Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

“When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you may not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.”
- Robert Heinlein

 "Every crisis has both its dangers and its opportunities. Each can spell either salvation or doom." 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

You cannot force ideas. Successful ideas are the result of slow growth. Ideas do not reach perfection in a day, no matter how much study is put upon them." 
- Alexander Graham Bell


​2. Ukraine Has Earned Our Respect and Our Trust: We Need to Fully Arm Ukraine to Defeat Russia

3. Beware of war predictions: Ukraine’s outcome is not yet written

4. How to use Irregular Warfare to Support Partners and Deter Adversaries

5. The United States Learned From Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia Didn’t.

6. The Battle for Kherson and Why it Matters

7. Special Ops go back to the future to deter nation-state adversaries

8. Missing the Mark: Reassessing U.S. Military Aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces

9. Red Cross struggles to see prison where Ukrainian POWs died

10. The Untold Shadow War Between Israel and North Korea

​11. ​Putin Has Another Problem: The Russia Navy Is In Trouble

12. No matter what the Kremlin says, the sanctions against Russia are working and 'catastrophically crippling' its economy: study

​13. ​Slowdown in China ripples through corporate earnings

​14. ​US Army’s solar-powered drone is setting new records every day

15. Despite rising tensions, US and Chinese troops worked together to put out a garbage dump fire, a top US general says

​16. ​Drone explosion hits Russia's Black Sea Fleet HQ

​17. ​Hacktivist group Anonymous is using six top techniques to 'embarrass' Russia

​18. ​Chinese invasion of Taiwan may come sooner than expected

19. The Sneaky Way Ukraine Could Take Back Kherson from Putin: Guerilla Warfare

​20. ​Terrorism is Less of an Existential Threat than Russia and China

21. No more automatic Global War on Terrorism service medals, DoD says

​22. ​Helping Partners Help Themselves Through Grassroots Innovation

​23. ​Busting the myth of the Phantom Major




Jul 30, 2022 - Press ISW

Kateryna Stepanenko and Frederick W. Kagan

July 30, 9:30 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 are likely prioritizing offensive operations toward Bakhmut and around Donetsk City at the expense of efforts to take Siversk and Slovyansk. Russian commanders are likely seeking to exploit recent gains in the Novoluhanske area to pressure Bakhmut from the east. Their efforts around Donetsk City likely aim to push Ukrainian forces out of artillery range of the city. They may also be intended to gain as much ground in Donetsk Oblast as possible before planned referenda in September. Russian offensive operations are very unlikely to take Bakhmut, which is large and well-defended, or to make dramatic gains west of Donetsk City even if they manage to take the towns of Avdiivka and Pisky that have held out against their pressure since the original Russian invasion in 2014. Fighting in these areas will likely intensify, however, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is calling on residents to evacuate.[1]

Neither Russia nor Ukraine produced new evidence regarding the cause or responsibility for the deaths of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) at the Olenivka prison in occupied Donetsk Oblast. Russian officials raised the death toll of the event to 50 and released a list of deceased POWs.[2] Ukrainian officials stated that they are unable to verify the list at this time and called for an international investigation.[3] Maxar has provided post-strike imagery of the damage. ISW is unable to confirm the nature or cause of the incident, although it remains more likely that Russian forces were responsible.

Overview of damaged buildings in Olenivka prisoner of war facility on July 30. Source: Maxar Technologies

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces conducted ground assaults around Bakhmut and the environs of Donetsk City as well as southwest of Izyum. One assault east of Bakhmut made limited gains.
  • Russian forces did not conduct ground assaults near Siversk again, suggesting that they are deprioritizing operations in that area.
  • Satellite imagery showed Russian reinforcements concentrated near the Ukrainian border on the ground line of communication (GLOC) leading toward Izyum.
  • Ukrainian forces disrupted a Russian ground assault in Kherson Oblast with preemptive artillery strikes.
  • Ukrainian officials claim that damage to the railway bridge across the Dnipro near Kherson renders Russian forces unable to resupply their positions on the west bank of the river by rail.

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)

Russian forces resumed offensive operations southwest of Izyum and began accumulating military equipment in Belgorod Oblast, just east of the Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully launched assaults on Brazhivka and Dmytrivka, approximately 16 and 18km southwest of Izyum respectively, on July 30.[4] Geolocated footage also showed Ukrainian forces striking an advancing Russian tank in Brazhivka with an anti-tank guided missile on an unspecified date.[5] Geolocated satellite imagery showed a Russian military buildup between June 19 and July 28 in Urazovo, Belgorod Oblast, 12km east of the international border.[6] Russian forces may be increasing military equipment in the area to support westward advances from Izyum, as the buildup is only 55km northeast of Russian GLOCs in Kupyansk that connect to both Izyum and settlements south of Kharkiv City. Russian forces have recently launched several localized attacks northwest of the current Izyum-Slovyansk line, and ground assaults southwest of the line alongside military buildup may support a westward offensive operation.[7]

Russian forces did not launch ground assaults northwest of Slovyansk or conduct offensive operations around Siverk on July 30, likely prioritizing frontal assaults around Bakhmut instead. Russian forces continued to shell Krasnopillya, Dolyna, Adamivka, and Mazanivka northwest of Slovyansk, and damaged the bus station building in Slovyansk.[8] Russian forces also fired artillery at Kramatorsk, Siversk, and settlements around Siversk.[9] The Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation (JFO) reported that Ukrainian forces liberated an unnamed settlement in the Donetsk Oblast direction (the Ukrainian operational direction that refers to Luhansk and Donetsk Oblast.)[10]

Russian forces made limited gains southeast of Bakhmut and launched a series of unsuccessful assaults south and northeast of the city on July 30. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces secured positions on the outskirts of Semihirya (approximately 15km southeast of Bakhmut) after launching an attack from three directions.[11] Russian forces reportedly attempted unsuccessfully to advance west to Travneve from Dolomytne, both settlements approximately 10km northeast of Horlivka.[12] Ukrainian forces also reportedly stopped Russian advances towards Vershyna and Pokrovske, southeast and northeast of Bakhmut, respectively.[13] The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian forces are attempting to set conditions for offensive operations in the directions of Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and west of Donetsk City.[14]

Russian forces launched unsuccessful ground attacks northeast and southwest of Avdiivka, and southwest of Donetsk City on July 30. Ukrainian forces reportedly repelled Russian assaults on Krasnohorivka, Avdiivka, and Pisky, likely in an effort to envelop Ukrainian fortifications in Avdiivka from the northeast and southwest.[15] Russian forces also conducted unsuccessful offensive operations in Mariinka and Pavlivka, approximately 22km and 50km southwest of Donetsk City, respectively.[16]

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 conduct offensive operations around Kharkiv City on July 30 but continued to shell settlements northwest, northeast, and southeast of the city.[17] Kharkiv Oblast Administration Head Oleg Synegubov reported that Russian forces launched five S-300 missiles at two Kharkiv City districts.[18]

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

Ukrainian forces reportedly preempted a Russian ground assault in northwestern Kherson Oblast on July 30. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian artillery fire stopped Russian forces from launching an assault from occupied Brunskyne on Bilohirka, both located on the western bank of the Inhulets River in northwestern Kherson Oblast.[19] Russian forces also launched airstrikes near Novohryhorivka and Andriivka, both near the Kherson-Mykolaiv Oblast border.[20] Russian forces continued to shell Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk Oblasts with tube and rocket artillery on July 30. Dnipropetrovsk Oblast authorities reported that Russian forces fired 40 Grad Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) rockets at Nikopol, on the western Dnipro River bank.[21] Mykolaiv Oblast officials also reported that Russian forces struck Mykolaiv City with Smerch MLRS.[22]

Russian forces continued efforts to restore logistics and establish defensive positions south of the line of contact amidst continuous Ukrainian strikes on Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) and ammunition depots.[23] Social media footage showed Russian concrete fortifications along the Tyahynka-Nova-Khakovka road, likely part of an effort to create defensive positions along the R47 highway to Kherson City and defend on the western Dnipro River bank.[24] Ukrainian officials and satellite imagery confirmed additional damage to a key railroad bridge, just 8km east of the damaged Antonivsky Road Bridge near Kherson City.[25] Kherson Oblast Administration Advisor Serhiy Khlan stated that the damages to the railroad bridge fully precludes Russian military equipment transfers via rail to northern Kherson Oblast.[26] Khlan also noted that eye witnesses saw another strike reportedly on a Russian ammunition depot in Nova Kakhovka on July 30.[27] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command confirmed that Ukrainian forces destroyed the command post of the 34th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade in Bruskynske on July 29.[28] Ukrainian forces also struck a Russian military truck and vehicles parked outside a building in Enerhodar, which Russian occupation officials claimed were part of a humanitarian convoy.[29]

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

Nothing significant to report as of July 30.

Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied areas; set conditions for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or some other future political arrangement of Moscow’s choosing)

Russian occupation authorities carried out the scheduled “We Are Together With Russia” forum in Kherson State University on July 30, continuing to set conditions for a falsified referendum in occupied areas of Kherson Oblast.[30] Pro-Russian Telegram channel “Readovka” described the event as a forum aimed to allow participants to “the future fate” of Kherson Oblast and claimed that about a thousand participants gathered to discuss social and economic policies of the region.[31] The delegates voted for a declaration called “Russian Kherson“ regarding the joint development of Kherson Oblast with Russia.[32] Igor Kastyukevich , Russian State Duma Deputy and coordinator of the United Russia Party humanitarian mission to Kherson Oblast, was the only Russian identified as participating in the forum alongside Ukrainian collaborators.[33] ISW previously assessed that that low turnout among Russian officials could support other reporting suggesting that the Kremlin authorities fled Kherson City in fear of Ukrainian counteroffensives.[34] Russian-appointed Kherson Oblast Military-Civilian Administration Head Volodymyr Saldo also announced the creation of the Kherson Oblast Public Chamber within the ”We Are Together With Russia,” which the Kremlin will likely use to create the facade of public support for Kherson Oblast’s integration with Russia.[35]

Ukrainian partisans continued to target Russian railroad transport in occupied settlements on July 30. Luhansk Oblast Administration Head Serhiy Haidai reported that Ukrainian partisans destroyed the railway control box in Svatove, situated approximately 55km north of Severodonetsk and along the Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in Luhansk Oblast.[36] Russian-appointed Zaporizhia Oblast Occupation Administration Yevheny Balitsky uploaded footage documenting damage to a railroad segment near Komysh-Zorya station, just 22km due west of the Zaporizhia-Donetsk Oblast border.[37] Balitsky claimed that Ukrainian HIMARS struck the railroad on July 29, but the small-scale damage appears more consistent with Ukrainian partisan activity aiming to disrupt Russian logistics routes in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian Mariupol officials and sources in exile reported that Ukrainian partisans set a field on fire in Russian-occupied Bezimenne, about 20km east of Mariupol, in an effort to set Russian fortifications on fire and prevent Russian occupation authorities from looting Ukrainian grain.[38]

[32] https://life dot ru/p/1513054

2. Ukraine Has Earned Our Respect and Our Trust: We Need to Fully Arm Ukraine to Defeat Russia

Ukraine Has Earned Our Respect and Our Trust: We Need to Fully Arm Ukraine to Defeat Russia


By Dan Rice, MS.Ed. and Colonel (Retired) Lee Van Arsdale


Dan is the President of Thayer Leadership and a 1988 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He served as an Airborne-Ranger qualified Field Artillery officer, and later voluntarily re-commissioned in the Infantry to serve in Iraq and received the Purple Heart. Dan is an unpaid special advisor to General Valeriy Zaluzhny, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.


Lee is a 1974 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. During his 25-year Army career, he served 11 years in the First Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Airborne), participating in numerous classified combat operations, on a global scale, while in a leadership capacity. He served as CEO of Triple Canopy, the largest security company in Iraq with 6,000 employees during the peak of the Iraq War. He was awarded the Ranger Tab, Special Forces badge, Silver Star, Purple Heart, and many other recognitions. Lee is a Thayer Leadership faculty member.  

Authors with a T-72 donated by Poland. They were with the unit when they attacked and destroyed Russian targets.

The prevailing attitude here in Kyiv is that many in the U.S. government do not yet trust the Ukrainian people. It’s a sentiment that we believe is correct and needs to be remedied immediately in the best interests of U.S. national security. We have personally traveled the battlefields with the Ukrainian Armed Forces commanders in Kyiv, Moschun, Bucha, Iripin, and the Donbas, so we have unique insights into their attitudes and values. The Ukrainian military deserves our ultimate respect and our trust. As such, the U.S. should fully arm Ukraine as if it were arming U.S. troops to fight against the entire Russian Army. Continuing to approve and send small amounts of arms and ammunition at a time could result in a catastrophic loss for Ukraine, and by extension, the United States.


Why should Ukraine have our respect and trust? Ukraine has been at war for eight years with Russia, ever since Russia forcibly took Crimea and infiltrated eastern Ukraine in 2014. While under-reported in the West, the fact is that the fighting did not stop in 2014. And now, every day, 100-200 Ukrainians die in artillery barrages in the east and the south, not to mention suffering tremendous structural losses. They have earned our respect and trust the hard way. Ukraine is combat proven. NATO is comprised of 32 countries and was originally formed to deter and/or combat the Soviet Union, now Russia, through a united coalition. Now Russia has targeted one country – with 10% of Russia’s GDP – and Ukraine is fighting off the 2nd largest army in the world – on its own.


Ukraine has clearly demonstrated its united will to fight against Russia, but it needs further support from the U.S. government to win. This is not a civil war with internal factions fighting amongst themselves, or a weak/ineffective central government, as we encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia is clearly an illegal, immoral, and amoral aggressor nation. After Ukraine, which country is next? One cannot help but to think of John F. Kennedy’s famous quote: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” The Ukrainian people are living that reality every day.


For Ukraine to have any chance of succeeding against this aggressor, we need to quit using a strategy of a slow drip weapons and supply what they need. Once the need for more weaponry was crucial after Kyiv was secured at the start of the war, the U.S. sent 4 multiple launch rocket systems (M142 HIMARS wheeled rocket launchers). Only 4 for a country the size of Texas. We have been increasing that number every few weeks, and now have given 16 and pledged 4 more for a total of 20. We need to give more.


Ukraine is not asking for U.S. combat troops; they take great pride in fighting this war themselves. However, they make no pretense that they have anywhere close to adequate arms and ammunition to succeed. They are extremely grateful for the assistance the U.S. government has given to date but need much more in the near term. The daily loss of Ukrainian life could be reduced significantly if we would step up the pace of assistance.


A powerful argument can be made that the United States previously incurred a moral obligation to provide the maximum support that Ukraine now needs, because we were instrumental in convincing them to give up control of its nuclear arsenal and the Black Sea fleet when the Soviet Union collapsed. Ukraine complied and gave up its nuclear weapons, at significant peril knowing those weapons were a deterrent against Russia.  

Russia poses as one of America’s largest threats today. As Putin drains Russian blood and treasure in Ukraine, it simply makes good strategic sense for us to support Ukraine to further weaken Russia. To not do so could result in the opposite outcome – a stronger Russia, a defeated American friend and ally, and a weakened U.S. in the eyes of the world.


Ronald Reagan famously said “Trust but verify” with respect to Russia. At this point, we can trust Russia to act more brutal, at great cost to Ukraine and the world. As we trust Ukraine with more weaponry, we should also verify its proper use by sending U.S. Special Forces advisors, trainers, and monitors. Ukraine is inviting the U.S. to send advisors to showcase their logistics and tracking all weapons and ammo. Our forces will also gain valuable lessons learned about fighting a near peer competitor with minimal risk. This would address the concerns of those focused on Ukrainian accountability with our assistance and allow us to send them what they need now. This would also address the real concern about historic Ukrainian corruption, which must factor into the equation. 38 million freedom loving people must not be sacrificed because previous Ukrainian governments have received failing grades for corruption.


Delaying these large shipments of weapons extends the war, costs more Ukrainian lives, and will cost the west more in the long run. The economy of Ukraine has been destroyed by the Russians and the west is currently funding $5 billion/month to keep the Ukraine government funded. Ending the war will help get Ukraine back on its feet economically so the West does not have to continue funding $5 billion/month.  


Ukraine has asked for 100 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), and we have only pledged 20. Ukraine has requested 300 M777 howitzers, and we have only provided 126. Ukraine has requested the long-range MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), committed to only targeting Russian positions within Ukraine – not to attack inside Russia. We have not given them any ATACM but need to, so Russians will have nowhere in Ukraine to hide. There are obviously additional needs of drones, armor, vehicles, suicide drones, but since Ukraine has forced Russia into a long-range artillery duel, in which they are badly outnumbered, the above weapon systems represent the most pressing and urgent need. These Howitzers and HIMARS systems are also being processed from the Presidential Drawdown Authorization, meaning they are used, excess inventory from our Army, so they can be immediately shipped and into the fight to make a difference and start saving Ukrainian lives. 


Putin and his generals only respect force. The Russian army in Ukraine has behaved as an immoral, amoral, well-armed terrorist organization. Let us continue to act to stop them, now. We should send Ukraine the number of weapon systems they need now, not piecemeal, before it is too late.



About the Author(s)

Lee Van Arsdale

Lee Van Arsdale is a 1974 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. During his 25-year Army career, he served 11 years in the First Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Airborne), participating in numerous classified combat operations, on a global scale, while in a leadership capacity. He served as CEO of Triple Canopy, the largest security company in Iraq with 6,000 employees during the peak of the Iraq War. He was awarded the Ranger Tab, Special Forces badge, Silver Star, Purple Heart, and many other recognitions. Lee is a Thayer Leadership faculty member.

Daniel Rice

Dan is the President of Thayer Leadership and a 1988 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He served his commitment as an Airborne-Ranger qualified Field Artillery officer. In 2004, he voluntarily re-commissioned in the Infantry to serve in Iraq for 13 months. He has been awarded the Purple Heart, Ranger Tab, Airborne Badge and cited for ‘courage on the field of battle” by his Brigade Commander. 


Dan has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Small Wars Journal, and Chief Executive magazine. In 2013, he published and co-authored his first book, West Point Leadership: Profiles of Courage, which features 200 of West Point graduates who have helped shape our nation, including the authorized biographies of over 100 living graduates.. The book received 3 literary awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association plus an award from the Military Society Writers of America (MSWA). Dan has appeared frequently on various news networks including CNN, FOX News, FOX & Friends, Bloomberg TV, NBC, MSNBC, and The Today Show.


Ed.D., ABD, Leadership, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education (graduation expected 2023)

MS.Ed., Leadership & Learning, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, 2020

M.S., Integrated Marketing Communications, Medill Graduate School, Northwestern University, 2018

M.B.A., Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, 2000

B.S., National Security, United States Military Academy, 1988

Full bio here:

3. Beware of war predictions: Ukraine’s outcome is not yet written

Important analysis and wise words:

The Ukraine war is actually being fought and waged at two levels. The first is strategic, in Ukraine: the allies staying true to their word and supplying Ukraine with what it needs to create negotiating conditions favorable to the Zelensky government increases the probability that Putin’s aggression will fail. The second war is grand-strategic, beyond Ukraine: preventing the kind of world in which force plays an increasing role. The rules-based world created after World War II is one in which America and its allies, as well as many other nations, prospered. A future with weak rules and more wars is not one conducive to any country’s prosperity.
The war at both levels is worth fighting. And both, worth winning. Preventing future war starts with stopping Putin in Ukraine. Those who are suggesting that we negotiate with Putin now are not thinking about what’s at stake should Putin’s aggression pay off. The Zelensky government, the Ukraine people, and its allied supporters still have the ability to write the outcome.

Beware of war predictions: Ukraine’s outcome is not yet written



The Hill · · July 31, 2022

In 1942, Germany controlled most of Europe and a large swath of Northern Africa, and Japan controlled much of China, Southeast Asia, and was at Australia’s doorstep. By the end of 1943, the maps looked quite different. War is like that, a dynamic phenomenon. A scene from the movie, “Lawrence of Arabia,” says it best: After marching through burning sands and biting windstorms, Lawrence and his men were on the edge of dehydration when they found an oasis. Lawrence realized that his camel boy was missing. When no one volunteered to go back to retrieve the boy, Lawrence went himself. His men pleaded with him not to go, saying that his fate was written by Allah. Two days later, Lawrence returned with the boy, so exhausted and dry that he could only whisper, “Nothing is written unless we write it.”

A war’s outcome is written by its combatants. It depends upon which side commits what is necessary — in blood, materiel, and will — toward achieving its aims, how long it can sustain its efforts, and whether it makes fewer mistakes than its enemies. By that score, how or when the Ukraine war will end remains unknown.

Some Western strategists are predicting that even with allied help, the best outcome will be a stalemate. They reason that Russia is larger and has more resources than Ukraine. So, even if Russia cannot win outright, it can prevent Ukraine from winning. Thus, they conclude, a stalemate is the most likely outcome. Given this, the reasoning continues, it’s best to stop the fighting and negotiate a solution now to prevent more suffering. I wonder if these same strategists would have recommended that to the Continental Congress after George Washington’s 1776 defeat on Long Island and in New York? After all, Britain was a global military and economic powerhouse compared to the American colonies, and at the time success looked impossible to many.

The stalemate prediction and the recommendations that flow from it defy the nature of war. War is not an arithmetic affair. Numbers count, but success in war cannot be predicted by merely calculating force ratios and economic potential. War on paper is not the same as real war.

Unable to seize Kyiv and replace Volodymyr Zelensky’s government quickly, Vladimir Putin shifted to Plan B: subjugate Ukraine by permanent partition. He is firmly committed to so limit Ukraine’s political sovereignty, territorial integrity and economic capacity that, even if Ukraine does not become a Russian vassal, Russia gains from its aggression and Ukraine loses. And Putin seems willing to spill much blood — Russian and Ukrainian, combatants as well as non-combatants, well beyond what is militarily necessary — to achieve his aims.

Hotels, hospitals, shopping centers, apartment buildings, and refugees have been and continue to be Russian targets — depravity without limits. And he is “Russianizing” the areas he has seized — changing the currency to rubles, forcing Russian banks upon the residents, changing political leaders, integrating Ukrainian industrial assets into the Russian economy, and deporting Ukrainian citizens — annexation Russian-style, just as he did in 2014 in Crimea and the Donbas.

Putin will not stop until he is stopped. His overall purpose is to re-establish a greater Russia. First reuniting former Russian states — the Baltic countries, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. Then, when and if possible, Russian “buffer states,” nations of the former Warsaw Pact — Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Subjugating Ukraine is one step toward this ultimate goal.

Putin seems willing to commit everything within his power, but is he able to actually generate and apply what’s necessary for even his first step? That remains to be seen. Even with the oil money still flowing into Russian coffers, Putin is having great difficulties in generating soldiers, units and leaders to replace his losses. And even with his oil money, he is also having difficulty repairing, producing, procuring and delivering the vehicles, arms and ammunition his forces need. Ukraine’s fighters, using allied arms and ammunition, have forced Russian forces into a grinding war of attrition in the northern and eastern parts of Ukraine — one that is not clear Putin can, in fact, sustain.

With allied support, the Zelensky government is fighting hard to stop Plan B from succeeding. This is a tough fight, but one the Ukrainians are still determined to win. The Ukrainian people know what’s at stake: their right to a political and economic life of their choosing. Further, Putin’s vision and aggression have generated opposition around the world. Whereas he sought to weaken NATO, it has strengthened and will grow. Where he wanted to show democracy’s weakness, he provoked unity and strength. Grand strategically, he may have lost already. Strategically, within Ukraine itself, who will succeed is yet unclear.

Democrats across the country can learn from Tim Ryan’s success Speaking up about college presidents speaking out

The Ukraine war is actually being fought and waged at two levels. The first is strategic, in Ukraine: the allies staying true to their word and supplying Ukraine with what it needs to create negotiating conditions favorable to the Zelensky government increases the probability that Putin’s aggression will fail. The second war is grand-strategic, beyond Ukraine: preventing the kind of world in which force plays an increasing role. The rules-based world created after World War II is one in which America and its allies, as well as many other nations, prospered. A future with weak rules and more wars is not one conducive to any country’s prosperity.

The war at both levels is worth fighting. And both, worth winning. Preventing future war starts with stopping Putin in Ukraine. Those who are suggesting that we negotiate with Putin now are not thinking about what’s at stake should Putin’s aggression pay off. The Zelensky government, the Ukraine people, and its allied supporters still have the ability to write the outcome.

James M. Dubik, Ph.D., a retired lieutenant general of the U.S. Army, is a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War. He served in military command and operational roles in Bosnia, Haiti and Iraq, and helped train forces in Afghanistan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Honduras, and many NATO countries.

The Hill · · July 31, 2022

4. How to use Irregular Warfare to Support Partners and Deter Adversaries

How to use Irregular Warfare to Support Partners and Deter Adversaries


By Artur Kalandarov

Key Takeaways

  • The U.S. should partner with allies on expansive, tailored and resource sustainable initiatives to develop each country’s IW capacity and design.
  • The U.S. should advertise its IW capabilities through independent and multi-lateral training exercises to deter adversaries.
  • IW as diplomacy: The State Department may offer bilateral IW training opportunities as a sign of trust and good will for partners around the world.
  • A robust, multilateral IW capacity will result in a recalculation of risk and increased threat perception for Russia and China. This will simultaneously drive down the risk of armed conflict and increase the ability of U.S. allied states to resist occupation.


Recent history has shown that irregular warfare (IW) can be used as a tactic and a strategy to grind down the willingness and capacity of a larger power to pursue its objectives. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. experienced firsthand the difficulty of engaging combatants dedicated to irregular methods. Now, IW is playing a key role in Ukraine’s ability to resist Russia’s invasion. In the future, it can and likely will be a crucial aspect of small states’ resistance to revanchism. Drawing from recent and ongoing conflicts, the U.S. can harness its knowledge and experience in IW to counteract China and Russia on the global stage, while continuing to engage non-state violent extremist organizations (VEOs). This can be accomplished primarily in two ways: preparing partners and allies to engage in irregular warfare in the event of an attack, and intimidating adversaries by utilizing the prospect of IW as a deterrent.

Part One: Partner Preparation

Ukraine’s unexpected success has shown that support for IW can be just as or even more effective than the provision of conventional weapons alone. Ukrainian and allied IT specialists have shored up the country’s cyber defenses and even engaged in counter-information and hacking warfare to push back against Russia’s false narrative of the conflict. Ukrainian militias have engaged in deception and hit-and-run attacks. Most visibly, Ukrainian resistance has included widespread civilian support of military operations, including the construction of improvised defensive structures and Molotov cocktails, as well as the seizure of Russian military hardware. These methods, in addition to the underlying emotional and political forces at play, must be studied and synthesized for instructing allies that may have to prepare for similar circumstances in the future.

Present threats and opportunities have made this moment especially ripe for pursuing a comprehensive IW strategy that brings in allies in a collaborative and resource-sustainable manner. Western military and political leaders are not the only ones who are encouraged by Ukraine’s use of IW; civilian populations around the world have gained a new understanding of how effective it can be. China continues its intimidation of neighboring states, and senior CCP officials often cite the seizure of Taiwan as a top priority. In addition to heightened resolve by Western national leaders, the resistance of the Ukrainian people has had a galvanizing effect on the civilian population of Taiwan as well; In a poll of Taiwanese citizens taken after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, over 70%


said they would support fighting against a Chinese invasion. In December 2021, only 40% expressed this sentiment. War is ultimately a battle of wills, and the tide of public will to resist has risen around the world. Although Taiwan has the most urgent need for IW training and preparation, Japan, India, and other states in the Indo-Pacific and around the world would likely be interested in collaborating with the U.S. on expansive, tailored initiatives to develop each country’s IW capacity and design.

Fortunately, there are recent examples of coordinated discussion of IW tactics and strategy.

In 2020, the Resistance Seminar Series, organized by Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), brought together experts from the U.S. and north and central Europe to develop the Resistance Operating Concept, a framework to ensure mutual understanding of national resistance and IW. The U.S. military should set up similar initiatives in the Indo-Pacific and other areas where allies express interest in developing their IW capacity. Although the nature of IW is the same regardless of where it is applied, its expression undoubtedly has regional and even local differences; the U.S. and allies must account for these variations by developing tailored strategies.

Part Two: IW as a Deterrent

An important aspect of military cooperation and training is to present the full scope and power of the U.S. armed forces and their allies. For instance, USINDOPACOM’s Large Scale Global Exercise (LSGE), executed with Australian, Japanese, and British troops, demonstrates U.S. and allied ability to harness the combined forces of their respective militaries for combat in the air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains. Likewise, NATO’s Saber Strike exercise has regularly confirmed the battle-readiness and cohesion of NATO forces in Eastern Europe for over a decade. The U.S. should therefore advertise its IW capabilities through independent and multi-lateral training exercises in the same way.

In addition to preparing our partners for effective IW, we must utilize the threat of IW to shape the perceptions of our adversaries and ultimately deter them from malign activities.

Showcasing robust defensive and offensive IW capacity will result in a recalculation of risk and increased threat perception for Russia and China. Notably, this will simultaneously drive down the risk of armed conflict and increase the ability of U.S. allied states to resist occupation. Harnessing IW for great power competition will permit the U.S. to dictate the character of war and increase the role U.S. allies can play in their own national defense strategies.

Beyond the frequent presentation of IW exercises on the world stage, IW can become a tool in the American diplomatic toolbox. The State Department may offer bilateral IW training opportunities as a sign of trust and good will for partners around the world. Similar to COIN training and the provision of conventional arms, supporting countries own efforts to develop IW capabilities will assist in fostering mutually beneficial relationships that will hamper Russia and China’s influence operations abroad. Notably, for IW preparation to be effective, it must be inclusive. The U.S. should assist allies in not only training conventional troops in IW, but also civilian organizations, including but not limited to police departments and public safety institutions.



Over the coming years, a two-pronged strategy of (1) bolstering allied IW capacity and (2) promulgating its benefit for U.S. partners and threat to adversaries, will make the U.S. and its allies more secure. The U.S. must lead the way in developing a dynamic IW doctrine that allies can customize and incorporate into their own national security operations. By collaborating with allies, the U.S. can create a valuable multiplier effect in terms of IW’s capacity and its strength as a deterrent. “When national resistance planning is integrated with allies and partners committed to the ideals of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and self-determination, it can become a powerful message against a potential adversary. It places a potential adversary on notice that it cannot violate a nation’s territorial integrity and attempt to establish a new status quo,” writes Major General Kirk Smith. Even superpowers can be humbled by the effectiveness of irregular warfare. This is a lesson the United States has learned, and now it should be one it teaches its adversaries.

About the Author(s)

Artur Kalandarov

Artur Kalandarov is an Associate at The Cohen Group, a strategic advisory firm led by former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen., where he advises clients on their operations in Eastern Europe. He graduated magna cum laude in Government Studies from Bowdoin, where his thesis used Clausewitz’s On War to analyze the Soviet and American interventions in Afghanistan. Kalandarov has previously been published in The National Interest, The Defense Post, and several academic journals.

5. The United States Learned From Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia Didn’t.

I missed this when it came out last week.


The Iraq and Afghanistan wars did not prepare the U.S. military for all aspects of future conflicts. They did not train soldiers how to advance under relentless artillery barrages, like those we see in Ukraine today. They did not teach sailors how to face anti-ship missiles, or pilots how to deal with advanced air-defense threats. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars certainly did not teach the U.S. military how to sustain the sort of casualties the Russians continue to take in Ukraine.

Similarly, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, probably, taught the United States bad lessons as well. For example, U.S. analysts’ underestimation of the Ukrainian will to fight might have been influenced by policymakers overestimating Iraqi and Afghan government forces’ will to fight in 2014 and last year, when better equipped and U.S.-trained Afghan security forces melted away in the face of weaker opponents.

Still, Iraq and Afghanistan taught the U.S. military several lessons relevant to the conflict in Ukraine; it’s likely the U.S. military would have avoided some of the mishaps that have befallen the Russians in Ukraine. The U.S. military should embrace this fact, if only to ensure it internalizes the “right” lessons of the past two decades of war.

The United States Learned From Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia Didn’t.

By Raphael S. CohenGian Gentile Sunday, July 24, 2022, 10:01 AM · July 24, 2022

Editor’s Note: As the United States orients its strategy around great power competition, questions have arisen as to whether the U.S. military is up to the task. In particular, as Raphael Cohen and Gian Gentile of the RAND Corporation point out, the Ukraine war has raised questions about just how well the U.S. military would fare in a conventional war after 20 years focused on counterinsurgency. The answer, they believe, is mixed: The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq taught the United States many valuable lessons, but a Ukraine-type war could still offer many unpleasant surprises.

Daniel Byman


There is little debate that the Russian military has underperformed in the war in Ukraine. Many analysts thought the conflict would be over in a matter of days, with minimal Russian military casualties, yet five months later it continues to grind on and has decimated significant portions of Russia’s ground combat power. There are a slew of explanations about why the Russian army has performed so poorly—from deliberate Russian force structure choices to an underestimation of the Ukrainian will to fight—but it is clear that the Russian military has not lived up to expectations.

A contentious question revolves around a hypothetical: Would the U.S. military have done any better? For some observers, the answer is no. For those in this camp, the argument is that the United States and other Western militaries suffer from some of the same maladies as the Russians. These claims echo a broader narrative that the past 20 years has been a “period of strategic atrophy” and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have left the United States ill prepared for largely conventional fights like the war in Ukraine.

Bracketing the long-standing debates over which side has the better kitmore agile force structure, or stronger will to fight, what the “we couldn’t do it better” school misses is historical context. As dissimilar as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars may be to the war in Ukraine, those conflicts taught the United States a few important lessons, often the hard way. As a result, the U.S. military probably would have avoided the problems that beset the Russians in Ukraine—not in spite of the global war on terrorism, but because of it.

Repeating Past Mistakes

For all the differences between the Ukraine war and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, there are striking similarities between the Russian military’s failures in Ukraine and the U.S. military’s struggles in the early days of the global war on terrorism.

One commonly cited cause for Russia’s mishaps in Ukraine is that, during the early days of the war, Russia’s military lacked a unity of command. It’s possible that, because Russia thought the war was going to be a relatively short conflict, it did not place a commander in charge of its “special military operation” until April, when Vladimir Putin named Gen. Aleksandr Dvornikov to the post. The net result was that Russia’s operation—especially during those crucial early weeks—seemed confused and ill coordinated.

The United States made a version of the same mistake before. While the early phases of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were led by a single person, Gen. Tommy Franks, he was also responsible for all of Central Command, which spanned most of the Middle East. Once the “major combat operations” ended, Franks went home. As we now know, the initial combat phases of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were only just beginning. Without a strong centralized command and control to plan what came next, attempts at progress in both conflicts stalled. It, arguably, took the United States and its allies months to build out structures like the Coalition Provisional Authority, Multi-National Force-Iraq, and International Security Assistance Force to provide that sort of direction.

A second notable shortfall of Russian forces in Ukraine has been in the realm of logistics. Russian tanks have run out of gas only a few dozen miles from the border, forces invaded Ukraine with expired food rations, and soldiers suffered from frostbite because they lacked adequate cold weather gear. While some of these sustainment challenges can be chalked up to the Ukrainian military successfully targeting Russian supply lines, they also reveal more systemic Russian weaknesses.

By contrast, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars highlighted and honed the U.S. military’s logistical backbone. After a couple notable exceptions particularly early on in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars—like the Third Infantry Division’s operational pause on its push to Baghdad—U.S. logistics kept service members fed, fueled, and fighting for decades, even in remote bases in hostile terrain. For all the lampooning of Starbucks and surf-and-turf dinners at superbases, the fact remains that the United States was able to not only project hundreds of thousands of troops halfway around the world but also sustain them.

Above all, Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to have similarly misjudged Ukraine in ways that eerily parallel the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq War. Some Russian commentators’ rosy prewar forecasts about the expected outcome mirrored the false bravado of the now infamous “cakewalk” prediction for the Iraq War. Russian intelligence services supposedly pointed to polling that showed Ukrainians—by and large—did not trust President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government, nor most of their other government institutions. Perhaps Putin also genuinely believed that Ukrainians and Russians are “one people” divided by a border. Either way, the Kremlin seemed to think its forces could quickly topple the Ukrainian regime while being welcomed as liberators. In this sense, there are striking similarities to how the United States believed Iraqis would greet U.S. forces prior to the Iraq War. As we now know, in both cases, these assumptions proved false.

And like the Bush administration, the Kremlin seemingly lacked a plan for what would come next if Putin’s fantasies of a short, sharp war failed to materialize. Like U.S. policymakers confronted with a floundering conflict, Putin has chosen to double down—but his strategy seems, at this point, unclear.

And this is not an exhaustive list. There are other parallels between Russia’s misfortunes in Ukraine and the United States’ misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, like the United States during the troop surge in 2007, Russia is now learning that wars require lots of manpower, especially those fought in urban areas. The broader point remains, though: History may not be repeating itself in Ukraine, but it certainly does rhyme.

Learning Lessons the Hard Way

Mistakes do not always translate directly into lessons learned. At least the popular narrative suggests that the U.S. military chose to excise the Vietnam War from its collective memory rather than internalize the lessons of that defeat. As Russia is finding out in Ukraine, even if the military internalizes a particular lesson, that’s no guarantee that its political masters will not overrule them. And so, the argument goes, U.S. errors during the global war on terrorism are not necessarily a guarantee that the United States would avoid repeating those mistakes in the future.

On closer examination, though, neither objection stands up to scrutiny. We will not know how much the joint force internalized the lessons of the past several decades until it confronts a similar situation in the future. But we do know the joint force has invested considerable time and effort into documenting and interpreting the lessons of the past two decades, as evidenced by an ample library of Department of Defense-sponsored officialsemi-official, and academic research.

Moreover, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are still relatively fresh experiences. With few exceptions, most of the current senior leaders in the U.S. military have spent much of their careers operating in both conflicts. The same is true to lesser extents for many junior ranks as well. At least for the next decade or so, the joint force does not need to learn from history as much as it simply needs to recall personal experiences.

Additionally, some of the lessons from U.S. mistakes in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars—like the importance of unity of command or centrality of logistics—are not particularly controversial or politically sensitive. Indeed, the former is enshrined in doctrine and drilled into every service member from the start. And the U.S. military’s logistical backbone has long been one of its underappreciated strengths. While the United States could ignore these lessons in the future, the onus of proof should be on the skeptics: Why would it?

As for the more politically fraught lessons learned—like the wisdom of strategies of regime change, sure, a future American president could overrule whatever lessons the U.S. military has taken away from Iraq and Afghanistan. But in contrast to Russia and other authoritarian regimes, democratic civil-military relations allow for more frank, if unequal, dialogue between military and civilian counterparts. Future military leaders might not be able to talk a future president out of regime change, but they might at least be able to convince him or her that plans for speedy regime change often go haywire.

Finally, while the U.S. military has learned lessons from the past 20 years, so too have political elites and the American public. The United States may not have lost its appetite for advocating regime change, but it has learned not to expect it to be a quick and easy affair. When President Biden remarked that Putin “cannot remain in power,” aides quickly walked back the comment, saying it was a statement of “moral outrage” rather than one of policy. In the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are rightfully wary of regime change.

Would the U.S. Military Have Done Any Better?

The short, if unfulfilling, answer is perhaps. In any future operation, the U.S. military will almost certainly make mistakes, but not the same ones the Russians did in Ukraine—if only for the fact that it learned many of the same lessons, often painfully, over the past two decades of war.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars did not prepare the U.S. military for all aspects of future conflicts. They did not train soldiers how to advance under relentless artillery barrages, like those we see in Ukraine today. They did not teach sailors how to face anti-ship missiles, or pilots how to deal with advanced air-defense threats. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars certainly did not teach the U.S. military how to sustain the sort of casualties the Russians continue to take in Ukraine.

Similarly, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, probably, taught the United States bad lessons as well. For example, U.S. analysts’ underestimation of the Ukrainian will to fight might have been influenced by policymakers overestimating Iraqi and Afghan government forces’ will to fight in 2014 and last year, when better equipped and U.S.-trained Afghan security forces melted away in the face of weaker opponents.

Still, Iraq and Afghanistan taught the U.S. military several lessons relevant to the conflict in Ukraine; it’s likely the U.S. military would have avoided some of the mishaps that have befallen the Russians in Ukraine. The U.S. military should embrace this fact, if only to ensure it internalizes the “right” lessons of the past two decades of war. · July 24, 2022

6. The Battle for Kherson and Why it Matters

From one of the great modern living strategic thinkers, Sir Lawrence Freedman.

And this is why the battle for Kherson is important. Ukraine is anxious to recover its territory and justify the confidence of its people that this war can be won. In the process it seeks to encourage its Western partners to keep the faith.
It is always the case that the next few weeks represent a critical moment in the course of this conflict, because each stage sets the terms for the next. But this is more true than ever now. After a period in which it seemed as if the fight was stuck in a groove and threatening to turn into a long attritional slog it may be about to enter a dynamic period. If this does not happen, and there is little movement, the harsh weather of winter will be matched by tough choices about the future conduct of the war.

The Battle for Kherson and Why it Matters

Lawrence Freedman

Jul 27 · by Lawrence Freedman

Ukrainian artillerymen check their weapons before heading to the frontline in Kherson. (Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images).

In my recent posts, here and here, I have been arguing that the war with Russia has shifted in Ukraine’s favour. This is because of Russia’s difficulties in replacing its lost equipment and recruiting more men for the front as Ukraine takes advantage of an influx of modern Western weapons. Ukraine’s Defence Minister Olesky Reznikov has praised his ‘gunners’ for using HIMARS multiple rocket launchers ‘very precisely – they work like a surgeon with a scalpel.’ Over recent weeks these gunners have successfully attacked more than a hundred ‘high-value’ targets, including, according to a pentagon official Russian command posts, ammunition depots, air-defence sites, radar and communications nodes, and long-range artillery positions. In response the Russian military have been told that the elimination of HIMARS and other long-range artillery system is a high priority. In this effort, and despite Moscow’s occasional claims to the contrary, they have as yet been unsuccessful. They have been thwarted, at least so far, by the ability of these systems to ‘shoot and scoot’ (get away from their firing positions in minutes).

This same Pentagon official was also quoted as observing that Russia has committed nearly 85% of its military to the war in Ukraine, which means that its armed forces will be progressively unable to fulfil its other tasks protecting their borders and supporting Russian foreign policy goals around the world. It has used up a lot of its smart munitions and so is relying on dumber capabilities. They therefore can launch fewer precision strikes even when they have the intelligence to guide them. While estimating the scale of Russian casualties still requires a lot of guesswork, they have undoubtedly been heavy, including officers at all levels, leaving a command structure struggling to cope.

The intensity of Russian operations has declined. Artillery is the workhorse of the Russian campaign, but the barrages, which reached 20,000 rounds a day at the height of the battle for Severodonetsk in Luhansk, are now much reduced. A battalion commander told a reporter that following an attack on an ammunition depot in Izyum near Kharkiv shelling has been ’10 times less’ than before. The problem Russia faces now is not a shortage in either artillery pieces or ammunition stocks but of the supply lines between the two, which are attenuated because of forward ammunition dumps either being lost or becoming evidently vulnerable. With more accurate Ukrainian systems reaching the front the Russians gunners will be getting worried if they cannot shoot and scoot fast enough.

Under these new conditions, there has been a corresponding decline in the rate of Ukrainian losses. Whereas Zelensky reported that at the height of the battle Ukraine was taking 100-200 casualties a day he now says the number is down to some 30 a day. This, it should be noted, is still a significant number. It means Ukraine loses more troops in a week than the UK lost during six years in Iraq, and in two weeks more than 20 years in Afghanistan.

The Battle for Kherson

The stage is now set for a full counter-offensive to retake Kherson, which has long been identified as Ukraine’s top priority. This is an area of vital importance to the Ukrainian economy because of its power plants and ports yet was taken during the first days of the war in what many Ukrainians consider to be suspicious circumstances. Although reinforcements have been coming in it is not as well defended as the more established areas of Russian occupation and has the added disadvantage, from Moscow’s perspective, of an active resistance movement that has been harassing troops and local collaborators.

As always there are reasons to be cautious. Observers, such as Jack Watling of RUSI, worry that Ukraine’s best forces took something of a battering during the recent fighting, and so need time to replenish and recuperate, while their reserves do not yet have adequate training. Ukraine depends on ammunition supplies, which are being expended at an alrming rate, to keep on coming through from its partners. It needs more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) to locate targets and means of suppressing Russian electronic warfare capabilities so that they can’t be jammed.

A second reason for caution is that Ukraine must watch out for the Russians picking up where they left off with their presumed priority – occupying the rest of Donetsk to complete its control over the Donbas. The pace of Russian offensives may have dropped off, and the Ukrainians claim each day that they have repulsed probing actions, but it could be risky to over-commit to Kherson if that meant losing out in Donetsk. Russian forces have made some marginal territorial gains in eastern Ukraine, including the Vuhledar Power Plant on the northern edge of Novoluhansk. This is an area they have been trying to take for two months and one which does not help them prosecute more offensives so progress on this front still appears to be meagre. As they decide what to do next, the Russians must make a similar calculation to the Ukrainians, except in the other direction – dare they allow vulnerabilities to develop in Kherson while they persevere in Donetsk.

That is one reason why the Ukrainians want to get a move on. After months of being on the defensive they are anxious to get the Russians responding to their initiatives, especially while the general staff is still working out how to adapt to the damage being done to their supply lines and command chains. Richard Moore, the head of UK’s MI6, has expressed the view that Russia could be ‘about to run out of steam’ in Ukraine, as they find it increasingly ‘difficult to supply manpower material over the next few weeks. They will have to pause some way and that will give the Ukrainians opportunities to strike back.’ He concluded that the ‘Ukrainians may have a window in which they can take advantage of what may turn out to be only a temporary Russian weakness.’

It is because of this potentially short window that the counter-offensive now appears to have begun. The Kherson regional military governor has claimed that Ukrainian troops have liberated 44 towns and villages along the border regions, about 15 percent of the territory, and are now about 50 km from Kherson city at their closest point. Another local official has spoken of how Kherson will be free by the end of September, although President Zelensky has been more careful, promising only step-by-step progress. Yet another military official has compared the Ukrainian campaign to ‘waves’. ‘Right now we’re making small waves and creating conditions to make bigger ones.’

How might this work? The only sure way to dislodge Russian troops from established positions is to mount a large-scale counteroffensive, following up artillery fire with assaults combining armour and infantry. This may become necessary although for the moment the Ukrainians may have insufficient brigades that are fully equipped and prepared to mount such an attack with confidence. But while it might be difficult to push the Russians out using overwhelming force that is not necessarily the only Ukrainian strategy. Alternatively it might be possible to render the Russian positions so uncomfortable that forces have to be withdrawn if they are to be preserved. Illia Ponomarenko of the Kyiv Independent has outlined a likely Ukrainian plan:

‘As part of a counter-offensive operation, Ukraine would likely seek to block the occupied city, cut the Russian garrison off from supplies and reinforcements, and hold the blockade until Russia surrenders.’

He noted that the front line in the region at over 200 km is too long for the Russians to secure completely, even with reinforcements. Instead they have ‘strong points in certain populated areas or road junctions’. Their ability to reinforce vulnerable units in a timely fashion is being limited by the continual targeting of logistical systems and command posts. Capable commanders are the scarcest military resource and they matter even more in a hierarchical system such as Russia’s. Most importantly they will need to worry about their forces getting trapped. Just as the big challenge for the Ukrainians in the battle for Luhansk was to know when to evacuate their forces before they were surrounded this could now be the challenge for Russians. Conspicuous attacks on the key routes in and out of the region – the Antonivskyl Bridges (hit again on Tuesday night) and a bridge by the Kakhovska power dam reduce their ability to move heavy equipment in and out, and put the Russians on notice that the Ukrainians can cut off their lines of escape.


Alongside the military considerations that are encouraging Ukraine to mount counter-offensives there are also strong political and humanitarian considerations. Conditions in Kherson are deteriorating for residents, with a recent report documenting egregious human rights abuses, including detentions, torture and disappearances. In addition, preparations are being made for a rigged referendum that would justify Russian annexation of the province, along with the Donbas, in September. This is something the Ukrainians are keen to disrupt.

It is also essential that Ukraine demonstrates that the weaponry received from the West is making a difference. The war has added to the troubles of the global economy and exceptional measures are being introduced to deal with gas shortages this coming winter. For the moment Russia more than Ukraine is blamed for the crisis, and most political leaders understand that any semblance of a Russian victory would have disastrous long-term consequences for European stability. At the same time they do not want to be taking economic and political pain for a hopeless cause and the prospect of a deadlocked war of attrition remains unnerving. Put simply, Ukraine needs a breakthrough in the next couple of months.

The risk for Kyiv is not that Western governments will suddenly terminate financial and military assistance but that they will start to explore with Moscow peace terms that would fall far short of Ukraine’s objectives. The sort of reasoning can already be found in commentary from those of a ‘realist’ persuasion who warn that good intentions can’t overcome the logic of the military balance of power. Thus, starting with the assumption that the idea of Ukraine victory is delusional, Barry Posen argues that the US effort would be better spent arranging a peace settlement.

Leaving aside the question of whether Posen’s military analysis might now be less sure – it was written before matters turned more in Ukraine’s favour – it is worth considering his proposed political solution.

‘A negotiated solution to the war would no doubt be hard to achieve, but the outlines of a settlement are already visible. Each side would have to make painful concessions. Ukraine would have to relinquish considerable territory and do so in writing. Russia would need to relinquish some of its battlefield gains and renounce future territorial claims. To prevent a future Russian attack, Ukraine would surely need strong assurances of U.S. and European military support, as well as continuing military aid (but consisting mainly of defensive, not offensive, weapons). Russia would need to acknowledge the legitimacy of such arrangements. The West would need to agree to relax many of the economic sanctions it has placed on Russia. NATO and Russia would need to launch a new set of negotiations to limit the intensity of military deployments and interactions along their respective frontiers.’

This is probably as good a description as any of what a deal negotiated under current conditions would look like. It is also totally unrealistic. Even if this represented a desirable outcome (in my view it would be a recipe for continuing and chronic instability in Europe) it is not going to happen. As I explained in an earlier post Ukrainians will not accept any deal that requires them to ‘relinquish considerable territory’. Yet though such a deal would represent at least a partial victory for Russia, it is also not something that Moscow is proposing.

One of the curiosities of the current situation is that while one might assume that Moscow would jump at the chance to secure tangible gains, especially as these could be jeopardised if Ukraine makes military progress, it has shown no interest in doing so. Instead of assuming that Ukraine is the only reluctant partner in negotiations and that Russia is waiting to sit down and talk we therefore need to look at what Russian leaders have actually been proposing.

Russian doubles down

Ukraine’s demonstration of what it can do with its new artillery has been cited by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as reason for Moscow to expand rather than contract its objectives. He blamed Western governments for leaning on Ukraine to continue fighting rather than negotiate, before going on to explain that Moscow's military ‘tasks’ in Ukraine have had to be extended beyond the Donbas region to Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. ‘Now the geography is different, it's far from being just the DPR and LPR [the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics], it's also a number of other territories … This process is continuing logically and persistently.’ By providing Ukraine with long-range systems, the West - out of ‘impotent rage’ or a determination to aggravate the situation – had obliged Russia to go as far as required to track the weapons down. Russia could not allow Zelensky ‘or whoever replaces him’ to threaten its territory or that of the DPR and LPR.

Speaking last weekend Lavrov revived regime change as a clear objective. Moscow, he said, is determined to help Ukrainians ‘liberate themselves from the burden of this absolutely unacceptable regime.’ Lavrov also contributed his own account of the history of the conflict which essentially blamed everything on a series of NATO or Ukrainian fabrications, as if they have inflicted one wound after another on their own people (including the atrocities at Bucha) simply to make the innocent Russians look bad. ‘The Ukrainian regime and its Western patrons have descended to staging bloody incidents to demonise our country in the eyes of the international community.’

Lest anyone think that Russia is getting softer, an agreement that enabled exports of Ukrainian grain were followed immediately by missile attacks on Odessa. These were justified routinely as strikes against military targets, although none were hit. The grain negotiations had already indicated the problems of getting a future peace deal (the Russian and Ukrainian delegation signed separate documents rather than the same one). Then these strikes confirmed that Moscow did not want anyone to think that this was something positive on which diplomats might build.

Furthermore, far from Russian public opinion being prepared for the compromises necessary for a successful negotiation, the constant flow of menace and venom from the Russian media continues unabated, with outlandish claims about how they are gearing up to take on NATO countries directly. Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian President who kept the seat warm for Putin, but has since slipped down the pecking order and is now the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council, was once considered a moderate. Now he warns that that Ukraine ‘may lose what remains of its state sovereignty and disappear from the map of the world.’

What is going on here? The simplest explanation is the Russians dare not show any weakness or uncertainty and need to keep up the pretence that all is going well and will end with a resounding victory. Whether they are going through the motions until the moment comes when they have to reverse course is hard to say.

Descriptions of the mood in Moscow at the moment are of a preoccupied Putin, speaking only to the siloviki, who run the security apparatus and are busying themselves clamping down on dissent, even of the mildest sort. Meanwhile rivalries among the elite fester. An intriguing possibility raised by Timothy Snyder is that characters like Lavrov and Medvedev are now making their statements of aggressive intent because they wish to demonstrate their commitment to a hard line as a means of securing their future positions. Their ‘doom propaganda’ shows loyalty to Putin while also acting as ‘rhetorical preparation for a power struggle after Putin falls’.

Snyder says that he is ‘not convinced Medvedev, who for years was seen as the liberal alternative to Putin, believes the antisemitic, anti-Polish, anti-Western hate speech he publishes on Telegram. He's creating a profile that might be useful later (just as his technocrat profile was once useful)’ Despite the bluster the reality is that the ‘equilibrium that keeps Putin in power—mastery over rivals, soft support in the population, integrity of the army—is challenged by the realities of an unpredictable, costly war. Putin has been good at keeping us all in a fog. But now he himself seems lost in the fog of war.’ He concludes that ‘Putin's gamble, as ever, is that the West will feel the pain faster than he will. This is how his foreign policy works: generate losses for everyone, including Russia, in the hope that the other side will concede first.’ (see also Snyder’s recent substack on why Russia might lose).

This hope indeed seems to be at the core of Russian strategy - holding on militarily while trying to bring matters to a head politically. This requires coercing the West as much as fighting the Ukrainians. Its main instrument of pressure is Europe’s energy dependence. Prior to the war, Europe imported about 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil from Russia. On Tuesday, claiming maintenance issues as opposed to political blackmail, Gazprom said gas flows to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would be cut to a fifth of the pipeline’s capacity. The result of this progressive pressure is that European gas price are now some 450% higher than a year ago. In addition, the Ukrainian state pipeline operator company reported that Gazprom had increased pressure sharply in the pipeline that runs through Ukraine, risking emergencies including pipeline ruptures.

The meaning of this was spelled out by Medvedev. He accused EU leaders, who have imposed sanctions on Russia, of 'completely losing touch with reality'. He said they are 'forcing the unfortunate Ukrainians to sacrifice their lives to join the European Union' while forcing 'ordinary Europeans will be fiercely cold in their homes this winter.' (Russian propagandists can never quite make up their mind whether Ukraine is a puppet of the West or whether the West is being manipulated by Kyiv).

He added that the EU and US have 'lost their multi-billion dollar investments in the Russian economy'. Despite the sanctions, he insisted 'Russia will achieve all its goals. There will be peace - on our terms.' In an even more threatening tone, but again displaying contradictory messaging, as he boasted about coming Russian victories he warned NATO against backing future Ukrainian offensives, especially any attempt to retake Crimea. That would lead to a 'Judgement Day' that would ‘come very fast and hard’. Should Ukraine retake Kherson then it will have more opportunities to take action to cut off Crimea. If it can succeed in this operation it will undermine the Russian narrative of victory in ways that will be apparent to domestic audiences. That is why Medvedev felt obliged to step in with more lurid threats to deter any attempt to retake Crimea.

Russia is therefore banking on economic distress leading to political upheavals in Europe and North that will weaken support for Ukraine. This is something of an endurance test because Russia’s economy is also showing signs of stress. The finances may be in good shape because of energy sales but there is not a lot to buy, and industrial production is steadily shutting down. Europe is also certainly hurting but for the moment this has not translated into wavering in its support for Ukraine. With its own signal that it is prepared to see this crisis through, the EU has agreed to implement a 15% voluntary reduction in consumption of natural gas for this winter. As a Czech Minister put it: ‘Today’s decision has clearly shown the member states will stand tall against any Russian attempt to divide the EU by using energy supplies as a weapon.’

And this is why the battle for Kherson is important. Ukraine is anxious to recover its territory and justify the confidence of its people that this war can be won. In the process it seeks to encourage its Western partners to keep the faith.

It is always the case that the next few weeks represent a critical moment in the course of this conflict, because each stage sets the terms for the next. But this is more true than ever now. After a period in which it seemed as if the fight was stuck in a groove and threatening to turn into a long attritional slog it may be about to enter a dynamic period. If this does not happen, and there is little movement, the harsh weather of winter will be matched by tough choices about the future conduct of the war.

Comment is Freed is a reader-supported publication. We are making Lawrence’s posts on the Russian invasion of Ukraine free to read but if you find the pieces interesting and can afford to subscribe we would welcome the support. A monthly subscription is £3.50 and an annual one is £35.

Thank you for reading Comment is Freed. This post is public so please share it if you found it interesting.

Share · by Lawrence Freedman

7. Special Ops go back to the future to deter nation-state adversaries


Lots of new buzzwords have been added to the national security lexicon in recent years, terms like "gray zone conflict" and "near-peer adversary" but really it is just a return to nation-state conflict being conducted just below the nuclear threshold as was seen during the Cold War.
At a stalemate in places like Berlin, Soviet and American espionage and unconventional warfare shifted to the so-called third world as the superpowers competed for influence in Central America, Africa, and Central Asia.
As history marches deeper into the 21st Century, there are as many differences as similarities with the past. Today's Cold War moves at a much faster pace, in a multi-polar world with many empowered national and non-state actors. Special Operations Forces are unlikely to face any major budget cuts in the foreseeable future as policymakers appear poised to continue to rely on their light footprint presence and force-multiplying abilities on future battlefields.

Special Ops go back to the future to deter nation-state adversaries · by Jack Murphy · July 28, 2022

As hard as the U.S. military may have tried, one conflagration after the next occupied their deployment schedules. That was most evident as Special Operations Forces (SOF) were heavily relied on to carry the nation's burden through the Global War on Terror. One failed Pacific pivot later, and SOF is once again focused on deterring nation-state adversaries, while also confronting non-state actors in places like Syria.

A big part of that is deterrence, which involves strengthening partnerships with NATO Special Operations Forces. This summer U.S. Navy SEALs conducted training exercises in Croatia with their maritime SOF unit called Zapovjedništvo specialjalnih snaga or ZSS.

The exercise in and around the city of Split saw SEALs training the younger maritime unit in sub-surface operations, ship seizures, and other tasks. One exercise involved swimming up to a bridge, scaling it with a caving ladder, and taking it by force. In another exercise, ZSS and SEALs recaptured a simulated hijacked vessel at sea.

10th Special Forces Group also plays an important role in strengthening the relationship with NATO SOF. Polish and German SOF were recently hosted by the 10th Group at Fort Carson, Colorado for urban warfare training.

A press release stated that they conducted, "Close-Quarters Combat shoulder to shoulder." It is worth noting that the annual joint training exercise between U.S. and Filipino forces called Balikatan, which translates to shoulder-to-shoulder, ended in April. And the joint American/German/Polish training wrapped in June.

In July, the 10th Group also held a training mission to exercise the unit's unconventional warfare capability, a skill set that many feared would atrophy during the War on Terror as Green Berets focused on Foreign Internal Defense and Direct Action missions.

“Raising your signature on the spectrum or if the enemy knows you’re there or not can greatly impact your mission and what you can accomplish; sometimes it’s life or death," a Special Forces Team Leader said after the exercise, commenting on how his team has to blend in with the local population while conducting unconventional warfare. “The ability to wear multiple levels of camouflage – from polo shirt to full assault rig – is necessary for certain missions,” the Team Sergeant added.

Lots of new buzzwords have been added to the national security lexicon in recent years, terms like "gray zone conflict" and "near-peer adversary" but really it is just a return to nation-state conflict being conducted just below the nuclear threshold as was seen during the Cold War.

At a stalemate in places like Berlin, Soviet and American espionage and unconventional warfare shifted to the so-called third world as the superpowers competed for influence in Central America, Africa, and Central Asia.

As history marches deeper into the 21st Century, there are as many differences as similarities with the past. Today's Cold War moves at a much faster pace, in a multi-polar world with many empowered national and non-state actors. Special Operations Forces are unlikely to face any major budget cuts in the foreseeable future as policymakers appear poised to continue to rely on their light footprint presence and force-multiplying abilities on future battlefields.

Want to get more connected to the stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter. Reach Jack Murphy: or @JackMurphyRGR. · by Jack Murphy · July 28, 2022

8. Missing the Mark: Reassessing U.S. Military Aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces

The 35 page monograph can be downloaded here:


The time has therefore come for a close examination of whether 15 years of substantial American support have enabled Lebanon’s armed forces to serve as an institutional counterweight to Hezbollah. To that end, this monograph examines the LAF’s operational performance since 2006, with an emphasis on the four goals the State Department identified: defense of sovereignty, border security, internal security, and counterterrorism. The evidence strongly suggests a correlation between increased U.S. assistance and greater LAF effectiveness in counterterrorism, but not in the other areas. Yet this constitutes only a partial answer, since improved combat performance is not the same as counterbalancing Hezbollah.
These findings suggest that Washington should move beyond crisis-driven thinking about Lebanon. The crisis there has lasted more than two years and will likely persist. Instead, now is the time to revisit the framework of U.S. support for the LAF, which a different administration conceived under radically different circumstances some 15 years ago. It is clear that aid for the LAF has not enabled it to serve as an institutional counterweight to Hezbollah. The time has come to redesign aid programs to keep pace with Lebanon’s rapidly evolving political and economic landscape.

July 26, 2022 | Monograph

Missing the Mark

Reassessing U.S. Military Aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces · by David Kilcullen CMPP Board of Advisors · July 26, 2022


The United States has funded, trained, and equipped the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to ensure “they serve as an institutional counterweight to Hezbollah,” a senior State Department official testified last August. Since 2006, American taxpayers have paid more than $2.5 billion in security assistance to Lebanon in pursuit of four goals, according to the State Department: “to strengthen Lebanon’s sovereignty, secure its borders, counter internal threats, and disrupt terrorist facilitation.” The primary (though not the only) source of these internal threats is, of course, Hezbollah.

The LAF is contending with sharp cuts to the Lebanese defense budget, spurred by an economic meltdown that the World Bank says “is likely to rank in the top 10, possibly top three, most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-nineteenth century.” In 2020, the LAF stopped serving meat to its troops amid widespread food shortages. The salaries of junior soldiers fell to only $100 a month, one-eighth of their pre-crisis value.

To help, the French government convened an international donor conference last July to “bolster the cohesion, resilience, and stability of the LAF,” as scholar Aram Nerguizian put it. The United States added $15 million to the $105 million military aid package already in the pipeline for 2021 and announced another $67 million in September. The White House has also requested $160 million for the current fiscal year.

International donors seem committed to continuing or reinforcing their previous policies despite, or because of, the unprecedented nature of Lebanon’s ongoing crisis. Donor states are doing more of the same even as opportunities arise to increase their leverage, alter the political dynamics inside Lebanon, and potentially break the cycle of exploitation, corruption, and violence that has left the Lebanese people impoverished and insecure. Rather than doubling down on the status quo, donors should question the basic assumptions behind their policies.

The time has therefore come for a close examination of whether 15 years of substantial American support have enabled Lebanon’s armed forces to serve as an institutional counterweight to Hezbollah. To that end, this monograph examines the LAF’s operational performance since 2006, with an emphasis on the four goals the State Department identified: defense of sovereignty, border security, internal security, and counterterrorism. The evidence strongly suggests a correlation between increased U.S. assistance and greater LAF effectiveness in counterterrorism, but not in the other areas. Yet this constitutes only a partial answer, since improved combat performance is not the same as counterbalancing Hezbollah.

The theory of change animating U.S. military assistance is that “building the security apparatus of the Lebanese state will improve internal stability and public confidence in the LAF,” in turn “creating political space for the Lebanese government to address more complex, politically sensitive issues.” This monograph finds that such space has not grown but has instead contracted during the period of enhanced U.S. security assistance, which has coincided with a significant increase in Hezbollah’s influence. The argument for strengthening the LAF rests in part on the assumption that the LAF is in competition with Hezbollah for prestige and influence.

In fact, the two are conjoined at the highest levels because Hezbollah’s influence over Lebanon’s civilian authorities is so extensive. The terror group has effective veto power over the choice of prime minister and the actions of the Lebanese Cabinet. Hezbollah’s coalition holds a majority in parliament, and its allies serve as president and speaker.

These findings suggest that Washington should move beyond crisis-driven thinking about Lebanon. The crisis there has lasted more than two years and will likely persist. Instead, now is the time to revisit the framework of U.S. support for the LAF, which a different administration conceived under radically different circumstances some 15 years ago. It is clear that aid for the LAF has not enabled it to serve as an institutional counterweight to Hezbollah. The time has come to redesign aid programs to keep pace with Lebanon’s rapidly evolving political and economic landscape.

9. Red Cross struggles to see prison where Ukrainian POWs died

Red Cross struggles to see prison where Ukrainian POWs died

AP · by SUSIE BLANN · July 30, 2022

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian and Russian officials blamed each other Saturday for the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in an attack on a prison in a separatist-controlled area. The International Red Cross asked to visit the prison to make sure the scores of wounded POWs had proper treatment, but said its request had not been granted so far.

Meanwhile, Russia kept launching attacks on several Ukrainian cities, hitting a school and a bus station.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the ICRC and the United Nations have a duty to react to the shelling of the prison complex in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province, and he called again for Russia to be declared a terrorist state.

“Condemnation at the level of political rhetoric is not enough for this mass murder,” he said.

Separatist authorities and Russian officials said the attack Friday killed 53 Ukrainian POWs and wounded another 75. Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday issued a list naming 48 Ukrainian fighters, aged 20 to 62, who died in the attack; it was not clear if the ministry had revised its fatality count.


Satellite photos taken before and after the attack show that a small, squarish building in the middle of the Olenivka prison complex was demolished, its roof in splinters.

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Both Ukraine and Russia alleged the attack on the prison was premeditated and intended to silence the Ukrainian prisoners and destroy evidence.

The ICRC, which has organized civilian evacuations and worked to monitor the treatment of POWs held by Russia and Ukraine, said it requested access to the prison “to determine the health and condition of all the people present on-site at the time of the attack.”

“Our priority right now is making sure that the wounded receive lifesaving treatment and that the bodies of those who lost their lives are dealt with in a dignified manner,” the Red Cross said.

But the organization said late Saturday that its request to access the prison had not been granted yet.

“Granting ICRC access to POWs is an obligation of parties to conflict under the Geneva Conventions,” the ICRC said on Twitter.

Russia claimed Ukraine’s military used U.S.-supplied precision rocket launchers to target the prison in Olenivka, a settlement controlled by the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic.

The Ukrainian military accused the Russians of shelling the prison to cover up the alleged torture and execution of Ukrainians there.

The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank based in Washington, said the competing claims and limited information prevented assigning full responsibility for the attack but the “available visual evidence appears to support the Ukrainian claim more than the Russian.”

Moscow has opened a probe into the attack and the U.N. said it also was prepared to send investigators. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said “we stand ready to send a group of experts able to conduct an investigation, requiring the consent of the parties, and we fully support the initiatives” of the Red Cross.


Elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, Russian rockets hit a school in Kharkiv and a bus station in Sloviansk, among other strikes. In southern Ukraine, one person was reported killed and six injured in shelling in a residential area in Mykolaiv, local officials said.

Russian and separatist forces are trying to take full control of the Donetsk region, one of two eastern provinces that Russia has recognized as sovereign states.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk warned Saturday that Ukrainian-controlled parts of Donetsk will face severe heating problems this winter because of the destruction of gas mains. She called for a mandatory evacuation of residents before the cold weather sets in.

The prison attack reportedly killed Ukrainian soldiers captured in May after the fall of Mariupol, a Black Sea port city where troops and the Azov Regiment of the national guard famously held out against a months-long Russian siege.

On Saturday, an association of Azov fighters’ relatives dressed in black demonstrated outside Kyiv’s St. Sophia Cathedral and called for Russia to be designated a terrorist state for violating the Geneva Convention’s rules for the treatment of war prisoners.

A woman wearing dark glasses who gave only her first name, Iryna, was waiting for news of her 23-year-old son.


“I don`t know how is he, where is he, if he is alive or no. I don`t know. It`s a horror, only horror,” she said.

On the energy front, Russia’s state-owned natural gas corporation said Saturday it has halted shipments to Latvia because of contract violations. Gas giant Gazprom said the shipments were stopped because Latvia broke “terms for extraction of gas.”

The statement likely referred to a refusal to meet Russia’s demand for gas payments in rubles rather than other currencies. Gazprom has previously suspended gas shipments to other EU countries, including the Netherlands, Poland and Bulgaria, because they would not pay in rubles.

EU nations have been scrambling to secure other energy sources, fearing that Russia will cut off more gas supplies as winter approaches.


Follow AP’s coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war at

AP · by SUSIE BLANN · July 30, 2022

10.  The Untold Shadow War Between Israel and North Korea

Some history and current events that not many are aware of.

The Untold Shadow War Between Israel and North Korea

Michael Peres · by Michael Peres · July 31, 2022

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more commonly known as North Korea, carried out a cyberattack on Israel on March 4, 2021, via the Lazarus hacker group — which is backed by Pyongyang. While Israel claims that the cyberattack was unsuccessful, ClearSky— an international cybersecurity firm has brought it to light that the attack was indeed successful, and the hackers did steal a substantial amount of classified data, though the precise details of the hack remain unclear.

There’s a subtle fear that this data could be shared with Iran— a strong ally of North Korea and an archenemy of Israel. While the precise details of the attack are unclear, it is no news that North Korea and Israel have not been in each other’s good books, and one would wonder why.

This silent feud dates as far back as 1966, when North Korea had a close relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). North Korea provided significant amounts of arms and military aid to the Palestine leftist factions and revolutionary movements, which on the surface, did seem like North Korea was indeed an ally of the PLO.

North Korea reinforced Palestinian armed factions by providing them with renegade warfare training. Abu Jihad, one of the founders of the Fatah and Abu Daoud— leader of the Black September group that killed members of the Israeli Olympic team at the 1972 Munich Olympics, received heavy military training in the DPRK. Gradually, over 200 members of the Palestinians received military training in three locations near Pyongyang from 1970 to 1972, and the supply of weapons to Palestinian groups continued into the 2000s.

Yasser Arafat of the PLO and Kim Il Sung, then leader of North Korea. Photo credit: UPI news.

Although the conflict of Israel-Palestine had little to do with North Korea, then-leader Kim Jong II viewed Israel as an expansion of the US influence in a new region of the world. This, coupled with the fact that North Korea has geostrategic interests with Israel’s adversaries, most notably crucial economic trade with Iran, set forth the conditions for the present-day relationship.

Now, North Korea’s involvement in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has become pragmatic after the fall of the Soviet Union. The Palestinian cause was still much supported, and North Korea strongly condemned every Israeli action in the region.

North Korea reinforced its involvement during the Gaza war in 2008-2009, and a foreign ministry spokesman harshly spoke against Israeli actions, denouncing the alleged killing of unarmed civilians as a crime against humanity and a threat to the Middle East Peace Progress. Sin Son-ho (North Korean permanent representative at the UN Assembly) mentioned that “North Korea fully supported Palestinians’ struggle to expel Israeli aggressors from their territory and restore their right to self-determination,”.

Sin Son-ho, North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations. Photo credit:

North Korea’s Less Known Involvement in the Yom Kippur War

During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, also known as the Yom Kippur war, North Korea sent pilots and non-combat personnel to Egypt. The unit had about four to six encounters with the Israelis at some points during the war.

As stated by Shlomo Aloni, the last aerial engagement on the Egyptian front on 6th December saw Israeli F-4s engage North Korean-piloted MiG-21s. The Israelis shot down one MiG, and another was shot down by friendly fire from Egyptian air defenses. Although it remains unclear what truly happened, we can align some facts together. In Hazardous Duty (the autobiography of the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Command in Korea), Major General John K. Singlaub stated that; in 1976, he was involved in negotiations with a North Korean official— General Han.


North Korean People’s Army MiG-21 fighter jet. Photo credit: Flight Global.

Han was a military attache in Egypt during the Yom Kippur war and had organized North Korean pilots to fly Mig-21s against Israel. After all, Israel was a common enemy at that point. At the same time, the United States was a loyal ally to Israel and Israel had turned to the U.S. for a quick replacement of arms during the war.

Singlaub further stated that many of the North Korean pilots were shot down by US-supplied Sidewinder missiles, which denotes that; directly or indirectly, Israeli pilots did succeed in downing some of their North Korean rivals who allied with Egypt and Syria in the Yom Kippur war. The reason for a North Korean presence in that region was due to the forging of a warm relationship between the two countries in the 1970s when Egypt invited highly experienced Korean fighters to station and train in Egypt.

A Friend of an Enemy is an Enemy- North Korea’s Unwavering Alliance With Iran and Syria

Since the onset of the civil war, North Korea has been a supportive ally to Iran and Syria. Since as early as the Iran-Iraq war, North Korea has been Iran’s foremost supplier of arms and ammunition. Iran, in turn, funds Hezbollah and Syria with technical know-how, arms, and militants on the ground.

To a large extent, one can say that North Korea has gradually become Iran’s leading source of military technology. Looking at the ‘why’— there’s a purely beneficial relationship between the two countries. Iran has the money, and North Korea has the technology. It seems like what one country lacks is found in the other. Iran is of particular interest for multiple reasons. Firstly, due to its sheer proximity to North Korea. More importantly, Iran is seen as a more reliable partner to North Korea, in contrast to other wealthy neighboring countries. Given its hostility towards the US, it’s less likely to succumb to US-imposed sanctions and other pressures.

Iran’s most prominent proxy, Hezbollah, lives on Israel’s northern border and acts as her primary external threat. For over 30 years, Hezbollah caters to Iran’s foreign policy interests in exchange for dire financial support. Since Hezbollah’s 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah has turned to Iran for precision-based missiles in preparation for a future war against the Jewish state. Such weaponry would grant the Shiah malia group a strong military edge and pose a serious threat to Israel, as an attack on a nuclear facility is a hypothetical Israel cannot afford to entertain. Hezbollah, and by proxy Iran, has gained a strong political footing and militaristic advancements since 2006 and is a threat the Jewish state takes with concern.


North Korea’s Nuclear Program- A Lowkey Investment in Syria?

North Korea has been long accused of providing aid to Syria’s bootleg military and chemical weapons program. Although the depth of North Korea’s support is not entirely clear, some facts do align.

The Mossad— Israel’s intelligence agency, ran surveillance on Ibrahim Othman— the director-general of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission. Via hacking Othman’s personal computer, the Mossad discovered photos of a cube-like building being constructed in Eastern Syria, along the Euphrates river.

Ibrahim Othman, director-general of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission. Photo credit: Times of Israel.

On the surface level, this confirmed the initial discovery of a mysterious building found during previous scans of Syria. And on a deeper level, the photos confirmed that the building was a doppelganger of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which the U.S. and Israel had previously uncovered as a bomb-making factory.

Aside from the fact that there was an uncanny resemblance between the cube-like building and North Korea’s nuclear reactor, the greater confirming link was the photo of Othman standing arm-in-arm with Chon Chibu— a North Korean nuclear scientist who worked at the Yongbyon facility.

It’s no secret North Korea supplied extensive nuclear know-how and boots on the ground to help build a nuclear reactor in al-Kibar, within the heart of Syria.

Retaliation of Israel- Operation Outside the Box

6th September 2007 is a day both Israel and Syria could never forget. Although considered one of Israel’s most successful operations, Operation Outside the Box was censored for over a decade.

Just after midnight, and with the aid of Ten Israeli F-151 Ra’am and F-161 Sufa fighter jets, Israel carried out an airstrike on the suspected nuclear site. By feeding Syrian air defenses a false sky picture (so Syria couldn’t see Israel’s fighter jets in the sky), Israel could get its fighter jets across Syria, bomb the supposed nuclear facility, and evacuate. The facility was destroyed and left in shambles. By doing this, Israel was able to counter North Korea’s indirect attack through Syria.

Now here’s the tricky part. Later in 2013, a former major in the Syrian air force— Abu Mohammed, recounted that air defenses in the region had been told to stand down as soon as they detected that Israeli planes were approaching the reactor. However, according to a WikiLeaks cable, the Syrian government put long-range missiles in place after the attack but did not retaliate. Perhaps, was the country fearful of a counterstrike?

But much later, Syria denied ever having such a facility in the first place. As late as April 2008, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad provided his first remarks on the allegations, where he dismissed any attack by Israel on a nuclear facility. He claimed that it wasn’t logical for a nuclear site to have zero protection with the surface-to-air defenses. Indeed, it seems like Syria didn’t build fortifications around the facility to prevent drawing attention. Also, it was silently agreed by both sides; Israel won’t brag about destroying it, and Syria would pretend it never existed.

Before (left) and after (right) satellite images of the Syrian nuclear reactor which was reportedly struck by Israel in 2007. Photo credit: AP/DigitalGlobe.

Israel Against A North Korea-Iran-Syria Trio; What to Expect

After the Israeli president formed a three-member panel to investigate the supposed Syria nuclear site, Brigadier General Ya’akov Amidror (one of the panel’s members) discovered Iran was also working with North Korea on the nuclear facility. Iran had funneled $1 billion to the project and planned on using the facility to replace Iranian facilities should Iran fail to complete its uranium enrichment program.

Well, there’s no denying the fact that Syria could open doors for North Korea’s cooperation with Iran and its proxies, and even more unspeakable things. Using Yemen’s Houthi movement as an example, North Korea transferred ‘essential parts’ for Iran’s long-range missile development in 2020. The Houthis have Hwasong-6s ( North Korean-made scuds) in their military arsenal.

Israel is known not to take security threats with levity. Either direct threats or indirect ones. Furthermore, Israel has made it clear on multiple occasions that it makes no dissociation between a physical or cyber attack, most notably on the 5th of May 2021 when it responded with force to an attempted cyberattack by Hamas.

Though North Korea has operated within the shadows in regards to its conflict with Israel, it does appear from the most recent cyberattack that it has come out of the darkness and played a more direct role in this escalating conflict. It’s hard to say where this current escalation can lead us, but such a tit-for-tat can potentially move the current shadow war between the two countries out into the open. · by Michael Peres · July 31, 2022

11. Putin Has Another Problem: The Russia Navy Is In Trouble

Hopefully someone is creating dilemmas for Putin that he cannot solve. Of course those dilemmas can be internal or externally created.

Putin Has Another Problem: The Russia Navy Is In Trouble · by ByRobert Farley · July 30, 2022

Putin’s forces in Ukraine clearly aren’t achieving what they thought they would and figured they would be in Kyiv by now and victorious. The Russian Navy has seen its share of troubles around the water of Ukraine as well with its future looking uncertain: What future does the Russian Navy have? While Russia’s naval forces have played an important role in the war their performance has been, at best, mixed. The Russian Navy has successfully blockaded ports and launched missiles against targets across Ukraine, but along the way it lost its Black Sea flagship, lost one of its most important amphibious warfare vessels, failed to ensure control of Snake Island, and failed to prosecute decisive amphibious operations in the Ukrainian littoral.

The Russian military will in the future face substantial budgetary constraints. While it is true that Russia’s economy has withstood sanctions better than expected thus far, this situation is unlikely to hold in the long term, especially if the United States can maintain the coalition. It is not obvious at this point that the Navy will be able to command sufficient resources to maintain itself, much less rebuild.

Russian Navy: The Strategic Outlook

Strategically, Russia’s naval situation has changed considerably over the past several months. The Baltic is for all intents and purposes closed to Russia upon the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. In no conceivable conflict could Russian warships (even submarines) use the Baltic without running the risk of imminent destruction. The accession of Finland complicates Russian access in the north, giving NATO better eyes on the major Russian naval bases in the Arctic, including the ballistic missile fleet. Russia has the most flexibility in the Pacific, but Japanese re-armament and the increasingly fraught relationship between Tokyo and Moscow make significant action difficult to contemplate.

Indeed, even the Black Sea is now perilous for Russia. If Ukraine survives this war as a political entity it will undoubtedly possess anti-ship weapons that will make operations dangerous. Turkey, notwithstanding its often difficult relationship with the rest of NATO, now holds the key to naval power in the Black Sea.

Russian Navy: What About the Surface Fleet?

The Russian surface fleet is in trouble, starting with the industrial base. Russia has reportedly canceled procurement of additional Project 22610 patrol vessels over concerns about performance. The average construction period of the Admiral Gorshkov frigates is currently running at more than a decade, with only three of the ships having been delivered since the first was laid down in 2006. Theoretically Russia could purchase warships from abroad (China is the most likely and, really, the only prospective exporter), but this would require currency and also an admission of domestic industrial shortcomings.

The existing fleet has big problems. One looming question involves Russia’s aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. The Kuznetsov has served as the object of fun over the past fifteen years as much or more than serving as an active combat vessel, having suffered multiple mechanical mishaps including several fires and the collapse of a crain. She has not left port since 2017, meaning that Russia’s cadre of naval aviators has almost certainly ceased to exist as an effective force. At 32 years she is hardly the oldest carrier in the world, but it’s hard to envision a long post-refit lifespan.

The two other large surface units in the fleet are the two surviving battlecruisers of the Kirov class, Pyotr Velikiy and Admiral Nakhimov. The latter has been in refit for the last two decades, while the former has as of yet played no significant role in the war. The two ships have considerable “show the flag” value and Pyotr Velikiy has often been used in such a role. However, much like the late, unlamented Moskva and her sisters, they have minimal ground attack capability and would both make excellent targets. Both the Kirovs and the Slavas are exceedingly old in any case and cannot be regarded as plausible foundations for the future of Russian naval power.

Russia’s amphibious flotilla has proven singularly useless during the war, except to the degree that it temporarily pinned Ukrainian forces in Odessa. The inability of the flotilla to conduct an assault on Odessa or to keep Snake Island supplied has demonstrated a significant shortfall in Russian capabilities. The presence of the large, flat decked amphibious warship such as the French Mistral might have had an impact in the early days of the conflict, although Ukraine’s acquisition of substantial numbers of anti-ship missiles would put such a vessel in considerable danger now. Russia has laid down two amphibious assault ships of similar size to the Mistrals, but it is not obvious that the government will be able to pay for the vessels or that Russian industry can actual construct them.

Those Submarines

On the upside, the submarine fleet remains the core of Russian naval power. Russia’s military shipbuilding industry withered after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but submarine construction recovered rapidly. Russian conventional and nuclear submarines remain competitive with foreign boats. In the war against Ukraine, submarines have helped enforce the blockade while also launching strategic missile attacks on targets around the country. But while submarines can offer a lot in terms of capability, they cannot replace all of the functions of an operational surface fleet.

Parting Thoughts

The history of Russian naval power is sketchy at best, and there’s a strong argument that Russia should, for the near and medium-term, simply abandon any pretensions to naval power beyond patrol craft and its submarine fleet. On the one hand, Russia enjoys the happy coincidence that its surface fleet cannot survive in nearly any conceivable conflict against a major power and that it likely can no longer afford to build or maintain a surface fleet.

On the other hand, President Putin clearly values the prestige and intimidation factor that large, powerful surface ships can offer. It remains to be seen whether Russia will make the investments necessary to preserve the power projection capabilities offered by its surface fleet.

A 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Robert Farley has taught security and diplomacy courses at the Patterson School since 2005. He received his BS from the University of Oregon in 1997, and his Ph. D. from the University of Washington in 2004. Dr. Farley is the author of Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force (University Press of Kentucky, 2014), the Battleship Book (Wildside, 2016), and Patents for Power: Intellectual Property Law and the Diffusion of Military Technology (University of Chicago, 2020). He has contributed extensively to a number of journals and magazines, including the National Interest, the Diplomat: APAC, World Politics Review, and the American Prospect. Dr. Farley is also a founder and senior editor of Lawyers, Guns and Money. · by ByRobert Farley · July 30, 2022

12.  No matter what the Kremlin says, the sanctions against Russia are working and 'catastrophically crippling' its economy: study

​The referenced Yale paper can be downloaded here:​

No matter what the Kremlin says, the sanctions against Russia are working and 'catastrophically crippling' its economy: study · by Huileng Tan

Fri, July 29, 2022 at 6:30 AM·2 min read

While Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime can pivot its energy markets to customers like India and China, these countries are known to be price-sensitive and will drive hard bargains.Getty Images

  • Russia's economy is crumbling under sweeping sanctions and a corporate exodus, a Yale study found.
  • The study stands in contrast to economic releases from the Kremlin.
  • "The Kremlin has a long history of fudging official economic statistics," the Yale authors wrote.

Five months into the invasion of Ukraine, Russia's economy is imploding from sweeping international sanctions and a corporate exodus, a Yale University analysis has found. The analysis, released July 20, was led by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management.

The study's findings stand in contrast to studies of Russia's economy that show it's holding up better than expected. Many of those analyses, forecasts, and projections draw from Russian government economic releases, which are becoming "increasingly cherry-picked; partial, and incomplete, selectively tossing out unfavorable statistics while keeping favorable statistics," the Yale team wrote. "Indeed, the Kremlin has a long history of fudging official economic statistics, even prior to the invasion."

Russia's economy has not rebounded and is in fact "reeling," the Yale authors found. They used private Russian-language data sources and sources like high-frequency consumer data for their analysis.

"From our analysis, it becomes clear: business retreats and sanctions are catastrophically crippling the Russian economy," the authors wrote.

One reason Russia appears so resilient is because the Kremlin has been flooding the economy with "artificial liquidity" and propping up the ruble with "draconian capital controls," wrote the Yale team.

In reality, the corporate exodus out of Russia has reversed nearly 30 years worth of foreign investment, as those foreign companies accounted for 40% of the country's GDP, the Yale authors added.

"Putin is resorting to patently unsustainable, dramatic fiscal and monetary intervention to smooth over these structural economic weaknesses, which has already sent his government budget into deficit for the first time in years and drained his foreign reserves even with high energy prices," they wrote.

In April, Russian Finance Minister Anthon Siluanov said the country will draw from its rainy-day fund to cover the deficit. The move, the Yale team wrote, points to a Kremlin that is "fast running out of money, despite intentional obfuscation."

The report's authors call on the international community to keep pressure on Russia over the Ukraine war: "Defeatist headlines arguing that Russia's economy has bounced back are simply not factual — the facts are that, by any metric and on any level, the Russian economy is reeling, and now is not the time to step on the brakes."

Read the original article on Business Insider · by Huileng Tan

13. Slowdown in China ripples through corporate earnings

Slowdown in China ripples through corporate earnings

Axios · by Hope King · July 28, 2022

Global companies are feeling the impact of a slowdown in the Chinese economy.

Why it matters: China is not only the largest consumer market in the world, but it also remains a key component of global supply chains.

  • But the Fed has warned that the country's current troubles — housing market upheavalregulation and continued COVID-related lockdowns — would spread.

Driving the news: Chinese leaders held their quarterly economic meeting on Thursday and "all but acknowledged" that their annual GDP growth target would not be met, the WSJ reports.

  • Meanwhile, several multinational brands and conglomerates reporting earnings from the second quarter have all cited weakness from the Chinese market as a challenge they've either been hindered by or have to overcome.

Details: Apple, which derives close to 20% from the "greater China region" (which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong) reported a 1% decline in revenue from the area from the same period last year, which was better than feared.

  • Earlier in the week, Adidas cut its financial forecast for the year because it had previously assumed there wouldn't be any more "major" COVID-related lockdowns in China.

The big picture: Goldman Sachs issued a new earnings growth forecast this week for large and mid-cap companies in China of 0%, down from 4%.

  • Chinese Communist Party members omitted a GDP growth target on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters say full-year growth could reach 4%, down from the country's previously stated target of 5.5%.

What to watch: Jean-Jacques Guiony, CFO of Luxury holding company LVMH, noted on an analyst call Tuesday that while supply chain conditions have normalized, "the situation [in China] is quite uncertain."

  • L'Oréal today was similarly cautious with its outlook, citing double-digit revenue growth from the market last month after most of the COVID-related restrictions lifted.

Our thought bubble: Because Chinese leaders did not signal any change to their zero COVID policy today, multinationals will likely continue to hit bumps until vaccination rates in the country improve.

Axios · by Hope King · July 28, 2022

​14. US Army’s solar-powered drone is setting new records every day

An unblinking eye?


There’s no word on when that Zephyr will land, but the Army said on July 21 that it planned to launch another one “in the coming weeks” as part of its continued testing of the aircraft.

US Army’s solar-powered drone is setting new records every day

It’s been flying for more than a month straight — and we don’t know when it will land. · by Kristin Houser

The US Army has been flying a skeletal solar-powered drone for more than 40 days straight — breaking a world record and foreshadowing the future of military surveillance.

The challenge: Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems, such as satellites and drones, play a major role in defense by gathering information the military can then use to plan its operations — but they have their limitations.

Zephyr delivers the benefits of ISR satellites and traditional drones without many of their limitations.

While satellites can remain operational for long periods of time, they are expensive to launch and difficult to maneuver. It can also take days for the data they collect to be transmitted to Earth — time soldiers might not have on the battlefield.

Drones are cheaper than satellites and can provide data in real-time, but they typically run out of fuel or battery power after a few hours or days, and they can be downed by inclement weather or anti-aircraft weapons.

A stratospheric drone: The US Army is currently testing Zephyr, a solar-powered drone built by Airbus that delivers the benefits of ISR satellites and traditional drones without many of their limitations.

The remote-operated aircraft flies in the stratosphere, meaning it’s above the weather conditions that might ground a traditional drone. The location is also high enough for Zephyr to survey a wide area of land, but close enough to Earth’s surface that it can deliver data in near-real time.

The solar-powered drone is hand-launched from a runway — no need to pay for a rocket — and despite having a wingspan of 82 feet, it weighs just 165 pounds.

That lightweight design means it can stay in the air using about as much electricity as a commercial light bulb, which is provided by the solar panels covering almost every inch of the aircraft’s surface and onboard batteries.

A handful of people have to run while holding the solar-powered drone to launch it. Credit: Airbus

The most impressive thing about Zephyr, though, is its endurance.

In 2018, one of the aircraft flew for nearly 26 days straight, and a Zephyr the Army launched on June 15, 2022, was still flying as of July 29, setting a new world record for long-endurance flight while amusing followers with its flight patterns.

There’s no word on when that Zephyr will land, but the Army said on July 21 that it planned to launch another one “in the coming weeks” as part of its continued testing of the aircraft.

Civilian cells: While the Army appears keen to add Zephyr to its ISR arsenal, potential applications for the ultralight solar-powered drone go beyond the military.

In 2021, Airbus and Japanese mobile phone operator NTT Docomo conducted a trial demonstrating how Zephyrs could deliver wireless broadband connectivity to people on the ground — helping close the digital divide.

“Billions of people across the world suffer from poor or no connectivity,” said Stephane Ginoux, head of North Asia region for Airbus. “These tests show us the viability of the stratosphere to bridge this divide and provide direct to device connectivity via Zephyr without the need for base stations or extra infrastructure.”

We’d love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Freethink story, please email us at [email protected]. · by Kristin Houser

15.  Despite rising tensions, US and Chinese troops worked together to put out a garbage dump fire, a top US general says

Who says PRC-US cooperation is "garbage" and it cannot happen?

Despite rising tensions, US and Chinese troops worked together to put out a garbage dump fire, a top US general says

Business Insider · by Christopher Woody

The US base at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti in January 2017.

Felix Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

  • Rising tensions between the US and China have led to diplomatic spats and military encounters.
  • But in Djibouti, where US and Chinese bases are a few miles apart, their troops are generally getting along.
  • "Although we have this competition, the facts are we're coexisting," Gen. Stephen Townsend says.

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Rising tensions between the US and China have led to diplomatic spats and risky military encounters, but in the place where US and Chinese troops are based closest to each other, they are getting along, the outgoing commander of US Africa Command said on Thursday.

Camp Lemonnier in Djibuoti is the US military's only permanent base in Africa. It is also just a few miles from the Chinese People's Liberation Army's only overseas military base.

China officially opened its base in late 2017. US military leaders greeted it with concern and have formally complained to China about activity there, but there haven't been any problems between their personnel, US Army Gen. Stephen Townsend said at a Defense Writers Group event.

The US base at Camp Lemonnier and China's base are just a few miles from each other around the capitol of Djibouti.

Google Maps

"Anytime there's a near-peer competitor operating in proximity, you pay attention to that and you're more cautious, but the truth is we've coexisted alongside the Chinese base there," said Townsend, who took command in July 2019.

"There's not a lot of tension, really. They actually run into each other at various engagement activities there around Djibouti City, and in the past we've actually assisted one another," Townsend said.

"There was a fire at the the city dump, actually, south of Camp Lemmonier a couple of years ago, and the Djiboutians asked for help," Townsend added. "We responded and we found ourselves, our firefighters, fighting alongside Chinese firefighters, fighting alongside Djiboutian firefighters to control the blaze at the city dump."

"So although we have this competition, the facts are we're coexisting down there," Townsend told reporters.

Not disturbed, but watching closely

Military personnel at the opening ceremony for China's base in Djibouti, August 1, 2017.

STR/AFP via Getty Images

The US and China are not alone in Djibouti. France has a longstanding military presence there — Camp Lemonnier was set up by the French Foreign Legion — and Japan opened what is its only overseas military outpost there in 2011, several years after it and other countries began conducting anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa.

China also joined those anti-piracy efforts and continues to send ships to patrol around the Horn of Africa. It dispatched its 41st escort task force to the region in May.

Its task forces usually consist of three to four ships that deploy for three to four months, spending most of that time at sea, Thomas Shugart, an expert on naval warfare at the Center for a New American Security, told Insider in June.

China's rapid naval expansion means it has been sending more sophisticated ships. "They're modernizing those ships, so they're coming with increased combat capability, but that's also something that any navy would probably do," Townsend said.

Chinese troops also participate in UN missions in Africa and are likely gaining experience from doing so, but "none of that disturbs me as a military leader greatly," Townsend said.

Ships carrying Chinese personnel to set up a base in Djibouti depart Zhanjiang in southern China, July 11, 2017.

Xinhua/Wu Dengfeng via Getty Images

China has focused on economic engagement in Africa — which US officials have criticized as exploitative and sought to counter — rather than on the military sphere and has so far eschewed formal alliances, Townsend said, adding that he hasn't seen much "military cooperation to build military capability, other than their attempts to provide some security assistance in some of those countries."

Townsend and other US officials are not sanguine about all of China's military-related activity in Africa, however.

The US knows "for a fact" that China is seeking additional bases in Africa, which "has my attention because of its potential implications for US forces and US security," Townsend said. "We haven't seen that other base emerge. We know they're trying and they're doing negotiations with several countries."

Townsend has warned of China's interest in Africa's Atlantic coast, telling lawmakers in April 2021 that Beijing had "placed bets" from Mauritania to Namibia. The Wall Street Journal reported in December that US officials had intelligence indicating China planned to establish a naval base in Equatorial Guinea. A US delegation was dispatched to counter those plans in February.

The Chinese "seem to have a little bit of traction in Equatorial Guinea, and so we're keeping an eye on that," Townsend said Thursday. "That said, we haven't asked Equatorial Guinea to choose between us in the West or China. What we're doing is we're trying to convince them that it's in their interest to stay partnered with all of us and not choose one over the other."

Capt. Kenneth Crowe, then commander of Camp Lemonnier, briefs visiting Japanese officers on the base, September 4, 2019.

US Navy/MCS2 Marquis Whitehead

US officials continue to scrutinize China's base in Djibouti. It is adjacent to the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a major chokepoint between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Townsend and others see it as a window into Beijing's ambitions.

China recently inaugurated "a massive pier" there that is large enough to berth two aircraft carriers or a carrier and a large-deck amphibious ship, Townsend said. "Why they need that capability there I don't know. I suspect it's they're thinking very deeply about the future and their future role in that region."

US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael Langley, who is nominated to take over for Townsend, expressed similar concern at his confirmation hearing on July 21.

"That is a strategic chokepoint that needs to remain free for freedom of navigation of commerce," Langley said of waters around Djibouti. "That is a strategic point that we need to be really concerned about."

Business Insider · by Christopher Woody

16. Drone explosion hits Russia's Black Sea Fleet HQ

​Could this be a game changer? How much damage did it cause? (beyond the report of 6 people injured)

Drone explosion hits Russia's Black Sea Fleet HQ

AP · July 31, 2022

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A drone-borne explosive device detonated Sunday at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, injuring six people, officials said.

The explosion at the headquarters in the city of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 caused cancellation of observances of Russia’s Navy Day holiday.

The Black Sea Fleet’s press service said the drone appeared to be homemade. It described the explosive device as “low-power” but Sevastopol mayor Mikhail Razvozhaev said six people were injured in the blast.

There was no immediate information on where the drone began its flight; Sevastopol is about 170 kilometers (100 miles) south of the Ukrainian mainland and Russian forces control much of the mainland area along the Black Sea.

Fighting continued elsewhere in Ukraine. The mayor of the major port city of Mykolaiv, Vitaliy Kim, said one person died in Russian shelling that damaged a hotel and school buildings.


In the Sumy region in Ukraine’s north, near the Russian border, shelling killed one person, the regional administration said.

Three people died in attacks over the past day in the Donetsk region, which is partly under the control of Russian separatist forces, said governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.

AP · July 31, 2022

17. Hacktivist group Anonymous is using six top techniques to 'embarrass' Russia

A template for other cyber organizations? Common sense actions? 

The techniques:

1. Hacking into databases

2. Targeting companies that continue to do business in Russia

3. Blocking websites

4. Training new recruits

5. Hijacking media and streaming services

6. Directly reaching out to Russians

Hacktivist group Anonymous is using six top techniques to 'embarrass' Russia

CNBC · by Monica Buchanan Pitrelli · July 28, 2022

In this article

Members of the loosely connected collective known as Anonymous are known for wearing Guy Fawkes masks in public.

Jakub Porzycki | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ongoing efforts by the underground hacktivists known as Anonymous are "embarrassing" Russia and its cybersecurity technology.

That's according to Jeremiah Fowler, co-founder of the cybersecurity company Security Discovery, who has been monitoring the hacker collective since it declared a "cyber war" on Russia for invading Ukraine.

"Anonymous has made Russia's governmental and civilian cyber defenses appear weak," he told CNBC. "The group has demystified Russia's cyber capabilities and successfully embarrassed Russian companies, government agencies, energy companies and others."

"The country may have been the 'Iron Curtain,'" he said, "but with the scale of these attacks by a hacker army online, it appears more to be a 'paper curtain.'"

The Russian embassies in Singapore and London did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Ranking Anonymous' claims

Though missile strikes are making more headlines these days, Anonymous and its affiliate groups aren't losing steam, said Fowler, who summarized many of the collective's claims against Russia in a report published Friday.

CNBC grouped Anonymous' claims into six categories, which Fowler helped rank in order of effectiveness:

1. Hacking into databases


  • Posting leaked information about Russian military members, the Central Bank of Russia, the space agency Roscosmos, oil and gas companies (Gazregion, Gazprom, Technotec), the property management company Sawatzky, the broadcaster VGTRK, the IT company NPO VS, law firms and more
  • Defacing and deleting hacked files

Anonymous has claimed to have hacked over 2,500 Russian and Belarusian sites, said Fowler. In some instances, stolen data was leaked online, he said, in amounts so large it will take years to review.

"The biggest development would be the overall massive number of records taken, encrypted or dumped online," said Fowler.

The amount of deleted information is harder to ascertain, said Jeremiah Fowler. "We may never know the true number of records wiped out or destroyed."

Pashaignatov | Istock | Getty Images

Shmuel Gihon, a security researcher at the threat intelligence company Cyberint, agreed that amount of leaked data is "massive."

"We currently don't even know what to do with all this information, because it's something that we haven't expected to have in such a short period of time," he said.

2. Targeting companies that continue to do business in Russia


In late March, a Twitter account named @YourAnonTV began posting logos of companies that were purportedly still doing business in Russia, with one post issuing an ultimatum to pull out of Russia in 48 hours "or else you will be under our target."

By targeting these companies, the hacktivists are upping the financial stakes of continuing to operate in Russia.

"By going after their data or causing disruption to their business, [companies] risk much more than the loss of sales and some negative PR," said Fowler.

3. Blocking websites


Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks work by flooding a website with enough traffic to knock it offline. A basic way to defend against them is by "geolocation blocking" of foreign IP addresses. By hacking into Russian servers, Anonymous purportedly circumvented those defense mechanisms, said Fowler.


Could Russia's war on Ukraine escalate into a global cyberwar?

CNBC Reports

"The owners of the hacked servers often have no idea their resources are being used to launch attacks on other servers [and] websites," he said.

Contrary to popular opinion, DDoS attacks are more than minor inconveniences, said Fowler.

"During the attack, critical applications become unavailable [and] operations and productivity come to a complete stop," he said. "There is a financial and operational impact when services that government and the general public rely on are unavailable."

4. Training new recruits


  • Training people how to launch DDoS attacks and mask their identities
  • Providing cybersecurity assistance to Ukraine

Training new recruits allowed Anonymous to expand its reach, brand name and capabilities, said Fowler.

People wanted to be involved, but didn't know how, he said. Anonymous filled the gap by training low-level actors to do basic tasks, he said.

This allowed skilled hackers to launch more advanced attacks, like those of NB65, a hacking group affiliated with Anonymous which claimed this month on Twitter to have used "Russian ransomware" to take control of the domain, email servers and workstations of a manufacturing plant operated by the Russian power company Leningradsky Metallichesky Zavod.

LMZ did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

"Just like in sports," said Fowler, "the pros get the World Cup and the amateurs get the smaller fields, but everyone plays."

5. Hijacking media and streaming services


  • Showing censored images and messages on television broadcasts, such as Russia-24, Channel One, Moscow 24, Wink and Ivi
  • Heightened attacks on national holidays, including hacking into Russian video platform RuTube and smart TV channel listings on Russia's "Victory Day" (May 9) and Russia's real estate federal agency Rosreestr on Ukraine's "Constitution Day" (June 28)

The website for Rosreestr is down, as of today's publication date. Jeremiah Fowler said it was likely pulled offline by Russia to protect internal data after it was hacked. "Russian journalists have often used data from Rosreestr to track down officials' luxury properties."


This tactic aims to directly undermine Russian censorship of the war, but Fowler said the messages only resonate with "those that want to hear it."

Those Russian citizens may already be using VPNs to bypass Russian censors; others have been imprisoned or are choosing to leave Russia.

Among those leaving Russia are the "uber rich" — some of whom are departing for Dubai — along with professionals working in journalism, tech, legal and consulting.

6. Directly reaching out to Russians


  • Hacking into printers and altering grocery store receipts to print anti-war and pro-Ukrainian messages
  • Sending millions of calls, emails and text messages to Russian citizens
  • Sending messages to users on the Russian social networking site VK

Of all the strategies, "this one sticks out as the most creative," said Fowler, though he said he believes these efforts are winding down.

Fowler said his research has not uncovered any reason to doubt Anonymous' claims thus far.

How effective is Anonymous?

"The methods Anonymous have used against Russia have not only been highly disruptive and effective, they have also rewritten the rules of how a crowdsourced modern cyberwar is conducted," said Fowler.

Information collected from the database breaches may show criminal activity as well as "who pulls the strings and where the money goes," he said.

However, most of the information is in Russian, said Gihon. He said cyber specialists, governments, hacktivists and everyday enthusiasts will likely pore through the data, but it won't be as many people as one might think.

Fowler said while Anonymous has received public support for its efforts against Russia, "law enforcement and the cyber security community have never looked fondly at hacking or hacktivism."

Bill Hinton | Moment Mobile | Getty Images

Gihon also said he doesn't believe criminal prosecutions are likely.

"A lot of the people that they've compromised are sponsored by the Russian government," he said. "I don't see how these people are going to be arrested anytime soon."

However, leaks do build on one another, said Gihon.

Fowler echoed that sentiment, saying that once a network is infiltrated, systems can "fall like dominoes."

Hackers often piggyback off one another's leaks too, a situation Gihon called "the bread and butter" of the way they work.

"This might be a beginning of massive campaigns that will come later on," he said.

The more immediate outcome of the hacks, Fowler and Gihon agreed, is that Russia's cybersecurity defenses have been revealed as being far weaker than previously thought. However, Gihon added that Russia's offensive cyber capabilities are strong.

"We expected to see more strength from the Russian government," said Gihon, "at least when it comes to their strategic assets, such as banks and TV channels, and especially the government entities."

Anonymous pulled the veil off Russia's cybersecurity practices, said Fowler, which is "both embarrassing and demoralizing for the Kremlin."

CNBC · by Monica Buchanan Pitrelli · July 28, 2022

18. Chinese invasion of Taiwan may come sooner than expected

Chinese invasion of Taiwan may come sooner than expected

Axios · by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian,Dave Lawler · July 29, 2022

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The timeline for a potential Chinese attempt to take Taiwan by force seems to be getting shorter.

Driving the news: Chinese President Xi Jinping warned President Biden not to "play with fire" over Taiwan on Thursday, according to the Chinese readout of a call between the two leaders.

  • That contentious exchange comes with Beijing threatening "serious consequences" if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi follows through on a planned visit to the self-governing island.
  • Pelosi's plans and the bellicose response from Beijing have renewed speculation that Taiwan could become a military flashpoint sooner rather than later.
  • The Pentagon has briefed Pelosi about its security concerns around the trip, and Biden has said publicly that the U.S. military thinks it's "not a good idea right now."
  • While all that was happening, the Taiwanese military was conducting a five-day exercise to simulate a Chinese invasion, part of a regular schedule of defense drills conducted each year.

The big picture: The Chinese government has repeatedly vowed to take control of the self-governing island, by force if necessary, and it reacts furiously to any gesture that seems to treat Taiwan as an independent state.

State of play: U.S. and Taiwanese officials have in the past floated various timelines for an invasion, often setting the horizon at 2025 or 2030.

  • But U.S. officials now believe China may make a strong move against Taiwan within the next 18 months, according to a recent New York Times report, though that estimate is not based on specific knowledge of Beijing's plans.
  • The U.S. and Taiwan need to take these signals as a call to strengthen military cooperation and joint training, a Taiwanese government official in Taipei told Axios. "Whether it's 18 months or seven years from now, we need to start this process now," the official said, "before it's too late."

Yes, but: Neither Washington nor Taipei expects an imminent attack.

  • Taiwan's top intelligence official, Chen Ming-tong, said in March that it was "highly unlikely" China would move this year.
  • Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said last month that strength of the western response to the Russian invasion serves as a "powerful deterrent" to a potential Chinese assault on Taiwan.
  • CIA Director Bill Burns said last week that no attack is expected immediately but the risks "become higher, it seems to us, the further into this decade that you get."

Meanwhile, China's military posture in the region has become much more aggressive, Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific affairs, said on Tuesday.

  • President Biden has also upped the ante by saying three separate times that the U.S. has committed to defend Taiwan.
  • That's despite the fact that the White House insists there has been no change to the "strategic ambiguity" policy, under which the U.S. takes no explicit position on that issue, or to the "One China Policy," under which the U.S. neither rejects nor accepts Beijing's claims over Taiwan.

Concerns over a potential invasion are also growing in Taiwan, which has taken inspiration from Ukraine's effective defense against Russia.

  • Officials are considering expanding the country's mandatory military service, the Ministry of Defense issued its first civil defense handbook, and civilians are signing up for civil defense training courses.
  • U.S. officials, meanwhile, have been urging Taiwan to invest more in the kinds of asymmetric warfare capabilities, such as truck-mounted anti-aircraft missiles, that Ukraine has used against Russia.

But it's not just Taiwan that's learning from the Russian invasion.

  • "I suspect the lesson that the Chinese leadership and military are drawing is that you've got to amass overwhelming force," Burns said.

Go deeper:

Axios · by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian,Dave Lawler · July 29, 2022

19. The Sneaky Way Ukraine Could Take Back Kherson from Putin: Guerilla Warfare

The Sneaky Way Ukraine Could Take Back Kherson from Putin: Guerilla Warfare · by BySteve Balestrieri · July 29, 2022

The Ukrainian Army is attempting to take back the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, the first major city to fall to the Russian invasion. Kherson had a prewar population of about 300,000 people and has strategic value.

And if the counteroffensive makes it into the city, the Ukrainians will have plenty of support from the partisans, the so-called “Shadow Army.”

Kherson controls the freshwater flow to the Russian-annexed region of Crimea on the Black Sea. After Russia annexed it in 2014, the Ukrainians cut off the flow of fresh water, which supplied 85 percent of the freshwater to Crimea.

Kherson is also a port city and is the jumping-off point for Moscow to attack the port of Odesa. It would provide the land bridge between the separatist republics in the east, Crimea, and the Russian proxy-held area of Transnistria in neighboring Moldova.

Russian Tactics Made it Easy For Resistance to Flourish

As soon as the Russians occupied Kherson, as in other cities and towns, they began typical Draconian Russian measures, which had the opposite effect of pacifying the region.

Using the Stalinist-era playbook, what followed was purges and food confiscation. Public officials, former Ukrainian military personnel, journalists, and anyone protesting the occupation was sought, many of whom were kidnapped off the street.

Then they were questioned by FSB members, beaten, tortured, and in many cases, killed while in captivity.

The Russians introduced the ruble, and would only accept that as the currency. Ukrainian television was shut down, and only Russian news has been allowed in the city. Ukrainian teachers were fired, and Russian teachers were brought in with a pro-Moscow curriculum.

Back in April, the Ukrainian head of intelligence, Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, announced that an insurgency was getting ready to start. That insurgency is growing inside Russia-occupied Ukraine, and the attacks against Russian troops and proxy government leaders are getting worse.

What is “the Shadow Army” of the Resistance

Ukraine’s resistance group in Kherson, the so-called Shadow Army, consists of ordinary citizens, who have varying degrees of training, however, their citizen status makes it more difficult for Russian troops to find them.

There are billboards in Kherson of a hooded figure whose face is in darkness. It says, “Kherson: The partisans see everything.” This was designed to warn average Ukrainians not to collaborate with the Russian military and keep Russian troops on edge. And it is effectively true.

Ukrainian citizens have been largely utilized to document every move the Russians make inside the city and report them to Ukrainian military officials. The reporting is the dangerous part. They are bolstered by a group that flies drones over Russian positions to pinpoint their locations to the Ukrainian artillery.

And then there are actual guerrilla fighters of the partisans who have more training and have conducted acts of sabotage and targeted assassinations of proxy civilian leaders and Russian officials.

Ukraine’s History of Resistance:

Ukraine’s history shows that its people have the will and ability to fight a protracted guerrilla war. Ukrainian partisans fought against Nazi Germany during World War II. Later they fought against Soviet occupiers, and guerrilla warfare of some sort lasted into the 1950s.

That resistance against the Soviet Union continued with no outside support, which is amazing, considering that the Soviets would suppress any resistance using the same brutal tactics Russia now employs.

Today, Ukraine has given rudimentary training to Ukrainian Territorial Defense forces. Training from its special operations forces, which learned from Western militaries – including the U.S. Army Special Forces, who are experts in guerrilla warfare – will greatly increase their effectiveness. Plus, the Ukrainians are getting plenty of outside support from Western democracies to aid in their fight against Russian aggression.

Ukraine Has Begun Guerilla Warfare In Kherson

The New York Times reported that there have been a dozen attacks since the Russian occupation, targeting high-profile individuals in Russian-occupied territory. That speaks to a highly organized operation, with coordinated attacks to disrupt the Russian occupation.

The guerilla attacks are largely concentrated in southern Ukraine’s Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. This is significant because the partisan activity will require Russia to pull front-line troops back to secure rear areas and population centers in the very places where the Ukrainian military is conducting a counter-offensive.

Ukraine has set up a website called the Center of National Resistance, which features reports of Ukrainian guerilla attacks, as well as instructions on methods of sabotage and how to use VPN to get real news instead of Russian propaganda.

Alexander Motyl of, back in late May, amassed reports of numerous incidents where resistance elements killed Russian troops, assassinated pro-Russian bloggers or government officials, sabotaged acts, and much more. In some cases, attacks against Russian troops may have been conducted by members of Ukraine’s Special Forces or were guerrilla actions led by them.

Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts. · by BySteve Balestrieri · July 29, 2022

20. Terrorism is Less of an Existential Threat than Russia and China

Who has argued that terrorism is an existential threat?

A UK perspective.


The terrorism figures are low partly because of the successes of MI5. Operation Overt in 2006 alone prevented up to 10 passenger aircraft being destroyed in the mid-Atlantic. At the same time, the international (particularly US) successes against Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qa’ida have reduced the ability of those organisations to mount large-scale attacks in the West.
Increasingly, CT has become focused on the ‘Lone Wolf’ phenomenon – often young men who become radicalised online and are persuaded to build a basic bomb or just take a knife from the kitchen drawer. For security services to address this threat entails a disproportionate use of their limited resources. Dealing with this threat needs to involve mental health provision, social services, education authorities and the police.
One result of the years since 9/11 is that security services have shouldered too much of the CT burden. Sometimes they have been lured by the temptation to bid for generous CT funding, while the caring services have remained uncomfortable playing a CT role. However, the Lone Wolf phenomenon (whether Islamist or right-wing) should be addressed as a ‘whole of government’ effort as envisaged in the original UK CONTEST plan. The precious resources of security services need to be focused on the most strategic threats, which threaten not only our way of life, but our very existence.

Terrorism is Less of an Existential Threat than Russia and China

Tim Willasey-Wilsey CMG28 July 2022

 6 Minute Read

The 9/11 attack was so huge that it blew Western foreign policy off course for two decades. 9/11’s impact derived not only from the large number of deaths (almost 10 times the next largest terrorist incident), but also from the fact that it was viewed as a new form of particularly dangerous Islamist terrorism. The extraordinary television footage, both enthralling and horrifying, together with the iconic targets, produced a vision of terror in a league of its own.

Until 9/11, the world had always regarded terrorism in a similar manner to crime or poverty: as something we would wish to eradicate, but might have to endure and manage forever. In fact, the main factors which distinguish terrorism from crime are the political motive, the intention to kill and maim, and – often – the covert hand of foreign countries behind the terrorists. That is why security services around the world take the lead on counterterrorism (CT), with police forces in support.

We tend to forget that spectacular terrorist attacks did not begin with 9/11. In fact, before 2001, there were two extraordinary decades from the early 1970s onwards which saw several major attacks each year. For example, the blowing up in September 1970 of four airliners in Jordan by Palestinian terrorists; the kidnapping in December 1975 of 60 officials at an OPEC conference in Vienna by Carlos the Jackal; and the downing of an Air India Boeing 747 in the mid-Atlantic in June 1985 by Sikh extremists, killing 329.

Some of the most high-profile attacks were carried out by the Abu Nidhal Organisation (ANO) and other Palestinian groups. There were also Sikh and Latin American organisations, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), the German Baader–Meinhof gang, and the Japanese Red Army. Attacks in the 1970s and 80s received front-page and prime-time coverage, but only for a few days each. The exception was the downing of a Pan Am aircraft over Lockerbie in December 1988, which broke through an invisible barrier to become a repeated news item for several years.

Behind these organisations we occasionally caught glimpses of nation states. In many cases it was Iran, Syria or Libya, but there were other less visible actors. The French deal with the ANO (revealed in 2019) was particularly cynical, but there was also Irish-American (NORAID) assistance to the PIRA, and all those other countries that paid ransoms for the release of their citizens. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the extent of East Germany’s systematic involvement in anti-Western terrorism was laid bare.

Allies in Southeast Asia repeatedly warned Western counterparts of the dangers of ignoring the rise of China and of focusing too heavily on counterterrorism

Occasionally there would be successes for security services. In the UK alone, there were operations which exposed Libyan arming of the PIRA, and the meticulous work which attributed the Lockerbie bombing to Libya. However, at the time, CT work was always secondary to operations against nation-state threats – primarily the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. In 1970, 105 Soviet intelligence officers were expelled from London, the fruit of thousands of hours of scrutiny, and from that moment onwards, a coordinated effort was maintained to expel Soviet bloc spies and thereby disrupt their operations.

It was the end of the Cold War in 1989/90 which ushered in the unipolar world of just one superpower. In April 2001, the Hainan Island incident involving a US spy plane off the Chinese coast raised a question mark about the potential future threat from a more assertive China, but a mere four months later, the 9/11 attack took place and China was all but forgotten.

Allies in Southeast Asia would repeatedly warn Western counterparts of the dangers of ignoring the rise of China and of focusing too heavily on CT in general, and Iraq and Afghanistan in particular – but to no avail. Understandably, the destruction of Al-Qa’ida and the capture of its leader, Osama Bin Laden, became a US strategic objective involving massive intelligence resources. Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama both put pressure on their agencies to prevent any future attacks on US soil. When 30 British tourists were killed at a Tunisian beach resort, Prime Minister David Cameron described terrorism as ‘an existential threat’.

For some countries with weak governments, such as Somalia and Mali, terrorism can indeed be existential. Terrorism can also be deeply corrosive to civil society. However, for Western democracies, the only circumstance in which terrorism could become an existential threat is if a group succeeded in obtaining weapons of mass destruction (WMD). There have been several moments of concern. The Japanese cult Aun Shinrikyo tried to use the nerve agent Sarin on the Tokyo subway in March 1995. Al-Qa’ida tried several times to obtain WMD. There have long been concerns that the collapse of a country such as Pakistan or North Korea could result in terrorists getting their hands on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.

The alteration of the planning for 9/11 after the British first got wind of the plot turned a conventional hijacking of an airliner to obtain the release of a prisoner into a novel concept which used fully fuelled aircraft as flying bombs. In essence, 9/11 became a borderline case between conventional and WMD terrorism.

The precious resources of security services need to be focused on the most strategic threats, which threaten not only our way of life, but our very existence

For this reason, CT will remain a major concern of security services around the world. Furthermore, for as long as nation states continue to support terrorist organisations, we will need to devote the energies of our intelligence services to discovering the plans of terrorist groups and their sponsors.

However, the statistics show that terrorism is a small threat compared to crime and disease, even in the UK, which has been one of the hardest hit countries. Between 1970 and 2019, the UK lost a total of 3,416 lives to terrorism, but 84% of those were linked to Northern Ireland and 271 to the Lockerbie incident. Between 2005 and 2022, 93 people have died from terrorism, an average of under 6 per annum. This compares to 695 homicides in 2020, about 1,500 deaths each year from traffic accidents, and some 25,000 from influenza and pneumonia.

The terrorism figures are low partly because of the successes of MI5. Operation Overt in 2006 alone prevented up to 10 passenger aircraft being destroyed in the mid-Atlantic. At the same time, the international (particularly US) successes against Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qa’ida have reduced the ability of those organisations to mount large-scale attacks in the West.

Increasingly, CT has become focused on the ‘Lone Wolf’ phenomenon – often young men who become radicalised online and are persuaded to build a basic bomb or just take a knife from the kitchen drawer. For security services to address this threat entails a disproportionate use of their limited resources. Dealing with this threat needs to involve mental health provision, social services, education authorities and the police.

One result of the years since 9/11 is that security services have shouldered too much of the CT burden. Sometimes they have been lured by the temptation to bid for generous CT funding, while the caring services have remained uncomfortable playing a CT role. However, the Lone Wolf phenomenon (whether Islamist or right-wing) should be addressed as a ‘whole of government’ effort as envisaged in the original UK CONTEST plan. The precious resources of security services need to be focused on the most strategic threats, which threaten not only our way of life, but our very existence.

The views expressed in this Commentary are the author’s, and do not represent those of RUSI or any other institution.

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​21. No more automatic Global War on Terrorism service medals, DoD says

From the Jim Morrison and the Doors' Unknown Soldier:

And, it's all over
The war is over
It's all over
The war is over
Well, all over, baby

No more automatic Global War on Terrorism service medals, DoD says · by Davis Winkie · July 29, 2022

Signaling the end of a 21-year era, the Department of Defense has told the military services to sharply restrict the award of the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal beginning Sept. 11, according to a memo obtained by Military Times.

The June 24 memo, signed by the DoD’s undersecretary for personnel and readiness, Gilbert Cisneros, also limits award of the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal to just troops who serve on the ground in Syria or operate within 12 nautical miles of its coast or airspace. The policy went into effect July 1.

The GWOT-SM has been a virtually automatic award for troops since its introduction in 2003.

The Army, for example, determined in March 2004 that all active duty troops who served after Sept. 11, 2001, merited the award because they’d all “served in some way in support of GWOT,” according to the Human Resources Command website.

And while blanket eligibility was later amended to require that members serve 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days “in support of” a GWOT operation, units have loosely interpreted the “support” criteria and awarded the medal regardless of actual connection to the ongoing conflict. Units have argued that even 30 days in garrison counted as part of the broader GWOT-focused deployment readiness cycle.

But after Sept. 11, “the service member must have directly served in a designated military [counter-terrorism] operation” for at least 30 days, the memo says.

It clarifies that direct service doesn’t include the previous “support” loophole as well. The memo describes direct service as someone who “deployed on orders for a designated CT operation [or] directly supported a [designated] CT operation on a full-time basis while assigned to an organization conducting a CT operation.”

According to a DoD list last updated in March, ongoing CT operations eligible for the award include:

  • Operation Noble Eagle, a North American airspace patrol mission.
  • Operation Enduring Freedom, which continues in East Africa.
  • Operation Enduring Sentinel, the over-the-horizon CT mission focused on potential threats in post-withdrawal Afghanistan.
  • Operation Inherent Resolve, the long-running fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
  • Operation Pacific Eagle — Philippines, a dormant CT operation that has not had a new inspector general oversight report since November 2020.

Despite the changes to the GWOT and Inherent Resolve campaign medals, the memo doesn’t address whether there will be any changes to National Defense Service Medal eligibility.

Should DoD cease awarding the GWOT-era NDSM, which is automatically awarded to people who join the military during a designated conflict period, it would represent a symbolic close to the wars that began after Sept. 11.

About Davis Winkie

Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.

22. Helping Partners Help Themselves Through Grassroots Innovation

Helping Partners Help Themselves Through Grassroots Innovation

By Ernest John C. Jadloc, Leo Blanken, and Kevin Jones

Security cooperation with partner nations is increasingly important for the success of American security policy in an era of strategic competition. After twenty years of large-scale counterinsurgency operations, during which security cooperation largely consisted of the rapid building of (often inappropriate) “mirror imaged” partner forces, new thinking is required. We provide a novel and scalable mechanism for partner force enablement efforts here: grassroots innovation among partner force personnel through the leveraging of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies. More specifically, we show the potential for partner forces to create affordable, sustainable, and tailored solutions to their own capability gaps as a mechanism for better partnering.

           We begin our story with a real operational challenge for an important partner force in the Pacific region. The southern Philippines is largely covered with dense vegetation. Although Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ground troops are equipped with identification-friend-or-foe (IFF) devices, the tree cover can prevent the identification of these troops by friendly aircraft. The situation is aggravated when firefights happen at night, in vegetated areas, and when troops seek concealment and cover while engaged with the enemy. This all presents significant challenges for Filipino Air Force pilots to distinguish friend from foe when conducting close air support (CAS) operations, resulting in the significant potential for fratricide. Given this challenge, AFP ground troops need to be able to deploy a visual reference for pilots above the canopy of vegetation while they remain concealed physically. Moreover, this visual reference should not have a direct back azimuth to the soldier’s specific location. The absence of such visual reference may result in the delay of pilots positively identifying the friendly forces, provide additional time for enemy action, unnecessarily expose aircraft to enemy fire, and potentially cause fratricide. Our co-author, Colonel Jadloc, has lived this experience. In a recent operation, he led units of the Philippine Army to neutralize a terrorist group who were positioned in rough and highly vegetated terrain. Attack helicopters were sent to support his troops. The helicopter pilots, however, had trouble demarcating friendly from enemy forces on the ground. This delayed their ability to provide supporting fires, as it took considerable radio conversation and repositioning of troops before friendly force location was clarified.

In response to this operational challenge, Colonel Jadloc has prototyped a solution to this capability gap while he earned a Master’s degree at the Naval Postgraduate School. His Maneuverable Aerial Identification Friend-or-Foe (MAIFF) system uses a quadcopter drone mounted with infrared lamp and other electronic and non-electronic parts. The illumination provided by the lamp is invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen using a night vision device. It can operate for six hours and is visible up to at least one mile away. The lamp’s mounting design is stable and versatile, enabling the lamp and the drone to fly as one unit. The design parameters of this project sought to create an affordable and sustainable solution, utilizing COTS components, and are tailored specifically to the needs of the AFP ground and air forces. The sub-250 gram drone used in this prototype is a combination of hobby parts that are available anywhere in the world along with a few bespoke parts that were designed and manufactured in an on-campus maker-space. Quad-copter designs such as this are very forgiving when it comes to configuration changes – substitutions to the motors, propellers, camera gear, et cetera. This improves the chances of producing and maintaining these systems as the availability of COTS materials in the marketplace change over time. Total cost of the materials for these airborne platforms starts at around $100 and can include features like starlight cameras (providing near IR visibility at night) for about $30. For an additional $50 or so, high-level autonomy can be introduced, which allows for waypoint navigation, position hold, and RF-free operation for stealth.

Colonel Jadloc’s efforts to prototype this innovative solution were based on his access to the expertise and facilities at the Naval Postgraduate School. These included the time and space to tinker, prototype, and fabricate in the school’s maker-space (the “Robo-Dojo”), access to a wide-range of faculty expertise from multiple departments on campus, and the leveraging of COTS components to produce an effective and affordable military capability. Further, his project built directly upon the research project of a previous Filipino military officer, Major Romulo Dimayuga, whose own innovation project inspired the design of the drone upon which the MAIFF system is mounted. This cumulative evolution among projects by Filipino students at the Naval Postgraduate School serves to maintain continuity, increases the likelihood of innovation adoption, and serves to build a network of innovators among AFP personnel over time.

What does the story of Colonel Jadloc and Major Dimayuga tell us about the future of building partner capacity writ large? It is a story of opportunity for improving American security assistance efforts in an era of rapidly changing technology, strategic competition, and constrained resources through the enablement of grassroots innovation among partner force personnel. Given that not all partner force personnel enjoy access to graduate research opportunities, how could their experiences be scaled up to achieve strategic impact? We argue that there would be four necessary components to scaling this concept:

The first component is access to subject matter expertise. Colonel Jadloc and Major Dimayuga benefitted from pursuing their work while graduate students at the Naval Postgraduate School, as this gave them access to wide range of engineering and applied science expertise. Scaling up these efforts by partner force personnel within their home countries would provide new opportunities to leverage local academic and private sector expertise to fulfill this need, thereby energizing a wider web of relationships and deepening the host nation’s own innovation ecosystems.

The second component is synchronization with inter-agency partners relevant to economic and technical development in the partner nation. This is “a feature not a bug,” as it would invigorate inter-agency efforts to engage the host nation across multiple socio-technical domains. This knitting together of a wider array of American capabilities and authorities would not only improve the number and quality of innovation projects but would broaden and deepen the relationships between American actors and the host nation.

The third component is deconflicting this activity with existing security cooperation efforts and foreign military sales. It would be important to convey to all actors involved that such grassroots innovation efforts may not be appropriate for all the partner force’s needs and that existing mechanisms of support would not be threatened or undercut. If planned and executed thoughtfully, these efforts should, in fact improve existing security cooperation efforts by giving a greater voice to partner force personnel in articulating their needs and concerns.  

The final component is embedding grassroots partner force innovation into the doctrine of those units tasked with building partner capacity. US Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) and Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs) would be the ideal entities to spearhead the implementation of this concept. Existing capabilities, such as the US Army Special Forces (SF) Groups’ Technical Information Support Companies (TISCs), could be utilized as springboards to pilot and prototype these activities for the broader units.    




Prototype MAIFF being piloted by Prof Kevin Jones. Photo by Ernest John Jadloc




About the Author(s)

Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones is an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School. His research interest is primarily in the areas of aerodynamic design and systems integration, particularly for miniaturized systems.

Ernest John C. Jadloc

Colonel Ernest John C. Jadloc is an army officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He was the battalion commander of the 74th Infantry Battalion from 2015 to 2017 where he successfully confronted the communist insurgents in Quezon Province and the ISIS-inspired Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan Province. He is a 2022 graduate of the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School, where his thesis was awarded the Air Force Association Award for Advancement of Aerospace Studies.

Leo Blanken

Leo Blanken is an Associate Professor of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School. He is the academic lead for the department’s newly established “Applied Design for Innovation” masters curriculum.


23. Busting the myth of the Phantom Major

Busting the myth of the Phantom Major | Saul David | The Critic Magazine · by Richard Hopton · July 25, 2022

This article is taken from the July 2022 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

In January 1943 Lieutenant Colonel David Stirling, founder of the SAS, was flown to Rome for interrogation. He had been captured by the Italians on his “most hare-brained scheme yet” — leading a small raiding party deep into enemy territory in Tunisia to attack lines of communication, reconnoitre the terrain and become the first Eighth Army unit to link up with the First Army advancing from the west.

David Stirling: The Phoney Major: The Life, Times and Truth about the Founder of the SAS, Gavin Mortimer (Constable, £25)

Cautious when speaking to the Italians, he was “vain and voluble” in conversation with a fellow “captive”, Captain John Richards. Unbeknown to Stirling, Richards was an Anglo-Swiss stool pigeon, Theodore Schurch, who had deserted from the British army and was working for fascist intelligence.

Prior to Schurch’s court-martial for treachery in late 1945, Stirling denied he had revealed any sensitive information. If he had, it was inaccurate and “designed to deceive”. This was a lie, told to protect Stirling’s reputation. In fact, as the British authorities knew all too well from intercepted signals, Stirling had told Richards vital details about current SAS operations, including the location of patrols and their orders. He had even given them the name of his probable replacement as SAS commander: Paddy Mayne.

The story of Stirling’s unfortunate encounter with Schurch has been told before, notably by Ben Macintyre in his bestselling SAS: Rogue Heroes. But Macintyre underplays Stirling’s indiscretion and fails to link it to the many other examples of the SAS commander’s recklessness and poor judgement of character. For Gavin Mortimer, on the other hand, both the capture and loose talk were typical of a man who was “imaginative, immature, immoderate and ill-disciplined”. Small wonder that even his own brother Bill thought he would be better off in a prisoner-of-war camp.

The subtitle of Mortimer’s book — a carefully researched and impeccably sourced take-down of the legendary special forces pioneer — is a corrective to the flattering but inaccurate nickname that was first coined for Stirling by British tabloids during the Second World War. “When word reached Cairo of the Phantom Major moniker,” writes Mortimer, “it must have sparked a mix of hilarity and indignation. All the falsehoods and fabrications would have been harmless enough had Stirling not stolen the valour of his comrades.”

Thread by thread, Mortimer unpicks the myth of Stirling’s life and war service that the subject and his fawning admirers had so carefully constructed, both during and after the war. Stirling was not training in North America for an attempt on Mount Everest’s summit when war broke out in 1939, as he later claimed, but rather working as a ranch hand because his exasperated family hoped it might give the feckless youth some focus and direction.

He joined the Scots Guards and then the Commandos, but was a conspicuous failure at both as he displayed his idleness and irresponsibility (his nickname was the “Giant Sloth”). His elder brother Bill, on the other hand, had founded the original Commando training centre at Lochailort and joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE), set up by Churchill to coordinate resistance in occupied Europe.

Stirling’s first parachute attempt was a disaster

David Stirling would later insist that he came up with the idea of creating a small raiding unit to parachute behind enemy lines in the Middle East in the summer of 1941. In fact, writes Mortimer, it was the brainchild of his former commanding officer, Robert “Lucky” Laycock, and was adopted by another Commando officer, Jock Lewes. Only now did Stirling ask to join the experiment. “He persuaded me to let him in on it in the last days,” wrote Lewes to his father, “when all arrangements were made. I let him come reluctantly … I resented the strength of his persuasion and despised a little his colossal confidence.”

Herein lies the secret to Stirling’s success: an ability to bend more talented people than himself to his will. It helped, too, that he was born into Scottish upper-class privilege and extremely well connected. His first parachute attempt was a disaster and he badly injured his back. Following his convalescence, he wrote later, he broke into the GHQ in Cairo in July 1941 to deliver a memorandum about his parachute raiding force that eventually led to the formation of the SAS.

In fact, it was Bill Stirling, working in Cairo at the time, who wrote much of the memo and made sure it was read by senior officers. Mortimer notes:

David and Bill Stirling created the idea for a parachute unit to operate in the desert, attacking enemy airfields and coastal installations. The thinking was Bill’s and David would put the idea into practice. But then on 3 November [1941] Bill was recalled to Britain and without his big brother David was lost because he was neither a visionary nor a genius; he was a gifted salesman and then, after the war, a plagiarist who stole Bill’s ideas and passed them off as his own.

The other key player in the early SAS, who was never given the credit he deserved, says Mortimer, was Paddy Mayne. Why? Because Stirling feared and envied the talented Ulsterman in “equal measure”. Mayne was one of the few men who had seen through Stirling and recognised him for what he was: an incompetent egomaniac.

Mayne’s death in a car crash in 1955 gave Stirling the opportunity to “return from his self-imposed exile [in Africa] and stake his claim to be the father of British special forces”. He did this by proposing a biography by the popular socialite author, Virginia Cowles. Called The Phantom Major, it was full of inaccuracies, half-truths and downright lies, and “would transform Stirling into a dashing guerrilla legend and Mayne into a dark, intemperate Irishman”.

The legend continues to this day. In 1984, when Stirling gave the address at the opening of the new SAS base in Hereford — predictably named Stirling Lines — he repeated many of the myths and failed to mention either his brother or another early pioneer, Bill Fraser. Mayne was at least name-checked as one of five “co-founders” of the SAS. Interestingly, Mortimer suggests Fraser was omitted because he was “gay and a constant reminder to Stirling of his own great secret”.

The SBS, the lesser-known maritime version of the SAS, writes in its handbook: “Some units like to make a noise about their activities. We take a more discreet approach. While some prefer the limelight, we prefer the twilight.” This essential difference in ethos is, I would suggest, partly down to Stirling and his character flaws which have been exposed, for all to see, in Mortimer’s excellent myth-busting biography.

Share · by Richard Hopton · July 25, 2022

De Oppresso Liber,

David Maxwell

Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Senior Fellow, Global Peace Foundation

Senior Advisor, Center for Asia Pacific Strategy

Editor, Small Wars Journal

Twitter: @davidmaxwell161


Phone: 202-573-8647


David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
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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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