11 November 2023

The IDF’s war on Hamas is going better than it expected… for now


After a period of doubt as IDF troops idled on the Gaza border for weeks, Israel’s government has shown a serious commitment to the ground invasion of the Hamas-run enclave.

Three divisions are inside the northern half of the Gaza Strip, cutting the territory in half and making steady progress toward the heart of Gaza City.

A month into the war, launched in the wake of the Hamas massacres on October 7, the military and Israel’s political leadership boast of significant achievements against Hamas. Israel’s allies continue to support its attempts to destroy the terrorist organization, and the unity government running the war appears stable.

But there are reasons for concern, even if the war seems to have gone even better than expected at this point.

‘Very wisely, very carefully’

After October 7, experts warned that the impending ground invasion would be “very, very messy.” The US sent military experts to Israel to reportedly convince its leaders that urban combat would be too bloody, and that a more prudent path would be an operation consisting of airstrikes and special forces raids.

Iran Is the Problem

Danielle Pletka

We’ve spent the last three weeks talking about Iran’s proxies and their savage assault on the people of Israel. About the risk of Hezbollah widening the Israel–Hamas war. About Iran-backed Iraqi and Syrian attacks on U.S. military targets in the Middle East.

Now, it’s time to talk seriously about Iran itself.

Since 1979, the United States has sought to contain or propitiate the regime in Tehran. In those 44 years, the Islamic Republic and its proxies have murdered thousands of Americans in Iraq, Israel, and elsewhere abroad; developed a group of proxy terrorist armies that now threaten the Middle East; advanced a nuclear-weapons program to the point of breakout; and perfected a ballistic-missile program that will soon be able to deliver those nuclear weapons to the American homeland.

As the Iran-sponsored, Hamas led-war on Israel has made clear, there is no negotiation, no sanction, no threat, and no containment strategy that will rein in the ayatollahs. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, said just days ago that, “When you chant ‘Death to America!’ it is not just a slogan — it is a policy.”

It’s time to believe Iran’s leaders, and to respond in kind. It’s time to think about how to remove this regime from power.

Taking such a path will require an admission that even the most earnest efforts to limit or roll back Iran’s nuclear-weapons program have failed. It will also require some tough soul-searching about U.S. history in regime decapitations, most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. But America’s experiences in both these countries are unique, coming as they did in the wake of the worst attack on U.S. soil in history, and thus may have limited application to the question of Iran.

The Futility of Violence in the Middle East


The October 7 Hamas attack and Israel’s remorseless military response have once again revived a seemingly unending cycle of violence in the Middle East. As matters stand, there are no serious efforts underway to break the cycle, and the prospect of finally resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems more distant than ever. All those who desire peace must speak truth to both Israelis and militant Islamic fundamentalists.

Growing up, most of us were taught that knowing and carefully considering one’s own past is a mark of character. Today, however, we are dealing with parties that refuse to account properly for past experiences, or to plan for their futures.

Hamas’s operation on October 7 was a more advanced version of its previous attacks in 2008, 2014, and 2021. Its professed goal was to respond to the provocative occupation practices around Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, and to liberate Palestinian prisoners. But these attacks have never changed anything on the ground in Gaza; rather, they have consistently caused more deaths on both sides – though usually five times as many Palestinians as Israelis. Then there is the inevitable destruction of infrastructure, the predictable tightening of the blockade, and the continuing crackdown on Palestinians (such as those being arrested at Al-Aqsa in growing numbers).

Similarly, in seeking to punish Hamas militarily for the 1,400 Israelis killed on October 7, Israel has not paused to examine its own record. Previous wars in Gaza did not achieve their primary objective of taming Hamas, because Israel’s approach has been to deal with the symptoms instead of the root causes.


Peter Mills, Brian Carter, Kathryn Tyson, Johanna Moore, Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, and Nicholas Carl

The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.

CTP and ISW has refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.

Key Takeaways:
  1. Israeli forces entered the northern outskirts of al Shati refugee camp in the northwestern Gaza Strip, according to local and Axis of Resistance-affiliated reporting as well as geolocated footage.
  2. Hamas and other Palestinian militants are continuing their attacks against the IDF behind the Israeli forward line of advance, which is consistent with the nature of clearing operations.
  3. CTP-ISW recorded seven indirect fire attacks into Israel, five of which targeted Israeli military facilities.
  4. The al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade conducted eight attacks on Israeli forces in the West Bank after threatening revenge for an Israeli raid that killed fighters from the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and Hamas.
  5. Iranian-backed militants continued cross-border attacks into northern Israel at their normal rate.
  6. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq—a coalition of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias—claimed responsibility for four attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria.
  7. UK-based outlet Amwaj Media reported that senior Axis of Resistance officials traveled to Iran in the summer of 2023 to establish a regional joint operations room.
  8. Iranian officials are continuing their attempts to rally the Arab and Muslim world against Israel.

Gaza Strip

Why the U.S. isn’t stopping this war, and other Middle East realities


The Biden administration faces pressure from progressive Democrats, Arab officials and even some U.S. diplomats to help end the Israel-Hamas war. But the White House doesn’t necessarily want to stop the fight — at least not yet.

Even if it did, Israel probably wouldn’t listen.

Those are some of the hard truths emerging from the cacophony of this conflict — reflected in conversations with eight diplomats, analysts and administration officials, as well as a review of what American, Israeli, Arab and other leaders have or haven’t said in public.

As the body count rises, the calculations could shift dramatically. For now, here’s a reality check on the decisions being made from Washington to Amman:

The United States doesn’t want to stop Israel’s war on Hamas.

When U.S. officials lay out their objectives in this new conflict, they mention four specifics: making it clear the U.S. firmly supports Israel; stopping the fighting from spreading beyond the Gaza Strip; freeing more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas; and helping ease the humanitarian crisis.

Stopping the Israel-Hamas war is not on the list.

That’s primarily because the U.S. agrees with Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas, a Palestinian network designated by Washington as a terrorist organization, even if it’s not entirely clear what that will ultimately look like. When asked last month by CBS News if he believed Hamas “must be eliminated entirely,” President Joe Biden said, “Yes, I do.”

The deadly missile race in the Middle East

The ballistic missiles that arced from Yemen to Israel on October 31st set several records. They probably travelled farther than any other ballistic missile fired as an act of aggression, having crossed at least 1,600km. They were intercepted by Israel’s Arrow missile-defence system above the Negev desert. It was the first time that Arrow, deployed for 23 years, had taken out a surface-to-surface missile. It was also the first ever combat interception in space, according to two Israeli officials. The incident is a small illustration of how the proliferation of missiles with growing range and precision is changing the military landscape of the Middle East.

Missiles have been part of war in the region for over 50 years. The Soviet Scud, a workhorse of the rocket world, was first fired in the final stages of the Yom Kippur war of 1973 against Israel. Huge numbers of Scuds were fired by Iran and Iraq in the so-called war of the cities in the 1980s. By one estimate, 90% of the 5,000 missiles let loose in combat between 1945 and 2017 were fired in the Middle East. Now the threat is metastasising in two ways. More people have access to more missiles. And the missiles themselves are becoming qualitatively better.

Israel fights Hamas deep in Gaza City and foresees control of enclave’s security after war

Israel said Tuesday that its ground forces were battling Hamas fighters deep inside Gaza’s largest city, signaling a major new stage in the month-old conflict, and its leaders foresee controlling the enclave's security after the war.

The push into Gaza City guarantees that the already staggering death toll will rise further, while comments from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about controlling Gaza’s security for “an indefinite period” pointed to the uncertain endgame of a war that Israel says will be long and difficult.

Israeli ground troops have battled Palestinian militants inside Gaza for over a week, cutting the territory in half and encircling Gaza City. The army's chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said that Israeli ground forces “are located right now in a ground operation in the depths of Gaza City and putting great pressure on Hamas.”

Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad, speaking on Tuesday from Beirut, denied that Israeli forces were making any significant military gains or that they had advanced deep into Gaza City.

“They never give the people the truth,” Hamad said. He added that numerous Israeli soldiers were killed on Monday and “many tanks were destroyed.”

“The Palestinians fight and fight and fight against Israel, until we end the occupation,” said Hamad, who left Gaza days before Hamas' Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel, which sparked the war.

Does the Boss Need to Weigh In on the War in the Middle East?

Emma Goldberg

After reading the details of Hamas’s attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, Brad Karp, who runs the law firm Paul, Weiss, sat at his computer and wrote a memo to his roughly 2,000 employees.

He didn’t ask the firm’s spokesman to draft it; he channelled his grief into a companywide email and hit send, just as he was moved to do after the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the killing of George Floyd. But as an American business leader condemning Hamas’s attacks, he said, he felt surprisingly lonely.

“I was disappointed that fewer leaders than I anticipated spoke out emphatically, clearly and with moral clarity on this issue,” Mr. Karp said. “If you asked any of these leaders whether they were horrified by the slaughter of innocent civilians by Hamas, they would tell you privately that they were horrified.”

Company executives have, over the past month, faced a dilemma that they’re by now well practised in confronting: whether to engage with a large humanitarian or social issue, in this case, the war between Israel and Hamas. This time, many say, responding — with a public statement, internal discussion, a donation or even social media parameters for staff members — presents complexities that they have not experienced when wading into other recent social crises.

“If you release a statement about the damage of a hurricane, there’s nobody who will say, ‘Actually that area of the country deserved a hurricane,’” said Iliya Rybchin, a partner at the consultancy Elixirr, who has advised dozens of Fortune 500 chief executives.

Saudi Arabia to host Arab, OIC summits to discuss Gaza conflict

Saudi Arabia said, Tuesday, it will host two summits for Arab and Islamic leaders to discuss the conflict in the Gaza Strip, Anadolu Agency reports.

A statement by the Saudi Foreign Ministry said an Arab summit will be held in Riyadh on Saturday and another for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states on Sunday to discuss the Gaza conflict and its humanitarian repercussions.

On Monday, the OIC said an emergency summit will be held in Riyadh on 12 November to discuss the Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry also announced the postponement of an Arab-African summit, which was scheduled for 12 November.

Israel has launched air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip following a cross-border attack by Hamas on 7 October.

At least 10,328 Palestinians, including 4,237 children and 2,719 women, have been killed since then. The Israeli death toll, meanwhile, is nearly 1,600, according to official figures.

Besides the large number of casualties and massive displacements, basic supplies are running low for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents due to the Israeli siege.

Hezbollah warns of regional war if Gaza bombing goes on

Orla Guerin

The second in command of Hezbollah - the powerful Iranian backed militia in Lebanon - has said Israel's killing of civilians in Gaza risks wider war in the Middle East.

Sheikh Naim Qassem told the BBC that "very serious and very dangerous developments could occur in the region, and no-one would be able to stop the repercussions".

Hezbollah's deputy leader was speaking in an interview in Beirut, as the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said more than 10,000 people had been killed there.

Israel's assault follows the Hamas attacks on 7 October which killed 1,400 people - 1,000 of them civilians.

"The danger is real," he said, "because Israel is increasing its aggression against civilians and killing more women and children. Is it possible for this to continue and increase, without bringing real danger to the region? I think not."

He insisted any escalation would be linked to Israel's actions. "Every possibility has a response," he said.

Hezbollah, "the Party of God" has plenty of possibilities.

The Shia Islamist group - classed as a terrorist organisation by the UK, US and the Arab League - is the largest political and military force in Lebanon.

So far its response to the war in Gaza has involved amplifying its warnings, but carefully calibrating its actions.

Tim Kaine on War in Middle East: ‘Could This Be World War III?’

Aneeta Mathur-Ashton

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA., said Monday he has had to consider whether the ongoing war in Israel could escalate into a global conflict.

In an interview with “The Hill” on NewsNation, Kaine said he has had to consider whether the situation could escalate to “be World War III,” adding that it is a question “I never had to answer in 30 years of public life.”

“People are mindful of the World War I regional conflict. And then a new party joined, and another party joined and another party joined. And then another party joined,” Kaine said. “And then suddenly, you had a global war.”

The war, which has entered its one-month mark, continues to rage on as Israel says its troops are operating in the “heart of Gaza.”

An estimated 10,000 Palestinians have died in the wake of Hamas’ attack, with the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling the strip a “graveyard for children.”
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State-Sponsored Cyber Attacks Against India Went Up by 278% Between 2021 and September 2023

New Delhi: State-sponsored cyber attacks against India increased by 278% between 2021 and September 2023, with services companies, including information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, seeing the highest share of attacks, a new report has found.

During this period, targeted cyber attacks on government agencies went up by 460%, while startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) saw a whopping increase by 508%.

According to the 2023 India Threat Landscape Report by Singapore-based cybersecurity firm Cyfirma, India is the most targeted country globally, facing 13.7% of all cyber attacks, the Economic Times reported.

The US is the second most targeted country, with 9.6% of all attacks. Indonesia and China follow, with 9.3% and 4.5% of all attacks, respectively.

Cyfirma founder and chief executive Kumar Ritesh told ET that India is also experiencing a higher proportion of foreign state-influenced cyber attacks compared to the global average.

He said that globally, almost 68% of cyber attacks in the last three years were state-sponsored. “If you look at the India number, this is slightly higher, at 72%,” he said.

Cyfirma found that services companies, including IT and BPO, were at the receiving end of 14.3% of cyber attacks between March 2021 and September 2023. This was followed by manufacturing at 11.6%, and healthcare and education at around 10% each. Retail, including online platforms, saw 9.8% of attacks while government agencies saw 9.6%. Banking and financial services institutions, automobiles, and airlines saw 9.5%, 8.3%, and 6.1% of attacks, respectively, the business daily reported.

U.S. weapons, taxpayer dollars end up with Taliban, Hamas

Casey Harper 

Concerns that American weapons and tax dollars are increasingly going to groups such as the Taliban and Hamas are coming under increasing scrutiny.

Debate over whether the U.S. should send funds to Hamas-controlled Gaza has re-sparked the issue, with foreign aid to the Middle East and weapons left behind in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. troops, front and center in the conversation.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., has been among the most outspoken opponents of funding for Gaza, saying that aid will fall into the hands of the terrorist group, Hamas, which kicked off a war with Israel when it killed more than 1,400 Israelis and took hundreds of hostages, including Americans.

Biden announced $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza last month.

“If we send aid into Gaza, it is almost guaranteed the money will fall into terrorists’ hands,” Blackburn wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We must focus first on eradicating Hamas to help the Palestinian people.”

Blackburn pointed to a new document from the federal watchdog for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which oversees foreign aid. That watchdog already raised the alarm earlier this month about the risk of this funding falling into the hands of terrorists.

The USAID Office of Inspector General released a “situational alert” saying it has “identified this area as high-risk for potential diversion and misuse of U.S.-funded assistance.”

Why Is Pakistan Expelling 1.7 Million Afghans?

Michael Kugelman

The highlights this week: Pakistan starts to expel 1.7 million Afghans and other undocumented foreigners, Qatar sentences to death eight Indian nationals on charges of spying for Israel, and political violence amps up in Bangladesh ahead of an important election.

Why Is Pakistan Expelling 1.7 Million Afghans?

On Wednesday, Pakistan began the process of expelling all undocumented foreigners, including 1.7 million Afghans—one of the country’s largest immigrant communities. Officials say the policy, which was first announced last month, will be implemented in phases, with migrants and refugees temporarily placed in holding centers before deportation.

Afghans in Pakistan have faced forced repatriations in the past but never on this scale. Islamabad claims the mass expulsion will protect public welfare and make Pakistan safer. But it’s likely that domestic politics and worsening relations with Taliban-led Afghanistan drove the government’s decision.

In recent weeks, Islamabad called on undocumented foreigners to leave voluntarily by Nov. 1. The government said on Monday that around 200,000 Afghan nationals had left over the past two months. Recent days have featured harrowing scenes of Afghan students hugging their Pakistani classmates goodbye and trucks lining up at the border piled high with Afghans’ belongings.

Russia is turning increasingly hostile toward Israel as it picks sides in the Middle East

Holly Ellyatt

When the Israel-Hamas war started a month ago, Russia was conspicuously measured in its immediate response to the conflict, issuing cautious statements calling for cool heads and a cease-fire.

As Israel’s assault on the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip has intensified, with over 10,000 Palestinians believed to have now died in the heavily-bombarded enclave, Russia has increasingly abandoned its more neutral stance and is becoming openly critical and hostile toward Israel.

Russia’s initially sober response to the eruption of violence was seen to be a result of the Kremlin carefully weighing up its competing and conflicting interests in the Middle East.

Russia has always enjoyed constructive relations with Israel, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israel’s Premier Benjamin Netanyahu enjoying a close relationship and vowing to deepen Israeli-Russian ties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as Iranian Minister of Petroleum Javad Owji (second from left) looks on during the welcoming ceremony at the airport on July 19, 2022, in Tehran, Iran. Putin and his Turkish counterpart Erdogan arrived in Iran for the summit.

Investment from the Middle East keeps flowing to Hollywood despite the Israel-Hamas war. But that could change fast.

Lucia Moses

Mohammed Al Turki, the CEO of Red Sea International Film Festival, and Sharon Stone attend the Women in Cinema red carpet during the 2022 fest. Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for The Red Sea International Film Festival

The Israel-Hamas war could derail the Middle East's media and entertainment ambition and investments.

Some deals are moving forward, but some Hollywood stakeholders are shying away from the region.

A wider war could slow the flow of money to Hollywood at a time when funding is hard to come by.

At last year's Red Sea Film Festival in Saudi Arabia, American producers, filmmakers, and stars made a robust showing. If the celebrities in attendance were mostly of the aging variety, and if some of them reportedly were paid to attend, so be it — the second annual fest in Jeddah nonetheless signaled the Saudi kingdom's huge investment in its local film industry and its ambitions to become a global player in entertainment.

Critics tagged the event as a kind of arts-washing, a bid to glow up the reputation of a regime whose recent social reforms haven't begun to erase its poor human rights record and role in the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Still, the US presence highlighted the deepening ties between Hollywood and the region, as Western media, entertainment, and sports entities have seen major investment in recent years from Saudi, Qatar, and the UAE.

Is this the beginning of the end of the war in Ukraine?


“I don’t think that [the war] is a stalemate,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky told NBC News’ Meet the Press on Sunday.

“They thought they would checkmate us, but,” he insisted, “this didn’t happen.” According to recent interviews, his military leadership disagrees. His political inner circle thinks his insistence is delusional.

Zelensky is facing pressure both from within Ukraine and from without. Growing pressure from within is coming from both the political and military leadership; growing pressure from without is coming from Ukraine’s key partners.

The battle is largely being played out in the Western media. Most intimately, Zelensky has faced criticism from his political inner circle. TIME magazine reports that some of the president’s advisors have become worried that his “belief in Ukraine’s ultimate victory over Russia . . . “verg[es] on the messianic.” One of Zelensky’s “closest aides” said that Zelensky “deludes himself.” The aide complained, “We’re out of options. We’re not winning. But try telling him that.”

Some Zelensky aides say his intransigence hampers Ukraine’s ability to adapt to the changed reality on the battlefield and worry that negotiating a settlement with Russia remains “taboo.”

Domestic criticism is also coming from the top levels of the military. Zelensky is reportedly in conflict with his generals over the conduct of the counteroffensive and over his demands to defend Bakhmut and Avdiivka at any cost, which the military leadership sees as a strategic mistake that is already hurting Ukraine dearly in soldiers and equipment.

The World Aflame

George Friedman

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece titled “The World Begins to Reorder Itself.” There is certainly a new order coming, but unlike the reordering that took place after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, this reordering will emerge from wars and potential wars. The Ukraine war has been raging for nearly two years. There are hints that a peace agreement might be reached, but the conflict continues. The war between Hamas and Israel has been underway for about a month, and it is perhaps the most bitter and unrelenting war seen in a place where unrelenting warfare has become an art.

It goes on. I have heard from two people I trust highly that Serbia is preparing for war. Serbia and Kosovo fought a bloody war in 1998-99 in which the U.S. and NATO sided with Kosovo and conducted a bombing campaign against Serbia. I hope these sources are wrong, but I think this will happen and spread beyond the Balkans.

The Chinese have been intruding on the margins of the Philippines. The Japanese have publicly stated that they will work to strengthen Philippine defenses and help by sending warships in the event China attacks. Japan has also announced that it is increasing cooperation with Malaysia. In addition, China and India have been fighting an off-and-on border war. Japan told India that it was prepared to offer unspecified support.

China has been under substantial economic stress. I do not think it has the naval strength that others believe it does, but it is still a major power. Thus, the Japanese decision to challenge China, even given U.S. support, represents a new role for Japan in the Western Pacific, and one China might be unable to live with. China’s slowing economy is also weakening its government.

Black Humor in ‘Communist Fat Camp’

Francis Foster

Twenty or so years ago, I was visiting Caracas, the capital of Venezuela—where my mother is from and my grandparents still live—and I met a girl at a party who I instantly connected with. Her name was Diana. We flirted for a bit, but my best friend also had a crush on her, so I backed off. Years later, I returned to Venezuela and wondered if she was still around, and still single.

“Oh, you didn’t hear?” my friend said. “She died.”

Just months before, he told me, she’d been in a car chase with a group of thugs, who were trying to rob and kidnap her. She lost control of her vehicle and it crashed, bursting into flames. No attempts were made to save her and she burned to death in the inferno.

Without skipping a beat, my friend ended his story by saying, “Anyway, man, you want a beer?”

This is the Venezuela I know.

It’s easy to look at the news today—with hundreds upon thousands of Venezuelan migrants flooding into the U.S. over the last few years—and think that something drastic and horrible must’ve happened in Venezuela recently. But the mass exodus is the result of decades of corruption and violence. And what’s truly remarkable isn’t how many people are leaving, but why so many are staying.

Memo to the White House: Have the Courage of Americans’ Convictions

Sam Greene

For the first 20 months of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the case made by the Biden administration to the American people about support for the country was built almost exclusively on moral and emotional considerations: standing up for victims against aggressors, fighting for democracies against autocracies.

On October 19, that changed. Now it needs to change some more.

In an Oval Office address watched by 20 million Americans, President Joe Biden argued that the US is facing a coalition of challengers — Moscow and Beijing, Iran, and Hamas — who share the common aim of undermining American power and influence. Holding the line, from Ukraine to Israel, he said, is the key to ensuring that the US doesn’t have to fight a much larger war. While that message may have fallen on stony ground in parts of Capitol Hill, where aid for Ukraine is still stuck, all indications are that it is finding fertile ground among ordinary Americans of all political persuasions.

Contrary to what passes for conventional wisdom — which holds that Americans, and thus their elected representatives, no longer support aid to Ukraine — polling data suggest that a majority of voters continue to believe that Washington should send more military and economic aid to Kyiv.

To wit, 53% of respondents to a Quinnipiac University poll on November 2 supported further military aid, including 77% of Democrats and 52% of independents. A New York Times/Siena survey released November 5 showed 58% support for additional economic and military aid, including 79% of Democrats and 55% of independents, versus only 38% opposition.


Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, Angelica Evans, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. Kagan

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces transferred a limited number of armored vehicles to the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast and are continuing larger-than-usual ground operations on the east bank with a light infantry grouping of roughly battalion size. Russian milbloggers amplified a picture on November 6 purporting to show a Ukrainian tracked amphibious transport (PTS) vehicle carrying an infantry fighting vehicle onto the east bank near Krynky (30km northeast of Kherson City and 2km from the Dnipro River).[1] Other milbloggers claimed on November 7 that a Ukrainian amphibious infantry fighting vehicle crossed the Dnipro River on its own near Krynky and amplified separate footage on November 7 purporting to show a destroyed Western amphibious armored personnel carrier in an unspecified location on the east bank.[2] Select Russian milbloggers claimed that either one or two Ukrainian PTS vehicles crossed the Dnipro near Krynky, while other milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces transferred several unspecified armored vehicles to the area.[3] Russian milbloggers claimed that more than 300 Ukrainian personnel (about a battalion’s worth) are operating on the east bank in the Krynky area and continue to claim that Ukrainian forces maintain positions in central Krynky and nearby areas.[4] One milblogger claimed that several hundred Ukrainian personnel are operating throughout east bank Kherson Oblast.[5] Russian milbloggers claimed that combat engagements continued near Krynky, as well as near Poyma (12km east of Kherson City and 4km from the Dnipro River), Pishchanivka (13km east of Kherson City and 3km from the Dnipro River), and Pidstepne (17km east of Kherson City and 4km from the Dnipro River), but did not claim that Ukrainian attempts to advance on November 6 and 7 were particularly larger than in previous days.[6]

Ukrainian forces likely conducted initial company-sized assaults across the Dnipro River onto the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast on October 17 and 18.[7] The reported battalion-size Ukrainian force grouping on the east bank suggests that heavy Russian interdiction efforts along the Dnipro River have not prevented Ukrainian forces from transferring additional personnel and materiel to positions on the east bank. ISW will not speculate on the prospects of ongoing Ukrainian activity on the east bank of Kherson Oblast.

The MQ-9B Sea Guardian and the revolution in anti-submarine warfare

Usman Haider


Amidst the advancements in artificial intelligence, hypersonic missiles, quantum computing, cyberattacks, and lethal autonomous weapons, there is one aspect that has been overlooked in the current discourse on the revolution in military affairs (RMA) – the new revolution in anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Using uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as the MQ-9B Sea Guardian, in anti-submarine roles will significantly alter how ASW is conducted. The shift will be significant, as submarines have been notoriously difficult to find and target.

The recent introduction of General Atomic’s MQ-9B Sea Guardian UAV is a clear sign that a revolution in ASW is on the horizon – bringing about what Colin Grey termed ‘a radical change in the character or conduct of war’ – in this case, the war at sea.1 The change will make submarines, a platform known for their second-strike capability, far more vulnerable. This will usher in a shift in Strategic Stability that will have an impact on the future conduct and character of war at sea.

General Atomic’s MQ-9B Sea Guardian.

AC-130J Ghostriders Could Lose Their Big 105mm Guns


The Air Force's AC-130J Ghostrider gunships might lose their iconic 105mm howitzers, starting within the next two years or so. The deliberations centre heavily on a desire for more stand-off strike capacity, especially ahead of any potential future high-conflict, such as one against China. The service has already been testing special operations C-130s, along with other cargo aircraft, as possible cruise missile carriers using palletized launch systems.

Stephen Losey from Defense News first reported that the future of the 105mm howitzer on the AC-130J, a key feature found on multiple AC-130 variants dating back to the Vietnam War, is in question earlier today. At present, the Air Force has 30 Ghostriders, the only version of the AC-130 now in service. Depending on what course of action the Air Force ultimately pursues, those aircraft could begin seeing their big guns removed in 2026.

The current fixed armament configuration of the AC-130J includes a 30mm GAU-23/A Bushmaster automatic cannon and a 105mm howitzer, both firing out the left side of the fuselage. There are no plans to remove the 30mm gun, per Defense News' reporting.

AFSOC has already been in the process of integrating improved 105mm guns onto its Ghostriders in place of the aging and increasingly unsupportable versions of the Cold War-era M102 howitzer, and 17 of the gunships have been retrofitted so far according to Defense News. Modified M102s were first added to certain AC-130 variants in the 1970s.

US Navy Tests StormBreaker Smart Bomb With Super Hornet


The US Navy has conducted the initial fielding of the Stormbreaker “smart” air-to-surface weapon using F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet multirole combat aircraft.

StormBreaker is a winged precision-guided munition developed by Raytheon to autonomously detect and intercept moving targets in extreme weather conditions.

Previously called the Small Diameter Bomb II, the system uses navigational guidance technologies to effectively neutralize targets.

It can cover over 40 miles (54 kilometres) to reach mobile maritime and land assets, Raytheon wrote.

Maintaining Fourth-Gen Aircraft Relevance

The test followed a similar series with the F-35B Lightning II fighter jet, which seeks the integration of the armament into the US Department of Defense’s fifth-generation military aircraft.

The program commenced in November 2021 and was completed in September 2022.

In October 2020, the US Air Force approved the StormBreaker’s operational capability for F-15E Strike Eagle flights.

A Ukrainian missile strike on a shipyard in Crimea damages a Russian ship

Ukrainian National Guard soldiers fire a recoilless cannon during combat training at a military training ground in northern Ukraine on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023.Efrem Lukatsky/AP

The Russian military said a Ukrainian missile strike on a shipyard in annexed Crimea had damaged a Russian ship.

The Russian Defense Ministry said late Saturday that Ukrainian forces fired 15 cruise missiles at the Zaliv shipyard in Kerch, a city in the east of the Crimean Peninsula. Air defenses shot down 13 missiles but others hit the shipyard and damaged a vessel, a statement from the ministry said.

The ministry didn't give details about the ship or the extent of the damage.

The Ukrainian air force commander, Mykola Oleshchuk, said in a statement that at the time of the attack carried out by Ukrainian tactical aviation, "one of the most modern ships of Russia's Black Sea fleet was at the shipyard — carrier of the Kalibr cruise missiles." He didn't say directly, however, that this particular ship was damaged by the strike.

The Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, has been a frequent target since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine 20 months ago. Crimea has served as the key hub supporting the invasion.

Ukraine has increasingly targeted naval facilities in Crimea in recent months. In September, a Ukrainian missile strike on a strategic shipyard in the port city of Sevastopol damaged two Russian ships and wounded 24 people. Later that same month, a missile strike blasted the Crimean headquarters of Russia's navy in Sevastopol.