26 December 2023

'Free Gazans' campaign seeks to create awareness about how Hamas harms Palestinians

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Anew educational campaign launched earlier this month is aiming to raise awareness about the importance of getting rid of Hamas so the Palestinian people can build a peaceful and successful future.

‘Free Gazans,’ a U.S. based organization represented by spokesperson David Grasso reports the reality of how Hamas has negatively impacted the Palestinian People on its website, www.freegazans.com.

“We call upon the global community, human rights organizations, and all advocates for justice to take a closer look at the internal strife and struggle of the Gazans,” the campaign website reads on a page requesting signatures for a petition to stand with Gazans against terrorism.

While many activists have called for an unconditional cease fire, those behind the “Free Gazans” campaign are illuminating the importance of getting rid of Hamas and making sure that international aid gets directly to the hands of Gazans instead of being misused by terrorists.

Over 1,400 individuals were killed and 240 were kidnapped during a series of Hamas attacks launched from Gaza against Israel on Oct. 7.

The tragic event led to the most recent escalation amid the ongoing tension between the terror group and Israel. Reports have indicated the attack resulted in the murder of more Jews than any other attack since the Nazi Holocaust in the 1940s.

The founders of ‘Free Gazans’ say their objective is to help promote peace by connecting with Palestinians and shining a light on the suffering they have endured as the result of being forced to live under the rule of a terrorist organization that has hijacked their government.

How the Coups in Africa Help Reveal the Smoking Gun in Gaza

Riva Levinson

In late September, after watching the fall of the Sahel region in Africa to military coups from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, I wrote a column analyzing the factors that encouraged the militants there to act, to act when they did, and to believe that they could get away with it.

Weeks later, Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, killing about 1,200 people — most of them Israeli citizens — taking 240 hostages, and triggering an Israeli military response that has led to the death of thousands of Palestinian civilians and unleashed a widespread outbreak of antisemitism in America and other Western Democracies.

As a student of Africa, but also a first-generation Jewish American whose six-year-old mother arrived at Ellis Island in 1934 as a refugee from Hitler’s Germany, I felt duty-bound to apply my analytical framework to the war in Gaza, hoping to see what others might have missed, disregarded, or undervalued.

I do so with a belief that America’s greatest export to the world is its democratic values. I write with confidence that the Israeli citizens will ultimately hold their leaders accountable for failures that led to 10/7 and all that has transpired since, and with a certainty, that in Gaza, the Palestinian people cannot.

In my analysis of the collapse of constitutional democracies in Africa, I cited several triggers including failed leadership, compromised institutions, and the malicious role of Russia. I turned to independent survey data which showed a decline in support for democracy for the first time in 25 years, and a flatline in governance, leaving a continent less safe, secure and democratic.

Michael Klare, Another Major War in 2024?


Honestly, as 2021 ended, if I had predicted a Russian invasion of and unrelenting globalized war in Ukraine in 2022 and, in 2023, an explosion in the Middle East, beginning with a horrific Hamas incursion into Israel followed by the utter devastation of Gaza (while the Greater Middle East teetered at the edge of worse), you might have thought of me as the Mad Hatter of that winter season.

But of course, that’s just where we find ourselves as this year ends. The question remains: Could there be worse on a planet that may itself prove to be in the ultimate crisis, thanks to our inability to stop using fossil fuels? I mention all of this because today TomDispatch regular Michael Klare brings up yet another possibility that might seem beyond the bounds right now: the potential for an actual war (even a nuclear one) between the United States and China. Absurd, right? I mean, the two great powers left on Earth — one rising (assuming anything can truly rise on this planet anymore), the other falling — facing off on the battlefield? Wouldn’t that be a tale from hell in 2024?

And I must admit that the very thought holds a deep sadness for me, since I’ve long felt a curious warmth for China that I can trace deep into my own life. Admittedly, the closest I ever came to that country was Japan, which wasn’t exactly close. Still, to put it bluntly, China saved my life. I’m thinking here of the China that stretches back into the most ancient realms of history, a civilization and a literature that were remarkable and about which, growing up, I hadn’t learned a damn thing. (In my childhood, China was the place in downtown New York City where you went to get dinner… oh wait, that was Chinatown!) But in 1962, this Jewish kid from that city found himself, at the insistence of his parents and against his own wishes, a freshman at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, just after that then-WASPy redoubt had removed its Jewish quotas.

Don’t listen to the doubters, history shows Hamas CAN be defeated

Haisam Hassanein

“Hamas is an idea.” And you cannot kill an idea.

This is an increasingly popular argument from opponents of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, such as Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

It is also wrong.

As the Egyptian government demonstrated in its effort to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that gave rise to Hamas a generation ago, ideas wither without organizations to pursue them.

The Egyptian case has special importance because of the ties between Hamas and the Brotherhood, but there’s no shortage of ideas that lost their appeal because their advocates were defeated.

The influence of communism faded quickly after the Soviet Union’s fall.

The Islamic State attracted tens of thousands of young men to its cause, yet its popularity never recovered from the caliphate’s fall at the hands of an American-led coalition.

The Egyptian president and former general, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has spent his decade in office working to crush the Brotherhood.

His methods are rough and have resulted in sharp condemnation from American progressives.

Yet today the Brotherhood no longer exists in any meaningful form beyond a web page and a few little-known figures claiming to be leaders while living abroad.

In Gaza, the next generation of radicalization begins


“The lesson is not that you can win in urban warfare by protecting civilians. The lesson is that you can only win in urban warfare by protecting civilians,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently made headlines by warning.

“You see, in this kind of a fight, the center of gravity is the civilian population," he said. "And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat.”

Austin’s remarks, made at the Reagan National Defense Forum in December, should be sobering for the sizable cohort of Israeli and Western officials and commentators who insist that a “military solution” to Hamas is the only way for Israel to ensure its long-term security. While the horrendous civilian death toll of Israel’s military campaign is regrettable, this line of thinking goes, the threat from Hamas means Israel has no choice but to prosecute the war until the group is eliminated, as long as it takes, and no matter the cost.

If it’s allowed to survive, it will simply choose another moment in the future to attack, and Israeli citizens will never know peace.

Yet Austin is only one prominent voice in recent months that has pointed out the faultiness of this logic, and reminded the world that when a state battling terrorism leaves a trail of human carnage in its wake, the resulting rage, bitterness and despair fuel the very problem it’s fighting, and many times over.

When Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. was asked directly if he feared that high civilian casualty numbers would create future Hamas members, he replied, “Yes, very much so.” “We’ll be fighting their sons in four or five years,” former Shin Bet chief Ya'akov Peri told the New York Times.

Why Iran Sent the Houthis to War Against Israel

Arman Mahmoudian

Following the downing of numerous Houthi drones over the Red Sea by the U.S. and allied navies, the U.S. Department of Defense’s announcement of Operation Prosperity Guardian, the forthcoming international initiative aimed at safeguarding maritime commerce in the Red Sea, has heightened interest in how Yemeni militias are supporting Hamas.

Since the onset of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Iran-supported Yemeni Houthis have taken an extraordinary step in siding with Hamas militants. They have engaged in missile strikes, maritime hijackings, and drone launches. Despite the majority of these efforts failing and none of the attacks reaching Israeli soil, it raises a pertinent question: why, among all of Iran’s Shia allies, are the Houthis seemingly acting with such aggression? This question might draw attention, especially since a significant number of Houthi attacks have been unsuccessful. This reality leads us to the first of many assumptions about why Iran is playing the Houthi card.

The fact that the Houthis, for now, do not possess the capability to attack Israel successfully does not necessarily make them a less desirable card for Iran to play. This stance is supported by recent media reports which suggest that during a meeting in early November with the Hamas chief, Ismail Haniyeh, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, explicitly stated that Iran does not intend to be involved in the attacks. According to reports, Khamenei has stated that since Hamas initiated the operation independently of Iran, they must proceed autonomously.

Despite the reliability of these reports, it is reasonable to argue that given the vast power disparity between Iran and the United States and Israel and the Iranian government’s survivalist nature, it would be reasonable for the Islamic Republic not to wage war with Israel over Gaza. In fact, Iran’s reluctance to unleash Hezbollah in Lebanon or other proxies in Syria against Israel is also understandable, as those attacks could quickly spiral out of control, leading to escalation, which could result in direct Israeli-Iranian confrontation.

One State Out Of Israel And Palestine Could Be The Solution

Jonathan Power

It’s almost unbelievable that 106 years have passed since the Balfour Declaration when the British colonial government decided to give the Jews their own homeland- but also promised that “it be done without infringing on the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish population”.

How can the US, the UK and their Western allies square this with their tolerance of what Israel is now doing. As the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said recently. The present war did not happen in “a vacuum”.

Many now conclude that the much-discussed two-state solution is dead. As the former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, once said, there is a distinct possibility that Israel will now become “an apartheid state”. In terms of population Israelis are about the same as Palestinians but Israel’s military might is omnipotent.

A two-state solution

On the other hand, the Palestinians, liberally minded Jews and much of the international community have strongly argued for a two-state solution for decades, even though, if enacted, that would give the Palestinians much, much, less land than the British colonial power originally countenanced.

Many polls find that Americans are roughly evenly split between supporting a two-state solution and supporting a one state with equal rights for all inhabitants. When asked what they preferred if a two-state solution were not possible, the status quo or one state with equal rights, they chose the latter by a two-to-one margin.

Dalai Lama Calls For Greater Harmony Among Different Buddhist Communities

Tenzin Pema

Cultivate a life of virtue that will benefit others.

This is the message that the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, told over 2,000 leaders and monks representing 30 countries and from various Buddhist traditions who gathered this week for a conference in northern India.

The 14th Dalai Lama, 88, inaugurated the four-day International Sangha Forum in Bodh Gaya, in northern India, where Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, to boost collaboration and dialogue among the practitioners of different Buddhist traditions and to deliberate on the role of Buddhism in the 21st century.

“Whether you believe in religion or not, what is important for us to do is to avoid doing bad actions or accumulating bad karmas because bad karmas not only harm others but also are a cause of ruin to oneself,” he told monks, nuns and scholars. “Therefore, as much as possible, it is critical to cultivate a wealth of virtue.”

“Being of benefit to others with a good heart and doing your best to remove their sufferings, that is the most important teaching of the Buddha,” he said as he sat in the middle of a large stage flanked by more than 30 other Buddhist leaders.

The conference comes on the heels of increased efforts by China to strengthen ties with neighboring Buddhist countries such as Nepal and Bhutan to gain their leaders’ support for determining the current Dalai Lama’s successor.

China, however, is the only Buddhist country that failed to send a representative to the conference despite the government’s accelerated efforts to leverage Buddhism as a soft power tool to advance its political ambitions in the international arena.

Beyond 1971: Kissinger And India’s Geopolitics

C Raja Mohan

Henry Kissinger, the best-known American diplomat of modern times, is deeply associated in the Indian mind with the tumultuous events of 1971 – Pakistan Army’s brutal crackdown on the people of East Pakistan, the intensification of the secessionist movement there and India’s military intervention that helped create Bangladesh. Kissinger’s tilt to Pakistan and his insensitivity to the suffering of the Bengali population in East Pakistan have been widely portrayed as a reflection of his amoral and unacceptable foreign policy. In the world of Kissinger’s realpolitik, though, protecting an important Cold War ally – Pakistan – was driven by a deep consideration for the United States’ (US) interests in the 1970s. This included Pakistan’s valuable support in reaching out to China and preventing the South Asian crisis from escalating into a war between the superpowers – the US and the Soviet Union.

Less discussed within the Indian foreign policy community, which has never forgotten Kissinger’s role in 1971, is the fact that the US did not fire a single shot against India during the 1971 war. Nor did Washington affect the outcome of the Bangladesh war. During early December 1971, it did not take long for Kissinger and US President Richard Nixon to recognise that there was little chance of preserving Pakistan’s unity and had to give up. The US had to satisfy itself that its actions prevented India from dismembering West Pakistan.

The US’ tilt to Pakistan and the change in the US-China policy in 1971 altered the structure of South Asia’s regional and international relations. The breakup of Pakistan profoundly altered the balance of power irrevocably in favour of India. Although Delhi could not take full geopolitical advantage of Pakistan’s division in the last decades of the 20th century, India’s economic rise in the 21st century, its deepening cooperation with Bangladesh and improved ties with the West have rapidly elevated India’s standing with Pakistan.

UN Mission Chief Calls For Taliban’s Return To ‘International Norms’

J Nastranis

A lack of progress in resolving human rights issues is a key reason behind the current impasse between Afghanistan and the international community, the UN Special Representative to Afghanistan told the Security Council on 20 December.

Ms. Roza Otunbayeva, who heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), also highlighted the need for greater engagement with the de facto Taliban authorities.

She told the Council, Afghans face systemic discrimination against women and girls, repression of political dissent and free speech, a lack of meaningful representation of minorities, and ongoing instances of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, and ill treatment.

“Accepting and working to uphold the international norms and standards, as set out in the UN Treaties that Afghanistan has ratified, will continue to be a non-negotiable condition for a seat at the United Nations,” she said.

She welcomed UN-mandated independent assessment of efforts to address the challenges in Afghanistan, in line with a Security Council resolution adopted in March.

The de facto authorities’ response to the report has indicated “a preference for bi-lateral approaches to multilateral ones,” she said, as they continue to maintain that bans on girls’ education and women’s employment are internal matters even though these edicts contravene current treaty obligations.

This will only prolong the impasse that the report intends to resolve.

The Evolution of Identity in Taiwan

Zhuoran Li

The problem of identity is the most important issue in Taiwanese politics, occupying the center stage for both presidential campaigns and cross-strait relations. In recent years, there has been a notable decline in Chinese identification in Taiwan. This decline is the result of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s monopolization of Chinese identity since the 1970s. Beijing’s goal is to use Chinese nationalism and cultural appeal to draw Taiwan closer to the mainland. However, it backfires by pushing Taiwan away; Taiwanese people are searching for an alternative identity to demonstrate their difference with the PRC.

Following its defeat in mainland China, the Republic of China (ROC) government relocated to Taiwan. However, the Kuomintang (KMT) retained its devotion as a party of Chinese nationalists (the literal translation of the party name). The KMT made “reconquering the mainland” the mission for everyone on Taiwan. The island was to become the bastion against communism and a base for the KMT’s eventual return to the mainland.

Under this narrative, Taiwan is part of the ROC, and a separate Taiwanese state does not exist. Taiwan’s sovereignty was returned to the ROC after Japan’s surrender in 1945, recognized by the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations; prior to that, the island had been a colony of imperial Japan since 1895.

Another way to demonstrate Chinese nationalism was through cultural promotion and preservation. During the retreat to Taiwan, the Nationalists brought national treasures from the Forbidden City in Beijing, including the original scripts of imperial dynastic histories, to Taipei and stored them in the Taipei Palace Museum. This gesture symbolized the KMT’s efforts to claim that the ROC is the legitimate heir of Chinese dynasties.

The Rakhine Conundrum: How Should Bangladesh Respond to Operation 1027?

Md. Himel Rahman

Since October 27, 2023, Rakhine State has witnessed intense fighting between the Myanmar Armed Forces and ethnic Rakhine insurgents, as part of the broader Operation 1027. The war has created a humanitarian disaster for Rakhine civilians and generated new political, economic, humanitarian and security concerns for neighboring Bangladesh. Bangladesh has already faced several problems owing to the conflict in the region, and the escalation of the conflict is poised to add new problems for the country.

Understanding the Conflict

Demographically, Myanmar is divided between the ethnic Bamar-populated heartland in central Myanmar and ethnic minority-populated peripheries in the northern, eastern, and western parts of the country. Since its independence on January 4, 1948, the Bamar people have dominated the politics, military, and economy of the country, while ethnic minority groups have been subjected to systematic political, economic, cultural, and military discrimination. Consequently, Myanmar has been facing insurgencies by numerous ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) since April 2, 1948.

The Tatmadaw, the Myanmar Armed Forces, has directly or indirectly controlled the country since it seized power in a coup d’état on March 2, 1962. However, it has failed to quell the insurgencies. After a ten-year period of relative opening and civilian control, the generals seized power again in a coup on February 1, 2021. Since May 2021, a full-scale civil war between the military regime and the opposition National Unity Government (NUG), now aligned with various EAOs, has complemented the prolonged internal conflict in the country.

On October 27, 2023, the Three Brotherhood Alliance – composed of the ethnic Rakhine Arakan Army (AA), the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the ethnic Ta’ang/Palaung Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) – launched simultaneous offensive operations against military-controlled regions. Codenamed Operation 1027, the massive offensive took the overextended Tatmadaw by surprise, and the latter suffered substantial losses in personnel, equipment, and territory.

Ryder Gives More Detail On How Operation Prosperity Guardian Will Work

Jim Garamone

Houthi attacks on vessels transiting the Red Sea are attacks on the international community and the international community is coming together to defend against the missiles and drones aimed at their vessels, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder at a Pentagon news conference today.

The press secretary detailed how Operation Prosperity Guardian will work and called on the Houthis, an Iranian proxy group, to cease targeting international commerce.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced the operation during a trip to the Middle East that ended last night. The secretary met with leaders in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Israel during the trip. “The secretary emphasized the strong and enduring partnership between the United States and his key partner nations towards furthering our shared goals of security and stability throughout the Middle East region,” Ryder said.

Austin discussed the importance of freedom of navigation in international waterways and the threat the Houthi attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea pose to world commerce. Between 10 and 15 percent of global shipping flows through the Red Sea, “and these attacks are impacting global trade and commerce, negatively impacting the economies of nations around the world and costing commercial shipping firms billions of dollars,” Ryder said.

In Bahrain, Austin announced Operation Prosperity Guardian. The operation is a new multinational security operation under the umbrella the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of Task Force 153, which focuses on security in the Red Sea.

Austin further convened a virtual ministerial from Bahrain with ministers, chiefs of defense and senior representatives from more than 40 countries as well as representatives from the European Union and NATO to discuss the increased threat to maritime security in the Red Sea.

U.S. Leaders Should Take Israel’s Threats Against Lebanon Seriously

Alexander Langlois

As Israel continues its devastating military operation in Gaza amid a steady flow of Hezbollah attacks along the disputed Lebanon-Israel border, some Israeli officials are now openly suggesting an invasion is necessary to quell the Iran-backed group. This rhetoric marks a shift from the official Israeli policy stance—namely, that Israel does not wish to open a northern front—while presenting a direct threat to U.S. policy objectives of preventing the conflict from spreading. As such, Washington should take note of the risks of another Israel-Hezbollah war and pressure Israeli officials against any invasion of Lebanon.

Such efforts should not be controversial, considering Israeli officials are making clear their intentions to take on Hezbollah. War minister Benny Gantz said as much in a meeting with U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken on December 11 in an official readout: “heightened aggression and increased attacks by Iranian-backed Hezbollah demand of Israel to remove such a threat to the civilian population of northern Israel.” Senior Israeli officials, not limited to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief Herzi Halevi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have similarly threatened to strike Lebanon in response to Hezbollah’s actions since October 7.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant outlined Israel’s plans in early December on a tour of the disputed northern border, claiming, “When we complete the process of fighting in Gaza, the military effort will be directed mainly to the north.” He added, “We cannot persuade the residents of the north to return to their homes along the border unless we make sure that Radwan [a Hezbollah special operations force unit], which is stronger, better trained and equipped than Hamas’ Nukhba force, is not there to endanger our population.”

National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi echoed these sentiments during a December 9 interview with Israel-based Channel 12 news. Hanegbi did not mince words: “The situation in the north must be changed. And it will change. If Hezbollah agrees to change things via diplomacy, very good. But I don’t believe it will.” When pressed on this point, he added that Israel will have to act “when the day comes,” as his government must ensure its citizens can return to their homes in the north, which can only occur when “the situation in the north has changed.”

Can the U.S. Military Avoid Another Middle East War?

Chris Kobel

The United States military is surging its presence in the Middle East again. In the aftermath of Hamas’ shocking October 7 attack and the onset of the Israel-Hamas war, the United States has deployed a truly significant volume of military assets to the region, including two aircraft carrier strike groups, each comprising eight to nine squadrons of attack and support aircraft and a handful of guided missile cruisers and destroyers; additional F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft; and a THAAD missile defense system and several Patriot missile defense batteries (accompanied by 900 additional troops to operate them). These assets are further supported by the two amphibious assault ships carrying 3,000 marines and sailors that deployed to the Middle East in early August.

This is something of an unpleasant pattern for the United States: In alignment with Washington’s foreign policy pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, multiple presidential administrations have sought to minimize the U.S. military’s presence in the Middle East, only to be drawn back in by sporadic regional security concerns.

In the past few years, the U.S. military’s reassertions of strength have mainly focused on countering Iranian actions, such as the harassment of commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and attacks conducted by Iranian-backed militias against American military personnel and installations in Iraq and Syria.

Significant escalations, such as the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Qassem Solemani, also required the United States to firmly project power. But these incidents pale in comparison to the sheer display of military strength that the United States has demonstrated amid the present crisis, one of the most significant challenges to regional stability since the rise of ISIS.

Is Lebanon the Next Battlefront?

Rany Ballout

While the fighting between Israel and Hamas is expected to slow down, developments on the southern border of Lebanon between Hezbollah and Israel suggest that cross-border clashes between the parties heighten the potential of a large-scale war. While U.S. pressure and deployment of aircraft carriers to the eastern Mediterranean have apparently deterred Hezbollah and Iran from escalating the conflict, such developments on the Israel-Lebanon front are stoking fears that any miscalculation or accidents may lead to a wider war.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging fire along the Lebanon-Israel border. There are growing concerns that the ongoing fighting could slide into an all-out war. Both Israel and Lebanon have evacuated tens of thousands of people living along the borders of countries for safety concerns as the crossfire was becoming increasingly deadly. According to several reports, the death toll has been rising, with the conflict leaving eleven Israeli soldiers and civilians dead to date, while over 130 people have been killed in Lebanon, most of them were Hezbollah fighters.

While the fighting has not so far crossed either side’s red lines, its dynamics are altering toward more dangerous escalation. Hezbollah’s attacks are increasing in geographical reach, frequency, and sophistication. Hezbollah first entered the conflict on October 8, a day after Hamas’ deadly assault in southern Israel, by launching rocket attacks at Israeli positions in the Shebaa Farms. But the fight has since expanded and intensified to encompass several border towns. Hezbollah, and to a lesser extent, other militant Palestinian factions, are mounting daily rocket attacks on Israeli positions, while Israel responds with air and artillery strikes. Moreover, according to several reports, in addition to intensifying its waves of rocket and drone attacks on Israeli posts, Hezbollah has also targeted and destroyed various infrastructure underpinning Israeli military positions, particularly surveillance systems. This suggests an anticipation of war on Hezbollah’s end. Media reports appear to highlight Galilean towns in northern Israel as a vulnerable target for Hezbollah, with expectations that Galilee could become a key flashpoint in the conflict.

A Cyber Threat to U.S. Drinking Water

Jacob Horne, Jim Dempsey

In March 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a memo warning that cyber-attacks against public water systems were increasing. These attacks, the EPA said, have the potential to disable or contaminate the delivery of drinking water to Americans. While some public water systems had taken important steps to improve their cybersecurity, many systems had “failed to adopt basic cybersecurity best practices and consequently are at high risk of being victimized by a cyber-attack,” including by state-sponsored actors, according to the EPA.

Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, states are required to conduct surveys of local water systems. Specifically, states must conduct, at least every three to five years, an onsite review of the “facilities, equipment, [and] operation … of a public water system to evaluate the adequacy of the system, its sources and operations and the distribution of safe drinking water.” If a state identifies a “significant deficiency” during a survey, the state must require the water system to address it.

In its March memo, the EPA noted that many public water systems had become reliant on electronic systems to operate efficiently, particularly on operational technology such as industrial control systems. The EPA therefore said it was interpreting the existing requirement on states to survey the “equipment” and “operation” of public water systems to include a review of the cybersecurity of any operational technology being used that could impact the supply or safety of the water provided to customers. Under the existing rule, if the state identified a significant cybersecurity deficiency, then the state would require the water system to address it. The memo laid out various approaches by which states could comply, including self-assessment by a water system itself, third-party assessment, direct state evaluation, and other alternatives. In a companion document, the EPA laid out a cybersecurity checklist for states to use.

DARPA puts millions behind effort to power drones with ground-based lasers


Can the U.S. military power an entire drone swarm—including its directed-energy weapons—by firing a laser at it? DARPA is paying Raytheon $10 million to start working on it.

“Under the two-year contract, Raytheon will create an airborne relay design to enable ‘webs’ capable of harvesting, transmitting and redirecting optical beams. These ‘webs’ will transmit energy from ground sources to high altitude for the precision, long-range operation of unmanned systems, sensors and effectors,” Raytheon announced last week. ‘

Two other teams, from Draper and BEAM Co, are also competing in the DARPA effort.

It’s part of the agency’s Persistent Optical Wireless Energy Relay, or POWER, program. Raytheon’s contract follows the agency’s 2022 Broad Agency Announcement seeking companies to demonstrate drones or other platforms that can pass laser energy “from a ground-sourced laser through multiple airborne nodes and back down to a ground receiver.”

According to DARPA, “Offboarding energy storage and generation from platforms opens up a novel design space where platform capabilities are no longer dependent on the quantity of fuel carried. This provides an opportunity for small, inexpensive distributed platforms with significant capabilities such as unlimited range or endurance.”

If that sounds very difficult, it’s because it is.

The idea of wireless power transfer goes back to Nikola Tesla’s 19th-century experiments with power transmission via radio frequency resonance through coils over short distances. He constructed towers to transmit energy over larger areas. When the experiments yielded disappointing results, he was forced to sell them to pay debts.

Army tests long-range quantum radio communication


The U.S. Army, working with a startup called Rydberg Technologies, has achieved the world's first long-range radio communication with an atomic quantum receiver, a breakthrough that could greatly help new jam- or hacker-proof communications, the company announced Thursday.

What is a quantum sensor? A receiver or antenna that is far more sensitive to very small changes in electromagnetic fields than a typical one, and that uses very little energy. How are they so sensitive? As Rydberg Technologies CEO Dave Anderson explains in this 2018 paper, the key is Rydberg atoms, which are cesium atoms with very excited electrons, giving them a high quantum number, reflective of a large distance between the electronics and the nucleus. That distance gives the atoms a very acute response to subtle changes in electromagnetic fields. That response, in turn, can be harnessed for the detection of radio waves beyond what can be achieved with a regular antenna.

Such a sensor could be used for many purposes, such as to detect a wider variety of wavelengths than a conventional antenna, and would be less sensitive to electromagnetic disruption.

Air Force has ‘concerns’ about HACM; hasn’t ruled out boost-glide hypersonic weapons


The Air Force’s Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) program faces challenges that must be addressed. Meanwhile, the service hasn’t written off the possibility of acquiring boost-glide systems despite hiccups with the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW), according to its top weapons buyer.

The Pentagon has been pursuing multiple types of hypersonics that have unique characteristics. Boost-glide missiles such as ARRW are first launched from a rocket booster that gives them sufficient energy to reach speeds greater than Mach 5 and then glide toward their targets. In contrast, hypersonic cruise missiles use air-breathing engines known as scramjets.

Last year, Raytheon was tapped to be the prime contractor for the HACM project.

“It is early days in the program, and so you certainly hope that a program like HACM is on track at this stage, because it’s quite early. And they typically are, right? And so, I’d say it’s on track but it is a challenging program. That’s why we’re undertaking a rapid prototyping effort really is to work through some of the potential risks, some of the potential technical risks associated with the HACM concept,” Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Andrew Hunter told DefenseScoop in an interview Tuesday.

“Of course, we’ve been building off of work that was previously done by the department in that program, so that has provided a great foundation for it. And then the Air Force effort is to turn that into something that’s more operationally useful. So, I do think there are concerns, as there are with any hypersonic technology, that we have to wring through how these work operationally and make sure that our test capabilities are sufficient to really help us know that we have a meaningful military capability,” he added.

How Did a US Navy Warship Destroy a Houth-Fired 14-Drone Attack Swarm?


Electronic jamming, proximity fuses, interceptor missiles, deck-mounted guns, “area” weapons to blanket areas with protection and possibly even lasers are all possible reasons why the US Navy’s USS Carney destroy tracked, disabled or destroyed a small swarm of 14 enemy drones at one time.

A public statement from US Central Command says “in the early morning hours of December 16 (Sanna time) the US Arliegh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS CARNEY (DDG 64), operating in the Red Sea, successfully engaged 14 unmanned aerial systems launched as a drone wave from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.”

These attacks, which were defended by British warships as well, represent the latest escalation in a series of what appear to be Houthi-backed attacks on Israel, the US and non-military maritime commerce in the Red Sea.

The operational specifics of how this was accomplished are certain to be unavailable for security reasons, yet the successful combat performance of layered ship-defenses appears to show breakthrough progress in the area of ship-based radar, fire control, target tracking, precision and possible non-kinetic countermeasures. However it was accomplished, the defeat of a drone swarm in an operational setting not only protected US Navy sailors and ships aboard the USS Carney but also appears to have saved a number of commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea.

Distributed Lethality

The swarm intercept suggests that weapon systems long-in-development designed for the specific purpose of countering drone swarms may have indeed reached operational maturity. We may not know the particular countermeasures or integrated layers of ship defenses that were used to destroy or stop the Houthi drones, yet the Navy has spoken for years in a general way about a series of surface-fleet wide upgrades and weapons enhancements intended to better “arm” the fleet for massive “blue-water,” “open water” maritime warfare. The initiative, which emerged roughly around 2015, was referred to as Distributed Lethality, and it was a comprehensive and high-tech effort to overhaul and improve weapons and defenses across the surface fleet.


CPT Daniel Eerhart


In October of 2023, paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived at Fort Johnson, Louisiana, in preparation for a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center. Their rotation served as the culmination of an intense training cycle where the Soldiers spent countless hours in the field preparing themselves for the possibility of combat operations against one of the militaries engaged in a great power competition.1 In the weeks prior to entering the training area, known as “the box,” deployment operations mimicked those in preparation for combat. The Soldiers packed their equipment into Tricon containers that went on to receive civilian inspections for hazardous materials and to get proper blocking and bracing. The unit’s vehicles underwent meticulous inspection and slotting on manifests. Civilian workers loaded the equipment onto rail cars for movement to the installation rail yard at Fort Johnson. Foreign actors did not interfere with manifests or rail switches during movement; however, in the modern age of information advantage, they likely would have.

The realities of modern warfare are that America’s principal adversaries can disrupt any step in the deployment process, resulting in cascading gridlock.2 The first time these Soldiers will contact the enemy will be at home station, through adversary information warfare.3 While they are transporting their equipment, the enemy will take deliberate action to delay and disrupt Soldiers’ ability to enter the combat theater. The enemy will be maneuvering in the cyber domain and exploiting publicly available information to disrupt and influence Soldiers before they even step on the battlefield.4

This paper contends that the addition of an information warfare company to the opposing force (OPFOR) battalions can better prepare rotational training units at combat training centers (CTCs) for the difficulties of modern warfare. Additionally, expanding the training scope to integrate pre-deployment infrastructure wargame exercises and adding a microtargeting risk assessment team to the operations group would ensure that deploying Soldiers are prepared to confront the asymmetric challenges of the current multidomain battlefield.

Air University PressAEther: A Journal of Strategic Airpower and Spacepower, Winter 2023, v. 2, no. 4

Dynamic Space Operations: The New Sustained Space Maneuver Imperative

To the Moon: Strategic Competition in the Cislunar Region

Space Weaponization: Reexamining the Historical Air Analogy to Space

Responsiveness is not Operational: Aligning Strategy in the Newest Service

The Cost of Space System Classification

Decision Support Systems for Critical Space Infrastructure Assets

Deterrent and Defense Applications of Orbital Antisatellite Weapons

Terrestrial Responses to Space Aggression

US Space Command's Deterrent Role

Is the US Military Learning the Wrong Lessons About Drones?

Matthew C. Mai

The U.S. Department of Defense is making a big bet to counter China: that the employment of thousands of expendable unmanned systems will offset China’s numerical advantages in people, missiles, and ships.

Inspired by the extensive use of such systems in Ukraine, the Pentagon aims to field small and cheap unmanned capabilities within the next 18-24 months as part of the Replicator Initiative. While there are reasons to doubt such a byzantine organization with a long-track record of poor program management could scale up these capabilities in under two years, Replicator might fall short for another reason: The Pentagon is overestimating how decisive drones and other unmanned systems will be in future conflicts.

The war in Ukraine has been a “testbed” for new battlefield technology and operational concepts, drones foremost among them. Drones direct artillery fire, provide persistent overhead surveillance, and target armored vehicles. The Ukrainian military is dedicating significant manpower and resources to maximize their combat effectiveness: Kyiv plans to spend $1 billion to upgrade its drone capabilities and has already trained 10,000 new pilots.

But videos of drones smashing into trenches and chasing tanks across open fields don’t tell the full story. Instead, the war in Ukraine shows that the pursuit of technological offsets only produces fleeting advantages before they are negated by battlefield adaptations.

Since the start of the war, Russia has relied heavily on electronic warfare (EW) to jam, spoof, or destroy Ukrainian drones. Russia’s use of EW isn’t haphazard; it forms a core component of its warfighting doctrine. The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) reported in May that Russian forces employ one major EW system every 10 kilometers across the front line. Smaller directional jammers are employed at the platoon level while more sophisticated EW systems are used for rear area defense. According to RUSI, Ukrainian forces were losing about 10,000 drones a month due to Russian EW.