13 October 2023

US military to move a carrier strike group in support of Israel

Tara Copp

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday he has ordered the Ford carrier strike group to sail to the Eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel after the surprise attack by Hamas that has left more than 1,000 dead and thousands wounded on both sides. Americans were reported to be among those killed and missing.

The USS Gerald R. Ford the Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier, and its approximately 5,000 sailors and deck of warplanes will be accompanied by cruisers and destroyers in a show of force that is meant to be ready to respond to anything, from possibly interdicting additional weapons from reaching Hamas and conducting surveillance.

The large deployment, which also includes a host of ships and warplanes, underscores the concern that the United States has in trying to deter the conflict from growing. The Israeli government formally declared war Sunday and gave the green light for “significant military steps” to retaliate against Hamas.

‘There Were Terrorists Inside’: How Hamas’s Attack on Israel Unfolded

Patrick Kingsley, Aaron Boxerman and Gabby Sobelman

The thousands of young Israelis had spent the night dancing at an outdoor rave, many clad in tie-dye T-shirts and crop tops.

They ended the night in a massacre.

Just after dawn on Saturday, hundreds of Palestinian militants bulldozed their way through the barricades between Gaza and Israel, drove into scores of Israeli towns along the border and sped through the farmland where the rave was reaching its sunrise climax.

The militants gunned down more than 100 ravers and abducted others, according to two senior Israeli officials, as they sprinted through the open fields. Video verified by The New York Times showed militants driving off on a motorcycle with an Israeli woman squeezed between them, screaming as her boyfriend was marched off on foot, his arm wrenched behind his back.

Those who survived often did so by hiding in nearby bushes, some of them for hours.

Bullets whistled overhead and shots resounded all around, said Andrey Peairie, 35, one of the survivors. He described crawling up to the top of a nearby hill to get a better sense of what was happening.

‘Menu of options’: What the Ford carrier strike group brings to Israel’s defense


AUSA 2023 — Following the deadly attacks by Hamas on Israel over the weekend, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday ordered the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean to support the United States’ biggest ally in the Middle East. The move, often called a “show of force,” was lauded by military experts and analysts.

But while the focus of the move is on the signal it sends regionally, experts and a senior defense official say that there are practical benefits beyond flying the flag: The ships also offer the White House the ability to resupply the Israelis, collect intelligence, provide another layer of long-range protection for Israel and, the Pentagon hopes, deter other players from widening the conflict.

“The US Navy presence in the area of this war in the Middle East is absolutely critical and the right thing to do,” said John Ferrari, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

The phrase “show of force” is often used to describe positioning ships, warplanes and other assets nearby potential conflict zones to demonstrate the US is ready to act militarily if necessary. A senior defense official said the move was absolutely made in part to show America’s commitment to Israel’s defense — with the carrier arriving in the region “very soon.”

“Bringing the carrier strike group into the eastern Mediterranean affords President [Joe] Biden, a whole menu of options to support Israel,” said Jonathan Lord, a senior fellow at the Center for New American Security and formerly a congressional staffer on the House Armed Services Committee.

Israel Under Attack

Hamas terrorists crossed Israel’s border from the Gaza Strip (CIA Map) by land (including tunnels), sea, and air (hang gliders) to conduct surprise multipronged attacks against military and civilian targets in central and southern Israel early on Saturday, 7 October 9 (about 0630 Israeli time).

Hamas Attack on Israel

Sequence of Attack. The complex attack, named ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ by Hamas, began with a massive rocket, missile, and mortar barrage – thousands of launches. This was followed by a denial-of-service attacks (Strike Source) in Israel. Hamas then infiltrated across the border into Israel by air, sea, and land. Hang gliders, small boats, tunnels, and trucks were used. The rocket attacks continued throughout the day. The terrorist group also used drones to attack Israeli targets.

Extent of Attack. Hamas, numbering about 1,000, entered about 22 Israeli towns located along the border, taking temporary control of some of those communities. By Sunday most of these areas have been retaken by Israeli forces. Israeli casualties are steep, with hundreds dead and over 1,000 wounded. By Sunday morning the estimates of Israeli dead approached 600. As many as 260 may have been killed at a ‘Musical Festival for Peace’ (The Washington Post, Oct 8, 2023) that was held near the Gaza border in Southern Israel; and several hostages taken to Gaza.

Why Hamas Attacked—and Why Israel Was Taken by Surprise

Martin Indyk

On the morning of Saturday, October 7, the Palestinian group Hamas carried out a surprise attack on Israel on an unprecedented scale: firing thousands of rockets, infiltrating militants into Israeli territory, and taking an unknown number of hostages. At least 100 Israelis have died, and at least 1,400 have been wounded; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that his country was “at war.” As Israeli forces responded, around 200 Palestinians were killed and around 1,600 wounded.

For insight into what this means for Israel, the Palestinians, and the region, Foreign Affairs turned to Martin Indyk, the Lowy Distinguished Fellow in U.S.-Middle East Diplomacy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Indyk has twice served as U.S. ambassador to Israel, first from 1995 to 1997 and again from 2000 to 2001. He also served as U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from 2013 to 2014. Earlier, he served as special assistant to President Bill Clinton and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council, and as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs in the U.S. Department of State. Indyk spoke with Executive Editor Justin Vogt on Saturday afternoon. The conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.

A number of observers have remarked that today’s events have had an impact on Israelis similar to the effect the 9/11 attacks had on Americans. But Israelis have endured a great deal of violence in recent decades—as, of course, have Palestinians. What sets this apart?

Iran Helped Plot Attack on Israel Over Several Weeks

Summer Said

DUBAI—Iranian security officials helped plan Hamas’s Saturday surprise attack on Israel and gave the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut last Monday, according to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah, another Iran-backed militant group.

Officers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had worked with Hamas since August to devise the air, land and sea incursions—the most significant breach of Israel’s borders since the 1973 Yom Kippur War—those people said.

Details of the operation were refined during several meetings in Beirut attended by IRGC officers and representatives of four Iran-backed militant groups, including Hamas, which holds power in Gaza, and Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group and political faction in Lebanon, they said.

U.S. officials say they haven’t seen evidence of Tehran’s involvement. In an interview with CNN that aired Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “We have not yet seen evidence that Iran directed or was behind this particular attack, but there is certainly a long relationship.”

“We don’t have any information at this time to corroborate this account,” said a U.S. official of the meetings.

Leading the effort to wrangle Iran’s foreign proxies under a unified command has been Ismail Qaani, the leader of the IRGC’s international military arm. PHOTO: SALAMPIX/ZUMA PRESS

Afghanistan’s Herat Hit by Deadliest Earthquake in Two Decades

Riazat Butt

Men dug through rubble with their bare hands and shovels in western Afghanistan Sunday in desperate attempts to pull victims from the wreckage left by powerful earthquakes that killed at least 2,000 people.

Entire villages were flattened, bodies were trapped under collapsed houses and locals waited for help without even shovels to dig people out.

Living and dead, victims were trapped under rubble, their faces grey with dust. A government spokesman said Sunday that hundreds were still trapped, more than 1,000 hurt and more than 1,300 homes destroyed.

“Most people were shocked … some couldn’t even talk. But there were others who couldn’t stop crying and shouting,” photographer Omid Haqjoo, who visited four villages Sunday, told The Associated Press by phone from Afghanistan’s fourth largest city, Herat.

Saturday’s magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit a densely populated area near Herat. It was followed by strong aftershocks.

A Taliban government spokesman on Sunday provided the toll that, if confirmed, would make it one of the deadliest earthquakes to strike the country in two decades.

An earthquake that hit eastern Afghanistan in June 2022, striking a rugged, mountainous region, wiped out stone and mud-brick homes and killed at least 1,000 people.

The Paradox of the Pakistan Army

Tim Willasey

For all its many faults, the Pakistan army is becoming ever more important as the one institution that can resist the centrifugal forces endangering Pakistan’s future. However, the army needs to step back from its confrontation with Imran Khan and look for some form of understanding with India.

There is a lot that is wrong about the Pakistan army. It interferes in politics too much. It makes bad foreign policy choices. It blocks peace feelers with India. It accounts for too much of GDP. It is too deeply entrenched in the economy. Its human rights record is mixed. However, it is now the main institution holding Pakistan together. In a country with nuclear weapons, the survival of a disciplined Pakistan army matters to all of us. Ironically it should matter to India most of all because the disintegration of Pakistan would provoke a regional catastrophe. Meanwhile, there are significant changes happening in the army which could have major consequences.

The Pakistan army has decided that Imran Khan is unfit to be the next prime minister, so the former cricketer has been locked away and will play no part in the elections due to take place in the next few months. This is a big gamble by General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and the newish Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir. On one level, it seems to have paid off. There has been no repeat of the widespread rioting of 9 May even when Imran was sentenced in August. Whether his adoring followers, beset by inflationary pressures, will forget him remains to be seen.

Before Zero Day: Taiwan’s Evolving Defense Strategy and the Struggle for Peace

Ian Easton

The invasion of Ukraine has upended long-held assumptions of the liberal international order, and as tensions rise in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwanese leaders are watching Ukraine with their futures in mind. The objective of this report is to provide insights into how Taiwanese policymakers, military officers, diplomats, strategists, and everyday citizens are responding to the evolving threat picture in the Taiwan Strait and offer ideas for the policy debate in Washington. This report examines leadership speeches, strategy reports, military writings, and media articles, as well as recounts findings from interviews with Taiwanese and U.S. government officials, military officers, and civil society.

China’s Space Collaboration with Africa: Implications and Recommendations for the United States

Julie Michelle Klinger & Temidayo Isaiah Oniosun

Beijing has made support for the development of African nations’ space programs a key incentive for the continent to form closer ties with China. By contrast, although US federal agencies and universities are actively involved in research partnerships with some African countries, space technology has not been a focus of US foreign policy in Africa. This report provides an overview of China’s partnerships with Africa’s space programs and offers recommendations for boosting US engagement to advance shared diplomatic, economic, and security objectives.

  • Outer space is no longer the domain of a few powerful countries pursuing strategic and technological objectives. Today, more than 20 African countries have space programs entrusted with achieving an array of development, security, and governance goals.
  • China is increasingly supportive, offering space science and space cooperation as an incentive for African states to form closer ties to Beijing. The actors involved include government agencies, private and quasi-private companies, and academic institutions in both China and African partner states.
  • Four cases illustrate how China supports the development of African capacities in satellite communications and Earth observation. China has provided financing and training, built satellites and ground stations, and cooperated on satellite navigation and climate monitoring.
  • Although US actors—both private and government—are engaged in Africa’s space sector, their activities are not coordinated with broader US foreign policy objectives.
  • The United States should relax restrictions on international space business development and access to US satellite imagery while deepening scientific collaboration with regional institutions.

Algorithmic Aversion? Experimental Evidence on the Elasticity of Public Attitudes to “Killer Robots”

Ondřej Rosendorf

The ability of states to leverage technological advances for military purposes constitutes one of the key components of power in international relations, with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation leading the way in global military innovation.Footnote1 One of the most prominent—and controversial—applications of these technologies nowadays concerns the development of “Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems” (LAWS), sometimes dubbed “killer robots.” If deployed on the battlefield, these weapon systems could select and engage targets without direct human oversight with unprecedentedly high speed and accuracy.Footnote2 LAWS raise serious legal and ethical concerns, and international debates are already underway about possible limitations or even an outright ban on their use.Footnote3

As in the case of earlier humanitarian disarmament initiatives, the proponents of a ban on LAWS highlight the public opposition to these weapon systems as one of the key arguments why their use should be prohibited altogether. These claims, promoted by like-minded states and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are partially supported by evidence from public opinion surveys suggesting that the real-world employment of LAWS would be met with significant disapproval by ordinary citizens.Footnote4 However, previous research has shown that much depends on the context. For example, Michael C. Horowitz found that public opposition to LAWS weakens when individuals are presented with scenarios where “killer robots” provide greater military utility than alternative options.Footnote5 Our knowledge of the factors that affect public attitudes to LAWS is, nevertheless, still limited.

In this article, we address this gap by investigating the role of three factors that are central to the international debate on whether or not to regulate the use of LAWS. The first are consequentialist concerns that autonomous technology is particularly accident-prone. Second, legal concerns that machines cannot be held responsible for striking the wrong targets.

How China and the UK are Seeking to Shape the Global AI Discourse

Ludovica Meacci and Pia Hüsch

While China has recently launched a ChatGPT alternative and become the first country to regulate generative AI, the UK is struggling to find a united voice ahead of its AI safety summit in November. Although both countries are determined to be leaders in AI technologies, the UK government has now confirmed that China will be invited to the summit to cooperate on the national security threats posed by AI.

High expectations about China’s technological prowess meant that technology experts and AI enthusiasts looked on with interest as Beijing granted regulatory approval for the public rollout of a ChatGPT alternative, the ERNIE 3.5 chatbot, in late August.

In March, the Chinese tech giant Baidu launched ERNIE’s highly anticipated predecessor, the 3.0 version, to much fanfare. While this early version revealed the shortcomings of a less sophisticated technology that was perhaps too immature to be released, the August launch showed improvements, despite significant differences with its US competitor: Chinese large language models (LLMs) are thought to be two to three years behind the state-of-the-art equivalent in the US. ChatGPT unavailability to Chinese consumers has created an appetite for homegrown alternatives. Far from being the only player, Baidu is one of many companies in China that have released LLMs in an attempt to jump on the ChatGPT bandwagon.

Technology as an Enabler of China’s Geopolitical Ambitions

Having identified technology as a source of economic and military power, China under Xi Jinping has made no mystery of its intentions to scale up key strategic industries and become a world-class tech power. China’s 2017 AI development plan clearly states its intention to become ‘the world’s main artificial intelligence innovation centre’ by 2030. Beijing has nurtured world-leading companies in AI,

6 facts about Buddhism in China

Buddhism originated around the fifth century B.C.E. in India, but today, more Buddhists live in China than India. Han Buddhism, the dominant branch of Buddhism in China, has blended with local belief systems including Taoism and Confucianism over the centuries and is now viewed as part of traditional Chinese culture.

Here are six facts about Buddhism in China, based on Pew Research Center’s recent report, “Measuring Religion in China.” The report analyzes surveys conducted by academic groups in China and Chinese government data on registered Buddhist temples.

1. Buddhism is the most common religious identity in China, yet few people identify as Buddhist. Just 4% of Chinese adults – or 42 million people – formally identify as Buddhist and only 10% identify with any religion, according to the 2018 Chinese General Social Survey.


Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, Nicole Wolkov, and Mason Clark

Russian forces launched localized offensive operations in the Avdiivka area of Donetsk Oblast and southwest of Orikhiv in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 9, which are likely intended to fix Ukrainian forces away from the Robotyne area. Russian forces intensified offensive operations northwest of Avdiivka near Ocheretyne, Tonenke, and Berdychi and southwest of Avdiivka on the Vodyane-Opytne line.[1] Russian forces also attacked southwest of Orikhiv on the Pyatykhatky-Zherebyanky line, and Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced up two kilometers in the area.[2] The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed up to three Russian battalions conducted an attack in the Avdiivka direction, and ISW has observed footage of fighting in the area, but ISW has not observed any confirmation of these claimed Russian advances as of this writing.[3] Russian milbloggers are largely portraying the Avdiivka-area operations as a significant offensive effort aimed at encircling the Ukrainian force grouping in Avdiivka and capturing the city.[4] A successful encirclement of Avdiivka, one of the most heavily fortified areas of the Donetsk Oblast front line, would very likely require more forces than Russia has currently dedicated to the Avdiivka-Donetsk City effort. Russian forces have largely deployed irregular forces along this frontline, primarily elements of the 1st Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Army Corps and additional volunteer formations that have largely suffered from poor and abusive command culture and tensions with regular Russian units.[5] ISW has observed no recent Russian deployments to this line. Russian forces have also conducted grinding offensive operations for relatively minimal territorial gains near Avdiivka for the past year and a half of the war, and the Russian military command is likely aware that an effort to capture Avdiivka would require more and higher-quality units than those currently deployed in the area.[6]

The increased Russian offensive operations in the Avdiivka and Zherebyanky areas coincide with other localized offensive efforts in Luhansk Oblast and eastern Zaporizhia Oblast, all likely aimed at fixing Ukrainian forces and preventing Ukrainian command from transferring reserves to critical areas of the front in western Zaporizhia Oblast.[7] Ukrainian officials have made a number of statements within the past few weeks to this effect, particularly noting that Russian attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line are meant to prevent Ukrainians from transferring forces to Zaporizhia Oblast.[8]

Has the James Webb Space Telescope found signs of life on Europa?


Recently, NASA announced that the James Webb Space Telescope has discovered carbon dioxide at a specific location on Europa’s icy surface in a disrupted “chaos terrain” called the Tara Regio. The discovery has great implications for the possibility of life on the moon of Jupiter.

Europa is one of the largest moons in the solar system, featuring an icy surface covering a salty ocean that may contain life. The famous Italian scientist Galileo discovered Europa in January 1610 with his homemade telescope. Europa has already been examined closely by a number of robotic spacecraft, particularly the Galileo probe that orbited Jupiter between 1995 and 2003.

The European Space Agency launched the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) in April, which is expected to enter Jupiter space in July 2031. NASA is planning to launch the Europa Clipper in October 2024 with a planned arrival at Jupiter in April 2030. It will orbit Jupiter, doing numerous flybys of Europa during its mission.

The presence of carbon dioxide is one more piece of evidence that Europa’s subsurface ocean may be an abode of life. Carbon is the basis of all life on Earth, as NASA notes. Animal life eats carbon and exhales carbon dioxide that is in turn consumed by plants, which expel oxygen in an endless cycle. Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe.

No, AI is not ripping off Uber drivers


Developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning have led to a series of debates over, among other things, whether it’s coming for your skilled job. AI anxiety has now crept into the domain of the gig economy, but not in the way you would expect.

Recent articles point the finger at companies allegedly using AI to “get inside gig workers’ heads” to “manipulate” their pay. The fury was jumpstarted by a law review article claiming that companies are engaging in “algorithmic wage discrimination,” a fancy term that means ridesharing drivers may be offered different rates for what seems like the same type of work.

It’s not unreasonable to think AI will make ridesharing apps better at figuring out how to pay drivers. That doesn’t necessarily mean drivers will earn less or that the rates they are offered will be determined in unethical ways.

In the consumer setting, travelers should already be well-acquainted with the concept. If you looked at prices for a flight six months ago, would you be surprised to find that it costs three times as much a week before departure? With fewer seats available, an airline can allocate them either on a first-come, first-served basis or through the current system. The current system is both more profitable for them and more likely to ensure that the person who needs the seat most can get it.

Raytheon UK confident laser weapon can secure British Army production contract


BELFAST — In anticipation of a 2025 solicitation from the United Kingdom for a production ready high energy laser weapon to counter drones, Raytheon UK is pitching itself as the “most mature” solution available.

The manufacturer plans on receiving a 15Kw high energy laser from its parent company in the US this quarter, the company told Breaking Defense, which will then undergo integration testing. The goal is to have the system up and running ahead of a “user experience trial” scheduled for the end of 2024, as part of the UK’s Land Demonstrator Programme.

“I think people perhaps underestimate what we are bringing into the UK and what we’ll be demonstrating as part of the user experience trial is production ready, it’s not a science project as they [laser weapons] have been in the past,” Alex Rose-Parfitt, engineering director at Raytheon UK, told Breaking Defense.

“When they eventually put out requirements for the purchase of the end system [expected in 2025], it will be based on what they’ve learned in this user experience trial.”

Once the system arrives in the UK, it will be fitted on a Wolfhound armored vehicle “with a radar and C2 system” before receiving a system verification check prior to delivery, Raytheon added in a statement.

Ukraine becomes a liability for the West

M.D. Nalapat

In a remarkable coincidence, media outlets across both sides of the Atlantic that constantly advertise their “independence”, took a visibly similar line on the war that was launched by Russia on Ukraine in early 2022. Whether because of a herd instinct or because dissenting voices were simply not permitted in the major western media outlets once the war started, reportage and commentary were uniformly triumphal.

In a short while, an exhausted Russia would retreat, and Kiev would retake control of territories that had been lost to it in 2014. A check of the writings of this columnist would reveal that at the very start of the war, it was his view that President Zelenskyy needed to (if only temporarily) accept the loss of control of territory in the east, rather than try to defeat the Russian armed forces in battle. While both President Joe Biden and then Prime Minister Boris Johnson were goading Zelenskyy to take on Putin, less emotional voices pointed out that the consequences of such a policy could be disastrous for what was left of Ukraine after the 2014 secession of Russian-speaking enclaves in 2014. Or that there was no way the Ukrainian military could push back the Russian tide, unless NATO joined in with them not as a supply depot but as fellow combatants. Zelenskyy understood this early on, and since then, has been trying to induce NATO to directly enter the war, whether by uncovering proof of Russian atrocities that had obligingly been left undisturbed by the withdrawing Russian forces, or by appealing to various legislative bodies in member states of NATO to enter the war directly in the interests of “saving Europe from Russian domination”.

Ignore the Noise — Congress Can Still Pass Ukraine Aid

Kurt Volker

Several pieces of good news have been buried amid the overall doomsday coverage about the future of US support for Ukraine.

First, the Continuing Resolution approved on September 30 separated the issue of general government funding from the issue of Ukraine aid.

That’s a positive. Regardless of Ukraine aid, Congress needs to find a sustainable path forward on the overall US budget deficit (which is huge at about $1.5 trillion), and on congressional leadership now that the Republican House Speaker has been removed. Once Congress does so, however, it sets the conditions for a clean vote on Ukraine aid as a standalone issue, without being conflated with wider concerns over the budget.

Second, the October 5 ousting of Speaker Kevin McCarthy was not about Ukraine aid, but about a handful of House members objecting to his cross-party Republican-Democrat deal to approve the general budgetary continuing resolution.

One of his leading Republican critics, Representative Matt Gaetz, exercised his right to introduce a Motion to Vacate under House rules that were approved when McCarthy was first elected. McCarthy did not have the votes to stop the motion, and the Democrats did not come to his rescue.

Washington’s Averted Shutdown, Divided House, and Concerned Allies

Nigel Li

The political drama in Washington has taken a fresh turn, with Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) voted out as speaker of the House of Representatives this week.

Having just barely avoided a government shutdown earlier this week, the hope that Congress might resolve its disagreements in the 45 extra days made possible with the passage of the continuing resolution on Saturday seems to have dissipated.

The recent developments are a clear indication that polarization and partisanship are now mainstays of politics in Washington, outliving the divisiveness of the Trump administration. As McCarthy awaited judgment, former president Donald Trump found himself in a New York courtroom in a civil fraud trial involving $250 million for allegedly falsely inflating his net worth in order to enrich himself.

Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who initiated McCarthy’s ouster, declared prior to the vote that there should not be a “secret side deal” between Biden and McCarthy and to support both Ukraine and border security with a resolution that “fails to give either of those issues the dignity they require.”

U.S. support to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February 2022 has amounted to $76.8 billion, an amount that includes security, financial, and humanitarian assistance.

Gaetz is part of an increasingly vocal group of hardline Republicans who have been calling for the cessation of aid to Ukraine, a country he has described as “a money laundering Mecca.”

Ukraine 'Running Rings' Around Russia Amid Crimea Wins: Ex-General


Russia's weakened military appears unable to deal with Ukraine's multi-theater offensive effort, according to a former commander of U.S. Army Europe, with Kyiv's varied attacks wreaking havoc in in southern Ukraine, Crimea, and even within Russian borders.

Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges told Newsweek in an interview that the "Ukrainian General Staff is running rings around the Russian General Staff" as both sides look to make gains before the mud and freezing conditions of fall and winter set in.

Recent months have seen an intensification of small drone attacks across western Russia, several even reaching Moscow and causing damage in the capital. Meanwhile, major strikes on occupied Crimea have become commonplace, as naval drones and advanced cruise missiles target key defensive and naval facilities.

All the while, Ukrainian troops in southeastern Ukraine have been pressing the counteroffensive that has been underway since early June. Kyiv's ground forces are yet to rend a decisive hole in Russia's defensive lines as they seek to collapse the so-called "land corridor" of occupied territory linking Crimea to western Russia.

Ukrainian soldier is pictured while on maneuvers in the Kreminna Forest on September 24, 2023 near Kreminna, Luhansk region. Ukrainian forces have been on the offensive in the southeast of the country since June, while those in the northeast have been defending against a Russian attack.

Technological determinism or strategic advantage? Comparing the two Karabakh Wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Vicken Cheterian

Why did Armenia win the First Karabakh War (1991–1994), and lose the Second Karabakh War (2020)? Or, to put it another way: Why did Azerbaijan lose the first war, but win the second? The 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is important in contemporary international politics because it was a confrontation between two regular armed forces, unlike most contemporary conflicts, which tend to be asymmetrical struggles between regular armies and insurgent groups. In its aftermath, numerous analysts concluded that drones supplied by either Israel or Turkey to Azerbaijan played a decisive role in sealing the fate of the war.Footnote1 The usage of drones and loitering munitions triggered a debate among military analysts whether or not tanks still have a place on the future battlefield.Footnote2 One study went as far as to suggest that it ‘was the first war in history that was shaped and primarily won by robotics systems’.Footnote3

Drones and other contemporary weapon systems undoubtedly played an important military role, enabling Azerbaijan to dominate the skies, destroying Armenian air defences, degrading armour and artillery, and eventually opening a breach in Armenian defences. Nonetheless, this article will avoid arguments of ‘technological determinism’ in the Second Karabakh War.Footnote4 While thinking about technology, we often focus uncritically on ‘novelty’ or a ‘radical break with the past’, as David Edgerton has said, rather than looking more thoroughly about the interaction of technology with broader questions of social organization.Footnote5 Though technology, and especially air power, continues to fascinate military historians, scholars have long stressed the importance of social context and studying the relationships between militaries and societies, rather than ‘hardware’-centred arguments. Such scholars pay special attention to the interplay between technology, military institutions, organizational innovations, communications, and logistics, all in a larger social and economic context.Footnote6 The debate about drones could be considered a continuation of the earlier debate about the place of airpower in modern warfare.Footnote7

‘Water Wars’: strategic implications of the grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Ron Matthews & Vlado Vivoda


The Nile is the world’s longest river. Since biblical times, it has acted as the umbilical cord connecting Africa’s upper riparian states. More than 300mn people rely on the Nile waters, and the push for economic growth and development means the river has never been so important as it is today.Footnote1 According to the Nile Basin Initiative (Citation2012):

The Nile’s hydrology, en route, is characterised by Wheeler, Jeuland, Hall, Zagona and Whittington (Citation2020) as reflecting ‘high inter-annual rain variability, stark differences in geography and climate, and flows modified by natural features and water infrastructure’.Footnote3 The Nile fans out on reaching Cairo into a fertile delta that is suffering from climate-induced water shortages and demand pressures from an Egyptian population that has risen from 27mn in 1969 to around 100mn today.Footnote4 Water availability is becoming a critical issue for Egypt, not least because the river’s waters are essential for irrigating the country’s crops. The United Nations (UN) has officially classified Egypt as a water scarce country and by 2025 its position will worsen to become a country of ‘absolute water scarcity’.Footnote5 As the Nile is the source of 95 per cent of the country’s freshwater, it is self-evident why the river is treated with such reverence.Footnote6

The completion of Egypt’s High Dam in 1970 after two decades under construction, stoked up Addis Ababa’s fears that Egypt was strengthening its ‘hydro-hegemony’ and jeopardising Ethiopia’s access to the Nile waters.Footnote7 This led to efforts by the US Bureau of Reclamation to identify an optimal site for building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (also referred to as ‘the Renaissance Dam’ or ‘the dam’ throughout the paper) on the Blue Nile. A suitable site was eventually found across the years 1956 and 1964, during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, but the 1974 coup d’état and subsequent 17-year Ethiopian civil war delayed work on the project.Footnote8 Finally, in 2011,

Escalation in the War in Ukraine

Bryan Frederick, Mark Cozad & Alexandra Stark

Despite the devastating losses experienced by the Russian military and both the Ukrainian military and civilian population following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, both sides have refrained from pursuing several escalatory options to date. Although Russia has escalated its attacks on Ukraine in several ways, including strikes against critical infrastructure and the civilian population, it has refrained from other options—notable given the high stakes for the Kremlin and the potential capabilities Russia could bring to bear in the conflict. However, if Russian territorial, personnel, and materiel losses continue to mount without improvements on the battlefield, President Vladimir Putin will face an unpalatable set of choices. In the extreme, the conflict offers plausible scenarios for Russia to become the first state to use nuclear weapons in warfare since 1945.

This report evaluates the potential for further escalation in the conflict in Ukraine, including the prospects for escalation to Russian nuclear use. It does so by evaluating Russian and Ukrainian behavior in the conflict to date and identifying and assessing the escalation options still open to both sides. The report is intended to inform U.S. and NATO policymakers as they consider how to avoid further escalation of the conflict while assisting Ukraine in its efforts to defeat the Russian invasion and to better inform the public debate around these issues.

Key Findings

Further Russian escalation has likely been restrained by three main factors
  • The factors are (1) acute concerns for NATO military capabilities and reactions, (2) concern for broader international reactions, particularly the potential to lose China's support, and (3) the Russian perception that its goals in Ukraine are achievable without further escalation, making risker actions not yet necessary.

For the Army’s homecoming, GDLS comes out of the huddle with the StrykerQB


AUSA 2023 — Contending with a much more lethal defensive line than any NFL team, General Dynamics Land Systems’ new tech demonstrator seeks to turn an eight-wheeled Stryker armored fighting vehicle into the quarterback star of land combat with robots as its teammates.

“The United States Army has got a lot of soldiers that love American football and so we said, ‘What’s in a name?’ A quarterback of the battlefield is what we’re trying to portray or visualize,” Scott Taylor, the company’s director of US business development, told Breaking Defense in an Oct. 2 interview.

GDLS plans to display several vehicles on the Association of the United States Army conference floor this year, including its new manned StrykerQB that the company says is designed to show service leaders the “art of the possible” when it comes to using existing platforms for manned-unmanned teaming, or human-machine integration.

But instead of having one manned vehicle either leading the way or operating just a couple ground or aerial robots, the StrykerQB is configured to hold six soldiers — two operating the vehicle, one as the mission commander and three operating multiple robots at a “hub” in the back of the vehicle. So far, the company has used that tech demonstrator to control two unmanned ground vehicles and three unmanned aerial systems.