14 January 2024

How Israel is battling its demons


Outside the hotel, the Mediterranean Sea winks at the winter sun. There’s a lawn strewn with toys that look like they’ve been abandoned for something more fun. But the sense of tranquillity is deceptive; the deep, dark rings around the eyes of the hotel’s guests tell a different story.

The Shefayim Hotel, 15 minutes north of Tel Aviv, is currently serving as a temporary home for residents of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, which, on October 7, saw 62 of its 950 residents killed and 18 of them taken hostage. Flapping gently in the breeze from the ceiling of the reception area are images of the hostages. There is a banner with their names; yellow stickers are placed next to them if they have been returned. A few weeks ago, two were killed in a horrific tale of friendly fire. Yotam Haim, 28, and Alon Shamriz, 26, had managed to escape their captors in Gaza when they were fatally shot by Israeli forces, along with another young Israeli man.

On the hotel’s front desk, there is a list of funerals and memorials yet to take place. Everyone knows there may soon be more. Five members of the kibbutz remain somewhere underground in Gaza. At least one of them is a young woman — one of the 17 Hamas has refused to part with, perhaps because of the horror stories they would tell.

Today, the residents of the Shefayim Hotel have a roof over their heads, food and medicine. Each family has been offered therapy. You could compare them with the people in Gaza now suffering the repercussions of Hamas’s actions. But that doesn’t make life any easier for them.

“It hurts all the time, it hurts everywhere. I hate waking up in the morning. If I could stay curled up in my bed I would,” says Dafna Rousso, 43, a mother-of-three from Kfar Aza whose husband Uri was killed by Hamas militants on October 7. She looks haunted, but like many Israelis, she is now used to patiently telling her story to the Western media, knowing that if the victims don’t speak, no one will believe what happened.

India’s Climate Dilemma


The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai concluded with a carefully worded statement calling for the phase-out of fossil fuels, raising hopes that the international community might finally meet the targets set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement. But achieving these carbon-reduction goals will be difficult without immediate and decisive action by India, the world’s third-largest greenhouse-gas (GHG) emitter.

India – which accounted for 7.6% of global GHG emissions in 2022, compared to China’s 30.7% and the United States’ 13.6% – has set ambitious renewable-energy targets and taken a leading role in international climate talks. But while these efforts suggest that India is genuinely committed to moving away from fossil fuels, the country also faces political obstacles that could severely impede its ability to achieve crucial climate goals.

India has adopted a countercyclical approach to taxing petroleum-related products, reducing taxes when global prices increase and raising them when prices drop. European governments followed a more extreme strategy after gas prices spiked in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, providing subsidies of more than €650 billion ($712 billion) between September 2021 and January 2023 to protect consumers from soaring energy costs.

In India, however, the effective carbon price was just €14 per ton in 2021. Moreover, electricity in India is heavily subsidized, with many households and farmers benefiting from free power or paying only a fraction of the actual cost. To offset this, industrial and commercial users are charged higher rates. Nevertheless, even with this arrangement, the government subsidizes about 20% of the cost of electricity production.

Given that electricity accounts for 34% of India’s total GHG emissions, reforming electricity pricing is crucial to meeting its emissions-reduction goals. But this will not be easy, as electricity prices are set not by one central authority, but by the country’s 28 states and eight quasi-sovereign union territories. These 36 jurisdictions, each with its own policies and interests, represent the proverbial elephant in the room, complicating any effort to eliminate carbon subsidies.

Indian Neighborhood Woes Multiply – OpEd

Subir Bhaumik

India has a really smart and erudite foreign minister in S. Jaishankar whose books make interesting reading and takes on the high and mighty on the world stage with subtle aggression anchored in national pride. But his Achilles Heel is India’s immediate neighborhood where he has hardly served during his long diplomatic career.

Hence, much as his responses to China and US are spot on and his courting of Russia reflective of Indian priorities, the External Affairs ministry is wading from one crisis to another in the country’s immediate neighborhood that is now “Near Abroad” in Delhi’s official parlance.

Nepal and Maldives has gone the China way with Indian favourites falling by the wayside in free and fair elections. New Maldivian president Mohammed Muizzu has signaled his dislike for Indian military presence on the island nation by becoming the first president to visit China (and Turkey) before visiting India. The MEA response that “India is in no hurry to host Muizzu,” seems like the classic grapes-are-sour reaction. Nepal’s PM Prachanda may respond warmly to Modi’s physical embrace, but his trade and infrastructure agenda clearly prioritises China.

The survival of Myanmar’s ruling military junta SAC depends on Chinese financial, military and diplomatic support – hence no surprise over its lukewarm response to India’s embarrassing courtship reflected in ensuring the safe return of Tatmadaw stragglers fleeing into Mizoram and Manipur and even the supply of military hardware that upsets the country’s pro-democracy movement and ethnic rebel armies who not long ago trusted India as their future role model.

India clearly had an opportunity to augment its influence by sending something like a Gandhi Peace Mission that clearly fits into PM Modi’s stated vision of global peace diplomacy. India had a credible connect to all stakeholders from the Tatmadaw (army) to Aung Saan Suu Kyi’s NLD party and the National Unity government to the likes of Kachin Independence Army and the fledgling People’s Defence Forces, not the least the Buddhist Sangha with such deep influence in Burmese society, and which treats Bodh Gaya as how Muslims treat the Mecca and Catholics the Vatican. But Jaishankar’s lieutenants, advised by some long-ago envoys who claim Myanmar expertise, but don’t even speak the language, decided on a wait and watch policy that sounds like a euphemism for strategic inaction.

India’s Role As A Rising Energy Provider To The EU: Key Influencing Factors – Analysis

Syed Raiyan Amir

The commencement of the Ukraine war in February 2022 sparked an unforeseen surge in energy trade, particularly in oil, between Russia and India. Prior to the war, Russia contributed a mere one percent to India’s total oil imports. However, within a year, this share witnessed a remarkable escalation, reaching 35 percent. This surge catapulted India to the position of the third-largest purchaser of Russian crude oil globally, trailing only China and the USA.

As of April 2023, India ascended to the position of the largest energy supplier to European nations. This rise aligns with the convergence of factors, namely the availability of inexpensive Russian energy and the effective contributions of key oil refineries such as Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporations Limited (BPCL), and Nayara Energy. Notably, India has been exporting refined oil to Europe in quantities surpassing even those of Saudi Arabia. The three pivotal elements contributing to this phenomenon encompass the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war facilitating an excess of affordable Russian oil to India, the imposition of EU sanctions and price constraints on Russian oil imports, and the operational efficiency of Indian refining companies.

From the outset of the war, India’s acquisition of Russian oil at a notably economical rate has surged by an astonishing 1,350%. This unanticipated escalation in Russian energy supply has proven advantageous for both nations. For Russia, it has facilitated the ongoing war effort against Ukraine, while concurrently allowing India to amass significant foreign reserves. The surplus of Russian energy supply has empowered India to address the energy needs of resource-strapped European nations grappling with an energy crisis triggered by the commencement of the war.

Can Pakistan’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman Mend Ties With the Taliban?

Freshta Jalalzai

Pakistan’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman operates as both a man of God and a political figure in a landscape marked by intricate politics and decades of religious conflict, where both aspects hold significant sway. And now he’s been tasked with a pivotal diplomatic mission.

Rehman is anticipated to persuade the Afghan Taliban to assist Pakistan in eradicating the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban). Islamabad accused the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan of providing safe haven to the TTP, which has stepped up its attacks in Pakistan. Rehman will face significant challenges, as the Afghan Taliban have consistently denied providing any aid to the TTP. In the meantime, Rahman’s own position on the Taliban and the TTP remains controversial.

On Sunday, Kabul underwent heightened security measures, leading to temporary closures of key roads, notably the primary road connecting Kabul International Airport to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Presidential Palace. This closure coincided with the visit by Rehman, famous for his pro-Taliban views.

This visit marks Rehman’s first trip to Kabul since the Taliban took control in August 2021. He was accompanied by a delegation comprising Pakistani politicians and religious scholars.

For decades, Fazlur Rehman has stood as a prominent figure in both Pakistani religious circles and politics. Leading the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) party, a considerable force in Pakistan’s political landscape, Rahman has left a substantial mark. His enduring presence in Pakistani politics spans multiple tenures as a member of the National Assembly.

The news of his arrival in Kabul on Sunday, however, stirred a wave of anger and uproar on Afghan social media. His well-known image, characterized by an orange and white turban along with a thick, white beard, was widely shared, triggering substantial backlash and indignation across various Afghan social media platforms.

Xi Jinping Looks for Legitimacy, Not Taiwan War, as Economy Slows


In his New Year address, Chinese President Xi Jinping claimed that Taiwan would “surely be reunified” with China. Against the backdrop of increased Chinese military posturing in the Taiwan Strait, some Western journalists are framing Xi’s remarks as an overt and direct threat against Taiwan. They argue that Xi’s rhetoric validates concerns about a potential invasion.

This framing misses the point and overlooks the domestic political context of Xi’s speech. Xi also celebrated the successes of the Chinese nation and economy, while acknowledging the economic struggles of the Chinese people. Rather than threatening Taiwan, this rhetoric is intended to protect Xi’s regime.

Western governments draw their legitimacy from a popular mandate, which is established through elections. The legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to govern China is also premised on a mandate. But instead of through elections, this mandate is established through the party’s record on ensuring continued economic prosperity and national success.

In this context, Xi’s emphasis on economic growth and the nation should be considered performative — an example of political theatre portraying the CCP in a carefully curated way for a Chinese audience.

Following the Cultural Revolution (which had disastrous consequences for China’s people and economy) and Mao’s death in 1976, the CCP re-established its legitimacy on twin pillars of economic prosperity and nationalism.

Former leader Deng Xiaoping secured the economic pillar in the 1980s through reforms that raised 800 million people out of poverty. The nationalist pillar involved retelling Chinese history. The regime emphasized historical achievements, commemorated national struggles, and portrayed the CCP as the vanguard of the Chinese nation.

Why China Would Struggle to Invade Taiwan

David Sacks

Although China continues to state a preference for unifying with Taiwan through peaceful methods, it has never renounced using force. Indeed, for the past two decades its military modernization has focused on developing capabilities that would enable it to forcefully conquer Taiwan, ranging from ballistic missiles to advanced fighter jets and the world’s largest navy. China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army, has increased the scale and sophistication of its military drills around Taiwan in recent years, honing its combat capabilities. As the prospect of gaining control of Taiwan peacefully becomes more remote, with Taiwanese identity rising and Taiwanese interest in unifying with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) declining, China could conclude that using force is the only way to achieve its political objectives.

Why China Wants Taiwan

Although the People’s Republic of China has never ruled Taiwan, its leaders view the island as Chinese territory—a renegade province that must be brought under Beijing’s control, by force if necessary.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has called unification with Taiwan the “essence” of the country’s “rejuvenation,” which he has stated needs to be achieved by 2049, the one hundredth anniversary of the PRC. Accomplishing that goal militarily, however, would prove highly challenging.

Like Ukraine, Taiwan is a young democracy bordering a much stronger authoritarian power that does not believe it should exist as an independent state. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many Taiwanese people have concluded that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan needs to be taken seriously.

U.S. Policy Shouldn’t Depend on Chinese Weakness

Ali Wyne

While U.S. anxiety about China’s resurgence has increased steadily since the end of the Cold War, it has coexisted with occasional waves of concern about the sustainability of China’s growth and the viability of its political model. In an April 7, 1999, speech, then-President Bill Clinton advised that “as we focus on the potential challenge that a strong China could present to the United States in the future, let us not forget the risk of a weak China.”

In the race for AI supremacy, China and the US are travelling on entirely different tracks

Manya Koetse

Of the many events that stand out as noteworthy in online discussions across Chinese social media in 2023, it’s perhaps the rise of ChatGPT that will prove to be the most significant.

Although the chatbot made by the US-based OpenAI was officially launched in late 2022, it took until 2023 for its unprecedented growth to raise eyebrows in China, where the government has set the goal of becoming the global AI leader by 2030.

Over the past decade, the focus on AI in Chinese society and digital culture has grown. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, AI implementations in schools, office buildings and factories have rolled out in fast forward.

AI facial recognition is employed in everything from public security to payment technology; smart glasses and helmets make it easier for many workers to perform their tasks; and intelligent robots have become a common sight in China’s service industry, in malls, restaurants, and banks.

There seemed little doubt over who would win the tech race between the eagle and the dragon; but then came ChatGPT.

It took months for China to launch its own alternative, models that seemed to lag behind their western variants in multiple ways. Even the minister of science and technology acknowledged that China’s chatbots were struggling against their US competition and Chinese internet users were left asking why – given that China was meant to dominate the AI era.

Experts and bloggers proposed different answers: some suggested China was not the first to launch a ChatGPT-like product because tech startups in China tend to focus on fast applications rather than lengthy research and development. Others said that language model training in China was harder due to the rich and complex nature of the language.

China claims cheap radar hack tracks foreign military ships using enemy tech

Christopher McFadden

Chinese scientists have allegedly developed a way to "borrow" or "piggyback" radar signals from things like warships or ground-based emitters to locate and track cargo ships at sea. Using passive bistatic radar, the technique only requires a bog standard laptop, an electromagnetic wave analyzer, and a small antenna to work. Published in the Chinese-language journal Radio Science and Technology on December 20, 2023, the system could be helpful for China's electronic warfare capabilities.

Money for old rope

The researchers believe their work has potential applications in electronic reconnaissance, anti-radiation weaponry, ultra-low altitude penetration missions, and stealth technology, reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

PBR is a type of radar technology that differs significantly from traditional radar systems in various ways. Unlike conventional radar systems, which use their transmitters to emit signals and then receive reflections from objects, PBR systems rely on external sources of electromagnetic radiation. Outside of the recent Chinese news, PBR systems are widely used by many of the world's armed forces, but their adoption and prevalence can vary widely depending on the country, the specific military needs, and the level of technological advancement.

One example is "Silent Sentry," a passive radar system well-known for its ability to detect and track airborne objects. It was developed by Lockheed Martin and operates by using commercial FM radio signals. One of the key advantages of this system is its low operational cost and reduced electromagnetic footprint, making it a popular choice for many applications.

Radar was invented in 1935, and only the sender or their allies could use its signals originally. It uses electromagnetic waves to locate targets, but this requires knowledge of detailed physical parameters that are only known to the transmitter, and these parameters are constantly changing. To outsiders, these signals appear as a tangled mess, and extracting valuable information from them would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

American intel officials warn of risk of Hezbollah attacking U.S.


U.S. officials assess that there’s a rising risk Lebanese Hezbollah militants will strike Americans in the Middle East — and even potentially hit inside the United States, four officials familiar with the intelligence told POLITICO.

The Iran-backed militant group would likely target U.S. personnel in the Middle East first, the officials said. And U.S. intelligence agencies are gathering data on Hezbollah that suggest it could be considering attacks on both U.S. troops or diplomatic personnel overseas, two of the officials said.

The chance for an assault on U.S. soil is also growing as tensions in the region escalate, the officials said.

“Hezbollah could draw on the capability they have … to put people [in] places to do something,” one of the officials said, referring to a potential attack on the U.S. “It is something to be worried about.” The official, like others in this story, was granted anonymity to talk freely about sensitive intelligence.

Officials declined to detail the specific kind of attacks Hezbollah could take but said that the Iranian-backed group has capabilities that other terrorist groups in the region do not. Individuals inspired by the Islamic State or al-Qaeda — but who are not directly connected to the membership of those terrorist groups — have carried out lone-wolf attacks in the U.S. and Europe, officials said. But Hezbollah has an expansive international network that would allow the group to use its operatives to carry out an attack in the United States.

Either scenario — an attack domestically or on troops or diplomats overseas — would deal a blow to the Biden administration which has worked to prevent the Israel-Hamas conflict from broadening into a wider regional war and to keep American forces out of the fray.

It would also likely draw Washington back into the Middle East at a time when it is trying to focus its national security resources on countering China and Russia.

Integrated Deterrence: An Admission That America Is No Longer Militarily Dominant?

Michael Clarke

Since 2021, the Biden administration’s key defense concept has been “integrated deterrence.” The administration’s first strategy document, the March 2021 Interim National Security Guidance (INSG), provided a partial rationale for developing this concept when it identified the threats posed by both China and Russia and the challenge of deterring their “aggression.” To deter these adversaries and prevent them from “directly threatening the United States and our allies, inhibiting access to the global commons, or dominating key regions,” the INSG asserted, the United States would have to “work with like-minded partners” and “pool our collective strength” to “counter threats to our collective security, prosperity, and democratic way of life.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin subsequently built on this in speeches from May and July of 2021. During an address to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii on May 3, 2021, Austin affirmed that the “cornerstone of America’s defense is still deterrence,” which “meant fixing a basic truth within the minds of our potential foes: that the costs and risks of aggression are out of line with any conceivable benefit.” But to achieve this in the twenty-first century, the United States must undertake “integrated deterrence.” This would mean not only “us[ing] existing capabilities, and build[ing] new ones, and us[ing] all of them in networked ways” but also doing so “hand in hand with our allies and partners.” A similar definition was then offered during an address in Singapore on July 27, 2021, where the Secretary of Defense described “integrated deterrence” as “using existing capabilities, and building new ones, and deploying them all in new and networked ways – all tailored to a region’s security landscape, and growing in partnership with our friends.”

Russia has the upper hand in electronic warfare with Ukraine

Roman Olearchyk

Russia’s record number of aerial attacks on Ukraine over the New Year period has highlighted Kyiv’s struggle to bolster its electronic warfare technology aimed at jamming and diverting enemy drones and guided missiles.

Both sides have invested heavily in systems that can neutralise each other’s drone armies, but Moscow maintains the upper hand as it had already focused on these capabilities before launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.

Ukrainian forces are, however, trying to catch up.

Kyiv filled with smoke after Russian rocket and drone attacks on the capital of Ukraine late last year. 

Mykola Kolesnyk, commander of a Ukrainian drone unit, said electronic warfare (EW) duels with the Russian forces were fierce and relentless. He described them as “invisible scissors that cut off the connection … of a device that is remotely controlled”.

Ukraine and Russia are both using tens of thousands of drones a month. Both have this year increasingly turned to cheap, commercially available first-person-view drones controlled by operators using a head-mounted camera.

Ukraine is on the front lines of global cyber security

Joshua Stein

There is no clear dividing line between “cyber warfare” and “cyber crime.” This is particularly true with regard to alleged acts of cyber aggression originating from Russia. The recent suspected Russian cyber attack on Ukrainian mobile operator Kyivstar is a reminder of the potential dangers posed by cyber operations to infrastructure, governments, and private companies around the world.

Russian cyber activities are widely viewed as something akin to a public-private partnership. These activities are thought to include official government actors who commit cyber attacks and unofficial private hacker networks that are almost certainly (though unofficially) sanctioned, directed, and protected by the Russian authorities.

The most significant government actor in Russia’s cyber operations is reportedly Military Unit 74455, more commonly called Sandworm. This unit has been accused of engaging in cyber attacks since at least 2014. The recent attack on Ukraine’s telecommunications infrastructure was probably affiliated with Sandworm, though specific relationships are intentionally hard to pin down.

Attributing cyber attacks is notoriously difficult; they are designed that way. In some cases, like the attacks on Ukraine’s electrical and cellular infrastructure, attribution is a matter of common sense. In other cases, if there is enough information, security firms and governments can trace attacks to specific sources.

Much of Russian cyber crime occurs through private hacker groups. Russia is accused of protecting criminals who act in the interests of the state. One notable case is that of alleged hacker Maksim Yakubets, who has been accused of targeting bank accounts around the world but remains at large in Russia despite facing charges from the US and UK.

US, allies share skills and tactics at annual NATO cyber exercise


NATO’s premier and largest defensive cyber exercise aims to improve the capabilities of member-states while bringing forward new tactics and lessons for U.S. cyber forces.

The most recent iteration of Cyber Coalition took place Nov. 27–Dec. 1 and included 28 nations. The initiative gathers allied countries together regardless of their cyber expertise to address a common scenario to bolster NATO and each other collectively, according to Candace Sanchez, a senior exercise planner at 16th Air Force.

“The fact that it’s what I would say a quote/unquote ungraded event, makes it a much more welcoming exercise and event for nations who may not be as mature in the cybersecurity realm to come and participate and sharpen their skills,” she said in an interview. For those that are more advanced, it’s also an opportunity to learn tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) from other nations to better their defenses, she noted.

The 16th Air Force — the Air Force’s information warfare organization that includes its cyber component, AFCYBER — has led the exercise the last five years, due primarily to the fact it’s the main coordinating authority for cyber operations in the European theater for U.S. European Command on behalf of U.S. Cyber Command, under a setup called Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber Air Force. Each service cyber component beneath Cybercom has a Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber component that is responsible for conducting cyber ops on behalf of assigned combatant commands.

Sanchez said the exercise is focused on a common adversary that introduces threats to specific coalition networks that can impact a fictional mission. Those could include things like supply chain interdiction attacks, exploitation of common networks or electrical grid vulnerabilities that can be threaded into the larger scenario.

Mine-spotting drones and tracked robots: The Army’s efforts to breach minefields with tech


Faced with a thicket of mines, tank traps, and bunkers, future U.S. Army engineers might not rush to the front. Instead, they may reach for a remote control to choose from a menu of drones and tracked robots to sweep away the problem.

Among the several units experimenting with new tech is the 18th Airborne at Fort Liberty, N.C., where engineers from the 20th Engineer Brigade ran a multi-day experiment in mid-December to test various options for breaching barbed wire, dragon's teeth tank barriers, and deep ditches.

Some of the greatest progress so far has come from drones, which the Army uses to map out the positions of enemy mines, said Maj. Scott Rayburn, who helped lead the experiments as operations officer for the 20th Engineer Brigade.

The Army tested drone platforms such as the SkyRaider and small Anafi quadcopter, Rayburn said. The small, commercially available drones are not fielded in large numbers across the Army, but are approved for military use under the Defense Department’s Blue UAS program.

The engineers then hung a variety of sensors on the drones, including LiDAR, to map the locations of possible mines.

Using multiple types of sensors to identify mines is critical, Rayburn said. “No one camera is going to deliver everything that you need.”

Additionally, the more sensors on a single drone, the faster an engineer can assess the scope of an enemy minefield. By contrast, drones with only one type of sensor force soldiers to hand-create a composite view made up of multiple drone flights, Rayburn said.

However, the larger drones capable of carrying the weight of such sensors, are a bigger target, and easier to shoot down. “There’s always a trade-off,” he said.

A Symphony Of Capabilities: How The Joint Warfighting Concept Guides Service Force Design And Development – Analysis

Thomas A. Walsh and Alexandra L. Huber

The United States today faces complex global challenges, including long-term strategic competition with major powers such as China and Russia, rogue states pursuing nuclear proliferation, and violent extremist organizations bent on sowing chaos. Rapidly evolving technologies—from generative artificial intelligence systems to advancements in human-machine teaming—are changing the character of warfare, and we are only just beginning to understand the implications of these changes. History shows that in times like this, nations that best capitalize on these changes create the greatest advantages in battle. Adapting to this evolving landscape requires the joint force—Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Space Force—to integrate capabilities and synchronize effects fluidly across domains. The opportunity for the joint force, as it looks forward to a future still blurred by the implications of rapid change, is to balance readiness for today’s warfare with preparation for the warfare of the future.

Roadmap to the Future

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, commenting on the Defense Reorganization Act, emphasized that “separate ground, sea, and air warfare is gone forever. If ever again we should be involved in war, we will fight in all elements, with all services, as one single concentrated effort.”1 Reinforcing this idea, the 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) states that the United States “will disrupt competitor warfighting advantages while reinforcing our own, and enhance interoperability and access.”2 The NDS’s central tenet is the idea of integrated deterrence: “working seamlessly across warfighting domains, theaters, the spectrum of conflict, all instruments of U.S. national power, and our network of Alliances and partnerships.”3

The joint force’s answer to the NDS call and the current shift in the character of war is the Joint Warfighting Concept (JWC). Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley has called the JWC our “roadmap to the future.”4 It is a threat-informed, operational concept that provides an overarching approach to how the joint force will fight in the future, culminating nearly a decade of focused development, wargaming, and experimentation.5The JWC articulates a strategic vision for how the U.S. military will operate and fight as an integrated joint team across all domains. By guiding and shaping Service force design and development efforts, the JWC stands as a roadmap to ensure the joint force maintains advantage.

Elections and Disinformation Are Colliding Like Never Before in 2024

Tiffany Hsu, Stuart A. Thompson and Steven Lee Myers

Billions of people will vote in major elections this year — around half of the global population, by some estimates — in one of the largest and most consequential democratic exercises in living memory. The results will affect how the world is run for decades to come.

At the same time, false narratives and conspiracy theories have evolved into an increasingly global menace.

Baseless claims of election fraud have battered trust in democracy. Foreign influence campaigns regularly target polarizing domestic challenges. Artificial intelligence has supercharged disinformation efforts and distorted perceptions of reality. All while major social media companies have scaled back their safeguards and downsized election teams.

“Almost every democracy is under stress, independent of technology,” said Darrell M. West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank. “When you add disinformation on top of that, it just creates many opportunities for mischief.”

It is, he said, a “perfect storm of disinformation.”

The global calendar includes at least 83 elections, the largest concentration for at least the next 24 years, according to the consulting firm Anchor Change.

Those elections are spread around the world, including in Europe, where 27 member countries of the European Union will vote in its parliamentary election this June.

That amounts to more than four billion people, by some estimates.

January alone has at least seven elections. Taiwan, which is trying to ward off Chinese disinformation campaigns, votes for a new president on Jan. 13.

How Ukraine Must Change If It Wants to Win

Anne Applebaum

On December 29, Russia launched the largest missile attack against Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion. On January 2, another attack of the same magnitude hit schools, hospitals, and apartment blocks across Ukraine. Early yesterday morning—the day after Orthodox Christmas—the Russians hurled yet another missile barrage at Ukraine. Together, these attacks sent a message: Russian President Vladimir Putin is not interested in negotiations, cease-fires, or swapping land for peace. Although he cannot overwhelm Ukraine militarily, Putin now believes that he can keep up the pressure, destroy Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, wait for Ukraine’s allies to grow tired, goad the Ukrainian public into turning against the government, and then win by default.

Often, this new phase of fighting is described as a “war of attrition,” as if the only thing that will determine the outcome is the number of bullets. But although the number of bullets does matter, the war has an important narrative and psychological component too. Alongside the bombings, Kremlin officials are now telegraphing to everyone—to Western politicians and journalists, to Ukraine, to the Russian people—that they can absorb 300,000 casualties and massive equipment losses, that their country’s economy is thriving, that they are willing to devote half of the national budget to defense production indefinitely. At the same time, the Russians and their supporters in the United States and Europe describe Ukraine as corrupt, politically divided, and, above all, certain to lose. In Washington, some Republicans justify their (so far) successful attempt to block American aid to Ukraine by using this language. Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister who courts investment from Russia and China, does the same when blocking European aid.

Ukrainians know that negotiations with Russia are fruitless, and in any case not on offer. They also know that military loss still means the same thing that it meant when Russia invaded in February 2022: occupation, mass repression, concentration camps, and the end of an independent Ukraine. They also know that the Russians are much weaker than they claim. Their soldiers still stumble into traps; their commanders still seem to be improvising. The Russian public is tired of the war and of the falling living standards it has created. Nevertheless, to beat the Russians militarily and psychologically, to undermine the Russian propaganda repeated by Orbán and the MAGA right, to maintain their alliances and defend their territory until the Russians have had enough, they have to change.

US and Allies Met Secretly With Ukraine on Peace Plan

Alberto Nardelli, Samy Adghirni, and Jennifer Jacobs

A secret meeting took place last month between Ukraine, its Group of Seven allies and a small group of Global South countries to try to rally support for Kyiv’s conditions for holding peace talks with Russia, according to people familiar with the matter.

The previously undisclosed Dec. 16 meeting of national security advisers was held in Saudi Arabia and followed larger, publicized gatherings aimed at countering Moscow’s attempts to divide and paint Ukraine and its allies as unwilling to negotiate an end to the war.

The secrecy was aimed in part at making participant countries feel more comfortable about joining. The smaller format allowed for a freer, more frank discussion on Ukraine’s so-called peace formula and plans for moving that process forward as well as principles for potentially engaging with Russia in future, the people said.

But the allied push has sputtered in recent months as Russia’s invasion heads toward its third year. In the US and the European Union, more than $100 billion in vital aid stalled in approval processes in Washington and Brussels, while Ukraine’s counteroffensive last year failed to deliver a major battlefield breakthrough.

Meanwhile, some EU states are falling short in fulfilling pledges they made to provide Kyiv with more weapons and artillery ammunition just as Ukraine is facing repeated waves of Russian missile attacks. The Israel-Hamas war has also fueled differences with the Global South.

Little Headway

There was no major progress at the latest meeting, held in Riyadh, according to people familiar with the session who asked for anonymity to discuss matters that aren’t public. Ukraine and its G-7 allies continued to resist calls from the Global South nations to engage directly with Russia, they said.

Army Sees Sharp Decline in White Recruit

Steve Beynon

The Army's recruiting of white soldiers has dropped significantly in the last half decade, according to internal data reviewed by Military.com, a decline that accounts for much of the service's historic recruitment slump that has become the subject of increasing concern for Army leadership and Capitol Hill.

The shift in demographics for incoming recruits would be irrelevant to war planners, except it coincides with an overall shortfall of about 10,000 recruits for the Army in 2023 as the service missed its target of 65,000 new soldiers. That deficit is straining the force as it has ramped up its presence in the Pacific and Europe: A smaller Army is taking on a larger mission and training workload than during the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- leading to soldiers being away from home now more than ever.

A total of 44,042 new Army recruits were categorized by the service as white in 2018, but that number has fallen consistently each year to a low of 25,070 in 2023, with a 6% dip from 2022 to 2023 being the most significant drop. No other demographic group has seen such a precipitous decline, though there have been ups and downs from year to year.

In 2018, 56.4% of new recruits were categorized as white. In 2023, that number had fallen to 44%. During that same five-year period, Black recruits have gone from 20% to 24% of the pool, and Hispanic recruits have risen from 17% to 24%, with both groups seeing largely flat recruiting totals but increasing as a percentage of incoming soldiers as white recruiting has fallen.

The rate at which white recruitment has fallen far outpaces nationwide demographic shifts, data experts and Army officials interviewed by Military.com noted. They don't see a single cause to the recruiting problem, but pointed to a confluence of issues for Army recruiting, including partisan scrutiny of the service, a growing obesity epidemic and an underfunded public education system.

B-21 Raider: The Stealth Bomber the Air Force Needs Right Now

John Venable

The B-21: A Critical Component of Today’s Air Force— America needs the B-21 Raider stealth bomber now.

The Air Force’s newest bomber, the B-21 “Raider,” is built around the most sophisticated and easily maintained stealth technology ever developed. The kit and capabilities inside the jet will allow the United States to hold virtually any conventional or nuclear target in the world at risk. Unfortunately, the Pentagon’s plan to acquire just 100 B-21s, coupled with the proposed rate of acquisition, is insufficient to deter our peer adversaries, much less assure victory, should war arise.

Let’s start with the current state of the Air Force and why its need is so great.

The Air Force has withered significantly since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. In 1987, the service had 4,468 fighters and 331 bombers, and that fleet was so new that it was easy to keep those weapons systems ready for combat. On any given day, more than 80 percent of the fighters and B-52 bombers were mission-capable.

The defense funding cuts that followed the Soviet Union’s collapse led to a gradual reduction in capacity. Coupled with the withering effects of the Global War on Terror and the service’s mismanagement of the surge in funding since 2017, the Air Force now possesses just 2,038 fighters and 140 bombers. By any standard, today’s fleet is the oldest, smallest, and least ready in Air Force history.

The average fighter is now twenty-six years old, and the average bomber is forty-nine. That makes maintaining these jets a challenge. Just 60 percent of the service’s combatant aircraft are mission-capable. If tensions between the US and China escalate to war, the Air Force will have less than a third of the combat-capable fighter and bomber assets when it was last prepared to fight a peer adversary.

New material found by AI could reduce lithium use in batteries

Shiona McCallum

A brand new substance, which could reduce lithium use in batteries, has been discovered using artificial intelligence (AI) and supercomputing.

The findings were made by Microsoft and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), which is part of the US Department of Energy.

Scientists say the material could potentially reduce lithium use by up to 70%.

Since its discovery the new material has been used to power a lightbulb.

Microsoft researchers used AI and supercomputers to narrow down 32 million potential inorganic materials to 18 promising candidates in less than a week - a screening process that could have taken more than two decades to carry out using traditional lab research methods.

The process from inception to the development of a working battery prototype took less than nine months.

The two organisations achieved this by using advanced AI and high-performance computing which combines large numbers of computers to solve complex scientific and mathematical tasks.

Executive vice president of Microsoft, Jason Zander, told the BBC one of the tech giant's missions was to "compress 250 years of scientific discovery into the next 25".

"And we think technology like this will help us do that. This is the way that this type of science I think is going to get done in the future," he said.

Pentagon Increasing AI Capacity Through Strategy, Alignment

Joseph Clark

The Defense Department is making leaps when it comes to fielding cutting edge technologies, a senior Pentagon policy official said Tuesday.

Michael C. Horowitz, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force development and emerging capabilities, said key organizational and strategy updates have resulted in DOD’s improved ability to effectively field new tactics and technologies — especially when it comes to artificial intelligence.

“If you imagine, essentially, a continuum of activities from science and technology investments all the way to fielding capabilities, this administration within the Department of Defense has launched new initiative at each place, essentially, in the continuum,” he said during an AI policy discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

Horowitz cited the creation of the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office, responsible for the departmentwide adoption of data. He also cited recent strategy updates aimed at aligning AI adoption with broader defense strategy.

In November, the DOD released its strategy to accelerate the adoption of advanced artificial intelligence capabilities to ensure U.S. warfighters maintain decision superiority on the battlefield for years to come.


Brandon Morgan

Touring the West Point campus under the drizzling, early-winter rain during my ten-year reunion, I was struck by the passage of time. It felt like yesterday that the class of 2013, shivering under spring showers, tossed our covers into the air in Michie Stadium, jubilantly anticipating our follow-on service throughout the world. And indeed, not long after that day I found myself leading an infantry platoon in Iraq. Then, before I knew it I was pinning captain, deploying to Europe, writing my first MWI article, commanding an infantry company, and making a leap into the foreign area officer career field. Ten years passed, all seemingly in the blink of an eye. As I transition from company-grade to field-grade officer, I would like to share some lessons I learned in those ten years to help current and future company-grade leaders find their versions of success and personal satisfaction throughout their careers as military professionals. I offer this from the perspective of officership but hope that these insights can broadly apply to service members of all stripes. From a decade of opportunities, successes, struggles, and camaraderie I offer ten pieces of advice.

1. Put first things first.

As a newly commissioned officer, it can be tempting to focus on future, highly selective opportunities ahead of the more mundane and immediate. As a young lieutenant, a member of my IBOLC (infantry basic officer leaders course) class eagerly asked an instructor what we needed to do as infantry officers to best set ourselves up for a career in Special Forces. “Triumph at IBOLC and graduate,” replied the instructor. His response, while not likely what most of us expected (or wanted) to hear, was exactly what we needed. It highlighted the fact that the gateway to special opportunities begins with excellence in the basics. If you are initially assigned to serve on staff before platoon leadership or company command, focus on being a great staff officer. You will benefit tremendously from understanding how your higher headquarters operates. You will build relationships of trust and respect with your commander and other experienced officers, noncommissioned officers, and soldiers who will be critical in supporting your future platoon or company’s success. Strive to be the best officer you can be where you are now and seize the next opportunity when it arrives.