14 March 2024

Rafael expects Iron Beam laser to be active in 2025: Exec


The outbreak of war following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks has not derailed Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, a key player in Israel’s defense industry, and the company is on track to deliver its laser-powered Iron Beam system in 2025, according to a top executive.

“Rafael’s performance of 2023 has reached heights that we have not expected, and these will be published on the beginning of April as a summary for 2023,” Gidi Weiss, Vice President of Strategy, Business Development and Marketing at Rafael, told Breaking Defense. But, he said, only a small portion of the company’s growth over the last 24 months has come from either the Israel-Gaza conflict or the conflict in Ukraine.

“The characteristic of the big picture to summarize 2023 is we have reached these new peaks based upon our good standing and reputation and high value proportion to our customers based on long term relationships and competitions we have been participating in over the past few years,” Weiss says. In other words, the current position of the company reflects a long-term trend and that the impact of the current war, now in its fifth month, won’t be felt or realized until some time in the future.

Rafael, whose products include the Iron Dome air defense system and the Trophy active protection system used on Israel’s main battle tanks and APCs, plays a central role in the current war effort. Israel has not published recent data on Iron Dome interceptions, but as of January claimed more than 9,000 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza and also 2,000 from Lebanon and Syria. The Israel Air Force says that there have been “tens” of interceptions by David’s Sling, which is also made by Rafael.

It is unsurprising, then, that the company sees a robust desire for air defense systems moving forward. One capability that Israel has been talking about deploying over the last several years, but which has not been active for the current conflict, is a ground-based laser air defense system, known as the Iron Beam.

The International Community Should End the Israel-Hamas War - Opinion

Melisse H Pinto

The horrendous loss of innocent life in the current war in the Gaza Strip justifiably arouses extreme moral outrage in the global community. The barbaric attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas on October 7 were unconscionable. The Israeli government has a right and duty to defend its people. But, the Israeli response has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths in Gaza and the human suffering is enormous. Many in the world community call for a ceasefire to alleviate the crisis. But even if a ceasefire can be achieved, it is unlikely that it will lead to a lasting peace. In fact, it is almost impossible for the warring parties to escape the dilemma they face – a dilemma which was created by forces beyond their control.

Before the end of the First World War, the land on which Israel exists had been controlled by Arabs and Muslims going back over 1400 years. In the nineteenth century the rise of ethnic nationalism combined with continuing, and in some cases worsening, anti-Semitism in Europe led to the development of the idea the Jews needed a homeland, a nation state, not only to protect their way of life but literally their very lives. Eventually the movement settled on Palestine, the Biblical home of the Jews. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the Ottoman empire was generally tolerant of Jewish immigration and many Jews moved to the region. When the Ottomans lost World War One, they lost most of their territory and Palestine was put under the control of Great Britain by the victorious western powers. British rule was based on a protectorate. It was meant to help the region achieve sovereignty during an interim period. And this is when the foundation of the current tragedy was laid.

Britain ruled Palestine as a colonial possession, and this was much resented. During the war, Great Britain had promised independent states in Palestine to both the Arabs and Jews. During the 1920s and 1930s Britain intermittently let large numbers of Jews settle in Palestine. As more and more Jews came, the Arab population began to resent what they saw as a takeover of their territory. There was growing violence and Britain wavered back and forth in its policy.

U.S. Military Enters a New Phase With Gaza Aid Operations

Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt

The United States has a history of using its military to get food, water and other humanitarian relief to civilians during wars or natural disasters. The walls of the Pentagon are decorated with photographs of such operations in Haiti, Liberia, Indonesia and countless other countries.

But it is rare for the United States to try to provide such services for people who are being bombed with tacit U.S. support.

President Biden’s decision to order the U.S. military to build a floating pier off the Gaza Strip that would allow aid to be delivered by sea puts American service members in a new phase of their humanitarian aid history. The same military that is sending the weapons and bombs that Israel is using in Gaza is now also sending food and water into the besieged territory.

The floating pier idea came a week after Mr. Biden authorized humanitarian airdrops for Gaza, which relief experts criticized as inadequate. Even the floating pier, aid experts say, will not do enough to alleviate the suffering in the territory, where residents are on the brink of starvation.

Nonetheless, senior Biden officials said, the United States will continue to provide Israel with the munitions it is using in Gaza, while trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians under bombardment there.

So the Pentagon is doing both.

For decades the Army Corps of Engineers, using combat engineers, has built floating docks for troops to cross rivers, unload supplies and conduct other military operations. Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, said on Friday that the Army’s Seventh Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, near Norfolk, Va., would be one of the main military units involved in the construction of the floating pier for Gaza.

Solar-Powered Farming Is Quickly Depleting the World's Groundwater Supply


There is a solar-powered revolution going on in the fields of India. By 2026, more than 3 million farmers will be raising irrigation water from beneath their fields using solar-powered pumps. With effectively free water available in almost unlimited quantities to grow their crops, their lives could be transformed. Until the water runs out.

The desert state of Rajasthan is the Indian pioneer and has more solar pumps than any other. Over the past decade, the government has given subsidized solar pumps to almost 100,000 farmers. Those pumps now water more than a million acres and have enabled agricultural water use to increase by more than a quarter. But as a result, water tables are falling rapidly. There is little rain to replace the water being pumped to the surface. In places, the underground rocks are now dry down to 400 feet below ground.

That is the effective extraction limit of the pumps, many of which now lie abandoned. To keep up, in what amounts to a race to the bottom of the diminishing reserves, richer farmers have been buying more powerful solar pumps, leaving the others high and dry or forcing them to buy water from their rich neighbors.

Water wipeout looms. And not just in Rajasthan.

Solar pumps are spreading rapidly among rural communities in many water-starved regions across India, Africa, and elsewhere. These devices can tap underground water all day long at no charge, without government scrutiny.

For now, they can be great news for farmers, with the potential to transform agriculture and improve food security. The pumps can supply water throughout the daylight hours, extending their croplands into deserts, ending their reliance on unpredictable rains, and sometimes replacing existing costly-to-operate diesel or grid-powered pumps.

ISIS Is Back and Threatens to Be Deadlier Than Ever

Ruchi Kumar & Zuhal Ahad

It was a little over two weeks since Mohammad Ali Raihani, 28, a student of engineering at Kabul University, had started a day job to provide for his brother and sister while he studied. On Jan. 6, an explosion ripped through the minibus taking him to the printing press where he worked, killing him and six others.

“He studied at night so he could work during the day and support the family. He was our only breadwinner,” his sister Sumaya Raihani told The Daily Beast, choking back tears. “When Mohammad got this job, he was always telling us to study. He promised to buy a bicycle for my younger brother to encourage him to study harder.”

Sumaya has been unable to work or go to school herself under the brutal restrictions on women and girls imposed since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021.

As well as cruelty and misogyny, Taliban rule has also brought a resurgence in the threat from ISIS. The Sunni Muslim terror group has been allowed to re-group and re-tool in Afghanistan where thousands of fighters are training and plotting attacks, despite Taliban claims that they are trying to clamp down on them.

Hundreds of people—like Mohammad—have already been killed in dozens of attacks inside Afghanistan and in the wider region this year, as part of a new campaign of violence announced in January called “Kill Them Wherever You Find Them.” The campaign was originally billed as a plan to target the Jewish community in response to Israel’s bombing of Gaza after the Oct. 7 attacks, but has since seemingly expanded to include other groups that ISIS deems heretical.

The explosion that killed Mohammad was the first of two attacks that week targeting a neighborhood in Kabul with a majority population of Shia Muslims of Hazara ethnicity. The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISKP), the wing of ISIS based in Afghanistan.

US, Japan Mull Defense Cooperation That Could Help Ukraine, Yomiuri Says

Yoshiaki Nohara

Japan and the US are discussing collaborating on military gear in a bid to provide more munitions to Ukraine and increasing ways for the Asian country to repair American warships and jet fighters, the Yomiuri newspaper said.

The allies are trying to put together an arrangement in conjunction with an April 10 summit in Washington between Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Joe Biden, the Japanese daily reported Sunday, citing government sources it did not name.

A key theme for the summit will be finding ways Japan could help widen the US’s pool of armaments. American arms makers have been straining to supply weapons ranging from artillery shells to air defense systems that Washington has committed to Ukraine to fight off invading Russian forces.

Japan, which adopted a pacifist constitution after its loss in World War II, has provided Ukraine with nonlethal aid as well as assistance and loan guarantees worth billions of dollars — but not weapons. Loosening Tokyo’s restrictions on military exports could help the US and European nations send arms to Ukraine in the short term, while in the long term, it could widen the opportunities for Japan to sell arms overseas.

In December, the Japanese government announced it would allow sales of weapons produced under license back to the country of origin, and would export Patriot missiles to its sole military ally. The move increased the amount of interceptors available to the US, giving it more flexibility on how it supports Ukraine’s air defenses.

Competition With China Is Inevitable. US Alliance Policy Could Determine Just How Bad It Gets.

Joshua Byun

Not long after the collapse of the Soviet Union, scholars like Aaron Friedberg, John Mearsheimer, and Richard Betts began voicing concerns about a new era of great power competition with China. But well into the first decade of the 21st century, many saw such fears as relics of a bygone era of international politics – no longer relevant in the age of global interdependence.

Today, it is the optimists who are the beleaguered minority. Many in the U.S. foreign policy community who once enthusiastically supported engagement and cooperation with China now tend to advocate much more cautious positions, if not outright anti-engagement.

In fact, the United States and China should have anticipated intense security competition in East Asia from the beginning of the post-Cold War period. The two sides will find it increasingly difficult to avoid such competition over the coming decades. The fundamental reason does not have to do with the nature of either country’s politics or society, but rather with the basic structure of the situation in which the two great powers are dealing with each other.

The Centrality of East Asia to U.S. and Chinese Strategic Interests

The United States has long regarded the preservation of robust access to the globe’s largest economic regions as a vital strategic interest. In practice, this implies that the United States seeks to prevent another great power from achieving dominant influence in Eurasia’s core industrial-population centers.

Western Europe was the most important of such centers during the Cold War. “Of the nations that were previously able to deploy” significant power resources, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) observed in 1949, “[i]t is only Western Europe as a group of nations that can now be considered capable of [re]attaining this status within a reasonable amount of time.” The basic problem confronted by U.S. policymakers was thus one “of keeping the still widely dispersed power resources of Europe… from being drawn together into a single Soviet power structure[.]”

Tracking China’s Defense Spending

China is intensifying its defense modernization, planning to allocate $236.1 billion to defense this year. This figure excludes costs for military research and development, some procurement, paramilitary forces and the coast guard, indicating actual defense spending will significantly exceed the initial estimate. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute predicts China’s total military expenditure will be about a third higher than the official budget.

China maintains over 2 million active military personnel, necessitating substantial funding for salaries and equipment. China also faces a significant economic downturn, intensifying the competition for government resources. Moreover, prioritizing defense spending is crucial for China; the People’s Liberation Army is vital for regime security, especially as increased domestic unrest enhances the PLA’s role in maintaining stability. Finally, showcasing a robust military presence is strategically important for China, given its numerous territorial disputes and the military advancements of neighboring countries like Japan and South Korea.

Shield, sword, or symbol: Analyzing Xi Jinping’s “strategic deterrence”

Joel Wuthnow

In October 2022, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping raised eyebrows with his pledge at the 20th Party Congress to “create a strong strategic deterrent force system” (打造强大战略威慑力量体系). The line evoked China’s massive nuclear buildup, the contours of which were by then beginning to become clear. It also came less than a year after Russian President Vladimir Putin summoned his own “strategic deterrence” forces to keep NATO at arm’s length in Ukraine and amid rumors that China might soon attack Taiwan. Xi’s comments were not a throwaway line, since the CCP’s 14th Five-Year Plan, released in March 2021, similarly called on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to “build a high-level strategic deterrent and joint operations system” (打造高水平战略威慑和联合作战体系). Yet neither Xi nor other Chinese officials elaborated on the phrase. What were Xi’s intentions and what can the answers tell us about Chinese thinking on deterrence?

Evidence from PLA sources before and after the 20th Party Congress suggests three possible interpretations. First is that Xi was mainly referring to the need to improve China’s deterrence against what he perceived as a more aggressive U.S. antagonist. Second is that he was encouraging a broader idea of tailored coercion (and not “deterrence” in the classic sense) focused on using an array of military instruments to shape the regional security environment in China’s favor. Third is that “strategic deterrence” was a reference to Xi’s support for greater status and resourcing for the PLA Rocket Force, which was the “core force” in China’s expanding nuclear arsenal. Without being inside Xi’s mind, it is difficult to know which interpretation is closest to the truth. But each one illuminates key issues facing the PLA as it seeks to build and employ more credible deterrent forces.

Shield: Responding to perceived U.S. threats

The first interpretation views the “strategic deterrent force system” as a response to upgrades in the U.S. strategic arsenal and Chinese concerns about U.S. intervention in Taiwan. Some discussions within the People’s Republic of China (PRC) filter “strategic deterrence” through the lens of maintaining the strategic balance between the nuclear powers. Twenty years before Xi’s comments, in February 2002, Jiang Zemin delivered a similar injunction to build a “strategic deterrence system” but provided a fuller rationale based on changes in the international strategic environment. Speaking at an enlarged meeting of the Central Military Commission, Jiang stated:

The Defense Intelligence Agency on the Iranian-backed Drone Power of Russia and the Houthis


Two recently declassified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) reports extensively detail the Iranian-backed drone capabilities fueling the reconfiguration of global warfare into a drone swarm architecture – fueling what John Robb has framed as the future: asymmetric, non-nation-state kinetic capabilities organized into drone swarms enhancing the ability for warfighting capabilities “networked tribes” and “global guerrillas” usurping that of traditional military doctrine and the monopoly on the threat of violent conflict traditionally held exclusively by nation-states.

A summary of two DIA report as reported at C4ISRNET: The Defense Intelligence Agency [recently] published a report documenting how Iran arms Houthi militants, highlighting among other weaponry the Waid 1 and 2 drones. The DIA said they share distinctive features — pitot tubes, fuselages, stubby nose cones — with Iran’s Shahed-131 and -136, which have a range of more than 1,000 miles.

Houthi rebels based in Yemen are equipped with the same Iranian-sourced attack drones as Russian troops invading Ukraine, according to reports from a U.S. intelligence agency. Both forces have used unmanned aerial vehicles to attack from afar and modernize their arsenals. Since October, the U.S. Navy has shot down dozens of one-way drones bound for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, while the Ukrainian military many miles away contends with what has been described as a drone war in Eastern Europe.

Another DIA study published in August said Russia’s Geran-1 and -2, although rebranded, were of Iranian origin for similar reasons. The findings were based on retrieved parts as well as visual comparison of publicly available images. Parades and other military showcases provide analysts a chance to scour foreign firepower. “The Waid 2 wing stabilizers displayed by the Houthis in Yemen are consistent with the size and shape of the winglets on the Shahed-136 displayed in Iran and debris from the Geran-2 — the Russian name for the Shahed-136 — recovered after Russian attacks in Ukraine,” the DIA assessment stated.

Two Canals, Two Big Problems—One Global Shipping Mess

Costas Paris

More than 50 ships queued to cross the Panama Canal on a recent day—from tankers hauling propane to cargo ships packed with food. A prolonged drought has led the canal’s operator to cut the number of crossings, resulting in longer waits. The tolls that ships pay are now around eight times more expensive than normal.

Over 7,000 miles away, vessels that move containers through Egypt’s Suez Canal are waiting for naval escorts or avoiding the passage altogether to take a much longer voyage around South Africa. Ship operators fear that their crews could be imperiled on the journeys through the Red Sea by missile or drone attacks from a Yemen-based rebel group.

The Suez’s problems are geopolitical and those in Panama are climate-based, but both are roiling global trade. Cargo volumes through the Suez and Panama canals have plunged by more than a third. Hundreds of vessels have diverted to longer routes, resulting in delivery delays, higher transportation costs and economic wreckage for local communities.

Ship operators are bracing for months of uncertainty in the waterways where some 18% of global trade volumes crossed last year.

The Panama Canal is in the midst of one of the driest periods in the artificial waterway’s century of operation. Officials hope the drought, which started in mid-2023, will let up at the end of the dry season in May.

In the Suez​, some ship operators have indefinitely suspended voyages because of strikes on commercial vessels further south. Houthis have attacked more than 50 ships since November​, including a cargo vessel loaded with fertilizer​ that sank into the Red Sea and another that resulted in three deaths.

Retaliatory strikes by an American-led coalition have destroyed roughly a third of Houthi military assets, according to a Pentagon official.

The Houthis have the world’s attention — and they won’t give it up

Joshua Keating

Until last week, the damage wrought by the campaign of attacks Yemen’s Houthis have been waging against shipping in the Red Sea has been mostly measured in dollars and cents. Cargo ships have made long, expensive detours around the Cape of Good Hope; a Tesla factory in Germany halted production thanks to a shortage of parts; Egypt’s cash-strapped government is struggling with the loss of Suez Canal transit fees as ships avoid the Red Sea.

But the crisis took a serious and deadly turn over the past week. Last Saturday, for the first time, the Houthis sank a ship. The tanker Rubymar was struck by a Houthi missile on February 18, and finally sank after weeks of taking on water. In the process of sinking, the Rubymar’s anchor likely damaged three key underwater telecommunications cables in the Red Sea, according to US officials. Meanwhile, the Rubymar’s cargo of 21,000 metric tons of fertilizer threatens to cause an environmental disaster.

Then on Wednesday, three sailors were killed in a missile strike on the container ship True Confidence, some 50 miles off the Yemeni coast. They were the first reported fatalities caused by the Houthi attacks.

The Houthis’ Red Sea campaign is already the most disruptive, consequential, and attention-grabbing of the actions taken by the so-called “Axis of Resistance” of Iranian-backed proxy groups since the war in Gaza began in October. The Houthis have continued their attacks even as other Iran-backed groups have appeared to pull back, wary of a direct military confrontation with the United States. Several rounds of US-led airstrikes have also failed to deter the group.

So what do they really want? And what would make them stop?

The Houthis’ stated goal for their campaign is to disrupt trade linked to Israel and its backers, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. (Notably, though, many of the ships targeted have had few if any links to Israel and the actual Israeli economy has seen relatively little impact. Two of the sailors killed on the True Confidence hailed from the Philippines; one was from Vietnam.)

What capabilities does Sweden have to offer Nato?

John Hill

Sweden finally joined the Nato military alliance on 7 March 2024, following an enduring diplomatic exchange, first with Türkiye and then with Hungary. The Scandinavian nation was prompted to join the alliance after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began two years ago.

Sweden’s instrument of accession was deposited with the US Government, which is the alliance’s depositary. On Monday, the Swedish flag will be raised at the Nato headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

Nato’s General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, welcomed the new member in a post on the social media platform X, in which he also judged that “Sweden’s accession makes Nato stronger, Sweden safer, and the whole alliance more secure.”

This begs the question, what specific capabilities does Nato’s 32nd member have to offer the alliance?


According to GlobalData intelligence, the cumulative value of Sweden’s largest defence sector, military fixed-wing aircraft, is forecast to be $4.5bn between 2023–28.

Combat aircraft equates to 41% of the country’s total market value due to the acquisition of the Jas 39E Gripen aircraft. This multi-role fighter is manufactured by the Swedish aerospace and defence company Saab AB. The company provides models A to F, while Sweden uses models C, D, and E.

The Swedish Air Force operates 95 JAS 38C/D units, procured between 1997 and 2007, and two of the latest JAS 39E units, which were acquired in 2021, according to GlobalData.

The country is expected to register an increased CAGR of 15.1% between 2023 and 33, spending $254m in 2023 on the Gripen E aircraft alone and just over $1 bn in 2033.

Apple Could Be the First Target of Europe’s Tough New Tech Law


Europe changed the rules of the internet this week when the Digital Markets Act took effect, holding the biggest tech companies to tough new standards. Now the world is waiting to see which giant will be first to fall foul of the law. One of the architects of the DMA says Apple is a strong candidate for the first formal investigation, describing the company as “low-hanging fruit.”

Apple has faced intensifying pressure in recent years from competitors, regulators, and courts in both Europe and the US over the restrictions it places on appmakers who must rely on its App Store to reach millions of users. Yesterday Apple terminated the developer account of Fortnite publisher Epic Games, which has challenged the company in US courts and recently announced its intention to launch a rival to the Apple App Store.

German MEP Andreas Schwab, who led the negotiations that finalized the DMA on behalf of the EU Parliament, says that makes Apple a likely first target for noncompliance. “[This] gives me a very clear expectation that they want to be the first,” he tells WIRED. “Apple’s approach is a bit weird on all this and therefore it’s low-hanging fruit.”

Schwab is not involved in enforcement of the DMA. That’s overseen by the European Commission, which has already demanded “further explanation” as to why Apple terminated Epic’s account and is evaluating whether this violates the DMA.

“Apple’s approach to the Digital Markets Act was guided by two simple goals: complying with the law and reducing the inevitable, increased risks the DMA creates for our EU users,” says the company in a statement sent to WIRED by Apple spokesperson Rob Saunders. Apple has said on its website that alternative app stores carry the risk of malware, illicit code, and other harmful content.

Cities Aren’t Prepared for a Crucial Part of Sea Level Rise: They’re Also Sinking


FIGHTING OFF RISING seas without reducing humanity’s carbon emissions is like trying to drain a bathtub without turning off the tap. But increasingly, scientists are sounding the alarm on yet another problem compounding the crisis for coastal cities: Their land is also sinking, a phenomenon known as subsidence. The metaphorical tap is still on—as rapid warming turns more and more polar ice into ocean water—and at the same time the tub is sinking into the floor.

An alarming new study in the journal Nature shows how bad the problem could get in 32 coastal cities in the United States. Previous projections have studied geocentric sea level rise, or how much the ocean is coming up along a given coastline. This new research considers relative sea level rise, which also includes the vertical motion of the land. That’s possible thanks to new data from satellites that can measure elevation changes on very fine scales along coastlines.

With that subsidence in mind, the study finds that those coastal areas in the US could see 500 to 700 square miles of additional land flooded by 2050, impacting an additional 176,000 to 518,000 people and causing up to $100 billion of further property damage. That’s on top of baseline estimates of the damage so far up to 2020, which has affected 530 to 790 square miles and 525,000 to 634,000 people, and cost between $100 billion and $123 billion.

Overall, the study finds that 24 of the 32 coastal cities studied are subsiding by more than 2 millimeters a year. (One millimeter equals 0.04 inches.) “The combination of both the land sinking and the sea rising leads to this compounding effect of exposure for people,” says the study’s lead author, Leonard Ohenhen, an environmental security expert at Virginia Tech. “When you combine both, you have an even greater hazard.”

A Well-Intentioned Curse? Securitization, Climate Governance and Its Way Forward

Hannah Lentschig

In his opening at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, UN Secretary-General António Guterres forcefully reminded governments of their failure to keep the promise of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, as enshrined in the 2015 Paris Agreement: “we are in the fight of our lives […] and we are losing.” (United Nations, 2022). Speaking of a “collective suicide pact”, Guterres lamented the insufficient efforts by the international community to tackle climate change, emphasizing the linkage between today’s “climate chaos” and tomorrow’s conflicts. At the 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he again reminded his audience of the “battle that is being lost” against climate change (United Nations, 2023).

Guterres’ words reflect the prevalent discursive construction of climate change as a global threat—an ‘enemy’—that needs to be vanquished. The use of such war-related metaphors is but one facet of what the Copenhagen School has famously coined ‘securitization’: the “speech act” or discursive practice of presenting something as an existential threat that requires an “emergency response” (Buzan et al., 1998). Though the securitization of climate change has been a much-contested development, scholars agree that the increased use of security-related narratives at the UN-level since the early 2000s has moved the issue onto the high political agenda, resulting in (though arguably ineffective) collective governance efforts (Peters & Mayhew, 2016).

This present paper aims to engage with the implications of the securitization of climate change for global climate governance. As such, its focus lies not so much on tracing the securitizing moves in global climate discourse itself, since a bulk of scholarship has dedicated much time and effort to this (see, for example, Dupont, 2019; Torres Camprubí, 2016). Instead, this paper examines the consequences of securitization for climate governance, and its possible way forward based on “de-securitization”, a concept that remains greatly underspecified particularly in the context of climate change (Aradau, 2004; Hansen, 2012).

Navy plans to spend more than $700M on secretive Project Overmatch across FYDP


The Department of the Navy’s “core funding” request for its secretive networking effort known as Project Overmatch is $139.8 million for fiscal 2025 and $716.7 million across the five-year spending plan that’s part of the future years defense program (FYDP), according to the service.

The initiative is the Navy’s contribution to the Pentagon’s Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) effort to better connect the U.S. military’s sensors, shooters, platforms and personnel across the services and with key allies. Service leaders have described it as the bedrock for the joint tactical network of the future.

“Through Project Overmatch, we’re building a software-defined network solution and modern software pipelines to provide as many pathways as is possible to connect and share information. This initiative is an effort to transmit any data over any network and is the connective tissue between today’s fleet and tomorrow’s emerging hybrid fleet” of manned and unmanned systems, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti said last month at the WEST conference.

The Navy spent $226 million on Overmatch in fiscal 2023 and it requested $192 million for it in 2024. At press time, Congress hasn’t passed a full-year defense appropriation for fiscal 2024 and the Pentagon has been operating under a continuing resolution since October.

The sea services aim to keep the money flowing to Overmatch in fiscal 2025 and beyond.

U.S. Spy Agencies Know Your Secrets. They Bought Them.

Byron Tau

Last November, Michael Morell, a former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, hinted at a big change in how the agency now operates. “The information that is available commercially would kind of knock your socks off,” Morell said in an appearance on the NatSecTech podcast. “If we collected it using traditional intelligence methods, it would be top secret-sensitive. And you wouldn’t put it in a database, you’d keep it in a safe.”

In recent years, U.S. intelligence agencies, the military and even local police departments have gained access to enormous amounts of data through shadowy arrangements with brokers and aggregators. Everything from basic biographical information to consumer preferences to precise hour-by-hour movements can be obtained by government agencies without a warrant.

Most of this data is first collected by commercial entities as part of doing business. Companies acquire consumer names and addresses to ship goods and sell services. They acquire consumer preference data from loyalty programs, purchase history or online search queries. They get geolocation data when they build mobile apps or install roadside safety systems in cars.

But once consumers agree to share information with a corporation, they have no way to monitor what happens to it after it is collected. Many corporations have relationships with data brokers and sell or trade information about their customers. And governments have come to realize that such corporate data not only offers a rich trove of valuable information but is available for sale in bulk.

Special ops expected to play key role in shaping future battlespaces in ‘non-physical domains’


Special operations forces will be critical to forward posturing capabilities and shaping conflicts before they break out against sophisticated adversaries in the future — including in the so-called non-kinetic realms of military activity, officials say.

With the conclusion of the Global War on Terror and the return to great power competition in 2018 — prioritizing nation-states over non-state actors for the first time since 9/11 — U.S. Special Operations Command has been asked frequently what its role in this new paradigm will be.

Socom was the workhorse during those early 21st century conflicts, pioneering new tactics, perfecting how to hunt down individuals and terror networks, and ultimately, conduct deadly raids.

With the shift to great power competition, outside commentators and lawmakers alike have wondered how these skills and this force will translate in a new geopolitical era.

“We’re looking increasingly to be focused on really shaping the environment so that if there is a fight against a near-peer adversary or an adversary like a China or a Russia, we’re able to shape the conflict before it even occurs, and in many cases, hopefully establish deterrence to ensure it does not occur — or if it does occur, it occurs to our advantage,” Christopher Maier, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, said Thursday at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

While this shaping effort will still have applicability within the traditional kinetic realm of warfare where bullets fly, Maier empathized that it will mostly be in the non-kinetic space where special operations forces will have a big impact in setting up the joint force for success, namely, in what officials term placement and access.

The Fear That Inspired the Creation of OpenAI


Elon Musk last week sued two of his OpenAI cofounders, Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, accusing them of “flagrant breaches” of the trio’s original agreement that the company would develop artificial intelligence openly and without chasing profits. Late on Tuesday, OpenAI released partially redacted emails between Musk, Altman, Brockman, and others that provide a counternarrative.

The emails suggest that Musk was open to OpenAI becoming more profit-focused relatively early on, potentially undermining his own claim that it deviated from its original mission. In one message Musk offers to fold OpenAI into his electric-car company Tesla to provide more resources, an idea originally suggested by an email he forwarded from an unnamed outside party.

The newly published emails also imply that Musk was not dogmatic about OpenAI having to freely provide its developments to all. In response to a message from chief scientist Ilya Sutskevar warning that open sourcing powerful AI advances could be risky as the technology advances, Musk writes, “Yup.” That seems to contradict the arguments in last week’s lawsuit that it was agreed from the start that OpenAI should make its innovations freely available.

Putting the legal dispute aside, the emails released by OpenAI show a powerful cadre of tech entrepreneurs founding an organization that has grown to immense power. Strikingly, although OpenAI likes to describe its mission as focused on creating artificial general intelligence—machines smarter than humans—its founders spend more time discussing fears about the rising power of Google and other deep-pocketed giants than excited about AGI.

“I think we should say that we are starting with a $1B funding commitment. This is real. I will cover whatever anyone else doesn't provide,” Musk wrote in a missive discussing how to introduce OpenAI to the world. He dismissed a suggestion to launch by announcing $100 million in funding, citing the huge resources of Google and Facebook.

Security News This Week: Russian Hackers Stole Microsoft Source Code—and the Attack Isn’t Over


For years, Registered Agents Inc.—a secretive company whose business is setting up other businesses—has registered thousands of companies to people who appear to not exist. Multiple former employees tell WIRED that the company routinely incorporates businesses on behalf of its customers using what they claim are fake personas. An investigation found that incorporation paperwork for thousands of companies that listed these allegedly fake personas had links to Registered Agents.

State attorneys general from around the US sent a letter to Meta on Wednesday demanding the company take “immediate action” amid a record-breaking spike in complaints over hacked Facebook and Instagram accounts. Figures provided by the office of New York attorney general Letitia James, who spearheaded the effort, show that in 2023 her office received more than 780 complaints—10 times as many as in 2019. Many complaints cited in the letter say Meta did nothing to help them recover their stolen accounts. “We refuse to operate as the customer service representatives of your company,” the officials wrote in the letter. “Proper investment in response and mitigation is mandatory.”

Meanwhile, Meta suffered a major outage this week that took most of its platforms offline. When it came back, users were often forced to log back in to their accounts. Last year, however, the company changed how two-factor authentication works for Facebook and Instagram. Now, any devices you’ve frequently used with Meta services in recent years will be trusted by default. The move has made experts uneasy; this means that your devices may not need a two-factor authentication code to log in anymore. We updated our guide for how to turn off this setting.

A ransomware attack targeting medical firm Change Healthcare has caused chaos at pharmacies around the US, delaying delivery of prescription drugs nationwide. Last week, a Bitcoin address connected to AlphV, the group behind the attack, received $22 million in cryptocurrency—suggesting Change Healthcare has likely paid the ransom. A spokesperson for the firm declined to answer whether it was behind the payment.

The Language of Deception - Review

Abdul Samad

The book is divided into eleven chapters and is intelligible and engaging. Hutchens explains the foundational concepts of social engineering, machine consciousness, sentience and social intelligence in the first five chapters before proceeding to describe how modern LLMs can be weaponized by malicious actors in the future. Chapter Six, ‘The Imitation Game’, in particular, explains how language models can achieve a convincing illusion of human intelligence through imitation of human language and reinforcement learning. Chapter Seven, ‘Weaponizing Social Intelligence’ details how automated bots will interact with people on the Internet under the guise that they are human for the purposes of social engineering. In conclusion, the author reflects on how the ‘runaway train’ of AI can be brought under control through regulation and safeguards that seek to protect human life and interests.

In the beginning of his book, the author notes that since the launch of ChatGPT on November 30, 2022, the app has become the most rapidly adopted technology platform in history (p.18). This is evident from the fact that within two months of its release, ChatGPT had over 100 million active users. The future of consuming information on the Internet would be “asking a direct question and getting the exact answer you were looking for, instantly” (p.42).

The phenomenal reception of ChatGPT has spurred widespread interest in AI and LLMs among tech professionals and the general public. Hutchens underlines that this newfound interest has also kickstarted a discussion of the threats posed by these new technologies. He expounds that much of the mainstream conversation and spotlight around risks emanating from AI centers on the ‘sentient scare’, which is the belief that AI systems will become conscious and seek to maximize their own interest over human interest and in opposition to human values (p.52). This is not unlike the doomsday scenarios that science fiction and Hollywood have painted around AI, with killer robots executing their human masters. The author debunks this line of argument and argues that sentient robots are not likely or plausible in the near future and such concerns showcase a profound misunderstanding of the technology and how it works. Within the available literature on the risks posed by AI, the author takes a novel approach by arguing that the ‘semblance of sentience’ is the real threat posed by the rise of LLMs.

Space Force prioritizes missile warning, tracking satellites in fiscal 2025 budget


As it feels constraints from ongoing budget uncertainties, the Space Force is asking for $4.7 billion in fiscal 2025 to begin work to field a proliferated space-based architecture of missile warning and tracking satellites across multiple orbits.

The research and development funds — outlined in the service’s fiscal 2025 budget request published Monday — would be divided among several different efforts, including $2.1 billion for Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) programs and $2.6 billion for other missile warning and tracking capabilities.

The request is a lion’s share of the Space Force’s $18.7 billion proposed R&D budget for 2025. Speaking to reporters Friday ahead of the budget’s official release, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall noted that missile warning and tracking programs were one of the first they chose to invest in this year because many of them are already underway.

However, caps on defense spending in fiscal 2o25 enacted by the Fiscal Responsibility Act forced the Space Force to make some “hard choices” about its budget priorities, he said.

“We’re making good progress, I think, on the resiliency side of the equation and making our space assets more resilient,” Kendall said. “I’d like to move faster on that than we currently are.”

The different constellations of satellites are part of a larger effort to create a space architecture that is able to detect dim or high-speed objects, such as hypersonic missiles that can fly faster than Mach 5 and are highly maneuverable. To do so, the Pentagon is moving away from relying on a few expensive satellites stationed in higher orbital regimes and instead focusing on hundreds of disaggregated space vehicles in multiple orbits.

The Space Force’s request for missile warning and tracking capabilities is less than the $4.9 billion the Space Force asked for in fiscal 2024. As of press time, Congress has not passed a 2024 spending bill.

Why the Pentagon didn’t request higher funding for AI in fiscal 2025


The Pentagon’s topline budget ask for artificial intelligence in fiscal 2025 is $1.8 billion — the same amount requested for fiscal 2024 — due to the deal Congress and federal leadership made last year via the Fiscal Responsibility Act, to temporarily suspend the nation’s debt limit but impose caps on discretionary spending.

It’s no secret that the Defense Department and military have been deliberately prioritizing AI pursuits and working to strategically drive momentum around the technology’s adoption in recent years, particularly as they prepare for potentially higher-tech conflicts down the line.

After unveiling new documents and details about the Defense Department’s FY ’25 budget request on Monday, officials told DefenseScoop that the fact that their AI topline requests appear to remain flat between FY ’24 and ’25 does not reflect any change in how they view that technology as a top priority.

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) caps are mandatory and, if disregarded or exceeded, would be enforced by sequestration. Understanding those fiscal constraints, the department made responsible choices to prioritize readiness and take care of people but make targeted reductions to programs that will not deliver capability to the force until the 2030s, preserving and enhancing the Joint Force’s ability to fight and win in the near term,” a Pentagon spokesperson explained.

After a negotiation between Congress and the White House, President Joe Biden signed the FRA into law in June 2023. In exchange for lifting the debt ceiling, the legislation introduced limits on discretionary spending for defense and non-defense programs.

The overarching aim of FRA was to essentially reduce the projected deficit levels by approximately $1.5 trillion over the 10-year period between fiscal years 2024 and 2033.

The Stopping Power of Water: An Outdated Concept?

Pranav Kaginele

Offensive realists claim that states continuously attempt to maximize relative power to achieve security. The goal is regional hegemony or to become the most powerful state in its sphere. Seemingly counter to the theory, once a regional hegemon, the state will attempt to preserve its power instead of attempting global hegemony due to what John Mearsheimer terms ‘the stopping power of water.’ Simply put, a state’s most important source of military power is through its army. The expansiveness of the Pacific and Atlantic makes it an impossibility to move sufficient land power across and between hemispheres. Therefore, a state that achieves regional hegemony will shift from revisionism to become a status quo power, aiming to preserve the balance of power in the international order, as it has now become maximally beneficial for the state’s survival.

However, advancements in modern military technology force a revision of this contention. Through evaluating the changes in how modern power projection operates, I aim to determine whether oceans still impede cross-hemispheric expansion. How will emerging forms of naval technology, cyber-warfare, autonomous weaponry, and more potentially change this established paradigm? By investigating this question, I aim to discover if it is possible for the 21st century to see the emergence of history’s first true global hegemonic power. The paper will begin by defining the stopping power of water as presented in the literature, as establishing a definition will allow accurate characterization of the actions of states. I will then analyze the theory of the stopping power of water through a historical lens. Next, I will examine new and emerging forms of technology that could challenge the established paradigm. Finally, I will analyze the implication of the changing material context on future great power conflicts and the prospect of the first global hegemon.

The Stopping Power of Water in the Literature

The term “the stopping power of water” originates in The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, in which Mearsheimer (2001) uses the concept to make the strong claim that the vastness of the oceans on Earth “makes it impossible for any state to achieve global hegemony” (p. 84). Therefore, great powers, acting in an offensive realist manner, attempt only to achieve regional hegemony in areas they can access by land. The chain of reasoning for this argument begins with land forces as the predominant form of power projection over sea and airpower. Although navies and air forces can coerce adversaries through blockades or strategic bombing campaigns, only its army uniquely enables a state to conquer and control the land (p. 86).