Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners


Quotes of the Day:

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young."
 - Mark Twain

 "I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." 
- Elie Wiesel

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward."
- Amelia Earhart

My thoughts on “Irregular Warfare Thinking”

“Irregular Warfare Thinking”
 
Necessary because IW is the dominant form of war in the emergent human domain. 
 
We need to infuse “irregular warfare thinking” into DOD and “political warfare thinking” into the US government.
 
*What is “Irregular warfare thinking?” It is thinking about the human element in the full spectrum of competition and conflict up to and including conventional and nuclear war. It includes but is not limited to all aspects of lawlessness, subversion, insurgency, terrorism, political resistance, non-violent resistance, political violence, urban operations, stability operations, post-conflict operations, cyber operations, operations in the information environment (e.g., strategic influence through information advantage, information and influence activities, public diplomacy, psychological operations, and military information support operations, public affairs), working through, with and by indigenous forces and populations, irregular warfare, political warfare, economic warfare, alliances, diplomacy, and statecraft in all regions of the world. 
 

Irregular warfare is the military contribution to political warfare. Political warfare is the action of the whole of government in strategic competition.


1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, MAY 2 (PUTIN'S WAR)
2. Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: May
3. What Impact Did Canada’s Military Have on Ukrainian Resistance?
4. Special Operations Forces (SOF): The Integrators for Total Defense and Resistance
5. Wars, nuclear tests and Taliban 2.0: Global hotspots, far from Ukraine
6. Multiple dead after mysterious explosion at Russian ammunition plant
7. Tagging the Red Dragon: The Future of the Philippines’ Strategic Intelligence
8. To Win the Next War, the Pentagon Needs Nerds
9. The Difference Between America’s 2 Cold Wars
10. Japan-Russia ructions roiling Pacific waters
11. Lawmakers Worry Pentagon Will ‘Shortchange’ INDOPACOM’s Budget Request
12. Why the Chinese military wants thousands of 'made-to-order' noncommissioned officers
13. Another Cuban Missile Crisis?
14. Taiwan needs joint exercises, missiles, right now
15. Biden’s Javelin factory tour spotlights struggle to backfill Ukraine munitions
16. The UN Must Do More for Ukraine—and Itself
17. How AI Would — and Wouldn’t — Factor Into a U.S.-Chinese War
18. Partisan Fight Breaks Out Over New Disinformation Board
19. Pentagon budget aims to shrink the military by thousands
20. A Solution Desperately Seeking Problems: The Many Assumptions of JADC2
21. How NATO Could Strike Back if Putin Uses Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine


1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, MAY 2 (PUTIN'S WAR)


RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, MAY 2
May 2, 2022 - Press ISW

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 2
Kateryna Stepanenko, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. Kagan
May 2, 5:15 pm ET
Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in Ukraine on May 2. The April 30 Ukrainian artillery strike on the Russian command post in Izyum may be continuing to disrupt Russian efforts on the Izyum axis. Russian troops on the Donetsk-Luhansk frontline and Southern Axis continued to regroup, likely in preparation for renewed offensives or to resist or reverse Ukrainian counter-offensives.
Key Takeaways
  • Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks along any axes of advance and instead shelled Ukrainian positions on the frontlines.
  • The April 30 Ukrainian artillery strike on Russian command headquarters near Izyum likely disrupted Russian operations on the Izyum axis and may hinder Russian offensives from Izyum for the next few days.
  • Russian forces on the Southern Axis continued to regroup and reconnoiter likely in preparation for ground assaults in the direction of Kryvyi Rih, Mykolaiv, and Zaporizhia.
We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.

ISW has updated its assessment of the four primary efforts Russian forces are engaged in at this time:
  • Main effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate supporting efforts);
  • Supporting effort 1—Kharkiv and Izyum;
  • Supporting effort 2—Southern axis;
  • Supporting effort 3—Sumy and northeastern Ukraine.
Main effort—Eastern Ukraine
Subordinate Main Effort—Mariupol (Russian objective: Capture Mariupol and reduce the Ukrainian defenders)
Russian forces conducted naval artillery and air strikes on Mariupol while civilian evacuations from the Azovstal Steel Plant continued on May 1 and May 2.[1] Ukraine’s Military Law Enforcement Service reported that over 100 civilians evacuated to Zaporizhia city from Azovstal on May 2, but Ukrainian defenders remain at the plant.[2] The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Russian forces saved 80 civilians (whom it falsely asserted had been held hostage at the plant) and that 11 evacuees ”volunteered“ to remain in the Donetsk People’s Republic.[3] Continued Russian bombardment of Mariupol belies Moscow’s claims that its forces have secured the city.

Subordinate Main Effort—Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces shelled along the Donetsk-Luhansk frontline and did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks on May 2.[4] Russian troops continued to focus on completing the seizure of Rubizhne and Popasna.[5] The Ukrainian General Staff forecasts that Russian troops will likely attempt to use these points to launch an offensive in the direction of Severodonetsk.[6] The Ukrainian General Staff also stated that Russian forces moved one battalion tactical group (BTG) to the Popasna area to improve their tactical position and prepare to advance toward Severodonetsk.[7] The Ukrainian General Staff observed that Russian troops are setting conditions to advance on Slovyansk from the Lyman-Siversk frontline, which lies within 25 km to the east of Slovyansk.[8] This observation is consistent with ISW’s previous reporting of Russian troops making marginal southwestward advances around the Yampil area over the last few days.[9]

Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv and Izyum: (Russian objective: Advance southeast to support Russian operations in Luhansk Oblast; defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to the Izyum axis)
Russian forces continued to regroup and conduct unspecified offensive operations in the Izyum area, but did not make any confirmed advances on May 2.[10] The April 30 Ukrainian rocket artillery strike on the Russian Airborne (VDV) and 2nd Combined Arms Army command post in the Izyum area may be continuing to disrupt Russian operations along the Izyum axis.
Russian troops, including elements of the 6th Combined Arms Army and Baltic and Pacific Fleet coastal troops, continued to shell Kharkiv City and surrounding settlements.[11] Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar notably stated that Ukrainian forces suffered significant losses when they took control of Ruska Lozova (less than 10 kilometers north of Kharkiv City), suggesting that Russian troops saw sufficient value in this location to fight hard to hold it.[12]

Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Objective: Defend Kherson against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian forces continued to regroup, reconnoiter, and concentrate logistics on May 2, likely in preparation for ground assaults on Ukrainian position in the directions of Mykolaiv, Kryvyi Rih, and Zaporizhia.[13] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces deployed an unspecified artillery unit to Tokmak that will likely support Russian attempts to seize Orihiv, Zaporizhia Oblast.[14] Orihiv is on the intersection of several major highways, and its seizure could allow Russian forces to push toward Zaporizhia city as well as Donetsk. Russian forces also reportedly established an equipment repair shop in an occupied Zaporizhia Oblast settlement.[15]
Ukraine’s Operational Command “South” said that Russian forces did not attempt ground offensives in southern Ukraine on May 2 but conducted periodic artillery and mortar shelling and reportedly launched a third rocket strike on the bridge leading over the Dniester Estuary to Romania.[16] Ukrainian forces claimed to have struck Russian ammunition depots in Chornobaivka, Kherson Oblast, on May 2; a video post on social media may corroborate that claim, but ISW cannot verify it with greater confidence.[17] Ukrainian forces also destroyed two Russian Raptor-class patrol boats that reconnoitered the Danube River delta on May 2.[18] There were no significant situational changes in Transnistria.[19]

Supporting Effort #3—Sumy and Northeastern Ukraine: (Russian objective: Withdraw combat power in good order for redeployment to eastern Ukraine)
There were no significant activities on this axis in the past 24 hours.
Immediate items to watch
  • Russian attacks from Izyum will likely be at least temporarily disrupted by the attack on Russian command post in the area.
  • Russian forces will likely attempt to starve out the remaining defenders of the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol.
  • Russian forces may be preparing to conduct renewed offensive operations to capture the entirety of Kherson Oblast in the coming days.


[1] https://t dot me/mariupolnow/8805; https://t dot me/mariupolnow/8816
2https://armyinform dot com.ua/2022/05/02/ponad-100-lyudej-evakujovanyh-z-azovstali-prybuly-do-zaporizhzhya/
[3] https://t dot me/mod_russia/15063
[4] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/307651304881288; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2022/05/02/zagarbnyky-obstrilyuyut-harkiv-nastupayut-u-napryamkah-barvinkovogo-ta-slovyanska/; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/307229161590169; https://t dot me/pavlokyrylenko_donoda/3231
[8] https://armyinform and com.ua/2022/05/02/zagarbnyky-obstrilyuyut-harkiv-nastupayut-u-napryamkah-barvinkovogo-ta-slovyanska/; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/307651304881288
[11] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/307651304881288; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/307229161590169; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2022/05/02/zagarbnyky-obstrilyuyut-harkiv-nastupayut-u-napryamkah-barvinkovogo-ta-slovyanska/; https://t dot me/synegubov/3056
[16] https://t dot me/stranaua/39672; https://t dot me/epoddubny/10280; https://t dot me/Bratchuk_Sergey/11089



2. Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: May


May 2, 2022 | FDD Tracker: April 2, 2022-May 2, 2022
Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: May
Trend Overview
Edited by David Adesnik and John Hardie
Welcome back to the Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker. Once a month, we ask FDD’s experts and scholars to assess the administration’s foreign policy. They provide trendlines of very positive, positive, neutral, negative, or very negative for the areas they watch. As Russian forces withdrew from the outskirts of Kyiv, they left behind evidence of torture, summary executions, and other crimes. In the town of Bucha, corpses littered the streets and hundreds of bodies filled mass graves, yet the Kremlin insisted the atrocities were an elaborate hoax. President Joe Biden called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be put on trial for war crimes, yet that prospect seems remote. However, the United States has led an increasingly rapid and effective effort to arm Ukrainian forces, who continue to exact heavy costs on their adversary. Washington and its allies also continued to levy sanctions against Russia and are discussing measures to target its vital energy export revenue.
In Vienna, nuclear negotiations with Iran reached an impasse when the White House rejected Tehran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Under pressure from Congress as well as U.S. victims of IRGC attacks, the administration appeared to reverse its initial readiness to grant this concession to Tehran. Check back in a month to see if the White House continues to hold the line against unreasonable Iranian demands and if escalating support for Ukraine enables Kyiv to thwart Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine.
Trending Positive
Trending Neutral
Trending Negative
Trending Very Negative



3. What Impact Did Canada’s Military Have on Ukrainian Resistance?

This will be debated depending on the outcome: Did we do enough and in time?

Excerpts:
Applause thundered through the chamber as Zelenskyy finished his address. The moment underscored the complicated legacy of Canada’s military role in Ukraine since 2015. Support from NATO has been invaluable, but further involvement is ultimately unavailable. Elizabeth May, the former leader of the Green Party, addressed this tension: “A no-fly zone will risk a wider war and even a nuclear war. We know these reasons are solid, even though they ring hollow. But we must use every tool, and I fear that the tools we have in front of us are inadequate to the task. President Zelenskyy, we do not want to let you down. We fear that we may inevitably let you down, but we will find every tool we can find, and where there aren’t adequate tools, by God, let’s invent them.” While Canada has helped implement economic sanctions against Russia and has now committed to sending rocket launchers, body armour, and rations as part of $25 million in military aid to Ukraine, it seems to have been insufficient to stop the bleeding.
Ukrainian soldiers have fought over the past seven years to rid themselves of the Soviet-era structures and constraints their military was born into. Now, they must train every person who volunteers or is conscripted to take up arms in the hope that the country’s Soviet past is not also its future. The legacy of Canada’s military involvement in Ukraine speaks to the limitations of NATO as a whole: countries that fall outside the bloc, no matter the bilateral relationships that might exist, and seemingly no matter the human cost, can be attacked, and Canada and its NATO allies will be forced to take limited actions while watching from afar.
“There are people out there now who are alive because of the Canadian training, because of the British training, because of the American training—no question,” says British military consultant Glen Grant, who worked in Ukraine during Operation Unifier. He remains critical, however, that more wasn’t done. He thinks NATO countries’ wariness of upsetting Russia in the past decade meant a failure to protect Ukraine in terms of providing both military equipment and combat-focused training before it was urgent. “The initial [training] focus was all medical. It was defensive stuff. Canada didn’t want to be seen to be helping anybody to kill anybody,” Grant says. “It’s nice helping them after they’re shot. But it would have been a lot better if we were helping them before they’re shot, so they don’t get shot.”
What Impact Did Canada’s Military Have on Ukrainian Resistance?

Canadian soldiers helped train more than 30,000 of their Ukrainian counterparts. Many are left wondering about their legacy
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JESSICA LYNN WIEBEUpdated 10:27, Apr. 28, 2022 | Published 13:17, Apr. 26, 2022
The Walrus · by Sarah Lawrynuik · April 26, 2022
When eight cruise missiles struck the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, outside of Lviv, Ukraine, on March 13, they left parts of the complex destroyed. Launched from Russian aircraft, the attack reportedly killed thirty-five people and injured another 134. Around three weeks earlier, Russian ground troops, helicopters, and tanks had crossed the border and invaded Ukraine. Amid the barrage of violence, the strike on the IPSC compound stood out. The military facility is less than twenty-five kilometres from the border with Poland, and any attack on Poland, a NATO member, would trigger a response by NATO countries against Russia. The attack resonated with one Canadian soldier watching the news from more than 6,000 kilometres away. “That’s where I lived for seven months,” Nathan, a combat arms officer, says. “You kind of bombed my home.”
Nathan was one of hundreds of soldiers from Canada, the US, and the UK who, beginning in 2015, had lived at the IPSC while deployed on bilateral training missions to Ukraine. (Nathan requested the use of a pseudonym due to security concerns.) Operation Unifier, the Canadian mission, had a clear goal: to train Ukraine’s military and security forces, in part to align their methods and structures with NATO standards. In 2014, Russian forces invaded and annexed Crimea, a peninsula in Ukraine’s south. Ukraine had also become embattled in its eastern provinces against Russian-backed separatists. Canadian soldiers worked with more than 30,000 Ukrainian counterparts, at a cost to the federal government—in addition to other forms of development and humanitarian aid—of $890 million. After seven years, the training mission was abruptly suspended in mid-February, as Russian troops mustered along Ukrainian borders. Amid escalating tensions, Canada pulled its forces from the country.
In the first month of what Russian president Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation,” more than 2 million refugees fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries, cities were shelled, thousands of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers were killed, and countless civilians were caught in between or targeted. Russian attacks focused predominantly on the country’s eastern and southern regions. The intention of Russia’s March 13 strike on the IPSC, in Ukraine’s west, was clear, Nathan says. “It was a message to NATO.” Operation Unifier, among other countries’ training operations, had been intended to bolster Ukraine’s resilience against Russian aggression, but the reform of its military came to be seen by many as a step toward NATO membership.
Fearing that active military support against Russia would spark a third world war, NATO countries were left with two options for opposing this most recent invasion: supplying Ukrainian forces with arms and equipment or imposing unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia. As the invasion intensified and doubts grew about whether NATO’s actions would be enough, those who took part in Operation Unifier—back home in Canada or at new posts in Poland—were left wondering what legacy they had left on the ground.
Deployed to Ukraine a few years into Operation Unifier, Nathan says that he and some of his fellow Canadians walked in with a certain level of arrogance. They assumed that the underfunded Ukrainian army wouldn’t know what it was doing. He recalls beginning with a lesson on operating a practice firing range, but Nathan says it didn’t take long to understand that, for the most part, the Ukrainians weren’t keen to be taught rudimentary skills; they wanted lessons that applied to the war they were already years into fighting. “We kind of realized that, writ large, the Ukrainian army doesn’t need to learn those things,” Nathan says. “They’re an old army. They’ve got experience in multiple wars. A lot of the soldiers we were training there were at war in 2014, 2015, 2016.”
The focus shifted to practical application, troubleshooting the issues the Ukrainians were having on their deployments. Nathan recalls one Ukrainian soldier asking him what to do if his armoured vehicle ran out of fuel while in the field. “We wouldn’t allow that to happen,” Nathan told him matter-of-factly. “They still worked with the old Soviet mentality from the sixties and seventies of how they manage their logistics,” Nathan says. “It was a lot of supply dumps”—a method where soldiers on the front lines retrace their advances, sometimes a great distance, to refuel and restock rather than employing dedicated logistics groups with specialized vehicles to bring food, equipment, and people to the front. To what extent these logistics lessons are now being implemented is yet unclear, but Ukrainians have proven that they understand the weaknesses of the supply-dump method by attacking and exploiting these vulnerabilities in the Russian supply chains that still mirror the old Soviet style.
The unofficial role of Unifier was to help the Ukrainian army move on from an inflexible Soviet legacy. The country’s rigid, top-down military command structure, another artifact of Soviet military doctrine, in which every order comes from high up and lower commanders aren’t emboldened with on-the-ground decision-making power, also needed to be reworked. The reform and training undoubtedly helped spark hope for a better future—one that Ukrainians could choose for themselves. But the presence of NATO soldiers teaching Western military doctrine led many to believe it wasn’t just about training a more effective army but was instead a prerequisite for something bigger.
Throughout Operation Unifier, there was an issue of expectations. “When we talked about conventional war,” Nathan says, “we always used if. So, ‘if you get attacked.’ And they would always say, ‘No, it’s when.’ . . . Now, today, they’re obviously vindicated for saying when.” Nathan made friends among his Ukrainian counterparts, but “there was no way we could stay there,” he says. “It was NATO’s standing orders that, in case of conflict, [we would leave]. The Ukrainians knew this. We had to leave. It wasn’t a question of, ‘Good luck.’ It was more like, ‘We can’t stay here because you’re not a NATO country.’”
According to Nathan, some Ukrainian trainees still held out hope that shedding the Soviet mindset that permeated their military was a means to an end, that a transformation was required if the country were ever going to fulfill its ultimate goal of launching a bid to join NATO. In 2017, Canadian lieutenant-colonel Mark Lubiniecki told local media, “The Ukrainian Armed Forces are well on their way to NATO compatibility, in part because of the hard work of our Canadian Armed Forces members here in Ukraine, and this is an outstanding legacy to be a part of.” Member countries made no official promise, but their continued presence in the country made Ukraine’s former president, Petro Poroshenko, optimistic that this was a path to membership.
Stéfanie von Hlatky, Canada Research Chair on gender, security, and the armed forces, doesn’t believe the mission was ever intended to be a path to NATO membership. “The capacity building and training efforts that Canada has provided in Ukraine are only one piece of that puzzle,” she says. “Bringing the country up to NATO’s standards involves, certainly, defence-sector reform and military capacity building, but there’s also a political question and a question of the civilian institutions in the country. So it’s a lot more comprehensive than what Canada’s Operation Unifier was providing.”
The monumental task of reforming and growing a military that was described by one analyst as “decrepit” in 2014 and by Ukraine’s then chief of the general staff Viktor Muzhenko as “an army literally in ruins” has largely been a success story, borne out in a test no one would have wished on the people of Ukraine. Western military experts have hypothesized that Ukraine’s expansion of its military capabilities since 2014 has kept its government from quickly falling, something some believe was a surprise to Putin. Ukrainian soldiers have taken full advantage of newly delivered tools, including anti-tank weapons, as well as their new skills. They have held control of the capital, and NATO estimates that, in the first month of fighting, between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers were killed.
“Let’s say Ukraine manages to remain a sovereign country,” Von Hlatky says. “Then there’s another phase of rebuilding. And that’s where having that bilateral relationship at the political level is very important. But the military-to-military ties that were created before the war can also be somewhat reactivated after the war.” One part of Canada’s military legacy in Ukraine has become clear: the fact that the country has been able to resist for so long is a testament to the training it received.
Two days after the Russian strike on the IPSC, on March 15, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Canadian House of Commons, thanking members of Parliament for their support in sanctioning Russia and for providing military aid, including weapons, to his country. Zelenskyy also extended the request that’s become a mantra for many in the Ukrainian Canadian community: close the skies by implementing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Applause thundered through the chamber as Zelenskyy finished his address. The moment underscored the complicated legacy of Canada’s military role in Ukraine since 2015. Support from NATO has been invaluable, but further involvement is ultimately unavailable. Elizabeth May, the former leader of the Green Party, addressed this tension: “A no-fly zone will risk a wider war and even a nuclear war. We know these reasons are solid, even though they ring hollow. But we must use every tool, and I fear that the tools we have in front of us are inadequate to the task. President Zelenskyy, we do not want to let you down. We fear that we may inevitably let you down, but we will find every tool we can find, and where there aren’t adequate tools, by God, let’s invent them.” While Canada has helped implement economic sanctions against Russia and has now committed to sending rocket launchers, body armour, and rations as part of $25 million in military aid to Ukraine, it seems to have been insufficient to stop the bleeding.
Ukrainian soldiers have fought over the past seven years to rid themselves of the Soviet-era structures and constraints their military was born into. Now, they must train every person who volunteers or is conscripted to take up arms in the hope that the country’s Soviet past is not also its future. The legacy of Canada’s military involvement in Ukraine speaks to the limitations of NATO as a whole: countries that fall outside the bloc, no matter the bilateral relationships that might exist, and seemingly no matter the human cost, can be attacked, and Canada and its NATO allies will be forced to take limited actions while watching from afar.
“There are people out there now who are alive because of the Canadian training, because of the British training, because of the American training—no question,” says British military consultant Glen Grant, who worked in Ukraine during Operation Unifier. He remains critical, however, that more wasn’t done. He thinks NATO countries’ wariness of upsetting Russia in the past decade meant a failure to protect Ukraine in terms of providing both military equipment and combat-focused training before it was urgent. “The initial [training] focus was all medical. It was defensive stuff. Canada didn’t want to be seen to be helping anybody to kill anybody,” Grant says. “It’s nice helping them after they’re shot. But it would have been a lot better if we were helping them before they’re shot, so they don’t get shot.”
The Walrus · by Sarah Lawrynuik · April 26, 2022


4. Special Operations Forces (SOF): The Integrators for Total Defense and Resistance

Please note this article is the precursor for the Journal on Baltic Security Special Issue on Resistance (2022; 8(1) ) that will appear this summer.
Conclusion/Recommendations
Special operations forces take on significant integrator roles in total or comprehensive defense. They provide connection across joint, interagency, and multinational organizational boundaries, and are both a connector and symbiotic partner with territorial defense forces, particularly in the complex mission of national resistance during crisis and occupation. An important planning step for any country confronted by the threat of aggression with resultant full or partial occupation is to delineate the cooperation model and command and control relationships between national SOF and TDF in peacetime. While three potential models are offered in this essay, there may be more options to explore. This important step avoids ad-hoc and sub-optimal organizational arrangements established during an actual crisis. In retrospect, Winston Churchill's words from May 19, 1940, are still relevant today: ‘Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation [...]’ ().


Special Operations Forces (SOF): The Integrators for Total Defense and Resistance | Journal on Baltic Security | Baltic Defence College


Special Operations Forces (SOF): The Integrators for Total Defense and Resistance

Authors
Placeholder
Pub. online: 29 April 2022 Type: Research ArticleOpen Access
Published
29 April 2022
Abstract
In preparation for gray zone or conventional warfare conducted by Russian or Chinese adversaries and their proxies, threatened nations can apply a Total Defense approach to safeguard their territorial integrity and political sovereignty. Two key components for any effective Total Defense concept are national special operations forces (SOF) and volunteer, citizen-soldier territorial defense forces (TDF). This article examines the role of special operations forces as significant multi-dimensional, entrepreneurial integrators in Total Defense. In particular, it demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between special operations and territorial defense forces in the complex mission of national resistance during crisis and occupation.

Introduction
In preparation for gray zone or conventional warfare conducted by Russian or Chinese adversaries and their proxies, threatened nations can apply a Total Defense approach to safeguard their territorial integrity and political sovereignty. Two key components for any effective Total Defense concept are national special operations forces (SOF) and volunteer, citizen-soldier territorial defense forces (TDF), also known as national guards, defense leagues, or home guards. This paper will first define Total Defense and then highlight the role SOF play as multi-dimensional, entrepreneurial integrators in such a national defense strategy with a particular focus on the SOF-TDF relationship. The essay will then examine several options for the integration of SOF with territorial defense formations in the mission of national resistance within occupied territory; an extreme scenario for the Total Defense system.
Total/Comprehensive Defense
Total or comprehensive defense is a national security strategy based upon whole-of-government and whole-of-society involvement in protecting a nation’s sovereignty. In her article ‘From “total” to “comprehensive” national defence: the development of the concept in Europe,’ Dr. Ieva Berzina provided a comprehensive historical perspective to this framework, explained its derivation from the idea of Total War, and offered a differentiation between ‘total defence’, with an emphasis on military components, used primarily by non-aligned states during the Cold War,’ and todays ‘comprehensive national defence’ that counters both conventional and hybrid threats with both military and non-military means (). Simply defined, Total or ‘Comprehensive Defence is an official Government strategy, which encompasses a whole-of-society approach to protecting the nation against potential threats’ ().

One of the key challenges in Total Defense is how to direct and harness the wide range of non-military stakeholders to achieve the promulgated national security goals. Unlike the military which can rely upon a clear chain of command, the Total Defense effort requires cooperation, negotiation, and consensus-building among stakeholders to achieve alignment of activities. Since current and historical models for interagency operations are problematic, the conduct of effective interagency operations requires new mechanisms and approaches. This assessment holds true for Total Defense initiatives. In fact, for success, Total Defense requires the elusive but essential unity of effort. Unity of effort—the coordination and cooperation toward common objectives, even if the participants are not necessarily part of the same command or organization—is the product of successful unified action. This unity can be best facilitated by the special operations community in its integrator role. As Canadian Brigadier General Steve Hunter noted, Notwithstanding the high demand for SOF in their traditional realms, SOF recognize that they will be asked to play a significant role in strategic competition. However, SOF will likely not be in the lead, but rather in support of larger whole-of-government efforts. SOF’s ability to integrate with military and national security partners will become paramount dependent on its partnerships and operating relationships with Joint Force elements, other governmental departments (OGDs), and allies. () This practitioner’s assertion is substantiated by academic research that demonstrates that SOF serve as connectors between diverse units within the military as well as assorted organizations outside of it. As Eitan Shamir and Eyal Ben-Ari wrote in their article ‘The Rise of Special Operations Forces: Generalized Specialization, Boundary Spanning and Military Autonomy,’ SOF exhibit a variety of boundary spanning roles within a plethora of ‘alliances, coalitions, ad-hoc formations, and temporary organizational structures’ (; ).
The SOF Integration Role
In this light, SOF serve an increasingly valuable role as multi-dimensional integrators at both the operational and strategic levels. With integration understood as ‘the arrangement of forces and their actions to create a force that operates by engaging as a whole’ (). SOF can place themselves at the nexus for connecting joint, conventional, multinational, and interagency actions in a great power competition (GPC) context. Given the SOF unconventional mindset and approach, cross-cultural capabilities, and long experience gained in working with multinational and civilian entities during the decades-long counter violent extremist organization (C-VEO) campaigns, SOF are well suited to convene a wide range of stakeholders to address great power adversary challenges. These same qualities make SOF a significant integrator in Total Defense.

In most countries, SOF are inherently joint by nature, internally combining the national land, air, and maritime special operations components within a special operations command construct, and then connecting it to the wider joint force. For example, the joint Canadian Special Operations Forces Command cannot operate effectively without collaborating with the other Services, and therefore it naturally relies on the Air Force and Navy for strategic mobility, deployment, and insertion capabilities while operating closely with Army-provided enablers (). Similarly, for the United States, SOF associate to the wider joint force for both operational purposes and for service support and sustainment in areas like personnel management, logistics, and maintenance.

Broadly speaking, successful military contributions to irregular warfare require a deliberate and sustained integration of special operations and conventional capabilities (). Equally, against peer adversaries, future military operations will require an even closer cooperation between SOF and conventional forces for victory. SOF Commands contribute to this critical requirement through habitual liaison and coordination with conventional forces (). This author, in the article ‘Force Integration in Resistance Operations: Dutch Jedburghs and U.S. Alamo Scouts,’ closely examined the SOF role as an integrator with conventional forces, highlighting obstacles to attaining this goal, while also providing two World War II vignettes that demonstrated success in achieving this objective ().

Similarly, SOF frequently enable multinational and interagency action beyond their mandated remit. In illustration, the Baltic SOF Intelligence Fusion Cell (BSIFC) is a Lithuanian-led intelligence center being stood up in Vilnius that is a joint project among Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the United States (). Tasked with providing synthesized intelligence and analysis on Russian threats, the BSIFC is a Ministry of Defense level effort encompassing a number of significant interagency stakeholders from the relevant countries (). Interestingly, pertinent SOF organizations were the catalysts to convene the necessary stakeholders to establish this unique organization, which goes far beyond a traditional SOF mission or task. In this case, SOF move into an integrator-entrepreneur role, where ‘the entrepreneur responds to perceived threats and opportunities, seeking to change the organization (or the environment) to create new alignments between organizational capabilities and environmental opportunities’ (). This SOF behavior applies well to the complex theme of national resistance and the integration of territorial defense forces in such an unconventional warfare mission.
The SOF and TDF Symbiosis in National Resistance
As noted in the article, ‘Survival in the Russian Occupied Zone: Command and Organization in Resistance Underground Operations,’ ‘resistance capabilities provide a sovereign nation an additional element of national defense that contributes to deterrence against an adversary, imposes real costs on an occupier, and sets conditions for the liberation of occupied national territory’ (). The co-published Swedish National Defence University/U.S. Special Operations Command Europe Resistance Operating Concept describes resistance as ‘a nation’s organized, whole-of-society effort, encompassing the full range of activities from nonviolent to violent, led by a legally established government (potentially exiled/displaced or shadow) to reestablish independence and autonomy within its sovereign territory that has been wholly or partially occupied by a foreign power’ (. Viewing integration through the lens of national resistance and according to a Lithuanian Vice Minister of Defence, ‘SOF are the shaping function for the entire national resilience and resistance discussion’ ().

In this regard, SOF and volunteer, citizen-soldier territorial defense forces have a symbiotic relationship in this complex national defense mission. As noted, SOF are potentially the superglue that can bind the various interagency organizations and components in a Total Defense framework. Furthermore, guerrilla warfare, subversion, and sabotage are the core activities of resistance, and SOF can provide these capabilities or advise TDF in such activities. Finally, SOF serve a force multiplier function – for example a single, 12-person U.S. Special Forces Operational Detachment A (ODA) is by doctrine capable of training, advising, and assisting an entire irregular or territorial defense force battalion. This ability amplifies the effect of a small number of special forces units across a TDF enterprise. Conversely, while SOF have the expertise for resistance as part of their unconventional warfare capabilities and experience in integrating the interagency, particularly law enforcement and intelligence organizations for this mission, they lack both mass and nationwide presence to effectively lead and conduct overall national resistance operations. This limitation is where the TDF relationship proves synergistic.

National TDF possess three indispensable attributes that make them an ideal resistance force. First, the TDFs’ dual civil and military role provide an essential linkage to the civilian population which serves as the source for the resistance underground and auxiliary as well as offers potential for directed social mobilization for non-violent resistance measures. Not only do citizens have the opportunity to assume fighter, enabler, or amplifier roles in national resistance, but the civilian population also provides the critical intelligence screen that surrounds and protects the resistance (). In essence, TDF are a cross-cutting contributor to all the classic resistance components — underground, auxiliary, and guerrillas.

Second, territorial force geographical dispersion ensures presence throughout the nation and in all county or municipality jurisdictions provides excellent knowledge of the population as well as close relationships with local leaders and communities. This comprehensive national presence empowers the TDF as local sensors that can detect imperceptible or clandestine gray zone operations at the community level. These adversary activities could range from the establishment of nefarious but legal motorcycle and airsoft clubs to the infiltration of church organizations and associations. Third, TDF are voluntary organizations of patriots who are motivated to serve and even defend the nation and local community, and they bring a broad base of civilian experience and skills that may be relevant in resistance situations. Pertinent skills could include experience in medicine, engineering, cyber security, and information technology.
SOF and TDF Collaboration Models
Given the interdependent nature of special operations formations and their territorial defense force counterparts in resistance operations, a critical planning factor is the structuring of the collaboration between the two entities in a Total Defense construct based upon existing military organization and culture, as well as assigned legal authorities in peacetime, crisis, and during occupation. This essay proposes three theoretical models of collaboration between SOF and TDF for the national resistance mission — the force provider (FP) option, the training and doctrine (TRADOC) option, and the advise, assist, and accompany (AAA) option. These possibilities are reference points for starting a discussion; they are not mutually exclusive nor comprehensive and can be tailored according to national frameworks.

Force Provider Option: In peacetime, the TDF organization recruits and prepares trained and ready forces to conduct and/or support resistance operations. The resistance specific training occurs in-house within TDF training facilities with the expertise derived from foreign partners and/or seconded SOF personnel. During crisis or in occupation scenarios, these formations and personnel are provisioned to and subordinated under another lead operational command, potentially even the national SOF command. In this model, the TDF headquarters serves in a service or depot-like function as a force provider.

TRADOC Option: In peacetime, special forces units under the national SOF command develop appropriate resistance doctrine and train territorial defense forces in this framework to develop the necessary skills for these missions. During crisis or occupation, partial or full, TDF units remain under TDF command and control and operate under the appropriate regional TDF headquarters. These forces would coordinate with SOF based upon battle-space requirements.
AAA Option: The SOF command treats territorial defense units as domestic “irregular” forces and assigns dedicated special forces units to develop resistance irregular warfare capabilities in these formations through ‘advise and assist’ activities. In case of crisis or occupation, the dedicated SOF units accompany the territorial defense forces in resistance operations until liberation. The appropriate national command authority can assign these hybrid organizations to any relevant command node based upon the evolving operational situation.

While not conclusive, the aforementioned models serve as starting points for a number of countries who are in the process of establishing or expanding their existing territorial defense or national guard forces for the national resistance mission. Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, Taiwan, Mongolia, and others can evaluate the FB, TRADOC, and AAA theoretical models as they apply to their national situation and adjust accordingly.
Conclusion/Recommendations
Special operations forces take on significant integrator roles in total or comprehensive defense. They provide connection across joint, interagency, and multinational organizational boundaries, and are both a connector and symbiotic partner with territorial defense forces, particularly in the complex mission of national resistance during crisis and occupation. An important planning step for any country confronted by the threat of aggression with resultant full or partial occupation is to delineate the cooperation model and command and control relationships between national SOF and TDF in peacetime. While three potential models are offered in this essay, there may be more options to explore. This important step avoids ad-hoc and sub-optimal organizational arrangements established during an actual crisis. In retrospect, Winston Churchill's words from May 19, 1940, are still relevant today: ‘Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation [...]’ ().

Bibliography

Abukevicius , Margiris. (2021) Lithuanian Vice Minister of Defense, Civil Military Resistance and Resilience, Presentation, 2021 Hungary Resilience and Resistance Conference, Budapest, November 18, 2021.

Allied Joint Publication (AJP)-3.5. (2019) Allied Joint Doctrine for Special Operations, ed. B, version 1, Brussels: NATO Standardization Office, August 7, 2019.

Berzina, Ieva. (2020) ‘From “total” to “comprehensive” national defence: the development of the concept in Europe’, Journal on Baltic Security 6 (2), 2020, p. 1-9.

Bullis, Craig, Andrew Hill, and Lou Yuengert. (2012) The Roles of a Strategic Leader: Mintzberg's Framework, Faculty Paper, Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College.

Churchill, Winston. (1940) Be Ye Men of Valour Speech, London, May 19, 1940.

De Waard, Erik and Eric Hans-Kramer. (2010) ‘Expeditionary Forces and Modular Organizational Design’, in Joseph Soeters, Paul C. van Femema, and Robert Beers (eds), Managing Military Organizations: Theory and Practice, London: Routledge, p. 71–82.

Fiala, Otto C. (ed.). (2019) Resistance Operating Concept, Stockholm: Swedish Defence University.

Hunter, Steve (2021). ‘CANSOFCOM: A Leader’s Perspective on Great Power Competition and SOF’, Consortium on International Security Insights, Vol. 1, Issue 7, November 2021.

Joint Publication (JP) 1. (2017) Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States, Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, March 25, 2013, Incorporating Change 1, July 12, 2017.

Joint Publication (JP) 3-0. (2018) Joint Operations, Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, 17 Jan 2017, Incorporating Change 1, 22 Oct 2018.

Kamiński, Mariusz and Marcel Hadeed, Monika Sus, Brett Swaney, Amelie Theussen. (2021) Baltics Left of Bang: The Southern Shore. INSS Strategic Forum, Washington, DC: National Defense University, p. 1-20.

Lindsay, Franklin. (1993) Beacons in the Night: With the OSS and Tito’s Partisans in Wartime Yugoslavia, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

NATO Special Operations Headquarters. (2020) Comprehensive Defence Handbook, Edition A, Version 1. Mons: NATO Special Operations Headquarters.

Shamir, Eitan and Eyal Ben-Ari. (2018) ‘The Rise of Special Operations Forces: Generalized Specialization, Boundary Spanning and Military Autonomy’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 41:3, 2018, p. 335-371

Stringer, Kevin D. (2010) ‘Interagency Command and Control at the Operational Level: A Challenge in Stability Operations’, Military Review, Vol. 90, no. 2, March/April 2010, p. 54- 62.

Stringer, Kevin D. (2021a) ‘Force Integration in Resistance Operations: Dutch Jedburghs and U.S. Alamo Scouts’, Joint Force Quarterly: JFQ no. 102, 2021, p. 90-95.

Stringer, Kevin D. (2021b) ‘Survival in the Russian Occupied Zone: Command and Organization in Resistance Underground Operations’, Military Review, Vol. 101, No. 4, July-August 2021, p. 125-132.

The Economist. (2019) ‘How the Baltic States Spot the Kremlin’s Agents’, The Economist, 1 August 2019. Available at: https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/08/01/how-the-baltic-states-spot-the-kremlins-agents, (Accessed: 29 November 2021).

U.S. Department of Defense. (2020) Summary of the Irregular Warfare Annex to the National Defense Strategy, Washington, DC: Dept. of Defense.



5. Wars, nuclear tests and Taliban 2.0: Global hotspots, far from Ukraine

A useful rollup/summary of some of the other national security challenges around the world. Note that the ROC and PRC are absent.

Iran
north korea
Yemen
Ethiopia
India
Afghanistan




Wars, nuclear tests and Taliban 2.0: Global hotspots, far from Ukraine
While war rages in Ukraine, the world’s other crises deserve attention.
Tom Nagorski, Global Editor, Joshua Keating, Global Security Reporter, and Nikhil Kumar, Deputy Global Editor
When Grid launched in January, a looming war in Ukraine was only one among many major global stories on the horizon. Since late February, Ukraine and Russia and the global consequences of the war have consumed much of the world’s attention. No doubt they will continue to do so for some time.
But we wanted to take a moment to catch readers up on some critical global issues and hot spots that may have been overlooked in the two months since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion: two other wars, two crises involving nuclear proliferation, a continuing crackdown on minorities in the world’s largest democracy and a look at “Taliban 2.0″ in Afghanistan.
IRAN
New deal or no deal?
In March, France’s foreign ministry warned that the “window of opportunity is closing” to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Given that Iran’s own government had warned that the “window is closing” more than a year earlier, this may be one of the world’s slowest-closing windows. It’s still open, but barely.
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As if to remind the world of the stakes, in March the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran was nearing the amount of enriched uranium it would need to build an atomic bomb and could soon cross an enrichment threshold that would render talks pointless.
It’s a dangerous moment.
In the original deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program and inspections by international monitors in exchange for sanctions relief. Arguably the most important foreign policy achievement of President Barack Obama’s administration, the deal was scuttled in 2018 when President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out and reimposed sanctions. Since then, Iran has dramatically expanded its nuclear stockpile and escalated proxy attacks on U.S. allies and interests in the Middle East.
President Joe Biden has vowed to restore the deal, and negotiations mediated by European countries began in Vienna last year, but progress has been slow. The two sides have argued over sequencing — the U.S. wants Iran to halt enrichment activities first; Iran says that since the U.S. violated the deal, it should lift sanctions first. Things got more complicated in August 2021, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who had negotiated the original deal, was replaced by Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-liner and critic of the JCPOA.
But that window remained open, and in February of this year, the parties were reportedly close to a new agreement. A 27-page document, ready for signatures.
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Then came the war in Ukraine.
Russia was a signatory to the original deal and involved in the current negotiations; in March, Russia demanded that its existing contracts for nuclear projects in Iran — worth billions of dollars — not be affected by new Ukraine-related sanctions. That demand derailed the talks — and while the issue has been ironed out, momentum hasn’t recovered.
The current stumbling block is Iran’s demand that the U.S. remove its Revolutionary Guard Corps from the U.S. terrorism list — Trump listed the Guard members as terrorists in 2019, the first time that had been done for any branch of a country’s military. Removing the Guard would be a tough sell politically in the U.S., and the Biden administration seems skeptical.
For the moment, the negotiations seem to be in limbo, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken — who now has a major war in Europe on his front burner — said recently he was “not overly optimistic at the prospects of actually getting an agreement to conclusion.”
Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Grid that a key difference from the 2015 negotiations is the relative absence of economic pressure for Iran. “Over the last four decades, the few instances in which Iran has compromised — including the 2015 JCPOA — have been when it faces major, existential economic angst,” he said. “They currently don’t feel this given that existing sanctions aren’t being enforced and their oil exports, mostly to China, have increased several-fold.”
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The Iranians are no doubt keeping an eye on U.S. politics. Republicans on Capitol Hill are vowing to block implementation of any deal, which would get easier if they retake the Senate this year. And if the party wins the White House in 2024, they’re likely to tear up any new agreement, just as Trump did.
Sooner or later, that window for negotiators may finally close.
NORTH KOREA
New bluster in the North, new leader in the South
Then there’s the archenemy of the U.S. that already has the bomb.
On the Korean peninsula, the last two months have seen political change in the South and an escalation of nuclear bluster from the North.
Last week, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, used the occasion of a huge military parade to say his country planned to expand its nuclear arsenal “at the fastest possible speed” — and use it if necessary.
People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast of a military parade held in Pyongyang, at a railway station in Seoul on April 26. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)
“Our nuclear weapons can never be confined to the single mission of war deterrent,” Kim said. “If any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state, our nuclear forces will have to decisively accomplish its unexpected second mission.”
In the last two months, Kim has repeatedly upped the rhetorical and military ante. On March 24, North Korea launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017; on April 17, North Korea reported the successful test of a new missile that it claimed would enhance its short-range nuclear capabilities; and earlier this month, satellite images suggested North Korea might be reconstructing its underground nuclear test site, which the regime had partially destroyed prior to Kim’s first summit with Trump in 2018.
In the past, such provocations have been a way for Pyongyang to pressure the U.S. to come to the negotiating table; that strategy worked in the Trump era but shows no signs of bringing concessions from the Biden administration.
John DeLury, a Chinese studies professor at the Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies, told Grid that in the absence of active diplomacy with the U.S., more provocations seem almost inevitable. Beyond the bluster of the missile tests, DeLury noted that “Kim Jong Un’s technicians continue to gain mastery with each effort.” Among capabilities the North Koreans may wish to improve this year, DeLury listed military reconnaissance satellites, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and various nuclear devices.
Overall, the situation in the North appears grim as ever. Kim Jong Un sealed his already tightly controlled borders when the covid pandemic struck; that lockdown has been lifted only for a limited amount of trade with China. The country rejected vaccines offered via a U.N. initiative — leaving North Korea the only nation on earth known to have administered no shots to its citizens.
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The other major development on the Korean peninsula has come in the south. Yoon Suk-yeol won a nail-biter of a presidential election in March, vowing a harder line against the North. During the campaign, Yoon said South Korea would consider “preemptive strikes” on the North’s nuclear forces if the South were under nuclear threat.
“The election of a conservative South Korean president means that Seoul is likely to escalate tensions with the North, trying to prove that a hard-line position is superior to the peacemaking efforts of the outgoing liberal president,” DeLury told Grid. But he added that “having won the presidential election by the slimmest of margins, Yoon faces formidable challenges internally and externally in leading Korea in a more conservative direction.”
YEMEN
Can a “Ramadan ceasefire” end an eight-year nightmare?
Roughly 2,500 miles from Kyiv, two other wars have raged for years. One to the south, the other to the southeast. Let’s start with the latter — in Yemen.
After eight years of war and what the U.N. calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, Yemenis found rare cause for celebration on April 2, the first day of Ramadan, when the warring parties agreed to a two-month ceasefire. While there’s been sporadic fighting, the truce has mostly held. But how long can it last?
Yemen has been at war since 2014, when the Houthis, an Iranian-supported rebel group, took over the capital, Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile in Saudi Arabia. In 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, alarmed at what they saw as Iran gaining a foothold on the Arabian Peninsula, began a military intervention to restore Hadi’s government to power.
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The conflict has produced a two-pronged calamity: the war itself and the famine that followed. The U.N. estimates the combination has killed more than 377,000 people; both sides have been accused of war crimes. The U.S. provided logistics and intelligence support to the anti-Houthi coalition under the Obama administration and to a greater extent during the Trump era. That assistance has been highly controversial given widespread reports of coalition airstrikes targeting civilians. Biden formally ended U.S. support for the war after taking office, but the U.S. has continued arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, another key participant in the coalition.
Prior to the recent ceasefire, fighting centered around the city of Marib, the last major city in northern Yemen outside the Houthis’ control. A pro-government militia backed by the UAE began an offensive to push the Houthis back from the area; the Houthis responded by firing missiles at the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi, in January. They’ve been taking shots at Saudi Arabia for years but ramped up those attacks as well, including a high-profile strike on the port city of Jiddah, just miles from the venue of a Formula 1 Grand Prix race, on March 25.
Asher Orkaby, an expert on Yemen at Princeton University, told Grid the strikes marked a turning point. “The entire world was watching these images of the bombing and fire in the background and race cars in the foreground. Once that happened, the Saudis were looking for an out. This was impacting their country in a way they never anticipated would happen.”
The first step of this “out” was the ceasefire. That was followed by the surprising news that Hadi, Yemen’s internationally recognized but exiled president, was handing over power to an eight-member Presidential Leadership Council that would be empowered to negotiate with the Houthis. The Houthis, who view Hadi’s government as illegitimate and see themselves as being in direct conflict with the Saudis, reacted with skepticism, and much remains to be worked out, but experts seem cautiously optimistic that this new group will bring more credibility to the table.
In the near term, Yemen badly needs international aid. As part of the ceasefire, the Saudis have lifted a blockade on the port city of Hodeidah, allowing shipments of food and fuel to arrive. An estimated 23 million Yemenis — three-quarters of the population — are in need of humanitarian assistance, and the crisis has been exacerbated by recent spikes in food and fuel prices. Making things even worse, Yemen buys more than a third of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine. Help can’t come fast enough.
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ETHIOPIA
No heroes — not even the Nobel laureate
As in Yemen, the war in Ethiopia has been twinned with a humanitarian crisis, and here, too, a truce is in effect. Unfortunately, this one appears fragile — and there are no signs of a long-term settlement on the horizon.
The civil war in Ethiopia pits the regime against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a group born as a rebel movement that became the country’s ruling power for more than two decades, beginning in the 1990s. Eighteen months of war have left tens of thousands dead and forced more than 2 million people from their homes. It has also brought the risk of famine to many parts of the country.
On March 24, Ethiopia’s government announced what it called a “humanitarian truce” with the TPLF to allow aid to reach the northern region of Tigray. Since then, the government has allowed just one relief convoy into the region, saying it will allow more deliveries to flow only when the Tigrayan forces withdraw; the Tigrayans say they will pull back only once more relief has arrived.
A group of internally displaced women and children from the Wag Hemra zone sit and eat together at a refugee camp on March 30 in Sekota, Ethiopia. (jemal countess/Getty Images)
It’s the latest setback in a war that — beyond its human toll — has crushed the fortunes of what had been a success story on the continent. Not to mention the standing of a leader who won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Peace.
From the time he took office in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appeared determined to break the power of the TPLF. After the Tigrayans held regional elections in defiance of Abiy in September 2020, the prime minister ordered a military operation against the group. The violence has spiked and ebbed often since then, with frequent shifts in momentum from one side to the other. At one point last November, it appeared the TPLF might reach the capital, Addis Ababa; Ethiopian government forces stopped the rebels less than 100 miles shy of their goal.
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Meanwhile, Ethiopia has shown that Russia’s war on Ukraine has no monopoly on atrocity. This month, a major investigation authored by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International found that Ethiopian government forces and their allies had killed or evicted hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans from territory seized since war began. The report paints a picture of systemic cleansing of the Tigrayan population: signs ordering Tigrayans to leave, local government officials Tigrayans who refused to leave.
These reports follow others that have blamed both sides for war crimes. Taken together, they have left the warring parties in no mood to make concessions or settle their differences.
Ordinarily, one might invest hope in the fact that one party at the negotiating table is a Nobel laureate; Abiy won the honor for negotiating a landmark treaty with Ethiopia’s neighbor Eritrea in 2018.
But Abiy has referred to the TPLF as a “cancer” and vowed to bury the Tigrayans in “a deep pit.” That rhetoric and the alleged atrocities have set back negotiations and poisoned Abiy’s global reputation. As for the peace prize, earlier this year the Norwegian Nobel Committee took the rare step of publicly warning the Ethiopian prime minister. The committee did not rescind the honor but said he had “a special responsibility to end the conflict and contribute to peace.”
INDIA
On the freedom index, “a series of setbacks”
No war here, only a series of events that many view as backsliding for rights and tolerance in the world’s largest democracy.
For many liberals in India, the March elections in Uttar Pradesh were a confirmation of their worst fears: a clear victory in the country’s most populous state for a Hindu hard-liner known for a virulent brand of divisive politics.
Yogi Adityanath is a former Hindu monk who was hand-picked to lead Uttar Pradesh by India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, after Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won local elections there in 2017. Over the years, Adityanath has faced criminal charges including attempted murder, rioting and other offenses. In March, he returned the BJP to power in Uttar Pradesh, following a campaign replete with anti-minority rhetoric.
Bharatiya Janata Party and Sanskriti Bachao Manch activists hold posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath on Bhopal, India, on March 10. (SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett)
India is majority Hindu, but it is also home to several minority communities, including more than 170 million Muslims. In one case, a local BJP leader promised that, if the party returned to power, Muslims in the state would be forced to “start wearing tilaks” — a reference to a common Hindu religious marking on the forehead. Local media documented scores of other examples of divisive speech as the campaign unfolded.
Modi campaigned extensively in Uttar Pradesh and was often seen at Adityanath’s side. To Modi’s critics, the results confirmed the country’s lurch from its pluralist moorings and a backsliding of democracy.
A key area of concern has been the way the Modi government has targeted its critics. Case in point: news in early April that authorities had banned a well-known critic and rights activist — and chair of Amnesty International’s Indian arm — from traveling abroad. It wasn’t the first instance of a critic being barred from leaving the country. “In the last few years, many human rights activists and journalists have been banned at the last moment from attending international conferences and U.N. events on the human rights situation in India,” said Amnesty’s deputy general secretary, Kyle Ward.
It’s a trend that has been highlighted by other international organizations. Freedom House said in February that India had “suffered a series of setbacks to political rights and civil liberties” since Modi’s reelection as prime minister in 2019. And not long before Adityanath won in Uttar Pradesh, the Swedish think tank the V-Dem Institute, which tracks democracies around the world, put it bluntly. Under Modi’s “anti-pluralist” BJP, it said, India had become a “electoral autocracy.”
AFGHANISTAN
Taliban 2.0 = Dashed hopes, broken promises
Just a week before Putin launched his war on Ukraine, Grid published a series of reports on life in Afghanistan, six months after the fall of Kabul and the return of Taliban rule. We looked at the overall humanitarian situation, freedom of the press, and the rights of women and girls. The latter appeared to offer glimmers of hope; in the face of international pressure, the Taliban had pledged to reopen schools for teenage girls in March of this year.
Millions of girls were excited by the prospect; the Taliban had shuttered classrooms after its takeover last year. But when we spoke to Mahnaz, a 17-year-old from Kabul, she was skeptical. She told Grid in February that she didn’t believe Afghanistan’s new leaders would keep their promise.
And in the event, they didn’t.
The Taliban reversed the policy at the last minute, as girls were preparing to return to school. The decision confirmed the fears of Mahnaz and others who have questioned whether the group has changed since its first years in power, two decades before.
Hopes that what some have called “Taliban 2.0″ might prove a kinder, gentler version have been dashed. Millions of girls remain out of school, and female professionals — journalists, judges and others — have either been driven out of work or into hiding amid concerns about retribution.
International condemnation of the Taliban for these measures — including the freezing of some $600 million in World Bank projects — has done nothing to change the group’s behavior. In some ways, it has made the humanitarian situation worse. Because the Taliban refuses to change its ways, the U.S. and other donors are reluctant to free up funding; as a result, Afghanistan remains largely cut off from the global financial system. As Grid has reported, this has triggered an economic crisis. The World Food Programme said at the end of March that severe food shortages were affecting roughly two-thirds of the population — a staggering sixfold increase compared with August 2021, when U.S. troops left the country.
Given these crises, restrictions on the media may seem almost an afterthought; but here, too, the situation has regressed. The Taliban has stepped up its campaign to choke what had been one of the success stories of the last 20 years — the emergence of a vibrant media sector. In March, the new government imposed broadcast bans on various international media, including BBC bulletins in local languages. Taliban intelligence officials also raided radio outlets in the southern city of Kandahar for allegedly violating a ban on music. Human Rights Watch said six journalists were detained. They were released only after promising never to broadcast music again.
It was just the latest sign of the clock turning back in yet another part of Afghan society.
Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.

6. Multiple dead after mysterious explosion at Russian ammunition plant

Missile, drone, or sabotage? If sabotage, Ukrainian SOF or Russian resistance?

Excerpts:
Numerous reports have emerged about alleged Ukrainian sabotage of Russian plants and factories since the latter began its invasion of the former in February. On April 25, The Guardian reported that fires had broken out at two oil depots in Bryansk, Russia, only around 100 miles from the Ukrainian border. The city also acts as a logistics hub for the Russian military's invasion of Ukraine.
Rob Lee, a military analyst who spoke to The Guardian, about the incident said that Ukrainian sabotage was a likely culprit, as destroying the depots would disrupt fuel supplies to the Russian military.
"The fact that it was two separate sites not far from the border is important," Lee explained.


Multiple dead after mysterious explosion at Russian ammunition plant
Newsweek · by Thomas Kika · May 2, 2022
Amid the country's ongoing military conflict in Ukraine, an ammunition plant near the Ural Mountains in Russia suffered a massive explosion which resulted in fatalities.
The FKP Perm Powder Plant, which produces gunpowder and is located in the city of Perm, reportedly endured an explosion at approximately 8 p.m. local time, according to local authorities. The resulting fire eventually killed two workers and injured others. The incident has so far been pinned on "a product" that "caught fire."
"According to the information received, on 05/01/2022, at about 20:00, a product caught fire at the production site N 12 of the Plastmassa production facility at the Perm Powder Plant FKP," the Russian State Labor Inspectorate for the Perm Territory said in a statement. "As a result of the incident, 3 employees were injured, 1 of them died on the spot, 2 were taken to the hospital. Subsequently, another 1 worker died in the hospital."
The Inspectorate added that it is continuing to investigate the cause of the blast. Another news outlet, Visegrad 24, raised that notion of sabotage while sharing a video of the factory fire.
The outlet, which aggregates news about nations in the Visegrad region of Eastern Europe, also claimed that the factory produces materials used in specific Russian military ordinances.
"Massive explosion moments ago at the Perm gunpowder plant in Russia, which produces components for Grad and Smerch missiles as well as air defense systems," the outlet wrote in a tweet. "Another case of sabotage?"
Newsweek has been unable to verify claims about sabotage or about the ways in which the gunpowder from the plant is used. Newsweek also reached out to Russian authorities for comment.
Perm has a population of just over one million people and is located roughly 1,400 kilometers east of Moscow.

Russian officials confirmed Monday that a gunpowder plant had exploded, causing a fire and killing two workers. Above, a representational image of a different structural fire in Russia. Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images
Numerous reports have emerged about alleged Ukrainian sabotage of Russian plants and factories since the latter began its invasion of the former in February. On April 25, The Guardian reported that fires had broken out at two oil depots in Bryansk, Russia, only around 100 miles from the Ukrainian border. The city also acts as a logistics hub for the Russian military's invasion of Ukraine.
Rob Lee, a military analyst who spoke to The Guardian, about the incident said that Ukrainian sabotage was a likely culprit, as destroying the depots would disrupt fuel supplies to the Russian military.
"The fact that it was two separate sites not far from the border is important," Lee explained.
Newsweek · by Thomas Kika · May 2, 2022

7. Tagging the Red Dragon: The Future of the Philippines’ Strategic Intelligence

Excerpts:

The circumstances described above suggest a way forward for transitioning strategic intelligence from the dominance of internal security towards a greater focus on external security as the first line of defense in the Philippines’ national security strategy. There is a need to emphasize the Philippines’ geographic importance in producing strategic intelligence outputs. In this regard, imagery and signals intelligence is among the most important sources in assessing PLAN movements and intentions in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.
To achieve this, NICA should reorganize itself in parallel with the transforming strategic environment. For one, there is a question about the necessity of NICA’s Regional Intelligence Committee (RIC) and the Special Monitoring Board (SMB), both of which conduct both domestic counterintelligence operations, given that the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) and other law enforcement agencies have essentially the same functions. NICA could apply the same model as its foreign intelligence counterparts from other countries.
NICA, as the Philippines’ premier national intelligence agency, needs to balance intelligence priorities on both domestic and international issues and should remain cautious about the looming shadow of Chinese threats. Having established such balance in its operations, NICA can provide proper guidance on the decision-making processes of policymakers.

Tagging the Red Dragon: The Future of the Philippines’ Strategic Intelligence
Long organized around domestic operations, the Philippines intelligence apparatus needs to retool itself for a new era of superpower competition.
thediplomat.com · by Rhon Ethelbert Ducos · May 2, 2022
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Since the 2010s, there has been a notable shift in the global balance of power, and the re-emergence of a multipolar world. The Philippines faces an unprecedented geopolitical challenge in the face of China’s quest for regional hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) persists in its area-access/area-denial (A2/AD) operations in the contested South China Sea. The PLAN’s reforms to its force structure emphasize high-tech, joint military operations. On the other hand, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) faces a huge challenge in recasting its force structure in terms of fighting multidomain threats that may underlie future wars, and hence its long-shot AFP Modernization Program.
The preponderance of the actual shift in the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific is supported by hard evidence. Global geospatial imagery confirms Beijing’s construction of 10,000-foot runways on each of four artificial island features across the first island chain: Woody IslandFiery Cross ReefMischief Reef, and Subi Reef. These island installations also include batteries of surface-to-air missiles, nti-Ship Ballistic Missiles, and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. These extend the PLAN’s strategic communications and logistics capacity, allowing PLAN surface forces unprecedented freedom to maneuver. Securing the first and second island chains would mean an effective shift in the military balance against the United States. Interestingly, China has already positioned forward bases in Hainan, a Chinese island province in close proximity to the South China Sea. The Yulin naval base on Hainan itself houses enough naval power to choke the Malacca Strait alone. This indicates Beijing’s clear intentions to dominate East Asia.
This is a challenge for which the Philippines’ entire apparatus of state must prepare. The country is currently undergoing a process of “Philippinedization,” which has been defined as a “process whereby a weaker state, backed by a powerful country, goes through great lengths in temporarily refraining from opposing a neighboring great power by resorting to economic and diplomatic rapprochements at the strategic level but strengthening its national security infrastructure on the operational level with an eye for potential conflict in the foreseeable future.” As the literature points out, deterring and winning wars suggest the need for improving intelligence services in order to better discern the enemy’s intentions, capabilities, and movements.
However, defense analyst Joshua Bernard Espeña notes that the country’s primary intelligence-gathering and analysis arm, the National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency (NICA) has “been bogged down in internal security efforts against various insurgent groups,” which may hamper its efforts to prepare for regional challenges. This reflects the 2018 National Security Strategy, which states that internal conflicts remain the top priority concern for the Philippine government.

Recently, NICA has been a subject of a number of controversies, including the indiscriminate act of “red-tagging” or the unverified tagging of persons and groups allegedly affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). In its efforts to defeat the NPA, NICA has produced often questionable intelligence reports, and its own director-general has posted unverified reports about progressive profiles of persons and groups affiliated with CPP-NPA.
China has a hefty reputation for waging unrestricted warfare as an official tool of statecraft on adversaries. Examples can range from force multiplication through the conscription of maritime militias to using digital, private social media corporations to penetrate and subvert U.S. government end-users.
Within the Philippines, NICA has been ineffective in intercepting Chinese espionage. Reports indicate that Chinese agents deliberately target critical Philippine Army and Navy infrastructures, as well as the offices of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Manila’s complacency toward Beijing under President Rodrigo Duterte has been accompanied by an influx of Chinese illegal immigrants, who potentially represent a host of homeland security threats. This is exacerbated by what scholars have noted about NICA: that foreign intelligence work is largely unknown in the general eyes compared to internal security operations. Anecdotal evidence suggests that such a distraction invites institutional weakness, and such a weakness invites external aggression.
The circumstances described above suggest a way forward for transitioning strategic intelligence from the dominance of internal security towards a greater focus on external security as the first line of defense in the Philippines’ national security strategy. There is a need to emphasize the Philippines’ geographic importance in producing strategic intelligence outputs. In this regard, imagery and signals intelligence is among the most important sources in assessing PLAN movements and intentions in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.
To achieve this, NICA should reorganize itself in parallel with the transforming strategic environment. For one, there is a question about the necessity of NICA’s Regional Intelligence Committee (RIC) and the Special Monitoring Board (SMB), both of which conduct both domestic counterintelligence operations, given that the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) and other law enforcement agencies have essentially the same functions. NICA could apply the same model as its foreign intelligence counterparts from other countries.
NICA, as the Philippines’ premier national intelligence agency, needs to balance intelligence priorities on both domestic and international issues and should remain cautious about the looming shadow of Chinese threats. Having established such balance in its operations, NICA can provide proper guidance on the decision-making processes of policymakers.
GUEST AUTHOR
Rhon Ethelbert Ducos
Rhon Ethelbert Ducos is a BA International Studies student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). He currently serves as a student research assistant at PUP’s Department of Political Science and International Studies. His research interests are land warfare, special operations, strategic intelligence, and military affairs in international relations.

GUEST AUTHOR
Amadeus Quiaoit
Amadeus Quiaoit is a BA International Studies student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). He currently serves as a student research assistant at PUP’s Department of Political Science and International Studies. His research interests are defense technologies, joint warfighting, grand strategy, and military affairs in international relations.
thediplomat.com · by Rhon Ethelbert Ducos · May 2, 2022

8. To Win the Next War, the Pentagon Needs Nerds

Revenge of the Nerds.

Excerpts:

Will Roper oversaw procurement for the Air Force between 2018 and 2021 and led the development of groundbreaking experiments involving the rapid deployment of AI in military aircraft using agile software methods borrowed from the tech world. He says that until the DOD is able to draw on more technical expertise, perhaps by getting technical experts to volunteer their time, “we're probably not going to see the technology lined up in the military with where it is in the private sector.” “Why are we still dead in the water when it comes to talent?” he says.
Some experts say the DOD has to reinvent existing relationships with the private sector. They argue that awarding multibillion-dollar contracts to companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, or Northrop Grumman to develop technology over many years is hardly conducive to fast-paced innovation.
Chris Brose is chief strategy officer for Anduril, a company working on a range of defense systems incorporating technologies that have emerged in Silicon Valley, such as virtual reality and AI. Brose says new technologies need to be developed and iterated on more rapidly. Anduril, which was cofounded by the virtual reality pioneer Palmer Luckey, is one of several new defense companies hoping to disrupt the existing order by doing things differently. “When you strip away all of the opacity and the complexity and the jargon, this is a very simple story of disruption,” says Brose.




To Win the Next War, the Pentagon Needs Nerds
Data scientists, coders, and other techies could prove decisive in future conflicts—if Uncle Sam can recruit them.
Wired · by Condé Nast · May 2, 2022
When Russia invaded Ukraine, the US Department of Defense turned to a team of machine learning and artificial intelligence experts to make sense of an avalanche of information about the conflict.
“We have surged data scientists forward,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks told WIRED in a recent interview. These tech experts crafted code and machine learning algorithms, creating systems that are “especially valuable for synthesizing the complex logistics picture,” she said.
Due to the sensitive nature of operations in Ukraine, Hicks says she cannot provide details of what the data team has done. But Hicks says this helps prove a point that she and others have been making within the Pentagon for some time—that technology is fundamentally changing the nature of war, and the US needs to adapt in order to maintain its edge.
“I like to say that bits can be as important as bullets,” Hicks says, in reference to the importance of software, data, and machine learning. It isn’t only that technology is advancing more rapidly and in different ways; the US also faces fresh international competition in emerging areas like AI. Russia might be less of a technological threat, but China has emerged as a formidable new near-peer rival. “We know that by the Chinese government’s statements in writing that they're looking very much to advance on the AI front,” Hicks says.
During the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, AI algorithms have been used to transcribe and interpret Russian radio chatter, and to identify Russian individuals in videos posted on social media, using facial recognition tech. Low-cost drones that use off-the-shelf algorithms to sense and navigate are also proving a potent new weapon against more conventional systems and strategies. An unprecedented hacking campaign against Russia shows how cybersecurity skills have become a potent weapon against a nation-state adversary. New weapons can now be developed at breakneck speed, too, as was shown earlier this month when the US said it had developed a custom drone specifically for use by Ukrainian forces. By contrast, the US Air Force’s latest fighter jet, the F-35, has been in development for over 20 years, at an estimated lifetime cost of $1.6 trillion.
Although the US is helping Ukraine punch above its weight by providing financial aid, conventional weapons, and new technologies, there are those—inside and outside of the Pentagon—who worry that the US is ill-equipped to adapt to the challenges presented by war in the future.
“Every large company has the same problem,” says Preston Dunlap, who resigned last week as chief architect of the Department of the Air Force, a role that involved modernizing technology development and acquisition. Dunlap compares the situation to the way big successful businesses can be disrupted by technological change and more nimble competitors, a phenomenon that the business school professor Clayton Christensen called “the innovator’s dilemma.
Dunlap penned an open resignation letter in which he recommended steps that the Department of Defense should take to embrace a more rapid, experimental, and technology-focused culture. He says just like a business faced with technological disruption and more nimble competitors, the US military struggles to change direction because it encompasses so many people, systems, and ingrained ways of doing things. He suggests that advocates for change, such as Hicks, can only do so much. “I am concerned about operators having to go into some kind of contingency [conflict] without the available technology,” he says. “That's just not a place I want us to be.”
2019 report commissioned by the Defense Innovation Board, which provides the secretary of defense and deputy secretary of defense with recommendations around technology adoption, warns that software and its development has become a crucial strategic issue for the US military. The board also notes that the DOD cannot typically compete with the salaries tech companies offer software developers.
The DOD has taken numerous steps to boost its technological chops, with a particular focus on AI. In August 2015, the department set up the Defense Innovation Unit, which is tasked with coordinating AI across different areas of the military. The latest move, on April 25, saw the Pentagon announce its first chief digital and artificial intelligence officer, Craig Martell, previously head of machine learning at Lyft. Martell was appointed by Hicks to help advance adoption and use of the technology.
There is some debate around how many software engineers and data scientists the DOD actually needs to hire itself, and how much of the work it can outsource. Job ads highlight the defense world's shift toward a software-centric outlook. Emsi, a company that tracks job listings, says 33 percent of 370,000 defense industry job advertisements it analyzed mention software development or data science skills, a figure that has grown 91 percent since 2017.
There are many ways AI and other technology could benefit the US military besides aiding with intelligence gathering and analysis or making weapons smarter. Small trials have shown that the technology can help manage logisticspredict when machinery will fail, and improve veteran care.
But the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, a Pentagon initiative to assess the changing technology landscape, has warned that the US needs to invest more in new technologies and work more closely with the private sector to avoid being blindsided by China.
Given the scarcity of in-house talent, the Pentagon has turned to the private sector for help. But attempts to increase technological resources by working closely with Silicon Valley have been fraught. Project Maven, an Air Force initiative to collaborate with tech firms, sparked controversy in 2019 when Google employees protested the company's decision to develop technology for analyzing aerial imagery. Workers at Microsoft staged protests over that company’s military contracts the same year. The Pentagon continues to work with some Silicon Valley firms, but it is still likely to see pushback from some tech workers over high-profile military projects.
Will Roper oversaw procurement for the Air Force between 2018 and 2021 and led the development of groundbreaking experiments involving the rapid deployment of AI in military aircraft using agile software methods borrowed from the tech world. He says that until the DOD is able to draw on more technical expertise, perhaps by getting technical experts to volunteer their time, “we're probably not going to see the technology lined up in the military with where it is in the private sector.” “Why are we still dead in the water when it comes to talent?” he says.
Some experts say the DOD has to reinvent existing relationships with the private sector. They argue that awarding multibillion-dollar contracts to companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, or Northrop Grumman to develop technology over many years is hardly conducive to fast-paced innovation.
Chris Brose is chief strategy officer for Anduril, a company working on a range of defense systems incorporating technologies that have emerged in Silicon Valley, such as virtual reality and AI. Brose says new technologies need to be developed and iterated on more rapidly. Anduril, which was cofounded by the virtual reality pioneer Palmer Luckey, is one of several new defense companies hoping to disrupt the existing order by doing things differently. “When you strip away all of the opacity and the complexity and the jargon, this is a very simple story of disruption,” says Brose.
More Great WIRED Stories
Wired · by Condé Nast · May 2, 2022


9. The Difference Between America’s 2 Cold Wars

Interesting critique:
Washington should have never allowed China and Russia to coalesce in the way they did. The vulnerability therein derived for it is a major one. Although this could not have been anticipated at the turn of the century, this trend became visible after 2008. That year Russia invaded Georgia, making clear that it would not accept further Western encroachments in its borders, while China’s assertiveness towards the U.S. began to manifest. Washington should have approached the lesser of the two rivals with the aim of diffusing tensions and building bridges. This is what Mao did in relation to Washington in 1972, when tensions with Moscow were running high.
As things stand, in the best-case scenario Russia will become for years to come a huge distraction in relation to America’s main rivalry: China. In the worst-case scenario, these two competitors might coordinate their actions to overflow America’s response capability.
The Difference Between America’s 2 Cold Wars
Insights from Alfredo Toro Hardy.
thediplomat.com · by Mercy A. Kuo · May 2, 2022
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The Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Ambassador Alfredo Toro Hardy – former Venezuelan ambassador to the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, Singapore, Chile, and Ireland as well as an Associate Professor of the Simón Bolívar University in Caracas; and author of 20 books including newly published “America’s Two Cold Wars: From Hegemony to Decline?” (Palgrave Macmillan 2022) – is the 317th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”
Explain the key differences between the United States’ two “Cold Wars.”
During its Cold War with the USSR, America had the wind on its back, with all the right configuration of elements supporting it. The playing field was the right one: The core underpinning element, ideology, was its biggest strength. Its support base was large: an extensive network of alliances reinforced its position. The consistency of purpose was clear cut: Both domestically and externally it followed a clear road map. The economic correlation between both superpowers clearly leaned on its behalf – it inhabited in the economic high ground. The final objective was attainable: Containment of the USSR was a reasonable and plausible strategy. These factors allowed a successful outcome.
In its emerging Cold War with China the opposite happens. The playing field does not favor the U.S. as the core underpinning element is its main weakness: efficiency. The support base is faltering, as its credibility among its allies has reached a historical low. The consistency of purpose is weak, as its political parties inhabit different foreign policy planets (and although they still exhibit a China-bashing common denominator, this falls short from an articulated foreign policy). The economic correlation puts it in a flickering place, as in a few years’ time the U.S. will be sliding into the economic lowlands in relation to China. The final objective is unattainable as containing China in its own background does not look like a reasonable proposition.
Analyze the paradigm shift from ideology to efficiency in the New Cold War.
Although multifaceted, Cold War with the USSR had ideology as its core element, something for which America was particularly well endowed. Having been the birthplace of liberal democracy and its most devoted preacher, it was easy for it to reclaim the mantle of leader of the “Free World.” Particularly so after Woodrow Wilson bequeathed its foreign policy with a missionary impulse in that direction. On the other side, the Soviet regime also embodied an ideology that aimed at global expansion. This ideological contest was not only clear cut, but unmistakably favorable to the United States. Freedom, notwithstanding the contradictions that the “Free World” notion entailed, was an arrow directed to the Achilles Heel of a totalitarian system like the Soviet one.
This emerging Cold War is not based on ideology. America’s liberal credentials have lost credibility as they are being seriously contested at home itself. Moreover, all that matters for China since Deng Xiaoping’s days is that the “cat” catches “mice.” Hence, not only has America’s liberal order become an ideological nonstarter, but what seems to matter in this rivalry is the capability to deliver shown by each. Efficiency, thus, becomes the defining element of the new Cold War.
Contrary to America’s comparative advantage in its ideological contest with the Soviets, the country is badly prepared for a competition framed in efficiency terms. America fares poorly in numerous areas in relation to other countries of the developed world, as many of its domestic problems have been left unchecked for too long. Conversely, during a bit more than four decades China has shown the most impressive historical record in providing results.
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Examine the trajectory of U.S. foreign policy from hegemony to the squandering of alliances.
In the final phase of World War II or subsequently, a network of multilateral organizations, initiatives and alliances took shape under America’s auspices. Through this network, the U.S. positioned itself at the head of a potent hegemonic system where legitimacy was sustained by consensual acquiescence. The United States’ spectrum of allies was as diverse as was its capability to articulate the system on behalf of its Cold War objectives. With the collapse of the USSR, the whole community of nations had to find arrangements under this hegemonic system, which henceforward became global.
Incomprehensible under the light of common sense, George W. Bush proclaimed the futility of multilateral cooperation, which in his view constrained the freedom of action to which American power was entitled. This raw unilateralism gravely weakened a system that had served Washington exceedingly well, while eroding the country’s standing within it. Bush followed eight years later by Trump was simply too much. The latter’s “dog eat dog” approach to foreign policy ended up by shattering the trust in U.S. leadership. America’s allies are finding it exceedingly difficult to tie their future to a country so prone to zigzags and extremes. Particularly so, as in a few years’ time Washington could be inaugurating a new Trump administration.
The book could not have anticipated the reinvigoration of NATO resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, this new-found strength is still a process in the making, with many questions yet to be answered: Would it survive a long war? Would the Atlantic Alliance commitment be the same beyond the European sphere? Would it survive Trump’s possible return to power?
Compare and contrast reasonable containment in U.S. relations with China and role in the Indo-Pacific.
The United States’ most articulated Cold War strategy was its containment of Soviet expansionism. However, as Stalin understood that no new gains were possible in Europe beyond the “Iron Curtain,” Soviet expansionism and American containment moved into peripheral zones. Friction between the two superpowers were thus removed from the most geopolitical combustible region of the world. This substantially reduced the risk of a direct confrontation between them. With the notable exceptions of Berlin 1961 and Cuba 1963, both countries avoided geostrategic charged scenarios.
But is it viable to indefinitely constrain China to a secondary role in an area which is of geostrategic priority to it? Is it possible to do so when its layered defense-in-depth’s control of the area contrasts with the huge distance from the United States? How to contain a force whose main objective is precisely to deter penetration by others? Containment under those circumstances does not seem plausible.
Assess your framework of the New Cold War vis-à-vis Russia’s war in Ukraine and China-Russia relations.
Washington should have never allowed China and Russia to coalesce in the way they did. The vulnerability therein derived for it is a major one. Although this could not have been anticipated at the turn of the century, this trend became visible after 2008. That year Russia invaded Georgia, making clear that it would not accept further Western encroachments in its borders, while China’s assertiveness towards the U.S. began to manifest. Washington should have approached the lesser of the two rivals with the aim of diffusing tensions and building bridges. This is what Mao did in relation to Washington in 1972, when tensions with Moscow were running high.
As things stand, in the best-case scenario Russia will become for years to come a huge distraction in relation to America’s main rivalry: China. In the worst-case scenario, these two competitors might coordinate their actions to overflow America’s response capability.
CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR
Mercy A. Kuo
Mercy Kuo is Executive Vice President at Pamir Consulting.
thediplomat.com · by Mercy A. Kuo · May 2, 2022


10. Japan-Russia ructions roiling Pacific waters

We often say the Korean peninsula remains at war.  But we forget Russia and Japan ended their formal state of war with the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, but as of 2022 have not resolved this territorial dispute over ownership of the Kurils.


Japan-Russia ructions roiling Pacific waters
Russia declares Japan an ‘unfriendly nation’ over Ukraine related sanctions while Tokyo lawmakers call for more arms
asiatimes.com · by Andrew Salmon · May 2, 2022
While a hot war rages on Russia’s western border, the temperature is falling in a long-running cold war on its eastern frontier.
Japan-Russian relations, long prickly, have been exacerbated since February after Moscow’s forces launched a multi-pronged assault on Ukraine.
Japan, closely allied to the United States and in synch with the wider West, has raised its diplomatic voice, deployed financial aid to Ukraine and applied sanctions against Russian individuals and companies, while capping new Japanese investments in Russia.

While Moscow reserves most of its ire for Western countries sending military equipment to Ukraine, it has added Japan to its official list of “unfriendly nations.”
A new chill is also evident in relations covering the problematic Kuril Islands/Northern Territories, a source of animosity since 1945. Russia has halted talks and launched military drills around the contested isles.
The recent plunge in relations, while a sudden acceleration, is part of a trend visible in Moscow-Tokyo relations since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had struck up a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, left office in 2020.
Yet Japan, while clearly siding with the West, has held its fire more than many other nations, particularly Anglosphere ones.
Trammeled by its pacifist constitution, Tokyo is not sending arms to Ukraine. And although Japan has announced sanctions, it is not halting imports of Russian oil or gas.

Even though Western energy majors have pulled out of projects in the Russian Far East, Tokyo has made clear that its huge Mitsui-Mitsubishi investment in Russia’s Sakhalin-2 energy project will keep pumping.
This points to the reactive, rather than proactive, nature of Japanese foreign policy.
“Japan’s attitude is ‘wait and see.’ This is a classic tug of war between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Tosh Minohara, a professor of Japanese Diplomacy at the Graduate School of Law and Politics, Kobe University, told Asia Times.
“I think Japan is waiting to see what Europe does, especially Germany.”
That points to another conundrum. If Germany eventually does make the jump – a very, very big jump – away from Russian energy, and Japan feels compelled by its global democratic partners to follow suit, the winner will likely be a commercial and geopolitical rival: China.

“It is apparent to Japan that, if Japan leaves, China will move in and fill the void,” Minohara said.
The rough new waves rolling through global geopolitics may well thrust Japan further into America’s arms, Minohara suggested.
But there are other regional signals flashing, including indications of increasing Russian military moves in the Far East, and of unofficial but growing Beijing-Moscow military cooperation. These, allied to movements in both the Diet and in public opinion, are adding to the already existing pressures on Japanese officialdom to upgrade its own defenses.
Map: New Pakistan TV / Screengrab
Last week, Tokyo’s Foreign Ministry published its diplomatic “blue book” for 2022, which says that a group of islands north of Hokkaido, seized by Soviet troops at the very end of World War II, are an inherent part of Japanese territory that was “illegally occupied by Russia.”
That marks a return to the language previously used in 2011, before then-premier Shinzo Abe sought to cool the dispute over the Kurils/Northern Territories, which has been simmering between Moscow and Tokyo since 1945.

The publication further ramped up the rhetoric, calling the Russian invasion of Ukraine “an outrage that undermines the foundation of the international order not only in Europe but also in Asia.”
In a prior diplomatic step taken on April 8, Japan expelled a group of Russian diplomats. And on March 23, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Japanese Diet.
Tokyo has deployed a range of goods to Ukraine, including foodstuffs, medicines, helmets, hazmat suits, bulletproof vests and commercial drones. It has also promised US$2.6 million to Kiev to buy medical aid, and is providing about $300 million in loans.
The latter, announced by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is a major increase over an earlier commitment of $100 million.
Japan’s pacifist constitution prohibits the deployment of the kind of weaponry that Western countries are sending. Still, Tokyo has opened fire with a range of sanctions against Russia.
On March 15, Japan announced it was joining Western partners in banning the export of key goods, including semiconductors, machine tools and raw materials. The ban applies to about 270 items.
Then, on April 12, the cabinet approved freezing the assets of 398 Russians, including President Vladimir Putin’s two daughters, as well as 28 organizations including Russia’s leading bank, Sherbank.
Japanese individuals and companies were also prohibited from making any new investments in Russia.
On April 14, the Diet passed bills that strip Russia of its “most favored nation” trade status. That will raise tariff rates on Russian imports via a revision to customs laws, and will prevent transactions in cryptocurrencies, which could provide a way for Russian businesses to swerve around their exclusion from the SWIFT global financial transaction system.
The Diet’s steps last month reportedly cleared the path for tougher sanctions by the end of the current parliamentary session in June.
A pro-Russian soldier standing near a burnt out building in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, April 10, 2022. Image: Screengrab / BBC
While the ban on key material exports was enacted in March, it does not include the products that make up the majority of Japan’s exports to Russia. Those are cars and auto components, which are about half, while construction and mining account for about 6.7%, Bloomberg noted.
Russian shipments to Japan made up less than 2% of the island nation’s imports in 2021. Of them, approximately 60% were energy-related.
And when it comes to energy, there has been some movement.
Kishida declared on April 8 that Russia’s coal imports would be curtailed and Japan will “gradually cut imports by securing alternative sources swiftly.”
There is no timetable for the both gradual and swift step. According to Japanese news reports, authorities were assessing future electricity demand, with Kyodo News anticipating Australia would make up the shortfall.
Russian coal makes up 13% of Japan’s coal used for power generation and 8% of its coking coal, used for steel making and other industrial processes.
But the heavy reliance multiple developed nations have on Russian energy supplies remains an Achilles heel of the West’s sanctions regime.
Japan is no exception. Neither Russian crude oil nor LNG are subject to the tariffs announced last month. Japan, a net energy importer, receives about 9% of its gas from Russia.
And industrial cooperation in the sector will continue. Japanese players Mitsubishi and Matsui are, along with Russia’s Gazprom, key partners in the huge Sakhalin-2 project in the Russian Far East.
The other overseas partner in Sakhalin-2, Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell, announced its pullout at the end February, citing the war in Ukraine. US-based Exxon Mobil announced it would pull out of Sakhalin-1 for the same reason.
However, Japan’s Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda said Japan would not withdraw from Sakhalin-2 as it was not a new investment and was vital to Japan’s energy security.
Shell held a 27.5% stake in the project, while Mitsui and Mitsubishi held 12.5% and 10%, respectively, according to Japanese media.
Arguably, it is also a diplomatic asset. As well as generating energy for Japan, the project was seen as an economic component of improved ties with Russia that could help overcome the Kuril/Northern territories dispute.
Aerial view of the Sakhalin-2 project. Image: Shell Website
A reservoir of ill will
That dispute is the tip of an iceberg. Acrimonious – indeed, lethal – relations between the two Northeast Asian powers date back for more than a century.
Czarist Russians reached the northern Pacific in the 17th century and established an official administrative presence in 1856 at Khabarovsk. The Meiji Era, the period of fast-track Japanese modernization and globalization, started in 1868.
Moscow’s eastward expansionism, combined with Tokyo’s unprecedented rise, put the two powers on a collision course.
In 1904-1905, to the world’s astonishment, Japan emerged victorious in the Russo-Japanese War, the first time an Eastern nation had defeated a Western one in modern history. That granted Japan not only plaudits, but uncontested control of the strategic Korean peninsula, which it colonized in 1910.
In 1918, Tokyo dispatched troops to fight alongside white forces during the Russian Civil War. In 1931, it used Korea as a balcony to advance into Manchuria, and subsequently China. However, its move into Mongolia was halted at the bloody battle of Khalkin Gol/Nomhohan in 1939 by Soviet troops.
Japan’s defeat in the four-month campaign, with the loss of about 18,000 troops, had seismic geopolitical results. A Soviet-Japanese Neutrality pact was signed in 1941, and a militaristic Tokyo, instead of confronting Soviet communism, chose a “southern strategy” of confronting European and US colonial powers in Southeast Asia.
That led Japan into battle against the Western Allies with Nazi Germany.
After Berlin’s defeat, and at the request of the Allies, then preparing for what was expected to be an apocalyptic assault on the Japanese home islands, Moscow joined the fight against Japan.
In August 1945, the last month of the struggle, massed Soviet forces invaded Japan-controlled Manchuria, northern Japanese territories and the Korean Peninsula.
China would regain control of Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula would be split into two states. However, the Northern Territories/Kuril Islands, which lie between Japan’s Hokkaido and Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, remained in Moscow’s grip.
The dispute has dragged on into the 21st century, marked by angry diplomacy, fishing disputes and aerial intrusions.
Although Abe undertook extensive one-on-one talks with Putin, the dispute remained unresolved. No peace treaty ending World War II between Moscow and Tokyo has yet been signed.
“Abe didn’t achieve much on territorial disputes,” Haruko Satoh, an international relations expert at the Osaka School of International Public Policy, told Asia Times. ”Despite his seemingly good relations with Putin.”
Even so, since Abe left office in 2020, relations have chilled further.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Photo: AFP / Alexander Vilf / Sputnik
In 2021, Russia deployed an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system in the Kurils, beefing up short-range systems already in place.
On March 26, after its February attack on Ukraine, Russia held military drills with 3,000 personnel on the islands, the scenario being defense against an enemy landing.
Japanese media reported that the drills took place days after Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced it was suspending territorial talks with Japan in protest against its sanctions.
In April, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force and the US Navy held a series of far-ranging joint drills in the East China Sea, the Philippine Sea and the Sea of Japan headed by the US carrier Abraham Lincoln.
While the Quad partners routinely hold such drills, widely considered to be aimed at Beijing, this time they sparked a response from Moscow.
On April 14, TASS reported that two submarines from Russia’s Vladivostok-based Pacific Fleet test-fired Kalibr cruise missiles from submerged postures in the Sea of Japan. “Over 15 ships and auxiliary vessels of the Pacific Fleet, and also naval aviation aircraft, provided support” for the drill, TASS said.
It makes sense for Russia.
“Though the efficacy of the Russian Far Eastern fleet may be in question, it is still a force to be reckoned with,” said Alex Neill, a Singapore-based security consultant. “A ‘real’ military power has to be able to fight on two fronts, so putting pressure on the Pacific front – and Russia wants to demonstrate it is a Pacific power – is probably a calculation for Putin, pushing back against US and allies in that part of the world.”
Tokyo’s top brass has been largely focused on a rising China in the Senkaku/Diaoyus, the South China Sea and more recently around Taiwan. They have also been spooked by North Korean missile and nuclear tests.
Now, they must add Russian belligerence and a growing Chinese-Russian military partnership to their list.
“Russia is annoyed by the theater missile defenses of the US and its allies – Japan being one of them – so China and Russia probably very much see eye to eye on countering a theater missile defense net in Indo-Pacific,” Neill said.
There is more. China and Russia have a low-profile but rising partnership in the Indo-Pacific.
Chinese forces joined Russia’s huge Vostok 2018 military drills, and since then, Chinese and Russian warplanes have jointly probed South Korean and Japanese air space. Assets from both fleets also discretely shadow the US RIMPAC international naval exercises.
Russian and Chinese soldiers take aim in a 2018 joint military exercise. Image: Twitter
All this is sparking a renewed focus on defense in both the Japanese polity and the public.
Last week, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party asked Kishida to consider doubling Japan’s defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP). That was part of a set of proposals that also included upgrading the ability of the Self Defense Force to take out distant enemy weapons systems and to update the National Security Strategy.
Meanwhile, a poll published by Kyodo News on Monday (May 2) found that a slender majority of Japanese – 50% versus 48% – are now in favor of revising their pacifist constitution.
The multiple security jitters, including the Ukraine invasion, may further push Japan into the arms of its alliance partner, reckons one expert.
“Japan has an alliance with the US, and an alliance is a mutual thing,” said Minohara. “I think the global situation is forcing Japan to realize that alliances matter.”
This may lead to more US assertiveness and related movement by a customarily reluctant Japan. “How it plays out is when the US stomps its foot and says, ‘Get your act together!’” said Minohara. “That is when Japan moves.”
asiatimes.com · by Andrew Salmon · May 2, 2022


11. Lawmakers Worry Pentagon Will ‘Shortchange’ INDOPACOM’s Budget Request

Excerpts:
It’s not clear whether there are priorities from Indo-Pacific Command’s report that were not included in the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which is not a separate budget but rather collects in one place funding for various programs that are already in the overall budget request, or whether the two documents are categorizing spending differently. But the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and Indo-Pacific Command’s report include similar tables that break down funding priorities in the region but have drastically different numbers.
For example, Indo-Pacific Command asked for $7.1 billion in 2023 to “modernize and strengthen presence” in the region. That same line item for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative for a “modernized and strengthened presence” is just $1.8 billion. Under a budget line to “improve capabilities available to USINDOPACOM,” the combatant command asks for $110 million, while the Pacific Deterrence Initiative requests just $25 million.
In other areas, the Pentagon’s request surpasses Indo-Pacific Command’s. The combatant command asked for just $61 million for logistics and maintenance capabilities in fiscal 2023. But “improved logistics, maintenance capabilities, and prepositioning of equipment, munitions, fuel, and materiel” would get $302.8 million under the Pacific Deterrence Initiative. The Pacific Deterrence Initiative also asked for $2.3 billion for “exercises, training, experimentation, and innovation,” while Indo-Pacific Command’s evaluation asks for $540 million.
Lawmakers Worry Pentagon Will ‘Shortchange’ INDOPACOM’s Budget Request
More than a dozen members of the House Armed Services Committee asked appropriators to bring the Pentagon’s 2023 spending proposal up to INDOPACOM’s request.
defenseone.com · by Jacqueline Feldscher
Some lawmakers are urging their colleagues not to lose sight of the threats posed by China, voicing concern that the Pentagon is trying to “shortchange” its mission in the Pacific.
Military leaders have named China the top threat facing the Defense Department, but the Pentagon’s 2023 budget request for the region appears lower than the amount Indo-Pacific Command officials said they need in a report to Congress obtained by Defense One. More than a dozen lawmakers are asking leaders of the House Appropriations Committee to boost funding to suit.
“The crisis in Ukraine underscores the need to act with urgency when it comes to defending Taiwan,” said Rep. Michael Gallagher, R-Wisc., who led the letter, which was shared exclusively with Defense One. “Admiral [John] Aquilino clearly outlined to Congress what he needs to deter [Chinese Community Party] aggression in the Indo-Pacific, and any attempt to shortchange his request will not only undermine our ability to defend Taiwan, but will also be met with strong, bipartisan opposition in Congress.”
The letter was signed by 10 Republicans and five Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee, including Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio; Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass.; Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.; and Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.
China is the Defense Department’s primary concern, according to an unclassified fact sheet about the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy that was released in March. Though the fact sheet lists other threats of concern, including Russia, North Korea, Iran, and violent extremists, the report identifies Beijing as “our most consequential strategic competitor and the pacing challenge for the department.”
Last year, Congress directed Indo-Pacific Command to conduct an independent analysis of its funding requirements for 2023. In the “Seize the Initiative” report, officials said they need nearly $9.1 billion for 2023, and almost $67 billion between 2024 and 2027, according to an unclassified copy of the report shared with Defense One.
The Pentagon’s proposed Pacific Deterrence Initiative funding for 2023, however, is only $6.1 billion, according to an April 2022 comptroller document shared with Defense One.
“We’ve seen this for a couple years, where DOD seems to be adjusting what INDOPACOM has identified as its requirements and ultimately we defer to the commanders on the ground,” a congressional staffer said. “We have members who are saying, for appropriations this year, we need to give INDOPACOM everything it’s asking for.”
The Pentagon did not return a request for comment on the discrepancy.
It’s not clear whether there are priorities from Indo-Pacific Command’s report that were not included in the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which is not a separate budget but rather collects in one place funding for various programs that are already in the overall budget request, or whether the two documents are categorizing spending differently. But the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and Indo-Pacific Command’s report include similar tables that break down funding priorities in the region but have drastically different numbers.
For example, Indo-Pacific Command asked for $7.1 billion in 2023 to “modernize and strengthen presence” in the region. That same line item for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative for a “modernized and strengthened presence” is just $1.8 billion. Under a budget line to “improve capabilities available to USINDOPACOM,” the combatant command asks for $110 million, while the Pacific Deterrence Initiative requests just $25 million.
In other areas, the Pentagon’s request surpasses Indo-Pacific Command’s. The combatant command asked for just $61 million for logistics and maintenance capabilities in fiscal 2023. But “improved logistics, maintenance capabilities, and prepositioning of equipment, munitions, fuel, and materiel” would get $302.8 million under the Pacific Deterrence Initiative. The Pacific Deterrence Initiative also asked for $2.3 billion for “exercises, training, experimentation, and innovation,” while Indo-Pacific Command’s evaluation asks for $540 million.
defenseone.com · by Jacqueline Feldscher

12. Why the Chinese military wants thousands of 'made-to-order' noncommissioned officers


Hmm... Chinese versus US competition on how to develop and maintain a professional NCO corps.

Excerpts:

The Chinese military is not the only one struggling to retain enlisted talent. In 2019, the Government Accountability Office found that the U.S. Air Force had been bleeding experienced aircraft maintainers for nearly a decade, which contributed to a “heavy workload and undesirable working conditions,” and a substantial knowledge gap.
Though the service implemented the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations to improve its retention of maintainers, posts about burnout and unsustainable workloads appear nearly every day on unofficial Air Force social media pages on Facebook and Reddit. In April, the Air Force announced up to $20,000 bonuses for recruits to sign six-year contracts in technical fields such as linguistics, aircraft maintenance, cyber operations and “any mechanical or electrical aptitude.”
Could the U.S. military be the next institution to try out made-to-order NCOs? Perhaps, because as we all know, the U.S. military will do just about anything to stay ahead of China, and it seems like they’re going to keep their made-to-order NCOs for a while.
“The targeted training NCO program can be expected to continue and possibly expand even further in the coming years as the PLA continues its push toward basic military modernization and then a world-class military,” the paper authors wrote.

Why the Chinese military wants thousands of 'made-to-order' noncommissioned officers
Beijing has been producing a new force of noncommissioned officers over the past decade.
BY DAVID ROZA | PUBLISHED MAY 2, 2022 8:27 AM
taskandpurpose.com · by David Roza · May 2, 2022
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Here in the good ol’ U.S. of A, the military likes to mold noncommissioned officers — the sergeants and petty officers who keep the armed forces running — in the jaded wisdom and disillusioned bitterness that comes from years of herding junior enlisted service members and officers in order to make things work kind-of-okay most of the time.
But for the past 10 years, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has been trying something different: sending high school graduates to school for a few more years before getting them back as newly-minted noncommissioned officers to guide younger service members through the increasingly-technical equipment of its modernizing military.
The so-called “made-to-order” NCOs are meant to help the PLA transform its enlisted force from being largely unskilled and poorly educated to one filled with career service members who can operate sophisticated weapons and equipment, wrote U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Salisbury and security researcher Kenneth Allen in a paper for the China Aerospace Studies Institute. A U.S. Air Force initiative, the institute is dedicated to studying the PLA’s growing capabilities in air and space.
“[I]n recent years the PLA has acknowledged that its NCO corps still lacks higher education and technical skills, and that this problem will become more severe as increasingly modern weapons and equipment place higher demands on personnel,” wrote Salisbury and Allen, who served as research director of the Institute for several years. “The ‘targeted training NCO’ program is aimed at alleviating this shortfall.”
Chinese soldiers with the People’s Liberation Army and Japanese soldiers with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force stand in formation prior to a training event during Exercise Khaan Quest 2015 at Five Hills Training Area in Tavantolgoi, Mongolia, June 23, 2015. (Staff Sgt Christopher Giannetti / U.S. Marine Corps)
The PLA is right to focus on developing good NCOs. Experts say a lack of them in the Russian ranks partly explains why the Russian military has performed so poorly in Ukraine since it invaded in February.
“Without my NCOs, it’s impossible for me to be able to effectively lead my team,” retired Army captain and Medal of Honor recipient Flo Groberg told Task & Purpose in March. “I wouldn’t have the right guidance, I wouldn’t have the right expertise and leadership on the team to be able to motivate, track, and really do the impossible for our soldiers. They’re the connective tissue to the mission.”
Though officers put the plans together, it’s the noncommissioned officers in a unit who implement them, explained Clint Romesha, a fellow Army veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. Instead of having a tradition of older enlisted leaders who are empowered to make decisions in combat, as the U.S. military does, the Russian military relies on conscripts who typically serve for just one year before getting out, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
The conscription model “had no real career path” for troops, wrote Army Maj. Charles Bartles in an article for Army University, so NCOs “either left the service or became commissioned officers.”
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China’s targeted training NCO program seems to be designed to avoid that problem. Launched in 2012, the program enrolls recent high school graduates in a three-year program that includes 2.5 years of study at a civilian polytechnic or vocational college. Throughout that time, the cadets wear military uniforms, stay in dedicated dormitories, and are subject to “quasi-militarized management,” according to the research paper.
After graduating, the cadet then undergoes six months of military training, including basic training and some specialty training. Once that is done, the cadet starts five years of service commitment as a corporal, the lowest NCO rank in the Chinese military.
The program is a sweet deal for young Chinese men and women who want the government to pay for training in a technical field. It also provides a more secure path to a stable government career, according to the research paper. Most junior enlisted Chinese service members are demobilized after their two-year initial service commitment, but with a five-year service commitment and technical training to boot, the ‘made-to-order NCOs’ are presumably better able to stay in the service, rise through the ranks, and have a good chance of being placed in a government job after 12 years of service, wrote Salisbury and Allen. It also effectively allows cadets to choose their military service and specialty, a luxury that traditional recruits may not have.
“[T]he targeted training NCO program may be partially intended to broaden the appeal of the PLA to a new segment of ambitious students (and parents) with a promise of specific educational and career opportunities,” wrote Salisbury and Allen. “In this way, it might be considered part of an overall suite of recruitment programs meant to appeal to eligible members at different life stages rather than just an attempt to develop a single, most effective method to produce technically-minded NCOs.”
Armed soldiers with facial makeup of Peking Opera take a selfie during an activity to celebrate the Lantern Festival on February 26, 2021 in Hefei, Anhui Province of China. (Xu Wei/VCG via Getty Images)
You might be thinking: technical training is great, but how will these wet-behind-the-ears NCOs earn the respect of their troops when they don’t have the weary years of sleep deprivation and bitter disappointment that make American NCOs so salty and powerful? That concern is valid: along with targeted training NCOs, the Chinese military also directly recruits NCOs straight out of technical schools, without the years of quasi-military habits that targeted training NCOs enjoy. From anecdotal scans of internet forums, the research paper authors found that NCOs who were directly recruited “often had trouble adapting to military life, struggled to earn respect from both junior and senior enlisted members, and often their technical knowledge did not match up well with their duties,” they wrote.
However, the targeted training program may prepare cadets better for NCO life through the quasi-military management they live under during their years of studies. The targeted training program is also interesting because available data indicates that it is aimed more at producing technical subject matter experts than leaders of men and women.
“Indeed, a 2018 report on [People’s Liberation Army Air Force] targeted training NCOs revealed that only 11% of these NCOs had become squad leaders, while 60% had become technical experts, indicating a preference for them to fill technical positions over leadership ones,” wrote the paper authors.
The made-to-order program is also not meant to replace the traditional method of growing NCOs, most of whom will still come from the junior enlisted ranks. But even if the made-to-order NCOs are not as good as traditional ones, the longer service commitment benefits the PLA, which may be struggling to meet recruitment quotas, the paper authors said.
“This is even more true for the more technical positions this program aims to fill, where it may be especially difficult to maintain qualified personnel with only two-year commitments,” they wrote.
Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers march past the entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing on June 12, 2021. (Noel Celis / AFP via Getty Images)
In any case, the targeted training program is a popular one. After starting with just a few hundred cadets in 2012, the program grew to accept over 20,000 students in 2020. Some of the most popular specialties that the cadets train for are modern communications technology, computer network technology, aircraft electromechanical equipment repair, and marine engineering technology.
Though “made-to-order NCOs” might sound contrary to the tried-and-true American process of carving NCOs out of chewing tobacco and old coffee grounds, a similar program might emerge here, too. In November, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger called for allowing civilians with critical skills to join the service without starting at the very bottom as new recruits.
“The rapid rise in importance of the cyber domain, for instance, has challenged us to find creative ways to quickly build critical skills at mid-career and senior levels,” Berger wrote in his radical Talent Management Plan. “Unless we find a means to quickly infuse expertise into the force – at the right ranks – I am concerned that advances in artificial intelligence and robotics, among other fields where the speed of technological change is exponential, will force us into a reactive posture.”
Berger clarified that the option would be limited to certain military occupational specialties, saying that it would be “difficult to imagine a scenario” in which a civilian could skip boot camp in order to join a combat arms field like infantry or artillery.
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Alex Oley, a field radio operator with 8th Communication Battalion, conducts a radio communication check during Exercise Cyber Fury 21, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 26, 2021. (Cpl. Armando Elizalde / U.S. Marine Corps)
The Chinese military is not the only one struggling to retain enlisted talent. In 2019, the Government Accountability Office found that the U.S. Air Force had been bleeding experienced aircraft maintainers for nearly a decade, which contributed to a “heavy workload and undesirable working conditions,” and a substantial knowledge gap.
Though the service implemented the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations to improve its retention of maintainers, posts about burnout and unsustainable workloads appear nearly every day on unofficial Air Force social media pages on Facebook and Reddit. In April, the Air Force announced up to $20,000 bonuses for recruits to sign six-year contracts in technical fields such as linguistics, aircraft maintenance, cyber operations and “any mechanical or electrical aptitude.”
Could the U.S. military be the next institution to try out made-to-order NCOs? Perhaps, because as we all know, the U.S. military will do just about anything to stay ahead of China, and it seems like they’re going to keep their made-to-order NCOs for a while.
“The targeted training NCO program can be expected to continue and possibly expand even further in the coming years as the PLA continues its push toward basic military modernization and then a world-class military,” the paper authors wrote.

13. Another Cuban Missile Crisis?

Excerpts:

During the Cold War, the West used nuclear deterrence to offset the Soviet superiority in conventional forces in the European theater. Moscow’s huge armies might, at least initially, prevail in an attack across Germany, but the threat that NATO would retaliate with nuclear weapons kept Soviet aggression in check. Now, however, the evident weakness and disorder of Russian conventional forces suggests a new possibility: that a weaker Russia must try to deter NATO in Ukraine by nuclear threats.
The prospect of tactical nuclear strikes on the European mainland would, Mr. Putin undoubtedly hopes, test the cohesion of the NATO alliance. While nobody wants to be quoted on the record, senior Europeans are already whispering to sympathetic journalists about concerns that the Biden administration is escalating too far and too fast. Would France and Germany continue to back American policy if Russia strikes Ukrainian targets with nuclear warheads? Is American public opinion ready for a replay of the Cuban missile crisis?
The Ukraine war is not yet 10 weeks old, and it has already revolutionized world politics. The next 10 weeks could be even more dramatic. President Biden could soon face as stern a test as any American president has since World War II. We must hope, and pray, that he is up to the job.
Another Cuban Missile Crisis?
WSJ · by Walter Russell Mead
With its echoes of the Cold War, Russia’s invasion has utterly altered world politics.

May 2, 2022 6:15 pm ET

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in Kyiv, April 30.
Photo: ukrainian presidential press ser/Shutterstock

The logic of war drove two high-powered visits to Ukraine last week. On a visit to the frontlines from Russia came Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the military staff and the most senior uniformed officer in Vladimir Putin’s army. From the U.S. came Speaker Nancy Pelosi, arguably the wiliest and most accomplished leader of a Democratic Party that, for now, controls both houses of Congress as well as the White House. Gen. Gerasimov’s mission was to understand the forces holding Russia’s latest military offensive in check; Speaker Pelosi was in Ukraine to underline how important the country’s fight has become to the U.S. and to vow that it will stand with Ukraine “until victory is won.”

It isn’t surprising that the U.S. and Russia are sending senior leaders to the war zone. The war in Ukraine is the most serious European military conflict since World War II, and it threatens to produce the greatest nuclear crisis since the height of the Cold War. Both sides have been repeatedly surprised by the intense military conflict, and both sides keep raising the stakes even as the danger of nuclear confrontation grows.
For Mr. Putin the surprises were almost all bad. The initial attack collapsed into a slog through hostile terrain by an army whose leadership, intelligence and logistical failures have exposed the inner weakness of the decadent Russian state. Far from dividing and intimidating Europe, the attacks have energized and united the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, led to a revolution in German strategic thinking, and made it likely that Sweden and Finland will join the alliance even as it moves more forces closer to Russian territory.
Washington has encountered some strategic surprises of its own. President Biden’s strategy called for “parking Russia,” believing that diplomacy could prevent new conflicts in Eastern Europe. That calculation was obviously wrong. Once the war started, Ukraine did not, as Washington anticipated, quickly collapse. Ukraine’s initial successes led the U.S. to provide more help, but Washington’s unprecedented sanctions failed to weaken Mr. Putin’s resolve or shake his domestic political support.
Having been drawn this far into the conflict, Washington cannot now accept a Ukrainian defeat without a serious loss of honor and prestige. But even discounting the nuclear risks, the task of assisting a bankrupted Ukraine to prevail against larger Russian forces in a war of attrition is a daunting one. Currently, the Biden administration is committed to winning a war it thought wouldn’t happen on the side of a country it believed to be helpless in the face of dangers and difficulties it does not yet know how to assess.
The revolution in American thought about Ukraine is reminiscent of the changed perceptions of Korea in 1950. At that time, American policy makers signaled that South Korea was outside Washington’s defense perimeter—until the North Korea’s invasion led them to realize how important Korea was.
Before Mr. Putin’s invasion, the West generally thought of Ukraine as a strategic and economic backwater. It was a weak and corrupt state whose politics reflected shadowy struggles among oligarchs. Today we think of Ukraine as a strong democratic state whose security is critical to European stability.
This change in Western perceptions makes compromise much harder to find. A few weeks ago, appeasing Mr. Putin by feeding him more slices of Ukrainian territory in a “compromise peace” looked to many Western policy makers like the natural and necessary conclusion to the war. That approach now seems both morally repugnant and strategically vain. This changed view explains why Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Mrs. Pelosi have begun to speak of degrading Russian power and seeking victory for Ukraine.
This changing Western approach confirms Mr. Putin’s belief that the conflict between Russia and the West over Ukraine is an existential one for Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia cannot truly be a great power, and the West is willing to fight to prevent Russia from achieving what, from Mr. Putin’s perspective, is an indispensable goal.
What is most notable about this crisis so far is the speed with which it has moved toward threats of nuclear war. Senior Russian officials like Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are openly speculating about the possibility of nuclear escalation, presumably in hopes of deterring Western support for Ukraine. In its volatility and its ability to take both Russia and the West toward the nuclear option, the Ukraine war so far resembles the confrontational early decades of the Cold War, when nuclear threats from one or both powers routinely were invoked at moments of crisis. After the Nixon administration, such threats moved into the background as the superpowers adjusted to the balance of terror and the rules of the nuclear dance.
During the Cold War, the West used nuclear deterrence to offset the Soviet superiority in conventional forces in the European theater. Moscow’s huge armies might, at least initially, prevail in an attack across Germany, but the threat that NATO would retaliate with nuclear weapons kept Soviet aggression in check. Now, however, the evident weakness and disorder of Russian conventional forces suggests a new possibility: that a weaker Russia must try to deter NATO in Ukraine by nuclear threats.
The prospect of tactical nuclear strikes on the European mainland would, Mr. Putin undoubtedly hopes, test the cohesion of the NATO alliance. While nobody wants to be quoted on the record, senior Europeans are already whispering to sympathetic journalists about concerns that the Biden administration is escalating too far and too fast. Would France and Germany continue to back American policy if Russia strikes Ukrainian targets with nuclear warheads? Is American public opinion ready for a replay of the Cuban missile crisis?
The Ukraine war is not yet 10 weeks old, and it has already revolutionized world politics. The next 10 weeks could be even more dramatic. President Biden could soon face as stern a test as any American president has since World War II. We must hope, and pray, that he is up to the job.
Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Appeared in the May 3, 2022, print edition.



Walter Russell Mead is the Ravenel B. Curry III Distinguished Fellow in Strategy and Statesmanship at Hudson Institute, the Global View Columnist at The Wall Street Journal and the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College in New York.
He is also a member of Aspen Institute Italy and board member of Aspenia. Before joining Hudson, Mr. Mead was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations as the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy. He has authored numerous books, including the widely-recognized Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004). Mr. Mead’s next book is entitled The Arc of A Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Future of the Jewish People.



WSJ · by Walter Russell Mead


14. Taiwan needs joint exercises, missiles, right now

I would add also include unconventional deterrence. And to do this effectively we should reestablish the Taiwan Special Forces Resident Detachment (from 1959-1974) to advise and assist Taiwan Special Forces to implement a resistance operating concept.


Taiwan needs joint exercises, missiles, right now - The Sunday Guardian Live

  • Published : April 30, 2022, 6:18 pm | Updated : April 30, 2022, 6:18 PM

sundayguardianlive.com · April 30, 2022
The most important thing is that you have to establish an effective partnership and build up that deterrent effect—or, if necessary, war winning capability—ahead of time: RADM (Retd) Mark Montgomery.

The question is, will China/Taiwan follow Russia/Ukraine? In this edition of “Indo-Pacific: Behind the Headlines” we ask RADM (Ret) Mark Montgomery what lessons we’ve learned already that could shape an upcoming conflict.

Montgomery served for over three decades in the US Navy. His assignments included director of operations US Pacific Command, commander Carrier Strike Group 5, deputy director for plans, policy and strategy at European Command and director of transnational threats at the National Security Council. He also served as policy director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, coordinating policy efforts on national security strategy, capabilities and requirements, and cyber policy.

He is now senior director of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, and directs CSC 2.0, an initiative that works to implement the recommendations of the congressionally mandated Cyberspace Solarium Commission, where he served as executive director.
Q: What are some of the lessons learned from Russia/Ukraine?

A: The big lesson learned for militaries around the world is that the strength of your non-commissioned officers and your empowerment of them to make battlefield decisions is critical. The Russians are continuing to operate under traditional Soviet doctrine where they had a high level of conscripts and a low level of empowerment of their non-commissioned officers, and they have struggled to make battlefield decisions.

The Ukrainians, on the other hand, had come off six solid years of unit level training with the US Army and National Guard soldiers. Almost every unit in their military has been through multiple training sessions—over 1,000 training events between the US and the Ukrainians over the past six years. And, in that time, the Ukrainians have built an empowered non-commissioned officer element. And that was extremely important.

The other big lesson learned—and the one that really limited Russia’s ability to operate as a large-scale manoeuvre army—was logistics. When the United States thinks about logistics, we think about the “final mile”, like how do I get a tank round to an M1A1 tank?

It turns out, the Russians weren’t able to survive the “first mile”. And by that, I mean, wherever they’ve been sitting for the last three weeks or three months, as they broke away from home base, three, four hours later, they’re having water, fuel, ammo, food, communications issues—and they could not fight away from their home base.

So all the militaries around the world have to take a look at those two elements. Are we empowering our non-commissioned officers? Do we have that squad level leadership that’s critical in a fluid combat environment? And at the more operational or strategic level, do we have the appropriate skill sets and logisticians to fight away from our home base?

Q: Why did they have those problems with logistics?

A: I think that their “away games”, their fights in Syria, were fought broadly by a mercenary group called the Wagner Group, and by ballistic and cruise missiles. They did not have to demonstrate large scale manoeuvre logistics.

I will say this about the Russians—their ballistic and cruise missile attacks have been effective. The Ukrainians do a good job of only showing you the hits on an apartment building or the mistargeting of an auto dealership. But what they’re not showing you is the 70% of ballistic and cruise missiles that are impacting targets—military targets—in Ukraine. Ammo dumps, military vehicle stowage areas, airfields. They’re doing significant damage.

And so one of the lessons learned for all of us as we deal with Russia or China is that a heavy dose of ballistic and cruise missiles is going to come. And we have to ensure that our integrated air missile defence systems are up to the challenge.

Q: How is this relevant for China/Taiwan?

A: The most important thing is that you have to establish an effective partnership and build up that deterrent effect—or, if necessary, war winning capability—ahead of time.

You can see the impact of that now as we struggle to aggressively push in every piece of anti-armour or stinger missile in the western inventory into Ukraine at the last minute. It’s only working because the Russian large-scale manoeuvre did not work as they planned. If the Russians had been effective this flow of arms from the West would not be relevant.

The big lesson learned for the US and Taiwan, as we think about an aggressive China with “first mover” advantage—in other words, the ability to decide when combat starts and to take the first move—is that you have to make your investments in the period three-to-five years ahead of the crisis. And for Taiwan, that means continuing to buy counter-intervention gear such as anti-ship cruise missiles and naval mines right now. It’s great that the Neptune missile hit the Moskva, but that’s a developmental missile of which they only have a handful. They need to have hundreds. And Taiwan needs to have hundreds of Harpoons or an equivalent naval strike missile of some type. They need to have short-range land attack cruise missiles to reach across the Taiwan Strait into equipment loading areas on mainland China. They need to have anti-armour gear. They need to have manned portable air defence systems. And all those things need to flow in ahead of time.

And the other important lesson—and this applies to the United States and any of its allies or partners—you can’t build military cohesion on the fly. Whatever level of integration you have with your ally, or partner at the start of the conflict, is what you’re saddled with.

So if you’re at a low level of partnership and familiarity you will fight “deconflicted”, staying away from each other’s forces on the battlefield—you do this, I’ll do that—that’s where we are with Taiwan right now. We need to build the partnership into a coordinated or, even better, an integrated capability—particularly between our naval and air forces—through planning and exercising, which are things we’re not doing now. But if we do those over the next three-to-five years, we will be able to build Taiwan and US forces into “two plus two equals five”. Currently, Taiwan and US forces are “two plus two equals three”. You can change that dynamic through exercising. And you can apply that same philosophy to any ally or partner in east or south Asia.

Q: What has been the role of cyber?

A: One of the interesting things coming out of the Russia/Ukraine war is the apparent lack of effectiveness of Russian cyberattacks. There could be a number of reasons for this. It could be Russia took it easy, with the idea that they were going to very quickly occupy the country and didn’t want to do too much damage. I don’t ascribe to that because I think cyber effects are easily reversed. I think it’s probably that Ukraine invested—and the United States and Europe invested—a lot in Ukraine’s cyber defence.

A bit of background. There was a bit of Russian cyber warfare as part of the 2014 Crimea campaign—not a lot, mostly denial of service actions. But then the Russians did aggressive attacks against Ukraine in both the winter of 2015 and the winter of 2016. In both cases taking down portions of the Ukrainian electrical power grid. And then, in 2017, they famously did the NotPetya attack against Ukrainian financial services and government sites that accidentally spread into Western Europe.

But, after that, the United States and Europe both agreed that we needed to provide cyber capacity building to the Ukrainians. And the United States, for example, through USAID, had a four-year $40 million program to get cyber protection tools in, and work with our Ukrainian partners. And there’s evidence that Cyber Command also had a program in there, although there are no specifics. And I know the Europeans did some of the same.

That, along with Ukrainian investments in their own cyber protection teams, has meant that the Ukrainians have done a much more aggressive job at identifying and mitigating Russian attacks on their infrastructure. And then, if something goes down, they are rapidly restoring it. And that has been critical.

So that’s a good lesson learned for the rest of us. Many Asian countries, and definitely the United States, have much more vulnerable cyber environments than Ukraine. We have a much more integrated, networked society. Therefore, a lot more attack surface for malicious cyber activity. So we should be even more committed and invested into building cyber protection, cyber resilience, ahead of any future conflict with Russia or China.

Q: What does that mean for Taiwan?

A: We are definitely going to have to work with Taiwan to help them in the same way. Taiwan has good cyber skills. The question is, do we know things about Chinese tactics, techniques, procedures, or threat signatures that they don’t? We don’t share these things broadly, you have to find the right groups. So we have to build those relationships with Taiwan. I would put this as one more element of building an integrated military effort. It’s another form of exercising. I would recommend we do a process called “hunt forward”, where we use Cyber Command to send “hunt forward” teams into Taiwan to work with their Taiwan counterparts to identify malware in their systems, and to help build more effective and resilient defensive programs.
sundayguardianlive.com · April 30, 2022


15. Biden’s Javelin factory tour spotlights struggle to backfill Ukraine munitions

We need to learn from this (and fix it). Our main superpower is being the arsenal of democracy. We have to be able to produce weapons at scale as well as build an iron mountain to support war fighting.


Biden’s Javelin factory tour spotlights struggle to backfill Ukraine munitions
 May 2, 05:44 PM
Defense News · by Bryant Harris · May 2, 2022
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is slated to visit Alabama on Tuesday to tour a Lockheed Martin facility tasked with manufacturing the Javelin anti-tank missiles that the U.S. has steadily provided to Ukraine with almost legendary success.
While a presidential-level visit will draw the American public’s attention to the U.S. defense industry’s role in producing the weapons that have helped the Ukrainian military repel Russian advances, it will also highlight its struggles to replenish the stocks of munitions that the Biden administration has sent abroad.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers have urged Biden to begin tackling the immensely complex task of keeping pace with current demand for increased munitions development while untangling a host of thorny supply chain issues that have impeded the U.S. ability to replenish weapons sent to Ukraine.
“They need to up our production capacity,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., told Defense News. “When it comes to munitions – missiles and drones – we need to figure out how to make more of them more quickly. And we’ve got to work with our industrial base both here in the U.S. and internationally to figure out how to do that.”
And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., noted on the Senate floor last week the roughly 5,000 javelin missiles that the Biden administration has sent to Ukraine amount to one-third of the U.S. stockpiles. The U.S. has also sent more than 1,400 stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, which represents a quarter of its stockpiles.
“This is a wake-up call, and not just about our ability to support the current fight,” said McConnell. “Ukraine’s expenditure rate of critical munitions should cause us to question whether our own wartime requirements for weapons systems and munitions are sufficient.”
“This would be less of a problem if we had a robust defense industrial base to quickly refill our armories,” he added. “But defense manufacturers have admitted that the production lines for some critical components have dried up and it could be years before they could replace weapons we’ve sent to Ukraine.”
Aside from highlighting the role that Javelin missiles have played in the Ukraine war, the White House has remained tight-lipped about the specifics of what Biden plans to address during his visit to Troy, Alabama.
Lockheed Martin’s facility there serves as a final assembly line for missiles, where approximately 600 employees produce systems such as Javelins, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile.
The weapons manufacturer began expanding its facility in Troy in 2019, but just as its competitor Raytheon will not be able to begin replenishing U.S. stockpiles of Stinger missiles until 2023, Lockheed Martin could face similar challenges as it seeks to backfill the Javelins transferred to Ukraine.
“We have the ability to meet current production demands and are investing to increase capacity and production to meet our customers’ future needs,” a Lockheed Martin spokesperson told Defense News.
With the Ukraine war threatening to drag on for months or years, an increased Javelin demand from other countries and the need for the U.S. and its allies alike to replenish stockpiles they’ve already sent to Ukraine, Lockheed Martin will indeed face a surge of future needs.
“It’s been a very effective system, and they’re asking for more, obviously,” Lockheed Martin CEO James Taiclet, told the Atlantic Council last week. “What our goal is going to be down in Troy, Alabama – and in our case when we make similar defensive products – is to expand the production capacity of those sites.”
He noted that for “something this urgent, we’re going to invest ahead of need.”
Taiclet has admitted that pandemic-related supply chain problems have also affected Lockheed Martin when it comes to producing major weapons systems such as the F-35 fighter jet, but he told investors on a quarterly earnings call last month that “we expect these timing impacts to be recovered over the course of 2022.”
Still, the U.S. government cannot even buy the additional Javelins it needs from Lockheed Martin to backfill U.S. stocks and continue supplying security partners until Congress acts on the massive $33 billion Ukraine aid supplemental that Biden requested last week.
The president’s request includes more than $20 billion in additional Ukrainian security assistance, a thus far unprecedented amount that is expected to include funding to backfill U.S. munition stockpiles.
Lawmakers have received the Ukraine supplemental request with broad bipartisan support, but Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, suggested in a statement last week that the $33 billion price tag may be too low and vowed to pay special attention to the portion of the request for backfilling U.S. munitions.
“I will also be looking closely at the backfill portion of the supplemental request, where we are still moving much too slowly,” said Inhofe. “I am glad that the Department of Defense is taking real steps to address the shortfalls in our stocks of various critical munitions and those of our allies and partners. With the flexible munitions funds, Department of Defense leadership is thinking creatively, and we will work to ensure that creativity is met in kind.”
Pentagon leaders, after delivering more than 5,000 Javelins to Ukraine from the military’s own stocks, are publicly expressing confidence in the military’s readiness and that it has other anti-armor capabilities. Still, they share concerns with the defense industry about supply chain challenges surrounding the Javelin, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and Switchblade drones.
All three, which were sent from U.S. stockpiles to Ukraine, were topics of a meeting last month between Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and executives from eight major defense firms to discuss industry proposals to accelerate production of existing systems. Those conversations come amid fears the war, which is intensifying in eastern Ukraine, will grind on.
“The secretary wants to keep that dialogue going with the defense industry as well, on those and maybe even other systems,” Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby told reporters last week. “Because we certainly think that now that the focus is on the Donbas, this could become a more prolonged conflict. And we want to make sure that our own defense industrial base can continue to support our needs, as well as ... support Ukraine’s needs.”
Biden has also come under pressure from lawmakers, including McConnell and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to ameliorate supply chain issues by invoking the Defense Production Act.
His supplemental request also included funding to help utilize that Korean War-era law, which allows the federal government to direct private companies to prioritize supplying customers critical to U.S. national security – such as the defense industrial base.
About Bryant Harris and Joe Gould
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered the intersection of U.S. foreign policy and national security in Washington since 2014. He previously wrote for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.
Joe Gould is senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.






16. The UN Must Do More for Ukraine—and Itself

Excerpts:

To be sure, neither a UN resolution nor peacekeepers can guarantee to deter Russia for long. But the same is true of a heavily armed Ukraine, or Western threats to inflict heavy diplomatic and economic retaliation. The only absolute guarantees in conflicts flow from unquestioned capability and willingness to militarily crush an opponent. Ukraine does not have the capability, nor the West the will, to do so. Successful deterrence thus has to be based on overlapping disincentives to aggression. These disincentives can be individually limited but their cumulative effect should persuade an aggressor that what it has (in this case, some ceasefire arrangement) is better than what it will wind up with by using force. Such an approach is imperfect, but has preserved peace in numerous conflicts, including between the USSR and the U.S. throughout the Cold War.
Finally, the UN has to deal with underlying existential threats to itself and the international order it represents emerging from Russia’s aggression. The UN could take the lead, as done with Syria, to document war crimes violations and advance international accountability. Efforts to reform the Security Council should proceed, but will need strong advocacy by the Secretary General and his staff. Most importantly, many UN member states integrated into the Western-led global international security system with its complementary rule of law, financial, and trade elements, nevertheless routinely sit on their hands, claiming the “Western” and the “Chinese-Russian” blocs are morally equivalent. But only one bloc offers a functioning global system, the other can only destroy it. This is exactly what’s at risk now with Russia’s invasion, and thus these states need to prioritize their long-term interests over short-term diplomatic “hedging’ benefits.
The UN Must Do More for Ukraine—and Itself
Russia’s invasion of a sovereign state is also an attack on the basic principle the international body was founded to prevent.
BY JAMES JEFFREY
CHAIR, MIDDLE EAST PROGRAM, WILSON CENTER
MAY 2, 2022 07:00 AM ET
defenseone.com · by James Jeffrey
The UN, although its members are divided on Ukraine, must play a bigger role in the Ukraine conflict, because the basic principle on which it was founded—prohibiting major powers from illegally invading other states—is being grossly violated for the first time since its founding. Its actions could include sending peacekeepers to guard a safe zone within Ukraine for millions of displaced people, but also more active peacemaking, securing a ceasefire, and pressing for war crimes accountability.
A group of former UN officials recently wrote UN Secretary General António Gutteres to urge his organization to engage more on the conflict, beyond its laudable humanitarian, reconstruction and refugee mobilization. Gutteres, by traveling to Moscow and Kyiv, appeared to heed them, but the UN needs to push the limits of one of its founding principles — neutrality between great powers — for the sake of its core founding principle, stopping aggression which could ignite world war.
This author recently advocated in Defense One for a United Nations-sponsored humanitarian safe zone with U.S. and other international peacekeepers in western Ukraine to help contain the ongoing war. With more than 11 million Ukrainians believed to have fled their homes, such a zone remains urgent, to benefit both those fleeing from the fighting and to limit Russian advances, were the fortunes of war to shift against Ukraine. Variants of this humanitarian zone concept are being advocated, including recently by The Guardian; the UN, Washington, and Ukraine should review possibilities, including extending any zone to Moldova.
While the West’s focus now is properly on helping Ukraine to defeat Russia’s weakened invasion force, at some point it will end with one or another diplomatic arrangement. Thinking on possible such arrangements, including by Richard Haass in Foreign Affairs, is gaining momentum, and even Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov admitted that there would have to be some “treaty” ending the conflict.
Whatever the battlefield outcome, resolution options must align with three realities: conflict outcomes can never be predicted, as war opens the door to almost any eventuality; the warring parties will have the primary say in a solution; and finally, this like any war could drag on, or end precipitously, and Ukraine and its partners thus need to think through now how any outcome can serve Ukrainian and larger Western interests.
No matter who negotiates an eventual ceasefire arrangement, it then should be endorsed by a legally binding Chapter VII UN Security Council Resolution, just as Security Council resolutions “legalized” the Dayton Accords and the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by others. Some might see this legal imprimatur as just a piece of paper, but the nature of paper is important in diplomacy. The two definitive security agreements previously involving Ukraine—the Budapest Agreement on nuclear weapons removal and the Minsk Accords on a Donbas ceasefire—failed in good part because they were not legally binding.
Whatever the war-termination specifics, the status quo post bellum will likely include a sovereign Ukraine with much of its territory and its will to resist intact, a weakened Russia still poised to try to destroy Ukraine, and an international community still committed to deter Russia. This reflects the possibility that Moscow could conclude that, just as its army was reborn after the disasters of Summer 1941, it could do better in a renewed conflict. Ukraine, however valiantly its citizens fight, and however well-armed, well-trained, and diplomatically backed by its partners, cannot necessarily deter Russia on its own, and thus the international community needs skin in this post-resolution game, to both preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty and maintain rules-based global stability.
The solutions advanced by Kyiv are: to have Ukraine enter NATO, an option supported by many, including former U.S. NATO ambassador Ivo Daalder; or to have the U.S. and other NATO states give bilateral, legally binding (i.e., treaty-based) security guarantees. The sentiments behind these proposals are understandable, but neither is feasible. NATO membership requires unanimous NATO-state approval, but not all are ready to accept Ukraine, and Russia would view membership as a new casus belli. And bilateral security guarantees would result in a handful of NATO members taking war-or-peace decisions that would affect all NATO states without their concurrence, a recipe for Alliance collapse.
A more workable alternative would be a UN peacekeeping mission established legally under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, to demarcate a truce line, keep warring parties separate, and deter new combat. The UN has much experience with such operations, from Cyprus to southern Lebanon to the Sinai. That experience is mixed, including withdrawal from the Sinai before the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, but in practical terms a UN resolution is the only international arrangement likely acceptable to both Ukraine and Russia, especially as Moscow, and its ally China, traditionally emphasize UN roles.
To reassure the Ukrainians, given the UN’s mixed record and coddling of Moscow, any peacekeeping mandate would have to: be long-term, thereby blocking a Russian renewal veto; authorize use for force in self-defense; and include U.S. forces, an exception to usual American policy. No one can expect even a sizable UN peacekeeping presence alone to defend Ukraine. Rather, its mission would be to deter attack by making clear that any new Russian aggression would require shooting its way through a UN screen and thus blatantly violating international law. Moscow may not care much about international law, but it knows that other nations do, including many now reluctant to sanction Russia. Such a presence is a lot for Moscow to swallow, so sanctions relief may be proffered to win its cooperation.
To be sure, neither a UN resolution nor peacekeepers can guarantee to deter Russia for long. But the same is true of a heavily armed Ukraine, or Western threats to inflict heavy diplomatic and economic retaliation. The only absolute guarantees in conflicts flow from unquestioned capability and willingness to militarily crush an opponent. Ukraine does not have the capability, nor the West the will, to do so. Successful deterrence thus has to be based on overlapping disincentives to aggression. These disincentives can be individually limited but their cumulative effect should persuade an aggressor that what it has (in this case, some ceasefire arrangement) is better than what it will wind up with by using force. Such an approach is imperfect, but has preserved peace in numerous conflicts, including between the USSR and the U.S. throughout the Cold War.
Finally, the UN has to deal with underlying existential threats to itself and the international order it represents emerging from Russia’s aggression. The UN could take the lead, as done with Syria, to document war crimes violations and advance international accountability. Efforts to reform the Security Council should proceed, but will need strong advocacy by the Secretary General and his staff. Most importantly, many UN member states integrated into the Western-led global international security system with its complementary rule of law, financial, and trade elements, nevertheless routinely sit on their hands, claiming the “Western” and the “Chinese-Russian” blocs are morally equivalent. But only one bloc offers a functioning global system, the other can only destroy it. This is exactly what’s at risk now with Russia’s invasion, and thus these states need to prioritize their long-term interests over short-term diplomatic “hedging’ benefits.
defenseone.com · by James Jeffrey



17. How AI Would — and Wouldn’t — Factor Into a U.S.-Chinese War

Conclusion:

It is a tall order to predict if or how the United States and China may find themselves embroiled in a conventional war. However, the United States needs to be prepared to leverage AI for such a contingency. Failing to do so risks ceding the advantage to Chinese military planners. While the contest for “AI dominance” may only marginally affect the outcome of a near-term U.S.-Chinese conflict, that battle is America’s to lose.

How AI Would — and Wouldn’t — Factor Into a U.S.-Chinese War - War on the Rocks
warontherocks.com · by Alex Stephenson · May 3, 2022
In March, a largely overlooked, 90-page Government Accountability Office study revealed something interesting: This summer, the Pentagon is getting a new AI Strategy.
Between shaping ethical norms for AI and establishing a new Chief Data and AI Officer, it’s clear top brass have big plans for the technology, though the report is light on the details. Released in 2018, the last AI Strategy laid the scaffolding for the U.S. military’s high-tech competition with China. But over the past four years one thing has become apparent: The United States needs a balanced approach to AI investment — one that doesn’t simply guard against threats, but also imposes costs on a Chinese force that sees AI as the key to victory.
Undoubtedly, a military conflict between the United States and China would be catastrophic, and every effort must be taken to avoid such an outcome through diplomatic means. Still, “thinking about the unthinkable” is necessary for U.S. defense planners to prioritize investments and identify potential deficiencies in U.S. force posture and readiness. It’s worthwhile, then, to consider a worst-case situation where, within the decade, the U.S. and Chinese militaries become embroiled in large-scale combat in or around the Indo-Pacific.
While AI is probably not going to determine the outcome of a U.S.-Chinese war, the bottom line is that the technology would augment U.S. and Chinese military capabilities in important ways. Chinese investments in AI prioritize near-term offensive capabilities. In particular, AI could play a significant role in the People’s Liberation Army’s efforts to disrupt and degrade the U.S. battle network and compensate for its own deficiencies in the undersea and electromagnetic domains. Meanwhile, U.S. investments could improve operational readiness and “jointness” — the ability of service branches to work together — for a global military that is spread increasingly thin. At the same time, AI will introduce new vulnerabilities for both China and the United States — particularly concerning data security.
How AI Could Enhance Chinese Capability
The most likely sources of a potential U.S.-Chinese conflict, such as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or a contest over some South China Sea feature, would likely feature the full spectrum of civil and military information operations aimed at deterring U.S. intervention and degrading U.S. allies’ will to fight. AI could play a dominant role in each of these missions. The Network Systems Department of the People’s Liberation Army, for example, may try using generative language models to synthesize and amplify content on Facebook and Instagram, as it has done using botnets and other non-AI tools around Taiwanese elections. The Chinese military is also likely to wage a similar campaign to discredit U.S. military activities or sow division with partners, including Australia and Japan.
Soon after the start of a conflict, the People’s Liberation Army would likely attack U.S. sensor and communication networks, and several different kinds of machine-learning applications could aid this task. A cadre of scientists at the People’s Liberation Army National University of Defense Technology, for example, specializes in “fuzzing,” using machine learning to identify vulnerabilities in an adversary’s computer networks. Experts also point to AI’s role in attacking or defending critical infrastructure in Taiwan, Japan, Australia, or the United States.
Chinese planners also aim to use AI for electronic countermeasures and operations across the electromagnetic spectrum. For example, analysts from anquan neican (a Chinese journal for cybersecurity research) are optimistic about cognitive electronic warfare — using AI to analyze incoming radar signals, and then automatically adapting one’s own output to optimize jamming. But several other applications of AI also play a role in electronic spectrum operations. In 2020, for example, the People’s Liberation Army awarded equipment contracts for swarms of drones equipped with modular radar-jamming systems, which could be flown near U.S. carrier strike groups, military installations in Japan and South Korea, or shared facilities in the Philippines. Many systems under development by Chinese universities and military research institutions are explicitly designed to counter U.S. drone systems and swarm concepts. Chinese companies have already exported drones to Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, among others. However, while some People’s Liberation Army experts contend that these drones have been “battle tested,” others are less sanguine about their capabilities in a real conflict.
Moreover, the People’s Liberation Army may attempt to use AI to enhance the lethality and reach of its surface ships and anti-access and area denial systems, which could hold U.S. forces at risk during a crisis. China’s current approach to territorial defense relies on hundreds of short- to long-range ballistic missiles that would target U.S. aircraft carriers and strike aircraft based in mainland Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, and as far away as Guam. As early as 2016, Wang Changqing, director of the General Design Department of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, claimed that the company’s next generation of cruise missiles would use AI to adapt to specific combat conditions, being capable of adjusting flight profiles and even warhead yield. Chinese defense industry engineers appear inspired by the U.S. Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, which uses AI to improve accuracy and achieve more flexible targeting.
Finally, the People’s Liberation Army is building a wide array of autonomous vehicles and extensive undersea sensor networks that make use of AI and big-data analytics. These systems may be useful in recording and transmitting the locations of U.S. undersea vehicles, and would be crucial to overcoming the Chinese military’s disadvantages in undersea warfare. Large unmanned submarines, such as the HSU-001 and Haishen-6000, could be equipped with sea mines to deny the U.S. Navy access to undersea space between the first and second island chains, or to restrict access to the Taiwan or Luzon Straits.
Of course, AI has the potential to revolutionize Chinese operations in countless other ways, including through predictive maintenance, logistics, and back-office tasks not discussed in depth in this article. In any case, it is clear that the People’s Liberation Army is banking on the technology to create asymmetric advantages vis-a-vis the United States.
On the U.S. Side: Jointness, Maintenance, and Targeting
Succeeding in combat with the Chinese military would require the highest level of coordination between U.S. military services. The U.S. Department of Defense has long recognized the importance of joint operations, but struggles to implement this vision in practice. Since 2022, the department has been working to develop a Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept, which rests on using AI to analyze sensor data combined in a single network. While sharing data across services would enable commanders to make more informed decisions, the architecture could also use machine-learning systems to identify targets and make weapon recommendations, thereby speeding up engagement times. U.S. forces are also leveraging AI in an effort to fuse disparate sensor inputs and create a common operational picture to more effectively identify and disrupt Chinese area denial systems, providing a safer environment for U.S. forces to operate. At present, however, Joint All-Domain Command and Control is still just a concept. There is a huge gulf between the seamless integration senior leaders envision in concept, and the reality that many operators struggle to log into their isolated computer networks each day.
The U.S. military is also trying to use AI to improve year-round force readiness, especially through predictive maintenance and logistics. Readiness will be especially important given that a potential U.S.-Chinese clash could happen with little warning. When the Department of Defense launched the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center in 2018, its first goal was to deliver AI-enabled predictive maintenance systems to forecast equipment breakdowns before they occur. AI-based maintenance could offer a significant improvement on the military’s current preventive maintenance system, which directs servicemembers to schedule and conduct maintenance at routine intervals. As of 2022, predictive maintenance software has already been deployed in support of the F-35 Lighting II. By using AI to monitor subsystem health and predict component failures on tighter intervals, U.S. defense planners aim to ensure that the greatest number of fighters are operational in the event of a U.S.-Chinese conflict. As this technology matures, preventive maintenance systems could be deployed across the joint force, increasing readiness for surface vessels and other platforms.
If a U.S.-Chinese crisis unfolds in the Indo-Pacific (most likely in or around the East or South China Seas), U.S. logistics forces would be asked to undertake a herculean feat: transporting supplies en masse halfway across the world. The challenge would become even more daunting in a protracted conflict. This is precisely why U.S. logistics forces have endeavored to combine cloud services with AI, to make more informed decisions about when to move supplies. The U.S. Army has already contracted IBM to provide cloud services and access to Watson — a question-answering AI computer — to store and process logistics data. By expanding intelligent logistics beyond the Army, U.S. forces hope to more efficiently coordinate plans to deliver the personnel, equipment, and supplies they need for successful operations. However, cloud storage also has the potential to introduce new vulnerabilities. In an operation known as “Cloud Hopper,” for example, Chinese hackers from the Ministry of State Security penetrated the cloud services of IBM, among other U.S. defense contractors. Data security will be the biggest impediment to the U.S. military’s intelligent logistics efforts.
Intelligent aerial vehicles could also benefit U.S. forces. Specifically, U.S. defense planners hope to use smart drones to support manned fighters and supplement nearby-based U.S. air forces that would likely be outnumbered by Chinese counterparts. Companies such as Boeing and Kratos have already developed autonomous drone prototypes that act as escorts or “loyal wingmen” for platforms like the F-35 and F/A-18. In addition to autonomous navigation, these drones may use AI for independent combat missions, surveillance, and cognitive electronic warfare. Within the next five years, it is possible that autonomous platforms will be able to analyze surveillance data, identify and respond to enemy aircraft’s electronic-warfare threats, and conduct battle damage assessments. These abilities could be a boon to joint forces that could access and further process collected data as part of Joint All-Domain Command and Control.
Beyond logistics, AI has a role to play in long-range fires. In a fight with the Chinese military, U.S. forces would be severely constrained by a demanding “shot doctrine” — the need for a high volume of missile launches to guarantee destruction — when targeting Chinese surface vessels and land-based defense systems. In principle, AI could help U.S. forces conserve munitions by providing adaptive targeting in response to battle-damage assessment, so the U.S. military doesn’t waste munitions on targets that have already been taken out. Specifically, the United States could use intelligent standoff weapons to increase the effectiveness of initial strike operations. Long range air-to-ground missiles could also allow U.S. forces to engage targets from a distance far enough to evade defensive fire. Recently, the U.S. military has attempted to incorporate AI with standoff missiles and other munitions. For example, the U.S. Air Force’s “Golden Horde” project seeks to use intelligent battle-damage assessment and munition communication to eliminate wasted missiles. If a target is assigned a multi-missile salvo but the first missile destroys the target, other missiles from the salvo will autonomously identify the damage, consider alternate targets, and navigate towards any within reach. U.S. defense planners hope that this would prevent expensive waste and dramatically cut down the time needed to destroy critical targets. Such capabilities could benefit initial U.S. strikes against People’s Liberation Army infrastructure and area denial weapons — however, the technology required for intelligent standoff missiles is likely still a few years away at best.
Takeaways and Recommendations
In a potential conflict, AI would offer distinct benefits for both Chinese and American forces. While People’s Liberation Army capabilities remain inferior in many respects, Chinese military leaders are investing in AI to offset U.S. military advantages. In his Center for a New American Security report on China’s AI strategy, Gregory Allen points out that China’s government sees AI as a promising military “leapfrog” development, meaning that it offers advantages to the People’s Liberation Army despite its lagging behind on development of other technologies. Rather than psychological or cognitive operations, as several scholars have suggested, our analysis of Chinese military investments suggests that AI’s most immediate and profound effects will come from intelligent munitions, as well as from maintenance and logistics systems that are already under development. Accordingly, we recommend two lines of effort to increase the likelihood of U.S. victory in a near-term U.S.-Chinese war: expanding investment in counter-AI research and adopting zero-trust architectures for the development of U.S. AI systems.
First, the United States must be prepared to degrade and counter the People’s Liberation Army’s evolving suite of AI systems. Department of Defense planners should continue to regulate Chinese access to advanced equipment, data, and capital to hinder the availability and utility of AI systems. As one of us found last year, very few of the People’s Liberation Army’s AI equipment suppliers are named in U.S. end-user export control lists. More of them should be. Gaps in the U.S. export control framework, combined with a lack of situational awareness, continue to allow the Chinese military to access U.S. technology and capital in pursuit of AI.
Simultaneously, the United States can impose costs on AI-reliant Chinese forces by embracing advances in the fields of counter-AI and counter-autonomy. In responding to China’s growing AI power, it is important for U.S. leaders to avoid a strategy that is reactive, defensively oriented, and which might become yet another area where the United States is on the wrong side of the cost curve. Counter-autonomy could help to avoid that outcome. Specifically, the Department of Defense should invest more in adversarial machine learning techniques — finding and exploiting weaknesses in Chinese AI models by feeding them specific data inputs. In a 2020 white paper, the Defense Science Board recommended that the department use counter-autonomy “to defend against increasingly autonomous systems deployed by adversaries, and to ensure that U.S. autonomous systems are not vulnerable to adversary countermeasures.” Despite the recommendation, the Department of Defense has not publicly created a senior counter-autonomy leadership position, nor has it invested in related research projects or sought to acquire systems designed specifically to understand and defeat Chinese AI platforms. But doing so would be crucial to ensure U.S. success in a near-term crisis.
Second, the United States should continue to invest in its own AI capabilities to remain competitive with the People’s Liberation Army. Chinese military leaders have long recognized their forces’ deficiencies in conducting joint operations — but U.S. forces, too, have a long way to go before they can effectively and reliably operate joint command and control. By using AI to intelligently incorporate sensors from across different services, the United States is more likely to keep its edge when conducting joint operations. The Department of Defense should also invest further in intelligent munitions. It has long relied on large salvos, which quickly deplete the U.S. missile inventory in a variety of combat scenarios. Successfully fielding intelligent standoff weapons to curtail this deficiency would be invaluable during a potential battle with the Chinese military.
Finally, the U.S. military must limit its own network vulnerabilities as it develops AI systems and updates its command-and-control system. This should include adopting zero-trust architectures for cybersecurity, which continuously validate every step of the network development process. Doing so will help thwart China’s plans to use machine learning to identify and attack vulnerabilities to critical U.S. networks — for example, through fuzzing. Furthermore, the Department of Defense should continue prioritizing rigorous test and evaluation, verification, and validation of AI systems department-wide. There is no room to cut corners in the name of speedy deployment. As the Institute for Defense Analyses concluded in 2018, “rare but catastrophic failures are harder to avoid in this context than they are in commercial settings.”
It is a tall order to predict if or how the United States and China may find themselves embroiled in a conventional war. However, the United States needs to be prepared to leverage AI for such a contingency. Failing to do so risks ceding the advantage to Chinese military planners. While the contest for “AI dominance” may only marginally affect the outcome of a near-term U.S.-Chinese conflict, that battle is America’s to lose.
Alex Stephenson is a China military technology research assistant at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology and former surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy.
Ryan Fedasiuk is a research analyst at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology and an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and not those of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Department of Defense, or any part of the U.S. government.
warontherocks.com · by Alex Stephenson · May 3, 2022

18. Partisan Fight Breaks Out Over New Disinformation Board

I do not think they were ready for prime time when they announced this. If they are going to attempt something like this (and I think there are potentially real problems with the 1st Amendment) they should be absolutely transparent about the organization, charter, mission, and authorities, and activities. This should have been all laid out when the organization was announced. There should be eno question about what this new agency will do.

There is only one way to counter disinformation that is first and foremost by ruthlessly p[ortecting, upholding, and living by American constitutional values. But I am far from convinced that this organization will help us do that.


Partisan Fight Breaks Out Over New Disinformation Board
The New York Times · by Zolan Kanno-Youngs · May 2, 2022
The board, an advisory group with the Department of Homeland Security, has become embroiled in the debate over the government’s role in policing online content.
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Nina Jankowicz speaking about cyber security at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna in 2019.Credit...via U.S. Embassy, Vienna

By Steven Lee Myers and
May 2, 2022, 8:03 p.m. ET
Nina Jankowicz’s new book, “How to Be a Woman Online,” chronicles the vitriol she and other women have faced from trolls and other malign actors. She’s now at the center of a new firestorm of criticism, this time over her appointment to lead an advisory board at the Department of Homeland Security on the threat of disinformation.
The creation of a board, announced last week, has turned into a partisan fight over disinformation itself — and what role, if any, the government should have in policing false, at times toxic, and even violent content online.
Within hours of the announcement, Republican lawmakers began railing against the board as Orwellian, accusing the Biden administration of creating a “Ministry of Truth” to police people’s thoughts. Two professors writing an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal noted that the abbreviation for the new Disinformation Governance Board was only “one letter off from K.G.B.,” the Soviet Union’s security service. Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has found himself on the defensive. In a television interview on CNN on Sunday, he insisted that the new board was a small group, that it had no operational authority or capability and that it would not spy on Americans.
“We in the Department of Homeland Security don’t monitor American citizens,” he said.
Mr. Mayorkas’s reassurance did little to quell the furor, underscoring how partisan the debate over disinformation has become. Facing a round of questions about the board on Monday, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said that it represented a continuation of work that the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency had begun in 2020, under the previous administration.
Its focus is to coordinate the department’s response to the potential impacts of disinformation threats — including foreign election influence, like Russia’s in 2016 and again in 2020; efforts by smugglers to encourage migrants to cross the border; and online posts that could incite extremist attacks. Ms. Psaki did not elaborate on how the department would define what constitutes extremist content online. She said the board would consider making public its findings on disinformation, although “a lot of this work is really about work that people may not see every day that’s ongoing by the Department of Homeland Security,” she said.
Many of those criticizing the board scoured Ms. Jankowicz’s past statements, online and off, accusing her of being hostile to conservative viewpoints. They suggested — without basis — that she would stifle legally protected speech using a partisan calculus.
Two ranking Republican members of the House committees on intelligence and homeland security — Michael R. Turner of Ohio and John Katko of New York — cited recent comments she made about the laptops of Hunter Biden, the president’s son, and about Elon Musk’s bid to purchase Twitter as evidence of bias.
Ms. Jankowicz, 33, has suggested in her book and in public statements that condescending and misogynistic content online can prelude violence and other unlawful acts offline — the kinds of threat the board was created to monitor. Her book cites research into virulent reactions that prominent women have faced, including Vice President Kamala Harris after her nomination in 2020.
Ms. Jankowicz has called for social media companies and law enforcement agencies to take stiffer action against online abuse. Such views have prompted warnings that the government should not police content online; it has also motivated Mr. Musk, who has said he wants to purchase Twitter to free its users from onerous restrictions that in his view violate freedom of speech.
“I shudder to think about, if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would be like for the marginalized communities around the world, which are already shouldering so much of this abuse, disproportionate amounts of this abuse” Ms. Jankowicz told NPR in an interview last week about her new book, referring to those who experience attacks online, especially women and people of color.
tweet she sent, using a portion of that quote, was cited by Mr. Turner and Mr. Katko in their letter to Mr. Mayorkas. The note requested “all documents and communications” about the creation of the board and Ms. Jankowicz’s appointment as its executive director.
Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, at the White House last March.Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
The board quietly began work two months ago, staffed part time by officials from other parts of the large department.
According to a new statement released on Monday, the department said the board would monitor “disinformation spread by foreign states such as Russia, China, and Iran, or other adversaries such as transnational criminal organizations and human smuggling organizations.” The statement also cited disinformation that can spread during natural disasters, citing false information about the safety of drinking water during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
It’s not the first time the Department of Homeland Security has moved to identify disinformation as a threat facing the homeland. The department has joined the F.B.I. in releasing terrorism bulletins warning that falsehoods about the 2020 election and the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021, could embolden domestic extremists.
Mr. Mayorkas has defended Ms. Jankowicz, calling her “a renowned expert” who was “eminently qualified” to advise the department on security threats that germinate in the fecund atmosphere online. At the same time, he acknowledged mishandling the announcement of the board — made in a simple press statement last week. “I think we probably could have done a better job of communicating what it does and does not do,” he told CNN.
Ms. Jankowicz has been a familiar commentator on disinformation for years. She has worked for the National Democratic Institute, an arm of the National Endowment for Democracy that promotes democratic governance abroad, and served as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
As a Fulbright fellow, she worked as an adviser to the Ukrainian government in 2017. Her 2020 book, “How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News and the Future of Conflict,” focused on Russia’s weaponization of information. It warned that governments were ill-prepared and ill-equipped to counteract disinformation.
A quote posted on her biography on the Wilson Center’s website underscores the challenges for those who would fight disinformation.
“Disinformation is not a partisan problem; it’s a democratic one, and it will take cooperation — cross-party, cross-sector, cross-government, and cross-border — to defeat,” it says.
The New York Times · by Zolan Kanno-Youngs · May 2, 2022
19. Pentagon budget aims to shrink the military by thousands

All warfare is and likely always will be manpower intensive. It is fought in the human domain.

Pentagon budget aims to shrink the military by thousands
militarytimes.com · by Meghann Myers · May 1, 2022
Most of the military services are hoping to get smaller, as the Army, Navy and Air Force seek to slash thousands from their rolls.
The Defense Department budget request unveiled April 4 asks for Congress to cut about 25,000 positions from the military services, which would bring authorized end strength much closer in line with current manning levels.
The $813 billion budget request is the largest in history, up more than $17 billion from last year, but its goal “is not about making the force bigger,” comptroller Michael McCord told reporters April 4. “That is not what … our review concluded we needed to do. We’re looking at making the force more capable.”
The Army and Navy would shrink by more than 5,000 currently serving troops if the proposal is enacted as is, losing about 3,000 and 2,000 service members, respectively. The Air Force wants to drop around 5,700 active duty airmen by the start of fiscal 2023.
Overall, the military could draw down by more than 10,000 troops, though the Marine Corps and Space Force would see a small bump. The new authorized end strength could come in at 2,122,900, down from 2,147,540 in 2022.
The Army’s request to drop its active duty end strength marks a new direction for the service. In 2017, after planning to draw down, the Congress authorized the service to grow, from 460,000 to 476,000, with an eye toward 500,000 active duty soldiers by 2022.
But that goal proved difficult to reach, as recruiting pushes fell short of goals. The Army topped out at 486,490 in 2021, before falling to 476,000 currently.
“This is the same size Army that we had on 9/11, and when I take a look at what the requirements are, when I take a look at what historically we needed, and now that we’re in a time of great power competition, I’m very, very concerned about the size of the Army,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said in April 2021.
The decision to shrink the service came down to the recruiting market, McCord said.
“The low unemployment rate right now, and the declining propensity to serve that I think several services are seeing ― the Army felt it was not productive to try and chase that number,” he said.
So, while the Army was authorized to go up to 485,000 active duty soldiers in 2022, a recent estimate put their manning at 476,000 troops. The 2023 budget request would bring them down to a cap of 473,000, a decrease in 12,000 billets ― or 3,000 currently serving soldiers.
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Army officials claimed the requested cuts are motivated by recruiting woes.
Service officials said April 4 they plan to regroup, eventually ramping up to 485,000 active duty soldiers in the next five years.
The Army Reserve and National Guard would stay flat at 189,500 and 336,000, respectively.
The Navy’s end strength is falling again this year, cutting 1,520 jobs for a total force of 404,000. A recent estimate of force size put the Navy at more than 406,000 sailors, making it technically overmanned.
The new request would put the service at:
  • 346,300 active duty sailors, down 1,184
  • 57,700 in the Reserve, down 951
The Navy on April 4 also announced its plans to decommission 24 ships, significantly reducing its manning requirements. McCord confirmed that the lower ship count factored into the decision to shrink the Navy’s workforce.
The Marine Corps, meanwhile, was allowed to go up to over 214,000 troops in 2022, but came in closer to 209,000.
Their budget request would even things out at 210,000:
  • 177,000 active duty Marines, down 250
  • 33,000 in the Reserve, up about 650
The Air Force Department is looking to cap its force at 510,400 troops, down from its 516,220-billet ceiling in 2022.
The changes work out to:
  • 323,400 active duty billets, down from the previous 329,220 cap
  • 200 more Space Force Guardian billets, from 8,400 to 8,600;
  • 100 more Air National Guard billets, up to 108,400
  • 70,000 Reserve billets, a decrease of 300 individual mobilization augmentee jobs
A DoD end strength chart released April 4 estimated the Air Force and Space Force will have about 510,300 uniformed personnel as of Sept. 30, 2022. Those people would occupy all but 100 jobs in the two services.
The service reported having around 329,000 active duty airmen as of April 4, putting it just over its current 329,220-billet limit. About 2,000 active duty airmen are slated to return to the Defense Health Agency after temporarily belonging to the Air Force.
The changes bring the entire military more in line with its current expectations for recruiting and retention. None of the services have announced any drastic force-shaping measures as a result, though the Air Force has offered early exits to its members in an attempt to correct its overmanning issues.
Otherwise, the services usually approach drawing down by decreasing recruiting efforts and pulling back reenlistment bonuses designed to keep troops who would otherwise finish their contracts in service. Elsewhere, fewer troops may be selected for promotions, eventually forcing them to involuntary separate from service.
About Meghann Myers
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT


20. A Solution Desperately Seeking Problems: The Many Assumptions of JADC2

Excerpt:

Retired Admiral James Stavridis recently cautioned that “you can become utterly dependent on a new, glamorous technology, be it cyber, space, artificial intelligence. . . . It’ll enable you. It’ll move you forward. But does it create a potential Achilles’ heel? Often it does.” A related perspective is that soon, “soldiers on the battlefield may depend more on artificial intelligence than their own comrades.” No matter what the future holds, the character of warfare will continue to be changed by technology. And, to be fair, some of the discrete elements of JADC2 are worthy goals, and many of its associated initiatives with cloud computing, sensor deployment, and more advanced weapons platforms will result in better outcomes on the battlefield. However, if we fail to ask the tough questions about JADC2 now, we will continue down a pathway paved in assumptions and a belief that JADC2 will be the critical technology in any future multi-domain battle. Moving forward, emphasis should be simultaneously placed on alternative or complementary initiatives and technologies to improve command and control, bolster security, and establish information resiliency to mitigate the risks of miscalculating JADC2’s potential. Ultimately, a tactical solution at strategic scale, designed to move fast and strike hard, risks being decisive only in its ability to undermine the cognitive functions and human ingenuity necessary to win our future wars.

A Solution Desperately Seeking Problems: The Many Assumptions of JADC2 - Modern War Institute
mwi.usma.edu · by Maggie Smith · May 3, 2022
Editor’s note: This article is part of the series “Compete and Win: Envisioning a Competitive Strategy for the Twenty-First Century.” The series endeavors to present expert commentary on diverse issues surrounding US competitive strategy and irregular warfare with peer and near-peer competitors in the physical, cyber, and information spaces. The series is part of the Competition in Cyberspace Project (C2P), a joint initiative by the Army Cyber Institute and the Modern War Institute. Read all articles in the series here.
Special thanks to series editors Capt. Maggie Smith, PhD, C2P director, and Dr. Barnett S. Koven.
After two decades of low-intensity conflict defined by technological overmatch and asymmetric warfare, the US military has adopted a new term of art: JADC2. Joint All-Domain Command and Control is the theoretically simple (and practically complicated) idea of linking everything to everything else, at all times, and using artificial intelligence to achieve information advantage and decision dominance in conflict. Essentially, in concept, all US military sensors would be connected to all shooters and weapons platforms, across all the services, and in all domains to empower decisive victory in a future multi-domain conflict. Despite sounding impressive and promising complete interoperability, there is little evidence that JADC2 can achieve its stated goals, or that the underlying technologies will be resilient in combat. More critically, there is (or should be) concern that JADC2’s drawbacks could make the system more of a liability than an advantage—especially if US military doctrine and strategic planning do not evolve in parallel with the technology’s employment.
The recent publishing of the Pentagon’s “Summary of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) Strategy” was preceded by a steady stream of articles and presentations on JADC2, its proposed suite of capabilities, and an accompanying body of literature rich in vendor materials—a quick internet search returns links to JADC2 marketing sites hosted by the biggest names in defense contracting, like Raytheon and Boeing. Additionally, several military leaders involved in the project have penned op-eds and articles extolling JADC2’s many virtues and the progress being made toward its completion. However, it is difficult to find a thoughtful discussion on the role of security and resiliency in, or their criticality to, JADC2’s ability to deliver on its promises. If JADC2’s implementation and employment are projected to provide accurate, timely, and actionable information to decision makers, what happens if, or when, the system fails? And what will reliance on an integrated, AI-enabled platform designed to improve decision-making do to military thinking and planning across echelons? We can make technology do some pretty amazing things—and we are definitely technology optimists—but, because JADC2 is going to affect the entire defense enterprise, it is also important to consider, and be honest about, its limits. By using examples and lessons learned from the February 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine, we highlight some of JADC2’s underlying assumptions to investigate the challenges posed by an integrated and AI-enabled command-and-control system.
What Happens When Uber Fails?
Traditionally, each military service has developed and maintained its own tactical network, often incompatible with those of the other services. Department of Defense officials make a compelling argument that future conflicts will require quick decisions, and that the era of distinct, service-specific networks is over. Interestingly, DoD offers the rideshare application Uber as an example of the functionality JADC2 is being designed to deliver. By combining the user ride-request application with the driver acceptance application, the two information systems interact seamlessly to generate the most efficient outcome for driver and rider: the fastest and cheapest transportation option to a desired end point, at a desired time and place. While incomplete, the analogy has helped DoD sell the concept of JADC2 to Congress by providing an easy-to-understand example of information integration to achieve a desired end state. However, the comparison between Uber and an integrated military command-and-control system relies on a set of assumptions that DoD has not thoroughly investigated. Namely, what happens when Uber is unavailable (e.g., due to a lack of Uber services in a specific area, an internet or cellular service dead spot or outage, or a dead mobile device battery)?
To access the service, Uber users need a cellular or Wi-Fi connection, and DoD imagines a similar cloud-based environment for the joint force to access JADC2 and its information capabilities. JADC2 will connect the thousands of military sensors spread around the globe into a single system and, with the help of AI-enabled processing, provide a conceptually complete operational picture from any location or command, at any time. However, a lesson learned from the Internet-of-Things explosion is that more interconnected devices are not necessarily better—today, even a networked coffee machine is susceptible to ransomware. As more connection points, devices, and users are added to JADC2’s data cloud, the number of vulnerabilities introduced to the system will also increase. It should be considered that a decentralized system may actually be more secure because it presents an adversary with a more complicated task: access to one system does not mean access to the whole system of systems. Just as Uber is unavailable in a Wi-Fi dead spot or when your phone battery dies, it is dangerous to assume that a single, integrated system will provide better command and control in a contested information environment.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine provides an example of how a single communications system can also be a single point of failure. Viasat provides internet service to people across Europe via the KA-SAT, a telecommunications satellite in geosynchronous orbit above the continent. Just as Russian forces prepared to invade Ukraine on February 24, ground-based modems tied to the KA-SAT network were suddenly rendered useless. Among the affected users were parts of Ukraine’s defense establishment. Since modems are a piece of broadband hardware that are pushed centralized updates, and because officials have stated that the hack did not target the exposed signal in space, the most likely scenario is that the hack was a corrupted modem update—an attack predicted by Ruben Santamarta’s research in 2018.Viktor Zhora, a senior official at Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection, reportedly said that the KA-SAT hack that crippled Ukrainian military communications was “a really huge loss in communications in the very beginning of [the] war.”
What is important about the Viasat hack is its elegance and sophistication—something we should expect from near-peer and peer adversaries in future conflict. Despite being a long-standing technology, satellite internet and communications remain remarkably vulnerable, especially given the distributed ground-based modems and a reliance on a centrally controlled maintenance and update structure—the weakness Russia likely took advantage of. Satellite internet is composed of three integrated components: 1) the satellite in orbit that sends internet signal or “spot beams” to Earth, 2) the satellite dishes located to receive internet signal within regions serviced by the satellite spot beams, and 3) a collection of dispersed earth stations, or modems, that are connected to the internet, and each other, by fiber-optic cables. If the hardware used to connect to internet service is destroyed, internet access will remain unavailable until a new modem is acquired—something particularly difficult to do during a military invasion. Even though attribution to Russia remains tentative, the hack wiped out the Ukrainian military’s ability to communicate just prior to Russia’s invasion, and resulted in Elon Musk’s now-famous tweet: “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.” What we should learn from the Viasat hack is that modern conflict demands resilient and reliable communications and presently, JADC2’s proposals do not seriously consider the security and resiliency risks inherent to a centralized data and information system.
Should I Trust You?
Two additional assumptions of JADC2 also deserve careful consideration, confidence and flexibility—namely, a user’s confidence in the system and the information it provides and the user’s ability to react to that information in a timely manner. In this context, confidence has a twofold meaning: it is the user’s confidence in knowing how to employ JADC2 effectively and the user’s confidence in the data, algorithms, and connections that JADC2 relies upon to deliver options. Flexibility refers to the ability of an individual (e.g., a decision maker, commander, or service member) to adapt to battlefield conditions and pursue JADC2’s recommended course of action in a dynamic and contested environment. Both assumptions are necessary for JADC2 to be effective, and neither are guaranteed.
During Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian communications systems have exhibited a high failure rate, leaving troops to rely on insecure but trusted platforms to communicate. Their cell phone and radio use has enabled Ukrainian intelligence and ground forces to pinpoint Russian locations and to intercept or jam their tactical communications. The Russian experience shows how communications platforms need to be flexible enough to enable warfighting in any condition—when Russia’s inflexible and sensitive modes of communication failed, Russian troops tossed equipment aside for their insecure, but working, cell phones. A single data and information platform—in an ideal world—would provide all decentralized elements and echelons with timely battlefield information to drive tactical operations. But if the platform is not resilient enough to sustain a single hiccup—like the delayed dissemination of encryption keys in Russia’s case—confidence in the technology will immediately decline. Together, these lessons underscore how more technology is not always better. For battlefield technology to be effective, troops need to be skilled in its use and maintenance to enable tactical operations and have confidence that the technology will work for them when needed. If flexibility and confidence are lacking, the technology could prove to be more of a hindrance than an advantage.
Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
Another assumption is that JADC2 will improve decision-making speed and quality, implying the presence of ongoing command-and-control issues that an integrated system will fix. However, the militaries of our near peers—namely, China and Russia—are characterized by quantity, not quality. Their numbers are staggering, both in terms of personnel and of (mostly older) weapons systems—and these systems are supplemented by a relatively small number of sophisticated platforms, maintained mostly for their deterrent effect. And, as we have seen with Russia’s lackluster performance in Ukraine, these numbers do not always amount to much in a tough fight. Being faster and more skillful than China and Russia is crucial for national security, and to compete with them requires a US military that can innovate and evolve to maintain strategic and tactical advantage. Yet, the technological sophistication and prowess of the US military are not currently in question, and we should be asking if the resources flowing toward JADC2 could be more advantageously focused elsewhere. Ultimately, JADC2 could be a very expensive solution looking for a problem to solve.
The technological overmatch promised by JADC2 also runs the risk of empowering headquarters elements at the expense of the tactical warfighter. An inherent risk of a fully integrated battlefield information system is the potential for tactical micromanagement by command elements that are far removed from the physical battlefield. With the tendency of military leaders to focus on metrics, JADC2 could have a deleterious effect on tactical decision-making, resulting in decision haste to avoid decision delay, or the opposite, decision inertia from having to wait for approvals to filter through multiple levels of command. And there is evidence that senior commanders are already shaping their thinking around a system that has yet to be tested in a strategic conflict—at risk is critical thinking and the potential ceding of human judgment and reason to JADC2-derived options. Similarly, it is unclear what will happen when commanders begin deferring to AI-derived courses of action over the recommendations of the people they command, or the impact that will have on critical-thinking skills across the force. Of course, it is not a foregone conclusion that JADC2 will minimize and displace human ingenuity on the battlefield. However, the platform is currently being portrayed as the ultimate solution to conflict and the determining factor in any future war.
Russian communications and equipment debacles, taken at face value, make a solid case for a JADC2-like system, but they also present a major lesson the US military should learn from as it moves toward a centralized command-and-control platform. The real irony of Russia’s performance in Ukraine is that President Vladimir Putin spent much of the last decade modernizing his military, investing billions in new tanks, armor, and weapons while neglecting spare parts, training, and the basic machinery required for extended supply lines. As Russia spent its billions to modernize its military, no one questioned—as often happens in an autocracy—whether allocating that money toward acquiring the newest technology was the best use of those resources. Ultimately, Russia’s latest technology quickly became deadweight on the battlefield because similar investments in training and maintenance were not made too.
You Complete Me, I Think . . .
Another central tenet of the JADC2 concept is the assumption that in great power competition the military needs to be prepared to fight a single, decisive battle. However, history and Cathal Nolan tell us that “victory in battle rarely determines the outcome of war.” A tactical win is not a strategic victory and, even if allowance is made for the supposition that JADC2-derived courses of action will almost always deliver a decisive outcome, JADC2’s theoretical underpinnings could encourage battles with no clear strategic objective. In the end, a decisive outcome absent a strategic goal is a pointless act and further conflates successful battles with strategic victories.
Furthermore, as a concept, JADC2 is designed to achieve decision dominance but, as the system matures, its AI-derived courses of action may not translate to strategic objectives. For example, if casualties or the loss of equipment are too heavily weighted, the algorithm could arrive at a conclusion where the only winning move is to not engage the enemy. Presently, JADC2 is lauded as capable of providing an appropriate solution for any combat scenario, but because algorithms are inscrutable, commanders will have little means or incentive to argue against a JADC2 course of action, which could restrict their freedom of movement or thought. For example, in 1979 and again in 1983, nuclear early-warning systems frantically urged operators to launch missiles in retaliation to what the systems thought were attacks—essentially, in both scenarios the system designed to improve decision-making nearly caused nuclear war. Also important is the recent analysis that found the targeting processes of precision strike missions—even those processes that are mostly manual and subject to multilevel review—still result in numerous cases of civilian casualties and mistaken identities. We should, therefore, be asking if it is correct to assume that JADC2 will produce more accurate outcomes when it will rely on the same intelligence data and information that currently drive operational decisions.
Ultimately, the Ukrainian conflict has been an exposé of Russian hubris and miscalculation. Russia’s false assumption that it could quickly depose the Ukrainian government drove the Russian planning effort. But, Russia’s inability to recover quickly after this plan failed is an example of how a highly centralized and secretive organization has difficulty executing complex operations—in this case, coordinated and synchronized multi-domain operations. Ultimately, over-tech-ing, or adopting technology that is too sophisticated and sensitive to meet the needs of a tactical element, is easy to do. For example, the Army has long sought to build an exoskeleton for its special operations forces. But current research on exoskeleton technology has failed to deliver on the concept’s intended purpose—namely, improving a soldier’s performance and safety on the battlefield. Projects that have pulled together sensors and physical components to create an exoskeleton suit have been bulky, cumbersome, and full of security concerns. Again, over-tech-ing battlefield technology is easy, but delivering the right amount of functionality paired with the flexibility required to shoot, move, and communicate in high-stress combat scenarios is really hard. In the end, the technology simply needs to work on demand because, as Mick Mulroy, a former US DoD official and CIA paramilitary operations officer, said, “If you can’t communicate in the field . . . all you’re doing is camping.”
There Is No Panacea for War, but We Can Make It Less Costly
Retired Admiral James Stavridis recently cautioned that “you can become utterly dependent on a new, glamorous technology, be it cyber, space, artificial intelligence. . . . It’ll enable you. It’ll move you forward. But does it create a potential Achilles’ heel? Often it does.” A related perspective is that soon, “soldiers on the battlefield may depend more on artificial intelligence than their own comrades.” No matter what the future holds, the character of warfare will continue to be changed by technology. And, to be fair, some of the discrete elements of JADC2 are worthy goals, and many of its associated initiatives with cloud computing, sensor deployment, and more advanced weapons platforms will result in better outcomes on the battlefield. However, if we fail to ask the tough questions about JADC2 now, we will continue down a pathway paved in assumptions and a belief that JADC2 will be the critical technology in any future multi-domain battle. Moving forward, emphasis should be simultaneously placed on alternative or complementary initiatives and technologies to improve command and control, bolster security, and establish information resiliency to mitigate the risks of miscalculating JADC2’s potential. Ultimately, a tactical solution at strategic scale, designed to move fast and strike hard, risks being decisive only in its ability to undermine the cognitive functions and human ingenuity necessary to win our future wars.
Capt. Maggie Smith, PhD, is a US Army cyber officer currently assigned to the Army Cyber Institute at the United States Military Academy where she is a scientific researcher, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences, and an affiliated faculty of the Modern War Institute. She is also the coeditor of this series and director of the Competition in Cyberspace Project.
Jason P. Atwell is the senior intelligence analysis and national security subject matter expert with Mandiant’s Global Intelligence and Advanced Practices business group and is the co-lead for Mandiant’s military veteran and reserve component employee resource group. Jason is also a US Army Reserve officer serving within United States Cyber Command.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.
Image credit: Senior Airman Daniel Hernandez, US Air Force
mwi.usma.edu · by Maggie Smith · May 3, 2022


21. How NATO Could Strike Back if Putin Uses Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine

If there is not a decisive response to Russian use we should expect an increase in the likelihood that Kim Jong-un will use them.



How NATO Could Strike Back if Putin Uses Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine
19fortyfive.com · by ByMichael Gallagher · May 2, 2022
If an insecure and angry Putin finally pushes the button, he may start small (hopefully) with one or more low-yield weapons launched against a Ukrainian battlefield target. Such a strike would be in line with the Russian military’s concept of “Escalate to De-escalate” when fighting a great power opponent. This limited use of nuclear weapons would supposedly intimidate an enemy into negotiating an end to the conflict on Russian terms.
Russia going nuclear would seemingly confront NATO with two unpalatable choices. One, back down and accede to Russian demands with the near-certainty of having to face additional attempts at nuclear blackmail farther down the road. The other option would be for NATO to hit back with its own nuclear arsenal with the obvious risk of having the Ukrainian War escalate into a general nuclear exchange.
How NATO Could Respond To Putin’s Escalation?
But rather than having only the choices of surrender or nuclear Armageddon, the Western powers may have another option open to them, and that is to counterattack sideways with a massive conventional response using their very large arsenal of precision-guided munitions (PGMs).
Replacing nuclear weapons with PGMs is an idea that’s been circulating since the mid-1970s when the then-brand-new technology was seized upon by American strategists as a way to counterbalance the old USSR’s big numbers advantage without going nuclear. This strategy took form with the adoption by the US Army of its Air-Land Battle Doctrine. In the war that fortunately never happened, the US and its NATO allies would have used long-range precision fire to wreck Soviet supply lines and rear areas, isolating their forward forces and defeating the Red Army’s plans to crush NATO with massed tank assaults and artillery fire.
Modern NATO’s extensive cruise missile arsenal shows that the alliance thinks the Air-Land Battle concept, now called Multi-Domain with the addition of the space and cyber battlefields, is alive and well.
The US Navy (USN), despite plans to cut back on its numbers, still has large numbers of the long-serving Tomahawk cruise missile deployed on surface ships and submarines. With their 900-mile range (1600 km) and their ability to be reprogrammed in mid-flight, subsonic Tomahawk swarms pose a serious threat to any opponent they’re launched against.
Other long-range US cruise missiles include the US Air Force’s (USAF) air launched AGM 86C with a 950 km (590 mi) range and the 620 miles (1000km) JASSM-ER (Joint-Air-to- Surface-Standoff-Missile-Extended Range) missile. The AGM 86C is the conventionally-armed member of the USAF’s series of ALCMs, while the JASSM-ER, used by both the USN and USAF, is the latest addition to the JASSM family, which first entered service in 2009.
Three of America’s NATO allies the United Kingdom, France, and Germany all have their own stable of homegrown cruise missiles. Britain and France both operate the French-built Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missile. The Storm Shadow’s nearly 250 miles (400 km) range gives it the ability to strike targets while well outside the range of most SAM missile systems. Another potent weapon is the even longer-ranged German-Swedish Taurus ALCM. With its 373 miles (500 km) range and specially designed bunker-busting warhead, the Taurus is a powerful addition to NATO’s conventional firepower.
Smaller NATO members have their own cruise missile forces as well. Poland already operates the JASSM-ER and Norway has its own locally built Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM). The short-ranged 100-mile (161 km) sea-skimming NSM can be used against both sea and land targets. Both versions of the NSM serve with the Norwegian military, the Polish Army, the US Navy, and US Marines.
But what target should NATO hit if Putin cuts loose with a limited nuclear strike? If the NATO powers want maximum shock value for their nonnuclear counterstroke, striking Crimea is the only serious answer.
Home to the Sevastopol naval base and other military installations and connected to the Russian mainland only by Kerch Strait Bridge, Crimea is essential to the logistics of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Devastating the Sevastopol naval base would cripple Russia’s Black Sea Fleet by depriving it of its main logistical support. Dropping the 19 km (12 miles) long dual Kerch road-rail bridge into the water below would make an even bigger hole in Russia’s war effort than the destruction of the Sevastopol base. Making Crimea useless to Russia could very well mean game over for Putin’s “Special Operation.”
Knocking out the Crimea with a massive cruise missile strike would not only hand Russia a decisive defeat in the physical world but it could also be used to tilt the psychological battlefield against the Kremlin by driving home the following three points.
One, a conventional attack would show the Russians that while NATO is certainly anxious about the possibility of nuclear war, won’t instantly cringe in fear and allow Russia to declare victory in Ukraine. Two, while NATO’s conventional strike smashed Crimea’s infrastructure, no nuclear weapons were involved, so any damaged assets could either be repaired or replaced, something that would be impossible after a nuclear strike since the target area would be reduced to radioactive vapor.
These first two points support the third reason for NATO hitting back with a strong non-nuclear response, and that’s to make Russia’s leadership, and especially Vladimir Putin, think very carefully about their next move. NATO launching a tit-for-tat nuclear strike against Russian forces in Ukraine could elicit a knee-jerk response from Russian leaders, causing them to move automatically up the escalation ladder toward full-scale nuclear war. But an effective conventional riposte just might make them think about moving the conflict off the battlefield and into the conference room.
Vladimir Putin 2017 New Year Address to the Nation.
How Would Putin Respond?
Would the nonnuclear option actually work? Who knows. But forcing Vladimir Putin and the men around him to take a good long, long look into the nuclear abyss could provide a necessary timeout on the road to Armageddon, and that might make all the difference.
Michael G. Gallagher is an American expatriate and independent researcher living in Seoul, South Korea, with his Korean wife. He has MA and Ph.D. degrees in International Relations from the University of Miami in Coral, Gables, Florida. Prior to residing in South Korea, he lived in Mainland China and Hong Kong.
19fortyfive.com · by ByMichael Gallagher · May 2, 2022

22.







V/R
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
VIDEO "WHEREBY" Link: https://whereby.com/david-maxwell
Subscribe to FDD’s new podcastForeign Podicy
FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

V/R
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
Subscribe to FDD’s new podcastForeign Podicy
FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

If you do not read anything else in the 2017 National Security Strategy read this on page 14:

"A democracy is only as resilient as its people. An informed and engaged citizenry is the fundamental requirement for a free and resilient nation. For generations, our society has protected free press, free speech, and free thought. Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data. The American public and private sectors must recognize this and work together to defend our way of life. No external threat can be allowed to shake our shared commitment to our values, undermine our system of government, or divide our Nation."
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