17 August 2023

India does not need laptop import curbs. Here’s why


Anupam Manur is a man of strong opinions. Anupam Manur is a man of strong, considered opinions. You should listen to Anupam, because when Prof Manur talks, he makes eminent sense, and he comes from a position of both erudition and wisdom (You can hear him snigger at this in the background, but hey, one’s got to accept what’s true).

On August 3, the Indian government issued a circular which effectively took economists back to the days of the Licence Raj. In India’s chequered industrial policy history, the decision to put curbs on the import of laptops, presumably to boost domestic production and innovation, looks like bureaucratic overreach. It is also quite evident that the move is aimed at hurting China’s exports to India.

“Discarded policies of the past cannot produce different results. If India wants to be a manufacturing and exporting powerhouse, it cannot do so by protecting champions from the pressures of competition, as we tried before 1991. If import controls failed in the past, the conditions for success are far worse now, given the interconnectedness of global value chains in electronics manufacturing.”

Various eminent economists and thinkers have weighed in on the laptop policy issue, including Takshashila's friend Pratap Bhanu Mehta. A couple of days after Anupam’s scathing indictment, Dr Mehta wrote another stinging piece in The Indian Express.

Taliban Fighters, Unsettled by Peace, Seek New Battles Abroad

Christina Goldbaum

“Peace and security have been secured in our country, so now we need to fight in other countries and secure the rights of other Muslims,” one Taliban fighter-turned-policeman, Wahdat, 22, right, said recently in Kabul.

As a child studying in a madrasa in Afghanistan, Mohammad Khalid Tahir dreamed of waging jihad. By the time he was a teenager, he had joined the Taliban and celebrated when they seized power from the U.S.-backed government two years ago.

But the high from that victory did not last. Reassigned as a soldier in the capital, he frequently complained that he was bored and longed to return to his life’s purpose, according to his family.

So this spring, he did — but across the border in Pakistan.

“Our only expectation is to be martyred,” Mr. Tahir says in a video of him en route to Pakistan that was viewed by The New York Times. About a month later, he was killed by Pakistani security forces, his relatives said.

As a generation of fighters raised in war now finds itself stuck in a country at peace, hundreds of young Taliban soldiers have crossed illegally into Pakistan to battle alongside an insurgent group, according to Taliban members, local leaders and security analysts.

Afghanistan’s Corruption Was Made in America

Sarah Chayes

In 2005, I visited a branch of Afghanistan’s national bank in Kandahar to make a deposit. I was launching a cooperative that would craft skin-care products for export, using oils extracted from local almonds and apricot kernels and fragrant botanicals gathered from the desert or the stony hills north of town. In order to register with the authorities and be able to operate legally, we had to make a deposit in the national bank.

The cooperative’s chief financial officer, an Afghan, had been trying to achieve this formality for the past nine months—without paying a bribe. I had agreed to accompany him this time, knowing that together we would fare better. (I’m withholding his name because until a few weeks ago, he was a minister in the Afghan government and his family is now a target for retaliation by the Taliban, as are all Afghans who refuse to transfer their allegiance from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the newly declared Islamic Emirate.)

Abruptly, I found myself on top of the clerk’s desk, sitting cross-legged amid all the documents and paperwork. “Fine,” I told him. “Take as long as you want. But I’m staying right here until you complete our forms.” Eyes wide, the clerk got to work.

This is how life was for Afghans on the United States’ watch. Almost every interaction with a government official, including teachers and doctors, involved extortion. And most Afghans weren’t able to take the risk I took in making a scene. They would have landed in jail. Instead, they just paid—and their hearts took the blows.

“The police are supposed to be upholding the law,” complained another cooperative member a few years later, a former police officer himself. “And they’re the ones breaking the law.” These officials—the police and the clerks—did not extort people politely. Afghans paid not just in cash but also in a far more valuable commodity: their dignity.

Air Force considers training changes across all special ops jobs

Rachel S. Cohen

Air Force Special Operations Command is taking a closer look at how it trains airmen to join each of its career fields, as the service’s elite corps prepares for a new era in combat.

The wide-ranging review, led by AFSOC Commander Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, will prompt changes to the initial qualification and advanced training phases that airmen move through on their way to their first operational units, command spokesperson Lt. Col. Becky Heyse said in an Aug. 11 email.

It’s a bid to move the organization forward after decades at war in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and revamp it for a faster-paced, more collaborative way of doing business — particularly as the Air Force shrinks and pivots toward competing with China rather than warding off terror groups.

With the U.S. out of Afghanistan and largely withdrawn from its wars in Iraq and Syria, officials see the lull in operations as an opportunity to ensure that airmen have training that is relevant to the combat environments they’ll see in the future.

That means cutting skills that airmen don’t often use, or that may no longer have a place in a future fight. Those shifts will also affect how airmen are picked to continue on in the most grueling pipelines.

First on the chopping block: combat dive training for three special warfare fields.

Chinese spies who read State Dept. email also hacked GOP congressman

Joseph Menn
The suspected Chinese hackers who forged Microsoft customer identities to read the emails of State Department employees also obtained the personal and political emails of Rep. Don Bacon, a moderate Republican from Nebraska on the House Armed Services Committee.

Bacon tweeted Monday that he had been notified by the FBI that his emails were hacked by Chinese spies who took advantage of a Microsoft mistake for a month between mid-May and mid-June, which lines up with when investigators said the other breaches occurred.

Bacon said that he would “work overtime” to make sure that Taiwan receives all of the billions of dollars in U.S. weaponry that it has ordered.

“I’m a big proponent for Taiwan,” Bacon told The Washington Post by text message. “I suspect they’d like info to embarrass me or to undercut me politically. As I told FBI, I have nothing to be embarrassed about.”

Government and private sources told The Post a month ago that victims of the hacking campaign included Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, unnamed State Department employees, a human rights advocate and think tanks

They also said that a congressional staffer had been targeted.

Bacon told The Post he was notified of the hacking only Monday, which suggests that new victims are still being discovered. The FBI said it would have no comment. Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment.

Officials have described the spying as traditional espionage of the sort expected by all sides. It was about observation on issues of special concern, such as the U.S. response to escalating tensions between the autonomous island of Taiwan and China, which claims it


Kateryna Stepanenko

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least two sectors of the front on August 14 and reportedly advanced in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Melitopol (western Zaporizhia Oblast) and Berdyansk (western Donetsk Oblast and eastern Zaporizhia Oblast) directions.[1] Malyar added that Ukrainian forces achieved some unspecified successes south and southeast of Staromayorske (9km southeast of Velyka Novosilka) in the Urozhaine (9km south of Velyka Novosilka) direction. Malyar noted that Ukrainian forces are continuing to advance in Urozhaine, and some Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces control the northern part of the settlement.[2] Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the “Vostok” battalion defending near Urozhaine, complained that Russian forces are not deploying additional reserves and artillery battalions to the area.[3] Khodakovsky claimed that the “Vostok” battalion is fighting for Urozhaine with all available forces but that the forces operating in the area are exhausted and suffering losses. ISW previously assessed that Russian forces lack available operational reserves that would allow them to carry out rotations or bring in additional reinforcements, and that Russian defensive lines may be brittle.[4] Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Robotyne (13km south of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced in southern Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut).[5] Malyar added that Ukrainian forces advanced by three square kilometers in the Bakhmut direction in the past week and liberated 40 square kilometers total since Ukrainian forces began their offensive operations in this direction.[6]

Crimean occupation authorities are attempting to impose new federal penalties on individuals who publish content revealing the locations and operations of Russian military assets in occupied Crimea, likely in response to Ukraine’s ongoing interdiction campaign. Crimean occupation head Sergey Aksyonov announced on August 14 that Crimean occupation officials will propose amendments at a federal level to increase the liability for the spread of photos and videos showing the location and operation of Russian air defense systems, other systems, and military and strategic assets.[7] The amendments would also penalize individuals who publish images of the aftermath of Ukrainian strikes. Aksyonov’s initiative likely intends to improve Russian operational security and limit awareness of Ukrainian strikes on Russian rear areas in the Russian information space, and occupation officials have previously discussed similar restrictions following the attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge on July 17.[8] A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger and prominent Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov both expressed concern that Russian authorities could wrongfully use such amendments to censor Russian journalists and milbloggers who report on Ukrainian strikes.[9] Another Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Russian officials are unlikely to successfully prevent the publication of strike footage.[10]

The Corruption War: Russia Is Losing The War For The Same Reason It Started It

Elaine Dezenski 

On Feb. 21, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin cited corruption as a motivator for his decision to invade Ukraine.

While complaining about Ukrainian corruption in his televised speech on the eve of the invasion, Putin singled out the dangers posed by the anti-corruption actions of Ukraine’s “National Agency on Corruption Prevention, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, and the High Anti-Corruption Court,” which he argued served as puppets of the United States.

As Ukrainian activists have claimed, Ukrainian progress against corruption scares Putin. It is understandable that it would. Ukraine’s fight against corruption might be as critical as its fight against Putin.
How Corruption Defeats Armies

Over the previous decades, Ukraine had evolved into a vassal state for the more powerful Russia, one held in check by Russia’s corrupting influence. A network of pro-Russian oligarchs held unparalleled sway in Ukrainian society. The Kremlin’s control over these oligarchs allowed Moscow to influence the government and promote pro-Russian policies.

Putin’s corrupt grip on Ukraine began to weaken with the Maidan Revolution of 2014, which overthrew the comically corrupt Viktor Yanukovych, whose presidential palace was filled with absurd proceeds of his embezzlement — a stuffed lion, a floating pirate ship restaurant, and a solid gold loaf of bread. Since then, Ukraine has made substantial progress in the fight against corruption — an effort that is critical to its aspirations to join the European Union and NATO.

Former Military Officials: Chinese Hackers Penetrated Japanese Military Networks in 2020, Maintained Presence Into 2021


Speaking under condition of anonymity, former United States military officials have told the Washington Post that state-backed Chinese hackers made their way deep into Japan’s military networks in 2020 in a breach described as “shockingly bad.” Japan’s defense minister was reportedly briefed, but the hackers retained significant access until at least November 2021.

The sources say that the Chinese hackers combed Japan’s military networks over this extended period in search of military plans, documentation of capabilities, and assessments of vulnerabilities. The discovery may be hampering the sharing of intelligence between the US and Japan, which is a critically important US military ally in the Asia Pacific region.
Chinese hackers showing more interest in an increasingly well-armed Japan

Since the end of World War II, Japan and the US have mostly operated under “sword and shield” security treaties that limit Tokyo to providing for its own immediate self-defense while the US patrols and secures the Pacific. That has begun to change recently, as Japan has announced a new national security strategy that includes purchasing missiles and counterstrike capabilities that can reach mainland China while also expanding US military access to get regiments physically closer to Taiwan.

For their part, Chinese hackers have been testing US allies in the region in seeming preparation for a potential military conflict. The NSA discovered that Japan’s military networks had been breached in the fall of 2020, in a campaign described as “deep and persistent.” NSA head Gen. Paul Nakasone and White House deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger reportedly raced to Tokyo to brief Japan’s defense minister, who in turn put them in touch with the prime minister.

Belarus Reaches Out to Poland and the EU

George Friedman

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko made a speech last week in which he appeared to be reaching out to the West. Belarus has been a close Russian ally for years; it might even be considered a satellite. On several occasions, the Russians have used political influence to stabilize Lukashenko’s presidency. After the attempted coup by the Wagner Group in June, Lukashenko gave the group, with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s apparent approval, refuge in Belarus – although there is evidence that many of these troops have left the country. Regardless of their whereabouts, Lukashenko is closely tied to Russia.

The important point is that Lukashenko also proposed a new economic direction for Belarus, saying:

“Now we make money primarily in the East: in Russia, China. But we must not discard contacts with the high-tech West. They are nearby, the European Union is our neighbor. And we should maintain contacts with them. We are ready for this, but there should be due consideration for our interests. Believe me, the time will come (using your professional terms, I would say that now we are going through the period of turbulence), and in 2024-2025 there will be serious changes in the world.”

Lukashenko also said that Belarus needs to talk to the Poles and that he told the prime minister to contact them. “If they want, we can talk, patch up our relations,” he said. “We are neighbors, and this is something you cannot choose, neighbors are given by God.” Poland’s deputy foreign minister responded by saying that if Belarus wants to have good relations with Poland, it should stop attacks on their shared border and release Polish prisoners from Belarusian prisons.

On the surface, Lukashenko’s comments look like a careful attempt to move Belarus away from its heavy dependence on Russia and to balance that relationship with the EU and, surprisingly, Poland. Minsk and Warsaw have been hostile toward one another, massing troops on their border. The problem is that it is hard to imagine that Russia would be willing to tolerate this opening to Poland, given Poland’s position on Ukraine, its aid to Kyiv and its willing service as an arms depot for the United States. An opening to the EU might be seen as advantageous to Russia since Moscow also wants stronger ties with the bloc.

Let’s not forget what a nuclear war would actually mean


Because several generations have passed since the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare – some may think the threat from nuclear weapons has receded. But international developments, including nuclear threats from Russia in the war in Ukraine, have brought a broader awareness of the vulnerability to global peace from nuclear events.

I’ve been studying the effects of nuclear events – from detonations to accidents – for over 30 years. This has included my direct involvement in research, teaching and humanitarian efforts in multiple expeditions to Chernobyl- and Fukushima-contaminated areas.

Now I am involved in the proposal for the formation of a Nuclear Global Health Workforce, which I proposed in 2017.

Such a group could bring together nuclear and nonnuclear technical and health professionals for education and training, and help to meet the preparedness, coordination, collaboration and staffing requirements necessary to respond to a large-scale nuclear crisis.

What would this workforce need to be prepared to manage? For that we can look back at the legacy of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as nuclear accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima.
What happens when a nuclear device is detonated over a city?

Finland negotiating Defence Cooperation Agreement with the United States

In a significant departure from its previous stance, Finland is currently in negotiations with the United States over a new defence cooperation agreement. The proposed agreement would permit the presence of foreign troops for extended periods, specifically for conventional military exercises.

The agreement's primary aim is to grant US military personnel access to facilities and areas within Finland for training, weapons storage, and equipment maintenance. This includes the potential use of airports, harbours and designated training zones.

It is likely that the US military would be granted access to at least one airport and harbour, as well as a training area. The Finnish Defense Forces' (FDF) existing barracks or locations in close proximity might be allocated for US use.

Iro Särkkä, a senior researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), summarised that the agreement sets in stone the capability of Finland to provide and receive assistance. This development aligns Finland more closely with the United States, ultimately enhancing Finland's security.

"This marks a highly significant shift in Finland's security policy. Never before in peacetime has Finland hosted foreign troops for extended periods. Now, all barriers to practical cooperation between Finland and the United States are being removed," states Särkkä.

Why New Technology Hasn’t Revolutionized Warfare in Ukraine

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.

US to ban American investments in China tech sector

The US will ban American investment in some areas of China's high-tech sector, including artificial intelligence, adding to strained relations between the two superpowers.

US firms will also be asked to disclose what investments they make in China in high-tech sectors.

The much-anticipated move gives the US government new power to screen foreign dealings by private companies.

The US said the measure would be narrowly targeted.

However, it is poised to further chill economic relations between the world's two largest economies.

China said it was "very disappointed".

The US "has continuously escalated suppression and restrictions on China," said Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington.

He added that White House claims that the US was not seeking to hurt China's economy or separate the two countries did not match its actions. "We urge the US side to honour its words."

The Emerging “Cold Tech War” Between the U.S and China

Nicole Robinson 

The Sino-U.S. “cold tech war” is reaching new heights—or rather depths—as tensions are building under the sea. First it was semiconductors. Now it’s submarine cables.

Undersea cables, unseen and often ignored, are essential to daily life and critical to U.S. national security. Over 97 percent of global data traffic travels through a network of cables that sit atop the seabed of the world’s oceans. Those same cables transmit upwards of $10 trillion in financial transactions every day and are a central component of the American military’s network-centric warfare operations.

In the current geopolitical climate, submarine cable financing and construction is about far more than turning profits. Control of cable networks means control of information—a center of gravity in modern conflict. Now, national governments are inserting themselves in bidding wars between private firms to gain a strategic edge over their adversaries in the information sphere. Nowhere is such competition more apparent than between the United States and China.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) openly monitors and regulates the flow of information between its citizens, and increasingly, the same is true worldwide. In fact, the CCP mandates that Chinese-based fiber-optic companies conduct surveillance on its behalf both at home and abroad. The U.S. government has since limited the use of equipment from these businesses on American shores, stating that its authorization poses “an unacceptable risk to national security.”

Ground softening for big Russian offensive


It is still too early to say whether the direction of the Ukraine war has changed, but there is increasing evidence that Ukraine’s inability to penetrate Russian defenses along the southern line, and challenges in the directions of Kupyansk, Lyman and Bakhmut suggests the entire war could be reaching a decisive conclusion.

It is, for that reason, that the Biden administration is asking Congress for $20 billion for Ukraine. The idea seems to be to provide psychological support to both President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian army.

This time, however, Congress may not rubber stamp this outlandish money request. It is not clear why US$20 billion is needed, and sentiment in the US and Europe is starting to shift toward finding a solution to this costly and difficult war.

Concerns range from depleting US strategic reserves to prolonging a conflict that increasingly looks like it will end up badly in a Ukrainian defeat. While opposition is well short of a majority, further battlefield setbacks could lead Congress to change its mind on financial requests that break the bank.

One thing is certain: It is unlikely that any Washington politician can mobilize public support for the war.

Ukraine Gains in Small Donetsk Village Have Major Frontline Implications


The southern axis of Ukraine's grinding counteroffensive reportedly secured another key gain over the weekend, with unconfirmed reports emerging that Russian troops were pushed out of their defensive positions in the Donetsk Oblast town of Urozhaine, a small village north of Moscow's formidable defensive line and on the road to occupied Mariupol.

Several prominent Russian milblogger Telegram accounts reported on Sunday that Russian troops were withdrawing from Urozhaine in the face of heavy Ukrainian attacks. The town and surrounding areas have been at the epicenter of Kyiv's offensive actions for several weeks.

Vladimir Rogov, a member of the collaboration occupation authority in neighboring Zaporizhzhia Oblast, reported heavy fighting south of the Ukrainian-held town of Velyka Novosilka as Kyiv's forces look to break through the multi-layered Surovikin Line and push down towards the Sea of Azov coastline.

"The enemy managed to enter and gain a foothold in the northern part of Urozhaine after two weeks of the heaviest and bloodiest battles for this settlement," Rogov said, as reported by Reuters. The official said Russian soldiers remained in the southern part of the settlement, and suggested the ultimate Ukrainian objective is the town of Staromlynivka further to the south.

The Space Force Is Launching Its Own Swarm of Tiny Satellites


FOUR YEARS AFTER it was formed, the US Space Force has begun deploying its first satellite network. For the military, it marks a significant shift from relying on a handful of powerful, expensive satellites to a swarm of smaller, cheaper ones. From the Pentagon’s perspective, they’ll be a harder target for rivals to strike; a missile or a laser attack might take out an individual satellite, but would do little to weaken a whole swarm.

“Historically, the Department of Defense has been investing in billion-dollar Battlestar Galacticas that are big juicy targets,” says Derek Tournear, director of the Space Force’s Space Development Agency. “We wanted to go to an architecture that gave us resilience against threats and that we could upgrade rapidly every two years.”

The new satellites are for defensive purposes, focused primarily on missile tracking, data transfer, and communications between the satellites and their ground systems. The first 10 members of the fleet were lofted into low Earth orbit on April 2, and 13 more are planned to launch in late August from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The agency plans to accumulate 28 satellites for the batch to be launched this year, which they call “Tranche 0.” These will mainly be used for testing and demonstrating these satellites’ technologies and training people to use them. Tranche 1, made up of more than 160 satellites, will follow in late 2024. Those will be operational, meaning they’ll be used for tracking ballistic and hypersonic missiles, especially with an eye out for those from China, Russia, and North Korea. Within a few years, the agency will have nearly 1,000 in orbit.

At DEFCON31, CISA’s Easterly Once Again Offered a “Stark Warning”


In June at the Aspen Institute in Washington D.C., Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly began what now seems to be a prolonged messaging campaign: a stark “Black Swan/Gray Rhino” warning of the inevitably of crippling cyberattacks on U.S. critical infrastructure.

“China certainly would consider aggressive cyber attacks against U.S. critical infrastructure…I think that’s something we really need to internalize frankly.”

In her Aspen Institute remarks, Easterly first offered this assessment: “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,” she said. (1)

Last week, at the DEFCON31 Conference in Las Vegas, NV, Easterly reiterated and reinforced this message:

“I hope that people are taking seriously a pretty stark warning about the potential for China to use their very formidable capabilities in the event of a conflict in the Taiwan straits to go after our critical infrastructure.” (2)

She went on to say: “In the event of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, China certainly would consider aggressive cyber attacks against U.S. critical infrastructure, whether that’s oil and gas pipelines, transportation…I think that’s something we really need to internalize frankly.” (3)

“…they have unwittingly come to accept that it is normal for new software and devices to be indefensible by design…”

Simplifying and streamlining: How the Army’s new network boss aims to modernize


WASHINGTON — Weeks into his new job leading the Army’s network modernization hub, Mark Kitz is thinking about ways to diversify the service’s investments to deliver a more flexible infrastructure to units, while also assessing how emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help play a role in future operations.

Kitz, who took over the Army’s program executive office for command, control, communications-tactical (PEO C3T) earlier this year, is responsible for the Army’s massive modernization of its tactical and enterprise network and fielding advanced communications gear to warfighters. Prior to his current role, Kitz served as the program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors (IEW&S), the service’s main hub for developing and integrating sensors and sensor data.

“We’ve got a lot going on across this PEO,” Kitz told Breaking Defense in an interview last week. “I’m really, really humbled and honored to be a part of this team and I’m really looking forward to the future and defining the future of the network.”
Simplifying And Streamlining The Army’s Network

Kitz has already started identifying a few goals and objectives he hopes to accomplish in his new role, beginning with building off the momentum the PEO has had in delivering network capabilities to its units while developing options to deliver a network that is more “flexible.”

And while mapping out short, medium and long-term goals may be “slightly premature” (this is his third week on the job), PEO C3T has been “delivering significant” network, mission command and enterprise capabilities to the Army for a long time, Kitz said.


First noticed by western cybersecurity firms early in 2022, Killnet has been considered the most active of the pro-Russian hacktivist groups since the start of the war in Ukraine (February 2022). The group can pat itself on the back for achieving at least a part of its original mission: to create and combine a range of pro-Russian hacktivist groups to multiply its firepower. In particular, the integration of Anonymous Sudan, another group with apparently similar objectives, has enabled the collective to boost its capacities considerably in recent months.

Identified by the “Five Eyes” alliance (Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the USA) as a threat to critical infrastructure, Killnet is nevertheless still perceived by researchers as a rather unsophisticated group, whose cyberattacks — which mostly target critical infrastructure, the media, and government websites of NATO countries and their allies — have consequences that fall well short of the mark. The group is often accused of a tendency to exaggerate its exploits, and even claim responsibility for attacks that never happened.

It was Killnet’s recent announcements on Telegram that got the media-attention-loving hacktivists collective into the international headlines. In mid-March 2023, Killmilk, the group’s self-proclaimed leader, announced the group’s rebranding: Killnet was to become “Black Skills”, a cyber mercenary business inspired by the Wagner Group of mercenaries. Experts believe that this reorganisation — which as yet exists only in name — is designed to attract Western media attention, as well as bringing more credibility to the group.

Generative AI's Dark Side: How It's The Perfect Tool For Hackers To Spread Malware

Christian Espinosa

Generative AI presents many opportunities for businesses to improve operations and reduce costs. On the bright side, there is great potential for this form of AI to deliver value to organizations. However, it has a dark side in the cybersecurity landscape, as hackers can easily manipulate it to spread malware.

How can companies avoid being the target of a generative AI attack? It's not an easy, simple answer. Here's what you should know about how generative AI can be a substantial threat.

What Is Generative AI?

Generative AI is a broad label, with ChatGPT being the most well-known subset. It uses natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) along with the power of large language models (LLMs). At its core is language, but it can do more than produce text. It can also generate images, NLP text generation, videos, music composition and more. Because of how advanced the AI is, it can apply to many different areas of business.

Businesses are taking note. According to a survey conducted by Gartner, Inc., 70% of organizations are actively exploring generative AI. Additionally, 45% of companies are investing more in AI to enhance the customer experience, grow revenue, reduce costs and improve business continuity. Organizations have an awareness of their risks but believe their value outweighs them.

A ‘Cyber Pearl Harbor’ is a myth—daily cyberattacks are the real problem


Google “cyberattack” and the screen fills with returns about the latest troubling breaches or opinions about these breaches.

In the same week I’m writing this, a medical clinic in Murfreesboro, TN, was still assessing damage after being forced to close temporarily and cancel appointments following a ransomware attack.

Cybercriminals took down the website of the European Investment Bank, the lending arm of the European Union. Experts said it likely was the latest in a series of threats against European financial institutions by pro-Russian hackers in response to European support for Ukraine.

And Hayward, a city of 163,000 in San Francisco’s East Bay region, shut down several of its computer systems after a ransomware attack.

In an earlier time, any one of these single events could have dominated the news cycle, but now they’re just part of the morning read. Collectively, they illustrate the environment the world now finds itself in—a steady barrage of day-to-day attacks that undermine governments and companies, expose sensitive data, and even cost lives.

Cyberattacks have come to feel more like death by a thousand cuts than the long-discussed “Cyber Pearl Harbor,” a single cataclysmic breach that ignites a doomsday scenario of crippled infrastructure, social disruption, and human casualties. This hypothetical event would then ideally lead people to take cybersecurity seriously and change this routine.

The ‘Godfather of AI’ Has a Hopeful Plan for Keeping Future AI Friendly

GEOFFREY HINTON, PERHAPS the world’s most celebrated artificial intelligence researcher, made a big splash a few months ago when he publicly revealed that he’d left Google so he could speak frankly about the dangers of the technology he helped develop. His announcement did not come out of the blue. Late 2022 was all about the heady discovery of what AI could do for us. In 2023, even as we GPT’d and Bing chat-ed, the giddiness was washed down with a panic cocktail of existential angst. So it wasn’t a total shock that the man known as the “Godfather of AI” would share his own thoughtful reservations. Hinton took pains to say that his critique was not a criticism of the search giant that had employed him for a decade; his departure simply avoided any potential tensions that come from critiquing a technology that your company is aggressively deploying.

Hinton’s basic message was that AI could potentially get out of control, to the detriment of humanity. In the first few weeks after he went public, he gave a number of interviews, including with WIRED’s own Will Knight, about those fears, which he had come to feel only relatively recently, after seeing the power of large language models like that behind OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

I had my own conversation with Hinton earlier this summer, after he had some time to reflect on his post-Google life and mission. We talked about the doom scenarios, of course, but I was more interested in what made him change his mind about our potential AI future. Most of all, I wanted to know what he thought that LLMs were doing that could make them into foes of Team Human. The fears Hinton is now expressing are quite a shift from the previous time we spoke, in 2014. Back then, he was talking about how deep learning would help Google do more effective translation, improve speech recognition, and more accurately identify the address numbers on houses shown on Google Maps. Only at the end of the conversation did he take a more expansive view, saying that he felt that deep learning would undergo a major revamp that would lead to deeper understanding of the real world.

Paraguay and Titanium: Failure to Launch?

Wilder Alejandro Sanchez

“Paraguay will become the center of global titanium production,” was the headline of a November 2010 article in the BBC. Almost a decade and a half later, titanium production in Paraguay has yet to begin. Even more, by the own admittance of the country’s authorities, they are not sure how much titanium there is in the Alto Paraná department, where the deposits are located. Prospecting continues, but no public plans or timelines are available regarding when titanium production will commence, if ever.

President-elect Santiago Peña Palacios, who won the country’s 30 April presidential elections and will assume power this upcoming 15 August, has several challenges to address to bring development and stability to his land-locked South American nation. Given the global demand for critical minerals like titanium, one of the incoming president’s priorities must be to figure out how titanium-rich his country is and whether it is beneficial for a mining project to move forward.

In a July 2022 article for the Paraguayan daily ABC, Monica Urbieta, director of mining resources at the Vice Ministry of Mining and Energy, stated, “we do not have the final numbers yet, but we believe that there is a very big deposit of titanium.” However, keeping in line with Asuncion’s speech for over a decade, Urbieta added, “the belief is that the [mining] project puts Alto Paraná as one of the biggest deposits of high-grade titanium ore and biggest [in size] in the world.”

Urbieta was referring to titanium prospecting in the Alto Paraná and Canindeyú departments, Eastern Paraguay, carried out by the Paraguayan mining company Metálicos y No Metálicos Paraguay S.R.P., owned by the US-mining company Uranium Energy Corporation. Several Paraguayan media reports over the years have also praised the country’s titanium deposits and potential.

Opinion – A New International AI Body Is No Panacea

Huw Roberts

Late 2022 and early 2023 saw breakthroughs in the commercialisation of foundation models: a new type of artificial intelligence (AI) system designed to be adaptable for a wide range of downstream tasks. Foundation models have underpinned the development of new products, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, while also being integrated into the existing products of a variety of companies, including Microsoft’s search engine Bing. These systems enhance consumer experiences and improve business efficiency, yet they also bring about new risks. Foundation models democratise capabilities that can be used to conduct advanced cyberattacks and produce disinformation, they have the potential to reinforce harmful biases and displace jobs in a way that exacerbates national and international inequalities, and could hasten climate change due to the environmental footprint of developing these systems.

The risks associated with this new form of AI has reenergised calls for a new international AI body. Prominent figures, including the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres, OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, have all argued for the creation of a new international AI body modelled on institutions like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This body, they variously claim, has the potential to mitigate risks ranging from harmful bias to existential threats to humanity. High-profile attention on international AI cooperation is a positive step forward, but a new AI body is no panacea. In fact, excessive attention on establishing a new AI body may distract from other types of institutional reform that could more viably support positive outcomes from AI.