26 August 2023

How India Became the First Country to Reach the Moon’s South Pole


And then there was one.

Since earlier this month, there had been something of a footrace in space, with India and Russia vying to be the first country to land a spacecraft in the moon’s south polar region.

On July 14, the Indian spacecraft, Chandrayaan-3, blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in southeastern India, carrying a 1,726 kg (3,805 lb) lander, which itself contains a little 26 kg (57 lb) rover. Then on Aug. 9, Russia followed in hot pursuit, launching its 1,750 kg (3,858 lb) Luna 25 lander from the newly built Vostochny Cosmodrome in the country’s far eastern Amur Oblast region.

On Aug. 23, India won the cosmic competition, setting Chandrayaan-3 down gently in the polar dust at 8:34 AM ET. “We have achieved a soft landing on the moon,” announced S. Somanath, the chairman of ISRO—the Indian Space Research Organization, to a packed mission control. “India is on the moon!”

“India’s successful moon mission is not just India’s alone,” added Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a live address to the control center and the nation. “This success belongs to all of humanity. And it will help moon missions by other countries in the future.” Moments later he expanded the celebration to X, (formerly Twitter), writing, “Historic day for India’s space sector. Congratulations to @isro for the remarkable success of Chandrayaan-3 mission.”

That India and Russia were in a race at all despite India’s 26-day head start was due to the fact that ISRO sent Chandrayaan-3 on a relatively leisurely five-week trajectory, making an ever-widening series of looping orbits around the Earth until it at last reached the the lunar vicinity, where it was captured by the moon’s gravity. Luna 25 was sent on a more direct path, one designed to get it to the moon in less than two weeks. Both ships were targeted for landing on or about Aug. 23.

China’s AI Regulations and How They Get Made



China is in the midst of rolling out some of the world’s earliest and most detailed regulations governing artificial intelligence (AI). These include measures governing recommendation algorithms—the most omnipresent form of AI deployed on the internet—as well as new rules for synthetically generated images and chatbots in the mold of ChatGPT. China’s emerging AI governance framework will reshape how the technology is built and deployed within China and internationally, impacting both Chinese technology exports and global AI research networks.

But in the West, China’s regulations are often dismissed as irrelevant or seen purely through the lens of a geopolitical competition to write the rules for AI. Instead, these regulations deserve careful study on how they will affect China’s AI trajectory and what they can teach policymakers around the world about regulating the technology. Even if countries fundamentally disagree on the specific content of a regulation, they can still learn from each other when it comes to the underlying structures and technical feasibility of different regulatory approaches.

In this series of three papers, I will attempt to reverse engineer Chinese AI governance. I break down the regulations into their component parts—the terminology, key concepts, and specific requirements—and then trace those components to their roots, revealing how Chinese academics, bureaucrats, and journalists shaped the regulations. In doing so, we have built a conceptual model of how China makes AI governance policy, one that can be used to project the future trajectory of Chinese AI governance (see figure 1).

Russia Tanks Finally Parade Through Ukraine Capital—But There's a Twist


Ukraine has put Russia's military losses on full display in Kyiv as its counteroffensive grinds on, a year and a half after Moscow expected to be parading its vehicles through the Ukrainian capital.

Burnt-out Russian main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, self-propelled artillery and even the remains of intercepted Russian missiles filled Kyiv's main street in the run-up to Ukraine's Independence Day, footage from the city shows.

A similar spectacle greeted Moscow during Kyiv's 2022 Independence Day celebrations, with this year's parade marking 18 months of all-out war. Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment via email.

Kyiv officials had said public events would not be held in the capital to mark this year's Independence Day, with the exception of the Russian military equipment parade. A spokesperson for Ukraine's military intelligence agency said earlier this month that it expected a barrage of missile strikes from Russia to coincide with the national holiday.

Analysts say Russian President Vladimir Putin had expected to sweep through Ukrainian territory and claim Kyiv within days of Moscow's troops passing over the border in February 2022.

10 Ways the US Is Falling Behind China in National Security

Mackenzie Eaglen


In military capability and capacity, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States may soon be on an equal footing. US House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) recently affirmed that “China is rapidly approaching parity with the United States.”1 A few years ago, the Defense Department’s 2020 China military power report similarly noted, “China has already achieved parity with—or even exceeded—the United States in several military modernization areas.”2 The report highlighted land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles, shipbuilding, and integrated air defense systems as key areas of concern.

A recent development in these concerning trends is a memo that US Strategic Command sent to Congress in January 2023.3 That memo revealed a startling finding: China now has more land-based (stationary and mobile) intercontinental ballistic missile launchers than the United States. This is but one instance in a string of examples of China rapidly catching up and exceeding the United States in military capability and capacity.

Beijing continues to leverage key structural advan­tages that are accelerating these gains. According to the Pentagon, China’s national strategy considers military modernization a key component of its effort to revise the international order to support Beijing’s system of governance and national interests.4 It demonstrates this intention through strategies such as military-civil fusion, which blurs or eliminates barriers between government and commercial sectors to build a more capable military at a rapid clip. Compared to the US, China develops and produces advanced capabilities at a fraction of the cost and time by avoiding burdensome bureaucratic processes that provide oversight and allow for open competition.

China also benefits from its geography in the Indo-Pacific: The likely near-term theaters of conflict are close to the PRC’s shores and thousands of miles from the US mainland. For this reason, China need not even wait to surpass America’s raw capabilities to obtain the competitive advantage in several key areas. Following is an overview of 10 areas in which the US national secu­rity apparatus has fallen behind or is due to fall behind the Chinese military, absent significant efforts and intervention.

Beijing is coming for the metaverse


China wants to define how a new, promising technology called the metaverse works — and it is pushing proposals that bear an eerie resemblance to the country's controversial social credit systems, proposals reviewed by POLITICO showed.

The proposals, drafted by the state-owned telecoms operator China Mobile, floated a “Digital Identity System” for all users of online virtual worlds, or metaverses. They recommended that the digital ID should work with “natural characteristics" and "social characteristics" that include a range of personal data points like people's occupation, "identifiable signs" and other attributes. They also suggested this information be “permanently” stored and shared with law enforcement “to keep the order and safety of the virtual world.”

The proposals even provides the example of a noxious user called Tom — an ideal stand-in for whoever uses the fledgling technology, for instance for gaming or socializing — who “spreads rumors and makes chaos in the metaverse”; the digital identity system would allow the police to promptly identify and punish him.

The proposals are part of discussions between tech experts and officials at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations' telecoms agency that sets global rules for how technology works.

Chinese public and private actors have sought to set global standards on fledgling technologies at the ITU — a strategy that Western officials have previously warned about as China seeks to promote a government-controlled version of the internet and telecommunications. Western officials already rang the alarm in 2020 over similar attempts by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to rewrite how internet protocols, a key building block of global internet traffic, work.

Failing To Learn: Why Russia’s Air Bases Keep Getting Hit By Cheap Drones From Ukraine

David Hambling

Social media was rife with spectacular images of drone-borne destruction this weekend, showing a parked Russian Tu-22M Backfire strategic bomber completely engulfed in a fireball.

The destruction of one of Russia’s 60-strong Backfire force with one cheap drone is embarrassing enough for Russia, but the real problem is that was not just a daring one-off. Ukrainian drones are hitting Russian air bases again and again.

Drone Assault by Ukraine

In this latest incident, drones hit at least one aircraft on the tarmac at the Soltsy-2 airbase in the Novgorod region between Moscow and St Petersburg. The Tu-22M is a missile carrier and aircraft based in the region. The bomber regularly carries out attacks on targets in Ukraine with Kh-22 ’Kitchen’ missiles. Designed as an anti-ship missile in the 1960s, the Kh-22 was reactivated in the Ukraine war to attack land targets. Mach-3 speed and 200-mile range mean it can be launched outside the range of air defenses and is difficult to intercept, and it has been a valuable asset. Losing a launch aircraft will hurt.

According to a statement from Russia’s Ministry of Defense, the attacking drone was spotted by airbase personnel and brought down with small arms fire, but “a fire broke out in the aircraft parking lot on the territory of the airfield, which was promptly eliminated by fire brigades.” The statement claims that one aircraft was “damaged” and there were no casualties.

The images, shared by Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine’s internal ministry, show that the aircraft was more than just damaged. The independent Telegram news channel Ateo Breaking claimed that two aircraft were hit in the attack, but images seen so far only show one.

With China and Russia on the Warpath, It’s the Wrong Time to Reinvent a Triad

Robert Peters

This month, senior U.S. Army officers proposed establishing a “new triad” comprised of cyber, special operations and space and missile defense. The stated goal: to integrate these capabilities to “conceptualize more complex and effective battlefield strategies for modern warfare.”

Such a combination certainly has potential to help deter and defeat America’s enemies but calling it a “triad” is a mistake—one that risks confusion with the existing set of capabilities that has kept America safe from strategic attack for over seven decades.

The term “triad” was coined during the Cold War to explain how the nuclear arsenal deters America’s adversaries. It refers to a specific set of platforms, each of which has particular roles and deterrence functions: nuclear-capable bombers for flexibility and to signal intent; nuclear ballistic missile submarines providing a survivable second-strike capability; and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) offering promptness, escalation control, and the ability to complicate our adversaries’ targeting efforts.

The Army’s new triad concept, by contrast, was presented as a data-gathering function that will better deter an adversary, defend critical cyber infrastructure, and create information warfare cells. Gen. James Dickson, commander of U.S. Space Command, pitched the promise of the concept like this: “The fusion of traditional space-based capabilities with cyber and [special operations] can generate new and responsive deterrent options.”

Lt. Gen. Jon Braga, commander of the Army’s Special Operations Command, said that the “new modern day cyber space and [special operations] triad concept is not meant to replace the nuclear triad, but to actually enhance integrated deterrence.”

Ukraine running out of options to retake significant territory

Franz-Stefan Gady

“The question here is which of the two sides is going to be worn out sooner,” said Franz-Stefan Gady, a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Center for a New American Security, who visited Ukraine in July. “We shouldn’t expect the achievement of any major military objectives overnight.”

Gady said that Russia and Ukraine are now in an “attrition” phase, attempting to sap each other’s resources rather than secure significant territorial advances. With its ground forces largely stymied, Ukraine has mounted a flurry of new drone strikes on Russian soil, including targets in Moscow, but the strikes have caused minimal damage.

Ukraine has been also striking Russian logistical targets with longer-range munitions far from the front line for months, but so far the effect of such strikes has not been reflected on the Russian front line, Gady said.

The Future of Civilians in National Security Challenges and Opportunities


Imagine you’re a high-achieving college student, interested in serving in a national security role in the federal government. You invest years in learning a critical language—perhaps of an ally, perhaps of an adversary—a language for which the federal government has a high demand and a limited workforce. You’re selected for not one, but two prestigious overseas government-sponsored fellowships and are encouraged to participate in both. After returning to the States, you move to Washington, D.C., to pursue a graduate degree at a competitive policy school. You apply for opportunities to serve in a national security position. But because you had fellowships abroad—administered by the federal government—the hiring process takes more than two years.CNAS Focus Group, March 11, 2022.1

The national security workforce is full of stories like this one—which is the experience of someone who successfully navigated into the system. Many others decide not to pursue government service in the first place, whether because they believe the option isn’t open to them, or because the hiring process is so onerous that they lose interest or pursue more readily available options.

To meet the challenge of protecting the country and its national interests, the federal government must attract, recruit, and retain experienced, educated individuals with skills specific to national security, including foreign language proficiency, regional knowledge, legal expertise, or a background in engineering, computer science, or data analytics. It also needs people who can lead, manage, and communicate.

Fortunately, there are highly motivated Americans—from undergraduate college students through senior-level professionals—who are developing the education, experience, and credentials required for work in national security departments and agencies. This population has a strong interest in serving the country even as other opportunities present themselves. But challenges such as opaque hiring practices, long clearance processes, and limited access to professional networks hinder people’s chances at employment in the federal government. As a result, the government is unable to fill critical national security roles, while individuals with the necessary skill sets and desire to serve are sidelined from a federal career.

To attract, recruit, and retain those with the required qualifications and interests, departments and agencies must understand the motivations of the next generation and the challenges they face when seeking government careers in national security. As part of this project, CNAS researchers organized focus groups and conducted a survey to identify the motivations, priorities, and skill sets of those interested in government service, along with the challenges, barriers, and opportunities in taking this path. The project examines the current civilian national security talent pipeline and explores the problems associated with the recruitment and retention of civil servants in national security departments and agencies.

What did we find? Improvements to the federal hiring process and the clearance timeline, greater access to talent beyond Washington, D.C., and expansion of initial pathways into government service could ensure that the federal government has the employees it needs to secure the nation. These improvements require action from the executive branch and Congress.

Survey respondents and focus group participants alike expressed that their interest in government national security careers was motivated by a sense of mission, purpose, and service to the greater good. Most survey respondents even indicated that a sense of purpose or mission was the number one factor they considered when offered a job.

There is a sense that the work of government, particularly the field of national security, is unique and has no equivalent outside of federal employment—even among those who work on the same issues, but as a government contractor.

Still, even the respondents who reported a strong desire to serve indicated a deep consideration of the financial implications associated with a career in government versus the private sector, where compensation may be greater. Similarly, married or partnered respondents raised the tradeoffs they must consider between their partner’s career opportunities and the geographic constraints of government jobs in national security, which are largely located in Washington, D.C.

Respondents were split down the middle on this question—50 percent opted for the government job, and 50 percent for the private sector opportunity with higher compensation.Source: Results from CNAS survey, question 16. N=122.3

Discussions with those preferring a private sector job with higher pay revealed that it was not compensation alone that drove their decision. Rather, those who selected the private sector positions were preemptively accounting for challenges they associated with government employment, such as the time between an initial job offer and their start date (which could be delayed by a matter of years due to the clearance process). Others noted that their motivation for the private sector opportunity was tied less to compensation considerations and more to the pace of decision-making and clear accountability as measured by bottom-line outcomes in the private sector.CNAS Professional Focus Group D, February 23, 2022.4

The impact of September 11, 2001, and the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continues to play a pivotal role in motivating the next generation to pursue government service in national security, though differences exist across generations. Most focus group participants were either Millennials, who entered college and the workforce shortly after 9/11, or members of Gen Z, currently in college and the workforce. For Millennials, 9/11 occurred at a pivotal moment—they were deciding on their college majors, exploring potential career opportunities, and selecting graduate programs. Many Millennials noted that 9/11 served as a decisive factor when the importance of national security was made clear to them as high school students. Several participants who grew up in the Northeast, especially New York and New Jersey, acknowledged the long shadow of 9/11 as a motivation for their interest in national security and government careers.

What’s standing in the way of these highly skilled and motivated individuals joining the federal national security workforce? There are two major types of challenges to federal hiring and retention: barriers to access and procedural challenges. Barriers to access—including the federal internship experience, the importance of location and networking, available college resources, student loan debt, and the weight of veterans’ preference in the application process—hinder interested individuals from seeking careers in government service. And while the federal government can adjust some of these barriers, many of them come into play before an applicant ever interacts with federal hiring systems.

In general, all federal civilian job postings require an open, competitive process. However, such a process tends to favor applicants with significant work experience, even for entry-level positions. To increase opportunities for those interested in entering federal service, the government offers three programs: the internship program, the recent graduates program, and the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF), collectively referred to as the Pathways Program. U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Policy, Data, Oversight: Hiring Information, Pathways.6

Participants in the CNAS survey and focus groups reported several challenges with federal internships. First, the application process for internships such as those in the Pathways Program can be as opaque as the broader federal application system. Second, many federal internships are unpaid, and this limits such opportunities to students at universities in Washington, D.C., and those with the financial means to accept unpaid positions in a city with a high cost of living. Third, some respondents said that ultimately, they were unable to take advantage of an internship they’d already accepted because of the security clearance timeline. Internship applications are typically due during a fall semester for opportunities the following summer. In at least one case, a student was offered and accepted a summer internship during their fall semester, secured D.C. housing for the following summer, but was unable to start the internship because of delays in the clearance process—thus leaving them in the position of paying for a costly lease without being able to participate in the internship program.

Lastly, some participants experienced years of “serial internships,” instead of the short-term temporary jobs converting into full-time employment. The internships had been presented as opportunities to build both skill sets and networks, but many participants felt they only opened doors to future internships, rather than providing an avenue to an entry-level permanent position.

The advice “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is a common refrain in university career centers and from current federal employees speaking with students and professionals interested in government service.For example, Tom Manatos, “11 Networking Tips for Your D.C. Job Hunt,” Biden School of Public Policy and Administration; and “Why D.C. Is a Top Networking Destination for College Students,” The Washington Center, January 25, 2019.7 However, effective networking presumes proximity to those in government. Focus group participants from non–Washington, D.C., schools consistently reported difficulties breaking into the “D.C. bubble” or the “Acela Corridor” (referring to the Amtrak train route from Washington, D.C., through New York City to Boston). Those coming from afar felt not only that they did not have the right contacts in Washington, but also that they did not even have the personal network to make those connections.

What a U.S.-DRC-Zambia Electric Vehicle Batteries Deal Reveals About the New U.S. Approach Toward Africa


In December 2022, at a sideline event during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, the United States signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia for the development of an integrated value chain for the production of electric vehicles (EV) batteries. This MOU aims to develop a complete value chain around EV batteries in the DRC and Zambia—from the extraction of minerals to the assembly line. It also advances U.S. government objectives to secure a value chain for the strategic minerals necessary for the clean technologies that will drive the country’s low-carbon transition. Described by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as “a truly important initiative for the future,” the MOU reveals much about the Joe Biden administration’s new approach toward the African continent, an approach it characterizes as “strengthening partnerships to meet shared priorities.”

The trilateral MOU comes at a time when U.S.-Africa relations are at a turning point within the context of important geopolitical shifts, including the rise of China as a major economic and political actor. In unpacking the MOU, this article examines the wider geopolitical context of the signing, compares the U.S. approach with the Chinese approach to such deals, and questions how the DRC and Zambia can exercise agency in the MOU’s execution.

Facing threat of Trump’s return, Ukrainians ramp up homegrown arms industry


KYIV — Ukraine’s long-range Beaver drones seem to be making successful kamikaze strikes in the heart of Moscow, but Serhiy Prytula is coy about how much he knows.

“We are not sure whether we are involved in this,” he says with a charming but inscrutable smile, when asked about these mysterious new weapons.

Prytula rose to fame — just like President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — as an actor, TV star and comedian, but is now best known for his contribution to the war, running a foundation that acquires components, helps support domestic arms production and supplies front-line forces. Tracking down parts for drones has proved to be one of his fortes.

Whether or not Prytula played any role in finding parts for the Beaver, it has now joined the ranks of other homegrown creations such as the Shark, Leleka and Valkyrie.

From the outside, his foundation looks like any other nondescript five-story apartment block in the quiet side streets of Kyiv. Inside, it is a chaotic human hive of volunteers, preparing packages and dispatching deliveries to soldiers on the front. On August 9, the team packed 75 drones for military units. That’s barely a drop in the ocean, given the needs of Ukraine’s forces across a 1,000-kilometer front, but every extra eye in the sky can help save dozens of lives.

Will F-16 Fighter Jets Tip War in Ukraine's Favor?

Henry Ridgwell

LONDON —Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the decision by the Netherlands and Denmark to supply his country with F-16 fighter jets as "historic and inspiring."

The Western allies will supply dozens of the U.S.-made jets in the coming months after Washington gave its approval.

F-16 jets

Zelenskyy visited the Dutch city of Eindhoven on Sunday to meet Prime Minister Mark Rutte, before visiting Copenhagen on Monday. At an airfield outside the Danish capital, Zelenskyy climbed into the cockpit of an F-16, alongside Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

Zelenskyy later addressed the Danish parliament. "We're here to say thank you, personally. Thank all of you for helping us in our fight, difficult fight for freedom. For helping us in this war that Russia brought to our land. And which it wants, so much, still wants to throw into homes of other nations," Zelenskyy told Danish lawmakers.

Ukrainian Gunners Are Hunting Down Russia’s City-Wrecking Siege Mortars

David Axe

The Russian army widened its war on Ukraine with around 50 self-propelled 2S4 Tulpans: hulking, 30-ton tracked vehicles hauling 240-millimeter mortars that lob 290-pound shells a distance of six miles. “Tulpan” is Russian for “tulip.”

Nineteen months later, Ukrainian drone operators have spotted, and Ukrainian artillery batteries have destroyed, no fewer than 18 of the nine-person 2S4s—around a third of the pre-war force.

At least one expert theorized the Ukrainians were making a special effort to knock out 2S4s. “They are likely a priority for Ukrainian counterbattery fire,” tweeted Rob Lee, an analyst with the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Pennsylvania.

It’s not hard to understand why. The 2S4 is uniquely destructive: a city-destroying siege weapon. Even when it misses, a 2S4 can wear down enemy troops. When the Syrian army deployed Soviet-made 240-millimeter mortars against the Israeli army in 1973, “many brave men succumb[ed] to mental fatigue under the relentless bombardment,” Israeli veteran Alon Harksberg wrote.

The Soviet army deployed 240-millimeter siege mortars during World War II. The 2S4 is a mobile version of the M-240 mortar the Soviets developed in the 1950s as a replacement for the war-vintage weapons.

The Soviet army had hundreds of 2S4s but put most of them in storage following the USSR’s collapse. The Russian army deployed just four 2S4s during the first Chechen campaign in 1994 and 10 2S4s during the second campaign in Chechnya in 1996.

During the ‘96 campaign, the huge mortars took aim at rebel forces in Grozny—and proceeded to flatten the city, according to Marek Depczynski, a professor at War Studies University in Warsaw. “In January and February 2000, in Chechnya, the 2S4 sets consumed about 1,510 missiles, including 1,410 high-explosive, 40 [anti-personnel] cassette and 60 guided 1K113 Smelczak ones,” Depczynski wrote.

“Thus one can risk an assessment that most of the buildings in Grozny could [have been] destroyed by Tulpans,” Depczynski added. A 2S4 shell that struck a five-floor building would plummet all the way to the second floor before exploding. “The demolition of a building of this size required two shells of the 2S4.”

Apparently desperate to prevent the demolition of their own cities, the Ukrainians have been hunting 2S4s. In one dramatic strike in May 2022, Ukrainian gunners scrutinized a Russian T.V. report on a front-line 2S4 crew, geolocated the mortar’s position in Luhansk Oblast in eastern Ukraine and blew it up with a precision artillery barrage.

That was the Russian army’s first 2S4 loss in Ukraine. Over the next 16 months, Kyiv’s batteries destroyed another 17 Tulips, the most recent on or before Monday. “Soldiers of the 45th Artillery Brigade appreciate that which is beautiful,” the Ukrainian defense ministry tweeted along with a video of the 2S4 exploding. “Here's a bouquet from them to you.”

The Ukrainian army has made “2S4 mortar crew” a dangerous job description. But the campaign against Russian tulips is far from over. While the Russians went to war with just 50 or so 2S4s, they have at least another hundred of the giant mortars in storage.

Ukrainian forces 'reach centre of key village' amid fierce fighting

Benedict Smith and Nataliya Vasilyeva

Fierce fighting is reportedly taking place in a key village on the war’s southern front after Ukrainian troops forced their way into the centre of Robotyne.

Military Informant, a pro-Russian blogger, said Kyiv’s forces had reached the “central part of the settlement” but were being held back by the 810th brigade and artillery.

Another Telegram channel with more than 900,000 subscribers said: “Robotyne - the enemy has entered the central part, there are fierce battles.”

Geolocated footage last week showed Ukraine had breached Russia’s northern line of defences around Robotyne. Reports indicate they did so under the cover of cluster munitions.

The settlement is strategically significant because it allows Ukraine to launch assaults on the city of Tokmak, as it pushes south towards Melitopol in a bid to cut Russia’s so-called “land bridge” to Crimea.

General Charles Q. Brown—Too Many Red Flags

Scott Sturman

As the highest ranking officer in the United States armed forces, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is the primary advisor in military matters to the President, Department of Defense, Homeland Security Council, and the National Security Council. Do the skill sets and history of political activism of the current nominee, General Charles Q. Brown, qualify him to lead the country's military during these turbulent times?

“Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.” – Sun Tzu

The United States military's reputation and mission readiness are in free fall, and diversity, equity, and inclusion programs (DEI), which pervade the armed services, bear much of the blame. General Brown supports, promotes, and defends DEI passionately and unapologetically. Plunging enlistments, declining public trust and confidence in the highest echelons of command, lowering physical fitness and aptitude standards, and plummeting military power ratings are the result of these self-inflicted wounds. Just as saltwater tarnishes a sword, DEI erodes the fabric of trust, competence, and unit cohesion.

General Brown represents DEI in euphemistic terms that are palatable to the public and allude to fairness and equal opportunity. But DEI has deep Marxist roots based on critical theories, where merit is minimized, and power structures are based on identity, oppression, and racism. It is a stealth weapon devised by academics that breeds conformity of thought, marginalizes members of organizations solely due to superficial characteristics, and engenders favoritism. The Air Force faces a 2000 pilot deficit, but General Brown's priority is not focused on this crucial concern but rather the racial and sexual distribution of the pilots he commands.

Digitalisation of Defence in NATO and the EU: Making European Defence Fit for the Digital Age

Simona R. Soare

NATO and the EU have embarked on a process of digital transformation of defence. In 2022 and 2023, NATO adopted its first-ever Digital Transformation vision and a Digital Transformation Implementation Strategy, while the EU endorsed a Strategic Implementation Plan for the Digitalisation of EU Forces, integrated cyber effects in EU military operations and prioritised digital capabilities under the fourth pillar (investment) of its Strategic Compass document. Subject to sectoral strategies, different elements of digital transformation – including data, cloud and the Internet of Things – are increasingly connected, contributing to the digitalisation of defence as an enabler of multi-domain operations and defence innovation through the application of emerging and disruptive technologies.

Digital transformation entails a profound socio-technological and organisational change – beyond digitisation, which is merely translating analogue data into ones and zeros. This paper outlines the principal tenets of digital-transformation initiatives in NATO and the EU, provides a brief overview of the level of digitalisation of defence in selected European countries, and analyses the key challenges of the digital transformation of defence capabilities in Europe.

The digital-transformation initiatives in NATO and the EU are having a positive impact as European governments pursue a path of incremental optimisation of digital capabilities up to the 2030s. European security will benefit from the exchange of best practices around digital transformation, the establishment of common technical standards and data-sharing policies, and the coordination of digital capability requirements and goals in defence planning.

Drone Wars over Moscow

Robert E. Hamilton

Twice this week, drones attacked a building housing government ministries in Moscow. The Kremlin immediately blamed Ukraine. Ukrainian officials remained coy, not directly claiming responsibility for the strikes but noting that Moscow “is rapidly getting used to a full-fledged war.” In some ways, Ukraine is simply responding to what has Russia has long been doing. Since the war began Russian forces have been pummeling Ukrainian cities with artillery, ballistic missiles, and–increasingly—drones.

Kremlin officials have implied the recent drone attacks against Moscow are meant to distract attention from the “failing” Ukrainian ground offensive. This is premature: Ukrainian troops are making slow and grinding progress against well-prepared and fortified Russian defensive lines. While the Ukrainian offensive may eventually yield results, what is true is that neither side in the war has been able to make a decisive breakthrough on the ground. So, both are looking for other ways to cause pain to their adversary.

In this context, drone attacks make sense. The recent attacks in Moscow targeted a building that houses the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Digital Ministry. The attacks may be Kyiv’s reaction to Russia’s attempts to destroy Ukraine’s economy. After pulling out of the agreement that allowed Ukraine to export its grain through the Black Sea, Russian forces began relentless attacks against Ukrainian grain stores and infrastructure linked to grain exports, a critical component of Ukraine’s economy.

The recent attacks in Moscow mark a continuation of Ukraine’s drone campaign, not its initiation. Other attacks have targeted at least nine Russian oil storage depots, military infrastructure in occupied Crimea and close to the Russia-Ukraine border, and—in May—the Kremlin itself. A tally by the BBC using Russian media sources counted at least 120 suspected drone attacks on targets in Russia and Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine this year.

America’s Reactive Foreign Policy: How U.S. Organizational Culture and Behavior Advantages China

Elliot M. Seckler and Travis Zahnow

This paper critiques the U.S. foreign policy community’s approach to strategic competition with China and raises a crucial question: Is the U.S. government basing strategic competition with China on U.S. interests, or is it reacting in ways that advance the strategic goals of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)?

This paper argues that, because of its organizational culture, the U.S. foreign policy community approaches strategic competition in ways that disadvantage the United States. Through an analysis of the political, military, economic, and psychological condition of U.S. foreign policy, this paper posits that the United States has formed a reactive strategy toward China that leaves it vulnerable to China’s own competitive strategies. Through exploring historical examples and contemporary issues such as Taiwan and integrated deterrence, an underlying pattern emerges. Because it has ill-defined objectives and definitions of success, brought about largely by organizational factors, the United States is developing a reactionary foreign policy that is susceptible to CCP strategies, interests, and advantages. While this paper does not provide a definitive answer, it diagnoses American susceptibility to Chinese strategic manipulation and highlights the need for the United States to develop a more proactive and well-defined strategy to counter China’s competitive strategies effectively.

s Israeli-Saudi Normalization Worth It?

Daniel R. DePetris

Could Israel and Saudi Arabia be on the cusp of a comprehensive American-brokered normalization agreement? The Biden administration certainly hopes so, and it has invested significant diplomatic capital in pushing a deal across the finish line. But there are two problems with this initiative. First, it may fail to materialize for very practical reasons. Second, even if the effort succeeds, it will not serve American interests—and may very well work against them.

On August 9, the Wall Street Journal reported that American and Saudi officials had agreed on “the broad contours” of a deal. While the White House denied that a framework is close at hand, the Biden administration continues to dispatch senior officials, like National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, to the kingdom to confer with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). The White House clearly views the diplomatic effort as worthwhile. “There are still ways to travel…but peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia will be a big deal,” Sullivan told reporters on August 22.

As the diplomatic process continues, some terms of the purported deal have emerged. In return for establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, the Saudis want various concessions, including concrete U.S. security guarantees, additional arms sales (on top of the $152 billion proposed since 2009), and support for a Saudi nuclear program. And Israel would have to provide some concessions to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if only to help MBS show the Arab world that he hasn’t abandoned the Palestinians.

In turn, Israel is asking the United States for a formal security agreement focused on deterring Iran. Meanwhile, Washington insists that Riyadh distance itself from Beijing in general and, in particular, deny Chinese access to its military facilities.

The obstacles standing in the way of this deal are substantial. MBS, the day-to-day leader of the kingdom, might wish to place his country’s relationship with Israel on a new footing (he even called Israel a potential ally in 2022). But he cannot afford to do so if it looks like he’s leaving the Palestinians in the lurch. Though he has been willing to take more risks than previous Saudi leaders, the Palestinian cause seems to be the exception. This is no surprise. Arab leaders may increasingly regard the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as a second-tier issue, but Arab publics still view it as a top priority. As the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,” Saudi Arabia’s monarch, MBS’s father King Salman, doesn’t have the luxury of following the United Arab Emirates, whose Abraham Accords with Israel in 2020 mentioned support for an Israeli-Palestinian framework in the vaguest of terms.

The Case for American-Led Peace in Ukraine

Alex Burilkov, Wesley Satterwhite

Ukraine’s much-anticipated summer counteroffensive has all but ground to a halt. The dozen new brigades trained by NATO have sustained huge casualties without ever reaching the first line of fixed Russian defenses in strength. Russian forces, fighting a textbook implementation of Soviet maneuver defense, frequently enjoy air superiority and are augmented by increasing numbers of cheap and effective weapon systems such as the Lancet drone. Every passing day draws closer to autumn and the dreaded rasputista—the rain and mud season that impedes maneuver warfare. By all accounts, the Ukrainian counteroffensive is on the clock and unlikely to achieve its major objectives.

Western arms deliveries offer little relief. Most of the pledged main battle tanks are already in the theater, and there is limited prospect for further deliveries. Reaching for antiques like the German Leopard 1, first introduced in 1965, won’t be a gamechanger. The “fighter jet coalition” has pledged F-16s, but it’s unclear when and where these will be deployed. In any case, they would be outmatched against an increasingly active and confident Russian Air Force and Russia’s formidable integrated air defense. Stocks of precision weapons are shrinking, which clearly plays a role in the Biden administration’s refusal to provide ATACMS missiles, vital for American security in the Pacific.

Given this grim outlook, is a “Korea Scenario” the most likely outcome? This means that by the time the Ukrainian counteroffensive culminates sometime in late August or early September, the conflict freezes at territorial borders roughly corresponding to the frontline. In effect, Ukraine trades significant parts of the four regions annexed by Russia in 2022 for robust Western (American) security guarantees.

India and Japan: Connecting the Connectivities in the Bay of Bengal

Titli Basu

Japan is taking the lead in reimagining connectivity and co-creating a shared future in the Indo-Pacific by pushing a “triple I” strategy – infrastructure, investment, and industrial value chains – with the aim of fostering economic corridors, competitiveness, productivity and inclusive growth. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s “New Plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP),” launched in Delhi in March 2023, outlined multi-layered connectivity as one of the four pillars of Japan’s strategy. In this regard, Tokyo is putting a premium on Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

Infrastructure and connectivity are as much about geostrategic value as they are geoeconomic tools of statecraft. Geopolitical jostling over ports, undersea cables, digital innovation, 5G, and critical and emerging technologies is mainstream in international relations today. Battle lines are drawn over quality infrastructure and connectivity, high-technology supply chains, critical materials and minerals, and so on. Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative sparked high powered politics, and since then the competitive space of infrastructure financing has witnessed several alternative solutions.

Tokyo has positioned itself as a norm-setter crafting the G-7 Ise-Shima Principles, and also the G-20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment enunciated at the Osaka Summit. Japan is also part of several multilateral infrastructure initiatives: The G-7 launched its Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), and the Quad has its own $50 billion infrastructure commitment. Japan’s New Plan for FOIP has pledged to mobilize a total of more than $75 billion in public and private funding for infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region by 2030, through private investments, yen loans, and other means.

Does Ukraine need to compromise?


Over the past year and a half, calls for peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have been widely dismissed by the Ukrainian government and its more maximalist online supporters as either Putinist propaganda or defeatism. Yet the so-far lacklustre results of Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive have rendered the entire debate moot: right now, there is no incentive whatsoever for Russia to enter into negotiations.

As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared last week: “The prospects for negotiations between Russia and the West are non-existent at this stage.” Indeed, Lavrov applies precisely the same argument against peace talks that both Ukraine and its Western advocates made at an earlier stage in the war: that “we regard the Westerners’ hypocritical calls for talks as a tactical ploy to buy time once again, giving the exhausted Ukrainian troops a respite and the opportunity to regroup and to send in more weapons and ammunition”. It takes two sides to negotiate, and even if Washington compelled Kyiv to the table, Moscow will not currently accept concessions distinguishable from surrender, impossible for Ukraine to accept and damaging for America to oversee.

From Moscow’s perspective, the war is settling into a comfortable rhythm: the modern armour that Ukraine had demanded for so long, whose delivery elicited such angst and drama in Western capitals, is being expended against Russia’s defensive lines to little effect, at least so far. The spring’s flurry of gruesome drone videos showing Russian deaths up close has been inverted, with Russia’s supporters now exulting in the extinction of Ukraine’s increasingly precious reserves of manpower at the hands of cheap FPV drones. The Russian economy is faring better under Western sanctions than anyone expected, while European governments ride the discontent of their voters over rising living costs. On the diplomatic front, non-Western powers view the war in Ukraine with either unruffled equanimity or quiet satisfaction, happy to trade with Russia at discount prices and to assume a role in the multipolar order now demonstrably coming into being. Far from being isolated, Russia’s role in Africa is rapidly expanding as that of the West deteriorates. The greatest threat to Ukraine’s survival, the fickle will of America’s turbulent democratic system, is slowly proceeding in the direction Putin always hoped. The war may not be the stunning success Putin initially hoped for, but its recent trends seem broadly favourable for Moscow, and its disadvantages currently manageable. The necessity for Ukraine now is to once again overturn this calculus.

How to End a War: Some Historical Lessons for Ukraine

Francois Heisbourg

Russia has failed to achieve its stated purpose of taking political control of Ukraine, but still appears able to sustain the war at its current level. There is no prospect that the West will recognise Russia’s de jure the annexation of Ukrainian territory. Within the West, however, disagreement may arise on the means, pace or conditions of the restoration of full territorial integrity. If Ukraine’s counter-offensive yields meaningful gains, Ukraine and its Western partners might consider a dispensation analogous to the ‘Adenauer option’.

History is replete with wars between states that turned out to be either considerably shorter or substantially longer than any of the belligerents had expected. In just the last century, there was the Arab–Israeli Six-Day War in 1967, on the one hand, and the Sino-Japanese War that started as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 and lasted eight years, on the other. The latter conflict arguably began even earlier, in 1931, with rogue Japanese forces’ act of sabotage, which led to Japan’s limited takeover of Manchuria.1

The Russian war against Ukraine is not untypical of historical precedent, ancient or recent, and indeed bears some resemblance to the multiple-step Sino-Japanese War – right down to the Kwantung Army’s insubordination, which is broadly analogous to the Wagner Group’s recent mutiny. The war began with a minimal-force invasion of Crimea, a Ukrainian region that Russia annexed in March 2014, followed by lethal proxy operations in parts of the Donbas, another Ukrainian region. It became a geographically confined war, with more than 14,000 fatalities, including hundreds of Russian soldiers.2 On 24 February 2022, Russia undertook a full-scale attempt to seize the capital of Ukraine and to invade and occupy the country as a whole. Similar in conception to the largely bloodless Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 and the lethal and initially effective takeover of Kabul on 27 December 1979, this so-called ‘special military operation’ failed in its political objective of replacing the incumbent Ukrainian government, which the Kremlin expected to fall within four days.3 It did succeed in rapidly infiltrating a swathe of northern Ukraine up to Kharkiv and a broad expanse of southern Ukraine. At the peak of the invasion in March–April 2022, the Russians occupied close to 140,000 square kilometres, more than one-fifth of the territory of Ukraine, which is the largest wholly European country. At the time of writing, Moscow’s troops held some 109,395 square kilometres, including the territory linking Crimea and the Donbas and most of Luhansk oblast, as well as the regions occupied before 24 February 2022, namely Crimea and much of Donetsk.

AI's Next Frontier: Are Brain-Computer Interfaces The Future Of Communication?

Bernard Marr

The human brain is the most complex and powerful computer in the world - and, as far as we know, the universe.

Today’s most sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are only just beginning to offer a partial simulation of a very limited number of the brain’s functions. AI is, however, much faster when it comes to certain operations like mathematics and language.

This means it comes as no surprise that a great deal of thought and research has gone into combining the two. The idea is to use AI to better understand the workings of the brain and eventually create more accurate simulations of it. One day, it may also help us to create systems with the complexity and diversity of capabilities of the human brain combined with the speed and accuracy of digital computers.

Sounds like something straight out of science fiction? Well, of course it is. Movies like The Matrix as well as books including Ready Player One and Neuromancer have based fantastic stories around the concept of connecting human brains to computers.

But increasingly, it's also becoming a serious possibility in the real world. Companies, including Elon Musk's Neuralink and Paradromics, as well as government agencies, including the US and European governments, have established projects to test the possibilities, and working real-world applications are said to be on the horizon.

5G Spectrum Shortage Threatens U.S. National Security

Tahmineh Dehbozorgi

Adigital revolution is upon us. 5G, the cutting-edge cellular network standard, promises to reshape our digital world with lightning-fast speed, seamless smart cities, and unprecedented support for autonomous technologies. But behind the allure of progress lies a dark reality—the looming threat of cyber warfare fueled by great power competition.

Recent events have thrust the U.S. intelligence community into action as Chinese hackers deploy sophisticated malware targeting American military operations. This raises urgent concerns about national cybersecurity and telecommunications resilience. As the Biden Administration confronts this escalating digital threat, one name raises red flags—Huawei, the 5G titan with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Fears of espionage and intellectual property theft have cast a shadow over Huawei's dominance, forcing Congress to ban the company from operating in the United States since 2017. However, Huawei continues to tighten its grip over the global telecommunications market as Congress remains in gridlock over 5G spectrum allocation, which puts the US in a tight position to compete globally. In addition, Huawei has sold telecommunications equipment to authoritarian regimes violating U.S. sanctions.

This isn't just about Huawei; it's about our core industries, weapons systems, and national security. The scarcity of proper 5G spectrum for the U.S. telecommunications industry presents a significant geopolitical challenge with far-reaching implications. As the digital landscape becomes the new battleground for global supremacy, the lack of American leadership in setting communication equipment standards leaves us vulnerable to such cyber attacks and highlights the urgency of reasserting control over our digital future. According to the latest Center for Strategic and International Studies report, the United States is grappling with a pressing deficiency of vital mid-band licensed spectrum, the bread and butter for 5G technology. Projections indicate a significant deficit of 400 MHz by 2027 and a staggering 1400 MHz by 2032. In stark contrast, China has assigned more than 70 percent additional licensed mid-band spectrum for 5G compared to the United States. This discrepancy presents China with a distinct competitive edge, creating a strategic advantage in sectors crucial for America’s forthcoming technology leadership and, consequently, its security interests.