25 November 2023

What if Israel didn't set out to 'destroy Hamas'?


The notion that a restrained reaction to outrageous provocation is often the wiser course has wide relevance. For example, it certainly applies to the U.S. reaction to 9/11, which cost trillions and led to well over a hundred times more deaths than the impelling event.

And a case can be made for the proposition that it would have been better for Israel if its understandably vehement response to the murderous Hamas incursion of October 7 had been much more limited. The response could have focused on pushing the offensive back, a few strikes against isolated targets in Gaza, shoring up border defenses, mounting covert operations to undermine Hamas, and launching a coordinated international effort to get the hostages released.

That approach would have sought to capitalize on the fact that the appeal of Hamas and its message was in decline before its attack. This process seems to have been motivated by at least two central considerations.

First, Arab Barometer reports conclude that the organization had become deeply unpopular in Gaza. While it seems to have been successful at squandering funds and at digging tunnels to protect itself, its governance has been incompetent and corrupt. Over time, substantial majorities in Gaza had come to say they did not trust it, had experienced food shortages during its rule, and did not share its eliminationist perspective on Israel.

Second, support for Hamas in the broader Middle East was waning. This is suggested by the Abraham Accords in which the message from former well-wishing and fund-donating states seems effectively to have been: “For god’s sake, get a life! You've been bashing your head against Israel for something that happened 75 years ago, and you have nothing to show for it except an ever-bloodier head. We've been on your side for most of this, but you’ve got to realize finally that Israel is not going anywhere and that it’s time to find another policy.” Gaza’s leadership reacted by accusing the Abraham Accords countries of seeking to throw it under the bus. Perhaps they were. For example, UAE cut its support for Palestinian relief from $51 million to $1 million.

What Was Hamas Thinking?

Tareq Baconi

Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel has initiated an unpredictable chain of events, and it is too early to determine how the attack might shape the future course of the struggle for Palestinian liberation. The vast destruction of the Gaza Strip and the horrifying loss of civilian life are a painful blow to Palestinians, reminiscent of the Nakba of 1948. Yet, simultaneously, the illusion that the Palestinian question can be swept aside while Israeli apartheid persists has been shattered, and Palestine is back at the top of the global agenda—with growing recognition that it must be addressed, even if the brutal massacres of Oct. 7 have polarized the debate around it.

Analysis: Can the US, Israel stop Yemen’s Houthis from seizing more ships?

Zoran Kusovac

On Sunday, Houthi fighters hijacked a cargo ship in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen.

The 189-metre-long (620ft-long) Galaxy Leader car carrier, travelling from Turkey to India, was intercepted by small fast boats and boarded by uniformed, armed personnel.

Other people rappelled from a helicopter to the deck, ordering the crew to alter course to the Yemeni port of Hodeida.

No shots were fired, and the seized ship is a civilian vessel sailing between neutral countries, but the incident still has the potential to trigger a serious escalation in the latest Israel-Palestine conflict.

In the worst-case scenario, it could be the first move in drawing the United States and Iran into direct involvement in the war.

Houthi spokesman Yahya Sare’e confirmed that the ship was seized for “being Israeli-owned” in line with his earlier announcement that the group would “not hesitate to target any Israeli vessel in the Red Sea or any place we can reach”. Israel has denied any link with the vessel although ownership details in public shipping databases suggest it is owned by one of Israel’s richest men.

Most of the Red Sea is wider than 200km (124 miles), but its southern end, the Bab al-Mandeb passage, is a chokepoint less than 20km (12 miles) wide from the Yemeni island of Mayyun across to the coast of Djibouti and Eritrea. Every year, more than 17,000 ships pass through it. That’s nearly 50 a day.

Palestinians and Israelis Lose When Leaders Choose Violence

Alexander Langlois

As reports indicate that a short-term humanitarian ceasefire is nearly complete after weeks of negotiations during the Israel-Hamas war, it is obvious that military action is not a solution to the broader conflict. Coined as so-called “cycles of violence,” decades of death on each side have fueled the extremism and violence that produced today’s fighting. A new path is necessary—one that goes beyond empty rhetoric and blind support for any actor.

Multiple significant players are making this case, renewing calls for a serious political solution resulting in a state for both Israelis and Palestinians. Heavy hitters like Jordanian King Abdullah II and former Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad produced notable arguments in this regard. Other scholars and analysts echo their sentiments, including Arab Barometer heads Amaney A. Jamal and Michael Robbins, who intricately highlight the Palestinian political temperature to argue for a path to peace.

The list goes on. Ultimately, there is strong support for a political solution to this devastating conflict. However, it must be sustainable and backed by forceful and verifiable action. While that outcome is ultimately for Palestinians and Israelis to decide for themselves, it must end in a viable state for both parties as supported by basic United Nations principles and international law. Empty rhetoric, conflict management, and bypassing Palestinian interests via the Abraham Accords were never solutions, as evidenced by the current conflict.

Central Asia Could Be the Graveyard of the Russia-China Alliance

David A. Merkel

Today, the world is one of great power competition: An unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by a revanchist Russia in Europe; Hamas, a proxy of Iran, is set on the elimination of Israel in the Middle East and Asia; the People’s Republic of China is threatening Taiwan. This occurs while U.S. federal spending is under strain, given a ballooning budget deficit and urgent domestic security concerns along our southern border.

The retrenchment that has characterized the foreign policy of recent administrations has contributed to this instability, and we must address it by supporting Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. However, necessity dictates that we marshal our resources, directing them toward vital interests and engaging in effective statecraft.

As we work to strengthen our alliances in Europe and Asia, we should also look for opportunities to plant seeds of division between Moscow and Beijing—a relationship that had been described as “one without limits” before Russia invaded Ukraine.

The former Soviet Republics in Central Asia, bordering both China and Russia, may be such a place. Historic precedence exists of great powers’ interests clashing in Central Asia. Victorian Britain and Czarist Russia battled over the Khanates in the Great Game in the late 1800s. Clashes between the Soviet Red Army and the People’s Liberation Army in the 1960s along the border that today runs along Central Asia first alerted the West to the Sino-Soviet split.

A rising China views the five Central Asian Republics—Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan—as key to the Belt and Road Initiative’s rebirth of the ancient Silk Road. Connecting China to European markets by land would alleviate Beijing’s concerns about maritime choke points and being harassed by the power of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Moscow, who never accepted a junior role to Washington following the break-up of the Soviet Union, has been thrust into such a dependent role with Beijing. The Kremlin may consider this largely unavoidable, but in Central Asia, unacceptable.

MHI Is Riding the Wave of Japan’s Boom in Defense Spending

Takahashi Kosuke

Japan’s biggest defense company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), has outlined plans for future growth through development investment in new major national defense projects, including standoff missiles and a joint next-generation fighter program with Britain and Italy.

In a rare move, on November 22, MHI held a defense business briefing session at its Tokyo headquarters, inviting dozens of market analysts and journalists as well as online participants.

At the briefing, the company announced that it now expects annual sales from its defense business to double from the current level of about 500 billion yen ($3.4 billion) to 1 trillion yen during the fiscal years (FY) 2024-2026, and then reach over 1 trillion yen during FY2027-2029.

This bullish outlook came after the Japanese government in December 2022 decided to boost its defense spending to a total budget of an unprecedented 43.5 trillion yen for FY2023-2027. That number is about 2.5 times the previous plan of 17.2 trillion yen in the 2019-2023 period. This whopping budget increase aims to fundamentally reinforce Japan’s defense capabilities, including counterstrike abilities, in the face of China’s increasing military strength, North Korea’s unstoppable nuclear and missile development, and Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine.

MHI is well placed to benefit from the increased spending. The firm has traditionally dominated defense contracting in Japan, with a market share of 21.2 percent in 2022.

Speaking to market analysts and journalists at its Tokyo headquarters on November 22, Eguchi Masayuki, head of Integrated Defense & Space Systems, said the company aims to have a profit margin of about 10 percent on its contracts for the next few years, up from the current profit margin of 7.7 percent.

Who Benefits From Street Politics in Bangladesh?

Mushfique Wadud

Conflict over a neutral election-time caretaker government between Bangladesh’s ruling party, the Awami League (AL), and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has turned violent. Both the ruling party and the opposition are taking a hard line, inspiring gloomy political prospects for both before and after the general election scheduled for January 7, 2024.

The shift from politics to a violent protest surprised many. In the previous three months, the opposition BNP had successfully mobilized tens of thousands of people in mass rallies in Dhaka. These rallies were peaceful, but the demonstration on October 28 turned violent. There are conflicting narratives about who triggered the violence. While opposition parties point the finger at AL activists, the government and law enforcement officials deny this and accuse activists of the opposition parties. Most senior BNP leaders have been detained over the violence.

Another significant turn in political activities in the last few weeks is the reappearance of general strikes and blockades, tactics not seen in Bangladesh in recent years.

The political program has already turned violent, and experts fear the situation will only get worse in the remaining weeks before the election.

In an op-ed in the Hindustan Times, Avinash Paliwal, a security and foreign policy expert who teaches at SOAS University of London, asked a fundamental question: Who actually benefits? Importantly, he noted, both sides believe they will come out ahead:

Consumption in China: Is it really that bad?


The jury is in on what ails China’s economy. It was only a matter of time. And the obvious solution – we are told – will be politically treacherous. The verdict is unanimous. China’s investment and export-led model has finally run its course.

Not only that but the model had been taken to such extremes that the rebalancing must be brutal. Proof is everywhere. The property sector is on its knees. Infrastructure debt has paralyzed local governments. Exports have peaked and are declining.

If only China could stop squeezing its long-suffering households, consumption could become an engine of if not growth then at least stability. But that would require empowering households.

And we all know inefficient SOEs and venal local governments will fight tooth and nail against the interest of households whose consumption was a paltry 38% of GDP in 2021. While profligate Americans consuming 68% of GDP may not be a proper comparison, frugal Japanese and Korean households consumed 54% and 48% of GDP, respectively, substantially more than their put upon Chinese neighbors.

Given the immense size of China’s economy, its imbalances have global implications, they say. Analysts have recently pointed out that while China’s economy is 18% of global GDP, it accounts for only 13% global consumption and a massive 32% of global investment. Through trade and capital flows, China is surely offshoring its extreme domestic imbalances to the world.

The Cautionary Tale of Georgia’s FTA With China

Maradia Tsaava and Katarina Baletić

Serbia is hoping that a new free trade agreement (FTA) signed with China will be a boon for the country’s wine industry. However, the experience of Georgia, which considers itself the cradle of winemaking, suggests that Serbian winemakers shouldn’t get their hopes up.

Serbia and China signed their FTA on October 17. The document was signed by Serbian Trade Minister Tomislav Momirović, who was in Beijing along with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić for the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

The text of the agreement has been made public. Under its terms, tariff-free Chinese goods include some kinds of fresh meat, automobiles, arms, smartphones, lithium batteries, photovoltaic modules, textiles, and toys. Tariff-free Serbian goods include fruits, nuts, beef, some mechanical equipment, arms, and of course, wines. Most tariffs won’t be immediately abolished but they will be reduced year by year and then become “tariff-free” after five, 10, or 15 years.

Serbian officials are anticipating a big boost to their country’s wine exports. Praising the deal, Serbia’s agricultural minister, Jelena Tanasković, emphasized wine in an interview with Serbian state broadcaster RTS. “Today wine is subject to customs duties at a rate of 42 percent. In the next five years, it will be a zero rate,” she explained.

According to the text of the FTA, Serbian wine exporters face a base customs tariff of 14 percent, so it is unclear where the 42 percent figure comes from. Nevertheless, the new agreement does stipulate that the customs duty on the import of Serbian wine in bottles smaller than 2 liters will be abolished over the next five years at a rate of 2.8 percent each year.

Opinion Xi Jinping is sending ominous signals on Taiwan

Josh Rogin

Many in Washington are pointing to last week’s meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping as a sign that the two great powers are growing closer. But on the most important issue in the relationship — Taiwan — Washington and Beijing are moving further apart. Xi’s rhetoric indicates he’s getting impatient with the status quo — and his actions are even more worrisome.

During the two leaders’ private meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area, Xi struck some ominous notes on Taiwan. Regarding Beijing’s long-standing desire to bring the island under its control, Xi said his “preference was for peaceful reunification,” a senior U.S. official told reporters — but then Xi outlined several scenarios under which he might use force. Biden reiterated to Xi that the United States supports the status quo and is determined to maintain peace.

But Xi’s reaction to Biden’s simple restatement of existing U.S. policy was to tell the U.S. president that China would not be satisfied with the status quo forever.

“Xi responded, ‘Look, peace is all well and good, but at some point we need to move toward resolution more generally,’” according to the official.

Some current and former officials highlighted this quote as evidence Xi is getting increasingly impatient, suggesting that he intends to ramp up efforts to coerce Taiwan into unifying with the People’s Republic. Matthew Pottinger, deputy national security adviser to President Donald Trump, noted that the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s readout of the meeting said Xi told Biden that the United States should actually “support China’s peaceful reunification” — a particularly bad sign, Pottinger said.

“This is a significant moving of the goal posts, because [Beijing] is now saying that the relationship with China is predicated on the U.S. supporting the Chinese takeover of Taiwan,” said Pottinger. “Xi is saying, ‘I’m not going to stand for the Taiwan status quo much longer, and you, America, are in our way.’”

Biden’s China summit was a reminder: the US should talk to its rivals more often

Christopher S Chivvis

Wednesday’s meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping was a lot harder to pull off than the photographs of the two leaders ambling around the gardens of the Filoli mansion outside San Francisco may have made it appear. The White House has spent the last 10 months working to restore dialogue after years of mounting tension that most recently featured an errant Chinese observation balloon and possible Chinese military support for Russia’s war on Ukraine. In the process of working toward the meeting, the White House faced strong domestic political headwinds.

Finding a modus vivendi with China will involve deterrence and sometimes sharp competition. But dialogue is the only way to reduce misperception and unneeded economic, military and financial costs. The actual outcomes of the summit were modest, but major breakthroughs take time and if Biden and Xi had not met, the outlook for stabilizing the relationship would be bleak.

During the Cold war, successive US presidents held scores of summits with their Soviet counterparts, albeit intermittently. Lower-level officials met regularly as well, especially on arms control issues. Ronald Reagan is often remembered for calling the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire”, but he also understood the importance of dialogue with adversaries and launched a series of summits with his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, in the mid-1980s that helped end the Cold war.

After the Cold war, when the US enjoyed unprecedented global power, presidential summitry seemed less important. America’s main adversaries – Iran, Iraq and North Korea – were far lesser powers, their leaders unworthy of a meeting with the US president. Al Qaeda, which became America’s most hated enemy after the 9/11 attacks, was even less a candidate. US leaders met with their Chinese counterparts, of course, but China was still weak and relations were still good.

China Calls America's Bluff in the South China Sea

Micah McCartney and John Feng

The Philippines and the United States—one of the oldest alliances in Asia—began three days of joint air and sea patrols in the South China Sea on Tuesday aimed at pushing back against China's constant probing in the region.

The exercise, which runs through Thursday, involves the Philippine Air Force and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM). It is taking place in the "West Philippine Sea," Manila's name for the portion of the South China Sea that falls within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, where Beijing has been actively asserting its claim to contested islands, reefs and atolls in the Spratly Islands archipelago.

In a recent visit to Hawaii, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issued one of his strongest rebukes yet of China's "persistent unlawful threats and challenges against Philippine sovereign rights and jurisdictions." In his 17 months in office, Marcos' government has filed dozens, if not hundreds, of diplomatic protests with Beijing over the Chinese coast guard and maritime militia's harassment of Filipino fishermen and coast guard vessels.

In at least half a dozen run-ins around Manila-held Second Thomas Shoal since August, the Philippines has accused Chinese ships of unleashing water cannons, setting up barriers and blockades, and ramming. In February, a Philippine Coast Guard crew was said to have been temporarily blinded by a Chinese coast guard ship's "military-grade laser."

Each of the incidents drew a strongly worded response from the U.S. State Department and last month from the U.S. president himself. Joe Biden reaffirmed the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 and pledged to respond militarily against any attack on Filipino servicemembers, including in the South China Sea.

North Korea's Spy Satellite Launch Is One Giant (and Dangerous) Question Mark

Bruce Klingner

North Korean Spy Satellite Enhances Targeting Ability - Pyongyang successfully launched its first military reconnaissance satellite after two previous failures. North Korea has developed a robust missile arsenal but, until now, lacked a remote reconnaissance capability to identify, track, and attack U.S., South Korean, and Japanese military targets. The satellite’s capabilities, as well as whether it incorporated Russian technology, remain unknown.

North Korea announced the satellite surveilled U.S. military bases in Guam and vowed to launch several additional reconnaissance satellites “in a short span of time.” South Korea responded by suspending portions of an inter-Korean military agreement meant to prevent military clashes along the DMZ, raising tensions on the peninsula even further.

On November 21, Pyongyang conducted its third attempt at launching its Malligyong-1 military reconnaissance satellite onboard a Chollima-1 rocket. Previous launches in May and August 2023 failed to achieve orbit, but clearly, North Korea learned some valuable lessons. The South Korean navy salvaged some of the rocket and satellite debris from the ocean floor, enabling technical analysis, though the results have not been disclosed.

Kim Jong-un declared the regime’s intention to develop a military reconnaissance satellite in his January 2021 directive to the regime’s defense industry. Other delineated military projects included a solid-fuel ICBM, tactical nuclear warheads, hypersonic gliding flight warheads, and a nuclear-powered submarine.

North Korea reported an “important final-stage test” in December 2022 involving a mock satellite and subsequently released two poor-quality images of the Korean Peninsula. Experts denigrated the grainy, low-resolution images as being of far worse capability than commercially available imagery. Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader, responded angrily that the test was to show the feasibility of the system rather than the eventual quality of the imagery.

The Space Force Needs Its Own Messaging Shop

Peter Garretson

Now that Congress is well on its way to creating a stand-alone legislative liaison for the United States Space Force (USSF), it’s time for them to give America’s newest military branch its own voice as well, in the form of an independent public affairs capability.

That would be a drastic change to the prevailing state of affairs, in which the Space Force’s messaging to the Hill and the American public is currently part of a combined shop under the Department of the Air Force. The result is deeply suboptimal. As retired Air Force General Simon “Pete” Worden said recently, “there is still too much interference from the Air Force.”

Creating a distinct messaging capability for the Space Force should consequently be a top priority for several reasons.

First, the Space Force must be able to tell the “military space” story. It needs to be able to create allies and supporters within the American electorate and reinforce efforts by the service to recruit and communicate its message. It also needs to be an integral part of shaping the operational environment, which includes allies, adversaries, and private industry—something a public affairs capability subservient to the Air Force simply can’t accomplish.

Secondly, the Space Force truly has a distinct message. Trying to reconcile it with that of the Air Force will effectively set back the development of spacepower. Since the USSF is new, it especially needs a dedicated public affairs office to explain precisely to the populace what it is doing and why.

These Killer Paint Jobs Made These Air Force Fighters Unforgettable

Hope Hodge Seck

One could argue that the F-16 Fighting Falcon plane doesn’t need any special paint job to be the coolest thing in the air. After all, the Viper, as pilots call it, is the world’s most popular fighter by number of planes in service around the world, and the ride of choice for the elite Air Force Thunderbirds. But when you see one sparkle in flawless all-gold, it somehow still hits differently.

In July 2022, in celebration of the Air Force’s 75th anniversary, the Iowa Air National Guard rolled out an F-16 with a fresh all-gold paint job and intricate details harking back to the state’s first gold heritage jet, unveiled in 1996. Like that 50th anniversary F-16, the new throwback jet has a striking glossy black radome, or nose cone, and the inscription “Pride of Siouxland” across the side. The original anniversary dates, 1946-1996, are printed on the ventral fins under the body of the plane. Unit emblems including a black bat with wings spread and a native American headdress bearing the words “Sioux City” can be found on the tail.

The aircraft also carries multiple hat tips to Col. Dennis Swanstrom, the Iowa ANG 128th Air Refueling Wing commander who had the audacity to create the original all-gold fighter, even though special paint jobs for active planes were essentially unheard-of at the time.

And based on the hype the newly released gold F-16 is generating it appears history has proven Swany right.

Elsewhere around the Air Force, fighter paint schemes have become an art form, with increasingly intricate and meaningful designs. Here are five more notable heritage designs in the last few years that you might have missed.

DarkStar: Manned "Mach 6" Stealthy Hypersonic Fighter Jet by 2025?


Stealthy, manned hypersonic flight might thrust itself upon the combat scene in just the next several years, provided the mysteriously “revealed” Darkstar aircraft flown by Tom Cruise in Maverick.

However, despite the hollywood appearance, there is no actual or official confirmation that the aircraft actually exists. That being said, images, concepts and "renderings" have been made available and of course some kind of aircraft flew in the movie....so there might well be a Lockheed-engineered secretive Mach 6 Darkstar “Son of Blackbird” high-speed stealthy jet which resembles the futuristic aircraft shown in the blockbuster film.

Manned “hypersonic” flight would indeed suggest a massive breakthrough now that hypersonic weapons are just starting to arrive. Engineering a projectile to sustain hypersonic speeds and remain “on-course” for its target trajectory under extreme temperatures is challenging enough, yet it may be that sustained “manned” hypersonic flight may be in the not-too-distant-future.

Many refer to the new “possible” aircraft as an SR-72 “Son-of-Blackbird” as it could be seen as a follow on to the groundbreaking high-speed SR-71 Blackbird.

The new, “Son of Blackbird” as it is called, is slated to take to the sky by 2025, according to Lockheed’s paper. A potentially-secretive manned-Mach 6 Darkstar "son of Blackbird" was potentially featured in Top Gun Maverick. The high-speed jet flown by Tom Cruise in the movie does resemble an image of the aircraft posted by Lockheed Martin, however there is no actual confirmation that such an aircraft exists.

In Ukraine, Russia's Military Has A Manpower Problem. Now It's Becoming A Political Problem

Mike Eckel

A group of women wearing winter coats gathered outside a municipal building in the northwestern Russian city of Cherepovets last month.

In a video published on the Russian social-media platform VK, one woman reads aloud an appeal to President Vladimir Putin, complaining that their husbands had been issued "illegal orders."

Others stand holding signs that read: "We request demobilization" and "Bring our men home."

"Help our guys, please," the women chant in unison.

The women's appeal was prompted by the plight of their husbands, deployed to fight in Ukraine with the 347th Motorized Infantry Regiment, a unit in which Dmitry Yashnikov served beginning during Russia's mobilization in September 2022 until he was badly wounded about three months ago.

"Nobody is eager to fight. Everyone wants to go home," the 41-year-old said in an interview with RFE/RL's North.Realities. "We've been stuck in this mess for a year now. Everyone is tired and wants to return to peaceful life."

The grumblings, while not widespread, are already causing political headaches, a reflection of a problematic circle that Russian leaders are struggling to square: Russian's military has a manpower problem in Ukraine.

Putin's mobilization order 14 months ago sent tens of thousands of men to the front lines to try and reverse Russia's struggling invasion. But the bloodletting continues, and the longer it goes on, the more men are needed. And the more men that are needed, the more likely a second mobilization becomes.

How the White House’s AI Executive Order could increase U.S. cyber vulnerabilities

John Villasenor

A sweeping new executive order on artificial intelligence would institute reporting requirements for cybersecurity measures taken to protect certain large AI models, as well as the location and computing power of “large-scale computing clusters.”

These reporting requirements would result in the federal government building databases of information highly valuable to geopolitical adversaries that will likely become targets of cyberwarfare and espionage.

To minimize the risks of cyberattacks, the government should implement these requirements with the expectation that any sensitive information it stores will be compromised and clarify reporting obligations in order to avoid stifling AI innovation.

On October 30, the White House released its “Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.” It is a lengthy document, spanning over 30 pages in the Federal Register. But two short portions of the Executive Order (EO) are of particular concern in terms of the cybersecurity vulnerabilities they will create: Under the EO, the government will institute mandatory reporting of information about the “physical and cybersecurity measures taken to protect” model weights associated with certain large AI models, as well as the location and computing power of “large-scale computing cluster[s].”

Reporting requirements

Trench warfare tips: What US troops need to know from Ukraine


U.S. Army veteran Ryan O’Leary, has spent so much time assaulting Russian trenches in Ukraine that he’s made it his handle on Twitter, now X: @IhateTrenches.

“Your CQB [close-quarters battle] is violent, but nothing compares to trench warfare,” O’Leary told Task & Purpose. “Most of the enemy we’re fighting at like five meters or less distance. The only way you can get everyone out of the trench is by going into the trench.”

O’Leary leads foreign volunteers in “Chosen Company,” which is attached to Ukraine’s 59th Motorized Brigade. Although the unit has shown it is good at clearing enemy trenches, it is a miserable experience to defend trenches, especially during Ukraine’s cold winters, he explained

During the past 11 months, members of the company have used their military training to adapt to the conditions on the ground in Ukraine, O’Leary said. Task & Purpose spoke and texted with O’Leary, who is still in Ukraine, via the Signal app. Mastering the art of trench warfare requires getting your reps in, he said.

“You have to practice it a lot, get good at it,” O’Leary said. “Otherwise, you’re going to die really quick.”

IJ Infinity GroupMilitary

Strategy Magazine, Summer 2023, v. 9, no. 1 

Co-Opting Clausewitz: Using On War to Explain Success and Failure in the War in Ukraine

The Roots of Bad Strategy

Civil War Comes to the West

Establishing the Realm of the Possible: Logistics and Military Strategy

The Missing Strategic Theory Link in African Conflicts

Should Strategists Worry About the Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence?

Pentagon seeks to rapidly build up information-warfare force

Colin Demarest

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military lacks the ability to quickly deploy personnel that can fend off malevolent actors trying to shape public opinion and must act now to build up such “information forces,” according to a newly revealed Pentagon strategy.

Conquering the information ecosystem from social-media chatter to government propaganda is increasingly important as mis- and disinformation proliferate and world powers including China and Russia try to influence foreign affairs from afar.

The Defense Department must “build a process to rapidly deploy teams of information forces, including the reserve force,” and foster a related workforce comprising military and civilian experts, according to the 2023 Strategy for Operations in the Information Environment. Improved recruiting, training and career paths are needed for the effort.

The congressionally mandated document was made public Nov. 17, months after internal publication. Information warfare represents a persuasive brew of public outreach, offensive and defensive electronic capabilities, and cyber operations; it combines data awareness and manipulation to gain an advantage before, during and after major events.

“As this strategy makes clear, our ability to gain and sustain information advantages at the times and places of our choosing are critical to successful operations in the information space,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in the introduction. “Make no mistake: America’s competitors and enemies are moving quickly in the information environment, hoping to offset our enduring strategic advantages elsewhere.”

Navy’s new cyber strategy aims to place a premium on non-kinetic capabilities’ role in conflict


U.S. Navy Operations Specialist 1st Class Frederick Robinson, from Abbeville, Louisiana, stands tactical data coordinator (TDC) in the combat information center (CIC) during sea and anchor detail as the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) departs Azores, Portugal after a brief stop for fuel, October 5, 2023. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau)

The Department of the Navy’s new cyber strategy, released Tuesday, places an emphasis on cyber as a warfighting domain in an attempt to change the culture of the sea services and elevate this mission area as a core competency.

The guidance, which applies to both the Navy and Marine Corps, was about three years in the making. Officials involved in the effort sought to make the distinction from past strategies and documents, which were heavily focused on cybersecurity and defense, to one that recognizes cyber is part of warfighting.

“The [chief information office] really [focuses on] modernize, innovate, defend. They’re going to do a lot of that zero trust, identity management, [risk management framework] reform. What the [principal cyber adviser] really tried to bring to this was, … ‘Hey, this is a warfighting domain and we need to figure out how to talk about this a little more openly,’” Chris Cleary, the Department of the Navy’s principal cyber advisor, told DefenseScoop regarding the strategy that his office helped craft.

Perspective – Send in the Robots: Counter-Terrorism Response and Emerging Drone Technology

Zachary Kallenborn, Derrick Tin, and Gregory Ciottone

Terrorists, suicide bombers in particular, create chaos and bring death and destruction to the masses. Not only are innocent people hurt or killed, buildings and critical infrastructure will likely be damaged or destroyed. Police, firefighters, medics, and other first responders may struggle to respond when bridges and roads are compromised and saving lives means entering collapsing, contaminated buildings and potentially placing their own lives at risk. Drones are increasingly being used to help.[1] Drones are already helping map, photograph, and assess damaged infrastructure after terror attacks and other disasters.[2] If a building collapses and a first responder dies, that might be someone’s son, daughter, mom, dad, sister, brother, or just friend. But if a drone is destroyed, only the accountants cry.

A Burkinabe soldier retrieves a video drone during counterterrorism Exercise Flintlock 2019 in Burkina Faso on 24 February 2019.

The opportunities to use drones for terrorism preparedness and response are growing. Researchers are excitedly improving sensor processing, expanding use to new domains, enhancing autonomy, and connecting numerous drones into collaborative drone swarms. Counter-terrorism, emergency response, and homeland defense organizations writ large need to monitor these trends, identify opportunities, provide appropriate investments in technologies, and integrate great ideas into technical capabilities, training, doctrine, and response planning.

1. Sensor processing

Maneuver Warfare Is Just Operational Art

Major Christopher Denzel, U.S. Marine Corps

The Marine Corps’ foundational doctrine, Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication (MCDP) 1: Warfighting, has had such a profound cultural impact on the service that any discussion of rewriting it is contentious. Rewritten it must be, however—not because it is wrong, but because it is framed in a way that confuses war’s character with its nature. The fundamental problem with MCDP-1’s conception of maneuver warfare is that a term for it already exists: operational art.

MCDP-1 was originally released in 1989, as Fleet Marine Force Manual 1: Warfighting. The maneuver warfare debates that preceded it had grappled with the failures of the Vietnam War, in which an apparently scientific way of war did not translate tactical success into strategic victory. Examining the same failures, the U.S. Army developed similar ideas into what is now known as operational art, which attempts to design and link tactical actions to achieve operational and strategic ends.

However, Warfighting was strongly informed by the often-inscrutable ideas of military theorist and Air Force veteran John Boyd, in particular the OODA loop—observe, orient, decide, act. Bill Lind, a controversial aide to Senators Robert Taft and Gary Hart, radically interpreted Boyd and zealously championed some of his ideas, expressed in maneuver warfare. The Marine Corps ended up with an emotionally charged doctrine that nevertheless appeared to offer a harmonized view of war. And that view allowed Marines to imagine operational approaches to defeat the enemy.



A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-35 Lightning II fly side by side together through the sky over Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Oct. 13, 2020. The pilots flew over the base to show the capabilities of the jets to the student pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Phaff)

Emotionally, it was never going to be a fair fight.

The grizzled A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” close air support aircraft, with its unmistakable profile, ear-splitting 30mm Gatling-style autocannon, and reputation for delivering ground troops from certain death, is so beloved that lawmakers and fans have successfully protested its retirement even as it nears a half-century of service.

By comparison, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a stealthy fifth-generation jet whose best capabilities are high-end and invisible, is relatively new to the fight, and still best-known by many for its arduous path to production, fraught with cost overruns, delays, and setbacks.

Nowadays, the F-35 has begun to prove itself. The unit cost of the jets dropped to a low of $78 million last year, down from a shocking $133 million more than a decade ago. The aircraft was first used in combat in 2019 and has begun to get its share of good press for its high-tech capabilities – such as its ability to create a network linking other aircraft in the sky and to obliterate enemy assets before they even know it’s in their vicinity. But in 2016, when rumors of an A-10 vs. F-35 “flyoff” first began to surface, many, including then-congresswoman and former A-10 pilot Martha McSally, thought the challenge would prove, once and for all, that the older and more visibly muscular Warthog could put the fancy new F-35 to shame.