12 August 2023

Pakistan’s Military Won’t Loosen Its Grip

Husain Haqqani

Last Saturday, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan joined a long list of elected leaders in the country to be jailed on corruption charges after removal from office. Khan’s conviction for failing to declare income from selling gifts he received as prime minister disqualifies him from leading his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and from contesting national elections expected by November. Khan’s cult-like supporters regard him as a figure who can save Pakistan from corrupt, dynastic politics. With their leader in prison, they will step up their protest campaign against the former prime minister’s opponents, as well as the powerful military.

China’s war planners are leaning harder on its militia


A late-June exercise in Hunan Province saw members of China’s militia taking on growing responsibilities, including piloting drones, driving assault boats, and manning command-and-control vehicles. While the People’s Liberation Army has for years relied on its reserve auxiliary force for supplementary support, the recent exercises point toward a larger direct role—even as some sources allude to potential strains in the system.

China’s militia system, which includes up to eight million personnel, dwarfs its uniformed service. It makes heavy use of demobilized veterans and civilian organizations, which have signed cooperation agreements with their local PLA base. During times of emergency, these personnel would be deployed to complement the local PLA force, providing crucial wartime support. For example, in early July more than 400 militia members helped PLA personnel respond to devastating floods in Chongqing. The militia engaged in search and rescue cleared roads, while the PLA troops used boats to transport civilians out of danger.

In 2016, China took a big step to foster militia capabilities and their integration with the PLA: it created the National Defense Mobilization Department or NDMD, which, among other things, inspects various localities, assessing their capabilities and proposing methods for improving military integration during a national crisis. One of its commonly recommended steps to improve PLA access to civilian assets is to use joint-cooperation agreements to more deeply integrate civilian and military personnel.

A recent report by BluePath Labs for the China Aerospace Studies Institute found two key developments for militia. First, it provides ever more critical support to PLA aviation. And, secondly, China’s senior military leaders have come to believe their civilian assets will be key in a protracted conflict.

Threats in the Mideast Are Rising, CENTCOM Chief Says


From Chinese firms grabbing a larger share of regional arms sales to Iran’s nuclear efforts, the Middle East is becoming an increasingly challenging security environment, the U.S. general who oversees operations there said Thursday.

Chinese military exports have increased by 80 percent in a decade, said Gen. Michael Kurilla, who leads U.S. Central Command. In the Middle East, these sales have eaten into U.S. market share, said Kurilla, who put some of the blame on Pentagon red tape. While just five percent of U.S. foreign military sales “don’t go to plan,” Kurilla said, most of those cases are in the Middle East.

Chinese military sales representatives, by contrast, make things easy for buyers. They “open their entire catalog, they give them express shipping. They give them no end user agreement, and they give them financing,” Kurilla said, speaking at a hearing of the Senate Armed Forces Committee. “They’re much faster.”

Still, Kurilla said, U.S. partners would prefer to buy U.S. products for their quality and maintenance, adding that the “vast majority” of Chinese weapons are not fit for purpose a year or more after they’re acquired.

U.S. companies still dominate the Mideast arms market, accounting for 54 percent of imports between 2018 and 2022, according to the most recent global-arms report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. They also dominate the global market, accounting for 40 percent of world exports over the past five years. U.S. arms exports rose 14 percent over the past decade—including a 49 percent rise year-over-year rise in 2022, largely due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Threats from Iran have also increased in the last two years, Kurilla said, citing their progress on enriching uranium, their funding of proxy forces, and drone attacks on neighbors.

Why the China cyber threat demands an airtight public-private response

Tom Guarente

It may not be a household name to most Americans, but the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is vital to our national defense, responsible, in its own words, for leading “the national effort to understand, manage, and reduce risk to the cyber and physical infrastructure that Americans rely on every hour of every day.”

So, what did CISA’s director tell lawmakers about the cyber threat posed by China?

“This, I think, is the real threat that we need to be prepared for, and to focus on, and to build resilience against,” Jen Easterly told the Aspen Institute in Washington in June. “Given the formidable nature of the threat from Chinese state actors, given the size of their capability, given how much resources and effort they’re putting into it, it’s going to be very, very difficult for us to prevent disruptions from happening.”

Easterly is far from alone. On March 8, the five directors of the most senior intelligence agencies advised the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the Chinese Communist Party represents the leading threat to U.S. national security and leadership globally.

“China uses cyberattacks below the threshold of war to coerce its rivals,” according to a recent report by consulting firm Booz Allen. “For instance, it has targeted American critical infrastructure to deter U.S. involvement in Asia. China’s cyberattacks can affect government agencies, global corporations, and small businesses—either directly or via cascading risks.”

Indeed, the litany of infamous attacks linked to Chinese hackers reads like a greatest hits of cyber terrorism. They include the massive data breach at the federal Office of Personnel Management in 2015, the Equifax breach in 2017, an attack in 2021 on six state governments’ computer networks, and the theft of trillions in intellectual property from about 30 multinational companies.

The myth of a strong postwar Ukraine

George Beebe

No matter how the war ends, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has created the very outcome he most wanted to prevent: a thriving anti-Russian, pro-Western democracy, armed to the teeth with American weaponry, destined at a minimum to become a de facto ally of Washington, if not an official member of the NATO alliance.

Or so it is thought in Washington and other Western capitals. But, with the sole exception of Ukraine’s deepening and quite understandable revulsion toward Russia, it is much closer to wishful thinking than to reality.

Let’s begin with the “thriving” part, as it is the foundation upon which the other elements of this narrative rest. According to the last Soviet census, Ukraine had a population of nearly 52 million people prior to its independence in 1992. Its population dropped significantly over the next three decades, as the economic and psychological disruptions of the USSR’s dissolution combined to shorten life expectancy during the tumultuous 1990s, and Ukraine’s birthrate plunged to nearly the lowest in all Europe.

Factor in Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula with its 2.5 million inhabitants nearly a decade ago, and Ukraine’s population had declined to less than 40 million by 2022.

Since Russia’s invasion last year, Ukraine’s demographic outlook has worsened even more dramatically. Vast numbers of Ukraine’s citizens — mostly women and children — have fled the war for the European Union and Russia. Reputable demographers peg its current population at well under 30 million. The longer the war continues, the more losses Ukraine will suffer, and the greater will be the destruction of its cities, infrastructure, and arable land.

This mounting damage is likely to discourage many refugees from returning to Ukraine anytime soon. A European demographic study published last year indicated that by 2040, Ukraine’s working age population could fall by a third of its present size, with the number of children declining to half its pre-war level.

How NGAD Will Sense, Communicate, And Jam Could Be Revolutionary


The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy's race to develop and eventually deploy 6th generation manned tactical jets, as well as unmanned combat aircraft to go with them, has quickly risen to the top of the priority lists for both services. These aircraft will be packed with cutting-edge technologies and features. While tailless, extremely stealthy, and highly efficient airframes with long-range and large payload capacity are commonly discussed when speculating about these still secretive crewed designs, one element that doesn't get much interest but is arguably just as important, has to do with how they will sense, communicate, and jam.

This is a huge and complex topic for both service's next-generation air combat (NGAD) initiatives, but one development, in particular — packing all that functionality into single, increasingly powerful, and scalable arrays — has big implications.
Depiction of an NGAD-like manned tactical jet being refueled. (Lockheed Martin)

Don't just take my word for it. Even Secretary of Defense Austin surprisingly alluded to it in his remarks on U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy at the Shangri-La Dialogue last summer. This was a high-profile speech in which he gave mention to some of the most exciting technological developments that will help the U.S. and its allies maintain dominance in the Indo-Pacific, stating, in part:

"We're developing integrated sensors that operate at the intersection of cyber, EW [electronic warfare], and radar, communications."
Not Your Father's Radar Array

The Border Crisis That Wasn’t

Andrew Selee

Throughout the spring, observers across the political spectrum predicted a sudden surge in illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexican border. For more than a year, over 150,000 people—and often well over 200,000—had been arriving at the southern border each month, straining capacity throughout nearby communities and leaving many awaiting entry to the United States in perilous conditions in Mexico, where they were sometimes vulnerable to exploitation, robbery, and assault. But in May came the expiration of Title 42, a temporary COVID-19 policy that had allowed the U.S. government to expel migrants quickly back into Mexico. Even U.S. President Joe Biden, who had worked to quell mayhem at the border, predicted a sudden influx of migrants.

Instead, the opposite has happened. Far from devolving into chaos, the border has experienced an eerie quiet. In June, the average number of daily unauthorized crossings dropped from more than 6,000 a day over the prior twelve months to a mere 3,300. In fact, there were fewer unauthorized arrivals that month than at any point since February 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and shortly after Biden took office. Although the numbers have ticked up slightly in July to around 4,300 arrivals a day, they have remained far below the prior year’s average.

Much to Washington’s surprise, the Biden administration appears to have hit on a successful formula for managing dysfunction at the border—at least for now. The new migration policy is built around a three-part strategy: tightening enforcement at the U.S.-Mexican border, expanding legal pathways for entry, and vetting candidates for asylum and humanitarian protection in countries of origin rather than primarily at the border itself. This integrated approach marks a departure from the previous strategy of confining the entry decision-making process almost exclusively to the border. All three policy elements are at an embryonic stage, and more migrants could attempt to cross into the country in the coming months as the deadly summer heat at the border gives way to a cooler fall. But so far, in the crucial months following the end of Title 42, the Biden administration’s strategy appears to be working.

Back in the Trenches

Stephen Biddle

The war in Ukraine is being waged with a host of advanced technologies, from remotely operated drones to space-based surveillance, precision weapons, hypersonic missiles, handheld jammers, artificial intelligence, networked communications, and more. Many argue that this array is transforming warfare, with omnipresent surveillance combining with newly lethal weapons to make legacy systems such as the tank obsolete and to make traditional methods such as large-scale offensive action impractical. As the military analyst David Johnson has put it, “What I believe we are witnessing is a pivotal moment in military history: the reascendance of the defense as the decisive form of war.” Drones, artificial intelligence, and rapid adaptation of commercial technologies in Ukraine are creating “a genuine military revolution,” according to military strategist T. X. Hammes. Former Google chief executive and Pentagon adviser Eric Schmidt has argued that Ukraine is showing that “the future of war will be dictated and waged by drones.”

But in many ways, this war seems quite familiar. It features foot soldiers slogging through muddy trenches in scenes that look more like World War I than Star Wars. Its battlegrounds are littered with minefields that resemble those from World War II and feature moonscapes of shell holes that could be mistaken for Flanders in 1917. Conventional artillery has fired millions of unguided shells, so many as to strain the production capacity of the industrial bases in Russia and the West. Images of code writers developing military software accompany scenes of factory floors turning out mass conventional munitions that lack only Rosie the Riveter to pass for images from 1943.

This raises the question of how different this war truly is. How can such cutting-edge technology coexist with such echoes of the distant past? The answer is that although the tools in Ukraine are sometimes new, the results they produce are mostly not. Armies adapt to new threats, and the countermeasures that both sides have adopted in Ukraine have dramatically reduced the net effects of new weapons and equipment, resulting in a war that in many ways looks more like a conflict from the past than one from an imagined high-tech future. U.S. defense planners should understand that the war in Ukraine does not portend a “revolution in military affairs” of the kind that has often been predicted but somehow never quite arrives. Policymakers and analysts should closely study what is happening on the ground in Ukraine, but they should not expect their findings to produce transformational change in U.S. military strategy. Instead, as has often been the case in the past, the best path forward will involve incremental adaptations, not tectonic shifts.


Ukraine’s Slow-Moving Counteroffensive: Problems and Solutions

Hlib Parfonov

At the time of writing, Ukrainian forces had managed to reach the so-called “Surovikin Line” in a number of places. Ukrainian units finally managed to break through the Russian echeloned defensive lines in the area of Priyutnoye-Staromayorskoye-Novodonetske and now threaten to enter the operational zone in the direction of Tokmak. Another breakthrough happened in the Staromayorskoye-Staromlinovka-Orlinskoye direction, as the Russian defensive lines there had not been prepared in strict engineering terms. This will make it possible for Ukraine to successfully employ its operational reserve to reach the flank of the main grouping of Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army (T.me/growler_party, July 27).

Meanwhile, an unsuccessful push was observed in the Robotino area, which cost an entire battalion-tactical group from one of Ukraine’s armored brigades (T.me/lost_armour, July 31). In this, some analysts have posited that the notions of a “failed counteroffensive” are a matter of the West’s inflated expectations and accompanying political pressure (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, May 7). But beyond that, a number of considerations explain why the current Ukrainian counteroffensive has been so difficult and whether it will succeed in its current form.

To begin with, the level of effectiveness for Western aid to Ukraine needs to be evaluated. More than a year after the start of hostilities, a definitive positional stalemate materialized on the battlefield. And while Western military and technical assistance provided to Ukraine have played a significant role in helping the country retake the initiative, it has not been without its issues. The idea that such military assistance has been nothing but effective has become a sort of dogma. However, upon closer analysis, it becomes clear that some mistakes were made that could have been avoided. Despite political statements and numerous assurances from Western politicians, in general, the West’s aid to Ukraine can be characterized as “chaotic.” This is largely due to the fact that equipment is being provided in insufficient quantities and has not been standardized, which causes problems with logistics. Furthermore, due to some countries “dragging their feet,” much of the aid has not been given on time.

The Ukraine War Has Found the Machinery of Western Governments Wanting

Dr Jack Watling

While the provision of Western support to Ukraine has seen some notable successes, the slow pace of decision-making has made it more difficult to capitalise on Russian weaknesses.

There is a triumphalism to Western governments’ messaging over the war in Ukraine. As Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin told the UK’s House of Commons Defence Committee, Russia has expended about half of its combat power over the past 18 months, a result of Ukrainian bravery and the steady supply of arms by Ukraine’s international partners. US and UK intelligence successes in providing early warning of Russia’s intentions, combined with the unity and expansion of NATO, all contribute to a sense that Western defence establishments are not only doing what is right, but doing it well.

The upbeat narrative is partly justified. But the war in Ukraine has also highlighted significant deficiencies in the machinery of government across NATO capitals, and it is vital that these are corrected to ensure the readiness of the Alliance for future threats. The most glaring deficiency is the inability of Ukraine’s partners to appreciate the lead times between decisions and their desired effects.

This deficiency is being demonstrated at great cost in Ukraine’s current offensive. That Ukraine would need to be on the offensive by late 2022 was already acknowledged in assessments as early as April of that year. The capability requirements for such operations were becoming apparent from July, and reports to Western capitals were articulating clear training, equipment and support needs from September. Despite the requirements being known and understood, the decision to provide this support was not taken until January 2023, with the implementation of these decisions still in the process of being carried out.

Had the decision to equip and train Ukrainian forces been taken and implemented when the requirements were identified in the autumn, Ukraine would have had a much easier task in reclaiming its territory

Maintaining lasers for counter-drone protection can be a struggle in remote locations: Officials


A soldier tests a candidate for the Army’s Short-Range Reconnaissance (SRR) drone in 2020 (US Army)

SMD SYMPOSIUM — The US Army has discovered a new obstacle in its quest to use high-energy lasers to defend soldiers and installations against the growing threat of drones: some of the systems have proved difficult to maintain in remote locations.

“Lasers are complicated. This is not a Humvee that’s sitting in the motor pool,” Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, the head of US Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, told reporters here in Huntsville, Ala. “Many of the some of the main [laser] components… you’re not going to have a supply room or maintenance office full of repair parts. Those are going to be ones that are going to have to be built out.”

Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, the director of the Joint Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems Office, agreed. He told an audience here that of lasers as counter-drone systems, from a “training perspective and an organization perspective, things are proceeding relatively quickly… But it’s the sustaining aspect that we have to do better if we want to scale this across the force.”

To date, the Army has sent 10 kilowatt high-energy lasers to Africa Command (AFRICOM), Central Command (CENTCOM) and Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) for operational assessments, with plans to send a 20-kW platform to CENTCOM, Gainey said.

Gainey said, for instance, “We’ve had three or four systems in the AFRICOM [area of responsibility] and essentially it takes three to make one. [It’s] a consistent challenge.”

Karbler said that when the lasers stop working in spots like inside the AFRICOM, acquiring spare parts and finding someone with skills to fix it is a challenge.

Beyond The Pew

How the Niger coup unfolded

Vanda Felbab-Brown

This commentary is the first in a two-part series. In the first commentary, Vanda Felbab-Brown lays out how the coup in Niger has unfolded and, in response to Western and regional reactions, veered toward an anti-Western posture. In the second, she describes U.S. interests in Niger, and the range of scenarios ahead.

What started as an internally-driven coup in Niger on July 26, West Africa’s seventh in three years, has rapidly come to threaten Western interests. The fast post-coup developments mirror those in Mali and Burkina Faso and highlight the difficulty — and perhaps impossibility, in the short term anyway — of sustaining the West’s hard security and geostrategic interests and simultaneously its commitment to democracy in various parts of Africa.

How and why the coup unfolded

For over two years, tensions simmered between Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, and Abdourahamane “Omar” Tchiani, the head of the presidential guard that conducted the putsch, even though both were important actors in the presidency of Mahamadou Issoufou from 2011-2021.

Bazoum served as Issoufou’s foreign minister from 2011-16 and interior minister from 2016-2021. Tchiani headed the presidential guard during Issoufou’s entire decade in office. Although Tchiani is close to Issoufou, and Issoufou supported Bazoum’s candidacy, Tchiani never warmed to Bazoum. The brewing instability was also visible in a coup attempt in 2021 when Bazoum was about to be sworn in after winning the election.

Bazoum sought to diminish the Tchiani threat by supposedly preparing to fire Tchiani and by reducing the budget of the presidential guard. Simultaneously, Bazoum increased the military’s budget overall to counter the large terrorism threats Niger faces and to cultivate support elsewhere within the military. But Niger’s military threw its hat in with the putschists.

Western allies receive increasingly ‘sobering’ updates on Ukraine’s counteroffensive: ‘This is the most difficult time of the war

Jim Sciutto

Weeks into Ukraine’s highly anticipated counteroffensive, Western officials describe increasingly “sobering” assessments about Ukrainian forces’ ability to retake significant territory, four senior US and western officials briefed on the latest intelligence told CNN.

“They’re still going to see, for the next couple of weeks, if there is a chance of making some progress. But for them to really make progress that would change the balance of this conflict, I think, it’s extremely, highly unlikely,” a senior western diplomat told CNN.

“Our briefings are sobering. We’re reminded of the challenges they face,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat who recently returned from meetings in Europe with US commanders training Ukrainian armored forces. “This is the most difficult time of the war.”

The primary challenge for Ukrainian forces is the continued difficulty of breaking through Russia’s multi-layered defensive lines in the eastern and southern parts of the country, which are marked by tens of thousands of mines and vast networks of trenches. Ukrainian forces have incurred staggering losses there, leading Ukrainian commanders to hold back some units to regroup and reduce casualties.

“Russians have a number of defensive lines and they [Ukrainian forces] haven’t really gone through the first line,” said a senior Western diplomat. “Even if they would keep on fighting for the next several weeks, if they haven’t been able to make more breakthroughs throughout these last seven, eight weeks, what is the likelihood that they will suddenly, with more depleted forces, make them? Because the conditions are so hard.”

A senior US official said the US recognizes the difficulties Ukrainian forces are facing, though retains hope for renewed progress.

“We all recognize this is going harder and slower than anyone would like – including the Ukrainians – but we still believe there’s time and space for them to be able make progress,” this official said.

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.

How to fix the energy crisis


The West’s green-energy experiment has been a disaster. A headlong rush to embrace renewable energy, and to jettison nuclear and fossil fuels, has pushed up electricity prices and increased energy insecurity. But we needn’t despair. Things can be turned around, and relatively quickly.

The Canadian province of Ontario was once a cautionary tale for the green agenda. Ontario’s green nightmare began in 2009, when the ruling Liberal Party passed the Green Energy Act. Prior to this, Ontario’s energy was already relatively clean. It relied mostly on hydroelectric power, a renewable resource, and on nuclear power, which is carbon neutral. But climate activists were still not happy. And so they lobbied to have these clean, cheap and reliable sources of energy replaced with wind, solar and batteries.

The results were catastrophic. Between 2008 and 2016, electricity prices soared by 71 per cent, vastly outpacing price increases in other provinces. Plus, the sweetheart deals the government negotiated with wind and solar suppliers ended up costing taxpayers a whopping 60 billion Canadian dollars.

By the time the 2018 provincial elections came around, Ontarians had had enough. Voters handed the Liberal Party its most comprehensive and humiliating defeat in its 161-year history, reducing it to third place. The populist government that followed, led by Doug Ford of the Progressive Conservative party, wasted no time in dismantling the green-energy policy, passing the Green Energy Repeal Act later that year. Reliability and affordability would be the new watchwords for energy policy going forward.

How to Remove Your Info From Google With the 'Results About You' Tool


IN 2022, GOOGLE launched the “Results about you” tool to help people remove personal info from the company’s search results. With billions of searches happening daily on Google, finding your private phone number or home address indexed for the world to see can be quite shocking. Luckily, new updates to “Results about you” make it easier to discover when your data pops up in Search.

Previously, you had to proactively find the links of sites hosting your personal data to report and request the removal of identifiable information. Now, you’ll be able to set up alerts for whenever your email, home address, or phone number appear on Google. At first, this update will only be available in the US and scan for results just in English.

“Results about you” is accessible in your browser or through the mobile app. For browsers, log into Google or create an account, then visit this webpage to get started. If you’re using the app (Android, Apple), tap on your profile icon, then select the option from the menu.

After the update fully rolls out, here’s where you’ll find tabs labeled Results to review and Reviewed. Input the personal data you’d like to be notified about if it appears in Search, and results containing that info will appear in the “Results to review” section. The mobile app can send you a push notification when new results are added.

Google’s “Results about you” tool is currently in beta. COURTESY OF GOOGLE

For more detailed directions about what info you’ll need in order to submit the removal request to Google, check out my article that steps you through the complete process. Once your request is submitted, use the “Results about you” tool to track whether the request is in progress, approved, or denied. Here’s three things worth keeping in mind:This is just a request. The people at Google reviewing your request could decide to do nothing, remove the result when associated with your name, or completely remove the result.

Some of the other personal info that you can request for removal includes social security numbers, credit cards, handwritten signatures, medical records, and login credentials.

AI Is Building Highly Effective Antibodies That Humans Can’t Even Imagine


AT AN OLD biscuit factory in South London, giant mixers and industrial ovens have been replaced by robotic arms, incubators, and DNA sequencing machines. James Field and his company LabGenius aren’t making sweet treats; they’re cooking up a revolutionary, AI-powered approach to engineering new medical antibodies.

In nature, antibodies are the body’s response to disease and serve as the immune system’s front-line troops. They’re strands of protein that are specially shaped to stick to foreign invaders so that they can be flushed from the system. Since the 1980s, pharmaceutical companies have been making synthetic antibodies to treat diseases like cancer, and to reduce the chance of transplanted organs being rejected.

But designing these antibodies is a slow process for humans—protein designers must wade through the millions of potential combinations of amino acids to find the ones that will fold together in exactly the right way, and then test them all experimentally, tweaking some variables to improve some characteristics of the treatment while hoping that doesn’t make it worse in other ways. “If you want to create a new therapeutic antibody, somewhere in this infinite space of potential molecules sits the molecule you want to find,” says Field, the founder and CEO of LabGenius.

He started the company in 2012 when, while studying for a PhD in synthetic biology at Imperial College London, he saw the costs of DNA sequencing, computation, and robotics all coming down. LabGenius makes use of all three to largely automate the antibody discovery process. At the lab in Bermondsey, a machine learning algorithm designs antibodies to target specific diseases, and then automated robotic systems build and grow them in the lab, run tests, and feed the data back into the algorithm, all with limited human supervision. There are rooms for culturing diseased cells, growing antibodies, and sequencing their DNA: Technicians in lab coats prepare samples and tap away at computers as machines whir in the background.

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:

Bad news about that miracle superconductor

Tim Fernholz

The soaring hopes of physics fans (and the enthusiastic bandwagoning of the too-online venture capital community) are about to be disappointed: A miracle metal probably isn’t.

In recent weeks, there’s been a scientific fuss about superconductors—special materials that can conduct electricity without resistance at ultra-low temperatures. A group of South Korean scientists claimed that a special material they created, dubbed LK-99, was not only a superconductor, but could do so at room temperature and pressure, which would be a Nobel-prize level development in physics and could allow for breakthroughs across fields from energy storage to quantum computing.

Despite the excitement, scientists have been suspicious due to the hectic roll-out of the findings by the scientists involved, some strange data, and a history of fraudulent and premature claims of similar discoveries.
Is LK-99 superconductive?

A rush to recreate the material—a combination of lead, copper, oxygen, and phosphorus—and test its properties ensued in laboratories around the world. And now we can say with some certainty that whatever LK-99 is, it’s probably not a superconductor. That conclusion was reached by a committee of South Korean researchers who reviewed the LK-99 team’s published data. A preliminary study in India did not find evidence of superconductivity, and preliminary papers from Chinese researchers who replicated the material say they didn’t discover zero resistance to electrical current at room temperature. Scientists in the UK didn’t find superconductivity in their sample, and neither did an international team (pdf) including scientists at Princeton University.

The fun things you can do if you point a satellite's camera anywhere but at the Earth

Tim Fernholz

The point of putting a sensor in space is to gather data about the Earth—that’s where everybody is, it’s where all the money is, and so there is an industry of companies whose satellites are imaging the Earth in various ways.

As space becomes more economically important, and with the number of satellites rapidly increasing, there’s a lot more interest in pointing those sensors away from the planet below—at other spacecraft, at debris in orbit, at potentially dangerous asteroids, even at the Moon. You may have noticed that you rarely see a picture of a spacecraft in orbit—it’s either an image from the factory floor, or a computer rendering. That’s about to change.

Maxar, a corporate descendent of the first private Earth observation company that was taken private by Advent International earlier this year, is rolling out a new business line called non-Earth imagery, or NEI, doing exactly that. The company has offered the service to the US government for several years, but only obtained a license from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to sell the imagery to private buyers and allied governments in August 2022.

Traditionally, the US hasn’t allowed companies to collect imagery of spacecraft, so that it can hide the designs and capabilities of its own satellites from potential rivals. But in a world where Russia and China are capable of sending inspection satellites to check out American spacecraft, it doesn’t make much sense to hold back the industry anymore. Now, in an effort to leverage the advances made by the private space sector, the US government is rolling back restrictions on all kinds of precision sensors in space. Besides being able to take pictures of other spacecraft, NOAA has now lifted restrictions on things like high-resolution space radar imagery.

Unmasking hypnotized AI: The hidden risks of large language models

Chenta Lee

The emergence of Large Language Models (LLMs) is redefining how cybersecurity teams and cybercriminals operate. As security teams leverage the capabilities of generative AI to bring more simplicity and speed into their operations, it’s important we recognize that cybercriminals are seeking the same benefits. LLMs are a new type of attack surface poised to make certain types of attacks easier, more cost-effective, and even more persistent.

In a bid to explore security risks posed by these innovations, we attempted to hypnotize popular LLMs to determine the extent to which they were able to deliver directed, incorrect and potentially risky responses and recommendations — including security actions — and how persuasive or persistent they were in doing so. We were able to successfully hypnotize five LLMs — some performing more persuasively than others — prompting us to examine how likely it is that hypnosis is used to carry out malicious attacks. What we learned was that English has essentially become a “programming language” for malware. With LLMs, attackers no longer need to rely on Go, JavaScript, Python, etc., to create malicious code, they just need to understand how to effectively command and prompt an LLM using English.

Our ability to hypnotize LLMs through natural language demonstrates the ease with which a threat actor can get an LLM to offer bad advice without carrying out a massive data poisoning attack. In the classic sense, data poisoning would require that a threat actor inject malicious data into the LLM in order to manipulate and control it, but our experiment shows that it’s possible to control an LLM, getting it to provide bad guidance to users, without data manipulation being a requirement. This makes it all the easier for attackers to exploit this emerging attack surface.

Through hypnosis, we were able to get LLMs to leak confidential financial information of other users, create vulnerable code, create malicious code, and offer weak security recommendations. In this blog, we will detail how we were able to hypnotize LLMs and what types of actions we were able to manipulate. But before diving into our experiment, it’s worth looking at whether attacks executed through hypnosis could have a substantial effect today.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Web3: How are they Connected?

Arham Islam

Simply put, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of machines to do functions that we usually associate with a human mind – for example, doing a reasoning task, solving a mathematics problem, stock market trading, and much more. At its core, AI combines computer science with robust datasets to enable problem-solving.

Since its inception, AI has had many cycles of hype, but the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last year has taken the excitement and anticipation of AI to new heights, marking a significant milestone, particularly in the field of Natural Language Processing. Furthermore, generative models have proven their adaptability beyond language, showcasing the capacity to learn the grammar of diverse data types such as software code, molecules, natural images, and more.

The applications of AI are evolving day by day, and in this article, we will discuss its role and use cases in Web3.
What is Web3?

Web3 is defined as a series of inter-connected and open-source applications. Powered by the blockchain computing architecture, these applications are decentralized, enabling trust and transparency where data and transactions are secured and distributed across a network of nodes, eliminating the need for central authorities or intermediaries.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Software Development

Jamie Boote

Since its debut towards the end of 2022, ChatGPT has taken the world by storm, sparking the imagination of future-minded individuals as well as those more risk-averse among us. With it, important discussions have emerged around artificial intelligence (AI) as a whole – its beneficial applications, negative repercussions and ethical considerations. The technology will undoubtedly be revolutionary for all industries, notably software development.

AI will change how information is generated from, flows through, and is acted upon in the software development lifecycle. This increased information flow and visibility could make software development far more reactive and integrated than it already is. Instead of a line of code taking two weeks to become a tested and releasable feature, the accelerations and efficiencies provided by such smart tooling could take that time down to a day for an average development team. Indeed, a developer today might write a piece of code that is then committed back into their tool chain. That commit is bundled with the rest of a release and tested with lightweight automated tools for correctness and functionality before being sent to a quality assurance (QA) tester, who might get to those tests in a few days. If the tests pass, it goes to the next step towards release. If not, it is sent back for rework and resolved a couple of days later. Using AI to generate a QA test case and fix the code in case of failure could, however, eliminate that rework loop and trim days from that single step.

Moreover, AI can supplement some of the work of human developers, architects, or QA testers. For instance, developers could interrogate an AI tool trained on industry best practices, regulatory requirements and articles to create a list of security requirements they must meet when designing new systems or software. Equally, AI could be leveraged to generate use cases that exercise the functionality described in the security requirements for quality assurance testing purposes.

Future wars will turn on space-cyber-special operations triad: Army SOF chief


Commercial space communications, cyber effects, and influence operations are key to preventing or winning conflicts, Lt. Gen. John Braga, who leads U.S. Army Special Operations Command, said Tuesday. The United States must continue to develop each of those capabilities—and joint concepts for deploying them together—a concept modeled partially off of Ukraine, he said.

With news of high casualties emerging from areas like the Donbas, another statistic has escaped public attention, Braga said.

“Sixteen thousand Russian soldiers have deserted. Sixteen thousand have been taken off the battlefield without having to expend kinetic rounds. That's probably a combination of effects," he said during the Space Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama. "I would suggest that have been assisted by space capability, cyber capability, human capability, and just old-school information operations there.”

“The importance of information ops, I think, it's the most important lesson learned from Ukraine right now. And it does apply to Taiwan or the INDOPACOM scenario,” he said, referring to the effort to deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

As the U.S. military has shifted away from the Middle East to counter China and Russia, U.S. special operations forces have begun to emphasize the role of rapid access to data and asymmetrical capabilities like drones and cyber effects. Braga said the war in Ukraine illustrates what those capabilities look like when they are employed as part of a coordinated effort, with each leg of the triad providing support to the overall structure. And the United States is not alone in reaching that realization.

Why DoD Needs Greater Focus on Non-Lethal Weapons, Intermediate Force Capabilities

Scott Savitz 

Non-lethal weapons (NLWs) can play a critical role in military operations. Diverse systems that emit long-range sounds, create dazzling glare, disable engines, entangle propellers or cause heating sensations can enable mission success in a variety of non-combat contexts. When facing gray-zone confrontations with rival powers, such as standoffs at sea, non-lethal capabilities can push back against an encroaching force while managing the risk of escalation.

When individuals with unclear intent and capabilities are approaching military forces in urban areas, employing NLWs in a continuum of force can help to minimize the risk of either permanently harming civilians or responding too late to a potential attack.

NLWs can also help to protect overseas bases while minimizing the risks to local civilians. In some cases, these weapons can even play a role in full-scale combat. Disorienting weapons that operate at the speed of light or speed of sound – such as laser dazzlers or long-range acoustic hailers—can be valuable complements to more lethal systems that are less responsive. Moreover, intense, unexpected stimuli can unnerve military personnel in ways that cause them to flee the battlefield.

The effects of these systems, and their impact on overall military capabilities, are often underestimated or misunderstood.

In a recent RAND study, we linked activities that employ NLWs with direct outputs, higher-level outcomes and the strategic goals of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). We also provided an array of metrics that could be used to evaluate the impact of these weapons at multiple levels, which we explored in diverse vignettes.

In our just-published second study, we explored how NLWs relate to three other non-kinetic capabilities:information operations (IO),
electronic warfare (EW), and
cyber defense.