19 November 2023

Israeli Raid at al-Shifa Hospital: What We Know

Joshua Keating

It was one of the most controversial episodes in an already controversial war–and it was over in less than 24 hours. By late Wednesday Israeli forces had reportedly withdrawn from Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, the largest in the region, after launching a raid inside the facility early Wednesday morning.

There had been heavy fighting for days, including artillery shelling, around the hospital, and the raid had been widely expected. Israel claims that al-Shifa sits atop an underground Hamas command center. It is also where thousands of Palestinian civilians have taken shelter since the fighting began more than a month ago–and where local medical workers and international aid organizations say patients, including newborns, have died because of a lack of medicine and electricity.

It’s been difficult for reporters on the ground to verify information about what went on inside the hospital on Wednesday. Israel and Hamas–as well as different media outlets–are presenting very different narratives.

Here’s a look at what we know about the military operation in al-Shifa Hospital.

The raid

Israel Defense Forces troops entered the hospital around 2 a.m. local time in what they described as a “precise and targeted” operation. One doctor told CNN that hospital staff were given a 30-minute warning before the raid began and told to avoid windows and balconies. The operation involved about 100 commandos and six tanks, a local journalist told the BBC.

According to that source, Israeli troops interrogated hundreds of people inside the hospital. Men between the ages of 16 and 40 were gathered in a courtyard and some were told to strip to their underwear prior to the interrogations. About 200 people were taken from the hospital, according to the BBC’s source.

Terror and the Secondary Trauma of Social Media

Douglas Yeung

Like many, I've recently been using social media to follow the war in the Middle East. As a habit, following news like this makes a certain amount of sense—social media has often been one of the better sources for breaking information on emerging crises.

Many aspects of this war are unique, but what is increasingly common is that my social media feeds, along with those of many others, are populated with extremely graphic images, many of which, having seen them, I fervently wished I could unsee. Yet I still felt compelled to follow the news, to seek out ever-more visceral videos and details of this unfolding human tragedy.

I am far from alone in my exposure to this extreme content. And while it may seem like being an active, informed citizen requires such immersion in raw imagery, I am also a social psychologist and should know better.

Immersive Sensory Experiences Tied to Secondary Trauma

The effects of a traumatic event—and the events in Israel and Gaza are certainly that—are, as we psychologists well know, contagious. That is, their effects can spread well beyond their initial victims. In war, those victims include those who are displaced, injured, and killed, as well as those who have lost a loved one.

The idea of secondary trauma recognizes that people indirectly exposed to an event like war can suffer as well.

Why Trump's Middle East Accords Are Surviving Gaza War

Matthew Tostevin

When Bahrain's lower house of parliament announced that the kingdom's ambassador had been recalled from Israel early this month amid the fighting in Gaza, Bahraini authorities swiftly denied it.

As signatories of the groundbreaking Abraham Accords to establish ties with Israel under former U.S. President Donald Trump, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are facing a diplomatic test during the Israeli assault on Gaza that followed the unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas on October 7. But despite the rising Palestinian death toll and anger in the Arab world and beyond, with hospitals in Gaza the latest battlegrounds, the accords have yet to fray.

While the signatories support a ceasefire in Gaza and a peace deal with the Palestinians, they share common cause with Israel in challenging the militant Islam represented by Hamas and its Iranian backers, seek regional security alliances beyond their traditional reliance on the United States and are now bound to Israel through increasing economic ties.

"What the UAE and Bahrain have shown now is that they are very committed to the relationship," said Elham Fakhro, Research Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter University, who is currently writing a book about the accords. "This relationship has already withstood a lot. This is just the next challenge," she told Newsweek.

The Abraham Accords, brokered by Trump's White House and initiated in 2020, were a series of historic normalization agreements between Israel and Arab nations that reshaped the political landscape of the Middle East. Previously the stance of many Arab countries had been that ties with Israel could only follow once it reached agreement with the Palestinians on establishing a state.

Hamas, Israel’s Golem: The Danger of Working with Religious-inspired Proxies

James Durso

It seemed like a good idea at the time, they said in Jerusalem on 8 October 2023.

Israel’s national security leaders were caught flat-footed by the 7 October attack by Hamas launched from the Gaza Strip, and you’d have to feel sorry for the poor saps if you were willing to overlook their hubris and gross negligence.

Norman Mailer explained how it probably went down: “We all congregated in the Director’s meeting room on the seventh floor for a bit of summitry, all of us, satraps, mandarins, lords paramount, padishahs, maharajahs, grand moguls, kingfish, the lot. And we sat there…It’s the only time in all these years when I saw so many brilliant, ambitious, resourceful men – just sitting there.”

Hamas is a Cold War creation and was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (and funded by Israel) in 1987, at the start of the First Intifada, to oppose the secular, nationalist Fatah organization, run by Yasser Arafat. The group is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas then opposed the peace efforts between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and opposed the Oslo Accords when rival Fatah renounced violence and recognized the existence of Israel as part of a two-state solution.

After 9-11, President George W. Bush, as part of his “Freedom Agenda,” supported the “Road map for peace,” a plan proposed by the Quartet on the Middle East (the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations). Unfortunately, the plan deadlocked and was overshadowed by the Second Intifada. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, frustrated, evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005 and rocket attacks, which started in 1994 when the Israeli Defense Forces left most of the Strip, jumped.

Israel is winning and will prevail in Gaza war


The armed wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 fighters. Israel’s careful and casualty-averse campaign in Northern Gaza can’t kill all of them. It doesn’t have to.

In a 2016 study, I showed that even the most fanatical fighting forces crumble after 30% are dead. The 30% rule applies across all major modern conflicts, including the Thirty Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War and the First and Second World Wars of the last century.

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) has already killed several thousand Hamas fighters, according to Israeli cabinet minister Ron Dermer. That is, the IDF has already accomplished a quarter to a third of the killing required to disable Hamas as a military force.

It is impossible to tell how many Hamas fighters are hiding in the organization’s immense tunnel network, reportedly longer than the London Underground, and how many have dropped their weapons and joined the estimated 1.7 million Gazans headed to refugee camps in the south of the 40-kilometer strip.

Flushing out and killing several thousand Hamas fighters ensconced in tunnels is slow and difficult work, but not particularly challenging for a modern army with advanced armor, drones and electronic surveillance. The fact that only 46 Israeli soldiers have been killed during the Gaza ground campaign indicates that the IDF is cautious and casualty-averse.

There is no quick way to mop up a military organization with ample underground space to hide. By the same token, a fighting force in hiding has limited opportunity to ambush a well-prepared modern army that is prepared to destroy every standing structure in an urban environment.

The Virtues of Restraint

Shivshankar Menon

After Hamas’s horrific terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, it seemed inevitable that Israel would retaliate in devastating fashion. The first, natural reaction to such an attack is revulsion, accompanied by a desire for revenge and exemplary punishment. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acted on that desire, vowing to “destroy” Hamas, bombarding the Gaza Strip, and launching a ground invasion of the territory—even though it remains unclear how, if at all, Israel can eliminate Hamas militarily or ideologically.

But choosing to meet violence with violence is a choice. In fact, not all victims of terrorism choose retaliation. On November 26, 2008, ten Pakistani terrorists stealthily landed by sea in Mumbai. The carnage they unleashed over the next two days in attacks on hotels, cafes, a major train station, and a community center killed at least 174 people and injured over 300. Indian authorities swiftly realized that the terrorists came from Pakistan and enjoyed the backing of the country’s security establishment. I served as foreign secretary in the Indian government at the time, and my first reaction was to press for strong retaliatory action against our neighbor for such a brazen attack.

But after deliberations in which it weighed the likely outcomes and broader effects of various courses of action, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government ultimately opted not to undertake an overt military strike on terrorist camps in Pakistan. Instead, New Delhi responded to the terrorist atrocity in Mumbai through diplomatic and covert channels. In public, the country chose restraint, not revenge. That decision brought India international support, prevented a potentially catastrophic war, minimized civilian casualties, and arguably prevented more terrorism. At least so far, India has not experienced another Pakistani-backed attack with mass casualties on Indian soil.

You’re Paying For The Israel War: You’ll Also Pay For The Refugees

Ryan McMaken

The United States regime has picked sides in the Israel-Hamas war and has committed to funding Israel’s ongoing bombing of non-combatant men, women, and children in the Gaza strip. Northern Gaza’s infrastructure is now all but destroyed, with millions of Gazans displaced and homeless. Nearly ten times more Gazans than Israelis have now died in the conflict. Many Gazans have fled to the southern portion of Gaza, but homelessness and abject poverty awaits them there.

By employing what is essentially the carpet-bombing approach, Tel Aviv has made the choice of adopting a policy that is sure to produce hundreds of thousands of refugees—or perhaps even more than a million. Indeed, many in the Israeli regime are motivated to maximize refugees, and push Gazans out of the country altogether using the Orwellian phrase “voluntary migration.”

On a military, tactical level, the Israeli state will have no problem accomplishing this. Tel Aviv has an air force, a deep reservoir of American-funded weapons, and a nuclear arsenal. The Israeli military can easily reduce all of Gaza to rubble. But what is sure to result from this is a humanitarian disaster accompanied by a global debate over which foreign country will host the refugees.

Israeli mouthpieces are already at work pushing the cost onto foreign taxpayers, including American ones. This week, two Israeli politicians—one from the militarist Likud party, and one from the center-left Yesh Atid party—took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to demand that “countries around the world should offer a haven for Gaza residents who seek relocation.” According to these politicians, “[t]he international community”—i.e., not Israel—”has a moral imperative” to resettle Gazans somewhere outside Israel at not-Israel’s expense.

Mahmoud Abbas’s Last Chance Has Finally Arrived

Anchal Vohra

As the United States tries to prepare for the day after Hamas is uprooted as the governing force in the Gaza Strip, it is once again courting a familiar Palestinian to assume responsibility for the enclave. The problem is that the would-be savior is also vastly unpopular.

On a visit to Ramallah last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Palestinian Authority (PA) must play a pivotal role in the future of Gaza and looked to its president, Mahmoud Abbas, to provide any future plan with legitimacy.

Abbas, 87 years old, said that the PA was ready to step in, but only “within the framework of a comprehensive political solution”—a solution that he argues would necessitate creating an independent Palestinian state that includes all of the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in its entirety.

The West knows Abbas and believes that it can bank on him as a man of peace. His credentials were burnished in the midst of the Second Intifada, when he had the courage to warn his firebrand boss, Yasser Arafat, against instigating violence. (Although at the time, Abbas was known to cite pragmatic considerations rather than moral conviction, saying, “We are losing control over the street”) Over nearly three decades as PA president, he has consistently opposed an armed rebellion as a means to pressure Israel and the West into obtaining statehood—but he has also failed in securing lasting peace, including in the territories he oversees.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, I called a leader from Abbas’s party who was in Jenin, a restive locality in the occupied West Bank, only to discover he was in the midst of a raid by Israeli security forces. He said he was surrounded by guns and that he couldn’t speak. “The situation is very bad; the soldiers are everywhere,” he managed to say before getting off the phone.

No good options for Myanmar’s mortally wounded regime


If the echoes of World War II have any resonance in 21st century Myanmar then events have not yet reached the point in April 1945 when the delusional commander-in-chief of a defeated German army directed non-existent divisions from an underground bunker amid the ruins of the national capital.

They are, though, plausibly at a similar point to August 1944 when two months after the D-Day landings German forces had just suffered a crippling defeat in Normandy’s “Falaise Pocket” and the Nazi high command confronted the prospect of an overwhelming Allied advance on the German homeland.

The Myanmar military’s commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung and his generals in Naypyidaw’s war room are now facing their own “Falaise Pocket” moment in the shape of an insurgent offensive that has swept across the north of Shan state over the last two weeks.

Dubbed “Operation 1027” for its October 27 launch date, the coordinated onslaught brought together forces of the so-called Brotherhood Alliance composed of three insurgent factions which have operated together since at least 2014.

The trio includes the mainly ethnic Chinese Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), which is spearheading operations in and around Kokang in the far northeast of the state; the ethnic Palaung Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), which dominates the northwestern hills and operates along the Mandalay-Muse highway; and the ethnic Rakhine Arakan Army (AA), which is based in Rakhine state on Myanmar’s western seaboard but which fields a contingent of around 1,500 troops alongside its allies in the north of Myanmar.

U.S., China move back from 'brink', says Ray Dalio, as 'different type of war' begins

William Watts

Expect a more 'behind-the-scenes, Cold-War-style great power conflict'

'While this stepping back from the brink is a great step away from the worst type of war, it is not an end of war. Rather, there is a shifting to a different type of war. The goal of both sides in this new type of war is to win without getting into a bloody, military war.'Ray Dalio, founder, Bridgewater Associates

That's billionaire investor Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, arguing that the U.S. and China have moved back from the "brink" of war after escalating tensions scared leaders on both sides. U.S. President Joe Biden and China President Xi Jinping are due to meet Wednesday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

"The realizations by both sides that they were at the brink and the looking over the brink into the abyss scared the leaders on both sides so, starting in June, there were a number of interactions designed to pull back from the brink, including beginning working toward a good APEC meeting between President Biden and President Xi, which will lead to some modest increased cooperation," Dalio wrote in a LinkedIn post on Tuesday.

Dalio argues that the conflict between the U.S. and China is changing in a way that reduces the odds of a "military war," though the new type of war between the two powers "will remain very intense and threatening." For his part, Dalio says his "very rough estimate" of the probability of U.S.-China military combat is around 35% over the next 10 years.

This new type of war isn't so new. Dalio says it should be familiar to anyone who's read Sun Tzu's "Art of War," a roughly 2,500-year-old treatise on warfare.

"This type of war is fought by using deception, by having the other side expend resources while saving one's own, and by using the opponent's own circumstances to weaken them and take advantage of their weakness," Dalio wrote.

Is the Pentagon Organized to Fight a Cold War With China?

Capt. (Ret.) James E. Fanell and Bradley A. Thayer

The National Security Act of 1947 organized the U.S. government to fight the Cold War, putting the big pieces in place for that conflict with the Soviet Union. The act had a great effect on the armed services, creating the Air Force from the Army, the Intelligence Community (IC), as it is the genesis of the CIA, and the national security community, as it birthed the Department of Defense from the Constitution’s original War Department and Department of the Navy, as well as the National Security Council.

Today, Congress and the Biden administration should consider conducting a “blank page” exercise and returning to the national security infrastructure that defeated the Soviets. The point of the exercise would be to determine whether — in the context of the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party — the U.S. national security community should be reorganized. How might it need to be changed to ensure an effective fight against China? Of course, there are numerous changes that might be made for each of the military services and in the architecture of the Department of Defense, but in the context of the current cold war with China, there are two major points of consideration.

First, can the Defense Department institutionalize a focus on great-power threats and peer competition for each of the services, and place a demand on Congress and the IC for those threats to remain, respectively, a primary funding target and analytic responsibility? A new National Security Act would require the services to address great-power and peer-competitive enemies as their first priority, and for this to be the case across government. The costs of institutionalization would be considerable, but the result could be to prevent the risks of threat deflation.

Second, there is the salient issue of whether political warfare — in essence, waging war short of kinetic war — should be centered in the Department of Defense. The U.S. has a long and successful history of conducting political warfare during the Cold War that was rooted in the IC and the State Department. But it may be time to do what China has done and create a separate “Political Warfare” service within the Defense Department. As a communist state, China views political warfare as the highest form of warfare, one that seeks to defeat the enemy without resorting to kinetic war. It’s an idea as old as Sun Tzu’s assertions, and is reflected in the writings of other strategic Chinese thinkers, as well as being a principle in the West.

The US Wants China to Start Talking About AI Weapons


When US president Joe Biden meets with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the San Francisco Bay Area this week, the pair will have a long list of matters to discuss, including the Israel-Hamas war and Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Behind the scenes at the APEC summit, however, US officials hope to strike up a dialog with China about placing guardrails around military use of artificial intelligence, with the ultimate goal of lessening the potential risks that rapid adoption—and reckless use—of the technology might bring.

“We have a collective interest in reducing the potential risks from the deployment of unreliable AI applications” because of risks of unintended escalation, says a senior State Department official familiar with recent efforts to broach the issue and who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We very much hope to have a further conversation with China on this issue.”

Biden’s meeting with Xi this week may provide momentum for more military dialog. “We're really looking forward to hopefully a positive leaders meeting,” the State Department official says. “We can really understand from that conversation, where our possible bilateral arms control and non-proliferation conversation could progress.”

The US is already leading an effort to build international agreement around guardrails for military AI. On November 1, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that 30 nations had agreed to back a declaration on military AI that calls for the technology to be developed in accordance with international humanitarian law, using principles designed to improve reliability and transparently and reduce bias, so that systems can be disengaged if they demonstrate “unintended behavior.”

These Technologies Could Defeat China's Missile Barrage and Defend Taiwan

Jim Mitre and Ylber Bajraktari

Earlier this year, a group of experts from RAND and the Special Competitive Studies Project launched a new wargame effort around China's invasion of Taiwan—but unlike most D.C.-based wargames, this effort heavily involved members of the commercial technology sector, in order to understand what near-term capabilities might be brought to bear on a Taiwan scenario. In the exclusive analysis below, Jim Mitre of RAND and Ylber Bajraktari of SCSP lay out their key findings.

On July 6, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited China to build a “floor” under U.S.-China relations, 600 miles to the south Chinese leader Xi Jinping was focused on another pressing matter. Visiting the People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command, the unit responsible for the Taiwan Strait, Xi called on China's military to enhance war planning, and to raise the forces' capabilities to fight and win. The world, according to Xi, has entered a new period of turbulence, and China's security situation is facing rising uncertainty.

The U.S. intelligence community and a number of senior U.S. military leaders have warned publicly that Xi has directed his commanders to be ready by 2027 to conduct a successful invasion of Taiwan. This is not to suggest that Xi has made a decision to invade by 2027. But—at a minimum—he appears intent on having an option to invade by then.

However, the Defense Department has yet to demonstrate that it can assuredly deny a concerted Chinese military effort to suborn Taiwan in 2027 or beyond. Moreover, the department is quickly running out of time on this task. 2027 is just barely on the edge of its three-year timeline to start spending funds on a new initiative. And wargame after wargame indicates that the United States would struggle to win, or—if it did—it would be at high costs (PDF).

Deterring a looming Space Pearl Harbor through better public discourse

Brian G. Chow

In 2007, China succeeded in an anti-satellite (ASAT) test that alerted the U.S. about the broad vulnerability of its satellites. Since then, the Pentagon has focused on developing resilient solutions to space threats of the 2030s and beyond, while neglecting the rendezvous spacecraft threat that could result in a Space Pearl Harbor in the 2020s. This article proposes a strategy for the Pentagon to improve its current public discourse for deterring this catastrophic attack.

In 2008, China started testing dual-use spacecraft capable of rendezvous and proximity operations. By January 2022, Beijing had successfully docked a rendezvous spacecraft with its own dead satellite in a geosynchronous orbit and maneuvered it to a higher orbit, less than two years behind the U.S. doing the same. The combination of China’s rendezvous and robotic advances and rapid small-satellite manufacturing capability could yield about 200 rendezvous spacecraft capable of forcibly docking and disabling U.S. critical satellites as early as 2026; this army of agile spacecraft is well suited to serve as a “shock and awe” precursor to its military campaign to seize Taiwan.

Back in 2001, the Rumsfeld Commission issued a prescient warning: “Whether the U.S. will be wise enough to act responsibly and soon enough to reduce U.S. space vulnerability. Or whether, as in the past, a disabling attack against the country and its people—a ‘Space Pearl Harbor’—will be the only event able to galvanize the nation and cause the U.S. Government to act.”

Now that such an attack could turn the free world into a hellscape under the thumb of an authoritarian regime in a few years, how well has the Pentagon assured the U.S. public, as well as the international public, that the U.S. will have the capability in time to deter and defend against this fateful assault?

What the Doomsayers Get Wrong About Deepfakes

Daniel Immerwahr

“There’s a video of Gal Gadot having sex with her stepbrother on the internet.” With that sentence, written by the journalist Samantha Cole for the tech site Motherboard in December, 2017, a queasy new chapter in our cultural history opened. A programmer calling himself “deepfakes” told Cole that he’d used artificial intelligence to insert Gadot’s face into a pornographic video. And he’d made others: clips altered to feature Aubrey Plaza, Scarlett Johansson, Maisie Williams, and Taylor Swift.

Porn, as a Times headline once proclaimed, is the “low-slung engine of progress.” It can be credited with the rapid spread of VCRs, cable, and the Internet—and with several important Web technologies. Would deepfakes, as the manipulated videos came to be known, be pornographers’ next technological gift to the world? Months after Cole’s article, a clip appeared online of Barack Obama calling Donald Trump “a total and complete dipshit.” At the end of the video, the trick was revealed. It was the comedian Jordan Peele’s voice; A.I. had been used to turn Obama into a digital puppet.

The implications, to those paying attention, were horrifying. Such videos heralded the “coming infocalypse,” as Nina Schick, an A.I. expert, warned, or the “collapse of reality,” as Franklin Foer wrote in The Atlantic. Congress held hearings about the potential electoral consequences. “Think ahead to 2020 and beyond,” Representative Adam Schiff urged; it wasn’t hard to imagine “nightmarish scenarios that would leave the government, the media, and the public struggling to discern what is real.”

Military leaders are already using AI tools to help make decisions


Artificial intelligence technologies are already helping key military personnel streamline their operations, and officials are working to ensure that data quality and ethical uses guide the Pentagon’s implementation of them, a senior leader with the Department of Defense’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office said at the Intel Public Sector Summit on Tuesday.

Margie Palmieri, CDAO’s deputy chief digital and AI officer, pointed to DOD’s AI and data acceleration initiative, or ADA, as a ready example of how AI and simpler digitization and automation tools are helping to propel data-driven decisions across the agency.

The initiative embeds data and analytic subject matter experts within each of the department’s 11 combatant commands to speed up the implementation of emerging technologies. Since its creation in 2021, Palmieri said combatant commanders have been able “to access information and make better decisions from a data-driven way.”

“We see digitization of their processes,” she added. “So things that were manual before, where you had to read one system and type in another — we called them ‘swivel chair,’ because you’re back and forth — have been digitized.”

Palmieri said the Pentagon is “seeing more and more ideas blossom” as a result of ADA, adding that “I think the more we do in this area, the more the mission leaders are seeing benefit from it.”

DOD agencies and components are “asking for AI in a variety of areas,” Palmieri said, noting that CDAO likes to refer to its potential capabilities “from the boardroom to the battlefield.”

Air Forces Cyber turns focus to information operations


The U.S. Air Force's cyber command will devote more time to training airmen in information warfare—from uncovering disinformation campaigns and networks to attempting to influence the audience themselves—its commanding general said.

“We've been charged as the operational level of information warfare for the United States Air Force. So with that, in the construct that we're building out, our information warfare operations center is going to lead,” Lt. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, who leads 16th Air Force, said during a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event Wednesday.

The U.S. military has spent relatively little effort on influence operations compared to China and Russia.

“Adversaries are already looking to manipulate us through the [information] domain,” Kennedy said. “They're doing it to gain insights. They're doing that to shape our perceptions, and eventually they're doing that to try and shape our behavior.

“That's what our activity is going to help with, and we have more experience in that than a lot of places in the U.S. Air Force, just based on our alignment with U.S. Cyber Command, so we have a lot more planners that have done information operations planning and bringing together more of the information warfare capabilities, and that's one of the aspects that we're looking at bringing to the other” air combat commands.

About a year ago, Kennedy met with the other 16th Air Force commanders to discuss how to improve information warfare, and they decided to focus on training. Now information operations must be fully integrated into broader non-kinetic effects such as electronic and cyber warfare, he said.

Maturing Information Warfare


Evolving from the global terror mission, amid operations in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere, the U.S. Air Force and its 16th Air Force are working to mature the state of the service’s information warfare.

The 4-year-old Numbered Air Force (NAF) is now standing up a new organization, the Information Warfare Operations Center (IWOC), to support the better synchronizing of cyber, information, surveillance and reconnaissance, electronic warfare effects and support, reports Maj. Gen. Thomas Hensley, deputy commander, 16th Air Force.

“We are trying to develop a repeatable, sustainable process, where we can support our air components with information warfare,” Gen. Hensley said, speaking November 15 at the AFCEA Alamo Chapter’s annual ACE conference in San Antonio.

The IWOC will operate and defend the Air Force Information Network (AFIN) and command and control (C2) forces, and provide global force situational awareness. The center will also provide mature operational-level C2 and provide coordination for information warfare effects as well as outcomes.

The center is looking to synchronize with the air components and wings, offer global perspectives and generate insights for those warfighters.

Mystery Over Russia's 'Disappearing' Air Defenses

Isabel van Brugen

Russia has likely transferred its prized S-400 Triumph air defense systems from the Kaliningrad region to be used in President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, recent satellite imagery analyzed by investigative outlet Bellingcat suggests.

Bellingcat, a Netherlands-based OSINT (open source intelligence) outlet, ran an investigation titled "As Cargo Flights Leave Kaliningrad, Air Defence Systems Disappear" on Monday. That came after social media users and analysts in late October noticed an uptick in Russian military cargo flights, particularly of the Il-76 aircraft and the An-124, which the publication notes is one the largest heavy strategic military transport aircraft in use today.

Kaliningrad is a strategically important Russian port city on the Baltic Sea, located in Kaliningrad region, a territory separate from the rest of Russia and bordered by NATO members Lithuania and Poland.

Russia's S-400 Triumph air defense missile systems drive through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2018. Russia has likely transferred its prized S-400 Triumph air defense systems from the Kaliningrad region to be used in President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, Bellingcat found.

U.S. Needs to Be Ready for War

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

Since Oct. 7 I keep thinking of Jack Nicholson, as a Marine colonel in “A Few Good Men,” bellowing “You can’t handle the truth.” I think of this line in respect to friends of Israel who are shocked by the bestiality of that day’s attack, as if history didn’t furnish examples and the assault wasn’t designed to achieve a desired effect.

I think of the Nicholson line in respect to students who cheer on Hamas from their campus safety, having no real conception of violence and expecting to be shielded from even having their feelings hurt. (If the draft makes a comeback, they will have some growing up to do.)

Another truth may soon have to be handled. The U.S. can be expected to serve its own interests, as filtered through the electoral interests of its president. The U.S. has moved a sizable force to the eastern Mediterranean. If sustained, it will allow Israel to complete the neutralization of Hamas and assure its timid Arab partners where the power still lies. That is, if U.S. politics can endure the gruesome necessities, blunders and inevitable allegations about war crimes that come in the wake of Israeli (or any) military action. The alternative, we will have to keep reminding ourselves, is unlikely to be prettier.

The Ukraine policy of Joe Biden has included whiffs of impatience with Ukraine for continuing to fight. An implicit shot clock was all but placed on its current offensive, as if to say, “Hurry up and reclaim whatever land you can so we can get to a cease-fire.” Weapons have been held back, it sometimes seemed, because of White House fear of what might happen from too much Ukrainian success.

Last week came a confession from Ukraine’s Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, using the word that Ukraine’s supporters in the West recently strived to make taboo: stalemate. Technology—surveillance drones—makes it difficult to concentrate forces for a decisive breakthrough, though this applies to both sides. Understandably, in Gen. Zaluzhnyi’s mind “defeat” is Ukraine not recovering all its territory. He doesn’t exactly blame the U.S. but . . . And yet the pessimism can be overdone.

Meet Aurora, a Supercomputer So Powerful It Might Actually Change the World

Abubakar Idris

What could be one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers is inching toward being completed and fully switched on after years of work.

Aurora, which is run by the Department of Energy, is about half the size of a football field, and, when operational, should be able to complete two quintillion calculations a second (for context, a quintillion is a billion billions, and most top-of-range smartphones can handle 10-15 trillion calculations per second).

First announced in 2015, Aurora is a next-generation supercomputer known as an “exascale” supercomputer — which is the name given to a machine that can perform one quintillion operations or more per second.

Aurora’s $600 million facility built by Intel and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory and is powered by 60,000 sophisticated semiconductor chips, according to the Wall Street Journal. For context, Frontier, the world’s current top supercomputer housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has around 40,000 graphics processing units or chips.

War Is from Mars, AI Is from Venus: Rediscovering the Institutional Context of Military Automation

Jon R. Lindsay

For nearly a century, the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution has been just over the horizon, and yet that horizon is always receding. Dramatic advances in commercial AI once again inspire great hopes and fears for military AI. Perhaps this time will be different. Yet, successful commercial AI systems benefit from conducive institutional circumstances that may not be present in the anarchic realm of war. As AI critics have recognized since the Cold War, the complexity and uncertainty of security competition tend to frustrate ambitious applications of military automation. The institutional context that makes AI viable, moreover, is associated with important changes in patterns of political violence. The same liberal order that encourages AI innovation also enables more subversive forms of conflict. Military organizations that adopt AI, therefore, are likely to adopt more institutionalized processes to enable automated decision systems, while military AI systems are more likely be used in more institutionalized environments. Unintended consequences of institutionalized automation include unmanageable administrative complexity and unappreciated human suffering in chronic limited conflicts.

AI is once again a hot topic in national security. Hopes and fears about autonomous weapons have been a staple of military futurism for over 50 years.1 But “AI hype” has often led to an “AI winter” — a dormant time for AI research and development. Throughout this same period, military organizations have become more dependent on information systems, more fraught with coordination problems, and more frustrated in protracted conflicts.2 Like the demigod Tantalus, condemned to spend eternity longing for fruits just out of reach, technologists keep seeing the revolutionary promise of military AI on an ever-receding horizon. War “at machine speed” is just 10 years away, and it always will be.

Defending Against Attacks on Vulnerable IoT Devices

Bud Broomhead

Cyber warfare is increasingly used as an attack method in international conflicts, because of the flexibility, impact, and, often, deniability it offers attackers. Governments leverage powerful technologies to conduct operations against geopolitical adversaries and internal dissidents, and to supplement active military engagements. Threat actors will want to gain control of powerful systems without tipping off their opponent that they have control to achieve wartime objectives. That's why the ideal points of entry for a cyberattack are vulnerable, neglected Internet of Things (IoT) devices — a threat surface that constitutes the largest unsecured attack surface for most organizations today.

The Story So Far

Early examples like the Stuxnet worm that was deployed as a weapon against Iran's nuclear program starting around 2005 (and only discovered in 2010) reveal that these attack vectors are nothing new to modern, global security forces. Since Stuxnet, there has been an explosion in the use of powerful IoT/operational technology (OT) devices in organizations of all kinds, ranging from network-attached storage systems, building automation, physical security, and office equipment. Powerful IoT devices are no longer under the control of governments or the military; they've been democratized. The large number of IoT devices within an organization makes attacks easier to scale, and the wide variety of device types have diversified attack angles.

Attacks that resemble special operations in their scope and target continue, but now private organizations ranging from entertainment conglomerates to more strategically important enterprises like energy providers must protect themselves as if they were in the crosshairs of a nation-state (as Sony Pictures was when hacked by North Korea).

Google’s New Titan Security Key Adds Another Piece to the Password-Killing Puzzle


Passwords are a woefully insecure—and frustrating—authentication technology, but after decades of digital use, they’re ubiquitous. Recently, though, the global tech industry has been working to promote a simpler and more secure alternative known as passkeys. Along with its other initiatives to champion the login tech, Google announced today that it is launching a new version of its Titan hardware authentication keys that can store passkeys directly on the device.

For most people on most accounts, passkeys are managed directly from a smartphone or laptop. But for anyone seeking an alternative, either because they prefer a stand-alone key for ease of use or because they want maximum security separation, storing passkeys on a hardware token is a valuable option. The new Titan keys are available now and can store more than 250 unique passkeys. They are replacing Google’s existing USB-A and USB-C Titan devices.

“We’re excited about the potential of passkeys, but know there’s no security silver bullet for everyone,” Google wrote in a blog post published today. “Some people require a solution not dependent on smartphones or use devices that don’t support passkeys—everyone has different approaches to security, but we all share one goal: stop attacks. That’s why we intentionally designed the latest Titan Security Keys to encompass the secure cryptography of passkeys on a portable piece of hardware.”

Army boot camp will soon include counter-drone training

Todd South

Soon brand new Army recruits will learn how to identify and counter small drone threats in basic training.

The Army wants soldiers at every level to understand the danger of small drone attacks and plans to equip units down to the squad level with devices to take down those drones.

“It’s going to become a basic soldier requirement to identify, report and in some cases react to the threat,” said Sgt. Maj. Demetrius Johnson, senior enlisted advisor for the joint counter-small unmanned aerial systems office. “It’s MOS agnostic, it’s not specific to an air defender to be able to employ these handheld systems.”

Johnson spoke alongside his boss, Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, the office director, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday as the center also released its extensive report, titled “Countering Small Uncrewed Systems.”

The pair said that the Army’s Center for Initial Military Training is currently rewriting doctrine to include counter-drone training in boot camp as the force fields equipment and recently opened the Joint Counter Small Unmanned Aerial Systems University at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The university recently concluded its first course and is expected to be fully staffed within a year.

The shift is a result of the growing air threat from hypersonic and cruise missiles down to hobby quadcopters, which has placed a premium on air defense platforms and soldiers.

As the Army shifts its focus to large-scale combat, air defense battalions will integrate into the division, Gainey said. Each division will have a counter-drone battery manned by air defense soldiers. The Army plans to also issue handheld gear for smaller drones down to the squad level.