Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners



Quotes of the Day:


“Remind me to write a popular article on the compulsive reading of news. The theme will be that most neuroses and some psychoses can be traced to the unnecessary and unhealthy habit of daily wallowing in the troubles and sings of five billion strangers. The title is ‘Gossip Unlimited’ – no make that “Gossip Gone Wild’”
- Robert A. Heinlein – Stranger in a Strange Land


“The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him, the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free.”
- Aldous Huxley

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
- George Bernard Shaw



1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 27 (Putin's War)

2. Three Ways to Improve Integrated Deterrence

3.  AP Exclusive: Philippines scraps Russian chopper deal

4. US and China are entering a trap of their own making

5. The West must focus on the threat to Taiwan

6. Ukrainian War and American Decisions

7. Opinion | The West and Russia Are Locked in a Spiral. It’s Time for Them to Talk.

8. Building Asymmetric Advantage In Indo-Pacific Part Of Pentagon’s Approach To Chinese Aggression

9. Intelligence and Intangibles: How to Assess a State’s Will to Fight

10. From the Lighthouse to the Christmas Tree: Enabling Distributed Innovation in the US Military

11. GOP lawmakers press Defense Sec. Austin about federal funds to colleges with Chinese government ties

12. China’s Wolf Warrior Diplomacy Is Fading

13. Global food crisis: Beyond the Ukraine-Russia grain deal, what else can the world do?

14. Bracing for Long Conflict, Kyiv Returns to Near Normality, With Theaters and Dance Parties

15. Faster Attacks Have Cyber Command Looking to Add All-Too-Scarce Experts

16. 'New Cold War': Russia and West vie for influence in Africa

17. What to Expect From a Bolder Xi Jinping

18. New benefits for burn pit victims in limbo after Senate Republicans block plan

19. Public Life Is Crazy, but Americans Aren’t

20. Stop Panicking About the U.S. Economy

21. CNN Exclusive: Biden administration offers convicted Russian arms dealer in exchange for Griner, Whelan

22. Ayatollah Khamenei’s ‘Resistance Economy’

23. Iranian drones could make Russia’s military more lethal in Ukraine

24. Atlantic Council cuts ties to Koch-funded foreign policy initiative





1. RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 27 (Putin's War)




Maps/graphics: https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-27


RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, JULY 27

Jul 27, 2022 - Press ISW


understandingwar.org

Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, Katherine Lawlor, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan

July 27, 7:30 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.

Russian forces appear able to sustain only two significant offensive operations in Ukraine at this time, one attempting to seize Siversk and the other advancing on Bakhmut. These operations have focused on advances in the Siversk, Donetsk Oblast, direction from Verkhnokamianka and Bilohorivka and in the Bakhmut direction from the areas of Novoluhanske and the Vuhlehirska Thermal Power Plant since the end of the operational pause on July 16.[1] Russian forces have committed enough resources to conduct near-daily ground assaults and to seize territory on these two axes but have been unable to sustain a similar offensive operational tempo or to make similar territorial gains elsewhere in Ukraine. The Russian offensive, therefore, remains likely to culminate before seizing any other major urban areas in Ukraine.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces currently appear able to sustain only two significant offensive operations in Ukraine, both in Donetsk Oblast, and the Russian offensive remains likely to culminate before seizing additional significant population centers.
  • Ukrainian forces may have launched a localized counterattack southwest of Izyum.
  • Russian forces attacked settlements east of Siversk and northeast and southeast of Bakhmut.
  • Ground fighting is ongoing north of Kharkiv City.
  • Ukrainian forces struck the Antonivskyi Bridge for the third time in ten days on July 27, likely rendering it unusable.
  • The Mari El Republic north of Kazan sent two volunteer battalions to train and is forming a third battalion to deploy to Ukraine.
  • Russian occupation authorities are importing Russians to work in occupied territories due to a lack of Ukrainian collaborators.
  • Mariupol occupation authorities continue withholding humanitarian aid to force civilians to cooperate with and work for the occupation administration.


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 two 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
  • Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
  • 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)

The Ukrainian General Staff released vague information indicating that Ukrainian forces may have launched a localized counterattack southeast of Izyum. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian reconnaissance group in Pasika (approximately 18 km southeast of Izyum) that attempted to “expose Ukrainian positions” in the settlement on July 27.[2] There is no visual confirmation of Ukrainian forces operating in Pasika as of this publication and ISW is unable to verify this report. ISW assessed that Russian forces control Pasika based on geolocated footage of Russian forces advancing south via Bohorodychne (just southeast of Pasika) in mid-July.[3] Ukrainian forces holding a position in Pasika would require a Ukrainian counteroffensive that reached Pasika (likely via Bohorodychne), but Ukrainian and Russian sources have not claimed such an operation as of this publication. The Ukrainian General Staff previously reported that Ukrainian forces stopped another Russian advance on Bohorodychne on July 26 but did not claim that Ukrainian forces recaptured territory northwest of Bohorodychne.[4] The Russian Occupation Administration Head in Sviatohirsk Vladimir Rybalkin claimed that unconfirmed Ukrainian social media reports that Ukrainian forces retook Yarova, Sviatohirsk, and Bohorodychne are false.[5] ISW will continue to monitor the situation and try to fill information gaps in this area.

Russian forces continued to shell settlements northwest of Slovyansk and southwest of Izyum on July 27.[6] Russian forces have also shelled Chepil, about 60 km northwest of Slovyansk between Kharkiv City and Izyum.[7] Russian forces previously conducted an unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force in the Chepil area on July 26, and the shelling may indicate that Russian forces seek to set conditions to advance into the settlement.[8]

Russian forces attempted limited ground assaults east of Siversk on July 27 but did not make any new territorial gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to attack Verkhnokamyanske (about 8 km east of Siversk) from the northeast.[9] Russian forces also reportedly launched an airstrike on Serebryanka (approximately 8km northeast of Siversk) and shelled settlements around Siversk.[10]

Russian forces continued to attack settlements southeast and northeast of Bakhmut and made limited territorial gains on July 27. The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian forces launched unsuccessful assaults on Soledar (approximately 13 km northeast of Bakhmut) from the southeastern direction.[11] The Ukrainian General Staff added that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian reconnaissance-in-force attempt on Semihirya (about 16 km southeast of Bakhmut) and an attack on Berestove, situated on the T1302 Bkahmut-Lysychansk highway.[12] Geolocated footage showed that Wagner mercenaries have reached Klynove (about 12 km southeast of Bakhmut), and Russian Telegram channel Readovka claimed that Russian forces established control over Pokrovske, just northeast of Klynove.[13] Svitlodarsk City Military Administration Deputy Head Maxim Cherevko confirmed that Ukrainian forces withdrew from Novoluhanske (about 20 km south of Bakhmut), and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Militia claimed full control over the Vuhlehirska Thermal Power Plant.[14] Donetsk Oblast Administration stated that Russian forces launched a missile strike that destroyed a hotel in Bakhmut.[15]

Russian forces did not conduct offensive operations around Avdiivka or near the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border on July 27.[16] LNR Interior Minister Vitaly Kiselev maintained that Russian forces began an assault on Avdiivka, however.[17]


Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum and prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border)

Russian forces did not make any territorial gains on the Kharkiv City Axis on July 27. The Derhachi City Council reported that heavy fighting is ongoing in Tsupivka as well as near Kozacha Lopan, Dementiivka, and Velykhiy Prohhody north of Kharkiv City.[18] The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian forces have established pontoon bridges in unspecified areas on this axis to improve logistics.[19] Kharkiv Oblast Administration Head Oleh Synegubov reported that Russian forces struck Kharkiv City’s Industrial District with S-300 anti-air systems.[20] Russian forces continued shelling along the entire line of contact.[21]


Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)

Ukrainian forces struck the Russian-controlled Antonivskyi Bridge east of Kherson City overnight on July 26-27 for the third time in ten days.[22] Ukrainian forces launched eight projectiles at the Antonivskyi vehicle bridge and two projectiles at the Antonivskyi railway bridge, 6 km east up the Dnipro River from the vehicle bridge.[23] Russian-backed Kherson Oblast Administration Deputy Kirill Stremousov announced that the vehicle bridge is closed to all traffic and that the rail bridge also sustained damage.[24] Images and footage of the strike aftermath show damage across the entire width of the vehicle bridge, likely rendering the bridge inoperable.[25] The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Russian air defense shot down ten Ukrainian Vilkha and HIMARS projectiles over Antonivka and Brilivka, likely referring to the bridge strikes, but footage of the strikes shows Russian air defense systems only activating after the Ukrainian strikes landed.[26]

Russian forces attempted a limited ground assault on the Southern Axis on July 27. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces attempted an assault in the Bilohirka, Kherson Oblast, area, southwest of Davydiv Brid, but withdrew.[27] Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported on July 26 that Ukrainian forces destroyed a Russian stronghold in Andriivka, 15 km southwest of Davydiv Brid, and fully retook the settlement.[28] Russian forces reportedly struck Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, with up to 40 Grad multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) projectiles from positions in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia Oblast, overnight on July 26-27.[29] Russian forces also struck industrial infrastructure, repair enterprises, and residential areas in Mykolaiv City on July 27.[30] Russian forces continued shelling along the entire line of contact.[31]


Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)

Russian federal subjects (regions) continued to establish volunteer battalions throughout Russia for deployment to Ukraine. The Mari El Republic (an ethnic republic established for the indigenous Mari people and situated north of Kazan) formed and deployed two volunteer battalions named “Iden” and “Poltysh” to training grounds on July 27 and is currently forming a third battalion named “Akpatr.”[32] Yoshkar-Ola City Administration announced the recruitment for the battalions on May 30 for any man that has completed nine grades of schooling (middle school).[33] Local media outlets reported that recruits will receive over 300,000 rubles (approximately $5,050) per month and that families may receive five million rubles (approximately $84,200) if the serviceman dies in combat.[34] Russian Telegram channel “Mozhem Obyasnit” collected statements from men and their relatives from Moscow, Kemerovo Oblast, Tyumen, and Lipetsk Oblast who reported receiving recruitment calls attempting to persuade them to enlist in the “Sobyaninskiy Polk” Moscow-based volunteer battalion.[35] Some responders reported receiving aggressive recruitment calls after signing up for public employment services, while other formerly conscripted men were falsely told that they had already signed military contracts, despite not entering the military service after their conscription period. Such a country-wide call for recruits for the “Sobyaninskiy Polk” likely indicates that Russian forces are facing challenges in recruiting personnel for the Moscow volunteer battalion. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) intercepted a call with a Chechen fighter from “Vostok” (presumably the newly-formed “Vostok Akhmat”) battalion, which likely confirms that some elements of certain volunteer battalions have deployed to Ukraine.[36]

The Kremlin continues to show preference for some ethnic groups over others during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which may spark ethnic unrest in Russia. Ukrainian Deputy Justice Minister Olena Vysotska said that the Kremlin prioritizes returning Chechen fighters in prisoner exchanges but is not as interested in exchanging personnel from the Buryatia Republic or the Far East.[37] Vysotska added that the Kremlin shows almost no consideration for the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR) prisoners of war. YouTube channel “The People of Baikal” reported that Buryatia has lost at least 208 servicemen in combat as of July 1, and the channel’s criticism indicates the formation of some region and ethnicity-based opposition platforms in Russia.[38]


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)

Ukrainians in occupied territories are refusing to collaborate with Russian occupation officials en masse, forcing the Kremlin to import Russian citizens to fulfill basic tasks. Russian officials continue to struggle to procure enough labor to reopen businesses, clear rubble, or establish occupation bureaucracies in occupied Ukrainian territory. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on July 26 that the three branches of the Russian Promsvyazbank failed to open as expected in Kherson Oblast because insufficient numbers of Ukrainian civilians agreed to work there—Promsvyazbank and other financial institutions are key to the Kremlin’s plans to replace the hryvnia with the ruble in occupied Ukrainian territories.[39] The Kremlin has begun to transfer Russian government officials into new roles in occupied Ukrainian oblasts; the Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on July 26 that the Kremlin appointed former Moscow Deputy Head of Criminal Investigations Department Oleg Koltunov as the head of the Zaporizhia Oblast Occupation Administration’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.[40] The Ukrainian Resistance Center also reported that Russian authorities have insufficient medical personnel in Luhansk Oblast because locals refuse to cooperate, forcing the Kremlin to import Russian doctors from Novosibirsk and Volgograd on a rotational basis.[41]

Russian occupation officials are likely leveraging food aid and other humanitarian assistance to force occupied populations to cooperate with and work for Russian occupiers. The Mariupol City Council announced on July 27 that Russian forces stopped providing humanitarian assistance to Mariupol residents to force residents to demine and clear rubble on behalf of the occupation administration in exchange for food, as ISW forecasted in June.[42]

Russian occupation officials are additionally continuing to mobilize faux grassroots movements to set conditions for a falsified referendum on the Russian annexation of occupied territories. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on July 26 that Russian public relations specialists and political technologists have deployed to occupied Melitopol.[43] The center reported that their first objective is to create a public movement called “We Are Together with Russia” to rally in support of the falsified referendum that occupation officials likely aim to hold as soon as September. The GUR reported on July 26 that occupation forces released a 14-page booklet for pro-Russian supporters and collaborators in Ukraine entitled “Handbook for Ukrainian Citizens on Organizing Resistance to the Kyiv Puppet Government.”[44] The guide advises pro-Russian Ukrainians to disrupt general societal functioning in many ways, including by giving confusing and illogical answers when asked for advice, conducting Ukrainian conversations slowly to force the interlocutor to offer to switch to Russian, inserting anecdotes to distract from decision-making conversations, not reporting signs of corruption, using extra medicine, creating superfluous documents and requests, and spending more time in the bathroom at work.[45]

[14] https://freeradio.com dot ua/boiovyky-zakhopyly-novoluhanske-na-donechchyni/; https://t.me/millnr/9165

[32] https://yocity12 dot com/news/obshchestvo/v-mariy-el-sozdali-dva-natsbatalona-dlya-opravki-na-spetsoperatsiyu-v-ukrainu/

[33] https://yocity12 dot com/news/obshchestvo/zhitelyam-mariy-el-predlagayut-300-tysyach-za-mesyats-uchastiya-v-spetsoperatsii/

[34] https://yocity12 dot com/news/obshchestvo/v-mariy-el-sozdali-dva-natsbatalona-dlya-opravki-na-spetsoperatsiyu-v-ukrainu/

[36] https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=98&v=ULNSzjVjFjk&feature=emb...https://gur.gov dot ua/content/chechenska-i-afhanska-iaselky-rashyst-nynishniu-viinu-z-poperednimy.html

[39] https://sprotyv dot mod dot gov dot ua/2022/07/26/v-hersoni-cherez-nestachu-kolaborantiv-ne-zmogly-povnoczinno-zapraczyuvaty-viddilennya-okupaczijnogo-banku/

[40] https://sprotyv dot mod dot gov dot ua/2022/07/26/ochilnykom-policziyi-na-okupovanij-chastyni-zaporizkoyi-oblasti-stav-slidchyj-z-moskvy/

[41] https://sprotyv dot mod dot gov dot ua/2022/07/26/rosiyany-zvozyat-medykiv-na-luganshhynu-cherez-vidmovu-misczevyh-z-nymy-spivpraczyuvaty/

[43] https://sprotyv dot mod dot gov dot ua/2022/07/26/rosiyany-pochaly-shukaty-masovku-dlya-legalizacziyi-referendumu-na-pivdni/

[44] https://gur dot gov dot ua/content/v-rf-vypustyly-spetsialnyi-dovidnyk-dlia-prorosiiskykh-zradnykiv-i-kolaborantiv.html

[45] https://gur dot gov dot ua/content/v-rf-vypustyly-spetsialnyi-dovidnyk-dlia-prorosiiskykh-zradnykiv-i-kolaborantiv.html

understandingwar.org



2. Three Ways to Improve Integrated Deterrence


A very thoughtful and useful essay.


Digest the entire essay but this excerpt made me think of an example of integrated campaigning.


Excerpt:


Proactive campaigning that integrates military and non-military activities with interagency and multinational partners offers a better way to manifest Biden’s vision of leading with diplomacy—emphasizing what America stands for, not what it stands against. Though competition with China is not a repeat of the Cold War, it does rhyme.


I think integrated campaign requires interagency campaigning not just military campaigning. Back in the 1990s (1997 to be specific) there was PDD 56 which was the interagency process for managing complex contingency operations. We actually used the training process as a vehicle to educate the interagency on CONPLAN 5029 which was the plan for instability and regime collapse in north Korea. PDD 56 is not a perfect tool but it provided a disciplined coordinating planning process for the interagency. It was really a civilianized MDMP (which is logical since the author was the late Len Hawley who was a retired Army Colonel working on the NSC staff). See his article here: https://press.armywarcollege.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3077&context=parameters A process along the lines of PDD 56 could be very useful to aid in interagency integrated campaign planning.


Here is the unclassified outline of the process: https://irp.fas.org/offdocs/pdd56.htm


Here is the declassified message implementing the PDD:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vEmLwfAsdhtnYm-42YYDfmyvfcQZZOKN/view?usp=sharing


Three Ways to Improve Integrated Deterrence

The National Interest · by Steve Ferenzi · July 22, 2022

In their quest to remake the global order, Vladimir Putin is ravaging Ukraine while Xi Jinping is threatening to do the same to Taiwan. Does this already signify the end of the “integrated deterrence” that is central to President Joe Biden’s military approach to China and the new 2022 National Defense Strategy? Despite valid concerns, viable solutions are still within reach to enhance deterrence effectiveness going forward.

Reactive thinking is inadequate to curb the most disruptive aspects of Chinese and Russian ambitions. To succeed, the Biden administration must focus on integrated campaigning to better align military and non-military activities to advance the U.S. vision for an open, inclusive international system; generate interagency buy-in for its re-envisioned concept of deterrence; and leverage irregular warfare capabilities to confront adversaries in the gray zone where they erode international norms and rules of U.S. leadership.

According to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, integrated deterrence “will inform almost everything” that the Defense Department does. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently described it as “bringing in allies and partners; working across the conventional, the nuclear, space, and informational domains; drawing on our reinforcing strengths in economics, in technology, and in diplomacy.” While not really novel, this is a tall order in practice. To assist, we analyze a few pitfalls and provide suggestions for improvement.

First, deterrence only maintains the status quo. By nature preventative, deterrence offers little to advance U.S. interests or recover what has been lost. Integrating deterrence, therefore, is necessary but insufficient. Proactive campaigning that integrates military and non-military activities with interagency and multinational partners offers a better way to manifest Biden’s vision of leading with diplomacy—emphasizing what America stands for, not what it stands against. Though competition with China is not a repeat of the Cold War, it does rhyme.


China seeks to blunt U.S. power and build the “hardware and software” of alternative regional and global orders—security and economic frameworks that have undergirded relative global prosperity and stability since the end of World War II. Colonial powers chaffed at America’s ambitions, but the age of colonialism was coming to an end. In contrast, there is no reason for the current system not to extend well into the foreseeable future. America must not just deter but offer the better choice.

Just as George Kennan observed at the dawn of the Cold War, building back better today requires an offensive approach against Chinese and Russian political warfare. Reassuring our partners and strengthening democracy against the onslaught of disinformation campaigns cannot occur simply through defensive or reactive efforts. It requires new planning mindsets that leverage influence in both traditional and non-traditional ways to optimize the military beyond its use as just a lethal instrument. By focusing on active campaigning and elevating the importance of persistent engagement we will be better positioned to positively shape our destiny rather than allowing our adversaries to set the tempo and drive events to their advantage.

Second, integrated deterrence lacks a presidential forcing function. Integrated deterrence is largely the Defense Department’s plan. It presumes we will “not rely on U.S. military strength alone,” but lacks unifying, top-down presidential guidance and interagency perspective. To make integration across the instruments of national power work, we first need unity of understanding. After all, we are working toward a common goal, but too often end up pulling in different directions.

Biden’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance and recent declaratory policy on China offer useful guideposts, but an actual National Security Strategy is still absent. We need this guiding—and legally mandated document—to codify integrated deterrence and prevent backsliding into “comprehensive military deterrence.” It may also be time to upgrade the National Security Council or enact an “interagency Goldwater Nichols Act” to direct whole-of-government strategic competition efforts as some have suggested.

Interagency partners have also yet to offer a corresponding vision or plan. For example, the new Joint Strategic Plan between the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development avoids addressing deterrence in any meaningful way. While “the interagency” is not a monolith, key departments such as State, Treasury, and Justice will play critical roles in any form of re-envisioned deterrence. These departments wield tools such as public attributionsanctions, and intelligence disclosures that contribute to an expanded escalation ladder.

Third, irregular warfare remains neglected. Nuclear posture and missile defense figure prominently in the new defense strategy fact sheet, without a single mention of irregular warfare. Yet China and Russia are primarily advancing their interests vis-à-vis the United States indirectly through the gray zone. However, this isn’t about the old irregular warfare playbook of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. Instead, it requires the full suite of capabilities from information operations to counter-threat finance, and supporting resistance movements and small-state volunteer militias—all of which are inherently interagency.

We must acknowledge that it is what conventional hard power and nukes don’t deter which frames the current contest. Those capabilities are insufficient to prevent undesired behavior in the gray zone, which is characterized by salami-slicing and other forms of subversion that undermine U.S. security and prosperity without escalating to war. Strategic competition entails using all instruments of statecraft against adversary political warfare. Irregular warfare—or more presciently, irregular deterrence, is the military contribution to U.S. statecraft in that contest.

Just as land, sea, and airborne platforms constitute the “triad” of nuclear deterrence, we should think of irregular deterrence in a similar way. Confronting problematic acts of aggression occurring below the threshold of traditional deterrence demands an “irregular—conventional—nuclear triad.” More hard power, like carriers, missiles, and tanks, is not always better to prevail in this “war without fighting” where we still find ourselves outplayed today. Irregular warfare offers the best opportunity space—and maybe just enough additional “cowbell”—to shape adversary decision calculus in ways that other military tools cannot.

Integrating Deterrence and Beyond

The integrated deterrence concept advances U.S. national security dialogue, but we must address its underlying assumptions to strengthen its overall viability. Today’s challenges are primarily ones the military is ill-suited to lead and unable to resolve alone. Now is the time to clearly show how the Defense Department supports and empowers policy.

If we can focus on whole-of-government campaigning, gain interagency buy-in for re-envisioned deterrence, and acknowledge the necessity of leveraging irregular warfare alongside the Defense Department’s conventional and nuclear capabilities, we may have a real chance. Curbing Chinese and Russian ambitions while advancing the U.S. vision for an open, inclusive international system requires more than just adding “integrated” in front of deterrence.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Central Command, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

Lt. Col. Steve Ferenzi is a U.S. Army Strategist in U.S. Special Operations Command Central. He contributed to the development of the Irregular Warfare Annex to the 2018 National Defense Strategy and holds a Master of International Affairs Degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Robert C. Jones is a retired Army Special Forces Colonel and the principal strategist for the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Donovan Integration Group. He holds a Juris Doctorate Degree from the Willamette University College of Law, a master’s in Strategic Studies from the Army War College, and is a non-resident fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS).

Image: Reuters.

The National Interest · by Steve Ferenzi · July 22, 2022




3. AP Exclusive: Philippines scraps Russian chopper deal


I am not sure what the future holds for our Philippine friends and the RP-US alliance.


I recall flying in Philippine Air Force UH-1 (Hueys) that had Budweiser beer cans patching bullet holes from Vietnam. I recall flying in one that had no gas (according to the broken gas gauge) but the pilots could figure out exactly how much flight time they had with a barrel of gas. And yet these pilots could fly to the highest point on Basilan and conduct a pinnacle landing on a single skid.


AP Exclusive: Philippines scraps Russian chopper deal

AP · by JIM GOMEZ · July 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government has scrapped a deal to purchase 16 Russian military transport helicopters due to fears of possible U.S. sanctions, Philippine officials said.

Former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday night he canceled the 12.7-billion-peso ($227 million) deal to acquire the Mi-17 helicopters in a decision last month that was approved by then-President Rodrigo Duterte before their terms in office ended on June 30.

“We could face sanctions,” Lorenzana told The Associated Press, describing ways Washington could express its displeasure if the Philippines proceeded with the deal due to America’s worsening conflict with Russia.

American security officials were aware of Manila’s decision and could offer similar heavy-lift helicopters for Philippine military use, he said.

After serving as defense chief under Duterte, Lorenzana has been appointed by new President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to head a government agency in charge of transforming former military bases into business hubs.

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Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez told The AP that the deal was canceled because Manila could face possible sanctions under a U.S. federal law called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act if the helicopter deal went through.

Russia-Ukraine war

A Philippine military official said the helicopter deal would undergo a “termination process” after the decision to cancel it was made since a contract has already been signed. The Russians can appeal but there is little room for the Philippine government to reconsider, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authority to publicly discuss the issue.

Under the helicopter purchase agreement, which was signed in November, the first batch of the multi-purpose helicopters would have been scheduled for delivery by Russia’s Sovtechnoexport in about two years.

Asked in March if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would affect the purchase, Lorenzana told reporters: “We do not see any likelihood of it being scrapped as of this moment” and added that “only time can tell.”

Lorenzana at the time said an initial payment had been made by the Philippines in January. It was not immediately clear what would happen to the payment after the Philippines’ decision to back out of the deal.

The Russian-made helicopters could have been used for combat, search and rescue operations, and medical evacuations in the Southeast Asian archipelago, which is often lashed by typhoons and other natural disasters, Philippine officials said.

In March, the Philippines voted “yes” on a U.N. General Assembly resolution that demanded an immediate halt to Moscow’s attack on Ukraine and the withdrawal of all Russian troops. It condemned the invasion and echoed U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s appeal for respect of humanitarian principles to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

Duterte has expressed concern over the global impact of the Russian invasion but has not personally condemned it. When he was in office, he nurtured close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he once called his “idol,” and Chinese leader Xi Jinping while frequently criticizing U.S. security policies.

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The Philippines is a treaty ally of Washington, which has imposed heavy sanctions aimed at pressuring Moscow to pull back from Ukraine.

The deal to acquire the Russian helicopters was among several weapons purchase agreements signed during Duterte’s final months in office.

Last February, Lorenzana signed a 32-billion-peso ($571 million) deal to acquire 32 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters from Poland-based aerospace manufacturer PZL Mielec. It was the largest military aircraft acquisition contract signed under Duterte, Philippine defense officials said..

Due to financial constraints, the Philippines has struggled for years to modernize its military, one of the most underfunded in Asia, to deal with decades-long Muslim and communist insurgencies and to defend its territories in the disputed South China Sea.

AP · by JIM GOMEZ · July 27, 2022





4. US and China are entering a trap of their own making


Changing the narrative requires changing policy and strategy.


Excerpts:

What is glaringly absent is any initiative either from Xi or Biden to alter the narrative. In his much-awaited speech on China in May, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said China was the only country in the world with both the “intent” and the “capability” to alter the international order. Many countries would add America to that list. The US follows the rules it created only when it suits its purposes. Either way, America has made its bleak China diagnosis very clear. US diplomacy is thus focused on moving closer to Beijing’s neighbours rather than pushing for a dialogue.
This is a dangerous course. Even if Blinken is right about China’s intentions, that makes diplomacy more important, not less so. The cost of miscalculation would be lethal — and the risks are only growing. Biden’s zoom call with Xi on Thursday may be helpful but will be no substitute for routine US-China dialogue. As Kevin Rudd, Australia’s former prime minister puts it, the US and China are like “two neighbors welding away in a backyard workshop without rubber-soled shoes on, sparks flying everywhere . . . uninsulated cables running across a wet concrete floor. What could possibly go wrong?”


US and China are entering a trap of their own making

Financial Times · by Edward Luce · July 27, 2022

When two trains are heading for collision, the switch operator puts them on different tracks. Alas, in geopolitics it is up to the drivers to take evasive action. In the case of the US and China, each questions the other’s ability to drive trains. History offers us little hope that looming trainwrecks will organically resolve themselves.

When it comes to Joe Biden and Xi Jinping — the two world leaders who most need to meet face to face but have not done so since Biden took office — evasive action is notable by its absence, particularly on Taiwan. Biden has suggested the two countries resume some kind of strategic dialogue. Any routine exchange of views, even shouting matches, would be better than today’s escalation. But China is uninterested. The US must first cease what China’s ambassador to Washington calls its “disinformation, misinformation [and] lies” about Beijing’s internal affairs — notably over Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Who can break this impasse? According to Graham Allison’s so-called “Thucydides trap”, a rising hegemon usually clashes with the existing one on its way down. The major exception was Britain’s handover to the US, which, even then, only narrowly avoided war on several occasions. But the past offers no guidance as to how to avoid conflict between two declining giants, which is arguably a better description of both China and the US today.

America’s relative decline is well understood, not least because of its fissile political divisions. China, though, is still widely seen as on schedule to dominate the world by 2049 — the anniversary of the Chinese revolution, which Xi has set as the target. But what if Xi — and the global consensus on China’s rise — is already out of date? The chances that China will resume the high growth rates of the first two decades of this century are already falling, chiefly because of its ageing profile.

On top of China’s likely “middle income trap”, Xi has added Zero Covid, which is crippling economic growth with no obvious epidemiological upside. Since the country’s vaccines are only partially effective, its increasingly frustrated people can see no end to the lockdowns. In addition to lower Chinese growth expectations, we can thus now add a new concern: questions over the rationality of its leadership. I have yet to meet a China observer who thinks zero-Covid is a smart policy.

This is where Taiwan comes in. Xi has made it clear that he wants to resolve the island’s status on his watch, which means bringing it under China’s control within the next few years. Since Xi wants nothing to distract from the crowning of his third term as leader at the party conference in October, that means 2023 is likely to be the year of peak danger. Biden can have little confidence that Vladimir Putin’s difficulties in Ukraine will deter China from action against Taiwan. Indeed, Putin’s military travails may even accelerate Xi’s timetable since the US is drawing lessons from Ukraine to supply Taiwan with better defensive capabilities.

Moreover, Xi will be aware of America’s political timetable. He might see it as less risky to move on Taiwan during Biden’s watch than wait for, say, a President Mike Pompeo, Ron DeSantis or Tom Cotton. Biden’s rhetoric and actions are not always aligned. The president has repeatedly shredded America’s so-called strategic ambiguity by stating that the US would come to Taiwan’s defence, only to have his remarks “clarified” by White House staff. But Biden’s actions on Ukraine suggest a deep reserve about risking military confrontation with Russia. That same caution would likely apply in practice to China.

What is glaringly absent is any initiative either from Xi or Biden to alter the narrative. In his much-awaited speech on China in May, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said China was the only country in the world with both the “intent” and the “capability” to alter the international order. Many countries would add America to that list. The US follows the rules it created only when it suits its purposes. Either way, America has made its bleak China diagnosis very clear. US diplomacy is thus focused on moving closer to Beijing’s neighbours rather than pushing for a dialogue.

This is a dangerous course. Even if Blinken is right about China’s intentions, that makes diplomacy more important, not less so. The cost of miscalculation would be lethal — and the risks are only growing. Biden’s zoom call with Xi on Thursday may be helpful but will be no substitute for routine US-China dialogue. As Kevin Rudd, Australia’s former prime minister puts it, the US and China are like “two neighbors welding away in a backyard workshop without rubber-soled shoes on, sparks flying everywhere . . . uninsulated cables running across a wet concrete floor. What could possibly go wrong?”

edward.luce@ft.com

Financial Times · by Edward Luce · July 27, 2022




5. The West must focus on the threat to Taiwan


Excerpt:


Western capitals are rightly preoccupied with what is happening in Ukraine but there is a risk that they are failing to see an even greater danger taking shape in the Far East.




The West must focus on the threat to Taiwan

There are difficult questions to confront, particularly on the impact of isolating China given its central role in the world economy

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/07/27/west-must-focus-threat-taiwan/

TELEGRAPH VIEW

27 July 2022 • 10:00pm


Speaking in Washington DC yesterday, Britain’s National Security Adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove warned that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is part of a wider struggle over what the post-Cold War international order will look like. The West must resolutely stand up against the growing threats posed by regional powers, including China, pursuing their own “might is right” agendas.

Taiwan’s armed forces have spent this week simulating their response to an invasion from mainland China. The war games are an annual event intended to remind Beijing of the price it would pay if it were to attack the island. These are set against a backdrop of rising tension that Western governments need to take seriously.

The threat to Taiwan from China has persisted since Chiang Kai-shek fled to the former Formosa after defeat in the civil war in 1949 and established his Republic of China in exile, a state that only a few countries in the world – not the United States or the UK – recognise as an independent nation. The Chinese Communist Party has been determined ever since to integrate the island into the People’s Republic. President Xi Jinping sees it as his destiny to do so, just like Vladimir Putin saw it as his to make Ukraine part of Russia once more.

There are parallels. The threat to Ukraine was not taken seriously enough in the West after Moscow’ annexation of Crimea in 2014, encouraging the Kremlin leader to go further in the belief that he could do so with impunity. He miscalculated badly, yet a clearer message needs to be sent to President Xi about the consequences of a similar geopolitical mistake on his part.

Isolating China given its central role in the world’s supply chain would be an act of a different order to the sanctions imposed on Russia, which have proven problematic enough for countries such as Germany that have become dependent on Russian energy supplies.

Now, fresh tensions have been stoked over a planned visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, which Beijing says will provoke “consequences” though without saying what they might be. China objects to anything that looks like formal recognition of Taiwan and President Xi may feel emboldened to test America’s commitment to the island amid the confusing recent signals sent by Joe Biden.

Western capitals are rightly preoccupied with what is happening in Ukraine but there is a risk that they are failing to see an even greater danger taking shape in the Far East.



6. Ukrainian War and American Decisions


Excerpts:


The United States and its allies have apparently concluded that no outside party should instruct the Ukrainian government on the positions to take at the negotiating table, particularly over which territory, if any, to surrender. At the same time, it would be a dereliction of U.S. sovereignty to allow a foreign government a de facto level of control over U.S. support in a confrontation with another nuclear power, hoping against hope that if push comes to shove, America will treat Ukraine as a NATO ally entitled to automatic U.S. military support. While National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has emphasized that America has sympathy for the Ukrainian desire to have more weapons and to be able to conduct more effective military operations, the ultimate decision over what America provides—and for what purposes—must be made in Washington, not Kyiv.


Ukrainian War and American Decisions

The ultimate decision over what America provides—and for what purposes—must be made in Washington, not Kyiv.

The National Interest · by Dimitri K. Simes · July 25, 2022

In his opening remarks at the Fourth Ukraine Defense Contact Group on July 20, U.S. secretary of defense Lloyd Austin touted Kyiv’s military accomplishments and issued a warning to Moscow. “Russia thinks that it can outlast Ukraine—and outlast us,” he stated. “But that’s just the latest in Russia’s string of miscalculations.” Russia’s miscalculations in this conflict—underestimating both the strength of Ukrainian resistance and the unity of the West—are indeed serious and real, but such blunders are not unusual in the early stages of wars, including wars where, in the end, the erring side proved victorious. The Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939-40 is a prime example. Russia’s early miscalculations are therefore a poor guide in predicting the outcome of its burgeoning confrontation with the West, especially if we fail to take stock of America’s no less serious miscalculations in dealing with post-Soviet Russia.

Five key examples come to mind.

The first is the West’s staunch dismissal of Moscow’s numerous and increasingly dramatic warnings that NATO expansion toward its borders would be viewed as an existential threat to Russian security and encounter the strongest possible resistance. Under several different U.S. administrations starting with President Bill Clinton, America and its allies took the position that, since the West had no intention of attacking Russia, Moscow’s concerns could be safely ignored. As George F. Kennan and other American critics of NATO expansion anticipated at the time, however, Moscow adopted an increasingly determined stand against expansion, culminating in the deployment of force against Ukraine. Rather than acknowledge this development as evidence of Western mistakes, the West’s foreign policy elites instead now portray Moscow’s (in their view) unreasonable position as proof of Russia’s inherently aggressive nature. The problem with this view is that it contradicts what these policymakers told the Western public in the 1990s when decisions regarding NATO expansion were first made, that Russia was in essence a friendly but irrelevant geopolitical power. Since then, they have elevated their search for a new post-Cold War mission for NATO—and, tacitly, a new enemy—above the broader imperative of integrating the new Russia into the global order and, in the process, establishing a stable and secure Europe.

If the initial miscalculation was strategic and even moral in nature, the second was primarily tactical—but no less important in contributing to Moscow’s decision to invade Ukraine in February. In the absence of reliable information on Vladimir Putin’s thinking, the Biden administration opted to persuade itself that Moscow had either already decided to use force or, on the contrary, bluffed to secure concessions on NATO expansion. Considering that the numbers and disposition of Russian forces were neither adequate for a full-scale invasion nor sufficiently focused for a narrower offensive in the Donbass, one might think there was a good possibility of Russia engaging in diplomacy, hoping to obtain results without war but prepared to go on the offensive if talks failed. Yet such logic concerning the ordinary conduct of major powers proved alien to the Biden administration, which attributed sinister motives to Russian behavior: either Moscow’s attempt at diplomacy was a cover for a predetermined attack or just cheap blackmail. In the administration’s defense, Russian requests came in the form of rather categorical demands, including a guarantee from NATO barring Ukrainian membership in perpetuity. Such demands are not unusual, however, for an opening bargaining position. Washington had every opportunity to test Moscow’s flexibility in proposing negotiations, starting with the obvious point of agreement, namely, that NATO would not invite Ukraine to join its ranks anytime soon. Instead, President Joe Biden chose to call Putin’s bluff—with predictable results. Does anyone really believe at this point that had the administration proposed serious negotiations on Russia’s Ukraine concerns rather than contemptuously dismissed them, Moscow would still have ordered an attack? The Biden administration provided an additional incentive for Moscow to attack, moreover, by stating in advance that under no circumstances would the U.S. use force to defend Ukraine. Greater tactical ineptitude is difficult to imagine.


The third miscalculation involved overestimating the degree to which the United States could count on international support in a protracted confrontation with Russia. Make no mistake: Biden and his advisors have done a remarkable job mobilizing the collective West against Moscow. The level of Western unity and will to act has not only been greater than anything the Russian government anticipated but actually more than most in the West themselves expected. The problem is this: the United States, Europe, and their Pacific allies no longer command unchallenged global dominance—economically, politically, or even militarily. Considering how much is now at stake for Putin, forcing his retreat from Ukraine will require a determined effort by more than just the collective West. But such determination has not been apparent. Out of economic self-interest, governments from Riyadh to New Delhi to Beijing have proven reluctant to approve sanctions against the Russian energy sector that would deprive them of cheap and reliable supplies. While not supporters of Moscow’s actions, these governments do not believe that the Russian invasion represents a threat to them, or that it is so exceptional as to require that any responsible government act against it. Now that Washington’s efforts at persuasion have proved insufficient, the Biden administration is resorting to threatening severe consequences against anyone who refused to cooperate with U.S. sanctions—including China, another nuclear great power, or such American adversaries as Iran, already under severe U.S.-imposed sanctions. These efforts sent a clear message--nations outside the West were to follow the dictates of American might, rather than right. Many of these nations appreciate that most Western governments are more democratic than anywhere else. But these same nations—particularly those that have colonial or, in the case of China, neocolonial experience—have another notion of democracy, namely, democracy in international affairs where sovereign states are allowed to select their own form of government and define their own destiny. This concept is what Zbigniew Brzezinski once called the yearning for dignity. It is in this dignity department that, for quite a few developing nations, Vladimir Putin, with his emphasis on working with existing governments (their imperfections notwithstanding), seems to offer more than Joe Biden. It is one major reason that efforts to isolate Russia globally were, from the outset, conceptually unsound.

Fourth, with the isolation of Russia proving less absolute than Washington had hoped, the United States has had to rely primarily on Western sanctions and Ukrainian successes on the battlefield. On the economic front, there was no clear plan on how sanctions could alter Russian conduct in a reasonable timeframe before Western unity began to fray and there was less and less Ukrainian territory to defend. The Biden administration has approached the situation in a manner reminiscent of the Johnson administration’s escalation in Vietnam: introducing sanctions stage by stage, often less because they are expected to change Russian behavior, and more because there is simply a need to do something that will demonstrate the administration’s resolve both at home and abroad. Five months after the start of the conflict, it is fair to say that while sanctions have created clear inconveniences for the Putin government and economic damage in the long term, life in Russia remains remarkably normal. The ruble has not only stabilized but strengthened, inflation is increasingly being brought under control, and there are no visible interruptions in the supply chain. Traveling both to Moscow and the provinces suggests that many Russians feel their lives are essentially normal, without any painful interruptions. These developments explain the Biden administration’s increasing talk of a protracted conflict, which would allow time both for sanctions to inflict damage and for the United States and its allies to continue their unprecedented level of military assistance, training, and intelligence sharing with Ukraine. The question of where these efforts will ultimately lead remains unanswered, and there is scant evidence they will prod Russian conduct in a desirable direction. At this point, the optimism expressed by Secretary Austin and others in the Biden administration is more an article of faith than anything else.

The United States and its allies can shift the military dynamics in Ukraine’s favor—from delivering more American HIMARS systems and other high-capacity weapons to Kyiv to providing more training to the Ukrainian military. The problem is that Russia enjoys multiple options in deciding how to respond, and, indeed, can escalate rather than retreat. The most obvious option is acquiring weapons similar to the HIMARS that might be available from China and North Korea. The Chinese may be reluctant to go that far, but North Korea—which recently recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” and is under severe sanctions itself—may be willing to oblige. Russia may also decide that avoiding general mobilization is no longer feasible, a move that would address its current manpower shortage. And whether the West likes it or not, there finally remains the option of using tactical nuclear weapons—a recourse that NATO itself once considered viable in confronting Soviet conventional superiority in Europe.

Last but not least, the collective steps taken against Russia thus far have had unintended consequences. From an American perspective, the most damaging of these is the growing impression among the majority of Russians that the West has launched an undeclared war against them. Regardless of who is responsible for the war, which power has international law on its side, or who presents a more reliable account of the situation on the battlefield, what is most important for a number of Russians is the growing conviction that Mother Russia now faces a moment of truth, confronted with a powerful assault by its enemies who make no real distinction between damaging the Russian government and punishing the Russian people. This development has become glaringly apparent in a variety of public opinion polls (including those conducted by opposition-minded groups) and in my numerous conversations in Moscow, including with figures who dislike Putin and only reluctantly acknowledge the emerging consensus in Russia.

This consensus—deeply rooted in Russian history and carefully nurtured through official propaganda—carries implications for Ukraine’s well-advertised counteroffensive and Russia’s likely response. New, modern American and European long-range missile and artillery systems have demonstrated their effectiveness in combat, but as the Ukrainians themselves acknowledge, the country needs many hundreds more of them (rather than a few dozen as today) to have any decisive impact on the outcome of the war. But there is more. With full U.S. support, the Ukrainian government now suggests using these powerful new weapons not only to rebuff the Russian offensive—retaking territories in the Donbass and southern Ukraine occupied after Russia’s invasion on February 24—but to reclaim Crimea from Russia. Such an effort would likely include using newly provided, high-powered, long-range American weapons to destroy the Crimean Bridge and, as is already occurring, hamper Russia’s ability to channel water from the Dnieper River to Crimea, a crucial supply blocked by Ukraine in 2014 and restored this year thanks to Russia’s current offensive. It would be a mistake to assume that, because Russia took Crimea only in 2014, both the Russian government and the Russian people alike would not consider an attack on it—made possible by U.S. and Western assistance—as anything other than an attack on Russia itself. With such patriotic sentiments in mind, Moscow’s attitude to such an attack would, in all likelihood, preclude a negotiated settlement, which many Russians would view as capitulation. Instead, it would respond with the huge remaining resources of the Russian Federation, which, to maintain domestic support, still treats the war as a limited “special operation” rather than an all-out “patriotic war.”

The idea shared throughout the Biden administration that we should be prepared to accept a protracted, Korean-style conflict—one that could last for years if not decades—while attempting to isolate and weaken Russia amounts to a dangerous gamble. The Korean Peninsula has a clearly defined, relatively narrow dividing line that separates the two antagonists. In the case of Russia and Ukraine, the dividing line would stretch thousands of miles. There would also be a number of Central and East European states—particularly Poland and the Baltic states—with their own strong grievances against Russia. To suggest that this explosive mix can be safely managed indefinitely seems overly optimistic. A more profitable course would be to pursue a negotiated settlement, one not necessarily attainable right away, but certainly in a matter of months rather than years.

The United States and its allies have apparently concluded that no outside party should instruct the Ukrainian government on the positions to take at the negotiating table, particularly over which territory, if any, to surrender. At the same time, it would be a dereliction of U.S. sovereignty to allow a foreign government a de facto level of control over U.S. support in a confrontation with another nuclear power, hoping against hope that if push comes to shove, America will treat Ukraine as a NATO ally entitled to automatic U.S. military support. While National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has emphasized that America has sympathy for the Ukrainian desire to have more weapons and to be able to conduct more effective military operations, the ultimate decision over what America provides—and for what purposes—must be made in Washington, not Kyiv.

Dimitri K. Simes is president of The Center for the National Interest and publisher & CEO of the National Interest.


Image: Reuters.

The National Interest · by Dimitri K. Simes · July 25, 2022



7. Opinion | The West and Russia Are Locked in a Spiral. It’s Time for Them to Talk.


Excerpts:

The determination of both the West and Russia to do whatever it takes to prevail in Ukraine is the main driver of escalation. Western leaders should understand that the risk of escalation stems from the complete incompatibility of their goals with the Kremlin’s; carefully calibrating Western military support to Ukraine might be sensible, but it is probably beside the point. The impact of those weapons on the war, which is nearly impossible to know in advance, is what matters.
The lack of precise Russian red lines might mean that supplying the longer-range munitions Biden is withholding would not be as problematic as feared. But even if no specific weapon system will itself cause a major escalation, simply throwing more and better weapons into the mix is unlikely to solve the problem. Western weapons have clearly sustained the Ukrainian military on the battlefield, but the Russians have been willing to counter with whatever level of resources and destruction will be necessary to win or at least not to lose.
We are witnessing a classic spiral in which both sides feel compelled to do more as soon as the other side begins to make some progress. The best way to prevent that dynamic from getting out of control is to start talking before it’s too late.


Opinion | The West and Russia Are Locked in a Spiral. It’s Time for Them to Talk.

The New York Times · by Samuel Charap and Jeremy Shapiro · July 27, 2022

Guest Essay

The West and Russia Are Locked in a Spiral. It’s Time for Them to Talk.

By Samuel Charap and Jeremy Shapiro

Samuel Charap is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. Jeremy Shapiro is the research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

July 27, 2022, 1:00 a.m. ET


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By Samuel Charap and Jeremy Shapiro

Samuel Charap is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. Jeremy Shapiro is the research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

In the five months since Russia launched its war in Ukraine, the United States has pledged about $24 billion in military aid to Ukraine. That’s more than four times Ukraine’s 2021 defense budget. America’s partners in Europe and beyond have pledged an additional $12 billion, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

And yet these tens of billions still fall short of the Ukrainian government’s wish list for weapons, which President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government announced last month. This divergence between what Ukraine wants and what its Western partners are prepared to give reflects the reality that Western leaders are pulled in two directions. They are committed to helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s aggression, but they are also trying to prevent the conflict from escalating into a major power war.

But escalation, though incremental and thus far contained in Ukraine, is already underway. The West is providing more and more powerful weapons, and Russia is unleashing more and more death and destruction. For as long as both Russia and the West are determined to prevail over the other in Ukraine and prepared to devote their deep reserves of weapons to achieve that goal, further escalation seems almost preordained.

The United States and its allies should certainly continue providing Ukraine with the matériel it needs, but they should also — in close consultation with Kyiv — begin opening channels of communication with Russia. An eventual cease-fire should be the goal, even as the path to it remains uncertain.

Starting talks while the fighting rages would be politically risky and would require significant diplomatic efforts, particularly with Ukraine — and success is anything but guaranteed. But talking can reveal the possible space for compromise and identify a way out of the spiral. Otherwise, this war could eventually bring Russia and NATO into direct conflict.

The current U.S. approach assumes that would happen only if the Ukrainians are given particular systems or capabilities that cross a Russian red line. So when President Biden recently announced his decision to provide Ukraine with the multiple-launch rocket system that Kyiv says it desperately needs, he deliberately withheld the longest-range munitions that could strike Russia. The premise of the decision was that Moscow will escalate — i.e., launch an attack against NATO — only if certain types of weapons are provided or if they are used to target Russian territory. The goal is to be careful to stop short of that line while giving the Ukrainians what they need to “defend their territory from Russian advances,” as Mr. Biden said in a statement in June.

The logic is dubious. The Kremlin’s focus is precisely on making advances on Ukrainian territory. The problem is not that providing Ukraine with some specific weapon could cause escalation but rather that if the West’s support of Ukraine succeeded in stemming Russia’s advance, that would constitute an unacceptable defeat for the Kremlin. And a Russian battlefield victory is equally unacceptable to the West.

If Russia continues to push farther into Ukraine, Western partners would likely provide yet more and better weapons. If those weapons allow Ukraine to reverse Russia’s gains, Moscow may feel compelled to double down — and if it is really losing, it might well consider direct attacks against NATO. In other words, there’s no mutually acceptable outcome right now. But talks could help identify the compromises needed to find one.

The determination of both the West and Russia to do whatever it takes to prevail in Ukraine is the main driver of escalation. Western leaders should understand that the risk of escalation stems from the complete incompatibility of their goals with the Kremlin’s; carefully calibrating Western military support to Ukraine might be sensible, but it is probably beside the point. The impact of those weapons on the war, which is nearly impossible to know in advance, is what matters.

The lack of precise Russian red lines might mean that supplying the longer-range munitions Biden is withholding would not be as problematic as feared. But even if no specific weapon system will itself cause a major escalation, simply throwing more and better weapons into the mix is unlikely to solve the problem. Western weapons have clearly sustained the Ukrainian military on the battlefield, but the Russians have been willing to counter with whatever level of resources and destruction will be necessary to win or at least not to lose.

We are witnessing a classic spiral in which both sides feel compelled to do more as soon as the other side begins to make some progress. The best way to prevent that dynamic from getting out of control is to start talking before it’s too late.

Samuel Charap (@scharap) is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. Jeremy Shapiro (@JyShapiro) is the research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

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The New York Times · by Jeremy Shapiro · July 27, 2022


8. Building Asymmetric Advantage In Indo-Pacific Part Of Pentagon’s Approach To Chinese Aggression


Excerpt:


“We do not seek confrontation or conflict,” Ratner said. “We say that publicly, we say that privately. Our primary interest is in upholding the order that has for decades sustained the region’s peace. And while we will always stand ready to prevail in conflict, it is the primary responsibility of the Department of Defense to prevent it and deterrence is the cornerstone of our strategy.”


Building Asymmetric Advantage In Indo-Pacific Part Of Pentagon’s Approach To Chinese Aggression

eurasiareview.com · by DoD News · July 27, 2022

By C. Todd Lopez

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In the Indo-Pacific region, Chinese aggression demonstrates an effort by Beijing to deconstruct core elements of the international rules-based order and assert greater control over the waterways that connect it with its neighbors, the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs said.

Last month, for instance, a Chinese fighter aircraft cut across the nose of an Australian aircraft which was conducting legal operations over the South China Sea. The Chinese aircraft released chaff that was sucked into the engine of the Australian aircraft, said Ely Ratner, who spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Chaff” consists of fragments of aluminum, or another material, released from an aircraft as a radar countermeasure.

That incident, Ratner said, came shortly after another series of incidents where Chinese aircraft unsafely intercepted Canadian aircraft who were also conducting legal activities on behalf of the U.N. Security Council over the East China Sea.

Another incident, he said, involved a Chinese naval vessel endangering another Australian aircraft by aiming a laser at it.

“These are not isolated incidents,” Ratner said. “Over the last five years, the number of unsafe PLA [People’s Liberation Army] intercepts, including U.S. allies and partners operating lawfully in international airspace in the South China Sea has increased dramatically with dozens of dangerous events in the first half of this year alone. In my view, this aggressive and irresponsible behavior represents one of the most significant threats to peace and stability in the region today, including in the South China Sea.”

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Ratner said if the Chinese military continues that unsafe behavior, in short time, it might cause a major incident or accident in the region. Chinese actions, he said, are part of an effort by Beijing to systematically test the limits of U.S. and partner resolve and to advance a new status quo in the South China Sea that disregards existing commitments to a respect for sovereignty, peaceful resolution of disputes and adherence to international law.

“What this demands of us is that we demonstrate the will and capability to properly deter PRC aggression,” he said.

The Defense Department has a strategy, Ratner said, which is aimed at ensuring the U.S., its partners and allies can continue to enjoy a free and open Indo-Pacific region where both international law and national sovereignty are respected.

“Without question, bolstering our partners’ self-defense capabilities in the South China Sea, and across the region, is a task of foremost importance for the Defense Department,” Ratner said. “DOD is taking an increasingly proactive approach in looking at new options to support these efforts.”

Underlying that approach, he said, is an understanding that deterrence doesn’t mean matching competitors’ capabilities directly.

“We’ve seen reminders in Ukraine that smaller nations can outmaneuver larger aggressors through smart investments in self-defense technologies, anti-aircraft weapons and other anti-access/denial capabilities,” he said.

Information can also be as powerful a tool as hardware, he said. And to that end the Defense Department is providing better support to partner intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and rethinking how it manages and shares information.

“We’re doubling down on our efforts to build a common operating picture with our partners that will allow them to better detect and counter illicit activities in their territorial waters,” he said. “Our new Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness … which we launched at the Quad Leaders Summit in May, is just one way that we’re doing so.”

The Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, he said, will allow the U.S. to share near-real-time satellite data with partners.

Building a more combat-credible forward presence in the Indo-Pacific, Ratner said, means a focus on day-to-day campaigning, and the harnessing of new capabilities, operational concepts, and combined warfighting development with allies to complicate competitor military preparations.

“We’re building a more dynamic presence in the region,” he said. “In practice, this means we’re operating forward and more flexibly, including through a regular tempo of rotational activities.”

As examples, he said, last fall, two U.S. carrier strike groups were joined by a Japanese helicopter destroyer and a U.K. carrier strike group to conduct multilateral, multicarrier operations in the Philippine Sea.

“When the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group rotated through the Indian Ocean and ultimately the South China Sea last spring, we conducted multidomain operations with the Indian navy and air force that integrated air, anti-submarine and command and control elements,” he said.

Across the Indo-Pacific, Ratner said, the U.S. military has been increasing the complexity, jointness, duration and scale of combined exercises with allies.

“As we continue to shore up our position in the region, we will not relent in our commitment to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows to ensure that all nations are able to exercise this right,” he said.

Another of the department’s effort to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region, Ratner said, is better enabling the U.S.’s more capable partners and allies in the region.

“The United States’ ability to pursue common security and economic goals with like-minded nations is the cornerstone of our success and at the root of our strategy,” he said. “For the U.S. military specifically, our defense relationships and our ability to bind them more tightly together into more deeply interoperable coalitions can make clear the costs of aggression.”

U.S. alliances with Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand, for instance, remain at the center DOD’s approach here, he said.

During a recent trip to Thailand, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and his counterparts there discussed opportunities to expand bilateral training and exercises, including the establishment of a working group on reciprocal access, Ratner said.

The U.S. is also working with the Philippines to develop new bilateral defense guidelines to clarify respective roles, missions and capabilities within the framework of the U.S. and Philippines’ alliance, Ratner said. Already, he said, the U.S. and the Philippines participate together in more than 300 exercises and military to military activities annually.

“We do not seek confrontation or conflict,” Ratner said. “We say that publicly, we say that privately. Our primary interest is in upholding the order that has for decades sustained the region’s peace. And while we will always stand ready to prevail in conflict, it is the primary responsibility of the Department of Defense to prevent it and deterrence is the cornerstone of our strategy.”

eurasiareview.com · by DoD News · July 27, 2022


9.  Intelligence and Intangibles: How to Assess a State’s Will to Fight


Assessing will to fight is one of the most difficult intelligence tasks.


Conclusion:


Senator King’s criticism of the intelligence community’s shortcomings in assessing will to fight were well justified. Failure to assess it accurately in a conflict involving a partner is troubling in its own right. However, such misjudgment of an adversary could prove catastrophic in a conflict in which US forces are directly committed. The National Intelligence Council initiative to review methodologies for assessing will to fight that DNI Haines alluded to would be well served by considering the inclusion of battlefield effectiveness scholarship in the future training and development needs of military analysts. In turn, analysts should consider how such general theories of conflict can be coupled with their more nuanced understanding of forces in their portfolios to drive collection that yields more reliable assessments of a force’s ability and willingness to fight.


Intelligence and Intangibles: How to Assess a State’s Will to Fight - Modern War Institute

mwi.usma.edu · by Josh Cheatham · July 27, 2022

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During a recent hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Angus King had a brief, but frank, exchange with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines over the intelligence community’s difficulty in assessing a military’s will to fight compared to more material aspects of warfare. As King, himself, put it, “I realize will to fight is a lot harder to assess than number of tanks or volume of ammunition.” King then suggested that the intelligence community’s struggle to assess will to fight in Ukraine was responsible for the inaccurate assessment that Kyiv would fall in three days, followed by all of Ukraine in two weeks.

King indicated that he hoped the intelligence community was “doing some soul-searching,” and asked what was being done to improve assessments on will to fight. In response, DNI Haines informed Senator King that a process was already underway at the National Intelligence Council to address assessments of will, adding that it was a topic “quite challenging to provide effective analysis on and we’re looking at different methodologies for doing so.”

The particularly frustrating aspect of this exchange is that the arc of the academic literature on battlefield effectiveness over the past two decades has emphatically challenged material explanations for victory or defeat in modern conflict. Instead, scholars have focused on so-called human aspects of war, demonstrating an inextricable link between an army’s will to fight and its ability to fight.

In reality, will to fight is likely determined by a multitude of interacting variables including the extent to which the state has tied ideational motivators (e.g., nationalism, religion) to service in the military. However, a better, more precise, and more systematic framework for assessing will to fight is achievable. Specifically, military analysts will be best served in this regard by crafting intelligence collection requirements that track with theories popularized in the battlefield effectiveness literature, such as the frequency and rigor of training, how troops are employed on the battlefield, the state’s relationship with the recruiting base, and the extent to which the state regards its armed forces as a potential threat.

In the intelligence cycle, collection requirements are the method through which analysts communicate their analytic priorities to collectors of raw intelligence (through human collection, signals intercepts, imagery collection, etc.). A collection strategy borrowing from theories of battlefield effectiveness will better posture the community for explaining why some militaries with significant material advantages will fail to press those advantages, while other militaries that might be severely outmatched on paper will fight with great determination and effectiveness.

Senator King’s assessment on the relative ease of tracking tanks and ammunition is consistent with traditional material-centric collection strategies that have historically focused on equipment and numbers and are oriented on particular questions: Does state x have the manpower and firepower to invade and secure a swift victory over state y? Or, conversely, does state y have the manpower and firepower to deter state x from launching an invasion? A military’s will to fight, on the other hand, is troubling to assess prior to conflict because it cannot be directly or easily observed, nor can we trust with complete confidence that high levels of morale in garrison or during training exercises will translate into will to fight once a conflict has begun.

While we may not be able to directly observe will to fight, battlefield effectiveness scholarship often explicitly draws a connection between an army’s willingness to fight and its ability to do so. Hence, analysts should take into consideration how a concept as intangible as morale has a strong interaction effect with more observable aspects about how the state readies its armed forces for war.

Steven Biddle’s “modern system” of force employment, for example, explains that an attacking force that employs combined-arms, small-unit, independent maneuver, while making effective use of cover and concealment, is optimized to achieve a breakthrough of the defender’s lines that can be decisively exploited by follow-on forces. Further, when a modern system–capable attacker engages with a defender that is not modern system–capable, the attacker’s victory is very nearly predetermined.

Biddle is explicit, however, about the difficulty states will have in employing the modern system. He writes, “Among the most serious drawbacks of the modern system is its tremendous complexity, and the high levels of skill it therefore demands in soldiers and officers.” Hence, a collection strategy designed to understand a force’s ability to employ the modern system should focus on if the state is developing the requisite skills to do so. Does the force’s doctrine encourage initiative in junior officers? Do training exercises allow opportunity to demonstrate such initiative in a realistic setting against a determined opposition force? Does the force have an effective noncommissioned officer corps—considered by many a cornerstone of the most effective militaries—or are the burdens of training the force also pushed to officers?

While Biddle provides us with the foundation for what a state must do to fight effectively, other scholars emphasize the state’s role in enabling or inhibiting preparation for interstate conflict. Hence, the state’s perception of the security environment will often provide observable indicators of its willingness—or lack thereof—to invest time, effort, and money into training a competent force. The more a state fears domestic actors—including the army—over conflict with external threats, the more likely it is to undertake coup-proofing practices.

In The Dictator’s Army: Battlefield Effectiveness in Authoritarian Regimes, Caitlin Talmadge suggests several variables shape how a coup-proofing state will organize its forces. One such variable, promotion patterns, is particularly valuable because such information is often observable in peacetime. Talmadge argues that promotion patterns in coup-proofing states are largely based on the officer’s loyalty to the regime, and that “demonstration of competence actually harms an officer’s career,” because of concerns that battlefield success could evolve into a threat to the state as the officer gains the loyalty of subordinate officers and units. Talmadge even offers a list of questions to guide her analysis that could, frankly, be grafted on to an existing collection requirement. For example, she asks, “What are the primary criteria for promotion in the senior officer corps, junior officer corps, NCO corps, and among enlisted personnel?”

Another mechanism through which regimes assure their hold on domestic power is through repression of ethnic minority populations. In Divided Armies: Inequality and Battlefield Performance in Modern War, Jason Lyall identifies how repressive states undermine their own ability to generate battlefield effectiveness. Lyall defines military inequality as “a belligerent’s prewar treatment of its constituent ethnic groups and the ethnic composition of its armed forces, which combine to create predictable patterns in how armies produce violence once they enter combat.” Specifically, Lyall’s evidence suggests a strong relationship between a state’s repression of ethnic groups during peacetime and large numbers of desertions and even defections once conflict has begun. In the most extreme scenario, the state will have to form “blocking detachments”—units responsible for coercing soldiers to continue fighting—like the notorious Soviet NKVD during World War II.

Like Biddle’s and Talmadge’s work, Lyall’s theory is based largely on evidence that the analyst can observe prior to conflict. Collection requirements designed around military inequality could range from very broad questions about how various ethnic groups are treated by the state to much more specific questions about how soldiers outside the “core” ethnic group are treated by their commanding officers. For the latter, we specifically want to know if non-core ethnic groups are permitted to serve in combat arms units. If not, that is a potential indicator that they are not trusted to employ weapons that might ultimately be turned against the state. If denied service in combat arms units, do they play an outsized role in other functions like maintenance or logistics, which might undermine the state’s ability to project power beyond its borders? Ultimately, what we most want to understand is how treatment of ethnic minorities will enable or inhibit combat effectiveness. If we should assess that an actor’s poor treatment of ethnic minorities will lead to mass desertions in combat than we are much closer to determining that a state lacks the will to fight than we would have been without interrogating the relationship between the state and its recruitment base.

As mentioned earlier, there are undoubtedly a range of factors that contribute to the will to fight, including nationalist sentiment that can become especially significant for defending forces motivated to protect their homeland or way of life. Accounting for as many of those factors as possible will produce the most complete picture. To be sure, this brief scan of battlefield effectiveness scholarship points to only a few. However, these theories and others from academia provide the ideal starting point for developing a collection strategy to assess will to fight. All else held equal, a force that recognizes it has been trained to a high standard is likely to fight with greater determination and staying power than forces organized in states that cannot or will not provide their soldiers with the necessary training to prevail on the modern battlefield.

Senator King’s criticism of the intelligence community’s shortcomings in assessing will to fight were well justified. Failure to assess it accurately in a conflict involving a partner is troubling in its own right. However, such misjudgment of an adversary could prove catastrophic in a conflict in which US forces are directly committed. The National Intelligence Council initiative to review methodologies for assessing will to fight that DNI Haines alluded to would be well served by considering the inclusion of battlefield effectiveness scholarship in the future training and development needs of military analysts. In turn, analysts should consider how such general theories of conflict can be coupled with their more nuanced understanding of forces in their portfolios to drive collection that yields more reliable assessments of a force’s ability and willingness to fight.

Josh Cheatham is a military analyst with the Department of the Army and a PhD candidate in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. His research looks at the reasons for and consequences of states’ decisions to field conscript soldiers.

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 credit: Fotoreserg, via depositphotos.com

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mwi.usma.edu · by Josh Cheatham · July 27, 2022



10. From the Lighthouse to the Christmas Tree: Enabling Distributed Innovation in the US Military


Conclusion:


The lighthouse model of innovation was optimized for a bygone strategic environment and no longer meets the needs of America’s military. In its place, a Christmas tree model of distributed innovation would be better fitted to the current environment. Though deep structural reforms would need to be enacted to update the antiquated PPBE system, an actionable path to enabling distributed innovation in the joint force lies in human capital development via PME. As education is a service responsibility, we suggest that these entities increasingly prioritize education for their personnel in an era of shrinking budgets. Additionally, we offer that—with minimal investment and moderate planning—PME student research could be linked directly to ongoing innovation efforts across the DoD ecosystem. In sum, PME programs provide a ready location to enable distributed innovation by turning their students into the lights that lead the way—both as today’s innovators and tomorrow’s innovative leaders.

From the Lighthouse to the Christmas Tree: Enabling Distributed Innovation in the US Military - Modern War Institute

Leo BlankenJason Lepore and Cecilia Panella | 07.27.22

mwi.usma.edu · by Leo Blanken · July 27, 2022

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During the Cold War, when both the United States and the Soviet Union considered the strategic environment to be one of “permanent crisis,” the two great powers concluded that outcomes in modern warfare would be determined, in large part, by the capacity to equip their forces with technologically advanced weapons and platforms. As these sociotechnical systems became larger, more complex, and more expensive, innovative change became an integral part of national security. Militaries could no longer rely on random strokes of genius to prevail in future wars, but instead needed to systematize innovation. This is what Martin van Creveld labeled “the invention of invention”: “A process of technological competition arose, one that was sometimes relaxed but never halted. . . . There could be no question that each country’s effective military power depended on its armed forces continuously keeping abreast technologically.” This trend of purpose-driven military innovation had been evolving over the previous century, but was crystalized in the postwar period. As Michael J. Hogan argues, “American leaders emerged from the Second World War absolutely convinced that science had saved the day by achieving dramatic breakthroughs in military technology.”

The planning of peacetime American forces under the cloud of Soviet threat required processes and institutions to enable perpetual innovation. This included the mobilization of basic science, applied science, and engineering toward military problems. The resulting structure, which continues to characterize innovation processes and culture of the US military more than three decades after the end of the Cold War, came to resemble a lighthouse—tall, vertically oriented, with a single beam of light as its most purposeful and defining feature. In a lighthouse, every other component of the structure exists in support of the powerful lamp at its apex. Similarly in the in the US military, the drivers of institutional innovative capacity are largely centered at the top of the organization—once an opportunity for innovative change is identified, the directive for innovation flows down the vertical structure to predesignated entities tasked with research, development, and implementation. To work, this lighthouse model of military innovation requires three defining attributes: it is hierarchical in structure, due to relative omniscience of the threat space and control of relevant technologies.

The first feature of the lighthouse model of innovation—its hierarchical construction—refers to the centralization and strict division of labor that characterized Cold War planning. World War II had revealed the inefficiencies introduced by lack of coordination among the military services, national command authority, and national intelligence services. The National Security Act of 1947 was designed to rectify this problem by coordinating all these activities under a unified National Military Establishment, moving much authority for planning from the individual military services to the level of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This drive toward centralization was part of a wider postwar effort to perfect all bureaucratic action and fulfill the Enlightenment goals of rationalization of state function. The culmination of this evolution would be a machine-like apparatus that would utilize elaborate planning and precise division of labor to produce optimal policy—which would include the leveraging of science to produce innovation: “By improving the orchestration of research, engineering, management, and policymaking . . . the rationales underlying practical decisions could be placed on firmer empirical foundations.”

The second feature of the lighthouse model is its reliance on near omniscience of the threat environment for which military innovation was being conducted. Though the international system is always complex, Cold War planners benefitted from a relatively simple and stable environment for which they had to design forces. First, the core weapons and platforms of conventional warfare of the era—including submarines, bombers, tanks, fighter planes, and mechanized infantry—had all been developed and tested extensively during World War II. Other than a steady flow of sustaining modernizations around these technologies, the only truly disruptive military technologies of this era were strategic nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. And while these new weapons had a deep impact on the way each side would devise and implement its deterrence strategies, they had a much more muted effect on military operational planning, which continued to emphasize large-scale, conventional combat. The second source of simplicity was the limited number of scenarios around which planning had to be conducted. More specifically, the scenario that took ultimate priority in US and allied Cold War planning was the potential Soviet invasion of Western Europe through the Fulda Gap. This projected battle took precedence over any other contingency that might arise, thereby greatly simplifying force planning. Finally, the Soviet military establishment was largely comparable to that of the United States as they shared the same basic structures, goals, and tools. Taken as a whole, the Cold War provided a very known—or at least knowable—strategic environment in which to design military forces; this meant that reasonable assumptions could be used to replace gaps in factual information regarding Soviet capabilities and intention. Thomas McNaugher describes this level of near omniscience succinctly: “Soviet forces provided a well-understood, slowly advancing focal point for long-range planning.”

The third feature of the lighthouse model, the control of technology, refers to the capacity of the Department of Defense to exclusively possess, shape, or at least intimately understand all strategically relevant advances in science and technology. This control had always been achieved through money—American defense spending in research and development attracted all relevant nascent technologies to it like moths to a flame. This system was optimized during the Cold War, when the United States government mobilized the civilian university system, university-affiliated research centers, national laboratories, and federally funded research and development centers through the massive spending of R&D dollars. In 1960, for example, the Department of Defense alone accounted for 36 percent of all R&D dollars spent around the globe. This tremendous flow of dollars ensured that the Department of Defense often outright controlled—or was at least intimately aware of the implications of—all science and emerging technologies that related to military power.

The three features of the lighthouse model of innovation fitted neatly with the historical era in which it was developed: the Cold War. The strategic landscape, however, has changed significantly since the Soviet Union’s final dissolution in 1991, and the purely hierarchical structure of the lighthouse is no longer suitable for generating innovation. Instead, US military innovation should look more like a Christmas tree, with innovative activity dispersed throughout the Department of Defense like lights on a festively decorated tree, rather than being controlled and directed solely from above.

One important change since the end of the Cold War is the loss of relative omniscience of the strategic environment. When the Cold War ended, the United States struggled to understand the role its unchallenged military forces would play in the world. Moving from planning around specific scenarios against a mirror-imaged opponent, the United States now struggled with violent extremist organizations, rogue states, nuclear proliferation, peacekeeping, and humanitarian missions. All of these were assumed, to some degree, to be “lesser-included” tasks that could be handled with the overwhelming conventional forces created and sustained by the lighthouse—a mistaken attitude that was reinforced by the lopsided battlefield success of the Gulf War. As the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts turned sour in the decades after 9/11, it became clear that the US military establishment’s understanding of the environment was inadequate, but the lighthouse continued to produce capabilities and concepts that were (at best) incremental improvements of the Cold War force.

A second change is a loss of control over technology. The chief mechanism of that previous control, research money, has dried up. Whereas the Department of Defense accounted for 36 percent of all R&D dollars spent around the globe in 1960, by 2016 that number had shrunk to 4 percent (and continues to decline). Even when the Department of Defense has money to spend, it still fails to connect meaningfully to emerging tech sectors. As a recent Council on Foreign Relations report lamented:

The pace of innovation globally has accelerated, and it is more disruptive and transformative to industries, economies, and societies. Second, many advanced technologies necessary for national security are developed in the private sector. . . . The ability of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to control [such] activity using traditional policy means has been greatly reduced.

A deeper, point is embedded in this account of loss of control of technological advancement: a lack of comprehension. The Council on Foreign Relations report notes that current technologies emerging from the private sector are “disruptive and transformative”—the implications of which are often not readily apparent for the Department of Defense. The types of innovation that may spring from these disruptive—and alien—technologies is simply beyond the capacity of the lighthouse to meaningfully leverage.

The loss of omniscience and control implies the poor fit of the third aspect of the lighthouse: hierarchy. The rigid, vertical structure and hyper compartmentalization of the US national security apparatus, though well suited to the relatively simple and stable environment of the Cold War, is ill-suited to the current strategic landscape. A new, distributed approach to innovation and adaptability is required. As Williamson Murray argues, “Innovation demands officers in the mainstream of their profession. . . . The bureaucratization of innovation . . . guarantees its death.” This means moving the onus for innovation from isolated specialists to those men and women who comprise the operational force.

Distributed innovation, however, relies on two things for success: (1) incentives that enable innovations to emerge and (2) organizational capacity to identify and scale up these innovative solutions. First, innovation and adaptation should be recognized and rewarded across military institutions. Though bottom-up innovation and adaptation have occurred in military organizations throughout history, it usually occurs for modern American military forces only on wartime battlefields and rarely results in systemic change for the broader organization. If distributed innovation were to occur in the steady state—outside of the crucible of combat—incentive structures and cultures would need to be in place to foster new ideas. This is a challenge for culturally bound organizations that typically respond to novel problems by narrowing their apertures to traditional approaches in the face of adversity, rather than becoming more creative. The second condition for successful distributed innovation relates to scaling. Distributed innovations must be identified and scaled up. Candles of innovation are often trapped under the bushel basket of organizational status quo and better mechanisms are needed to locate and enact wider adoption of innovations that may occur anywhere throughout an organization as large as the US military services.

Given this, a Christmas tree model would better enable innovation in the American military. There are two characteristics of this construct that distinguish it from the Cold War lighthouse. First, there are lights of innovation distributed throughout the tree in addition to the star at the top. This means that, even though major innovation projects are coordinated and resourced from a central location, units and individuals throughout the organization can play an active role in innovation. They can do so by acting as distributed sensors who assist in detecting emerging opportunities, gaps, or threats. They are also empowered to engage in efforts to ideate, prototype, and collaborate around innovative solutions at the lowest level. Second, the branches of the tree act as pathways that allow information and ideas to flow in multiple directions. This is necessary for leadership to learn from the distributed network—both for increased understanding and to harvest and scale up appropriate innovative solutions.

What barriers stand in the way of the United States military adopting the Christmas tree model of distributed innovation? These can be roughly binned into two categories: structural reform and human capital development. Structural reform is, by far, more difficult and may need to entail an entire reformation or abandonment of the Cold War–era Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) system and its onerous requirements process, which was identified by the former chair of the Defense Innovation Board, Eric Schmidt, as “now the single greatest barrier to rapid technological advancement.”

Until these structural reforms occur, however, we can turn to human capital development as an immediately actionable lever to enable innovation. More specifically, professional military education (PME) provides a ready mechanism by which service members can become the distributed lights of innovation. This can be accomplished through three mechanisms.

The first mechanism is through updated curricular content that enables innovative thinking. The current PME system does not lend itself to critically examining previously understood doctrine and domains. This should change. Hard sciences, engineering, history, and social sciences should be complemented by coursework on wicked problemsdesign disciplines, and prototyping to provide a modern understanding of the complex and rapidly evolving sociotechnical systems that comprise the modern strategic environment.

The second mechanism is through graduate research that is based in innovation. This is accomplished by embedding PME student research into actual innovation projects drawn from operational needs. Doing so will not only professionally develop the students but will improve those ongoing innovation efforts. These efforts would showcase the degree to which PME students can combine their newly acquired academic skills and rich professional experience to contribute to innovation projects that may otherwise be conducted solely by civilian engineers and scientists.

The third mechanism is indirect; it is through improved future leadership throughout the force. As PME students experience the challenges of innovation firsthand—from ideation, through design and engineering, to acquisition and adoption—they will carry these lessons forward to their future roles as leaders. Their education and experience as innovators will, in turn, allow them to empathize with and enable grassroots innovators in their future commands. This will produce a steady stream of more lights to brighten the Christmas tree.

The lighthouse model of innovation was optimized for a bygone strategic environment and no longer meets the needs of America’s military. In its place, a Christmas tree model of distributed innovation would be better fitted to the current environment. Though deep structural reforms would need to be enacted to update the antiquated PPBE system, an actionable path to enabling distributed innovation in the joint force lies in human capital development via PME. As education is a service responsibility, we suggest that these entities increasingly prioritize education for their personnel in an era of shrinking budgets. Additionally, we offer that—with minimal investment and moderate planning—PME student research could be linked directly to ongoing innovation efforts across the DoD ecosystem. In sum, PME programs provide a ready location to enable distributed innovation by turning their students into the lights that lead the way—both as today’s innovators and tomorrow’s innovative leaders.

Leo Blanken is an associate professor in the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School, where he also serves as the deputy director of the Consortium for Robotics and Unmanned Systems Education and Research (CRUSER) and as the academic lead for the Applied Design for Innovation program. He is the author of Rational Empires: Institutional Incentives and Imperial Expansion and is coeditor of Assessing War: The Challenge of Measuring Success and Failure. He also collects and DJs rare funk and soul records from the 1960s.

Jason Lepore is a professor in the Economics Department of the Orfalea College of Business at California Polytechnic State University and a visiting research professor in the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School. He has published articles on defense economics, game theory, and industrial organization and he is coeditor of Assessing War: The Challenge of Measuring Success and Failure.

Cecilia Panella is a faculty associate for research in the Department of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, where she coleads the Applied Design for Innovation curriculum. She holds a graduate degree from Johns Hopkins SAIS in American foreign policy and international economics.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.

Image credit: John Tornow

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mwi.usma.edu · by Leo Blanken · July 27, 2022



11. GOP lawmakers press Defense Sec. Austin about federal funds to colleges with Chinese government ties



GOP lawmakers press Defense Sec. Austin about federal funds to colleges with Chinese government ties


Video at the link. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/gop-lawmakers-press-sec-austin-federal-funds-colleges-chinese-government-ties?utm_source=pocket_mylist



Excerpts:


the lawmakers provided the secretary with a litany of questions regarding the funding to Austin with a deadline of August 15, 2022.


Joining Banks on the letter are 56 of his fellow House Republicans, including House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mike Rodgers of Alabama, House Republican Conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik of New York, and Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan.


A spokesperson for the Pentagon declined to comment on the letter, telling Fox News Digital that, as "with all congressional correspondence, we will respond directly to the authors of the letter."





GOP lawmakers press Defense Sec. Austin about federal funds to colleges with Chinese government ties

Dozens of universities replaced Confucius Institutes with similar China-tied programs, lawmakers say


foxnews.com · by Houston Keene | Fox News

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FIRST ON FOX: Several Republican lawmakers are pressing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about federal funds going to colleges and universities with ties to the Chinese government.

Republican Study Committee (RSC) chairman Jim Banks, R-Ind., led 56 of his colleagues in the letter to Austin, asking the secretary why federal funds were going to schools that are linked to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

"During the last administration, Congress finally took important steps to combat China’s illicit influence efforts at U.S. universities, Banks told Fox News Digital in a statement. "When Republicans retake the majority we’ll be able to protect the progress we’ve made from a president who seeks to reset our relations with China to the pre-Trump status quo."

The lawmakers wrote they were concerned about the Chinese government’s "influence and infiltration in American universities through Confucius Institutes and other partnerships with PRC universities that may pose a national security risk to American universities and the U.S. research and development enterprise."

HOUSE CONSERVATIVES PREPARE FIGHT AGAINST BIPARTISAN CHINA BILL, AS SENATE MARCHES TOWARD PASSAGE


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, and Representative Jim Banks (R), Republican of Indiana, holds a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 9, 2022. ((Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images))

Banks and the Republicans wrote that the presence of Confucius Institutes on American campuses "has long raised serious concerns about PRC government influence and infiltration in our higher education and research systems," such as the Chinese government stealing American intellectual property.

"In response to these concerns and potential risks, Congress has introduced legislation and passed various laws to address issues surrounding PRC influence on U.S. higher education and research through Confucius Institutes," the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers pointed to the portions of the 2019 and 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — the supersized bill that funds the military — that banned federal funds from going to institutions that hosted a Confucius Institute, a pro-Beijing education organization with ties to the PRC, on campus.

They noted that the 2021 NDAA prohibits "DoD funding for any institution of higher education that hosts a Confucius Institute after October 1, 2023" and that the bills’ "provisions pressured most American universities to close Confucius Institutes on their campuses."

"Confucius Institutes, however, are far from meeting their demise on our university campuses," the Republicans wrote. "According to a recent report by the National Association of Scholars, while 104 of the 118 Confucius Institutes on American university campuses have closed, at least 28 universities have replaced the Confucius Institute with a similar program and 58 have maintained the partnership with the PRC university reached as a part of the agreement with Confucius Institute."


A New York Times guest essay suggested Monday that the Biden administration's posture on China distracts from Russia. (Bikash Dware/The Rising Nepal via AP))

"The single most common reason universities give when they close a Confucius Institute is that they are replacing it with a new PRC partnership program," they continued.

The lawmakers cited the same section of the 2021 NDAA that broadened the definition of what a Confucius Institute is "as a cultural institute directly or indirectly (emphasis added) funded, or materially supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.’"

They also noted that, when the 2021 NDAA was introduced into Congress, the "Office of Chinese Language Council International (more commonly known as Hanban), the Confucius Institute parent organization under the PRC Ministry of Education, was promptly rebranded as the Center for Language Exchange and Cooperation in July 2020."

"It then spun off a separate organization – the Chinese International Education Foundation (CIEF), which now funds and oversees Confucius Institutes and many of their reconstituted programs and institutes," the Republicans explained.

"CIEF is controlled by the PRC government, despite its ostensible non-governmental status," they added. "Any CIEF-funded cultural program or institute should be considered a Confucius Institute."

The lawmakers pointed out that the 2021 NDAA section dealing with Confucius Institutes will go into effect on October 1, 2023, "two years after the FY2021 NDAA was enacted."


Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., is one of the 56 House Republicans who signed onto the letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about federal funds going to universities tied to the Chinese government. (Photographer: Rod Lamkey/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"It provides ample time for universities to sever their link with Confucius Institutes. As such, DoD should stick with the established time frame to implement and enforce provisions in Section 1062 after October 1, 2023, and focus its efforts not only on the Confucius Institutes but also the restructured programs and institutes that continue to serve similar functions and raise similar concerns as the Confucius Institutes," the letter said.

"Yet, we have learned that DoD has awarded funding with contractual periods extending beyond October 1, 2023 to some universities, including a number of major state universities, which have replaced their Confucius Institute with a similar program or institute directly or indirectly funded, or materially supported by the PRC government," the letter continued. "According to National Association of Scholars’s recent report, these universities include, but are not limited to, University of Michigan, University of Hawaii Manoa, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, Stony Brook University and the University of Texas at San Antonio."

The lawmakers wrote the funding "raises a number of questions about how DoD will enforce Section 1062 and whether these universities will receive some sort of exemption enabling them to avoid Congress’s intent to prohibit DoD funding for any institution of higher education that hosts a Confucius Institute" and noted that several Chinese universities partnered with American campuses "have already been recognized by the U.S. government as posing a national security risk to the United States and have been placed on the Department of Commerce’s Entity List."

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The lawmakers provided the secretary with a litany of questions regarding the funding to Austin with a deadline of August 15, 2022.

Joining Banks on the letter are 56 of his fellow House Republicans, including House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mike Rodgers of Alabama, House Republican Conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik of New York, and Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon declined to comment on the letter, telling Fox News Digital that, as "with all congressional correspondence, we will respond directly to the authors of the letter."

Houston Keene is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to Houston.Keene@Fox.com and on Twitter: @HoustonKeene

foxnews.com · by Houston Keene | Fox News



12. China’s Wolf Warrior Diplomacy Is Fading



I will believe it when I see it. I think wolf diplomacy is in the CCP's DNA.



China’s Wolf Warrior Diplomacy Is Fading

Recent diplomatic exchanges and appointments signal China’s slow shift away from more assertive diplomacy.

thediplomat.com · by Ray Weichieh Wang · July 27, 2022

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In recent years, China has become famous for “wolf warrior diplomacy,” an assertive diplomatic tactic that goes as far as insulting or threatening those deemed to violate China’s interests. Wolf warrior diplomacy has been widely used in the past few years, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, this assertive diplomatic strategy has undercut China’s global image and further exacerbated its relations with countries across the world, ranging from Europe to Asia. Therefore, a change must be made to better secure China’s interests.

Change in the Winds

In May 2021, China’s President Xi Jinping told senior officials in a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that it is crucial to manifest a positive image of China in order to constantly expand China’s circle of friends. “It is necessary to make friends, unite and win over the majority, and constantly expand the circle of friends [when it comes to] international public opinion,” said Xi. He also said that China should be “open and confident, but also modest and humble” in its communication with the world.

His speech posed a marked contrast with the style of wolf warrior diplomacy in the past few years. It was a first signal of the policy shift away from China’s wolf warrior diplomacy, as Xi himself and its administration were increasingly aware of the backlash brought by Chinese diplomats’ more assertive stance. At the time, China was facing the continuing deterioration of its relationships with the United States, the European Union, and Australia. On top of that, China was receiving soaring discontent from countries around the world.

Another symbolic move made by Xi to gradually alter the course of China’s diplomacy was the appointment of China’s new ambassador to the United States: Qin Gang, a former vice foreign minister who was once responsible for Latin American and European affairs. Qin’s predecessor, Cui Tiankai, was a veteran diplomat with robust knowledge of U.S. affairs and personal connections with incumbent and former U.S. government officials and lawmakers. By contrast, Qin’s lack of diplomatic experience regarding U.S. affairs made him a surprising pick for this position.

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There were two critical reasons for Xi to make this unanticipated appointment. First, Qin was previously in charge of Xi’s diplomatic schedule and accompanied Xi and other top Chinese officials on multiple diplomatic trips. Clearly, he was trusted by China’s leadership circle, including Xi himself. Xi thus preferred someone who has more direct access and a personal relationship with him to handle the most pivotal diplomatic mission for China.

Second, as Xi called for shaping a positive image of China weeks before Qin’s appointment, Xi expected to utilize Qin’s experience as a spokesperson and director of the Ministry of Information Department to relay a “good image” of China as well as bring fresh air in the China-U.S. diplomatic arena amid the long-term tension.

Although some media portrayed Qin Gang as a wolf warrior diplomat before he took up his post in Washington. D.C., he is clearly not. Newsweek’s Beijing bureau chief Melinda Lu described Qin in August 2021 as “remarkably even-handed, especially given the tattered state of Sino-U.S. ties.” Qin’s diplomatic approach is obviously milder than most people expected but meshes with Xi’s stance on engendering a good image of China. Indeed, Qin has directly denied the notion of wolf warrior diplomacy numerous times since his inauguration. For instance, he told journalists that Chinese diplomats are not “wolf warriors” and claimed the job description for every new Chinese diplomat is peaceful diplomacy instead of wolf warrior diplomacy.

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Consequently, looking back on Xi’s comments, Qin’s appointment, and the new U.S. ambassador’s subsequent “anti-wolf warrior” comment, it was clear by 2021 that the intention was to progressively phase out wolf warrior diplomacy.

China’s Diplomatic Approach to Europe and the Indo-Pacific Is Shifting

This year, other signs also indicated the decline of China’s wolf warrior diplomacy. China is now turning to positive interactions with measured diplomatic manners to improve its ties with other nations and shelving the wolf warrior style of diplomacy.

In May, Wu Hongbo, the special representative of the Chinese government for European affairs, embarked on a three-week trip to Europe with the aim to alleviate the China-EU tensions that were further exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Differing from his adamant stance on certain issues during his previous trip to Europe in November 2021, Wu took a different approach this time. At every stop, Wu conceded China’s “mistakes,” with wolf warrior diplomacy included on the list. A European business leader who was involved in the meeting with Wu said, “The Chinese want to change the tone of the story, to control the damage.” He added, “They understand they have gone too far.”

In July, while attending the G-20 foreign ministerial meeting in Indonesia, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met respectively with Germany and France’s foreign ministers. Despite the concern about China’s alignment with Russia, its stance on the Ukraine crisis, and previous disagreements, both sides oriented themselves toward advancing bilateral cooperation instead of disputes. Based on Wu’s change of attitude between his two European trips and Wang’s words in recent meetings with his German and French counterparts, China is changing its diplomatic approach to gain trust from Europe in order to revamp relations.

Notably, China has changed its diplomatic approach not only toward Europe but toward neighbors in the Indo-Pacific as well. In March 2022, Xi spoke with South Korea’s president-elect Yoon Suk Yeol, who had vowed to pursue a pro-U.S. foreign policy and a tougher stance on China. Xi’s call with Yoon was consequential given he broke the long-time rule that the president of China does not call other nations’ presidents-elect. At the time, China-South Korea relations were facing lingering challenges. After a dispute over the deployment of THAAD, U.S. missile defense batteries, to South Korea in 2017, China’s image in South Korea reached a record low: Eight out of 10 South Koreans hold an unfavorable view of China. This unfavorable view was further exacerbated at this year’s Beijing Winter Olympics.

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The unusual call from Xi to president-elect Yoon was contrived to demonstrate China’s “goodwill” for the purpose of mending relations between the two countries. Xi’s call also served as a quiet demonstration of waning wolf warrior diplomacy because it contradicted the strong stance held by China’s ambassador to South Korea, Xing Haiming. Last July, Xing and Yoon were involved in a diplomatic row on the THAAD issue. The Chinese ambassador took a strong stance on this issue and penned an inflammatory column titled “South Korea-China relations are not an accessory to South Korea-US relations.” His comments attacking a South Korean presidential candidate ahead of an election were heavily criticized by the Korean government and media.

Xing’s attitude on THAAD and other issues, however, softened after Yoon was elected in March. His sudden change of stance alongside Xi’s call with Yoon in March evinced the refinement of China’s diplomatic approach to South Korea. Once again, China is slowly walking away from wolf warrior diplomacy.

South Korea is not the only example of this trend. In January 2022, Xiao Qian, a former Chinese ambassador to Indonesia with a reputation for a more professional communication style and moderate tone, was appointed as China’s new ambassador to Australia, displacing five-year diplomat Cheng Jingye. Since Xiao’s service began in January, he has been vocal about restoring good relations between the two countries. For example, Xiao said in an event held at the University of Technology Sydney’s Australia-China Relations Institute, “These are the areas where we should continue to conduct constructive dialogue, to minimize the differences if possible, and to enlarge our common grounds if possible.” By replacing Cheng, China was able to signal its willingness to proactively repair the relations with Australia as well as modify its aggressive diplomatic approach.

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Moreover, when China’s Foreign Minister Wang met with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong on the sideline of the G-20 foreign ministerial meeting in Indonesia in July 2022, Wang told his counterpart that “China is ready to re-examine, re-calibrate, and reinvigorate bilateral ties in the spirit of mutual respect, and strive to bring bilateral relations back on the right track.” Such words were overtly moderate in comparison with the comments and policies made by the Chinese government in the past two years, once again divulging its plan to curb the wolf warrior diplomacy.

The Party Congress Will Cement the Future of China’s Diplomacy

Admittedly, it is true that there are some wolf warrior diplomats remaining in the current Chinese government, such as Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian. However, it is clear that China’s use of wolf warrior diplomacy toward other countries is gradually decreasing and is being replaced with more positive diplomatic interactions. Though wolf warrior diplomacy is waning, Chinese diplomats will keep relaying strong messages on issues such as Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea to protect China’s “core interests.”

This fall, the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will take place in Beijing. Numerous serving diplomats are expected to be replaced, including China’s top two diplomats: Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission General Office Yang Jiechei and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. As Xi is expected to secure a third term as party chairman, we should expect the Chinese diplomatic approach to lean more toward his stated desire to “create a loveable image of China.” For this reason, we can expect wolf warrior diplomacy to further diminish after this fall with new diplomatic leadership in place.

Ray Weichieh Wang

Ray Weichieh Wang is a freelance analyst and contributor for several media outlets in Taiwan, focusing on diplomacy and politics in the Indo-Pacific. His research interests center on international relations in the Indo-Pacific, particularly focusing on China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. He earned a BS degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from Tamkang University.

thediplomat.com · by Ray Weichieh Wang · July 27, 2022



13. Global food crisis: Beyond the Ukraine-Russia grain deal, what else can the world do?


Excerpts:

Solving the 20-million-ton grain problem — and there remain serious questions as to whether it can be resolved — won’t be enough by itself. As Grid has reported, the current food supply crisis predates the war; in 2021, around 828 million people were affected by hunger — an increase of 46 million from the year before and 150 million higher than in 2019.
Longer term, solving this crisis requires action on issues ranging from the impact of climate change on farming to the economic fallout of covid-19, which robbed millions around the world of their livelihoods.
And in the short term, while the shipment of Ukrainian grain will help, ultimately the war needs to end — or at least see a reduction in the level of hostilities — to ensure that there aren’t further problems down the road. A key focus here is the next harvest in Ukraine.
As Grid has reported, the most recent crop-planting season in Ukraine unfolded in the shadow of war. That resulted in a significant reduction — about 20 to 30 percent — in the level of spring crops that could be sown in the country, according to U.N. estimates.


Global food crisis: Beyond the Ukraine-Russia grain deal, what else can the world do?

Freeing up 20 million tons of grain would ease the crisis; experts say much more needs to be done.


Nikhil Kumar

Deputy Global Editor

July 27, 2022

grid.news · by Nikhil Kumar

The world couldn’t have been hungrier for it — in the most literal of ways. Which is why when the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres unveiled a deal last week to restart Ukrainian grain exports, he was almost unrelentingly effusive, calling the agreement a “beacon on the Black Sea.” It was, he said, “a beacon of hope … a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief … in a world that needs it more than ever.” A first sign that the deal was holding came Wednesday, as Ukraine said work had begun at three key southern ports to open “corridors” for grain exports. Odessa military administration spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said naval teams were working at ports in Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi to open routes for grain to be carried in “caravans” of ships through the Black Sea.

Implemented successfully, the Russia-Ukraine grain pact could bring down prices for basic food staples and help plug food shortfalls in countries that are heavily dependent on Ukrainian supplies. Even as the war continues, a freeing up of these shipments — some 20 million tons have been stranded by the war and a Russian blockade — could help ease a global food crisis that has been fanned by Moscow’s invasion.

As Grid has previously reported, Ukraine and Russia are central to the world’s food supply. Before the war, Ukraine alone supplied some 45 million tons of grain to the world market, while Russia is the world’s leading fertilizer exporter. The war interrupted Ukrainian exports; those 20 million tons of grain are the product of last year’s harvest held hostage, as Russia blocks critical freight routes in the Black Sea, and as the Ukrainians mine sea lanes to keep out Russian ships. Sanctions on Russia, meanwhile, have hit other grain supplies, as well as the global supply of fertilizers, impacting farming in places as far away as Peru and Indonesia.

The results: higher prices for all, less food for many.

While the world watches to see whether the grain deal itself will be implemented, the agreement struck in Istanbul raises questions about what else might be done to ease the broader crisis. Beyond freeing the grain stuck in Ukrainian ports, what policies or actions would make a difference?

What 20 million tons of grain can do

The release of all that grain would have two major positive impacts: providing more food for Ukraine’s long-standing customers — and bringing down prices of basic staples by adding supply.

The grain stuck in Ukraine is particularly important for nearby countries that have depended for years on the food supply chain that begins in those Black Sea ports. Egypt, for instance, is still waiting for deliveries of around 300,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat that were meant to land on its shores in February and March. Other countries in the Middle East and Africa have been facing shortfalls — among them Lebanon, which before the war relied on Ukraine for some 60 percent of its wheat imports. In Africa, some of the continent’s poorest countries — Somalia in particular — have been badly affected by the loss of Ukrainian grain. Already struggling for years to feed itself, Somalia relied on Ukraine for more than half its wheat imports before the war.

This is what the deal struck in Istanbul is supposed to fix: By releasing the grain, the hope is that these and other short-term shortages can be relieved.

Meanwhile, allowing Russia to resume fertilizer exports isn’t just a sop to Moscow: It will also help farmers around the world, in countries as far away as Peru, which last year relied on Russia for 70 percent of its fertilizer supplies.

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“If it is implemented, the agreement will certainly help ease grain shortages, particularly for countries in the Middle East and Africa that rely heavily on grain imports from Russia and Ukraine,” Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, chief executive of the humanitarian group Mercy Corps, told Grid. It was imperative, she added, that “the 20 million tons of grain stuck in Ukraine reach the most import-reliant countries that have seen the biggest impact of these shortages.”

As far as global prices are concerned, the news of the deal — and the mere prospect of the grain’s release — triggered a drop in global wheat prices, as traders factored in the arrival of Ukrainian grain on the world market. If the blockade were to end, and those 20 million tons actually left Ukrainian ports, the hope is that prices will settle at a lower level — helping broaden access to food for millions of people.

As Guterres put it last week, lower prices are a key aim of the deal. They would, he said, bring “relief for developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine.”

The markets were also looking beyond Ukraine to an uptick in Russian exports: The deal will facilitate Russia grain shipments, a big part of the global food supply chain. Last year alone, Moscow earned $11 billon from grain exports.

In addition to countries that await all that stranded grain, there are international aid organizations waiting as well. The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) depends heavily on food staples from Ukraine and Russia; as Ertharin Cousin, the agency’s former executive director, recently told Grid, the organization sources about half the wheat it distributes in poor and conflict-ridden countries from Ukraine. The war, she explained, thus “increases the cost of each operation and reduces the number of people they are able to feed.”

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If the grain stuck in the conflict zone starts to flow to hungry customers, those costs will come down as well — helping the WFP and by extension, the world’s poorest people access much needed nutrition.

What else can be done?

Solving the 20-million-ton grain problem — and there remain serious questions as to whether it can be resolved — won’t be enough by itself. As Grid has reported, the current food supply crisis predates the war; in 2021, around 828 million people were affected by hunger — an increase of 46 million from the year before and 150 million higher than in 2019.

Longer term, solving this crisis requires action on issues ranging from the impact of climate change on farming to the economic fallout of covid-19, which robbed millions around the world of their livelihoods.

And in the short term, while the shipment of Ukrainian grain will help, ultimately the war needs to end — or at least see a reduction in the level of hostilities — to ensure that there aren’t further problems down the road. A key focus here is the next harvest in Ukraine.

As Grid has reported, the most recent crop-planting season in Ukraine unfolded in the shadow of war. That resulted in a significant reduction — about 20 to 30 percent — in the level of spring crops that could be sown in the country, according to U.N. estimates.

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With the war continuing, it is not yet clear how much of that reduced crop will be harvested in the coming months. The government in Kyiv has taken steps to ensure that farm work can continue — among other measures, it has exempted agricultural workers from military service.

But in some parts of the country, there are concerns as to whether farmworkers will be able to access their fields. One local estimate suggests that of the 7.6 million hectares of land planted with winter wheat, rye and barley in recent months, only about 5.5 million hectares will be accessible for harvesting.

In addition to concerns about safety, there is the war’s powerful economic impact. Transport costs, for example, have skyrocketed, making it harder for Ukrainian farmers to move what crop they can harvest via land routes to silos or nearby ports.

“Most of the farmers are running the risk of becoming bankrupt very soon,” Mykola Horbachov, the head of the Ukrainian Grain Association, an industry group, told the Associated Press earlier this month.

The upshot: Even if the grain deal frees up last year’s harvest, big questions remain about the future of Ukraine’s agricultural sector. The country’s agricultural minister warned recently that the fallout could result in Ukrainian farmers planting up to two-thirds less wheat later this year. “Farmers will reduce winter sowing [of] wheat and barley from 30 to 60 percent,” Mykola Solskyi told the Financial Times in a recent interview.

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What could other countries do?

Beyond whatever Ukraine and Russia do that extends or alleviates the global food crisis, experts say that other countries have it in their power to help. This would require nations to look beyond their narrow domestic needs and dial back policies that have only made things worse.

As food supplies have waned and prices spiked, several food-producing countries have responded by restricting or even banning the export of food staples and fertilizers. The motivation behind the curbs is clear enough: Governments are trying to ensure they have enough food to go around at home at a time when much of the world is being hammered by high rates of inflation. As Grid has previously reported, rising prices have already fanned unrest globally.

World Bank data shows that, as of early June, 34 countries had recently imposed export restrictions on food and fertilizers. “These actions are self-defeating because they reduce global supply, driving food prices even higher,” the bank’s analysts warn. “Other countries respond by imposing restrictions of their own, fueling an escalating cycle of trade actions that have a multiplier effect on prices.”

Among the countries that have imposed curbs is Russia, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, which announced a temporary export ban covering wheat and other grains in March. India, which has benefited recently from a record wheat harvest, banned wheat exports in May. 22 other countries have introduced restrictions on wheat exports. That affects around 21 percent of the global trade in the key staple. And that, in turn — you guessed it — drives up prices.

Experts say it’s a short-sighted policy that will cause long-term pain. The solution, they say, is to do the opposite: take down export controls, and allow food and fertilizer to flow more easily on the global markets. That extra supply would help bring down prices. “Avoiding stockpiling and encouraging free movement of food is important to keep markets functioning and avoiding inflationary pressure,” McKenna told Grid.

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Indeed, recent history shows how export restrictions can drive up global prices. Economic uncertainty and global food price spikes in 2008 triggered a series of similar curbs, with 36 countries moving to impose restrictions on exports of food, as well as fertilizers. Analyzing the data, economists now say that in the absence of those limits, prices would have been 13 percent lower.

It’s why the heads of several international organizations — the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Food Programme and others — joined together this month to call on governments to scrap such restrictions.

The hungry get hungrier

The problem with all these ideas and suggestions is that their chances of implementation appear low at the moment. Even the much-vaunted Ukraine-Russia grain deal is at risk — not only because the Russians launched missiles at the port of Odessa in Ukraine, one day after the agreement was signed, but also because the details of enforcement are complex and might be undone by action on the front lines.

A critical worry for many global experts is that in a time of food shortages, available supplies will end up in the hands of those with money and influence — that is, away from poorer countries that are already struggling.

“Amid intense competition for food and key inputs like fertilizer, there is a risk that supplies may be diverted away from poorer countries to richer ones, repeating the experience for covid-19 vaccines,” the head of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said at a recent G-20 meeting.

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The result could be another global health catastrophe — this time driven not by a new disease but by hunger. As Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria told the Agence France-Presse news agency last month, in the wake of the pandemic, the twin traumas of global energy prices and global food shortages mean that “we’ve probably already begun our next health crisis.”

This article has been updated. Thanks to Alicia Benjamin for copy editing this article.

grid.news · by Nikhil Kumar



14.  Bracing for Long Conflict, Kyiv Returns to Near Normality, With Theaters and Dance Parties



Photos at the link.


Bracing for Long Conflict, Kyiv Returns to Near Normality, With Theaters and Dance Parties

Residents of Ukraine’s capital strive to resume lives put on hold by the Russian invasion, despite curfews and missile strikes


By Yaroslav TrofimovFollow | Photographs by Manu Brabo for The Wall Street Journal

July 28, 2022 5:30 am ET

https://www.wsj.com/articles/bracing-for-long-conflict-kyiv-returns-to-near-normality-with-theaters-and-dance-parties-11659000601?mod=hp_lead_pos5



KYIV, Ukraine—Opera singer Oleksandr Melnychuk picked up a shotgun shortly after Russian tanks rolled to Kyiv’s outskirts in February, joining a territorial defense battalion to protect northern approaches to the Ukrainian capital.

The city of some 3.5 million emptied, with antitank barriers blocking the streets and artillery cannonades keeping remaining residents awake at night. Kyiv’s opera and ballet theater was shut down, as were all restaurants, bars, museums, shopping malls and pretty much everything other than pharmacies and supermarkets.


These days, the front line has been pushed hundreds of miles away from Kyiv, with fighting concentrated in the east of the country. At first sight, the Ukrainian capital looks deceptively normal. Two-thirds of those who had fled had returned by mid-May, according to Kyiv’s mayor. Streets are jammed with traffic. Restaurants overflow with customers sipping Aperol Spritz on terraces. There are concerts and art openings. Even the strip clubs that served as bomb shelters in February and March have put up billboards advertising their comeback.

Captured Russian military gear on display in Kyiv.

Now that Kyiv no longer faces an immediate threat, many territorial defense volunteers like Mr. Melnychuk, a 44-year-old, have resumed their peacetime careers. Since Kyiv’s National Opera and Ballet Theater reopened in late May, the lead baritone—who survived a few close calls with Russian shelling in March—has performed in “Nabucco” and “La Traviata,” and is preparing for “Rigoletto” next month.

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“What are we fighting for if our art and our culture aren’t there?” he said. “Our duty is to not surrender, and to return as much as possible to the way of life that we used to have. We must do it out of respect for all those who have given up their own lives to make it possible.”

Kyiv’s new near-normalcy only goes so far. Mr. Melnychuk’s wife and children, who almost ran into a Russian checkpoint when they tried to escape Kyiv in February, remain in the safety of Italy for now because it isn’t clear whether Ukraine’s schools will reopen in September. Dozens of Ukrainian soldiers die in the east and the south every day. Russian cruise-missile strikes hit cities all around the country.

‘Our duty is to not surrender, and to return as much as possible to the way of life that we used to have,’ said opera singer Oleksandr Melnychuk.

“Even though things have become much quieter here in Kyiv, we all have relatives and friends who are either fighting on the front line or face much more difficult circumstances,” said Viktor Ishchuk, a choreographer and soloist dancer at the theater.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly urged Kyivites not to relax too much because the war isn’t anywhere near over. Even though Ukrainian fighters forced Russia out of the Kyiv region in April, Moscow hasn’t given up on its aspirations to take over the city and the whole of Ukraine.

While Russian missiles strike Kyiv once every several weeks, they have caused only limited casualties so far. In other Ukrainian cities far from the front lines, however, recent Russian missile attacks turned far deadlier, killing dozens at an events hall in Vinnytsia and a shopping mall in Kremenchuk.

In an interview, Mr. Zelensky said he understands Kyivites’ desire to unwind after all the suffering of the past months. “They are alive, they want to have a feeling that life continues. You can’t remain all the time in a depressed mood,” he said. “And it’s great for the economy.”

At the same time, Mr. Zelensky added, hedonistic scenes from Kyiv could be jarring to residents of parts of the country where fighting is intense. “They look at Kyiv and say: How can you sit around in the coffee shops when we are dying here? They are right too,” Mr. Zelensky said. “The attitudes are different, and both of them are right in a way.”

An exhibition at the Pinchuk Art Center, Kyiv’s prime venue for contemporary art.

Even as Kyivites relax, war is never far away. Several restaurants have installed trophy Russian gear, from helmets to pieces of a downed jet fighter, as part of their décor. At the reopened Pinchuk Art Center, the city’s prime venue for contemporary art, part of the exhibition documents war crimes that occurred during Russian occupation. At a recent daylong rave festival at a former factory in Kyiv, part of the entry fee was directed to the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces. While revelers in one hall danced to music by the Black Eyed Peas, tattooed youngsters in another watched a dance performance about the Russian invasion.

The Penthouse strip club in central Kyiv, located in a basement decorated with images of naked women, served as temporary housing for some 30 people when the city was shelled in March. “All the girls were gone, and people from apartments nearby lived here for a month, with their pets,” said security guard Oleh Bohdan, who remained with them on location.

The strip club reopened in June, but—with the airport closed, no foreign tourists in town and the economy in doldrums—it is struggling to stay afloat. “As you can imagine, people are not in the mood right now,” said the manager, who provided only her first name, Natalia. “But somehow we must keep going, and to keep paying taxes. I believe in our victory.”






Kyiv’s event venues, restaurants and clubs all close at 10 p.m. at the latest because the city still lives under a strict 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. At night, streets that until five months ago buzzed with life fall silent, with police patrols cruising empty roads on the lookout for offenders.

Ukraine’s key to survival is in learning how to function in this environment of permanent tension, said Taras Chmut, who runs the Come Back Alive foundation that supports Ukrainian troops with everything from body armor and tourniquets to drones and laptops.

“We live in a new reality now,” he said. “But the country must keep on going because this war can last decades. We need to work, to live, to reopen, to rebuild the economy—the way Israel is doing it, for example.” Donations to the foundation, one of a handful such organizations that work closely with the military to identify urgent needs, totaled some $109 million since February, and keep coming at a clip of some $270,000 a week, he said—a sign of the society’s continuing mobilization in support of the war effort.

At Kyiv’s opera and ballet theater, as everywhere, the war imposes its limitations. With so many staff members still abroad, full performances are difficult to mount. Only 40 dancers of the ballet’s 180-person troupe are currently in Kyiv, said the ballet’s art director, Serhiy Skuz. “Many artists are still too afraid to come back,” he said. When the theater reopened in late May, the first performance could only muster eight female and 10 male dancers, he said, a situation that has improved since then with the return of some star soloists. Because some musicians are missing, the orchestra, too, can play only some numbers, with others performed to a recording.








The continuing threat of Russian long-range missile attacks means that the theater’s capacity is limited to some 450 seats, or about one-third of the usual because that is how many can fit in the basement coat-check hall that has been certified as adequate shelter. Shows start at 3 p.m. Every performance begins with instructions on where to go in case of a missile alert.

“Nobody can really forget that there’s a war out there. In a cinema, or in a theater, we always keep thinking these days: Will there be an air-raid siren? Will we be able to see the show until the end?” said Oleksiy Shpak, a 28-year-old entrepreneur who came to see a recent ballet performance.

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Another patron, Galina Dyakova, on her third theater visit since May, was also chatting with her friend about missile attacks, this time in the city of Odessa. She pointed with pride at a group of young soldiers who came to see the ballet with their commander.

“It’s very important to not give up,” she said. “I had tears in my eyes the first time I came back here. There is so much hunger for culture, so much desire to at least dip a toe into the life that we used to have.”

Mr. Melnychuk, the opera baritone, says this desire to demonstrate the country’s resilience is what motivates him. “Every morning we all wake up, thinking that it was all some kind of nightmare, and that life will resume the way it used to be,” he said. “And then we all remember that we must keep making an effort so one day it does.”

Soloists Anastasia Shevchenko and Viktor Ishchuk waited to go on stage during a recent performance of the Kyiv opera and ballet theater.

Write to Yaroslav Trofimov at yaroslav.trofimov@wsj.com





15. Faster Attacks Have Cyber Command Looking to Add All-Too-Scarce Experts

Excerpts:


“But it was recognized the department needed to invest greater explicit authority to direct technical control, and systems integration across all of that with the design purpose of achieving a cyber operations weapons platform.”


And as the command gets more responsibility, the hope is that efficiencies (and cost savings) can come with it to help the military services better achieve their cyber objectives through the JCWA.


“Every service is buying the same data from the vendors, right, there's got to be a more efficient way of doing that. Cloud services, we're all buying cloud services. So [are] there efficiencies that can be gained?” Clark said. “Because as we take on the responsibility…as we build the budgets, right, it's gonna be our responsibility to get the best value.”


A Government Accountability Office report released earlier this year that found the command doesn’t yet have the metrics needed to justify acquisitions of new capabilities, particularly amid workforce constraints. “The intent is to get a pipeline of people that I mature to and then want to stay in the command because of the mission that we have,” Clark said, noting that the aim was to cultivate the same fervor that surrounds special operations forces for cyber. “Everybody wants to be a special operations forces guy. I want to create—and Gen. [Paul] Nakasone wants to create—that esprit de corps around cyber operations forces to do that.”




Faster Attacks Have Cyber Command Looking to Add All-Too-Scarce Experts

“I think the only way that I'm going to be able to do that in the near term is to grow the workforce myself,” command official says.


defenseone.com · by Lauren C. Williams

U.S. Cyber Command is looking to expand its acquisition shop and buy the tools it needs to keep pace with digital warfare. But it’ll have to contend with a tight labor market where technical talent is in high demand.

“Recently as two or three years ago,” said Michael Clark, the command’s director of cyber acquisition and technology, “when a new vulnerability was identified in a in a piece of software, or even a piece of hardware, it was probably six months to a year before we would see adversaries throwing [it] at us, as an exploit to try to break into our networks or achieve an outcome against us.”

That timeframe has now shortened to hours, Clark said, and it’s a major technical challenge to keep up and “accelerate beyond” adversaries. So the command is looking to industry to help do for cyber tools what the Air Force’s Kessel Run has done for software development.

“I can envision a future, kind of like the way the Air Force does Kessel Run, where operators…[pull] down a library of AI tools or ML tools, and or the ability to rapidly code something that achieves an outcome on demand of operations.”

To do that, Cyber Command needs more acquisition personnel. Clark said the command is looking to hire about 40 experienced people in the next year, plus another 20 recent college graduates for entry-level positions. By 2024, the command is hoping to get another 50 acquisition personnel.

But he’s competing with much of the U.S. government, not to mention the defense and technology industries.

“It's a rare unicorn when I can find somebody that has both the acquisition bonafides...And then also understands cyber operations or have done cyber operations. So I think the only way that I'm going to be able to do that in the near term is to grow the workforce myself.”

U.S. Cyber Command’s acquisition journey started with a $75 million budget that largely flowed through the military services but now directly spends nearly ten times that much. New budget authorities allow the command to handle $3 billion to cover DOD’s cyber operations needs.

“At the same time, our responsibilities have grown from approximately, as I said $75 million here, to today we're executing over $700 million a year. And as we look to the future, the command is posturing based on department guidance, to assume responsibility for approximately $3 billion of funds,” Clark said, speaking from an industry procurement event at the command’s DreamPort facilities. “That's directly related to our responsibility [for] ensuring the readiness of the cyber operations forces. So incredible growth, incredible change in terms of how the command, and how the department is posturing Cyber Command, to take on acquisition responsibilities.”

The acquisition directorate is also preparing to absorb responsibilities for the Joint Cyber Weapons Architecture, which is made up of several components, including the Persistent Cyber Training Environment, the Joint Cyber Command and Control, Unified Platform, the Joint Cyber Access Platform. They’re used for cyber operations but currently managed by the military services, not Cyber Command.

“But it was recognized the department needed to invest greater explicit authority to direct technical control, and systems integration across all of that with the design purpose of achieving a cyber operations weapons platform.”

And as the command gets more responsibility, the hope is that efficiencies (and cost savings) can come with it to help the military services better achieve their cyber objectives through the JCWA.

“Every service is buying the same data from the vendors, right, there's got to be a more efficient way of doing that. Cloud services, we're all buying cloud services. So [are] there efficiencies that can be gained?” Clark said. “Because as we take on the responsibility…as we build the budgets, right, it's gonna be our responsibility to get the best value.”

A Government Accountability Office report released earlier this year that found the command doesn’t yet have the metrics needed to justify acquisitions of new capabilities, particularly amid workforce constraints. “The intent is to get a pipeline of people that I mature to and then want to stay in the command because of the mission that we have,” Clark said, noting that the aim was to cultivate the same fervor that surrounds special operations forces for cyber. “Everybody wants to be a special operations forces guy. I want to create—and Gen. [Paul] Nakasone wants to create—that esprit de corps around cyber operations forces to do that.”

defenseone.com · by Lauren C. Williams




1​6. 'New Cold War': Russia and West vie for influence in Africa


Excerpts:


On his tour of Africa, France’s Macron accused the Kremlin of using TV channels like RT to spread propaganda in support of the war. And he charged the Kremlin with blackmailing the world by thwarting the export of grain from Ukraine.
“They are blackmailing because they are the ones who blocked cereals in Ukraine. They are the ones who regulate their cereals,” he said in Benin. His itinerary also included Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau.
Macron appealed to Africans to side against Russia.
“I’m telling you here in Africa, a continent that has suffered from colonial imperialism: Russia is one of the last colonial, imperial powers. She decides to invade a neighboring country to defend her interests,” he said. “That’s the reality.”
Power, the top U.S. AID official, was in East Africa to pledge aid to help the region’s fight against hunger amid a devastating multi-year drought. She did not hold back in criticizing Russia.
“By blockading Ukraine’s grain exports and restricting the trade of Russia’s own fertilizer, Putin’s actions have had the consequence of inflicting pain on the people of Kenya and on other countries throughout the world,” Power said in Nairobi. “He is hurting the people of Kenya in order to benefit his own situation.”




'New Cold War': Russia and West vie for influence in Africa

AP · by ANDREW MELDRUM and MOGOMOTSI MAGOME · July 28, 2022

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Russian, French and American leaders are crisscrossing Africa to win support for their positions on the war in Ukraine, waging what some say is the most intense competition for influence on the continent since the Cold War.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron are each visiting several African countries this week. Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, went to Kenya and Somalia last week. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, will go to Ghana and Uganda next week.

“It’s like a new Cold War is playing out in Africa, where the rival sides are trying to gain influence,” said William Gumede, director of Democracy Works, a foundation promoting good governance.

Lavrov, in his travels across the drought- and hunger-stricken continent, has sought to portray the West as the villain, blaming it for rising food prices, while the Western leaders have accused the Kremlin of cynically using food as a weapon and waging an imperial-style war of conquest — words calculated to appeal to listeners in post-colonial Africa.

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Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has been working to win support in Africa for several years, reinvigorating friendships that date back a half-century, when the Soviet Union backed many African movements fighting to end colonial rule.

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“Now that campaign has gone into high gear,” Gumede said.

Moscow’s influence in Africa was on display in March during the U.N. vote to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While 28 African nations voted in favor of the resolution, a significant minority of countries on the continent — 25 — either voted to abstain or did not vote at all.

Russia’s top diplomat this week visited Egypt, Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia, pledging friendship and charging the U.S. and European countries with driving up food prices by pursuing “reckless” environmental policies. He also accused them of hoarding food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The situation in Ukraine did additionally negatively affect food markets, but not due to the Russian special operation, rather due to the absolutely inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions,” Lavrov said in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

Lavrov was warmly received in Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni, who for years has been a U.S. ally but has refused to criticize Russia over the invasion. Museveni even suggested at the outbreak of the war that Putin’s actions might be understandable because Ukraine is in Russia’s sphere of influence.

Lavrov voiced support for reform of the U.N. Security Council to give African countries permanent seats and greater influence.

Appearing with Lavrov, the Ugandan leader spoke fondly of old ties with Russia, asking how he could spurn Moscow when he has good relations with countries that participated in slavery.

Museveni, an opinion leader on the continent who has held power for three decades, is an obvious choice for Russia as someone to strengthen ties with, said Ugandan political analyst Asuman Bisiika.

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“Uganda is the center of gravity in East Africa,” Bisiika said.

Museveni, 77, has been strictly wearing a mask in public since the COVID-19 outbreak. But he did not have one on when greeting Lavrov in front of photographers, apparently wanting to show warmth to the Russian. Museveni had a mask back on in his next public appearance a day later.

Russia is also courting African public opinion through its state television network, RT, formerly known as Russia Today. RT has announced that it will open a new bureau in Johannesburg.

RT was abruptly removed from Africa’s biggest pay-TV platform in Africa, Johannesburg-based Multichoice, in March after the European Union and Britain imposed sanctions against Russia. It is not clear whether establishing the new bureau will enable RT to resume broadcasts to Africa through Multichoice, which claims nearly 22 million subscribers on the continent.

“For Russia, it is the battle to be heard in Africa. It is not important for the actual war effort but for their long-term political influence,” Anton Harber, professor of journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. “They see it as fertile ground to cultivate their influence, and, of course, votes in the U.N. are important.”

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On his tour of Africa, France’s Macron accused the Kremlin of using TV channels like RT to spread propaganda in support of the war. And he charged the Kremlin with blackmailing the world by thwarting the export of grain from Ukraine.

“They are blackmailing because they are the ones who blocked cereals in Ukraine. They are the ones who regulate their cereals,” he said in Benin. His itinerary also included Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau.

Macron appealed to Africans to side against Russia.

“I’m telling you here in Africa, a continent that has suffered from colonial imperialism: Russia is one of the last colonial, imperial powers. She decides to invade a neighboring country to defend her interests,” he said. “That’s the reality.”

Power, the top U.S. AID official, was in East Africa to pledge aid to help the region’s fight against hunger amid a devastating multi-year drought. She did not hold back in criticizing Russia.

“By blockading Ukraine’s grain exports and restricting the trade of Russia’s own fertilizer, Putin’s actions have had the consequence of inflicting pain on the people of Kenya and on other countries throughout the world,” Power said in Nairobi. “He is hurting the people of Kenya in order to benefit his own situation.”

___

AP journalist Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda, contributed.

AP · by ANDREW MELDRUM and MOGOMOTSI MAGOME · July 28, 2022



17. What to Expect From a Bolder Xi Jinping


Excerpts:


The region as a whole will likely become more tense—and less safe—after the 20th Party Congress. China has dragged its feet in negotiations with Southeast Asian countries over a code of conduct for the South China Sea, which would establish rules for maritime activities and a dispute-resolution process to enforce them. And in the meantime, Beijing has been equipping at least three artificial islands with military planes, antiship and antiaircraft missile systems, and laser and jamming technology. The Chinese military’s pushback against U.S. freedom of navigation operations will likely grow bolder during Xi’s third term. This year China has already made several aerial and naval intercepts of U.S. warplanes and vessels that raised alarms among U.S. military officials. Beijing may see the risk of these incidents escalating into full-blown conflict as acceptably low, which means it will continue to employ these tactics in an effort to drive the U.S. military away from China’s periphery.
It is wishful thinking to expect China’s economic slowdown to curb Xi’s ambition or soften his tactics. Xi’s past behavior shows that he does not consider economic performance to be his primary source of legitimacy—just look at his stubborn adherence to the zero-COVID policy despite its tremendous economic costs. Instead, his actions are predicated on the belief that China has accumulated enough wealth to make displays of strength worth the economic price.
China has weathered more than two years of self-imposed, COVID-induced isolation. In 2022, China’s foreign policy has been relatively mild compared with what it could have been. After the 20th Party Congress, however, China will gradually reopen to the world. The return to normal exchanges, trade, and travel will no doubt be eagerly welcomed. But the darker side of the same coin is the resumption—and potential escalation—of China’s assertive foreign policy. When the Chinese Communist Party meets, Xi will be coronated as the “People’s Leader”—a title held only by Mao Zedong and his successor, Hua Guofeng. A strengthened Xi is not going to be more moderate. He will have less to prove to his domestic audience. But he will have all the power and the opportunity he needs to pursue his “China Dream.”



What to Expect From a Bolder Xi Jinping

Get Ready for a More Ambitious Chinese Foreign Policy

By Yun Sun

July 28, 2022


Foreign Affairs · by Yun Sun · July 28, 2022

As China prepares for this fall’s 20th Party Congress, the odds grow stronger by the day that Chinese President Xi Jinping will emerge from the meeting having secured a third term in office. This will mark a break with Chinese precedent since Deng Xiaoping wrote a two-term limit into the country’s constitution in 1982—a limit that was removed in 2018. Xi, who took office in 2013 and is now 69, could foreseeably extend his tenure well into the 2030s.

The consolidation of Xi’s rule comes as his administration faces significant headwinds both at home and abroad. China’s zero-COVID policy has provoked an economic slowdown and popular discontent. Its rivalry with the United States is intensifying, and Xi’s alignment with Russian President Vladimir Putin has created more problems than Beijing bargained for. Under these circumstances, it might be reasonable to think the Chinese leader will recalibrate once his political future is assured. But those who expect Xi to moderate his policies after the 20th Party Congress are likely to be disappointed.

Xi’s personality and political beliefs leave little room for a reconsideration, let alone a reversal, of his vision for the country. What he has described as the “China Dream”—or the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”—sees the Chinese Communist Party leading China’s reemergence as a great power. Xi has shown signs of restraint since Beijing hosted the Winter Olympics in February, prioritizing stability over bold action that would risk undermining his agenda at the Party Congress, but his frustration with China’s strategic position and domestic troubles has been mounting. When the political pressure is lifted after the Party Congress, Xi seems poised to revamp his assertive foreign policy, intervening more directly in disputes on China’s periphery and pushing more forcefully against the United States’ presence in the Pacific. Xi will be back with a vengeance—and he will have uncontested authority and the full power of the Chinese state behind him.

BEIJING’S BAD YEAR

So far, 2022 has not gone well for China. Beijing had hoped that the competition with the United States would slow down under President Joe Biden, but instead it has accelerated as Washington reinforces its network of alliances and partnerships to more effectively counter China. In an attempt to reduce its isolation, Beijing strengthened its strategic alignment with Moscow. Xi and Putin declared “no limit” to the two countries’ cooperation during Putin’s visit to China for the Winter Olympics—and Putin tested this proposition with his invasion of Ukraine, evidently aware that he was exploiting Chinese naiveté while counting on Chinese support. The Russian war triggered international outrage and sanctions, complicating China’s foreign relations and casting doubt on the wisdom of Xi’s decision to align closely with Russia. Skeptical views of China’s Russia policy have circulated on Chinese social media platforms. In widely read posts, Hu Wei, a senior scholar affiliated with the Counselors’ Office of the State Council, a government advisory body, questioned China “binding itself with Russia,” and Gao Yusheng, a former Chinese ambassador to Ukraine, predicted that “Putin is bound to fail” in his war effort.

Beijing’s zero-COVID policy and the prolonged lockdowns in Shanghai and other cities this spring have been another source of domestic discontent. Some Chinese observers speculated that the zero-COVID policy was deployed to undermine the power base of the “Shanghai gang”—a group of party officials who gained influence under former President Jiang Zemin—after Shanghai city leadership took a more liberal approach to pandemic management and economic development than Xi preferred. The toll of COVID restrictions has been tremendous in both human misery and economic cost. Shanghai’s GDP contracted by 5.7 percent in the first half of 2022. China’s overall GDP growth in the second quarter of 2022 was 0.4 percent, its lowest rate in decades.


Controversy over Russia and COVID policy may not be enough to challenge Xi’s reign, but the timing is particularly inconvenient for him. By embarking on an unprecedented third term, Xi will be ushering in a new governance and political model for China. Even for a leader as powerful as Xi, breaking away from established tradition requires significant political capital. He needs to rally broad support among party elites. In China’s meritocratic system, any change must be justified. Xi has to prove his superior wisdom and decision-making abilities—and he needs concrete successes to highlight in support of his claims.

FOREIGN POLICY IN MODERATION

Xi has avoided major foreign policy initiatives that could escalate tensions with neighbors or adversaries this year. Most important, he does not want China to become embroiled in a conflict that would distract him from or undercut his position in the domestic political battles that are now his top priority. This does not mean that China will not react if its interests are under threat—although Chinese reactions to perceived provocations, such as the United States fortifying its support of Taiwan, have been relatively mild so far this year. U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s reported visit to Taiwan, if it happens, could trigger a Chinese military response, but it is highly unlikely that China will use the opportunity to attack Taiwan. China is prioritizing stability, at least until the Party Congress is over.

This restraint has been apparent in China’s handling of contentious issues on its periphery. For instance, since 2020, China and India have held 16 rounds of talks regarding their border dispute. Although the talks have yielded little substantive progress so far, China has eagerly pursued improved diplomatic ties with India in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And as the new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol reorients Seoul’s foreign policy to emphasize security cooperation with the United States—a significant departure from former President Moon Jae-in’s balancing between the United States and China—Beijing has so far refrained from speaking out forcefully against the change or taking retaliatory measures.

Xi’s frustration with China’s strategic position and domestic troubles has been mounting.

Despite its putative alliance with Moscow, China has declined to take a clear stand on Russia’s war in Ukraine, too. Its economic and military support of Russia has been surprisingly thin, given the expectation that pressure from the United States to condemn Moscow’s behavior would trigger more Chinese defiance. In diplomatic statements, China has defended Russia’s actions and accused NATO of aggression, but Beijing’s fear of U.S. sanctions and the further disruption of U.S.-Chinese relations has moderated its policies in this delicate year of political transition. As a result, Russia has complained loudly to Chinese officials that China has not held up its end of the two countries’ partnership.

Even on Taiwan, Beijing’s most sensitive issue, the Chinese government’s policies have been largely reactive to what it perceives as a U.S. and Taiwanese “salami-slicing” strategy—an effort to inch forward bilateral ties. Rather than escalating, Beijing, for the most part, has kept the intensity of its actions below the threshold set in previous years. So far in 2022, the number of Chinese warplane intrusions into the Taiwanese Air Defense Identification Zone on a single day has not exceeded the record of 56 set on October 5, 2021. Beijing has continued its diplomatic, economic, and legal coercion of Taiwan, but it has not advanced further in luring away Taipei’s remaining diplomatic allies since Nicaragua severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in December 2021. Nor did Beijing react strongly when Taiwanese Vice President William Lai visited Tokyo to attend former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s funeral in July—a notable example of restraint given the seniority of Lai’s position and his past advocacy of Taiwanese independence.

THE LOOSENING OF CONSTRAINTS

Election season in democratic countries is often marked by lofty campaign rhetoric and political posturing, with candidates making promises they may or may not keep once in office. In China, however, political power struggles are fought and won within the Chinese Communist Party. For Xi, as the incumbent hoping to extend his rule, stability is useful while this competition plays out. But the same logic does not hold after he secures a third term. Some observers have assumed that, after the Party Congress, Xi will moderate his foreign policy because he no longer needs to prove his strength to the party elite. This is a grave misunderstanding. Domestic politics may no longer require Xi to look tough, but his desire to maintain that image and his ambitions for China will not have changed.


The world, therefore, should not expect China to be any less assertive or confrontational after the 20th Party Congress than it has been for most of Xi’s tenure. Beijing’s actions will follow Xi’s convictions, and Xi believes in China’s growing power and in securing the country’s rightful place in the international system. His mission will remain “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” If anything, Xi, having grown increasingly frustrated this year with China’s foreign and domestic challenges, will be prepared to project Chinese power even more forcefully and vehemently after his political drama concludes. Free of his current constraints, Xi will ratchet up China’s activities abroad to put the embarrassment of 2022 firmly behind him.

Once his third term is confirmed, Xi’s status as China’s undisputed leader will enable him to take such action with little to no opposition within the Chinese government. Dissenting views, though faint, have persisted inside the system, but Xi’s success in claiming apparently indefinite rule and his appointment of loyalists to key positions will eliminate them. The echo chamber in which China crafts its foreign policy will be sealed even tighter, amplifying the voices of security services and propaganda departments. With no expiration date for Xi’s reign, his critics will have few channels, official or unofficial, through which they can express their opinions or hope for a change in leadership. Bureaucrats will not only follow Xi’s policies but also augment the tough approach they believe is Xi’s preference.

Even if some officials in China wish to tone down Beijing’s assertive foreign strategy, regional developments may not give Xi the option. Intensifying competition with the United States has set in motion a vicious cycle. Washington is consolidating its alliances and partnerships to counter an assertive China, fortifying bilateral security arrangements with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, as well as the security agreement between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom known as AUKUS; the Quad, with Australia, Japan, and India; and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, announced in Tokyo in May. In China, meanwhile, an anti–United States propaganda machine has been fully mobilized, creating a hypersensitive environment in which any move by Washington whips the “Wolf Warrior” diplomats—Beijing’s new generation of aggressive and coercive representatives abroad—into a frenzy of fanatic overreaction. This approach has a strong domestic incentive: although China’s authoritarian government has enough control over public opinion to lower the temperature if it chooses, so far Beijing has more often found it useful to fan the flames of nationalism as it tries to coerce foreign governments and advance its policy goals.

XI UNLEASHED

Once the Party Congress is behind him, Xi will seek to reassert Chinese power in areas of strategic priority. Disputes in the western Pacific will be at the top of his list. Tensions are already building around the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea’s next provocation only a matter of time and Washington and Seoul intent on enhancing their deterrence against Pyongyang. In Beijing’s view, these developments undermine China’s military security and its regional influence. In addition to tying South Korea more closely to the United States, a focus on deterrence reduces the incentive for diplomatic engagement with North Korea—an endeavor that boosts Beijing’s leverage. As Washington and Seoul strengthen their military capabilities on the Korean Peninsula, Beijing will engage in tit-for-tat deployment of its own forces within Chinese territory and step up its support for and coordination with Pyongyang. Many Chinese experts on Korea have condemned the Yoon administration’s efforts to align with the United States to counterbalance China as a grave strategic misjudgment. Some even anticipate maritime military skirmishes between China and South Korea in the coming months. A similar dynamic is at play between China and Japan as Tokyo strengthens its capacity to counter Chinese military and paramilitary tactics, such as intrusions by warplanes, naval vessels, and fishing vessels into the airspace and waters surrounding the disputed Diaoyu Islands (known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands).

Even more concerning are Beijing’s plans for Taiwan. Chinese leaders are increasingly enraged over U.S. actions that they see as hollowing out Washington’s “one China” policy and Taiwanese actions—both domestic legislation and international outreach—that they interpret as moves toward independence. China has taken a series of legal steps over the past few years, too, inching forward Beijing’s claims in the Taiwan Strait. Since 2020, the Chinese government has formally denied the existence of the median line, long tacitly acknowledged as a maritime border between mainland China and Taiwan. This past June, Beijing went further by claiming that the strait cannot be considered international waters. Next, China may take concrete steps to put this claim into practice—administering the strait as an exclusive economic zone, for instance—in a bid to eventually oust the U.S. military from the waterway, making it more difficult for the United States to intervene in a potential conflict over Taiwan. And as Taiwan’s local election in late 2022 and presidential election in 2024 approach, China will intensify its military coercion and intimidation in the hope of tipping the scales in favor of the Taiwanese political party that is accommodating to Beijing. The brief hiatus in China’s diplomatic pressure campaign will be over, too, as Beijing moves forward with its standing plan to push additional countries, such as the Vatican, to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Once the Party Congress is behind him, Xi will seek to reassert Chinese power.

The region as a whole will likely become more tense—and less safe—after the 20th Party Congress. China has dragged its feet in negotiations with Southeast Asian countries over a code of conduct for the South China Sea, which would establish rules for maritime activities and a dispute-resolution process to enforce them. And in the meantime, Beijing has been equipping at least three artificial islands with military planes, antiship and antiaircraft missile systems, and laser and jamming technology. The Chinese military’s pushback against U.S. freedom of navigation operations will likely grow bolder during Xi’s third term. This year China has already made several aerial and naval intercepts of U.S. warplanes and vessels that raised alarms among U.S. military officials. Beijing may see the risk of these incidents escalating into full-blown conflict as acceptably low, which means it will continue to employ these tactics in an effort to drive the U.S. military away from China’s periphery.

It is wishful thinking to expect China’s economic slowdown to curb Xi’s ambition or soften his tactics. Xi’s past behavior shows that he does not consider economic performance to be his primary source of legitimacy—just look at his stubborn adherence to the zero-COVID policy despite its tremendous economic costs. Instead, his actions are predicated on the belief that China has accumulated enough wealth to make displays of strength worth the economic price.

China has weathered more than two years of self-imposed, COVID-induced isolation. In 2022, China’s foreign policy has been relatively mild compared with what it could have been. After the 20th Party Congress, however, China will gradually reopen to the world. The return to normal exchanges, trade, and travel will no doubt be eagerly welcomed. But the darker side of the same coin is the resumption—and potential escalation—of China’s assertive foreign policy. When the Chinese Communist Party meets, Xi will be coronated as the “People’s Leader”—a title held only by Mao Zedong and his successor, Hua Guofeng. A strengthened Xi is not going to be more moderate. He will have less to prove to his domestic audience. But he will have all the power and the opportunity he needs to pursue his “China Dream.”

  • YUN SUN is Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center.

Foreign Affairs · by Yun Sun · July 28, 2022


​18. New benefits for burn pit victims in limbo after Senate Republicans block plan



What is the problem with these Senators?


New benefits for burn pit victims in limbo after Senate Republicans block plan

militarytimes.com · by Leo Shane III · July 28, 2022

A surprise deal on health care and environmental policies announced by Senate Democratic leaders Wednesday afternoon produced an unexpected casualty: the comprehensive toxic exposure legislation veterans advocates expected to pass this week.

The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act — better known as the PACT Act — had been up for a procedural vote in the chamber with an expectation of final passage before the end of the week.

The measure is the culmination of years of work by advocates to improve health care and benefits for veterans suffering injuries from burn pit smoke, Agent Orange spraying and other military contaminant exposure. It has been widely celebrated as a potential landmark legislative victory in veterans policy.

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Burn Pits

Here are the veterans who will benefit from Congress’ sweeping toxic exposure bill

Veterans who served in Afghanistan, the first Gulf War, Vietnam and numerous other overseas locations could see new benefits under the plan.

The measure passed the Senate by a comfortable 84-14 vote in early June, and by a 342-88 vote in the House two weeks ago with significant Republican support.

But on Wednesday, after technical corrections sent the measure back to the Senate for another procedural vote, 41 Senator Republicans blocked the measure, leaving its future uncertain.

Republican lawmakers who had previously voted against the measure, including Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., reiterated objections to how the money connected to the measure (about $300 billion over 10 years) would be accounted for in the regular appropriations process.

But the block came just as Democratic leaders announced plans for a comprehensive budget reconciliation measure — a plan that the GOP caucus previously pledged to oppose, including increased efforts to snarl normal business in the chamber.

Democratic leaders immediately attacked their colleagues putting political vendettas ahead of needed veterans benefits.

“This eleventh-hour act of cowardice will actively harm this country’s veterans and their families,” said Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont. “Republicans chose today to rob generations of toxic-exposed veterans across this country of the health care and benefits they so desperately need.

“And make no mistake, more veterans will suffer and die as a result.”

Eight Senate Republicans — including Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranking member Jerry Moran, R-Kansas — voted for moving ahead with the bill.

Republican leaders gave no public comment on the reasons behind the surprise move, or on what changes would be needed to move the legislation ahead. The Senate is scheduled to go on a month-long recess on Aug. 5, and advocates had hoped to have the PACT Act on the president’s desk before then.

That timeline appears out of reach now.

If it becomes law, about one in five living American veterans could benefit from the PACT Act.

For veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bill would establish a presumption of service connection for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers related to the smoke from burn pits, used extensively in those war zones to dispose of various types of waste, many of them toxic.

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Burn Pits

Deal on toxic exposure bill includes more VA staff, dozens of new VA medical clinics

The sweeping bill could be one of the most expensive and most impactful veterans policy measures approved by Congress in years.

The bill also provides for new benefits for veterans who faced radiation exposure during deployments throughout the Cold War; adds hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy to the list of illnesses linked to Agent Orange exposure in the Vietnam War; expands the timeline for Gulf War medical claims; and requires new medical exams for all veterans with toxic exposure claims.

Veterans who served in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Guam during the Vietnam War-era would be covered for the first time under the same Agent Orange presumptive policies as those who served in Vietnam itself.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced the outline of the budget reconciliation deal with details to come next week.

According to the Associated Press, officials said the plan would spend about $369 billion on energy and climate initiatives and $64 billion to extend expiring federal subsidies for people buying health insurance.

It would also raise $739 billion in revenue over 10 years, the biggest chunk coming from a 15% corporate minimum tax.

Democratic lawmakers and veterans advocates are scheduled to rally for PACT Act passage Thursday morning. Chamber leaders said they would keep working on finding a path forward for the legislation in coming days.

About Leo Shane III

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.




19. Public Life Is Crazy, but Americans Aren’t






Public Life Is Crazy, but Americans Aren’t

WSJ · by Lance Morrow

Politics and media are co-producers of the immense 21st-century moral circus.

By

Lance Morrow

July 27, 2022 12:05 pm ET


Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto


The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, after closing for a while, plans a comeback next year—without elephants or lions or other animals. The circus was cruel to the creatures, it was decided, so in the future they will be absent from the big top.

No matter. If it’s beasts of the jungle you want—the savageries of nature, red in tooth and claw—politics and media offer an ongoing and spectacular show replete with raging ideology, riots, race hate, store looting, police-car burning, pageant plays, Proud Boys, deadly pandemics, mass shootings, cops caught on video doing dastardly things, the Capitol assaulted by mobs. Politics and media are co-producers of the immense 21st-century moral circus. It offers Americans such grand and enraging constitutional spectacles as Roe and Dobbs, such extravaganzas as the Transgender Follies and White Supremacy vs. Black Lives Matter. Held over (though not necessarily by popular demand): The Orange Man and the Dotard.

In the meantime, Americans struggle with their private lives and sort out their private thoughts. Sometimes, it is true, they are inflamed by the tremendous agitations of the circus. How could they not be? But the private mind is still committed to the sanity and realism that are necessities of survival. What Americans worry about is inflation. Reality is an insistent thing. Grown-ups know that they are being imposed on by the big show. They understand that a circus is a circus. The sane American mind—mens sana in corpore morbido—is the best hope now, I suspect.

The issues (abortion, for example) are urgent and real, but private thought seems to understand the complexities more subtly, more responsibly, than do ideologues and performers in the mosh pits of media. The private mind can spot the public con. It used to, anyway. Private citizens know that many decisions in life—most, perhaps—are difficult and may involve 48/52 calls, even 49/51. It’s true in choosing a mate and other important matters.

Public performance inherently simplifies and falsifies—such are the ways of theater, careerism, politics and, alas, journalism, too. You have a better story to tell if the details are gaudy and vivid—and, as may happen, even false. This is nothing new. Shakespeare understood. “King Lear,” the greatest of his plays, is filled with transcendent truth. But it would be a dull production if the old man merely wound up in a mediocre nursing home in Wichita, Kan., with unpleasant daughters who complained about how much it cost. The old king must be homeless and naked on the heath. He must be eloquently, cosmically insane. The younger generation must be either saintly (Edgar, Cordelia) or monstrous (Edmund, Goneril, Regan), and before the evening is over, the stage must be littered with corpses. The monsters and saints in “Lear” are one another’s evil twins, like the political left and right in our time.

American politics and media are deeply competitive forms of entertainment, information and propaganda. Both have, since the 1960s, been Shakespearean in their stagecraft, although not in their language or subtlety of thought. The baby-boom generation, now as old as the old king, enacted the plot of “Lear”—an immense tale of supersession. That generation, when young, overturned the fathers’ authority and all their ways. It did so first with Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War. In time, the principle of renovation by patricide developed broader ambitions and began to assault all the “patriarchal” norms, including marriage and, after that, the very idea of man and woman. The old solidities must be dissolved. (But why, exactly?)

Such is the dramaturgy of American public culture, of a performative public mind that is addicted to its sensations and categories. The American ideologue is a drama queen. I’m perhaps kidding myself, but I suspect that Americans in the privacy of their own minds, in conversation among friends and family, remain in touch with reality. On the subject of abortion, for example, or on race, guns and transgenderism, the private mind remains fairly sensible and humane. It remains capable, among other things, of tolerating contradiction. There is such a thing as intelligent ambivalence. People in the privacy of their thoughts don’t have to be consistent. They aren’t burdened or corrupted by the demands of performance. That is true even in the clamor of social media.

The ways of performative politics and media prey on unformed minds. The danger is that, in time, those ways will supplant what we used to recognize as reality and, in its place, install their theatrical and sinister and essentially cartoonish ideas. What were Uvalde or Highland Park but instances of the (very sick) private mind enacting grotesque public performances.

For all that, it may be that the extreme divisions in America are now tending toward the sort of exhausted resolution that is suggested at the final curtain of “King Lear.” The house lights come up; it’s time to move on.

Americans are troubled, but they aren’t crazy.

Mr. Morrow is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His latest book is “God and Mammon: Chronicles of American Money.”

Appeared in the July 28, 2022, print edition.




20. Stop Panicking About the U.S. Economy



I hope this conclusion is correct.



We will be fine and so will the U.S. economy, the strongest and most resilient in the world. The much-feared recession is oversold. You can bet on it.



Stop Panicking About the U.S. Economy

WSJ · by Dennis Kneale

Among the reasons for optimism: lots of jobs, anti-inflationary pressures and a decline in oil prices.

By

Dennis Kneale

July 27, 2022 6:48 pm ET


Shoppers check out at a Walmart in North Brunswick, N.J., July 20.

Photo: EDUARDO MUNOZ/REUTERS


The page-one headline in the Journal on Tuesday sounded another recession alarm: “Walmart Cuts Its Outlook, Rattling Investors.” Amid higher prices for food and gas, consumers are pulling back, “an ominous sign for the U.S. economy.”

But Walmart’s response could be a sign that the next recession will be short-lived and less severe, if it comes at all. In which case, start buying stocks again; they’re cheap.


When customers resist a price hike and change their buying habits, Walmart knows instantly, based on minute-by-minute data from its 4,735 U.S. stores, and can cut prices accordingly. The world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer by revenue is cutting prices at a time when inflation is roaring. Even the biggest retailers lack the power to pass higher costs along to customers, who are addicted to 30 years of low prices. Such resistance to inflation is at work at my pricey butcher shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., where the owner says he charges customers only a portion of his higher costs to avoid losing their business. This helped him survive two years of lockdowns without laying off any of his 20 employees.

Another sign inflation could be coming down: Though the Federal Reserve frets about consumers’ inflation expectations, the bond markets already are predicting the Fed will start trimming rates less than a year from now.

There are other reasons for optimism. Consumers’ spending less elsewhere to pay for higher-priced gas has anti-inflationary effects. There is less excess cash for movies, jet skis and new cars.

Auto makers have large inventories of vehicles that haven’t made it to showrooms because of chip shortages—General Motors alone has almost 100,000. When those cars are ready, steep price cuts will move them and provide another anti-inflationary force.

Even the outlook for oil prices is better. Crude was at $72 a barrel a year ago and now is at $97, up 35%—but down 17% since March. The U.S. energy sector can turn itself back on and become the world’s No. 1 producer in short order, given a new administration. Energy prices can go back down, big time.

The Federal Reserve looks at job contraction as a key indicator of a recession. Yet we keep hearing about a shortage of labor rather than a shortage of jobs. The U.S. has more vacant jobs (11.3 million) than unemployed people looking to fill them (5.9 million). The unemployment rate has been at a meager 3.6% for four months.

That is in part owing to trillions of dollars in Covid handouts from the federal government. U.S. households had $4.2 trillion more cash at the end of last year compared with 2019, rising to a total $14.7 trillion. That’s up 44%, and those in the bottom half of income saw their cash increase by 70% to 80% in the same period.

Another boost: Of $5.7 trillion in “fiscal support” that Congress enacted since 2020, as of late January, $800 billion was still to be paid out. Money allocated is never returned unspent.

In general, consumers can dodge a lot of inflation. They can skip the rib eye and trade down to hamburger and chicken. My monthly rent is unchanged; your mortgage payment stays the same. Those looking to make big purchases, like cars, can put them off a bit.

We will be fine and so will the U.S. economy, the strongest and most resilient in the world. The much-feared recession is oversold. You can bet on it.

Mr. Kneale is a writer based in New York.


Appeared in the July 28, 2022, print edition.


21. CNN Exclusive: Biden administration offers convicted Russian arms dealer in exchange for Griner, Whelan




CNN Exclusive: Biden administration offers convicted Russian arms dealer in exchange for Griner, Whelan

CNN · by Kylie Atwood, Evan Perez and Jennifer Hansler, CNN

Washington (CNN)After months of internal debate, the Biden administration has offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year US prison sentence, as part of a potential deal to secure the release of two Americans held by Russia, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, according to people briefed on the matter.

These sources told CNN that the plan to trade Bout for Whelan and Griner received the backing of President Joe Biden after being under discussion since earlier this year. Biden's support for the swap overrides opposition from the Department of Justice, which is generally against prisoner trades.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday that the US presented a "substantial proposal" to Moscow "weeks ago" for Whelan and Griner, who are classified as wrongfully detained.

Speaking at a press conference at the State Department, Blinken said Biden was "directly involved" and signed off on the proposal. Although Blinken did not directly confirm Bout was part of the deal, saying he "can't and won't get into any of the details of what we proposed to the Russians over the course of so many weeks now," he said "in terms of the President, of course he was not only directly involved, he signs off on any proposal that we make, and certainly when it comes to Americans who are being arbitrarily detained abroad, including in this specific case."


Brittney Griner testifies she signed documents without understanding what they said after being stopped at Moscow airport

The top US diplomat said he intended to discuss the matter on an expected call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week -- his first conversation with his counterpart since the war in Ukraine began -- telling reporters, "my hope would be that in speaking to Foreign Minister Lavrov, I can advance the efforts to bring them home."

Read More

"There is in my mind utility in conveying clear, direct messages to the Russians on key priorities for us. And as I mentioned, these include securing the return home of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan," he said.

A senior administration official suggested Moscow has not been responsive to the "substantial offer" first presented in June, telling CNN "it takes two to tango."

"We start all negotiations to bring home Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained with a bad actor on the other side. We start all of these with somebody who has taken a human being American and treated them as a bargaining chip," the official said. "So in some ways, it's not surprising, even if it's disheartening, when those same actors don't necessarily respond directly to our offers, don't engage constructively in negotiations."

Administration continues to communicate offer

The official declined to comment on the specifics of the "substantial offer." They said it was in Russia's "court to be responsive to it, yet at the same time that does not leave us passive, as we continue to communicate the offer at very senior levels."

The families of Whelan, who has been held by Russia for alleged espionage since 2018, and WNBA star Griner, jailed in Moscow for drug possession since February, have urged the White House to secure their release, including via a prisoner exchange if necessary.


Who is Viktor Bout, Russian arms dealer known as the 'Merchant of Death', touted for US prisoner swap?

National Security Council Strategic Coordinator for Communications John Kirby said Wednesday that a senior administration official spoke with the families prior to Blinken's announcement about the "substantial proposal." Biden recently spoke by phone with Griner's wife, Cherelle, and Whelan's sister, Elizabeth.

Griner, who pleaded guilty in early July but said she unintentionally brought cannabis into Russia, testified in a Russian courtroom Wednesday as part of her ongoing trial on drug charges, for which she faces up to 10 years in prison. It is understood that her trial will have to conclude prior to a deal being finalized, according to US officials familiar with the Russian judicial process and the inner workings of US-Russia negotiations.

During months of internal discussions between US agencies, the Justice Department opposed trading Bout, people briefed on the matter say. However, Justice officials eventually accepted that a Bout trade has the support of top officials at the State Department and White House, including Biden himself, sources say.

The Russian government has frequently floated Bout as the subject of a potential trade for a number of Americans.

Asked at the Aspen Security Forum last week why Moscow is so interested in getting Bout back, CIA Director Bill Burns replied, "That's a good question because Viktor Bout's a creep."

"The Russians over the years have certainly expressed an interest in in you know, Victor Bout's return but those are, as I learned in my old life, very complicated issues in terms of trying to sort through," he said, referencing his long tenure as a diplomat.

Former Soviet military officer and arms trafficking suspect Viktor Bout arrives at Westchester County Airport in 2010.

The US government has long resisted prisoner swaps, claiming concerns that they only incentivize countries to detain Americans so they can be used as bargaining chips. Advocates have questioned these concerns and have argued that it is more important that Americans are able to come home.

Among senior Biden administration officials, the idea of prisoner swaps gained new momentum earlier this year after the successful release of Trevor Reed, a former Marine who was held captive in Russia for more than two years. Reed was traded for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot then serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for cocaine smuggling conspiracy.

Biden officials had been concerned the decision to swap Reed for Yaroshenko would be criticized by Republicans. Instead, it won bipartisan praise, including from a handful of Republicans who are normally sharp critics of the administration. That reception, sources say, led the administration to reexamine all options -- including potential swaps -- to get Whelan and Griner out of Russia.

"Whatever the kind of moral indignity of them holding innocent people and trying to extract from us someone like a Mr. Yaroshenko, who is the opposite of that, we nonetheless are so committed to bring our people home that we will make those painful choices in certain circumstances," the senior administration official told CNN.

Securing their release would also give the White House a much-needed political win ahead of the midterm elections in November, a point that some officials quietly acknowledged when speaking privately to CNN. There is also a sense of urgency to bring the two detainees home as the White House faces growing public scrutiny from the families of Americans unlawfully detained abroad.

This story has been updated with additional comment.

CNN's Michael Conte and Christian Sierra contributed reporting.

CNN · by Kylie Atwood, Evan Perez and Jennifer Hansler, CNN


22. Ayatollah Khamenei’s ‘Resistance Economy’



Excerpts:

If the supreme leader’s reformation succeeds and he constructs a regime entirely manned by his disciples, then he will probably have little patience for Westerners offering carrots or wielding sticks. The entire purpose of Mr. Khamenei’s demanding and perilous enterprise is to give the Islamic Republic autonomy in its choices. It’s a reasonable conjecture that Mr. Khamenei, who has overseen the nuclear-weapons program since it became serious in the 1990s, will decide to construct a bomb before the arrival of a new American administration.
For too long, American presidents of both parties have hoped that diplomacy would obviate tough choices about Iran. Democratic Washington still wants to pretend that there is time for another round of productive diplomacy. Republican Washington still wants to believe that the reimposition of tougher sanctions and the “credible” threat of force will somehow solve the problem. Alas, Mr. Khamenei has the decisive vote; he doesn’t appear inclined to play along.




Ayatollah Khamenei’s ‘Resistance Economy’

WSJ · by Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh

Iran’s supreme leader has an isolationist vision that makes it hard either to coerce or to cajole him.

By

Reuel Marc Gerecht and

Ray Takeyh

July 26, 2022 6:38 pm ET


Illustration: David Klein


Nuclear talks between Iran and the great powers are once more at an impasse. The ostensible cause of the latest stalemate is America’s insistence that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps remain on its terrorist list. But there’s much more to the story. Under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic is undergoing one of its most significant transformations since the inception of the theocracy in 1979. The cleric, who has outlived and outmaneuvered all challengers since he succeeded Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989, is revamping the country. His actions have generated popular protest and elite disaffection. In tense times, the clerical regime has difficulty responding to diplomatic initiatives. It hunkers down.

Mr. Khamenei has long held a vision of Iran immune to foreign pressure. He prefers organizing commerce into what he calls the “resistance economy,” in which the Islamic Republic reduces its dependence on oil revenue, segregates itself from global markets, and relies on internal resources and demand. “I strongly believe that the key and remedy to the country’s problems stands in promoting internal production,” Mr. Khamenei told a group of supporters three years ago. “Those who look to help from the outside for enhancing production and the economic situation should know that the solution is promoting internal production”

To keep Iran a leading Islamic state, Mr. Khamenei favors economic surgery. Spending must be cut so Tehran can better withstand foreign financial pressure. Iran also has to pare the onerous subsidies that have long drained its treasury. The Islamic Republic operates an elaborate welfare state that provides services and goods at discount prices. The clerical regime has often tinkered with subsidies. Past presidents resisted deep cuts for fear of popular backlash. Not Ebrahim Raisi, a disciple of Mr. Khamenei, who rose through the republic’s police state because of his zeal and ruthlessness.

President Raisi has reduced subsidies of wheat, flour and cooking oil. More austerity is needed, particularly on gasoline subsidies, which is generating protests from nearly every sector of society. What appears to be an authentic Revolutionary Guard document, leaked this year, warns that “society is in a state of explosion” and that “social discontent has risen by 300% in the past year.”

Mr. Khamenei’s response is to unleash his security services and purge the political system. The latest housecleaning isn’t limited to “reformers”—he excised them from the body politic more than 20 years ago. One of Iran’s most provocative public intellectuals, Mostafa Tajzadeh, who is connected to first-generation revolutionaries and the Revolutionary Guards, is in prison again, probably for good. Even Hassan Rouhani, who has a long and seldom rancorous history with Mr. Khamenei, hasn’t been offered the customary courtesies afforded former presidents, like a seat on the Expediency Discernment Council, which advises the supreme leader. Mr. Khamenei has sidelined lots of conservatives who didn’t share his fondness for autarky. Traditional cultural conventions, such as family above politics, which have often shielded members of prominent revolutionary families from prosecution, increasingly are irrelevant. The opposition bloc within the revolutionary elite is now much larger than the supreme leader’s circle of loyalists.

This arrangement doesn’t foster pragmatic foreign-policy decisions. A parallel: In 2009, when a controversial presidential election in Iran provoked a mass uprising and divisions within the ruling class, the regime rejected Barack Obama’s offers of dialogue. Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who held office until 2013, and Rouhani, who succeeded him, wanted to listen to what Americans had to offer and encouraged the supreme leader to send emissaries to meet U.S. officials overseas. Mr. Khamenei has now cast both men, the former a revolutionary populist and the latter a founding father of the theocracy and its intelligence service, into political purgatory.

If the supreme leader’s reformation succeeds and he constructs a regime entirely manned by his disciples, then he will probably have little patience for Westerners offering carrots or wielding sticks. The entire purpose of Mr. Khamenei’s demanding and perilous enterprise is to give the Islamic Republic autonomy in its choices. It’s a reasonable conjecture that Mr. Khamenei, who has overseen the nuclear-weapons program since it became serious in the 1990s, will decide to construct a bomb before the arrival of a new American administration.

For too long, American presidents of both parties have hoped that diplomacy would obviate tough choices about Iran. Democratic Washington still wants to pretend that there is time for another round of productive diplomacy. Republican Washington still wants to believe that the reimposition of tougher sanctions and the “credible” threat of force will somehow solve the problem. Alas, Mr. Khamenei has the decisive vote; he doesn’t appear inclined to play along.

Mr. Gerecht, a former Iran targets officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the July 27, 2022, print edition.


23. Iranian drones could make Russia’s military more lethal in Ukraine


Excerpts:

In consultation with Kyiv, Washington and its allies should consider ways to help Ukrainian forces counter these Iranian drones. For example, they should look at providing Ukraine with additional electronic warfare equipment. They could also bolster Ukraine’s short-range air defenses, whether by sourcing additional Soviet-made systems or providing Western-made systems like Avenger or M-SHORAD.
Beyond its immediate implications for Ukraine, Tehran’s potential drone transfer also underscores the need to reinstitute and enforce the UN arms embargo on Iran, which expired in 2020. This issue is particularly salient given that Tehran could ask Moscow to return the favor by selling Iran advanced weaponry such as the S-400 surface-to-air missile system. Moscow previously declined to sell Tehran the S-400 but has left the door open to a future sale.
Washington could unilaterally “snap back” UN prohibitions against Iran — including the arms embargo — if it’s also willing to collapse the UN Security Council resolution enshrining the 2015 nuclear deal. Washington should also continue to spotlight this issue by sanctioning any individuals and entities involved in the drones’ potential sale, supply, or transfer to Russia, building on existing congressional and executive branch efforts to penalize Tehran’s drone program.
Iranian drones stand to aid Russia’s military in prosecuting Putin’s war of imperial aggression against Ukraine. Through military support married with diplomatic and economic pressure, the United States and its allies can both help Ukraine counter Iranian drones on the battlefield while addressing the widening radius of Iranian drone proliferation.



Iranian drones could make Russia’s military more lethal in Ukraine - Breaking Defense

The US and its allies should prepare Ukraine, and better constrain Iran, write analysts from FDD.

By  JOHN HARDIERYAN BROBST and BEHNAM BEN TALEBLU

on July 27, 2022 at 1:21 PM

breakingdefense.com · by John Hardie · July 27, 2022

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) drill held by Iranian army in Semnan, Iran on January 5, 2021. (Photo by Iranian Army/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The White House raised eyebrows earlier this month when a senior official claimed Russia may try to obtain “hundreds” of UAVs from its Middle Eastern ally Iran. In the op-ed below, The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ John Hardie, Ryan Brobst and Behnam Ben Taleblu analyze what Iran has to offer, and how it could impact the war in Ukraine.

As Russia has prosecuted its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military has found itself wanting in several areas, notably including unmanned aerial vehicles. But according to the White House, Russian President Vladimir Putin has a plan to mitigate that shortcoming by obtaining “up to several hundred UAVs” from Iran.

While it may seem an unusual proposal, the Iranian drone industry is robust, its products tested on battlefields across the Middle East. These Iranian drones could both help the Russian military identify targets for its vast arsenal of artillery, as well as offer Russia additional means of attacking Ukrainian forces – potentially including Western-donated artillery.

The West should prepare Ukrainian forces by providing Kyiv with additional air defenses and electronic warfare systems. The alleged drone sale also underscores why Washington and its allies should push to reinstitute the now-lapsed UN arms embargo on Iran and sanction any individuals and entities involved in the UAV deal.

Since the end of the Cold War, Iran has looked to Russia to rebuild and upgrade its military after a calamitous war against neighboring Iraq in the 1980s. When it comes to drones, however, it’s a different story. The Islamic Republic began pouring resources into its drone program in the 1980s, while the Russian Federation largely neglected such capabilities and is now racing to catch up. Tehran has since emerged as a regional drone power, fielding dozens of different systems while proliferating drones and associated technology to proxy terror groups across the Middle East. Iran reportedly even opened a drone factory in Tajikistan in May.

Now, Iranian drone proliferation appears bound for Europe. US intelligence believes Tehran “is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs, on an expedited timeline,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced July 12. He said Iran would begin training “Russian forces to use these UAVs … as soon as early July,” although the White House on Tuesday said it has seen “no indications” that the drones had yet been delivered or purchased. While Tehran denies Sullivan’s accusation, an Iranian military official in 2019 claimed Moscow had expressed interest in purchasing Iranian drones, and last week Russian media reported another Iranian military official said Tehran is ready to export UAVs to “friendly countries.”

Back in June and then again on July 5, a Russian delegation reportedly visited Iran’s Kashan Airfield, which has served as Tehran’s key base for UAV training for various Middle Eastern terror groups. The Russian delegation examined the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), which have reportedly seen combat in Iraq and Syria.

While Russia has recently begun fielding its domestically produced Orion UCAV, it’s produced just a small number of systems, limiting its battlefield impact. The Shahed-191 and Shahed-129, both of which can carry Sadid precision-guided bombs, would provide Russia with additional capacity.

Russia could use these or other Iranian UCAVs to conduct close air support and air interdiction missions. While these drones would face threats from Ukrainian air defenses that have constrained Russia’s manned fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, their loss would be less costly. They could also help compensate for Russia’s shortage of precision-guided munitions dropped by manned aircraft, which undermines the Russian Air Force’s ability to conduct effective close air support and air interdiction. The Ukrainians reportedly fear Russia could use Iranian drones to target Ukrainian HIMARS rocket artillery batteries, which have wrought havoc on Russian ammo dumps, command posts, and other high-value targets in recent weeks.

Beyond UCAVs, Iran also has a variety of unarmed UAVs that could offer Russia greater capacity and — depending on the system provided — capability for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). Drone ISR is essential for what Moscow calls “reconnaissance-fire and reconnaissance-strike contours,” or kill chains linking sensors, command, control and communication systems, and shooters.

Russian drone ISR, conspicuously lacking early in the war, has enhanced the Russian military’s effectiveness during the conflict’s second phase, during which Russian forces have made better use of their existing unmanned assets. Ukrainian forces reportedly say that after acquiring a target via UAV, Russian artillery typically takes just three to five minutes to bring accurate fire to bear, compared to about half an hour to deliver inaccurate fire when relying on other means of target acquisition.

As the UK defense ministry noted in May, however, “Russia is likely experiencing a shortage of appropriate reconnaissance UAVs for this task” — something Russian war correspondents and military bloggers have lamented. Russian forces have lost a significant number of ISR drones, particularly Orlan-10s, their workhorse system. Western sanctions restricting Russian imports of high-tech components may exacerbate this challenge by inhibiting Russia’s production capacity. Meanwhile, both sides have resorted to crowdfunding smaller drones used for short-range ISR.

Finally, Tehran has many single-use attack drones, like the Shahed-136, a delta-wing kamikaze drone that Iran used last summer to strike a tanker off the coast of Oman, killing two people. While Russia has employed its nascent arsenal of loitering munitions in Ukraine, limited capacity is likely an issue here as well. Iranian loitering munitions such as the Toofan and Raad-85, which linger above the battlefield before rapidly descending on targets, could provide Russian forces with additional lethality but will be expended quickly. Tehran also claims to possesses operational anti-radiation drones, designed to home in on the radar emissions of air defense systems. These models could help the Russian Air Force compensate for its weakness in suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses, in turn potentially reducing the threat to Russia’s manned aircraft.

Moreover, Russia could use Iranian drones such as the Qasef-1/2k and the Samad 2/3 — essentially propeller-driven cruise missiles — to strike targets such as infrastructure and ammo stockpiles behind the frontlines. While drones like these carry smaller warheads than traditional cruise missiles like Russia’s Kalibr, incidents such as the 2019 Iranian drone and cruise missile strike that shut down roughly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production show their potential impact. In Ukraine, such systems could help Russia supplement its dwindling stocks of cruise missiles.

In consultation with Kyiv, Washington and its allies should consider ways to help Ukrainian forces counter these Iranian drones. For example, they should look at providing Ukraine with additional electronic warfare equipment. They could also bolster Ukraine’s short-range air defenses, whether by sourcing additional Soviet-made systems or providing Western-made systems like Avenger or M-SHORAD.

Beyond its immediate implications for Ukraine, Tehran’s potential drone transfer also underscores the need to reinstitute and enforce the UN arms embargo on Iran, which expired in 2020. This issue is particularly salient given that Tehran could ask Moscow to return the favor by selling Iran advanced weaponry such as the S-400 surface-to-air missile system. Moscow previously declined to sell Tehran the S-400 but has left the door open to a future sale.

Washington could unilaterally “snap back” UN prohibitions against Iran — including the arms embargo — if it’s also willing to collapse the UN Security Council resolution enshrining the 2015 nuclear deal. Washington should also continue to spotlight this issue by sanctioning any individuals and entities involved in the drones’ potential sale, supply, or transfer to Russia, building on existing congressional and executive branch efforts to penalize Tehran’s drone program.

Iranian drones stand to aid Russia’s military in prosecuting Putin’s war of imperial aggression against Ukraine. Through military support married with diplomatic and economic pressure, the United States and its allies can both help Ukraine counter Iranian drones on the battlefield while addressing the widening radius of Iranian drone proliferation.

John Hardie is a research manager and senior analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where Ryan Brobst is a research analyst and Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow. FDD is a nonpartisan research institute based in Washington, DC.


24. Atlantic Council cuts ties to Koch-funded foreign policy initiative



Atlantic Council cuts ties to Koch-funded foreign policy initiative

Politico

Business tycoon Charles Koch gave the D.C. think tank $4.5 million for the initiative, which has found a new home.


Charles Koch, who is a major funder of conservative, libertarian and philanthropic initiatives, provided the Atlantic Council with a $4.5 million grant in 2020. | David Zalubowski/AP Photo

07/27/2022 06:02 PM EDT

The Atlantic Council is parting ways with a Charles Koch-funded foreign policy strategy initiative after staff at the Washington think tank raised concerns about the arrangement and the initiative’s position on U.S. policy toward Russia.

Koch, who is a major funder of conservative, libertarian and philanthropic initiatives, provided the Council with a $4.5 million grant in 2020. The money was designed to set up the New American Engagement Initiative, a national security effort that planned to use the funds to support scholars and their efforts, which was housed under the Council’s Scowcroft Center for Security and Strategy.


In March 2021, the initiative co-director, Mathew Burrows, and Emma Ashford, a senior fellow with the effort, penned an article that argued the U.S. should not center its approach to Russia around human rights. Nearly two dozen Atlantic Council staffers, including several former ambassadors, responded in a letter disassociating themselves with the article. At the time, some Atlantic Council experts suggested to POLITICO that Ashford and initiative co-director Chris Preble — two alumni of the Koch-funded Cato Institute — were brought on because of Koch money.


In an email sent Wednesday morning to its board of directors and obtained by POLITICO, Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe announced that the New American Engagement Initiative would soon be housed under the Stimson Center, a significantly smaller foreign policy oriented D.C. think tank. He excluded any mention of the original funder of the initiative.

“After more than two years with the Atlantic Council, the New American Engagement Initiative will move to the Stimson Center in the coming days,” he wrote. “Since its launch, we framed the initiative’s aspiration as injecting creative approaches and thinking to increasingly complex geopolitical challenges — from Putin’s war in Ukraine and related nuclear issues to Sweden’s and Finland’s new NATO membership aspirations and their security implications.”

It’s unclear how much funding the Council will have to return, if any, as the New American Engagement Initiative moves to Stimson. At the time of the announcement, the Council said that Koch’s gift would come as a five-year long grant.

When asked whether the Atlantic Council chose to end the grant because of a potential impact Koch’s name would have on fundraising, Miriam Smallman, a spokesperson for the think tank, denied that was the reason, stressing “[W]e have had another excellent year of fundraising.”

“Over the next month, the New American Engagement Initiative team will complete an amicable transition from the Atlantic Council to a new home and focus at the Stimson Center,” Smallman said in an email. She said the initiative’s co-directors, Preble and Burrows, “approached Stimson with an interest in expanding” on areas where Stimson “has a long history of leadership.”

Koch’s philanthropic group did not return a request for comment.

David Solimini, director of strategic communications for The Stimson Center, said the organization was approached by the leadership team at the New American Engagement Initiative. But he declined to say whether the Stimson Center would receive the remainder of the Koch grant. He noted that the think tank has accepted Koch funding in the past. In 2021, the Stimson Center reported $112,180 in general support from the Charles Koch Institute.

The Atlantic Council was not the only think tank that received Koch funding as part of the effort that led to the New American Engagement Initiative. Koch doled out the remainder of $10 million in grants to the Center for the National Interest, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the RAND Corporation.

The Council’s staffing shake-up is the latest example of turmoil that has come either in the wake of think tanks accepting Koch funding or taking positions on the Ukraine war that has ruffled feathers. Two experts at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft — launched, in part, from a $500,000 gift from Koch — recently resigned from the organization. National security analyst Joseph Cirincione, a former senior nonresident fellow, said he decamped from the Quincy Institute over its position on the war in Ukraine. And another Quincy affiliate, Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, announced his resignation from the board in June.


POLITICO




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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

email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com


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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