3 February 2024

Decoding the Tower 22 Attack in Jordan: Challenges and Future Perspectives — Part I

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Tower 22 serves as a logistics and resupply hub for the Al Tanf garrison nearby in South Eastern Syria, where American troops work with local Syrian partners to fight remnants of the Islamic State.

XNational Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, "We do not seek another war. We do not seek to escalate. But we will absolutely do what is required to protect ourselves".

On night of January 27, 2024, a kamikaze drone swooped down and hit a U.S. military desert outpost in the far reaches of North Eastern Jordan known as Tower 22. The base in Jordan sits close to the triple border with Syria and Iraq.

The base is used mainly by troops involved in the advise-and-assist mission for Jordanian forces. The small installation, which Jordan does not publicly disclose, includes U.S. engineering, aviation, logistics and security troops. Lloyd Austin, U.S. Defence Secretary, said that the troops were deployed there to work for the lasting defeat of ISIS.

Tower 22 serves as a logistics and resupply hub for the Al Tanf garrison nearby in South Eastern Syria, where American troops work with local Syrian partners to fight remnants of the Islamic State.

The U.S. military personnel were sleeping in a tent as temporary living quarters. The one-way attack drone hit near the outpost’s living quarters, causing injuries that ranged from minor cuts to brain trauma.

The blast killed three U.S. Army Reservists from the Georgia-based 718th Engineer Company and injured over 40 more troops. Eight were evacuated abroad for treatment and are in stable condition.

Can Two-State Solution Be Salvaged From The Ruins Of The Middle East Conflict? – Analysis

Nadia Al-Faour

Since the eruption of the latest war in Gaza on Oct. 7, the international community has sought an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and a clear pathway to a two-state solution as a means to settle the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has made it clear he would not allow the handover of the Gaza Strip’s security to the Palestinian Authority, let alone a new state, once the conflict ends.

“Insistence is what has prevented over the years the establishment of a Palestinian state that would have constituted an existential danger to Israel,” Netanyahu said in a recent broadcast. “As long as I am prime minister, I will continue to strongly insist on this.”

Responding to Netanyahu’s comments, Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, said this stance “would indefinitely prolong a conflict that has become a major threat to global peace and security,” and that the two-state solution is the only way out of this “hatred and violence.”

The Israeli leader is hardly the only obstacle to the two-state solution. Polls suggest many Israelis believe the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack has highlighted the extreme danger of allowing an autonomous Palestinian entity to exist next door.

This at a time when support for Hamas appears to be growing among Palestinians in the West Bank, who, after a recent wave of settler attacks and Israeli military raids on their communities, see shrinking utility in peace talks.

“Israel has no plans and no interest in allowing Palestinians to live in freedom on their land,” Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian journalist and director of Community Media Network, said in a recent oped for Arab News.

Hulu Shows Jarring Anti-Hamas Ad Likely Generated With AI


Hulu ran an anti-Hamas ad that appears to be made using artificial intelligence to show an idealized version of Gaza—claiming this paradise destination could exist if not for Hamas.

The 30-second spot, opening like a tourism ad, shows palm trees and coastlines. There are five-star hotels and children playing. People dance, eat, and laugh, while a voiceover encourages visitors to “experience a culture rich in tradition.” But it suddenly shifts, turning the face of a smiling man into a grimacing one. “This is what Gaza could have been like without Hamas,” the narrator says. A new series of images flashes, this time of fighters and weapons, and children wandering the streets or holding guns.

The ad flattens decades of conflict between Israel and Palestinians—and centuries of war in the region—into a 30-second ad that appears to use AI to help spread its message. The reality of who is responsible for the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza is a far more complicated issue than portrayed in the short ad. Hamas, which has been deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, Britain, Japan, and the European Union, seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Israeli troops and settlers occupied Gaza from the 1967 war until 2005, when Israel's military and citizens withdrew from the Palestinian territory. The United Nations and several other international entities still consider Gaza to be effectively occupied, although the US and Israel dispute that label.

As of last week, more than 25,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October, according to Gaza's health ministry. The UN estimates that 1.9 million people in Gaza, approximately 85 percent of the population, have been displaced. Around 1,200 Israelis were killed by Hamas in the October 7 attack that led to the current crisis.

Netanyahu Is a Failure—and Israel’s Next Winner

Steven A. Cook

On Jan. 18, Gadi Eisenkot, a former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff who also serves as an observer on Israel’s war cabinet, assailed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a television interview. Eisenkot underlined what everyone already knows: Netanyahu bears responsibility for the political, security, and intelligence failures that culminated in the massacre of approximately 1,200 Israelis last October. He also averred that the prime minister has subordinated Israel’s war plans—and lack of plans for postwar Gaza—to his political needs and, in a sharp departure from government policy, declared that there will need to be a long pause in the fighting and negotiations with Hamas to secure the release of hostages.

Eisenkot, who is not a natural politician, was sure acting like one. Frustrated with Netanyahu, the retired lieutenant general went public to turn up the political pressure on the prime minister, who, according to leaks, is locked in a test of wills with his defense minister, the IDF senior command, and National Unity party leader Benny Gantz, who joined the war cabinet shortly after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks.

It’s fair to wonder about the wisdom of allowing Israel’s brutal domestic politics to spill out into the open in the midst of a terrible conflict, but Eisenkot’s interview seems to have forced a change in government policy. Netanyahu recently offered Hamas a two-month cease-fire—which the group rejected—in exchange for the release of all the hostages, including the remains of those who are now dead. Eisenkot’s blunt words also triggered several news articles speculating that Netanyahu may be losing his grip on power.

This possibility is exciting for Netanyahu’s opponents in Israel, where the stakes are high, but also inside the Beltway, where everyone loves to hate “Bibi.” Many in the Washington policy community and beyond will pop champagne corks the day Netanyahu finally falls, and the manifold failures of Oct. 7 suggest that this moment may be tantalizingly close.

Far from Ukraine and Gaza, Another War Just Killed 50,000 People

Matthew Tostevin

Unmarked by global street protests or quarrels over funding in Congress, three years of war in Myanmar have killed an estimated 50,000 people since the army seized power in the Southeast Asian country.

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) ranks Myanmar as the most violent of 50 wars it monitors around the world, noting the hundreds of small militias that have formed to fight the junta since the February 1, 2021, coup against elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The project told Newsweek it estimates a death toll of at least 47,000 in violence in Myanmar since then, including at least 8,000 civilians, but says that figure is conservative and that the total death toll could well be another 12,000 higher, including a further 2,000 civilian deaths.

"The number of attacks by the military over the years has been massive, but there has been kind of an increase with the rebels taking over more and more territory at the end of the year," Andrea Carboni, ACLED's head of analysis, said in an interview.

Myanmar's Information Ministry did not answer phone calls to seek comment.

Fighting in Myanmar intensified late last year as an alliance of insurgent groups made major gains against the forces of junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, who is under Western sanctions and gets weapons principally from Russia and China. The United Nations says some 2.3 million people have been displaced by the war.

Despite the human impact, the war has drawn much less attention than Ukraine or Gaza either from Western governments or from activists and protesters.

While the death toll reported in Ukraine has been higher than that in Myanmar since Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022, and fighting between Israel and Hamas has been more intense since the Palestinian group's attack on Israel set off the latest round of conflict there on October 7, Myanmar's position also makes it of less strategic interest to the United States and other Western powers than Europe or the Middle East.

The State of Cyber Defense Cooperation in ASEAN

Gavin Harris

To address the severe cyber threats their economies and critical infrastructure are facing ASEAN countries must strengthen the ASEAN Cyber Defense Network (ACDN) and continue the process of integrating their military cyber defense agencies. Cooperative measures and intelligence sharing between defense agencies would help bridge the resource gaps in member-state cybersecurity capabilities and help align the diverse national cybersecurity interests within ASEAN. ASEAN would also benefit from a cybersecurity agreement that gives the integration of cyber defense agencies more priority than the current Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy. This article traces the cyber threat ASEAN countries face, the way they are resourcing their militaries to respond, and evaluates current ASEAN cyber defense cooperation.


As ASEAN has grown in geopolitical significance due to its increasing economic weight, natural resources, and geographic position, it has also rapidly digitized. Despite the recent introduction of internet infrastructure in the region most countries in ASEAN, except Laos and Myanmar, have internet penetration rates of over 75%.[i] As a result, ASEAN member states have faced increased cyberattacks and cyberespionage campaigns, especially from state-sponsored advanced persistent threats, or APTs. Multiple Chinese-backed APTs operate in Southeast Asia. In addition, there are also numerous private and military-backed organizations that have initiated cyber espionage in Southeast Asia. As many as 49% percent of attacks by organizations in Southeast Asia resulted in data leaks, and the most frequently attacked entities were governments (22%).[ii] CYFIRMA reported that within ASEAN, APTs conducted the most attacks in Singapore, followed by Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.[iii]

ASEAN Cyber Military Defense Forces

This expanded environment of cyber threats has prompted ASEAN states to create and expand cyber defense capabilities in the military. Jason Blessing established a taxonomy of cyber forces in ‘The Global Spread of Cyber Forces, 2000–2018.’ Military computer response teams, reservist components, and civilian intelligence agencies do not constitute cyber forces; the definition Blessing gives is: “active-duty military organizations with the capability and authority to direct and control strategic cyberspace operations.” 

Beijing Hedges Its Bets In Myanmar – Analysis

Enze Han

One of the key questions about China’s relations with Myanmar is whether Beijing is supporting the State Administration Council (SAC) military junta. To the naive eye, it seems natural that the Chinese Communist Party would support the SAC because of their shared authoritarian nature.

But understanding China’s role in the complex domestic politics of the ongoing crisis in Myanmar only in terms of those supposed ideological affinities occludes the reality that China has been playing a hedging game with a variety of political forces within Myanmar for at least a decade — including those now opposed to SAC rule.

This approach arises out of lessons learned from China’s over-dependence on the Myanmar military in the past — before the latter turned against Beijing’s interests in 2010–2011. Thein Sein’s military-aligned government unilaterally warmed up relations with Washington and other Western countries at the cost of long-term Chinese interests in Myanmar, with several Chinese investment projects coming under threat, including the suspension of the Myitsone dam.

In Beijing’s eyes, the Myanmar military was no longer trustworthy. From that moment onwards, Beijing gradually reached out to Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy to cultivate a close relationship, which became a very cooperative one when she and her party came into power after the 2015 national elections.

Ultimately Beijing’s strategy is to maximise its interests in Myanmar, where the tussle for power has intensified and the future is extremely uncertain. With the SAC, opposing National Unity Government (NUG), the People’s Defence Forces as well as the myriad of ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) all vying for power, Beijing must hedge its bets and work with whoever serves its interests best.

How Submarine-Launched Systems Can Overwhelm Chinese Warships In The Taiwan Strait

Loren Thompson

The threat of a Chinese amphibious assault against Taiwan is the central driver of U.S. defense strategy. If such an assault were to be successful, it would confirm China’s status as the dominant military power in the Western Pacific.

Washington faces severe challenges in deterring and/or defeating the threat to Taiwan because China will enjoy a growing military advantage in the region thanks to its vast industrial strength, ongoing military buildup and geographical proximity to the island nation.

At its narrowest point between Taiwan and China’s Fujian Province, the strait is barely 80 miles wide. Even for a country such as China with scant experience in amphibious operations, this is not a great distance to traverse in a surprise attack.

To make matters worse, maritime and airborne traffic in the area is continuously surveilled by Chinese sensor networks. U.S. surface warships and tactical aircraft operating anywhere near Taiwan would be subject to withering fire in a conflict, and probably unable to sustain combat operations for long.

Many military experts who have analyzed the situation point to U.S. submarines as a key player in any campaign to defend Taiwan. Despite Beijing’s efforts to seed the seabed with antisubmarine sensors, Virginia-class submarines are equipped with active and passive capabilities to foil Chinese efforts at detection and tracking.

However, even if the survivability of U.S. subs is taken as a given, the relatively small number that would be available on short notice is dwarfed by the size of local Chinese maritime forces.

The latest, Block V variant of Virginia can carry a maximum of 65 torpedo-size weapons—torpedoes or cruise missiles. That means a dozen Virginia-class boats, even if all of the latest variant, would only be able to hit about 800 aimpoints.

Pentagon Puts Out Call for Swarming Attack Drones That Could Blunt a Taiwan Invasion


The U.S. military has taken the next step in building thousands of lethal sea-borne attack drones that could be key to deterring a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

On Monday, the Defense Innovation Unit put out a solicitation for companies to submit pitches for small unmanned surface vehicles that could tie into the Pentagon’s Replicator initiative, a defense official confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday.

DIU’s PRIME – Production-Ready, Inexpensive, Maritime Expeditionary – will buy drones in bulk to respond to a Navy operational need for small autonomous attack craft capable of “intercepting” enemy vessels at high speeds.

“This is their effort to try to get some new kinetic, lethal USV[s] fielded that can be employed probably in a western Pacific context – maybe the Strait of Taiwan,” naval analyst Bryan Clark told USNI News on Tuesday.

“They want to go out to the commercial world and say, ‘Alright, what do you got in terms of kinetic, lethal USVs that can be produced at scale’.”

The Navy has been quietly experimenting in the Pacific with a lethal drone concept called “hellscape” that would disrupt an amphibious invasion of Taiwan with a combination of loitering munitions and lethal attack drones. The lethal and autonomous mass would throw off a synchronized invasion, sow confusion and chaos in the strait and buy time for the U.S. and Taiwan to bring more forces, USNI News reported last year. The program was inspired in part by the low-cost lethal surface drones developed by Ukraine and built with off-the-shelf components, USNI News understands.

The PRIME USVs are a departure from the large and medium USV demonstrators currently deployed by the Navy with a lower endurance and a range of 500 to 1000 nautical miles.

China is building its own AI at a rapid pace

Tom Carter

The Chinese government has approved more than 40 AI models in the past six months since it began this process, according to local media reports cited by Reuters, as tech companies seek to make up ground on US rivals like OpenAI.

That includes 14 new Large Language Models (LLMs) approved for public use in just the last week. A senior executive at Chinese tech firm Tencent previously described the country's emerging AI gold rush as a "war of a hundred models" in September.

Leading the way in this "war" is Baidu, a search engine giant sometimes referred to as "China's Google."

The company has released a ChatGPT-rival named "Ernie Bot" which, after a rocky start, it now says has over 100 million users and can go head-to-head with OpenAI's GPT-4 model.

Baidu faces competition from Apple smartphone rivals Huawei and Xiaomi, who have also invested in their own AI models, and from TikTok owner Bytedance.

The latter's AI push has already proven highly controversial. Bytedance has built an unreleased AI voice converter that researchers warn could be used for fraud, and the company was suspended from accessing OpenAI's tools in December after The Verge reported that it had been using them to build a ChatGPT competitor.

Unlike their US rivals, Chinese companies that develop their own chatbots face political as well as technological challenges.

The Red Sea crisis tests China’s global ambition

Nectar Gan

As Houthi rebels continue their assault on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the deepening crisis is posing a fresh test to China’s much-touted ambitions of becoming a new power broker in the Middle East.

The attacks on one of the world’s most important shipping routes have upended global trade and stoked fears of a wider regional conflict nearly four months into the Israel-Hamas war.

So far, China’s public response to the Red Sea crisis has been limited to calls for an end to the attacks on civilian ships and veiled criticism of US-led military operations against the Houthis – which analysts say has fallen well short of Beijing’s global aspirations.

“The cautious or hesitant Chinese response casts a heavy shadow on its ambitions to be a responsible global power,” said Mordechai Chaziza, a senior lecturer at the Ashkelon Academic College in Israel who specializes in China’s relations with the Middle East.

With Beijing showing no appetite of getting directly involved in the crisis, the United States has sought to prod China into pressuring Iran – which trains, funds and equips the Houthis – to rein in the attacks.

The stakes are high for China, the world’s largest trading nation. Most Chinese exports to Europe are shipped through the Red Sea, while tens of millions of tons of oil and minerals transit the waterway to reach Chinese ports.

It also presents a diplomatic challenge for Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who in recent years has vowed to “contribute Chinese wisdom to promoting peace and tranquility in the Middle East” as part of his initiative to offer an alternative to the Western-led security order.

China’s response

The Houthi rebels in Yemen started firing missiles and drones at ships in the Red Sea in mid-November, in what they say is an act of solidarity with Palestinians. But many vessels with no link to Israel have been targeted.

The win-win way to avoid a Taiwan war


After the surprise January 26-27 meeting between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Taiwan independence remains the most problematic issue in US-China relations.

The Taiwan problem will remain, especially since the independence-supporting Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held Taiwan’s presidency following the island’s recent election.

Although Washington underlined its long-standing policy against Taiwan independence in response to the DPP victory, more is needed to craft a balanced Taiwan policy to achieve American interests. Instead of words alone, the United States should put its One China policy into practice to boost cross-strait deterrence and avoid a war with China.

Critically, to assure Beijing and maintain the hope of a diplomatic resolution to the Taiwan question, Washington should more publicly assure Beijing that it would accept the peaceful reunification of China and Taiwan.

To his credit, US President Joe Biden indicated this to Chinese leader Xi Jinping during their November 2023 meeting in San Francisco. Not only should Biden and his successors restate this publicly, but US government agencies should also make this an official talking point for both bilateral and multilateral engagements.

Increasing awareness of US acceptance of peaceful reunification – through joint statements, communiques, and formal records – will encourage other countries to adopt similar policies and further assure Beijing of America’s intentions. When America speaks, the Western-leaning world listens.

Tripwire Tripped In Syria: Now What? – OpEd

Daniel McAdams

Early Sunday morning, local time, a drone successfully struck a US military facility on the Iraq/Syria/Jordan border. Three US servicemembers were killed and several dozen were injured.

The US Central Command claims that the attack hit a facility inside Jordan, but Jordan and the “Iraqi Resistance,” which took credit for the attack, say the US facility was inside Syria’s border.

Why does it matter? Jordan is a US ally and as such American troops stationed on its territory – while in our opinion extremely unwise – are not illegally occupying foreign soil. However, if as is likely this facility was inside the Syrian border it means US troops illegally occupying Syrian territory were hit. In other words a foreign occupying force was attacked by people defending their homeland. That’s a very different story and one that Washington’s warmongers would rather Americans back home not ponder.

Most Americans likely do not understand that US forces are illegally occupying a large portion of Syrian territory – a country with which Washington is not legally at war – and therefore any Americans killed in Syria may result in the public starting to ask, “why exactly are we there”?

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has never seen a war he doesn’t want other people to fight, has offered his own explanation as to why US troops are getting killed in Syria: “Our forces in Jordan and Syria are there to protect the American homeland.” But as thousands illegally enter our actual American homeland every day with total impunity, it is a claim that is unlikely to resonate with most Americans.

Nevertheless Graham, a one-hit wonder, has posted his advice to respond to the Iraqi Resistance drone strike on the US base in Syria: “Hit Iran now. Hit them hard.” Iraq attacks an illegal US base in Syria? Attack Iran. His morning decaf mocha frap latte from Starbucks is cold? Attack Iran. One hit wonder.

Violence spirals as Iran’s proxies kill American soldiers

It was a matter of time. Since Hamas’s brutal assault on Israel on October 7th, Iran-backed groups have fired drones and rockets at American outposts across the Middle East on 160 occasions. Almost all have missed or been shot down. On January 28th one got through, killing three American soldiers and injuring 34 others in Jordan. The incident—which is thought to be the first deadly aerial attack on American ground forces since the Korean war—piles pressure on Joe Biden, America’s president, to retaliate forcefully. It is likely to intensify a maelstrom of political violence now stretching from Lebanon to Yemen.

Statements by Mr Biden and the Pentagon’s Central Command (centcom), the military command which oversees the Middle East, said that a one-way attack drone had struck Tower 22, a small outpost at the extreme north-eastern corner of Jordan on the border with Syria. The drone hit living quarters on the base, according to the Washington Post, which cited an American official.

Biden’s Iran dilemma deepens with killer drone hit


A drone attack that killed three American troops and wounded at least 34 more at a base in Jordan has increased fears of a widening conflict in the Middle East – and the possibility that the US may be further drawn into the fighting.

President Joe Biden vowed to respond to the assault, blaming Iran-backed militias for the first US military casualties in months of such strikes in the region.

But to what extent was Iran involved? And what happens next? The Conversation turned to Sara Harmouch, an expert on asymmetric warfare and militant groups in the Middle East, to answer these and other questions.

What do we know about the group that claimed responsibility?

Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyah fi al-Iraq, which translates as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, has claimed responsibility for the drone attack.

However, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq is not a single group per se. Rather, it is a term used to describe an umbrella organization, which, since around 2020, has included various Iran-backed militias in the region.

Initially, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq emerged as a response to foreign military presence and political interventions, especially after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq acted as a collective term for pro-Tehran Iraqi militias, allowing them to launch attacks under a single banner. Over time, it evolved to become a front for Iran-backed militias operating beyond Iraq, including those in Syria and Lebanon.

Today, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq operates as a cohesive force rather than as a singular entity – that is to say, as a network its objectives often align with Iran’s goal of preserving its influence across the region, but on a national level the groups have their distinct agendas.

The U.S. is Repeating Cold War Mistakes with Iran

Paul R. Pillar

The U.S.-Soviet Cold War, now more than three decades in the past, is generally considered a “win” for the United States. But even during the Cold War itself, the usual framing of the competition and related assumptions underlying U.S. grand strategy had serious flaws with costly consequences.

That framing included the notion of a single worldwide communist movement in which the chief impetus for action anywhere in that movement was seen as coming from its center—that is, the Soviet regime in Moscow. This notion contributed to misunderstanding the nature and roots of many local incidents and confrontations. It also artificially elevated the perceived importance of any conflicts in which communists were involved. A common American tendency was to perceive not just a local conflict but instead an entry on a scorecard of global U.S.-Soviet competition.

The Vietnam War was probably the largest and costliest of the errors stemming from that perception. When the United States entered the war in the mid-1960s, ordinary Americans and policymakers alike saw the conflict in Vietnam not as one of post-colonial nationalism but instead as a place to hold the line against the advance of global communism. The “domino theory,” envisioning an inevitable loss of other countries should South Vietnam fall to communists, was part of the dominant imagery.

The prevailing Cold War framing also perceived the Soviet Union as having an almost unique destabilizing capability around the globe, as an expansionist power constantly using malevolent means to extend its influence well beyond its borders. Given that the rulers in Moscow were heirs to the Bolsheviks, this perception had an element of truth. But especially in the later phases of the Cold War, the Soviet leadership necessarily became more preoccupied with the internal problems of the USSR itself, which overseas adventurism did not alleviate and, in some ways, exacerbated.

Iran’s Proxies Are Out of Control

Arash Azizi

Iran and the United States have been in a shadow war with each other for years. That the conflict has never spilled into all-out war is only because both countries have kept to certain unwritten red lines and rules of engagement. One such rule, rarely broken in recent years, is: Thou Shall Not Kill an American Soldier. Even in January 2020, when a U.S. strike killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most important military figure, the Iranian response didn’t lead to a single U.S. fatality. The tit for tat that had led to the assassination had included the killing of a U.S. contractor, but no U.S. soldiers.

On Sunday, this line was crossed. Three American soldiers were killed when a drone hit their living quarters in Tower 22, a small outpost in Jordan, near the country’s borders with Iraq and Syria. The attack was claimed by Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella term used by pro-Iran Iraqi Shiite militias that are backed and trained by the Islamic Republic and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). These militias stage many such attacks, but they rarely make a serious impact. In this case, the outpost’s air defense apparently misidentified the drone as a returning American craft.

A debate has predictably broken out over the degree to which the Iranian leadership was responsible for the attack. President Joe Biden quickly blamed “radical Iran-backed militant groups.” In response, several Republican senators and others have called for strikes on Iranian territory. But the Biden administration has been careful to assert only that the responsible groups are trained and funded by Tehran without implying a direct Iranian role in ordering the drone strike. “We certainly don’t seek a war, and frankly we don’t see Iran wanting to seek a war with the United States,” the Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said yesterday. Today, President Biden said he had decided on a response but affirmed: “I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East.”

New Report: Why the US Should Invest More in Quantum Now

Greg Hadley

Highly precise sensors that could enable aircraft to navigate without satellite-based GPS. Tiny atomic clocks that could ensure perfect timing in the face of GPS jamming. Wideband, low-power antennas that could guarantee secure communications.

These are among the breakthrough capabilities promised by quantum technologies that experts say could give the U.S. Air Force crucial advantages in a future conflict with China—provided, that is, that the U.S. military invests in developing those technologies sooner, not later.

“We have to make decisions about what technologies to pursue, and we have to understand quantum to do that,” said Heather Penney, senior resident fellow at AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, and the author of a series of papers on the topic. “We need to be able to focus on high potential—the practical science makes sense, the technology is ready. We need to focus on high payoff—what will actually make a difference to the warfighter.”

Penney highlighted three quantum technologies for reporters at a Jan. 29 rollout event. The three high-potential, high-payoff applications: timing, inertial sensors, and radio frequency receivers.

“Quantum timing integrated with quantum inertial sensors could provide warfighters with an internal, self-contained [precision navigation and timing] capability whose accuracy exceeds current GPS solutions,” Penney writes.

New US-made longer-range bomb expected to arrive as soon as Wednesday in Ukraine


The Pentagon has successfully tested a new long-range precision bomb for Ukraine that is expected to arrive on the battlefield as soon as Wednesday, according to two U.S. officials and two other people with knowledge of the talks.

Ukraine will receive its first batch of Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs, a brand new long-range weapon made by Boeing that even the U.S. doesn’t have in its inventory, according to the four people, all of whom were granted anonymity to discuss matters ahead of an announcement.

The new bomb, which can travel about 90 miles, is expected to be “a significant capability for Ukraine,” said one of the U.S. officials.

“It gives them a deeper strike capability they haven’t had, it complements their long-range fire arsenal,” the U.S. official said. “It’s just an extra arrow in the quiver that’s gonna allow them to do more.”

An Army spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder declined to comment on timing “due to operational security.”

“I will refer to Ukraine to talk about any delivery,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “But we do, as I mentioned, continue to work closely with Ukraine and with our industry partners to ensure that Ukraine receives and is ready to use the capabilities that we’re delivering to them, and as quickly as possible.”

The weapon, co-developed by Boeing and Saab, is made up of a precision-guided 250-pound bomb strapped to a rocket motor and fired from various ground launchers. The U.S. military has a similar version of the bomb that is air-launched, but a ground-launched version does not yet exist in U.S. inventory.

The Crucial Role of Escalation Dominance and Narrative Control in Nuclear Deterrence

Aaron Holland

Nuclear weapons have long been considered a double-edged sword in international relations—capable of both preventing conflicts through deterrence and posing existential threats if mismanaged. In this delicate balance, two key elements emerge as critical for nuclear deterrence credibility and effectiveness: escalation dominance and the control of international narratives. This article explores the interconnectedness of these elements and their significance in maintaining peace and stability in the strategic environment.

Escalation Dominance

Escalation dominance refers to a nation’s ability to control and dictate the pace and intensity of a conflict, particularly when nuclear weapons are involved. In the context of nuclear deterrence, it becomes essential for a nation possessing such capabilities to showcase a clear and overwhelming advantage in terms of the scale and sophistication of its nuclear arsenal. This superiority discourages potential adversaries from engaging in actions that might lead to a nuclear confrontation.

One aspect of escalation dominance is the possession of a diverse range of nuclear capabilities, including strategic and tactical weapons. Strategic weapons are designed for long-range attacks on major targets, while tactical weapons are intended for use in more localized conflicts and are often of much lower yields. The combination of both types of weapons enhances a nation’s flexibility and adaptability in responding to different threat scenarios, reinforcing its position of escalation dominance.

Moreover, modernizing nuclear arsenals with advanced technologies, such as hypersonic delivery systems and precision-guided munitions, further solidifies a nation’s escalation dominance. The continuous development and enhancement of nuclear capabilities are intended to act as a powerful deterrent, dissuading potential adversaries from challenging the status quo.

Robots Are Fighting Robots in Russia’s War in Ukraine


Near the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, a boxy robot zips along the rocky, cracked road. Snaking from side to side, the robot—a four-wheeled machine, around knee height—carries cargo and ammunition for Russian troops. However, it’s being watched. Hovering above the road, tracking the movements of the robot, is a Ukrainian drone. Suddenly, another drone smashes into the robot, blowing it to pieces.

The attack, which happened in early December and was claimed by the Ukrainian military’s 110th Mechanized Brigade, is one of a small but growing number of incidents where unsophisticated robots have been used against other robots in Russia’s war in Ukraine. Aerial drones have been used to surveil or attack ground robots, soldiers have attached weapons to land-based robots, and other small unmanned bots are being fitted with jamming technology to knock drones from the sky.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, small aerial drones have played an outsize role in the war in Ukraine—with thousands of drones being used to monitor the battlefield, watch enemy movements, and carry explosives. Videos produced by Ukrainian and Russian soldiers show the drones, which are often first-person view (FPV) drones, being used to attack tanks and troops. As the war has raged on, another kind of robot has increasingly appeared in recent months: the unmanned ground vehicle, or UGV.

“There’s lots of unmanned ground vehicle development happening,” says Samuel Bendett, a Russia analyst at the think tank Center for Naval Analyses who tracks military drone and robotics technology use. Most of the UGVs being developed or used are small robots, Bendett says, as larger vehicles will be tracked, observed, and attacked with FPV and other aerial drones. “The Ukrainian battlefield is saturated with aerial sensors that basically track and attack anything that moves,” he says. That includes other robots.

What Is Common Sense?

Duncan Watts

Throughout human history, survival and the formation of complex societies have heavily depended on knowledge. Equally crucial are the assumptions about what others perceive as true or false, namely common sense. This is evident in everyday situations like adhering to road rules: Pedestrians naturally avoid walking into traffic, while drivers refrain from driving on sidewalks to bypass congestion.

However, deviations from these seemingly intuitive principles of interpersonal conduct remain prevalent. Despite the ubiquity of common sense, there is no unanimous consensus on what individuals collectively perceive as true or false.

Now, Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor Duncan Watts and Mark Whiting of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Wharton School have developed a unique framework to quantify the concept of common sense. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers present a way to quantify common sense at both the individual and collective levels.

“Common sense is something that we all believe we possess, but rarely, if ever, are we forced to articulate which of our beliefs we consider ‘commonsensical’ or who else we think shares them,” Watts says. “What Mark and I set out to do was create a framework for answering these questions in a systematic, empirical way.”

What Is Common Sense and How Do We Define It?

The researchers first tackled the challenge of defining and quantifying individual perceptions of common sense, which they termed “commonsensicality.” This involved assessing how much agreement exists among people regarding specific claims and how aware individuals are of others’ agreements on these claims.

Are you ready for World War 3?


Get ready. Assorted generals, politicians and officials think World War 3 is almost here. NATO higher-ups have been engaging in pumped-up war talk for a good while now. Britain’s military and political establishment has been particularly excitable, too.

A fortnight ago, Grant Shapps, currently temping as the UK defence secretary, announced that war is coming. He told an audience at Lancaster House that we are moving ‘from a post-war to pre-war world’. Army chief General Sir Patrick Sanders continued this theme during a speech at a military conference last week. First, he characterised the British people as a ‘pre-war generation’. Then he urged us to lay ‘the foundations for “national mobilisation”’. He even hinted at the possibility of conscription.

One of Sanders’ predecessors, General Sir Richard Dannatt, joined in with a Times column. He likened Britain in the 2020s to Britain in the 1930s. Then, as now, we are a nation unprepared for the coming cataclysm, he said.

This war-is-coming rhetoric has been so over-the-top that both No10 and the Ministry of Defence have since had to publicly distance themselves from the comments of their own military top brass.

To be clear, no one doubts that we live in an increasingly turbulent era. The relative stability of the post-Cold War order, dominated by a hegemonic US, is undoubtedly long gone. China and others are seeking to establish a new balance of power. War rages between Russia and Ukraine. Conflict once again roils the Middle East. With geopolitical tensions running so high, we certainly can’t afford to be complacent.

Russia Is Wearing Down Ukraine's Defenses While Zelenskiy Fights With His Top General

Natalia Drozdiak, Milda Seputyte and Peter Martin

Ukraine is running short of weapons to protect its cities, with vital assistance from Europe and the US held up by political disputes, while President Volodymyr Zelenskiy fights with his commander-in-chief over military strategy.

Zelenskiy tried — and failed — to push General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi aside this week, according to people briefed on the discussions. Zelenskiy is looking for a bolder approach to the conflict following last year’s failed counteroffensive and has appeared at odds with his general’s more conservative view.

As Russia’s invasion grinds into a third year, the fighting has settled into trench warfare with drones leaving little chance for either side to surprise the other along the front. To sustain this “active defense,” as the approach is known, Ukraine will need steady supplies of artillery shells and other munitions that allies are struggling to provide.

Publicly, Ukrainian officials say they will keep up the fight against Russia’s invasion forces even if allied support doesn’t come through. But reports from the front show the situation there increasingly dire, with Kyiv’s forces struggling at times to hold back Moscow’s troops, according to western officials familiar with the discussions who asked for anonymity to comment on confidential matters.

Recent waves of Russian missile attacks also killed dozens in Kyiv and other cities as Ukraine’s air defenses, which rely heavily on expensive interceptors provided by the allies, weren’t able to destroy as many of the incoming weapons as in the past, according to a European diplomat.

“We all know what is needed on the ground,” Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said in an interview Tuesday. “Now the question is what we can send and what we can give.”

What Are State-Sponsored Cyberattacks?

Kevin Smith

Wars used to be waged on a physical battlefield, with countries pitting tanks and troops against one another. Today, the arena has shifted to the digital realm, and governments are not the only ones under attack. Cyberattacks like the infamous NotPetya breach saw state-sponsored hackers inadvertently impact 300 businesses and cause $10 billion in damages. If businesses don’t start preparing their defenses, they may become collateral damage in a broader cyber war.

How Do State-Sponsored Cyberattacks Work?

Cyber warfare—the digital root of many modern conflicts—uses computer networks and technology to target and disrupt nations. Unlike traditional warfare, cyber warfare’s impact extends beyond the virtual realm, causing physical damage to critical infrastructure like power grids and nuclear facilities.

Cyber attacks are typically anonymous, disguised, and rerouted through multiple accounts, which means it can be extremely difficult to identify the source of the attackers. The anonymity of the attacks is why most nations are hesitant to launch any counterattack, which has the ability to intensify global tensions and escalate conflicts.

In many ways, cyber warfare has leveled the playing field, enabling countries without traditional military might to exert influence on the global stage. Cyber programs require fewer resources and are less conspicuous than nuclear weapons development. Countries like Iran and North Korea have already demonstrated the ability to launch cyberattacks against more powerful nations like the United States.

Unfortunately, unlike traditional warfare, where appropriate targets for conflict are clearly identified, there are no rules or treaties that try to limit collateral damage – in fact, nation-states have demonstrated a willingness to go after private businesses. Malicious software can stay dormant in networks and computer systems for years as these attackers attempt to steal sensitive data and gather intelligence about organizations’ most critical IT systems.

Everything you need to know about Ranger School


The U.S. Army Ranger Course, commonly referred to as Ranger School, is the U.S. Army’s premier leadership course. Graduating from the two-month course is something most combat leaders strive for, and is unlike any other school in the military, transforming soldiers into the best leaders on the battlefield while enduring extreme field conditions.

“Ranger School is a crucible where an individual can get pushed to their mental and physical limits, yet in a controlled environment,” said 4th Ranger Training Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. John Marenda. “There are very few units that are capable of that internally. But even less so, very few units that exist for that express purpose.”

Graduate Ranger School and you’ve earned the right to wear the coveted Ranger tab on your left uniform sleeve. It’s not just a tab; it represents a milestone in your military career that means you are now the person everyone will look to when things get hard in both training and combat.

It’s no easy task to earn your tab, but it’s not impossible to graduate Ranger School either. There are a few things you should know before you head down to Fort Moore though.

A brief history of Ranger School

The Ranger Course was developed during the Korean War, with the first class starting in September 1950. Attendance was limited to infantry soldiers assigned to the Ranger companies re-established after the original six World War II Ranger companies were disbanded following the end of the war.

“What a lot of folks don’t know is the course originally started in 1950 with a different focus,” Marenda said. “It was originally established as the Ranger Training Command and was unit focused, less so than individual [soldier] focus.”