9 February 2024

'Netanyahu is the target': Microsoft report reveals Iran's cyber war on Israel

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Microsoft published a new report Wednesday morning stating that Iran has significantly intensified its cyber activity against Israel since October 7. The report, prepared by Microsoft's Cybersecurity Intelligence Center, presents a worrisome picture of extensive Iranian activity, which included targeted intrusions, operations on social networks, use of new technologies like artificial intelligence, and dissemination of fake news and propaganda.

These objectives seek to undermine Israel and its supportive information environment in order to create general confusion and mistrust. Among other things, Microsoft reports a nearly twofold increase in cyberattacks and their impact on Israel in the weeks following the war, as well as a 30% increase in Iranian disinformation consumption in English-speaking countries that support Israel, including the United States. Additionally, no evidence was found of coordination between Iranian cyberattacks and Hamas on the day of the attacks on Israel.

During the first week of the war, there was a 42% increase in traffic to sites where posts and articles were published by Iranians - following an increase in Iranian cyberattacks and the publication of articles and advertisements on various platforms. This increase was mainly felt in English-speaking countries that support the United States and Israel.

Additionally, the number of active cyber groups operating in Israel increased from 9 in the first week of the war to 14 in the second week. cyberattacks increased from one attack every two months in 2021 to 11 attacks in just October. "As the war progressed, especially from the end of November in parallel to the rocket attacks, Iranian groups expanded their activities to additional countries that support Israel, such as Albania and Bahrain, and to companies conducting business with Israel," Microsoft explains.

Israel’s Self-Destruction

Aluf Benn

One bright day in April 1956, Moshe Dayan, the one-eyed chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), drove south to Nahal Oz, a recently established kibbutz near the border of the Gaza Strip. Dayan came to attend the funeral of 21-year-old Roi Rotberg, who had been murdered the previous morning by Palestinians while he was patrolling the fields on horseback. The killers dragged Rotberg’s body to the other side of the border, where it was found mutilated, its eyes poked out. The result was nationwide shock and agony.

If Dayan had been speaking in modern-day Israel, he would have used his eulogy largely to blast the horrible cruelty of Rotberg’s killers. But as framed in the 1950s, his speech was remarkably sympathetic toward the perpetrators. “Let us not cast blame on the murderers,’’ Dayan said. “For eight years, they have been sitting in the refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we have been transforming the lands and the villages where they and their fathers dwelt into our estate.” Dayan was alluding to the nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe,” when the majority of Palestinian Arabs were driven into exile by Israel’s victory in the 1948 war of independence. Many were forcibly relocated to Gaza, including residents of communities that eventually became Jewish towns and villages along the border.

Dayan was hardly a supporter of the Palestinian cause. In 1950, after the hostilities had ended, he organized the displacement of the remaining Palestinian community in the border town of Al-Majdal, now the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Still, Dayan realized what many Jewish Israelis refuse to accept: Palestinians would never forget the nakba or stop dreaming of returning to their homes. “Let us not be deterred from seeing the loathing that is inflaming and filling the lives of hundreds of thousands of Arabs living around us,’’ Dayan declared in his eulogy. “This is our life’s choice—to be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword be stricken from our fist and our lives cut down.’’

On October 7, 2023, Dayan’s age-old warning materialized in the bloodiest way possible. Following a plan masterminded by Yahya Sinwar, a Hamas leader born to a family forced out of Al-Majdal, Palestinian militants invaded Israel at nearly 30 points along the Gazan border. Achieving total surprise, they overran Israel’s thin defenses and proceeded to attack a music festival, small towns, and more than 20 kibbutzim. 

Qatar gets ‘positive’ response from Hamas on cease-fire plan as group reiterates its broader demands


Hamas’ response to the latest plan for a cease-fire in Gaza and the release of hostages was “generally positive,” key mediator Qatar said Tuesday, as the militant group reiterated its demand for an end to the war, something Israel has thus far ruled out.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdurrahman Al Thani announced the response during a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said he would brief Israeli leaders on it Wednesday when he meets with them.

Blinken, who met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman the day before, said the Saudis still have a “strong interest” in normalizing relations with Israel but require an end to the war and a “clear, credible, time-bound path to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Qatar, which has long mediated with Hamas, has been working with the U.S. and Egypt to broker a cease-fire that would involve a halt in fighting for several weeks and the release of the over 100 hostages still held by Hamas after its Oct. 7 cross-border raid that ignited the war.

Hamas said in a statement that it responded in a “positive spirit” to the latest proposal. But the militant group said it still seeks “a comprehensive and complete” cease-fire to end “the aggression against our people.” Hamas is also expected to demand the release of a large number of Palestinian prisoners, including high-profile militants, in exchange for the hostages.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out both demands, saying Israel is committed to continuing its offensive until “total victory” over Hamas and to returning all the hostages. He has also dismissed U.S. calls for the creation of a Palestinian state.

When asked by reporters, President Joe Biden said Hamas’ response “seems to be a little over the top” but that negotiations would go on.

Biden’s Betrayal: Democrats Abandon Israel

Neil Banerji

Despite continuing to profess solidarity with Israel, President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats – under immense pressure from their left-wing activist base – are now quietly backing off their support for the Jewish state.

According to an exclusive report from NBC News published on January 28, the Biden administration is now “discussing using weaponry sales to Israel as leverage to convince the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to heed long-standing U.S. calls to scale back its military assault in the Gaza Strip.”

“After weeks of private administration requests produced fewer results than the White House wants,” the report reads, “the U.S. is considering slowing or pausing the deliveries in the hope that doing so will prod the Israelis to take action, such as opening humanitarian corridors to provide more aid to Palestinian civilians.”

Notably, this move by the Biden administration reportedly came amid pressure from some Democrats in Congress.

The news is just the latest sign that Biden and his Democrat allies are softening their support for Israel and increasing demands for the Israeli military to stop its assault, despite the fact that Israeli officials believe they have yet to fully destroy Hamas.

On January 8, when confronted by left-wing protestors opposing the war in Gaza, Biden said that he had been “quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza,” adding that he had been “using all that I can” to negotiate a ceasefire.

EU-NATO countries entirely split over Israel, Iran, and Houthis


As the United States plunges ever deeper into a fresh Middle East conflagration — this time fighting Iran-backed non-state actors, including Yemen’s Houthis and Shiite resistance groups in Syria and Iraq — its closest allies from the EU and NATO stand divided.

These divisions reflect a long-standing failure of the EU member states and institutions to speak with “one voice” on the Middle East.

When the U.S. called for an international coalition to stop the Yemen-based Houthi militias attacks on the international shipping in the Red Sea, only a few European nations signed the joint statement: the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Italy. Of that initial group, only Britain, Denmark, Netherlands, plus Greece joined as the European contingent of “Operation Prosperity Guardian.”

Others like France, while condemning the Houthi attacks, expressed preference for an autonomous, European-led operation. Still others, like Spain, were skeptical of any involvement in any anti-Houthi action whatsoever.

So far, Britain has been the only navy to engage in actual strikes against the Houthis (so far, with limited success), as part of the U.S.-led operation. Meanwhile, EU defense ministers agreed to launch the EU-led “Operation Aspides” to help guarantee free navigation and the safety of commercial traffic — initially, under Italian command.

Securing maritime freedom is considered vital, as approximately 40% of EU trade with Asian and Middle Eastern countries passes through the Red Sea. But the precise mandate and rules of engagement for this mission remain unclear. The EU foreign ministers are supposed to decide on those questions at their meeting on February 19. The EU high representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell, however, seems to have ruled out anything beyond defensive actions to protect ships and intercept the Houthi attacks, including taking part in U.S.-UK-led strikes against the Houthis or conducting their own offensive strikes.

China Claims Starlink Satellites Now Easy Prey Thanks To ‘Tech Breakthrough’ In Electronic Warfare

Ashish Dangwal

This so-called advancement is even asserted to have the capability to disrupt the operations of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites.

The Chinese media outlet SCMP reported the news, asserting that following this key technological breakthrough in electronic warfare by Chinese researchers, adversaries on the battlefield will have “nowhere to hide.”

According to the researchers, the Chinese military will leverage this technology to detect and target enemy signals swiftly, decode their physical parameters nearly instantaneously, and effectively suppress them—all while maintaining a seamless communication flow.

Emphasizing that the new electromagnetic spectrum monitoring equipment is compact, high-performing, and energy-efficient, Chinese scientists underscored its potential to revolutionize warfare tactics.

(For representational purposes) Chinese Electronic Warfare Systems on 6×6-wheeled CTL181A Dongfeng Menshi armored vehicles. 

Previously deemed unattainable due to the vast amount of data to be processed during combat, the real-time analysis bandwidth of traditional spectrum monitoring systems was limited to the 40-160 MHz range.

Signals beyond this range, particularly high-frequency ones, were typically overlooked using sampling scans, risking the oversight of crucial information.

A China-U.S. Decoupling? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

Greg Ip

The U.S. trade deficit with China fell last year to its lowest in over a decade. This looks, at first glance, like a decoupling of the two economies thanks to the steep tariffs President Donald Trump slapped on Chinese imports in 2018.

Trump is spoiling to finish the job, floating a 60%, or higher, tariff on all Chinese imports if he’s re-elected this fall.

The U.S., though, hasn’t kicked the Chinese import habit as much as the data suggest. Chinese and Western manufacturers have found numerous ways around tariffs; they are likely to redouble those efforts if the levies go higher.

Last year, the overall U.S. trade deficit in goods shrank to $1.1 trillion from $1.2 trillion in 2022, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. As a share of gross domestic product, it fell to 3.9%, the lowest in over a decade.

Most of the reduction came via the gap with China. This dropped by more than $100 billion to $281 billion last year, the lowest since 2010.

One reason the deficit shrank is that U.S. importers might have overordered in 2022, leading to swollen inventories and less imports in 2023 even as consumption stayed strong.

More fundamentally, the shrinking trade deficit overstates how much the U.S. has reduced its consumption of Chinese-made products. As the trade war heated up, many manufacturers began moving production to other countries to avoid U.S. tariffs. So the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico leapt to $152 billion last year, more than double the 2017 figure. The U.S. last year imported more from Mexico than China for the first time in at least 15 years. The deficit with Vietnam ran at $105 billion last year, almost triple the level of 2017.

The U.S. Confronts Middle Eastern Militias but Not Iran’s Long Game

Robin Wright

On April 18, 1983, a dark delivery van loaded with two thousand pounds of explosives turned into a cobblestone lane in front of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, a seven-story complex that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea. Robert Ames, the director of the C.I.A.’s Middle East section, had convened a meeting of seven intelligence agents on a top floor. Ames was a legend in American spydom. He was “just as comfortable sitting cross-legged in the Arabian desert with Bedouin shaykhs as he was in the White House briefing Presidents,” the C.I.A. chronicled. Ames had liaised often with the Palestine Liberation Organization when it was considered the world’s most dangerous terrorist group. He had reportedly helped to prevent an assassination plot against Golda Meir, the Israeli Prime Minister. The dark van drove past the Embassy’s red-and-white-striped guard post and exploded, ripping off the façade. Sixty-three people died, including Ames and his seven C.I.A. colleagues. It remains the deadliest day in C.I.A. history and the deadliest terrorist attack ever on a U.S. diplomatic mission.

Six months later, a Mercedes truck drove toward the U.S. barracks at Beirut International Airport, where U.S. Marine peacekeepers were sleeping in for a half hour on a balmy October Sunday. The truck didn’t stop. It detonated the largest non-nuclear explosion since the Second World War. Two hundred and forty-one peacekeepers were killed, in the largest loss for the Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima, in 1945.

Both suicide bombings were the work of Hezbollah, then an embryonic cell fostered, armed, and trained by Iran just a year earlier. It became the model for several others across the Middle East in subsequent years. The two bombings required astonishing intelligence-gathering, intricate planning, and extreme daring. I witnessed both. At the Embassy, I watched as body parts were picked up and deposited in small blue plastic bags for identification. At the Marine compound, I watched as crushed bodies were pulled out from under the rubble. I knew that they were dead long before their families were notified. These were defining events in my life—and the life of my nation—that marked the advent of new asymmetric warfare. And perversely used religion to inspire and justify it.

Iraq Hosts Both U.S. and Iranian-Backed Forces. It’s Getting Tense.

Alissa J. Rubin

For years, Iraq has managed to pull off an unlikely balancing act, allowing armed forces tied to both the United States and Iran, an American nemesis, to operate on its soil.

Now things are getting shaky.

When Washington, Tehran and Baghdad all wanted the same thing — the defeat of the Islamic State terrorist group — the relationships were fairly tenable, but in recent months, as the war in the Gaza Strip sends ripples across the region, American and Iranian-backed forces have clashed repeatedly in Iraq and Syria. A U.S. strike on one of those militias last week killed 16 Iraqis, and Iraq is saying it has had enough.

“Our land and sovereign authority is not the right place for rival forces to send messages and show their strength.” the office of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said in a statement on Sunday.

For many years, both Iran and the United States had their proponents within the Iraqi government, and the Iranian-backed armed groups and the American troops lived in a tolerable if uneasy balance.

That started to change in 2020 after the United States killed one of Iran’s top security and intelligence commanders, Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a widely revered figure at home, in a drone attack as he was visiting Iraq. The Iranians began pushing hard for the U.S. military to be ejected.

Iraqi leaders resisted, in part because of divisions over which country Iraq should lean toward. Even after 2022, when parties close to Iran were able to form a government, there was a notable distinction between what Iraq officials said about the United States publicly and what they said in private.

Now, Mr. Sudani’s government is sounding increasingly tough.

Cyberattacks on knowledge institutions are increasing: what can be done?

It has been more than three months since the British Library’s staff and users awoke to the news that its computer systems had been hijacked. After the attack on 28 October, anything that used the Internet — the library’s phone systems, its digital collections and website — became inaccessible. A hacking group called Rhysida had demanded a ransom, which the London-based library refused to pay. In November, Rhysida listed around half a million confidential files, including names and e-mail addresses of the library’s staff and users, for auction on the dark web, with bids starting at 20 bitcoins (US$800,000).

Berlin’s natural history museum was also attacked in mid-October. In-person visits are continuing, but research is possible only “to a limited extent”. These attacks are not isolated cases. In one study, researchers analysed 58 cyberattacks between 1988 and 2022 on universities, schools and other organizations worldwide, and found that the frequency of attacks had increased since 2015 (H. Singh Lallie et al. Preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/2307.07755; 2023). Information on the attacks was gleaned from publicly available online sources, such as media reports and the institutions’ own websites. The scientists concluded that research and education data are “a prime target for cyber criminals”. The study suggests that ransomware attacks — which permanently block access to data or systems until money is paid — were the most common form of cyberattack from an external source. Within an institution, students hacking the system to alter their grades were most often the cause.

The vulnerability of educational and research institutions is not difficult to predict. All around the world, millions of members of staff, students and alumni log into institutional computer systems daily. Moreover, since the COVID-19 pandemic, remote access from personal devices with varying levels of protection has increased massively. Some of the biggest security risks come from the use of weak passwords and computer systems that can be accessed without multi-factor authentication — in which users verify their identity through two or more independent pieces of evidence. According to an annual survey by US technology giant IBM on data breaches, only four in ten organizations, including those in research and education, require users of computer systems to verify their identities regularly with such authentication methods (see bit.ly/4bfzamz).

How Primed for War Is China?

Michael Beckley

How likely is China to start a war? This may be the single-most important question in international affairs today. If China uses military force against Taiwan or another target in the Western Pacific, the result could be war with the United States—a fight between two nuclear-armed giants brawling for hegemony in that region and the wider world. If China attacked amid ongoing wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, the world would be consumed by interlocking conflicts across Eurasia’s key regions, a global conflagration unlike anything since World War II.

Requirements for nuclear deterrence and arms control in a two-nuclear-peer environment

Greg Weaver and Amy Woolf


After decades of seeking to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in international relations, the United States is now grappling with a global landscape marked by intense strategic competition and the growing salience of nuclear weapons—problems that will likely persist for years to come. Over the past year, Russia compounded its aggression in Ukraine with nuclear saber-rattling, modernizing and expanding its nuclear forces over the past decade. Furthermore, Russia’s possession of a substantial inventory of theater nuclear weapons continues to threaten regional deterrence. Meanwhile, in Asia, Beijing is pursuing an unprecedented surge in its nuclear capabilities. If current trends persist, China is projected to possess about 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035.1 While China was once viewed as a secondary nuclear power, its substantial investment in its nuclear arsenal—including the launch of a third ballistic missile early-warning satellite in 2022 and advancements in land-based ballistic missiles, aircraft, submarines, and hypersonic missiles—positions China to become a near-equal nuclear power in the coming decade. These trends mark a historic shift. For the first time in its history, the United States must face two near-peer nuclear competitors simultaneously.

At the same time, Russia’s suspension of its compliance with the New START agreement in 2023 has significantly weakened the last strategic arms control framework established in the Cold War and post-Cold War eras. This move leaves scant provisions governing the future of nuclear capabilities among the United States and its adversaries. For over half a century, Washington and Moscow negotiated to establish treaties that imposed limits on their nuclear arsenals, aiming to manage their nuclear rivalry and mitigate the risk of nuclear conflict. This process served the national security interests of both sides by curbing weapons and activities that could jeopardize deterrence, safeguarding strategic stability, offering insights into nuclear capacities, and potentially steering military competition toward less perilous avenues. However, shifts in the global security landscape have altered this calculus. The Russian Federation, much like the Soviet Union before it, has insisted that future agreements factor in the nuclear capabilities of Britain and France. On the other hand, the United States now confronts a security environment featuring two nuclear-armed adversaries—Russia and China—whose forces will potentially pose significant threats to the United States and its allies.

What a Russian and Ukrainian general agree on: This battlespace is different - Opinion

David Ignatius

As top Russian and Ukrainian generals assess the battlefield after nearly two brutal years of stalemated “positional” warfare, they draw the same lessons: Tanks, manned aircraft and traditional maneuver forces are sitting ducks, while advanced drones and digital battle-management systems can have a decisive impact.

Russia has come to realize what Ukraine recognized more than a year ago: This is an “algorithm war,” one where digital intelligence and targeting systems have rewritten the rules of conflict. The “fog of war” experienced by commanders for centuries has cleared. In the newly transparent battlespace, movements by large units are instantly visible and vulnerable.

More Than a Fifth of Hostages in Gaza Are Dead, Israel Says

Ronen Bergman and Patrick Kingsley

Israel has called securing the freedom of the hostages abducted to Gaza a key goal in its war against Hamas, so many in the country were shocked on Tuesday when it emerged that at least a fifth of the captives were already dead.

The news was likely to worsen a furor in Israel, where a debate over the government’s course of action in Gaza regarding the hostages has become divisive.

Israeli intelligence officers have concluded that at least 30 of the remaining 136 hostages captured by Hamas and its allies on Oct. 7 have died since the start of the war, according to a confidential assessment that was reviewed by The New York Times.

The bodies of two other dead Israelis, killed in 2014 during a previous war between Israel and Hamas, have been held in the territory ever since, bringing the total number of slain hostages inside Gaza to at least 32.

The Israeli government late on Tuesday released a statement saying that only 31 had been confirmed dead; the discrepancy between the two numbers could not be immediately reconciled.

“We have informed 31 families that their captured loved ones are no longer among the living and that we have pronounced them dead,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the military’s chief spokesman, said Tuesday after The Times published a report about the previously undisclosed hostage deaths.

Four officials said that Israeli intelligence officers were also assessing unconfirmed information that indicated that at least 20 other hostages may have also been killed.

SOCOM taking innovation foundry to London to focus on special ops in ‘smart cities’


Personnel from U.S. Special Operations Command will be heading across the pond in April to meet with U.K. defense officials, tech experts and others to brainstorm the capabilities and concepts of operation that will be needed for conducting missions in “smart cities” of the future.

The gathering in London, dubbed Innovation Foundry 15 (IF15), will be hosted by the Tampa, Florida-based SOFWERX hub in partnership with SOCOM’s Science-and-Technology Futures Directorate and U.K. Strategic Command, which oversees the British directorate of special forces.

Selected participants from industry, academia, labs, government, futurists and other subject matter experts are expected to be on hand.

The event “will explore the challenges of physical and remote SOF operations in a range of future complex smart city scenarios,” according to a special notice published on Sam.gov.

“The rapidly changing nature of the future operating environment will increasingly involve operations in smart, interconnected cities. More than 50% of humanity resides in cities, and by 2030 there will be more than 60 cities with populations between 5-10 million … These dense urbanities are becoming ever more complex; socially, physically, and technically,” the notice states. “This presents new challenges and opportunities for SOF operations across the full breadth of potential mission sets, in an interconnected environment where access and [maneuver] will be challenging … Virtual and physical theatre entry, combat operations, sustainment, and partnering will all require novel approaches.”

The Tank is Dead?

Patrick Drennan

Lessons from the battlefields of Ukraine

Hundreds of expensive tanks of both sides are being destroyed on the battlegrounds of Ukraine by cheap UPV drones. These include the Russian T-90MS Tank (worth about $4.2million) and the German Leopard 2A6 Tank (about $6.3 million). They are being destroyed by ubiquitous Chinese UPV drones, and their local variants, that sell for about $3000. The U.S. has also supplied Ukraine with 155mm howitzer rounds known as Remote Anti-Armour Munitions (RAAM). Each shell scatters nine 2.3kg magnetically activated mines. Tanks with limited vision, especially Russian tanks, often hit these mines, damaging their tracks, and making them sitting targets. They are all then finished off by precision artillery and antitank guided missiles.

Several military experts have argued that tanks will always have a place because “lighter infantry organizations lack the combination of firepower and mobility to achieve early battlefield dominance and immediately exploit success.” They are likely correct. However, most of their previous examples they give are combined arms battles of the 20th Century. Equally, there is no doubt that against lightly armed foes like Hamas in Gaza, they can seize key objectives. However, Ukraine presents a different experience.

Primarily, the losses for both sides in Ukraine are extraordinary.

Moscow invaded Ukraine with an estimated fleet size of 3,417 main battle tanks, around three and a half times that of Ukraine. Russia lost roughly 60 percent, about 2,000 of these by mid-2023, The Moscow Times reported in July, citing the Kiel Institute’s Ukraine Support Tracker. They claim that Ukraine has lost the same number of tanks, but there is no source for that claim. GitHub - an American AI platform, estimates Russian tank losses have remained above 3:1 over Ukraine since the start of the war. Of course, that figure is relative, considering the Ukrainians had a smaller fleet to begin with.

Army wants more tech feedback from deployed units for new ‘transforming in contact’ concept


The Army wants to tweak units’ equipment and configurations while they’re deployed, gaining important real-world feedback on certain technologies.

Under an emerging concept dubbed “transforming in contact,” the service aims to allow formations in theater to be able to make adjustments to their setup, as opposed to having to wait until they come back to the United States for newer gear, according to its top officer.

The pace of future conflicts will be much faster, meaning troops will not only have to move more quickly on the battlefield itself to avoid being killed, but the rate of counteraction to tactics and technology will require new equipment on faster timelines. The service wants to use unit rotations to help determine what technologies and configurations its forces will need.

“It’s a really busy Army. We know we’re going to have to make some adjustments,” Gen. Randy George, chief of staff of the Army, said during an appearance at AUSA Tuesday.

He explained that Europe and the Pacific will be great places to learn how certain technologies and capabilities are being used rather than waiting for soldiers to return to their home stations. He cited unmanned aerial systems and electronic warfare tools as examples.

“Typically, everybody would say, ‘Hey, I have this window when I’m back in the States, and this is when I’m going to transform,’” he said. “I know that we can actually do that in Europe while we’re over there. Actually, we can test things in a new environment, in a different environment. What we’re doing with small UAS, what we’re doing with EW we can, actually, working with our allies and partners and doing all of that, that’s an adjustment that we’re making based on the realities of the fact that the Army is very busy.”

National Accountability for U.S. Cyber Security and Safety Protections

Lucian Niemeyer

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the top leaders in the country responsible for programs to defend our Nation from global cyber threats testified on the successful actions of the Chinese Communist Party to imbed malware, dubbed by industry, Volt Typhoon, in the national infrastructure we rely on for our livelihood. House Members asked about Chinese motives, their intent, and the repercussions. The answers were alarming and dire, making headlines across the country. The Select Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) eloquently framed the existential nature of adversarial cyber threat noting that “This is not just a government problem. This is a whole of society problem,” and “This is not just strategic competition, but a strategic threat pointed at the heart of America. If we do not address this threat, then the Chinese will have the ability to turn off the lights for everyday Americans, shut down entire cities, and cause a massive loss of American lives.”

The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher Wray testified that “China’s hackers are positioning on American infrastructure in preparation to wreak havoc and cause real-world harm to American citizens and communities, if or when China decides the time has come to strike,”

Chinese government-backed hackers, Wray said, are targeting things like water treatment plants, electrical infrastructure and oil and natural gas pipelines. The Chinese hackers are working “to find and prepare to destroy or degrade the civilian critical infrastructure that keeps us safe and prosperous...and let’s be clear: Cyber threats to our critical infrastructure represent real world threats to our physical safety.”

The Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Ms. Jen Easterly added, "Now imagine that on a massive scale. Imagine not one pipeline, but many pipelines disrupted and telecommunications going down so people can't use their cell phone. People start getting sick from polluted water. Trains get derailed. Air traffic control system, port control systems are malfunctioning," Easterly continued. "This is truly an everything, everywhere all at once scenario."

Russian Black Sea Fleet Lost Third of Its Firepower Since War Began: Kyiv

Isabel van Brugen

Russia's Black Sea Fleet has lost a third of its firepower since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, Kyiv has said.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces Center for Strategic Communications (StratCom) reported on Tuesday that Kyiv's forces have so far "disabled" about 33 percent of the fleet's warships in the conflict.

The Black Sea Fleet has been targeted by Ukraine as it seeks to reverse Russian President Vladimir Putin's 2014 annexation of Crimea. The region serves as Moscow's central logistics hub for its forces in southern Ukraine.

"According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, our military disabled 24 Russian ships and one submarine," it said in a post on Telegram.

"According to data from open sources, as of the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation consisted of 74 warships," StratCom added. "Aggression against Ukraine is harmful to your fleet."

Multiple casualties have been sustained by Russia's Black Sea Fleet throughout the war. Its flagship, Moskva, was attacked and sunk in April 2022. In September 2023, a missile attack by Ukraine on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol reportedly killed a number of leading officers and destroyed a Russian submarine.

The Architects of the Woke U.S. Military: Military Woke Complex

Fred Lucas

Summary: The Left began its long march through institutions in the early 20th century and gained a complete stranglehold over education and the media. In recent years, wokeism has deeply infiltrated sports and organized religion. For a long time, the military and business were at least the last institutions the Right controlled, or so we thought. More recently, the Left has gained—if not a stranglehold—a vice grip on the corporate world. And now the military is under siege. Since his inauguration, President Joe Biden’s administration has run a full-court press to push woke policies on the military, including an executive order to opening military service to all transgender individual, teaching about the threat of “whiteness” at West Point, and promoting senior officers who espouse left-wing progressive ideas.

Hours after his inauguration in January 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to open military service to all transgender individuals.

The push for wokeness in the military didn’t stop there.

Under the Biden administration, the Space Force has considered doing away with periodic fitness testing. The Biden administration’s Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilda added Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist to his list of recommended readings, while the U.S. Military Academy at West Point taught about the threat of “whiteness.”

Biden has also nominated a string of senior officers for promotion to general who have expressed political opinions in favor of kneeling for the National Anthem, asked for dialogue on “whiteness,” and declared that DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is in the Air Force’s DNA.

How Small Member States Shape EU Narratives


Those were heady days. Back in 2004, the Baltic states and Central European countries were reaching the finishing line in their negotiations to join the EU.

The “old” member states had agreed on a big-bang enlargement that would admit eight formerly communist countries. It was a marvellous achievement. It was about making Europe whole and free. It was about extending the Euro-Atlantic geographical, security, and democratic space.

Poland was the biggest entrant. Ranking fifth in population inside the bloc, it was in a strong position to carve out an influential role in the EU. Way down the ladder were the three small Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Two observations struck me at the time. None of the aspiring entrants coordinated their negotiating positions that would have given them perhaps more leverage. And generally, the Western Europeans had little idea about their new members, their interests, their fears, their history, their identities. Slovenia was often confused with Slovakia.

Two events changed these perceptions.

One was Germany’s decision to build the Nord Stream gas pipelines with Russia. Gas would be sent directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea, reducing the role of Ukraine and Poland as transit countries. It would make their energy resources more vulnerable.

Poland and the Baltic states lobbied hard to stop the project. Warsaw used the EU to make energy diversification a major priority for the bloc’s security.

They had few allies among the Western European member states. They worked the machinery in the European Commission and institutions. They argued how the special relationship between Russia and Germany was damaging not only the bloc’s energy security; that it set Berlin against its eastern neighbors. The fear of Berlin and Moscow doing deals behind their backs as they did in the past made them determined to use the EU to pursue their interests.

The cost of Russia’s collapsing empire


Ukraine’s counteroffensive has stalled, and Vladimir Putin is once again blustering as if Russia were a first-rate power. The problem, paradoxically, is that it is not. The damage his country has sustained throughout the course of the Ukraine war has been substantial. Russia has lost 2,200 of its 3,500 tanks in Ukraine, and 315,000 out of 360,000 troops, forcing them to launch recruitment campaigns and raid the prison system. And even if, on full war-footing, it currently looks like it could force Ukraine into accepting that large swaths of its territory will remain under occupation for the foreseeable future, Russia itself has been substantially weakened.

Over time, a weakened Russia will likely be a harbinger of chaos across its periphery. Empires since antiquity have provided a solution to chaos. But empires, as they collapse, leave chaos in their wake. History has provided no solution to this conundrum.

The pattern is usually the same. An imperial hegemon cobbles together a domain of many ethnic groups, forcing them to lay down their arms against each other. An empire may last hundreds of years and yet build nothing except a tenuous inter-ethnic truce. This has been the story of the Russian Empire and its shadow zones in the Caucasus, the Balkans, stretches of Central and Eastern Europe, not to mention stretches of Siberia and the Far East. But as the hegemon weakens, fights for control of territory between one group and another commence.

The case of Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus is the most telling. Stalin put this ethnic-Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan for the same reason he burdened other Soviet republics with large ethnic minorities: to make it impossible for any of them to secede from the Soviet Union without inter-ethnic war tearing them apart. Fighting between the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis (Azeri Turks) began following the weakening of the Soviet Union in the late-Eighties under the rule of Mikhail Gorbachev, leaving the Armenians in control of Nagorno-Karabakh. Since then, Armenia has looked to Russia as a patron who could not only keep the regional peace, but also keep their ethnic compatriots in place.

The anniversary of war in Ukraine—10 years, not two years

Andrew Maher

In the coming weeks, a flood of analysis can be expected marking the end of the second year of war in Ukraine. In fact, the war began 10 years ago when Russia seized Crimea in February 2014.

This error in analysis demonstrates the cultural challenges Australia, and Western nations more broadly, face in the way they approach defence issues and national security writ large. Our error is that we culturally conflate conventional warfare with war. This is a counter-productive mindset when we are confronted by autocratic leaders who engage in ‘struggle’, perhaps over a decade or longer, using all elements of power.

As the 2024 national security strategy is being written, the lessons of 10 years of war involving political warfare, proxy warfare, grey zone coercion, cyber mobilisation, economic warfare, the development of resistance strategies, the employment of new unmanned systems and conventional warfighting, must be assimilated. In short, we must expand our thinking if we are to holistically understand contemporary war.

Eminent strategist Colin Gray has previously called attention to the erroneous Western conflation of conventional warfare with war. His warning has not been embraced. A manifestation of this Western conflation can be observed in Frank Hoffman’s need to introduce the term, ‘hybrid warfare’, to force a shift in mindset commensurate with the blending of terrorism, guerrilla warfare, and conventional warfare, as displayed by Hezbollah in 2006. This term, ‘hybrid’, became normalised by describing the sophisticated Russian tactics of ‘liminal warfare’ employed during the seizure of Crimea in 2014.

The first lesson we might discern from this past decade is that today’s evolved character of war has already adapted to Putin’s escalation in 2022. It punishes the overt employment of conventional warfighting methods thus rewarding political and irregular warfare methods that operate below the threshold of conventional responses through relevant populations, using a mixture of violence and non-violence.

The American Dilemma of War

George Friedman

Many argue that the United States should not have involved itself in the Ukraine war. For some, it’s a matter of national interest; for others, it’s simply too expensive. There are those who fear that U.S. involvement in the Middle East will trap Washington again in a dangerous situation that is not its business and will be costly both in lives and in money.

These are not frivolous arguments, but they miss other dimensions of war. The first is that war isn’t always a choice. The second is that avoiding war is sometimes even costlier than entering a conflict.

The United States has been forced to consider both dimensions in various conflicts since World War I, with some claiming that we have no interest at stake, that the financial and human toll would outstrip the importance of the war, or that the war would be unwinnable. The reason that this choice has been so important is that the United States is the dominant power in the world. Economically and militarily, it is everywhere, and all other nations know that drawing the United States into a war on their side would dramatically increase their odds of success. Like other empires before it, the U.S. is an overarching presence in the world and is therefore constantly confronted with military threats and military opportunities.

The question is not whether the world appears a dangerous place to the U.S. but rather what is to be done about the situation. There are always choices; some save a country, some trap a country, some urge caution, and others demand action. The U.S. is always on the threshold of making another decision, with great debate over what it ought to be.

It is here worth thinking about its choices in World War II. There was a debate over whether to enter the conflict at all. The America First Committee argued that it was not the United States’ war and that the U.S., still in the Great Depression, should spend its treasure at home. Though plenty disagreed, the choice was made for the U.S. when Japan, a country with which there was friction but whose military threat was dismissed by most, struck Pearl Harbor. Very shortly afterward, Germany declared war on the United States. Washington was involved in a war that girdled the world. The choice to stand back turned out to be the wrong one.

Uncrewed Systems and the Transformation of U.S. Warfighting Capacity


I recently had the priviledge to work with retired United States Air Force Lieutenant General Clint Hinote in producing a report on the future of uncrewed systems, and how the U.S. Department of Defense might undertake a range of reforms to fully realise the extraordinary potential of these air, land and maritime systems. Before his retirement, Lieutenant General Hinote (as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Air Force) led a 400-person organization to become “Air Force Futures,” responsible for planning and integration for the future U.S. Air Force.

Therefore, I was honoured to work with such an experienced and intellectual warfighter in developing and publishing this report for the Special Competitive Studies Project.

A key finding of our paper however is that these uncrewed systems alone are not what is currently transforming the character of warfare. Instead, the shape of modern war, and conflict in the future, will be transformed by the interaction and orchestration of three distinct yet connected systems. As we note in the paper:

It is only when drones are combined with the democratization of digitized command and control systems and new-era meshed networks of civilian and military sensors that transformational change will occur. These three elements comprise a transformative trinity explored later in this paper, and it is only within this construct that drones will fully realize their potential for defense and other national security applications.

We were able to employ our observations and analysis from the ongoing wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and to also use our knowledge of developing systems and warfighting concepts that exploit the three elements of the transformative trinity examined in the paper.

Three Crucial Areas for Transformation

In our findings, we propose a variety of potential changes and evolutions in the current approaches of the U.S. military services. These fall into three categories: