Showing posts with label Military Matters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Military Matters. Show all posts

4 July 2022

Little Red PRCs: Could China Conquer Taiwan Without Fighting?

Jahara Matisek, Ben Lowsen, John Amble

It is 2028 and Xi Jinping has begun his fourth term as president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). After a month of threats, he sends wave after wave of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to invade Taiwan. Scholar Lyle Goldstein writes, “Between parachute and heliborne forces, China could quite reasonably hope to put 50,000 soldiers on the island in the first wave and well over 100,000 in the first 24 hours.” This is the common conception: China launching a massive conventional assault on Taiwan. But what if China did not attack with conventional troops? What if it used covert forces trained to win without fighting? Such a scenario presents vexing challenges for a conventional mindset. Already, U.S. intelligence officials are warning that the PRC wants to peacefully take Taiwan and is “working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our [U.S.] intervention.” Thus, as America considers how to defend Taiwan against conventional forms of invasion, it must also pay significant attention to attack along non-traditional vectors.

Does a protracted conflict favour Russia or Ukraine?

The typical war is short. Since 1815, the median duration of wars between states has been just over three months, calculates Paul Poast of the University of Chicago. In 2003 America toppled the government of Iraq in just 20 days. The conflict that Armenia and Azerbaijan fought over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 was over in 44. Yet Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has entered its fifth month, and shows no sign of drawing to a close. “I am afraid that we need to steel ourselves for a long war,” wrote Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, in mid-June. Jens Stoltenberg, nato’s secretary-general, echoed his warning: “We must prepare for the fact that it could take years.”

In the early days of the invasion the West worried that Ukrainian forces would be swiftly overwhelmed by Russia’s superior firepower and resistance would collapse. Now the fears are different: that Ukraine has not adjusted its strategy enough to fight a sustained war of attrition; that it will run out of soldiers and munitions; that months of pummelling will cause its economy to collapse; that the will to fight may ebb as the going gets even tougher. Russia, too, is subject to many of the same pressures, with the conflict chewing up its young men, sapping its economy and accelerating its descent into dictatorship. A protracted conflict will also test the resolve of Ukraine’s Western allies, as the price of food and energy soars, inflation riles voters and Ukraine’s requests for weapons and cash escalate. A long war, in short, will test both sides in new ways. Whether it favours Russia or Ukraine depends in large part on how the West responds.

Can the Army Harden Its Software Systems Before the Next War?

Kris Osborn

Missiles destroying targets with advanced precision-guidance systems, tanks adjusting navigation in response to uneven terrain or enemy obstacles, and real-time drone video arriving in vehicles and command centers are all operations heavily reliant upon effective and secure computing. Cybersecurity, therefore, is no longer limited to the realm of information technology but expanded to encompass operations such as networked weapons systems, platform sensor information processing, and even precision-weapons delivery.

Naturally, this dynamic further underscores the importance of “securing,” “hardening,” and “protecting” a network from unwanted intrusions, hacking, or jamming.

“You're gaining capability by having a network of communications, you're also creating a vulnerability that if exploited by an enemy could degrade your forces. So not a new problem. But I think the cyber world opens it up to kind of a scale we're not we haven't seen before. So it is critical,” Douglas Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Logistics & Technology, told The National Interest in an interview.

Reports of Disinformation Campaign Against Rare Earth Processing Facilities

The Department of Defense is aware of the recent disinformation campaign, first reported by Mandiant, against Lynas Rare Earth Ltd., a rare earth element firm seeking to establish production capacity in the United States and partner nations, as well as other rare earth mining companies. The department has engaged the relevant interagency stakeholders and partner nations to assist in reviewing the matter.

The exposure of the disinformation campaign comes roughly one year after the Biden Administration and Department published a Review of Critical Minerals and Materials under Executive Order 14017 “America’s Supply Chains.” That review highlighted ongoing concerns regarding a lack of transparency and overreliance on concentrated foreign sources of critical minerals in key U.S. supply chains for essential global civilian and national security applications.

How Cyber and Tech Will Shape Great Power Competition

Jacob Heilbrunn

Both cyber and tech are playing an increasingly prominent role in debates about American national security. To what extent will they influence a new era of great power competition with China and Russia? What course should Washington follow in emphasizing the centrality of cyber?

The Center for the National Interest invited three distinguished experts and former government officials to discuss this issue on Wednesday, June 29.

John Negroponte is Vice Chairman of McLarty Associates. He served as the first Director of National Intelligence, a cabinet-level position, under President George W. Bush. He is also a former ambassador to the United Nations, as well as Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, and Iraq.

National Security Challenges of Yesterday and Tomorrow: Reflecting on the Last 75 Years to Prepare for the Next 75

Matthew R. Crouch & Christopher P. Mulder , Raphael J. Piliero


For the past 75 years, the United States has been the world’s dominant military and economic superpower. The collapse of the Soviet Union and success of the U.S.-led Liberal International Order (LIO) led some to celebrate its permanence, proclaiming an “American Century,” a “Pax Americana,” or even the “End of History.”[i] Thirty years on, this seems premature, if not naïve.

To be clear, the United States had—and retains—several advantages: the most potent conventional military on the planet, a vibrant defense industrial base, world-renowned service academies and military operational concepts, a robust nuclear arsenal, and the world’s strongest economy.[ii] On paper, these advantages seem unmatched, but a deeper look reveals serious challenges on many fronts. The current war in Ukraine, breakdown of U.S. policy in the Middle East and the rise of China as a true peer-competitor have shattered any illusion that great-power competition has ended and instead highlight the stark dangers of a changing strategic environment.

Want ‘strategic thinkers’? You’ll have to transform the military culture

Gregory Foster

For some years now, observers of military and security affairs have levied rightful criticism at America’s growing string of military failures abroad. We don’t win wars anymore. We don’t prevent wars. We can’t end wars.

At the heart of these repeated operational failures, many think, are deeply embedded intellectual failings that reflect inexcusably underdeveloped strategic understanding on the part of America’s current generation of generals and admirals.

At least since the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) document appeared, such criticism has led to accusations that the U.S. military’s Professional Military Education (PME) system, especially the senior, “war college” level of that system, is to blame. The 2018 NDS, then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s homage to his own thinking, made this unsubstantiated assertion:

Irregular Competition

Lt. Col. Jeremiah C. Lumbaca

Despite increased global interest in “gray-zone” activities, the United States does not have a whole-of-government policy to deter or indirectly confront state and nonstate adversaries in this expanding security domain. With the release of the December 2017 National Security Strategy, a policy shift occurred overnight that fundamentally changed the direction that the U.S. security enterprise had been heading for two decades.1 After sixteen years, trillions of dollars spent, and hundreds of thousands of lives lost during the War on Terrorism, the United States redirected its primary focus away from asymmetric threats and looked instead toward strategic competition, sometimes referred to as “great-power competition” or “near-peer competition.” The 2021 Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, released by the White House, continues and reinforces the strategic competition policy direction.2

Notwithstanding a redirect toward conventional security concerns, America’s state and nonstate adversaries continue to operate globally with malign intent through unconventional security efforts. Consequently, there is a need for the United States and like-minded nations to indirectly implement a discreet set of activities—during times of peace, competition, and war—to maintain international order.

3 July 2022

US intel officials admit they didn't see that Russia's military was a 'hollow force.' Here's what they did see and how they missed it.

Stavros Atlamazoglou

More than 100 days after Russia renewed its attack on Ukraine, and the world has seen that the Russian military isn't what it was believed to be.

The Russian force the US military and intelligence agencies believed to be a near-peer adversary hasn't shown up. The force that did appear had its main thrust blunted by smaller Ukrainian units. After taking heavy casualties and achieving few objects, Moscow pulled back its troops and lowered its ambitions.

Something was off in US assessments of Russia's military, and the Pentagon and intelligence community have admitted that they missed indications that Moscow was in fact fielding a "hollow force."

The Army Is Teaching AI Systems How to Fight the Wars of the Future

Kris Osborn

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD—In the future, warfare is likely to involve a dangerous and unpredictable mixture of air, sea, land, space, and cyber operations, creating a complex, interwoven set of variables likely to confuse even the most elite commanders.

This anticipated “mix” is a key reason why futurists and weapons developers are working to quickly develop cutting-edge applications of artificial intelligence (AI), so that vast and seemingly incomprehensible pools of data can be gathered, organized, analyzed, and transmitted in real-time to human decisionmakers. In this respect, advanced algorithms can increasingly “bounce” incoming sensor and battlefield information off of a seemingly limitless database to draw comparisons, solve problems and make critical, time-sensitive decisions for human commanders.

Many procedural tasks, such as finding moments of combat relevance amid hours of video feeds or surveillance data, can be performed exponentially faster by AI-enabled computers. At the same time, there are certainly many traits and abilities that are unique to human cognition. This apparent dichotomy is perhaps why the Pentagon is fast pursuing an integrated approach, combining human faculties with advanced AI-enabled computer algorithms.

Age of Machines: The U.S. Army Is Testing AI to Win the Future

Kris Osborn

As rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) continue to reshape the future of warfare, some question whether there are limits to its capacity when compared to human intelligence.

U.S. Army Research Lab (ARL) scientists continue to explore this question, pointing out that the limits of AI are still only beginning to emerge and are expected to yield new and unanticipated breakthroughs in coming years. Loosely speaking, the fundamental structure of how AI operates is analogous to the biological processing associated with the vision nerves of mammals. The processes through which signals and electrical impulses are transmitted through the brain of mammals conceptually mirror or align with how AI operates, senior ARL scientists explained. This means that a fundamental interpretive paradigm can be established, but also that scientists are now only beginning to scratch the surface of possibility when it comes to the kinds of performance characteristics AI might be able to replicate or even exceed.

For instance, could an advanced AI-capable computer be able to distinguish between a dance “ball” from a soccer “ball” in a sentence by analyzing the surrounding words to determine its context? This is precisely the kind of task AI is being developed to perform, essentially developing an ability to identify, organize, and integrate new incoming data not previously associated with its database.

Pentagon finds concerning vulnerabilities on blockchain

Ray Fernandez

A report commissioned by the Pentagon concluded that the blockchain is not decentralized, is vulnerable to attacks and is running outdated software. The report, “Are Blockchains Decentralized, Unintended Centralities in Distributed Ledgers”, uncovered that a subset of participants can “exert excessive and centralized control over the entire blockchain system.”

The findings of the report are a cause of concern for a wide range of sectors, but especially serious for security, fintech, big tech and the crypto industries, which continue to grow.

The Pentagon’s research arm, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), engaged Trail of Bits—a security research organization—to investigate the blockchain. Trail of Bits focused on Bitcoin and Ethereum, the two leading cryptocurrencies in the global market.

The U.S. Army Just Seriously Boosted the Abrams Tank’s Combat Power

Kris Osborn

The newly unveiled German-built Rheinmetall Panther KF 51 tank operates with the same amount of onboard power as its predecessor, the Leopard 2, according to multiple news reports tracking its release. This raises interesting questions about the new tank’s ability to accommodate an increasing need for onboard power. Having the same amount of power as the Leopard 2 is incompatible with the new electronics and digital computing reported to be built into the Panther, as integrating a new generation of exportable power has been among the most critical innovations for the U.S. Army’s Abrams tank. Years ago, developers built an auxiliary power unit to enable more onboard power and support its new electronics, computing, and command and control technology. New applications of onboard power generators are going even further by finding ways to decrease a hardware footprint and streamline large amounts of power to subsystems needed for targeting, computing, and networking.

There is another area that lends itself to a measure of ambiguity, as it is by no means clear that the new Panther would out-perform new variants of the Abrams with its sensors. A Popular Mechanics write-up mentions that the Panther is engineered with 360-degree “surround sensors,” something which enables tank crews to see obstacles and potential adversaries from any angle.

Have Russian Cyberattacks Changed the Course of the War in Ukraine?

Sam Cranny-Evans

When Russia began its large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, it was evident that something had gone wrong in the Russian concept of operations. Early footage showed hapless Rosgvardia forces advancing on Kyiv alone and Russia’s elite airborne forces repeatedly trying to seize Hostomel airport without ever receiving the combined arms support they would have needed to succeed. And, having discussed their plans in the days preceding the invasion, Russian forces were met with robust Ukrainian resistance. Along with the infamous “forty-mile column,” this seems to suggest that the Russian forces had been committed with a hopeless lack of coordination and forethought.

However, some elements of the invasion were clearly planned in advance, and this is most evident in reports of cyberattacks that Microsoft claims to have uncovered. The evidence provided by Microsoft indicates that Russia coordinated cyberattacks with kinetic effects against certain key Ukrainian targets. The company states that a Russian actor launched a DesertBlade cyberattack against a Ukrainian broadcaster on March 1, which was the same day that Russia announced it would destroy sources of “disinformation” in Ukraine and launched a missile strike against a TV tower in Kyiv.

How the U.S. Army Is Gearing Up for Multi-Domain Ground War

Kris Osborn

Two distinct yet closely synchronized U.S. Army entities are collaborating to optimize the service’s ability to prevail in a future ground war by maturing multi-pronged analysis related to emerging technologies and the need to adapt warfare strategies and tactics.

Army Futures Command and the service's acquisition arm, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army - Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA ALT), are working together to navigate the uncertain and potentially turbulent waters of future conflict.

U.S. Army Acquisition Executive Douglas Bush says his office is focused on the timing of prototyping, new weapons development, and timely funding to ensure technological innovations support emerging concepts of combined arms maneuver.

“I'm eagerly anticipating the work being done by futures on new force designs, I think they are correct in identifying the technology is changing. So as always, the Army's formations probably need to change at some point. So I think that that's good analysis work that's ongoing, and I think they're doing well based on a little bit that I've seen,” Douglas Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, told The National Interest in an interview.

How Sweden and Finland Will Change Europe's Military Calculus

Caleb Larson 

As they are both poised to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Sweden and Finland are set to significantly alter the strategic calculus in the Arctic and the Baltic Sea. Since the two countries are already tightly integrated with NATO, they would not struggle to fully integrate into the security alliance quickly.

Speaking to reporters, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, explained to reporters what that integration would look like. “They’re high-end operating militaries that have worked with us for a long time in very close partnership. So their transition into NATO is – I would predict – is going to be virtually seamless in the military dynamic. I think about the Arctic Basin and I think about the real estate that their coastline [has] along the Arctic Basin,” Admiral Gilday explained.

“I think that in the future, as we see the polar ice cap receding, we see trade routes between Asia and Europe change, and competition for resources get more competitive in that area, I think that’s an example where Sweden and Finland – where we leverage their geostrategic position in a powerful way for the good of many,” he stated.

Russia’s Space Satellite Problems and the War in Ukraine

Pavel Luzin

Three months into Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine, the role of Russian military reconnaissance and communications satellites remains noticeably underdeveloped. Although Moscow has 102 military satellites in orbit, the efficiency of its battlefield reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting, and command-and-control systems still seems to be lower than one would have expected for a country with a space program and military-industrial complex ostensibly as advanced as Russia’s. Its forces have been unable to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure or eliminate Ukrainian aviation and air/missile-defense systems. When it comes to inadequate reconnaissance and targeting, Russian troubles apparently hinge on a shortage of open optical and synthetic aperture radar satellites. Whereas, its deficient command, control and communications (C3) systems are the result of having too few satellite communication channels and terminals.

Only two Russian military satellites—Persona No. 2 (Cosmos 2486), launched in 2013, and Persona No. 3 (Cosmos 2506) put into orbit two years later—are optical intelligence spacecraft; they follow sun-synchronous orbits 700 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. Three Russian Bars-M satellites also travel along sun-synchronous orbits but below 600 kilometers: Cosmos 2503 (launched in 2015), Cosmos 2515 (2016) and Cosmos 2556 (2022). The Bars-Ms mostly carry out topography and mapping missions (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, February 1). The first experimental, next-generation optical-intelligence satellite, designed to replace the Persona assets, was the EMKA No. 1 (Cosmos 2525) (Kommersant, July 28, 2016). It was launched in 2018 but burned up in the atmosphere in April 2021. Another two satellites of this new generation, Cosmos 2551 and Cosmos 2555, were lost during failed launch attempts, in September 2021 and April 2022, respectively.

James Mattis just got married in the most Marine way possible


Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis has finally gotten married after decades of putting his devotion to the Marine Corps and the rest of the U.S. military above his personal life. And he did it in the most Marine way possible:

Mattis, who served as defense secretary from January 2017 until December 2018, wed physicist Christina Lomasney on Saturday, Garrett Ross of Politico first revealed. The couple were reportedly married by a priest and then they had a second ceremony at Las Vegas’ Little Church of the West that involved an Elvis impersonator in which Retired Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward was the best man. Politico posted pictures of both events.

“Not surprising for a Marine, the couple met in a bar,” Politico reported. “The reception for friends and family was at The Palazzo at Rosina.”

2 July 2022

Ukraine: Think Deep Attacks Against Russian Logistics

Chuck de Caro

The current state of the Ukraine-Russian war has fallen into a see-saw struggle for small territorial gains, much like the War in Korea in 1952-53.

While the Ukrainians are now beefing up their capability for offensive naval operations in the Black Sea, as recommended in these pages months ago, those actions against the vulnerable Russian littoral left flank have yet to occur.

With those naval operations presumably soon at hand, the Ukrainians might be well advised to begin attacking the Russian war effort’s other great vulnerability: Logistics. Specifically, the Russian Rail System, and the command and control structure of the Russian Army’s Material Technical Support Brigades.

The Future of Military Satellites Lies in Modularity


The Ukrainian crisis has shed light on the criticality of space assets for military operations, with the hacking of Viasat’s KA-SAT numbing the ability of the Ukrainian armed forces in the early hours of the conflict. This episode illustrates how satellites transitioned from being supporting capabilities for ground operations to strategic warfare assets of their own. But in a context of increased threats and scrutinized public finances, military satellites must now respond to new imperatives: better responsiveness and an improved resiliency, in addition to cost-effectiveness. Satellite modularity may be the key to answering these new imperatives for the military space.

Military satellite development is a lengthy and costly process. To sustain long years of activity in space, satellite buses and payloads require a high level of customization and integration that leaves but little room to the use of standardized components. For military forces, this comes with a set of drawbacks.

Long development timescales with no upgradeability expose military assets to technological obsolescence with sensors often outdated months after they are placed on orbit. This means that military satellites often showcase outdated space technologies when compared to commercial counterparts, increasing the reliance of the military on commercial actors, at a financial cost.