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

2 December 2022

China’s Increased Military Activity Near Taiwan a ‘New Normal’ Says Pentagon

PATRICK TUCKER

China is aiming for “a new normal” of increased military activity around Taiwan, a senior defense official said ahead of the release of the latest edition of the Pentagon’s China Military Power report, which highlights ambitious military-modernization plans for 2027, 2035, and 2049.

“What we do see is sort of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] establishing kind of a new normal in terms of the level of military activity around Taiwan” in the wake of the August visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, the official told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday.

During and after Pelosi’s visit, the Chinese military fired missiles and staged large exercises near Taiwan in what many interpreted as an intimidating show of force.

“What we've seen since then is that it has not gone down to the level that we were accustomed to prior to her visit. So it is lower than the immediate period after her visit, of course, but…we have seen them sort of trying to set this new normal,” the official said.

Ukraine needs tanks, and the west should supply them. They could finish off Putin and Russia

Frank Ledwidge

In a 1941 speech on a Royal Navy ship, Winston Churchill directed his final comments to the US: “Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.” After a significant victory in Kherson, and standing at the gates of Crimea facing a Russian army desperately trying to shore up its ramshackle defences, Ukraine has the troops and morale to defend what it has. However, despite some western assistance, the Ukrainians lack the tools – tanks, missiles and aircraft – to retake their land and impose strategic defeat on the Russians. If the west, and especially the US, is serious about helping to protect Ukraine, decisions on stepping up military assistance need to be made now. If Ukraine is to be able to secure its future after victory – assuming that is what the west truly wants – its forces need to begin to transition to Nato-standard equipment.

The US has not yet declared a political or military objective. However, in April the US secretary of defence, Lloyd Austin, said he wanted “to see Russia weakened to the point where it can’t do things like invade Ukraine”. Is it the intention of the United States genuinely to support military efforts to return Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders? Or does it instead suit US and western decision-makers to support a long war with Ukrainian forces used as proxies to bleed out Russia’s armed forces? Obviously, these are not at all the same thing. Decisions need to be made very soon about increasing military support, and those decisions will tell us which objective is being pursued.

1 December 2022

U.S. and NATO Scramble to Arm Ukraine and Refill Their Own Arsenals

Steven Erlanger and Lara Jakes

BRUSSELS — When the Soviet Union collapsed, European nations grabbed the “peace dividend,” drastically shrinking their defense budgets, their armies and their arsenals.

With the rise of Al Qaeda nearly a decade later, terrorism became the target, requiring different military investments and lighter, more expeditionary forces. Even NATO’s long engagement in Afghanistan bore little resemblance to a land war in Europe, heavy on artillery and tanks, that nearly all defense ministries thought would never recur.

But it has.

In Ukraine, the kind of European war thought inconceivable is chewing up the modest stockpiles of artillery, ammunition and air defenses of what some in NATO call Europe’s “bonsai armies,” after the tiny Japanese trees. Even the mighty United States has only limited stocks of the weapons the Ukrainians want and need, and Washington is unwilling to divert key weapons from delicate regions like Taiwan and Korea, where China and North Korea are constantly testing the limits.

Why The Next Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Should Be From The Air Force

Loren Thompson

General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will retire next year. The nation’s top military officer by law can only serve a single, non-renewable term of four years, and thus a successor will need to be nominated by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Secretary Austin should nominate an Air Force officer, current Chief of Staff General Charles Brown, to lead the Joint Chiefs. If he does, media coverage will undoubtedly focus on the fact that Brown is the first African American to lead a branch of the armed forces.

However, that is not the reason why Brown should be the next Joint Chiefs Chairman. The logic of his appointment resides in other institutional, strategic and operational considerations. The fact that he is temperamentally and experientially suited to the job is icing on the cake.

It’s Finally Here: Pentagon Releases Plan To Keep Hackers Out Of Its Networks

LAUREN C. WILLIAMS

Defense agencies have until 2027 to convert their networks to architectures that continually check to make sure no one’s accessing data they shouldn’t.

This shift to zero trust principles is at the core of the Pentagon’s new five-year plan to harden its information systems against cyberattacks. The strategy and roadmap were released on Tuesday.

To get there, agencies can improve their existing environments, adopt a commercial cloud that already meets DOD’s zero trust specifications, or copy a prototype of a private cloud, David McKeown, the Pentagon’s acting principal deputy chief information officer, told reporters. And to help enforce it, the DOD chief information office will track their spending.

What is China’s Joint Operations Command Centre and who’s in charge?

Liu Zhen

Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), told the country’s armed forces to be ready for war.

Xi made the remarks during an inspection of the CMC’s Joint Operations Command Centre (JOCC) on November 8 – his first visit to the base since the Communist Party’s national congress last month, when he secured a third term as head of the party and the restructured CMC.

During the inspection, he reaffirmed the importance of the JOCC in the Chinese military.

30 November 2022

How Houthi Drone Attacks Boosted Russia’s War in Ukraine

Michael Horowitz

The first sign that Russia was using Iranian-made drones in Ukraine emerged this September. Ukrainian soldiers reported that a Shahed-136 “suicide drone” was employed for the first time to target military positions in an area recently recaptured from Russia near the northeastern city of Kupyansk. Weeks later, Russia used those drones to carry out several waves of attacks against Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, materializing fears that Iran’s drones were on their way to Russia for use in the war.

The use of Iranian-made drones against a European capital came as a shock to the West, but it is the direct consequence of a lenient approach to Iran’s drone and ballistic missile programs, both of which have been honed through years of attacks, particularly in Yemen. By targeting countries throughout the Gulf, the Houthis, Iran’s local proxy in Yemen, have provided the Islamic Republic with a battlefield to test new weapons against relatively sophisticated air defenses. Now, those same weapons are being used to hammer the Ukrainian homefront, thousands of kilometers away from Iran and Yemen.

Ukraine’s Lessons for the Future of Hybrid Warfare

Weilong Kong

Anew decision-analysis approach is necessary to capture the use of disinformation in the context of hybrid warfare. The war in Ukraine features two different types of competing societies: open and closed. However, the critical characteristics of this competition cannot be captured using a single analysis framework. Instead, multiple tools must be integrated to help generate a robust policy response to modern hybrid threats.

Russian aggression in Ukraine entails a hybrid war, which is defined by NATO as “an interplay or fusion of conventional as well as unconventional instruments of power and tools of subversion … blended in a synchronized manner to exploit vulnerabilities of an antagonist and achieve synergistic effects.” To be sure, hybrid methods of warfare have been used in the past but what is new about attacks seen in recent years is their speed, scale, and intensity, facilitated by rapid technological change and global interconnectivity.” Other terms, such as gray zone and information warfare, may be used in this context but, regardless, key characteristics must be modeled and integrated to inform effective policy.

What Does ‘Victory’ Mean for Ukraine and Russia?

Alexander E. Gale

As events in Ukraine continue to develop in often unexpected ways, policymakers in Kyiv and Moscow are reassessing what parameters would define an acceptable victory (or defeat).

When Russia launched its “special military operation” in February, the forecasts for Kyiv were grim. The CIA predicted that Russian forces would rapidly cut through Ukrainian defenses and seize Kyiv in a matter of weeks. Likewise, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley allegedly predicted that the Ukrainian government would not last longer than seventy-two hours.

During the first months of the war, Ukraine shared a similar outlook. Kyiv’s main objective was to ensure the survival of a viable Ukrainian state, likely governing a greatly diminished territory. Due to the high probability of suffering a military defeat, Ukrainian diplomats even made arrangements with the West to set up a government in exile. The government would relocate to the safety of another European capital while the remnants of the Ukrainian military would shift to asymmetrical warfare against occupying Russian forces.

Exploiting the Fast-Follower Advantage: Making 5G the Ultimate Parts Bin and Adopting a Commercial-First Approach to Military Acquisition

Bryan Clark & Dan Patt

Executive Summary

While frustrating for consumers, the slow maturation of commercial 5G networks in the United States could be a boon for the US Department of Defense (DoD), which can harvest, adapt, and influence 5G-related technologies as they emerge from commercial product pipelines for a variety of applications that extend well beyond cellular communications. By reversing its traditional role as a developer of new technology and instead becoming a customer, the DoD could better exploit the potential of 5G and leverage the private sector’s trillion-dollar investment in mobile connectivity.

Under the Joint Warfighting Concept’s approach of “expanded maneuver,” US military forces would disaggregate, reaggregate, and recompose to increase their adaptability and impose uncertainty on the opponent, enabled by interoperability and decision support tools from the DoD’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative. Implementing expanded maneuver will require that JADC2 use computing to integrate a changing array of radios, radars, jammers, and RF detectors to deliver sensing and effects at scale as part of a fast-paced campaign. Mission systems like these have traditionally been the purview of specialized military contractors with the infrastructure and domain expertise to produce and deliver them as part of integrated solutions, like those of traditional commercial telecommunications providers. However, the modularity of commercial 5G’s building blocks could be harnessed to produce highly recomposable and adaptable military mission systems more cheaply than their highly integrated predecessors.

The Maldives’ Tug of War Over India and National Security

RASHEEDA M. DIDI

Like many island nations in Asia, the Maldives is busy grappling with the best way to advance its economic and national security interests in a region where geopolitical tensions between larger Asia-Pacific nations like China, India, and the United States continue to rise.

Unsurprisingly, views among the country’s political leaders on the best course of action differ. The political debate playing out in the capital of Malé offers a vantage point on the tradeoffs and constraints that policymakers in the Maldives and other similar countries must account for as they strive to protect their national sovereignty.

The Maldives’ current government led by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has unapologetically oriented the country’s foreign policy toward India as a provider of economic benefits and security. Meanwhile, the country’s political opposition under former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has urged the president to reconsider the closeness of the relationship ostensibly to protect the Maldives’ sovereignty.

Russian Aircraft Keep Crashing. Could Sanctions Be the Cause?

Michael Bohnert

At least six fixed-wing Russian aircraft have crashed over Russian-controlled airspace since September. With few to no incidents prior to then, this could indicate growing maintenance issues. Deducing “why” could offer a striking example of the downstream effectiveness of sanctions.

While mechanical failures are expected in aircraft over time, a rapid increase in fleetwide mechanical failures may indicate that something fundamental has changed. Sanctions placed on Russia by the West could well be affecting Russia's ability to manufacture and maintain parts needed to keep aircraft safe.

Maintaining aircraft fleets involves highly skilled operators with knowledge of the specific aircraft, only some of which is transferrable from commercial industry. But maintenance also requires specialized parts and repair tooling.

Japanese MoD Report on Chinese Gray Zone, Influence Operations


The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the Party’s army. It follows the Party’s command and defines its most important role as protecting the Party’s regime. Until President Xi Jinping’s military reforms, the Party exercised control over the military mainly through the PLA’s political work organizations, including the General Political Department, and political commissars. Such indirect control, however, was susceptible to communication issues and hindering the execution of joint operations, and caused widespread bribery and corruption in the PLA.

29 November 2022

How To Make Sure NATO Doesn’t Get Sucked Into The Ukraine War

Andrew A. Michta

Ukraine: The Next Phase of this War Will Unfold in the West – The recent incident in which a Ukrainian anti-missile rocket aimed at an incoming Russian rocket volley fell into the rural eastern Polish village of Przewodów, killing two farmers, brought home with renewed urgency the fact that the war in Ukraine can at any time escalate into a wider conflict, especially if Putin decides to target NATO territory along the flank.

The Ukraine War Touches Poland

The response from the alliance was swift, with Polish President Andrzej Duda reaching out to President Joe Biden and other critical leaders for consultation as the crisis unfolded. The very nature of the incident, which for a brief period of time until it was determined not to be a Russian attack on Poland, raised the prospect that NATO’s Article V could be invoked.

Deterrence and Ambiguity: Motivations behind Israel’s Nuclear Strategy

Pieter Zhao

Ever since Bernard Brodie’s influential work The Absolute Weapon (1946), theories around nuclear strategy have been centered around the concept of nuclear deterrence. This concept was reiterated in an article in NATO Review by Jessica Cox, Director of NATO’s Nuclear Policy Directorate, in which she emphasized that nuclear deterrence is still relevant and should be the main philosophy behind all nuclear weapon policies (Cox, 2020). Thus, deterrence—the threat to carry out a devastating attack—still dominates over defense as the main way to protect the state in nuclear strategy (Tannenwald, 2020). Major nuclear powers, like China, the United States, and Russia, are therefore happy to emphasize this deterrent effect by showing off their latest nuclear technologies. Yet, this dominant theory surrounding nuclear strategy often seems to be centered around the great nuclear powers and the balance between them. But are these principles actually applicable to all nuclear powers, including the regional ones? Following this question, this paper considers the case of Israel with its policy of ‘nuclear ambiguity’ based on a declassified memorandum retrieved from the Wilson Center Digital Archive. The article starts by introducing the source and evaluating its usefulness and reliability. Afterward, attention is shifted toward the necessary historical context before analyzing the source to address Israel’s nuclear policy and the dominant International Relations (IR) theories that underpin it.

There is no panacea, competition with China occurs in peace and war

BENJAMIN MAINARDI

In August, Breaking Defense observed a wargame in which China invaded Taiwan and the US intervened — with bloody results. Such simulations abound, as Benjamin Mainardi of the Center for Maritime Strategy notes below, but in this op-ed he argues the US should be preparing for a much more complicated stand-off with Beijing.

No geopolitical prospect looms as large in Washington as war with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Accordingly, the interservice race to take the lead in the Indo-Pacific continues to grow. Yet while wargames and articles abound on this or that aspect of what a conflict would entail, making eye-catching headlines and seemingly favoring one service over another, their provocative implications must be tempered with sober reflection upon the realities of the challenge at hand.

Perhaps most fundamentally, the outbreak of war as a conventional territorial conquest is taken for granted. But the framing of competition with China as hinging on a one-time engagement is at best a flawed approach and at worst a dangerous miscarriage of strategic foresight.

Czech army leader calls for ‘biggest rearmament of the army in the country’s history’

TIM MARTIN

DUBLIN — In a remarkable speech in Prague today, the Czech Republic’s most senior army leader demanded, as an “absolute necessity.” that the service embarks on its “biggest rearmament” ever.

Major General Karel Řehka, chief of the General Staff of the Czech Republic Army, told delegates at the Command Assembly convened to announce the army’s strategic and procurement plans for 2023 that “serious challenges await us,” as he reflected on the “crisis” in Ukraine.

“The biggest rearmament of the army in the country’s history is no longer just a wish, but an absolute necessity,” Řehka said.

DoD releases zero-trust strategy to thwart hackers who ‘often’ breach network ‘perimeter’

JASPREET GILL

WASHINGTON — After months of teasing its zero-trust strategy, the Defense Department today released its plan outlining what it’ll take to achieve “targeted zero trust” by fiscal 2027 to address current threats, including those posed by adversaries like China — starting with a zero-trust cloud pilot this fiscal year.

“With zero trust we are assuming that a network is already compromised and through recurring user authentication and authentic authorization, we will thwart and frustrate an adversary from moving through a network and also quickly identify them and mitigate damage and the vulnerability they may have exploited,” Randy Resnick, DoD zero trust portfolio management office chief, told reporters ahead of the strategy’s release.

The 29-page strategy paints a concerning picture for DoD’s information enterprise, which is “under wide-scale and persistent attack from known and unknown malicious actors,” from individuals to state-sponsored adversaries, specifically China, who “often” breach the Pentagon’s “defensive perimeter.”

DoD must ‘think very differently’ about armed conflict, cyber in light of Ukraine war: Official

JASPREET GILL

WASHINGTON — After watching Ukraine take on Russia in both the real world and in cyberspace, a top American cyber official said the Defense Department must “think very differently” about how it will fight in both realms in the future.

Mieke Eoyang, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy, told the Aspen Institute Cyber Summit today that the war “is a really important conflict” for DoD to understand, and one of the things she’s seeing “is the context of the armed conflict dwarfs the cyber impacts” of the war.

“When you think about the physical destruction relative to the cyber disruption of what happens here, things that Russians tried to disrupt via cyber… did not have the strategic impact that they wanted, and they sought to destroy those things physically,” she continued.

28 November 2022

GROUND ZERO The Evacuation of the CIA’s Afghan Proxies Has Opened One of the War’s Blackest Boxes

Fahim Abed

ON A RAINY Saturday morning in May, Hayanuddin Afghan, a former member of a CIA-backed militia that was once his country’s most brutal and effective anti-Taliban force, welcomed me to his new home in a hilly neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

He invited me in through the kitchen, where his wife, who was pregnant with their fourth child, was baking traditional Afghan bread with flour from Aldi’s. The trip downtown to buy groceries was among the greatest challenges of Hayanuddin’s new life in Pittsburgh. It involved hauling heavy bags back home on foot and in multiple city buses, whose schedules were unknowable since he didn’t speak English and had not downloaded the relevant app.

“It is difficult to descend from a very strong position to a very weak position,” Hayanuddin told me. In Afghanistan, “we had value. It was our country, and we were making sense for that country. But now, even our generals and commanders, everyone is in the same position.”

In Afghanistan, it was impossible to talk at any length to members of the secretive commando forces known as the Zero Units. They hunted the Taliban in night raids and were widely accused of killing civilians, including children. But last September, Hayanuddin and his Zero Unit comrades were the beneficiaries of the most successful aspect of the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan: the CIA’s rescue of its allied militias. Their arrival in the U.S. over the last year has cracked open one of the war’s blackest boxes.