10 August 2023

Gallium and germanium: What China’s new move in microchip war means for world

Annabelle Liang

China has started restricting exports of two materials key to the semiconductor industry, as the chip war with the US heats up.

Under the new controls, special licences are needed to export gallium and germanium from the world's second largest economy.

The materials are used to produce chips and have military applications.

The curbs come after Washington made efforts to limit Beijing's access to advanced microprocessor technology.

China is by far the biggest player in the global supply chain of gallium and germanium. It produces 80% of the world's gallium and 60% of germanium, according to the Critical Raw Materials Alliance (CRMA) industry body.

The materials are "minor metals", meaning that they are not usually found on their own in nature, and are often the by-product of other processes.

Besides the US, both Japan and the Netherlands - which is home to key chip equipment maker ASML - have imposed chip technology export restrictions on China.

What Is Russia Teaching China in Military Drills?

Ying Yu Lin

At the end of July 2023, China and Russia conducted joint military exercises in the Sea of Japan. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) might have taken advantage of the exercises to put into practice some lessons the PLA has learned from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, in particular how to respond to the undesired presence of U.S. military aircraft in the neighborhood.

The PLA has launched two rounds of large-scale military exercises around Taiwan since August 2022, with the most recent in April. During these two exercises, the PLA experienced intensive close-in reconnaissance by U.S. military aircraft, including P-8A anti-submarine warfare aircraft, E-3 early warning aircraft, and EC-135 electronic surveillance aircraft.

The situation in Ukraine is quite similar, with U.S. and NATO electronic surveillance and electronic warfare aircraft and drones flying in large numbers around the periphery of the war-ravaged country on a regular basis. These manned and unmanned aircraft provide Ukrainian troops with digital information that never stops coming in, dealing a blow to the morale of Russian invaders.

While Ukraine received some military aid from the United States before the start of the war, Taiwan has been a long-term user of U.S. weaponry, with much experience in integrating new weapon systems into existing ones and coordinating various types of platforms. Should an armed conflict break out in the Taiwan Strait, the interoperability between Taiwan’s military and its U.S. counterpart would surely be much better than the level seen in the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1996. In the two large-scale military exercises held by the PLA around Taiwan in August 2022 and April 2023, there were many opportunities for Taiwan-U.S. information exchange and intelligence sharing.

In the future, the United States might not be directly involved in an armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait in the form of sending aircraft carriers and main fighting ships to the region. Instead, it could dispatch electronic warfare aircraft and electronic reconnaissance platforms to airspace and waters around Taiwan to provide support to Taiwan’s military. What the PLA most wants to know for the moment is how the Russian military has been able to overpower the U.S. in spectrum warfare, as has been seen on the battlefield of Ukraine. However, that is an invaluable lesson that the Russian military has learned the hard way.

China and India are at odds over BRICS expansion

Hung Tran

Since its founding more than a decade ago, the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) has grown substantially in stature as a forum to articulate the views of countries in the Global South in their dealings with developed countries. The group could evolve to become a counterpart to the Group of Seven (G7) in world affairs, resulting in a profound impact on international relations. But whether this impact turns out to be positive or negative will depend on which country’s vision for the BRICS forum’s future ultimately prevails: India’s or China’s. The two countries have vastly different ideas about how the group should move forward, as India’s disagreement with China’s push to rapidly expand the organization’s membership in the lead-up to the August 22-24 BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, demonstrates.

If the BRICS group follows India’s approach, then it can promote cooperation among developing countries and, on that basis, engage with the G7 to discuss ways to reform the international economic and financial system and deal with global problems such as the impacts of climate change. This would seem to appeal to many developing countries, which want to reform the current international economic and financial system but do not want to explicitly take sides between the United States and China. On the other hand, if China prevails, the BRICS group will likely become another venue for anti-US political activism, probably risking its ability to deliver concrete benefits to many developing countries.

Given this backdrop, it is important for the G7 to develop an effective approach to the evolution of BRICS—finding ways to engage with its constructive proposals to seek common solutions to global problems, while pushing back against its negative tendencies.
The rise of BRICS

India is removing all Chinese parts from its military drones

Ananya Bhattacharya

India is barring domestic manufacturers of military drones from using Chinese-made parts over concerns about security vulnerabilities, Reuters reported today (Aug. 8).

The two neighbours have been part of several border standoffs in recent years, and, citing national security threats, India has already banned a slew of Chinese apps and introduced phased import restrictions on Chinese drones. India’s security leaders are now concerned that their intelligence-gathering could be compromised by Chinese components in their drones’ communication systems, cameras, radio transmission, and operating software, according to several government and industry insiders who spoke anonymously to Reuters.

India is not alone in being concerned that Chinese hardware comes with backdoors that allow Chinese access and thereby compromise national security. The US, which saw Chinese spies breach the US tech supply chain in 2018 and spotted a suspicious Chinese spy balloon earlier this year, worries that China’s intelligence agencies will use Chinese IT firms and their equipment “as routine and systemic espionage platforms.” The UK parliament has also raised an alarm, saying that “any company working alongside another company with links to China could be subject to theft of its intellectual property.”

But New Delhi’s dream of modernizing its military all on its own will prove tricky. At least, that is what other countries going down the same path have found. Technologies and materials can’t be produced at the same scale everywhere, and building manufacturing lines up for them all is an expensive, inefficient, and time-consuming endeavor. There’s also the danger of rubbing China the wrong way, which could goad Beijing into restricting crucial raw material exports to India.

By the digits: India’s military spending

13%: The share of India’s latest budget allocated to defense, amounting to $70 billion—a 13% jump up from the 2022 annual budget

De-Coupling Or De-Risking: India Poses Challenges To China And South East Asia For Alternative Destination Of FDI

Subrata Majumder

The US-China face off and the Ukraine war added a new layer of FDI culture in the world. Economic factors, like, low cost production and global network of supply chain, are outweighed by political conflict and a currency war. De-dollarization is emerging as an additional shine for the FDI boost in the world. China poured substantial investment in Russia in Chinese yuan and India opened the gate for local currency investment by UAE, the third largest trade partner of India.

A new dynamism in currency predominance is taking shape in the global market. The US dollar is eroding pre-eminence and the Chinese yuan or local currencies are gaining steam. According to an IMF survey, the dollar share in central bank foreign exchange reserves declined from 71 percent in 1999 to 59 percent in 2021. The US dollar has been alleged as a political weapon than trading purposes. Eventually, de-dollarization become an additional factor for FDI diversification.

Given this, de-coupling and de-risking are gaining prominence in making a new trend in FDI, leaving behind economic factors. Till now, China was one of the main destination for USA, Japan and EU investment. Chinese hegemony is in retreat and outplaced by India in East and South East Asia with the advent of de-coupling and de-risking. FDI growth in China nosedived to 4.5 percent in 2022, after a spurring growth by 21.2 percent in 2021

De-coupling and de-risking do not have any academic or institutional definition by UNTACD, WTO, the World Bank or IMF. In colloquial term, “de-coupling” means exiting investment from China and “de-risking” refers to China+1 investment strategy.

How the Taliban Guard Afghanistan’s Border (and What It Says About Their Regime)

Franz J. Marty

A Taliban border guard standing below a Taliban flag in the Tangshew valley, Maimai District, Badakhshan, Afghanistan, May 13, 2023. A simple room in the small house with the light blue door visible behind the Talib is the modest headquarters of his sub-unit; it is located a 1.5 hours foot march away from the international border that the unit guards.Credit: Franz J. Marty

NUSAI & MAIMAI, BADAKHSHAN, AFGHANISTAN — The two Taliban walked along the deserted dusty road, dwarfed by the massive rock cliffs towering all around them. The steady rushing of the water of the river snaking its way through the mountains swallowed the crunching sound of their steps.

As they wore no uniforms, it would have been possible to mistake them for two men on a stroll enjoying the scenery. But they were on a patrol to guard the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan marked by the Panj River – one of many patrols that they and other Taliban conduct day and night.

At one point, the higher-ranking of the two stopped and gestured across the river: “There is a Tajik patrol over there.” On the distant road on the other side, there were three Tajik soldiers. Dressed in crisp light-green camouflage and determinedly marching at a set distance from each other, they contrasted starkly with their Taliban counterparts, who still looked mostly like ragtag rebels.

As War and Terror Loom in Asia, Pakistan Looks to U.S. and China for Help


As the security situation at the heart of Asia continues to deteriorate over growing militancy and the lingering threats of conflict, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States tells Newsweek that his nation is looking to both Beijing and Washington for support in bringing stability to the region.

While China and the U.S. are locked in a broader geopolitical feud stretching across the globe, Ambassador Masood Khan said that both powers have an interest in not seeing extant risks devolve into a major crisis—a position evident in recent steps taken by the two rivals vis-à-vis the region.

"China's contribution to Pakistan's economic progress has contributed directly and indirectly to stability also," Khan told Newsweek. "At the same time, we have security cooperation with China, we also have defense cooperation with China, and so this is an important relationship."

The ambassador said Pakistan was seeking "an equally robust relationship with the United States."

"After the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, I think we recalibrated our relationship and are using most efficiently the space that is available to the United States and Pakistan for building economic partnerships, for continuing with a paradigm of security cooperation, particularly in regard to countering terrorism and identifying the long-term strategy for strategic stability in the region," he explained.

Cambodia Leadership Transition: Like Father, Like Son

 Arman Sidhu

Following Cambodia’s recent parliamentary elections, marred by widespread allegations of manipulation, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) clinched another victory. Hun Sen, who has led Cambodia for over 38 years, has effectively implemented a succession plan that will hand power to his eldest son, Hun Manet. This report explores the aftermath of the election and its broader implications for Southeast Asia.

During the tenure of the Cambodian People’s Party, opposition groups have faced legislative restrictions, judicial manipulations, and even physical threats, such as forced exile or imprisonment. The recent election was marked by the disqualification of the primary opposition party, the Candlelight Party, by the National Election Committee. This move, upheld by Cambodia’s Constitutional Council, underlines the political repression that has constrained opposition groups’ efficacy and organizing abilities. The disqualification of the Candlelight Party effectively ensured the CPP’s monopoly over the National Assembly, echoing the 2018 election outcome. This consolidation of control by the CPP mutes the voices of a growing population of educated urban youths disillusioned with autocratic rule.

Cambodia’s economy has significantly transformed over the past ten years, moving toward an increasingly diverse and industrialized model. One primary driver of this change has been the burgeoning textile and apparel industry, which accounts for over one-third of GDP and 57% of total exports. Tourism, another pillar of the economy, has also seen impressive growth and post-pandemic recovery, boosting employment and revenues in the hospitality and service sectors.

China hacked Japan's sensitive defence networks

The hackers had deep, persistent access and appeared to be after anything they could get their hands on- plans, capabilities and assessments of military shortcomings. Image Source: Reuters/Representational

In the fall of 2020, the Chinese military compromised classified defence networks of Japan, reported The Washington Post on Wednesday.

According to the report, cyberspies from the People's Liberation Army had wormed their way into Japan's most sensitive computer systems.

As per The Washington Post, three former senior US officials, who was among a dozen current and former US and Japanese officials interviewed, said that the hackers had deep, persistent access and appeared to be after anything they could get their hands on- plans, capabilities and assessments of military shortcomings.

“It was bad — shockingly bad,” recalled one former US military official, who was briefed on the event, which has not been previously reported.

According to the Washington Post, Japan is making efforts to strengthen its networks. But they are still deemed not sufficiently secure from Beijing's prying eyes, which, officials say, could impede greater intelligence-sharing between the Pentagon and Bejing's Defence Ministry.



From the start, the air war over Ukraine wasn’t what most analysts expected it to be. In the opening hours and days of the conflict, the powerful, at least on paper, Russian Aerospace Forces failed to achieve crucial air superiority.

As the months progressed, Russian fighter and bomber jets assumed a secondary role — mainly launching cruise missiles against Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure from scores of miles away.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Air Force has proven to be a tough nut to crack. Ukrainian pilots have fought valiantly and beyond their pre-war on-paper capabilities. Equipped with Western weapon systems — but not fighter jets — the Ukrainians have made life difficult for their better-equipped and more numerous adversaries.

Trapped between not doing enough and risking multi-million aircraft, the Russian Aerospace Forces have had to adapt twice in the past few months and our now playing a much more important role in the fighting.

An Untold Story Of The Ukraine War: Russia’s Captive Nations Cry For Freedom

Ben Solis

An independence movement that has been building inside Russia for decades has been supercharged by the Ukraine war, creating another potentially devastating crisis for Putin.

While more than a dozen former satellite nations broke away from Moscow during the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, other semi-autonomous regions remained under the control of the Kremlin, and have been struggling for freedom ever since. Now, their effort has renewed hope and momentum as the Russian regime appears significantly weakened.

Last week, the representatives of more than a dozen of these captive nations from across Russia’s far east regions, all part of an organization called the Free Nations of Post-Russia Forum, (FNPRF) gathered in Tokyo for a long-anticipated summit. There, they met with members of Japan’s House of Representatives from both major political parties to seek support for breaking from Russia and shaping a “post-Russian space.”

“Countless ethnic groups have been oppressed by Russia’s government,” Professor Yoko Hirose of Keio University told national television network NHK. “Never before have so many groups aiming to de-imperialize Russia come together in Japan,” he stressed, adding that it was “the first step toward a free and peaceful world after the war.”

The leaders of FNPRF are convinced that the collapse of Russia as it has existed since the fall of the U.S.S.R. is imminent. As such, they have emphasized the need to proactively develop a plan for “decolonization” of states like Chechnya, Dagestan, Buryatia, and Krasnodar.

The State of the War in Ukraine

George Friedman

A month and a half ago, right after the attempted Wagner coup, there appeared to be chaos in Moscow, with the future of President Vladimir Putin in question. There were indications of some movement toward negotiations in the war. Some of those contacts were public. The director of the CIA, while on a visit to Ukraine, had an extended telephone conversation with the head of Russian intelligence. What was said is unknown, but it is unlikely that the two intelligence chiefs spoke without prior discussion at lower levels. Given the nature of this war, it’s unlikely that contact between Russia and the United States, however trivial and ineffective, hasn’t been underway throughout.

The war appeared to have two limits. The United States would not deploy significant force in Ukraine or fire on Russian forces. The Russians would attack Ukrainian forces but not American supply depots in Poland. This meant that the war would not pit Russian and U.S. forces directly against each other, continuing the understanding in place since 1945, overwhelmingly but not absolutely honored. Strategic combat would be between Ukraine, supplied by the U.S., and Russia. That agreement holds and limits the global risks in the war. It may have just worked out that way, but I expect some explicit understanding was reached. The Wagner incident must have worried Washington as to who was in control in Moscow and raised questions about whether the understanding was still in place. The transfer of Wagner fighters to Belarus and to Poland’s border must have increased worries.

Two things became unlikely: that Russia would destroy the Ukrainian army and occupy Ukraine, and that Ukraine’s army would drive Russia out of Ukraine. The only logical step is a negotiated settlement. The question is what that settlement might consist of. The only logical settlement – on the surface, at least – is a division of Ukraine. One option might be that Donbas, full of ethnic Russians and on Russia’s border, is ceded to Moscow. But Ukraine cannot cede more – or even this – because it reasonably doesn’t trust the Russians not to base a force there and attack again in the future. The Russians will have a great deal of trouble accepting this. They have lost much in the war, and returning with only Donbas would be an insult to the dead and devastating to Putin. Ukraine must have a militarily defensible boundary and a shallow concession. Russia must validate the claim that it is a great power and can settle for far more than Ukraine can concede. Each side must make a powerful move to convince the other that a bad compromise is better than defeat.

Why a US Navy admiral says China won’t pick up the military hotline


Xi Jinping, China’s president, adjusts his earpiece during a session on the opening day of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Over the last few months top Pentagon officials have sounded the alarm that their counterparts in China are ignoring their calls. But a senior US Navy official said he suspects that behind the diplomatic cold shoulder is Beijing’s belief that the US sees the hotline as a “safety net,” and that not answering could curb US actions in the region in the first place.

“They… believe that if you have a hotline, that we’re more prone to risky behavior because that’s our kind of safety net,” Rear Adm. Mike Studeman said during an event at the Hudson Institute today. If a crisis emerges, “then they [the US] want an out. They want the ability to negotiate their way out of it. Just don’t give them a safety net, and then maybe they’ll be more conservative with their forces and their behavior.”

Studeman warned that “whatever the logic is, [this] leads to very little official communication now.”

“This is a very dangerous trend in terms of our ability as major powers to truly work out our issues,” he said.

Studeman, a career intelligence officer, is formerly the commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence and will retire in September. He has previously warned that the American public is “naïve” about the threat China poses to the United States.

China's Plan to Rule the World's Smart Devices, FCC Urged to Act


When police, firefighters and other first responders across the U.S. rush to emergencies, they rely on special devices to avoid overwhelmed public networks.

Chinese-made components in devices certified for use on the federally managed FirstNet public safety network are designed to be able to send information back to servers in China and it's not clear how effective the security measures to prevent that are, according to engineers and industry sources with knowledge of the equipment who spoke to Newsweek. The components, or cellular connectivity modules, are generally used to connect objects, whether cars or medical equipment, to the internet.

The growing ubiquity of Chinese cellular connectivity modules in these and other devices in the so-called Internet of Things has prompted concerns in Congress, including a letter from the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party urging regulators to address the potential security risk. It also promises to open a new front in the increasingly complicated tussle over technology between Washington and Beijing.

"Using these modules may create a backdoor for malign Chinese government actors to access and potentially cripple first-response devices," Select Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) told Newsweek.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Survival Is Now in Question

Anchal Vohra

In mid-June, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and hailed it as a “new era” in the two countries’ relationship. It marked an end to tensions that had reached their pinnacle in 2018 after Turkey’s media published information apparently leaked from the Turkish government about the gruesome murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. In April 2022, a Turkish court transferred the trial of Khashoggi’s alleged murderers to Riyadh—a peace offering that paved the path for Erdogan’s first trip in years to the oil-rich kingdom, which occurred later that month.

Ukraine may be winning ‘world’s first cyberwar’

Oleksiy Sorokin

Ukraine's main cybersecurity agency, Russia's full-scale war began over a month before Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine from all directions – with a large cyber attack on Jan. 14, 2022.

"It all started with an attack on state authorities, it was the largest attack in 17 years," says Yurii Shchyhol, head of the State Special Communications Service, which is responsible for defending Ukraine's cyberspace.

Shchyhol says over 90 government websites were targeted, about 20 of them were defaced, and some data was erased. It took Ukrainian authorities 2-3 days to get those websites back up.

“This was the first indication for us that (Russia) was planning something big," he adds.

The month leading up to the full-scale invasion, Ukraine experienced several major cyberattacks – on Feb. 15 and Feb. 22.

By the time Russia launched its full-scale war, Ukraine was ready to face Kremlin's cyberwarfare, taking place alongside the ground offensive.

The 7,500 employees of the Special Communications Service are now in charge of protecting Ukraine from cyberattacks, ensuring the military and political communication is secure, and conducting online operations to hamper Russia's war effort.

ALGORITHMIC WARFARE: U.S. Ability to Withstand Chinese, Russian Cyberattacks Questioned

Josh Luckenbaugh

Defending power plants, pipelines and water treatment facilities from cyber threats could play a key role in a future conflict, as the United States’ great power rivals have made the ability to target these essential services a warfighting priority.

In May, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an advisory regarding a “cluster of activity of interest” associated with a People’s Republic of China state-sponsored cyber actor known as Volt Typhoon.

“Private sector partners have identified that this activity affects networks across U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, and the authoring agencies believe the actor could apply the same techniques against these and other sectors worldwide,” the advisory said. Microsoft stated it had “uncovered stealthy and targeted malicious activity” by Volt Typhoon across communications, manufacturing, transportation, maritime and other sectors, and that the threat actor intended to conduct espionage and maintain access to critical networks.

And it’s not just China. The United States’ “peer and near-peer adversaries … have capabilities against our critical infrastructure,” said Mark Bristow, director of MITRE’s Cyber Infrastructure Protection Innovation Center. “And not only do they have capabilities against our critical infrastructure, but those capabilities are now part of their doctrine for combined arms.”

In its “Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community” published in February, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Russia is “particularly focused on improving its ability to target critical infrastructure … in the United States as well as in allied and partner countries,” while China is “almost certainly” capable of launching cyberattacks on key U.S. services such as oil and gas pipelines or rail systems.

Biden Cracks Down on the Spyware Scourge

Steven Feldstein

On July 18, the U.S. Commerce Department added two European commercial spyware firms—Cytrox and Intellexa—to its export controls blacklist due to privacy violations and other rights abuses. Both entities are controlled by former Israeli intelligence officer Tal Dilian and registered in multiple European jurisdictions, including Greece, Hungary, Ireland, and North Macedonia. They have been implicated in a variety of wrongdoings, including a major scandal in Greece, where Cytrox’s Predator software was used to hack journalists’ and opposition politicians’ phones.

The blacklisting is not a one-off. In fact, it represents a continuing effort by the U.S. government to curb the commercial spyware industry. The designation of the two companies is the first major initiative on spyware since U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order in March that limits federal agencies’ use of commercial spyware, and it sends a clear message that selling high-grade surveillance products to abusive governments will have consequences. Cytrox and Intellexa’s designation on the entity list imposes severe licensing requirements on the companies, effectively banning them from transactions with U.S. companies and accessing the U.S. market.

Getting to this point has been a struggle. The global spyware industry is a lucrative business; both governments and private actors have shown an insatiable appetite for targeted surveillance products. According to my research, at least 74 governments around the world have contracted with commercial firms to acquire spyware or data extraction technology.

The web of companies supplying these products is diverse. Although Israeli companies dominate the global export of spyware, European and U.S. companies are active market participants as well. Companies at the top end of the spyware market—such as Cytrox, Intellexa, and NSO Group, the Israeli market leader under U.S. sanctions since 2021—offer cutting-edge tools, including so-called zero-click hacks. These are malware programs that infiltrate devices without the user having to take any action to allow it in, such as opening an email or clicking on a bad link.

U.S. Military Systems Infected by Chinese Malware: How Deep Does It Run?


Anonymous officials from the Biden administration have told the New York Times that Chinese malware has been planted in the networks that control the critical infrastructure of military bases. The “ticking time bomb” could potentially cripple military systems in the event of a conflict between the two countries.

A theoretical attack of this nature would be meant to primarily impact military systems, but would necessarily have knock-on effects for civilian infrastructure as well. There is not yet a clear picture of how deep the Chinese malware campaign runs, but the first samples of it were found in Guam in May by Microsoft’s security team.
Chinese malware intended to cut power, water to military bases ahead of deployments

The Chinese malware appears to be primarily targeted at overseas military bases that would likely be in heavy use in the event of a conflict over Taiwan. But homes and businesses in the area would also be impacted, as the critical infrastructure is shared between military systems and civilian residential or business areas.

The threat is not limited to overseas territories or bases, however, as the officials indicated that the Chinese malware could also likely cut off utilities to civilian areas of the continental United States. Indications are that this particular campaign has been active since at least mid-2021, and traces of the code that targeted military systems in Guam has also been found stateside.

The discovery has reportedly prompted a series of high-level meetings in the White House Situation Room calling together representatives from the military, intelligence community and national security apparatus. In response to media questioning about the report, the White House only issued a general statement about its commitment to defending national infrastructure and preventing disruptions. The statement made no mention of the Chinese malware or any potential compromise of military systems.

Japan’s Military Is Getting Ready To Take On A Rising China

James Holmes

Japan’s Ministry of Defense uses annual white papers to survey the country’s strategic surroundings and explain how it means to manage them. Its latest such survey shows Tokyo upping its game vis-à-vis China in a major way.

The most startling statistic in Defense of Japan 2023 concerns funding for the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF). In the coming five years, Japan intends to spend over two and a half times on the SDF what it spent in the most recent five years. Japan envisions hiking the budget from 17.2 trillion yen to 43.5 trillion yen, or about $307 billion.

The Japanese military has long been a compact force of enviable repute. Now it is poised to become a force of serious heft as well. This marks a sharp break with history. For decades after World War II, to mollify opinion in Asia and around the world, Japan self-limited its defense budgets to 1 percent of GDP. It cast itself as an intrinsically inoffensive society, incapable of a new round of imperial conquest. That era of self-restraint is gone thanks to Chinese, North Korean, and Russian belligerence.

We must look at the direction of Japanese defense spending as well as the total sum. According to Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu, Japan will focus on two priorities. “First, to maximize effective use of our current equipment by improving operational rates, securing sufficient munitions, and accelerating investments in improving the resiliency of major defense facilities; and second, to strengthen the core areas of our future defense capabilities, including stand-off defense capabilities that can be utilized as counterstrike capabilities and unmanned assets.”

Tokyo aims to do more than simply scale up the force. Japan wants to wring maximum performance out of its current martial panoply; add magazine depth, and thus staying power in a protracted engagement; harden and diversify defense infrastructure to withstand attack; and invest in new long-range precision armaments. It will amplify its ability to throw a punch at a distance and to absorb a heavy hit without crumpling.

The result will be a rangier, brawnier pugilist, and a fighter whose capabilities are better distributed on the map. Defense of Japan 2023 notes that “strengthening of the defense architecture in the southwestern region” remains a going concern. That means strewing Air and Ground Self-Defense Force reconnaissance along with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile units along the Ryukyus, an island chain that arcs from the southernmost home island of Kyushu through Okinawa at its midpoint, before terminating just north of Taiwan.
Sponsored Content

Ukraine from July 31 to Aug.7: China says Jeddah talks helped to 'consolidate international consensus'Nikkei Asia

The Ukrainian army commits new forces in a big southward pushThe Economist

It makes sense to fortify the southwestern islands for two broad reasons, one defensive, and one offensive. The first priority is to protect Japanese territory, offshore waters, and skies against assault from sea or air. SDF deployments here thus perform a purely defensive function.

Second, the islands give Japan and its American ally the option to convert the island chain into an offshore barricade against maritime and air movement between the China seas and the Western Pacific. Sea and air forces working in concert with units on the islands can close the straits that afford passage amid these bodies of water. The SDF can thus imprison hostile forces while holding Japanese ground.

China not expected to push Russian return to Black Sea grain dealNikkei Asia

Why the EU will not seize Russian state assets to rebuild UkraineIt fears the precedent of undermining state immunity under international lawThe Economist

Walling up adversaries within the first island chain would deny them desperately needed maneuver space. The chief forces in question here are China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy and People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

As a bonus, such a blockade would also confine the Chinese merchant fleet to home waters, curbing seaborne trade and putting the economic hurt on Beijing should it abuse Japan, Taiwan, or some other neighbor. In short, Japanese maritime strategy aspires to yoke archipelagic geography, military technology, and alliance politics in the service of deterrence, and, should the worst come, open combat.

A first island chain bristling with weaponry should give pause to Chinese President Xi Jinping and his allies. As Defense Minister Hamada puts it, “it is essential to make efforts to ‘defend our country by ourselves’ and increase deterrence. In other words, we need to make the opponent think that ‘attacking Japan will not achieve its goals.’”

This is sound strategy. The Prussian military sage Carl von Clausewitz observes that an outright battlefield victory, though it charts a direct route to success, is not essential to success. One combatant can prevail over another by convincing enemy leaders they cannot win — or cannot win at a cost that’s worth it to them. A rational antagonist stands down rather than undertake a forlorn cause.

So it is possible to win without fighting, though not without being able and ready to fight. Whatever Japan and the U.S.-Japan alliance can do to put steel behind their island-chain defense strategy bolsters their odds of deterring predators like the Chinese Communist Party.
The Race for Homefield Advantage

Or look at the problem through a sporting lens. That the home team commands an advantage over any visiting team is a cornerstone of naval warfare, according to the greats in the field. That is the logic of access and area denial: The home team is close to scenes of battle, has the bulk of its militarily relevant resources nearby, and knows the physical and human terrain intimately. The significance of this is broadly understood. China has founded its strategy against the United States on this same, simple precept of trying to deny the U.S. team access to the playing field, or to hamper its efforts once there.
Sponsored Content

Ukraine latest: U.K. sanctions alleged broker in Russia-North Korea arms dealNikkei Asia

What if China and India became friends?Setting aside their border dispute could transform their relationship—and geopoliticsThe Economist

But in the case of Japan and China, geography has situated two home teams next to the same field. Here they have played a furiously contested series spanning centuries. Though less populous and possessed of a smaller economy than China’s, Japan boasts geographic and other advantages of its own. Most notably, the Japanese archipelago lies athwart China’s access to the high seas, granting the SDF a blocking position. That being the case, the logic of Western Pacific access and area denial works both ways — not just for China. Defense of Japan 2023 attests to it.

Plus, to stick with the sports analogy, the Japan Self-Defense Forces enjoy support from a quasi-home, quasi-away team — the U.S. joint force permanently forward-deployed to East Asia — that can summon reserve players from afar when the contest heats up. The Self-Defense Forces are not alone.

Who holds the home-team advantage when Asian home teams face off? Japan is placing its bet.

Here’s how the Army is reorganizing its network, cyberops offices


Soldiers demonstrate the Command Post Computing Environment prototype at Aberdeen Proving Ground in May. (U.S. Army photo by Dan Lafontaine, PEO C3T)

WASHINGTON — By October this year the Army will have officially restructured its main offices responsible for the development and acceleration of its enterprise and tactical network and cyber operations, in an effort to streamline the service’s current set up.

As it was, the service’s different network and cyber efforts were spread across three program executive offices (PEOs). But under the restructure, which was announced in May, several organizations will be shuffled and redistributed under the umbrella PEOs for command, control, communications-tactical (C3T), intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors (IEW&S) and enterprise information systems (EIS).

“To achieve digital transformation and better support delivery of a unified network” the assistant secretary for the Army of acquisition, logistics and technology is “optimizing PEOs and making changes to demonstrate agility and synergy,” Paul Mehney, a spokesman for PEO C3T told Breaking Defense in a statement.

Mehney said that no current contracts, awards, jobs or physical moves are being affected by the PEOs restructuring. But the change could pay dividends with better organizational lines and focus areas — or at least, the Army hopes it does.

More details of how this will all work might come during the upcoming AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference, but for now, here’s the breakdown of what the restructure will look like:

Washington’s security strategy in Iraq was deep-frozen.


U.S. Army Capt. Robert McClurg, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery Regiment, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, discusses with an Iraqi army Solider, Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Feb. 27, 2023. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Julio Hernandez)

Since 2014, the US has poured millions of dollars into Iraq under the mission of defeating ISIS. Even as the threat has shrunk, argues Jonathan Lord of the Center for a New American Security, the funding has continued with little to no change in approach. With a meeting of key officials in Washington this week, Lord says, it is time to reassess.

This week, the Pentagon will host Iraq’s Defense Minister Thabet Muhammad al-Abbasi and a delegation of Iraqi military leaders, selected by Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, for a Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue (JSCD) in Washington. The two-day conference, led on the American side by Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Wallander, will seek to discern a vision for the future of the US-Iraqi security relationship.

It’s a discussion that’s long overdue, and one that has to come with hard questions, not just about US-Iraq affairs but about how the Biden administration plans to manage the millions of dollars it still spends on Iraqi security each year.

Putin’s Age of Chaos

Tatiana Stanovaya

After Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian elites acted as if the war had not really changed anything on the home front. Even as the campaign foundered and the West tightened sanctions on the Russian economy, those with power in Moscow seemed to carry on as usual. Since last autumn, however, things have been getting a little more complicated. A surprisingly successful Ukrainian counterattack in the region of Kharkiv in September 2022 exposed the vulnerability of Russian military positions. Irked, the Kremlin launched a military mobilization that caused tremendous social anxiety, although only for a short period. Then in October, a Ukrainian strike on the Kerch Strait bridge left the key link between Crimea and mainland Russia engulfed in smoke and flames. It also revealed how flexible the Kremlin’s supposed redlines actually were; an event that had seemed intolerable just months prior ultimately produced no tangible response from the state and left elites with the growing sense that Russia’s war could rebound onto its own territory.

The following months have only ratcheted up the pressure. The Ukrainian front has provided little good news for the Kremlin, with the exception of the seizure of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in May. And in the meantime, a new front has opened up at home. Unknown assailants—most likely connected to Ukrainian security services—have attacked Moscow with drones. Paramilitaries have raided across the border into the Russian region of Belgorod. And most shocking, the forces of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner private military company, carried out an open rebellion in June, seizing much of the city of Rostov-on-Don, sending a column of troops racing toward Moscow, and even shooting down a number of Russian aircraft, killing over a dozen Russian pilots in the process.

Prigozhin’s uprising captured the world’s attention—and deeply disturbed Moscow’s elite. Despite its swift resolution (in a deal brokered in part by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko), many in Moscow struggle to understand Putin’s handling of the crisis. On the one hand, the Russian president has publicly and ruthlessly condemned Prigozhin as a “traitor,” but on the other hand, he has allowed the mercenary leader to move freely within the country and even hosted him in the Kremlin for negotiations at the end of June.

Stakes are high as Ukraine’s offensive starts to secure a military advantage


The writer is senior research fellow for land warfare at the Royal United Services Institute think-tank and has worked extensively in Ukraine during Russia’s full-scale invasion For two months, Ukrainian forces have been on the offensive, trying to break through Russian defence lines to begin the liberation of the occupied territories. 

The fighting has been difficult and progress has been incremental. But over time, the Ukrainians have been securing the advantage. The question now is whether they can push Russian forces to breaking point. After wasting thousands of troops in a failed spring offensive, the Russian military fell back to around 45km of defensive positions, stretching across the southern front from Zaporizhzhia through Donetsk, to prevent Ukrainian troops advancing towards the strategic, Russian-held city of Melitopol. The so-called Surovikin Line, named after a Russian general, comprises three lines of hardened trenches, each screened by dense minefields, anti-tank ditches, tank traps and wire entanglements. In front of these, Russian fighting positions are bolstered by anti-tank and anti-personnel mines. Since the start of the offensive in early June, Moscow has adopted new tactics. 

Russian forces allow Ukrainians to enter the minefields and then aggressively counterattack, often with tanks and anti-tank guided weapons on the flanks. Once Ukrainian vehicles are knocked out, the Russians deploy mortars and artillery against the infantry. If Kyiv’s forces get across the minefields and into the trenches, the Russians often abandon their fighting positions and detonate prepositioned charges to kill the first wave of attackers. After attempts to breach the minefields using explosives led to heavy Ukrainian casualties, Kyiv has adapted its tactics, infiltrating Russian positions to confuse the defenders and strike from the flanks, before attempting breaches. These methods have reduced Ukrainian losses, but the necessary planning and reconnaissance makes this a slow process, in which the Ukrainians fight for 700m at a time. 

Taking Stock of India’s Evolving Unmanned Undersea Capabilities

Biyon Sony Joseph

On July 28, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), an Indian state-owned shipyard, launched an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) named Neerakshi. A significant milestone in India’s efforts to strengthen its underwater capabilities, it is a collaborative effort between GRSE and Aerospace Engineering Private Limited (AEPL). Officials said that the vehicle can be used for a variety of functions such as mine detection, mine disposal, and underwater survey.

Lauding the indigenous partnership behind the prototype’s production, Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) Chairman Samir V. Kamat said that he is optimistic about the Indian defense industry’s capacity to provide innovative and cutting-edge technologies in order to meet the ever-growing demands of the armed forces.

Growing Relevance of Unmanned Underwater Systems

For centuries, all major powers have focused on dominating the oceans. This was largely made possible by the addition of submarines to their maritime forces, and eventually subs became an important part of modern naval warfare. In the last several decades, remarkable advancements in technology have enabled us to eliminate the human factor in this realm, allowing unmanned systems to play an active role on an unprecedented scale.

Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), as the name suggests, are submersible systems that function underwater without a human operator on board. These are usually classified into two categories – remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROUVs) that operate with human support, and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that work independently in an automated fashion.

Artificial Intelligence: Generative AI In Cyber Should Worry Us, Here’s Why

Russell Haworth

It’s fair to say that recent months have sparked a growing interest in AI in the general media. Hollywood’s robot apocalypse may be fiction, but advances in computing power, intelligent unsupervised algorithms, and applications like chatbots are fuelling genuine fears about job displacement. Not without justification. Telecoms giant BT plans to cut 55,000 jobs by the end of the decade. Up to a fifth of cuts to customer services as staff are replaced by technologies including artificial intelligence.

Amidst the hype, there is a darker side of AI that we need to rapidly address. Even the godfathers of AI, including Sam Altman, CEO of AI research laboratory OpenAI and Google DeepMind’s CEO, Demis Hassabis, are sounding the warning bell.

They’re talking not just AI, but AI2.0—“Artificial General Intelligence” or AGI—an AI system capable of tackling any task a human can achieve. And it’s coming fast.

AGI systems pose an existential risk to humanity unless governments collaborate now to establish guardrails for responsible development over the coming decade. According to the Center for AI Safety, “mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.” Virtual bunker, anyone?

Businesses are scrambling to avoid disruption from Generative AI like ChatGPT. That presents both opportunities and threats. But in the rush to implement AI, are we addressing the risks posed by a prolific group of AI adopters, cybercriminals?