Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

“Men, be kind to your fellow men; This is your first duty, kind to every age and station, kind to all that is not foreign to humanity. What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?”
- Jean Jacques Rousseau

 "Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries the furthest the works of thought and intelligence." 
- Louis Pasteur

“Americanism is a question of principle, of idealism, of character. It is not a matter of birthplace, or creed, or line of descent.”
- Theodore Roosevelt




1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JUNE 23 (PUTIN'S WAR)
2. Ukraine Orders Withdrawal From Severodonetsk to Avoid Encirclement
3. China ‘commends’ Nepal’s decision to reject US partnership programme
4. Car Bomb Kills Russia-Installed Official in Occupied Ukraine
5. In Russia’s War, China and India Emerge as Financiers
6.  The Real Stakes of Taiwan - It’s not about democracy. It’s about power.
7. How a human rights law targeting forced labor in Xinjiang is shaking up the U.S.-China supply chain
8. Families of American hostages abroad discouraged after Blinken call
9. USNS Mercy in Vietnam on Pacific Partnership mission
10. U.S. Sending 18 Patrol Boats to Ukraine as Part of Latest Aid Package
11. United States and China set to be excluded from Pacific Islands Forum meeting to avoid 'distraction'
12. FDD | Treasury Targets Iranian Sanctions-Busting Network as Nuclear Talks Remain Stalled
13. The U.S. Military Needs An On-Time Defense Budget
14. China's Xi criticises sanctions 'abuse', Putin scolds the WestChina's Xi criticises sanctions 'abuse', Putin scolds the West
15.  Attack Beijing or an Invasion Fleet? How Taiwan Should Use Its Cruise Missiles
16. House lawmakers ask Army: Who's in charge of massive modernization program?
17. US and NATO lack capability to supply a long war
18. Robots, Marines and the Ultimate Battle with Bureaucracy
19. The United States and China: Who Changed the ‘Status Quo’ over Taiwan?
20. NATO gathering could split Asia into hostile blocs
21. Has the War in Ukraine Damaged Russia’s Gray Zone Capabilities?
22. LSCO Lessons: What the Army Should Be Learning about Large-Scale Combat Operations from the Ukraine War
23. How America Can Feed the World
24. We fought to defend democracy. This new threat to America now keeps us awake at night.
25.  Can Australia get nuclear-powered submarines this decade?




1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JUNE 23 (PUTIN'S WAR)



RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JUNE 23
Jun 23, 2022 - Press ISW

Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, Mason Clark, and Grace Mappes
June 23, 6:15 pm ET
Click here to see ISW's interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.
Ongoing Belarusian mobilization exercises will continue in Gomel Oblast until July 1 but are unlikely to be in preparation for direct Belarusian involvement in the war in Ukraine. The Belarusian Ministry of Defense announced on June 22 that the Belarusian Armed Forces will conduct a mobilization exercise with the military commissariats of Gomel Oblast to test the readiness of the military reserve from June 22 to July 1.[1] The Ukrainian State Border Guard Service warned on June 23 that Belarusian forces may conduct provocations along the border with Ukraine over the backdrop of these exercises, and Belarusian-Russian military cooperation has seemingly intensified.[2] Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin met with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu in Moscow on June 23 to discuss ongoing bilateral military agreements.[3] Belarusian social media users additionally reported that Russian planes transported at least 16 S-400 missiles and one Pantsir system to the Gomel airport on June 21 and 22.[4]
While Belarus and Russia retain close military cooperation and the ongoing Belarusian exercises are likely intended in part to threaten Ukraine, Belarus remains unlikely to enter the war in Ukraine on behalf of Russia. As ISW has previously assessed, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko likely cannot afford the domestic consequences of involving his limited military assets in a costly foreign war.[5] Unsupported Belarusian forces are additionally highly unlikely to be effective, and Russia lacks the reserves necessary to conduct another offensive toward Kyiv. These exercises are undoubtedly intended to posture and threaten Ukrainian border areas but are unlikely to preempt actual involvement in hostilities.
Russian forces have made substantial gains in the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area over the last several days and Ukrainian troops continue to suffer high casualties, but Ukrainian forces have fundamentally accomplished their objective in the battle by slowing down and degrading Russian forces. Head of the Luhansk Oblast Administration Serhiy Haidai stated on June 23 that Ukrainian troops may have to retreat to avoid encirclement in Lysychansk, which indicates that Ukrainian authorities are setting conditions to prepare for the ultimate loss of both Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.[6] As ISW has previously assessed, however, the loss of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk will not represent a major turning point in the war.[7] Ukrainian troops have succeeded for weeks in drawing substantial quantities of Russian personnel, weapons, and equipment into the area and have likely degraded Russian forces' overall capabilities while preventing Russian forces from focusing on more advantageous axes of advance. Russian offensive operations will likely stall in the coming weeks, whether or not Russian forces capture the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area, likely granting Ukrainian forces the opportunity to launch prudent counteroffensives. The Kremlin’s ideological fixation on the capture of Severodonetsk, much like the earlier siege of Azovstal, will likely be to the ultimate detriment of Russian capabilities in future advances in Ukraine. The loss of Severodonetsk is a loss for Ukraine in the sense that any terrain captured by Russian forces is a loss—but the battle of Severodonetsk will not be a decisive Russian victory.
Key Takeaways
  • Belarusian forces are conducting mobilization exercises along the Ukrainian border but are unlikely to enter the war in Ukraine due to their low capabilities and the adverse domestic implications of military involvement on behalf of Russia.
  • Russian forces have likely reached the southern outskirts of Lysychansk and are reinforcing their grouping around Severodonetsk to complete the capture of both Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. These gains remain unlikely to provide Russian forces with a decisive edge in further operations in Ukraine and have further degraded Russian capabilities.
  • Russian forces are continuing efforts to encircle the Ukrainian grouping in Hirske and Zolote and are likely moving to take control of these settlements.
  • Russian forces have likely successfully interdicted Ukrainian lines of communication along the T1302 highway and are using recent gains along the highway to reinforce assaults on Lysychansk.
  • Russian forces amassed equipment and continued building defensive capabilities along the Southern Axis.

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.
  • Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and three supporting efforts);
  • Subordinate Main Effort—Encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts
  • Supporting Effort 1—Kharkiv City;
  • Supporting Effort 2—Southern Axis;
  • Activities in Russian-occupied Areas
Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine
Subordinate Main Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Encircle Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine and capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces continued offensive operations to drive north toward Lysychansk and reached the southern outskirts of the city on June 23. Ukrainian sources confirmed on June 23 that Russian troops captured Rai-Oleksandrivka and Luskotivka on June 22, which will allow Russian forces to launch further advances toward Lysychansk without having to complete an opposed river crossing from within Severodonetsk.[8] Several Ukrainian and Russian sources reported fighting south of Lysychansk in Bila Hora, Myrna Dolyna, and Vovchoyarivka, all within 5 km of Lysychansk.[9] The UK Ministry of Defense confirmed that Russian forces have advanced to within 5 km of southern Lysychansk.[10] Russian Telegram channel Rybar claimed that Russian forces have made it as far as the southern outskirts of Lysychansk and are fighting within the industrial zone of the city, but ISW cannot confirm this claim.[11] Russian forces have also likely restricted Ukrainian access to lines of communication into Lysychansk and can shell large areas of both the Siversk-Lysychansk and Bakhmut-Lysychansk highways.[12]

Russian forces are reinforcing their grouping around Severodonetsk in order to complete the capture of the city. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that elements of the 2nd Army Corps (the Armed Forces of the Luhansk People’s Republic) and Rosgvardia (Russian National Guard) are fighting to establish full control of Severodonetsk.[13] Rosgvardia is notably not intended to be a frontline combat force, and their involvement in direct fights for control of contested territory indicates that Russian troops in the Severodonetsk area are severely degraded and relying on secondary forces to support operations. The BBC’s Russian service previously reported on June 21 that Rosgvardia and Wagner Group personnel are providing Russia’s main assault force in Severodonetsk, likely due to a lack of dedicated infantry in frontline Russian units.[14] Ukrainian parliamentarian and military expert Dmytro Snyegerev stated that Russian forces are moving modern S-300V4 anti-aircraft air defense missile systems to the Severodonetsk area in order to protect their forces from the Ukrainian air force and drones.[15] Russian forces reportedly moved one battalion tactical group (BTG) from the Central Military District to Novotoshivske, south of the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area, likely in support of operations to complete the capture of the rest of Luhansk Oblast.[16]
Russian forces have likely moved to complete the encirclement of Ukrainian troops in Zolote and Hirske but have not yet taken full control of both settlements.[17] Russian sources claimed that Russian troops are clearing Zolote, Hirske, and the surrounding areas, and geolocated combat footage from June 23 showed Russian troops entering Hirske itself from the east.[18] Neither official Ukrainian nor Russian sources have confirmed the capture of Zolote and Hirske, however, and Russian forces are likely still fighting to establish total control of this area.
Russian forces continued efforts to interdict Ukrainian lines of communication along the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway to support operations in Lysychansk and made incremental gains on June 23.[19] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that elements of the 1st Army Corps (the Armed Forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic) took control of Mykolaivka, a settlement along the T1302 highway about 15 km southwest of Lysychansk. Russian forces additionally continued assault operations in Berestove, a settlement adjacent to Mykolaivka along the T1302.[20] Head of Luhansk Oblast Administration Serhiy Haidai indicated the T1302 is currently inoperable, which suggests that Russian forces have successfully interdicted Ukrainian supply efforts into the Lysychansk area.[21] Russian forces conducted unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force operations in Vershyna and unsuccessfully attempted to pin Ukrainian forces in Klynove, both southeast of Bakhmut.[22]
Russian forces continued to prepare for offensive operations towards Slovyansk from the southeast of Izyum but did not make any confirmed advances on June 23.[23] The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces moved two unspecified tank units to the Izyum area to strengthen their grouping northwest of Slovyansk.[24] Russian forces reportedly conducted unsuccessful assaults on Dolyna and Bohorodychne, both within 20 km northwest of Slovyansk.[25] Russian forces will likely continue efforts to drive down the E40 (also known as the M03) highway toward Slovyansk but are unlikely to be successful in directly assaulting the city as the main Russian effort remains focused on the capture of Severodonetsk-Lysychansk.

Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Withdraw forces to the north and defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum)
Russian forces north of Kharkiv City focused on preventing Ukrainian advances and fired on and around Kharkiv City on June 23.[26] The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces are trying to prevent Ukrainian forces in northern Kharkiv Oblast from threatening the rear of Russian operations heading towards Izyum-Slovyansk.[27] Russian forces conducted artillery strikes on Kharkiv City and settlements to the north and southeast.[28]

Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian forces continued to focus on defensive operations and amassed equipment along the Southern Axis on June 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted a series of unsuccessful assaults near the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast administrative border around Shevchenko, Vremivka, Novosilka, and Neskuchne.[29] Russian forces additionally concentrated artillery units around the Kherson-Mykolaiv Oblast border in response to recent Ukrainian counterattacks in the area.[30] Russian forces are additionally moving large columns of military equipment from Mariupol to Berdyansk and Polohy, likely to reinforce positions in Zaporizhia Oblast to defend against both Ukrainian partisan activity and counterattacks.[31] Head of the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate Kirill Budanov stated that Russian forces are deploying a detachment consisting of air defense and rocket group units, a boat group, and special forces to Snake Island in response to recent Ukrainian strikes directly against Snake Island.[32] Russian forces continued to fire on Kherson, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Zaporizhia Oblasts.[33]

Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied areas; set conditions for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or some other future political arrangement of Moscow’s choosing)
Russian occupation authorities continued efforts to consolidate administrative control of occupied areas of Ukraine on June 23. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on June 23 that mass “passportization” efforts have been so unsuccessful that Russian authorities are forcing inmates at the Kherson Northern Correctional Colony to obtain Russian citizenship to increase their numbers.[34] The Ukrainian Resistance Center additionally claimed that Russian officials plan to hold an annexation referendum in Zaporizhia and Kherson Oblasts on September 11, 2022, though ISW cannot independently confirm this claim - which Ukrainian sources have previously speculated on, as the date of existing Russian elections.[35] This deadline will likely further pressure Russian occupation authorities to create a façade of widespread public support for integration into Russia, through passportization measures or otherwise. Despite growing indications that Russian authorities hope to expedite the annexation process, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that it is “out of the question” to abolish the border between Russia and Zaporizhia, suggesting continued discrepancies over the degree of integration of occupied territories being pursued by the Kremlin.[36]
[2] https://suspilne dot media/253267-zaprosuut-na-zbir-agid-dpsu-poperedila-pro-provokacii-z-boku-bilorusi/
[4] https://t.me/Hajun_BY/4813https://suspilne dot media/252796-rosia-perekinula-do-bilorusi-novu-partiu-raket-dla-s-300-ta-pancir-monitoringova-grupa/
[31] https://t.me/andriyshTime/1540https://suspilne dot media/253015-drugij-den-pospil-rosijski-okupanti-viizdzaut-z-mariupola-v-napramku-berdansk-pologi-radnik-mera/
[34] https://sprotyv dot mod.gov.ua/2022/06/23/hersonczi-ne-hochut-rosijski-pasporty-okupanty-vyrishyly-pasportyzuvaty-koloniyu/
[35] https://sprotyv dot mod.gov.ua/2022/06/23/rosiyany-11-veresnya-planuyut-provesty-referendum-shhodo-stvorennya-kvazirespublik-v-zaporizkij-ta-hersonskyh-oblastyah/
[36] https://ria dot ru/20220623/zaporozhe-1797547687.html; https://t.me/stranaua/48468


2. Ukraine Orders Withdrawal From Severodonetsk to Avoid Encirclement
Ukraine Orders Withdrawal From Severodonetsk to Avoid Encirclement
Pullback brings Russia close to taking over the entirety of Ukraine’s Luhansk region

By Yaroslav TrofimovFollow
June 24, 2022 3:46 am ET
Latest
  • The withdrawal marks a small but symbolically important victory for Russians in the battle for control of Donbas.
  • Fierce fighting in the city destroyed 80% of its buildings and all of its vital infrastructure, the head of the regional administration said.
  • Russian forces have made advances near Lysychansk, another key city in the region, in recent days.
Ukraine ordered its troops to withdraw from their remaining foothold in the city of Severodonetsk to avoid encirclement, ending a battle that lasted nearly two months and giving Russia a small but symbolically important victory in the grinding war for control of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas area.
Severodonetsk, a city of just over 100,000 people before the war, served as the administrative center of Ukrainian-controlled parts of Luhansk, one of the two regions that make up Donbas. Most of the city was taken by Russian troops in recent weeks, with Ukrainian defenders mostly holed up in the sprawling Azot industrial plant.
Why Ukraine’s Snake Island Is Key to Russia’s War Strategy
Why Ukraine’s Snake Island Is Key to Russia’s War Strategy
Play video: Why Ukraine’s Snake Island Is Key to Russia’s War Strategy
Snake Island, in the Black Sea, is a key battleground in the Ukraine war. Satellite images show how Russian forces are using the island to strengthen their military capabilities and block ships carrying grain, as Moscow continues its push in eastern Ukraine. Photo composite: Eve Hartley
Four out of every five buildings in Severodonetsk have been damaged beyond repair by Russian shelling and airstrikes, and all the vital infrastructure in the city has been destroyed, said Serhiy Haidai, the head of Ukraine’s military administration for Luhansk. The overwhelming majority of the city’s residents have fled to safer parts of Ukraine or Europe in recent months.
Defending Severodonetsk became nearly impossible after Russia destroyed all three of the bridges across the Siverskyi Donets River that connected the city to Lysychansk, the only town in the Luhansk region still under full Ukrainian control. In recent days, the resupply of Ukrainian troops in Severodonetsk was possible only by small river craft.

A Ukrainian military vehicle passes an oil refinery outside Lysychansk.
PHOTO: ANATOLII STEPANOV/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
“It makes no sense to remain on positions that have been demolished over the months,” Mr. Haidai said in a TV appearance Friday. “The defenders have already received orders to pull back to new positions, new fortified areas, and to conduct full military activities and to inflict damage on the enemy from there.” Staying put could have led to encirclement and heavy losses, he added.
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A Ukrainian reporter embedded with the forces in Severodonetsk, Yuri Butusov, said on social media that the troops already left the city overnight. They were shelled during the retreat but didn’t sustain casualties, he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in February recognized the independence of the two proxy states that Moscow carved out of parts of Donbas in 2014, the Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics. The two statelets controlled only about one-third of Donbas at the time. While Ukraine still retains more than a third of the Donetsk region, including the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, a capture of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk would allow Russia to claim that it has fully “liberated” at least one of these two people’s republics.
Mr. Putin announced the “liberation of Donbas” as his principal war aim after initial efforts to seize the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and install a pro-Russian government there collapsed because of Ukrainian resistance in February and March. While Russia withdrew from northern Ukraine in April, it continues to occupy most of the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, which provide a land bridge between mainland Russia and Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

A resident of Chuhuiv in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region on Thursday sifted through the remains of his home after a Russian attack.
PHOTO: ORLANDO BARRIA/ZUMA PRESS
Russian authorities have appointed administrations in both areas and have begun to issue Russian passports to residents and switch local trade to the ruble. On Friday, in the latest insurgent attack on Russian collaborators, a car bomb killed the head of family, youth and sports affairs in the Moscow-appointed Kherson regional administration, Dmitry Savluchenko, according to Russian state media. A series of other car bombs and land-mine attacks targeted other Russian-appointed officials in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in recent weeks.
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In Donbas, Russian forces made important advances south and southwest of Lysychansk in recent days, with reconnaissance teams reaching the outskirts of the city. These offensives have made the only road linking Lysychansk to the rest of Ukrainian-held territory even more precarious. Still, the road remains passable for now, permitting a Ukrainian retreat.
Russian forces have a manifold advantage in troops and equipment in the area, Mr. Haidai said. Ukrainian troops are running out of Soviet-standard ammunition for their artillery, and Western-supplied heavy weapons that began to trickle into Ukraine in April haven’t been sufficient to make up for the shortfall, Ukrainian officials said.
The U.S. is just beginning to deliver the multiple-launch rocket systems that Ukraine has been requesting since the war began in February, with the first four HIMARS platforms reaching the country this week and four more pledged by the White House on Thursday. Ukraine says it needs dozens of these MLRS platforms to make a difference in Donbas.
The Ukrainian decision to pull back from Severodonetsk, and possibly from Lysychansk in coming days, is driven by the bitter experiences of the 2014-2015 war for Donbas. At the time, Russian forces repeatedly encircled Ukrainian troop formations in so-called cauldrons, killing or capturing thousands. Ukraine’s current top military commander, Lt. Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, gained prominence after successfully leading thousands of troops out of one such potential cauldron near the town of Debaltseve in 2015.
In Russia’s city of Ryazan, meanwhile, an IL-76 military cargo plane crashed Friday, killing four crew members and injuring five, according to state media.
Write to Yaroslav Trofimov at yaroslav.trofimov@wsj.com





3. China ‘commends’ Nepal’s decision to reject US partnership programme

I wonder if those who were pushing this effort had sufficient understanding of Nepal? What was the cost benefit analysis? What strategic effect were we seeking to achieve? Would commitment to SPP really enhance US national security? DId the effort push Nepal further away from the US and toward China? Is the National Guard's Strategic Partnership Program worth the cost? I know proponents will argue that Ukraine is a good example of the importance of the SPP. But has anyone really examined the strategic effects? (I personally think it can be of value if it is synchronized with the national and theater strategies. But I fear for some it is just viewed as a good deal for a state). 


China ‘commends’ Nepal’s decision to reject US partnership programme
  • Beijing says it will continue to support Kathmandu’s ‘independent and non-aligned foreign policy’
  • Nepal on Monday announced it would not move ahead with the SPP amid widespread opposition

Liu Zhen in Beijing
+ FOLLOW
Published: 10:48pm, 23 Jun, 2022


By Liu Zhen South China Morning Post3 min

Critics in Nepal have said joining the SPP could be devastating for the nation’s ties with China. Photo: AP
China on Thursday said it commended Nepal’s decision to reject a security partnership with the United States and would continue to support Kathmandu’s “independent foreign policy”.
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Nepal saw the State Partnership Programme (SPP) as a military and security initiative closely linked to the US Indo-Pacific strategy, which goes “against the national interests of Nepal and its long-held non-aligned, balanced foreign policy”.
Kathmandu on Monday said it would not move ahead with the SPP amid widespread opposition to the partnership from within the country.
“As Nepal’s friendly and close neighbour and strategic cooperative partner, China commends the Nepalese government’s decision,” Wang told reporters in Beijing.
“China will continue to support Nepal in upholding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and support Nepal’s commitment to its independent and non-aligned foreign policy. China stands ready to work with Nepal to jointly safeguard regional security, stability and shared prosperity.”
Nepal’s decision is a setback for the US effort to expand its security influence in South Asia under the Indo-Pacific strategy.
The SPP is administered by the US National Guard Bureau. It was set up in the 1990s to pair former Soviet bloc countries with the National Guard in American states, and now serves as “a key US security cooperation tool” that includes partnerships with 93 countries.
Nepal first applied to join the SPP in 2015 as it wanted humanitarian assistance after a devastating earthquake that year and was accepted in 2019, according to the US.
During a visit to Nepal in April, Major General Michael Turley, adjutant general at the Utah National Guard, handed over the draft agreement of the SPP to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and General Prabhu Ram Sharma, chief of staff of the Nepal Army, local media reported.
That was followed by a visit to the country earlier this month by Charles Flynn, commanding general of the US Army Pacific Command, which prompted speculation that Nepal could soon join the SPP.
Although the focus appears to be humanitarian, critics in Nepal have raised concerns over the potential military and broader nature of the alliance. The US National Guard states on its website that, through the SPP, it “conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defence security goals but also leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency and corollary engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres”.
Beijing is on high alert over Washington’s efforts in the region to counter its rising military power, especially as India – with whom China has an ongoing border dispute – moves closer to the US.
Critics in Nepal have said that joining the SPP could be devastating for the country’s ties with China. The landlocked Himalayan nation is sandwiched between China and India and tries to balance its relations with the two Asian giants as well as with the US.
In February, Nepal’s parliament ratified a US$500 million grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US government aid agency, to fund an electricity transmission line and road improvement project. The move – seen by critics as part of the Indo-Pacific strategy – sparked widespread protests amid concern about a potential military aim.
Liu Zhen joined the Post in 2015 as a reporter on the China desk. She previously worked with Reuters in Beijing.

4. Car Bomb Kills Russia-Installed Official in Occupied Ukraine



Car Bomb Kills Russia-Installed Official in Occupied Ukraine - The Moscow Times
The Moscow Times · by The Moscow Times · June 24, 2022
A Russian-appointed official in southern Ukraine’s occupied city of Kherson was killed in an apparent car bomb attack, local authorities reported Friday.
Kherson’s so-called "military-civilian" administration told the state-run TASS news agency that one person died in a car explosion in a residential neighborhood in the early morning.
"Today, my friend, head of the department of family, youth and sports of the Kherson region, Dmitry Savluchenko, passed away," the Moscow-appointed deputy head of Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, said on Telegram.
He added that Savluchenko died "as a result of a terrorist act in the city of Kherson."
Savluchenko's death marks the first confirmed death of a pro-Russian official in an attack in occupied Ukraine.
The Interfax news agency had earlier reported that the Moscow-installed official died in an explosion after a bomb was planted in his car.
Gruesome footage shared by pro-Kyiv social media accounts shows a badly damaged car parked in front of an apartment block and a body lying in the distance.
It is the latest in a string of apparent car bombings reported out of Kherson in recent weeks. The targets of the attacks, believed to be pro-Russian figures. have escaped serious injuries until now.
An aide to the head of Kherson administration loyal to Kyiv welcomed the attack, which killed a "pro-Russian activist and traitor."
"Our partisans have one more victory," Sergiy Khlan said on Facebook.
The Russian army conquered most of the Kherson region at the start of its Feb. 24 offensive.
Russian forces have since installed pro-Moscow “military-civilian administrations” in occupied areas and introduced Russian currency, media and internet services.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree “simplifying” the citizenship process for Ukrainians in occupied Kherson and partially occupied Zaporizhzhia, as well as the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions, on May 25.
Since shifting the focus of its invasion eastward following a failed effort to capture Kyiv, Russia has said its main objective is to “liberate” areas of eastern and southern Ukraine predominantly populated by Russian speakers.
AFP contributed reporting.

The Moscow Times · by The Moscow Times · June 24, 2022


5. In Russia’s War, China and India Emerge as Financiers
Some might question the value fo the Quad, or india's participation in it.

Excertps:
Four months into the war, Russian crude oil exports are down only slightly, as sales to China and India have largely filled the gap left by Europe. India and China bought roughly 2.4 million barrels of Russian crude a day in May, half of Russia’s exports. At least some is being refined into diesel and other fuels, and exported around the world, including to countries that oppose the invasion.
China and India have been buying at a 30 percent discount to the global benchmark price, a boon to both economies in a world buffeted by rising inflation. Despite the discounts, Russia’s oil revenues are growing, since prices have climbed to more than $100 a barrel.
The shift is just beginning, and the amounts of oil involved are still relatively small. The real test of China’s and India’s willingness to buy Russian oil will come when sanctions take full effect.


In Russia’s War, China and India Emerge as Financiers
The New York Times · by Emily Schmall · June 24, 2022
Their purchases of Russian crude are undermining the West’s efforts to isolate the Kremlin and upending the global oil markets.
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An oil tanker carrying imported crude oil at Qingdao port in China’s eastern Shandong Province last month.
June 24, 2022, 5:00 a.m. ET
As Russia tries to break the stranglehold of sanctions, China and India are emerging as Moscow’s pivotal financiers by purchasing large amounts of Russian crude, putting themselves in the middle of the messy war with Ukraine and a geopolitical standoff with the West.
It’s a complex calculation for China, India — and the global economy.
Buying cheap oil from Russia offers economic and political advantages. China can diversify its oil supplies for national security reasons, while India can make billions exporting refined products like gasoline and diesel.
But undercutting European and American efforts to isolate the Kremlin risks serious diplomatic fallout that neither country wants. China has avoided overtly supporting Russia’s war in public statements, and India has portrayed itself as neutral.
The two countries, with the demand from their enormous domestic markets and the supplies from their vast refineries, are also central in determining the direction of oil prices. Their purchases of Russian crude in recent months have helped ease the pressure.
Their ultimate appetite for Russian oil will either shake or support the global economy, another complicating factor in the West’s capacity to stay united through a war of attrition in Ukraine. So far, the West has remained steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine, but a long period of high fuel prices and potential shortages in Europe could become politically unpalatable.
A tanker moored at the crude oil terminal Kozmino on the Nakhodka Bay in Russia this month. Russian oil is funding the bullets and rockets deployed on the battlefield in Ukraine.Credit...Tatiana Meel/Reuters
“One of the consequences of this conflict is a fundamental realignment of the global energy system, trading relationships and geopolitical alignments, with China and India more closely aligned with Russia,” said Jason Bordoff, who is director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and was an adviser to President Barack Obama.
Russia’s biggest export, oil is the currency of war, funding the bullets and rockets deployed on the battlefield in Ukraine. The West is trying to cut off the financial spigot, in part by weaning Europe, Russia’s biggest market, off its energy dependence through sanctions.
Four months into the war, Russian crude oil exports are down only slightly, as sales to China and India have largely filled the gap left by Europe. India and China bought roughly 2.4 million barrels of Russian crude a day in May, half of Russia’s exports. At least some is being refined into diesel and other fuels, and exported around the world, including to countries that oppose the invasion.
China and India have been buying at a 30 percent discount to the global benchmark price, a boon to both economies in a world buffeted by rising inflation. Despite the discounts, Russia’s oil revenues are growing, since prices have climbed to more than $100 a barrel.
The shift is just beginning, and the amounts of oil involved are still relatively small. The real test of China’s and India’s willingness to buy Russian oil will come when sanctions take full effect.
An oil depot in New Delhi this month.Credit...Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg
The European ban on tanker deliveries of Russian crude and refined fuels like diesel will be phased in over the next six months, trade that represents two-thirds of the continent’s purchases from Russia.
“The dominoes will accelerate in 2023 once the European ban is in place,” said Sarah Emerson, president of ESAI Energy, a research firm.
The world’s largest oil importer, China has played a major role in global energy markets for decades, largely depending on the Middle East and Russia for supplies.
With the United States growing increasingly self-sufficient for its energy needs, the arrangement meant that the American Navy patrolling the Persian Gulf was effectively protecting Chinese supply lines. China got its oil without immersing itself in messy Middle Eastern politics, while its trade with the United States increased.
It is trying to do the same now, in balancing its economic and geopolitical interests. Importing more Russian oil not only is cheaper, but also helps diversify supplies.
“China’s conduct has been consistent with its longstanding national security objectives,” said David Goldwyn, the senior State Department energy diplomat in the first term of the Obama administration. That is, he said, “diversifying supply away from the Middle East, prioritizing transportation routes which cannot be blocked by the U.S. Navy and containing Russia by increasing its dependency on China as a primary buyer of oil and gas, all at the lowest possible cost.”
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with President Xi Jinping of China in Shanghai in 2014, when they struck a natural gas deal.Credit...Pool photo by Alexey Druginyn
This pattern played out during Russia’s takeover of Crimea in 2014. As the West imposed sanctions on Moscow, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia flew to China to strike a natural gas deal that had been in the works for a decade. China negotiated a hard bargain for cheap gas, frustrating Western efforts to isolate Moscow but without endorsing the takeover of Crimea.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China has walked a fine line, at least publicly. China’s state-controlled media and government officials have been silent on Russian oil, and Chinese oil companies have followed the same cautious script.
“The companies don’t want to be called out for aiding and abetting Putin’s war machine,” said Erica Downs, a Columbia University senior research scholar.
There may also be limits to China’s appetite. China has traditionally tried to ensure a multitude of energy sources. And its relationship with Russia has long been uneasy, despite the vow by Chinese leaders of a “no limit” friendship.
“There are no limits in China-Russian cooperation, but there is a bottom line,” Qin Gang, China’s ambassador to the United States, said in a television interview in March. “The bottom line is the universally recognized international law and norms governing international relations.”
Cars lining up for gas in Wuhan, Hubei Province, this month before prices were set to rise.
India’s switch to Russian oil has been swift and significant.
Before the Ukraine war, Russia accounted for about 1 percent of India’s oil needs. Russia is now poised to overtake Iraq as India’s primary source of oil this month, according to Kpler, a commodity data company. Russian exports to India will reach 1.15 million barrels a day in June — up from 33,000 barrels a day last year and about 600,000 in March — while Iraq deliveries will drop to just over a million barrels a day, Kpler data show.
The Russia-Ukraine War and the Global Economy
Card 1 of 7
A far-reaching conflict. Russia’s invasion on Ukraine has had a ripple effect across the globe, adding to the stock market’s woes. The conflict has caused​​ dizzying spikes in gas prices and product shortages, and has pushed Europe to reconsider its reliance on Russian energy sources.
Global growth slows. The fallout from the war has hobbled efforts by major economies to recover from the pandemic, injecting new uncertainty and undermining economic confidence around the world. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the war was fueling rapid inflation; world growth is expected to slow to 2.9 percent this year from 5.7 percent in 2021.
Energy prices rise. Oil and gas prices, already up as a result of the pandemic, have continued to increase since the beginning of the conflict. The sharpening of the confrontation has also forced countries in Europe and elsewhere to rethink their reliance on Russian energy and seek alternative sources.
Russia’s economy faces slowdown. Though pro-Ukraine countries continue to adopt sanctions against the Kremlin in response to its aggression, the Russian economy has avoided a crippling collapse for now thanks to capital controls and interest rate increases. But Russia’s central bank chief warned that the country is likely to face a steep economic downturn as its inventory of imported goods and parts runs low.
Trade barriers go up. The invasion of Ukraine has also unleashed a wave of protectionism as governments, desperate to secure goods for their citizens amid shortages and rising prices, erect new barriers to stop exports. But the restrictions are making the products more expensive and even harder to come by.
Food supplies. The war has driven up the cost of food in East Africa, a region that depends greatly on exports of wheat, soybeans and barley from Russia and Ukraine. and is already dealing with a severe drought. Western leaders, meanwhile, have accused Russia of weaponizing global food supplies with its blockade of Ukrainian grain.
Prices of essential metals soar. The price of palladium, used in automotive exhaust systems and mobile phones, has been soaring amid fears that Russia, the world’s largest exporter of the metal, could be cut off from global markets. The price of nickel, another key Russian export, has also been rising.
To the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sufficient supplies of cheap fuel will help tackle inflation and prevent the kind of widespread shortages that have incited violence and political change in nearby Sri Lanka.
India’s foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, has repeatedly defended the country’s strategy against mounting criticism from Western countries. He said Western sanctions on Iran and isolating policies toward Venezuela had left India with fewer options as energy prices continue to climb.
“They’ve squeezed every other source of oil we have and then say, OK, guys, you must not go into the market and get the best deal for your people,” Mr. Jaishankar said. “I don’t think that’s a very fair approach.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India with Mr. Putin in New Delhi last year. For Mr. Modi’s government, sufficient supplies of cheap fuel from Russia will help tackle inflation.Credit...Harish Tyagi/EPA, via Shutterstock
With robust refining capacity of five million barrels of fuel a day, India could absorb an additional 350,000 barrels of Russian oil, or roughly a third more than it is currently importing, according to energy experts. India has already stopped buying oil from Mexico, slashed purchases from Nigeria and pulled back from Saudi Arabia and the United States.
“A new alignment of world politics is unfolding across the globe that is being drawn with oil and gas,” said Daniel Yergin, author of “The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations.” “And China and India are very much at the center of it.”
The Russian oil gradually flowing into Asia is replacing Saudi and other Middle Eastern oil, which is now finding its way to Europe. The shift is creating heightened competition among members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, with Iraq slashing prices to Europe.
Saudi Arabia and its gulf allies have viewed Asia as their growth market, and suddenly they are finding themselves elbowed aside. Russia and Saudi Arabia, the main players of OPEC Plus, the expanded version of the cartel, have worked together to control supplies and bolster prices in recent years. Russia may need to be careful not to depend on Asia too much, though its options are limited.
“Russian displacement of Saudi crude in the Chinese economy could create strains in OPEC Plus,” said Meghan L. O’Sullivan, director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School and a former aide to President George W. Bush, “making the Saudis more willing to take steps that would harm Russian interests, and bring down the global price further.”
Commuters in Chennai, in eastern India, in March. Before the Ukraine war, Russia accounted for about 1 percent of India’s oil needs. Now it is poised to become India’s primary source of oil.
Zixu Wang and Hari Kumar contributed reporting.
The New York Times · by Emily Schmall · June 24, 2022


6.  The Real Stakes of Taiwan - It’s not about democracy. It’s about power.

We are outgunned?
Analysts hold sharply divergent views on the relative warfighting capacities of the United States and China in the case of a conflict over Taiwan. Just a couple of assessments, chosen from a wide variety of sources, provide a sense of this. In an essay in the New York Times, the Stanford University security analyst Oriana Skylar Mastro denounced the erosion of strategic ambiguity brought about by Biden’s recent Taiwan statement, saying, “Simply put, the United States is outgunned.”
As other analysts have, Mastro invoked recent war simulations and U.S. congressional testimony that both suggested a Chinese victory in the case of a U.S. intervention to defend Taiwan. “At the very least, a confrontation with China would be an enormous drain on the U.S. military without any assured outcome that America could repel all of China’s forces,” she wrote.


The Real Stakes of Taiwan
Foreign Policy · by Howard W. French · June 24, 2022
It’s not about democracy. It’s about power.
Howard W. French
By Howard W. French, a columnist at Foreign Policy.
A US-made CH-47 helicopter flies an 18-meter by 12-meter national flag at a military base in Taoyuan on September 28, 2021.
A U.S.-made CH-47 helicopter flies a Taiwanese flag at a military base in Taoyuan, Taiwan, on Sept. 28, 2021. Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images
Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden stirred up a miniature tempest in the international relations world when he made an apparently off-the-cuff comment committing the United States to Taiwan’s defense in the case of a Chinese attempt to take over the island by force.
In the days that followed, Biden’s national security team struggled to walk the comments back, saying that there had been no substantive change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan. The United States, in other words, still adhered to the historic “One China” policy but would also maintain a posture of strategic ambiguity. Historically, this has meant leaving it to Beijing to guess what Washington would do in the case of a Chinese attack on Taiwan.
Although it has not dominated the headlines in the United States, there has been no shortage of developments around Taiwan in the weeks since then. China, for example, unilaterally declared that it will no longer treat the 100-mile-wide strait separating its mainland from Taiwan as international waters freely open to navigation by foreign (read U.S.) warships. Beijing also unveiled its third aircraft carrier, which is the first whose size and technical design are intended to rival the most advanced carrier in the U.S. fleet.
Whether due to intention or coincidence, the timeline of the Chinese carrier’s expected rollout, once fully finished in five years, roughly coincides with what many security analysts see as the moment of maximum risk in terms a potential war over Taiwan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made little secret of his determination to assert direct control over the island in a reasonably near, if deliberately unspecified, future. He has clearly stated that the Taiwan question cannot be put off indefinitely, which all but amounts to staking his place in history on the subordination of Taipei to Beijing. And the next five years bring with them a calendar logic that is hard to ignore. For China, the year 2027 will be the 100th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army, just as it would likely mark the conclusion of Xi’s expected third five-year term in power.
All of this creates the impression that all parties involved are stumbling blindly toward conflict.
Only Biden knows his own mind and intentions, but beyond that, no one has the faintest idea whether the current U.S. approach to Taiwan will survive this administration or what might follow. What struck me most in the wake of the Biden comment, though, was the stark divergence of opinion about the United States’ military capacity to prevent a Chinese takeover of the island should Washington commit to such a goal. This is a question of as great interest to politicians and military officials in Beijing as it is to anyone in the United States.
Analysts hold sharply divergent views on the relative warfighting capacities of the United States and China in the case of a conflict over Taiwan. Just a couple of assessments, chosen from a wide variety of sources, provide a sense of this. In an essay in the New York Times, the Stanford University security analyst Oriana Skylar Mastro denounced the erosion of strategic ambiguity brought about by Biden’s recent Taiwan statement, saying, “Simply put, the United States is outgunned.”
As other analysts have, Mastro invoked recent war simulations and U.S. congressional testimony that both suggested a Chinese victory in the case of a U.S. intervention to defend Taiwan. “At the very least, a confrontation with China would be an enormous drain on the U.S. military without any assured outcome that America could repel all of China’s forces,” she wrote.
Those who take this pessimistic view routinely invoke the tremendous advances in Chinese military, and especially naval and missile, power over the last generation, as well as the well-known and dreaded military concept of the tyranny of distance, which holds that wars fought far from home are harder to win. In the Taiwanese case, this includes the difficulty a distant power such as the United States would face in resupplying the maritime field of war surrounding Taiwan across some 1,500 nautical miles of open ocean from Guam or, in the likely event Guam immediately comes under withering Chinese attack, some 6,500 nautical miles from the U.S. mainland. China, on the other hand, need only deploy its forces across a distance of 90 nautical miles or so.
These, however, are no ordinary 90 nautical miles. Analysts who are bullish on the United States’ continuing ability to deter a Chinese military attack note that launching a maritime invasion even at distances this short is a feat of daunting risk and complexity that Chinese advances in hardware procurement thus far cannot be safely assumed to have overcome. Attack submarines, mines, javelin missile attacks on aviation, and howitzer and artillery bombardment of any attempted Chinese landing or beachhead would combine to bedevil any cross-strait offensive. People on this side of the analytical divide have been further cheered by the immense difficulty Russia has faced in seeking to impose itself on its neighbor Ukraine, despite having a far more advantageous land border with its much smaller and weaker neighbor.
Writing for the website War on the Rocks, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Mike Pietrucha drew heavily on the experience of the Allied assault on Sicily during World War II as the best available analogy for the challenges that China would face in trying to take over Taiwan militarily, and he said that China’s present and projected near-term means paled in comparison to that European campaign. Compounding the inherent level of difficulty, he said, are China’s lack of air force combat operations since 1955 and its near complete lack of naval warfare experience.
“In Taiwan, as in Ukraine, invaders should realistically expect an aroused and angry population with a sizable and modern military willing to contest every inch of heavily urbanized territory,” Pietrucha wrote, adding that “expecting any other result than an early and bloody defeat seems ludicrous.”
In this business, there is no such thing as certainty, but some people with far higher purview in military planning lean in the same direction as Pietrucha. In a podcast last July, for example, a former U.S. director of national intelligence and commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, offered a similar analysis, noting that “It is relatively easy to sink large amphibious or other vessels in a confined area like the route from Chinese ports to any invasion beachhead. … Taiwan has lots of ways to do it, the United States has even more ways to do it—ways that the Chinese would not possibly be able to deal with.”
To be fair to this debate, it is unlikely that someone who had occupied Blair’s official posts would want to convey American doubt to China or otherwise bolster Beijing’s confidence. There is no shortage, however, of authoritative-sounding voices who doubt the United States’ ability to prevail in a Taiwan conflict. Views like these, however, can arouse as much skepticism as Blair’s public comments from those who hear them as the voice of a sort of war party or advocacy for ever more resources for the U.S. military.
Striking what sounds like a middle ground, analysts Meia Nouwens and Henry Boyd with the International Institute for Strategic Studies wrote in 2020, “The quantitative cross-strait military balance between China and Taiwan has not changed drastically over the last decade. However, the major improvements in PLA capability—significant qualitative improvements and the expansion of China’s inventory of theatre-range weapons—have concerned the Pentagon.”
The most telling line in the Pietrucha piece, however, came not with his historical analogies or views of the relative capabilities of the two superpowers, but with this: “This assessment is focused on the ability of the People’s Republic of China to execute a successful assault, but there is no question that they could launch an unsuccessful one.” This leads to where discussions like these should both begin and end: Why would the United States and China, the world’s two most powerful nations, ever contemplate going to war over Taiwan. What is it worth to them?
This question is easier to answer for China than it is for the United States. China’s official position, which it has repeated almost by rote for decades and drilled into its citizens, is that Taiwan has always been part of China and therefore its separation from the mainland is intolerable. This has given the pursuit of political control of the island an unquestionable, almost divinely ordained quality. For a nation whose governing ideology of communism is strongly at odds with its economic realities, nationalism has increasingly become the go-to binding force in public life—and with cynicism about the country’s system running high, especially among educated urbanites, pursuit of the absorption of Taiwan still spurs a unified sense of purpose, acting as a kind of nationalist catnip.
For the United States, Taiwan’s importance is less obvious. Few Americans have been to the island or spend time thinking about it. Many would be surprised to learn that the prospect of a war with China in which American lives and fortune could be lost on a large scale is much more than a remote theoretical prospect. The United States has a positive but abstract goal of helping preserve a vibrant democracy in Taiwan, but there are obviously many places in the world where the United States would never risk human and economic catastrophe to defend democracy.
This brings us to the most fundamental level of what this is about: sheer power. If the United States allowed China to seize control of Taiwan, America’s position in Asia, and hence as a global power, would tumble overnight. Its alliance structure in the East would collapse, and China would become the regional hegemon, despite its many protestations to the contrary.
If, by the same token, China were to prevail in a conflict over Taiwan, it would not just be able to cow neighbors such as Japan and South Korea (among others)—with the world’s largest navy already, it would soon control the entire western Pacific. The Chinese government, of course, doesn’t talk openly about the stakes in these terms for fear of frightening others.
But for a democracy like the United States, and indeed for its most deeply implicated allies, this is unacceptable. Smart people may differ about the wisdom of eroding strategic ambiguity around Taiwan, but with stakes this high, the public deserves a clear and open discussion of the high risks and cost and benefits of defending the island.
Howard W. French is a columnist at Foreign Policy, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a longtime foreign correspondent. His latest book is Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War. Twitter: @hofrench
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Taiwanese reservists take part in military training at a base in Taoyuan on March 12, 2022.
The U.S. president’s surprise statement could deter China—or increase the risk of war.
Foreign Policy · by Howard W. French · June 24, 2022


7. How a human rights law targeting forced labor in Xinjiang is shaking up the U.S.-China supply chain

Excerpts:
Ultimately, the new law’s impact on U.S. businesses and the Xinjiang economy will depend largely on how strictly it is enforced.
For some sectors, finding non-Xinjiang sources of raw materials may prove relatively straightforward. To take one example, there is enough polysilicon outside of Xinjiang to source U.S. solar companies. Lezcano told Grid that this means changing suppliers hasn’t been a big hit to solar companies’ bottom lines.
But for other businesses, finding new sources will prove more challenging. “Rejiggering supply chains within China is difficult because of regional specialization,” said Barry. He added that “moving out of China may not be feasible, because of the scale and labor expertise available in the country.”
Despite the challenges these companies face, the new law’s message is clear. “Customs and Border Protection, and many arms of the U.S. government, want companies to reduce their exposure to China and to Xinjiang more broadly,” said Stone Fish. “And so this wasn’t a law intended to make things easier for companies. But the reverse.”
Ultimately, for Laura Murphy, a professor of human rights at Sheffield Hallam University who has researched forced labor issues in Xinjiang, the law represents a critical step forward for human rights in China. It has already forced many American companies to more fully understand the human costs of their supply chains — and in some cases, it’s moved companies to change course. “What we have to remember is that even if the Chinese government doesn’t change their policies in the Uyghur Region — really, especially if they don’t,” she said, “the importance of this legislation is that it protects U.S. consumers from being complicit in those crimes against humanity.”



How a human rights law targeting forced labor in Xinjiang is shaking up the U.S.-China supply chain
grid.news · by Lili Pike
Last summer, customs agents began impounding shipments of solar panels at U.S. ports because the panels were made using forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region. Companies either had to prove otherwise or send their panels elsewhere. Now, under a sweeping new law that went into effect this week, a wide assortment of other products are banned from entry to the U.S. for the same reason. American companies are scrambling to comply — to prove that their goods were not made in Xinjiang, to reroute their supply chains, or to just understand whether their products are impacted by the new restrictions.
The law is the U.S. government’s most significant effort to address human rights violations in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has built a vast system of repression and control over the Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic groups. Scholars and journalists have documented forced labor not only in Xinjiang’s detention camps, where more than 1 million Uyghurs are estimated to have been imprisoned, but also outside the camps, where the government has relocated Uyghurs to work in factories.
Because researchers have found the use of forced labor to be pervasive in Xinjiang, the new law assumes that any product or raw material produced in the region is made using forced labor. On that basis, the law bans all products made in Xinjiang from being imported into the U.S.
In one sense, there is precedent; the U.S. has outlawed the importation of all goods produced using forced labor since 1930. But the Xinjiang law introduces a novel “guilty until proven innocent” approach. The burden of proof now rests on companies to show that any products or raw materials from Xinjiang were made under noncoercive labor conditions.
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“A lot of U.S. companies, a lot of international companies, have taken this attitude of ‘see no evil, hear no evil,’” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass), who co-authored the law, told Grid in a February interview. “Well, the bottom line is, that’s not good enough. They know what’s going on, but they choose to continue to do business in that region because it helps their profits. And, quite frankly, they’re complicit in this terrible human rights atrocity.”
The law has been celebrated as an important step forward for human rights, but it has faced backlash from some companies for what they say is a lack of clarity in terms of enforcement and because of what they see as an onerous burden of proof. Members of the U.S.-China Business Council see “headaches, costs, potential reputation damage and further snarled supply chains,” said Doug Barry, senior director of communications at the council.
It’s a classic debate — and at stake is commerce valued in the billions of dollars, as well as U.S. companies’ human rights record in Xinjiang.
U.S.-Xinjiang links: commerce worth billions
Grid analyzed Chinese customs data and found that direct trade between Xinjiang and the U.S. amounted to $1 billion over the past five years — a fraction of overall trade with China, but still a sizable flow of goods that falls clearly under the purview of the new law.
But there is also a less direct flow of raw materials and products from Xinjiang to the U.S. that is much greater — and this, too, will be affected. Billions of dollars of goods and raw materials are shipped annually from Xinjiang to other parts of China and neighboring countries — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — and in many instances, these goods wind up in the U.S. after further refining or manufacturing.
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One common example involves Xinjiang cotton; the region produces 20 percent of the world’s supply. Xinjiang cotton is sent regularly to countries in Southeast Asia, woven into a shirt or other piece of clothing, and then shipped on to the United States. Oritain, a forensic tracing company, found that 16 percent of clothing in the U.S. contains cotton fiber from Xinjiang, according to the New York Times. Again, the new law stipulates that any such clothing item — even if was made in another country — will count as “Made in Xinjiang” and be banned from entry to the U.S.
Many other familiar products are made with materials from Xinjiang. An April report from U.S. consultancy Horizon Advisory found that aluminum producers in Xinjiang use coercion to recruit workers, and Bloomberg reported those companies are suppliers for auto giants including General Motors. Cheap plastic tiles from Xinjiang are the most common flooring material in America, and Sheffield Hallam University scholars identified signs of forced labor across all the region’s suppliers of these tiles. And a New York Times investigation revealed that forced labor is used by Xinjiang companies that produce minerals for batteries sold to the U.S. for use in electric vehicles.
Cutting ties with Xinjiang
Even before the current law went into effect, the U.S. government was cracking down on Xinjiang imports — and some companies have already moved to cut ties to the region. Over the past year and a half, the U.S. applied import bans on cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang, as well as the polysilicon used in solar panels. These products are also specifically named as priorities for enforcement under the new law, according to a strategy document released by the Department of Homeland Security last week.
Some firms operating in these sectors say they have already stopped sourcing from Xinjiang, both as a result of the prior restrictions and in preparation for the new law.
Many solar companies, for example, have spent the past year tracing their supply chains, and some have publicly announced that they have taken their business elsewhere. NextEra Energy, one of the largest utilities in the U.S., wrote in its 2022 sustainability and social impact report that it has worked with its suppliers to guarantee that the solar panels it uses are not made with materials from Xinjiang.
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JinkoSolar, a Chinese company that has supplied many U.S. companies (including NextEra), previously came under fire for operating a factory in Xinjiang. In November, the company told its investors that it would have a full supply chain for all its U.S.-bound panels set up outside of China by early 2022. Hanwha Q Cells, a large Korean solar cell and panel manufacturer, signed onto a solar trade association pledge to combat forced labor and bought a controlling stake in an American polysilicon company this year to source its U.S. factories.
The apparel industry has also seen movement away from Xinjiang. In response to a report on forced labor in the Xinjiang cotton industry last fall, several U.S. retailers told the researchers that they were actively seeking to ensure their products and raw materials did not come from the region. Brands including Eileen Fisher, Everlane and Patagonia now say they do not source from Xinjiang.
“We find the apparel sector to be getting more proactive in this space.” Isaac Stone Fish, CEO of Strategy Risks, a firm that helps companies investigate their China supply chains, told Grid. Because the sector is consumer-facing, he said, it has faced additional pressure to change its practices. And the shift in demand is being felt on the ground: The Xinjiang cotton industry now has a large stockpile of cotton as it struggles to find customers, the South China Morning Post reported.
For human rights advocates, all these cases add up to a hopeful sign: The U.S. approach is working.
When the Xinjiang supply chain is murky
Beyond those core sectors already under the scrutiny of U.S. customs investigators, many other companies have connections to Xinjiang and will face pressure for the first time under the new law. Up to 1 million companies could be under the scope of the law, Evan Smith, an executive at supply chain tracing firm Altana AI, told the New York Times.
One example involves an array of products that fall under the category of “silica-based goods,” which is now listed as a high-priority sector. This category includes not just solar panels but also a long list of gadgets associated with Silicon Valley: phones, laptops, printers and other electronics. And as noted above, the auto industry is vulnerable as well given that battery and aluminum suppliers have been found to use Xinjiang forced labor.
Many executives may not even know that their companies’ imports have a Xinjiang connection. Supply chain experts told Grid that companies often know only their immediate suppliers, not the full list. In the months preceding the new law’s implementation, some companies began the daunting process of investigating the intricate details of their supply chains for the first time.
“The issue that I deal with on a daily basis is, for companies — especially those that have not been scrutinized like the apparel companies and the solar companies — for example, the electronics companies who have hundreds of suppliers, thousands, but have not been in the eye of the storm, you know, where do we start?” said Richard Mojica, a lawyer at Miller & Chevalier.
Importers with a vast web of suppliers will have to take a “risk-based approach,” he said. That entails mapping out full supply chains and, at a minimum, screening for any high-risk suppliers of raw materials with clear connections to Xinjiang. The idea: find those links before customs agents expose the connections for them.
Even in the solar sector, which has promoted its compliance on Xinjiang forced labor, some companies still may not know the origin of raw materials used at the very beginning of the production process. The “supply chain is very opaque,” said Pol Lezcano, lead North America solar analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, so solar firms may not know the source of their metallurgical grade silicon, the precursor ingredient to polysilicon. The ingredient is produced in Xinjiang — but it’s also produced in other parts of the world, and given that it’s so far up the solar supply chain, tracing its origin is more difficult.
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Grid reached out to 10 of the largest solar energy companies in the U.S. to ascertain whether they are sourcing fully outside of Xinjiang but received no responses prior to publication.
Proving a negative
If companies do not reroute their supply chains before customs catches an import from Xinjiang, they have one remaining option to clear their product for entry: They can try to prove the product wasn’t made using forced labor.
On this experts say, effectively, good luck.
Proving an absence of forced labor “is possible in theory, but likely impossible in practice,” said Mojica. Among other requirements, the new DHS strategy document states that companies may be requested to provide employment records for every worker in the Xinjiang factory in question. Beyond the obvious practical difficulty of doing so, there is another hurdle: Chinese law. For Chinese companies, cooperating with U.S. customers to provide such information comes with its own legal risk: Citizens can be punished for complying with U.S. sanctions.
For these reasons, Mojica said, companies are unlikely to even try to disprove a forced labor charge. “The chances of success are likely very low, and the effort that would be required to overcome this is huge.”
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A step forward for human rights?
Ultimately, the new law’s impact on U.S. businesses and the Xinjiang economy will depend largely on how strictly it is enforced.
For some sectors, finding non-Xinjiang sources of raw materials may prove relatively straightforward. To take one example, there is enough polysilicon outside of Xinjiang to source U.S. solar companies. Lezcano told Grid that this means changing suppliers hasn’t been a big hit to solar companies’ bottom lines.
But for other businesses, finding new sources will prove more challenging. “Rejiggering supply chains within China is difficult because of regional specialization,” said Barry. He added that “moving out of China may not be feasible, because of the scale and labor expertise available in the country.”
Despite the challenges these companies face, the new law’s message is clear. “Customs and Border Protection, and many arms of the U.S. government, want companies to reduce their exposure to China and to Xinjiang more broadly,” said Stone Fish. “And so this wasn’t a law intended to make things easier for companies. But the reverse.”
Ultimately, for Laura Murphy, a professor of human rights at Sheffield Hallam University who has researched forced labor issues in Xinjiang, the law represents a critical step forward for human rights in China. It has already forced many American companies to more fully understand the human costs of their supply chains — and in some cases, it’s moved companies to change course. “What we have to remember is that even if the Chinese government doesn’t change their policies in the Uyghur Region — really, especially if they don’t,” she said, “the importance of this legislation is that it protects U.S. consumers from being complicit in those crimes against humanity.”
Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.
grid.news · by Lili Pike

8.  Families of American hostages abroad discouraged after Blinken call

One of the most complex issues for the US. This is a no-win situation for the administration and of course specifically for the President and SECSTATE. Anything short of release of their loved ones will be criticized. No matter how many people we have working on these issues (to include an Ambassador level appointee - Roger Carstens) the families can never be satisfied. I know our team is working in good faith for the release of all Americans. And while we can find fault with anyone and any action, we should never forget that the cause of the problems is the governments and regimes of the countries that are holding Americans hostage. But of course that brings no solace to the families.



Families of American hostages abroad discouraged after Blinken call
Participants don't feel the call made progress toward securing their loved ones' release and hope for a future audience with President Biden.
For several families of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad, a virtual meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday did little to reassure them that the administration is making the safe return of their loved ones a priority.
Participants who spoke with Al-Monitor described an at times tense video call with Blinken on Wednesday, with one calling it a “box-checking” exercise. The family members, some of whom requested anonymity because the secretary told participants the call was off-the-record, were encouraged by Blinken's decision to meet with them virtually but said more should be done to bring their relatives home.
The Biden administration says that securing the release of unlawfully detained Americans is a top priority, and in a statement on Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the department will “continue to partner with families through regular and transparent communication.”
“Secretary Blinken affirmed that working to bring their loved ones home is something he is personally focused on,” Price said in a readout of the call.
Families were heartened when Blinken held a similar video call within a week of his confirmation as Secretary of State in February 2021. In the time since, the administration has secured the release of two Americans detained in Venezuela — Gustavo Cardenas and Jorge Fernandez — and Marine veteran Trevor Reed, who was held in Russian detention for more than two years.
Blinken told those on Wednesday’s video call that he would follow up with President Joe Biden on a letter sent this month by a coalition of hostages’ families who called for his direct involvement.
Babak Namazi, whose brother Siamak and father Baquer are held by Iran, said he appreciated the high-level engagement from Blinken but said “at this point, it needs to be result-oriented, and not promise-oriented.”
“That has been the source of my family's frustration for the past almost six and a half years now, through three administrations,” he said.
Namazi’s plea comes as indirect nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran are at a standstill. Separate from the Vienna-based talks, the Biden administration says it's quietly working to secure the release of the Americans — the Namazis, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz. But families are concerned that the fate of their loved ones and the faltering nuclear talks are implicitly linked.
“We know from public reporting that the JCPOA has stalled,” said Emad Shargi's wife, Bahareh Shargi, using the acronym for the landmark nuclear agreement. “For our family, bringing my husband home is a humanitarian effort, which should never be paralyzed by political machinations.”
Not receiving invites to Wednesday's call were families of American citizens and legal permanent residents held under travel ban in Saudi Arabia or imprisoned in Egypt on charges that human rights groups say are politically motivated.
They include the family of journalist Salah al-Haidar, a dual citizen who was conditionally released from prison in February 2021 and is now barred from traveling outside Saudi Arabia. His mother, Aziza al-Yousef, a women’s rights activist and US resident prior to her arrest, is also barred from leaving Saudi Arabia under the terms of her provisional release.
Al-Yousef’s daughter Sarah al-Haidar took part in a meeting with White House officials last week to discuss her mother's and brother’s cases ahead of Biden’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia.
“I am disappointed I wasn’t on the [Blinken] call,” she said. “I qualify 100 percent.”
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on whether families of individuals held under travel bans, including those in Saudi Arabia, were invited to take part in the secretary’s video call.
Of those who participated, many hoped for a commitment from Blinken that Biden would sit down with them individually or in region-specific groups. But they were told a personal audience with the president isn’t required to move their cases forward, multiple family members said.
“During that call, it was also made clear that the final decision lies with the president,” said one participant. “Everyone walked away bewildered by that contradiction.”
The parents of Reed, who was released in an April prisoner swap with Russia, met with Biden in March after they protested outside the White House. Biden also met with the parents of Austin Tice, a freelance journalist missing in Syria since 2012, after his mother was publicly recognized at the White House Correspondents Dinner in May.
The family of Majd Kamalmaz, another American who disappeared in Syria, say they’ve struggled to get the attention of the White House and have made repeated requests for their own Oval Office meeting.
Price said in a statement that Blinken “relayed to the families that President Biden is aware of each of their loved ones’ cases.”
But the families, many of whom demonstrated outside of the White House in early May as part of their newly launched “Bring Our Families Home” campaign, see an audience with Biden as key to bringing their captive relatives home.
Babak Namazi, whose brother Siamak was the only American of six not returned home as part of a 2016 prisoner swap with Iran, said there’s no question meeting with Biden would have an impact on these cases.
“Had he come on the call for even one minute, the president undoubtedly would have removed any question about his commitment to the families,” Namazi said.


9. USNS Mercy in Vietnam on Pacific Partnership mission

I remember a conversation I had with Admiral Keating, former PACOM Commander. We were discussing the USNS Mercy's deployment in 2006 and the USS Peleliu's deployment 2007 to the Asia Pacific. He told me that we often think how everyone must think we are doing good by bringing medical care to remote areas and that it enhances the reputation of the US and wins hearts and minds. But he met with Indonesian officials who gave him a different perspective. They told him we often undermine a nation's credibility and legitimacy because the deployment of large scale US medical assets sends a message to the people that their own government cannot care for them and they must be dependent on US charity. But from a US perspective this looks so very good to us and we can tell ourselves that we are a force for good.

When we brought the USS Peleliu into the Philippines I had a lot of problems with the mission commander who did not like the fact that our PSYOP teams emphasized that the ship was conducting MEDCAPs at the request of the Philippine government and that Philippine medical personal would be leading the effort along with other international medical personnel. They could not accept that one of our primary missions in the Philippines was to enhance and not undermine the legitimacy of the Philippine government and Philippine military. The mission commander did not like having second billing on the messaging because he said his mission was a proof of concept that they could send a warship loaded with medical personnel and conduct MEDCAPs throughout the theater to win the hearts and minds of the people throughout Asia by being a force for good. Our Special Forces medics were not so pleased and we called this "drive by humanitarian assistance" because the ship and medical personnel came and went, performed many cataract surgeries and left and required our SF medics to do the follow-up treatments (which they were happy to do because it was the right thing to do but were upset that it was just assumed they would be able to do this in addition to their primary mission).


USNS Mercy in Vietnam on Pacific Partnership mission
Stars and Stripes · by Seth Robson · June 24, 2022
The hospital ship USNS Mercy arrived in Vung Ro Bay, Vietnam, on June 19, 2022. (Brandon Parker/U.S. Navy)

A U.S. hospital ship along with 600 sailors and service members from Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom is in Vietnam on the first leg of a five-month humanitarian mission to the Indo-Pacific.
The USNS Mercy, a Military Sealift Command vessel, is participating in Pacific Partnership, an annual deployment conceived after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that involves port calls in developing nations throughout the region.
The Mercy arrived Sunday in Vung Ro Bay, Vietnam, according to Navy Chief Warrant Officer Victoria Snyder, the officer in charge of Pacific Partnership’s mission in the country.
“We have been really well received by the public,” she said. “The medical providers here have been thrilled by the community engagements.”
Vung Ro Bay is just north of Cam Ranh Bay. The port was home to U.S. forces during the Vietnam War and hosted the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson for a 2018 port call.
The United States normalized relations with Vietnam in 1995 and lifted an arms embargo in 2016. The two former adversaries have steadily improved bilateral relations in all areas, including trade, investment, and security.
Vietnam has a South China Sea territorial dispute with China, which is building a naval facility in neighboring Cambodia, according to anonymous officials quoted in a June 5 Washington Post report.
Personnel deployed to Vietnam on the Mercy are working with local doctors and nurses to treat patients both aboard the ship and at Vietnamese medical facilities, Snyder said by phone Friday.
Engineers involved in the mission, which includes 25 Australians, 18 Japanese and two British service members, are doing construction projects at three schools, she said.
The Pacific Fleet Band, with 17 musicians including personnel from Australia and Japan, will play 13 concerts in the country. There will also be sporting events and additional community engagements, Snyder said.
Local medical personnel, including military doctors and nurses assigned to the Vietnamese hospital ship Khanh Hoa, are observing surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements, on the Mercy, she said.
Each morning a dozen vehicles take personnel from the ship to engagements in district centers up to two hours’ drive away, Snyder said.
On their down time the servicemembers are sampling local food and touring ancient pagodas, Snyder said.
This year’s Pacific Partnership is the first to involve a hospital ship since 2018. For the past two years the mission has involved online meetings and scaled down fly-in visits to countries in the region, Navy spokeswoman Lt. j.g. Molly Sanders said in an email Friday.
Vietnam is the Mercy’s first stop on a five-month mission. However, the Navy isn’t publicizing the other countries where the vessel will stop ahead of announcements by local authorities, Snyder said.
The Mercy supported hospitals in Southern California during the first stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, it underwent a major overhaul in Portland, Ore., according to USNI News in January 2021.
Australian troops in Vietnam for Pacific Partnership include medical specialists, gender, peace and security advisors and musicians, according to a Department of Defence statement Monday.
Australia’s involvement in the three-week Vietnam visit is about enhancing resilience and preparedness in the Indo-Pacific region, Air Vice-Marshal Michael Kitcher, the Australian deputy chief of joint operations, said in the statement.
“[Coronavirus] restrictions meant we haven’t been able to fully participate in the program since 2019, so it’s a great opportunity to once again work closely with partner and host nations, learning from one another and building capacity within the region,” he said.
Stars and Stripes · by Seth Robson · June 24, 2022


10. U.S. Sending 18 Patrol Boats to Ukraine as Part of Latest Aid Package



​As a follow-up, the article at this link was published on the Small Wars Journal ​in April: UKRAINE: THINK NAVAL WAR​ ​​By Chuck de Caro​, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/ukraine-think-naval-war​


U.S. Sending 18 Patrol Boats to Ukraine as Part of Latest Aid Package - USNI News
news.usni.org · by Heather Mongilio · June 23, 2022
Two Mark VI patrol boats assigned to Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 4 Bravo Company are docked on U.S. Naval Base Guam, Sept. 2, 2021. US Navy Photo
The United States will send 18 patrol boats to Ukraine as part of continued aid to the country as the Russian invasion stretches into the 119th day.
The Department of Defense, using supplies already available, will send 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats, it announced Thursday. The DoD will also send high mobility artillery rocket systems, ammunition, grenade launchers, machine guns and tactical vehicles as part of the $450 million package
It is not clear what type of patrol boats will be sent to Ukraine. The U.S. Navy recently decommissioned its fleet of Mark VI patrol boats and Ukraine had been previously approved to buy up to 16 of the highspeed patrol vessels. The Ukrainian Navy was expected to received up to three Mark VIs this year, according to local press reports.
The U.S. has also pledged to send vehicle-mounted Harpoon launchers to Ukraine to help its protect against the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet. The Harpoon missiles will come from partners and allies, USNI News previously reported.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin previously told reporters Denmark is sending Harpoons to Ukraine, USNI News reported.
The Department of Defense declined to answer questions about the Russian Black Sea fleet, including the number of ships and ship locations.
USNI News contributor H.I. Sutton tweeted Thursday that there were five Russian warships spotted off of Sevastapol. Sutton identified the ships as a Bora-class missile corvette, a Ropucha-class landing ships, two Buyan-M class missile corvettes and a Bykov-class patrol ship.
He also tweeted that there were two ships seen around Snake Island, near where Russian ship Moskva was hit, although it was not clear if they were Russian.
The U.S. has so far pledged approximately $6.8 billion in assistance to Ukraine, according to the DoD release.
Related
news.usni.org · by Heather Mongilio · June 23, 2022


11. United States and China set to be excluded from Pacific Islands Forum meeting to avoid 'distraction'

At least we are being equally shunned. (note sarcasm).



United States and China set to be excluded from Pacific Islands Forum meeting to avoid 'distraction'
ABC.net.au · by Watch · June 24, 2022
The Pacific's peak diplomatic body looks set to exclude the United States, China and several other major countries from a crucial leaders meeting in Fiji next month in a move that could help shelter the gathering from intensifying geostrategic competition buffeting the region.
Key points:
  • Officials want to ensure that Pacific leaders can make decisions without powerful outside influences
  • Australia will attend, and has already flagged the Solomon Island's security pact for discussion
  • Leaders are expected to endorse an agreement to stop Micronesia from splitting from the forum
The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders meeting is due to be held in Fiji's capital Suva in mid-July.
Australia is a full member of the forum and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has already declared he will attend.
In recent decades PIF has also held a separate in-person meeting with Dialogue Partners during the Leaders' Week.
The forum has 21 partners, including the United States, China, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Canada, India, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
But the ABC has been told that this year the in-person Dialogue Partners meeting will not be held during the forum leaders gathering in Suva.
It will likely be held separately later this year, although it's also possible that PIF will propose a virtual meeting for Dialogue Partners that week.
Either way, officials and politicians from countries outside the region will effectively be locked out of the in-person meeting in Suva, where Pacific Island leaders are set to grapple with a range of complex and fraught strategic issues.

Pacific islands leaders are expected to endorse a sensitive agreement to stop Micronesia from splitting from the Forum.(Supplied: Government of the Federated States of Micronesia)
One Pacific Island source said that officials — as well as the current PIF chair, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama — were keen to ensure that Pacific leaders had "space" to resolve issues and decide on their key priorities without having to simultaneously navigate meetings with powerful outside players jostling for influence.
A second Pacific source confirmed Dialogue Partners wouldn't be invited to Suva, but said the decision wasn't aimed at reducing geopolitical tensions surrounding the meeting.
Instead, they said Mr Bainimarama wanted to make it easier for Pacific Island leaders to focus on key internal issues, including efforts to heal a painful rift over the leadership of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Leaders in Suva will be asked to endorse a sensitive agreement that Mr Bainimarama helped negotiate, which will rotate the PIF Secretary-General position between subregions in order to stop Micronesian nations splitting from the forum.
The meeting in Suva is also significant because it will offer all Pacific leaders the chance for their first face-to-face gathering since the 2019 PIF meeting in Tuvalu, when Scott Morrison clashed with his Pacific counterparts over climate change.
Leaders will have to confront several sensitive geopolitical questions when they meet.
Australia has already flagged it wants the meeting to discuss the security pact that Solomon Islands has signed with China, which Canberra fears will open the door to a Chinese military presence down the track.
Samoa's Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa has also said that she would like the forum to discuss China's contentious push for a region-wide agreement with 10 Pacific states.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi tried unsuccessfully to convince several Pacific Island countries to sign up to the pact during his sprawling tour of the Pacific last month.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Penny Wong addresses China pact in Honiara visit
Removing 'a degree of distraction'
Solomon Islands has publicly backed the agreement, but other Pacific Island leaders have warned it could spark a new Cold War in the region and undermine the sovereignty of Pacific states.
On top of that, they'll discuss a draft "Blue Pacific" 2050 strategy and Vanuatu's push to get the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion on climate change.

While partner countries have not always sent senior officials or leaders to the PIF leaders meeting, some high-profile players have attended in the past – including then-US secretary of state Hilary Clinton, who attended the 2012 gathering in Cook Islands.
The dialogue partner meetings have sometimes also been eventful.
In 2018 the then-chair of PIF, Nauru's President Baron Waqa, clashed angrily with a Chinese official who then stormed out of the room.
Tess Newton Cain from the Griffith Asia Institute's Pacific Hub said the move to keep the top level meeting focused on member states would "largely be welcomed" in the Pacific.
"It removes a degree of distraction and means that the leaders can focus on their deliberations and decision-making about some really critical issues," she said.
"It will allow for them to focus on their agenda without expectations or pressures to meet dialogue partners inside events.
"As we know they will spend a whole day in retreat where the 'big' talking happens.
"But there will be many pre and side conversations in the lead-up to that and this gives everyone a bit more space, and to an extent, privacy to work."
'Pacific leaders must meet'
The ABC contacted the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat for comment, but it declined to respond.
The President of the Federated States of Micronesia, David Panuelo, told ABC News that the move made sense because the Pacific was still dealing with the fallout from the split over leadership.
"That's all the more reason the Pacific leaders must meet together, without having to worry about other countries competing for our time and attention, so that Pacific Islands can commonly understand one another and commonly agree with one another," he said.
"These conversations are vital and take time."
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Meeting aims to resolve crisis in Pacific Islands Forum.
ABC.net.au · by Watch · June 24, 2022

12. FDD | Treasury Targets Iranian Sanctions-Busting Network as Nuclear Talks Remain Stalled

Excerpts:

Republican leaders have warned the administration not to attempt an end run around INARA by claiming that a new deal with Iran is just a return to the original JCPOA. Since any deal that emerges from Vienna would require the delisting of entities such as Triliance and its network of front companies, which are responsible for millions of dollars in transactions, or rescinding authorities such as Executive Order 13846, it would be implausible to claim there have been no material changes to the original deal. Hence refusing to submit such an agreement to Congress for a vote would be a violation of INARA.
Given the administration’s hesitance to acknowledge the law, Congress should continue pressuring it to keep its promise to fulfill its statutory obligations under INARA. Cracking down on illicit oil and petrochemical sales is essential to creating leverage for nuclear talks. Last week’s designations were a good start.


FDD | Treasury Targets Iranian Sanctions-Busting Network as Nuclear Talks Remain Stalled

Matthew Zweig
Senior Fellow
fdd.org · by Behnam Ben Taleblu Senior Fellow · June 23, 2022
The Biden administration last week sanctioned a network of Iranian petrochemical producers and related front companies, a response to the deadlock in negotiations with Tehran over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The administration’s attempt to turn up the heat on Tehran is important to sustain and may have also inadvertently strengthened the case for submitting the deal to Congress for a vote.
Since the United States and Iran began indirect nuclear talks last year in Vienna, the Biden administration has refrained from enforcing many of the tough sanctions the Trump administration imposed, which remain on the books.
This lack of enforcement led to increased Iranian oil and petrochemical sales after President Joe Biden entered office, enabling Tehran to draw out negotiations while generating revenue to drive its aggressive foreign policy. Last week’s sanctions package seeks to change that dynamic.
Iran’s intransigence, its last minute demands, and congressional pressure may be spurring the Biden administration to embrace a tool it previously denigrated to the delight of its adversary.
The new sanctions follow a sanctions-enforcement action by Treasury in May designed to curb the ability of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, to smuggle and sell oil in contravention of U.S. sanctions.
The Biden administration issued the latest sanctions pursuant to the Trump-era Executive Order 13846, which reauthorizes sanctions waived or lifted by the JCPOA.
One of the targets of last Thursday’s sanctions was a network of front companies supporting an Iranian conglomerate called Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd. The Trump administration designated Triliance under Executive Order 13846 in January 2020 and subsequently designated additional entities for facilitating petrochemical transactions for the conglomerate. The Biden administration’s expansion of sanctions against the Triliance network demonstrates the substantial value the conglomerate has for Tehran.
The Biden administration’s first use of a Trump-era authority to issue sanctions waived by the JCPOA is also significant because Triliance was not a target of U.S. sanctions under the Obama administration, so there was no need to lift sanctions on the conglomerate pursuant to the JCPOA.
Therefore, last week’s designations unintentionally bolster the argument for submitting a revived JCPOA-associated agreement to the House and Senate for a vote pursuant to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). The Biden administration only recently, and after much congressional pressure, said it will submit any potential deal to Congress.
Congress enacted INARA in 2015 prior to the JCPOA’s finalization, when lawmakers of both parties demanded a say in the agreement. The law states that before he can lift sanctions, the president must submit to Congress any nuclear agreement that Washington reaches with Tehran. Congress then has 30 days to review and vote on the agreement.
Republican leaders have warned the administration not to attempt an end run around INARA by claiming that a new deal with Iran is just a return to the original JCPOA. Since any deal that emerges from Vienna would require the delisting of entities such as Triliance and its network of front companies, which are responsible for millions of dollars in transactions, or rescinding authorities such as Executive Order 13846, it would be implausible to claim there have been no material changes to the original deal. Hence refusing to submit such an agreement to Congress for a vote would be a violation of INARA.
Given the administration’s hesitance to acknowledge the law, Congress should continue pressuring it to keep its promise to fulfill its statutory obligations under INARA. Cracking down on illicit oil and petrochemical sales is essential to creating leverage for nuclear talks. Last week’s designations were a good start.
Behnam Ben Taleblu and Matthew Zweig are senior fellows at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where they contribute to FDD’s Center on Economic and Financial Power (CEFP) and Iran Program. For more analysis from Matthew, Behnam, CEFP, and the Iran Program, please subscribe HERE. Follow Matthew on Twitter @MatthewZweig1. Follow FDD, CEFP, and the Iran Program on Twitter @FDD@FDD_CEFP, and @FDD_Iran. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focused on national security and foreign policy.
fdd.org · by Behnam Ben Taleblu Senior Fellow · June 23, 2022


13. The U.S. Military Needs An On-Time Defense Budget


Conclusion:

Don’t let your hard work go to waste, Congress. These efforts are crucial to maintaining military strength and stability in light of record inflation and rising global threats. As important as more funds are to competing with China, an on-time budget is equally imperative.



The U.S. Military Needs An On-Time Defense Budget
19fortyfive.com · by ByMackenzie Eaglen · June 23, 2022
Inflation spares no federal agency, which is why Congress is hiking budgets across the board. With price increases persisting, Congress’ recent efforts to boost defense budgets above the White House request are helpful. Defense spending for the US military—the 051 account—would rise from this year’s congressionally-enacted levels by 9 percent under House authorizers plans, 4.5 percent according to House appropriators, and 10 percent if Senate authorizers have their way.
By comparison, appropriators in the House of Representatives this week proposed bumping the Commerce Department’s budget by a whopping 17 percent over current levels and a nine percent hike for the Justice Department.
But these generous increases in spending will be for naught if Congress does not get the bills passed and signed into law before the start of the fiscal year on October 1.
Since the Biden administration released the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget request of $773 billion at the end of March, it was obvious the funds were insufficient. Inflation estimates were unrealistically low, and the armed forces would lose too much current capacity to match combatant commander demand—especially as it relates to conventional capability. A more realistic military topline of $846 billion would support programs included in the Unfunded Priorities List and add a modest 3 percent real growth to enable the Pentagon to invest more in the National Defense Strategy.
The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) set the terms of the debate by adding $45 billion to the White House’s proposed topline. The bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act amendment, offered by Ranking Member Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), would bring the defense budget (051) to $817.3 billion. This covers rising inflation and adds real growth ranging from 3 to 4.6 percent depending on economic assumptions.
While the amendment is for authorization and not appropriations, the lopsided bipartisan vote in support sets the stage—and baseline—for the other three defense committees. As congressional committees take up their respective defense bills, it is likely that additional increases will take form.
These plus-ups would be better referred to as gap-fillers, however, as the majority of the budget “growth” across the committees contributes to filling cracks in US munitions stocks, security assistance to Ukraine, naval fleet sustainment, and pay and benefits for the troops.
Record-busting defense budgets could still provide less defense due to what AEI’s John Ferrari calls military “shrinkflation.” You pay more and get less across the armed forces. He notes how in this latest budget request, the active Army would shrink from 485,000 soldiers in to 473,000, a loss of 12,000 or 2.5% of capacity. The Navy would contract from 297 ships in 2022 to 280, a loss of 17 ships or 5.7% of capacity. Similarly, the Air Force would decline from 5,450 aircraft to 5,216, a cut of 234 aircraft or 4.3% of capacity. Ferrari’s “crude approximation” from these figures would yield a loss of about 4% of America’s military capacity, or $30 billion, in the president’s budget request.
Equally as critical as more funds is Congress’ ability to enact the bills into law quickly…or simply on time (by September 31). The substantial investments that Congress is making this budget cycle to repair holes and plug gaps could be totally wasted if the Defense Department is subject to another damaging continuing resolution (CR). Starting the fiscal year on a spending freeze at current levels would halt all newly authorized programs and throw away $203 million per day that should be resourcing the American military.
If Congress allowed a spending freeze to take effect for the Pentagon for the same time period as they did last year, the military would lose a minimum of $31 billion in purchasing power. Compounded inflation over two fiscal years now will be even more destructive in hindsight. Unfortunately, tradition is on the side of political inaction while the troops suffer. This is a recipe to negate all the hard work on Capitol Hill to provide necessary increases in defense spending and better deter Beijing.
Legislators are working hard to give the US military the resources it needs to carry out what the nation asks of it. But the effort to provide increased funds could be wiped out by a budget that is not signed into law on time. The corrosive effects of spending freezes combined with the damage of compounding inflationary effects could neutralize efforts by policymakers to increase the defense budget.
Image Credit: Author.
Don’t let your hard work go to waste, Congress. These efforts are crucial to maintaining military strength and stability in light of record inflation and rising global threats. As important as more funds are to competing with China, an on-time budget is equally imperative.
Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow in the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. You can follow her on Twitter: @MEaglen.
More about Mackenzie Eaglen: While working at AEI, Ms. Eaglen served as a staff member on the National Defense Strategy Commission, a congressionally mandated bipartisan review group whose final report in November 2018, “Providing for the Common Defense,” included assessments and recommendations for the administration. Earlier, Ms. Eaglen served as a staff member on the 2014 congressionally mandated National Defense Panel, established to assess US defense interests and strategic objectives, and in 2010 on the congressionally mandated bipartisan Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, which evaluated the Pentagon’s defense strategy. She is also one of the 12-member US Army War College Board of Visitors, which offers advice about program objectives and effectiveness.
19fortyfive.com · by ByMackenzie Eaglen · June 23, 2022


14. China's Xi criticises sanctions 'abuse', Putin scolds the West

Xi could help end the Cold War mentality.




China's Xi criticises sanctions 'abuse', Putin scolds the West
Reuters · by Guy Faulconbridge
  • Summary
  • Xi calls for BRICS to rise up
  • Xi says Cold War mentality must end
  • Putin chides West for exporting crisis
  • BRICS leaders hold online meeting
LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday criticised "the abuse" of international sanctions, while Russian President Vladimir Putin scolded the West for fomenting global crisis, with both leaders calling for greater BRICS cooperation.
Xi called on Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) to take up the responsibility conferred by their economic clout, and said they should stand up for a truly multinational international system based on the United Nations.
"We must abandon Cold War mentality and block confrontation and oppose unilateral sanctions - and the abuse of sanctions," Xi told the BRICS summit through a translator.
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"Our meeting today comes at a crucial moment of choice for the future of humanity: as key emerging markets and developing countries, BRICS countries must rise to our responsibility," Xi said.
China has by far the largest economy in the BRICS grouping, accounting for more than 70% of the group's collective $27.5 trillion economic might.
Putin called for stronger BRICS cooperation and took a swipe at the West which he accused of fomenting a crisis.
"Only on the basis of honest and mutually beneficial cooperation can we look for ways out of the crisis situation that has developed in the global economy due to the ill-considered and selfish actions of individual states," Putin said.
He accused the West of "using financial mechanisms" to "shunt their own mistakes in macroeconomic policy on to the whole world."
Putin has said relations with China are the best they have ever been and touts a strategic partnership with China aimed at countering U.S. influence.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said the West is locked in a battle with autocratic governments such as China and Russia.
The United States and European powers blame Putin's decision to invade Ukraine as the reason relations with the West have sunk to the lowest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis - including the severest sanctions in modern history.
But Putin says the West wants to destroy Russia, that the economic sanctions are akin to a declaration of economic war and that Russia will build ties with other powers such as China and India. read more
Putin, who casts the Ukraine war as a "special military operation", blames the United States for humiliating Russia in the aftermath of the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and threatening Moscow by enlarging the NATO military alliance.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 to degrade its southern neighbour's military capabilities, root out people it called dangerous nationalists and defend the Russian-speakers of two eastern Ukrainian regions.
Ukraine says Russia has launched an imperial-style land grab and will never surrender its territory to Russia.
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Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jane Merriman
Reuters · by Guy Faulconbridge


15. Attack Beijing or an Invasion Fleet? How Taiwan Should Use Its Cruise Missiles


What is the strategy and the campaign plan for the defense of Taiwan?

Excerpts:
If Taipei wants to give Xi Jinping pause, it must accumulate capabilities that make a cross-strait offensive a daunting if not hopeless prospect. It must deter by denial, gearing weapons acquisitions, tactics, and strategy to that all-important goal. If Taiwanese commanders want to put Yun Feng strikes to effective use, far better to target port infrastructure needed to support a PLA invasion fleet—piers, fuel facilities, ammunition supplies, and so forth—than to waste scarce rounds on such frivolities as attacking mainland cities. Or, given sufficient warning of an assault, Taiwan’s defenders could go after amphibious transports while they’re still at their moorings and stationary.
Ships that never get to sea deliver few soldiers to landing beaches.
One hopes You Si Kun’s words were a rhetorical flourish that doesn’t reflect the state of military thinking in Taipei. Taiwan is the weaker competitor vis-à-vis China. To prevail it must make every martial resource count. The prospect of seeing a few Yun Feng missiles lobbed into Beijing would neither deter nor defeat a PLA onslaught. Deploying Yun Fengs to help pummel an invasion fleet could do both.

Attack Beijing or an Invasion Fleet? How Taiwan Should Use Its Cruise Missiles
19fortyfive.com · by ByJames Holmes · June 23, 2022
To what end? That’s a timeless question military folk and their political masters should ask themselves before crowing about their ability to wield this or that weapon to do this or that in wartime. A refresher on the political uses of arms may be in order in the case of Taiwan.
Over at The War Zone, Emma Helfrich reports that You Si Kun, the president of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, or elected assembly, gave a speech earlier this month touting the indigenously manufactured Yun Feng supersonic cruise missile. According to Helfrich, You proclaimed that an extended-range variant of the missile “can already hit Beijing, and Taiwan has the ability to attack Beijing.”
To what end?
Would menacing Beijing deter Xi Jinping & Co. from aggression, or help Taiwan defeat them if not? Doubtful. International-relations wonks observe that one antagonist can try to deter another in two general ways. One, it can try to convince the opponent’s leadership it can’t get its way through the use of force. This is “deterrence by denial” in IR-speak. Or two, the contender assaying deterrence can try to convince hostile leaders that after-the-fact retaliation against aggression will exact such grave costs that the goal isn’t worth it. This is “deterrence by punishment.” Both modes of deterrence bank on a rational adversary’s standing down if its cause is hopeless or unaffordable.
Either way, deterrence demands that a competitor field sufficient capability—in this case precision armaments—to make good on its deterrent threats. It must amass capability sufficient to deny the aggressor its aims up front, or to mete out unbearable punishment afterward. But while Taiwanese officialdom contends that the island’s defense industry will now “mass produce” the Yun Feng, this seems to mean that Taiwanese rocketeers will operate a total of twenty missiles embarked in ten truck-mounted launchers. No matter how precise and destructive each Yun Feng, twenty rounds doesn’t amount to much volume of fire against a sprawling metropolis like Beijing—let alone a country like China, with its continental proportions and dispersed martial infrastructure.
The new missiles could be put to far better use. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) must launch a successful cross-strait amphibious invasion to bring Taiwan under mainland rule. This is what the Taiwanese armed forces must defeat. It’s hard to see how what would amount to revenge strikes against the Chinese capital city would either deny Xi his aims or convince the Chinese despot that conquering the island isn’t worth absorbing damage from counterstrikes. Xi has promised, loudly and often, to impose Chinese sovereignty on the island. He has staked his personal prestige as well as national dignity on it. He is all in. He’s not likely to relent because twenty missiles might lash out at the capital.
In fact, Xi might welcome such punitive attacks as an opportunity to whip up morale among the Chinese people. An incensed populace is a warlike populace.
Now, elsewhere in his remarks, You Si Kun did sound some useful themes. He observed that maritime geography will work in Taiwan’s favor in a cross-strait war. True enough. To triumph the PLA would need to ferry a massive expeditionary force across the Taiwan Strait; execute an opposed amphibious landing, among the most forbidding military operations in the book; and fight its way across a craggy island inhabited by some 23 million people who do not relish Chinese Communist rule. None of this is easy. In fact, learned commentators note that landing on Taiwan would be an enterprise roughly comparable in scope and hardship to landing in Nazi-occupied Normandy in 1944.
This is the discomfiting image Taiwan’s defenders must cast into Chinese minds.
If Taipei wants to give Xi Jinping pause, it must accumulate capabilities that make a cross-strait offensive a daunting if not hopeless prospect. It must deter by denial, gearing weapons acquisitions, tactics, and strategy to that all-important goal. If Taiwanese commanders want to put Yun Feng strikes to effective use, far better to target port infrastructure needed to support a PLA invasion fleet—piers, fuel facilities, ammunition supplies, and so forth—than to waste scarce rounds on such frivolities as attacking mainland cities. Or, given sufficient warning of an assault, Taiwan’s defenders could go after amphibious transports while they’re still at their moorings and stationary.
Ships that never get to sea deliver few soldiers to landing beaches.
One hopes You Si Kun’s words were a rhetorical flourish that doesn’t reflect the state of military thinking in Taipei. Taiwan is the weaker competitor vis-à-vis China. To prevail it must make every martial resource count. The prospect of seeing a few Yun Feng missiles lobbed into Beijing would neither deter nor defeat a PLA onslaught. Deploying Yun Fengs to help pummel an invasion fleet could do both.
A 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. James Holmes holds the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College and served on the faculty of the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs. A former U.S. Navy surface warfare officer, he was the last gunnery officer in history to fire a battleship’s big guns in anger, during the first Gulf War in 1991. He earned the Naval War College Foundation Award in 1994, signifying the top graduate in his class. His books include Red Star over the Pacific, an Atlantic Monthly Best Book of 2010 and a fixture on the Navy Professional Reading List. General James Mattis deems him “troublesome.” The views voiced here are his alone. Holmes also blogs at the Naval Diplomat.
19fortyfive.com · by ByJames Holmes · June 23, 2022

16. House lawmakers ask Army: Who's in charge of massive modernization program?

Ouch. Probably not a question that should need to be asked.


House lawmakers ask Army: Who's in charge of massive modernization program? - Breaking Defense
After a directive confused some lawmakers, a provision in the NDAA threatens to nullify a potential shake-up of the Army's acquisition bureaucracy if representatives don't receive additional information about who's doing what.
breakingdefense.com · by Andrew Eversden · June 24, 2022
Secretary of the Army Hon. Christine Wormuth and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology), and Army Acquisition Executive Mr. Douglas R. Bush, briefed on capabilities of Army Applications Lab on September 20th, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (Anthony-Matthew Sualog/US Army)
WASHINGTON: House lawmakers want clarity about who is in charge of the Army’s broad modernization effort after a directive from the service, which appeared to suggest a realignment of the acquisition enterprise, caused confusion on Capitol Hill.
The May 3 directive signed by Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, first reported by Breaking Defense, gave primary oversight of the Army’s research, development and acquisition efforts to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)) — a decision viewed by some lawmakers as downgrading Army Futures Command, the office seen as leading the service’s broad modernization effort.
Wormuth previously told lawmakers that the directive itself was only meant to “clarify” acquisition roles. Under the directive, the commanding general of Army Futures Command was told to coordinate with the ASA(ALT) on research, development and acquisition.
Apparently not mollified by Wormuth’s prior explanation, lawmakers added an amendment to the House Armed Services Committee’s fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act asking for additional insight into the roles within the Army’s acquisition enterprise, while threatening to nullify the recent directive if the Army doesn’t produce answers.
The HASC NDAA, passed by the committee overnight, requires the Army to submit a “plan that comprehensively defines the roles and responsibilities of officials and organizations of the Army with respect to the force modernization efforts of the Army.” If the Army fails to send the report to Capitol Hill within 180 days of the HASC NDAA becoming law, Wormuth’s directive will have “no force or effect.”
The HASC NDAA amendment, added by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., states that the plan must identify the Army official who holds “primary responsibility for the force modernization efforts” and specify the roles, responsibilities and authorities of that official. The plan must also “clearly define” the roles, responsibilities and authorities of Army Futures Command and ASA(ALT), as well as any other officials and organizations, with regards to modernization.
Congress is closely watching the issue because the Army is spending billions on a massive, long-term modernization effort that will see the service buying new helicopters, ground vehicles, air defense systems and more. Army Futures Command oversees eight cross-functional teams that lead the development of the modernization programs.
A spokesperson for the Army told Breaking Defense May 3, the day the directive came down, that previous directives relating to Futures Command had “the unintended consequence of creating ambiguity” and that the memo in question “eliminates that ambiguity with clearly defined roles.”
However, the changes have not been straightforward to lawmakers. Throughout several hearings in front of Senate and House committees in May, Wormuth was continuously asked if the Army was downgrading AFC within the service.
“We are not downgrading Army Futures Command,” Wormuth told the House appropriators on May 17. “There have been some ambiguities in the previous directive that talked about the relationships between army futures command and the assistant secretary for acquisition, and this directive was just trying to clean up some of that ambiguity.
breakingdefense.com · by Andrew Eversden · June 24, 2022


17. US and NATO lack capability to supply a long war

Scary thought. Have we lost our superpower? Has our industrial base abandoned our national security? Does the loss of our superpower increase the chance of conflict as adversaries think they can achieve a quick victory because we cannot sustain a protracted fight?

I hope Ukraine is a wake-up call for us.

US and NATO lack capability to supply a long war
As weapons inventories dwindle, there’s little chance the West today can build a surge hardware-making capacity

asiatimes.com · by Stephen Bryen · June 23, 2022
The long and short of it is that, while the US and NATO can fight a short conflict, neither can support a long war because there’s insufficient equipment in the now-depleted inventory and the timelines to build replacement hardware are long.
Despite a history of having done so before, starting in 1939, there is little chance that the US today can put in place a surge capacity, or that it any longer knows how to do so if it is even feasible.
Based on those circumstances alone – and there are additional, compelling reasons – the US and NATO should be thinking about how to end the war in Ukraine rather than sticking with the declared policy of trying to bleed Russia.

Let’s start by looking back at a time when the United States did know how to plan for surge weapons-building capacity.
WW2 precedent
In 1939 the Roosevelt administration, with Congressional support, passed the Protective Mobilization Act. Ultimately this would lead to the creation of a War Production Board, the Office of Production Management and the marshaling of US industry to fight the Nazis and Japanese
In 1941 the President declared an unlimited national emergency, giving the administration the power to shift industrial production to military requirements. Between 1940 and 1945, the US supplied almost two-thirds of all war supplies to the allies (including the USSR and China) and for US forces – producing some 297,000 aircraft, 193,000 artillery pieces (all types) and 86,000 tanks (light, medium and heavy).
Russia faced an altogether more difficult challenge because after Nazi Germany attacked the USSR in June 1941 much of Russia’s defense industrial infrastructure was threatened. Russia evacuated 1,500 factories either to the Ural Mountains or to Soviet Central Asia. Even Lenin’s body was moved from Moscow to Tyumen, 2,500 km from Moscow.
Notably, Stalin Tank Factory 183 would be moved from Kharkiv, now a contested city in the Ukraine war, to the Urals, rebranded as Uralvagonzavod and situated in Nizhny Tagil. The facility had been a railroad car maker, so it was suitable for tank manufacturing. The tank factory relocation was managed by Isaac Zaltzman.

Inside a tank factory in the Soviet Union during World War II. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
At that factory the Soviets produced a massive number of tanks (light, medium and heavy), most notably the T-34, the world’s most successful tank design (based on the Christie tank chassis from the United States). Altogether the Soviets produced almost 78,000 tanks and self-propelled guns mounted on tank chassis.
This is now
It is noteworthy that today Russia as well as the US and America’s NATO partners all face supply problems as the war in Ukraine grinds on. While the US and Europe maintain a significant commercial industrial base, needed to supply key components for defense equipment, Russia lacks an in-depth civilian manufacturing infrastructure – especially in advanced electronics, sensors and electro-optics.
The US and Europe face a risk because they are increasingly dependent on high-tech supplies from Asia. Today there are severe supply bottlenecks, shortages and risk dependencies. Even China, which has a huge commercial manufacturing infrastructure, faces difficulties in obtaining the most sophisticated integrated circuits, manufactured only in Taiwan by Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC).
Procurement of defense goods in the US and Europe is episodic, not continuous. Funds are allocated to purchase a certain quantity of defense equipment. When the contract is completed and there are no immediate follow-on purchases, production lines are shut down and second- and third-tier component suppliers also stop production – or they shift to work on other projects (and in some cases go out of business).
This means that if a new order comes in later, the supplier network and the production lines will have to be started almost from scratch. In addition to the loss of infrastructure for certain types of weapons, there is the related loss of skilled factory workers and engineers.

Giving away the stores
Speaking to the House of Lords International and Defense Committee, Radkin said, “We are then talking in years, because you cannot whistle up with modern weapons a quick production line. Yes, you can churn out shells and artillery, but even at the not super-sophisticated end, even at the modest end of an NLAW [anti-tank] weapon, then that’s going to take several years to get back to our original stocks.”
In the recent war legislation to support Ukraine, Congress appropriated an additional $9 billion to replace US war stocks, suggesting that the costs of manufacturing and inflation have almost doubled reacquisition costs. Raytheon got a new resupply contract of $634 million to restock Stinger missiles, but Raytheon pointed out it could not begin to do so before next year.
A shipment of US-made missiles to Ukraine. Photo: WION
In the US, big defense companies such as Raytheon and Lockheed are facing serious difficulties in resupplying the military. The US has already sent more than one-third of its war stocks of Stinger and Javelin missiles to Ukraine. As the war continues it isn’t unreasonable to think that as much as half the war stocks for these weapons will be consumed.
As the US pushes more and more weapons to Ukraine in its proxy war with Russia, important categories of military supply will be impacted.

Not counting Stingers and Javelins, the US has transferred 18 155mm howitzers with 36,000 rounds of ammunition, two Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems, thousands of night vision sets for Ukrainian troops as well as an unknown number of thermal imagers, thousands of secure radios, 700 Switchblade drones, 75,000 body armor sets with Kevlar helmets, chem-bio defense equipment and much more.
Congress recently passed and the President signed a $40 billion Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, which supplies another $14 billion for arms and humanitarian supplies for Ukraine.
2 big dangers
There are two major dangers for the US and NATO.
The first is that there is simply not enough equipment in inventory to keep up the pace of supporting Ukraine if the war lasts much longer, even with orders for new equipment in the “pipeline.”
The pipeline probably can’t keep up with demand given the long lead times to produce new weapons. If the war spreads beyond Ukraine, then NATO could be faced with a huge challenge of defending a vast territory with few weapons.
There is no sign that such equipment deficits can be overcome over the next few years, even if there is a will to do so. Some European governments have become “woke” about defense spending. But manufacturing arms in Europe is very slow, even compared with the very long lead times in the United States.
Supply bottlenecks, if they continue, will add to the problem.
The second danger is if fighting breaks out in Korea or in a Taiwan invasion. This could put an almost impossible burden on the US. There already are serious military supply shortages for US forces in Korea and Japan. Taiwan has been told the US can’t supply some weapons, including the same howitzers being supplied to Ukraine.
Wishful thinking
The current US House of Representatives version of the annual Defense Authorization Act legislation contains a provision for a critical munitions reserve and proposes establishing a pilot program to keep better tabs on subcontractors involved in production. In Washington this is what is called an “unfunded mandate” – because, without a requirement for industrial mobilization and parallel long-term funding, the House proposal is just wishful thinking.
US policymakers appear oblivious of the great risk they face in promoting a proxy war in Ukraine that could spread beyond Ukraine’s borders – impacting, for example, Eastern Europe or Germany or beyond.
Perhaps Washington policy-makers can take some comfort that Russia has wasted huge amounts of equipment and sustained the loss of over 30,000 fighting men. There is no doubt Russia’s lack of commercial industrial infrastructure and bad battle management, coupled with tenacious reinforced Ukrainian fighters, put it in a hole.
But no one knows how deep. Right now Russia is demonstrating that it has a huge store of heavy artillery and rockets, even if its mechanized armor force has been depleted.
A war that spreads could quickly consume what reserves NATO (and the US) have, and a conventional war featuring heavy artillery weapons would devastate Europe. (There is a parallel case of sorts in Korea, where North Korea has heavy artillery well dug in and close to vital urban centers in South Korea, even though North Korea is deficient in high-tech weapons other than missiles.)
One more thing
In addition, if Russia is pushed too hard, the Russian army will start demanding the right to use “tactical” nuclear weapons, which Russian politicians are already lobbying to use.
That gets to the other compelling reason to rethink the bleed-Russia policy: That policy ramps up the risk of general war to an unprecedented high level and increases the risk of the use of weapons of mass destruction.
asiatimes.com · by Stephen Bryen · June 23, 2022


18.  Robots, Marines and the Ultimate Battle with Bureaucracy



Perhaps the first target for robots is the bureaucracy (note attempt at humor).


Robots, Marines and the Ultimate Battle with Bureaucracy
Politico · by Military.com
Magazine
The decade-long quest to deliver a modern-day target practice highlights the broken world of military acquisition.

POLITICO illustration with photo by Cpl. Christian J. Robertson/U.S. Marine Corps
By Hope Hodge Seck
06/23/2022 09:00 AM EDT
Updated: 06/23/2022 10:12 PM EDT
Hope Hodge Seck is a freelance defense reporter and the former managing editor of .
In July 2008, a year before President Barack Obama surged 33,000 ground troops into Afghanistan, a Marine Corps officer at Camp Pendleton, California, sent an urgent memo up his chain of command acknowledging an embarrassing truth: Marines, famous for their marksmanship flair, weren’t very good at hitting their targets in a war zone.
In combat, troops needed to neutralize a moving enemy, Maj. Eric Dougherty noted. But the Corps, using static target practice that hadn’t changed much since the Revolutionary War, had “no systems or ranges” that could prepare them for the task. He pleaded for resources and, in particular, a way to teach Marines to hit a target that moved unpredictably and as fast as a man could run.

“Failure to respond to this need will mean the continued degrading of critical marksmanship skills required to succeed in an asymmetric environment,” he wrote.

It took a few years, but in June 2011, a new military training tool rolled onto a firing range at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. It was a fleet of autonomous robotic targets that were human-sized and mounted on moving platforms, made by an Australian company called Marathon and available for evaluation through a Pentagon testing program. (Dougherty’s memo about the Marines’ struggles eventually made its way to a Marathon source, who provided it to POLITICO.) The beige humanoid torsos looked a bit crude with their pasted-on paper faces and costume clothes, and their Segway bases struggled at times to navigate grassy and uneven terrain. But the shooters — an array of elite Marine weapons specialists, SEALs and Army special operators — were astonished. When the targets started moving, they started missing, despite their expert marksmanship badges. Engaging these machines felt different, too. When the robots lurched toward them, cortisol levels spiked and even seasoned fighters were left shaky and on edge.

“I like how it puts emotion into training,” one Marine evaluator wrote in later test feedback, obtained by POLITICO from a Defense Department source. “Because believe it or not, when those targets charge you, it’s freaky.” Another wrote that the robots added a different mental dimension to training: “Marines are engaging a more human-like target which conditions them to the friction of taking life.”
Lt. Col. Walt Yates, at the time an assistant program manager for range training, was thrilled. Within hours, the shooters improved dramatically and started felling the moving targets with consistency and confidence. Rarely had he seen any training tool improve a Marine’s proficiency so quickly. The effect was transformative. It was, he told POLITICO, “the greatest day of my professional career.” These things will be on every military training range within two or three years, he thought to himself as he drove home that evening.
Instead, the robots would languish for more than a decade in a protracted series of tests and user evaluations by the Army and Marine Corps. Because of inertia, budget infighting and an opaque bureaucratic process, the robotic targets had fallen into what the defense world calls the Valley of Death — the chasm between a promising new military technology and its ultimate adoption and employment. The topography of this valley is well-known; it’s name-checked regularly in hearings on Capitol Hill, where there’s growing anxiety that, despite huge defense spending, the Pentagon is failing to make the technological advances it needs to compete with an ambitious Russia and looming China.
Now, 11 years after the robots stumbled into the Valley of Death, they are finally poised to reemerge. The story of that fraught journey, uncovered through a trove of exclusive documents and interviews with top military and congressional officials, underscores just how entrenched the military’s acquisition problems really are.
“If, in this case, it takes a decade to procure something as simple as a targeting system, can you imagine the risks that we’re running by not being more aggressive with swarming, aerial drones, more sophisticated machine learning and intelligence,” says August Cole, a leading military futurist and nonresident senior fellow at The Atlantic Council. “This is sort of the tip of the iceberg that you’re looking at, as representative of problems throughout.”
No one denies the problems with the military’s acquisition procedures or the need to invest in more advanced targets. Just last month, Defense Innovation Unit Director Michael Brown announced he’d resign, pointing to a “glaring weakness” in the U.S. military’s approach to adopting commercial technologies. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine also highlights the continued relevance of ground combat as a vital military capability, even as fighter aircraft and missiles become more powerful and technologically complex. (In fact, a set of the robotic targets are now in Poland providing training to Ukrainian troops.) And of course, since the robots first debuted at Quantico, the U.S. military has waged and concluded two costly and protracted ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and become involved in a new special operations-heavy fight against ISIS.

Much of the friction, and the delay, boils down to the intricate and gap-ridden process the military uses to embrace new technology — starting with the requirement for every new weapon or system to be established by the Pentagon as a “program of record.”
Ten different studies and evaluations of the robotic targets commissioned by the Marines, the Army and U.S. Special Operations Command since 2011 have all returned enthusiastic feedback from troops and their leaders. But after the $50 million contract that enabled the initial test expired, the Marines did not take the steps needed to make it a program of record, and momentum fizzled.
While the acquisition of some military technologies, such as small drones and hypervelocity weapons, is complicated by security concerns or the limits of scientific development, the Marathon robots, now more rugged, autonomous and capable of moving at 11 miles per hour, are simple. At just over $1 million to lease a trailer of eight robots for a year, they’re relatively inexpensive, and their value proposition is clear. Marathon executives say their training-as-a-service model eliminates some of the acquisition risk as well: By allowing military customers to lease the systems rather than buy them, they say, they stay responsible for upkeep and program updates, and leave open the option to revise quantities or even switch to a different company if desired.
Nonetheless, it has taken forceful advocacy by multiple top-brass leaders, intervention by Congress and a little luck to haul the robots out of the Valley. They are now on path to becoming a program of record for the Marines later this year, according to a retired program official and Marathon executives. Of course, turf wars within the military still hamper adoption of the robots. The Army, which opted to bypass Marathon’s available technology in favor of a bespoke solution from competitor Pratt & Miller, won’t get its own moving targets until at least 2024.
After years of being mired in acquisition quicksand, advocates for smart moving targets caught two big breaks in 2017.
The first was a demonstration for Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, a no-nonsense infantry officer with a bulldog’s mien. Neller had made doing battle with bureaucracy to get warfighters what they need a key part of his identity as a leader. On his right wrist he wore a black memorial band etched with the name of Cpl. Eric Lueken, a Marine who’d been killed when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb while Neller was deputy commanding general for operations for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Iraq. After Lueken’s death, Neller worked to fast-track mine-roller attachments for tactical vehicles and resolved never to get caught in a loop of inaction and debate again.

Referring to his wristband, Neller told me at his confirmation hearing in 2015, “This is my, ‘Hey, Lueken says be a general. Make a decision, do something, make it better.’ So that’s why I wear this.”
When moving target operators asked Neller where he wanted the robots to stop when they charged at him, he pointed down at his boot. By the end of the day, the commandant had emptied ten magazines of ammo into the targets, and he was a believer. The next year, the Marine Corps had seven trailers of robots and were conducting the most thorough evaluation to date, with 5,000 Marine users. Neller’s direction was clear: Invest in this technology.
The other break came with retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis’ installation as Defense secretary under President Donald Trump. Mattis directed the creation of the Pentagon’s Close Combat Lethality Task Force, recognizing that 90 percent of battlefield casualties occurred in the last 100 yards of the fight. This group of infantry veterans and experts would advocate on behalf of historically under-resourced grunt units and push for transformative capabilities such as moving targets, bringing them to the attention of Congress.
Despite the backing of the Marine Corps’ top general, the robots still faced tall odds.
Existing contracts for range maintenance and targetry crowded out investment in a new technology that threatened to make some of the old infrastructure obsolete. Funding to sustain the new investment was redirected to other programs. And, in a fiasco that highlights the analog and personality-driven nature of military acquisition, multiple sources told POLITICO that a critical document called Table 7, which would establish a clear acquisition path for the robots, went missing for nearly two years in a desk in Quantico. The draft protocol was provided to POLITICO by Marathon. Maj. Gen. Dale Alford, commanding general of Marine Corps Training Command, says he didn’t know about the missing table and couldn’t confirm the account.
Still, the robots were winning more supporters. In 2019, the 2nd Marine Division, an infantry unit based out of North Carolina, decided to obtain four trailers of the targets on its own after funds to contract them for the whole Marine Corps were promised and then simply reallocated to other programs. The robots, they quickly realized, offered more than just marksmanship training. The autonomous systems created a way to train for combat scenarios too risky to conduct with troops on the other end, like overhead fire; they could be employed as a group to simulate an enemy maneuver unit. They also made static ranges, with their fixed distances and standing metal targets, feel obsolete, suggesting the military might be able to ditch some of them in favor of open fields.
“What we’re trying to do in the 2nd Marine Division is create pre-combat veterans, somebody who’s seen it and knows what he’s looking at before he has to do it for real,” says Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joshua Smith, the division’s gunner, or weapons expert. “So we do that constantly now with the targets.”

Neller, who retired in 2019, says if anyone should take the blame for not procuring the targets sooner and in larger quantities, it was him. But he also acknowledges other forces in play. “If you hire a contractor to provide a service and targets, and the people that work at the base, potentially, our base range people, they may lose their job,” he says. “Change is always painful. Even if there’s an overwhelming amount of support for it.”
One snag that the robots hit — which is common with new technologies — is the rift within the Pentagon bureaucracy between civilians and soldiers.
Many active and veteran infantry experts who spoke with POLITICO fault the civilian program managers who, while typically not combat veterans themselves, write the requirements documents that shape programs of record. While military commanding officers will spend two or three years at a post and then move on, these civilian staff stay in one location. On the one hand, this means the civilians can provide useful institutional knowledge and stability. But it also means they can thwart attempts to overhaul the status quo just by waiting the military leaders out.
Ultimately, the paths to failure in military acquisition far outnumber the paths to success.
John Cochran, a retired Army colonel who served as acting director of the Close Combat Lethality Task Force for most of 2020, has a name for the limbo that follows the successful demonstration of a new military technology: “Middle Earth.” The pathway out of Middle Earth, he says, requires operational demand from the ground forces, “extreme strategic interest” from at least one influential leader, the right timing and a fair amount of pure luck.
“That’s how you see what I like to call acquisition and operational conversions,” he says. “It’s the idea that you’re taking the decision space away from the middle of the bureaucratic process.”
By now, Congress was losing patience. Lawmakers in both parties had heard about the need for robotic targets and were pressing the military for action. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees then included language in the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act demanding updates from the Army and Marine Corps on efforts to procure moving targets.
“Oftentimes, with this type of stuff, you really need just champions on the inside of the bureaucracy to make it happen,” says an aide to a Senate Republican on the Armed Services Committee. “In our oversight role in Congress, we can poke and prod the department to do things.” It’s helped get results.
The Marines now have major momentum behind bringing robots to every part of the force. Marine Corps Training and Education Command is leasing 13 trailers this year, the biggest investment so far, with plans to bring in another dozen in the next two years. It’s starting to rip up some of its old ranges in favor of zero-infrastructure fields, where the targets can maneuver freely. Alford, the general in charge of Marine Corps Training Command, is a longtime advocate who has called the targets “the best damn training tool I’ve ever seen, hands-down.” Marathon staff say they expect the targets to become a program of record before the year is over.
Yet other obstacles still loom for broader use in the military: The service branches, with different cultures, systems and priorities, often aren’t on the same page. So while the Marine Corps is poised to expand its use of the robots, the Army is still embroiled in the acquisition process.
The service has contracted with Pratt & Miller to build what one Army civilian described in a 2021 internal email as “their own version of the Marathon target.” The note, from an email chain that later included Marathon, was provided to POLITICO by a source at the company. The Army target won’t be autonomous, due to Army concerns about safety and control, but will be compliant with Future Army System of Integrated Targets, or FASIT, a networked framework of training tools built into existing static ranges. The first of these targets is expected to be fielded in 2024, according to Pratt & Miller; a few early versions are now at Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, where soldiers are now working out bugs.
And the bugs are many, says Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Rance, a drill instructor at Benning. He has found the Army robots slow to respond to hits and frequently down for maintenance — fueling a growing frustration.
“We have a robotic target that is already available out there, a commercial off-the-shelf,” Rance says. “And we have seen the Marine Corps and our Australian counterparts go in that direction. And I just don’t see why the Army hasn’t jumped onto that ship as well.”
In response to multiple questions and interview requests, the Army provided a brief written statement from Doug Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.
“We need to improve communications between the Army and the industrial base regarding what the Army needs before companies build a capability under the assumption that ‘the Army doesn’t know it needs it,’” Bush wrote, “bringing soldiers into companies’ decision-making processes earlier to make sure that technology meets their needs.”
Last year’s defense bill included language calling for the Army to report on how it might be able to field robotic moving targets by fiscal year 2023 and expressing support for “rapid adoption” of the commercial off-the-shelf capability. As of the end of April, that report had not been submitted.
“One of our biggest pieces of effort, as far as oversight is concerned, is trying to identify the areas for redundancy between the services and then trying to figure out how to improve that, or help the services to avoid that,” says an aide at the House Armed Services Committee, who is baffled by the Army’s approach.

Alford, for his part, is satisfied that Marines across the Corps will finally have access to a transformational warfighting technology, thanks to seasoned combat veterans like himself who have worked to see the program through.
“You’ve got to have the right people that are passionate about it to come out of the fleet, to come out of the war zone and work in the right place,” he says. “That’s just the way a big bureaucracy works.”
Asked if reforming the bureaucracy was a lost cause, he paused for a moment.
“No, it’s not,” he says. “I’m probably just not the right guy to do it.”



Politico · by Military.com


​19. The United States and China: Who Changed the ‘Status Quo’ over Taiwan?

Excerpts:

The United States and China need to get beyond exchanging talking points and trading accusations if they are to de-escalate tensions over Taiwan and stabilize the situation in the Taiwan Strait. A basic but important initial step would be to provide greater clarity on what each side means by “status quo.” A core component of this is the disposition of Taiwan’s official political status. For its part, the United States can continue to affirm that it does not support Taiwan independence. Austin reiterated this position during his Shangri-La Dialogue address, as did Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his speech outlining the Biden administration's China strategy last month. Identifying any differences between the United States and Chinese understandings of “status quo” and working to reconcile those differences would be an important further step in reducing tensions and averting conflict. It is also imperative not to overlook the reality that there are more than just two great powers involved in the Taiwan issue. The most important and most relevant party is of course the island of Taiwan itself, which likely also has its own understanding of what constitutes the “status quo” and view on who is seeking to change it.
At the same time, Washington must continue strengthening its relationships with allies and partners in the region. The best way to deter China from using force against Taiwan will always be — as Austin said — to “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends” and promote resolution of cross-strait differences without the use of violence and coercion. Washington and Beijing may have differing views on what constitutes the “status quo,” but as long as they agree it includes both sides’ prudence and a shared commitment to avoid confrontation, then the potential for conflict in the Taiwan Strait is lessened.



The United States and China: Who Changed the ‘Status Quo’ over Taiwan?
Washington and Beijing need to get beyond trading accusations if they are to de-escalate tensions and stabilize the situation in the Taiwan Strait.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 / BY: Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.; Alex Stephenson
A Decades-Long Point of Contention
Washington and Beijing have never been in complete agreement on the status of the island. Beijing considers Taiwan a holdover from the Chinese civil war of the 1940s and the island as the final piece of territory to be unified with the mainland to achieve what General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping has dubbed “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Meanwhile, Washington has long viewed Taipei as a staunch U.S. partner and, in recent decades, as a small but thriving democracy living next door to a massive, muscular and threatening communist dictatorship.
Over the years, the United States and China, at best, have agreed to disagree, setting aside the seemingly intractable issue in order to move forward with what both sides saw as a mutually beneficial bilateral relationship. This was certainly true at key junctures, including in 1972, when the two countries issued the Shanghai Communique — a pledge for both nations to work toward formal diplomatic relations — at the conclusion of President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China. Because the negotiators found it impossible to agree on common language related to Taiwan, they resorted to separate U.S. and Chinese statements within the same document.
Despite periodic crises and tensions over Taiwan in the decades since, the United States and China have tended to see the judicious handling of the bilateral relationship as a higher priority than resolving the status of the island. As a result, Washington and Beijing have been focused on keeping the Taiwan issue manageable rather than pressing to resolve it. This approach was workable during the 1970s and 1980s but has proved more difficult since the 1990s.
Moreover, in recent years, the issue has become increasingly challenging and contentious, particularly as U.S.-China relations have dramatically deteriorated over the last decade. Indeed, in 2022, Taiwan appears to be the most plausible location and conceivable spark for a military confrontation between the United States and China. Why?
Why Taiwan has Re-emerged as a Flashpoint
Taiwan has re-emerged as a flashpoint in U.S.-China relations for three fundamental reasons. First, the Taiwan issue was never fully resolved and the two sides attempted to set it aside to be delicately and pragmatically managed over time. Second, despite such attempts, Taiwan was never truly set aside and has long loomed as the central issue in U.S.-China relations. Exacerbating this second reason is a third: The Taiwan issue has been the constant subject of misperception and misinterpretation by both Washington and Beijing.
First, Taiwan is an issue that defies resolution. The hopeful — indeed, wishful — thinking that permeated Washington and Beijing in the 1970s and 1980s was that the issue would naturally take care of itself over time as long as both sides could take the long view. Yet neither Washington nor Beijing foresaw how the Taiwan issue would be fundamentally altered by remarkable transformations on the island itself. Taiwan’s polity evolved in the late 1980s and 1990s from an austere authoritarian regime to emerge in the new millennium as one of the world’s most vibrant democracies. This complete political makeover discombobulated Beijing’s cross-strait calculus and pushed Washington to view Taipei in a far more favorable and sympathetic light. Phrased differently, Taiwan’s on-island “status quo” has undergone significant change over the decades.
Second, Taiwan has remained a central and contentious issue in U.S.-China relations. While China publicly prioritized a policy of peaceful unification since 1979, it never renounced the use of force. Beijing has viewed the democratization of Taiwan with skepticism and alarm, especially during island-wide elections, and when the Democratic Progressive Party — the political party it considers pro-independence — has been in office. Although China has employed both carrots and sticks, in recent years the latter has been overemphasized at the expense of the former.
Moreover, the “one country, two systems” solution — a concept Beijing has touted for several decades as a framework that would allow the island to formally reconcile with the mainland while retaining a high degree of autonomy — rings hollow to Taiwan’s people. This is especially true after recent events in Hong Kong, where Beijing has cracked down harshly on basic freedoms and vigorously suppressed dissent. Washington, meanwhile, has become deeply concerned over Beijing’s heavy-handed actions in Hong Kong and its increasingly provocative activities in the Taiwan Strait, as well as harshly worded threats directed toward Taipei. Consequently, the United States has sought to reassure Taiwan and sternly caution China.
Third, misperceptions over Taiwan have accumulated over decades in both Washington and Beijing, amplifying the impact of misinterpretations of the other’s contemporary signaling efforts. This in turn has contributed to one or both sides perceiving an action-reaction dynamic, and each side interpreting that the other has violated existing agreements vis-à-vis Taiwan. The upshot is elevated tensions in the Taiwan Strait and heightened risk of U.S.-China confrontation and conflict.
Back in 1972, Beijing erroneously believed that Washington had irreversibly committed to its own “one China principle,” which maintains that Taiwan is a province of China. From Beijing’s perspective, this meant that the United States would one day walk away from Taipei for good. Washington, meanwhile, simply acknowledged Beijing’s principle, believing its own “one China policy” — by which the United States “opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side; does not support Taiwan independence; and expects cross-strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means” — to be contingent upon Beijing pursuing a peaceful rapprochement with Taipei. Unspoken in both Washington and Beijing was the hope that, at some future date, China and Taiwan would be able to reach a mutually acceptable formula for cross-strait reconciliation.
These respective beliefs in Washington and Beijing have indelibly influenced perceptions of the other. China perceives that the United States has never been sincere in its repeated commitments to end its political and security ties with Taiwan, while the United States perceives that China has not followed through in good faith on its commitments to pursue unification with Taiwan peacefully. Indeed, Beijing persists with threats, coercion and saber-rattling in the Taiwan Strait — most recently sending 30 fighter jets into the island’s air defense zone — and aggressively shrinks Taiwan’s international space, blocking the island from joining multilateral organizations and peeling off Taipei’s shrinking club of formal diplomatic allies.
Meanwhile, Washington continues to sell arms to the island and to reiterate its commitments to support Taipei under the provisions of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). China interprets these sales as violating assurances that it believes the United States repeatedly gave to China, most notably in the 1982 U.S.-China Communique when the United States affirmed its intention to gradually reduce arms sales to Taiwan. China perceives the TRA as evidence that the United States never actually intended to abide by its “one-China policy” since the act — in addition to bilateral joint communiques of 1972, 1978 and 1982 — has enabled Washington and Taipei to maintain a vibrant quasi-official relationship for more than 40 years.
Who Changed the Status Quo? Not Me!
In other words, Beijing and Washington each believe that the other has never lived up to its commitment vis-à-vis Taiwan. To get beyond this, the United States and China have focused on managing the issue by insisting that the two sides maintain the delicate “status quo.” The problem with the use of the term is that there is no clear or commonly accepted understanding of what exactly constitutes the “status quo.” Consequently, each side is prone to interpret the words and deeds of the other as having violated the “status quo.” At the same time each side is adamant that it is firmly upholding the same.
In remarks delivered in Singapore to the Shangri-La Dialogue, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated: “Our policy [in the Taiwan Strait] is unchanged and unwavering. It has been consistent across administrations. And we’re determined to uphold the status quo that has served this region so well for so long.” While Austin insisted that U.S. policy “hasn't changed,” he continued: “… unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be true for the PRC [the People’s Republic of China].” Austin declared that the United States continued to be “focused on maintaining peace, stability, and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. But the PRC's moves threaten to undermine security and stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.” He stressed that the United States “categorically opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo … .”
Defense Minister Wei reportedly stressed to Austin in a private meeting on the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue that: “It is not the mainland that is changing the status quo. It is Taiwan independence forces ... and outside forces that are trying to change the status quo.” According to Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian, General Wei told his American counterpart: “If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost.” In his formal public remarks to the Shangri-La Dialogue, General Wei declared: “No one should ever underestimate the resolve and ability of the Chinese armed forces to safeguard its territorial integrity. Those who pursue Taiwan independence in an attempt to split China will definitely come to no good end.”
In the Shadow of Ukraine
Amid frequent references to Taiwan, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was certainly foremost in the minds of participants at the Shangri-La Dialogue. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the gathering via video conference warning that what happened to Ukraine could be repeated elsewhere in the world unless countries take resolute action and firmly uphold international law.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also invoked the ongoing conflict in Europe: “I myself have a strong sense of urgency that Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow.” While Kishida did not mention China by name, he went on to identify “[p]eace and stability across the Taiwan Strait … [as being] … of extreme importance” to Japan and the region, strongly implying that Beijing was the prime offender.
It is noteworthy that a member of the Chinese delegation felt it necessary to respond publicly to Kishida’s remarks. Lieutenant General He Lei declared: “China doesn’t accept the accusation that it is using its capabilities and force to change the status quo in the area.”
What Comes Next?
The 2022 Shangri-La Dialogue underscores that Taiwan remains a contentious and volatile issue between the United States and China. Although the speeches and conversations in Singapore bring to mind Winston Churchill’s pithy aphorism that “jaw jaw is better than war war,” the repeated use of the term “status quo” has ominous overtones and the associated finger pointing highlights the urgency of addressing the underlying mistrust vis-à-vis Taiwan. It is also important to note that while Taiwan was the subject of much discussion at the dialogue, no Taiwanese participant was invited to present formal remarks because of political sensitivities.
The United States and China need to get beyond exchanging talking points and trading accusations if they are to de-escalate tensions over Taiwan and stabilize the situation in the Taiwan Strait. A basic but important initial step would be to provide greater clarity on what each side means by “status quo.” A core component of this is the disposition of Taiwan’s official political status. For its part, the United States can continue to affirm that it does not support Taiwan independence. Austin reiterated this position during his Shangri-La Dialogue address, as did Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his speech outlining the Biden administration's China strategy last month. Identifying any differences between the United States and Chinese understandings of “status quo” and working to reconcile those differences would be an important further step in reducing tensions and averting conflict. It is also imperative not to overlook the reality that there are more than just two great powers involved in the Taiwan issue. The most important and most relevant party is of course the island of Taiwan itself, which likely also has its own understanding of what constitutes the “status quo” and view on who is seeking to change it.
At the same time, Washington must continue strengthening its relationships with allies and partners in the region. The best way to deter China from using force against Taiwan will always be — as Austin said — to “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends” and promote resolution of cross-strait differences without the use of violence and coercion. Washington and Beijing may have differing views on what constitutes the “status quo,” but as long as they agree it includes both sides’ prudence and a shared commitment to avoid confrontation, then the potential for conflict in the Taiwan Strait is lessened.
Alex Stephenson is a program specialist for USIP’s China program.

20. NATO gathering could split Asia into hostile blocs


Perhaps this is an indication of the fear China has about the alignment of like minded countries who support the rules based in international order.


NATO gathering could split Asia into hostile blocs
chinadaily.com.cn · by 郭蓉
Participation of Japan, South Korea leaders sends dangerous signal to world, expert says
Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, in this April 19, 2018 file photo. [ Photo/Agencies]
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's summit in Madrid could be a turning point in Asia's security architecture due to the attendance of Japan and South Korea, as this risks bringing on "a new Cold War, an Asian NATO, or a region split into hostile blocs," security experts said.
"As nonmember states of NATO, Japan and South Korea's participation sends a dangerous signal to the world that NATO, reneging on its promises, seeks to expand its remit beyond a European security mission," said Wang Qi, a researcher of East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.
NATO's eastward expansion has been blamed as the root cause of the Ukraine crisis, which has no immediate solution in sight and is intensifying.
The first NATO summit attended by the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, even as observers, casts a shadow on the globe and already-worsening geopolitical tensions.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Wednesday that he will attend the 30-nation military alliance's summit in Spain on June 29 and 30, and he highlighted the links between Asia's security and that of Europe. Before Kishida's announcement, South Korea's presidential office confirmed that the nation's new leader, President Yoon Suk-yeol, will also attend the summit.
Given Kishida's thinly disguised accusations leveled against China over a range of issues, including internal affairs, such as the Taiwan question, Wang said Beijing is very concerned about Tokyo's next move. If you add South Korea, whose amicable relations with Beijing are driven by economics, Wang warned that a tilt toward NATO risks upsetting the situation.
Kishida said, "Security in Europe is inseparable from security in the 'Indo-Pacific'."
Over the past few weeks, Kishida had aimed veiled barbs at Beijing when he hosted a summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue of Japan, the United States, Australia and India. In a keynote speech later at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, he said that he felt a strong sense of foreboding that what is happening in Ukraine today may happen in East Asia tomorrow.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the forum: "We do not seek confrontation or conflict. And we do not seek a new Cold War, an Asian NATO, or a region split into hostile blocs".
However, Beijing was largely unconvinced, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying that the US was "the biggest factor fueling militarization in the Asia-Pacific" and accusing NATO of sending aircraft and warships to carry out military exercises in waters off China's coast.
"NATO has publicly stated on many occasions that it will remain a regional alliance, it does not seek a geopolitical breakthrough and it does not seek to expand to other regions. However, some NATO member states keep sending aircraft and warships to carry out military exercises in waters off China's coast, creating tensions and disputes," Wang said at a news conference.
"NATO has been transgressing in regions and fields and clamoring for a new Cold War of bloc confrontation. This gives ample reason for high vigilance and firm opposition from the international community."
Wang Qi, the CASS researcher, said that what Austin insisted is exactly what NATO risks by expanding its remit into Asia and that what is happening in Ukraine is what Kishida wants to happen in East Asia.
"Apparently, inviting NATO to step into the Asia-Pacific region solidifies Japan's role as the foremost leader in regional geopolitics. Likewise, it gives Japan a greater presence in European policy. But... (beyond) this, Japan wants to achieve its great power ambitions-creating tension and trouble in the peaceful Asia Pacific region so that it can legitimize its longtime ambition to develop military force and push for an amendment of its pacifist Constitution," she said.
As a result, Japan has promised to boost defense spending to 2 percent of its GDP, in line with NATO targets, and has been stepping up military cooperation with the transatlantic group in remarkable ways with back-to-back engagements, she added.
During a meeting with NATO Military Committee chief Rob Bauer this month, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Japan hopes to strengthen its ties with European countries and welcomes NATO's expanded involvement in the Asia-Pacific region.
Wang Guangtao, an associate professor at the Center for Japanese Studies of Fudan University, said that Japan kept increasing its defense budget to turn itself into a strong military power. That is causing suspicion that an Asia-Pacific version of NATO could emerge in which Japan would like to play a large role.
In an article published in the People's Liberation Army Daily on Friday, Guo Ruobing, president of the National Security College of the National Defense University of China' s PLA, said the US has stated it does not aim to create "an Asian NATO", but it has deliberately played up the issues of the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea, the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea.
By strengthening military alliances, Guo wrote, "The US' fundamental purpose is to create tension in the region and mobilize its allies and partners to build a small anti-China clique".
Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, also opposes the initiative. "These are foolish diversions. Europeans should focus on defending Europe," he said on Thursday.
Kishida might hope to win points with US President Joe Biden's administration. But more important is fulfilling the ruling US Democratic Party's promotion of increased military outlays, which requires building domestic political support for a more active role in defending East Asian Pacific waters, wrote Bandow, who was also a special assistant to former US president Ronald Reagan.
Masanari Koike, a former member of Japan's House of Representatives, believes Japan's further involvement in NATO is not possible.
"NATO is the security alliance with an idea of collective self-defense, which the Japanese constitution basically prohibits," Koike said.
Contact the writers at wangxu@chinadaily.com.cn
chinadaily.com.cn · by 郭蓉

21. Has the War in Ukraine Damaged Russia’s Gray Zone Capabilities?


Can we see and exploit opportunities in Russian actions?

This is actually a good discussion of Russian "political warfare, "two words (despite George Kennan) that the US national security apparatus seems to want to avoid using at all costs.


Has the War in Ukraine Damaged Russia’s Gray Zone Capabilities?
Russia’s actions are to blame for the damage done to its gray zone capabilities, but it’s the West’s choice to see whether this respite represents a short-term aberration or presents opportunities for some long-term fixes.
The National Interest · by Raphael S. Cohen · June 22, 2022
Four months into the conflict, the war in Ukraine remains primarily a conventional fight, replete with troop movements, missile strikes, and artillery barrages. Consequently, the damage to Russia’s war machine has been measured principally in conventional terms—troop casualties, equipment destroyed, and the like. And yet, there has been one less prominent element of collateral damage from Russia’s war in Ukraine: its ability to conduct gray zone operations.
The gray zone has long been a focus of American policymakers. In 1948, famed American diplomat George Kennan warned of the emergence of “political warfare,” which he defined as “the employment of all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives.” Later scholars slapped other labels on it, but all of them essentially refer to a host of diplomatic, informational, economic, and military actions that states deploy to achieve to achieve their objectives below the threshold of full-scale conflict.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was seen as master of this domain, and Russia—as the heir to the Soviet legacy—enjoyed a similar reputation, particularly after its takeover of Crimea in 2014 and its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russian gray zone warfare has been the subject of intense academic and policy scrutiny. It has been to the topic of dozens, if not hundreds, of studies. Many of these studies painted the Russians as blackbelts in this form of psychological jujitsu, capable of achieving their desired outcomes at minimal costs while confounding their adversaries’ ability to mount an effective response.
After the Ukraine invasion, however, it is worth reassessing just how good the Russians are at these forms of modern political warfare. The very fact that Russia felt the need to resort to overt, large-scale conventional force in Ukraine—despite years of operating there in the gray zone—demonstrates that at least in Russian president Vladimir Putin’s mind, these ambiguous uses of force in Ukraine failed to achieve their desired ends. And if Russian gray zone activity could not achieve success in Ukraine, despite the two states’ common histories and cultures, one wonders how well it could succeed elsewhere. What’s more, Russia’s ability to conduct gray zone operations has surely suffered and will suffer in the years to come.

To begin with, Russia will now be playing on more unfavorable terrain. Russia has never had favorable public opinion polling in Europe or the United States, but its popularity has cratered since the start of the Ukraine conflict. In Pew polling from March, 70 percent of Americans view Russia not just as a competitor, as it did prior to the conflict, but as an outright enemy, up from 41 percent in January. European views of Russia have similarly trended downward.
Admittedly, Russian gray zone activity was never going to help it win a popularity contest. After all, Americans have had a consistently negative view of Russia since the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, and many European attitudes have been only a little more favorable. Before the Russo-Ukrainian War, however, Russia was, at least, feared—viewed by some as highly technically and tactically proficient, if ruthless in achieving its objectives. After the Ukraine invasion, Americans still fear Russian nuclear weapons, but the chimera of military competence has been shattered. That’s important because Russia’s gray zone operations can hinge on the perception, rather than the actuality, of the coercers of power to influence their targets. If one wants to achieve aims without resorting to brute force, then, as Machiavelli argues, princes need to be loved or, better yet, feared. What the Ukraine war proves thus far is that even smaller countries can stand up to Russian military might, if they are not afraid.
On top of this, Russia has lost a lot of its actual geopolitical and economic leverage. Russia’s key source of economic leverage—its energy resources—remains, but its ability to coerce countries is weakening as some countries seek alternative sources and those that still buy energy from Russia do so at a discount. The European Union has proposed a ban on Russian coal and phasing out Russian oil by the end of the year. Divesting from Russian gas will be harder, seeing as it still provides close to 40 percent of Europe’s natural gas. Still, Russia is already taking drastic short-term measures that will, in the longer term, weaken it further, such as cutting off Poland and Bulgaria’s gas lines and functionally removing those as a future source of leverage. The rest of the European Union, meanwhile, is trying to reduce its dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of the year.
Russian intelligence networks in the West, too, have been dealt a significant blow. The United States and its allies have booted over 400 Russian diplomats from their posts after many were accused of being undercover intelligence operatives. For perspective, that’s almost triple the number of Russian diplomats expelled by NATO countries in 2018 in response to Russia’s poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, which at the time was the largest of mass expulsion since the Cold War. On top of this, data breaches have exposed the identity of hundreds more Russian agents, minimizing their ability to operate covertly, at least in the West. And American and European intelligence agencies have continued to uncover Russian operatives as the conflict has progressed.
The Ukraine conflict has also indirectly damaged Russia’s vaunted technology sector. The war—and the West’s sanctions and Russia’s domestic restrictions on speech that followed—have prompted significant “brain drain.” According to media accounts, some 50,000 to 70,000 technology workers have already left the country and an equal number or more are projected to do so in the future. While the impact of this exodus is still unknown, it stands to reason that Russia will face a depleted talent pool to staff its cyber expertise.
The Russian information environment has suffered as well, at least in the West. From the beginning, Ukrainian voices have dominated much of the Ukraine conflict, as Russian narratives struggled to gain traction internationally. Russian media outlets—RT and Sputnik—were banned in the European Union and the United Kingdom. RT America shut down in March. YouTube, Meta, and TikTok kicked these outlets off their platforms, although with admittedly mixed success. True, the Internet Research Agency—the troll factory perhaps best known for its role in election interference—is still promoting pro-Russian narratives. Still, the social media companies are cracking down on online Russian disinformation, so the effectiveness of Russian trolls is, at best, a question mark.
Even Russia’s ability to use “little green men”—covert uses of force—may have been degraded due to the Ukraine war, although it’s not clear to what extent. The Russian military has suffered significant casualties in Ukraine. And while the actual numbers are disputed, Russian airborne and special operations forces reportedly are particularly hard hit. Beyond those losses, all European countries are now acutely alert to the dangers of Russian military incursion—if they were not already—which will further limit Russia’s ability to exploit its ambiguous uses of force.
Admittedly, none of these recent developments spell a death knell for Russian gray zone activity. Russia may eventually be able to restaff its embassies. New Russian trolls will take the place of accounts that have been taken down by media and tech companies. RT and Sputnik may eventually return to the Western media market. Even Russian antipathies may subside, as global attention moves to other crises. And the motivation for Russia to conduct gray zone activities will almost certainly be there, especially if Russia emerges from the conflict embittered and out for revenge, but militarily depleted and lacking a conventional option.
Still, for Russia to restore its gray zone capabilities—much like rebuilding its conventional capabilities—it will take some time. And this, in turn, presents an opportunity for the United States and its European allies. At their core, Russian gray zone operations prey on Western vulnerabilities, exploiting fissures in democratic societies to sow discord and chaos. If the West uses this period of relative quiet from Russian meddling to repair its societal fractures, then it could emerge stronger.
Ultimately, Russia’s actions are to blame for the damage done to its gray zone capabilities, but it’s the West’s choice to see whether this respite represents a short-term aberration or presents opportunities for some long-term fixes.
Raphael S. Cohen is a senior political scientist and the director of the Strategy and Doctrine Program, Project AIR FORCE at the nonpartisan, nonprofit RAND Corporation.
Image: Reuters.
The National Interest · by Raphael S. Cohen · June 22, 2022

22. LSCO Lessons: What the Army Should Be Learning about Large-Scale Combat Operations from the Ukraine War

Conclusion:

The exploration of these three lessons from the war in Ukraine should serve as a catalyst for important, ongoing discourse. What must we learn from the Russian invasion of Ukraine—not just about the Russians as a threat, but also about ourselves—in order to best prepare for future conflict? Thinking through the implications of LSCO over large distances and extended time, noncontiguous and nonlinear operations, and operating with and against hybrid mashups of forces can reinforce and perhaps lead to adjustment of US Army modernization, force development, and preparedness. On a more practical level such discourse should be conducted in the halls of professional military education institutions, in the conference rooms of Army units, and on the ranges and training areas where we learn and practice our profession. And, hopefully the discourse will continue to include other relevant implications as we better understand the evolving character of warfare.


LSCO Lessons: What the Army Should Be Learning about Large-Scale Combat Operations from the Ukraine War - Modern War Institute
mwi.usma.edu · by James K. Greer · June 24, 2022
This week, the Russian invasion of Ukraine turns four months old. While the Western world largely expected a rapid Ukrainian military defeat by Russian forces, the Ukrainian armed forces and their people halted the initial thrust of the invasion, and have since regained some of their lost territory and continue to defend their nation. The war is far from over. At this point, no one can describe with certainty the eventual outcome. That said, there is already much we can learn from this war. For the US joint force, and the Army in particular, that should include identifying major lessons regarding the conduct of large-scale combat operations on the modern battlefield. These lessons and their implications should then inform both near-term readiness—in the form of leader development, training, doctrine, force deployments and preparedness—and future force design across the DOTMLPF spectrum (doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities).
We must always recognize that every war is unique and that none perfectly predicts the next. Certainly, our way forward must be shaped not just by the current conflict in Ukraine, but also by Gaza in 2021, Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014, Georgia in 2008, Lebanon in 2006, and of course the US and coalition counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations of the first two decades of this century. Even still, there are three major implications from the war’s initial months that can and must directly inform the US Army. The first of those is the necessity for effective conduct of large-scale combat operations (LSCO) over operational distances and extended duration in time. The second is the necessity to be able to operate effectively and preserve combat power during the noncontiguous and nonlinear operations that characterize modern large-scale combat. The third major implication is the necessity to operate effectively against, partner with, and employ hybrid forces—that is, combinations of special operations forces, conventional forces, paramilitary and irregular forces, and others. Recognizing there are dozens of other lessons that have emerged or are emerging, these three major implications are especially relevant and should serve as catalysts for improving US force design, capabilities, operations, and preparedness.
Large-Scale Operations over Distance
The last time the United States Army conducted LSCO over operational distances and for an extended time was during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. In that invasion, the US Army employed one corps consisting of three divisions plus a few separate brigades. The Army elements operated alongside a Marine expeditionary force (MEF) consisting of one division plus separate elements, for which the US Army provided significant logistical support to enable the MEF to move from Kuwait to Baghdad. That invasion of Iraq was roughly the size of the current Russian invasion of Ukraine in terms of forces and distances.
As the world has witnessed, the Russian armed forces have had significant challenges in executing LSCO over distance since their invasion. After initial rapid thrusts, their offensive ground to a halt. In part, this was due to the inability to mass combat power at the necessary points to be able to break the Ukrainian defense. However, this is also due to an inability to sustain their forces over time and space. And, they have demonstrated an inability to secure their lines of communications, logistical support elements, and command posts against the threats in their rear area.
The obvious question for the US Army is whether we could do any better. At first glance, the Army’s experience suggests that we can—during the march north in Iraq in 2003, V Corps and US Army Central were able to maintain sufficient momentum to accomplish the initial campaign objectives. However, a review of the Army’s logistical system, as detailed in the book On Point: The United States Army in Operations Iraqi Freedom, suggests that system was strained and failed in several areas. Chief among the failures was the inability to move repair parts where needed to fix the wide range of weapons and other systems employed during a campaign. Another challenge was the ability to provide fuel to the advancing US forces. Again, as detailed in On Point, extraordinary measures were taken to ensure that armored vehicles, notoriously gas guzzlers, were able to receive sufficient fuel to maintain the offensive.
Another area that calls into question the US Army’s ability to conduct LSCO at distance and over time is training. Training at the brigade level and below conducted at combat training centers (CTCs) is, in terms of the scale of the operations in Ukraine, relatively small. And, the training is conducted for a mere two weeks, punctuated by so-called “battle periods,” in between which are administrative halts when units are able to rest, refit, and execute the full range of logistical support operations. Moreover, because of the small size of these training centers, the logistics system is never truly stretched, nor is it forced to operate at maximum performance over long distances, for extended durations of time. For example, the National Training Center, the US Army’s largest CTC, is roughly sixty kilometers long. In contrast, the distance from the Russian border to Kyiv along the Sumy access the Russians initially employed is approximately four hundred kilometers, requiring logistics support almost seven times farther than training at the National Training Center. Finally, while there are some operations at each CTC against the soft underbelly of the units—that is, their logistics, their command posts, and their service support units—there is nothing comparable to the scope and scale of the actions to which the Russian armed forces have been exposed by the relentless and widespread attacks of the Ukrainian army, the Territorial Defense Forces, and even individual civilians.
The US Army’s large-unit training—that is, corps and divisions—is conducted by the Mission Command Training Program during what are called Warfighter Exercises (WFXs). A WFX is ten days long—again, nowhere near the duration of a campaign or major operation such as the current war in Ukraine. WFXs are conducted in relatively small operational areas in terms of what could reasonably be expected of a division or corps in an actual campaign or war. And, most importantly, WFXs are conducted using simulations—digital, virtual wargames. That means that the current Army has no experience conducting live LSCO above the brigade level since the invasion of Iraq nineteen years ago. There is virtually no one in the United States Army below the ranks of colonel and command sergeant major who has ever experienced an operation larger than that of a brigade. Moreover, those colonels and command sergeants major were young officers and noncommissioned officers during the invasion of Iraq and saw only their small slices of the operation, probably at company level or below. The US Army simply has insufficient experience in LSCO over time and distance to be able to expect to perform considerably better than the Russians have in Ukraine. And, as suggested above, current training approaches produce no opportunity to gain that experience. The US Army must find a way to train, at a minimum, entire divisions, and preferably corps, physically in the field, at distance, and over time. That is the only way to gain the experience and solve the physical problems associated with LSCO. The DEFENDER 20 exercise was intended to conduct a large-scale training exercise with a full Army division in the field over time and distance on European terrain, but that exercise was canceled due to COVID. Since then no such exercise has been conducted. Now is the time to regenerate that effort and to make it a recurring event to regain the needed expertise in large-scale operations over distance and time.
Another challenge for LSCO over time and distance is that of intelligence. Such operations employ all-source intelligence (SIGINT, MASINT, HUMINT, OSINT, etc.), collected at all echelons from the scout platoons in a battalion to national-level assets. In the case where there are potentially multiple corps, consisting of multiple divisions, consisting of multiple brigades, the integration and synchronization of military intelligence collection becomes a huge and complex management and physics problem. That is not a challenge effectively trained in small bite-size chunks at a home station or with a single brigade at a CTC and then scaled up. Nor is it a challenge that can be trained effectively in a simulation. Simulations mask the scale and frictions associated with literally thousands of collectors and sensors being employed across vast areas for specific purposes and then aggregated together to create either common operational pictures for decision-making or specific target intelligence for a strike.
The military intelligence enterprise must be trained physically, at scale, in order to ensure effective intelligence support of large-scale operations at distance and over time. Ideally, this would be done in conjunction with divisions in the field. However, a low-cost alternative would be an “INTEX.” An INTEX would be a field exercise that includes only command posts and the physical employment of the full range of intelligence collectors and capabilities. For example, a corps at Fort Hood or Fort Bragg would have the capability to employ corps, division, and brigade collection capabilities in the field, physically integrating and synchronizing that collection across space and time against a notional OPFOR. At the same time, for deployed command posts, integration of military intelligence could be conducted within the command post to frame decisions for commanders and to produce targetable intelligence for a notional attack. This is similar in concept to a fire coordination exercise in which leaders and fires elements are in the field training, but there are no actual units subordinate to leaders. This type of intelligence training could actually improve the capability of the US Army to support large-scale combat operations over time and distance with effective military intelligence support.
Nonlinear, Noncontiguous Operations
Current US Army doctrine and training largely assumes that large-scale combat operations will be linear and contiguous in nature. What that means is there is an expectation of a forward line of troops (FLOT) in contact with an enemy who also has a forward line of troops, and that behind those FLOTs the area will be generally secure. In other words, the expectation is that the maneuver forces—infantry, armor, and scouts—will be in contact with the enemy, while other elements such as artillery, engineers, signal, air defense, logistics and administration will be relatively secure from direct-fire contact. Thus, there is an assumption of a broad-front attack and defense, with relatively secure rear areas similar to that experienced in World War II, Korea, and even Desert Storm.
What we have witnessed thus far in the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been nonlinear and noncontiguous. On the very first day of the war, the Russians invaded using very rapid and deep thrusts along roads aimed at key cities and objectives. At the same time, they used helicopter assaults to attempt to seize key locations, primarily airports. These rapid thrusts bypassed a large number of Ukrainian forces. As the war continued, so did these thrusts, as the Russian combat forces continued attempting to take the key towns and cities along the transportation network of eastern Ukraine. At the same time Russian support elements were not safe behind a contiguous Russian line of combat forces. Instead, they have been continuously exposed to attack from Ukrainian army forces, Territorial Defense Forces, and even ordinary armed civilians, to include emerging resistance in the southern regions. The Russian operational approach of these rapid thrusts on the first day of an operation is not unique to the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the 2014 seizure of Crimea, in the 2008 attack into Georgia, and as far back as the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, the Russians have employed rapid deep thrusts in conjunction with airborne and helicopter assaults. Even in the initial peacekeeping movement into Kosovo in 1998, the Russians employed a rapid thrust to secure the airport in the Kosovar capital of Pristina. Thus, this approach is clearly a Russian preference and one that US Army and NATO might experience should conflict break out between NATO and the Russians.
Simultaneously, we must acknowledge that today’s military forces are not as large as those of World Wars I or II, or even Korea. Smaller military forces mean that in large operational areas linear, contiguous operations are almost impossible. The US Army experienced this in Iraq and Afghanistan, although under circumstances that were significantly less lethal and lower tempo than we are observing in Ukraine. Ukraine is an example of an operational area so large that major countries’ forces—those of Russia, the United States, or even the collective forces of NATO—cannot form a linear, contiguous defense or attack. In practical terms, with the exception of the eight-year-old line of contact with the separatist regions in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, the Ukrainian defending forces have been wildly separated from each other and forced to operate independently in small elements, particularly given the Russian ability to strike with artillery and airpower should the Ukrainian army mass for a counterattack. At the same time the Russian units are widely dispersed and support elements isolated and vulnerable to attack anywhere behind the front lines.
So, what are the implications for the US Army? First, the Army must recognize that future LSCO are likely to be nonlinear and noncontiguous. Second, we must adapt our concepts and our doctrine to better enable the US Army and the joint force to engage in noncontiguous and nonlinear operations. Third, Army training and leader development must prepare commanders, staffs, units, and soldiers to operate in a nonlinear and noncontiguous environment and succeed in their missions.
Current US Army doctrine does not adequately address this reality. The final draft of the new Field Manual 3-0, Operations provides little guidance for nonlinear or noncontiguous operations, either in terms of threat operations or in terms of our own. While noncontiguous areas are mentioned, how the Army operates differently from linear, contiguous areas is not addressed. Similarly, the doctrine for corps, divisions, and brigades makes little mention of such operations. For example, Army Techniques Publication 3-92, Corps Operations only addresses positioning the main command post differently if in a noncontiguous operation. It is only in the doctrine for reconnaissance operations, which are almost always nonlinear and noncontiguous, that any remotely substantive discussion of such operations appears. Moreover, the current concept for future operations, the Army’s 2018 TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028, assumes that enemy defenses will be linear in nature and makes almost no mention of nonlinear operations. It is for this reason that the operational approach is to penetrate defenses, then disintegrate and exploit such a penetration. In fact, the new reorganization of the United States Army division is called the penetration division. Penetration implies a linear defense on the part of the opponent, a clear signal that the Army doctrinally and conceptually still considers large-scale combat operations to be linear and contiguous in nature.
If the US Army is to adapt to the reality of nonlinear, noncontiguous operations, it requires a change in leader development. Leaders set the tone and establish the culture for any Army organization. Leaders determine how their organization will adapt to the changing character of warfare. Leaders ultimately are responsible for everything the Army does or fails to do. This levies a requirement on leaders to recognize the nature of nonlinear and noncontiguous operations and to take steps to transform the Army into one able to fight and succeed in such an environment. In order for that to occur we must develop leaders who understand, visualize, describe, and direct operations in such an environment. This cannot happen using a single class in the Command and General Staff College or an hour-long block of instruction in the Pre-Command Course. Instead, leaders must grow from their first courses as noncommissioned officers or officers to thrive in an environment of nonlinear and noncontiguous operations. That means that classroom instruction, practical exercises, and field training of leaders in professional military education and the noncommissioned officer professional development system must incorporate nonlinear and noncontiguous operations. Likewise, organizational and unit leader development programs must stress nonlinear and noncontiguous operations, whether in the form of staff rides, terrain walks, or professional discussion. Unit leader development and self-development must include reading about noncontiguous operations, so that leaders are educated in the theory, history, and practice of nonlinear and noncontiguous operations. And, perhaps most importantly, senior leaders must set the example by developing in their subordinates the understanding and application of Army operations in nonlinear and noncontiguous environments against an enemy who may very well adopt such tactics in order to defeat our campaigns.
Currently, the majority of Army training overwhelmingly emphasizes linear, contiguous operations. Army WFXs that train divisions and corps are based on scenarios that are linear in nature and assume contiguous frontage, with rear areas that are protected from significant combat. Training scenarios at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California and the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany are already adapting to what is occurring in Ukraine, but still include significant linear, contiguous operations. Traditionally, the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana stresses nonlinear operations. This is primarily because of the terrain and operational environment of the training area, and the fact that the forces that train there are primarily light infantry. More is needed. US Army training needs to adapt to present combinations of scenarios that are both linear and nonlinear, contiguous and noncontiguous to prepare the Army for a variety of future operational environments, missions, and threats.
Hybrid Operations
One of the characteristics of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been the hybrid nature of operations—specifically, the mix of various types of forces involved. For example, the Russians have employed their Spetsnaz (special operations forces), conventional forces, separatists in the Donbas region, foreign fighters (in particular, Chechens), and mercenaries such as the Wagner Group. On the opposite side, in the defense of their country Ukrainians employed their own special operations forces, conventional forces, Territorial Defense Forces, civilians who volunteered to pick up weapons to defend their country, and foreign volunteers from other countries.
This mix of forces is significantly different from the largely symmetrical approach envisioned in US Army doctrine. FM 3-0, Operations and the doctrine for armiescorpsdivisions, and brigades mention hybrid operations only in describing the threat, while combined arms battalion-level doctrine has only a single reference to hybrid threats. Moreover, we can expect that any partner with whom we operate will employ some combination of hybrid forces. For example, were NATO to actively support the Ukrainian forces and engage in combat operations alongside them (that is not being advocated for or against here) United States forces would have to integrate with these hybrid mashups employed by the forces currently operating inside Ukraine. From a policy, strategy, and operational perspective, the United States has declared that we will never fight alone as a nation, but always in conjunction with partners and allies. Thus, it is virtually impossible to conceive of a case in which our forces will not have to integrate with partner or allied hybrid forces, or oppose such hybrid forces. Accordingly, we must update our doctrine to account for hybrid forces, both enemy and friendly, in terms of what they are and how we operate with and against such forces. This must include doctrine covering the employment of US special operations forces and the Army’s security forces assistance brigades in order for these forces to enable full support of partners across the full spectrum of hybrid forces.
Another area where recognition of and approaches to hybrid forces is deficient is in training. The WFXs conducted for divisions and corps are based primarily on conventional force-on-force operations. While US Army SOF are usually included in the exercises on the friendly side and the enemy opposing forces (OPFOR) typically includes special purpose forces (similar to Russian Spetsnaz), the overwhelming majority of the activity, and hence the training of the commanders and staff, is in conventional force-on-force operations in the physical domain. There is virtually no training with hybrid forces of partners and allies, so that the staffs never have to think through how the US Army could work with those types of forces in partnership to accomplish operational objectives. These challenges could be corrected through restructuring the OPFOR in the WFX simulation, by adding hybrid partner forces to the friendly forces in the simulation, and through having role players from each of the various types of friendly hybrid forces to coordinate with staffs and commanders. Experience with hybrid operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom suggests that commanders and staffs consume a significant amount of time in coordination and relations with hybrid elements, time that is not available for planning, coordinating, and directing their own operations.
There is a similar challenge with the training at the CTCs for brigades and below. At each of them, there are some paramilitaries who operate in support of the OPFOR, but only by exception are hybrid forces operating with the rotational training unit. Thus, small units and leaders never get the opportunity to train in the way they are likely to operate in LSCO if partnered with another country’s forces or against virtually any enemy. This challenge can be corrected by deploying additional US Army infantry companies, or better yet allied and partner infantry, and having them serve as a variety of local guard, paramilitary, and civilian forces on both the friendly and OPFOR sides. The rotational training unit will learn to operate with and against hybrid mashups and the deployed infantry units will gain a better understanding of hybrid mashups by portraying them and fighting as those forces alongside or against the conventional units.
The implication of course is that a cultural change is required. The US Army can no longer afford the luxury of assuming symmetrical, conventional force-on-force operations. In everything we think, say, and do we must assume that all future operations will be hybrid in nature. Therefore, in our doctrine, our training, our organizations, and our leader development we must account for operating alongside mashups of forces and being opposed by other hybrid forces. We must recognize that such hybrid mashups will be different and unique to every operation and every threat. We must integrate these concepts into all of our professional military education, for our officers, warrant officers, and noncommissioned officers, at all echelons. That means in the Basic Officer Leader Course for lieutenants and the Basic Leader Course for junior noncommissioned officers, those first professional military educational opportunities, we must integrate hybrid forces, both in classroom instruction and field problems. And, that approach must continue in all of the developmental courses through the Army War College and the Sergeants Major Academy.
Similarly, we must adjust our organizational and material solutions to be able to rapidly integrate, partner with, and fight alongside friendly hybrid mashups in LSCO, as well as other operations. This means a focus on rapid interoperability, as each hybrid set will be unique. Absolutely critical will be training in how to communicate simply and effectively in order to coordinate planning and operations, and how to support each other logistically. Certainly in the current conflict, NATO, the United States, and the US Army have done very well in the provision of both lethal and nonlethal military support to the mashup of Ukrainian forces in ways that have enabled them to rapidly and effectively generate and employ lethal force. This has been done, as much as possible, by providing them equipment with which they are already familiar, but when needed by providing them equipment that is easy to learn and simple to operate. We have to be prepared to do the same in any future conflict.

The exploration of these three lessons from the war in Ukraine should serve as a catalyst for important, ongoing discourse. What must we learn from the Russian invasion of Ukraine—not just about the Russians as a threat, but also about ourselves—in order to best prepare for future conflict? Thinking through the implications of LSCO over large distances and extended time, noncontiguous and nonlinear operations, and operating with and against hybrid mashups of forces can reinforce and perhaps lead to adjustment of US Army modernization, force development, and preparedness. On a more practical level such discourse should be conducted in the halls of professional military education institutions, in the conference rooms of Army units, and on the ranges and training areas where we learn and practice our profession. And, hopefully the discourse will continue to include other relevant implications as we better understand the evolving character of warfare.
James K. Greer is a retired US Army colonel and former armor officer. He is currently an associate professor at the US Army School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He holds a doctorate in education with a focus on military leader development.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.
Image: A US soldier watches Ukrainian artillerymen fire the M109 self-propelled howitzer at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, May 12, 2022. (credit: Sgt. Spencer Rhodes, US Army)
mwi.usma.edu · by James K. Greer · June 24, 2022

​23. How America Can Feed the World

We could do it.


Excerpts:

The challenges to democracy and human welfare posed by Russia’s unprovoked aggression have rallied the United States and many of its allies in a fight for Ukraine’s freedom. The United States, the European Union, and their allies have boldly confronted the challenge to geopolitical stability posed by Russia’s invasion by providing munitions, military intelligence, and advanced weaponry. Sanctions on Russian oligarchs and Russia’s economy are beginning to have a meaningful effect, as are policies in Europe to reduce dependence on Russian gas and oil.
The 2022 Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act must now be expanded to mount a similar response to the global food crisis accelerated by the invasion. Every effort should be made to avoid the bureaucratic mishandling of food aid and assistance. The transport and distribution of this food will benefit from the expertise of people and partners skilled in managing global market fluctuations and instability. Commodity firms practiced at procurement, management logistics, and deliveries are accustomed to doing business in collaboration with the WFP and other aid agencies. Distribution within recipient countries through reliable partners such as the WFP also provides assurance against malfeasance but should be accompanied by oversight and audit by the U.S. government.
Producing agricultural goods is one of the United States’ fortes. In taking serious actions to prevent a global food crisis, the United States can begin to restore the respect and legitimacy it has lost in recent years by demonstrating the tangible good it can do for others.

How America Can Feed the World
To Prevent a Global Food Crisis, Expand the Lend-Lease Program
June 24, 2022
Foreign Affairs · by Carlisle Ford Runge and Robbin S. Johnson · June 24, 2022
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has already killed tens of thousands, displaced millions, and thrown global financial markets into chaos. But without serious international action, Moscow’s war will lead to another deepening crisis: worldwide hunger. Both Russia and Ukraine are major producers and exporters of grain and other agricultural goods. The conflict has thoroughly disrupted this trade, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Russia has blockaded the Black Sea ports from which Ukraine exports nearly all of its grain. Combined with the unwillingness of maritime insurers to protect cargoes moving through the war zone, the conflict will reduce Ukrainian and Russian wheat and corn exports moving through the Bosporus to a trickle. International sanctions on Russia have restricted its grain exports and interfered with its capacity to finance these cargoes, limiting its ability to raise scarce foreign exchange and costing it foreign buyers. The war and the blockades have also led to a surge in commodity prices. Wheat prices rose from $7.79 per bushel at the end of 2021 to $12.83 per bushel in mid-May of 2022, an increase of 64 percent. The United Nations reported an overall year-on-year global food price increase from March 2021 to March 2022 of over 30 percent. Some countries, notably China and India, have reacted to these price hikes by hoarding food and imposing export controls, further inflaming food price instability.
Ukraine and Russia account for at least a quarter of global wheat exports and nearly 60 percent of sunflower oil exports, but the crisis is wider and deeper than the shortfalls in these commodities. Global food and energy prices were already rising before the Russian invasion, as a combination of natural and manmade disasters and pandemic-related supply chain disruptions created food insecurity hot spots in more than 20 countries, according to the United Nations. From January 2020 to early 2022, the Consumer Price Index for food increased in the United States by nearly 15 percent and in Germany by 14 percent, but it rose even more sharply in more vulnerable countries: in Egypt by more than 21 percent and in Lebanon by an astounding 402 percent in 2020, 438 percent in 2021, and an annual rate of 374 percent in the first four months of 2022. The knock-on effects of the Russian invasion now threaten to make basic food staples inaccessible to many people, particularly in the global South.
The United States and its allies responded to Russia’s invasion with alacrity in supplying Ukraine with weapons and intelligence to repel Russian forces. They now need to muster a similar response in staving off a full-blown international food crisis. To do so, the United States can draw from its own history. Its World War II–era lend-lease programs sent copious amounts of food to sustain the British and Soviet war efforts. The United States remains the world’s largest exporter of agricultural produce and can turn that bounty to good use today. Working with the World Food Program (WFP), the private sector, and other partners, the United States can save millions of lives and demonstrate leadership on the international stage by delivering food to those who need it the most.
A PRECEDENT FOR ACTION
U.S. actions during World War II provide a template for policy today. In 1940, the United Kingdom stood virtually alone against the Nazi onslaught. The country had its back to the wall, with its foreign reserves drained and almost no capacity to fend off what seemed like an imminent Nazi invasion of the British Isles. In the United States, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, straddling the politics of an impending foreign war and domestic isolationism, sought a solution that would allow his British ally to be both armed and fed.

The U.S. response came in March 1941: the Lend-Lease Act, a program of assistance that underwrote the British war effort. Lend-lease is remembered largely in terms of the U.S. provision of ships and military hardware to the United Kingdom, but it also included food aid. The United States sent grain, fats and oils, vegetables, canned meat, milk, butter, dried fruits, and nuts to feed the British public and sustain British forces. This food amounted to over 13 percent of total lend-lease tonnage. After Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, it also became a leading recipient of lend-lease largesse. Between 1941 and 1945, the Soviet Union received more than $10 billion of the $50 billion in total U.S. lend-lease assistance, equivalent to $162 billion in today’s money, second only to the huge amount of aid received by the British Empire.
That history should embolden policymakers in Washington to address the new global food crisis. The world is not short of grain and food, but many countries are in dire need of aid and assistance. For instance, Egypt, the world’s largest importer of wheat, was sourcing 80 percent of its grain from Russia and Ukraine before the war began. Egypt now faces wheat price increases of between 40 and 50 percent. As the Egyptian scholar Ammar Ali notes, the price of a loaf of bread “defines the bond between people and the state” and was the key factor that sparked Egypt’s 2011 revolution. Over a quarter of Egypt’s 89 million people live below the poverty line. Nearly four million Egyptians are extremely poor and cannot meet minimum caloric requirements. And Egypt is hardly alone in this precarity: Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Yemen, and many other countries in the Middle East and North Africa are staring into the abyss.
LEND-LEASE TO FEED THE WORLD
In May, Biden signed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022, resurrecting the lend-lease program to provide arms and weapons to Ukraine. The act authorized the lease or lending of military equipment to Ukraine and other eastern European countries and exempted them from five-year limits on the duration of the loans and repayment of the costs incurred by the United States in leasing the equipment. But U.S. officials seem not to have recalled the key role of food in past lend-lease programs. Fully following the historical model would mean making use of the Lend-Lease Act to tackle the looming global food crisis.
The supplemental funding bill accompanying the lend-lease package makes general reference to “emergency food assistance to people around the world suffering from hunger as a result of the war in Ukraine,” but it offers no specific provisions for how this aid is to be raised and delivered. The lend-lease shipments would most readily dovetail with existing support to countries currently receiving help through the World Food Program. The WFP provides huge quantities of food as well as technical assistance to 120 countries but is currently chronically underfunded and undersupplied—both issues that would be relieved by augmented assistance under the lend-lease program. This June, the WFP announced that it was suspending the food assistance it supplies to 1.7 million people in South Sudan owing to a lack of funds.
The organization is currently funded entirely by voluntary donations, with nearly $10 billion raised in 2021, $5.2 billion short of what it needed even before the outbreak of war in Ukraine. The WFP’s staff of around 21,800—87 percent of whom are based in the countries the organization serves—has an unblemished record of honest dealing and preventing profiteers and corrupt middlemen from siphoning away much-needed food. Specific lend-lease aid would flow to nutritional support for mothers and children, school food programs, and food-delivery initiatives in rural areas where children are less likely to attend school.
The war in Ukraine might lead to another deepening crisis: worldwide hunger.
The food would be sourced through normal commercial channels in the United States: grain companies, large cooperatives and dairy firms, and other food-processing companies. In most cases, actual exports would be handled by traditional commercial exporting firms. These firms own or lease export facilities, are familiar with freight brokerage and insurance issues, and in many cases, have a history of serving markets in North Africa, the Middle East, and other food-insecure regions. The U.S. government would pay for the food, either under direct appropriations for the Ukraine legislation or more likely under the authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The CCC has bought surplus commodities for storage, food aid, and school lunch programs for more than 80 years and has ample budgetary resources that do not require special appropriations. It was created in 1933 as part of the first New Deal agricultural adjustment legislation and is empowered to engage in precisely this sort of assistance. The CCC charter authorizes the sale of agricultural commodities to other government agencies and foreign governments and the donation of food to domestic, foreign, or international relief agencies such as the WFP.

The largest volumes of this assistance would be wheat, corn, and rice, with lesser quantities of vegetable oils, dairy products, and bulk processed fruits and vegetables. The U.S. grain marketing system regularly handles production in excess of 500 million tons per year and exports of 100 million to 150 million tons per year. Shipments from the United States would need to begin immediately and would likely continue for several years.
The United States has the capacity to provide this assistance without causing major diversions from other export destinations. USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance procured 697,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat in 2020 for food assistance, representing 47 percent of all commodities purchased by the agency, with wheat the largest commodity used in emergency and nonemergency food assistance. The U.S. Grains Council calculates a metric ton as 36.7 bushels of wheat, so that 697,000 metric tons amounts to 25 million bushels, equal to less than five percent of the 590 million bushels of U.S. hard winter wheat or seven percent of the 353 million bushels of soft wheat forecast to be harvested in 2022. Over five billion bushels of U.S. corn are now swallowed up in the making of ethanol, equal to 40 percent of the huge U.S. crop; a portion of the corn allocated to making ethanol could easily be diverted to exports. Extending aid to a hungry world would not add much to U.S. food prices. U.S. consumers spend less on food as a percentage of household income (8.6 percent last year) than do consumers in any other country. Basic grains contribute only pennies on the dollar to the cost of further-processed foods.
The United States has ample export capacity, as the above figures indicate. There is also no shortage of the bulk ocean vessels necessary to transport food to the places where it is needed; the export market has substantial excess capacity, in part because of the war’s disruption of normal marketing flows. The foreign food assistance that could accompany the lend-lease proposal would constitute a relatively small part of the global food trade and, therefore, can be serviced by the routine practices of that trade.
STAVING OFF A CRISIS
The challenges to democracy and human welfare posed by Russia’s unprovoked aggression have rallied the United States and many of its allies in a fight for Ukraine’s freedom. The United States, the European Union, and their allies have boldly confronted the challenge to geopolitical stability posed by Russia’s invasion by providing munitions, military intelligence, and advanced weaponry. Sanctions on Russian oligarchs and Russia’s economy are beginning to have a meaningful effect, as are policies in Europe to reduce dependence on Russian gas and oil.
The 2022 Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act must now be expanded to mount a similar response to the global food crisis accelerated by the invasion. Every effort should be made to avoid the bureaucratic mishandling of food aid and assistance. The transport and distribution of this food will benefit from the expertise of people and partners skilled in managing global market fluctuations and instability. Commodity firms practiced at procurement, management logistics, and deliveries are accustomed to doing business in collaboration with the WFP and other aid agencies. Distribution within recipient countries through reliable partners such as the WFP also provides assurance against malfeasance but should be accompanied by oversight and audit by the U.S. government.
Producing agricultural goods is one of the United States’ fortes. In taking serious actions to prevent a global food crisis, the United States can begin to restore the respect and legitimacy it has lost in recent years by demonstrating the tangible good it can do for others.

Foreign Affairs · by Carlisle Ford Runge and Robbin S. Johnson · June 24, 2022

​24.  We fought to defend democracy. This new threat to America now keeps us awake at night.



We fought to defend democracy. This new threat to America now keeps us awake at night.
Michael Hayden, James Clapper, Stanley McChrystal, Douglas Lute and Mark HertlingOpinion contributors
For those of us focused on domestic security, the forces of autocracy now trump traditional foreign threats, hands down.

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Jan 6 panel details pressure campaign toward Pence
In it's third hearing the House panel investigating the Capitol insurrection detailed Donald Trump's pressure campaign to get his vice president, Mike Pence, to delay or reject the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6, 2021. (June 17)
AP
The following commentary about threats to American democracy was written by five retired U.S. Air Force and Army generals and lieutenant generals, including former CIA Director Michael Hayden.
We know something about serious threats to America's democracy.
Each of us has invested the better part of our lives in military and public service, and in defense of the democratic institutions that Americans cherish. Our careers have placed us on the front lines of the gravest threats America has faced in the past half-century.
Today, we harbor unprecedented concern for our country and for our democracy. The nation we have defended for decades is in real peril.
Our democratic institutions and norms are more vulnerable than ever. If you were to ask us when in our lives we were most likely to be losing sleep at night, we would all tell you, "Last night. And tonight. And tomorrow night.” Because history teaches us that democracy is never guaranteed, not even here.
Domestic threats more dangerous than foreign adversaries
For those of us devoted to protecting democracies abroad, there comes a time when our efforts seem overshadowed by the erosion of democracy here at home. And for those of us focused on domestic security, the forces of autocracy now trump traditional foreign threats, hands down.
It is no accident that 1 in 3 Americans seem willing to justify political violence as a means for overturning election results. This mindset has been nurtured by would-be autocrats and their enablers, who applaud the willingness of some Americans to rise up, even with weapons in hand, to "take back" a vision of America that's riddled with contradictions, prejudices and systemic inequalities.
For the rest of us, that willingness is a harbinger of a decades-long challenge that we now face together – to turn the tide of extremism, and to find a starting point for building bridges between those who lean to the right and those who lean to the left.
The Safe and Fair Elections Pledge by Team Democracy is the perfect starting point. Written by Americans who are deeply committed to the health of our democracy, it asks all Americans to come together on an important piece of common ground – a safe place where regardless of political persuasion, we can agree to embrace the most fundamental cornerstones of our democracy by committing ourselves to elections that are both secure and accessible; and assuring the peaceful transition of power according to the rule of law.
We are proud to have signed this nonpartisan declaration, and we encourage every local, state and federal official, especially those who achieved (or hope to achieve) their position through the electoral process, to make this same commitment. We and our many partners and friends will personally invite every member of Congress to join us in signing this pledge.
For those who do, we will be forever grateful, and Americans who cherish our democracy will be grateful, too. For those who don't, we and others will wonder why. And ask why. And keep asking until there's no room for ambiguity.
In 2020, Spencer Cox, a Republican, and Chris Peterson, a Democrat, competed in the Utah gubernatorial race. Politically, they agreed on almost nothing. They shared a profound respect for democratic institutions and lawful electoral process. They said so, in combined campaign ads promoting mutual respect, cooperation and peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins.
It's time to join Team Democracy
We need to help amplify the Cox-Peterson example, so it becomes something more than a one-time novelty. The SAFE Pledge provides an opportunity for candidates and incumbents from every corner of the country to create their own Cox-Peterson moments. And it invites voter participation. too: Not just by signing the election pledge as an American citizen, but by then also insisting that our candidates join Team Democracy by signing it.
I am the last of the Obama Republicans: But I still have hope for lasting change
A clear majority of Americans favor strengthening our democracy rather than weakening it. We say we want more bipartisanship in our government. For voters who wonder what they can do that might turn down the temperature in Washington, and help make our elected representatives more accountable, the SAFE Pledge is a powerful nonpartisan initiative that fits the bill.
Imagine the impact on our lawmakers if each of them heard from each of us, with the simplest of all messages: Sign the SAFE Pledge, and then honor it by building greater confidence in safe, secure, accessible elections, and committing to the peaceful transition of power, absent intimidation, coercion or violence.
That's not asking too much of our elected representatives. But in 2022 America, it could prove to be a game changer.
Gen. Michael Hayden (U.S. Air Force, retired) is chairman of Team Democracy and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, director of the National Security Agency and principal deputy director of National Intelligence.
Lt. Gen. James Clapper (U.S. Air Force, retired) served as director of National Intelligence, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and director of Defense Intelligence, while also serving as undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal (U.S. Army, retired) served as commander of Joint Special Operations Command.
Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute (U.S. Army, retired) served as the U.S. ambassador to NATO and deputy national security adviser.
Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, (U.S. Army, retired) served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe and the Seventh Army.
You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.



25. Can Australia get nuclear-powered submarines this decade?

Excerpts:

In short, for Australia to get any US SSNs this decade, the USN would have to give up some of the boats baked into its own plans at a time when it needs every single one it can get to stop any further decline in boat or missile numbers.
That’s before we get to the second challenge: the rapid ramp-up of the enabling systems. As we and others have written, there are many other elements to an SSN capability than the boats. Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, the head of the nuclear submarine task force, has emphasised that Australia will need to demonstrate that it can exercise ‘responsible stewardship’ of the nuclear technologies. This will require a larger uniformed workforce, which will require substantially different qualifications. A Collins-class submarine has one engineer-qualified officer; all 15 officers on a Virginia are nuclear-qualified. It will also require the maintenance infrastructure as well as the safety and regulatory ecosystems. That takes time.
Does that mean we have no hope of accelerating an SSN capability? We’ll look at what can be done in the next post.



Can Australia get nuclear-powered submarines this decade? | The Strategist
aspistrategist.org.au · by Marcus Hellyer · June 22, 2022

In 2009, Kevin Rudd’s government decided to increase Australia’s submarine capability. It wrote in its defence white paper: ‘The Government will increase the size of the submarine force from six to 12 boats. The doubling in size of the submarine fleet recognises that Australia will face a more challenging maritime environment in the decades ahead.’ The goal was to start getting new boats by around 2025.
While the precise numbers, the preferred design and the timelines have changed over the past 13 years, no Australian government has walked back from the basic assessment that we need more submarine capability. But even though subsequent strategic assessments have emphasised that our ‘more challenging maritime environment’ is becoming more dangerous even more rapidly than we had expected, we’re still no closer to having more submarine capability.
When the previous government announced in September 2021 that Australia would acquire nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs), it said it expected the first ones to be delivered in the late 2030s. Richard Marles, the minister for defence in the new government, has said the mid-2040s is more likely. Throughout that long period, Australia’s submarine capability will continue to comprise two deployable Collins-class submarines—the same capability we had back in 2009 when the long, meandering journey first started. It’s like saying on the eve of the First World War that you need more military power and not getting anything until after the Second.
We need to investigate every possible option to get more submarine capability sooner. Which brings us to the recent comments of Peter Dutton, former defence minister and current leader of the opposition. Despite being a member of the government that said we could expect the first SSNs in the late 2030s, Dutton now says he had a ‘plan’ to acquire two US Virginia-class SSNs off an existing American production line by the end of this decade. A further eight boats would be built in Australia.
It’s not really a plan, since nobody involved in delivering it, least of all the US government, has signed up to it. So it’s an idea or a concept. But is it a good concept? At one level, we would say it is, because it’s virtually the same as one we discussed last year in our detailed study of the issues that the government needs to address in order to establish an SSN capability. We considered four build strategies. The third we termed ‘kickstarted continuous build’. Under that approach, the first SSN would be built wholly overseas, the second would be partially built overseas but integrated in Australia, and eight boats would be built here.
We noted that Australia could aim for 2030 for the first boat, with the second in the mid- to late 2030s. There were two key challenges. The first was that the US Navy would have to provide us with one of its own boats. The second was that it ‘would require … rapid development of the enabling systems to support the operation of the boat once it’s delivered’ and ‘an early ramp-up of the uniformed workforce’.
Let’s look at how that gels with the USN’s own plans. Congress requires the navy to publish its shipbuilding plan every year. Over the past several administrations, the goal has been to increase the number of SSNs. That’s because submarines are one of few assets the USN has that can avoid the Chinese military’s anti-access capabilities such as anti-ship ballistic missiles. The precise target number has varied, but it’s consistently been around 60 to 72 by the middle of the century.
In the shorter term, however, the USN is experiencing a submarine capability crunch. First, this decade the number of boats falls below 50, to as few as 46 in 2028, and it doesn’t get back to 50 until 2032. That’s because the older Los Angeles–class SSNs are retiring as their nuclear fuel runs out. The Los Angeles boats were delivered at around three per year and consequently are retiring at a similar rate. But for over a decade the USN was acquiring only one new Virginia-class boat per year. Now, after significant investment to improve the US’s industrial base, they are being delivered at two per year. But the USN is still playing catch-up.
Second, the capability shortfall is exacerbated by the planned retirement in the next few years of the USN’s four SSGNs, former ballistic missile submarines that have been converted to carry 154 Tomahawk missiles each. To compensate for the missile launch cells that are going out of service, the latest batch of Virginias, the Block V variant, have a hull-lengthening ‘plug’ inserted that will increase their number of Tomahawks from 12 to 40. But since they also need to account for the 12 Tomahawks on each of the retiring Los Angeles boats, they won’t completely compensate for the SSGNs.
There’s been discussion in the US about expanding its industrial base to produce more SSNs. That’s not straightforward. The USN has stated it would take investments of US$1.5–2 billion to do that and require an increased workforce. The USN’s shipbuilding plan is already facing affordability pressures. Moreover, the USN has also started construction on a new class of ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), which are its highest priority, and the competition for resources is causing delays to the Virginias.
There have been suggestions that Australia could help pay to set up a third production line. But even if we made those investments today, they wouldn’t produce any additional boats this decade. It’s currently taking US yards seven or eight years to build an SSN (even before we factor in the delays in production of Block V boats). The last boats scheduled for delivery in the 2020s—the boats in the Hellyer–Nicholls/Dutton concept—have in fact already started construction. So even if we helped invest in developing more construction capacity in the US, it would likely be close to the mid-2030s by the time they could deliver any additional boats beyond those currently planned by the USN.
In short, for Australia to get any US SSNs this decade, the USN would have to give up some of the boats baked into its own plans at a time when it needs every single one it can get to stop any further decline in boat or missile numbers.
That’s before we get to the second challenge: the rapid ramp-up of the enabling systems. As we and others have written, there are many other elements to an SSN capability than the boats. Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, the head of the nuclear submarine task force, has emphasised that Australia will need to demonstrate that it can exercise ‘responsible stewardship’ of the nuclear technologies. This will require a larger uniformed workforce, which will require substantially different qualifications. A Collins-class submarine has one engineer-qualified officer; all 15 officers on a Virginia are nuclear-qualified. It will also require the maintenance infrastructure as well as the safety and regulatory ecosystems. That takes time.
Does that mean we have no hope of accelerating an SSN capability? We’ll look at what can be done in the next post.
aspistrategist.org.au · by Marcus Hellyer · June 22, 2022



De Oppresso Liber,
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Senior Fellow, Global Peace Foundation
Senior Advisor, Center for Asia Pacific Strategy
Editor, Small Wars Journal
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
VIDEO "WHEREBY" Link: https://whereby.com/david-maxwell
Phone: 202-573-8647

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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