18 August 2023

India’s Foreign Policy In A Multipolar World: Navigating Multipolarity And Strategic Alliances – Analysis

Dr. Surendra Kumar Yadawa

1. Introduction

The decade from the global financial crisis (2008) to COVID-19 has seen a transformation of the new world order. This era of global uncertainty entails a different story and greater expectations for middle powers like India, Brazil, Germany, and South Africa on the path to becoming leading powers.

Consequently, India has to redefine relationships with different powers while considering of its interests. It also requires a new approach to dealing with its neighbours. The changing order—during the Cold War, it was largely bipolar and then briefly unipolar after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but now there is an emerging multipolarity. India the largest democracy in the world holds together as a single nation, manifests successes, achieved against the odds and deserves greater role in the Security Council of the United Nations.

It is India’s long-term record as a stable, multicultural democracy that lies behind its claims for a place (Guha, 2012). International Monetary Fund (IMF) report says India is set to be the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2023. Its GDP is expected to expand by 6.1%, well ahead of the emerging market average of 4% and five times the pace of the world’s average of 1.2%. India’s young consumers occupy pride of place in the growth forecasts of many Fortune 500 companies. This year, India will simultaneously hold the presidencies of the G-20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)—a symbolic satisfaction for its efforts to be seen as a leading, rather than balancing, power on the global stage (Vaishnav, 2023, April 14). India is projected to be the fastest-growing large economy as well, at 5.9% this year. As PM Narendra Modi said recently, “India’s time has arrived.” India has the potential to be admired for not just the quantity of its growth but also the quality of its values. And that would truly be an incredible India (Zakaria, 2023, April 28). Introduction:

Examining Disaster Aid as Cover for a Chinese Fait Accompli Against Taiwan

Divergent Options

China’s aggressive actions make the likelihood of conflict over Taiwan seem inevitable. However, it is possible that China may use Non-War Military Activities (NWMA) to unify Taiwan[1]. In particular, China may use humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as cover for a fait accompli to gain territory in the Taiwan Strait after a natural disaster.

Taiwan’s location in the western Pacific makes it a disaster-prone area. Typhoons, earthquakes, and tsunamis are of particular concern, with local sources indicating Taiwan ranks first in the world in natural disaster risk[2]. While a natural disaster, such as a typhoon, is hard to predict, the situation would provide excellent cover for Chinese NWMA. Climate change is expected to contribute to more extreme weather events in the region, and Taiwan’s geographic proximity to China makes humanitarian response an excellent guide for PLA action against Taiwanese-controlled territory.

Does China Want To Start A War In The South China Sea?

Christian Orr

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) campaigns of intimidation against its own subjects – especially the Uyghurs – as well as Tibet and Taiwan (AKA the Republic of China [ROC]) are all too well known.

Meanwhile, for the sake of big picture perspective, it should be recalled that these aren’t the only freedom-loving peoples of the Asia-Pacific region that Beijing is attempting to bully. The Republic of the Philippines is also on that list.
A South China Sea Showdown?

The latest round of Sino-Filipino tensions occurred two days ago, as reported by Reuters and republished in MSN.

“Tensions have soared between the two neighbours over the South China Sea under Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, with Manila pivoting back to the United States, which supports the Southeast Asian nation in its maritime disputes with China … The Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin, is home to a handful of troops living aboard the former warship Sierra Madre, which Manila grounded there in 1999 to reinforce its sovereignty claims …

Manila has repeatedly accused the Chinese coast guard of impeding its ability to supply its troops there by blocking resupply missions, as it did on Aug. 5 when it sprayed a Philippine vessel with a water cannon … The Philippine military described the actions of the Chinese coast guard as ‘excessive and offensive.’ China said the incident was a ‘warning’ and that it has exercised ‘rational restraint’ at all times.”

Beyond Defense: China’s Pursuit of Unorthodox Force Multipliers

Ron Matthews 

Robots from Chinese intelligent robot manufacturer Dataa Robotics are displayed during the 2023 World Artificial Intelligence Conference held in Shanghai, July 6, 2023.Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The super-power rivalry between the United States, Russia, and China is intense, but nuclear capability means there is a strong incentive to avoid direct conflict. The Ukraine-Russian war is viewed in some quarters (Moscow) as a proxy conflict between NATO and Russia, but both are aware of strategic “red lines” that must not be crossed to avoid triggering nuclear catastrophe.

This aversion to using weapons of mass destruction has led to the emergence of “hidden” arms races below the nuclear threshold. These involve unconventional military capabilities, in a non-nuclear sense, that are unorthodox in the exploitation of novel and disruptive hard and soft technological power. Such capabilities fall into three thematic areas: first, military mimicry, whereby the superior capabilities of animals are copied to improve military performance; second, artificial intelligence (AI), through which autonomous “robotic” weapon systems are developed to replace and/or extend conventional military capability; and, third, neuroscience, reflected by extraordinary innovations to gain military advantage through the development of super-intelligent soldiers.

Russia has identified the strategic benefits from the first two of these fields, exemplified by the use of beluga “spy” whales in the waters off the Scandinavian Peninsula and deployment of semi-autonomous unmanned drones in the Ukraine conflict. Moscow is committed to the AI-driven arms race, symbolized by President Vladimir Putin’s oft-quoted statement that “AI is the future, not only for Russia but for all mankind…whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

How to Unsettle an Alliance: Subordinate Extended Deterrence to Antiquated Arms Control Initiatives

Keith B. Payne 

Russia’s war in Europe and China’s expansionist, militarist foreign policy, and the quasi-alliance of these two predators seeking to re-order the globe,[1] have put the long-standing U.S. goals of extended deterrence and allied assurance under considerable strain. A complicating factor in this challenging context is the continuing U.S. propensity to pursue initiatives that appear to show relative disregard for allied concerns regarding extended deterrence—occasionally, it appears, in an effort to reduce U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons; this at a time when opponents are placing ever greater prominence on their nuclear capabilities for coercive and war-fighting purposes.

Illustrative of this propensity are the cases of Washington’s retirement of the 1980s vintage sea-based nuclear cruise missile, the Tomahawk Land Attack missile (TLAM-N), contemporary opposition to a new sea-based cruise missile, and repeated cycles of expressed interest in the adoption of “sole purpose” or “No-First-Use” (NFU) policies. In these cases, U.S. moves and expressions of policy goals conflict with repeatedly-expressed allied concerns that these U.S. initiatives threaten to degrade the credibility of the U.S. extended deterrent—a key to their security positions. These cases illustrate well allied perceptions and expectations regarding extended deterrence and Washington’s apparent willingness to subordinate allies’ concerns to American domestic political pressures. They underscore the need to improve two-way understanding and communication about the realities of extended deterrence and assurance requirements as Western security measures must adapt to a dynamic threat environment. Without such an understanding, smoothing out the “rollercoaster” of U.S. and allies’ relations will be a matter of luck rather than a deliberate effort.

Washington faces ongoing, unprecedented challenges in understanding, shaping and meeting extended deterrence and assurance requirements in its bid to sustain its alliance system—which is critical for U.S. security. The United States must adapt its approach to extended deterrence and assurance and effectively communicate the credibility of that deterrent to allies who are in diverse threat contexts and hold equally diverse threat perceptions. Failing to do so could easily lead to the unraveling of the alliance system that Washington has sustained at great cost over generations. And, if some allies increasingly feel compelled to consider independent means of deterrence, it could also drive a cascade of nuclear proliferation that overturns the decades-long U.S. non-proliferation goal.

Would F-16s Have Made the Difference in Ukraine’s Counteroffensive?

Lara Jakes

Ukraine’s counteroffensive began two months ago, but in many ways its forces have been preparing for it for years by learning how to fight like NATO militaries, with a mix of infantry, artillery, armored vehicles and air power.

But the Biden administration waited more than a year before letting NATO countries send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. By the time pilots are trained on the advanced aircraft, it will be too late for them to assist and protect ground forces slogging through this phase of fighting.

All of which has raised a question: Without significant air power — a pillar of the warfare tactics that the West has urged Ukraine to adopt — can the counteroffensive prevail?

The answer appears to be yes, as current and former officials in Ukraine, the United States and Europe, as well as Western defense analysts, said in interviews last week as the counteroffensive ground on, with volleys of artillery fire and drone strikes but no major breakthroughs.

But it is likely to be far more difficult without the jets.

“It will have to happen without the F-16,” said Philip M. Breedlove, a retired United States Air Force general and former NATO commander, “but I believe they can.”

A former F-16 pilot, Mr. Breedlove said there was “great benefit” for Ukraine’s forces to learn and deploy the so-called combined arms tactics that are the backbone of modern ground warfare, given that they “are going to be applicable in many different phases of what you do, no matter what.”

Nevertheless, he added, “If you expect Ukraine to fight like we fight, then they have to have the tools that we have, and we have not given them those tools.”

America’s 911 call and global response to Ukraine war

Dr Muhammad Ali Ehsan

The writer is associated with the International Relations Department of DHA Suffa University, Karachi. He tweets @Dr M Ali Ehsan

America’s policy options in Ukraine are influenced by many strategic assumptions but two wrong assumptions are already leading to bad decisions, poor planning and unwanted outcomes for the US in the war in Ukraine. The first assumption was related to the use of non-military means and was based on the premise that using non-military means such as implementing economic sanctions, imposing economic blockades, forming coalitions, breaking off diplomatic relations and conducting information and legal warfare, including President Vladimir Putin’s arrest warrants by International Criminal Court, will weaken Russia and subject it to international isolation. It was assumed that as the war drags on, Russia will grow weak and so will Putin’s hold on power.

Twenty-four months later one can say that the employment of non-military means has not been as effective as the US desired. Neither has Russia buckled under pressure nor has Putin’s hold on power weakened. At the outbreak of war, the US dialed 911 and hoped that the entire world will take its call. The calls were taken but the global response was a clear split and countries, specially from Africa, Asia and even Latin America, employed hedging as their preferred diplomatic and alignment strategy to simultaneously keep good relations with both the US and Russia.

One would not like to blame these states, as taking clear sides in these uncertain times means maximising your risks and minimising your future opportunities because both the US and Russia are great powers and this war, like all wars, will eventually end but the status of these countries is likely to remain the same. What cannot end for the small and weak states is an enduring relationship that will like to continue with both the great powers. The assumption of using non-military means also has a political component that contributes not to unifying but dividing the world.

Ukrainian troops left 'underprepared' by NATO training as instructors don't understand the type of warfare or the enemy, report says

Alia ShoaibAug 

Ukrainian troops trained by NATO are being left underprepared for the realities of the war with Russia, a report says.

Western training is often limited because instructors have never fought a war like the Russia's invasion of Ukraine, media platform openDemocracy reported.

"I don't want to say anything against our partners, but they don't quite understand our situation and how we are fighting," a senior intelligence sergeant in the 41st Mechanised Brigade, who goes by the name "Dutchman," told openDemocracy.

About 63,000 Ukrainian troops have been trained in the West — mostly in the UK and Germany, per the report.

All of them go through a 35-day "crash course" of basic soldier training, a UK source told the outlet.

Nick Reynolds, a land warfare expert at the UK-based defense think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), said that the training provided by the West was safer but less comparable to actual warfare.

"We do have a lot of health and safety regulation. Yet this means they are going on to the battlefield less prepared," Reynolds told openDemocracy.

Judge rules in favor of Montana youths in landmark climate decision

Kate Selig

In the first ruling of its kind nationwide, a Montana state court decided Monday in favor of young people who alleged the state violated their right to a “clean and healthful environment” by promoting the use of fossil fuels.

The court determined that a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act has harmed the state’s environment and the young plaintiffs by preventing Montana from considering the climate impacts of energy projects. The provision is accordingly unconstitutional, the court said.

“This is a huge win for Montana, for youth, for democracy and for our climate,” said Julia Olson, the executive director of Our Children’s Trust, which brought Held v. Montana. “More rulings like this will certainly come.”

The sweeping win, one of the strongest decisions on climate change ever issued by a court, could energize the environmental movement and usher in a wave of cases aimed at advancing action on climate change, experts say.

The ruling — which invalidates the provision blocking climate considerations — also represents a rare victory for climate activists who have tried to use the courts to push back against government policies and industrial activities they say are harming the planet. In this case, it involved 16 young Montanans, ranging in age from 5 to 22, who brought the nation’s first constitutional and first youth-led climate lawsuit to go to trial. Those youths are elated by the decision, according to Our Children’s Trust.

Sariel Sandoval, member of the Bitterroot Salish, Upper Pend d’Oreille and Diné Tribes, is one of 16 youth plaintiffs suing the state of Montana over its contributions to climate change. (Amy Osborne for The Washington Post)

Biden Establishes Review Process to Regulate China-Bound Investment in Key Industries

Elaine K. Dezenski

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday that enables the Treasury Department to review and block outbound private-sector investment in China within key industries that are critical to Beijing’s military, intelligence, surveillance, or cyber-enabled capabilities. The order reflects Washington’s increasing concern that the provision of advanced U.S. technologies to China could undermine U.S. national security interests.

The order adds another tool to address vulnerabilities in U.S. economic security and builds on the foundation of government review already conducted on certain high-risk inbound investments made in America by companies from countries such as China and Iran. This review process, conducted by the multi-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), has been in place since 1975.

The CFIUS review process has evolved, and the types of investment deals subject to CFIUS reviews have significantly broadened along with national and economic security threats over the decades. Similarly, the scope of U.S. outbound investment requirements is likely to be refined, expanded, and improved as the United States responds to China’s weaponization of technology to circumvent and destabilize U.S. global leadership. Over time, additional countries and industries of concern will almost certainly be added.

There is currently broad bipartisan support for strong investment guardrails to protect against the military applications of China’s key high-tech industries, and this order is the first step. This fall, lawmakers in Congress will introduce more comprehensive outbound investment bills, focusing on additional high-risk technologies, that are likely to receive broad support from both sides of the aisle. Even the executive order itself could widen in scope, as it goes into effect only after the Treasury Department has addressed feedback from the public that it is soliciting over the next 45 days. The White House anticipates that the order will go into effect in early 2024.

Dnipro Devils’ Drilled by British Special Forces

Pete Shmigel 

The “Dnipro Devils” making waves with special forces missions on the Russian-occupied left-bank of southern Ukraine have had training with the UK’s Royal Marines, the UK Government has revealed.

The Royal Navy issued a statement saying that “while Ukraine’s riverine commando forces have been getting attention in the West for daring raids across the Dnipro River, where they have used small-boat tactics to disrupt Russian defenses far from the front lines, less known is the role that the Royal Navy has played in training and equipping Ukrainian forces for these high-risk missions.”

Ukrainian marines training alongside Royal Marines instructors in the UK (Royal Navy)

“Royal Marines have spent more than 6 months training about 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the art of commando raiding and complex amphibious operations,” the statement said.

A feud is heating up between Arizona workers and the world's leading chipmaker after the company said the US didn't have the skills to build its new factory

Jacob ZinkulaAug

Who knew that building a chip factory in Arizona could be the source of so much drama?

To get the construction of its Arizona chip factory back on track, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company says it needs more workers with the expertise and skillsets that Americans don't have. Since June, the company has been in discussions with the US government about receiving accelerated non-immigrant E-2 visas for as many as 500 Taiwanese workers.

Not everyone's happy about this potential development.

The Arizona Pipe Trades 469 Union, a labor union that says it represents over 4,000 pipefitters, plumbers, welders, and HVAC technicians, has started a petition to urge US lawmakers to deny these visas. The petition says that TSMC has deliberately misrepresented the skillset of Arizona's workforce. By approving TSMC's visa requests, a union website says lawmakers would be laying the groundwork for "cheap labor" to replace American workers.

The dispute marks the latest development in the US's race to build a presence in the semiconductor-chip industry — something that's become a major priority as the world gets more reliant than ever on the devices that need chips to run. That includes devices as varied as smartphones, televisions, refrigerators, and washing machines. And should the US ever enter into conflict with China — something that looks increasingly possible — it wants to be self-sufficient when it comes to making chips.

Last summer, President Joe Biden signed into law the CHIPS Act, which included over $52 billion in semiconductor subsidies to boost chip manufacturing in the US and create American jobs. The legislation was among the reasons TSMC, the world's leading chipmaker, announced plans last December to build a second factory in Arizona.



When the allvolunteer force turned fifty last month, civilian and military leaders called it the most challenging environment since the force’s establishment in 1973. Amidst the ensuing discussion about how to solve the nation’s military recruiting woes, many people have suggested that a return to mandatory national service could help. Often, they imagine that conscription could fix the challenges facing a country they see as less fit, less patriotic, and less eager to serve than previous generations.

Unfortunately, contemporary debates about conscription often rely on a distorted understanding of its history. Over the past 250 years, the nation has generally used conscription sparingly. Whatever the benefits or drawbacks of reintroducing the practice today, this historical experience suggests that it is unlikely to be a panacea for the country’s problems. As military historian Brian Linn put it, “Nostalgic references to a golden age where Americans were fit, patriotic, and motivated have been a staple of Army lore for well over a century, but they hardly reflect historical reality.”

Being Selective with Selective Service

During the Revolutionary War, the colonies depended upon militias comprised of “raw untrained troops, for the very good reason that none others were available, except in paltry numbers.” The “first scheme of mobilization” was instituted on July 18, 1775, and the Revolutionary War was “fought by a Continental army that was staffed in part by a militia draft.” After this, the nation saw the first national conscription act passed during the Civil War. If one investigates further, it was not President Abraham Lincoln who initially did this, but rather Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Congress in April 1862. It would not be until March 1863 that a National Conscription Act was passed by the United States.

Ukraine says it stopped air attacks on Odesa, while British and Dutch jets go after Russian bombers


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia launched three waves of drones and missiles against the southern Ukraine port city of Odesa, officials said Monday, though the Ukrainian air force said it intercepted all the airborne weapons fired during the nighttime attacks.

Falling debris from the interceptions of 15 Shahed drones and eight Kalibr missiles damaged a residential building, a supermarket and a dormitory of an educational facility in the city, Odesa Gov. Oleh Kiper said.

Two employees of the supermarket were hospitalized, Kiper said. Video showed a huge blaze at the store during the night and, the next day, the large building’s charred and mangled wreckage.

Meanwhile, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, rebuked critics who suggest a 2 1/2-month-old counteroffensive aimed at dislodging Russian forces from occupied areas of Ukraine should be advancing more quickly.

The Ukrainian army does not intend to engage in conspicuous “large-scale battles” against the Russians as the operation moves forward, Podolyak said on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.

The goal, he said, is a piecemeal and systematic destruction of “the capabilities of the enemy army: its logistics, technical potential, officers and personnel.”

Also Monday, the Dutch Defense Ministry and the British Royal Air Force said they scrambled fighter jets when Russian bombers were tracked flying toward the airspace of the Netherlands and off Scotland, respectively. The pair of Russian warplanes spotted in each location were flying in international airspace.

US to open expanded aid mission to Pacific island countries

Stephen Wright
The U.S. aid agency will open its expanded mission to Pacific island countries next week, aiming to show commitment to a region that now has the option of turning to China for infrastructure and development assistance.

The visit of the agency’s top official, former diplomat and journalist Samantha Power, to Papua New Guinea and Fiji from Aug 13-16 coincides with the Chinese navy’s hospital ship, Peace Ark, visiting several Pacific island countries to provide medical care.

Power’s trip would be an opportunity for the U.S. to listen to “partners and to discover how we can more effectively deliver on the priorities set by Pacific islanders,” said Michael Schiffer, assistant administrator for the Bureau of Asia at the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, at a briefing on Thursday.

The U.S. government outlined plans to boost its USAID presence during a summit with Pacific island leaders in September last year that was a response to China’s inroads in the region.

U.S. participation in the vast ocean region dwindled after the early 1990s disintegration of its Cold War-era rival, the Soviet Union. Its diminished diplomatic presence was an opening for China’s government to expand its influence by helping to meet the substantial development needs of economically-lagging Pacific island nations.

In Papua New Guinea, Power will mark the elevation of the USAID presence there to a country representative office overseeing USAID programs in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. In Fiji’s capital Suva, she will open what the agency says is a reestablished regional mission that will work with nine Pacific island countries.

How Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Might End

Benjamin Hart

Ukraine had high hopes for its long-anticipated counteroffensive, the goal of which is to reclaim territory Russia seized in the country’s south and east last year (as well as Crimea, taken in 2014) and force Vladimir Putin into a weak negotiating position. And although the country’s forces have made some promising recent gains, the operation has thus far been a deadly and demoralizing slog. Ukrainian soldiers have run up against vast minefields and other elaborate Russian defenses and have been able to make only slow progress, at a steep cost in men and equipment. With the limited time before the onset of the fall mud season, what can Ukraine realistically accomplish? For perspective on that question, I spoke with John Nagl, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who has written extensively about counterinsurgency and is now a professor of warfighting studies at U.S. Army War College. (Nagl made clear that his views on the war did not reflect those of the army, or the Department of Defense.)

I was reading a Wall Street Journal article you were recently quoted in, and its premise was that the West had not properly trained or equipped Ukrainian forces ahead of Ukraine’s big counteroffensive, which hasn’t been hitting its goals. That was mid-to-late July; have things changed much since then?
Not a lot. The defensive is the stronger form of war, as we teach at places like the Army War College. You should have a three-to-one advantage if you’re going to succeed on the offense. Force ratios are really tough to determine in this war, because the Ukrainians have been really closed-lipped about their capabilities and the forces they have, but it’s probably closer to a one-to-one. You try to achieve local superiority, but that’s hard to do because the other side is also looking to create a counteroffensive. In fact, the Russians have done that in the northeast of the country.

How Biden Can Boost Cooperation With Japan and South Korea

Andrew Yeo

Later this week, U.S. President Joe Biden will host Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at Camp David. The summit comes at a now-or-never moment in relations among the three countries. Missile threats from North Korea and deep concerns about Chinese military capabilities and intentions have motivated the three allies to band together in recent months. But those mutual concerns have existed for decades, and domestic politics—particularly in Seoul and Tokyo—have often prevented the three countries from successfully coordinating their strategies. Right now, however, there is an internationalist American president, a bold South Korean leader with foreign policy ambitions beyond the Korean Peninsula, and a Japanese prime minister bent on cementing Japan’s proactive security policy. This combination presents a unique opportunity for trilateral cooperation, and Biden is seeking to take advantage of it.

Biden’s desire to advance the trilateral relationship reflects his broader approach to geostrategic competition: building U.S. power by strengthening institutions and alliances. The U.S.–Japanese–South Korean relationship has muscle, as it is built around two technologically advanced U.S. allies that possess formidable defense capabilities and together host around 100 permanent U.S. military bases and approximately 80,000 U.S. troops. But owing to a history of colonial occupation and antagonism, Japan and South Korea make for uneasy partners, and getting them to come to terms will not be easy. What is more, the window of opportunity may be closing, so Biden needs to move quickly.

Trilateral cooperation among Japan, South Korea, and the United States has moved in fits and starts over the last three decades, accelerating during heightened periods of North Korean threats and often stumbling whenever relations between South Korea and Japan started to deteriorate.

Unprecedented' Promotion Hold Leads to 3rd Service Without a Confirmed Chief

Konstantin Toropin 

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Standing under a battle flag emblazoned with the words "Don't Give Up the Ship," Adm. Mike Gilday, the Navy's outgoing uniformed leader, turned to Adm. Lisa Franchetti on Monday morning and said that he "will be proud to call her my CNO."

The moment should have been a joyous and historic one. Franchetti was nominated by President Joe Biden on July 21 to take over for Gilday as the chief of naval operations, or CNO. She was set to become the first female officer to lead the Navy and to join the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

However, she did not take over the job Monday because of a political move that has unnerved military leaders so much that every speaker at the relinquishment ceremony addressed it in some way -- most quite directly. The move in question is a hold on Senate confirmations of admiral and general promotions by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.

As a result, at the end of the ceremony, held inside a marbled hall at the Naval Academy dedicated to fallen graduates of the institution that has produced Navy officers like Gilday for more than 100 years, Franchetti -- who is currently the vice chief of naval operations -- took over the Navy in only an acting capacity.

The Navy now joins the Army and the Marine Corps in being without a Senate-confirmed leader. The upcoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is also affected. While the immediate impacts of the ongoing retirements seem minor and ceremonial -- empty picture frames in the halls of the Pentagon and use of words like relinquishment rather than change of command -- military leaders say the lack of confirmed military leaders will be dire.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called Tuberville's move "unprecedented," before adding that "it is unnecessary and it is unsafe."

"This sweeping hold is undermining America's military readiness," he added, using some of the harshest language on the topic to date.

Why Will Roper still believes the Pentagon should work more like Formula One


Dr. Will Roper, then Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, speaks during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo.)

WASHINGTON — It’s been over two years since Will Roper left the Pentagon as the Air Force’s acquisition czar, and though senior service leaders seem to have moved away from some of his more ambitious ideas, Roper is not giving up on the digital design tools that he claims are critical for the United States to keep ahead of China.

“Imagine if China makes this pivot,” Roper said of a revolution in digital design, where data-rich models can enable quick refreshes of complex weapon systems like aircraft. “Well, their designs may not be perfect between digital reality and physical, but if they have a way to iterate and tighten those gaps, then they will be exploring at an echelon far beyond us,” he warned Breaking Defense in an August 4 interview.

Throughout his tenure in the Air Force, Roper advocated for pushing the envelope on digital design for some of the service’s top priorities. Chief among them was the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter, where Roper envisioned sixth-gen jets whose designs could be rapidly iterated to accommodate some of the newest advances. That idea appears to have gone by the wayside at least in the case of NGAD, though officials have said the service’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft drone wingmen could be more viable candidates.

“Now that I’m not in the government, it’s really not my place to judge anymore,” Roper said when asked about officials seeming to abandon some of his ideas for aggressively pursuing digital engineering. “I certainly have hopes for the government as a whole and for the Air Force as a whole.”

Former Marine captain’s Syrian detention reaches 11th year

Todd South

WASHINGTON ― The mother of a Marine veteran who has been held hostage in Syria for 11 years has long tired of the secrecy and backroom dealings that leave her and her family in the dark as to the whereabouts and fate of her son Austin Tice.

Debra Tice, 62, has watched the man who controls the White House change from President Barack Obama to President Donald Trump to President Joseph Biden.

All three commanders-in-chief have pledged to bring Austin Tice, 42, home. Thus far, all have failed.

Monday during a panel at the National Press Club in Washington, Debra Tice had a direct message for Biden.

“Mr. President, actions speak louder than words,” Debra Tice said. “Show me.”

“Show Austin that Austin has value to you and to his country. That he is worth bringing home.”

Austin Tice became a Marine officer in 2005 and served multiple Middle East deployments before concluding his time in the Reserve as a captain before attending law school.

While working as a freelance journalist covering the Syrian conflict, he was taken around Aug. 14, 2012.

Austin Tice had reported on a freelance basis for the Washington Post and the McClatchy news organization on the Syrian conflict at the time but was returning to the United States to continue his studies at the Georgetown University Law Center.

North Korea is Preparing for a New Round of Weapons Tests, South Korean Spy Agency Says

Hyung-jin Kim

North Korea is preparing for a new round of provocative weapons displays such as long-range missile tests and a spy satellite launch, as it ramps up illicit activities to support its fragile economy, South Korea’s intelligence service told lawmakers Thursday.

North Korea’s chronic economic hardships and food shortages have worsened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and U.N. sanctions. But it still has conducted a record number of missile tests since last year amid suspicions that its weapons programs are funded by illegal cyber activities and covert exports of banned items.

The National Intelligence Service told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing that North Korea’s economy shrank each year in 2020-2022 and its gross domestic product last year was 12 percent less than in 2016, according to Yoo Sang-bum, one of the lawmakers who attended the briefing.

Outside experts believe North Korea’s current food shortages and economic troubles are the worst since leader Kim Jong Un took power in late 2011. But they say there are no signs of an imminent famine or major public unrest that could threaten Kim’s grip on his 26 million people.

Japan to set up cyber defense network that includes Pacific islands


TOKYO -- The Japanese government plans to build an information network spanning the Indo-Pacific region to counter cyberattacks from such places as Russia and China, with a focus on providing support to Pacific island countries that have weak countermeasures, Nikkei has learned.

Signs of attacks and their methods would be shared on the network. Japan envisions being a bridge between the U.S., Australia, and other advanced regional countries on one side and emerging and developing countries on the other.

The Foreign Ministry has earmarked strengthening cyber capabilities overseas in the fiscal 2024 draft budget that will be presented this summer. The Indo-Pacific region, where China is building up its military presence, is positioned as a priority region. Southeast Asia and Pacific island nations will be supported through development assistance and other means.

In addition to equipment installation, Japan aims to build know-how through joint training sessions. Tokyo will also contribute to a World Bank fund for human resources.

Cyberspace is often referred to as the fifth battleground, and attacks are becoming more complex and diverse. There are rising cases of hybrid warfare, in which infrastructure like power plants are hit with cyberattacks and missiles, as Russia is doing in Ukraine.

There is a belief in Tokyo that Russia, China and North Korea are launching cyberattacks against government agencies and other organizations. China is suspected of an attack that targeted 200 organizations in Japan, including the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, that was revealed in April 2021.

Global Warfighting Simulation Puts the Pressure on Navy, Marine Corps

Caitlyn Burchett

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was in a battle in the Mediterranean Sea without ever leaving the pier at Naval Station Norfolk.

The carrier had been teleported into the 6th Fleet area of responsibility as part of the Navy and Marine Corps’ “Large Scale Exercise 2023.” The live, virtual, constructive exercise uses real-world intelligence as part of a simulated scenario, putting 25,000 sailors and Marines on a “road to war” in which they interact with each other and adversaries in a cyber battlespace -- little different than a multiplayer video game.

“We would execute this much akin to if we were underway in the 6th Fleet AOR today, and as a matter of fact, the Gerald R. Ford is underway right now in the 6th Fleet AOR and we can literally see their tracks as we are in the virtual environment next to them,” said Rear Adm. Marc Miguez, commander of Carrier Strike Group Two, while aboard the Eisenhower on Friday.

The goal of the exercise, which began Aug. 9 and will run through the 18th, is to improve the services’ cohesiveness, test new technology, identify gaps in capabilities and put pressure on military members from the deck plate to the highest level of leadership.

“We have a responsibility to duty to be able to respond globally to threats and vulnerabilities, to peer adversaries and competitors,” Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander of Fleet Forces, said in a media roundtable Friday. “And the only way you get great at that is by practicing that and you have got to practice it at the highest levels.”


Carrie Lee 

Editor’s note: This is the first piece in a series on civil-military relations that endeavors to present expert commentary on diverse issues surrounding civil-military relations in the United States. Read all articles in the series here.

Special thanks to MWI’s research director, Dr. Max Margulies, and MWI research fellow, Dr. Carrie A. Lee, for their work as series editors.

New technologies are changing the way that militaries prepare to fight wars, emerging domains are changing the range of actions that states have to deter and defend against, and the rapidly changing information environment is challenging states’ ability to signal intentions and respond to accurate information. What’s more, domestic security concerns have sprung to the forefront in the United States, challenging traditional conceptions of threat as domestic extremist groups seek to undermine democratic processes and encourage political violence.

What do these changes have in common? They all blur the lines between American civilians and the military. These emerging challenges demand new, clear thinking about civil-military relations—an area of study best thought of as the relationship between the military, government, and society. We solicited ideas from a wide range of civil-military relations scholars and curated them into a series of articles to tackle this challenge head on. Each author offers a new idea to help guide American strategy-making in the complex environment of modern civil-military relations.

How to Think about Proxy Wars in the Twenty-first Century

Vladimir Rauta

The recently published Routledge Handbook of Proxy Wars invites a reconsideration of the transformation of proxy wars, from ostensible Cold War relics to the reality of war and warfare in the twenty-first century. As one of the editors of the handbook, I offer some reflections on the thinking behind the thinking about proxy wars, as this field has changed over the last decade and matured into what we call proxy war studies. In this short essay, I hope to tease out some key takeaways. Three observations preface this discussion. First, edited together with Assaf Moghadam and Michel Wyss, the handbook owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the nearly 50 contributors whose work amounts to an intellectual reset of our thinking about proxy wars. Second, while the handbook directly addresses an audience of scholars, practitioners, and students of proxy wars and conflict delegation, it hopes to engage skeptics too. Third, the handbook is tasked with answering questions about the contentious yet undeniable reality of warfare in the twenty-first century. In line with recent data on external support and proxy wars, the handbook does not make claims that the future of war is proxy and that all war is delegated. Rather, it strikes a balance by looking at where proxy wars – and their study – are today and where they might be going. With this in mind, I discuss the nature of the problem the handbook addressed, the relevance of the debate, and what puzzles lie ahead.

Conceptually, we chose the label “proxy war.” This was a deliberate choice grounded in recent work that robustly and rigorously explained what the concept is and is not, its utility, and how it might be developed typologically. We saw no need to pursue novelty through neologisms. As we wrote in the introduction to the handbook, the term is “emotive and evocative, provocative and pejorative, often commended and criticized, renamed and reified, rejected and replaced.” It has been excessively politicized and used for ideologically charged commentary, but this is not unique to proxy war. It is, of course, not without its faults, but what concept of war today is? In fact, one can simply look at “civil war,” one of the most established categories of conflict, for conceptual competition and disagreement. We dispensed with conceptual debates not because they do not matter – they most certainly do and I have written about this at length – but because the charges brought against proxy war were often superficial and driven not by an honest engagement with the notion, but by the desire to introduce a rival term. On this, I am firmly of the opinion that if the adjective “proxy” has limitations, they are shared equally and entirely by “ally,” “partner,” or whatever preposition counterinsurgency and irregular warfare rest on these days.

Logisticians battle distance, weather, red tape in giant Pacific exercise


Logistics moved to center stage in a giant Army exercise in Australia this summer, a nod to the Pacific region’s vast distances and rough weather. But another age-old hurdle also popped up: government regulations.

“Probably our most significant obstacle was the agricultural inspections” in Australia, said Col. Daniel Duncan, assistant chief of the logistics section of I Corps, which plays a major role in Army operations in the Pacific. “They are very, very stringent.”

From July 22 to Aug. 4, U.S. forces participated in the largest-ever iteration of the Australia-based Talisman Sabre exercise, with Duncan’s soldiers helping provide logistics to more than 34,000 people from 13 participating nations.

Duncan said this year’s iteration of the exercise saw a new focus on logistics.

“This is probably the largest in scale that anybody has seen in a long time,” he said in an interview. “It’s a significant shift.”

Navy and Army ship transports started their journey to the exercise thousands of miles away in the United States before winding their way to various Pacific bases and finally arriving in Australia.