14 July 2023

Cyber-Biosecurity: How Can India’s Biomedical Institutions Develop Cyber Hygiene?


In November 2022, the ransomware attacks on the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) exposed the vulnerability of India’s biomedical research organizations to cyber attacks. These organizations are increasingly becoming victims of cyber attacks due to the sensitive data they hold, such as patient samples, pathogens, incubators, and so on. Reports suggest that the cyber attack on AIIMS resulted in the compromise of data for about 30 to 40 million patients, including high-level political figures.

Biomedical organizations are often rendered more vulnerable to cyber attacks due to minimal awareness regarding potential cyber threats among researchers, limited communication between the research and IT teams, insufficient safeguards to prevent cyber attacks, and budgetary constraints.

The attacks on AIIMS and ICMR should therefore act as a warning for biomedical institutions in India to implement cyber hygiene best practices to ensure the security of their organizations.

The work produced by biomedical institutions should be protected for two reasons:If the work is stolen or lost before it is completed, credit may not be given to the right person. For example, the discovery of the structure of DNA is attributed to Watson and Crick and not Rosalind Franklin.
Trust is key for the field. If trust is lost due to data theft, it might lead to reputational damage, resulting in difficulties in acquiring further data for research.

Cyber-biosecurity is an emerging field that could be a starting point for biomedical institutions in India to cultivate best practices to prevent cyber attacks and raise awareness among researchers regarding the need to implement them. Cyber-biosecurity does not supersede cybersecurity or biosecurity; rather, it highlights the vulnerabilities at the growing interface between the biomedical and cyber worlds. Implementing cyber-biosecurity can ensure accurate identification of valuable assets and establish the right safeguards to protect scientific research.

Navigating the Cyber Battlefield: Winning Strategies for Staying Ahead of Cyber-Warfare

Sundar Balasubramanian

In today’s digital age, nations are no longer solely reliant on traditional military might to gain an upper hand in conflicts. The evolution of technology has cultivated a new kind of battle, one where nations engage in silent but devastating confrontations in cyber space. Cyber warfare involves using digital tools as strategic weapons to gain an advantage or disrupt adversaries’ operations.

Cyber warfare has the potential to reshape the contours of global conflicts. It allows nations to disrupt communication networks, steal sensitive information, and manipulate public opinion — all without firing a single bullet. The new era of cyber warfare presents novel and complex challenges that require a different approach from that associated with traditional warfare. The consequences of a successful cyber attack can be far-reaching, impacting national security, economic stability, and societal trust.

Across India, cyberattacks continue to risk as India sees more digital transformation and scores more people joining the mobile revolution. According to Check Point Software’s Threat Intelligence Report, an organization in India is being attacked on average 2,036 times per week in the last 6 months, compared to 1,206 attacks per organization globally, with the Government and Military sector in India in the top three most heavily attacked weekly by sector, with 3,326 weekly attacks per organization in the last six months (versus Global’s 1,737). And these are expected to increase in the coming years.

Last year, during the uproar due to the inappropriate comments made against Prophet Muhammad, over 70 cyberattacks were made on Indian websites, both government and private. Launched by hacktivist group, DragonForce Malaysia, the attacks targeted the Indian embassy in Israel, the National Institute of Agriculture Research and even educational institutions such as the Delhi Public School, Bhavans and other colleges across the country.

Protecting sensitive information and learning about the subject of cyber warfare is a must. Major global players use cyber attacks as a tool through which to show power in the ‘next level’ of war, using sophisticated methods that are constantly evolving. During the subsequent discussion, we will explore strategies that countries can employ in order to protect themselves.

China’s Ports in Africa

Isaac Kardon

Chinese firms are now leading builders, bankers, owners, and operators of ports in Africa. They have quickly achieved significant scale and scope across the continent, using modern, deepwater ports to drive Chinese trade and promote investment in other economic projects past the pier. Several state-owned enterprises have been moving up the value chain in the sector, taking long-term control over ownership and operations of port assets instead of just building them on contracts. Such ports provide robust platforms for China’s economic, political, and diplomatic access in Africa. They also establish ready sites for civil-military dual use. Chinese companies evidently pursue these projects to access African markets and resources, but also to advance broader Chinese foreign policy goals that are competitive with U.S. interests in Africa.

POLICY IMPLICATIONS Chinese firms pursue commercial and political incentives within an overall foreign policy framework. So long as PRC foreign policy continues to promote development of African ports as a means to greater access on the continent, Chinese firms will enjoy major cost and scale advantages in further building out Africa’s maritime transport network. The practical policy questions revolve around how to adjust to this reality and mitigate China’s exercise of undue influence through its position in African ports.

The U.S. will not directly compete with China in developing and operating port infrastructure in Africa. But with enhanced U.S. coordination with local allies and partners (including their port and logistics firms) on prioritized countries and projects, Chinese firms can be kept from achieving market dominance. The U.S. can likely remain the great-power partner of choice for key African nations by providing superior security and technology.

Even if Equatorial Guinea does not ultimately agree to host a Chinese military base, some other African state or states will eventually do so. A small number of People’s Liberation Army bases will not tip the Atlantic naval balance nor fundamentally change the basic security dynamics in Africa, but it will alter perceptions of China’s long-term objectives and intensify competition with the U.S.

U.S. and China Must Establish Military Communications

Chris Li

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up his recent trip to Beijing with few clear successes and further uncertainty ahead.

Blinken’s mission had been to stabilize the teetering US-China relationship and find a way to prevent a potential crisis between the two global superpowers from escalating into a larger conflict. But a daunting set of challenges remain — from tussles over high-tech supply chains to tensions over Taiwan — not least of which is repairing the military communications channels that have fallen dangerously silent, while the two nation’s armed forces operate within closer proximity and greater frequency.

Although Blinken restarted high-level diplomacy with China, he failed to make progress on a top US priority: reviving military talks. In a press conference in Beijing, Blinken acknowledged that it is “vital that we have these kinds of communications, military to military” but conceded that “at this moment, China does not agree to move forward.”

President Biden has declared that a key pillar of his China policy is to “manage competition responsibly” and ensure it “does not veer into conflict.” China’s leader Xi Jinping agrees, calling for the United States and China to avoid “colliding with each other.” But the lack of open, reliable, and functional channels of communication between the US and Chinese militaries in an era of intense strategic rivalry, compounded by growing encounters between aircraft and naval vessels in the air and at sea, elevates the risk that one accidental collision could trigger a spark that leads to conflagration.

In recent months, US officials have sounded the alarm over an increase in hazardous incidents caused by unsafe intercepts of US and allied forces throughout the Indo-Pacific. From near misses over the South China Sea to an incident earlier this month when a Chinese guided-missile destroyer cut off a US warship in the Taiwan Strait, these close interactions risk an episode that could quickly spiral out of control.

Do Not Let China Attack America from America

Gordon G. Chang

It is way past time to end the ability of the Chinese regime to conduct political warfare against the United States from American soil. America's defense begins with closing down the America ChangLe Association.

American presidents for decades have known that China's diplomats and agents were violating American sovereignty and did either nothing or virtually nothing to stop these activities. Therefore, China's Communists naturally thought they could get away with even more blatant conduct.

Americans may think they are at peace, but the Communist Party believes it is locked in an existential struggle with America. People's Daily, speaking for the Party, declared a "people's war" on the United States in May 2019. The Chinese regime has been conducting "unrestricted warfare" against America for decades.

"While it is fair to say that the CCP prefers to win this war without fighting, it is more accurate to say that the CCP intends to win without us fighting back. Through political warfare, the CCP disarms us intellectually and psychologically as it co-opts, corrupts, and ultimately controls key American elites, particularly political and foreign policy decision makers." — Kerry Gershaneck, NATO fellow for Hybrid Threats, to Gatestone Institute, July 11, 2023.

Beijing has almost certainly purchased most of the Biden family. In March, a spokesperson for Hunter Biden's legal team admitted that Hunter had received "good faith seed funds" from an energy company in China. That was essentially an admission of bribery... no Chinese business in these circumstances would pay seed money.

In addition to the Bidens, China has purchased hundreds — if not thousands — of politicians, academics, businesspeople and law enforcement officials at the federal, state, and municipal levels.

How do we know this?

Can Taiwan Resist a Large-Scale Military Attack by China?

Timothy R. Heath, Sale Lilly, Eugeniu Han

Research QuestionsHow can one assess a country's capacity to resist a large-scale military attack?

What is Taiwan's capacity for resisting a large-scale attack by China?

How might the assessment of Taiwan's capacity change during a crisis or conflict?

Taiwan remains an important potential flashpoint between China and the United States. Given the geographic distance between the United States and Taiwan and the military challenge of defeating a major attack by China, an accurate assessment of Taiwan's ability to sustain a defense can be a critical factor for U.S. decisionmakers and planners. In this report, the authors develop a framework for assessing a country's capacity to resist a large-scale military attack. In that framework, a country's ability to withstand such an attack depends on four variables: political leadership and social cohesion, military effectiveness, durability, and military intervention by an ally. The authors then use that framework to assess Taiwan's capacity to resist an attack by China for 90 days — a posited minimum amount of time required for the United States to marshal sufficient forces to carry out a major combat intervention in East Asia. An accurate assessment of Taiwan's ability to withstand a large-scale attack by China could help U.S. decisionmakers and planners better anticipate and respond in such a situation.

Key Findings

Taiwan is vulnerable to defeat by China within 90 daysThe authors identify four key variables for evaluating a country's capacity to resist a high-end attack: political leadership and social cohesion, military effectiveness, durability (i.e., the ability to manage and sustain the economic and human costs of conflict), and military intervention by an ally.

For insight into Taiwan's capacity, analysts should pay close attention to the quality and strength of Taiwan's political leadership and the degree of social cohesion in the lead-up to a crisis or conflict. The other variables should be regarded as of secondary importance.

Scientific and Technological Flows Between the United States and China

Jon SchmidNathaniel Edenfield

Research QuestionsWhat are the potential benefits and risks of U.S.-Chinese scientific research collaboration?

What is the nature and volume of scientific researcher flows between the United States and China?

What potential threats and benefits have emerged from the recent uptick in scientific collaboration between the United States and China on aerospace engineering research?

Scientific and technological competition has emerged as a front on which strategic competition between the United States and China is contested. Scientific and technological dominance — the prize of this competition — has been recognized as a national priority by high-level leadership from both countries. This dominance can be attained in two primary ways: A country can rely on its domestic scientific and technology innovation resources and activities, or it can leverage foreign scientific and technological assets. The researchers focused on the second approach for this study; in this report, they describe the benefits and liabilities associated with U.S.-Chinese scientific research collaboration. Specifically, the researchers investigated three types of flows between the United States and China: the inflow of U.S. technology inputs into Chinese military technology, the bilateral movement of scientific researchers between the United States and China, and scientific collaboration between researchers based in the United States and those based in China.

Key Findings

U.S.-Chinese scientific research collaboration poses potential risks and offers potential benefitsPublications produced via U.S.-Chinese collaboration have, on average, higher impact and are more interdisciplinary.

Although a U.S. research collaboration with a Seven Sons university or a university affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) does not, in itself, constitute a harm to national security, bilateral collaborations might present national security risks if knowledge and technology produced in the United States are used by China to modernize its military or otherwise gain competitive advantage.

How Taiwan Can Maintain Contact with Allies, Supporters, and Its Own People If Attacked

Timothy M. Bonds

Taiwan's ability to command its military forces, communicate with its citizens, and coordinate with international allies is dependent on terrestrial, submarine, and satellite networks. In this Perspective, the author discusses the vulnerabilities of Taiwan's information networks and proposes actions that Taiwan should take to mitigate lost capabilities if attacked by China.

Over the past several decades, China has labored to isolate Taiwan internationally and bind Taiwan's future to China's. Although reunification could be a peaceful continuation of current efforts, China poses a clear and growing military threat, as demonstrated by its increasing air and naval capabilities. It is impossible to know with certainty whether — or when — China will take military action against Taiwan, but if China does attack, it is very likely to attempt to control all communications on the island and prevent Taiwan's contact with the rest of the world.

Taiwan can do much to counter China's strategy, such as its announced "digital resilience for all" plan. In the larger sense, building "digital resilience" should include reinforcing the access of officials and public figures to communications networks, securing essential databases, developing alternative communications pathways to international audiences, and improving the physical security and cybersecurity of terrestrial infrastructure. Each of these topics is explored in this Perspective, which can serve as a useful complement to Taiwan's digital resilience for all initiative.

Understanding America's Technological Tit for Tat with China

Fabian Villalobos and Morgan Bazilian

The Prisoner's Dilemma is virtually everyone's first exposure to game theory and the science of strategy. In this thought experiment, two “prisoners” must decide whether they will work together and both receive a small mutual benefit, or betray their fellow prisoner and receive a greater reward, but only if the other prisoner refuses to commit a similar betrayal.

The experiment can play out over many rounds, with changing incentives and strategies. And though it was developed in 1950 at the RAND Corporation—where one of us now works—by the 1980s, many political scientists were looking for new ways to play this same old game.

One was Robert Axelrod, who wanted to find a single strategy that might prove successful over multiple rounds of gameplay. So, Axelrod held a Prisoner's Dilemma tournament, and pitted multiple strategies against one another. Indeed, one strategy submitted by mathematician Anatol Rapoport quickly rose to the top, dominating the competition by waiting for an opponent to make the first move before retaliating against aggressors, or cooperating with collegial parties.

Astonished by the strategy, now dubbed “tit-for-tat,” Axelrod held a second tournament. But this time, everyone else took on Rapaport's strategy directly. Again, it triumphed. Afterwards, Axelrod determined that four characteristics helped explain the strategy's success: it was “nice,” but not a push-over; it wasn't too clever; and it forgave.

We have been thinking about tit-for-tat quite a lot lately, particularly as the United States and China engage in a decades-long, high-stakes, increasingly brutal game, elbowing one another to gain and maintain advantage across several technological and manufacturing capabilities. This tit-for-tat has most recently led to sweeping legislation in the United States, such as the CHIPS and Science Act, which aims to stymie China's technological innovation and dominance over supply chains, especially for advanced products that are crucial for modern economies and warfare.

The use of tit-for-tat can easily spiral out of control.

Turkey clears way for Swedish NATO membership, in abrupt about face


VILNIUS and WASHINGTON — Less than a day after Sweden’s hopes for joining NATO appeared on thin ice, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to allow Stockholm’s alliance membership request to move forward, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said today.

While far from the official last step for Sweden’s NATO ascendancy, the transmission of Sweden’s Accession Protocol to the Turkish Grand National Assembly all but removes any doubt that the northern European nation will become the alliance’s 32nd member.

“I’m glad to announce that as a result [of discussions between Turkey and Sweden] President Erdogan has agreed to forward the Accession Protocol for Sweden to the Grand National Assembly as soon as possible and work closely with assembly to ensure ratification,” Stoltenberg told press in a quickly announced late evening press conference. “We have been able to reconcile the concerns that Turkey has expressed with the concerns that Sweden has.”

The turnaround came following a meeting between Erdogan, Stoltenberg and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden on the edges of the Vilnius Summit, which will see the leaders of the NATO nations gather in Lithuania. It comes just hours after Erdogan stated that he was now linking Sweden’s alliance membership with Turkey’s ability to join the European Union, in a move that appeared to start the summit off on a sour note.

Instead, Stoltenberg, US President Joe Biden and other world leaders who have been pressuring Erdogan, get a big win to start the meeting. In a statement, Biden said he “welcomed” the move, adding, “I stand ready to work with President Erdoğan and Türkiye on enhancing defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area. I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Kristersson and Sweden as our 32nd NATO Ally. And I thank Secretary General Stoltenberg for his steadfast leadership.”

For his part, Erdogan gets to repair some of the relationships with the West that had frayed during his nationalistic presidential campaign, while extracting concessions from Sweden on dealing with Kurdish groups Turkey considers terrorists.

Latin America’s Beleaguered Democracies


NEW YORK – Threats to democracy in Latin America are nothing new. The emergence of authoritarian populism in the region has eroded democratic norms and institutions, and illiberal politicians seeking to bolster their power have only hastened their decline.

But more worrisome is the spread of such behavior to at-risk democracies. Even in countries with strong institutions, recently elected left-of-center governments have struggled to execute their agendas. All signs point to an alarming rise in anti-democratic sentiment, and a brief examination of recent political developments (excluding the exceedingly complex case of Mexico) suggests that challenges to democratic governance will likely intensify.

Not surprisingly, Latin America’s dictators have embraced increasingly repressive tactics. Ahead of next year’s elections, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has effectively reshuffled the country’s electoral council: following the mass resignation of officials linked to the ruling party, a committee featuring Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores, will select the council’s new members. His government also disqualified opposition leader María Corina Machado from running for president.

In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega has disregarded a resolution from the Organization of American States urging the country to cease human-rights violations, release political prisoners, and respect religious freedoms (his regime has propagated a years-long crackdown on the Catholic Church). The country also held talks with Iran earlier in the year about bolstering military cooperation. While this continued slide into autocracy is nothing new, it has heralded the weakening of democracy across the region.

In “flawed” democratic regimes, such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, things have taken a turn for the worse. Several opposition candidates were banned ahead of Guatemala’s presidential election in June, and a court later postponed the official publication of the first-round results. Honduran President Xiomara Castro has adopted neighboring El Salvador’s hardline anti-gang tactics, including the mass detention of alleged gang members and the suspension of some constitutional rights. Most troubling is President Nayib Bukele’s decision to run for re-election in El Salvador, in clear violation of the country’s constitution.

The largest danger at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant: intentional sabotage

Matthew Bunn

Ever since its seizure by Russian forces in March 2022, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant—Europe’s largest, with six reactors—has posed a serious danger of a radioactive disaster. Now, Ukrainian officials have charged that Russia has rigged the plant with explosives, while Russia claims that Ukraine plans an attack on the facility. On July 4, the site lost off-site power yet again, forcing its cooling systems to rely on backup power supply. How serious is the risk of a major radioactive disaster?

That depends on whether we’re talking about an intentional or inadvertent radioactive release. If the Russian forces that control the site want to cause a major radiation release— and are willing to use explosives to do it—they could contaminate a huge area. Although the reactors have been largely shut down and cooling for months, they still contain a huge amount of intensely radioactive material that explosives could disperse.

A couple of mines on the roof of a reactor would not be enough. Causing a big release would require some serious demolition with explosives. But that’s what was needed to destroy Ukraine’s Kakhovka dam—which it appears was done with explosives from within, while Russian forces controlled the site—so a similar operation at Zaporizhzhia can’t be ruled out.

No one can accurately evaluate how big an area might be affected; the extent of contamination would depend on how the disaster was caused, how hard the wind was blowing, whether rain brought the radioactive material back to the ground, and more. But one could easily imagine that Russia might hope that such a release would interfere with Ukraine’s counteroffensive, forcing some units to focus on evacuating people and cleaning up radioactive fallout rather than battling Russian forces.

By contrast, looking only at inadvertent damage, there are reasons to be optimistic. The Zaporizhzhia reactors are built with thick concrete containment structures, have been cooling for months, and have extra safety features installed after the Fukushima accident in Japan. It is very unlikely that a few stray shells from fighting in the area would cause any serious radioactive release.

Wartime Elections in Ukraine Are Impossible

Lee Reaney

Concern over the decision to postpone Ukraine’s elections has come from both Ukraine’s friends and foes. In а June 27 podcast episode, former Fox news pundit Tucker Carlson said sarcastically that “democracy in Ukraine seems to be suspended by the world’s foremost democracy advocate himself—field marshal [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky.”

America Is Pushing Its Security Ideas on a Lukewarm Middle East

Jonathan Lord

Nothing will kill legislation faster than when it becomes a political football on Washington’s Capitol Hill. So it has been refreshing to see members of both parties and houses of the U.S. Congress, with firm support from the administration, rally around a vision for the future of U.S. military engagement in the Middle East. The plan calls for the creation of a Middle Eastern security architecture that joins the military capabilities of U.S. Central Command (Centcom), the Israeli Defense Forces, and the militaries of neighboring Arab states to detect and defend against threats emanating from regional adversaries, mainly Iran.

How Should the U.S. Government Buy AI Tools?

Carter C. Price and Heidi Peters

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly being integrated into everyday life through tools like ChatGPT and the facial recognition on our phones. Likewise, the federal government is expanding its use of AI, but there has not been a coherent federal regulatory process or policy expressed for responsible procurement of AI tools.

The U.S. federal government has created numerous coordinating bodies such as the Office of Science and Technology Policy's National AI Initiative Office, but a government-wide approach has been lacking. There are a slew of agency-specific policies, such as the Department of Defense (DoD)'s 2021 statement on implementing AI capabilities within DoD (PDF), the Department of Homeland Security Secretary's AI Task Force, and the Biden administration's ongoing push for “responsible AI innovation.” This fractious approach risks inconsistently applied procurement principles and practices that could ultimately impact public confidence in the federal government's ability to ethically and responsibly employ AI capabilities.

AI systems are developed by applying learning algorithms to large data sets and then applying the trained AI model to new problems. This makes AI systems very sensitive to the data used to train them, and bias in this training data can be reflected in biased outputs. Commercial vendors of AI tools must be able to describe the data sources and collection methods used for training. Members of the procurement workforce need to be able to assess the degree to which the population used to produce the vendor's data matches the target population. Officers also need to be confident the collection and sampling approaches are unbiased, any data cleaning or feature construction activities are reasonable and well described, and the algorithms applied don't introduce bias.

The federal government is expanding its use of AI, but there has not been a coherent federal regulatory process or policy expressed for responsible procurement of AI tools.Share on Twitter

Given inherent concerns associated with using data of unknown provenance for government applications, government-generated data may be preferable for developing federal AI tools. If a vendor applies their own algorithms to administrative data, there will be privacy concerns because it could include personal private information. While federal regulations are in place to safeguard information systems that process, store, or transmit federal contract information, more-stringent protections currently would have to be established on a contract-by-contract basis.

Russia-Ukraine war holds key lessons for US Space Command: top official


U.S. Space Command has learned a number of lessons from the Russia-Ukraine war, starting almost as soon as the war began, a top official said last week.

Lt. Gen. John Shaw, the Space Command’s deputy commander, listed three key lessons at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies’s event on space power Thursday.

Shaw’s first takeaway focused on February 2022, when Russia initially invaded Ukraine while affiliated hackers also launched a cyberattack on a satellite communication (satcom) network.

According to Shaw, “there was a significant satcom outage in central and western Europe as a result of a Russian cyberattack.” The breach caused thousands in Europe to lose internet access and created severe communication obstacles for the Ukrainian defense.

Shaw said the incident served as a reminder of how reliant cyber and commercial space domains are on each other — and how vulnerable they can be to enemy forces.

Another feature of the war has been “satcom jamming,” an electronic warfare technique that interferes with communication between satellites. Both Russia and Ukraine have utilized the tactic in the war, according to Shaw.

“That is having a role in their ability to affect the scheme maneuver of the other [satellites],” Shaw said.

Shaw’s third takeaway from the conflict was the historical scale of navigation war, or NAVWAR, in the conflict. NAVWAR refers to the deliberate disturbance of a military’s positioning, navigation and timing abilities through the domains of space and cyberspace.

“What we’re seeing in Ukraine now is the largest NAVWAR confrontation ever seen,” Shaw said.

“It’s whatever the Ukrainians are trying to use, I think they’re trying to jam,” Shaw said about Russia. “And Ukrainians are doing the same back.”

Countering Violent Extremism Online

Joanne Nicholson, Sean Keeling, Marigold Black

In this report, the authors seek to understand how violent extremists behave in an increasingly complex online ecosystem. This ecosystem, which is characterised by technological innovation and diversification of platforms, offers significant utility and advantages to violent extremists. By interrogating the variety of tactics and strategies being used globally, the authors have identified gaps in the understanding of the expansive contours of the violent extremism (VE) online landscape. The study highlights the extent to which these challenges require enhanced policy settings.

Violent extremists have learned to adjust their behavioural posture through a variety of tactical measures to evade common counters. Although law enforcement agencies are conscious of how enforcement and denial actions change behaviours, there will always be a trade-off between keeping extremists where they can be monitored online and deplatforming them to reduce potential harm. Some of the ongoing adaptations of violent extremists are illustrated in this report, using case studies and examples from a variety of different platforms. At the strategic level, the authors dissect the ways in which violent extremist networks engage across alternative-technology and mainstream platforms according to the opportunities afforded by each platform. Developing a greater, more detailed understanding of the online VE landscape is imperative because of the extraordinary proliferation of VE activity online.

Key Findings

Technological advancement, the ubiquity of the internet and the growth of online extremist activity change much about the dynamics of the extremist landscape and the ways in which extremism is both encountered and countered. Against this backdrop, there is a point of inflection at which this evolved version of VE might be countered.

VE exists as multiple complex ecosystems that transcend platforms. These ecosystems are widely accessible and host content that continues to be curated in a sophisticated manner, despite deplatforming measures.

Ukraine Could Be the Next West Germany

Anchal Vohra

NATO’s annual summit has especially high stakes this year. As officials from North America and Europe gather in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius this week, the main question is what kind of reassurance they can offer Ukraine that it might eventually join the military alliance. It is a lively debate behind the scenes, with some diplomats arguing that it would be impossible to admit Ukraine while its war with Russia is ongoing. Admitting a member state with occupied territory, they say, would simply be too risky for the rest of NATO; the only responsible choice would be to defer the discussion until after the war ends.

Why the US Is Threatening to Send Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

George Friedman

U.S. President Joe Biden announced last week that Washington will give Ukraine cluster bombs, adding with apparent emotion that the decision was enormously difficult for him to make. In general, presidents don’t make weapons transfer announcements, although on occasion they approve them. Usually, such statements are left to lesser figures in the Defense Department who […]

eBook: From Ukraine to the Pacific: The Army takes stock

In most predictions, a conflict in the Indo-Pacific will be one waged primarily with ships and planes. So what is the role of conventional ground forces in such a fight?

That’s one of the many questions behind the annual Association of the U.S. Army’s LANPAC Symposium and Exposition in Honolulu, Hawaii. During this year’s event, army leaders from around the Pacific gathered to discuss their role in a potential Indo-Pacific war — and to see what lessons from the Ukrainian conflict could be applied to the region.

Of course, this is an ongoing discussion, one that will continue to evolve going forward, so make sure to check back with BreakingDefense.com regularly for our coverage of both land forces and the Indo-Pacific region.

Russian Military Is Getting Weak, Leading to Increasingly Bizarre Aerial Incidents, Experts Say

Konstantin Toropin

Two U.S. Air Force drones flying over Syria have had unsafe encounters with Russian jets in the past week, an increasing pace of incidents that experts say may be a reflection of Russia's growing military weakness in the face of extended fighting in Ukraine.

The incidents drew the condemnation of both the Air Force as well as the Pentagon, which released dramatic video of both encounters, while U.S. military officials have vowed to continue flying drones in the region.

Experts who have studied the incidents say that, while Russia has a long history of using these tactics to advance its policy goals, the spike in recent dangerous encounters suggests there's a rising concern among its military about being perceived as weak and ineffectual as the war in Ukraine drags on and a recent mutiny from a top commander raises questions about the country's future.

On Wednesday, the Air Force announced that three of its MQ-9 Reaper drones were harassed by three Russian fighter jets that "dropped multiple parachute flares in front of the drones, forcing our aircraft to conduct evasive maneuvers."

"Additionally, one Russian pilot positioned their aircraft in front of an MQ-9 and engaged [the] afterburner," the service said in a statement.

Then, Thursday evening, the Air Force said that the Russian pilots harassed another set of MQ-9 drones by again dropping flares and flying dangerously close to the aircraft.

Pentagon spokesman Gen. Patrick Ryder stressed at a briefing with reporters Thursday that the two incidents will not stop the mission the drones were all engaged in -- the U.S. military's continued efforts against ISIS.

He also pushed back on the assertion that the U.S. should have done more to avoid the incident.

Winning the 21st-century intelligence contest

Chris Taylor

The conduct of intelligence activities is inherently a strategic dynamic between rival actors simultaneously playing offence and defence. Analogies with war, sporting contests and competition abound. Action and reaction. Denial and deception. Or, in its Soviet incarnation, ‘sword and shield’—the KGB’s motto.

The prize for a nation’s leadership? Holding an advantage in decision-making and action. Knowing others better than they know you. And being able to use that advantage and that knowledge to the benefit of your interests and security.

This essence is highlighted in two important and insightful new works on intelligence.

Calder Walton’s Spies: the epic intelligence war between East and West charts the history of espionage and counterespionage through the 20th century and into the 21st, illuminating an ongoing shadow war between the UK and US (and their allies) on the one hand and the Soviet bloc (and later Russia) on the other.

Walton, a historian at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, through archival study and interviews with practitioners and defectors, finds that the struggle started in 1917 (and not after World War II). The resulting intelligence ‘warfare’ was at the bleeding edge of the next 75 years. What’s more, it didn’t end in 1991 despite the West’s ‘peace dividend’. The Soviets’ perceived humiliation is key to understanding Russian revanchism today—seen not only in Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine but in Russian intelligence outrages worldwide. Disturbingly—especially in light of recent events—Walton concludes that the West has a Russia problem not a Putin problem.

Spies has a particularly contemporary resonance, illustrated by Walton’s revelatory account of attempts to assassinate Russian Foreign Intelligence Service defector Aleksandr Poteyev in Florida just three years ago. This links to earlier BBC reporting of Russian efforts to track down Poteyev, including using disinformation about his ‘death’ to flush out those with knowledge of his whereabouts.

Army’s network and advanced tech office gets a new leader


WASHINGTON — The Army office responsible for modernizing its networks and fielding communications gear has a new boss, who will spearhead development of advanced battlefield technologies for warfighters, the service announced.

The Army on June 29 announced Mark Kitz as the new program executive officer for command, control, communications-tactical (PEO C3T). Kitz most recently served as the PEO for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors (IEW&S), the service’s main hub for developing and integrating “sensors and sensor data across multiple technologies ensuring warfighters have a complete understanding of the battlefield,” according to the office’s website.

“As the new PEO C3T, Kitz will guide a workforce of more than 1,600 personnel who acquire, field and support the communications networks, radios, satellite systems and other hardware and software Soldiers require for information dominance on the battlefield,” according to an Army press release. “With the Army’s PEO optimization established to support the Unified Network strategy, Kitz will lead the integration of integrated enterprise network programs into PEO C3T.”

Kitz succeeds Maj. Gen. Anthony Potts, who led the office since June last year. Under his leadership, “PEO C3T has delivered more than 400 Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard formations with modernized network and mission command application technology, including deliveries to seven infantry brigade combat teams and one Stryker regiment squadron, and the for the first time to division headquarters and enabling formations,” the service said.

A major effort under PEO C3T was developing and fielding “capability sets,” or brigade-sized packages of upgraded hardware and software, every two years. So far, the service has rolled out Capability Set 21 and fielded 23.

“Real Policymaking Involves a Lot of Other Things Besides Pure Technical Analysis.”


Nobel Prize-winning economist and former chair of the US Federal Reserve Ben S. Bernanke talks about the evolution of the Fed, the relationship between the United States and China, and transitioning from academic to policymaker.

Economist Ben S. Bernanke served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2006 to 2014, was one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 2022, and is currently a distinguished senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His new book, 21st Century Monetary Policy: The Federal Reserve from the Great Inflation to COVID-19, traces the history of the Fed from the 1960s and ’70s through the pandemic. In an interview with Issues editor William Kearney, Bernanke discusses how the Fed has “changed remarkably,” the costs of economic decoupling of the United States and China, and the challenges for an academic who goes to Washington.

Do economists have a good understanding of how government can fuel innovation and how to measure the impact of that innovation?

Bernanke: Historically, the US government has been very important in supporting innovation through various kinds of incentives like tax credits, but also in commissioning or doing research on its own. For example, the internet and other important inventions had their roots in government-sponsored research.

The economic argument for government-sponsored research is simply that doing basic-level research that has wide potential benefits may not pay off for the private sector. A private company may not be able to capture the benefits of a breakthrough economically. So, going all the way back to the Manhattan Project, government has played a critical role in scientific advances and technological progress that are a major source of productivity increases.

The latest thing is artificial intelligence, and there’s a lot of speculation about what it means for productivity. History suggests that it takes some time for a new technology to become incorporated into private business and into the broader economy. We’ll see how long this one takes and how important it is, but over time you would expect a new technology like artificial intelligence to raise productivity and, ultimately, living standards.

Eric Schmidt: This is how AI will transform the way science gets done

Eric Schmidt

It’s yet another summer of extreme weather, with unprecedented heat waves, wildfires, and floods battering countries around the world. In response to the challenge of accurately predicting such extremes, semiconductor giant Nvidia is building an AI-powered “digital twin” for the entire planet.

This digital twin, called Earth-2, will use predictions from FourCastNet, an AI model that uses tens of terabytes of Earth system data and can predict the next two weeks of weather tens of thousands of times faster and more accurately than current forecasting methods.

Usual weather prediction systems have the capacity to generate around 50 predictions for the week ahead. FourCastNet can instead predict thousands of possibilities, accurately capturing the risk of rare but deadly disasters and thereby giving vulnerable populations valuable time to prepare and evacuate.

The hoped-for revolution in climate modeling is just the beginning. With the advent of AI, science is about to become much more exciting—and in some ways unrecognizable. The reverberations of this shift will be felt far outside the lab; they will affect us all.

If we play our cards right, with sensible regulation and proper support for innovative uses of AI to address science’s most pressing issues, AI can rewrite the scientific process. We can build a future where AI-powered tools will both save us from mindless and time-consuming labor and also lead us to creative inventions and discoveries, encouraging breakthroughs that would otherwise take decades.

AI in recent months has become almost synonymous with large language models, or LLMs, but in science there are a multitude of different model architectures that may have even bigger impacts. In the past decade, most progress in science has come through smaller, “classical” models focused on specific questions. These models have already brought about profound advances. More recently, larger deep-learning models that are beginning to incorporate cross-domain knowledge and generative AI have expanded what is possible.