10 May 2023

Drones: An Emerging Threat on the Volatile India-Pakistan Border

Rakshit Kweera

India witnessed a significant drone attack at the Air Force Station in Jammu on June 27, 2021. The airbase, which is 14 km away from the India-Pakistan border, was attacked by low–flying drones that dropped two improvised explosive devices (IEDs). One IED exploded on the roof of the building, and the other in an open area. This one-off incident shook the security establishment.

Drone incursions across the border have intensified since then. Drone sightings have increased manifold along the India–Pakistan international border and along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir. India’s Border Security Force (BSF), which guards the international border on the Indian side, reported more than 268 drone sightings in 2022, compared to 109 in 2021 and 49 in 2020.

The rapid growth in drone sightings suggests that drones have emerged as a new strategic tool used by Pakistan to gain an advantage in the border conflict with India. Drones are also increasingly a tool of choice for transborder terrorist organizations and Pakistan-backed proxies in India. Drones can be used for both kinetic operations – attacks in military and civilian spaces – and non-kinetic operations, in which drones are used to smuggle counterfeit currency, drugs, small arms, and ammunition across the border. The latter is significantly felt across the Punjab border, where narco–terrorism has intensified. The capture and occasional shoot-down of drones carrying drugs and arms are now regularly reported across the Punjab border.

In the Poonch terror attack on April 20, in which five soldiers were killed, it is reported that drones were used to drop weapons and cash to militants who carried out the attack.

The use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in conflict is now a global phenomenon, with non–state actors such as Yemen’s Houthi rebels coordinating major drone attacks on Saudi and Abu Dhabi oil facilities. The use of armed UAVs has also been observed in major conflicts such as in the Western Libyan military conflict of 2019–20, the Armenia–Azerbaijan conflict over the Nagorno–Karabakh region in 2020, and the ongoing Russia–Ukraine conflict. The reasons are manifold: their affordable cost and relatively simple technology make it easy for non–state actors to acquire and deploy drones, while their small size and technological features make it difficult to detect drones using modern radar and air-defense systems. In addition, UAVs make long-range precision strikes possible, thus reducing close combat on the battlefield and avoiding human losses.

Opinion – With the Rise of the ‘Indo-Pacific’, Has the ‘Asia-Pacific’ Faded Away?

Sanchari Ghosh

Geopolitical imaginations are mental maps in which there is no one way of framing the world. Mental geographies keep on changing, often directed by power contestations. The ‘Asia-Pacific’ and the ‘Indo-Pacific’ are two such constructs that define the geopolitics of the 21st century. While the ‘Asia-Pacific’ and the ‘Indo-Pacific’ have some overlap in their geographical coverage, both have emerged under different circumstances. Asia-Pacific emerged as the dominant conception of Asia’s role in the Pacific Ocean in the 1960s and was later institutionalised through the formation of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in the 1980s. However, this term was not inclusive of other important countries in the region like India and neither did it take into account the growing importance of the Indian Ocean for the world’s maritime trade. It was Japan which surmised the need to accommodate both these shortcomings. This move, with support from Australia and the USA, coalesced into the formation of the concept of the Indo-Pacific.

With the rise of the Indo-Pacific as a single maritime zone and its embrace by various countries in the region, scholars suggest that Asia-Pacific has been replaced by the Indo-Pacific as the preeminent geopolitical construct in the region. However, the 2023 joint statement between China and Russia has revived the question of the relevance of Asia-Pacific as an area of interest for the big powers. This article argues that even with the Indo-Pacific’s increasing popularity, the Asia-Pacific concept has not only held its ground but is here to stay. This is primarily for three reasons. First, the flux in the current world order; second, ASEAN’s concern regarding its position as a central actor in the region; and third, the strong and time-tested economic dimension of the Asia-Pacific which the Indo-Pacific has yet to replicate.

Opinion – Addressing the Regional Security Risks of Rohingya Camps

Shafi Md Mostofa

On April 14th, there was an incident in Ukhia, Cox’s Bazar, where the Police engaged in a firefight with members of The Arakan Salvation Army (ARSA), an armed group from Myanmar. During the altercation, a passerby named Noor Haba was shot by ARSA, and a member of ARSA was shot dead by the police. Two policemen were injured, and one person was arrested with a weapon in connection to the incident. ARSA also came into the spotlight on March 7th, 2023, when a commander of ARSA was killed in a Rohingya camp in Ukhiya upazila by unknown assailants.

ARSA gained global attention last year when Mohibullah, a prominent Rohingya leader, was killed in one of the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. Mohibullah’s brother Habibullah claimed that ARSA might have been responsible, as they were angered by his advocacy of a peaceful non-violent approach to resolving the Rohingya crisis, although ARSA denied any involvement in the killing. It seems that ARSA has been active in the camps.

Originally known as Harakah al-Yaqin, meaning Faith Movement in Arabic, and later as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the latest militant group among the Rohingya people is commonly referred to as ARSA. ARSA is led by Ataullah abu Ammar Jununi, also known as Ata Ullah, believed to be a Rohingya born in Pakistan who spent much of his life in Saudi Arabia. Ata Ullah became politically active due to media reports of ongoing human rights abuses against the Rohingya community and the mass detention of Rohingya people in concentration camps after the 2012 violence. The early financiers of ARSA are not well known, but the International Crisis Group suggests that funding may come from a committee of supporters in Mecca and Medina, although their identities remain unclear.

While ARSA’s direct affiliation with any Islamist militant organizations remains unconfirmed, various local and transnational Islamist organizations have attempted to exploit their grievances. The extent to which Rohingyas have responded to these calls is still uncertain. However, there are indications that Rohingyas may pose a potential threat not only to the peace and security of Bangladesh but also to South Asia as a whole.

Can India’s Military Drone Ecosystem Fulfill its Potential?


Over the last few years, the Indian armed forces have stepped up the procurement of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, primarily for the purposes of surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, logistics, and precision strikes. The ongoing border standoff with China has provided a further impetus to this process. The Army recently ordered nearly 2000 drones to enhance its surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities along the India-China border and transport supplies to forward posts. It is further seeking drones to direct artillery fire, aiming to augment the accuracy and efficiency of its artillery systems deployed along the border.

The Indian armed forces see drones as a necessary force multiplier and intend to acquire several more in the coming years for a wide range of applications. This presents an opportunity for India to build up its military drone ecosystem. While India’s drone start-ups are increasingly able to equip the armed forces, unlocking the potential of India’s military drone ecosystem will require it to be sufficiently nurtured. It will also require the quick resolution of some key issues.

Rahul Bhatia is a research analyst with the Security Studies Program at Carnegie India. His research focuses on India’s borders and India’s foreign and defense policies.


Although India’s drone industry is still in its infancy, it has grown rapidly over the last three years, and drone start-ups have been at the heart of this growth. While most of India’s 300-odd drone start-ups are geared toward civilian uses, a few make military drones as well. Besides this, some start-ups have developed dual-use drones, which meet both civilian and military requirements. For instance, a logistics drone that can be used to transport a package within a city can also be used to dispatch supplies to soldiers on the frontline.

After Attacks on Chinese Nationals, Pakistan Pledges More Security

Munir Ahmed

In this photo released by Pakistan’s President office, visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang meets with Pakistani President Arif Alvi, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, May 5, 2023.Credit: Pakistan President Office via AP

The Pakistani president on Friday assured Beijing’s top diplomat that his country will boost security for all Chinese nationals working on multi-billion dollar projects in cash-strapped Pakistan.

China has been demanding more security from Pakistan for its nationals residing and working in the Islamic country since 2021, when a suicide bomber killed nine Chinese and four Pakistanis in an attack in Pakistan’s volatile northwest.

More recently, a Chinese national working on the Dasu Dam, a Chinese-funded hydropower project and the biggest of its kind in Pakistan, was arrested on blasphemy charges after an angry mob accused him of insulting Islam when he criticized a coworker for taking too much time to pray during working hours.

Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws carry the death penalty, and sometimes even a mere suggestion of blasphemy is enough to entice mobs to violence or lynching. The Chinese man was subsequently released under a court order but it remained unclear if he would face trial or be deported home.

President Arif Alvi pledged more security for Chinese workers during a meeting Friday with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang. The two spoke ahead of a mini-summit on Saturday in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, during which Pakistan’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, hosted Qin and also Afghanistan’s Taliban-appointed foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Muttaqi also arrived in Islamabad on Friday ahead of the three-way meeting the next day. The gathering is also seen as an outreach to the Taliban by Pakistan, which has acted as a mediator with Afghanistan’s new rulers, and also China, which is eager to expand its influence in the region.

China’s Missing Million


Over the winter of 2022-23, one million Chinese people died from Covid-19—or so estimates now suggest. This figure would indicate that China experienced as many deaths from the virus in two months as the United States did in three years. That’s a difficult number to wrap one’s mind around—the idea that while the world has largely moved on from the pandemic (and the United States has recently ended the Covid-19 national emergency) Covid is actually in a virulent new phase and subject to a very different set of politics.

Grappling with China’s “missing million” involves, above all, contending with the realization that President Xi Jinping’s iron implementation of Zero-Covid was a failure of colossal proportions. Civil liberties were severely curtailed in unending lockdowns, and China’s economy harmed to the tune of billions of dollars, in the name of a “people’s war” against a “devil virus,” as per the president’s repeated exhortations. This war was to be furious and unrelenting. Then suddenly it was abandoned, after November’s popular protests (dubbed the White Paper Revolution) gave Xi bad dreams of insurrection. Those people whose lives had supposedly been spared by the lockdowns lost their lives anyway, in accelerated fashion.

For three years, Chinese society had been myopically focused on eradicating the virus. No clear exit strategy existed. China was not expected to emerge from Zero-Covid purgatory for the foreseeable future. Reopening came suddenly, with no preparation. This led to the biggest Covid-19 outbreak the world had ever seen: 250 million infections during the first twenty days of December alone. (As this figure was supplied by the chronically unreliable Communist Party, we may wish to revise it upward.)

Xi’s beloved lockdown policy had helped create a nation largely unprotected by natural immunity: “more vulnerable,” writes academic Yanzhong Huang, “than almost any other population on Earth.” Poor natural immunity, low vaccination rates, the mid-winter cold—these were the ripe circumstances into which SARS-CoV-2 was suddenly released. Faced with none of the usual obstacles, the virus was able to tear through China. On the ground, reporters found chaotic scenes. No surge capacity measures had been implemented at hospitals, because no warnings had been given. Emergency rooms were overwhelmed, patients sprawled on floors, ambulances were turned away.

U.S. and Allies Look at Potential China Role in Ending Ukraine War

Bojan Pancevski and Laurence Norman in Berlin and Vivian Salama

China’s Global Peacemaker Ambitions Put It in Competition With U.S.Play video: China’s Global Peacemaker Ambitions Put It in Competition With U.S. Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, signaling China’s desire to become a global power broker. WSJ’s Austin Ramzy explains how Beijing’s peacemaking efforts could challenge the U.S. Photo Composite: Diana Chan

Some U.S. and European officials said they believe that Ukraine’s planned spring offensive could pave the way for negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow by the end of the year, and that China could help bring Russia to the table.

The willingness to encourage negotiations and seek out a role for China in talks represents a shift in Western thinking, particularly in the U.S., which has been highly skeptical of any involvement for Beijing given China’s longstanding support for Moscow. Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly expressed cautious optimism recently that Beijing could help defuse the conflict.

U.S. Think Tank Reports Prompted Beijing to Put a Lid on Chinese Data

Lingling Wei

A recent campaign to restrict overseas access to China-based data sources was partly triggered by a drumbeat of U.S. think tank reports on sensitive Chinese practices that alarmed Beijing, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Increasingly worried about perceived Western threats, Beijing in recent weeks expanded an anti-espionage law and stepped up pressure on foreign companies specializing in collecting information, such as auditors, management consultants and law firms. In addition, access to Chinese databases including Shanghai-based Wind Information has tightened for foreign think tanks, research firms and other nonfinancial entities.

IN FOCUS: PLA carriers unfit for war: sources

When China sailed one of its two aircraft carriers, the Shandong, east of Taiwan proper last month as part of military drills surrounding the island, it was showcasing a capability that it has yet to master and could take years to perfect.

As Beijing modernizes the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), including its missile forces and naval vessels, such as cutting-edge cruisers, it is posing a concern for the US and its allies.

However, it could take more than a decade before China can mount a credible carrier threat far from its shores, four military attaches and six defense analysts familiar with regional naval deployments said.

Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning takes part in a military drill in the western Pacific on April 18, 2018.

Instead, China’s carriers are more of a propaganda showpiece, with doubts about their value in a possible conflict with the US over Taiwan and about whether China could protect them on longer-range missions into the Pacific and Indian oceans, the attaches and analysts said.

The Chinese National Ministry of Defense did not respond to questions about its carrier program, although dozens of articles in state-linked journals reviewed by Reuters reveal awareness among Chinese military analysts about shortcomings in the country’s carrier capability.

Unintended Escalation Could Lead to War with China, Experts Say

John A. Tirpak

The risk of war with China is increasing, experts said May 1. The most likely cause: a U.S.-Chinese conflagration in the Taiwan Strait that could spiral out of control.

“The prospects for war are growing,” Bonnie Glaser, director of the Trans-Pacific program of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. said during a Brookings Institution webinar.

“I don’t think it would start with a Taiwanese declaration of independence,” she said, because the Taiwanese electorate has shown little enthusiasm for such a declaration, knowing that China would probably take military action in response. There’s equally little appetite to sign up for Beijing’s so-called one nation, two systems concept, especially after the People’s Republic stridently reneged on such a promise in Hong Kong.

Rather, Glaser argued, the Strait is “really the only potential trigger of a major war between the United States and China.”

“We have never seen two nuclear powers go to war,” she said, adding she had little confidence “escalation could be controlled, so this is the most worrisome scenario.” Glaser was referring to encounters between U.S. and Chinese aircraft and warships in the South China Sea and other locations in recent months, particularly after the visit of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Taipei.

Glaser, along with Ryan Haas and Richard Bush of Brookings, were rolling out a new book, “U.S.-Taiwan Relations: Will China’s Challenge Lead to a Crisis?”

Glaser said the U.S. must have an informed debate on what is necessary to prevent war with China—something she and her co-panelists thought was possible.

Haas said China would prefer unification Taiwan, which it views as a breakaway province, to be as bloodless as possible. A war could devastate the Taiwanese economy—especially in the vital semiconductor industry.

“From Beijing’s perspective, their preference would be to try to isolate Taiwan as an issue between Taiwan and China and to just deal with it on their own,” and eventually “impose their will on the people of Taiwan,” he said.

Opinion – Turkey’s May Elections Are about Regime Change

Toni Alaranta

Turkey is gearing up for its presidential and parliamentary elections, which are set to take place on May 14th. Marking the 100th anniversary year of the Republic, these elections are of great significance, holding both symbolic value and concrete implications for Turkey’s future. The opposition’s primary candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, represents the Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP) which established the Republic on October 29th, 1923. The CHP leads a coalition of six opposition parties, all of whom are eager to make history by ending President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s 20-year rule and by abolishing the strongly authoritarian-inclined presidential system established in 2018.

Indeed, the elections are a battle between three coalitions. The opposition bloc is an ideologically heterogeneous group. This ‘table of six’ led by CHP includes the small liberal-democratic Democracy and Progress Party (Deva) and Democrat Party (Demokrat Parti), as well as the Islamist Felicity Party (Saadet Parti) and the ‘soft-Islamist’ Future Party (Gelecek Parti), headed by former AKP foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. CHP’s main partner, however, is the nationalist Good Party (Iyi Parti), a splinter of the far-right MHP headed by the charismatic nationalist leader Meral Akşener. Akşener is the only female party leader aside from the Kurdish HDP’s dual leadership where the other leader is always a woman.

Regardless of the election outcome, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu must be congratulated for modernizing the CHP, which has traditionally been a nationalist and somewhat elitist party. Under Kılıçdaroğlu, the CHP has embraced inclusive rhetoric towards ideologically more conservative circles and taken a role as a bridge-builder. It has also taken a more conciliatory tone towards the Kurds. Another noteworthy achievement is the success in keeping the diverse opposition coalition intact, despite a near-breakup in March 2023 due to a dispute over Kılıçdaroğlu’s nomination for the opposition’s joint presidential candidate. Despite this relatively skilful coalition-building strategy of the opposition, it remains to be seen whether it will be enough to sway the outcome.

Does Iran see cyberwar as a way to avoid real war? - analysis


Cybersecurity threats, especially from Iran, have increasingly become an issue in the Middle East for more than a decade as the number and type of these attacks – against countries, entities and organizations – proliferate.

Iran periodically mentions its cyber capabilities in the context of threats against Israel, showing that Tehran has various means at its disposal to conduct its operations. To that end, a recent article in Tasnim, a pro-regime news outlet, highlighted Iran’s cyber abilities to target Israeli websites as “part of the cyberwar.”

Israel is not the only country targeted by cyber incidents, however. Cyberattacks originate from many countries and through nefarious actors. In the UAE, the government’s Cybersecurity Council affirmed its success in defending and confronting malicious cyberattacks.

It said, according to an article at Al-Ain, that the attacks failed to target infrastructure, national digital assets and strategic sectors. The report added that the national task force was able to respond proactively, including to “cyberterrorist organizations.” It did not specify the details of the attackers.

According to an article in UAE-based Khaleej Times, “Mohammed Hamad Al Kuwaiti, head of cybersecurity for the Government of the UAE, said that the UAE Cybersecurity Council cooperates with its partners in deterring over 50,000 cyberattacks each day against strategic national sectors.”

America Faces a Rare Earth Element Crisis

Richard Li

From wind turbines to electric vehicles, rare earth elements—rare earths for short—are needed for key technologies to transition to a sustainable energy revolution. In addition, rare earths power modern military technology, such as radar systems and precision-guided munitions. Furthermore, as technological advancements continue in these areas, companies will need more rare earth for future technologies to function.

The Chinese government has committed tremendous financial and political resources to control the global rare earth elements market. These actions have yielded great dividends for the Chinese economy, which now controls 85 percent of the global rare earth processing market. With decades of financial and institutional support, Chinese refining businesses have developed the technology and skills to refine rare earth at a far lower price than the United States and other countries.

It is alarming that China is willing to leverage its rare earth monopoly to accomplish its foreign policy objectives. After the Japanese government detained a Chinese fish trawler due to an ongoing border dispute, China responded by embargoing its rare earth supply to Japan. Japan, which had imported 30 percent of its rare earth elements from China, was eventually forced to release the fishing captain back to China so that they could have a supply of rare earth. During the ongoing trade war, China has threatened to restrict rare earth exports to the United States.

To counter this threat, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order to increase the domestic production of rare earth for military technology. The Biden administration has also noted in its 2023 Annual Threat Assessment that China’s dominance in the critical minerals market “could pose a significant risk to U.S. and Western manufacturing and consumer sectors if the Government of China was able to adeptly leverage its dominance for political or economic gain.” The Biden administration has devised a few policies to diminish China’s dominance in the rare earth market. Notably, U.S. Defense Department has granted $10 million to MP Materials Inc, one of America’s rare earth mines. Furthermore, President Joe Biden signed executive order 14051 to ensure an adequate stockpile of rare earth for national security purposes. However, these policies are equivalent to shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, as they are inadequate in addressing China’s current dominance.

US Banking Crisis In A New Stage Of Contagion? – OpEd

Dan Steinbock

In view of the Fed, American banking crisis is over. Yet, US and European banks face the most acute stress since 2008 and 2011, respectively. Global economy is exposed to new headwinds.

Last week, as the Federal Reserve pushed ahead with its 10th rate hike since last March, its chairman Jerome Powell declared that the period of U.S. bank failures had come to an end. That’s why Powell assured Americans, “There were three large banks, really from the very beginning, that were at the heart of the stress that we saw in early March — the severe period of stress. Those have now all been resolved, and all the depositors have been protected.”

In other words, the failures of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and First Republic Bank mark the end, not the spread of the banking crisis. As Powell added, the most recent failure of First Republic, and its subsequent sale to JPMorgan Chase, “kind of draws a line under that period.”

Obviously, such ideas are plain silly. U.S. banking crisis is not over; it has entered a new stage. And it continues to spread.
As dominoes fall

Nearly half (48%) of Americans are concerned about the safety of their bank deposits, according to a Gallup poll last week. Distressingly, the survey results resemble the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers’ collapse.

Recently, Lawrence McDonald, former vice-president at Lehman Brothers, projected that the banking crisis could derail another 50 regional lenders in America if the US fiscal and monetary authorities fail to take steps to resolve structural challenges.

In the U.S. and European banking sector, the rollercoaster ride began in early March, with three weeks of substantial volatility. First, two major US regional banks (Silicon Valley Bank [SVB] and Signature Bank) failed. Then, one of the 30 global systemically important banks, the Switzerland-based Credit Suisse, lost its autonomy after a government-facilitated takeover by UBS.

Russia’s ‘On-Point Jamming’ Has Made Life Miserable For HIMARS, EW Attacks Cause It To Miss Its Target – US Report

Sakshi Tiwari

Latest media reports suggest that the efficiency of the HIMARS Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) may have taken a massive hit as Russia has mastered the jamming of rockets fired by the system.

Multiple people with knowledge of the situation told CNN that Russia had regularly thwarted attacks by the US-made mobile rocket systems in Ukraine. The Russians reportedly employ electronic jammers to confuse the rocket’s GPS-guided targeting system, causing it to miss its targets.

According to the report, the US has assisted Ukrainian military leaders in finding a variety of workarounds so that they can continue to use the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which has been arguably the most admired and feared piece of equipment in Ukraine’s conflict.

The CNN report about rocket jamming comes at a time when Ukraine is gearing up to launch a massive counteroffensive against Russia. Last year, the HIMARS proved a “game changer” as it aided the Ukrainian counterattack and allowed the troops to recapture large swaths of territory from Russia, including Kherson.

However, military experts have long emphasized that after initially being rattled by the HIMARS, the Russians soon adjusted their tactics to take on the challenge. Five US, British, and Ukrainian sources told CNN that Russia’s extensive blocking has made the systems less and less effective over the past few months.

This has forced the US and Ukrainian authorities to investigate methods to modify the HIMARS software to thwart the Russians’ evolving jamming efforts. However, the report does not specify whether they have succeeded so far.

According to a Pentagon official, “it is a constant cat-and-mouse game” of trying to stop the jamming while also having the Russians stop you. Furthermore, it’s unclear how long-lasting that game will be.

To Protect Tanks From Bomb-Dropping Drones, Deploy Scouts—And Arm Them With Rockets Or Microwave Guns

David Axe

The aftermath of a Ukrainian drone attack on a Russian vehicle formation.AEROROZVIDKA CAPTURE

Inexpensive drones dropping tiny bombs greatly have expanded the area of the battlefield where tanks are most vulnerable.

That’s plainly evident in Ukraine, where many hundreds of quadcopter-style drones—operated by the regular Ukrainian military and Kyiv’s paramilitary drone air force Aerorozvidka—have vexed Russia’s tank battalions. Harrying tanks with grenades and occasionally scoring a direct hit inside an open hatch.

There’s an argument to be made that fragile, low-flying drones are best at mopping up stranded and abandoned tanks that have run afoul of mines and artillery—that quadcopters lobbing one-pound grenades are a nuisance to buttoned-up tanks but not an existential threat.

Still, armies need to think through their drone problem, Michael Losacco—a graduate student at Georgetown University and a former U.S. Army tanker—advised in an article for West Point’s Modern War Institute.

“The proliferation of surveillance and attack drones makes both the tank and infantry vulnerable to aerial attack and ambush,” Losacco wrote. “As a result, these formations will need layers of early warning and security to achieve their objectives.”

Losacco’s proposal, in essence, is for tank brigades to deploy scouts equipped with anti-drone weapons. “Successful tank operations in the future will involve not only linking infantry to tanks, but ensuring the attachment of reconnaissance and [surveillance] troops.”

“R&S troops can provide early warning and counter-reconnaissance capabilities needed to mitigate the drone’s advantage. Together, infantry-tank formations and R&S troops will maintain the tank’s lethality.”

In Ukraine, A New Chance to Judge the Patriot Missile


Ukraine is taking delivery of its first Patriot air-defense batteries, the weapon so highly and baselessly lauded during the 1991 Gulf War. Now, as upgraded Patriots take the battlefield once again, U.S. officials must judge how they fare—accurately, this time.

Video released by Ukrainian defense officials show Patriots provided by NATO countries deploying in Ukraine. DOD officials announced on May 3 that U.S.-supplied units have also arrived in country. “In high-intensity combat against the hardest targets, the Patriot can confirm or disprove its widely-regarded reputation as one of the world’s best air defense systems,” wrote Illia Ponomarenko for The Kyiv Independent on May 2.

The weapon has a checkered past. In 1991, U.S. officials and media excitedly reported a 100-percent success rate for the system, with claims that Patriots had intercepted Scud missiles launched from Iraq at Israel and Saudi Arabia. But the following year, Congressional hearings found that these claims were misleading and highly inaccurate. I was the lead staffer for the House Government Operations Committee investigation.

Rather than destroying 41 of 42 Scuds engaged, as President George H.W. Bush claimed at the end of the war, investigators from the Congressional Research Service and the General Accounting Office determined that Patriots only hit between zero and four of 44 Scuds engaged.

The incorrect claims of Patriot PAC-2’s success stem from misunderstanding of the way the interceptor works, how the system gauges its success, and its users’ failure to conduct ground damage assessments to determine whether the target was actually hit.

The PAC-2 variant sprays fragments, like a shotgun blast, as it nears a target. Explosions seen in the sky in the 1991 war were not signs of a Patriot hitting an incoming Scud, but of proximity fuzes detonating as the Patriot neared a Scud or a Scud fragment, or by the missile automatically self-destructing after missing a Scud, or by Patriots flying after false targets.

To Keep Hackers Out of US Weapons, the Pentagon Needs to Get In


The Pentagon’s efforts to protect its data networks mustn’t stop at its industrial & IT systems; its vehicles and weapons are vulnerable as well. But the military’s ability to defend these systems is hampered by its inability to monitor even their most basic inner workings.

We’ve been warned about the threats. Last year, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency detailed how Russia stole sensitive information about weapons from U.S. defense contractors. The Government Accountability Office has issued several reports of its own.

Many systems aboard U.S. weapons and military vehicles are built to conceal these inner workings, even from their customer. There are several reasons for this “black box” approach. Component seals can simplify the task of maintaining such things as flight-worthiness certifications. They can help suppliers win and keep lucrative support contracts. And, in theory at least, they deny attackers knowledge of key systems.

But if a half-century of enterprise IT has taught us anything, it’s that the “security through obscurity” approach fails, every time. Indeed, it hurts the Pentagon’s ability to understand their systems’ vulnerabilities and to know when they have been compromised. It also strips the military of valuable data that could be used to guide maintenance, predict component failure, and even improve training.

But there is a way that the Pentagon might access key data without breaching component manufacturers’ seals. Complex weapons and vehicles use open, standards-based serial buses to move data between components. These paths are open by design. Monitoring these paths can help defenders understand what cyber techniques adversaries are using, detect them, develop indications and protections, and potentially mitigate them.

For example, suppose an adversary discovers a way to exploit an aircraft via a radio-frequency channel. By sending crafted data to some always-on RF receiver, a malicious message could theoretically be injected into a bus-connected component, then onto the bus itself. This could produce results ranging from anomalous to catastrophic, left largely up to the attacker. A system that allows visibility into the bus can detect the intrusion; one that does not, cannot.

Henry Kissinger on a potential artificial intelligence arms race


That Henry Kissinger is still alive will come as news to some people. He's hard of hearing, blind in one eye, and has had multiple heart surgeries. Yet, he says, he works about 15 hours a day. And – incredibly – he remains relevant on a global scale.

Koppel asked, "If you had one of your aides here pick up the phone and call Beijing and say, 'Dr. Kissinger would like to speak with President Xi,' would he take your call?"

"There's a good chance that he'd take my call, yes," he replied.

And Russian President Vladimir Putin? "Probably, yes."

"If a president were to come to you and say, 'Henry, would you fly to Moscow and talk to Putin?'"

"I would be inclined to do it, yes," Kissinger said. "But I would be an advisor, not an active person."

"I wasn't thinking about reinstating you as Secretary of State," Koppel laughed. "Of course, you'd be an advisor."

"Yes, absolutely."

In anyone else, the arrogance would be staggering. But the nimbus of photographs surrounding Kissinger displaying former U.S. presidents (living and dead) whom he has served or advised is compelling, confirmation of the old adage, "If you can do it, it ain't braggin'."Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.CBS NEWS

Kissinger believes that the current crisis in Ukraine may be approaching a turning point. "Now that China has entered the negotiation, it will come to a head, I think, by the end of the year," he said. "We will be talking about negotiating processes and even actual negotiations."

You might think that, on the cusp of turning 100 years old, Kissinger is sympathetic to an 80-year-old or a 76-year-old running for president. He's skeptical. "It takes a certain capacity, physically," he said. "There's some advantages in maturity. There are dangers in exhaustion, and a limited capacity to work."

Is There A Security Umbrella For Ukraine?

Peter Harris

Is There a Security Umbrella for Ukraine? – Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine is the largest interstate conflict on European soil since 1945. It has been a terrible war, with enormous loss of life. Credible accounts of war crimes abound. Urban centers such as Mariupol, Lyman, and Bakhmut are now in ruins. The amount of human misery and suffering is incalculable.

Yet despite the horrors unfolding in Ukraine, analysts mostly agree that the conflict has a low chance of escalating to become a general European war. To be sure, there is a great deal of fear about Russian expansionism in Poland and the Baltic states. These anxieties must not be trivialized. But nor should they be taken as representative of how the rest of Europe feels about the war.

Ukraine Changes Everything…and Nothing

Simply put, there is little evidence that most Europeans view their own physical security as being affected by what is happening in Ukraine. How exactly have NATO and Russia managed to prevent the horizontal escalation of the war in Ukraine? What gives the West confidence that the war will not spill over into neighboring countries? And what lessons might be applied to keep Ukraine (and others) safe from Russian predation in the future?

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States and its European partners have tried three primary ways of maintaining peaceful relations with the Russian giant: political integration, economic cooperation, and extended deterrence in the form of US security guarantees to NATO members. Of these, only the last has stood the tests of time, divergent security interests, and war.

The political and economic love-bombing of Russia was supposed to build a constructive east-west relationship. The wager was that Russia could be turned into a friend and trusted partner—a fully Westernized country with which NATO members could have no major quarrel.

Toward this end, the West invited Russia to join Western-led organizations during the 1990s and 2000s, such as the Council of Europe, G8, World Trade Organization, NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, and the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. At the same time, Europeans made themselves highly reliant upon Russian oil and gas, and rolled out the red carpet for Russian oligarchs.

To counter Russia in Africa, Biden deploys a favored strategy


As Russia’s paramilitary organization, the Wagner Group, expands its presence in African countries, the Biden administration is pushing back with one of its prized tactics: sharing sensitive intelligence with allies in Africa in an attempt to dissuade countries from partnering with the group.

The administration has used this tactic with increasing frequency, including in the months leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. It serves the dual function of alerting allies to looming threats and placing adversaries on notice that the U.S. knows what they’re doing.

Now, those tactics are being deployed as part of a broader push to prevent Moscow from gaining an economic and military foothold in countries in Africa, including those that have previously worked with Washington, according to interviews with four U.S. officials with knowledge of the effort.

The U.S. has in recent months shared intelligence related to an alleged Wagner plan to assassinate the president of Chad as well as its attempts to access and control key natural resource extraction sites in countries such as Sudan and the Central African Republic, among other initiatives.

The aim is to highlight for African officials how working with Wagner is likely to sow chaos in the long term despite its promises to bring peace and security to countries facing political turmoil and violence, the officials said.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment on the administration’s strategy. The National Security Council also declined to comment.

It is now battered Ukraine’s turn for an offensive

The coming battle should aim to persuade Moscow of the futility of its aggression and attempted land grabs LAWRENCE FREEDMANAdd to myFT © Rory Griffiths/FT/Getty Images It is now battered Ukraine’s turn for an offensive on twitter (opens in a new window) It is now battered Ukraine’s turn for an offensive on facebook (opens in a new window) It is now battered Ukraine’s turn for an offensive on linkedin (opens in a new window) Save current progress 0% Lawrence Freedman MAY 5 2023 325 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. The writer is author of ‘Command: The Politics of Military Operations from Korea to Ukraine’  After more than 14 months of gruelling combat, Vladimir Putin has failed to achieve any of his war aims. 

His original objective was to subjugate all of Ukraine. That aspiration lasted a few days, although it has never quite gone away. His current position is that peace can be discussed as soon as Ukraine acknowledges that the four oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — illegally annexed last year, like Crimea in 2014 — are a permanent part of Russia. Putin’s difficulty is that much of this claimed land is out of reach of Russian forces. Not long after the invasion the Russians were in occupation of some 27 per cent of Ukrainian territory. This is now down to 18 per cent. He hoped, with Russia’s recent offensive, to remedy that situation — at least by taking Luhansk and Donetsk, together known as the Donbas. But after months of effort, relying on artillery barrages and infantry assaults, they have suffered huge casualties (100,000, including 20,000 killed, since December, according to the Pentagon) while making few advances. 

Bakhmut has become the symbol of this struggle. After the loss of the adjacent town of Soledar in January, it was also expected to fall. Yet Ukrainian units have clung on and kept their supply lines open. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss of the Wagner mercenaries that have been doing the bulk of the fighting, has complained bitterly that the defence ministry has denied his men sufficient ammunition and now threatens to abandon Bakhmut next week. Elsewhere, Russian commanders are now torn about whether to try to take ground or consolidate their current positions in anticipation of the coming Ukrainian offensive. Russia has also failed in its systematic campaign to take out Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, particularly its electricity supplies, using drones and missiles — although deadly attacks on Ukrainian cities continue. 

Orders of Disorder

Garrett M. Graff

The history of Iraq was already being rewritten by L. Paul Bremer on his flight into Baghdad. It was May 2003, and Bremer, an experienced former ambassador and bureaucratic player—he’d served as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s chief of staff—was just weeks into his new role as presidential envoy to the freshly liberated country. After a flurry of briefings in Washington and a final Oval Office meeting with President George W. Bush, “Jerry,” as everyone called Bremer, had flown into Qatar and on to Kuwait and then Iraq. Bremer’s diplomatic career had taken him to most

Who are Russia’s supporters?

On the surface it appears quite baffling. In the year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s diplomatic resilience has left many wringing their hands. Sergei Lavrov, the country’s foreign minister, went on a charm offensive across various countries; Vladimir Putin, the president, welcomed China’s leader in March. In one sense Russia can rightly boast about strengthening diplomatic ties. Data published in March by eiu, our sister company, showed that the number of countries actively condemning Russia had fallen since its previous analysis a year ago (see map). But these countries are of little real use to Mr Putin and his warmongering.

Here's How Long COVID-19 Vaccine Immunity Really Lasts


Whether you get it from a vaccine or an infection, COVID-19 immunity does not last forever. In a study published May 3 in JAMA Network Open, researchers combed through studies to determine just how long protection from the shots endures.

The scientists, led by a team from Italy, analyzed 40 studies that documented people’s vaccination status and their subsequent infections with COVID-19, confirmed by lab tests. The studies included data from both the Delta and Omicron surges.

Overall, the researchers found that one month after people received two doses of either mRNA vaccine (from Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech), the vaccine from AstraZeneca, or the shot from Sinovac, the vaccine effectiveness was 53% in protecting against symptoms of COVID-19. (There were differences among the vaccines, with Moderna’s primary series of two shots showing the highest effectiveness of 62% one month after the series, and Sinovac’s demonstrating the lowest effectiveness at 32%.) After six months, the overall effectiveness of the vaccines dropped further to 14%, and to 9% after nine months. This waning was greater during the Omicron wave than during the Delta wave, suggesting that the vaccine was less effective against Omicron.

Booster doses after the primary series restored protection back to levels achieved just after the primary vaccination, but this protection waned too, at a rate similar to that after the primary series, dropping from 60% at one month after the booster dose to 13% at nine months. This drop in efficacy corresponded to rates of lab-confirmed positive tests for Delta and Omicron infections.

The studies in the review did not delve into how well the vaccines protect against more severe disease, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19; other studies to date have shown that protection against more serious outcomes wanes much more slowly than against symptomatic infection, and that the shots continue to protect pretty well against these more dire events.

“This study is showing that the protection [from vaccines] is very high at the beginning, but it wanes quickly,” says Marco Ajelli, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Indiana University School of Public Health and one of the co-authors of the study. “That’s exactly in line with what we observe for influenza.”

The Writers Strike Is Taking a Stand on AI


The last time the Writers Guild of America went on strike, in 2007, workers pushed back against the nascent streaming industry, advocating for higher residual payments for content released over streaming. Now a new technology, artificial intelligence, stands to drastically change Hollywood again as Guild strikers return to the picket line.

Streaming giants like Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+ have come to dominate the industry, changing the models by which content is produced and distributed and making it increasingly difficult for writers to earn a sustainable income. And as artificial intelligence technology rapidly improves, the WGA aims to place limits on the use of AI in movies and TV scripts.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) —which is negotiating the contract on behalf of Hollywood studios, streamers, and production companies—say their priority is “the long-term health and stability of the industry” and they are dedicated to reaching “a fair and reasonable agreement” according to the Associated Press.

“AI raises hard, important creative and legal questions for everyone…” the AMPTP said in an emailed statement to TIME. “It’s something that requires a lot more discussion, which we’ve committed to doing.”

The WGA proposed regulations around the use of AI to create source material and write, or rewrite, literary material. A negotiations proposal chart released by WGA on Monday shows that AMPTP rejected their proposal, instead countering with “annual meetings to discuss advancements in technology.” (The WGA did not respond to requests for comment as of publication.)

A Pivotal Moment

Gary Marcus Used to Call AI Stupid—Now He Calls It Dangerous


AS A JOURNALIST, one thing I appreciate about Gary Marcus is that he always makes time for a chat. The last time we met face-to-face was late last year in New York City, where he fit me in between a series of press interviews, including NPR, CNN, the BBC, and the Big Kahuna, a taping of 60 Minutes with Leslie Stahl.

When I called Marcus this week for an update on his Never Ending Tour to critique AI, he made sure to Zoom with me the next day, tweaking his schedule to avoid conflict with a Morning Joe hit. It was a good day for Marcus: the New York Times Sunday Magazine had just gone online with a lengthy Marcus interview conducted by its talk maven, David Marchese, whose previous subjects have included Thomas Piketty, Tom Stoppard, and Iggy Pop.

The success of large language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and a host of others has been so spectacular that it’s literally scary. This week President Biden summoned the lords of AI to figure out what to do about it. Even some of the people building models, like OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, recommend some form of regulation. And the discussion is a global one; Italy even banned OpenAI’s bot for a while.

The sudden urgency about the benefits and evils of AI has made it a sufficiently hot media topic to create an instant demand for camera-ready experts—particularly those who have takes hot enough to sustain an extended sound bite. It is a moment made for Marcus, a 53-year-old entrepreneur and NYU professor emeritus who now lives in Vancouver, coincidentally the site of his recent TED talk on constraining AI. In addition to his inevitable Substack “The Road to A.I. We Can Trust” and his podcast Humans vs. Machines—currently number 6 on Apple’s chart for tech pods—Marcus has ascended to become one of the go-to talking heads on this breakout topic, in such demand that one applauds his restraint in not creating a Marcus-bot so he could share his AI concerns with Andrew Ross Sorkin and Anderson Cooper at the same time.

Google engineer warns it could lose out to open-source technology in AI race

Dan Milmo

Google has been warned by one of its engineers that the company is not in a position to win the artificial intelligence race and could lose out to commonly available AI technology.

A document from a Google engineer leaked online said the company had done “a lot of looking over our shoulders at OpenAI”, referring to the developer of the ChatGPT chatbot.

However, the worker, identified by Bloomberg as a senior software engineer, wrote that neither company was in a winning position.

“The uncomfortable truth is, we aren’t positioned to win this arms race and neither is OpenAI. While we’ve been squabbling, a third faction has been quietly eating our lunch,” the engineer wrote.

The engineer went on to state that the “third faction” posing a competitive threat to Google and OpenAI was the open-source community.

Open-source technology developers are not proprietorial and release their work for anyone to use, improve or adapt as they see fit. Historical examples of open-source work include the Linux operating system and LibreOffice, an alternative to Microsoft Office.

The Google engineer said open-source AI developers were “already lapping us”, citing examples including tools based on a large language model developed by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, which was made available by the company on a “noncommercial” and case-by-case basis in February but leaked online shortly after.

Since Meta’s LLaMA model became widely available, the document added, the barrier to entry for working on AI models has dropped “from the total output of a major research organization to one person, an evening, and a beefy laptop”.

The document also cited websites filled with open-source visual art generation models. By contrast, Chat GPT and Google’s Bard chatbot do not share make their underlying models available to the public.