience, and the will to win, one of Kyiv’s top cybersecurity officials told US audiences on a recent tour. And the strategic lesson for the US, several independent experts said, is that this kind of drawn-out cyber conflict is a more likely model for future wars than the sudden-death visions of a “cyber Pearl Harbor” or “cyber 9/11″ predicted by US officials for over a decade.

Ukrainian networks and their defenders, with extensive Western help, have proven resilient under brutal pressure. “We’ve learned how to use all these tools and techniques in critical circumstances, when sometimes there’s no electricity, there’s no communication, when your city is about to be surrounded, when you [are] under missile attacks or under shelling,” said Illia Vitiuk, who heads the cyber department of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU in Ukrainian). “Sometimes you try to reach the system administrator of the ministry that is under cyber attack, but he’s not here: He disappeared because needed to take his family out of Bucha.”

The Russians weren’t counting on this kind of resilience, said Vitiuk. “They, of course, hoped this was going to be a blitzkrieg, and so they used most of their aces they had in their sleeves just before the invasion,” he told the RSA conference in San Francisco on April 25. That first wave of efforts included “defacing websites, stealing data, wipers and lockers, [and] a vast disinformation campaign.” Russian cyber attacks have ebbed and flowed since, but they never again reached the intensity of January-April 2022, according to Google Cloud’s Mandiant, which has provided extensive assistance to Vitiuk’s team.

It’s a long struggle and far from over, Vitiuk told a Billington cybersecurity forum earlier in April: “If you have 12 rounds in a boxing match…we are in probably round eight now.”

It’s early days to draw sweeping conclusions from the war in Ukraine, warned several experts. “People need to be very, very patient,” said National Security Archives scholar Michael Martelle at a recent Atlantic Council panel. Analyzing Ukraine now, he said, is like analyzing World War II in 1943, when it was still a closely guarded secret that the Allies had broken the German and Japanese codes.


Michael P. Losacco 

Russian tanks are having a bad time of it in Ukraine, suffering high casualties as Ukrainian troops, equipped with antitank guided missiles and armed drones, frequently ambush Russian armored formations unaware of their surroundings and lacking dismounted ground support. Observers in search of lessons are watching the war play out, interpreting the incredible attrition rate imposed on Russia’s tanks as validation of the widely held assumption that armored formations cannot successfully operate alone—an assumption that was similarly solidified fifty years ago, when Egyptian and Syrian forces destroyed Israeli tanks en masse during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

A conclusion drawn from the destruction suffered by Israeli tanks during that war was that attaching infantry solves the tank’s woes. But the character of warfare has changed since then, and both analysts and decision makers should be cautious that simply adding infantry will solve tanks’ vulnerabilities on the modern battlefield. Evidence from Ukraine suggests that the ubiquity of drones on the battlefield renders the combined infantry-armor formation less effective than in the past. Drones are hard to detect, making it difficult for infantry-armor formations to find and destroy them. This advantage allows an adversary to ambush an infantry-tank formation before it can defend itself. Thus, successful tank operations in the future will involve not only linking infantry to tanks, but ensuring the attachment of reconnaissance and security (R&S) troops. R&S troops can provide early warning and counterreconnaissance capabilities needed to mitigate the drone’s advantage. Together, infantry-tank formations and R&S troops will maintain the tank’s lethality at lower echelons and help armored combat power adapt to the changing characteristics of modern warfare.

Lessons from the Yom Kippur War

A tank’s hardened armor and high-explosive weaponry allow it to destroy enemy positions with speed, mobility, and certainty. These characteristics help the tank penetrate reinforced battle positions, producing a psychological shock in the adversary’s mind.

America’s Failing Saudi Policy

Gerard A. Neumann

Military adventures in far-off regions require a reliable forward outpost, friends in the neighborhood, and, most importantly, the fuel to get there. Since the Gulf War began in 1990, the United States has looked to Saudi Arabia to fill these requirements. In exchange for their hospitality, camaraderie, and oil at a reasonable price, the Saudis received American protection and weapons—adynamic colloquially called “oil for security.” The relationship between a strictly democratic state and an unapologetically authoritarian kingdom went steady for nearly two and a half decades. On paper, the partnership was an exceptional triumph of realpolitik in a period of idealistic geopolitics.

However, as America wraps up its interventions in the region, it no longer requires a forward outpost. Nor does it need a military ally in the region with whom to exchange intelligence. The only things keeping the partnership alive are Saudi Arabia’s vast oil deposits and leadership in OPEC. Yet Saudi oil policy has run contrary to U.S. interests. OPEC’s production quotas have kept oil prices worldwide high, twisting the knife in a struggling American economy. Additionally, the Saudi military intervention in Yemen using American weapons and intelligence has kept the region unstable and damaged America’s international reputation. Current U.S. policies have utterly failed to address these imbalances. It’s time for an ultimatum: Riyadh must provide the oil or lose the security.

The Middle East is a region lacking a structure for stability. It has neither a clear military and/or political hierarchy nor an effective economic union between its disparate states. The closest thing it has to an economic union is OPEC, whose mandate only coordinates oil production and as such only counts oil producers amongst its member states. And while the borders in the Middle East are artificially drawn, for the most part, the religious and ethnic rivalries are very real. This state of affairs leaves a constant power vacuum that no individual state can fill, while also making negotiation on a personal and political level extremely difficult.

French democracy is in crisis. What else is new?


Revolution is in the air. After three months of turmoil over President Emmanuel Macron’s flagship pensions reform, France is tempted once again to rip up its constitution and start afresh.

Will 2023 go down — after 1789, 1830, 1848, 1870, 1940 and 1958 — as the year which forced radical change in the method of government of perhaps the least-governable large country in the Western world?

Reputable French historians and political commentators are talking of a “democratic crisis” or a “crise de régime.” The pensions dispute has, they say, transcended arguments over whether the French should retire at 62 or 64.

The French president’s deployment of a full armory of special constitutional powers to impose a reform rejected by 70 percent of French adults has created — or accelerated — a deeper, political malaise.

In the age of the internet and contempt for les élites, the top-down, elected monarchy devised by Charles de Gaulle 65 years ago is no longer workable, the commentators say.

The high-handed power of the president and the executive to short-circuit a normal parliamentary vote (under Article 49.3 of the Fifth Republic’s constitution) has been used 100 times since 1958.

On all the previous occasions, there was grumbling by opposition politicians. This time there has been a starburst of popular fury, some of it synthetic and some real.

Close to my home in a quiet part of rural Normandy, a scribbled, road-side sign reads: “49.3=1789,” a reference to the year the French Revolution began. Demonstrators during Macron’s visit to Hérault in southern France last week shouted, amongst other things: “A bas la cinquième République” (Down with the Fifth Republic).

Recharging Europe’s Franco-German Engine


BERLIN – Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Europe has undergone a radical transformation. Both the European Union and NATO have reacted with exceptional unity; all the old conflicts within these organizations seemed anachronistic in view of war on the continent and disappeared seemingly overnight.

But tensions are bubbling beneath the surface of the EU’s newfound cohesion. This is common knowledge in the bloc’s two most populous and economically important member states, Germany and France, which are increasingly at odds.

Regularly scheduled inter-governmental meetings have been canceled. While French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (together with then-Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi) took a historic joint trip to Kyiv, where they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, they did not organize a similar visit to Beijing, even though it certainly would have strengthened Europe’s position.

Instead, Macron embarked on a solo three-day trip to China and, on the way home, told an interviewer that Europe must avoid getting “caught up in crises that are not ours” – a reference to Taiwan – and resist becoming a “vassal” of the United States, drawing criticism from both sides of the Atlantic. His divisive comments have all but ensured that the EU’s China policy will drive an even larger wedge between France and Germany and weaken transatlantic relations, even though Europe is more reliant than ever on US military might in the face of Russia’s aggression.

This is obviously the worst possible moment for Europe and the US to drift apart. The strategic challenge posed by the Ukraine war has intensified China’s efforts to establish a new world order in which Russia is permanently dependent on it, the global economy revolves around Eurasia, and China sets the terms for international governance institutions. In the face of these Chinese ambitions, now more than ever the transatlantic partnership is in need of strengthening.

A bitter Pill: Britain has been accepting decline for far too long

Jeremy Driver 

Things aren’t feeling great in Britain at the moment. Inflation is running at 10.1%; UK growth in 2023 is forecast to fall 0.3%; and to top it off, Nottingham Forest are odds on to be relegated from the Premier League.

It was in the context of stubbornly high inflation that Bank of England Chief Economist Huw Pill commented yesterday that ‘someone needs to accept that they’re worse off and stop trying to maintain their real spending power by bidding up prices’.

Pill’s comments may have been ill-judged, to put it mildly, but the more uncomfortable truth is that our politicians have been tacitly telling us to accept being poorer for the best part of a generation.

While much of the current squeeze on living standards we’re experiencing – rising inflation, soaring energy bills and climbing interest rates – can be explained by a series of unfortunate events: the war in Ukraine, the pandemic and Brexit, our ability to weather multiple crises has been seriously hampered by a sustained period of poor economic growth in the years since the financial crisis.

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In fact, Britain is already slipping behind its peers. The typical British family is now £6,800 worse off than a German family, £13,500 worse off than an American family, and, if we continue our current trajectory, is set to be poorer than a Polish family by the early 2030s.

At Britain Remade, the campaign group I work for, we believe a major cause of Britain’s poor growth is our failure to get things built.

Our politics, and in particular our planning system, mean that Britain’s infrastructure, like trains, roads, housing, and energy supply, are just not good enough. This is having a knock-on effect on our productivity and, in turn, our ability to grow the economy. Our failure to build means people and businesses face higher costs, potential agglomeration benefits are lost, and opportunities to create decent jobs in new industries are missed.

Ukraine Is Really Muddy Right Now. It’s A Risky Time For A Counteroffensive.

David Axe

A Ukrainian Humvee mired in bezdorizhzhia mud before the current war.VIA SOCIAL MEDIA

Every fall, Ukraine gets wetter—and it’s not yet cold enough for the rain to freeze into ice. Every spring, as the winter ice melts, Ukraine again gets wetter—and it’s not yet warm enough to dry out.

The result is two seasons of mud. Mud that’s so deep and sticky that it renders thousands of miles of unpaved roads—to say nothing of forests and fields—impassable for vehicles. The Ukrainians call these muddy seasons “bezdorizhzhia.” That means “roadlessness.”

Bezdorizhzhia works against both armies in Russia’s wider war on Ukraine, but it’s a bigger problem for whichever army is trying to go on the attack while it’s muddy. “Poor [cross-country mobility] typically provides some military advantage to defending forces,” the U.K. defense ministry explained.

Right now, that means the mud favors Russian forces, which mostly have begun shifting to a defensive posture in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

The spring bezdorizhzhia tends to be worse than the fall bezdorizhzhia is. “Spring is the nightmare season for fighting in Ukraine,” the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, D.C. noted. And this year, amid warmer weather across Europe, the spring bezdorizhzhia has persisted through late April. Prolonging the nightmare.

That might help to explain why Ukraine hasn’t yet launched the main efforts we might associate with a counteroffensive.

Yes, there have been Ukrainian raids across the Dnipro River into Russian-held territory left of that wide river in southern Ukraine. And yes, Ukrainian officials claim their forces are beginning to push back against Russian assaults in the ruins of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Technology Primer: Augmented and Virtual Reality for the Metaverse

Authors: Jacob Boyd, Sandra Lam, Stephan Florian, Rihs Li Sun, Ariel Higuchi, Amritha Jayanti 

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) refer to computer-generated content that integrates into the real world (in the case of AR) or is entirely self-contained (in the case of VR). These technologies, typically accessed through smartphones and headset devices, allow users to access a shared virtual environment, often referred to as a metaverse.

It has been three decades since the term “metaverse” was coined, but a convergence of market factors and a level of sophistication of AR and VR technologies have created a new emphasis on the metaverse. In 2021, Facebook invested $10 billion in its Reality Labs division and renamed itself Meta Platforms, Inc.1 Microsoft made a $70 billion dollar bet in 2022 on the metaverse in its acquisition of gaming studio Activision Blizzard.2 Advancements in AR and VR have been made across several industries with notable use cases in gaming and entertainment, education and training, and virtual work.

While investments such as these have created enormous hype, significant technical limitations exist such as computing power, user discomfort, and interoperability challenges. Non technical barriers, including high hardware costs and supply shortages, have also created problems. Further, most of these platforms are being developed in isolation. To achieve the metaverse that many evangelists for this technology envision, significant coordination would need to occur between firms.

Governments have acknowledged the important role AR and VR will have in society, but regulation and governance structures are still underdeveloped. Many public purpose concerns related to current internet issues such as user privacy, intellectual property protection, and market power apply to AR/VR platforms and the metaverse. However, virtual experiences also pose new regulatory conundrums that will need to be addressed. While the European Union and China have taken some steps toward creating a regulatory framework for metaverse-related internet policy issues, the United States will need to make significant progress toward the many open legal questions that exist.

The NewSpace market: Capital, control, and commercialization

Robert Murray

Commercial opportunities in space-based technologies are expanding rapidly. From satellite communications and Earth observation to space tourism and asteroid mining, the potential for businesses to capitalize on these emerging technologies is vast and known as “NewSpace.”1

The NewSpace model is important for governments to understand because the dual-use nature of space, specifically its growing commercialization, will influence the types of space-based technologies that nations may leverage, and consequently, impact their national security paradigms. By capitalizing on the private sector’s agility and combining it with the essential research efforts and customer role played by the public sector, the NewSpace industry can play a critical function in addressing current and future national security challenges through public-private codevelopment.

As the NewSpace industry expands, the role of government is evolving from being the primary developer and operator of space assets to facilitating their commercialization, while still prioritizing key advancements. US and allied governments can capitalize on this competitive landscape by strategically investing in areas that align with their national security objectives. However, it is crucial for them to first understand and adapt to their changing roles within this dynamic environment.

Indeed, the benefits of the burgeoning NewSpace industry extend beyond the United States. International collaboration and competition in this area can lead to faster technological advancements and economic gains. The global NewSpace landscape is driving down costs, increasing access to space, and fostering innovation that can improve not only economic well-being, but also impact national security models.

To that end, this memo will examine the broad state of the space market, discuss the industry drivers, and propose recommendations for US and allied policymakers as they consider future government investments in those enabling space-based activities that support wider national security ambitions.

The commercial context

Critical infrastructure cybersecurity prioritization: A cross-sector methodology for ranking operational technology cyber scenarios and critical entities

Danielle Jablanski

“Cyber policy today has created a world in which seemingly everything non-military can be held at risk—hospitals, trains, dams, energy, water—and nothing is off limits.”1

Policy experts have long looked to other fields to gain a better understanding of cyber issues—natural disasters, terrorism, insurance and finance, and even nuclear weapons—due to the “always/never” rule. The always/never concept stipulates that weapons must always work correctly when they are supposed to and never be launched or detonated by accident or sabotage. The application of the always/never rule to process control systems across an increasingly digitized critical infrastructure landscape is incredibly difficult to master.

Threading the tapestry of risk across critical infrastructure requires a more granular and purposeful model than the current approach to classifying critical infrastructure can deliver. Failing to contextualize the broad problem set that is critical infrastructure cybersecurity jeopardies increasing the cost of compliance-based cybersecurity to the extent that small- and medium-sized businesses cannot afford the expense and/or expect the government to provide managed cybersecurity services for designated concentrations of risk across multiple sectors—an imprudent, expensive, and unsustainable outcome.

Informing decision-makers requires deeper analysis of critical infrastructure targets through available open-source intelligence, criticality and vulnerability data, the degradation of operations by cyber means, and mean time to recover from cyber impacts that does not exist at scale. This paper offers an initial step to focus on cyber-physical operations, discussing the limitations of current methods to prioritize across critical infrastructure cybersecurity and outlining a methodology for prioritizing scenarios and entities across sectors and local, state, and federal jurisdictions.

One False Word Makes A Big Difference In Warfare

James Holmes

221013-N-LK647-1031 ATLANTIC OCEAN—A view of the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) from aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) as Normandy participates in a Tactical Force Exercise as part of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, Oct. 13, 2022. Ford is on its inaugural deployment conducting training and operations alongside NATO Allies and partners to enhance integration for future operations and demonstrate the U.S. Navy’s commitment to a peaceful, stable and conflict-free Atlantic region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Malachi Lakey)

Darned if there’s not another misleading word choice in the standard (and on the whole excellent) Princeton University Press translation of Carl von Clausewitz’s On War, which dates to 1976. Back in 2014 I ran an item over at The Diplomat making the case that translating the Prussian philosopher-soldier’s famous maxim that war is “the continuation of policy by other means” conveyed a false impression about the nature of war. War is a political act, not a mindless, apolitical spasm of violence for its own sake. That was lost in translation.

The piece jumped off from humorist Mark Twain’s reputed quip that it’s not what we know that gets us in trouble; it’s what we “know” that “just ain’t so.”

I argued that there is a world of mischief in that word “by,” when in the original German the text states that war is a political act carried out “with,” or “with the addition of,” forcible means. Violence is never what war is all about when accurately understood. It’s a means to a political end. And in fact, Clausewitz was keenly aware of the danger that mistranslating his words might have. He goes out of his way to declare that war is not some radical change of state in international interactions. It’s merely the competitors adding another tool, violent force, to the toolkit that bears such implements of statecraft as diplomacy and economic coercion. Sage statesmen and soldiers use all the tools in the toolkit in unison.

War is martial diplomacy, in other words. In wartime combatants employ battles and engagements rather than—or sometimes in concert with—diplomatic communiqués to make their points. But politics never stops even amid the clangor of combat. It remains supreme. Thinking it stops when the fighting starts could send soldiers or their political overseers astray.

Military-Industrial Complexities

George Case

Ours is a culture suffused with conspiracy theories from across the political spectrum, ranging from wild conjectures about stolen elections and the Deep State to glib assumptions of systemic racism and climate-change denial. All of these are premised, ultimately, on the notion of control: whatever directions our politics or our societies take, the decision to take them is attributed to a secretive elite rather than to the broader population.

One of the most enduring and most influential conspiracy theories—a sort of template for many that have followed—was inspired by the farewell address of US President Dwight Eisenhower on January 17th, 1961. In that speech, the outgoing Chief Executive introduced the ominous term “military-industrial complex” to describe the close link between the American war machine and its corporate contractors. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist,” Eisenhower warned. “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals so that liberty and security may together prosper.”

Since 1961, the concept of the military-industrial complex (MIC) has become a staple denunciation for critics and activists to wield against the world’s multi-billion-dollar armaments industry and its influence (“sought or unsought,” said the President) over civilian leadership, particularly American. Oliver Stone’s 1991 film JFK and Eugene Jarecki’s 2006 documentary Why We Fight argued, respectively, that the MIC was behind the Kennedy killing and the US War on Terror. The implications are clear: nominal democracies are vulnerable to the cynical connivances of a stronger, richer, unelected agency that overrides the will of peace-loving publics to maintain a money-making war economy.

Is this what Eisenhower originally meant? To understand the phrase it is helpful to consider the historical circumstances in which the 34th president found himself. A veteran hot warrior who had led the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe and a dedicated cold warrior who held the US in firm opposition to the Soviet Union, Ike had long experience in budgeting for military supplies. By 1960, America and the USSR were moving towards respective stances of nuclear deterrence, in which the arsenal of either side was perceived to be big and deep enough to destroy the other in a retaliatory strike.


Kevin Benson and James K. Greer 

The Army, arguably too often, wraps ideas in layers of buzzwords, jargon that must be navigated to get even the most basic sense of what is actually being said. Dave Johnson, a retired colonel and an intellectual force in the defense community, warned of the danger of this. “I often fear that these terms are employed by those who peddle them to look like they are part of the ‘in’ crowd,” he wrote to a group of strategy professionals. “Or, worse, they do not know the origins and meaning of the ideas and doctrine and do not want to be found out. No matter what the case, it confuses the hell out of the rest of the force.”*

The Army cannot afford for its future-focused operating concept to confuse the hell out of the force. The operating concept should establish the basis for reasoned exploration of emerging operational approaches, tactics, techniques, and procedures that are observable in ongoing conflicts, that develop as a function of new technologies, and that bubble up from the field as units train with what is in the motor pool right now. An operating concept must establish the conditions and provide a framework for the testing of ideas, technology, and even outside-the-box ideas about warfare. The concept must enable experimentation to push the boundary of what is possible with what we have in the force and what might be possible coming from technology and adaptation of new systems. Finally, the concept must offer solution paths to operational problems across the global range of military operations. This is a tall order, to be sure, and we must bear in mind the admonition of Michael Howard that while any concept we are working on now is most likely wrong, the challenge is to not be too badly wrong. And, perhaps most importantly, concepts should not be confused with doctrine.

The 2022 National Security Strategy depends upon the demonstrated capability of US armed forces, particularly their agility to respond to a range of national interests. It states, “Our starting premise is that a powerful U.S. military helps advance and safeguard vital U.S. national interests by backstopping diplomacy, confronting aggression, deterring conflict, projecting strength, and protecting the American people and their economic interests.” This will remain true for future strategies through 2050, the timeframe considered in this exploration of the Army’s operating concept after next.