24 November 2023

Gaza Is Gen Z’s First Real War

Walter Russell Mead

Is Israel’s war with Hamas a war crime? At a recent (entirely civil and non-confrontational) event at Bard College, a student suggested that this was the case. After all, there have been at least 11,000 casualties since the Oct. 7 terror attack that launched the war, and the majority dead have been civilians. Thousands were children. How, the Bard students and many of their peers around the country and the world ask, could all this not be a war crime? And even if Hamas’s initial attack was itself a war crime and not a “legitimate act of resistance against an occupying power,” isn’t the larger loss of civilian life in Israel’s subsequent attacks just as bad?

I could have turned the session into a debate about the underlying merits of the Palestinian and Israeli causes or a technical discussion of the laws of war. Instead, being a professor, I turned the discussion to the history of war. One night in March 1945, U.S. planes dropped incendiary bombs over Tokyo killing tens of thousands of Japanese civilians. Incomplete estimates from Japan put the total death toll from allied bombing raids as high as 500,000. All told, there were an estimated 38 million civilian deaths in World War II, more than twice the approximately 15 million deaths of soldiers in combat.

As for the treatment of enemy civilians, at the 1945 Potsdam Conference the U.S. agreed to the forcible removal of about 12 million Germans, again largely civilian and many children and elderly, from lands their ancestors had inhabited for centuries. Many of the expulsions took place in winter amid terrible scenes of hunger and deprivation, all while mass rapes of German women slowly subsided across the Soviet zone of Germany.

Lawyers and legislators can debate whether these actions constitute war crimes, but as Cicero put it more than two thousand years ago, “inter arma enim silent leges.” Roughly, that translates as the “laws go silent when armies clash.” Or as William Tecumseh Sherman put it more succinctly, “War is hell.”

An Alternative Way of Dealing with Human Shield

Gary Anderson

The opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Military.com. If you would like to submit your own commentary, please send your article to opinions@military.com for consideration.

Those of us who fought in Somalia in 1993 were the first Americans to experience firsthand the barbaric tactic of using civilians as human shields in combat. We came away shaken, but we also realized that the tactic worked.

The cynical Somali leaders who used women and children as pawns in the Battle of Mogadishu ("Black Hawk Down") caused the American people to recoil in horror as noncombatants -- willing or unwilling -- were gunned down by coalition soldiers who had no other option than to fire into teaming crowds or be overwhelmed.

The asymmetric Somali tactic worked. The Clinton administration decided that the nation-building effort in Somalia was not worth the cost of seeing American soldiers being portrayed as indiscriminate killers of women and children. U.S. forces left Somalia in 1994.

That is what is being played out in Gaza today as Hamas uses housing areas, hospitals and refugee camps from which to launch missiles and rockets.

There is another way to deal with such tactics, but neither Israel nor its western allies have adopted it. The potential antidote is the selective use of directed energy (NLW).

Led by now retired Marine Gen. Tony Zinni, many of us Somalia veterans lobbied Congress to fund exploring such NLW systems, and the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate was established in the mid-1990s. By the end of the decade, the United States had a directed energy weapon able to keep crowds that might contain armed elements at bay by making them feel like they were burning up should they cross a clearly defined line. The weapon excites the outer layer of skin and causes targeted individuals to feel like they are on fire. However, the sensation goes away immediately when the beam is taken off the targets and leaves no ill effects.

Qatar announces Israel-Hamas truce-for-hostages deal that would pause Gaza fighting, bring more aid


Qatar on Wednesday announced a truce-for-hostages deal between Israel and Hamas that would bring a four-day halt in fighting in a devastating six-week war, win freedom for dozens of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, and also lead to the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said it would announce within a day when the clock will start ticking on the truce, during which 50 hostages will be released in stages in exchange for what Hamas said would be 150 Palestinians prisoners held by Israel. Those freed by both sides will be women and children.

Humanitarian aid to besieged Gaza would also increase.

The announcement came hours after Israel’s Cabinet approved the deal. It capped weeks of indirect Qatari-led negotiations between Israel and Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years. The United States and Egypt were also involved in stop-and-go talks to free some of the roughly 240 hostages held by Hamas and other militants in Gaza.

Hostage releases will begin roughly 24 hours after the deal is approved by all parties, said a senior White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office made no mention of the release of Palestinian prisoners or increased humanitarian aid when it confirmed the Cabinet had approved the deal.

“The government of Israel is committed to bringing all of the hostages home. Tonight, the government approved the outline for the first stage of achieving this goal,” the office said in a statement.

Europe is Stuck Over the Israel-Hamas War

Maria Luisa Fantappiè, Nathalie Tocci

Since the horrific attack launched by Hamas on Israeli citizens on 7 October and the brutal ongoing Israeli military response, European governments and publics have rallied behind two diametrically opposite worldviews: unconditional support for Israel’s right to self-defence versus solidarity with Palestinians massacred by Israel’s military operation in Gaza. Europe should work proactively to chart its way in this inflammatory debate, rather than passively buying into the polarising narratives from Israeli and Arab public debates and allowing these to sow divisions, paralyse action, hamper credibility and poison democracies.

Europe’s baffling response to the war

Europe has been shooting itself in the foot in three interrelated ways. First, it has been hopelessly absent in the attempts to put out the fire in this brutal war. The European Council’s attempts to strike a balance, acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself “in line” with international humanitarian law came after days of European cacophony and sounded weak; furthermore, they were almost immediately superseded by a threefold European split at the United Nations General Assembly over a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Sure, the United States’ approach has not been a stellar success either. Not only does the US role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict represent a structural element that took us where we are today, but it has also so far failed to moderate Israel in any meaningful way. Its public embrace of Israel while nudging and asking tough questions behind closed doors hasn’t yielded any significant results thus far, while the death toll in Gaza rises by the hour. But the Biden administration, starting with the President himself and the tireless work of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, must be credited at least for trying, rather than simply stopping at the public shows of solidarity towards Israel as seen in the case of the string of European leaders travelling to Israel in the first days after the attack without any meaningful impact then and ever since. Europe is a passive spectator of this conflict and a passive recipient of its polarising narratives, which undermine European security and ambitions to play a global role.

Operation 1027 is Changing Myanmar’s Frontier Geographies. Is India Ready?

Angshuman Choudhury

On August 27, 2021, a cargo shipment arrived at the rail port in Chengdu, the capital of China’s southeastern Sichuan province, by rail. It was no ordinary consignment. The “test cargo” traveled on a brand-new rail line from Lincang, a town right next to the border with Myanmar in Yunnan province. But Lincang is not where the shipment originated.

Before entering China, the cargo traveled all the way by road from the port of Yangon near Myanmar’s southern coastline to Chin Shwe Haw, a border town in northern Shan State. Just like that, China had inaugurated its first overland corridor to the Indian Ocean. Less than a year later, another “test cargo” originating in southeastern China’s Chongqing municipality crossed Chin Shwe Haw by rail before proceeding towards the bustling northwestern Burmese city of Mandalay.

This otherwise quiet frontier settlement in what is known as the Kokang Self-Administered Zone (SAZ) had suddenly transformed into a centerpiece of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), thanks to its location on a strategic route that, according to The Irrawaddy, is “expected to become the lifeblood of international trade for China and Myanmar.”

But, two years after that first cargo shipment from Yangon crossed Chin Shwe Haw, a dramatic power shift hit the border town. On October 27, a three-member ethnic armed alliance in Myanmar, known as the “Three Brotherhood Alliance (3BA),” captured Chin Shwe Haw as part of a fierce coordinated offensive against the military junta. Made up of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army (AA), the 3BA’s sweeping campaign, christened “Operation 1027”, left the junta stunned.

Thin Ice in the Himalayas: Handling the India-China Border Dispute

What’s new? A deadly clash on the India-China frontier in 2020 has caused a fundamental shift in relations between the two Asian giants. Anxieties arising from competition for influence in South Asia and globally have spilled over into their border dispute, fuelling military build-ups and heightening the risk of fresh fighting.

Why does it matter? Nationalist governments in both countries are hardening their stance on the border dispute. The lack of clarity as to where the line lies means that hostile encounters are bound to recur, potentially even leading to interstate conflict, with far-reaching consequences for regional and global security.

What should be done? While resolution of the dispute remains elusive, China and India should hedge against risks by creating more buffer zones between their armies and strengthening crisis management mechanisms. The two sides should also resume regular political dialogue to modulate the developing rivalry in their relationship.

Executive Summary

The border dispute between India and China has again become a thorn in the two Asian giants’ sides. Rival claims as to where the frontier lies first flared into war in 1962, poisoning relations until a slow rapprochement began in the 1980s. Built on a willingness to set aside the quarrel given other shared interests, the precarious peace wobbled as China surged economically and militarily. Intensifying competition fuelled nationalism in both countries as well as fear of losing territory and status. A fierce round of fighting in 2020, the first in many years, seriously damaged Sino-Indian ties. A resolution of the dispute appears unlikely, but New Delhi and Beijing should explore how they can assure mutual security along a heavily militarised frontier and mitigate the risk of skirmishes escalating into full-blown clashes. They should establish extra buffer zones in well-known contested areas and build on existing border protocols, particularly the ban on firearms. Most importantly, they should return to more regular dialogue at the highest levels, the best way to manage the distrust between them.

Amid Israel-Hamas war, India becomes wild card in an emerging China-Russia-Iran order across Eurasia

Dr Christina Lin

The Institute for Strategic, Political, Security and Economic Consultancy (ISPSW) is a private institute for research and consultancy. The ISPSW is an objective, task-oriented and politically non-partisan institute. In the ever more complex international environment of globalized economic processes and worldwide political, ecological, social and cultural change, which occasions both major opportunities and risks, decision-makers in the economic and political arena depend more than ever before on the advice of highly qualified experts. ISPSW offers a range of services, including strategic analyses, security consultancy, executive coaching and intercultural competency. ISPSW publications examine a wide range of topics connected with politics, the economy, international relations, and security/ defense. ISPSW network experts have worked – in some cases for decades – in executive positions and have at their disposal a wide range of experience in their respective fields of expertise.

Australia and India’s New Military Bases: Responses to China’s Naval Presence in the Indian Ocean

Felix K. Chang

Australia and India have built and expanded military bases in and around the Indian Ocean in anticipation of a larger Chinese naval presence in its waters. Most of the construction has focused on creating the capacity to monitor the three main passages into the ocean through the Indonesian archipelago, namely the Malacca, Lombok, and Sunda Straits.

India has established two new naval air stations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and boosted its maritime patrol forces at others nearby.

Australia is working to establish a military base in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and is beefing up its Stirling naval base near Perth to support and sustain nuclear-powered attack submarines.

In May 2022, a Chinese navy Type 815 electronic surveillance ship, the Haiwangxing, sailed close to the Harold E. Holt naval communication station in western Australia, a facility jointly operated by Australia and the United States. On the edge of the Indian Ocean, the station provides communications support to allied submarines operating in the region. The ship’s presence showed China’s willingness to not only eavesdrop on allied communications, but also send its navy into parts of the Indian Ocean where it had rarely ventured before. That prompted concerns in Canberra that were reminiscent of those in New Delhi after a Chinese Song-class diesel-electric attack submarine unexpectedly docked at a Sri Lankan port in 2014. In the following years, several Chinese hydrographic and survey ships appeared in the region, presaging the future deployment of more Chinese submarines.

India-Maldives Relations Enter Choppy Waters

Sudha Ramachandran

Hours after his swearing-in as Maldives’ new president, Mohamed Muizzu “formally requested” India to “withdraw its military personnel” from the Indian Ocean archipelago.

According to a press release from the President’s Office, the formal request was made during a meeting between Muizzu and India’s Minister of Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju, who was in Malé for Muizzu’s swearing-in ceremony on November 17.

“The Maldivian people had given him [Muizzu] a strong mandate [in the September 30 election] to make the request to India” to pull out its security personnel from the Maldives, the readout said. It added that Muizzu “expressed hope that India will honor the democratic will of the people of the Maldives.”

Building on the momentum of the “India Out” campaign spearheaded by former President Abdulla Yameen (2013-2018), which targeted President Ibrahim Solih (2018-2023) for allegedly compromising Maldivian sovereignty by permitting the stationing of Indian military personnel in Maldives, Muizzu made the eviction of Indian security personnel an important part of his campaign strategy.

The Muizzu administration has said that it is also reviewing some 100 agreements, including in the areas of defense and security, signed with India during Solih’s presidency.

According to Maldivian Minister of Strategic Communication Ibrahim Khaleel, Muizzu’s meeting with Rijiju was “very positive.” There has been no official response from India to Muizzu’s request so far.

History Of Indo-Islamic Architecture – Analysis

Dr. Mohamed Chtatou

Indo-Islamic architecture refers to the Islamic architecture of the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the region of the present-day states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. (1) Although Islam had already gained a foothold on the west coast and far northwest of the subcontinent by the early Middle Ages, the current phase of Indo-Islamic construction began with the subjugation of the Northern Gangster by the Ghurids at the end of the 12th century. (2)

Historical background

As early as the 7th century, Islam made contact with the Indian subcontinent through trade contacts between Arabia and the Indian west coast, but initially remained limited to the Malabar coast in the extreme southwest. In the early 8th century, an Islamic army led by the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim invaded Sindh (now Pakistan). For centuries, the Indus formed the eastern frontier of the Islamic sphere of influence. Finally, at the turn of the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, the entire Gangese plain came under the control of the Persian Ghurid dynasty in Bengal. This marked the beginning of the true Islamic era in India. (3)

The Sultanate of Delhi was built in 1206, and was the most important Islamic state on Indian soil until the 16th century. The sultanate sometimes extended as far as the Indian highlands of Deccan, where, from the 14th century onwards, independent Islamic states emerged. Other Islamic empires emerged in the 14th and 15th centuries in the peripheral regions of the weakening Delhi Sultanate; the most important were Bengal in eastern India, Malwa in central India and Gujarat and Sindh in the west. (4)

The Digital Battlefield: The Taliban’s Case of Co-opting Social Media for Warfare and Governance

Zakira Rasooli


Three weeks before the collapse of the Republic in Afghanistan, I sat in a café frantically reporting violent content on the Taliban’s Facebook accounts that incited fear. I was staff at an Afghan NGO that partnered with Facebook to identify content that glorified violence and violent extremism. The gravity of the situation in Afghanistan weighed heavily on my heart. The partnership with Facebook was a crucial step for us in our fight against the Taliban's use of social media to incite terror and spread violent content. But as I looked around, fear and uncertainty hung in the air like a thick fog. The café was filled with tense conversations. A group of men huddled together, discussing the recent assassination of Dawa Khan Menapal, a high-ranking government official who dared to speak out against the Taliban. They debated ways to leave Afghanistan before the Taliban took over. Meanwhile, within a close distance to me, there were three teenage boys seated, glued to their phones, watching videos of the Taliban's advances in Badakhshan and talking to each other about how unforgiving and brutal the Taliban are towards the military, police, and special forces of Afghanistan. Despite my efforts to put aside my own emotions, I felt overwhelmed by the fear and pain I saw in the faces of those around me. 

As I logged into Facebook to begin my work to report disturbing content on Facebook, I couldn't help but feel that the Taliban had already taken over the platform. Their propaganda videos were spreading like wildfire, even on trusted news agencies' pages. The Taliban used strategic terror-inspiring communication tactics. They preached on religious purification narratives, evoking the sense that they alone represented Islam. I had never before seen a Taliban presence on Facebook, yet now they were omnipresent, directly engaging with and shaping public opinion, poisoning and overwhelming everyone with fear. It was like cancer that had spread to every corner of social media, leaving no one untouched – children, young and old, men and women were exposed to the disturbing reality of the Taliban's violence and war against the Afghan government. 

Myanmar’s NUG Needs To Win the Peace

David Hutt

They say there are three possible outcomes to a war. You can win the war and win the peace, as the United States did in Western Europe in 1945, for instance. You can lose the war but win the peace, which the U.S. has arguably done in Vietnam since 1975. Or you can win the war but lose the peace: the U.S. more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is perhaps another option: you can allow someone else to win the war and then you win the peace. That could be the outcome for Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG).

There has been a fair amount of hyperbole from all sides about the Three Brotherhood Alliance’s recently launched Operation 1027, a joint offensive by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Arakan Army that began on October 27. Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, has reportedly said that “the three ethnic alliance attacks… will break the country into pieces.” The junta-appointed president, Myint Swe, claimed that “if the government does not effectively manage the incidents happening in the border region, the country will be split into various parts,” an exaggeration of the risk that the ethnic groups will seek independent statehood, which would be economically suicidal.

These are desperate appeals to national cohesion, despite the junta’s coup having produced in the resistance a newfound and radical idea of what national cohesion means moving forward. According to a NUG minister, “We have surpassed the darkest times, and now a new dawn has arrived.” On the other hand, it’s still too early to tell whether, as one analyst put it, the offensive “actually has the potential to bring down a regime.”

A Paradigm Shift in America’s Asia Policy

John Lee

In 1988, U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz embarked on a three-week tour of Asia, stopping in Hong Kong and mainland China, Indonesia, Japan, the Marshall Islands, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. Shultz sat through long meetings to assure his hosts of Washington’s enduring friendship and interest in the region—engaging in what the diplomat Nicholas Burns described in Foreign Affairs in 2021 as “weeding, watering, and watching over the diplomatic garden.” The gardening metaphor, adopted by Shultz himself, was meant not as a slight but as a recognition that U.S. interests would best be served by light-touch diplomacy. Economic and political liberalization, rather than heavy-handed pressure, the thinking went, would bring countries in the region into alignment with the world’s liberal democracies.

Two decades of peace and prosperity appeared to validate Shultz’s approach. The region’s traditional rivalries persisted and historical grievances remained unresolved, but as Asian countries prioritized economic development over military spending, the risk of conflict seemed low. The United States offered Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand open access to the American market, and in return it expected their governments to support its own strategic interests and naval presence in the region.

But Washington’s post–Cold War strategy in Asia is no longer viable. By focusing on trade and development, many Asian countries have not done enough to strengthen their militaries and have left themselves vulnerable to Chinese aggression. China has engaged in the most rapid peacetime military buildup by any country since the 1930s. And Beijing has exploited its neighbors’ neglect of defense spending and equivocal positions on important issues by expanding China’s military and paramilitary presence in contested areas such as the Taiwan Strait and the East China and South China Seas. China, with its natural advantages in size and scale, has used enormous subsidies and extended cheap credit to domestic firms to lower production costs at home and distort markets abroad.

How China Lost Europe

Nicholas Bequelin

Does China value its relationship with Europe? Given the significance of mutual economic ties – second only to those with the United States – the answer should be an unambiguous yes. But Beijing’s diplomacy toward the continent says otherwise.

Despite numerous high-profile visits to China by European leaders, from France’s Emmanuel Macron to Germany’s Olaf Scholz, and various European tours by top Chinese officials such as Prime Minister Li Qiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the reality is that distrust toward China across European capitals is now at an all-time high.

Far from easing tensions, the recent uptick in interactions and reciprocal visits in preparation for the first post-pandemic face-to-face summit between the EU and China, scheduled for December 7-8, has instead hardened attitudes on both sides. “China hopes that the European Union (EU) will adopt a more pragmatic and rational attitude in cooperation with China,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned France’s top diplomatic advisor on October 31. “We must recognize that there is an explicit element of rivalry in our relationship,” Ursula von der Leyen, the EU Commission president, told the annual conference of EU ambassadors on November 6.

The only thing that both parties seem to agree on at the moment is that responsibility for this woeful state of affairs lies entirely with the other side.

China Ignores North Korea’s Provocations at Its Own Risk

Min-yong Lee

Poisonous mushrooms are growing quietly behind the deepening shadow of simultaneous international security crises. The war in Ukraine has continued for nearly two years, and Israel, which suffered civilian casualties from Hamas’ attacks on October 7, is engaging in a thorough revenge war that makes little distinction between civilians and combatants. Both conflicts have caused major waves in international politics and the economy.

However, while the world’s attention was focused on Ukraine and Israel, pre-existing threats in the international community were not resolved but worsened. One of these issues is North Korea’s military provocation.

On the evening of November 21, North Korea launched a military spy satellite. According to the North’s state media, the satellite succeeded in entering orbit. North Korea had previously attempted to launch a spy satellite in August, but the effort failed due to a problem with the rocket engine. Neighboring countries are paying attention to how North Korea solved the problem in three months.

South Korea’s military authorities said Russia provided technical advice after the Russia-North Korea summit in September, including dispatching engineers to North Korea.

Pyongyang’s launch of a spy satellite constitutes a violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea. In response, neighboring countries such as South Korea, the United States, and Japan immediately condemned North Korea’s provocative actions. However, China, which has the longest border with North Korea, is silent, ignoring the growing threat.

Charting China’s Climb as a Leading Global Cyber Power

Executive Summary 

Over the past half-decade, Chinese state-sponsored cyber operations have transformed, emerging as a more mature, stealthy, and coordinated threat than in previous years. This new paradigm is exemplified by the widespread exploitation of zero-day and known vulnerabilities in public-facing security and network appliances. It is coupled with a heightened emphasis on operational security, minimizing evidence of intrusion activity, and impeding adversary tracking tradecraft, including through the use of extensive anonymization networks and "living-off-the-land" techniques. 

These observed shifts have likely been influenced by both internal factors, such as major restructuring within China's military and changes in domestic vulnerability regulations, and external factors, including public reporting and exposures by Western governments and the cyber threat intelligence community. This evolution of Chinese state-sponsored cyber operations toward greater stealth and operational security has created a more complex and challenging landscape for target organizations, governments, and the cybersecurity community. 

Chinese cyber-enabled economic espionage activity has evolved from earlier practices characterized by the theft of a very broad range of commercial intellectual property (IP) to a focused strategy geared toward supporting more specific strategic, economic, and geopolitical goals, including those associated with foreign investment projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and critical technologies. Consequently, in the context of both cooperative foreign investment and economic competition, governments and corporations may face compromised negotiating positions and unfair competition enabled through cyber espionage. Such targets of persistent Chinese state-sponsored cyber activity must reevaluate risk assessments, recognizing that cyber risk extends beyond data breaches to encompass potential implications for negotiations, competitiveness, and strategic positioning. 

China and Saudi Arabia: A Partnership Under Pressure

Duncan Bartlett

A Chinese security officer stands guard at the door where Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Feb. 22, 2019.Credit: How Hwee Young/Pool Photo via AP

Children in Saudi Arabia are committed to learning Chinese. The Ministry of Education has instructed all public and private secondary schools to teach Mandarin for at least two lessons per week. Teaching may soon be expanded to encompass universities and primary schools.

The language classes have been mandated by Saudi Arabia’s powerful de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is pursuing a vision to build a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with China. In August 2023, Saudi Arabia was invited to join the informal BRICS pact, which includes China, Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa.

The Crown Prince’s vision for Saudi Arabia encompasses all parts of the economy but places a special emphasis on diversifying the economy away from oil.

The Chinese claim they are ideally placed to help realize this goal, emphasizing opportunities in infrastructure, and the transition to green energy. In the first half of 2022, Saudi Arabia received $5.5 billion in investment and contracts through China’s Belt and Road Initiative, more than any other country, according to the Economist.

Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom of Oil

Dr Tobias Borck

Saudi Arabia is set to remain one of the most influential players in global oil and energy markets. Understanding – and taking seriously – its evolving strategic calculus must therefore be a key task for policymakers in the UK and across Europe as they seek to safeguard their countries’ energy security.

Saudi Arabia is widely regarded as the world’s most important oil exporter. Through its own production and as the de facto leader of OPEC and OPEC+, Saudi Arabia can have more influence over international oil markets than most other producers – even countries that do not directly import Saudi oil are therefore affected by Saudi oil policy. In light of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and as energy security has become a top priority for Western governments, the UK and others across Europe and beyond have turned to Saudi Arabia, calling for it to increase production in order to bring down global oil prices.

Oil revenues have historically fuelled Saudi Arabia’s social contract, and they are now the indispensable source of funding for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform agenda. Although the Saudi Vision 2030 reform agenda ultimately aims at diversifying the Saudi economy, income from oil exports remains the all-important enabler of Saudi Arabia’s political and socioeconomic development in the absence of sufficient foreign direct investment.

US Strikes Iranian-Backed Militants Following Missile Attack

C. Todd Lopez

A U.S. military AC-130J Ghostrider attacked an Iran-backed militant group after the group used a ballistic missile to attack U.S. and coalition forces on Al-Asad Airbase, Iraq, the deputy pentagon press secretary said Tuesday.

The ballistic missile attack resulted in non-serious injuries to U.S. and coalition forces, as well as minor damage to infrastructure on the installation, said Sabrina Singh during a briefing at the Pentagon.

“Immediately following the attack, a U.S. military AC-130 aircraft in the area conducted a self-defense strike against an Iranian-backed militia vehicle and a number of Iranian-backed militia personnel involved in this attack,” she said. “This self-defense strike resulted in some hostile fatalities.”

Singh said the AC-130 gunship was able to mount a response so quickly because it was already in the air at the time of the missile attack.

“We were able to identify the point of origin of these attacks because an AC-130 was up already in the area and therefore was able to respond,” Singh said. “They were able to take action because they saw the militants. They were able to keep an eye on the movement of these militants as they moved into their vehicles and that’s why they were able to respond.”

Since Oct. 17, U.S. forces have been attacked 66 times in both Iraq and Syria, said Singh. She also said this is the first time a ballistic missile similar to the one used in this attack has been employed.

Seoul Warns North Korea Not to Launch Spy Satellite

Hyung-jin Kim

South Korea’s military warned North Korea not to go ahead with its planned spy satellite launch, suggesting Monday that Seoul could suspend an inter-Korean agreement to reduce tensions and resume front-line aerial surveillance in response.

North Korea failed in its first two attempts to put a military spy satellite into orbit earlier this year and didn’t follow through with a vow to make a third attempt in October. South Korean officials said the delay was likely because North Korea is receiving Russian technology assistance and that a launch could happen in coming days.

“Our military will come up with necessary measures to protect the lives and safety of the people, if North Korea pushes ahead with a military spy satellite launch despite our warning,” a senior South Korean military officer, Kang Hopil, said in a televised statement.

South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik said in an interview with public broadcaster KBS on Sunday the launch was expected later this month and that South Korean and U.S. authorities were monitoring North Korea’s moves.

The U.N. Security Council bans any satellite launches by North Korea because it views them as a disguised test of its missile technology. Kang said while North Korea needs a spy satellite to improve its monitoring of South Korea, the launch is also aimed at bolstering its long-range missile program.

Foreign governments and experts say North Korea is seeking Russian technologies to enhance its nuclear and other military capabilities in return for supplying conventional arms to support Russia’s war in Ukraine. Moscow and Pyongyang have dismissed as groundless the alleged arms transfer deal, but both nations – locked in separate, protracted tensions with the United States – have been openly pushing to expand their cooperation in recent months.

The Changing Character of Command

Why are large HQs and lengthy orders a problem in modern land force command? How can individual planning methods improve efficiency in land force operations?

In the realm of western land force command, a fundamental issue plagues the system: oversized land force headquarters (HQs) producing lengthy, complex orders at a snail’s pace. Dr. Jim Storr delves into this pressing concern, emphasising the vulnerabilities of large HQs and the impracticality of protracted orders in modern warfare.

This paper underscores the necessity for change. Some armies are aware of this. In the last year every battlegroup and every formation in the Australian Army has ‘culled’ its organization and its processes. Dr. Storr dissects the core problem – how real human beings do, or should best, make decisions and plan.

According to the paper, the way forward lies in adopting individual planning and decision-making methodologies. After the initial campaign or operation orders, brevity and delegation become paramount. Smaller staffs and HQs are a natural outcome of these changes, as planning processes seek to enhance individual expertise at all levels. The execution of operations follows suit, with an emphasis on faster order generation, reduced bureaucracy, and involving fewer individuals in planning and execution. It’s a bold shift towards agility and efficiency in land force command.

Australian Defence College (ADC)Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies, v. 5, no. 2, November 2023

Conventional war is dead! Long live conventional war

AUKUS-plus: the future of Indonesia’s bebas dan aktif foreign policy in the context of South-East Asian regional tension

Energy transition and national security: the potential application of integrated assessment models

Strategic thinking in hierarchical cultures: using leadership to transform rhetoric into reality

Six ideas on fighting power interdependence – building the fighting power system

China’s discordant grey-zone grand strategy

Warfare in an age of mutually assured precision

Don’t’ look down: Australia’s Antarctic interests

Defence by denial: American military strategy in the twenty-first century and its implications for Asia

War’s logic by Antulio J Echevarria

The echidna strategy by Sam Roggeveen

Autonomous cyber capabilities and unilateral measures of self-help against malicious cyber operations

Marta Stroppa

Autonomous cyber capabilities – that is, cyber capabilities able to operate without real-time human intervention – are currently being researched and developed by several states as a result of the increasing use of artificial intelligence and autonomy in the military domain. Whereas these capabilities are expected to be mainly employed to respond to malicious cyber operations, their use for defensive purposes raises some legal challenges that deserve to be explored. This paper seeks to analyse whether autonomous cyber capabilities can be used in compliance with international law to respond to malicious cyber operations using unilateral measures of self-help. After briefly introducing the notion of autonomous cyber capabilities and their current state of technological development, this paper will consider whether autonomous cyber capabilities can be used in compliance with the law regulating self-defence, countermeasures, plea of necessity and retorsions. As will be shown, their potential use in circumstances precluding wrongfulness (i.e., self-defence, countermeasures and plea of necessity) is highly problematic, as autonomous cyber capabilities seem to be currently unable to identify the objective and subjective element of the malicious cyber operation (whether it amounts to an internationally wrongful act and whether it is attributable to a state), and to calibrate their response in the light of the principles of necessity and proportionality. Yet, it will be suggested that states may still cautiously use autonomous cyber capabilities to carry out acts of retorsion.

Boeing’s Cyber Incident Highlights Need for Greater Information Sharing

Suyash Pasi

Boeing confirmed last Wednesday it was experiencing a cyber incident affecting parts of its global services business but not the flight safety of Boeing aircraft. This incident highlights the need for greater information sharing between the government and aviation companies, so the latter have a greater awareness of threats, helping to increase their resilience amid growing cyber risks.

Boeing’s statement follows a claim last Friday by the ransomware group LockBit that it had exfiltrated a “tremendous amount” of Boeing’s data. LockBit was the most widely deployed ransomware group last year, according to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the LockBit group’s affiliates continue to be “prolific.” In July, the group launched a ransomware attack on Japan’s largest port in Nagoya, causing a two-day halt in all port shipments. Last week, LockBit threatened to publish sensitive information it previously exfiltrated from Boeing networks and yesterday began leaking information including training materials and a list of the company’s technical suppliers. Boeing has declined to comment on whether LockBit was behind the cyber incident confirmed on Wednesday.

Like other critical infrastructure sectors, the aviation industry is facing an increasing number of ransomware attacks. The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation found that globally, the industry suffers a ransomware attack every week. The industry’s use of digitally connected technology has broadened the attack surface, leaving various components, from navigation tools to reservation systems, vulnerable to breaches and disruptions.

FROM CYBER TO HEARTS AND MINDS Cyber operations and the battle for global influence

Viola Fee Dreikhausen, Andrea Salvi

On 5 October 2023, a group of pro-Russian hackers announced in a Telegram post that it was targeting the Australian Home Affairs department with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. The post cited Australia’s decision ‘to keep up with the global Russophobic trend’ and deliver the ‘Slinger “drone killer system” to Kyiv’ as the motive for the attack (1).

While a government spokesperson confirmed that the Home Affairs website was taken down for about five hours between 10pm and 3am AEDT, the hackers did not access any data. Notwithstanding the comparatively limited extent of the inflicted damage, the incident reveals the true nature of low-intensity cyberattacks. Such attacks take place in a context where perception, posturing and projections are key. By using cyber vectors and targeting information systems, ‘hearts and minds’ can be directly influenced. In this Brief, we focus on a set of operations that sit at the intersection of two distinct spheres - the cyber and human domains.