27 May 2023

It is crunch time for the Quad

Brahma Chellaney

U.S. President Joe Biden’s last-minute cancellation of his planned appearance at a Quad summit in Australia will strengthen the perception that the war of attrition in Ukraine is deflecting Washington’s attention from mounting security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

Citing the imperative of cutting a deal with congressional leaders to avert a looming U.S. debt default, Biden also scrapped plans to stop in Papua New Guinea for what was to be the first visit by a U.S. president to a Pacific Island nation.

The dual cancellations will reinforce questions about America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific, which is shaping up as the world’s economic and geopolitical hub.

If Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shaken the foundations of the international order, as many observers contend, a Chinese takeover of Taiwan would usher in a new global order by ending America’s preeminence and irreparably damaging the U.S.-led alliance system. Yet the Biden administration remains overly focused on European security.

Biden’s planned Pacific tour next week had promised to put the international spotlight back on the Indo-Pacific and would have signaled that Washington had not taken its eye off the region despite America’s increasing involvement in the Ukraine war in terms of providing weapons, training and battlefield targeting data to Kyiv.

Only China can be pleased by Biden’s decision to simply return to the White House after the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

Just as China is the sole country really benefiting from the conflict in Ukraine, Biden’s scrapped visits are likely to bolster Chinese ambitions in the Pacific while setting back Washington’s efforts to contain Beijing’s growing influence. Using its economic power and the world’s largest naval fleet, China has been making rapid inroads among Pacific island nations.


Beginning during the Trump administration and continuing under President Joe Biden, the United States’ technology competition with China – conducted through major policy decisions, regulatory actions and think tank position papers – has become an important aspect of bilateral relations. This intensifying competition is likely to have profound regional security implications, particularly for the potential for military confrontation over Taiwan but also more generally for the long-term strategic and economic security of the Asia-Pacific.

In both Washington and Beijing, strategic goals have sometimes been driven by forces intent on over-securitising the technology dimension of bilateral relations. This process has been fraught with risks and potential collateral damage for bilateral US–China relations and the Asia-Pacific, as well as more generally for global supply chains in key technology sectors, such as semiconductors.

Taiwan is increasingly a flashpoint in the bilateral relationship, a development linked to changes in the semiconductor industry, which has been increasingly affected by US–China competition. US efforts to restrict Chinese companies’ ability to use Taiwanese firms as a manufacturing platform – particularly global foundry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) – and Washington’s pressure on Taipei to support US over Chinese supply chains creates a new red line for Beijing, though it is unclear what might trigger a Chinese response.

US–China technology competition in emerging sectors such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing could lead to the decoupling of supply chains and research and development, reducing US (and US allies’) understanding of China’s progress in these areas.


The author first used the hashtag #USChinaTechColdWar in January 2018,1 though the term ‘technological cold war’ was first employed by China technology watcher Paul Mozur of the New York Times in July 2015.2 The context of the 2015 article – important for the future direction of US–China technology competition – was the attempted acquisition of Micron Technology, the leading US semiconductor-memory company, by China’s Tsinghua Unigroup. The latter had support from the China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund (CICF), established in 2014 as part of a series of major national technology-related initiatives actioned under Chinese President Xi Jinping.3 Tsinghua Unigroup would later abandon the deal as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) came under increasing congressional pressure to review it. Over the next five years, China became increasingly authoritarian in the eyes of Washington policymakers as Xi ramped up efforts to support domestic technology companies. This context set the stage for a spiralling dynamic that would culminate in 2021 and 2022 with geopolitical risks erupting around the entire semiconductor sector and one of its epicentres (Taiwan). To understand how this happened one must follow several interrelated threads, including the failed Micron deal, the expansion of US regulatory purviews and powers and lastly Beijing’s reactions and countermeasures, both current and future.

Marine Corps No More?

Bing West

Since 1775, the iconic image of the American Marine has been that of a disciplined, tough rifleman moving forward in battle, often with fixed bayonet. The Marine Corps is small, agile, and flexible, priding itself on being the first to fight, anywhere. Over the past four years, however, the current Commandant, General David H. Berger, has radically transformed the image and the mission of the Marine Corps. The primary focus now is upon developing missile units intended to sink Chinese warships. To fund those units, General Berger did away with 21% of the personnel in infantry battalions, 100% of the tanks, 67% of the cannon artillery batteries, 33% of the assault amphibious companies, nearly 30% of Marine aviation, and almost all assault breaching equipment. The desired number of large amphibious ships was reduced from 38 to 31. Due to these cuts, Marines are less capable to fight as a combined arms force. The Marine Corps cannot seize a city from an entrenched enemy, as it did Fallujah in 2004. It cannot fight on a battlefield such as Ukraine unless it queues up behind the National Guard to receive any left-over tanks and crews the U.S. Army is not employing.

What has been gained by shredding the Marine’s historic image and reducing its capability to fight in any place or clime? In theory, China is further deterred. On paper, the Marines will be prepared by 2030 to land small units on a dozen islands or atolls in the South China Sea. Each unit will include eight or ten anti-ship missiles mounted on heavy trucks, plus sophisticated naval intelligence devices to detect ship movements. When and if Chinese warships try to exit the South China Sea to attack Guam or wherever, the Marines will track and sink them.

However, the Philippines has refused to permit U.S. forces to use its bases as a staging area, let alone land on its islands in the South China Sea. Plus, the Marines don’t have the shallow-draft ships to get to those islands. The Navy is reluctant to build them and has secured the Marines’ pledge that such ships would pull out before a shooting war began. This means the Marines may never get to the islands; and if they do, they are on their own, without reinforcement or resupply. In addition, those islands are one thousand miles south of Taiwan. If Taiwan is the focus of Beijing’s future aggression, the Marines have placed themselves out of position. In short, the anti-ship mission lacks strategic coherence as well as resources.

JOHN BOLTON: The G-7 Shows It Still Doesn’t Understand The China Threa

John Bolton

Last Saturday, leaders of the G-7 nations meeting in Hiroshima issued a 40-page communique addressing, most importantly, their relations with China.

The communique was touted as demonstrating G-7 unity and strength against Beijing’s economic warfare, but the China language instead reflects disarray and incoherence.

Embarrassingly weak, for example, is the Taiwan passage.

It is essentially unchanged from recent G-7 statements, ignoring China’s rapidly rising menace during the same period. Similarly, the G-7 urged China to speak directly to Ukraine, but referred only to a peace “based on territorial integrity,” not on the full restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty as well as its territorial integrity — a restoration all NATO members profess to support.

By resorting to bromides regarding both Taiwan and Ukraine, the leaders of the global West do precisely the opposite of what they intend: They reveal weakness rather than unity and strength.

An Empty Slogan

The communique is weakest and least coherent on the G-7’s economic relationship with China, the very front where current Chinese efforts at regional and global hegemony are playing out. Instead of forthrightly confronting Beijing’s economic aggression, the Hiroshima document relies on a slogan, a sure signal of inadequate strategic substance. The communique adopts the mantra first unfurled by the European Union and quickly adopted by the Biden White House.

Australia has faced down China’s trade bans, and emerged stronger

When china launched a campaign of economic coercion against Australia in 2020, Communist Party bosses thought they had crushing leverage. The economies of the two countries—resource-rich Australia and commodities-hungry China—were complementary and closely connected. By massively curbing shipments of everything from timber to coal, lobsters, barley and wine, on pretexts including exaggerated concerns about trade practices and pest infestations, China imposed a A$24bn ($16bn) hit to Australia. Yet it did not succumb. And like a surfer surviving a shark attack with no more than a lightly gnawed board, Australia is now emerging from three years of Chinese bullying in remarkably good shape.

This 15-mile, $6.7B bridge is a symbol of China’s ambitions, and its problems

Chris Lau

This aerial view of a section of Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge on April 28, 2023 in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province of China.Chen Jimin/China News Service/VCG/Getty Images

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Even in a land known for gargantuan, record-breaking infrastructure, this project is turning heads.

At 15 miles long (24 kilometers), eight lanes wide and featuring artificial islands and an undersea tunnel, China’s $6.7 billion Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge is nothing if not ambitious.

To much fanfare in the country’s state media, the bridge’s builders recently claimed a new world record by paving in a single day more than 243,200 square feet (22,600 square meters) of asphalt, the equivalent of more than 50 basketball courts.

Yet strange as it may sound, this is not the world’s longest sea bridge. That honor belongs to its 34-mile long neighbor, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge – just 20 miles away.

To some observers, the building of these giant bridges in such close proximity is testament both to China’s growing ambitions on the global stage and the problems it faces in realizing them.

Like its sister bridge in Hong Kong, when the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge opens to traffic next year after eight years of construction, it will form a central plank in China’s master plan to develop its Greater Bay Area, one of the world’s largest and most populated urban areas, into an economic and technological hub that can rival San Francisco, New York or Tokyo.

The Diplomatic Wins at the Heart of China’s Ascendancy

Juan Cole

photo Beijing released on March 6 of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s foreign minister Wang Yi delivered a seismic shock in Washington. There he stood between Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, and Saudi National Security Adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban. They were awkwardly shaking hands on an agreement to reestablish mutual diplomatic ties. That picture should have brought to mind a 1993 photo of President Bill Clinton hosting Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chief Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn as they agreed to the Oslo Accords. And that long-gone moment was itself an after-effect of the halo of invincibility the United States had gained in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the overwhelming American victory in the 1991 Gulf War.

This time around, the United States had been cut out of the picture, a sea change reflecting not just Chinese initiatives but Washington’s incompetence, arrogance, and double-dealing in the subsequent three decades in the Middle East. An aftershock came in early May as concerns gripped Congress about the covert construction of a Chinese naval base in the United Arab Emirates, a US ally hosting thousands of American troops. The Abu Dhabi facility would be an add-on to the small base at Djibouti on the east coast of Africa used by the People’s Liberation Army-Navy for combating piracy, evacuating noncombatants from conflict zones, and perhaps regional espionage.

China’s interest in cooling off tensions between the Iranian ayatollahs and the Saudi monarchy arose, however, not from any military ambitions in the region but because it imports significant amounts of oil from both countries. Another impetus was undoubtedly President Xi’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, that aims to expand Eurasia’s overland and maritime economic infrastructure for a vast growth of regional trade—with China, of course, at its heart. That country has already invested billions in a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and in developing the Pakistani Arabian seaport of Gwadar to facilitate the transmission of Gulf oil to its northwestern provinces.

China's Micron ban highlights chipmakers' dilemma as Sino-U.S. tensions grow

Joyce Lee

SEOUL, May 22 (Reuters) - China's ban on the use of U.S.-based Micron Technology's (MU.O) chips in certain sectors, announced on Sunday, is a stark reminder of risks facing the global chip industry as it braces for escalating Sino-U.S. trade tensions.

China's move against Micron, the biggest U.S. memory chipmaker, was widely seen as retaliation for Washington's efforts to restrict Beijing's access to key technology. It came just a day after the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations agreed they would look to "de-risk, not decouple" from China, and as Washington pressures its allies to join it in restricting chip equipment exports to China.

Micron, which makes DRAM and NAND flash memory chips, is the first U.S. chipmaker to be targeted by Beijing after Washington over the past year unveiled a series of export controls to block certain chips and chipmaking technologies being used to advance China's military capabilities.

While the move could benefit Micron's key rivals - South Korea's Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and SK Hynix (000660.KS) - in the near term, analysts said the growing geopolitical tensions cast a shadow over the industry as firms need to navigate rising uncertainties that could impact investment and supply chain management.

Such tit-for-tat policies will make investment decisions difficult for all chipmakers, said Kim Sun-woo, analyst at Meritz Securities in Seoul. "Companies have to address both production and sales. It would be better if production and sales happened in the same place, but this will keep dividing the two sides," he said.

Just days before the ban, Micron announced a plan to invest up to 500 billion yen ($3.7 billion) in Japan in extreme ultraviolet technology, becoming the first chipmaker to bring the advanced chipmaking technology to Japan. Tokyo is striving to reinvigorate its chip sector, while the United States is increasingly urging its allies to work together to counter China's chips and advanced technology development.

Volt Typhoon targets US critical infrastructure with living-off-the-land techniques

Microsoft has uncovered stealthy and targeted malicious activity focused on post-compromise credential access and network system discovery aimed at critical infrastructure organizations in the United States. The attack is carried out by Volt Typhoon, a state-sponsored actor based in China that typically focuses on espionage and information gathering. Microsoft assesses with moderate confidence that this Volt Typhoon campaign is pursuing development of capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises.

Volt Typhoon has been active since mid-2021 and has targeted critical infrastructure organizations in Guam and elsewhere in the United States. In this campaign, the affected organizations span the communications, manufacturing, utility, transportation, construction, maritime, government, information technology, and education sectors. Observed behavior suggests that the threat actor intends to perform espionage and maintain access without being detected for as long as possible.

To achieve their objective, the threat actor puts strong emphasis on stealth in this campaign, relying almost exclusively on living-off-the-land techniques and hands-on-keyboard activity. They issue commands via the command line to (1) collect data, including credentials from local and network systems, (2) put the data into an archive file to stage it for exfiltration, and then (3) use the stolen valid credentials to maintain persistence. In addition, Volt Typhoon tries to blend into normal network activity by routing traffic through compromised small office and home office (SOHO) network equipment, including routers, firewalls, and VPN hardware. They have also been observed using custom versions of open-source tools to establish a command and control (C2) channel over proxy to further stay under the radar.

In this blog post, we share information on Volt Typhoon, their campaign targeting critical infrastructure providers, and their tactics for achieving and maintaining unauthorized access to target networks. Because this activity relies on valid accounts and living-off-the-land binaries (LOLBins), detecting and mitigating this attack could be challenging. Compromised accounts must be closed or changed. At the end of this blog post, we share more mitigation steps and best practices, as well as provide details on how Microsoft 365 Defender detects malicious and suspicious activity to protect organizations from such stealthy attacks. The National Security Agency (NSA) has also published a Cybersecurity Advisory [PDF] which contains a hunting guide for the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) discussed in this blog.


Kateryna Stepanenko

Russia declared victory in Bakhmut on May 21, 2023, after fighting for the city for nearly a year.[1] The battle marks the first claimed Russian victory over a large city since the capture of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the summer of 2022. The Battle for Bakhmut is still ongoing as Ukrainian forces regained the initiative and are counterattacking Bakhmut’s flanks north and south of the city. The Russian year-long drive began as part of a theoretically sensible but overly-ambitious operational effort but ended as a purely symbolic gesture that cost tens of thousands of Russian casualties.

The seizure of Bakhmut was originally intended to facilitate Russian offensives to encircle large Ukrainian forces in the east and specifically to take the large and fortified city of Slovyansk from multiple directions. Bakhmut was not a primary Russian objective during the early phases of the war, and the Russian military command aimed to secure Donetsk Oblast’s administrative borders by seizing major Ukrainian strongholds such as Slovyansk and Kramatorsk directly. The Ukrainian liberation of most of Kharkiv Oblast in September 2022 ended the immediate Russian threats to Slovyansk and, secondarily, Kramatorsk, whereupon Bakhmut became the main operational and political objective for the Kremlin. Bakhmut fit into the planned Russian winter offensive as one of several lines of advance that were supposed to end by securing the Luhansk and Donetsk oblast boundaries, but all the other attempted advances failed, once more depriving the battle for Bakhmut of hypothetical operational significance by March-April 2023. Moscow stubbornly clung to its efforts to seize Bakhmut regardless of the operational context and ultimately took the destroyed city at a hideous cost in manpower and materiel, then ceding the initiative in the Bakhmut area to Ukraine.[2]

The Russian military command initially sought to seize Bakhmut to support a wide encirclement of Ukrainian forces in Donbas in Spring 2022. Following the Russian withdrawal from Kyiv and the refocusing of Russian military efforts in the east in April 2022 the Russian military command aimed to encircle a large group of Ukrainian forces in western Luhansk and eastern Donetsk oblasts.[3] The Russian military command sought to conduct three simultaneous maneuvers that would collectively surround and seize the Slovyansk stronghold: a westward push through Severodonetsk-Lysychansk, a drive south from Izyum (southeastern Kharkiv Oblast), and an attack north from Bakhmut. The Russian military command sought to secure and advance along the E40 highway - which connects Izyum, Slovyansk, and the Bakhmut area - to quickly encircle Ukrainian forces in eastern Donetsk Oblast and advance towards the region’s western borders.[4] The Russian seizure of Bakhmut was a necessary but not sufficient condition for this massive encirclement to succeed. Russian forces captured Izyum in early April 2022 and the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area in late June and early July 2022, and began launching localized attacks southeast and east of Bakhmut in May 2022.[5] ISW assessed at the time that Russian forces were unlikely to complete this wide encirclement as Russian forces would be unable to advance far enough or quickly enough to accomplish it, an assessment that proved accurate.[6]

NATO’s Future Depends On Who Wins In Ukraine

Hy Rothstein

The future of NATO, in almost every dimension imaginable, depends on the outcome of the war in Ukraine. That outcome is unknown. While there is reason to be optimistic, events, and especially wars, can take unanticipated paths and generate unexpected results. Moreover, underestimating Putin’s willingness to kill as many Ukrainians as possible––and to throw hundreds of thousands of Russian men into the fray against Ukrainian bullets until there are no more Ukrainian bullets left––would be a big mistake. Furthermore, politicians and politics change constantly in NATO’s liberal democracies, but in his own mind, Putin is staying forever. Time and math may be on Russia’s side.

The First Year of the War—Coming Together

Many experts have suggested that the invasion will go down as one of history’s greatest geostrategic blunders. Putin clearly intended to show that Russia’s modernized military would present a formidable capability against a country that had no right to exist. And that the West, as it had done in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea and the seizing of territory in eastern Ukraine, would respond feebly. The outcome was very different. The war revealed Russian military incompetence as well as the defects of a corrupt, authoritarian political system. The Ukrainians fought and kept the Russian invaders from entering Kyiv. Putin’s plan for a quick and easy victory was shattered. Even Henry Kissinger, who for decades cautioned against Ukraine’s membership in NATO, concluded, “Ukraine is a major state in Central Europe for the first time in modern history,” and a peace process should link Ukraine to NATO. Putin generated the opposite of what he intended. More importantly, NATO, having struggled for more than two decades to reach a shared view with Moscow, finally acknowledged Putin’s expansionist agenda in Europe, and as a result came together with a common purpose to arm Ukraine and stop Russia.

NATO’s initial reluctance to assist Kyiv to fight Russia turned into a massive military assistance program. The courageous actions of President Zelensky and Ukrainian fighters, coupled with the barbaric, genocidal, and war crimes of Russian leaders and their troops, certainly helped to solidify NATO’s strong support. During his recent visit to Kyiv, President Biden expressed Western resolve and unveiled an additional $460 million U.S. weapons package to the total of $32 billion in aid since Russia's invasion began. The West’s determination to support Ukraine has been remarkable though gradual and measured. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was accurate when he recently said that the West is engaged in a proxy war with his country. Though NATO has not put boots on the ground, Western leaders’ words and deeds have made the war in Ukraine their war too, and their commitment brings its own risks.

Demystifying Strategy: The What, Who, How, and Why

Michael D. Watkins

Many leaders I work with struggle with strategy. They know it’s important to have strategies in order to align decision making in their businesses. They understand that they can’t observe and control everything in their organizations (much as many of them would like to). They earnestly want to develop good strategies and they get the theory. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of crafting strategy, they rapidly get bogged down.

Balance of power international relations

balance of power, in international relations, the posture and policy of a nation or group of nations protecting itself against another nation or group of nations by matching its power against the power of the other side. States can pursue a policy of balance of power in two ways: by increasing their own power, as when engaging in an armaments race or in the competitive acquisition of territory; or by adding to their own power that of other states, as when embarking upon a policy of alliances.

The term balance of power came into use to denote the power relationships in the European state system from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to World War I. Within the European balance of power, Great Britain played the role of the “balancer,” or “holder of the balance.” It was not permanently identified with the policies of any European nation, and it would throw its weight at one time on one side, at another time on another side, guided largely by one consideration—the maintenance of the balance itself. Naval supremacy and its virtual immunity from foreign invasion enabled Great Britain to perform this function, which made the European balance of power both flexible and stable.

The balance of power from the early 20th century onward underwent drastic changes that for all practical purposes destroyed the European power structure as it had existed since the end of the Middle Ages. Prior to the 20th century, the political world was composed of a number of separate and independent balance-of-power systems, such as the European, the American, the Chinese, and the Indian. But World War I and its attendant political alignments triggered a process that eventually culminated in the integration of most of the world’s nations into a single balance-of-power system. This integration began with the World War I alliance of Britain, France, Russia, and the United States against Germany and Austria-Hungary. The integration continued in World War II, during which the fascist nations of Germany, Japan, and Italy were opposed by a global alliance of the Soviet Union, the United States, Britain, and China. World War II ended with the major weights in the balance of power having shifted from the traditional players in western and central Europe to just two non-European ones: the United States and the Soviet Union. The result was a bipolar balance of power across the northern half of the globe that pitted the free-market democracies of the West against the communist one-party states of eastern Europe. More specifically, the nations of western Europe sided with the United States in the NATO military alliance, while the Soviet Union’s satellite-allies in central and eastern Europe became unified under Soviet leadership in the Warsaw Pact.

What Should a Strategist Know and Do, and Why

Sorin Adam Matei, Associate Dean of Research, is a Professor, Senior Fellow at the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy, and FORCES Initiative director at Purdue University. He holds a BA in History and Philosophy from Bucharest University, an MA in IR from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and a PhD in Communication Technology Research from Annenberg School, University of Southern California.

Dr. Kira Graves is the Assistant TRADOC G-2, Director for the Critical Thinking Enterprise at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and author of the “Future Hunters” course at Army University.

Dr. David Benson is Director of Wargames and Simulations at Valens Global. He was previously a Professor of Security and Strategic Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS) at Air University, Montgomery, AL. While at Air University, David was a primary investigator with the DAWG and DAGGER projects.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article belong to the authors and do not represent the institutions they work for.

Defining Strategy: Theory and Dimensions

Big, broad words that cover many specific situations ultimately pay the price for their notoriety. They collect meanings the way a windshield picks up grime, degrading visibility. Big common interest words become placeholders for people’s many private understandings. Strategy is such a shapeshifting concept. For some, strategy is a definite course of action [i]; for others, a bag of tricks.[ii] Strategy can be tied to ideal goals, lacking bite, or can become a vague roadmap. Strategic education suffers enormously from these two semantic pitfalls. The premises, the expectations, and the skills associated with strategic thinking and doing are ambiguous, confusing, or lacking.

Russia ‘Smashing’ 330 Ukrainian UAVs Per Day; UK Report Says Russian Electronic Warfare ‘Wreaks Havoc’ On Kyiv

Parth Satam

Researchers have revealed new Russian Electronic Warfare (EW) systems and capabilities that have been devastating for Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and encrypted radio communications in an alarmingly short period.

A report by the United Kingdom (UK)-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) notes how Moscow’s EW has consistently remained effective and brought down nearly 10,000 Ukrainian drones a month which is approximately 333 drones per day.

Like its ‘echeloned’ air defense, with progressively overlapping short, medium, and long-range surface-to-air (SAM) systems, Russian ground forces have adequately distributed EW platforms covering every 10 kilometers of the front.
Russian Lead In Electronic Warfare

Previous analyses by EurAsian Times last year had noted how Russia led in EW, having prepared in the technology since the war in Syria in 2015 and the annexation of Crimea a year before.

Subsequent reports in leading Western press further revealed the extent of the success of Russian EW that harrowed Ukrainian operations, with the most diverse range of systems for tackling everything from drones, communications, satellite navigation signals, and satellites.

The war has passed a year and is expected to continue for a few more months, with the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization Alliance (NATO) alliance continuing to arm Ukraine. Russia, meanwhile, is making the final push to capture small remaining pockets of territory in the south and east of Ukraine.

Russia’s Krasukha-2, Krasukha-4, RB-341V LEER-3, R-330Zh Zhitel, Murmansk-BN, and Moskva-1 are some of the known EW platforms, performing radio, communications, radar satellite navigation signal jamming of various frequencies and bands, along with Electronic Support (ES) and Electronic Attack (EA) roles.

The EurAsian Times had also reported how the 14Ts227 Tobol EW system disrupted the “synchronization” of the Starlink satellite internet service with its ground terminals.

But the RUSI study also revealed one EW jammer, the Shipovnik-Aero, responsible for bringing down many Ukrainian UAVs. “The Shipovnik-Aero is proving a particularly effective system because it has a low signature and can further obfuscate this by imitating other emitters and communications devices.

“It also has a sophisticated range of effects for downing UAVs. The Russian military continues extensively using navigational interference in the battle area as electronic protection. This is contributing to a Ukrainian loss rate in UAVs of approximately 10,000 per month,” said the RUSI study by Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds.


Dan Chenok and Kim Kagan

The IBM Center for The Business of Government and the Institute for the Study of War recently launched a new report, Managing the New Era of Deterrence and Warfare: Visualizing the Information Domain. The report launch, seen here, featured a presentation of key findings from two of the authors, Brian Babcock-Lumish and Frederick Kagan, and an engaging expert panel discussion with Steve Hunnewell, Director of the Information Office for the US Indo-Pacific Command; Michael Rouland, Senior Strategic Advisor for the Russia Strategic Initiative with US European Command; and Emelia Probasco, Senior Fellow with the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University.

This report and the event discussions culminate a series of sessions that our two organizations led over the past year, which convened leaders from allied, partnered, and U.S. militaries, governments, academia, and industry to envision and shape future strategic advantages through visualizing information operations. The three events gathered experts and practitioners to discuss the topic from a foundational perspective, from the case of Russia and Ukraine, and finally of China.

U.S. and allied leaders increasingly need new solutions for achieving and maintaining a common operating picture that integrates information operations with air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains. This report and the discussions address the unique challenges for understanding and visualizing the information domain and its importance in managing modern defense and intelligence activity. The report also puts forward criteria for how such visualizations could be developed in the future to support managing information activities at the operational, analytical, and decision-maker levels.

As context, global leaders contributed insights to this report that converged on three core challenges of understanding and visualizing the information domain:First, the information space is a chaotic system, in which slight variations in conditions can dramatically impact how information traverses space and time.

Second, any visualization of this mélange of data points—data from the entire information space that includes mass and social media as well as cultural and socioeconomic networks—must be useful to decision makers at multiple echelons and overlayed onto visualizations of the land, air, sea, space, and cyber domains.

Biden nominates Air Force general to lead NSA, Cyber Command

Lolita C. Baldor

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has chosen a new leader for the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, a joint position that oversees much of America’s cyber warfare and defense.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, the current deputy commander of Cyber Command, would replace Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, who has led both organizations since May 2018 and was expected to step down this year, according to a notice sent by the Air Force this week and confirmed by a person familiar with the announcement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters not yet made public.

If confirmed, Haugh will take charge of highly influential U.S. efforts to bolster Ukraine’s cybersecurity and share information with Ukrainian forces fighting Russia’s invasion. He will also oversee programs to detect and stop foreign influence and interference in American elections, as well as those targeting criminals behind ransomware attacks that have shut down hospital systems and at one point a key U.S. fuel pipeline.

Politico first reported that Haugh was picked.

Haugh’s nomination to lead both NSA and Cyber Command reflects the White House’s intention to keep one person in charge of both organizations. That arrangement is known as a “dual-hat” posting.

Some key Republicans have long wanted to split the leadership, saying each organization is important enough to require a full-time leader. Nakasone has long advocated for keeping the dual hat, saying it gives him and future leaders access to more powers more efficiently.

The Biden administration established a small study group last year to review the leadership structure. The review signaled support for keeping the position as is.

Here's why the US doesn't have to pay off its $31 trillion mountain of debt, according to Paul Krugman


The US doesn't actually have to pay off its $31 trillion mountain of debt, according to top economist Paul Krugman, hitting back at the idea that government finances can be compared to household balance sheets in an op-ed weeks before the US possibly defaults on some obligations.

The US government doesn't have to pay off its $31 trillion debt, Paul Krugman said.
The government debt can't be compared to something like a household's finances, Krugman said.
"When governments for one reason or another run up large debts, it is, as far as I can tell, unusual to pay those debts off."

Though individual borrowers are expected to pay off debts, the same isn't true for governments, Krugman argued in a column for the New York Times on Friday. That's because unlike people, governments don't die, and they gain more revenue with each passing generation.

"Governments, then, must service their debts – pay interest and repay principal when bonds come due – but they don't necessarily have to pay them off; they can issue new bonds to pay principal on old bonds and even borrow to pay interest as long as overall debt doesn't rise too much faster than revenue," he added.

Though the debt-to-GDP ratio hovered around 97% last year, interest payments on that debt is only around $395 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget, or around 1% of last year's GDP.

Historically, it's also unusual for governments to pay off large debts, Krugman said. Such was the case for Great Britain, which has largely held onto the debt it incurred as far back as the Napoleonic wars.

The Role of Open-Source Intelligence in the War in Ukraine

Alexander E. Gale

During the Ukraine conflict, OSINT has had a considerable impact on military intelligence, information warfare, media reporting, and the recording of war crimes.

In recent years, the abundance of open-source intelligence (OSINT) has increased tremendously, largely owing to the ever-growing importance of the internet and social media, as well as the larger availability of publicly accessible information and satellite imagery tools. Whereas before, intelligence was largely the purview of national intelligence agencies, the so-called democratization of intelligence has enabled a greater range of individuals to collect information and deliver intelligence products in an impactful way. The consequences of this are readily observable in the ongoing war in Ukraine, where OSINT is being used in a variety of ways to monitor troop movements, shape the narrative, track war crimes, and assist in war reportage.

OSINT is defined as ‘the practice of collecting and analysing information gathered from open sources to produce actionable intelligence.’ One advantage of OSINT is that the types of sources available are incredibly varied. Data can be collected, processed, and analysed from commercial satellite images, public social media posts, unencrypted radio messages, and other publicly available sources.

The abundance of publicly available information readily available for intelligence purposes has had had an impact on the ground in Ukraine. In addition to the activities of Ukraine’s intelligence professionals, Ukrainian civilians, as well as members of the international community sympathetic to the Ukrainian side, have played a role in delivering useful insights from OSINT to the Ukrainian military. As noted by British Army General Sir Jim Hockenhull in December last year, OSINT has ‘proved to be a force multiplier’ by allowing a wider range of individuals to participate in the collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination of intelligence.


Tom Corben

EXECUTIVE SUMMARYAUKUS represents a generational opportunity for Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to deepen cooperation on defence industrial integration and technology development. Yet, within the US system, antiquated legal and regulatory settings and a mindset that discounts the value of allied inputs into collective strategies threaten the realisation of the AUKUS agenda to its fullest potential.

Notwithstanding the landmark decision to share nuclear propulsion technology with Australia, there is growing concern among stakeholders in all three AUKUS countries that the indiscriminate and extraterritorial application of US International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR) will complicate Australia’s Optimal Submarine Pathway under Pillar I, disincentivise collaboration on the next-generation of advanced military capabilities under Pillar II, and continue to slow-roll cooperation on existing technology transfer and capability-building initiatives (a category which we call Pillar III).

These are not new problems. What is unprecedented are the stakes involved. Policymakers in Canberra and Washington have tried several times before to address barriers to industrial integration and technology sharing, including through the Defense Cooperation Treaty of 2012 and Australia’s addition to the National Technology and Industrial Base in 2017. In that respect, AUKUS represents a third bite at the apple of US export control reform for trusted allies. Another failure to act would carry significant consequences for the three countries’ shared defence technology advantages vis-à-vis China and, therefore, their ability to deter regional conflict in the near-, mid-, and long-term alike.

For AUKUS to fully deliver on its promise, significant reforms to US export controls are required to make these more material in their application, positively discriminatory in favour of AUKUS countries, and more streamlined in their functional processes. Furthermore, reformed regulations will need to be operationalised among the broader trusted defence industrial community that AUKUS is intended to represent. Such efforts will be essential to facilitate cooperation at the speed of strategic relevance.

These reform efforts will require action at both the US executive and congressional levels.
- At the executive level, the White House should issue an executive order to streamline export controls processes and procedures among the AUKUS nations addressing existing specified US technologies, predominately allied-produced technologies, and classes of emerging technology slated for co-development under AUKUS.

- To cement these powers, the US Congress should consider legislation that clarifies executive branch discretion to streamline export controls processes and procedures among the AUKUS nations addressing these same categories, enabling broad-based cooperation and work on new innovative technologies developed jointly, or by, the AUKUS allies.


The Underground History of Russia’s Most Ingenious Hacker Group


ASK WESTERN CYBERSECURITY intelligence analysts who their "favorite" group of foreign state-sponsored hackers is—the adversary they can't help but grudgingly admire and obsessively study—and most won't name any of the multitudes of hacking groups working on behalf of China or North Korea. Not China's APT41, with its brazen sprees of supply chain attacks, nor the North Korean Lazarus hackers who pull off massive cryptocurrency heists. Most won't even point to Russia's notorious Sandworm hacker group, despite the military unit's unprecedented blackout cyberattacks against power grids or destructive self-replicating code.

Instead, connoisseurs of computer intrusion tend to name a far more subtle team of cyberspies that, in various forms, has silently penetrated networks across the West for far longer than any other: a group known as Turla.

Last week, the US Justice Department and the FBI announced that they had dismantled an operation by Turla—also known by names like Venomous Bear and Waterbug—that had infected computers in more than 50 countries with a piece of malware known as Snake, which the US agencies described as the "premiere espionage tool" of Russia's FSB intelligence agency. By infiltrating Turla's network of hacked machines and sending the malware a command to delete itself, the US government dealt a serious setback to Turla's global spying campaigns.

But in its announcement—and in court documents filed to carry out the operation—the FBI and DOJ went further, and officially confirmed for the first time the reporting from a group of German journalists last year which revealed that Turla works for the FSB's Center 16 group in Ryazan, outside Moscow. It also hinted at Turla's incredible longevity as a top cyberspying outfit: An affidavit filed by the FBI states that Turla's Snake malware had been in use for nearly 20 years.

In fact, Turla has arguably been operating for at least 25 years, says Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies and cybersecurity historian at Johns Hopkins University. He points to evidence that it was Turla—or at least a kind of proto-Turla that would become the group we know today—that carried out the first-ever cyberspying operation by an intelligence agency targeting the US, a multiyear hacking campaign known as Moonlight Maze.

What Happens Next with the Wagner Group?

Colin P. Clarke

The Wagner Group is hemorrhaging fighters on the battlefield in Ukraine while its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, continues to engage in very public verbal spats with Russian military leadership.

Beyond his frustration with Moscow’s meat-grinder approach to the war, which has killed 30,000 Wagner mercenaries, Prigozhin may be trying to force the Kremlin’s hand in redeploying his private military company to Africa.

In countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Central African Republic, Wagner could leverage its comparative advantage of conducting expeditionary operations in exchange for access to mining contracts and valuable resources.

In a recent video released by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, he stares into the camera and berates several of the Russian military’s top leaders, including Russian army general and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov and Sergei Shoigu, an army general and Russia’s Defense Minister. He also seems to allude to Russian President Vladimir Putin as “grandpa,” while threatening to withdraw his forces from Ukraine altogether.

If Prigozhin continues his erratic behavior, he will almost certainly run afoul of Putin. But perhaps he is crazy like a fox? Wagner’s comparative advantage is not found in fighting in conventional formations against well-equipped and battle-hardened Ukrainians. On the contrary, Wagner was designed for expeditionary operations abroad, where its forces can conduct scorched earth counterinsurgency tactics against jihadists and other non-state actors, with the ultimate goal of securing contracts for natural resource extraction.

This latest rant comes on the heels of Prigozhin accusing the Russian military of withholding ammunition for his fighters in Bakhmut, prompting Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov to offer Chechen fighters in place of Wagner mercenaries. Moreover, as a trove of intelligence released as part of the so-called ‘Discord leaks,’ Prigozhin apparently offered to provide Ukrainian intelligence with information on the positions and locations of Russian military forces in Ukraine. Prigozhin has released numerous videos posted online in which he vents growing frustration that not only have his men been deprived of the weaponry needed to prevail, but they also receive inadequate medical attention on the battlefield. As many as 30,000 Wagner mercenaries have reportedly been killed over the past fifteen months of combat. Recruited from prisons and jails throughout Russia, Prigozhin’s troops have been treated akin to cannon fodder, while Russia keeps many of its more elite troops away from the danger of the front lines.

F-16s Would Make No ‘Fundamental Change’ in Ukraine’s War Effort, USAF Secretary Says


Sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine would make no “fundamental change” to the war, the U.S. Air Force secretary said.

“It will give Ukrainians an increment of capability that they don't have right now, but it's not going to be a dramatic game-changer, as far as I'm concerned, for their total military capabilities,” Frank Kendall told reporters Monday during a Defense Writers Group event.

President Biden announced on Friday that the U.S. will help train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s and other modern jets, a move that could enable Kyiv to use the jets if any are donated.

Kendall did not rule out eventually sending U.S. F-16s to Ukraine, but said he “didn’t know” and that “there are a number of possibilities, but we haven’t sorted all that out yet.”

While manned and unmanned aircraft are flying above Ukraine every day, Kendall said airpower has not been a decisive factor since Russia’s invasion because neither side has been able to gain control of the skies.

“Both sides have most generally used aircraft for fairly limited operations. And part of that has been the efficacy of ground-based air defenses, on both sides, so with small numbers of aircraft and with not a full suite of capabilities, more modern capabilities, it's hard to overcome those systems. And that's one of the fundamental limitations here,” he said.

Asked whether F-16s should have been provided already, Kendall said the U.S. has been focused on providing weapons and gear that will make the most difference on the battlefield and “that’s what we’ve done.”

Also, sending fighter jets would be seen “by some as an escalatory act on our part,” Kendall added.

Even if Ukraine’s supporters decided today to donate fighter jets, it would take months to deliver them, Kendall said.

“We will not under any circumstances get F-16s or another Western fighter in significant numbers into the hands of the Ukrainian Air Force in something less than at least several months, so there was always a long-lead-time kind of a thing,” he said.

Kendall thinks the decision, in part, to train pilots to fly fighters now has to do with Ukraine’s long-term posture in the war.

Why the military moves faster than government on AI

Molly Weisner

The White House announced federal efforts to better understand and harness artificial intelligence for government, though full embrace of the technology is still likely a ways away.

Agencies are often slow to adopt technology, even with frameworks in place, because it is costly, labor intensive and in some ways, intimidating. To find out why, Federal Times spoke with José-Marie Griffiths, a former member of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and chairman of the Workforce Subcommittee.

Griffiths, now the president of Dakota State University where she works to educate the future workforce on AI, helped shape tech reforms and recommendations to leverage AI for the U.S. national security and defense workforces.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Federal Times: The White House has said it intends to capitalize on AI to contend against national security threats and improve the functioning and efficiency of government. Where are we in this?

José-Marie Griffiths: “The federal government, and probably at state levels to some extent, too, have been slower to move than other institutions. They’ve become large institutions, and it’s hard to move them. And the mechanisms for moving quickly and updating, it’s just very hard.

The military can move a bit faster because they truly have this sort of top-down command structure. They can insist on it, to some extent.

So how do you get pockets of innovators within government? You need to find them. You need to empower them to innovate as they can and to gradually diffuse their innovations out to others.”

The operational definition of competency-based education

J. Gervais

As education in the United States pushes for accountability, educational programs across the country are attempting to find innovative ways to measure student learning outcomes. Competency-based education is one model favorable among many academic institutions and accreditation agencies because it links theory to practice (Clark, Competency-based education for social work: Evaluation and curriculum issues, 1976; Hall & Jones, Competency-based education: A process for the improvement of education, 1976; Johnstone & Soares, Change, 46, 2014, 12; Pace, Competency education series: Policy brief one, 2013). The research indicates that there is no standard definition of competency-based education and agreement on the criteria that encompass this model (Book, All hands on deck: Ten lessons from early adopters of competency-based education, 2014; Le, Wolfe, & Steinberg, The past and the promise: Today's competency education movement, 2014; Riesman, On competence: A critical analysis of competence-based reforms in higher education, 1979).

This research reviewed the literature on competency-based education and interviewed key informants from various disciplines to gain a deeper understanding of this phenomenon.


This research constructs an operational definition of competency-based education and then applies this definition to build an assessment tool to determine the extent that competency-based education exists in an academic program.

1 Introduction

Competency-based education has been defined in multiple ways and interpreted differently across academic programs. Le, Wolfe, and Steinberg (2014), report that competency-based education “is an evolving field with no universally shared definition of what makes a model competency based” (p. 4). Book (2014) and Riesman (1979) agree and argue that because there is no commonly accepted definition, competency-based education (CBE) lacks conformity around standards and a theoretical backing thus making it difficult to clearly define and implement consistently across programs. It is imperative, as more emphasis is placed on outcome-based education, that a universal definition of CBE be created.

Spady (1977) defines CBE as “a data-based, adaptive, performance-oriented set of integrated processes that facilitate, measure, record, and certify within the context of flexible time parameters the demonstration of known, explicitly stated, and agreed upon learning outcomes that reflect successful functioning in life roles” (p. 10). Riesman (1979) defines CBE as:

Wonking Out: Death, Napoleon and Debt

Paul Krugman

You’re reading the Paul Krugman newsletter, for Times subscribers only. A guide to U.S. politics and the economy — from the mainstream to the wonkish. 

Whenever I write about debt and deficits, I receive the same letter — OK, not exactly the same letter, but a number of letters with more or less the same gist. They read something like this: “If I borrow money from the bank, the bank expects me to pay the money back. Why isn’t the same true for the government? Why can we keep borrowing when we already owe $31 trillion?”

Just about every economist will reply that it’s misleading to make an analogy between household and government finances. But it seems to me that we often aren’t clear enough about why, perhaps because we don’t say it bluntly enough. So here’s the difference: You are going to get old and eventually die. The government isn’t.

I don’t mean that governments are immortal. Nothing is, and no doubt someday America will, as Rudyard Kipling put it, be “one with Nineveh and Tyre.” But individuals face a more or less predictable life cycle in which their earnings will eventually dwindle: