4 December 2023

Israel recovers body of hostage, four more killed in Gaza


Another four hostages taken by Hamas during the terror organization's rampage in southern Israel on October 7 were announced as being dead, Israeli security forces and media stated on Friday.

The body of Ofir Tzarfati was recovered by the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) in the Gaza Strip. He was subsequently brought back into Israel.

Tzarfati was a soldier abducted from the vicinity of the Re'im base on October 7.

His body was identified by medical and military rabbinate personnel along with the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Israel Police.

The second hostage, Guy Ilouz, 26, who was abducted from Re'im, was a music and sound technician who had been a participant at the Nova Music Festival on October 7. He worked with prominent Israeli musicians including Shalom Hanoch, Matti Caspi, and the band, HaYehudim.

Counterintuitive Palestinian Politics: Is Hamas Treading A Path Paved By The PLO? – Analysis

James M. Dorsey

Spanish philosopher George Santayana didn’t have Palestine in mind when he coined the phrase, ‘history repeats itself.’

Yet, Mr. Santayana’s maxim may apply to Hamas when comparing the group’s political evolution to the 16-year-torturous road traversed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from classification by Israel and its Western allies as a terrorist organization to establishing the Palestine Authority on Israeli-occupied Palestinian land.

To be sure, there is no guarantee that Hamas, despite its brutal October 7 attack on Israel and wanton slaughter of 1,200, mostly civilian Israelis, will emulate the PLO in eventually recognising Israel and abandoning the armed struggle.

Moreover, Hamas’ current notion of realpolitik falls far short of anything that would qualify it as an acceptable and credible party to the negotiation of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Even so, the parallels between the PLO and Hamas’ political evolution are noteworthy.

The PLO embarked on its road to recognition of Israel and abandonment of the armed struggle in 1974 with a first ever direct appeal to Israelis published as an advertisement in Yediot Ahranot, a leading Israeli newspaper, by Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) leader Nayef Hawatmeh.

The PLO refused to address Israelis directly prior to publication because that would acknowledge the Jewish state.

Why the Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Was Destined to Fail


As a week-long truce between Israel and Hamas ended Friday, with Hamas firing a barrage of rockets into Israel and the Israeli military renewing combat operations in the Gaza Strip, one thing became abundantly clear: The war won’t be ending any time soon.

Despite a pause in fighting that stirred hope among some that the beginning of the end could be near, the two sides have reignited the conflict. “We're ready and preparing ourselves to keep on this mission for as long as it takes,” says Richard Hecht, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson.

Each side blamed the other for the breakdown in negotiations. On Thursday, Hamas killed four Israelis in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem and launched more rockets into Israel, which Israel said violated the ceasefire. By Friday, Israel struck Gaza with a series of air raids and announced plans for a high-intensity operation to target Hamas installations in the southern part of the Strip. The IDF also released a map to lead Palestinian non-combatants out of harm’s way. The war’s toll on civilians in Gaza has been an intense concern for the international community, with the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claiming more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes. Those figures do not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Israel says it will not stop the war until it completes its stated objective of dismantling Hamas’s military infrastructure and eliminating the terror group as the ruling power in Gaza. That goal has widespread support from the Israeli public after Hamas militants infiltrated southern Israel on Oct. 7 and killed roughly 1,200 people, mostly civilians. “If we don't destroy Hamas, our existence here is in jeopardy,” says Ophir Falk, a foreign policy adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Narendra Modi is remaking India’s 1.4m strong military

Narendra modi, India’s prime minister, often dons fatigues while visiting troops in Kashmir. On November 25th he went one better by squeezing into a flight suit and taking a sortie over Bangalore in a Tejas fighter jet. The Indian-designed plane embodies Mr Modi’s push for India to make more of its own weapons. It also embodies much of what has gone wrong with the country’s defence. The jet is 20 years behind schedule, underpowered, and disdained by Indian pilots.

India’s growing geopolitical clout is based in large part on a hope that it can balance Chinese power. That makes the modernisation of the partly antiquated Indian armed forces—the second biggest of any country, with 1.4m full-time personnel—a matter of global interest. Follies like the Tejas make it easy to be pessimistic. The forces are also heavily reliant on Soviet-legacy hardware. Successful modernisation, assuming it happens, is likely to take decades. Yet a close look at India’s defence efforts reveals several areas of significant and underappreciated progress.

Takshashila Discussion Document - Human Spaceflight: Indian Goals & Global Ambitions

There is renewed interest in human spaceflight around the world. This is being driven by both higher government spending and greater private sector dynamism. This is evident in plans to commercialise low Earth orbit habitation and the US-led Artemis lunar exploration programme.

Space exploration remains a high-risk venture for both technical and commercial reasons. While private sector actors are still working out their business models, they are already changing the way states approach lunar exploration.

India has laid out its ambition to operate a space station by 2035 and send an Indian to the Moon by 2040. To achieve these goals, India will need to move away from its traditional approaches and seek out international cooperation and commercial opportunities more actively.

India must embed ISRO programmes such as the Gaganyaan human spaceflight project into the effort to build a commercially sustainable low-Earth orbit economy. It must also join the Artemis lunar exploration programme to accelerate its journey to putting a person on the Moon.

The ‘no limits’ Russo-Chinese alliance is taking flight


Although much expert commentary on Russo-Chinese relations denies an alliance exists, their deepening military collaboration belies that conclusion. The countries’ joint behavior increasingly suggests that a China-dominated multi-dimensional partnership is here and encompasses even more areas of their economic, political and military policy.

They are considering building an underwater tunnel from Russia to Crimea to help Russia retain control of the region but make it more beholden to China. This alone suggests China’s real attitude to the war against Ukraine.

The military dimension of this deepening alliance is multi-domain, trans-regional, global in scope, growing and, according to Putin, becoming more important. This military cooperation represents the strongest domain of collaboration. It includes efforts in the Arctic, outer space and possibly in Europe. For example, a Sino-Russian collaboration occurred regarding the Baltconector gas pipeline, making this collaboration a threat to European infrastructure if not security.

It also is generating de facto alignment with China across Asia, the Arctic and with rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. It could also become a tripartite alliance with North Korea, which is Kim Jong Un’s apparent objective. Moreover, Russia committed itself to following China’s lead in Africa.

The global risks to regional and international security are obvious. The Economist reported that Xi has the leverage to “seek high-end Russian military technology, such as surface-to-air missiles, and nuclear reactors designed to power submarines” and the influence to sway Putin to “withhold or delay supplies of similar items to Russian customers that have territorial disputes with China, such as India and Vietnam.” Additionally, it notes that Russia can “help upgrade China’s nuclear arsenal, or work on a joint missile-warning system.”

The Rising Tide of ‘Imperial Han’ Nationalism in China

Hu YanWenan

In the complex socio-political landscape of China, the “Imperial Han” (皇汉, Huang Han) faction stands out for its significant resurgence. This extreme Han ethno-nationalist sentiment, which once occupied the fringes, now influences domestic and foreign policy considerations. Understanding its historical roots and current manifestation is key to comprehending China’s evolving trajectory.

The Han people are China’s largest ethnic group, accounting for over 90 percent of the country’s population. Originating from a historical consciousness where the Han ethnicity predominated, the Imperial Han sentiment symbolizes the central role of Han-majority dynasties like the Tang and Ming in expanding and shaping Chinese civilization. However, the non-Han dynasties, particularly the Mongol-led Yuan and Manchu-led Qing, complicate China’s ethno-national identity. The Qing era (1644-1911), often viewed by Han nationalists as colonial rule, is especially contentious within the Imperial Han faction, which rejects its contribution to the Han legacy.

The 21st century has seen a revival of Han nationalism, spurred by China’s global resurgence. This modern iteration draws from China’s historical grandeur, intertwining modern pride and ancient glory. Post-2008, as China positioned itself as a global power, the Imperial Han faction gained momentum, seeking to reinterpret modern achievements through historical context.

China’s current era of economic growth and global influence has reignited interest in its rich past, with the Imperial Han faction at the forefront. This movement is more than nostalgia. It represents a complex mix of pride, identity, and ambition for global recognition. The Imperial Han faction is thus emblematic of the majority Han Chinese’s desire to reclaim their historical and contemporary significance. Today, this movement now significantly influences Beijing’s narratives and policies.

Is China waging a cyber war with Taiwan?

With geopolitical tensions and a trade war acting as a backdrop, China-led cyberattacks on Taiwan are rising sharply, according to multiple security reports.

In the latest report about alleged China-sponsored cyberattacks on Taiwan, Kate Morgan, a senior engineering manager in Google's Threat Analysis Division, told Bloomberg that Google is tracking close to 100 hacking groups out of China. The malicious groups are attacking a wide spectrum of organizations, including the government, private industry players and defense organizations.

A spike in cyberattacks originating from China was also reported by Microsoft. A “nation-state” hacking group referred to as Flax Typhoon, believed to be active since 2021 and based in China, has targeted a range of Taiwanese organizations in telecom, education, energy, and information technology, according to a Microsoft Security blog post in August

"Flax Typhoon gains and maintains long-term access to Taiwanese organizations' networks with minimal use of malware, relying on tools built into the operating system, along with some normally benign software to quietly remain in these networks," the Microsoft blog said.

The hacking group’s behavior and targets suggest that it is performing espionage, Microsoft said. Though Flax Typhoon uses a number of hacking tools, it relies mainly on living-off-the-land techniques, and makes initial inroads into systems by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in web-connected servers using web shells like China Chopper, Microsoft said.

In adition, a recent Fortinet study cited widely in media reports revealed that the cybersecurity company detected as many as 15,000 cyberattacks per second on Taiwan in the first half of the current year. This marked an increase of 80% compared to the same period in 2022. Common techniques were distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) and use of DoublePulsar, a backdoor implant tool developed by the US National Security Agency.

The Future of International Norms: US-Backed International Norms Increasingly Contested

This paper was produced by the National Intelligence Council’s Strategic Futures Group in consultation with outside experts and Intelligence Community analysts to help inform the integrated Global Trends product, which published in March 2021. However, the analysis does not reflect official US Government policy, the breadth of intelligence sources, or the full range of perspectives within the US Intelligence Community.

Diverse global actors with divergent interests and goals are increasingly competing to promote and shape international norms on a range of issues, creating greater challenges to the US-led international order than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Some democracies are retreating from their longstanding role as norms leaders and protectors as populist influence grows. At the same time, authoritarian powers led by China and Russia are reinterpreting sovereignty norms, offering alternatives to what they view as US-centric norms, such as individual human rights, and using norms and standards to promote their influence. Nonstate actors and smaller states are often key players who try to overcome normative impasses and, in some cases, step in to fill perceived gaps. During the next decade, this increased competition will limit the effectiveness of international efforts to address global challenges and increase the risk of armed interstate conflict, although major powers are still likely to uphold norms in mutually beneficial areas.
Scope Note: This paper focuses on selected international norms supported by the United States that we assess to be most under stress, particularly in the human rights and security areas. It draws on norms in other areas including sovereignty, environment, and economics. The focus is not on the future of global governance or international institutions, and it avoids commenting on broad principles, social and domestic norms or technical standards. Principles articulate group goals and visions but do not assign responsibility for achieving them. Technical standards are norms that articulate consensus regarding the specifications for a particular technology, signal, or system.


The View From Riyadh

Cliff Kupchan

Through the middle of last week, I spent five days in Saudi Arabia exploring Saudi policy toward the war in Gaza and the Saudi approach to a grand bargain with the United States. I met with government officials, think tank leaders, and members of the private sector. Sympathy and support for the Palestinian people were strong and ubiquitous.

But I also heard broad support for a grand bargain with Washington, which would provide Riyadh with protection. Enthusiasm for a deal seemed genuine, though it, in part, likely flowed from the fact that the pursuit of this goal is official policy. Saudi interlocutors recognized that the timing of a prospective deal had been set back significantly by the war in Gaza. If it happened, the deal would occur during a second Biden term or Trump presidency. I also heard that talks with the United States are continuing, if at a much slower pace. But backing for a deal was not universal, as I explain below.

The components of the deal are as follows: Saudi Arabia would establish diplomatic relations with Israel, pull back diplomatically from China, and sign a Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. The United States would provide Saudi Arabia with security guarantees and reactors for civilian nuclear energy. Israel would commit to movement toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The Floor is Falling Out From Under Biden’s Ukraine Policy

Fred Fleitz

Just two weeks ago, President Biden again likened Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hamas. In a November 18 Washington Post op-ed titled “The U.S. won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas,” he made this comparison and said America will stand against these aggressors to prevent them from wiping neighboring democracies off the map.

I have major concerns about how committed Biden is to Israel in its war against Hamas after its barbaric October 7 terrorist attack, given his lecturing to the Israeli government on how it should conduct the war and increasing anti-Israel pressure against Biden from his progressive supporters. I expressed my concerns about Biden going wobbly on his support for Israel in an October 27 American Greatness article. Unfortunately, this problem is now getting worse.

But let’s talk about Ukraine, a conflict that has been pushed off the front page by the Israel-Hamas War. You know that President Biden’s Ukraine policy is in trouble when MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show hosts panels, like one held on November 21, to discuss why the war is unwinnable, explain why Ukraine needs to change its strategy to protect the 80% of the country it controls, and encourage Ukraine to pursue a cease-fire with Russia.

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and his guests also reluctantly admitted what many members of Congress have long realized: the Biden strategy to arm Ukraine “for as long as it takes” but not send the weapons it needs to win is not a strategy.

Although Scarborough and others in the mainstream media won’t admit it, they now recognize something else about the Ukraine War: that the highly vaunted 2023 Ukrainian counteroffensive that was supposed to turn the tide of the war failed to reclaim a significant amount of territory and may have lost ground to Russia.

Middle East Conflict Risks Reshaping The Region’s Economies – Analysis

John Bluedorn and Taline Koranchelian

The conflict in Gaza and Israel is causing immense human suffering. In addition to the direct impact, the conflict will also have consequences for the broader Middle East and North Africa region, with impacts on both people and economies. This comes at a time when economic activity in the region was already expected to slow, falling from 5.6 percent in 2022 to 2 percent in 2023.

The extent of the impact on the region remains highly uncertain and will depend on the conflict’s duration, intensity, and spread. A large-scale conflict would constitute a major economic challenge for the region. Its containment hinges on the success of international efforts to prevent further escalation to the broader region. What is certain is that forecasts for the most directly exposed economies will be downgraded and that policies to buffer economies against shocks and preserve stability will be critical.

No doubt, Israel and the West Bank and Gaza are hardest hit. But the economic impact extends far beyond the area of fighting. The neighboring countries of Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon are already enduring economic reverberations. Amid concerns about the threat of escalation, visitors have been canceling travel to the region, hitting hard at the very lifeline of these economies. Tourism, which accounted for 35 percent to almost 50 percent of goods and services exports in these economies in 2019, is a critical source of foreign exchange and employment. Tourism-dependent economies like Lebanon, where hotel occupancy rates fell by 45 percentage points in October compared to a year ago, will see knock-on effects for growth.

‘Clash of civilizations’ looms over EU elections


Following the anti-Islam politician’s shock election win in the Netherlands, European elites are nervously scanning the political landscape for signs of what’s to come — including further surprise wins from far-right candidates.

What they see is enough to send shivers down the spine of any EU-loving, centrist type: In nearly a dozen European countries, including France and Germany, hardline anti-immigration parties, some of them more extreme than Wilders, are currently topping the polls, or in a close second place.

Europe’s struggle to bring irregular migration under control and the cost-of-living crisis is nothing new. What is new, however, is the Israel-Hamas war, which is inflaming civilizational tensions at the heart of many European countries with large Muslim populations, analysts and senior political operatives tell POLITICO.

As pro-Palestinian protests bring tens of thousands of people onto the streets of cities from London to Berlin against a backdrop of growing anxiety around migration, terrorism and the economy, long-serving far-right politicians like Wilders and France’s Marine Le Pen don’t necessarily need to turn up the rhetoric.

The demonstrations have certainly played to their advantage, and the far-right chieftains know this. At a pre-election debate, Wilders vented: “Where do all these people come from? Is this my country?” fuming about protests marred by alleged incidents of antisemitism. Le Pen meanwhile has courted France’s anxious Jewish community, noisily supporting Israel and turning up at a march against antisemitism, despite the egregious history of her party.

Ukraine Accepts Russian EW Might; Goes ‘All Out’ To Defeat Moscow’s Electronic Warfare Attacks

Ashish Dangwal

Ukraine, having achieved a remarkable hundredfold increase in domestic drone production this year, is now directing its efforts towards a similar triumph in the realm of electronic warfare (EW).

Mykhailo Fedorov, recognized as the driving force behind the success of drone production and serving as Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, is keen on replicating this achievement, particularly given the susceptibility of drones to electronic warfare.

During a CNN interview conducted in Kyiv, Fedorov detailed an ambitious plan that extends beyond merely expanding the production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and electronic warfare (EW). Instead, the strategy substantially overhauls the overall approach to electronic warfare.

The motivation stems from the critical role electronic warfare plays, especially as drones frequently fall victim to EW attacks. Fedorov underscores the need for intelligent integration of electronic warfare as a protective layer on the battlefield.

He advocates for a cautious approach, avoiding oversaturation, and instead supports the development of remotely controlled EW systems designed to target enemy equipment specifically.

Are Intelligence Failures Still Inevitable?

James J. Wirtz

There is a paradox that accompanies intelligence failure. Drawn from the work of Richard Betts, one of the most influential scholars in the field of intelligence studies, this paradox is based on two propositions. First, there will always be accurate signals in the “pipeline” before a significant failure of intelligence. Second, intelligence failures are inevitable. Combined, these propositions motivate much intellectual activity in the field of intelligence studies: to devise effective ways to use available information and analysis to avoid failures of intelligence, especially those leading to strategic surprise. This article explores how scholars have addressed these propositions to answer the question: Are intelligence failures still inevitable?

I once interviewed for what must be one of the most challenging and consequential jobs in the U.S. federal government—the position of national intelligence officer for warning. When I arrived in the spaces occupied by the National Intelligence Council, I was greeted by a team of four interviewers who fired off a series of rather basic questions about intelligence analysis. Eventually, they asked me a question that I believed would reveal my obvious qualifications for the position: What would you do the first day on the job? I responded that I would draft a letter of resignation, taking responsibility for my failure to warn about what had befallen the nation, especially because I possessed the necessary information to issue a warning that would have made a difference. The interviewers looked a little surprised by this response and asked me when I thought I might have to use that letter. I told them there was no way of knowing, but if I stayed in the job long enough, we would surely find out.

Although I was not hired for the position,Footnote1 it later occurred to me that maybe the interviewers did not recognize the theoretical basis for my answer, which highlights a paradox that seems to accompany intelligence failure. Drawn from the work of Richard K. Betts, one of the most influential scholars in the field of intelligence studies, this paradox is based on two propositions. First, there will always be accurate signals in the “pipeline” before a significant failure of intelligence; that is, analysts will possess the accurate information needed to anticipate what is about to transpire. Second, intelligence failures are inevitable. Combined, these propositions motivate much intellectual activity in the field of intelligence studies: to devise effective ways to use available information and analysis to avoid failures of intelligence, especially those leading to strategic surprise.

OP#58: Dangerous Decline: Russia’s Military and Security Influence in the Global South and the Implications for the United States

Hanna Notte

This study argues that Russia seeks to boost its military and security influence in the Global South in light of what it considers a protracted, systemic confrontation with Western states. Russia’s capacity to accrue such influence will vary considerably by domain and country. The war against Ukraine and its effects on Russia’s economy, technology base, and reputation are shaping demand and supply side factors—what states in the Global South want from Russia, and what Russia can offer. Though Russian power projection in the Global South will be limited, the impact of Moscow’s actions on U.S. strategic interests will not be trivial.

Key takeaways

(1) Russia’s pivot to the Global South will intensify. Anticipating a long-term, systemic confrontation with Western states, Russia is prioritizing its power projection into the Global South, expecting economic, coercive, deterrent, and political benefits.

(2) Russian arms sales: Down but not out. The downward trajectory in Russia’s weapons exports to countries of the Global South will most probably continue, given demand- and supply-side constraints. Russia will, however, likely remain highly active in several areas: the provision of defense articles to its biggest legacy customers, such as India; intensified cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa for lower-end defense goods; efforts to enhance competitiveness in the export of its military drones; and increased weapons deliveries to states hostile to the United States and/or countries of proliferation concern.

(3) Russian PMCs: Preservation and rebranding. The Russian government is undertaking measures to ensure the continuity of its private military company (PMC) business in Africa. Following the recent death of the Wagner Group’s chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the group might morph into a semi-official entity tightly controlled by Russian state structures, be augmented or replaced by other PMCs, or a mixture of both. Regardless, Russia will most probably seek to retain a presence in core African theaters of operation (the Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, and Sudan) and may contemplate additional opportunities, in light of the recent coups in the Sahel.

Electronics in the Shahed-136 Kamikaze Drone

David Albright and Sarah Burkhard

Shahed-136 kamikaze drones, filled with Western electronics, continue to destroy Ukrainian lives and their civilian infrastructure. These drones, also known as Geran 2, are produced and assembled at JSC Alabuga facilities inside the Alabuga Special Economic Zone in Russia, with assistance from Iran. Yet, the company responsible, JSC Alabuga, 1 and related companies are still not found on public U.S. or allied sanctions lists.

Information in internal Alabuga documents, analyzed by Institute staff over hundreds of hours, show a remarkable ability to acquire sophisticated electronic components from the West and build modules aimed at defeating Ukraine’s ability to jam Shahed-136 drones and require Ukraine and its allies to keep deploying additional or more advanced jamming systems. The detailed information on the Shahed-136’s electronic components, with part numbers and manufacturer, provide a valuable opportunity to thwart exports of these specific parts to Russia and its partner Iran, which has to date supplied most of these electronic parts to Alabuga for use in the Shahed-136 drone. Starting next year, however, Alabuga has committed to outfit Shahed-136 drones with electronic components it acquires on its own.

The danger posed by Alabuga should mobilize governments to apply sanctions and other restrictive measures to Alabuga and the associated companies revealed in the documents. Sanctions on Alabuga would not only be helpful in disrupting Alabuga and associated companies’ procurement efforts, but they would cause stress to a giant drone factory that has to produce thousands of Shahed-136 drones on a tight schedule, with little previous experience with drone production, hundreds of new employees on its payroll, and under financial pressure to prove itself as a capable supplier to the military.

The Four Tyrannies of Logistical Deterrence

Col. Maximillian K. Bremer Kelly A. Grieco

Charles. Q. Brown, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted a hard truth: “Credible military logistics capability is the key element of integrated deterrence.” With China recognized as the “pacing challenge” and the Indo-Pacific as the “priority theater” for the Department of Defense, the United States seeks to deter an adversary far from its own shores, across oceans and seas, into a region where basing options are few and far between. The logistics and sustainment challenge is inherently daunting, but it is also the crux of successful deterrence.

Effective deterrence is not just about the number of fighter squadrons, the size of the naval fleet, or the number of stand-in forces.1 It also depends on keeping those forces fed, providing ammunition for weapons, and fueling aircraft and ships to keep them in the fight. “The great problem of warfare in the Pacific is to move forces into contact and maintain them,” Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the commander of U.S. Army forces in the Pacific during World War II, observed, advising, “Victory is dependent upon the solution of the logistics problem.” MacArthur’s words are as apt today as they were 80 years ago.

Operating in the Indo-Pacific poses a different kind of challenge from deterring the Soviet Union on continental Europe during the Cold War, or more recently, fighting on battlefields across the Middle East and Afghanistan. Specifically, the United States confronts four “tyrannies” in the Indo-Pacific — distance, water, time, and scale — each of which complicates logistics and sustainment, and when combined, the four tyrannies interact to undermine deterrence. Pentagon planners need to understand this interactive effect and seek solutions that address the entire problem, not just each individual component.
Tyranny of Distance

NATO’s Flagship Cyber Exercise Concludes In Estonia

From 27 November to 1 December, Allied and partner cyber defenders tested their ability to protect networks and critical infrastructure against realistic and complex cyber threats and attacks.

Exercise Cyber Coalition is NATO’s flagship cyber exercise and one of the largest in the world. This year’s edition brought together more than 1,300 cyber defenders from 28 NATO Allies and 7 partner countries, as well as the European Union and participants from industry and academia. This year’s exercise took place in Tallinn, Estonia, as well as remotely, in national capitals and other locations.

“Cyber Coalition is unique because it is the only cyber exercise in NATO that is not a competition. We all work together as a family of cyber defenders. This collaboration is what makes us stronger and more resilient to cyber threats. This year, the cooperation between all participants has been exceptional” said Commander Charles Elliott (US Navy), Exercise Director.

The Cyber Coalition 2023 scenario is based on real-life cyber challenges, including attacks on critical infrastructure such as electrical substations, energy grids and water treatment plants, as well as the disruption of NATO and Allied assets while in operations. The aim is to enhance NATO’s, Allies’ and partners’ resilience to cyber threats and their ability to conduct cyber operations together.

Space-BACN sizzling along as DARPA awards Phase 2 contracts in laser link project


DARPA’s Space-BACN is aimed at a ‘universal’ optical satellite interlink terminal that can translate between incompatible satellite networks. (DARPA)

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s far-future research agency, DARPA, has moved its Space-BACN project to develop low cost, reconfigurable optical intersatellite links into its second phase, down-selecting seven contractors from 11 in the first phase to move ahead with development, according to a DARPA spokesperson.

Under Space-BACN, for Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node, DARPA is seeking to enable satellite constellations using different communications protocols to cross-talk. While DARPA is focused on low Earth orbit constellations, working hand-in-hand with the Space Development Agency to support its Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, the Space Force envisions laser links as the wave of the future for all orbital regimes out to deep space.

“Future space systems will require reliable, high-throughput intra- and inter-constellation communications with the flexibility to form the future backbone of a resilient mesh network ensuring C2 [command and control] and information path diversity,” the service explained in a January request for information to vendors on development of a new laser comms modem for “Beyond Low Earth Obit (bLEO).” The modem should be able to crosslink satellites orbiting between 10,000 kilometers and 70,000 kilometers apart from each other, the request added.

Long-range, high-speed optical communications will be critical for the service’s plans for a “hybrid architecture” that would see networks of old and new military satellites, as well as commercial and allied networks, all communicating seamlessly to shift vast quantities of data around the world in near real-time. Further, optical communications will help the Space Force and US Space Command bring to life its vision of “dynamic space operations” using highly mobile, long-lived spacecraft.

AI, War and Transdisciplinary Philosophy

Nayef Al-Rodhan

Human ego and emotionality play a bigger role in war than we often admit. Human pride, grief, contempt, hate and shame have all changed the course of history time and time again. As AI and human enhancement continue to evolve, they will be used to hack human ego and emotionality, leading to a step-change in the brutality and illegitimacy of war, writes Nayef Al-Rodhan.

The Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz saw uncertainty and fear as essential ingredients of war. But how does human fallibility, which is at the core of classic theories of war dating back to Sun Tzu, play out in a world where AI-powered military technologies remove human qualities from battle? Will emerging AI tools such as deepfakes, and other deceptive technologies, deepen the fog of war? Are these transformative technological developments changing the very nature of war? Will the extreme brutality enabled by highly destructive military technologies create multi-generational hate, vengeance, deep ethnic and cultural schisms and hinder reconciliation, reconstruction and coexistence? These questions have been made ever-more pressing by the current Russia-Ukraine and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. Will these developments change the very nature of war? These questions are fundamental to the sustainability of human civilisation, here on earth as well as increasingly in Outer Space. To answer them, we need to examine the benefits, dangers and limitations of the new methods of war - and examine how our human nature shapes, and is shaped by, the way we fight.

The Inside Story of Microsoft’s Partnership with OpenAI

At around 11:30 a.m. on the Friday before Thanksgiving, Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, was having his weekly meeting with senior leaders when a panicked colleague told him to pick up the phone. An executive from OpenAI, an artificial-intelligence startup into which Microsoft had invested a reported thirteen billion dollars, was calling to explain that within the next twenty minutes the company’s board would announce that it had fired Sam Altman, OpenAI’s C.E.O. and co-founder. It was the start of a five-day crisis that some people at Microsoft began calling the Turkey-Shoot Clusterfuck.

Nadella has an easygoing demeanor, but he was so flabbergasted that for a moment he didn’t know what to say. He’d worked closely with Altman for more than four years and had grown to admire and trust him. Moreover, their collaboration had just led to Microsoft’s biggest rollout in a decade: a fleet of cutting-edge A.I. assistants that had been built on top of OpenAI’s technology and integrated into Microsoft’s core productivity programs, such as Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint. These assistants—essentially specialized and more powerful versions of OpenAI’s heralded ChatGPT—were known as the Office Copilots.

Unbeknownst to Nadella, however, relations between Altman and OpenAI’s board had become troubled. Some of the board’s six members found Altman manipulative and conniving—qualities common among tech C.E.O.s but rankling to board members who had backgrounds in academia or in nonprofits. “They felt Sam had lied,” a person familiar with the board’s discussions said. These tensions were now exploding in Nadella’s face, threatening a crucial partnership.

Mapping Cyber-related Missile and Satellite Incidents and Confidence-building Measures

Dr Lora Saalman, Larisa Saveleva Dovgal and Fei Su

Cyber incidents that—whether due to human error, system malfunction or intentional targeting—impact satellite and missile systems extend beyond the ongoing war in Ukraine. These systems are essential to civilian and military operations and disrupting them has the potential to elicit conventional or even nuclear retaliation. Due to the centrality of satellite and missile-related infrastructure, cyber incidents impacting the functionality of such infrastructure have served as a catalyst for previous confidence-building measures (CBMs) that may provide a template for future ones. This paper builds on SIPRI work to map cyber-related missile and satellite incidents, as well as unilateral, bilateral and multilateral CBMs to provide takeaways meant to foster greater predictability and stability in cyberspace.

I. Introduction

II. Cyber-related missile and satellite incidents

III. Cyber-related missile and satellite CBMs

IV. Conclusions

US Navy and Air Force to acquire dozens of AARGM-ER missiles

Richard Thomas

The US Navy Air Systems Command has contracted Alliant Technsystems Operations, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, a $235.7m contract for the production of 118 AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missiles – Extended Range (AARGM-ER).

Awarded under Lot 3 low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the programme, the contract will see the delivery of 84 AGM-88G AARGM-ER All Up Rounds (AURs) for the US Navy (USN) and 34 AGM-88G AARGM-ER AURs for the US Air Force (USAF), according to a 28 November US Department of Defense contract announcement.

In addition to the LRIP production, Alliant Techsystems will deliver six AGM-88G AARGM-ER captive air training missiles, eight telemetry/flight termination system kits for the USN, ten dummy air training missiles for the USAF, as well as initial spares, special tooling and test equipment kits, and associated supplies and support.

US NAVAIR states that the AARGM mission is suppression and/or destruction of enemy air defences, also known as the acronym SEAD/DEAD. Its primary targets are re-locatable integrated air defence targets and targets that utilise shutdown tactics, which is neutralised through the use of a multi-mode seeker.

The AARGM-ER began development in FY2016 and incorporates hardware and software modifications to improve AGM-88E AARGM capabilities to include extended range, survivability and effectiveness against future threats.
Global missile market growth

I Lie About What Happened in Combat

John J. Waters

“West and me took a walk around the big base,” I started. “We wanted to see all the things we’d been deprived of and enjoy the freedom of stretching our legs without fear. West wanted something from the exchange, a tin of Copenhagen maybe. I can’t remember what West wanted so bad it couldn’t wait until we got home.”

I paused to sit back on the couch and take in the faces of the men and ladies from our church group. They were spellbound. The man across from me looked like a child listening to a bedtime story, his eyes wide and mouth hanging open, listening with anticipation.

I continued.

“We walk into the tent and it looks like any convenience store on the inside, the kind of place we hadn’t seen in months. The two of us just wandered the aisles, staring at the stacks of beef jerky and canned soup, holding candy bars in our hands like they were made of gold. I spot a rack of glossy magazines. I tell West, ‘Hey, man. I’ll be up there waiting for you.’ He kind of flicked his head, tipped his forehead up to say he understood.

Then it happened.

I remember the mechanical voice sounded calm on the base’s transmission system.

‘Incoming! Incoming! Take cover.’

There wasn’t time to take a step.