14 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.

The military establishment now seems likely to prevail. Pakistan has never been a full democracy; the military ruled directly for decades and has retained a say in policymaking with a civilian government in power. Intelligence officials have influenced political parties and judges and manipulated elections. But a recent crackdown, which began after some of Khan’s supporters attacked military facilities after his initial arrest on May 9, has muzzled critics and left even less room for civil liberties. Dozens of opposition activists have been detained; PTI claims that the arrests number in the thousands.

As Pakistan’s traditional political parties join the generals in cornering Khan, the country is left with no major force calling for unadulterated democracy. The military says it is not involved in politics, but politicians are still pursuing the generals’ approval. And Khan himself is hardly a democracy advocate. For more than a year, he has fought the military, not to transform Pakistan’s political system but to pressure the generals into supporting his return to power. With politicians vying to secure the military’s backing instead of asserting civilian supremacy under the constitution, Pakistan seems fated to hybrid rule—if not outright military dominance.

The World Has No Choice But to Work With the Taliban

Graeme Smith and Ibraheem Bahiss

It has been two years since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan. But earlier this summer, in a government office in Kabul overlooking a well-tended garden, a mid-level Taliban official lamented that the country remains locked in a political standoff. Regional and Western actors cannot agree about how to deal with the Taliban, he complained; even after the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan, the West is still fighting a culture war. The United States and its allies want the Taliban to lift their restrictions on women’s rights, but the Taliban will not accept what they see as a feminist agenda.

Governments from Beijing to Washington, meanwhile, have demanded that the Taliban form an inclusive government. At peace talks in Doha before August 2021, Taliban representatives offered to share power with opposing Afghan factions for the sake of ending conflict. But since winning the war, they have reserved the right to exclude politicians not in the Taliban from the cabinet. Taliban leaders complain that “inclusivity” is little more than a vague talking point that could mean anything from broader participation in governance (which they are willing to consider, at least for men) to inclusion of political figures from the defeated government (which they are not).

And so Afghanistan remains at an impasse, with no realistic pathway for the government to shake off its pariah status, escape sanctions, and take a seat at the United Nations. The Taliban refuse compromises that undermine their standing with core supporters and, in their view, corrupt their moral values. For their part, Western officials argue that it would be against their own values, and politically damaging, to accredit diplomats from a regime that so flagrantly discriminates against women. Even sending a U.S. envoy to Kabul remains a controversial idea in Washington, and the Biden administration has refrained from doing so. Formal diplomatic recognition of the Taliban could take years, if it ever happens.

These years cannot be wasted. Sanctions, asset freezes, and other economic restrictions that isolate Afghanistan have crippled its chances of recovering from an economic crisis that, for the last two years, the United Nations has called the world’s largest humanitarian disaster. Banking, aviation, and other critical sectors are hobbled. More than half the country’s people cannot satisfy their basic household needs. Pledges of humanitarian aid have fallen as donors turn away.

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.

From information war to emerging tech: new IC strategy centers ‘competition’ with China, Russia


WASHINGTON — Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Thursday released the 2023 National Intelligence Strategy (NIS), focusing on “strategic competition” with China and Russia across the economic, political and military spheres — and calling on the Intelligence Community to up its game on everything from information warfare to supply chain control to rapid adoption of emerging technologies.

“The United States faces an increasingly complex and interconnected threat environment characterized by strategic competition between the United States, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the Russian Federation, felt perhaps most immediately in Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine. In addition to states, sub-national and non-state actors—from multinational corporations to transnational social movements—are increasingly able to create influence, compete for information, and secure or deny political and security outcomes, which provides opportunities for new partnerships as well as new challenges to U.S. interests,” Haines writes in a forward to the document.

“In addition, shared global challenges, including climate change, human and health security, as well as emerging and disruptive technological advances, are converging in ways that produce significant consequences that are often difficult to predict,” she added.

The NIS “is a foundational document for the IC and reflects the input of leaders from each of the 18 intelligence elements, as it directs the operations, investments, and priorities of the collective,” explains the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in a press release announcing the new strategy.

Besides the usual three-letter IC agiencis, those 18 organizations include the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the intelligence arms of the military service, with the most recent addition being the Space Force in early 2021.

China’s game of Ukrainian chess


Last weekend, Saudi Arabia hosted a two-day summit in Jeddah dedicated to ending the war in Ukraine. Nearly 40 countries attended, including the United States, India, and dozens across Europe. But it was the presence of one nation that raised expectations for a breakthrough – China.

Because China had rejected a similar meeting in Copenhagen in late June, many interpreted its participation this time as evidence Beijing was ready to play a more active role. But an examination of the context surrounding the Jeddah summit suggests a different motivation for China’s involvement. Simply put, peace wasn’t Beijing’s primary concern.

Since the beginning of the Ukraine war in February 2022, Beijing has avoided anything that would compromise its neutrality or force it explicitly to take a side. This principle of neutrality made it impossible for China to attend the June meeting, given that Denmark is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Although NATO isn’t directly at war with Russia, its military support to Ukraine gives the Kremlin ammunition to claim NATO involvement. For China, attending the Copenhagen meeting without Russian participation would have tarnished Beijing’s image of objectivity.

By comparison, Saudi Arabia, one of the leading middle powers in the Global South, was a more acceptable host from the Chinese perspective.

Saudi Arabia has voted in favor of several UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia and demanding an end to the war. But it also abstained from a 2022 vote to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, and the two countries have been on a more coordinated path recently over oil production and global crude-oil supply.

This more nuanced position has made the kingdom a more natural partner for Beijing.

China's tech chiefs fear falling 'five generations behind' US as democracies tighten screws

Joel Gehrke, Foreign Affairs Reporter

China's microchip companies could fall “at least five generations behind” their U.S. rivals due to President Joe Biden's export controls on semiconductor technology, a top fear for Chinese executives.

“The U.S.’s true intention ... [is] to fix China’s chipmaking on 28-nanometre, at least five generations behind the global leading edge of 3-nm to 14-nm,” Gerald Yin, the CEO of Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment, China, or AMEC, told a trade industry conference this week, according to the South China Morning Post. “We can’t accept [this].”

Yin’s anxiety stems from a restriction unveiled by U.S. officials last October, when the Commerce Department published an array of new rules curtailing Chinese access to U.S. semiconductors. Those regulations were buttressed by a pact with Japan and the Netherlands, which dominate the market for semiconductor manufacturing equipment, with the growing distrust between U.S. and Chinese officials driving an intense technology competition.

A worker checks the display panel showing a computer chip and the Chinese words for "Independence" at the booth for Chinese supercomputer manufacturer Sugon during the World AI Conference in Shanghai, Wednesday, July 5, 2023. China's government appealed to Japan on Monday, July 24, not to disrupt the semiconductor industry after curbs on exports of Japanese chip-making technology took effect, adding to technology restrictions Washington and its allies have imposed on China on security grounds.

Ng Han Guan/AP

“The United States, out of its motive to maintain unipolar hegemony, is unwilling to see the development and revitalization of China and other emerging countries,” Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party’s top diplomat, said Friday in Singapore. “It tears away the pretense of fair competition and coerces other countries into unilateral protectionism against China.”

China, Lawfare, and the Contest for Control of Low Earth Orbit

Glenn Chafetz and Xavier Ortiz

People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force officers Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui Wang argued in their 1999 book, “Unrestricted Warfare,” that to win a war with the United States, China must mass its intelligence, economic, and political resources where U.S. defenses were weakest: its private sector. The book today reads like a plan for the past two decades of non-military warfare waged against the Western private sector by Beijing and its business surrogates.

The U.S. government and its allies have recently shown increasing concern about the broad scope of the China’s intellectual property (IP) theft and critical infrastructure attacks. However, Western businesses remain vulnerable, and even largely unaware of the threats they face. Moreover, democratic governments seem incapable of mounting an effective response. The following case study from the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite industry illustrates both the problem and the difficulty of finding solutions.

Our analysis begins with a summary of LEO satellites’ value and a review of the PRC interest. The study then illustrates the methods that the PRC employs to achieve its stated goals: deception, predatory investment, intimidation, and lawfare. We conclude with recommendations for how democratic governments can help deter and mitigate these kinds of attacks.

Why LEO Satellites?

Commercially, LEO satellites offer affordable, global access to high-capacity internet. Militarily, such satellite provide improved abilities in intelligence, tracking, and warning; communications; navigation; ground support, and command and control. Until recently, the cost and technical constraints required to launch the thousands of small satellites needed for a LEO “mega-constellation” prohibited any serious effort. However, advances in onboard computing and the commoditization of hardware components allow manufacturers to build and launch LEO satellites much more quickly and cheaply, and to operate them more easily than higher orbiting satellites. A LEO mega-constellation is therefore also much more resilient than a higher orbiting, more expensive, more capable, single satellite. Such groupings render current anti-satellite weaponry cost ineffective, because destroying even multiple LEO satellites does not degrade the function of the system.

Since the Pelosi Visit, China Has Created a New Normal in the Taiwan Strait

Adrian Ang U-Jin and Olli Pekka Suorsa

A Chinese J-11 military fighter jet flies above the Taiwan Strait near Pingtan, the closest land of mainland China to the island of Taiwan, in southeastern China’s Fujian Province on Aug. 5, 2022.Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File

It has been a year since then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taiwan, despite China’s protests and threats of retaliation. Pelosi marked the anniversary of the visit by issuing a statement reiterating her “solidarity” with the people of Taiwan and calling Beijing’s approach to the self-governed island “cowardly.”

As we noted in these pages a year ago, Pelosi’s visit resulted in tensions in the Taiwan Strait not seen in three decades – a veritable Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis – with Beijing imposing sanctions, initiating cyberattacks, launching large-sortie incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and across the Median Line of the Taiwan Strait, firing ballistic missiles over the island, and conducting “encircling” drills around the island.

In this article we assess the changes that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has instituted regarding aerial incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ since the Pelosi visit.

The Nullification of the Median Line

Prior to Pelosi’s visit (and since Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense began making data on PLA aerial incursions into the island’s ADIZ publicly available, beginning in mid-September 2020) only two out of the 466 recorded PLA incursions involved the PLA flying sorties across the Median Line of the Taiwan Strait. Both line incursions came in response to a visit to Taiwan by U.S. Undersecretary of State Keith Krach.

On September 18, 2020, when Krach held a day of closed-door meetings with Taiwanese ministers and dined with President Tsai Ing-wen, the PLA dispatched 12 aircraft across the Median Line, and another six into the southwestern ADIZ. The next day, as Krach attended the memorial service for former President Lee Teng-hui alongside Tsai, the PLA followed up with an eight-aircaft sortie across the Median Line, with another seven aircraft entering the southwestern ADIZ.

A security pact with Saudi Arabia would be a disaster for US interests

Daniel Larison

As the Biden administration continues to pursue a normalization deal with Israel and Saudi Arabia, supporters of a U.S. security guarantee for the Saudis have started making their case in public.

The Israeli foreign minister, Eli Cohen, took to the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal earlier this week to sell a U.S. defense commitment to Riyadh as “the foundation upon which true regional harmony can be built” and used the example of Washington’s treaty with South Korea as a model.

A new formal security commitment is one of the biggest Saudi demands as part of their steep price for normalizing relations with Israel, and recent reports suggest that the Biden administration is seriously entertaining the idea.

President Biden should shut this down now. The U.S. does not need and cannot afford any additional security commitments. It certainly shouldn’t be pledging to send its soldiers to fight on behalf of a despotic monarchy that has been waging an aggressive war against its poorer neighbor for most of the last ten years. The U.S. has already put its military personnel in harm’s way too many times on behalf of the Saudis, and there should be no guarantee to do so in the future.

A formal defense commitment to Saudi Arabia is unacceptable and contrary to U.S. interests, and it is far too large of a bribe to give Riyadh just so that it will establish relations with Israel.

The case for a U.S. commitment to fight for the Saudis is weak on the merits. The U.S. does not have vital interests at stake that would warrant making a pledge to defend the kingdom. It is also unnecessary. Iran isn’t about to invade or even attack Saudi Arabia. Aside from the strikes on the ARAMCO facility at Abqaiq in 2019, which were themselves a reaction to the Trump administration’s economic war, Iran and Saudi Arabia have no history of direct clashes.

The Road Map To Sino-US Cyber Cooperation Requires Both Nations To Look In The Mirror

Earl Carr

The United States often poses itself as a champion of international cybersecurity despite its extensive record of transgressions in the realm of cyber-attacks and surveillance, according to which some would even proclaim the nation a global adversary. Concurrently, China’s involvement in intentional cyber-attacks targeting vital American infrastructure and cyberspace remains increasingly prominent. The hacking entity "Stone Panda," and most recently in June Chinese intelligence hacked into MicrosoftMSFT -0.6% email accounts belonging to two dozen government agencies, including the State Department, in the U.S. and Western Europe in a “significant” breach, according to Microsoft and U.S. national security officials. Both the United States and China have employed their cyber capabilities to mutually challenge each other within the realm of international cyberspace. The US and China need to communicate in order to mitigate cyber conflicts which can lead to fostering improved cooperation in the sphere of cybersecurity to target global criminal syndicates which would be in best interest of both countries and the global community.

Manipulating Public Opinion

In the past few decades, the U.S. has developed a sophisticated mechanism to exert its soft power on the rest of the world. The country remains the leading voice in many regional and international alliances, and it is home to many of the most widely-known news and media companies in the world. The strength of U.S. soft power was evident during the cold war era, but now with the rise of China and the competition it presents as a potential global leader, each nation is vying to get its narrative out.

Sure Sounds Like Germany Is Giving Ukraine the Mighty Taurus Cruise Missile


On Monday, a Ukrainian diplomat suggested “key parliamentary factions”—including those in Scholz’s own SPD party—have reached a “consensus” in support of transferring some of Germany’s KEPD-350 Taurus stealth cruise missiles to Ukraine to aid in its struggle against invading Russian forces. Ukraine first formally requested the air-launched German-Swedish weapon in May.

Until now, the administration of Chancellor Olaf Scholz has opposed giving long-range strike weapons to Ukraine on the grounds they could be used to strike targets deep inside Russian territory, potentially leading to dangerous escalation.

One MP from the SPD, Andreas Schwarz, is public in his support for Taurus. And the MP speaking on behalf of the SPD’s foreign-policy group, Nils Schmid, said he wouldn’t “rule out the possibility” on condition such transfers were in concert with the United States.

But such a transfer would be Scholz’s decision to make with council from the Ministry of Defense—and he and defense minister Boris Pistorius have yet to indicate a change in their policy. Only last week, Pistorius stated that “the time for us to make a decision has not yet come,” and that these weapons were “not our top priority.”

Time will tell whether shifting political winds affect Scholz’s stance—and if they do, how soon that change occurs.

The KEPD-350 is broadly comparable to the Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG stealth cruise missile developed jointly by the UK and France, which began supplying Storm Shadows to Ukraine in spring and summer, breaking the taboo on long-range weapon transfers.
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How Much Firepower Does Russia Have Left?


Some 200,000 people are thought to have been killed in fighting between Russia and Ukraine since February 24, 2022, when President Vladimir Putin opened the latest—and perhaps final—chapter of Moscow's 30-year effort to hinder Kyiv's westward drift and regenerate a neo-imperial sphere of influence.

Putin's military gambit has not gone to plan. The stunning failure of Russia's thunder run on Kyiv in the early days and weeks of the invasion proved a harbinger of Moscow's battlefield struggles. The demands of large-scale, mechanized, 21st century warfare pulled back the veil on Russia's supposedly modernized force, illuminating the kind of corruption and incompetence that have hamstrung Moscow's militaries for years.

Against the odds, Ukraine has survived. Kyiv has been able to liberate around 50 percent of the territory seized by Kremlin forces since February 2022, and has its eyes set on Crimea and the areas of the Donbas region occupied since 2014.

But for all the pain Ukraine's resolute defenders have inflicted on the Russian invaders, Moscow's war goes on. The slow and costly nature of Kyiv's ongoing counteroffensive speaks to the resolve of the Russian military, even after suffering staggering losses. Putin, meanwhile, shows no sign of backing down. Europe's largest conflict since World War II has become a war of attrition.

Russia's initial invasion force numbered around 190,000 troops. Many of those have now been killed, captured, or wounded so badly they can never return to the battlefield. Pentagon documents leaked earlier this year estimated 189,500 to 223,000 Russian casualties as of February, including as many as 43,000 killed.

That number will be higher after another six months of fighting, and Kyiv claims to have "liquidated" 251,620 Russian personnel since February 2022. Newsweek has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry by email to request comment.

Satellite images reveal Russia is running out of tanks

Nataliya Vasilyeva

The open-air depot in remote Buryatia, in eastern Siberia, pictured in 2023, has lost about 40 per cent of the tanks and armoured vehicles it had previously been housing CREDIT: Google Earth

Russia has cleared out over a third of the Soviet-era vehicles held at its largest known military storage facility since the start of the Ukraine invasion.

Satellite images show that an open-air depot in remote Buryatia, in eastern Siberia, has lost about 40 per cent of the tanks and armoured vehicles it had previously been housing.

Publicly available images dating from about five months before Russian troops crossed into Ukraine in February 2022 showed about 3,840 Soviet-era vehicles at the Vagzhanovo facility. By November, only 2,600 vehicles appeared to remain at the massive site that covers around four square miles.

Russia has reportedly started to re-import parts for tanks and missiles previously sold to India and Myanmar in an apparent attempt to upgrade older vehicles, such as those stored in Buryatia, before sending them to fight in Ukraine.

Under the rules of the Russian military, different types of weaponry and vehicles are supposed to be stored at different facilities, ranging from specialist warehouses with heating and ventilation to unheated hangars and outdoor holding areas. Typically, the oldest, less valuable types of weapons are stored outside.

Uralvagonzavod, Russia’s only tank factory that has also been manufacturing train cars, buses and metro carriages, said at the end of June it had stopped all non-military output to focus solely on the production of tanks.

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and now one of the top officials in charge of the military output, suggested in March that Russia will start producing 1,500 tanks a year.

Ukrainian troops launch surprise raid across Dnipro River and break through some of Russia’s defences

Chris Stevenson

Ukrainian forces broke through Russia’s defensive lines after launching a surprise raid across the Dnipro River.

The river divides liberated Ukrainian territory on one bank and Russian-occupied land on the other, and for months it has served as part of the front line in southern Ukraine.

Russian military bloggers said that up to seven boats, each carrying up to six troops, arrived on the Russian-occupied bank, apparently under the cover of darkness, and advanced 800m. Blogger Trinadtsatyi, posting on the Telegram messaging app to more than 150,000 followers, said a number of Russian soldiers were allegedly killed or taken captive during the raid. Images circulating on social media appeared to show captured soldiers.

Monitors of Russia's invasion said there were clear signs of a major battle. The Russian-imposed head of the occupied part of the Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, claimed the Ukrainian raid had been repelled. But the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) – which tracks movements on the battlefield – said the “limited raid” appeared partially successful. And that while Russian forces appeared to have partly pushed back Ukrainian troops, the ISW said “Saldo was likely purposefully trying to refute claims of Ukrainian presence in this area to avoid creating panic”.

The ISW said of the raid: “The majority of prominent Russian [military bloggers] claimed that Ukrainian forces managed to utilise tactical surprise and land on the east bank before engaging Russian forces in small arms exchanges”.

“Data from the past 24 hours in this area appear to confirm that there was significant combat, likely preceded or accompanied by artillery fire,” the ISW added.

Putin’s Crumbling Narrative: Too Many Obituaries and Home-front Attacks

Col. (Ret.) Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth

Repeated Ukrainian drone attacks in and near the Russian capital of Moscow and cruise missile strikes against bridges connecting the Crimean Peninsula to the Ukrainian and Russian mainland are undermining the Kremlin narrative of success in the war with Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin’s propagandist, Olga Skabeyeva, did not help matters much when she announced on her television show last week that “284,000 obituaries” of soldiers were found on Russian social media, acknowledging, “These numbers frighten and shock me.” If accurate, that number exceeds Ukrainian estimates of Russians killed in action — considered by many as grossly inflated — by nearly 34,000. Shockingly, Skabeyeva says there could be far more.

Innovative, adaptive, and extraordinarily resourceful, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his generals are taking the fight to Putin — in Russia, in Crimea, and in the Black Sea. These strikes are largely being conducted without the use of U.S.-made weapons.

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby reminded Kyiv of Washington’s policy in June. He told reporters, “We have made our concerns about strikes inside Russia very clear to Ukrainian officials, they have acknowledged that we have, and they have assured us that they won't use U.S.-made equipment to strike inside Russia. We don't want to see the war escalate and there are no apologies for that.”

However, as Putin is finding out, Ukraine will not be told how to fight this war. While adhering to the U.S. policy of “no strikes inside Russia” using American weapons, Kyiv is making use of innovation and assistance from European partners who are “determined to help Ukraine win an unambiguous victory” to nonetheless take the fight to Russia.

This is forcing Ukraine to fight with the army they have. Without close air support, engineering assets to counter anti-personnel and anti-tank minefields, and limited deep strike capabilities, U.S. and NATO tactics have been mostly unsuccessful. These missing ingredients to a combined-arms offensive are forcing Ukraine to alter their tactics away from NATO doctrine.

Sweden Is Not Staying Neutral in Russia’s Information War

Steven Lee Myers

Facing a tsunami of disinformation about the treatment of Muslims that has in recent months fueled protests from Stockholm to Baghdad, Sweden decided it needed to fight back.

It turned to the Psychological Defense Agency, a part of the Ministry of Defense that its government created last year. The agency has become the first line of defense for a country facing a sustained information attack from abroad.

The country’s leaders are borrowing from an old Cold War strategy to steel the country’s 10 million people for the possibility of “total war” with the Soviet Union. Today’s main threat — though not the only one — is the Soviet Union’s successor state, Russia. According to the agency’s officials, the Kremlin has targeted Sweden with a concerted online campaign on social media and elsewhere to discredit the country and undermine its bid to join the NATO alliance.

After working quietly behind the scenes, the agency has now explicitly accused Russia of exploiting recent protests by immigrants and others in Sweden that have included burning copies of the Quran, an act of desecration that is deeply offensive to Muslims. The outrage has already had an impact: delaying Sweden’s accession to NATO because of objections by another member, Turkey.

“They were on a level that we’d never seen before,” Mikael Tofvesson, the agency’s director of operations, said in an interview, referring specifically to Russian efforts to amplify global reaction online to a protest outside Stockholm’s largest mosque on June 28.

The Psychological Defense Agency could become a model for how democratic governments can fight back against similar disinformation campaigns.Credit...Felix Odell for The New York Times

F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots faces delays and uncertainty

Isabelle Khurshudyan, Emily Rauhala and Missy Ryan

The timeline reflects the disconnect between Ukraine’s supporters, who envision F-16s as a key tool in the country’s long-term defense, and Kyiv, which has desperately requested that the jets reach the battle space as soon as possible, viewing them as critical for the current fight against occupying Russian forces.

President Biden, after denying Ukrainian appeals for the F-16 for more than a year, reversed course in May and said he backed the idea of training Ukrainian pilots on the jets, and supported the transfer of the planes by other countries. Denmark and the Netherlands volunteered to lead a training effort, prompting hopes among officials in Kyiv that the planes would be defending Ukrainian airspace by as early as September.

It was a familiar pattern for Ukraine and its chief military backer, the United States, which has repeatedly declined Ukrainian requests only to relent at a later date.

But after the start of training was pushed back several times, Ukraine will now probably have to endure another year without the fighters, which officials in Kyiv hope will provide a significant military edge amid a slow-going counteroffensive and help better protect civilians against Russia’s regular missile and drone strikes.

Now, the Biden administration is for the first time signaling its willingness to conduct the F-16 training on American soil. A U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid, said Washington would be prepared to bring the aviators to the United States, where the Air Force trains some 400 F-16 pilots a year, if European capacity proves insufficient to meet Ukrainian demand.

U.S. officials describe a training effort, rather than hobbled by Western foot-dragging as Ukrainian officials charge, that is only slowly getting off the ground because of the complexities of standing up a new international initiative and the challenges Ukraine must face in identifying aviators with the right skills in the midst of an existential fight.

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


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

Fighting with lasers: Army to experiment with 50kw laser combined with kinetic air defenses


SMD SYMPOSIUM — After the Army receives its fourth and final Stryker-based 50-kilowatt laser prototype next month, soldiers will start to figure out how to use it in combat alongside traditional kinetic weapons, while acquisition officials sort through lethality, affordability and reliability questions, according to a three-star general.

“What we don’t know yet from directed energy systems, necessarily, is… how to fight [with] lasers on the battlefield, how to integrate kinetic and non-kinetic effectors like directed energy and our traditional air defense missiles into the battlespace,” Lt. Gen. Robert Rasch, the director of the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), told an audience in Huntsville, Ala. today.

Rasch and his team are tasked with overseeing the development of three directed energy programs including Raytheon’s (RTX) work on the Styker-based Directed Energy Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense system, or DE M-SHORAD, to down class 1 to 3 aerial drones and incoming rockets, artillery and mortars. So far, the company has delivered three prototypes to the Army, and the service anticipates receiving the fourth one in September.

Once the platoon has all four vehicles, they will begin developing the tactics, techniques, and procedures and training with them ahead of an upcoming operational assessment.

Those soldiers will also receive the kinetic variant of the vehicle-based defense system known as M-SHORAD so that they can test out both together and “find out what’s the right mix of counter-UAS of maneuver SHORAD… to support that maneuver formation,” Rasch said.

While the platoon conducts this “learning” phase, Army leaders have decided to make prototype design changes.

“We’ve already begun the next round of prototyping,” Rasch said. While he did not disclose details about the timing or deliverables for that new prototyping plan, he did note that service leaders are using it to answer questions about lethality, producibility, reliability, and the “big elephant”: affordability.

Ukraine and Russia are fighting two different kinds of war


Some commentators have recently suggested that Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive is stalling out, because its territorial gains remain smaller than those of Ukraine’s prior efforts around Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson. Some even are questioning whether the Ukrainians will be able to reclaim a significant additional amount of lost territory.

These writers fail to appreciate that, since the beginning of this conflict, Russia and Ukraine have been fighting two fundamentally different kinds of war. The Ukrainians have never sought to emulate Russia’s boastful definition of success. To the contrary, they have been more than happy leveraging Russia’s obsession with headlines to inflict heavy losses and hasten their own victory.

For Russia, this has always been a public relations war. Other than complaints about Ukraine possibly joining NATO many years in the future, and false propaganda that its Jewish president is a “Nazi,” Russia had no substantive grievances with Ukraine that it was seeking to redress. Instead, Putin launched the war to reassert Russian racial superiority over a people he regarded as inferior, and to stoke patriotic spirit in order to distract the Russian people from the hardships that rampant corruption in Russia have created.

Accordingly, Russia has continually pursued bragging rights regardless of the cost. Once Putin became fixated on the small, strategically insignificant city of Bakhmut, his commanders were ordered to seize it at all costs. It took them seven months of bloody urban warfare to do it, with Russia losing five times as many troops as Ukraine. Along the way, Russia threw away the lives of thousands of conscripts in human wave assaults.

Russian losses are ballooning again as commanders are reportedly being ordered to hold this or that insignificant hamlet “at all costs.”

For the Ukrainians, on the other hand, this has always been a war of national survival. Because Russia has repeatedly broken commitments not to attack Ukraine, the Ukrainians understand that security can only come from defeating Russia. If Russia is allowed to keep any of the territory that it recognized as Ukraine’s in 1994, Putin will claim success and invade again after he has patched up his military. Ukrainians therefore are focused on how to reclaim all their territory, not any particular town.

Land forces now control the sea — and that is vital in the Pacific


The US may have the most advanced navy in the world — but as Pentagon officials have openly warned, China’s strategy to counter it has been to load up on land-based anti-ship missiles. Below, Albert Palazzo of the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia, warns that the threat will only continue to grow.

There is an old saying, attributed to British Admiral Horatio Nelson, that “a ship’s a fool to fight a fort.” In light of modern weaponry improvements Nelson’s saying is overdue for an update. Now it would be more accurate — if less alliterative — to say that “a ship is a fool to fight a missile defended coast.”

Sea control has always been an essential objective for many countries’ militaries. Without it, a fleet cannot achieve its goals. If an enemy force controls the sea, it can deny a weaker fleet the ability to maneuver and act. Sea control, therefore, is a prerequisite for the attainment of many nations’ war aims. For example, in 1982 Britain first had to establish its fleet in the waters around the Falkland Islands so it could put ashore the land force that retook the islands from Argentina.

For as long as humanity has sailed upon the world’s waters, the fight for sea control has depended on the outcome of battle between ships, or more recently, ships and maritime strike aircraft. This reality
endured from the age of the galley to that of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Now land forces, armed with long-range maritime strike missiles supported by sensing and targeting systems, will change how sea control is achieved or denied.

Contemporary anti-ship missiles that are already in service can reach out over the sea for thousands of kilometers and, since their cost is trivial compared to that of a ship, an adversary can afford to use them in large numbers and thus overwhelm a ship’s defenses. The Chinese, for example, guard their maritime approaches with a host of anti-ship missiles including the DF-21D, which is ominously known as the “carrier killer.” Nor are distant fleet bases safe. The Chinese DF-26 missile is nicknamed the “Guam Killer,” and has the range to hold the US military’s infrastructure on that island at risk.

The next big space business: satellite pictures of other satellites


Satellite images, long used by militaries to track developments on Earth, are increasingly being used to keep tabs on the proliferating objects in space.

Maxar Technologies has been filling U.S. government orders for images of objects in space for “several years,” said Kumar Navulur, the company’s director of strategic business development. The subjects include not just objects in highly populated low Earth orbits but in medium Earth orbits, geostationary orbits, and even beyond. And since December, when Maxar received a license from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the company has been selling space imagery to satellite and launch companies looking to keep track of their orbiting assets.

Navulur said imagery can help solve problems of space-traffic management—for example, “As more satellites are being launched with so much debris, how do you maneuver around that and make sure that you can get [new satellites] to that orbit?”

Navulur said that while terrestrial cameras remain better at taking images of stationary objects, satellite cameras offer several advantages. “The timeliness would be the number one” feature, he said. “Our goal is to deliver [images] within 72 hours.”

Another is that having multiple image satellites in orbit allows Maxar to photograph an object from multiple vantage points and better track it as it moves..

“The way we do this is we have modeling-and-simulation software,” said Navulur “Modeling and simulation will say that ‘Here's a connection that's going to happen tomorrow or three days from now or a week from now’.”

U.S. military officials have been sounding the alarm on strangely-behaving satellites ever since the 2014 launch of a Russian satellite that moved in a novel way and came very close to two Intelsat satellites. Russia has since launched satellites that can attack other satellites. And on the eve of its expanded invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Russia staged a coordinated (ground) attack against Ukraine’s satellite communications.


The 2023 National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) provides the Intelligence Community (IC) with strategic direction from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) for the next four years. The NIS is a foundational document for the IC and reflects the input of leaders from each of the 18 intelligence elements, as it guides the operations, investments, and priorities of the collective.

It supports the national security priorities outlined in the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy as well as other national strategies.

View the 2023 National Intelligence Strategy here.

The Future of Cybersecurity Depends on Public-Private Partnership – Will We Get it Right?


In 2020, the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) established its private sector partnership program dubbed UNDER ADVISEMENT, the purpose of which is to engage industry organizations and share critical cyber threat information and intelligence that supports both CYBERCOM missions and the private sector’s cybersecurity priorities. According to CYBERCOM’s website, formal agreements are made with private sector stakeholders in an effort to establish trust, create dialogue, and perhaps most importantly, establish a two-way information exchange channel. CYBERCOM developed UNDER ADVISEMENT as a means to share cyber threat indicators of compromise (IOC) with the private sector during the 2018 mid-term elections and has since expanded. Since been in effect for the past three years, CYBERCOM cites program successes to include info sharing after incidents like SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline to illustrate how unified responses across the sectors could greatly reduce the impact of major cyber events..

The program is seen as a mutually-beneficial arrangement wherein CYBERCOM provides actionable threat indicators to partners, while receiving industry data in return that it can use to enrich the command’s visibility – and by extension – its understanding of how threats target specific sectors. UNDER ADVISEMENT is similar to the National Security Agency’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative. Though specific metrics aren’t available quantifying and qualifying what UNDER ADVISEMENT success looks like, the program is looking to expand the team of military and civilian experts to two dozen, as well as double the number of public-private partnerships it has in 2023. As one U.S. senator acknowledged, UNDER ADVISEMENT, along with hunt-forward operations “augment homeland and network defenses while also exposing adversary tactics.”

When it comes to cybersecurity, advocates have consistently championed public-private partnership as necessary for improving resiliency of the two sectors. In 2013, DHS published a strategy promoting the importance of information sharing to collective cybersecurity. This makes sense given the interconnectivity and integration that exists between the two and the fact that in many cases both are targeted by the same types of threat actors if not the same actors themselves. However, even though on paper such a relationship should reap benefits for all parties involved, this clarion call has been repeated for more than a decade, indicating that historically there has been hesitancy to cooperate. One of the major impediments has been overclassification of threat intelligence collected by the U.S. government, which understandably has to walk a line between addressing the needs of the public to operational considerations that it wishes to protect for continued intelligence value.

Pandemics, cyberattacks and supply-chain disruptions are pushing government to work more with outside groups

Warren P. Strobel

WASHINGTON—U.S. spy agencies will share more intelligence with U.S. companies, nongovernmental organizations and academia under a new strategy released this week that acknowledges concerns over new threats, such as another pandemic and increasing cyberattacks.

The National Intelligence Strategy, which sets broad goals for the sprawling U.S. intelligence community, says that spy agencies must reach beyond the traditional walls of secrecy and partner with outside groups to detect and deter supply-chain disruptions, infectious diseases and other growing transnational threats.

The intelligence community “must rethink its approach to exchanging information and insights,” the strategy says.

The U.S. government in recent years has begun sharing vast amounts of cyber-threat intelligence with U.S. companies, utilities and others who are often the main targets of foreign hackers, as well as information on foreign-influence operations with social-media companies.

The last National Intelligence Strategy was released in 2019 under the Trump administration, before the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“There’s so much that’s changed in the threat landscape, and in the world that we’re operating in today,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said in an interview.

She sketched out a broader, more institutionalized information exchange on a wider array of topics with the private sector, ranging from academia to local governments.

Illustrating the changing threats, a senior U.S. official said that the daily intelligence briefing prepared for President Biden and his top advisers—once dominated by terrorism and the Middle East—now regularly covers topics as varied as China’s artificial-intelligence work, the geopolitical impacts of climate change, and semiconductor chips.

The new strategy is meant to guide 18 U.S. intelligence agencies with an annual budget of about $90 billion whose work Haines coordinates.