18 June 2023

Modi in America


NEW DELHI – No bilateral relationship has deepened and strengthened more rapidly over the last two decades than the one between the United States and India. In fact, Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the US will be his eighth as India’s prime minister, and his second since US President Joe Biden took office. The US has at least as much to gain from the growing closeness as India does.

India just overtook China in population size, and although its economy remains smaller, it is growing faster. In fact, India is now the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with GDP having already surpassed that of the United Kingdom and on track to overtake that of Germany. India thus represents a major export market for the US, including for weapons.

But commercial opportunities are just the beginning. In an era of sharpening geopolitical competition, the US is seeking partners to help it counter the growing influence – and assertiveness – of China (and its increasingly close ally Russia). India is an obvious partner for its fellow democracies in the West, though what it really represents is a critical “swing state” in the struggle to shape the future of the Indo-Pacific and the world order more broadly. The US cannot afford for it to swing toward the emerging Russia-China alliance.

Consider America’s quest to bolster supply-chain resilience through so-called friend-shoring. As Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has explained, India is among the “trusted trading partners” with which the US is “proactively deepening economic integration,” as it attempts to diversify its trade “away from countries that present geopolitical and security risks” to its supply chain.

India is also integral to maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. Its military standoff with China – now entering its 38th month – is a case in point. By refusing to back down, India is openly challenging Chinese expansionism, while making it more difficult for China to make a move on Taiwan. Biden has not commented on the confrontation, but he is certainly paying attention. It is telling that both Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan visited New Delhi this month.

Modi’s State Visit to the U.S.: Five Wish List Items

Jeff M. Smith

On June 22, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make his first State visit to the United States. Visits to the U.S. by foreign leaders come in several varieties—private visits; working visits; official workings visits; official visits; state visits—each with distinct diplomatic protocols. A state visit is the highest honor, replete with a 21-gun salute, a white tie dinner, and sometimes an address to a joint session of Congress. In the 75 years of diplomatic relations between India and the U.S., there have been only two other state visits by Indian leaders: President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in 1963 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2009.[i]

The transformation of the India–U.S. relationship has been one of the rare bipartisan foreign policy successes of the 21st century. Nearly 20 years after the George W. Bush administration substantially upgraded bilateral ties, the scope of cooperation between the two countries is dizzying.

From cyber security to artificial intelligence, supply chains to semiconductors, telecoms standards to maritime security, if there’s a consequential issue in global affairs, there’s a good chance that India and the U.S. are collaborating in some fashion. Trade ties are flourishing—in 2022, bilateral goods and services trade broke a new record at $191 billion with the U.S. reclaiming its position as India’s top trading partner.[ii]

Meanwhile, cooperation is expanding to new arenas. In just the last few months the two countries initiated a Strategic Trade Dialogue designed in part to “align export controls” in both capitals.[iii] At the same time, New Delhi and Washington also expanded the agenda of the India–U.S. joint working group on space to now include “planetary defense.”[iv]

Increasingly, strategic convergence is also manifesting in the multilateral arena. The Quad grouping, which unites Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S., has fast become a defining feature of the Indo–Pacific security landscape. In 2021, the Indian foreign minister participated in a new India–Israel–UAE–US quadrilateral dialogue nicknamed I2U2, followed by a virtual I2U2 summit last year.[v] This May, senior officials from the U.S., India, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE participated in yet another new quadrilateral dialogue, reportedly keen on cooperating to improve infrastructure connectivity between India and the Gulf.[vi]

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between Australia, India, Japan and the United States

According to official statements, the main purpose of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”) is to intensify cooperation between the four partner countries – Australia, India, Japan and the United States – in tackling urgent challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. These include climate protection, health policy and maritime security. However, it is primarily the rise of China and the associated challenge to US hegemony in the region that brings together the four partners. In this context mini­lateral coopera­tion formats such as the Quad are gaining global importance. But more than 15 years after the start of formal meetings, and despite increased cooperation, the security dialogue between the four unequal partners appears more a symp­tom of regional instability than a remedy for it.

Due to an impending debt default of the United States, President Joseph Biden had to cancel his trip to the Quad Summit in Syd­ney at the end of May at short notice. Instead, the heads of government of Aus­tralia, India, Japan and the United States met on the sidelines of the G7 Summit, which took place immediately before the Quad Summit on 20 May in Japan. It was the fifth meeting of Quad representatives at this level. The agenda included regional challenges such as climate change, critical and emerging technologies, cyber security, infrastructure, regional health security, maritime and space security, counter-terror­ism, and humanitarian and disaster relief. China, however, has not been explicitly men­tioned in any official Quad statements so far.

This is remarkable because the escalating great power conflict between the United States and China represents the central secu­rity policy challenge in the region. In addition, the Quad was established in 2007 on the initiative of Japan’s then prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to counter China’s growing influence in the region, not least due to the background of the territorial dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands and Beijing’s historically complicated rela­tions with Japan. Several successive Japa­nese and US governments therefore shared the view that India needed to be integrated into the regional security architecture, which has so far been based on US-centred bilateral military alliances and partnerships. The aim is to limit China’s influence to stabilise the region. The guiding assump­tion for this strategy is that regional sta­bility can only be secured by preserving the hegemonic position of the United States (“US primacy”).

Backstabbed During Pakistan War, India ‘Ditches’ US GPS For ‘Much More Accurate’ NavIC Navigation System

Ritu Sharma

The US Global Positioning System or GPS is omnipresent and omniscient. In a bid to gain “strategic independence,” India is now ditching this US-owned satellite-based navigation system in favor of its own NavIC (meaning ‘sailor’ in Hindi) navigation system.

So far, the lack of compatibility of mobile handsets with the system has deterred its availability to the masses, but this is about to change.

India has successfully placed its second-generation navigation satellite in orbit, and this could help in bridging the gap between the technology and Indian mobile users.

The satellite is the first in a series of five. Now every six months, India will launch one satellite to complete the coverage. The NVS-01 carried navigation payloads of L1, L5, and S bands. “NVS-01 is the first of the second-generation satellites envisaged for the Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) services.

NVS series of satellites will sustain and augment the NavIC with enhanced features. This series incorporates L1 band signals additionally to widen the services,” the Indian Space Research and Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement after the launch.

The new Indian satellite incorporating the L1 band signal means the phone makers would not require hardware changes in the handsets to make NavIC available to consumers.

Its interoperability means it can be used across mobile through software updates. L1 is compatible with the handsets and can be made available through a mobile app, just like GPS.

The original L5 and S frequencies of NavIC were not civilian-use frequencies. The phone makers like Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi had to put in additional chipsets and hardware to make their devices NavIC-compatible. This would have made the devices costlier. This hindered the widespread adoption of the technology.

“For gaining strategic independence, both for the civilian and military purpose, it is imperative to have an indigenous navigation system,” an official involved in the long-term strategic planning of the Indian government told the EurAsian Times. “It is not about ditching the US system but being self-reliant in critical technologies,” the official added.

Updating America’s Asia strategy

China’s rapid growth in economic power, military strength, and diplomatic influence has sparked concerns in Washington and elsewhere about whether China is on a trajectory to become the dominant power in Asia, displacing the United States from its post-World War II leadership role in the region. This has generated worry about whether a more Sino-centric Asia would generate illiberal tailwinds in the international system. It also has led to misgivings about whether a more dominant China would seek to curtail American access to Asia, the engine of the global economy in the coming century, thereby diminishing America’s long-term competitiveness.

In the face of these risks, the United States and its partners have been advancing a concerted strategy to build a more densely integrated web of relationships in the region. Through a combination of partnerships, alliances, issue-specific groupings, and formalized structures, countries in the region have begun cohering to hedge against risks from China.

Even so, China continues to grow its military, strengthen its central position in the regional economy, and make diplomatic inroads across the region. Meanwhile, there is a latent perception in parts of Asia that the United States is failing to meet the moment. This assessment is most pronounced on trade issues, where the United States finds itself on the outside of the region’s two main trade agreements, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

To evaluate the merits of these anxieties and identify potential policy remedies, Ryan Hass, Bruce Jones, and Mireya Solís convened 10 Brookings scholars for a written dialogue on steps the United States could take to strengthen its overall strategy in Asia. These experts, drawn from a range of disciplines, were asked to offer recommendations on regional economic strategy, diplomatic strategy, and security strategy.

The following are a few key takeaways from the exchanges that included David Dollar, Patricia Kim, Tanvi Madan, Joshua P. Meltzer, Chris Meserole, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Eswar Prasad, Melanie W. Sisson, Tom Stefanick, and Andrew Yeo:

China is coordinating economic, military, and diplomatic tools in pursuit of regional leadership in Asia. In the face of this formidable challenge, the United States cannot afford to do more of the same and expect to sustain a favorable balance of power.

Efforts to frame great power competition in existential or ideological terms (e.g., as a battle between democracies versus autocracies) damage America’s appeal in Asia.

The United States is at its best in Asia when it is advancing a positive agenda that generates shared economic growth, durable security, and tangible benefits to the livelihoods of people in the region. This must be accompanied by, not act as a substitute for, strengthening our deterrent posture in the region.

As the United States shifts its economic policy emphasis from promoting free trade to pursuing partnerships around specific issues such as supply chain resiliency and protection of sensitive technology, Washington faces a risk of being perceived as overdoing its defensive anti-China measures and underdelivering on an affirmative strategy to promote shared economic growth.

In a Cross-Strait Scenario, Taiwan’s Semiconductors are Irrelevant

Michael Turton

In recent months, the flagship Taiwanese tech firm, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), has been a focus of discussions about a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan. For instance, Nikkei published a piece by Jared M. McKinney, a professor at the U.S. Air Force War College. McKinney argues that Taiwan should destroy TSMC’s world-leading chip foundries to prevent them from falling into PRC hands.

After China gets its hands on the advanced extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) machines, McKinney contends, it could then proceed to develop its own alternative chip-making capacity; “Once it got through short-term disruptions, China could emerge as a semiconductor superpower that is essentially self-reliant.” It follows that threatening to destroy the machines would help deter an invasion, and “It is in Taiwan's interest to make clear that China will not gain access to TSMC's EUV machines and semiconductor foundries if it invades.”

However, the truth is simple: TSMC is irrelevant.

Long before TSMC emerged as a semiconductor colossus, Chinese leaders claimed Taiwan as a sovereign territory of the People’s Republic. The claim exists irrespective of Taiwan’s economic prowess. Although McKinney does not argue the TSMC drives the PRC’s annexation dreams, other commentators like Marc Kennis have argued this explicitly. If TSMC disappeared tomorrow, Beijing would go right on pretending Taiwan has always been part of China.

Prior to 1942, as Alan Wachman observed in Why Taiwan? Geostrategic Rationales for China’s Territorial Integrity both the Nationalist (KMT) and Communist (CCP) leaderships were indifferent to Taiwan during the interwar period. Comments from elites, youth publications, and government intelligence reports treated Taiwan as lying outside China’s traditional domain and assumed that the island’s inhabitants would one day form an independent state.

After Japan brought the US into World War II, Chinese elites began considering what territories would be up for grabs following the conflict. The KMT government under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek started to rewrite the history of China to include Taiwan, and the Communists followed suit when they took power in 1949. With a zeal whose strength is as great as its historical foundation is false, the Party leadership has internalized the doctored history behind unification as a key strategic objective. In 2000, long before TSMC had become a household name and the darling of would-be George Kennans on the internet, then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji snarled on the eve of Taiwan’s presidential election: “no matter who comes to power in Taiwan, Taiwan will never be allowed to be independent.”

Is China the only way for peace to come to Ukraine?

Alfred McCoy

All wars do end, usually thanks to a negotiated peace agreement. Consider that a fundamental historical fact, even if it seems to have been forgotten in Brussels, Moscow, and above all, Washington, D.C.

In recent months, among Russian President Vladimir Putin’s followers, there has been much talk of a “forever war” in Ukraine dragging on for years, if not decades. “For us,” Putin told a group of factory workers recently, “this is not a geopolitical task, but a task of the survival of Russian statehood, creating conditions for the future development of the country and our children.”

Visiting Kyiv last February, President Joseph Biden assured Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, “You remind us that freedom is priceless; it’s worth fighting for, for as long as it takes. And that’s how long we’re going to be with you, Mr. President: for as long as it takes.” A few weeks later, the European Council affirmed “its resolute condemnation of Russia’s actions and unwavering support for Ukraine and its people.”

With all the major players already committed to fighting a forever war, how could peace possibly come about? With the U.N. compromised by Russia’s seat on the Security Council and the G-7 powers united in condemning “Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine,” the most likely dealmaker when it comes to ending this forever war may prove to be President Xi Jinping of China.

In the West, Xi’s self-styled role as a peacemaker in Ukraine has been widely mocked. In February, on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, China’s call for negotiations as the “only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis” sparked a barbed reply from U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan who claimed the war “could end tomorrow if Russia stopped attacking Ukraine.”

China’s Technology Strategy: Leverage Before Growth

Dan Blumenthal | Derek Scissors

Key PointsUnlike many commentators, Xi Jinping does not emphasize economic growth. He stresses China’s system as best suited to win the long-term competition with the US. His strategy is to use state tools to build economic leverage and political advantage. Technology is a central component.

As in its military strategy, China’s economic strategy is “asymmetric,” taking advantage of a US system founded on openness and wealth creation. In contrast, China protects large firms at home, coerces technology transfer, then seeks to eliminate leading foreign competitors.

The US has done little to blunt Chinese predation, indirectly supporting it with money and technology. If the most innovative American companies lose intellectual property and market share without consequence, China will control more sectors of the global economy.


Whether China likes it or not, sustained and fast economic growth is not in its present or future. Political and military strategies dependent on fast growth are no longer viable options. This hardly means Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping has given up. He has outlined new objectives, and his regime has implemented new strategies flowing from those objectives.1 The US and others have only partly recognized this shift and have barely begun to respond to it.

Similar to its military strategy, the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) current economic competitive strategy is asymmetric. Beijing focuses on the PRC’s “strengths,” which include being able to produce at scale, having some of the world’s largest consumer market segments, employing predatory regulatory practices, and using coercive technology acquisition. China is trying to neutralize American advantages stemming from an open, wealth-seeking, highly innovative economy. If the US keeps competing as if its rival is another open-market economy organized for individual prosperity, it risks losing the crucial contest for economic leverage and political influence. To defeat the PRC’s geo-economic strategy, the US needs to ensure it no longer helps Chinese companies seeking to catch up and consider defending its most innovative companies.

Getting China right: Resoluteness without overreaction

Michael E. O’Hanlon 

America’s increasingly hardline China policy is probably 80% right on its specific components, given Beijing’s assertiveness of recent years, but it is at risk of going too far in its tone and temperature. While staying focused on the challenges posed by China’s rise, it is crucial that we keep our strategic composure and sense of perspective on the nature of the problem. America is capable of groupthink, as we arguably saw for example in the Vietnam War and in the prelude to the Iraq invasion of 2003. We need to avoid the temptation to unify so strongly around the China threat paradigm that we unwittingly increase the risks of confrontation ourselves. That could happen if Washington inadvertently signaled support for Taiwan’s de jure independence and a willingness to fight China on its behalf upon such a declaration. It could also happen if the United States overreacted to a relatively minor and non-lethal incident in the South China Sea or East China Sea, or if the two countries demonized each other to the point that communications between them were largely cut off even when badly needed during a future crisis.

Whether it is China’s record on the use of force, its stated and revealed aspirations for expanded global influence in the future, or its ongoing military buildups, Beijing poses real challenges to American strategic interests. But the situation, while potentially dangerous, is not dire. It is not comparable to Adolf Hitler’s rise in the 1930s, or Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong’s ambitions of the 1940s and 1950s — and despite the injudicious use of this term by seasoned foreign policy experts in a recent influential article, China does not together with Russia and Iran constitute a “new axis of evil.” For example, while growing fast, China’s military budget totals one-third of America’s (roughly speaking) and only about half as high a fraction of the nation’s gross domestic product, and China has not fought a war since 1979. Vigilance is needed; resoluteness is required; pushback is essential. But so is calm, and a sense of proportionality.


The United States is doing a generally good job in standing up to a rising China. Strong bipartisan consensus for an $858-billion U.S. national defense budget in 2023, exceeding peak levels of Cold War resources in inflation-adjusted terms, bodes well. So do recent bipartisan decisions to strengthen America’s technological and industrial foundations in key sectors here at home through the CHIPS and Science Act, so-called Inflation Reduction Act, and Infrastructure Investment Act, as well as a generally more supportive approach to education in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in recent times. The United States and its allies are rightly using tools like the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to limit China’s ability to acquire, and exploit, this and allied nations’ high-tech jewels. American and allied militaries continue to conduct freedom of navigation exercises in the Western Pacific region even where China wrongly claims they should not; the United States rightly seeks to improve Taiwan’s military capacities against possible Chinese attack, even if the pace of that effort often lags.

Drivers of U.S.-China Strategic Competition: Understanding the Chinese Perspective

Stephen R. Nagy

The relationship between the United States and China is one of the world’s most important and mutually beneficial bilateral relationships. Nonetheless, it is also complex and contentious, with both countries vying for geopolitical influence and economic dominance. This brief examines drivers of U.S.-China strategic competition from the perspective of Beijing incorporating the prism of Marxist-Leninist ideology, domestic politics in the U.S., China’s needed alignment with Russia, nationalism, technological advancements such as AI, the role of regional players such as ASEAN, Japan, and the E.U., and Comprehensive National Power (CNP). Understanding these analytical lens contributes to a deeper comprehension of China’s security anxieties and worldview that may provide insight to enhance engagement, resilience, and deterrence in bilateral relations with China.

Soldier pleads guilty to planning ISIS attacks on US troops

Jaime Moore-Carrillo

Army Pfc. Cole Bridges, also known as Cole Gonzales, plotted attacks with an FBI employee he believed to be an ISIS supporter living in New York. (U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York)

An Army private first class has pleaded guilty to plotting the murder of U.S. service members on behalf of the Islamic State, government prosecutors announced Wednesday.

The soldier, Cole Bridges, also pleaded guilty to trying to provide material assistance to ISIS. A months-long FBI investigation into Bridges’ social media posts culminated in the 22-year-old Ohio native’s arrest in January 2021.

Bridges joined the Army in September 2019, according to court documents. He served as a cavalry scout in the 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

In August 2020, in the weeks leading up to a three-month rotation to Germany, Bridges began posting jihadist propaganda on his social media accounts under the moniker “Cole Gonzales,” prosecutors claim. Screenshots of Bridges’ Facebook page feature quotes from Salafist preachers exalting “war between Islam and Kufr [infidels]” and photos of his M4 rifle captioned with verses and emojis popular with the Islamic State group.

An FBI agent posing as an ISIS sympathizer approached Bridges online in September 2020. The aspiring jihadist developed a rapport with the investigator in the ensuing months. By mid-October, court documents show, Bridges began advising the phony fighter and his crew on how to stage an attack, flaunting his training and combat expertise. Later that month, he sent illustrations of battlefield maneuvers from the U.S. Army Field Manual accompanied with detailed explanations over encrypted messaging apps.

The following month, Bridges allegedly outlined potential attack targets in New York City, including the city’s 9/11 memorial. In December, he walked the undercover agents through a potential attack on American troops stationed in the Middle East, providing color-coded unit schematics and tactical formations. At one point, they sent Bridges a grainy satellite image of an imaginary ISIS desert compound targeted by American forces and requested advice; Bridges returned a marked-up diagram detailing where the fighters should position their RPGs, machine guns, and booby traps.

Our Debt to Future Generations


NEW YORK – Conservatives often make a big show of worrying about the debt burden that we are passing on to our children. This moral argument featured prominently in congressional Republicans’ refusal to support a routine increase to the US debt ceiling. The GOP supposedly is so committed to reducing spending that it is willing to hold the global economy hostage and risk permanent damage to America’s reputation.

No one argues that we should not think about future generations. The real question is what current policies and fiscal commitments will better serve the interests of our children and grandchildren. Viewed from this perspective, it is clear that it is the Republicans who are exhibiting a reckless disregard for the consequences of their actions.

Anyone with economic bona fides knows that one must always look at both sides of the balance sheet. What really matters is the difference between assets and liabilities. If debt increases but assets rise even more, the country is better off – and so, too, are future generations. This is true whether one invests in infrastructure, education, research, or technology. But even more important is natural capital: the value of our environment, water, air, and soil. If our air and water are polluted and our soil is contaminated, we are passing on a greater burden to our children.

Financial debt is just something we owe to each other. It is a matter of pieces of paper that can be shuffled around to adjust entitlements to goods and services. If we default on our debt, our reputation will be tarnished, but our physical, human, and natural capital will remain unchanged. Bondholders will find themselves poorer than they thought, and some taxpayers may end up richer than they would be if the debt was repaid, but our overall “wealth” will not have changed.

“Environmental debt” is different. It is a burden that cannot be eliminated with the stroke of a bankruptcy judge’s pen. Damage done today may take decades to repair and require spending money that could have been used to enrich the country. By the same token, wise spending to protect and rehabilitate the environment – like investments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions – will leave future generations better off even if financed by debt.

Russian Private Military Companies Thriving Due to War with Ukraine

Ryan Bauer and Erik E. Mueller

The war in Ukraine has brought the Wagner Group, Russia’s largest private military company, or PMC, out of the shadows. Before the February 2022 invasion, it operated mostly covertly in Ukraine, Africa and Syria. Its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, even denied the group’s existence and his role until last fall.

Today, with 50,000 men in Wagner uniforms — up tenfold since before the war — Prigozhin throws his weight around, making threats to withdraw his mercenaries and publicly excoriating Russia’s military leadership.

But Wagner isn’t alone. The war in Ukraine has also led to the expansion of other PMCs — and the founding of new ones. This explosion of what are essentially private armies is not only shaping the battlefield in Ukraine; it could have devastating impacts long after this conflict ends.

Moscow’s desire for additional fighters in Ukraine has created a breeding ground for Russian PMC development. The Wagner Group met the need by recruiting on billboards, at schools, on PornHub and in prisons.

The organization has grown into a major component of Russia-aligned forces, and its importance to Russia’s war effort may be best exemplified by a legal change earlier this year. In March, a law prohibiting the discrediting or scrutiny of the Russian Armed Forces was expanded to include “mercenaries and volunteers.” The first offense carries a $650 fine for individuals ($6,500 for organizations). Repeat offenses carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

All this has spurred the development of new Russian PMCs. Armen Sarkisyan, recently appointed as administrator for prisons in Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, reportedly plans to use his position to develop a PMC utilizing the Wagner Group’s prison recruitment model. In Kherson, near Crimea, a former Wagner commander is reportedly involved in establishing a PMC called Convoy.

Ukraine’s Offensive in Past Days a ‘Suicide Mission’: Observers

The Ukrainian military is employing a counteroffensive strategy against Russia that is a “suicide mission,” according to a report by Asia Times, citing international military observers.

The war-torn nation has recently begun operations to retake strategic locations captured by Russian forces in the early months of the war.

However, military analysts claim that Kyiv’s efforts are violating the basic rules of military tactics.

Ukrainian soldiers have reportedly been “running around in five different directions” instead of focusing on one area at a time.

“If you want to conduct an offensive and you have a dozen brigades and a few dozen tanks, you concentrate them and try to break through,” a senior European military officer said.

He explained that the Ukrainian military has been told to stop using such “piecemeal” tactics and conduct a main thrust supported by infantry units.
Playing ‘Light Brigade’

According to the outlet, Ukrainian tanks are charging into minefields without deploying mine-clearing vehicles first.

The strategy reportedly resulted in the loss of 38 armored vehicles, including Western-supplied Leopard IIs, during the night of June 8.

“They were trained by the British and they’re playing Light Brigade,” the officer said, pertaining to an 1854 disaster in which misinformation and miscommunication proved catastrophic for British cavalry.

Additionally, he said that some Ukrainian tank operators are trying to pull off a “Guderian,” referring to a breakthrough during the 1940 Battle of France led by German General Heinz Guderian.

“But Guderian had 3,000 tanks, and these idiots have just gambled away the 30 they have,” he remarked.


Alex Hollings 

There’s no debate that the United States has the largest Air Force in the world, but when people discuss America’s various military advantages, one of the most important ones often goes unnoticed: the country’s massive fleets of refueling aircraft.

In fact, the United States operates so many refueling aircraft that it not only has far more than any other country… it actually has more than all countries on the planet… combined.

According to the numbers tallied by GlobalFirePower.com for 2023, the United States military collectively operates as many as 568 refueling aircraft — or 546 more than number two, Saudi Arabia, with 22. France and Russia tie for the number three spot with 19 tankers, and Israel rounds out the top five national tanker fleets with just 11.

Why are refueling aircraft important? Global reach and a whole lot more
USAF KC-46 Pegasus refueling aircraft refuels a C-17 Globemaster III during a test flight July 12, 2016 (U.S. Air Force photo)

Since the very first days of aviation, aircraft design has required a constant balance between weight and range. Long-distance flight requires mechanically efficient engines, aerodynamically sound aircraft designs, and of course, lots of room for fuel storage.

Prior to the advent of air-to-air refueling, an aircraft’s range was limited by its fuel storage. Today, however, aircraft can often fly until their pilots’ hands go numb, thanks to the ability to top off along the way from a variety of tanker aircraft.

Cyberattack wave in Ukraine linked to Russia’s GRU, Microsoft says

Colin Demarest

WASHINGTON — A wave of cyberattacks hitting Ukrainian government agencies and information-technology vendors has been traced back to hackers associated with Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU, an official with Microsoft said in a blog post.

The ongoing digital belligerence is attributed to a group dubbed “Cadet Blizzard,” allegedly active since 2020, Tom Burt, corporate vice president for customer security and trust, said in the post. The company also connected the group to destructive data-wiping attacks that plagued Ukraine ahead of Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Russia historically uses cyber to project power, soften targets and meddle in foreign affairs. An International Institute for Strategic Studies report in 2021 placed the country in tier two of its cyber powerhouse rankings, alongside China but behind the U.S.

The Pentagon sought $11.2 billion for cyber in fiscal 2023. That's $800 million, or nearly 8%, over the Biden administration’s previous ask.

In addition to targeting Ukraine, Cadet Blizzard is focusing efforts on NATO members that are funneling military aid into Eastern Europe, Microsoft said. Countries have committed billions of dollars in equipment, ordnance and combat vehicles to Ukraine to help battle back Russian forces.

“While it has not been the most successful Russian actor, Cadet Blizzard has seen some recent success,” Burt said in the post. “Microsoft’s unique visibility into their operations has motivated us to share information with the security ecosystem and customers to raise visibility and protections against their attacks.”

U.S. leaders have for more than a year urged the private and public sectors to step up their cybersecurity practices and keep an eye out for virtual irregularities.

Ukrainian Tank Crushes Friendly MRAP In Wild Battlefield Video


Abizarre video posted this morning by the Russian VOIN DV Telegram channel appears to be a Russian drone’s view of a Ukrainian T-72 Tank rolling over and crushing a Ukrainian Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle as some crew members frantically flee.

VOIN-DV claims the video was taken near the Vremevsky Salient, a section of western Donetsk Oblast near the Mokri Yaly River where some of the heaviest fighting during the counteroffensive is taking place. The War Zone cannot independently confirm the date or location of this incident.

The 53-second video begins with the tank pushing an MRAP, possibly a U.S.-donated International M1224 MaxxPro, on a dirt road along a tree line.

At about the four-second mark, a Russian Lancet loitering munition comes into view and appears to hit the tank somewhere around its right skirt and explode in a bright flash. The tank shrugs off the damage, possibly helped by explosive reactive armor, and continues with its puzzling task.

A Russian Lancet loitering munition is about to hit the Ukrainian T-72 tank. (VOIN DV video screencap)

How to leverage America’s software advantage in the decisive decade


Tech. Sgt. Michael Vandenbosch, 22nd Space Operations Squadron defensive counter-space operator, uses software to identify interference to a specific satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 16, 2019. (US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)

In April, the Atlantic Council released a major new report outlining steps the Department of Defense and its partner agencies should take in order to speed up technology acquisition. In the following op-ed, two of the authors of that report — Michèle A. Flournoy and Wendy R. Anderson — go into more depth on how to get at the issues around software acquisition.

President Joe Biden’s National Security Strategy calls the 2020s a “decisive decade” [PDF], which has been underscored by Russian aggression in Ukraine and increasing Chinese threats to Taiwan. Yet many major defense acquisition programs, necessary for US national security, are not slated to be delivered in the next ten years and each military service will continue to rely on legacy platforms well into the 2030s.

One way to bridge this gap is by adopting and leveraging innovative software across the Department of Defense. Software can help the US military unlock new capabilities from existing platforms while increasing the speed of trusted, secure decision making and the efficiency of resource allocation.

However, current acquisition systems designed for large and exquisite weapons systems are poorly optimized for software development or leveraging a “software as a service” model. And traditional DoD software acquisition is often painfully slow, disconnected from end-users, and outdated on arrival.

It’s time to move beyond the legacy systems for how the Pentagon approaches software. Moving forward, DoD should put in place processes that allow the military to field software rapidly and continuously improve it with testing and user feedback. Software intensive systems should be updated rapidly to respond to operational needs and threats as they arise.

Climate Change Requires New Approaches to Disaster Planning and Response

David J. Hayes

To date, most of the climate policy attention has been focused on the need to reduce the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change and, as a corollary, to accelerate the U.S. economy’s transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Yet climate change also is straining our nation’s emergency response capabilities as traditional climate-infused disasters such as hurricanes and floods become more frequent and destructive. At the same time, the emergency response community faces new challenges as slower-to-develop climate impacts like drought, heat, and wildfire increasingly are hitting an acute tipping points and becoming life- and livelihood-threatening disasters.

Worsening climate impacts also require that the federal government help communities adapt and become more resilient in the face of known and growing climate change threats. To do this effectively, the time is ripe for the federal government to build new institutional mechanisms that identify best practices across the full spectrum of resilience needs and work more closely as partners with tribal, state, and local governments as they address the many and varying climate risks that they face.

This short essay for the Belfer Center's Homeland Security Project publication series addresses these key climate emergency response and resilience issues and offers specific recommendations for how the government can address them.


Zach Meyers

When Microsoft announced its plan to acquire games giant Activision for $69 billion, few commentators thought the deal would get an easy ride from competition authorities. Yet the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s decision to block the deal was met with fury by the two companies, who argued that the UK was “closed for business”. That fury escalated when the European Commission – despite its promises to get tough on big tech – allowed the deal.

The CMA’s decision in Microsoft/Activision came the same week that the government – after years of dithering – unveiled its Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill. The Bill – the UK’s answer to the EU’s Digital Markets Act – would give the CMA broad new powers to curb perceived anti-competitive behaviour by big tech firms. Given the CMA’s bold decision, some parliamentarians are now questioning whether the CMA is aligned with the government’s pro-growth agenda and whether it has become too interventionist. Those MPs ought to be reassured. The CMA’s decision will not scare away start-ups. And, contrary to those who believe the CMA is getting too bold, the Activision decision shows that it has no appetite for overly intrusive regulation of big tech.

Arguments that the CMA’s tough approach to tech mergers will scare start-ups away from the UK have little basis. For one thing, tech firms cannot simply move outside the UK to avoid CMA review. The CMA can block deals regardless of whether the firm being acquired is physically present in the UK – so long as both firms have sufficient market share in Britain. Numerous recent cases, including Facebook/Giphy and Sabre/Farelogix illustrate this. Second, the UK is not alone in reviewing deals between two offshore companies. The EU has also prohibited deals that involve little current investment in Europe. Global deals simply face a greater risk of being blocked, wherever the merging firms are located. In that uncertain environment, the UK still easily outperforms the rest of Europe in terms of venture capital and the number of ‘unicorns’ (tech firms valued above $1 billion).

Ukraine’s cyber defence: Insights on private sector contributions since the Russian invasion

Anushka Kaushik

While the cyber domain of conflict has not received as much attention in the war waged against Ukraine, the country has been determinedly building its cyber resilience allowing it to defend in cyberspace as formidably as it has. In part, Ukraine has been able to build resilience by partnering with the private sector as a key ally. By partnering with technology companies, Ukraine has been able to access critical cybersecurity tools and intelligence, which has complemented its own cyber defence efforts.

Domestically, Ukraine’s engagement with the private sector has been particularly significant in protecting privately-owned critical infrastructure companies and building trust with the government. However, challenges remain in delineating the scope of private sector involvement in cyber conflict and navigating the differing incentives of the public and private sector. These challenges are also roadblocks to any feasible institutionalised cyber defence model, even as the level of cooperation between CERTs, technology companies, and security agencies suggests that ad-hoc collective cyber defence efforts are already underway.

This policy brief outlines some key takeaways from the active private sector participation in Ukraine’s cyber defences since Russia’s invasion in February 2022. It contains insights from industry experts, government representatives, and researchers on cybersecurity who participated in a closed-door roundtable discussion conducted as part of the GLOBSEC Future of Cyberspace Cooperation Initiative: Transatlantic Chapter.

Guardians of the Virtual Frontier: Unleashing the Power of Offensive Cybersecurity Operations

The United States faces a mounting challenge in safeguarding its cybersecurity in an ever-evolving digital landscape. In this ICIT research paper, our experts address the increasing need for offensive security operations, shedding light on cyber-attack risks and the need for increased support of government intervention. The report explores the delicate balance between protecting democratic values and effectively combatting cyber threats, emphasizing the crucial role of ethical conduct and adherence to international law. The question of whether private organizations should conduct offensive exercises is also addressed. By prioritizing key technologies, strategies, and collaborations, this paper provides valuable insights on how the United States can enhance its offensive security measures and fortify its digital defenses.

Guardians of the Virtual Frontiers .pdf

The Future of Army Software Development


The Army’s digital transformation in recent years has centered on improving networks, cloud computing, and data. Now, the service wants to rework how it handles software development—by centralizing and simplifying it so mission-critical programs are updated quickly.

But what does that mean for buying, developing, updating, and patching software?

Defense One sat down with Jennifer Swanson, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for data, engineering and software, to learn more about the Army’s software development shift and what that means for program managers and industry.

What exactly does it mean to no longer put software in sustainment, and why is it significant?

Starting in October of this year, we will no longer transition any software to [Army Materiel Command] for sustainment. So, that's a done deal. The money associated with that will stay with the [program managers], and the responsibility to do whatever they need to do from a sustainment perspective will be theirs starting in October. We are not going to pull systems out that have already transitioned AMC for the most part. But things that are not there are not going there.

What does this change mean for program managers?

I think it depends what stage of life the system is in, what needs to be done, and if there's requirements to add more capability. For our newer systems, there will be no sustainment phase at all because it's not part of [​​continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment]. The model for CI/CD [means] the traditional things that we do in sustainment—like fixing problems, cyber patching, that kind of stuff—that happens in releases along with additional capability…and you're putting out releases very frequently. You're doing all of the things that need to be done, whether it's adding capability or a cyber patch, in a single release.

Large Language Models Are Small-Minded

John Arquilla Peter Denning

After the initial near-euphoria about Large Language Models, or LLMs, that power generative artificial intelligence (AI), the mood has gone sour. The spotlight shines now on doomsday scenarios where LLMs become self-aware, go out of control, and extinguish humanity.

Fear of sentient robots is hardly new. In an 1899 short story, Ambrose Bierce conjured a robot created by an inventor named Moxon. It looked like a person, if a dour one, but it wasn’t smart enough even to beat Moxon at chess. And when it lost, the robot revealed deep wells of uncontrolled emotion: it murdered Moxon.

This fear has maintained its popularity ever since in books, plays, and movies. Some bad robots appeared simply as machine systems, like homicidal HAL in Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some robots look human, like the Terminators. And beyond the murderous robots, there are sometimes big networks of robotic systems, such as in The Matrix, whose aim is to enslave humanity. Even Isaac Asimov, who tried to rein in robots with three laws that forbade doing harm to humans, worried that robots could circumvent such strictures.

ChatGPT and Bard are two prominent examples of LLMs that amaze with sophisticated answers to questions. These systems have sparked a huge wave of investment in new services powered by LLMs. And they have unleashed a torrent of anxiety about how their proneness to “hallucinate” (make stuff up) might create havoc with fake news, stolen elections, massive job losses, undermined trust in business, or even destabilization of national security. The worst fears concern the potential for the machines to become sentient and subjugate or exterminate us. A chorus of leading voices from the worlds of high tech and politics has made a case, best summed up by Henry Kissinger, that current advances in AI have put the world in a “mad race for some catastrophe.”

Our assessment is that the furor over the extinction prophecy has gotten the better of us and is distracting from the important work of learning how to use an extremely valuable but inherently error-prone technology safely.

The Inflated Sum of AI Fears


The rapid development of generative artificial intelligence has led to the pessimistic view that the new technology will undermine democracy and pose an existential threat to humanity. But there is good reason to believe that AI, like all general-purpose technologies before it, will improve human welfare.

WASHINGTON, DC – The rapid advances in artificial intelligence in recent months have unleashed a tidal wave of worries. Will this new technology substantially reduce employment by eliminating the need for most human workers? Will it undermine democracy? Does it pose an existential threat?

Concern about technological change is nothing new. But it typically addresses what economists would describe as marginal effects: whether a larger share of workers without college degrees will find it slightly harder to get jobs, or whether income inequality will increase to some extent. Unease about AI, on the other hand, is of a different order of magnitude, with some experts predicting that it could upend civilization – or even wipe it out.

Tech leaders have argued that certain AI systems “pose profound risks to society and humanity,” a sentiment echoed by leading AI scientists. A recent YouGov poll found that nearly half of respondents are concerned “about the possibility that AI will cause the end of the human race on Earth.” Over two-thirds support a pause on some kinds of AI development.