28 March 2024

India’s Submarine Saga

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

In a rare show of strength, last week the Indian Navy simultaneously deployed 11 of its 16 conventional submarines. The submarines were reportedly deployed at various locations in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Navy has not undertaken such a heavy simultaneous deployment in about three decades.

While this is a milestone, there is also the reality of the shrinking Indian submarine fleet. Without timely replenishment, India could end up with a submarine fleet similar to that of Pakistan, although Pakistan is the only South Asian navy that operates a submarine with air-independent propulsion (AIP).

Reflecting on the deployment and India’s failing submarine strength, an Indian naval official who spoke to the media anonymously said that he had “not seen such a high simultaneous deployment. This was basically because we did not have that many submarines in operations, and the fleet strength was hit by several undergoing refits or repairs.”

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance 2024 report, India has 16 operational submarines, which include five Kalvari-class (French Scorpene), four Shishumar-class (German Type-209), and seven Sindhugosh-class (Russian Kilo) submarines in operation. Another Kalvari-class submarine is to be commissioned into the navy soon; this will bring the overall number to 17.

However, the real question is “operational availability,” as another naval source told an Indian media outlet. According to this official, given that the Kalvari class is brand new, “their availability ratio is much higher.” The German-origin Shishumar submarines also appear to be high on reliability and performance, making their operational availability quite good. They are likely to be around for another decade and a half.

Indian Diplomats and the Social Hierarchies of Global Order

Kira Huju

Cosmopolitans are the only tribe who seem convinced that they do not belong to one. This is the opening gambit of my monograph, Cosmopolitan Elites: Indian Diplomats and the Social Hierarchies of Global Order (Oxford University Press, 2023). Mine is a book about belonging. More specifically, it asks what it takes to belong among the cosmopolitan elite in a Western-dominated international society. It does so by examining career diplomats of the elite Indian Foreign Service, many of whom were present at the founding of this order, set out to remake it in the name of an anti-colonial global subaltern but often ended up seeking status within its hierarchies through social mimicry of its most powerful actors.

Even in a formally decolonised international society, Indian diplomats continue an awkward balancing act: despite a genuine desire to strive toward a postcolonial international society founded on diversity and difference, there coexists a lingering belief in a caricature-like notion of a white, European-dominated homogenous club, to which Indian diplomats feel a social imperative to belong. Even as these diplomats passionately contest Western political hegemony, they engage in social behaviours that betray a longing to be recognized as elite members of a Westernized elite club, in whose hierarchies of race and class they hope to ascend.

In such a social context, we should think of cosmopolitanism not as an egalitarian ethic but as an elite aesthetic: a social standard that presumes cultural fluency in Anglophone elite discourses, and social assimilation into upper-class Western mores. Membership in the club of cosmopolitans comes with its own social codes and cultural rules of entry. It assumes familiarity with dominant beliefs and manners, a resume enabled by exposure to an elite transnational class consciousness. I am “worlding” cosmopolitanism, in Edward Said’s sense: historicising it, interrogating its sociality and materiality, and paying close attention to the hierarchies embedded in it. This worlding also allows me to query the social processes that give rise to the oxymoron inherent in the very term “cosmopolitan elite”—a term which pairs equality with elitism and toleration with exclusion.

It looks like Pakistan bought a Chinese spy ship. What does it do?

Usman Ansari

It appears Pakistan’s Navy has acquired a Chinese-built spy ship, according to open-source intelligence analyst Damien Symon, who reviewed commercially available satellite imagery.

The intelligence gathering platform, dubbed Rizwan, is described as an “offshore supply ship” by online shipping monitor MarineTraffic. Pakistan reportedly acquired the vessel from China last year with no fanfare, and the ship was spotted during a stopover in Jakarta, Indonesia, in June 2023, while sailing home.

It is a compact vessel some 87.2 meters long, with two large radar domes on the stern, which along with other sensors point to an intelligence gathering role.

Neither the Pakistan Navy nor the Ministry of Defence Production, which handles military acquisitions, would discuss the ship’s role and capabilities when asked by Defense News.

However, a source with knowledge of Rizwan’s operations, speaking on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the topic, confirmed to Defense News it is an “information gathering ship.” The source declined to provide further details.

Collin Koh, a senior fellow at the Singapore-based Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies think tank, said Rizwan appears to be an affordable and flexible design.

He told Defense News that the ship is based on the hull of an offshore support vessel, which makes “economical sense,” and that “aside from the huge radome that should serve as the electronic intelligence array, the platform might be able to accept varying mission modules if necessary.”

The ship looks to be dimensionally comparable to Norway’s intelligence gathering vessels Eger and Marjata, Sweden’s Artemis, or Germany’s Oste class, he added.

The Bolduc Brief: Afghanistan Revisited- Lessons from a General’s Perspective

Donald Bolduc

A Failure of Epic Proportions

The testimony of General Milley and General McKenzie in front of the House Armed Services Committee yesterday was tough to watch. The decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was undoubtedly a failure of epic proportions, resulting in a national security debacle that will have lasting consequences for years to come; how the withdrawal and the Non-Combatant Evacuation were executed and the poor interagency coordination should have led to the immediate firing of senior leaders on the military and civilian side of the Department of Defense, Department of State, and within the National Security Council Staff. However, instead of being held accountable for their actions, these leaders were allowed to remain in their positions and, in some cases, even promoted, further perpetuating a culture of cover-ups and incompetence.

The testimony yesterday was very different from previous testimony and public statements. Both generals blaming the Department of State was inappropriate. Those of us who know the importance of interagency coordination, Joint Force Operations, and executing Non-Combatant Evacuations (NEO) understand that the success and blame do not fall on the shoulders of one agency. I have participated in five NEOs at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels, and I know it takes a team effort. I understand that the planning, coordination, approvals, political considerations, security, and resources necessary to conduct an NEO is a comprehensive undertaking by the interagency, Joint Staff, and the host nation. Two operations were happening in Afghanistan simultaneously: a NEO and a withdrawal. The failure of civilians, general officers, and admirals at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels must be addressed. Blaming one administration over another is political and only prevents the American people from hearing the truth.

Is Al-Qaeda Now In Moscow? – OpEd

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

The sudden resurgence of Al-Qaeda has thrust its name back into the global spotlight, this time as a prime suspect. Turkey has pointed fingers, linking the terrorist organization to two attacks resulting in 12 fatalities, while a statement has emerged claiming the group’s involvement in a recent terrorist strike in Moscow, which left more than 100 dead. Other reports indicate the group’s alleged involvement in attacks across Somalia, Yemen and Iraq.

Al-Qaeda was once a well-established organization with a recognized presence, headquartered in Kabul and led by Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden engaged with journalists and activists, releasing video statements. But today, Al-Qaeda has been reduced to nothing more than a name.

Why would Al-Qaeda target Moscow? Especially with the decline in hostilities in Syria, leaving no convincing explanation for its actions.

The primary enemies for Russians are the Ukrainians and their allies, who have conducted operations targeting Moscow. It is crucial to recognize that the war in Ukraine is significantly larger in scale than the Gaza conflict, both in terms of military operations and the involved armies. Moreover, the Ukraine situation has dangerous strategic implications, while the Gaza conflict is primarily regional in nature.

Despite the reluctance of most regional nations to engage in the Ukrainian conflict, Iran stood out by actively supplying Russia with drones, marking the first instance of its status as a dangerous source of weaponry. Therefore, it seems implausible that any organization under Tehran’s control or influence would launch an attack against Russia.

Most countries in the region have chosen to remain nonaligned in the Ukrainian conflict. Despite mounting pressure from the US, their relations with Russia remain positive. However, navigating these ties proves challenging, given Moscow’s support for Tehran and Tehran’s military involvement in the region’s numerous proxy conflicts.

China Coast Guard Again Damages Philippine Boat Near Disputed Shoal

Sebastian Strangio

Chinese vessels have again blocked and fired water cannons at a Philippine supply ship close to a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, causing “heavy damage” to the wooden vessel and injuries to several of its crew, according to the Philippine government.

In a series of social media posts on Saturday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported that Unaizah May 4 supply boat was en route to Second Thomas Shoal with two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) escorts when all were blocked and surrounded by China Coast Guard (CCG) ships.

According to the AFP, at just after 6 a.m. a CCG vessel performed a “dangerous maneuver of crossing the bow” of the supply boat. About an hour later, the AFP said, the CCG then conducted a “reverse blocking maneuver” against the Unaizah May 4, causing a “near collision,” before two CCG vessels directed their high-pressure water cannons at the boat. The supply boat “sustained heavy damage at around 08:52 due to the continued blasting of water cannons” the AFP said, rendering it immobile. It also released videos showing the bow-cutting and water cannon incidents.

The Unaizah May 4 was attempting to deliver supplies and a fresh contingent of Philippine personnel to the BRP Sierra Madre, a warship that the Philippines grounded at Second Thomas Shoal in 1999. The shoal has been the scene of repeated confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels over the past year, as Beijing has repeatedly attempted to prevent the resupply of the isolated outpost. This has involved collisions and damage to a number of Philippine supply boats.

Given the decrepit condition of the BRP Sierra Madre, which some observers believe could soon disintegrate, it appears that Beijing views the shoal as the most weakly-held of the nine Philippine-occupied features in the South China Sea.

Why Has China’s Automobile Exports Increased Significantly? – Analysis

Kung Chan and Xia Ri

“New quality productive force” is now a new buzzword in China, particularly associated with the nation’s car exports. China’s car exports, including new energy vehicles (NEVs), have indeed grown significantly, to the point where the U.S. is considering imposing policy restrictions on the country.

According to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), from 2021, the export of complete vehicles has grown significantly, exceeding 2 million units for the first time that year, a year-on-year increase of 103%, making China the world’s third-largest exporter of automobiles. In 2022, complete vehicle exports exceeded 3 million units for the first time, reaching 3.3212 million units, a year-on-year increase of 56.8%. In 2023, this figure jumped to 4.91 million units, a year-on-year increase of 57.9%, surpassing Japan.

Among them, the export growth of NEVs is especially rapid. CAAM data shows that in 2020, China’s export of NEVs was nearly 70,000 units, accounting for only 7.0% of the total automobile exports. In 2021, the export of NEVs reached 310,000 units, a threefold increase year-on-year. In 2022, the export reached 679,000 units, an increase of 120% year-on-year. In 2023, the export volume reached 1.203 million units, a year-on-year increase of 77.6%. So, what factors have led to the significant growth of China’s car exports and even been considered as the “new quality productive force” that can replace real estate?

Through his long-term information tracking and research, ANBOUND’s founder Kung Chan believes that this is mainly due to the combined effects of three factors: the entry of emerging market economies into the era of automobiles, unprecedented demand growth in the Russian market, and rapid technological progress in China’s NEVs.

First of all, emerging market economies have entered the era of automobiles. Against the backdrop of deglobalization and the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute, emerging market economies have become beneficiaries of industrial transfer, with rapid economic development, especially in the Asia-Pacific region where economic growth has been particularly impressive. 

Baidu Shares Rise After Reports That Apple Will Use Its AI Services in China Products

Jiahui Huang

Shares of Baidu rose sharply in Hong Kong after reports of possible collaboration involving artificial intelligence between the Chinese tech giant and smartphone giant Apple.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Apple had held preliminary talks with Baidu about using its AI tech. On Monday, Chinese media outlet Cailian Press reported Baidu was set to become Apple’s local generative AI model provider for the iPhone 16, the Mac computer operating system and the upcoming mobile operating system iOS 18.

Baidu shares climbed 5.4% on Monday. Hong Kong’s benchmark tech index was down 0.2%. Baidu and Apple didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Chinese regulators have to approve generative AI models before they can be launched to the public. Baidu’s Ernie Bot is one of more than 40 models that have already been approved.

“If it does come true, it would be a perfect branding campaign for Baidu and its AI product, Ernie Bot,” Nomura analyst Jialong Shi told Dow Jones Newswires.

Don’t defund the fight against Russia and China’s disinformation - Opinion

Editorial Board

Two authoritarian U.S. adversaries, Russia and China, are carrying out what some have called a “hidden war on democracy,” attempting to shape global opinion using deception and false narratives. By one estimate, Russia spends about $1.5 billion a year and China $7 billion or more annually to influence overseas audiences. We’ve argued before that the United States should resist their information warfare. Unfortunately, House Republicans are threatening to eliminate a key U.S. agency that does so.

The Global Engagement Center (GEC), headquartered at the State Department, deploys a $61 million budget and a staff of 125 to counter disinformation from Russia, China, Iran and terrorist organizations. It was founded as part of the fight against terrorist messaging. It is due for congressional reauthorization by the end of this year. A measure has cleared the Senate, but the Republican-controlled House has refused to follow suit, meaning the program could lapse.

The GEC efforts to preempt disinformation have been promising. Last month, the GEC exposed an attempt by Russia’s security services to undercut U.S. influence in Africa through a new disinformation agency, called African Initiative. According to the center, this agency intended to spread tales about the outbreak of a mosquito-borne viral disease, to be followed by conspiracy theories about Western pharmaceutical corporations, health-focused philanthropic efforts, and the spread of disease in West and East Africa. Even before this, Russia had an active campaign in Moscow to claim, falsely, that the United States was testing biological weapons in Ukraine. The claim was based on twisted information about legitimate public health projects in Ukraine sponsored by the United States to fight disease. Russia’s untruths were picked up and widely disseminated by China, too.

The African Initiative was going to use social media and place articles in the news. It recruited staff from the enterprises of mercenary chieftain Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who started a Russian troll farm that attempted to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Mr. Prigozhin’s Wagner Group had extensive contracts in Africa before his death in a suspicious plane crash in Russia.

Arab Nations Balk at Funding U.N. Aid Agency Vital to Palestinians

Margherita Stancati and Stephen Kalin
Source Link

About a week after the U.S. and other Western countries froze funding to a U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees called Unrwa in late January, its top official flew to the Arab Gulf, hoping wealthy Arab monarchies would save the organization at a time when it is the main provider of humanitarian aid in Gaza.

The effort came up lacking. Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, raised $85 million from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for 2024, far short of the funding lost when the U.S. and others cut off aid following allegations that at least a dozen agency employees took part in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. Last year, the U.S. alone gave the agency over $422 million.

The cash that Lazzarini has scrambled to pull together so far is enough to cover Unrwa’s expenses through May, agency officials say. Beyond then, without new funds, Unrwa says it will be forced to scale back its humanitarian activities in Gaza, which includes feeding and sheltering over a million people. Other U.N. agencies and charity groups rely heavily on Unrwa, with some 3,000 of its employees within the enclave overseeing most aid distribution and primary healthcare.

Lazzarini said the recent contributions by Arab and other donors have enabled the agency to continue to assist Palestinians. “But for how long? We are functioning hand-to-mouth. Without additional funding we will be in uncharted territory,” he told the U.N. recently.

Already, the majority of Gaza’s 2.2 million people are displaced, without access to adequate medical care and on the brink of famine. The prospect that the situation could worsen further persuaded several countries—including Canada, Sweden, Australia and Finland—to resume initially suspended funding in recent weeks.

China's Evolving Counter Intervention Capabilities and Implications for the United States and Indo-Pacific Allies and Partners

Christopher B. Johnstone

Vice Chair Price, Commissioner Schriver, and distinguished Members of the Commission, I am honored to share my views with you on this important topic. It is a privilege to testify on this panel with such a distinguished group of experts. During the course of my career, I have had the good fortune to contribute directly to our enduring effort to build and strengthen U.S. alliances in the Indo-Pacific, including our partnerships with Japan, Australia, the Republic of Korea, and the Philippines. America’s treaty alliances remain the backbone of U.S. strategy in the region. My testimony today will focus on the increasingly vital role these allies play, along with other important partners, in deterring and responding to aggression by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Center for Strategic and International Studies does not take policy positions, so the views in my testimony are my own and not those of my employer.

In my testimony I will focus on three issues in particular: the significance of U.S. allies and partners for U.S. military objectives in the region, and the benefits these relationships provide to the United States; the role of “minilateralism”—to include the Quad, AUKUS and trilateral forums like the U.S-South Korea-Japan grouping—in supporting U.S. objectives, and the military advantages these groups could provide in a region where these is no multilateral alliance structure like NATO; and the additional actions our allies and partners could and should take to strengthen deterrence and response capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Critical Role of U.S. Allies and Partners in the Indo-Pacific

U.S. alliances in the Indo-Pacific represent a foundational strength for the United States, and a strategic advantage that China lacks. The United States has five bilateral treaty alliances in the region, with Japan, Australia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Thailand. All of these relationships involve formal mutual security commitments that provide access for U.S. military forces, either through permanent basing (in the case of Japan and the ROK) or rotational/episodic presence. With the exception of Thailand, where U.S. military access rests on longstanding informal understandings, the terms of U.S. military activities in these countries are codified through legally binding status of forces (or visiting forces) agreements. Singapore is not a treaty ally, but has allowed important rotational naval and air presence for the United States through legal agreements in place since 1990.

Promising Experiment Signals Future Integration Of Advanced Tech Into US Army Units

Matthew Olay

The Army is moving toward a future where soldier formations will be more efficient and lethal thanks to the integration of advanced technology both on the ground and in the air, according to the service’s chief of staff.

Army Gen. Randy George discussed some of the advancements this morning when talking with Defense One digital media platform in Washington.

“We’ve all seen how the battlefield is changing, [and] we know that you can’t have these big C2 [command and control] nodes that are out there,” George said. “We know that machines can do a lot of things right now much more effectively and much cheaper, and we’re going to have to incorporate them into our formations.”

George spoke to Defense One after having just returned from observing Project Convergence Capstone 4, an experiment involving the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Space Force. Dubbed PC-C4, the two-phase, joint and multination experiment took place at Camp Pendleton, California, and the Army’s National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, from Feb. 23 through March 20.

Led by Army Futures Command, Project Convergence is a series of experiments that gives warfighters the opportunity to experiment with technology at the operational level and further refine methods for synchronizing as a joint force.

“Technology is moving really fast,” said George, “and [PC-C4] kind of gave us an opportunity to see just how we could do that.”

As an example of how advanced technology can be integrated into the Army’s formations, George explained that he got to observe a light infantry company that was operating in a simulated urban environment while incorporating robotic dogs and unmanned aircraft systems to sense the environment.

The Israel-Palestine Conflict (Part IV) – OpEd

The Israel – Palestine conflict has now been a hot topic in the news ever since the brutal attack by Hamas on the kibbutz and surrounds, located just outside the south of the Gaza strip on 7th October last year. The whole strip was penned in by a strong safety fence which had been put up by Israel a few years earlier, such that the Palestinians were reminded that they were in a kind of prison dependent on power and water, and so that PM Benjamin Netanyahu could keep them apart– apartheid. Hamas, while still controlling the strip, although much in the minority, wanted to show the vulnerability of the fence. They did but went much too far.

The war has been principally between two groups, namely PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the Jewish right-wing, some extremists, on the one hand and Hamas thugs on the other, with the majority of people on either side reluctantly having to be involved. At the start Hamas handed the high moral ground to PM Netanyahu, but his over-the-top actions has gradually caused this to be lost, such that senior US Democratic Senator, Chuck Shumer, of the Jewish faith, strongly suggested that the Israeli government hold elections and Netanyahu step down. Most of the world has wondered for a long time at President Joe Biden, an avowed Zionist himself, why he could not take a stronger stand and to let his government continue to provide arms to Israel, such that approximately 850,000 Palestinians have been killed and the Gazan building infrastructure mostly destroyed.

The anti-war movement has been gathering pace, despite PM Netanyahu still threatening to try to wipe out Hamas in what would be a bloody fight in Rafah, where there are about 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering in tents or other makeshift accommodation. Most of these people have moved several times as the Israeli forces started on the city of Gaza, to the north of the Gaza strip, before pushing southwards, telling the Palestinians to get out of the way and go south. Now they are as far south as they can go, and now told to move again, get out of the way, and head north to areas which have been heavily damaged. Meanwhile, Netanyahu has his troops preparing a zone a kilometre wide all-round the Gaza strip, the area taken from the strip. His message is clear, once hostilities are over Israel, while not providing the government of Gaza he would exert a tighter control and there would not be a 2-state solution, which the western powers are aiming for.

Why Russia Is In Crosshairs Of Islamic State Extremists – Analysis

Tarek Ali Ahmad

Just hours after gunmen stormed a popular concert venue on the outskirts of the Russian capital Moscow on Friday night, killing 115, wounding scores and setting the building ablaze, the extremist group Daesh took to Telegram to claim responsibility.

The group said that the attack was executed by its Afghan branch, IS-K, or Islamic State in Khorasan Province — the same group that was behind the twin bombings in Iran in January that killed 94 people at the shrine of former Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

“IS-K has a track record of attacking Russian targets,” Luke Coffey, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, told Arab News. “For example, IS-K was behind the attack against the Russian embassy in Kabul in September 2022. Also, IS-K is probably not happy with the deepening relations between Moscow and the Taliban.”

Founded in 2015 by frustrated former members of the Pakistani Taliban who sought more violent methods to spread their extreme interpretation of Islam, IS-K has primarily operated in the ungoverned spaces of rural Afghanistan.

From this initial obscurity, IS-K shot to global attention in August 2021 amid the chaos of the Taliban’s return to power when its members bombed Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, killing more than 170 people, among them 13 US military personnel.

US operations had reduced IS-K’s numbers significantly, but after the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 the group renewed and grew. The Taliban is now regularly engaged in combat against IS-K, as it threatens its ability to govern.

Daesh and its affiliates have previously claimed responsibility for random attacks that they had no direct hand in, leading to some initial skepticism about their role in the Moscow attack. However, US intelligence has since confirmed the authenticity of the claim.

Ukraine: Russian strikes in Kyiv facilitated by US sat-data purchase

Boyko Nikolov

The Ukrainian military maintains that Russia employs images from American satellite companies to guide its cruise missile attacks. It’s an astonishingly cost-effective investment. The cost of these images could only be a few thousand dollars. This may seem like a hefty sum, but in comparison to a missile that costs around $1 million, it’s practically negligible. What’s more, such purchases can be strategically made through third-party corporations, which effectively conceal the Russian source and circumvent sanctions.
In addition, the satellite imagery market is a treasure trove of comprehensive, high-resolution images, all of which come with timestamps and coordinates. These images are an invaluable tool for monitoring the movements and activities of potential targets.

According to Ukrainian military sources quoted by The Atlantic, a telling pattern has emerged. A satellite takes a picture of a location marked for attack. Within a few days or weeks, a Russian missile strikes the designated target. A subsequent order for another satellite image of the same location is then submitted, likely to assess the aftermath of the operation. As the source succinctly puts it, “The number of coincidences is too high to be a coincidence,” pointing out the undeniable pattern.

Photo credit: Reddit

Some examples

On April 2, 2022, the region around Mirgorod was shaken by missile strikes on a military airport. Notably, US firms had requested images of this airport on nine separate occasions before this incident. Intriguingly, a week after the attack, another photo of the site was obtained. This pattern of events was not unique to Mirgorod. For example, in Lviv, an arms factory was bombarded on March 26, 2022. Then, in January 2024, Kyiv also made headlines when it faced a similar incident. Before this massive missile attack, recent images of the city had been ordered.

Two Russian Black Sea Fleet Ships Hit in 'Massive' Crimea Strike

Ellie Cook

Ukraine struck two Russian amphibious ships and a communications center in Crimea, according to Kyiv's military, with open-source intelligence accounts and a Russian military blogger reporting the use of Western-supplied, long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles.

Kyiv launched a "massive overnight missile attack" on the Crimean port of Sevastopol, the Russian-installed governor of the city, Mikhail Razvozhaev, said in a post to messaging app Telegram on Sunday.

Razvozhaev said on Saturday that air defenses around Sevastopol had shot down at least 10 Ukrainian missiles, and that one person had died after a rocket fragment struck a house.

Ukraine's military then said on Sunday that it had successfully attacked two of Russia's large landing ships, the Yamal and the Azov, and a communications hub in Sevastopol as well as other, unspecified infrastructure facilities.

The Russian flag waves in front of the Ukrainian military ship "Slavutich" in the bay of Sevastopol on March 22, 2014. Kyiv launched a "massive overnight missile attack" on the Crimean port city, the Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, said on Sunday.

Open-source intelligence accounts suggested three British-provided Storm Shadow missiles were used in the strikes. Influential military blogger channel Rybar said Storm Shadows and the French-made versions, SCALP missiles, were used in the strikes.

Shifting Conflicts Hit Key Energy Routes

Eugene Chausovsky

As global conflicts worsen, energy infrastructure and shipments from Europe to the Middle East to Asia are increasingly coming under attack. But the energy sector is also shaping the conflicts themselves—and the diplomatic efforts to manage and mitigate them. With the future of clashes such as the Russia-Ukraine war or the Israel-Hamas conflict deeply uncertain, energy acts as a key weather vane.

Israel Is a Strategic Liability for the United States

Jon Hoffman

U.S. President Joe Biden recently proclaimed that “there’s no going back to the [Middle East] status quo as it stood on Oct. 6.” But the truth is that Biden refuses to abandon.

How US forces can adopt Ukraine’s unconventional multidomain approach - Opinion

Benjamin Jensen

For all the reports of battlefield setbacks along the front line, Ukraine is conducting a novel hybrid campaign combining long-range drone strikes and unconventional warfare. The question is: Could the United States similarly integrate conventional and unconventional operations in future campaigns?

Despite renewed interest in the 2020 National Defense Strategy, irregular warfare often remains focused on ideas linked to legacy Cold War constructs focused on overthrowing regimes using guerilla forces. Too often, analysts make a sharp distinction between conventional and unconventional conflict when in fact all war involves both forms working in tandem.

For Sun Tzu, it was the balance of the orthodox and unorthodox that kept an adversary off balance. Even Hannibal — the archetype at Cannae for conventional maneuver — actually used a mix of sabotage and political intrigue to set conditions for his seminal campaign.

French support to the American revolution involved both front companies supporting pirates attacking British shipping lanes as well as foreign material support.

During the Second World War, the British integrated the Special Operations Executive with its military campaigns while the Office of Strategic Services supported U.S. campaigns with morale operations designed to undermine enemy cohesion.

Faced with resource shortages and the brutal reality of 21st century trench warfare, Ukraine has found new asymmetries by combining elements of conventional and unconventional warfare. First, Ukraine is pioneering long-range, low-cost, one-way attack drones to strike strategic economic targets throughout the depth of Russia. The targets increasingly appear to be linked to critical infrastructure connected to Moscow’s oil and gas transit and processing facilities — a critical requirement for generating revenue for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.

Preparing for electronic warfare is the Army’s top cyber priority in 2024


Some Army units could get backpacks of new electronic warfare capabilities—plus specialized guidance on how to use them for training—if Congress passes a full budget for this year.

A recently completed 120-day study that evaluated the service’s cyber and electronic warfare resources and capabilities identified an urgent need to field an electromagnetic warfare pack capability that can help locate adversary positions, and help the Army learn more about its own formations.

“We can use that system to geolocate interesting targets. We can use that system to perform jamming on targets of interest of the adversary. As an example, we can jam their voice communications from a battlefield perspective,” Maj. Gen. Paul Stanton, commander of the Army Cyber Center of Excellence told Defense One as part of its State of Defense series. “But—very importantly—we can also turn that system back onto ourselves and determine what we look like in the electromagnetic spectrum. Because we know that our adversaries have us under constant observation.”

The EW backpacks are carried by two soldiers—one to view the spectrum, another to find operationally relevant signals to help commanders. But they also provide a unique training and education opportunity for commanders to see how formations look from an electromagnetic signature perspective. Commanders are often first exposed to the electromagnetic spectrum at the training center, which is “way too late,” Stanton said.

“Until you've been jammed, you don't know that you're being jammed. And so how do our maneuver formations react to the fact that they're fighting in a contested environment?” Stanton said. “We have to let commanders know what they look like in their own backyard, when they're doing home station training, so that it changes their understanding and employment of capabilities that emanate, that radiate energy. And then lastly, we also can turn that Manpack system back on to ourselves in an opposing force context, to force our formations to fight through a contested electromagnetic spectrum.”

Moscow concert hall attack suspects appear in court as Russia defends security services

Christian Edwards, Masha Angelova, Josh Pennington and Anna Chernova

The four men suspected of carrying out a brutal attack at a Moscow concert hall that killed at least 139 people have appeared in court on terror charges, as the Kremlin defended its security services criticized for failing to prevent the massacre.

Three of the suspects were bent double as they were marched into the Moscow courtroom late on Sunday night, while the fourth was in a wheelchair and appeared unresponsive.

The suspects, who are from the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan but worked in Russia on temporary or expired visas, were named by Moscow City Court as Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, Shamsidin Fariduni and Mukhammadsobir Faizov. They face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

They are accused of storming Crocus City Hall in a Moscow suburb on Friday, shooting civilians at point blank before setting the building on fire, causing the roof to collapse while concert-goers were still inside.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacre and released graphic footage showing the incident – but Moscow has insinuated, without evidence, that the perpetrators planned to flee to Ukraine. Kyiv has vehemently denied involvement and called the Kremlin’s claims “absurd.”

At a meeting with other government officials on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the attack had been carried out by “radical Islamists.”

“We know that the crime was committed by radical Islamists, whose ideology the Islamic world itself has been fighting for centuries,” Putin said.

The first suspect charged, Mirzoyev, had a black eye, bruises over his face and a plastic bag wrapped around his neck. Mirzoyev, 32, had a temporary resident permit for three months in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, but it had expired, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported.

Death Toll in Attack at Russian Concert Hall Tops 130 as Suspects Detained

Thomas Grove and Ann M. Simmons

Russian authorities said they had detained 11 people in connection with a terrorist attack on a concert hall in a Moscow suburb, as the death toll from Friday night’s violence rose to 133, according to investigators.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday vowed to punish those responsible for what he called “a premeditated mass killing of unarmed people.”

Among those taken into custody were four people who prosecutors said played a direct role in the attack, in which gunmen shot audience members at close range and set off smoke bombs.

Islamist extremist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the assault, saying it had struck “a strong blow” in its campaign against “countries fighting Islam.”

U.S. officials—who said they warned Russia earlier this month of intelligence indicating an impending terrorist threat—said they believe a branch of Islamic State based in Afghanistan, known as ISIS-K, was behind the attack.

Moscow, which was publicly dismissive of Washington’s concerns, is now confronting a potentially serious new threat as the Kremlin fights a costly war of attrition against Ukraine, which Russia invaded in 2022.

On Saturday, Putin sought to connect the perpetrators of the concert-hall attack to Kyiv, saying some had been apprehended while attempting to escape to Ukraine. He offered no evidence to back his assertions.

Robots Are Entering the Ukraine Battlefield

Alistair MacDonald

In August, a Ukrainian assault team steered an armored vehicle silently for 2.5 miles before firing 300 bullets at a group of startled Russian soldiers.

The vehicle had no driver or gunner, and was instead a land drone, an early example of the robot-like vehicles that Ukraine is increasingly using to hit enemy forces, clear and lay land mines and rescue injured soldiers.

Since Russia’s invasion two years ago, Ukraine has revolutionized warfare with its use of drones in the air and at sea. Now it wants to do the same with unmanned ground vehicles, or UGVs, aiming to replicate the low-cost, do-it-yourself approach that it has used to such deadly effect.

The push isn’t without challenges. Land drones typically face bigger hurdles than those in the air and water, not least the need to navigate around buildings and across uneven terrain. And while big arms makers have tested UGVs for decades, the U.S. and its allies haven’t deployed them in a meaningful way.

Ukrainian army Pvt. Oleksiy Yelin controls a land drone he designed in the Donetsk region, close to the front line.

Ukraine’s technology and innovation minister has said that the country wants to create an “army of robots.” President Volodymyr Zelensky said last month that the military would establish a separate branch for air, sea and land drones, called the Unmanned Systems Forces.

Russian Military Thought and Doctrine Related to Non-strategic Nuclear Weapons: Change and Continuity

William Alberque

Russian nuclear doctrine, especially regarding its large stockpile of non-strategic nuclear weapons, has become one of the most pressing issues in Euro-Atlantic security. This report aims to build an understanding of Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons doctrine through empirical research, including by examining the continuities and discontinuities in doctrine across time, through the Cold War, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and in Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine.

Russian nuclear doctrine, especially its doctrine related to non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNW), has become one of the most pressing issues in international relations. Publics around the world are paying close attention to the war in Ukraine and Russia’s reckless use of nuclear threats to attempt to coerce Ukraine and the West, as well as its recent declared intention to station NSNW on Belarusian territory. China is watching the conflict carefully and drawing lessons that it may apply in a potential war against Taiwan or elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific – a fact well known to the countries across that region. A particularly concerning development, from the perspective of the West, is Russia’s belief in its ability to gain and maintain escalation dominance, as well as absorb personnel and materiel losses to a degree unimaginable to the West. This tolerance for casualties may also be shared by China. The more that can be understood of Russian doctrine and military thought related to NSNW, the more likely it is that deterrence with Russia can be maintained. Understanding Russia and maintaining deterrence vis-à-vis Russia are a matter of survival for the West.

For the purposes of this paper, the definition of NSNW, taken from the US Department of Defense, is: ‘nuclear weapons designed to be used on a battlefield in military situations. This is opposed to strategic nuclear weapons, which are designed to be used against enemy cities, factories, and other larger-area targets to damage the enemy’s ability to wage war.’1

CFOs Tackle Thorny Calculus on Gen AI: What’s the Return on Investment?

Kristin Broughton and Mark Maurer

Finance chiefs are making sure their companies’ investments in generative artificial intelligence generate a return.

The stakes can feel enormous, and nobody wants to be left behind by their rivals. Companies across industries are testing generative AI, exploring new ways to make their workforces more productive, communicate with customers or improve financial forecasting.

“In the spirit of the unknown, organizations are taking a leap of faith,” said Todd Lohr, U.S. technology consulting leader at KPMG, adding that companies are gauging returns using metrics such as productivity gains and employee satisfaction, as well as revenue. “This might not be the traditional ROI,” he said.

Companies, he continued, “don’t fully appreciate all the benefits yet, but we think from a disruption perspective, we need to invest in [generative AI].”

But the technology can also come with a multimillion-dollar price tag for companies spending money on infrastructure, staff and partnerships with software providers. In the next 12 months, 43% of U.S. companies with at least $1 billion in annual revenue expect to invest at least $100 million in generative AI, according to a survey of 220 companies published Friday by KPMG.

Companies can pay to use proprietary models from providers such as OpenAI, or fine-tune those models as needed. They can also build their own generative AI tools using open-source models, such as Meta’s Llama 2 AI model. Few companies build their own large language models from scratch; for most, the costs involved in such an endeavor would make the math on AI completely out of the question.

Copilot for Microsoft 365—a product that uses generative AI to do things such as summarize emails and create documents—costs $30 a month for each user. For companies that want to build tools on top of OpenAI’s GPT models, the price varies based on the volume of content fed into and generated by the models.