2 June 2023

Albanese at the Modi Show: Blurring the Line Between Australian Diplomacy and Indian Domestic Politics

Grant Wyeth

Last week Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a high profile visit to Australia. As is now customary when Modi travels to countries with a significant Indian diaspora, he put on a show, this time holding an event at Sydney’s Olympic Park stadium. These events serve the primary purpose of projecting a powerful image of Modi abroad back into India. Yet at this event Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, chose to enthusiastically participate, allowing himself to be used by Modi in this performance, and blurring the line between Australian diplomacy and Indian domestic politics.

By now the Australian government should be aware of the nature of these events and what their purpose is. It should also be aware of the behavior of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – its authoritarian impulses, discrimination against minority groups, persecution of journalists and other government critics, and tacit endorsement of vigilante groups. When questioned about this behavior, Australian ministers have either been silent or mouthed platitudes about India being “the world’s largest democracy.”

Yet democracy is not just the holding of regular elections. Democracy is about government’s respect for the governed, and in particular respect toward non-dominant groups, allowing them full civic participation, not a set of parallel and arbitrary rules. Democracy is also about the essential scrutiny of governments by the media and civil society groups, something the BJP bristles at.

Again, this is something the Australian government should be well aware of. Therefore the question is why Canberra chose to fête Modi in the manner that Albanese did last week.

The obvious answer is that in order to enhance bilateral relations Canberra must deal with the government of the day. The blunt reality of economic interests means that the size of India’s market presents an enormous opportunity for Australia, and given the suspicion of foreign trade within India – including within the BJP – this requires a certain greasing of the wheels.

A Compulsive Embrace Beneath the Afghanistan-Iran Water Conflict

Shanthie Mariet D’Souza

Iranian border guards and Taliban fighters opened fire on one another, killing three, near a border post between Iran and Afghanistan in southwestern Nimroz province on May 27. Although it is unclear what led to the incident, relations between the two countries have soured in recent months over conflicting claims to the water of the Helmand River.

The firing incident notwithstanding, there is a limit to how far each side would allow their relations to worsen. Both Tehran and Kabul need one another and eventually will find a way to manage their conflicting claims.

The river in question, the Helmand River, flows from the Hindu Kush mountain range across Afghanistan before it branches near the Afghan-Iranian border. There it splits into the Shele Charak River, which forms the border between the two countries, and the Sistan River, which flows westward into Iran.

Iran has accused Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers of violating a 1973 treaty by restricting the flow of water from the river to Iran’s parched eastern regions. The Taliban deny the accusation and claim that the Helmand River does not have much water. In response, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Minister of Interior Ahmad Wahidi have proposed a field visit by technical officials to ascertain the ground situation. “If there is no water, the issue will be resolved,” Wahidi has said. In May, Raisi warned the Taliban about disregarding Iran’s water rights. In response, a former Taliban official mocked Raisi in a video that went viral.

There is a long history to the dispute over the Helmand’s water, and the 1973 treaty has not done much to resolve it. While the treaty ensures that Iran has access to the river, it gives Afghanistan complete ownership of the rest of the water supply. The treaty distinguishes between a “water year” and “normal water year” and says that during a normal water year, Afghanistan must deliver water to Iran at a rate of 22 cubic meters per second per annum with an additional four cubic meters per second, thereby supplying an annual average of 820 million cubic meters under normal conditions. While the treaty ensures Iran’s access to water, it gives Afghanistan absolute unilateral rights over the water supply of the river. Thus, each of the countries can cite the treaty at their own convenience. Most importantly, since the treaty has not been ratified by Afghanistan, Kabul isn’t obliged to abide by it.

US drone strikes, securitization processes and practices: A case study of Pakistan

Alamgir Khan & Christian Kaunert

This article explores the importance of inter-related securitisation processes on each other, most notably the impact of securitisation practices in one country on the securitisation processes in another. It analyses the impact of US drone strikes on the securitisation processes related to the militancy conducted by successive Pakistani governments in the aftermath of 9/11. The successful securitisation of the war on terror by the US allowed the latter to take extraordinary measures to eliminate terrorism, most notably through the use of drone strikes. However, these securitisation practices inhibited the securitisation of militancy inside Pakistan. While we understand successful securitisation processes, we understand much less about unsuccessful securitisation cases. This article analyses the use of drone strikes as securitisation practices by the US and their impact on the unsuccessful securitisation process of militancy in Pakistan after 9/11. The empirical contribution of this article is its focus on the case of Pakistan where more than 400 drone strikes took place, reportedly killing approximately 7000 people. The article demonstrates how the drone strikes in Pakistan turned the war on terror into an American war and made it difficult for the domestic audience in Pakistan to accept the securitisation moves of the security actors.


This article examines the importance of inter-related securitisation processes on each other, most notably the impact of securitisation practices in one country on the securitisation processes in another. It analyses the impact of US drone strikes on the securitisation processes related to the militancy conducted by successive Pakistani governments in the aftermath of 9/11. The successful securitisation of the war on terror allowed the US to take extraordinary measures to eliminate terrorism, most notably through the use of drone strikes. However, these securitisation practices inhibited the securitisation of militancy inside Pakistan. The key argument of this article is that as a result of US drone strikes, as implicit securitisation practices, the Pakistani security actors could not effectively securitise the militancy after 9/11, which became an important factor in its inability to fight it in the aftermath of 9/11. The article argues further that despite the government’s efforts to securitise the militancy, the securitisation move was unsuccessful which helped the militants to fight the Pakistani government on the issue.

The China Factor in Japan-South Korea Rapprochement

Corey Lee Bell, Elena Collinson, and Xunpeng Shi

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (second from left) attends a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio (second from right) on the sidelines of the G-7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, May 21, 2023.Credit: Prime Minister’s Office of Japan

The third meeting in two months between Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol, this time on the sidelines of the Hiroshima G-7 summit on May 21, marked a milestone in the relationship between the two Northeast Asian neighbors.

The two nations have long been at loggerheads over Japan’s colonial and wartime legacy. While ongoing hostility toward Tokyo in South Korean society and political opposition may make the two nations’ rapport short-lived, these developments nonetheless mark a turnaround in the bilateral relationship, which had deteriorated over the course of former South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s tenure.

The reason for the improvement in ties has been attributed to a meeting of minds between two conservative leaders on security issues.

Topping the list is the escalating threat posed by North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated nuclear missile arsenal. But clearly the China dimension is critical, given the Chinese government’s increasing authoritarianism at home, and aggression in the maritime domains through which these countries’ key maritime lifelines run. Both leaders have faced growing tensions with Xi Jinping’s China.

China’s Response to the Quad

Never positive, China’s views of the Quad have shifted over time from dismissive to derogatory to damning. But beyond a focus on this harsh rhetoric, it is important to understand what the Quad symbolizes within Beijing’s worldview and why that portends a more contested relationship between the Quad and China in the future.

When the Quad was still in its formative stages and struggling to find coherence and relevance, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, memorably scorned the group in 2018 as mere “sea foam in the Pacific or Indian Ocean” that would “soon ... dissipate.” Less disdainful two years later, Wang portrayed the Quad as an effort to build “an Indo-Pacific version of NATO.” More recently, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokespersons have likened high-level Quad meetings to “exclusionary blocs” and warned that “[b]uilding small cliques and stoking bloc confrontation is the real threat to a peaceful, stable and cooperative maritime order.”

Although this year’s Quad Leadership Summit in Sydney will not take place, we should nevertheless expect more of the same from Beijing if and as the Quad continues to gain momentum as an effective global and regional actor.

But for China, there is more to countering the Quad than bombast. For China’s leaders, the Quad forms part of a larger set of security and political challenges that it confronts on the international scene.

Since its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has never been comfortable with the presence of alliances or other security partnerships on its periphery. That is certainly true of U.S.-led alliances and other security pacts, which are the constant object of Chinese criticism, wedge tactics, and threats. While the Quad is far from a formal alliance, Beijing understands that the group shares a deep concern with China’s growing role in the Indo-Pacific and beyond and that it has the potential — if not the tacit intention — to impede China’s rise.

Addressing Russian and Chinese Cyber Threats: A Transatlantic Perspective on Threats to Ukraine and Beyond

Svenja Kirsch, Bethan Saunders

In an interconnected world, cyberattacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated. Building resilience against this asymmetric threat is critical for countries to protect their economies, critical infrastructure, and democratic institutions. However, cyberattacks do not respect borders, and no country can address this threat alone. The strength and longevity of the transatlantic partnership between the EU and the U.S. presents a unique opportunity to address this strategic threat through international cooperation. Through an analysis of cyberwarfare in the ongoing war in Ukraine, this paper proposes policy recommendations to enhance transatlantic coordination and cooperation against current and future adversaries in a new era of strategic competition. Ultimately, a stronger transatlantic partnership is critical for protecting international democratic norms, building resilience against cyber threats, and strengthening global security and stability.

This paper addresses and presents policy recommendations for two significant challenges:Challenge 1: Curtailing Russia’s ability to support war ambitions in Ukraine

Challenge 2: Defending the transatlantic partners against the Chinese cyberwarfare threat

A Transatlantic Approach: This paper views these two challenges through the lens of the transatlantic partnership. As the geopolitical threat landscape has evolved in the 21st century, the transatlantic alliance is entering a new decisive era that could determine the future of global security and norms in cyberspace. The ongoing war in Ukraine has put significant pressure and elevated the importance of the transatlantic alliance to respond to Russia’s blatant violation of international norms and human rights abuses. It has become clear that the U.S. and EU leaders must continue to work together to address threats to global stability, including the proliferation of cyberattacks as part of Russia’s strategy in Ukraine, and China’s efforts to undermine international democratic norms and alliances. The new threats emerging from the increase in gray zone warfare from adversaries demonstrates how the relationship between the U.S. and the EU is even more essential for addressing threats that do not respect borders and have significant global implications.

Challenge 1: Curtailing Russia’s ability to support war ambitions in Ukraine


Dmitry Gorenburg Elizabeth, WishnickBrian Waidelich, Paul Schwartz

Russian-Chinese military cooperation has mostly leveled off in recent years, after expanding rapidly from 2014 to 2019, with limited evidence of continued expansion in either military-technical cooperation or joint military activities since 2020. Both countries’ leaders will likely continue to highlight military cooperation because of mutual symbolic benefits. But to determine the trajectory of actual military cooperation, observers should focus on trends in military diplomacy, military-technical cooperation and joint military activities, rather than on political rhetoric. This 90-page report is an analysis of all major arms sales, military-technical cooperation events, exchanges of military personnel for education and training, joint military exercises and operations, and other relevant military-to-military engagements between Russia and China from 2014 through 2022.

There is widespread consensus among analysts that, although Russia and China have been moving toward closer cooperation through the entire post-Soviet era, the trend has accelerated rapidly since 2014. The relationship was boosted by Russian leaders’ belief that Russia could survive its sudden confrontation with the West only by expanding alternative relationships. China was the obvious candidate because it had a suitably large economy, was not openly hostile to Russia, and was not planning to impose sanctions in response to the Ukraine crisis. Moreover, the two countries had a record of cooperation dating back to the early 1990s that could serve as a basis for expanded cooperation.

This report seeks to establish a detailed understanding of the extent of military cooperation between Russia and China, focusing on military diplomacy and other political aspects of the relationship, military-technical cooperation, and exercises and joint operations. The goal is to provide an analysis of the dynamic of the cooperative relationship in the period since 2014, including a discussion of what the relationship allows the two partners to accomplish together that they cannot do alone. On the basis of that analysis, we build a discussion of likely trends in the relationship in the near future.

The Decisive Decade: United States–China Competition in Defense Innovation and Defense Industrial Policy in and Beyond the 2020s

Thomas G. Mahnken, Tai Ming Cheung

In the long-term competition between the United States and China, the competitive edge will be decided not only by who more effectively fields current capabilities and strategies, but also by which state's techno-security system can most effectively develop and field new technologies for strategic, dual-use, and defense applications. Although both states recognize the need to prevail in the techno-security competition, the two have drastically different approaches to defense innovation and defense industrial policy.

In The Decisive Decade, authors Tai Ming Cheung and Thomas G. Mahnken contend that the long-term techno-security competition between the United States and China hinges upon how both states organize, mobilize, and incentivize their respective innovation sectors and industrial economies. Cheung and Mahnken offer a comprehensive analysis of both systems, including a detailed assessment of China's defense industrial transformation in recent years and how recent global events have affected the defense industrial bases in both states. The authors conclude with a diagnostic net assessment of the U.S. and Chinese techno-security systems, judging that although the U.S. system is better organized and structured for long-term competition than China’s to be successful the United States cannot be complacent and must take urgent action to improve the performance of its system.

Download full “The Decisive Decade: United States–China Competition in Defense Innovation and Defense Industrial Policy in and Beyond the 2020s” report.

Stronger Together: How US–UK Collaboration Can Address China’s Growing Geopolitical

Darren G. Spinck

Washington’s and London’s “business as usual” approach toward the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has fundamentally changed, as most transatlantic policymakers have finally realised the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has its own economic, security and technology worldview which conflicts with US and UK national interests and values.

Global flashpoints – from growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait to documented human rights abuses in Xinjiang – have made the past level of economic interconnectedness between the West and its partners within the PRC unsustainable. However, despite risks emanating from an interdependent trading relationship with the PRC, some in Europe – and even in the UK Government – appear to still pine for warm commercial ties with Beijing.

Instead, in the face of this growing threat, Washington and London should aim to strengthen their “special relationship”, counter China’s techno-authoritarian worldview, and pursue policies in the transatlantic partnership’s joint national interests. Left unchallenged by Washington and London, China’s competing world order could lead to fractured economic and security partnerships for the United States and United Kingdom throughout the Indo-Pacific and Europe, with the CCP cementing its global hegemonic ambitions.

Following three years of China’s “isolation” from the world during the Covid-19 pandemic and the CCP’s “inward-looking” policymaking, Beijing has aggressively re-engaged the world. With a diplomatic blitzkrieg aimed at reframing deteriorating relations in Europe, deepening ties in the Middle East, and reframing itself as a power broker in the Pacific Islands and Central Asia, the PRC has focused on creating fissures in Western unity, diminishing US credibility, encouraging de-dollarisation, and expanding PRC-controllable supply chains.

In an increasingly bipolar world, Washington and London should pursue grand strategies that reflect the national interests and values of both countries, while also reflecting the world’s shift away from US-led unipolarity and the current constraints of US and UK economic/military power. The “special relationship” should strive to continue encouraging US and UK partners to embrace a political and economic model based on classical liberalism – freedom of speech, religious liberty, economic freedom and an independent and uncensored media – with policies pursued by elected representatives which reflect the will of the electorate.

Challenges to Scaling U.S. Low-Carbon Technology

Nat Bullard

The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides at least $369 billion in direct support for U.S. climate change initiatives, in particular for renewable power generation, electric vehicles, hydrogen, and carbon capture use and storage. Most of the IRA’s provisions utilize tax credits to incentivize climate-related investment, and many of the provisions are uncapped.

The IRA is an unprecedented government investment effort, and one with significant promise for shaping the country’s energy, emissions, and manufacturing path for the next decade or beyond. It passed into law by the narrowest of margins, which was a significant legislative feat in its own right. The IRA’s next challenge, and the challenge of the current and subsequent presidential administrations, is to implement the law to its fullest.

This commentary posits five areas that investors, policymakers, and strategists should consider as the IRA moves from policy to implementation.Accelerating and De-costing Planning and Permission for Renewable Power

The IRA will enable the development of hundreds of gigawatts of new renewable power generation across the country. The private sector is quite enthusiastic to plan, develop, finance, and build renewable power assets. However, there are challenges to doing so.

It must be noted that there is no shortage of existing planned new renewable capacity in the United States. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found last year that there is more than 1,400 gigawatts of power generation or storage projects seeking interconnection to the nation’s grids.

However, planning processes in the United States are increasingly slow and expensive. As Berkeley Lab also notes, the cost of interconnection has doubled in constant dollar terms in the past two decades. The time for successful permission has also increased (which is a factor in costs). The costs for active projects have increased almost tenfold at the same time.Preparing for Manufacturing at Scale

Taking War Seriously

Michael Miklaucic

220905-N-TP544-1001 BALTIC SEA (Sep. 4, 2022) U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft fly over the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), during a maneuvering exercise with partner and allied ships in the Baltic Sea, Sep. 4, 2022. The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, under the command and control of Task Force 61/2, is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests. (U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Taylor Parker)

When Russian infantry divisions charged into Ukraine on February 24, 2022, with armor and air support, the countries of the Transatlantic Alliance were shocked, dismayed, and utterly unprepared. Well, not all of them; the cold north including Finland and the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had been warning all along of the existential threat seething in the east. To this day the states of the Baltic Sea region are the ones that are taking the threat of war with Russia seriously.

Just a decade ago few could foresee a major land war on the European continent. Most European nations had dismantled their Cold War security architecture in search of the ever-elusive peace dividend. With very few exceptions armed forces had atrophied. Russia’s 2007 cyberattack against Estonia and 2008 war with the Republic of Georgia confirmed the suspicions of Finland and the Baltic states but did not really upset the cocktail-circuit elite at defense-Davos in Munich let alone at Davos itself. While Russia’s 2014 occupation and annexation of Crimea sent shock waves throughout Europe defense budgets barely budged. Only Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion of Ukraine last year seemed to shock leaders out of their complacency.

But as the war lumbers into its second year the self-styled defenders of the liberal, rules-based world are slouching toward inertia. The war goes on, Ukrainians die, and the country is pounded into dust; yet growing populations are asking, “Why do we care if this war goes on? Why is this my war? Why should we spend so much on Ukraine?” Even national leaders ask, “Would it be so bad if Russia won?”

Sudan Conflict Straining Fragility of Its Neighbors

The conflict between Sudan’s rival military factions is triggering massive population displacements that are stressing the region’s already fragile coping systems.

The conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) commanded by General Abdel Fattah al Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) headed by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo has thrown into turmoil a region that was already straining under record levels of humanitarian stresses. Even prior to the outbreak of conflict in Sudan, there were more than 13 million people in Sudan and its 7 neighbors who were refugees or internally displaced (IDP). More than 40 million people in these countries were facing acute food insecurity. Resources to assist these populations will now be even further stretched.

“Each of Sudan’s neighbors is currently or was recently struggling with their own conflict or political instability.”

This reality underscores that each of Sudan’s neighbors is currently or was recently struggling with their own conflict or political instability. It also highlights the compounding effects that each of the region’s crises are having on one another.

Sudan had already been hosting over 1 million refugees from its neighbors, as well as 3.7 million of its own internally displaced (out of a population of 45 million). Almost 30 percent of the refugees in Sudan were living in Khartoum and are now trying to evade the fighting there. The majority of IDPs were in camps in Darfur in the west of the country, which has been a renewed focal point of conflict and further displacement.

Since the Sudan conflict erupted, UN agencies estimate that over 1.2 million people have been internally displaced while roughly 425,000 have fled to Egypt, Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya, and Central African Republic (CAR)—countries that are facing their own stressors. These figures are surely an undercount as humanitarian access and communications with much of the country have been cut. The UN estimates that 25 million people (roughly half the population) are in need of assistance—and UNHCR warns that 800,000 people could flee Sudan because of the conflict.

Providing long-term security for Ukraine: NATO membership and other security options

Hans Binnendijk and Franklin D. Kramer

As Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine continues, a critical question will be whether and how NATO should enhance its support for Ukraine at its July summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. NATO has long stated that Ukraine will—eventually—become a member of the alliance, but a key decision for NATO will be how to implement that promise in the context of the ongoing war.

This issue brief evaluates membership and other security options for the alliance and its members to consider. The options range from formal actions by NATO as a whole to collective or individualized efforts by member nations. The brief recommends that for geopolitical and values-based reasons, the alliance should, at a minimum, offer Ukraine a Membership Action Plan (MAP) or its equivalent supported by security guarantees that will help ensure success in its fight against Russia and strengthen security in Europe for the long term.

I. Background: The failure of deterrence

The February 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia rests in significant part upon the historical context of a Russian desire for empire that has long challenged Ukraine’s separate identity. That separate identity was, however, recognized by Russia in the 1991 Belovezha Accords and then formally validated by the 1994 Budapest Memorandum to which Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are signatories along with Ukraine. France and China provided additional assurances in separate documents. The memorandum explicitly provides for Russia as a signato-ry to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine,” and to “refrain from the threat of the use of force or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.”1

Russia, of course, has ignored its pledged word, first undertaking the 2014 invasion of Crimea and the subsequent military activities in the Donbas region of Ukraine and then the full-scale invasion beginning February 2022. Underlying such actions is the worldview held by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We are one people” is how he chooses to describe Russia and Ukraine, with Ukrainian sovereignty possible only in conjunction with Russia. That viewpoint has been a fundamental driver of Russian behavior toward Ukraine since President Putin came to power, though he only formally challenged Ukrainian sovereignty starting in 2014. Putin also has articulated a long list of grievances including purported security concerns against the United States and NATO, notably beginning with his speech at the 2007 Munich security conference.

Roles of the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Arnold Punaro

As President Biden prepares to announce his choice for the next chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), Forward Defense nonresident senior fellow Major General Arnold Punaro, USMC (ret.) gives an inside look on what factors make for a successful chairman and the “unfinished business” of the reforms that led to the creation of the CJCS office. How has the Goldwater-Nichols Act (GNA) sought to streamline the civilian-military chain of command and improve military advice and operations? To what extent has the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) been integrated into top-level management areas since the implementation of the GNA? And how have the shortcomings of civilian integration and the resulting structure affected the US military’s readiness, logistics planning, force capabilities, and resource allocation?

This issue brief considers these questions and more, ultimately suggesting that there is room for improvement to the existing GNA structure worth serious consideration in the coming years.

Evolution and shortcoming

The roles of the CJCS and Vice Chairman (VCJCS) have evolved in the last decade to require distinct yet complementary skillsets, encompassing greater operational, administrative, and budgetary challenges. As such, the author proposes the skillsets for the CJCS and VCJCS now include experience in institutional and managerial aspects of the defense establishment as well. Furthermore, a suitable CJCS should have a background in both strategic and operational issues, while the Vice Chairman (VCJCS) should have experience in technical and programmatic areas like procurement. Ultimately, the CJCS along with the VCJCS should fill the experience gap for presidents with limited military knowledge and provide the president with insight into the world of military operations, society, and culture. These are distinct skillsets, and while it may be overly simplistic to view these two roles as being those of “the operator” (the CJCS), and “the manager” (the VCJCS), using this general paradigm as a reference while selecting new occupants for these key positions is worth considering.


Jeffrey Edmonds, Samuel Bendett

EXECUTIVE SUMMARYConsistent with Russian military doctrine, the Russian military has used uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) extensively in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations in Ukraine. This has enabled them to play prominent roles in artillery, counter-battery, and precision strikes missions.

While ISR drones play a central role in much of the Russian military’s targeting process, it appears that the rate of response is slow, making it challenging to engage targets that are mobile.

The lag in detection and targeting time highlights the lack of military-grade uncrewed combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) in Russia’s arsenal. These systems would enable a faster detection to kill time. While the Russian military is clearly investing in these systems as evidenced by military announcements before the war, they are not likely to appear on the battlefield anytime soon.

Commercial drones have come to the fore in the Russia-Ukraine war to address pressing ISR needs and to serve as rudimentary loitering ammunitions. The Russian military and leadership were slow to accept the roles of the drones but are now encouraging their use by Russian forces.

Despite the acknowledged importance of these drones, the Russian military industrial complex has been slow to produce them in the significant numbers required by Russian forces. Some of the lack of production likely comes from a lack of domestic capabilities, inter-organizational competition and lack of communication, and a lack of central Russian government leadership on this issue.

One emergent solution to the commercial drone shortage is the rise of groups within Russia that are funding drones and drone parts for Russian units and acting as thought leaders in how to integrate and use commercial drones in military operations.

The transformation of intelligence services in light of the war in Ukraine

After two decades marked by the “war” on terror, the war in Ukraine constituted a brutal reawakening of power struggles and conventional warfare on European soil. While the “war” on terror created a lasting impact on the framework and methods of intelligence services, we are already seeing certain changes starting to emerge in response to the war in Ukraine. This allows us to anticipate the profound transformations that these services are set to undergo.

On 15 August 2021, the fall of Kabul occurred – somewhat symbolically – mere weeks before the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The US’ retreat from Afghanistan marked a clear change of priorities within the American administration; the latter considered that the terrorist threat had been contained to an acceptable level and that the “war” on terror could not, by definition, be won.

Nevertheless, the last twenty years have profoundly marked the framework and methods of intelligence services, which have dedicated a great deal of their resources to counter-terrorism. During this period, the French intelligence community was articulated as a result of the “knowledge and anticipation” function of the 2008 French White Paper on Defense and National Security. What’s more, the creation of France’s National Intelligence Coordination in 2009 – which became France’s National Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Coordination in 2017 – brought the notions of intelligence and counter-terrorism closer together, despite the former being broader than the latter.

When faced with non-State actors, capable of blending in with the local population without requiring the latter’s support, intelligence services began to implement targeting methods to identify and eliminate terrorists, while limiting collateral damage.

Intelligence services also developed the ability to collect and analyze immense quantities of technical data, of which only a fraction proved relevant for fighting terrorism. The Snowden case brought to light the so-called “mass surveillance”, designed for a context in which the “enemy” becomes a shifting concept; as the target is an individual who spend most of its time as a common citizen, yet can devote part of its time to preparing an attack against a nation’s interests.

Toward a Marshall Plan for Ukraine

Alina Inayeh, Jacob Kirkegaard, Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, Josh Rudolph, Bruce Stokes
Norman L. Eisen

Emergency assistance for Ukraine was and is a necessity dictated by Russia’s war. Beginning with the London Recovery Conference in June 2023, the Ukraine alliance should adopt a more strategic view of Ukraine’s reconstruction, with an eye toward mid- and long-term planning. Five key enablers of reconstruction should be prioritized:
Private investment

At least initially, donors need to share the risk with investors and provide war insurance. A multilateral investment trust fund should be created to provide that insurance and complement national efforts. The fund should be open only to investors from countries that aid Ukraine during the war.

Energy transition

Ukraine’s shattered energy infrastructure should be rebuilt in accordance with the EU decarbonization goals, allowing the country’s economy to leapfrog into a net-zero future. Ukraine should join EU flagship climate policies soon and ahead of full bloc membership.
Russian assets

Frozen public funds should be temporarily invested, with the proceeds made available to Ukraine, and an international claims conference should be prepared to make Russia pay, albeit in a legal and transparent way, to directly aid those affected by Russian aggression.
Transparency and accountability

Continued aid must be conditioned upon continued anti-corruption reform. To ensure implementation, civil society needs to participate in a reconstruction process that adheres to decentralization principles.
Donor coordination

The new G7 Multi-agency Donor Coordination Platform for Ukraine needs to be better equipped to succeed. Its capacity for strategic planning should be added, and its leadership structure should be rethought.

Defense Dollars Saved Through Reforms Can Boost the Military’s Lethality and Capacity

Thomas Spoehr and Wilson Beaver

Defense spending should be tied to a national defense strategy that is designed to protect the nation’s security interests. Economic security is also national security, and out-of-control federal spending has helped contribute to the current inflation and the ever-expanding national debt threatening the nation. To this end, Congress should look carefully at potential defense savings and efficiencies as it seeks to decrease the amount spent on non-defense spending and inefficiencies. To the extent that they are able, the Department of Defense and Congress should identify efficiencies within the defense budget and ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are being allocated responsibly and to the right priorities.

Congress should prioritize the funding of direct military capability to make the American people safer and to ensure their tax dollars are not being squandered.

The annual NDAA should undergo a careful review to find defense savings and efficiencies.

The DOD and congressional oversight should find efficiencies within the defense budget to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are being allocated responsibly.

Congress faces a dilemma in 2023 to properly resource defense programs for fiscal year (FY) 2024 and beyond to counter China and other high-priority threats to U.S. interests while reducing annual deficit spending in the wake of decades of reckless federal expenditures over the past three decades. Every dollar that can be saved in the existing defense budget is one that can be applied to increasing the lethality and effectiveness of the Armed Forces and achieving related government priorities.

Towards that goal, The Heritage Foundation and Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute recently convened a group of experts for multi-day discussions and examination of the defense budget to identify efficiencies and methods to save money to build the most capable and lethal force possible at the best possible price for the American taxpayer. Attendees included former senior defense officials, current and past congressional staff, senior researchers from think tanks, and experts from private industry. The results of these seminars revealed that there are indeed efficiencies and savings to be found in the defense budget.

Science & Tech Spotlight:Directed Energy Weapons

Directed energy weapons—such as lasers—use energy fired at the speed of light. These weapons can produce force that ranges from deterrent, to damaging, to destructive. Many countries, including the U.S., are researching their use.

Because they use energy instead of bullets or missiles, directed energy weapons could be less expensive per shot and have virtually unlimited firing power.

However, the long-term health effects of these weapons are unclear. They also generally have a shorter range than conventional weapons, and weather conditions—such as fog and storms—can make certain directed energy weapons less effective.

Demonstrator Laser Weapon System at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico

Why This Matters

There is a surge in interest in directed energy weapons from several nations—including the U.S.—primarily for counter drone missions. These weapons use electromagnetic energy to cause effects ranging from deterrence to destruction. They offer capabilities that conventional weapons may not, but challenges have so far prevented widespread operational use.
The Technology

What is it? Directed energy weapons (DEW) use concentrated electromagnetic energy to combat enemy forces and assets. These weapons include high energy lasers and other high power electromagnetics—such as millimeter wave and high power microwave weapons. Unlike weapons that fire bullets or missiles, DEWs can respond to a threat in different ways. For example, they can temporarily degrade electronics on a drone or physically destroy it. See our 2022 Spotlight for more information on counter-drone technology.

The concept of Information Manoeuvre: Winning the Battle of Perceptions

Information has always been critical to the battlefield. Today, however, developments have greatly changed the information environment: such as globalization, digitalization, increased data volume and velocity, and decreased credibility of information. Combined with the disruptive effects of new information technology, this has resulted in an ever-growing importance of information during conflicts.

With the changing nature of the current (and future) operating environment, the Dutch army is now called upon to strengthen its information position and ways of handling information in order to cope with the major changes and challenges in the information environment. A new concept is therefore necessary, allowing them to make better use of information as enabler, means and weapon.

However, much debate is still going on about what exactly the concept of Information maneuver defines. What should be the effects and what does it mean when information is used as a weapon? The question arises how the concept of Information maneuver can be defined. What is the essence of the concept, and of which elements does it consist of? Subsequently, what does Information maneuver in a military context really mean when executing it?

In this brief by Judith T. van de Kuijt, Naomi Keja, Jacoline C. Slaager (TNO), many questions are addressed about Information Manoeuvre in the operating environment, leaving room for applied research to start investigating its characteristics and its span. In this paper, the authors explore four fundamental elements of Information Manoeuvre and identify three dilemmas concerning its scope and conceptual considerations.

The military application of information has a long history in influencing the outcome of war and conflict on the battlefield. Be it by deceiving the opponent, maintaining troop confidence, or shaping public opinion. These tactics are placed under the banner of influencing human behaviour. Behavioural influencing is the act of meaningfully trying to affect the behaviour of an individual by targeting people’s knowledge, beliefs and emotions. Within the Dutch armed forces these tactics fall under title of Information Manoeuvre. With the ever-larger and more evasive employment of information-based capabilities to target human cognition, the boundaries of the physical and cognitive battlefield have begun to fade.  

New Report: Climate Security Scenarios in the Balkans

Brigitte Hugh and Erin Sikorsky

The Balkans region will experience significant climate change-related hazards, including droughts, heatwaves, tropical storms, and wildfires. Given the region’s reliance on hydropower, and its position as a highly trafficked land route for migration to the European Union, these climate impacts could result in cascading security risks.

In an interactive scenario exercise hosted by the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) Expert Group, adelphi, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at the Berlin Climate Security Conference – hosted by adelphi and the German Federal Foreign Office – in October 2022, exercise participants identified two of the most important, or diagnostic, and uncertain drivers of change in the region – primary external investment sources (e.g. European Union [EU]/NATO or China) and regional cohesion.

Participants then created four future scenarios which explored how these drivers would combine with climate impacts to create security risks. Analysis of these scenarios yielded five key recommendations for NATO countries and EU leaders: Develop equitable climate resilience strategies to minimize regional divides

Leverage climate security engagement for cooperation
Adapt current interventions for climate engagement
Engage with stakeholders at different levels of governance
Invest in building civilian trust

The most important finding from the exercise is that the riskiest climate security scenario for the Balkans is one with no external engagement. In other words, some investment, regardless of the source, is better than none.

The exercise is based on “Climate Security Snapshot: The Balkans”, a volume of the IMCCS Expert Group’s World Climate and Security Report 2022.

Read the full findings in the summary report here. Download Full Report PDF

The Coast Guard’s Next Decade: An Assessment of Emerging Challenges and Statutory Needs

In the face of climate change, technological innovation, and global strategic competition, the U.S. Coast Guard will need to respond to many developments in the maritime domain over the next decade. The Coast Guard likely has sufficient statutory authority to respond to most of these developments, but some developments may call for new or clarified statutory authority as well as coordination with international bodies. Current statutory manning requirements, for example, will limit the Coast Guard’s ability to authorize the regulated use of uncrewed vessels with autonomous systems. New authority may also be needed to establish spaceflight-related safety zones applicable to foreign-flagged vessels within 200 nautical miles of the U.S. coastlines.Download Free PDF

Spheres of Influence in the Coming Decades: Four Alternative Scenarios

Collin J. Meisel • Caleb L. Petry • Jonathan D. Moyer • Mathew Burrows

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, appears to have been an attempt to restore Russian greatness and the borders of its former empire. As a drastic departure from widely held post-Cold War era norms, what are the implications for shifting patterns of geopolitical influence in the coming decades? And what, too, should we make of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s own strategic blunders in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, and perhaps also China’s diplomatic image abroad?

We forecast geopolitical influence across four scenarios, each of which begins with plausible near-term trajectories for the war in Ukraine and parallel geopolitical developments, before expanding to potential long-term shifts in US-China competition through the year 2045. Results are benchmarked against a hypothetical No War scenario.

We find that Putin’s and Xi’s relative losses correspond with relative long-term Western gains, including a consolidation of influence within Europe. There is also a potential for the U.S. to recover recently lost strategic ground, particularly in Southeast Asia. Together, these findings highlight a narrow window of opportunity for U.S. policymakers to achieve a long-term setback to revisionist powers’ attempts to reshape the international order.

The complete version of this item is available as a download.

Executive Summary

On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It was perhaps the first in what may have been meant to be a series of campaigns to restore the borders of Ancient Rus, which in Putin’s mind extends in the west from “Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov to Kyiv and Chernihiv.”1 More than one year in the wake of the invasion, Putin’s effort is failing.

Except for the most extreme scenarios, the geopolitical winds in the wake of the war in Ukraine are not expected to shift substantially relative to prior trends — other than to accelerate Russia’s marginalization for the extent of Putin’s tenure. However, they do appear to have forced open a window for the West to further capitalize on Putin’s poorly executed aggression. Perhaps more important will be Xi’s (in)ability to revive China’s economic growth and image in the world, efforts which have, at least in the short term, been hamstrung by pandemic mismanagement at home and a combative style of diplomacy abroad.

Defence Diplomacy: A softer side of UK Defence – Report Summary

The UK’s position in the world comes from more than its hard power. Its attractiveness as a nation and its ability to influence other nations is a critical component to statecraft. The UK’s soft power and defence engagement objectives have scope to be updated and enhanced.

One of the UK’s soft power tools is that of culture. Within the realm of defence, that culture is superbly demonstrated by the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which brings opportunities for informal conversations with a range of important people from around the world. As well as cultural displays, the UK also has excellent hard power assets, like Royal Navy ships, that can be incorporated to include soft power objectives.

The Ministry of Defence’s presence and influence across the globe are exercised through its Global Defence Network. The last Defence Command Paper recognised that Defence Attachés carry out critical work. However, the network could benefit from further professionalisation and enhancements around career paths and development, language skills and educational institutions.This is the report summary, read the full report.

Combating Terrorism Center (CTC)

CTC Sentinel, May 2023, v. 16, no. 5 

Journey to Idlib: An Interview with Wassim Nasr, Journalist, France24

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan After the Taliban’s Afghanistan Takeover

A View from the CT Foxhole: Robin Simcox, Commissioner, U.K. Commission for Countering Extremism

The Targeting of Infrastructure by America’s Violent Far-Right

The Army Is Tearing Up Its Playbook for Software Upgrades


PHILADELPHIA — The Army wants to make upgrading software as easy as it is with an iPhone, so it’s testing out some changes to make that a reality, said Young Bang, the Army’s principal deputy acquisition chief.

One key change is doing away with the practice of “sustainment,” under which software is fielded and fixed by different Army offices.

“We are not transitioning software to sustainment. Period,” Bang said during the Army’s semi-annual Technical Exchange conference on Thursday. “The plan is to actually enable that in the beginning of the new fiscal year.”

Up until now, the Army has generally fielded new software through various program executive offices, then handed off the products to Army Materiel Command, which handles any needed patches or upgrades. This is inefficient, Bang said.

“There’s a lot of processes; there’s a lot of policies,” he said.

Now the service aims to mimic a commercial developer whose software team writes an app, works to improve it, and releases periodic updates.

“The commercial side, they don't have another organization [doing] the sustainment or the [operations and maintenance] and the enhancements. So that's the same model we want to take,” Bang said.

The Army has picked four programs to test out this new model: Enterprise Business Systems-Convergence, Nett Warrior, Army Intelligence Data Platform, and Cyber Situational Understanding. Each highlights at least one piece of the software-development lifecycle: requirements, software development, cybersecurity, contracting, and testing, he said.

The Army is also working on six pilots that will make it easier to upgrade software on a device: Firestorm PlUgin, Cyber Situational Understanding, Army Intelligence Data Platform, Mounted Mission Command—Software, Command Post Computing Environment, and Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense.


Zach Meyers

The UK competition authority has decided Microsoft cannot acquire games company Activision. This should reassure politicians that the authority wants dynamic and competitive markets – and it is less willing than the EU to rely on intrusive rules which could stifle innovation.

Competition regulators across the West are focused on the dominance of a small number of American firms in digital markets. But only the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has blocked acquisitions by the largest tech firms. It unwound Meta’s acquisition of Giphy, a library of animated clips. Then, it blocked Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of gaming company Activision. That will probably defeat the deal globally – despite the European Commission approving the deal based on commitments from Microsoft that would regulate its future behaviour. Commentators dispute whether the CMA’s approach will help or hinder tech innovation – and many worry about giving the CMA broad new powers to regulate big tech. The EU’s approach would have led to ongoing supervision of Microsoft’s behaviour. The CMA’s decision should reassure parliamentarians that the UK regulator has little appetite for overly intrusive regulation of big tech.

Corporate mergers often benefit consumers. For example, they can give smaller firms more resources to disseminate their technologies. However, all Western authorities worry that tech mergers might also reduce competition. Tech markets are often dominated by one or two players, which can be disrupted only by radical innovation, in the way that Google disrupted Yahoo 20 years ago, and Bing might use artificial intelligence to disrupt Google today.

EU and US authorities are therefore increasingly hostile to big tech acquisitions of potential disruptors. Yet in the US, judges typically approve mergers where the two parties’ products do not compete directly – which means most tech deals go ahead. EU courts similarly require the Commission to show a “strong probability” that a merger could harm competition before blocking it. The Commission therefore cannot easily block tech deals on the basis that the firm being acquired might one day become a disruptor.

5G Security Controls Matrix

The ENISA 5G Security controls matrix is a comprehensive and dynamic matrix of security controls and best practices for 5G networks, to support the national authorities in the EU Member States with implementing the technical measures of the EU’s 5G Cybersecurity Toolbox. The ENISA 5G Security Controls Matrix is currently published as a spreadsheet, but we are currently also developing a web tool to improve usability.PublishedMay 24, 2023Language

The ENISA 5G Security controls matrix is provided with two accompanying documents:

- a booklet for users of the Matrix, explaining how to use the spreadsheet and answering frequently asked questions. Download it here.

- a short paper, explaining the background of the Matrix and providing more details about how the controls were developed. Download it here.

The Dark Nexus: Unraveling the Connection Between Financial and Cybersecurity Crime

In this Fellow Perspective, Laura Whitt-Winyard discusses the Dark Nexus. The Dark Nexus is the intersection where the worlds of finance and technology meet. Criminals who engage in financial crimes, such as money laundering, often use technology to carry out their illegal activities. Fighting the Dark Nexus requires law enforcement and financial institutions to work together through stronger regulation, improved security measures, and international cooperation. By monitoring transactions, reporting suspicious activity, and sharing information, we can cut off the flow of funds that support criminal financial and cybersecurity activities. Read the Full Paper

Proposals Related to Emerging Technologies in the Area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems: A Resource Paper (updated)

Alisha Anand, Ioana Puscas

This resource paper offers a comparative analysis of the content of the different proposals related to emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) submitted by States to the Group of Governmental Experts on LAWS up until the end of 2022.*

It identifies commonality in views as well as areas that require further discussion in relation to eleven thematic areas covered in the proposals and the Group’s discussions. These include:

Application of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

Weapons prohibitions and other regulations/restrictions

Application of International Human Rights Law (IHRL) and International Criminal Law (ICL)


General requirements regarding human-machine interaction and human control

Responsibility and accountability

Legal reviews

Risk mitigation

Ethical considerations