6 November 2023

Want a Ceasefire? Tell Hamas To Free All Hostages and Unconditionally Surrender. | Opinion

Josh Hammer

Just as the Israel Defense Forces encircle the Hamas stronghold of Gaza City, calls for a "ceasefire" are accelerating.

For the first week or two after the Hamas Holocaust of Oct. 7, which saw the most Jews massacred in a single day since Hitler and hundreds more taken hostage into Gaza, calls for a ceasefire were mostly relegated to far-left, self-hating "Jewish" groups such as IfNotNow and so-called Jewish Voice for Peace, along with the fifth column, jihad-sympathizing congressmen who comprise the House "Hamas Caucus," such as Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). In those halcyon days just a short while ago, even White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Hamas Caucus calls for a ceasefire were "repugnant" and "disgraceful."

How the times have changed.

During a campaign event Wednesday evening in Minnesota, Jean-Pierre's boss, President Joe Biden, announced his support for an IDF "pause" in Gaza. (Notably, Biden's pronouncement came in response to a question from JVP activist Jessica Rosenberg, a seemingly transgender woman who introduced herself as a "rabbi" despite Jewish law's clear stance against female or LGBT rabbis.) There is no way to square Biden's newfound equivocation with his clearer stance toward the beginning of the war. As Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted on Thursday, "The Biden administration is mincing words. Calling it a 'pause' instead of a 'ceasefire' makes no difference to Hamas and only gives the terrorists the advantage."

Exactly right.

Pay Attention to the Arab Public Response to the Israel-Hamas War


Once again, the Arab street is the epicenter of peaceful demands for change.

Protests have swept across the region—including notable demonstrations in Casablanca, Algiers, Tunis, Cairo, Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and Manama—in support of the Palestinians in Gaza and their basic human rights in the face of an ongoing Israeli military assault and horrifying living conditions. The peaceful nature of this wave of Arab mass mobilization reflects a growing trend to renounce violence as a means of pursuing political objectives and a desire for stability following the turbulent years following the 2011 Arab Spring.

Amr Hamzawy is a senior fellow and the director of the Carnegie Middle East Program. His research and writings focus on governance in the Middle East and North Africa, social vulnerability, and the different roles of governments and civil societies in the region.

The initial Arab public response to Hamas’s acts of terror set a secular and moderate tone. Hamas’s October 7 actions conflated the boundaries between legitimate resistance to the Israeli occupation and siege of the Palestinian territories, which categorically does not include targeting civilians, and crimes of terrorism. In response, Arab governments, civil society organizations, several media outlets, and some influential social media accounts were quick to condemn the violence and call for the protection of life on both sides. When governmental and nongovernmental voices ignored the targeting of Israeli civilians, their one-sided opinions were quickly marginalized. On October 26, as Israeli bombardment of Gaza intensified, nine Arab foreign ministers issued a statement reaffirming their opposition to violence and the killing of civilians.

Israel's AI Revolution: From Innovation to Occupation


Artificial intelligence (AI) has quickly emerged as one of the most transformative digital technologies, and Israel has pioneered its use in military settings. Despite the recent Hamas attacks, which raised doubts about the efficacy of AI-enhanced surveillance, the Israeli military will likely employ a combination of drone-based hacking techniques to pinpoint Hamas targets if they launch a full ground offensive into Gaza. In this way, Israel offers insights into the interplay between technological advancements, international relations, and human rights—an important case study as national and international regulatory bodies grapple with how best to adapt to AI.

Israel’s AI achievements span various domains, from civilian applications to national security. AI-driven advancements in autonomous driving, cyberwarfare, intelligence, and autonomous weapon systems bolster the nation’s military capability. Conversely, the Israeli security industry relies upon its close relationship with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to advance research, development, and implementation of new technologies. As part of the “dual feeding” process, leading military technology units in the IDF recruit talented high school graduates for military service, where they receive significant training and experience; upon their release from the army, many join startup companies or establish their own, often in cybersecurity.

We thus cannot separate Israel’s achievements in AI from its occupation of Palestinians. Reports have highlighted testing and deployment of AI surveillance and predictive policing systems in Palestinian territories. In the occupied West Bank, Israel increasingly utilizes facial recognition technology to monitor and regulate the movement of Palestinians. A report by Amnesty International reveals that at heavily fortified checkpoints in Hebron, Palestinians must undergo facial recognition scans, with a color-coded mechanism that guides soldiers on whether individuals should be allowed to proceed, subjected to further questioning, or detained. While Israel has long imposed restrictions and surveillance on Palestinians, AI advancements now enable the IDF to collect extensive data more efficiently.

Why the Global South Is Accusing America of Hypocrisy

Oliver Stuenkel

The war between Israel and Hamas is bad news for Ukraine. The conflict has already shifted news coverage and public attention in the West away from Russian aggression. It may also force Western exporters to divert portions of their arms supplies from Ukraine to Israel, as the United States is already thought to have done. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned last week of a “long and difficult war ahead,” which could give Russian President Vladimir Putin an additional incentive to drag out the war in Ukraine, betting on the West’s declining interest in—or capacity to—arming Kyiv as time goes on.

The End of Israel’s Gaza Illusions

Assaf Orion

In the nearly four weeks since Hamas’s heinous October 7 attacks, Israel has begun a deep transformation that will be felt for years to come. As Israeli forces embark on the more difficult stages of a ground campaign to defeat Hamas, two themes have become particularly important. First, it is crucial to understand that this is not just another round of conflict in Gaza. To be successful, the country must countenance a war of exceptional scope and difficulty that could last for many months.

Israel will have to deploy military strategies drawn from long-war paradigms alongside a multiyear counterinsurgency campaign that also leverages diplomatic, informational, and economic tools. In this comprehensive mission, Israeli forces can learn much from prior campaigns, including some from earlier eras in the country’s history. But they will also need to be resolute, patient, and nimble in fighting a war that in many ways will be different from any previous one Israel has fought.

The second insight is that the horrific massacre of at least 1,200 Israelis by Hamas death squads marked a catastrophic collapse of Israel’s existing security strategy. The failure of Israeli intelligence and security forces and of their overseers in the government cannot be overstated. The old deterrence model—which assumed that Hamas could be contained through defensive technology and occasional limited and indecisive deterrence operations in Gaza—is dead. The Israeli defense establishment will have to consider bold new approaches at every level to prevent such disasters in the future. Never again.

In this regard, Israel’s political and security leadership has much to answer for. Although the full details have yet to be uncovered, stark findings have already come to light. Potential warning signs were ignored, dismissed, or downplayed, and misguided security priorities may have made the attack more deadly. In addition to a comprehensive postwar inquiry about what went wrong, the Israeli public will demand a full accounting from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about his own role in the debacle.

Analysis: Houthis declare war on Israel, but their real target is elsewhere

Zoran Kusovac

As Israeli attacks on Gaza continue unabated, with Hamas fighters getting just modest armed support from Lebanon-based Hezbollah, another, somewhat unexpected ally has stepped in to help the Palestinian armed group.

Just a few days ago I predicted that the successful interception by the United States Navy of all missiles fired by Yemeni Houthis towards Israel would discourage them from future waste of projectiles.

On Tuesday I was proved wrong when the Houthis again launched cruise missiles and drones at Israel. They never had much chance of hitting anything: More than 2,000km (1,240 miles) away, Israel is at the very limit of even the longest-ranged of Yemeni missiles.

And to reach Israel, Houthi missiles must first evade US Navy ships patrolling the region that can shoot them down, and then Israeli Navy missile corvettes stationed in the Red Sea.

The Houthis are surely aware of the limitations of their hardware and know that even if a few were to slip through, they could only inflict token damage at their Israeli targets.

So why bother?

The answer is simple: By firing cruise missiles they are not fighting a military but rather a political war. And the real target is not Israel but the Houthis’ archenemy Saudi Arabia.

To understand this, it is necessary to look back at the history of Yemen and at rivalries in the Arabian Gulf region.

Banality of Evil: Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism

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The recent terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas gave a shock wave to the world and most of the countries stood with Israel. I am not surprised by the terrorist attack of Hamas because Evil will do what is meant for, but I lost all reason when I witnessed the attack being glorified and the general public, intellectuals, and institutions endorsing Hamas’s barbarism.

In an audio released by the Israeli military on Tuesday, a terrorist affiliated with Hamas who participated in the October 7 attack is heard informing his parents with great excitement that he is at Mefalsim, a kibbutz close to the Gaza border, and that he killed ten Jews by himself. It’s comparable to the case of Adolf Eichmann, who carried out orders and relished the extermination of the Jewish people. The “banality of terrorism,” in which Harvard intellectuals turned into utterly repugnant agents of unspeakable evil, is a more worrisome issue. LGBTQ+ organisations provided support for these acts even though they were aware that Islam disapproved of homosexuality and that most Islamic nations executed those found guilty of it. There are plenty of individuals who are knowing and unknowing carriers of the ideological indoctrination of Hamas, they are fighting in the digital battleground. There are many people fighting in the digital battlefield who are both aware and unaware bearers of the ideological indoctrination of Hamas.

The concept of the “banality of evil” was coined by political theorist Hannah Arendt in her analysis of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a high-ranking Nazi official responsible for orchestrating the Holocaust. Arendt’s idea highlights how ordinary individuals can become agents of unspeakable evil through ideological indoctrination and obedience to authority. While her work primarily focused on the Nazi regime, applying the concept to other contexts, including Islamic fundamentalism, is possible.

Understanding Islamic Fundamentalism

Israel-Palestine policy is a minefield of unintended consequences - opinion


In the midst of a world marked by resurgent tribalism and fraught geopolitics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict offers a case study in moral complexity and diplomatic missteps.

Here, let’s focus on a somewhat overlooked factor: the role of the international community. This isn’t merely a story of local animosities; it’s a tableau of global failures.

While the Abraham Accords have marked a paradigm shift in Middle East relations, with Israel securing historic alliances in the Arab world, they also underscore an interesting divergence in diplomatic strategy. Israel and its Middle Eastern partners have made a calculated decision to decouple the issue of Palestinian statehood from the broader geopolitical landscape of regional normalization.

This strategic separation serves a dual purpose: it prevents the conflation of disparate geopolitical challenges and places the onus squarely on the Palestinians to engage directly with Israel, rather than deflecting responsibility and forever calling for peace without ever truly engaging in its mechanisms.

It looks inevitable that the war in Gaza will spread. Is it?

Anatol Lieven

At first sight, it looks almost inevitable that the war in Gaza will spread. Quite apart from the anger it has caused in the Muslim world, China and still more Russia would seem to have every incentive to cause trouble for the United States – and, as has been demonstrated again and again over the years, the Middle East is the greatest area of US vulnerability.

On closer examination, things do not look so simple. In the first place, if Moscow and Beijing are content with a purely diplomatic and public relations victory, they do not need to do anything at all. US virtual silence in the face of Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza is doing it for them. Yet again, the United States has used its UN security council veto to defend Israel, as the solitary opponent both of all the other UNSC members, and a large majority of the general assembly. As western (and some US) diplomats have remarked (off the record), unfaltering US support for Israel has shredded the Biden administration’s strategy of competing with China for influence in the “global south”.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the western reaction to it, the charge has been made across most of the non-western world (including by US partners like India) that the west has one standard for white victims, and a much lower one for everyone else. The Biden administration (and many European governments) have now in effect confirmed this.

Witness (in a widely circulated clip) the US national security council spokesperson John Kirby choking back crocodile tears over Russian bombardment of civilians in Ukraine, then justifying Israeli “collateral damage” in Gaza – although according to UN figures, Israel has already killed almost as many Palestinian civilians in two weeks as Russia has killed Ukrainian civilians in 20 months. Equally striking has been the refusal of the Biden administration to do anything to help the 500-600 Palestinian American US citizens trapped in Gaza. If anyone wants evidence to argue that in the eyes of Washington some US citizens are more equal than others, they need look no further than this.

How an AI company parsed misinformation early in Israel-Hamas war

Colin Demarest

WASHINGTON — When Hamas militants raided Israel in early October, killing and abducting more than 1,000 people, videos, images and text flooded social media. Rumors and shoddy information proliferated, blurring the line between fact and fiction.

Artificial intelligence and data analysis firm Primer monitored the situation from afar using its Command software. It demonstrated its AI-enabled parsing capabilities at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention in Washington days later, promising to identify kernels of truth among the chaos in the Middle East.

“Just aggregating lots of data, particularly if it’s a really noisy environment and the facts have yet to be established, can be really problematic because you’re just making a big pile for the user to go through,” Primer CEO Sean Moriarty told C4ISRNET on the show floor. “As you might imagine, data is all over the place. There’s all sorts of open-source intelligence data. The question is: What can a professional do with it, using their knowledge and experience? And that comes down to speed, power and accuracy.”

The Command software is designed with the single-pane-of-glass motif in mind. The program takes queries from users, much like a Google search; pulls vast amounts of data, namely social media feeds and news articles; and populates the results with summaries, context and name-entity recognition. It extracts people, places and things of note, handles translations, and presents sources that explain the process like math homework.

In a demo at the AUSA event, the software sorted through information related to the Israel-Hamas war and then produced a continuously refreshed timeline of events. Some of the points were geolocated, generating a heat map of posts and interactions.

Bangladesh: Political violence grips country as election looms

Weeks of mounting political tension have erupted into protests and bloodshed in Bangladesh, leaving the country on edge ahead of general elections due in January.

Several senior opposition leaders were arrested last Sunday, a day after a massive rally against the government turned violent, resulting in the deaths of at least two opposition supporters.

The rejuvenated main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has intensified protests calling on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resign.

The BNP and its allies want a neutral interim government ahead of the general elections, arguing that free and fair polls are not possible under Ms Hasina. The government led by her Awami League has rejected this demand.

The BNP rally in the capital Dhaka attracted tens of thousands of people - one of the biggest gatherings seen there in a decade.

But things soon turned violent.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas while opposition supporters threw stones and bricks. Some roads in the capital were strewn with exploded sound grenades, tear gas shells and broken glass.

China’s imperial model and the Muslim World


China's increaaing soft power in the Global South, especially the Muslim world, is illustrated by the new high-tech capital city the Chinese are building for Egypt. Photo: The China Global South Project

The Global South, with 85% of the world’s population, has drifted out of the Western sphere of influence, as the United States and its allies discovered when countries with 70% of the world population rejected United Nations sanctions against Russia after February 2022.

The West found this out a second time October 27 when 120 countries voted for a UN General Assembly resolution opposed by the United States that failed to condemn Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel.

By far the biggest driver of this tectonic shift in world politics is China’s growing economic preeminence in the developing world.

Notably, China did this with a total forward deployment of 200 troops (marines at China’s base in Djibouti), in contrast to the $7 trillion that the United States spent overseas in the Global War on Terror during the past twenty years. The US Defense Department and various think tanks issue dire warnings about China’s military ambitions in Eurasia, but so far China has employed nothing but soft power.

China Develops Cutting-Edge "Counter Drone" Weapons to Rival US

Kris Osborn, President, Center for Military Modernization

The Pentagon’s 2023 annual report to Congress on China raises the prospect that the People’s Liberation Army may be closing the gap between its own evolving counter-drone weapons and those now operational and in development with the US Military.

The text of the assessment, which is called Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, details a collection of Counter-UAS technologies now at various stages of development within the PLA.

“Hybrid self-propelled air defense artillery systems (SPADA), gun air defense artillery, small focused electronic warfare systems, and Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) form the core of the PRC’s evolving solution to countering tactical UAS,” the Pentagon report says.

The mention of “hybrid” self-propelled systems suggest that the Chinese may be developing various kinds of autonomous or semi-autonomous guidance technology wherein projectiles are able to “course correct” as needed to intercept moving drones. The US Army, for instance, is working on advanced automation and AI-enabled targeting systems to identify an optimal “effector” or “countermeasure” for a given target and make a recommendation to human decision-makers. The reference to the PLA’s “self-propelled” or “hybrid” air defense systems suggests that perhaps some of their counter drone systems are similarly looking to leverage AI or advanced algorithms enabling measures of autonomy. However, unlike the Pentagon’s doctrinal emphasis upon ensuring a human is “in-the-loop” regarding the use of lethal force, the PLA may be less encumbered or restrained by ethical considerations, a circumstance presenting increased risks.

The Looming China-Japan Face-Off


LONDON – I am an adviser to the Praemium Imperiale, a prestigious award established under the patronage of the Japanese imperial family to commemorate the centennial of the Japan Art Association’s establishment in the middle of the Meiji period. Since its inception in 1988, the award has been likened to a Nobel Prize for artistic fields such as painting, sculpture, and film.

Following this year’s ceremonies, I visited the foothills of Mount Fuji, whose snow-capped peak is occasionally visible from Tokyo. At this time of year, this region offers another breathtaking sight, as the slopes beneath the mountain’s summit are blanketed with fields of pampas grass that sway and rustle in the wind. It is one of Japan’s most famous tourist attractions.

During my visit, the peaceful rustling of the grass was occasionally interrupted by the distant echoes of gunfire. It would not have felt out of place in Gaza and Ukraine. But what I heard was artillery and tank fire from a nearby training facility of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

This incident underscored Japan’s historic security policy shift. Under the leadership of the late Abe Shinzō, Japan began to move away from its postwar pacifism and embraced rearmament. This reorientation accelerated under Abe’s successors, Yoshihide Suga and current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, with Kishida unveiling a plan to double defense spending to 2% of GDP within the next five years.

Chinese Strategists Evaluate the Use of ‘Kamikaze’ Drones in the Russia-Ukraine War

Lyle Goldstein and Nathan Waechter

In shaping patterns of future warfare, there is little doubt that militaries across the world will be seeking to absorb the key lessons of the Russia-Ukraine War, ranging from the employment of tanks to the use of anti-ship cruise missiles and the ubiquitous drones. For the Chinese military, these lessons might even assume a greater importance, since the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) lacks recent major combat experience, and has also leaned heavily on Russian weapons and doctrine for its rapid modernization over the last few decades.

Chinese media coverage of the war in Ukraine has been extensive. The close nature of the China-Russia “quasi-alliance” means that Chinese military analysts have not engaged in the ruthless critiques of Russian military performance that have been commonplace in the West. Yet, Chinese military analyses are still probing deeply for lessons to understand the shape of modern warfare. They have taken particular interest in the U.S. employment of novel weapons and strategies.

To fully grasp the scope and depth of these Chinese analyses it is important to take assessments from a full range of Chinese military media, which is more extensive than is often appreciated in the West. These articles are generally associated with research institutes that are directly involved in the Chinese military-industrial complex.

This exclusive series for The Diplomat will represent the first systematic attempt by Western analysts to evaluate these Chinese assessments of the war in Ukraine across the full spectrum of warfare, including the land, sea, air and space, and information domains. Read the rest of the series here.

The Ukraine War Is A Drone War Of A Thousand Cuts

David Hambling

Ukraine’s counteroffensive has progressed far slower than anyone expected. Western commentators in particular complain that the Ukrainians are incapable of the type of fast, large-scale blitzkrieg they envisioned. The soldiers on the front line though see things differently though: massive assaults have become suicidal and gradual progress is the only way to victory.

We are seeing similar patterns in the war at sea, and in the air, and for similar reasons. The advance of drone technology has turned this into the War of a Thousand Cuts.

Technically known as Lingchi which more literally translates as ‘slow slicing’, the original death of a thousand cuts was a form of public execution reserved for the worst offenders in China. Lingchi was painful and drawn-out, but always ended in death.

The new form of warfare is similarly slower and more gradual than the decisive blow of the executioner’s axe, but still deadly.
Combined Arms Failure?

NATO doctrine calls for offensives based on combined arms maneuver, that is, a spearhead of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles breaking through enemy lines with the support of artillery and air power. The last two are important for suppressing defensive fire and gaining an opportunity for the attacking force to close with the enemy

Achieving the level of coordination needed for a brigade-sized unit to carry out an attack is a major feat. NATO armies staffed with professional soldiers spend years learning how to fight together effectively. Ukrainian soldiers, most of them civilians recently mobilized, get just a few weeks training before being expected to carry out such attacks. Worse, their enemy has been digging in for months behind concrete obstacles, anti tank ditches and extensive minefields.

Pentagon flying unarmed drones over Gaza to help recover hostages, officials say


The U.S. military has confirmed that it’s flying drones over the Gaza Strip to help Israel free hostages from Hamas.

“In support of hostage recovery efforts, the U.S. is conducting unarmed [unmanned aerial vehicle] flights over Gaza, as well as providing advice and assistance to support our Israeli partner as they work on their hostage recovery efforts. These UAV flights began after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.

Public flight-tracking websites indicate that the drones are MQ-9 Reapers operated by U.S. special operations forces, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Hamas captured more than 200 civilians, some of them U.S. citizens, during and after its Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday evening that Israel should pause its counteroffensive to get the hostages out of Gaza.

But the administration doesn’t think a “general ceasefire” is the right move, John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, told reporters Wednesday.

“We continue to support the idea of temporary pauses in the fighting so that aid can get in, people can get out, we can get our hostages out,” he said. “There are many factors and many players in being able to put pauses in place, and we’re working at that very, very hard.”

Friendshoring’s Devil Is in the Details

Inu Manak and Manjari Chatterjee Miller

The Joe Biden administration is shaking up decades of consensus on global trade liberalization, and is charting a new path that seeks to redefine both the values and aims of U.S. trade policy. A major component of that rethink is its “friendshoring” strategy, first articulated by Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, who declared last year that the United States would shift its supply chains away from rivals and to its partners. As she pointed out, the United States cannot allow some countries—notably China—to disrupt the global economy or exercise geopolitical leverage simply because they hold a predominant position in critical materials, technologies, or products. To counter this possibility, the administration would deepen economic integration only with countries it trusted. That is, the United States would friendshore.

Friendshoring as a global strategy has potential in today’s geopolitical environment. But in practice, it is difficult to operationalize. Important elements, such as how to identify trusted partners, what the benefits of friendshoring are for them, and whether friendshoring has implications beyond trade (such as in defense and diplomacy), remain unclear.

Why the United States Is Friendshoring

On its face, friendshoring seems like a sound strategy for three geopolitical reasons. First, we have shifted from a post–Cold War era where the United States clearly dominated as the sole superpower to a nascent multipolar period in which the United States is preeminent rather than predominant. This means that powerful actors such as China or Russia can cause both minor and major disruptions to the international order.

Pentagon Plans For Networked Warfare Will Falter Without Better Access Controls

Loren Thompson

The idea is simple: give all U.S. warfighters access to the same high-speed network so they can share vital information and select the optimum response to any threat.

That is the vision behind the Joint All-Domain Command and Control system, universally referred to in military circles as JADC2. It’s an idea that has been kicking around for decades, but now is becoming feasible thanks to the digital revolution.

Feasible in this case means a warfighting network that is rapid, robust and reliable. Oh yes, and secure.

That last item may be the biggest challenge, because once you create a network where all information useful to warfighters is readily available, it is absolutely essential that enemies not gain access.

If they did, it would be like a medieval lord handing barbarians the keys to the kingdom.

There’s no point in pursuing JADC2 unless policymakers are certain they can secure it against unauthorized intrusions.

That brings me to ICAM—the acronym for identity, credential and access management tools. Every military network has some mechanism for trying to keep out malicious actors.

However, the mechanisms vary from network to network. As the Pentagon’s current ICAM strategy warns, “The distribution of authentication decisions across thousands of applications hosted by DoD and commercial cloud vendors makes it virtually impossible for the United States Cyber Command (USCC) to adequately identify malicious cross platform activity or identity fraud.”

Gen Z gamers help Army race towards robotic future force


An Army soldier remote-controls an experimental Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) Medium during field tests at Fort Cavazos (then Hood) in July, 2022. (Eric Franklin/US Army)

AUSA 2023 — “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” It’s an age-old military maxim, but KISS still applies even to the dawning age of high-tech combat robots. As the Army puts experimental Robotic Combat Vehicles through field tests in anticipation of a contract award in 2024 and a First Unit Equipped in 2028, young soldiers are providing vital feedback on how to streamline awkward interfaces and complex controls to a robust system they might actually trust their lives to in combat.

To take one very tangible example, “we’ve tried a number of different controllers and gotten really great feedback … that was a little surprising,” said Brig. Gen. Geoffrey Norman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles team at Army Futures Command, during a Warriors’ Corner panel at the Association of the United States Army conference. “Really elegant Formula 1-style controllers … were actually less popular than a simple laptop-keyboard-mouse set up that the gamers might be more familiar with.”

Some of that feedback from an experiment at the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., recalled Michael Cadieux, director of the Ground Vehicle Systems Center at Combat Capabilities Development Command: “The operator at NTC [National Training Center] said, ‘you know what, I don’t need this kind of steering wheel that looks like an F1 steering wheel. [Just] give me a mouse and a keyboard, because I have like 29 hours of War Thunder every day, and I can absolutely control multiple robots and their payloads from a mouse and a keyboard.’”

‘All systems need to be hardened’: Officials, industry sound the alarm on quantum threat to encryption


Friederike Giebel, research associate, shows microchips for quantum processors in a clean room laboratory at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt PTB. (Photo by Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Here at only the second-ever Quantum World Congress, there’s excitement in the air about the prospects for everything from picosecond-precise timing to unhackable communications using entangled particles. But a shadow looms on the horizon: the potential for quantum computers to crack the current encryption algorithms that safeguard everything from bank transactions to weapons systems.

“It is important to us to make sure we are investing in both sides — to make sure that we are protecting ourselves [from quantum attacks] while we are also seeking to figure out … how to leverage quantum technology” for America’s own use, said Stacey Dixon, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, in a Q&A with conference attendees. “All systems need to be hardened.”

This is not a problem for the distant future but today, said James Kushmerick, director of the Physical Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is finalizing new “quantum-resistant” encryption standards. “The sooner we get this out,” he told the conference, “the better off we’ll be whenever a cryptographically relevant quantum computer is developed.”

Beyond ChatGPT: Experts say generative AI should write — but not execute — battle plans


WASHINGTON — Chatbots can now invent new recipes (with mixed success), plan vacations, or write a budget-conscious grocery list. So what’s stopping them from summarizing secret intelligence or drafting detailed military operations orders?

Nothing, in theory, said AI experts from the independent Special Competitive Studies Project. The Defense Department should definitely explore those possibilities, SCSP argues, lest China or some other unscrupulous competitor get there first. In practice, however, the project’s analysts emphasized in interviews with Breaking Defense, it’ll take a lot of careful prep work, as laid out in a recently released SCSP study.

And, they warned, you’ll always want at least one well-trained human checking the AI’s plan before you act on it, let alone wire the AI directly to a swarm of lethal drones.

“Right now you can go on ChaGPT and say, you know, ‘Build for me a schedule for my kids’ lunch boxes for like the next five days,’” said Ylber Bajraktari, a veteran Defense Department staffer now serving as a senior advisor to SCSP. With a little more programming, he added, “it could connect to Instacart or whatever [and] can order all of those instantaneously, and that will get shipped to you.”

“The technology is there,” Bajraktari said. “The question is plugging those in.”

Autonomous weapons are the moral choice

Thomas X. Hammes

To succeed in the battlespace, the United States must field autonomous weapons. This is the argument Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks made in a speech on August 28:

“To stay ahead, we’re going to create a new state of the art—just as America has before—leveraging attritable, autonomous systems in all domains—which are less expensive, put fewer people in the line of fire, and can be changed, updated, or improved with substantially shorter lead times.”

Many defense professionals are largely in agreement with this statement, but there remains a significant anti-autonomy coalition that continues to argue that the use of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS)—particularly drones—is immoral. From “slaughterbots” videos intended to inflame public fear to international conferences, these groups have argued strenuously that LAWS are simply not acceptable to a moral nation.

These groups are wrong. Indeed, it is morally imperative for the United States and other democratic nations to develop, field, and, if necessary, use autonomous weapons.
Autonomy foes deploy unpersuasive arguments

The Department of Defense makes a distinction between “semi-autonomous” and “autonomous” weapons, but there is less of a clear line between the two than many might expect. With the former, an operator must select a target but then might launch an advanced “fire and forget” munition, which does not require a line of sight. Even with notionally “autonomous” weapons, humans must still design, build, program, position, arm, and determine the conditions under which to activate these systems. But opponents of autonomy argue that the latter, LAWS, remove human oversight from the process of killing, with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) asserting, for example, that it will be difficult to assign legal responsibility for the actions of an autonomous weapon.

Global Cyber Warfare: How We All Entered the Battlefield in 202

Neil C. Hughes

Techopedia's deep dive into what 2023, and the years before, have taught us about cyber warfare, and its ramifications globally. This is a battle we're all in, whether we notice it or not.

Warfare is no longer about soldiers and spies in faraway lands. Global conflict and proxy wars have received a digital upgrade. Our daily reliance on technology places everyone unwittingly on the front lines, while our personal data and our trust in digital systems are under constant threat.

Events like the attacks on Ukraine’s power grid and the global havoc wreaked by the NotPetya malware — which in 2017 weakened companies across the globe, from SMEs to giant corporations — are prime examples of this new era where cyber offensives are designed to disrupt everyday life and further political agendas.

Last year at NATO’s Cyber Defense Pledge Conference, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg boldly claimed that “cyber is now a domain of operations equal to those of land, sea, air and space.”

As the global conflict landscape sadly expands, cyber-attacks have emerged not just as a supplement to physical conflict but as a critical battleground in its own right, often preceding or running parallel to conventional warfare.
Digital Battlefields: The Rise of Cyber Warfare

Cyber warfare enables the usual suspects, predictably consisting of state actors, rogue nations, and shadowy groups, to wage wars of a different kind through hacking, malware, and denial-of-service attacks. These attacks threaten the foundations of society, targeting essential services and critical infrastructure like energy grids, transportation systems, and healthcare facilities.

The Army needs to invest in psychological operations, not cut them

Col. Robert “Bob” Curris (retired)

The United States, as a global superpower, finds itself at a critical juncture in the evolving landscape of international security and geopolitics. The post-Cold War era, characterized by U.S. preeminence as the lone superpower has given way to a world where great power competition, which refers to the competition between the U.S., Russia and China, has reemerged. In this complex and volatile environment, the United States faces a myriad of threats ranging from traditional military challenges to asymmetric warfare, cyber threats, and operations in the information environment.

A crucial yet underutilized tool in the U.S. strategic arsenal can help counter the multifaceted threats sophisticated adversaries pose: military information support operations, or MISO, carried out by psychological operations forces. In layman’s terms, MISO is designed to develop and convey messages and devise actions to influence select foreign groups and promote themes to change those groups’ attitudes and behaviors.

These activities fall under the umbrella of U.S. Special Operations Command. While other countries have been making significant investments in this domain, the U.S. military’s psychological operations capabilities, in contrast, have been severely constrained by a lack of adequate funding and resources.

Psychological operations were subordinated to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command upon its creation in December 1989. Army Special Operations Command is responsible for ensuring psychological operations forces are ready for military information support operations.