21 March 2024

Are PRC incursions in Philippine waters simply testing US resolve?

Michael Turton

In the mainstream view, the Philippines should be worried that a conflict over Taiwan between the superpowers will drag in Manila. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr observed in an interview in The Wall Street Journal last year, “I learned an African saying: When elephants fight, the only one that loses is the grass. We are the grass in this situation. We don’t want to get trampled.” Such sentiments are widespread.

Few seem to have imagined the opposite: that a gray zone incursion of People’s Republic of China (PRC) ships into the Philippines’ waters could trigger a conflict that drags in Taiwan. Fewer still have imagined that the PRC might choose that as an alternative to opening a PRC-US conflict by directly attacking Taiwan and Japan.


Last month Robert Kitchen, a naval expert with the Royal Navy Strategic Studies Center, published a review of war games of the PRC Taiwan scenario. Kitchen observes that before 2020, war games tended to end in a victory for the US side. Then, between 2020 and 2022, the pendulum shifted to the PRC. “Finally,” he notes, “in the two games since Feb. 22, 2022, the immediate insights from the larger Russian invasion of Ukraine have tilted the outcomes towards the defender.”

The PRC games this too, and they are likely seeing the same trends the western war games are showing: high costs, immense destruction, global economic disaster, PRC defeat.

Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr says the Philippines doesn’t want to be “the grass” between two “fighting elephants.”

Taiwan’s Tough Call on How to Stop China: Bigger Weapons or Lots of Cheap Ones

Alastair Gale

David shouldn’t rely too much on slingshots to repel Goliath. He’ll need plenty of tanks and jet fighters too.

That is the takeaway for defense officials and scholars in Taiwan from the latest developments in Ukraine, where Kyiv has struggled to block Russian advances while waiting for allies to deliver more powerful hardware.

The need for heavy weapons has been a point of contention between Taipei and Washington in discussing how Taiwan would blunt a Chinese attempt to seize the island.

For more than a decade, U.S. officials have encouraged Taiwan to invest in small, relatively cheap weapons such as shoulder-fired missiles, drones and sea mines. The goal would be to bring a Chinese amphibious invasion force to a halt at close range with thousands of small strikes.

Such asymmetrical warfare is a favorite tactic of guerrillas and weaker nations facing big rivals. Ukraine’s initial successes in using asymmetrical weapons such as Javelin missiles in destroying Russian tanks and severing supply convoys showcased the tactic.

More recently, however, Ukraine has felt the want of America’s most powerful big-ticket weapons—from F-16 jets to M1 Abrams tanks, delivered so far in only small quantities. Ukraine had trouble last year breaking through fortified positions established by Russian troops, giving Moscow time to build its strength before a possible spring offensive this year.

Taiwan fears the same plight if China amasses forces around the island in a blockade, or if Beijing’s military establishes a firm beachhead on Taiwan. In such scenarios, small, short-range weapons could be less effective at degrading the enemy, and Taiwan would need bigger hardware, Taiwanese defense officials and analysts say.

Why China and Russia Can't Compete with America's New Stealth Bomber


Soon after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, a collection of short videos emerged on social media: camera views from aboard small consumer drones that were carefully—almost casually—dropping mortars into the open hatches of Russian tanks, with devastatingly effective results. The tactic signaled both a new age of precision bombing and a new age of improvised delivery of explosives. In other words, it was business as usual for those in the business of innovating the bombing of thine enemies.

Indeed, world militaries have developed a wide variety of ways to sling explosives at one another, from the rudimentary, like hand-tossed grenades, to the clever, like the Ukrainian adaptation of consumer drones, to billion-dollar aircraft flying on daylong missions, invisible to enemy radar as they deliver GPS-guided explosives straight into underground bunkers. Long-range bombers, flying high and surveilling the entire combat theater, can inspire awe and fear. And the ultraprecise guidance systems affixed to their munitions eliminates the need to carpet-bomb entire cities, which had characterized their early use.

While pretty much any kind of aircraft can be outfitted to drop bombs, aircraft dedicated to that specific mission are staggeringly impressive feats of technology. Far from being clumsy behemoths, they bring leaps in performance and capability, and some include the most advanced aerodynamic and stealth innovations, making them highly effective.

Peter Singer, a military analyst and senior fellow with the New America think tank, says people—“including many within the military”—sometimes fail to recognize the value of bombers beyond their traditional bomb-dropping roles.

Singer says the weapons systems with the most longevity are those that can adapt to shifting priorities, such as stealth over speed, and new tactical strategies. “It is their range and carrying capacity that differentiates them,” he says, “and their ability to take on new, added roles that range from electronic warfare to managing swarms of small drones to even potentially air-to-air missions.”

China’s moon plans worry Space Force


The Space Force is concerned about China’s plans to operate on and around the Moon, which could enable new ways to attack U.S. satellites.

Like the United States, China is racing to put astronauts on the Moon by the end of the decade—leading Pentagon leaders to consider what new capabilities China might field if and when it gets there.

“From a military perspective, I am curious about, are there attack vectors that we haven't considered or that we need to consider, whether it's xGEO or cislunar or otherwise?” said Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, commander of U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific, said on Monday.

But despite the race to get to the Moon, the Space Force remains focused on “deterring a terrestrial bad actor” and conflicts on Earth, Mastalir said.

“These are terrestrial conflicts that we hope we can deter and we also don't want them, although it's more and more likely, [to] extend into space or even start in space, but they’re terrestrial conflicts. Now someday in the future that may change, but for now I'd be more concerned just about what these new orbits, a moon presence—what that does for potential attack vectors to our traditional operating orbits,” he said during an event hosted by the Aerospace Corporation.

There’s “no doubt” that China will achieve its lunar goals, but the Space Force has to stay focused on traditional orbits, said Barbara Golf, strategic advisor to the U.S. Space Force for Space Domain Awareness.

“When we look at space domain awareness, we look at GEO, then LEO, then xGEO, so [I] very much agree with the prioritization to keep the eye on the ball as far as where our high value assets are, but don't have any doubt that they can do it,” Golf said Monday.

Energy as a Strategic Space for China: Words and Actions Point to a Competitive Future

Gabriel Collins

“Energy security” is broadly defined in the literature as meaning the reliable and affordable supply of energy, but discussions are often decidedly oil-centric. Indeed, both academic and policymaker attention to energy security as contemporarily defined only began to rise after market turbulence in the late 1960s and then the 1973 oil embargo ended a nearly 50-year period in which a handful of major U.S. and European international oil companies effectively controlled global prices (see Figure 1).1 As a simple barometer, a search for journal articles containing the term “energy security” on JSTOR yields 5,590 results, but only a few dozen predate 1973. Oil’s pervasiveness in modern economies and its status as the world’s most widely traded commodity explain why “energy security” is often equated with “oil security.” After all, an attack on a single facility in Saudi Arabia can within minutes trigger a 15% spike in oil prices worldwide—and prices of fuel are one of the few topics of broad, global common interest in today’s polarized world.2

The disproportionate prominence of oil obscures in plain sight the vast energy ecosystem underpinning the modern world. This essay departs from existing literature by pinpointing and analyzing a much deeper and different strain of thought among officials from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), one that recognizes oil’s importance but which permits a more holistic analysis. Other authors have hinted at these interconnected energy realities at the global level.3 Yet to this author’s best awareness, none have engaged primary documents—and perhaps more importantly, “primary data”—to empirically assess how the PRC officials and firms shaping the world’s largest energy system think about energy as a strategic space in which to manage risk and secure competitive advantage. Specifically, this essay analyzes hard data reflecting consumption, production, and investments in the energy space by PRC entities.

Energy’s Unique Character Drives Unique PRC Security Responses

Energy involves both the physical world of heat, flame, splitting atoms, and spinning turbines as well as the more ethereal—but incredibly powerful—world of globalized markets. It also presents unique analytical opportunities. Strategists studying war and long-term strategic competition rarely receive real-time feedback from the world around them (apart from wars like those underway in Ukraine or Israel). Episodic events force a heavy reliance on backcasting and parsing the past for clues about the present. Hence, the use of the time-worn adage that “generals always fight the last war.”

Who’s doing what in the international hotspot of the Red Sea


In November 2023, the Yemen-based Houthi rebel group began launching missile, drone and even unmanned surface vessel attacks against commercial shipping in what the group said was common cause with Hamas’s attack on Israel.

By endangering Red Sea transit, the Houthis, officially called Ansar Allah (“supporters of God”), struck at a vital economic waterway host to approximately 15 percent of global maritime trade. Ships were presented with a bitter choice: Either to sail the Suez Canal-Red Sea-Bab El Mandeb Strait route under threat of a fatal incident, or reroute through Gibraltar all around Africa via Cape of Good Hope, and add up to two weeks to their journey.

Responding to the dilemma, a host of nations have since sent their own military ships to the waterway, most in an effort to protect commercial vessels there. But they’re not all working together.

In fact there are several overlapping military missions with names like Prosperity Guardian, Aspides and Poseidon Archer, with dozens of nations participating — or pointedly not participating — depending on who’s in charge and what the end goal of the mission is.

For now, the fractured effort is partly working. “Commercial shipping, while not at pre-Oct. 7 levels, is still about 70 percent of the normally expected merchant traffic normally observed,” a US defense official told Breaking Defense.

But with so many military vessels operating in the same strategic waterway, things are getting confusing — enough so that a friendly fire incident nearly took out an American drone not long ago.

In an effort to untangle the operational mess, here’s a guide to who’s doing what there, and why:

The Leaked Russian Nuclear Documents and Russian First Use of Nuclear Weapons

Mark B. Schneider

In February 2024, in an illuminating and alarming report, the Financial Times revealed, “The [Russian] classified papers, seen by the Financial Times, describe a threshold for using tactical nuclear weapons that is lower than Russia has ever publicly admitted, according to experts who reviewed and verified the documents.”[1] The revelations in the article were picked up by numerous publications. Typically, Western press reporting on Russian nuclear issues involves interviewing the normal coterie of left-wing “experts” who are more interested in reducing the U.S. nuclear deterrent than understanding Russian nuclear strategy and its implications. In contrast, the Financial Times presented an insightful analysis concerning the meaning of the Russian documents. Still, the analysts who historically have been most accurate in their assessment of Russian nuclear weapons policy were not among them (e.g., Dr. Stephen Blank, Dr. Keith Payne, and Mr. Dave Johnson).[2]
Russian Nuclear Policy

Russian nuclear weapons policy is very dangerous; it is closely tied to military aggression and repeated high-level nuclear threats.[3] In 2015, in the time frame of the leaked Russian documents, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg observed, “Russia’s recent use of nuclear rhetoric, exercises and operations are deeply troubling… Russia’s nuclear sabre-rattling is unjustified, destabilizing and dangerous.”[4] Since then, the situation has clearly gotten worse.[5]

The Biden Administration’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review also noted that:

The Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unlawful invasion of Ukraine in 2022 is a stark reminder of nuclear risk in contemporary conflict. Russia has conducted its aggression against Ukraine under a nuclear shadow characterized by irresponsible saber-rattling, out of cycle nuclear exercises, and false narratives concerning the potential use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In brandishing Russia’s nuclear arsenal in an attempt to intimidate Ukraine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Russia’s leaders have made clear that they view these weapons as a shield behind which to wage unjustified aggression against their neighbors. Irresponsible Russian statements and actions raise the risk of deliberate or unintended escalation.[6]

Biden Weakens America’s Global Clout

Walter Russell Mead

With Niger’s gross domestic product at a miserable $545 per person in 2022, the United Nations ranks the landlocked country as one of the five least-developed nations on the planet.

Over the weekend Niger’s government responded to American accusations that it was negotiating to sell uranium to Iran by ending military cooperation with the U.S. The decision is another win for Vladimir Putin’s effort to extend Russian power, a welcome boost to Iran, and a serious blow to America’s plans for combating the return of jihadist violence across a swath of Africa.

It is also one more sign that the Biden administration is losing its ability to shape international events.

In blowing off President Biden, Niger’s military junta is joining a global trend. Mr. Putin renews his threats of nuclear use, rejects talk of diplomacy and hints at even greater ambitions as he grinds out bloody conquests in Ukraine. Iran is helping one of its proxies close the Red Sea while another fires missiles and rockets into Israel. North Korea is beefing up its nuclear and conventional forces. China is massively boosting defense spending while pressing its advantages across the Indo-Pacific and into the Western hemisphere. From Haiti to Sudan, warlords and gang bosses thumb their noses at American diplomatic efforts to restore stability.

The administration’s declining power to deter our adversaries is the biggest problem for American foreign policy, for world peace and, potentially, for Mr. Biden’s re-election. Like a scarecrow that no longer keeps hungry birds from pecking at the corn, Team Biden is losing the ability to prevent hostile powers from picking at the foundations of the American-led world order.

It isn’t all Mr. Biden’s fault. American foreign policy has been on a losing streak since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and some bills for past foolishness are coming due on his watch. Under presidents of both parties, we haven’t kept pace with China’s military buildup even as we allowed the industrial infrastructure that supports our military power to decay. Mr. Putin attacked Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. The U.S. and its European allies failed to respond effectively in either case.

Blinken Warns of Disinformation Threat to Democracies

Michael Crowley

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken warned on Monday that a malicious “flood” of disinformation was threatening the world’s democracies, fueled in part by the swift rise of artificial intelligence, which he says sows “suspicion, cynicism and instability” around the globe.

Mr. Blinken spoke in Seoul at the Summit for Democracy, a global gathering organized by the Biden administration, which has made countering the authoritarian models of nations like Russia and China a top priority.

Mr. Blinken, who as a young man worked briefly as a journalist, said that changes to the international flow of information may be “the most profound” that he has experienced in his career, and that anti-democratic forces were exploiting those changes.

“Our competitors and adversaries are using disinformation to exploit fissures within our democracies,” he said.

He noted that countries totaling nearly half of the world’s population, including India, will hold elections this year under the threat of manipulated information. He did not mention the United States’ presidential election in November, which many analysts say could be influenced by foreign-directed information campaigns like the one Russia waged in 2016.

The U.S. promotes “digital and media literacy” programs abroad to help news consumers judge the reliability of content, Mr. Blinken said. But he cautioned that American adversaries were clever about laundering their propaganda and disinformation. China, for instance, has purchased cable television providers in Africa and then excluded international news channels from subscription packages, he said.

And increasingly powerful generative A.I. programs, Mr. Blinken said, can “fool even the most sophisticated news consumers.”


Monte Erfourth

United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) must adapt and evolve to enhance its effectiveness as a significant contributor to the Joint Force’s approach to strategic competition and counterterrorism today and beyond 2040. The Commander of USSOCOM plays a pivotal role in steering the SOF enterprise towards future success. In the short term, this means aligning with the objectives set forth in the National Defense Strategy (NDS). In the long term, it means preparing a joint special operations force to succeed in a future context beyond our imagination. This transformation requires a comprehensive approach that embraces technological innovation, reformed processes, and changes in the future operating environment.

Ironically, the path forward for USSOCOM involves leveraging a concept often viewed as antithetical to the ethos of special operations: bureaucracy. While bureaucracy is typically associated with inefficiency and rigidity, a well-functioning bureaucracy can also provide a structured, integrated, and repeatable framework to implement wide-ranging reforms and innovations. For the SOF community, a carefully calibrated bureaucratic approach can help focus strategic planning, resource allocation, and the integration of cutting-edge technologies and capabilities for the strategic environment ahead.


Since the founding of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in 1987, every Commander has aimed to maintain SOF’s edge in a rapidly changing world by focusing on human capital and integrating new technologies. Until 9/11, SOF was orientated to provide unique access and capabilities in low-intensity conflict. After 9/11, counterterrorism (CT) became the primary focus of Special Operations (SOF). This focus on CT remained dominant until the release of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS), which demanded the DoD shift to great power competition and relegated CT to being one of five significant threats to the homeland and US interests. The new approach by Secretary of Defense Mattis directed the Department to prepare for competition and conflict with great powers, to expand capabilities to counter cyber and space threats, and to leverage the extensive counterterrorism experience gained over the past twenty years to train and equip allies and partners. Responding to this Departmental shift, USSOCOM Commanders posit that SOF will be prepared to navigate the complexities of great power competition effectively by leveraging SOF’s people-centric approach and a commitment to tactical and technological innovation, which will, in turn, ensure readiness and resilience of the force to meet the challenges posed by diverse global threats.

Geopolitical power is now seen to flow from the pins of microchips

Nitin Pai

The US is going after the Chinese semiconductor industry with a ferocity that has very few precedents. Driven by a national security doctrine aimed at denying China the ability to exploit American technology to threaten America’s interests, Washington has been tightening the screws on its own industry and that of its allies since the summer of 2022. In addition to export restrictions and employment controls, the US government has been pushing Taiwan, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea and Germany to squeeze the sale of manufacturing equipment, critical parts, raw materials and ongoing service contracts with mainland Chinese companies. Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister recently called the sanctions “reaching bewildering levels of unfathomable absurdity."

No one likes the prospect of cutting themselves off from the Chinese market - which used to purchase half the world's chip output - and Washington's policy is unpopular, painful and costly.

Why is the US facing a “crisis of credibility”?

Sabreena Croteau

Concerns about U.S. credibility are consistently brought up when discussing what foreign policy Washington should adopt, most recently: the development of a strategy with Ukraine, U.S. commitments to Taiwan, and as a response to various attacks on US troops, and shipping in the Middle East. It can be difficult to define or quantify the concept of international credibility, and unlike a state’s more concrete economic or strategic interests, it is defined by the perception of foreign government, existing “only in the eye of the beholder”. Historian Robert McMahon describes it as a “blend of resolve, reliability, believability, and decisiveness.” In sum, the United States cannot be credible unless other states believe that it is credible.

This dynamic around credibility is clear in policy rhetoric addressing key issue areas. Aid to Ukraine is frequently justified on the basis that continued assistance is imperative to credibly maintaining U.S. commitments in Europe and deterring Russia from further aggression. The policy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan is consistently undermined by rhetoric that coming to the defense of Taiwan is paramount to demonstrating resolve to East Asian allies and checking Chinese ambitions across the region. The United States is even willing to continue admittedly operationally ineffective strikes against Yemen’s Houthis as a means of proving U.S. resolve.

The most recent foreign aid package for $66.3 billion, coming from a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House — and competing with a $95 billion foreign aid package which passed the Senate — seems to encapsulate the stress of how American credibility is spread thin across various issue areas. The duelling bills are focused on military assistance, designating pots of funding to Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel, thus attempting to tie American resolve in three areas of global conflict up into one neat funding package that will serve as universal evidence of U.S. commitment. As if these disjointed international commitments weren’t enough for one funding package, the House version also includes a provision reinstating the “remain in Mexico” policy as a border security measure.

Drone Warfare in Ukraine: Historical Context and Implications for the Future

Seth Cropsey

The Ukraine War has been dubbed the first drone war—and the first “StarLink War”—considering the publicly apparent role of advanced technologies in the conflict. However, the issue is what the Ukraine War might teach us about the future of military power. More specifically, is the Ukraine War a watershed moment, after which unmanned, distributed technologies will dominate the battlefield? Or is it a remarkably public display of a broader set of evolutions in the character of warfare?

A clear-eyed assessment of the battlefield realities in Ukraine demonstrates that drones are largely in continuity with the development of military capabilities coherently understood since the late 19th century. Their use in Ukraine is notable, simply because they carry to maturation concepts under long-term historical development. By generating a widespread reconnaissance-strike complex, drones in Ukraine allow both Ukraine and Russia to fight in a truly systemic manner, bringing to fruition the logic of the modern battlefield. There is much to learn from the Ukrainian case—and those that learn its lessons are likely to gain military power. But its lessons are primarily intellectual, not technical or material.

Ukraine has held off the Russian onslaught through a combination of tactical skill and operational competence. At the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, Russia held every military advantage. It had a larger, more sophisticated combat force, greater reserves, more ammunition, more numerous and more advanced armored vehicles, and an air force capable of prosecuting a large-scale strike campaign across Ukraine’s strategic depth. Russia’s initial campaign plan leveraged every one of these advantages. Russia sought to execute a large-scale country-wide bombardment followed up by a swift ground invasion that would seize and hold cities within days. The vaunted Russian paratroopers would deliver the coup de grace, hitting Kyiv within 24 hours of the initial attack, allowing Russian armored formations from Belarus to enter the city in force by Saturday, February 26, 2022. Had this happened as planned, the Ukrainian government may well have collapsed. Indeed, it very nearly did. Had Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces not held Hostomel Airport for a crucial few hours on February 24, Russia would have smashed into the capital. Subsequently, it took a tenacious, well-executed defense of Kyiv’s outskirts, combined with resistance in other major cities to Kyiv’s east, to spoil the Russian plan.

US Military Doesn't Have the Icebreakers to Compete in the Arctic, NORAD Commander Warn

Ella Sherman

The United States does not have enough icebreaker ships to compete in the Arctic the way Russia can with its much larger fleet, a U.S. military commander warned.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Gregory M. Guillot, the commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, said on Thursday that the U.S. currently has really only one heavy icebreaker ship for Arctic operations while Russia has approximately 40 available.

"We do appreciate that the Coast Guard is procuring more icebreakers, but even with those, we will be severely outnumbered," Guillot said during a U.S. Committee on Armed Services hearing. "That does limit our freedom of maneuver in that region."

Icebreaker ships are special-purpose vessels designed with a stronger hull, a very specific shape, and greater power to effectively break through thick ice blocking access to strategic waterways and clear paths for other ships.

The one available heavy U.S. icebreaker is the USCGC Polar Star, and then there is the medium icebreaker Healy. Another vessel has been out of action for years.

Maine Sen. Angus King expressed concerns during the hearing Thursday about the icebreaker "gap" or deficit and urged that the U.S. military not wait to build up defenses in the Arctic as Russia increases its own military presence in the region.

To the senator, not having sufficient icebreakers is unproductive, like "not having a road to get where you need to get."

A US combat nurse with Ukraine's army says 'her guys' on the front line are powerless as long as Congress denies them weapons

Rebecca Rommen

Rebekah Maciorowski, a US citizen who has been a combat nurse in Ukraine since 2022, says the latest Russian advances are battering her comrades on the front lines, and they desperately need the weapons denied to them by the deadlock in US Congress.

Maciorowski told Business Insider: "For me, it's been especially hard to see my guys powerless to do anything but just engage in trench warfare because of the lack of artillery and ammunition."

From Russia's full-scale invasion to the fall of Avdiivka

Maciorowski, 30, arrived in Ukraine from Denver weeks after the war began in 2022.

"When I saw what was happening during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, I felt like I didn't want to be a bystander who stood by and said, "Oh, my gosh, someone should help," but didn't do anything," she told BI in November.

Maciorowski often works under fire and has helped evacuate over 1,000 wounded soldiers, and, inevitably, she has also seen many men die.

Since November, Maciorowski said the situation for the troops has become "much more critical" as ammunition and shell shortages have become more acute.

Recently, Maciorowski helped evacuate Ukrainian soldiers from Avdiivka, which fell to Russia in February, having first arrived in the strategic city in October 2022.

By the end, the battle for Avdiivka became "more of a numbers game," she said. "Russia had way more resources, way more artillery, way more drones, way more troops."

Marine Corps Continues Path to Retirement for Artillery System that Has Seen Heavy Use in Ukraine

Drew F. Lawrence

For more than two decades, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, has served as a key piece for U.S. deterrence, including in Europe. The launchers, built on the back of trucks and designed to send missiles or rockets over 150 miles to hit targets the size of a trash can using GPS, have also recently seen ample action in Ukraine as forces have worked to repel the Russian invasion.

But the Marine Corps plans to retire its HIMARS over the next several years, instead prioritizing other platforms to pick up the capability a mobile rocket or missile launcher would offer, and heading full-tilt toward its coastal mission.

At the moment, however, they're still a key part of the U.S. arsenal as put on display during the Nordic Response '24 NATO exercise that included Marines earlier this month in Alta, Norway.

"If Putin decides to get ballsy and go off and do worse things than he's doing right now," one sergeant, a HIMARS maintainer, told Military.com during the exercise, "I'm going to be back out here fixing these things for us and for other countries, helping them out."

The system has been a boon on the battlefield for Ukraine. The U.S. sent 39 of the rocket/missile launchers to the country, and according to media reports, Russia hasn't destroyed a single one as of earlier this year -- a testament to the mobility of the system.

"They're all the hotness in the news right now," 1st Lt. Morgan Long, the platoon commander for the HIMARS detachment in Norway, told Military.com. "What's great about them is their mobility, and then their distance that they can shoot. You've got a system that can shoot further than the enemy can run away. And then it's a system that can run away faster than the enemy can shoot 'em."

Long said he was learning from these global events and applying those lessons learned from other militaries, adding that "we can create a product ... that's been battle-tested, maybe by us, maybe by someone else."

Strategic Stability and the Ukraine War

Fabian Hoffmann


The Russia-Ukraine war marks the first instance of a major inter-state war involving the large-scale deployment and use of conventional ballistic and cruise missile technology. As a result, the Ukrainian theater has become a test bed for missile technology and strategy and has revealed the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary missile forces and doctrines. The implications of the deployment and use of offensive conventional missile capabilities and defenses against such capabilities in Ukraine extend beyond the battlefield and affect the broader strategic competition between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This paper explores those implications, asking how the deployment and use of long-range strike weapons and missile defense systems in Ukraine affects Russia-NATO strategic stability

In this analysis, long-range strike weapons include Russian, Ukrainian, and Western conventional cruise and ballistic missiles as well as conventional long-range drones that have been used by both sides to engage targets at standoff range, including deep inside the adversary’s homeland territory. The meaning of standoff range is context dependent and relates to the distance between adversaries. In the context of the Russia-Ukraine war (and in the broader European context), standoff implies the ability to engage targets several hundred kilometers behind the front line.1 In terms of missile defense, this analysis considers Russian, Ukrainian, and Western nonstrategic air and missile defense forces that have been deployed around the front line and deeper inland to protect military and civilian targets.

The paper is structured as follows. In section one, we briefly discuss the concept of strategic stability, conceptualizing it in terms of crisis and arms race stability. We also draw attention to the effect of long-range strike weapons and missile defense on strategic stability and outline the implications that the deployment and use of conventional missile technology in Ukraine can have for strategic stability. In section two, we analyze offensive and defensive developments in the missile domain in Ukraine. We then briefly describe the different long-range strike and missile defense systems that have been employed by Ukraine and Russia and assess their effectiveness (and lack thereof) in the war so far. Section three analyzes the medium- to long-term implications of the deployment and use of long-range strike weapons and missile defense systems in Ukraine for strategic stability. Demonstrated levels of effectiveness and ineffectiveness of these weapon systems shape the prospects of crisis and arms control stability as well as the general likelihood of strategic nuclear exchanges between NATO and Russia.


Source Link


In March 2023, the Biden administration published its National Cybersecurity Strategy (NCS),1 which outlines how the executive branch will take on the proliferating threats facing the American digital landscape. The strategy, which consists of five pillars — Defend Critical Infrastructure, Disrupt and Dismantle Threat Actors, Shape Market Forces to Drive Security and Resilience, Invest in a Resilient Future, and Forge International Partnerships to Pursue Shared Goals — has been widely praised2 for its embrace of an aggressive posture in cyberspace, calls for more regulations across critical infrastructure sectors, and advocacy for software liability reform.3 Others, however, are skeptical4 that its ambitions are achievable given the controversy over, and anticipated pushback against, some of its proposals and other implementation challenges.

Indeed, while the NCS is bold, expansive, and imaginative, it does leave many unanswered questions regarding the specific steps the administration will take to realize its vision for cyberspace. Though the July 2023 Implementation Plan5 names specific initiatives for each pillar and assigns a federal agency6 to lead and complete each of them by a target date, the White House still seems to have overlooked some critical issues — relating to data privacy and protection, migration to zero-trust architecture (ZTA), and digital infrastructure investment in the developing world, just to name a few — that it will need to address to foster a resilient digital ecosystem at home and abroad. The Biden administration also appears to be prone to repeating the same mistakes in the cyber domain that it has made in its overarching foreign policy.

Thus, for the strategy’s promising and ambitious agenda to succeed, the Biden administration will need to be more nuanced and realistic about how it will pursue the objectives it has laid out. The White House also must start accounting for other ambiguities and gray areas that both the NCS and Implementation Plan have either de-emphasized or omitted altogether. Finally, to secure American interests in international cyberspace, Washington needs to incorporate its technology initiatives8 effectively into its broader foreign policy frameworks9 and reconsider some of its approaches to cyber diplomacy.

Henley Putnam UniversityJournal of Strategic Security, 2024, v. 17, no. 1

Hybrid Warfare: How to Escape the Conceptual Gray-Zone

Engagement with Radical Propaganda drives Cognitive Radicalization: An Analysis of a Right-Wing Online Ecosystem

The Ability of Russia’s Federal Security Service to Influence the Executive Through its Apparatus of Seconded Employees

Responding to Fait Accompli: Lessons from Crimea

Quarrelsome Siblings – The Relationship Between Special Operations and Conventional Forces

Bukele’s Formula for Terrorism

New Regionalism and Norm Creation: A Case of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

The Palestinian Divide: Origins and Implications of Palestinian Rejectionism

Does TikTok need a new parent company? Senator mulls implications


Lawmakers are “getting some indication” that TikTok is being used to shape Americans’ opinions, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., told reporters Monday. But forcing China-based ByteDance to sell the app doesn’t solve everything.

Reed said there are signs that TikTok’s algorithm is being used to influence public discourse. “And I must say, I'm not a frequent user of TikTok…we're talking about a generational issue here. But the concerns about China having a device that is wildly popular—particularly for young people—and having the ability at some time to start inputting comment that is designed to be disinformation and upset into our political process, our social processes. So we have to think about this.”

But “transferring control” of TikTok from ByteDance to another entity comes with its own questions, said Reed, who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, during a Defense Writers Group event.

“If we're talking about transferring control of TikTok, we just simply don't want to pass it on to another group of people whose idea and goal is to control information in the United States. So I would think we'd have to start looking seriously at what conditions and what rules we would place on a TikTok… if it was sold by the Chinese to another party.”

Reed’s comments come days after the House passed a bill that would ban the app in the U.S. unless it was sold to a non-Chinese company, amid data security concerns. The bill isn’t the first time Congress has tried to ban TikTok, and it’s unclear whether the Senate will take it up. But the White House, which has banned the app on government phones, is pushing for the Senate to pass the bipartisan bill.

Pentagon eyes Starship, designed for Mars, for military missions somewhat closer to home


SpaceX’s Starship made it to orbit before failing on reentry during its Thursday test flight, taking another step toward becoming the biggest space hauler of all time. The reusable mega-rocket, whose third flight was described as a success because it achieved more than the first two, is expected to eventually bring launch costs down even further than has the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, which the Pentagon uses to send most of its satellites into space.

With a payload capacity of 100 to 150 tons, Starship could carry a bunch of satellites simultaneously and increase the Space Force’s launch rate as it builds out a network of hundreds of satellites in low-Earth orbit.

“[The] cost to put satellites into orbit is going to drop even more than it already has with the introduction of Starship,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Once Starship is operational, it will be able to put things into higher orbits, which is key for the Pentagon’s push to operate in the cislunar environment, the area between the geosynchronous orbit and the moon.

“The Chinese have already begun cislunar operations and have put vehicles on the far side of the moon, which is something the U.S. doesn't really have the ability to do right now,” Clark said.

However, the advantage the U.S. will get with Starship “won’t last forever,” and it will take years to build satellites specifically designed to take advantage of the rocket’s payload capacity, said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

“At this rate, they will have Starship operational this year. We need payloads to go on that, if we're actually going to take advantage of it during this window of opportunity when it's a capability only we have. If you want those payloads available next year, you needed to start building them five years ago,” Harrison said.

A.I. Joe: The Dangers of Artificial Intelligence and the Military


Report Summary

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the military-industrial complex are rushing to embrace an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven future.

There’s nothing particularly surprising or inherently worrisome about this trend. AI is already in widespread use and evolving generative AI technologies are likely to suffuse society, remaking jobs, organizational arrangements and machinery.

At the same time, AI poses manifold risks to society and military applications present novel problems and concerns, as the Pentagon itself recognizes.
This report outlines some of the primary concerns around military applications of AI use. It begins with a brief overview of the Pentagon’s AI policy. Then it reviews: 
  • The grave dangers of autonomous weapons – “killer robots” programmed to make their own decisions about use of lethal force.
  • The imperative of ensuring that decisions to use nuclear weapons can be made only by humans, not automated systems.
  • How AI intelligence processing can increase not diminish the use of violence.
  • The risks of using deepfakes on the battlefield.
The report then reviews how military AI start-ups are crusading for Pentagon contracts, including by following the tried-and-true tactic of relying on revolving door relationships.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations:
  1. The United States should pledge not to develop or deploy autonomous weapons, and should support a global treaty banning such weapons.
  2. The United States should codify the commitment that only humans can launch nuclear weapons.
  3. Deepfakes should be banned from the battlefield.
  4. Spending for AI technologies should come from the already bloated and wasteful Pentagon budget, not additional appropriations.
The Pentagon’s AI Outlook and Policy

In an August 2023 address, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks asserted that the Pentagon had put in place the foundations to “deliver — now — a data-driven and AI-empowered military.”

HII unveils new Remus 130 unmanned undersea vehicle


HII has unveiled the latest model for its Remus series of unmanned undersea vehicles, the Remus 130, aimed at missions such as data collection, offshore oil and gas exploration, search and rescue, and mine countermeasures operations.

“The Remus 130 is built on the same proven technology platform as the Remus 300 and offers customers a highly capable vehicle at reduced cost and risk,” said Duane Fotheringham, president of the Mission Technologies’ Unmanned Systems business group. “We are excited to introduce this latest generation of the Remus 100 that will help drive commonality across the fleet and provide our customers with more flexibility to address their mission needs.”

The 130 and 300 are both classed as small UUVs, meaning they are seven-and-a-half inches in diameter and between six to 12-feet long. The Remus 300 is also the commercial system HII is using to develop and manufacture the US Navy’s new Lionfish UUV.

The Remus UUV product line was initially developed by Hydroid, based in Pocasset, Mass. and acquired by HII in March 2020. The initial UUV was sold to the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy in 2001.

Duty, Honor, Nothing

My father remembers a trip with my grandfather to the U.S. Military Academy in the early 1960s to watch a baseball game. They loved the game, but what struck my grandfather, who served in the Pacific during World War II, was something else.

“Watch how they sprint on and off the field,” he said. “Every inning. The best player and the worst. Whatever the score.”

I don’t know whether the boys at West Point still sprint on and off the athletic fields. I bet they do. Their generals and the politicians, however, are running in the wrong direction.

West Point is dropping “Duty, Honor, Country” from its mission statement, to be replaced with the nebulous phrase, “Army Values.” Superintendent Lt. Gen. Steve Gilland said “Duty, Honor, Country” would remain West Point’s “motto.”

But “motto” is not mission, which declares what a unit is and does. Troops live and die for the mission. No “motto” could ever mean so much.

West Point leadership wants us not to be alarmed. Just trust the process, they say. The “process” – apparently of erasure and reinvention – began two years ago with removal of plaques and images of Robert E. Lee in favor of “appropriate language and images,” as Gilland described them.

So here we are, further stripping away the tradition and rigor that defined West Point.

In contemporary America, life in power seems dedicated not to responsibility but self-interest. Authority figures and thought leaders specialize in manipulating opinions, bullying us into using certain words, canceling history, placing certain ideas above others. Their eyes are big, their minds addled by attention and praise, their demands absolute.

Army aims to equip a division with hand-held counter-drone gear


The Army’s 2025 budget request includes $13.5 million for hand-held anti-drone devices to equip a division and $54.2 million for backpack-size jammers, an Army spokesperson said Thursday.

The $13.5 million will buy 20 Modi devices, 10 Smart Shooter devices, 10 Bal Chatri devices, and 20 Dronebuster devices.

But equipping a division may require more, said Samuel Bendett of the Center for Naval Analysis, an expert on Ukraine and Russia’s use of drones in Ukraine.

“At the very least, each platoon should probably have [a hand-held anti-drone device], based on what we’re seeing in Ukraine so far,” he said.

The Modi and Dronebuster are both jamming systems, while the Bal Chatri detects the signals of potential enemy drones overhead. The Smartshooter, by contrast, is a rifle scope that calculates where to aim to take down fast moving drones.

The backpack jammers are the Terrestrial Layer System Manpacks, a system that provides both signals intelligence and jamming capabilities.

The Army previously said it was equipping two divisions with hand-held counter drone weapons: the 82nd Airborne and 1st Cavalry.

The 82nd Airborne and 1st Cavalry received the same types of hand-held counter-drone devices the Army requested for fiscal year 2025: the Modi, Smart Shooter, Bal Chatri, and Dronebuster. The 1st Cavalry trained 80 soldiers on the equipment, out of its force of 19,500. It is unclear how many sets the units received.