26 May 2024

Navigating small-state security in the Indo-Pacific

Viraj Solanki & Antoine Levesques

Island and littoral states in the Indian and Pacific oceans are expanding their military-modernisation efforts and defence cooperation with external and regional partners as major-power rivalries increasingly play out on their shores. At the 21st IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, commencing on 31 May 2024, a special session on defence cooperation and small-state security will discuss growing major-power interest in the region, smaller states’ concerns and their prospects for setting the cooperation agenda.

Strategically significant due to their proximity to major international sea lanes, the island and littoral states in the Indian and Pacific oceans are witnessing a significant increase in major-power interest and increasingly visible United States–China and India–China rivalries, driven primarily by security concerns and geo-economic interests, as well as capacity-building. In response, island and littoral states have adapted their domestic and foreign-policy agendas to pursue their own priorities, such as through boosting maritime domain awareness (MDA) and engaging on disaster-management issues.

Enhancing maritime security

For island and littoral states, defence cooperation typically occurs through one or a combination of close bilateral partnerships with a larger proximate neighbour (such as Australia, China or India); ties with other major capitals (such as London, Paris or Washington); or collective security arrangements (such as the Five Power Defence Arrangements). The decision to establish multiple partnerships is informed by geopolitical balancing with major powers, as well as the lack of a regional collective-security pact that smaller European states such as Estonia, for example, have access to via NATO.

Exporting Desperation: India’s New Era Of Labor Exploitation – OpEd

Debashis Chakrabarti

The Modi government’s labour export policies are tantamount to commodifying human labour, exporting it to conflict zones where the conditions are perilous and the remuneration meagre. This situation is eerily reminiscent of the colonial era when the British Empire shipped Indian labourers to various colonies, subjecting them to inhumane treatment. The BJP government appears to have resurrected this exploitative practice, prioritizing short-term economic gains over the dignity and safety of its citizens.

The issue of ‘government-sponsored’ labour export has once again come to the forefront, with the Narendra Modi administration reportedly negotiating agreements with Israel and Taiwan to send unemployed semi-skilled and skilled Indian workers to these labour-seeking economies. This alarming development raises significant ethical and economic concerns, reminiscent of colonial-era exploitation.

India’s decision to enter into bilateral agreements with various countries for the supply of labour, brokered by the Skill Development Corporation under a public-private partnership, marks a disturbing trend. Under these agreements, 42,000 Indian workers, both skilled and unskilled, are contracted for export to Israel. This occurs against the backdrop of Israel’s large-scale violence in Palestine and the recent revocation of work permits for around 90,000 Palestinian workers. Indian workers, predominantly young and unemployed, are set to replace them in construction and other sectors, including nursing.

The implications are dire. The Modi government’s labour export policies are tantamount to commodifying human labour, exporting it to conflict zones where the conditions are perilous and the remuneration meagre. This situation is eerily reminiscent of the colonial era when the British Empire shipped Indian labourers to various colonies, subjecting them to inhumane treatment. The BJP government appears to have resurrected this exploitative practice, prioritizing short-term economic gains over the dignity and safety of its citizens.

India’s Military Modernization Efforts Under Prime Minister Modi

Dr. Ladhu R. Choudhary

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian government has launched ambitious and far-reaching proposals for military modernization. Yet, a close examination reveals several limitations and challenges. This memo traces Modi’s initiatives and inherent structural debilities within the higher defense management. It examines the reforms’ nature, impact, and scope, highlighting how Modi’s military modernization programs complicate the Indian military’s integration/jointness drive. The memo also traces the financial support, pace of implementation, and legislative changes to expose the organizational fault lines within the system, arguing that until the Indian political class takes its military governing roles seriously, organizational reforms will fail to achieve intended goals. It concludes with alternative ways to improve the Indian military’s effectiveness.

Financial Support for Military Modernization Initiatives

Since 2014, India has initiated unprecedented military modernization.1 Modernization aims to sharpen synergy within the Higher Defense Organization (HDO), India’s apex defense management system comprised of political executives, civilian bureaucrats, and military organizations (see Appendix 1).2 Modernization programs have three main goals: the first is to improve defense preparedness in the face of complex national security challenges, enabling India’s military to support its foreign policy; the second goal is to revitalize defense acquisition policy and procurement procedures, to streamline and rationalize the acquisition and allocation of scarce resources; and the third is to develop a defense industrial ecosystem, which is necessary to meet any exigencies and sustain India’s global rise. In 2021, India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released a booklet of 20 reforms designed to make India a military-industrial power,3 indirectly pointing to these three goals. The Modi government’s priority for building up India’s military-industrial complex is in large part due to Modi’s vision of India as not simply a regional power but a rising global power.

Heavily indebted Pakistan has all its eggs in China basket: Implications for India

Air Marshal Anil Chopra

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team arrived in Pakistan last Friday to hold talks as they requested a longer and larger bailout package under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). Cash-strapped Pakistan needs a rollover of around $12 billion in debt from key allies in 2024–25 to meet the whopping $23 billion gap in its external financing. Pakistani insiders are hoping to get a rollover of $5 billion from Saudi Arabia, $3 billion from the UAE, and $4 billion from China. Meanwhile, they are seeking fresh financing from China. China has provided developing countries with over $1.1 trillion in loans through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). According to a 2023 Aid-Data report, 80 per cent of the loans involve countries in financial distress, like Pakistan.

Despite such heavy debt, Pakistan continues to spend significantly on defence. Its 2023 defence budget was $8.5 billion, a 16 per cent increase despite the IMF breathing down their neck. It was 1.7 per cent of GDP. Meanwhile, Pakistan has been in talks with China about adding numbers to the JF-17, buying more J-10 CE, and also indicating a desire to acquire the fifth-generation J-31 fighters. In parallel, Pakistan is working with Turkey for their fifth-generation ‘Kaan’ fighter aircraft and unscrewed aircraft.

Anti-Migrant Protests Expose Problems in Kyrgyzstan’s Evolving Migration Landscape

Asel Murzakulova

On the night of May 17-18, in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, there were extensive attacks on dormitories housing foreign nationals. As a result, over 40 people, primarily citizens of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Egypt, sustained injuries.

The Pakistani government pledged to arrange more than a dozen charter flights to repatriate affected citizens between May 19-21. In the initial days of evacuation, 3,100 students out of the 11,000 Pakistani citizens in Kyrgyzstan, predominantly enrolled in medical universities across the country, departed the country.

Currently, there are 42,620 individuals in Kyrgyzstan classified as foreign students.

Pakistani Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi personally greeted the first batch of repatriated students from Bishkek at Lahore airport. Subsequently, Pakistani Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar highlighted Kyrgyzstan’s status as a friendly nation and stated that the incident would be addressed at a previously scheduled Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Astana on May 21. On May 22 Dar arrived in Bishkek en route back to Pakistan, where he visited victims and met with government officials. Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Edil Baisalov visited the affected community and offered apologies to the victims. Dar said 4,000 Pakistani students are expected to return home.

Grey Horizons For Beijing’s South China Sea Strategy – Analysis

Mateusz Chatys

The Second Thomas Shoal has become, alongside the Scarborough Shoal, a main flashpoint of the South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines. These two geographical features have assumed centrality within China’s strategic initiatives, particularly characterised by its engagement in ‘grey zone’ activities.

These activities feature proxy warfare tactics, demonstrated through coercive measures undertaken by entities such as the China Coast Guard (CCG) and the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia. By deploying grey zone tactics, the Beijing administration has strengthened its strategic position in the South China Sea since 2013.

Yet despite the intensified operational endeavours surrounding the Second Thomas Shoal by the Chinese government, tangible achievements remain elusive. It warrants examination of whether China has reached the limit of efficacy within the grey zone.

In 2013, China initiated an expansive campaign of land reclamation to assert and consolidate its territorial claims within the South China Sea. Concurrently, the CCG commenced routine patrols around the Second Thomas Shoal, during which it obstructed Philippine resupply missions to the Philippine Armed Forces outpost on the BRP Sierra Madre.

Is It Time For A New Look At US Obsession Over Chinese Economic Influence In Africa? – Analysis

Charles A. Ray

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 there was a brief period in the United States where people envisioned the unipolar world, where the United States was the sole remaining superpower with unchallenged supremacy globally. Not everyone envisioned this in the same way. Some, such as US diplomat Jeane Kirkpatrick, thought that the United States should learn to “be a power, not a superpower, and revert to the status of a normal nation,” while columnist Charles Krauthammer declared the United States the “unchallenged superpower tasked with laying down the rules of world order and being prepared to enforce them.” What all seemed to agree on was that there was no longer a superpower challenger to the United States. Threats would be diffuse and likely based on cultural differences rather than ideology, but they could be managed. In many ways, though, US foreign policy in this immediate post-Cold War period was in flux.

China Replaced the Soviets as the New Bogeyman

That all began to change between 2000 and 2010, when the People’s Republic of China began its global economic ascension and its challenge to American dominance in the international order. The ensuing rivalry, while not in the nature of the ideological and military rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, has increased tensions between the world’s two largest economies, and nowhere is it more evident than in sub-Saharan Africa, where the People’s Republic of China has supplanted the United States and the European Union as a trading partner. 

Are the US and China really decoupling?


The US is no longer buying Chinese electric vehicles and China is no longer buying US Treasury bonds. Is this the start of the great decoupling we keep hearing about, with the two superpowers squaring off into rival camps? As China draws closer to Russia and Iran, the US is “friend-shoring” its overseas economic linkages with global allies.

Perhaps not — it is an election year, after all. President Joe Biden’s announcement of tariffs on Chinese EV imports, which came just a couple of weeks after he imposed tariffs on Chinese steel, has been made with one eye on union votes. After Donald Trump won the support of so many white working-class voters in 2016, Biden pledged to rebuild ties between them and his party. With Trump calling for steep tariffs on Chinese goods, Biden had to take preemptive action if he’s to remain competitive in industrial swing states such as Pennsylvania come November.

Chinese hackers compromising military and gov’t entities around South China Sea, report finds

Jonathan Greig

At least eight government and military entities in the South China Sea have been compromised in recent years by a group allegedly aligned with Chinese interests, a new report has found.

For nearly five years, hackers compromised and repeatedly regained access to systems used by the governments, according to researchers from Bitdefender. The report does not say which countries had systems breached or whether they were already aware of the incidents before Bitdefender investigated them.

The activity was connected to a previously unknown threat actor, which they named Unfading Sea Haze, but noted that the “targets and nature of the attacks suggest alignment with Chinese interests.” The primary goal of the campaign, they said, appears to be espionage.

The South China Sea is a hotly contested area where China has encroached on territorial claims made by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan.

Behind scenes of Israel-Saudi deal, Pentagon works Arab air defense shield

Jared Szuba

As the Biden administration touts a bilateral deal with Saudi Arabia linked to a historic normalization with Israel, Pentagon officials are working behind the scenes to firm up what they hope will be a cornerstone of Washington’s broader Middle East strategy for years to come.

Senior Pentagon officials sat down with Arab military brass in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss expanding nascent Middle East air and naval defense coalitions in hopes of eventually containing Iran’s missile and drone overmatch over its neighbors.

The department’s top Middle East policy chief, Dan Shapiro, along with officials from CENTCOM and the Joint Staff, are leading the discussions with military representatives from all five Gulf Cooperation Council countries for the second annual round of defense working group meetings in the Saudi capital.

Biden administration officials aim to persuade Arab defense chiefs to expand their air defense radar arrays and share intelligence in order to better detect and shoot down Iranian-made projectiles which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has proliferated to militias across the region.

The Rift Between Iran and Syria

Hilal Khashan

Syrian President Bashar Assad has reason to distance himself from his erstwhile ally Iran. It’s true that Iran helped stabilize the government in Damascus and was instrumental in putting down a rebel uprising, but its continued presence on Syrian territory is a threat to Assad – not least because it invites occasional strikes from Israel. Assad sees Israeli pressure as an opportunity to get rid of Iran for good, and to that end he has signaled an interest in meeting with the United States, which sees ousting Iran as a necessary step in rehabilitating the Syrian regime. Given the escalation between Iran and Israel, it is unlikely that Assad would have made such signals if he were not sincere in his desire to draw closer to the U.S. and further from Iran.

A Worn-Out Welcome

Although Iran still has significant influence in Damascus, Assad’s government is no puppet state. Like all Syrian rulers before him, Assad wants political autonomy, giving priority to the preservation of his regime. He admits that Iran and Hezbollah helped his government survive, but he had hoped they would withdraw after defeating the rebels. Instead, Iran has intensified its military and intelligence presence without Assad’s consent and against his plans to retake parts of the country controlled by radical Islamic movements. Iran’s strategic project is to consolidate its presence in Syria regardless of who occupies the presidency. After taking control of so much Syrian territory, Assad no longer needs Iran, and he has no problem getting rid of it. Assad understands that Iran’s presence will discourage Western countries from contributing to Syria’s reconstruction, and their absence will allow Tehran to retrieve the vast resources that it expended to shore up the regime. Assad knows that Iran is ready to abandon him and work with his successor if it reaches an agreement with Washington to achieve its ambitions in the Middle East.

Ukraine Military Situation: Russian Combat Formations Securing Tactical Gains In Assault On Kharkiv – Analysis

Can Kasapo─člu

1. Battlefield Assessment

Russia continues to rain drones and missiles on Ukrainian cities, once more highlighting Ukraine’s critical reliance on robust air defense capabilities. Moscow’s strategy has been like that of a boxer, throwing a few quick jabs to soften his opponent for a series of harder blows. This week, Russian forces launched a heavy salvo of Iranian Shahed-baseline loitering munitions at Ukrainian cities, attempting to fatigue Kyiv’s air defenses before striking with more potent follow-on Iskander ballistic missiles. While the Ukrainian air defenses’ performance against Russian drones has improved recently, with almost flawless interception rates, the projectiles continue to plague Kyiv.

Ukraine’s lackluster initial response to Moscow’s Kharkiv offensive allowed Russian forces to capture several Ukrainian positions with relative ease. Open-source intelligence (OSINT) indicates that some Ukrainian units were initially unable to coordinate defensive combat operations at scale. Satellite imagery also confirms that Ukraine suffered from gaps in its security zones, the forward areas of its lines of defense. These shortcomings enabled Russian combat formations to make immediate tactical gains and left the Ukrainian General Staff no choice but to order a coordinated withdrawal to stabilize the front lines in accordance with the harsh battlefield geometry.




Distance continues to provide benefits to defense while raising the costs of offense, especially for those states seeking to sustain territorial conquest. The United States is uniquely favored by its geography, which contributes enormously to its abundant security. At the same time, however, the combination of geographic distance and developments in military technology are making it harder for the United States, or any state, to project power to distant regions of the world. Fortunately, these circumstances also make the pursuit of regional hegemony and aggression by rivals less achievable, rendering threats to vital U.S. security interests even more remote. The same factors that complicate the United States’ ability to carry out large land wars in Eurasia, in other words, also diminish the threats the United States might conceivably face that would justify such a commitment.

The combination of geography and technology should thus make the United States more judicious in its military commitments, while also encouraging optimism regarding threats that adversaries might pose. This is good news the United States should embrace by adopting a grand strategy of restraint.

The following explainer will first review some concepts in geopolitics: namely, how proximity and land borders tend to produce security competition; how geography and national resources interact with the distribution of power among states; and how distance continues to be—and in some ways may be more than ever—an obstacle to power projection abroad. Next, it will examine the particular geopolitical circumstances of the United States and how geography has both benefited and frustrated U.S. grand strategy over the past century. Finally, it will explain how these circumstances lend themselves to a grand strategy of restraint, which leans into the United States’ geographic advantages, its unique position as a maritime power insulated from the exigencies of great power competition on the Eurasian landmass, and the advantages conferred on defense by developments in military technology.

Hamas should not be rewarded for terrorism with a Palestinian state - editorial


The fear in their eyes is palpable. In a video released by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum on Wednesday, footage from Hamas terrorists’ body cameras captures the violent kidnapping of female IDF soldiers on October 7. The three-minute video, censored for its graphic content, shows these young women being forcibly taken from their base, their faces etched with terror and despair. Their cries for help and the brutal treatment they endure are stark reminders of the inhumanity inflicted upon them.

The families of the kidnapped soldiers released the video to highlight the ongoing nightmare of their loved ones. The footage shows the violent, humiliating treatment to which they have been subjected. Seven female soldiers were abducted; only two have returned, one rescued by the IDF and the other found dead. Fifteen others were murdered.

The Origins of Europe’s Economic Malaise


What a difference seven years makes. In September 2017, speaking in the opulent main lecture hall of Paris’s Sorbonne University, French President Emmanuel Macron rolled out his idea of European “autonomy.” With the right reforms, he argued at length, the European project could smoothly navigate the accumulating hazards of globalization. On April 25 of this year, from the same podium at the Sorbonne, Macron gave an equally long-winded speech, this time with a markedly different undertone. “Our Europe is mortal. It can die,” Macron now warned, a line recycled on the cover of the May 4 issue of The Economist. “Europe will fall behind. We are already beginning to see this.”

Macron pored over the dire assessments that now preoccupy the European Union’s political and economic elites: The bloc was being forced to fork out billions on global energy markets; it was digitally dependent on Silicon Valley, missing out on the tech-fueled capital accumulation that had remade the US economy since 2008; and it was overly reliant on Chinese green technologies and critical minerals just when Europe’s energy vulnerability, to say nothing of the bloc’s pledges to reduce CO2 emissions, required a rapid acceleration in the deployment of carbon-neutral technologies. Claiming that GDP per capita growth in the United States had outpaced Europe’s by over 30 percent since the early 1990s, Macron cautioned that if nothing changed, the European Union faced collective “impoverishment.”

A moment of silence for Israel’s demise? - comment


Grabbing a plate of humus at my favorite joint down the street from the office on Wednesday, I heard about life according to Menachem, a fellow diner across the aisle.

A gruff, middle-aged Jerusalemite and longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud supporter, he said enough is enough.

“Bibi has to go; his time is up,” he said, munching on a falafel ball. “He’ll never win another election. What has he done? Nothing. The big mistake on October 8 was not leveling Gaza – including the hostages, I’m sorry to say.

“There’s no way to live with these people [the Palestinians], and now, they’re going to get their own terror state,” he added, pointing to the TV screen on the wall as it broadcast the announcement that Norway, Ireland, and Spain would recognize a Palestinian state.

Will Biden Recognize Palestinian State? Everything He's Said

Rachel Dobkin

President Joe Biden has been calling for a two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians but has fallen short of recognizing a Palestinian state, and it remains to be seen if he will join a growing number of other countries who are doing so.

On Wednesday, Norway, Ireland, and Spain committed to recognizing a Palestinian state next Tuesday. This is a significant show of support for the Palestinians whose homes in Gaza have been bombed by Israel during its war with Hamas. Currently, 142 of the 193 countries in the United Nations already recognize a Palestinian state, according to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The U.S. is not included in this list.

Last October, Hamas led the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history, which led Israel to retaliate. Some 1,200 people were killed by the Hamas force and roughly 250 hostages were taken. Roughly 100 hostages are still in captivity. More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

The U.S. has remained loyal to its ally Israel during the war, but the Biden administration has continued to call for a two-state solution in hopes that it would bring peace to the region. In the two-state solution, the Palestinians, who currently occupy the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, would get a recognized state alongside Israel. This solution would also theoretically benefit Israel as it would lead to a more secure state.

Did Egypt Sabotage Israel-Hamas Ceasefire? What We Know

Brendan Cole

Egyptian intelligence secretly changed the terms of a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas that could have released Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, CNN reported, citing unnamed sources.

Israel's bombardment of Gaza has raged for months, sparked by Hamas' brutal rampage in southern Israel on October 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and at least 250 were taken hostage.

Amid calls for a ceasefire, international pressure has been building on the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following Israel's attacks on Gaza that as of Thursday had killed at least 35,000 people, according to the Hamas-controlled health authorities there.

Israel Is Losing the Diplomatic War

David Brennan

Israeli leaders have been left rattled by a difficult week of diplomatic developments related to their ongoing war against Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

The week began with the news that International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors are seeking arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over the conduct of the seven-month-old conflict, a development met with outrage in Israel and among its backers in the U.S.

Then on Wednesday, Ireland, Spain and Norway announced their intention to officially recognize the State of Palestine, in what represents a rebuke of deepening Israeli opposition to the two-state solution—the end goal of the stalled Arab-Israeli peace process—set out by the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Slovenia and Malta are reportedly planning to follow suit in the coming weeks. Almost as many United Nations member states now recognize Palestine as recognize Israel, though powerful Western nations including the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany are among those never to have recognized Palestine.

Russia, in New Push, Increasingly Disrupts Ukraine’s Starlink Service

Paul Mozur and Adam Satariano

Just before Russian troops pushed across the Ukrainian northern border this month, members of Ukraine’s 92nd Assault Brigade lost a vital resource. Starlink satellite internet service, which soldiers use to communicate, collect intelligence and conduct drone attacks, had slowed to a crawl.

Operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Starlink has been critical to the Ukrainian military since the earliest days of the war with Russia. Without the full service, Ukrainian soldiers said, they couldn’t quickly communicate and share information about the surprise onslaught and resorted to sending text messages. Their experiences were repeated across the new northern front line, according to Ukrainian soldiers, officials and electronics warfare experts.

At the heart of the outages: increased interference from Russia.

As Russian troops made gains this month near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, they deployed stronger electronic weapons and more sophisticated tools to degrade Starlink service, Ukrainian officials said. The advances pose a major threat to Ukraine, which has often managed to outmaneuver the Russian military with the help of frontline connectivity and other technology, but has been on the defensive against the renewed Russian advance.

How does this end? With Hamas holding firm and fighting back in Gaza, Israel faces only bad options


Diminished but not deterred, Hamas is still putting up a fight after seven brutal months of war with Israel, regrouping in some of the hardest-hit areas in northern Gaza and resuming rocket attacks into nearby Israeli communities.

Israel initially made tactical advances against Hamas after a devastating aerial bombardment paved the way for its ground troops. But those early gains have given way to a grinding struggle against an adaptable insurgency — and a growing feeling among many Israelis that their military faces only bad options, drawing comparisons with U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This was the subtext of a rebellion in recent days by two members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s three-man War Cabinet — Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s main political rival — who demanded that he come up with detailed postwar plans.

Why US Semiconductor Export Controls Backfire

Matthew Schleich and Thibault Denamiel

U.S. semiconductor export controls are a double-edged sword. When controls work, they help prevent advanced chip technologies from falling into the hands of bad actors and other U.S. adversaries. However, these same policies strain the very businesses that propelled the United States into technological leadership in the first place. In limiting foreign semiconductor capabilities, Washington also limits its own.

Worse yet, controls do not always work as intended, especially when they are pursued unilaterally. When Washington placed controls on semiconductor manufacturing equipment in 2022, it didn’t bring its allies along with it. What followed was a months-long struggle to convince U.S. allies to implement mirroring controls. In that time, U.S. businesses were barred from selling to China while companies in the Netherlands and Japan delivered the very same chipmaking tools to Chinese ports in record quantity.

Generally speaking, this dilemma can also be applied to all 21st century critical and emerging technologies. If the United States hastily tries to hurt Chinese innovation, it will only end up hurting itself.

Central Asian Security Assessment: Regional Cooperation Against Cyber-Based Radicalisation

Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 42 Issue 13

SpecialEurasia OSINT Unit

In response to a recent terrorist attack in Moscow and a shifting threat landscape, Central Asian security leaders met to prioritise countering online radicalisation.

The region faces a growing risk from cyber-based extremism, dormant extremist cells, and an unstable Afghanistan. Resource scarcity because of climate change and potential exploitation by external actors further complicate regional security. Central Asian states must cooperate to address these converging threats before they precipitate a wider crisis.

This report assesses the current security environment in Central Asia, highlighting emergent threats and critical areas requiring regional cooperation.

Background Information

In the wake of the Crocus City Hall attack that left 144 dead, Central Asian security chiefs convened for an unannounced meeting in Astana on May 14th-15th, 2024. Held under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), the discussions prioritised tackling the evolving threat of extremism.

‘This is overdue’ — Air Force creating tactical cyber capabilities to ensure air superiority


In a future operating environment, sophisticated adversary cyber technologies could inhibit the Air Force’s ability to achieve its number one role for the joint force: air superiority.

While the Department of Defense has teams that conduct cyber operations, those joint forces are limited in number and focused on attacking enemy systems and defending the network. As such, the Air Force believes it needs its own cyber capabilities to ensure it can gain and maintain air superiority.

“We have started to make investments in our own service capabilities … not just of course for cybersecurity, or defensive capabilities, but we do believe that at a tactical level we might need a cyber-enabled air superiority type of capability,” Lt. Gen. Leah Lauderback, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations, said during a webcast hosted by Defense One last week. “Air superiority, that’s the function that we absolutely know that the Air Force presents and we think that there’s a tactical cyber capability that we might be able to develop. We’re doing that today in very small numbers, but that is a growth area for sure.”

Why Accuracy Metrics Matter in Modern Warfare

Reader Submission

The First in a Series

This will be the first in a series of posts about strike systems. In modern warfare, with ubiquitous ISR—Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance—no assets can move freely on the surface. All manner of strike systems with sophisticated guidance can attack them with great precision. Examples include artillery (e.g., GPS-guided Excalibur shells), JDAMs and other glide bombs covered in earlier posts, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles.

A great deal is made about the accuracy of these systems. Before launching into further posts, I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate our inner nerds and clarify objective metrics of accuracy. Why? There’s a lot of confusion out there.

Consider two simple but different statements about the Kalibr cruise missile:
  1. “The Kalibr has an accuracy of 2 to 3 meters.”
  2. “Baloney, the Kalibr has an accuracy of 50 meters.”
Which one is correct, and what exactly does this mean?

Both statements can be correct. Accuracy depends upon the metric and guidance system employed. The first statement is correct for the Russian military version of Kalibr, which employs GLONASS guidance. GLONASS is the Russian version of our GPS. The second statement is correct for export versions of Kalibr, which are not equipped with GLONASS guidance.