Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners



Quotes of the Day:


“Truth has to be repeated constantly, because Error also is being preached all the time, and not just by a few, but by the multitude. In the Press, Encyclopedias, in Schools, and Universities, everywhere Error holds sway, feeling happy and comfortable in the knowledge of having Majority on its side.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 "Don't argue with a fool. The spectators can't tell the difference." 
- Charles Nalin

"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers." 
- Voltaire





1.  RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, AUGUST 4 (Putin's War)

2. Chinese Disinformation Group Targeted Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit

3. 11 Chinese Ballistic Missiles Fired Near Taiwan, U.S. Embarks USS America From Japan

4. Why military aid to Ukraine doesn't always get to the front lines: "Like 30% of it reaches its final destination"

5. Xi Tries to Ride a Real-Estate Tiger, and We All May Get Mauled

6. Xi’s Great Leap Backward

7. Money and Partnerships Matter in Cybersecurity

8. U.S. Seeks to Reassure Asian Allies as China’s Military Grows Bolder

9. China sanctions House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over 'egregious provocation' in visit to Taiwan

10. U.S. calls China's military action over Taiwan unjustified, Beijing sanctioning Pelosi

11. After Griner gets jail, Russia ready to discuss swap with U.S.

12. Putin can’t control his Ukraine cataclysm — and the US must get ready

13. Michael Grinston's Quiet War to Help Make the Army More Lethal, Wokeness Hysterics Be Damned

14. Representatives are Too Invested in Defense Contractors

15. What’s Next for al-Qaeda?

16. Keys to Ukrainian victory? Logistics, heavy weapons and the ‘test of will’

17. US Special Forces conduct bold, new experiment to meet future challenges

18. Observations from the Donbas Front Line




1.  RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, AUGUST 4 (Putin's War)


Maps/graphics: https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-4



RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, AUGUST 4

Aug 4, 2022 - Press ISW


understandingwar.org

Kateryna Stepanenko, Layne Phillipson, Karolina Hird, Angela Howard, and Frederick W. Kagan

August 4, 9 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.

Ukraine is likely seizing the strategic initiative and forcing Russia to reallocate forces and reprioritize efforts in response to Ukrainian counteroffensive operations. Russian forces are increasingly transferring personnel and equipment to Kherson and western Zaporizhia Oblasts at the expense of their efforts to seize Slovyansk and Siversk, which they appear to have abandoned. Russian forces are also redeploying military equipment – artillery and aviation in particular – to Crimea from elsewhere in Ukraine. Russian forces have previously withdrawn from or suspended offensive operations on Kharkiv City and the southern axis to prioritize capturing Luhansk Oblast, but they did so on their own initiative based on the changing priorities of their commanders. Russian forces in this case appear to be responding to the Ukrainian counteroffensive threat in Kherson Oblast rather than deliberately choosing objectives on which to concentrate their efforts. Even after Ukrainian forces defeated the Russian attempt to seize Kyiv early in the war, the Russians were able to choose freely to concentrate their operations in the east. Ukraine’s preparations for the counteroffensive in Kherson and the initial operations in that counteroffensive combined with the dramatic weakening of Russian forces generally appear to be allowing Ukraine to begin actively shaping the course of the war for the first time.

The seriousness of the dilemma facing the Russian high command likely depends on Ukraine’s ability to sustain significant counteroffensive operations on multiple axes simultaneously. If Ukraine is able to press hard around Izyum as it continues rolling into the counteroffensive in Kherson, then Russian forces will begin confronting very difficult choices. They will likely need to decide either to abandon their westward positions around Izyum in favor of defending their ground lines of communications (GLOCs) further north and east or to commit more personnel and equipment to try to hold the current front line. Such forces would have to come from another axis, however, putting other Russian gains at risk.

Russian forces are likely operating in five to seven strike groups of unclear size around Bakhmut, based on the Ukrainian General Staff descriptions of Russian assaults in the area. Recent Ukrainian General Staff reports have most frequently identified Vershyna, Soledar, Kodema, Bakhmut, and Yakovlvka as the repeated targets of localized concentrated Russian efforts around Bakhmut.[1] The Russian groups attacking these targets are reportedly operating out of the nearby settlements of Pokrovske, Streapivka, Roty, Semihirya, and Vidrozhnnya for now.

Explosions occurred near the Donetsk Drama Theater and Penal Colony #124 in occupied Donetsk City on August 4.[2] Russian media widely publicized the explosions and blamed Ukrainian artillery, but the Ukrainian Office of the President denied any shelling of Donetsk City on August 4.[3] The limited damage visible in the videos Russia has produced as evidence of the Ukrainian attack near the Donetsk Drama Theater appears to be inconsistent with artillery shelling.[4] Russian officials have not provided footage of the reported attack on Penal Colony #124. Russian milbloggers widely published the Russian-provided footage of the aftermath of the explosion near the Donetsk Drama Theater and used the opportunity to harshly criticize Ukrainian forces for alleged strikes on civilian targets.[5] Were the explosions Ukrainian shelling, they would carry further emotional weight with DNR supporters because they occurred during a farewell ceremony for an occupation forces officer KIA on August 3.[6] Russian forces likely hope to use the emotional response of DNR audiences to such claimed Ukrainian attacks to garner support for new offenses in the Avdiivka area and further recruitment campaigns.

Key Takeaways

  • Ukraine is likely seizing the strategic initiative and forcing Russia to reallocate forces and reprioritize efforts in response to Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.
  • Russian forces attempted to advance northwest of Izyum.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted a series of localized counterattacks between Izyum and Slovyansk and regained positions in a number of settlements.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks northeast and south of Bakhmut.
  • Russian troops continued attempts to advance on Pisky and conducted a limited ground attack southwest of Donetsk City.
  • Russian forces continued to transfer equipment and personnel to northeastern Kherson and western Zaporizhia Oblasts.


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 attempted to advance northwest of Izyum on August 4. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops conducted an unsuccessful attack in the direction from Bairak to Husarivka, about 35km northwest of Izyum.[7] Russian forces are likely continuing attempts to penetrate deeper into Kharkiv Oblast but are unlikely to be able to gain significant ground in this endeavor.

Ukrainian forces are likely taking advantage of the redeployment of Russian forces away from the Slovyansk axis and conducted localized counterattacks to regain ground southwest of Izyum and northwest of Slovyansk on August 4. Ukrainian General Staff Main Operations Deputy Chief Oleksii Gromov stated that Ukrainian forces have advanced on Russian defensive lines in Dmytrivka, Mazanivka, and Sulyhivka- all about 15km southwest of Izyum.[8] Ukraine’s 93rd Brigade additionally stated that its troops retook Dibrovne, 20km southwest of Izyum. Gromov noted that Ukrainian troops liberated Mazanivka and Dmytrivka, both about 20km northwest of Slovyansk along the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border.[10] As ISW previously reported, Russian forces have been redeploying individual units from the Slovyansk axis towards Zaporizhia and Kherson Oblasts in the south, thus depriving the Russian effort in northwestern Donetsk Oblast of necessary combat power to secure gains along the Izyum-Slovyansk line.[11] Recent Ukrainian gains between Izyum and Slovyansk indicate that the redeployment of Russian troops to the south is leaving exploitable gaps in the Russian defense of this axis.

Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in the Siversk area on August 4 and continued air and artillery strikes on and around Siversk City.[12]

Russian forces continued fighting northeast and south of Bakhmut on August 4. Gromov confirmed that Ukrainian troops withdrew from positions in Semihirya and Dolomitne (15 and 18km southeast of Bakhmut, respectively) towards Kodema, where they are continuing to defend against Russian ground attacks.[13] The Ukrainian General Staff added that Russian forces are also fighting around Travneve, Semihirya, and Vershyna, all within 20km southeast of Bakhmut.[14] Russian forces are continuing ground attacks around Soledar (about 6km northeast of Bakhmut) in Yakolvika and Straypivka in order to advance southwest towards Bakhmut.[15]

Russian forces continued ground attacks towards Pisky from the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City and additionally conducted limited assaults southwest of Donetsk City on August 4. Gromov confirmed that Ukrainian troops withdrew from the Butivka coal mine and took up new positions south of Avdiivka on July 30, which is consistent with ISW’s recent assessed control of terrain in the Donetsk City area.[16] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to advance on Pisky from Vesle, about 1km due east, and Lozove, 6km southwest.[17] Various Russian sources, including the 11th Regiment of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), claimed that Russian and DNR forces have taken full control of Pisky, but this claim is unlikely considering that Ukrainian sources suggest that Russian forces are still conducting frontal assaults and artillery strikes on Pisky from multiple directions.[18] Russian forces also reportedly conducted an unsuccessful attack northwest of Donetsk City in the vicinity of Marinka and continued to shell along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.[19]


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 any confirmed ground attacks northeast of Kharkiv City and continued efforts to maintain occupied frontiers along this axis on August 4.[20] The Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications reported that Russian forces launched four missiles from Belgorod at the Nemyshlianskyi district in southeast Kharkiv City.[21] Russian forces also continued routine shelling on Kharkiv City and settlements to the north, east, south, and southwest with mortars, tanks, and tube and rocket artillery.[22]


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

Russian forces launched unsuccessful assaults on Ukrainian positions near the Inhulets River on August 3 and August 4. Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked Bilohirka, Lozove, and Andriivka (on the eastern Inhulets River bank), and in the direction of Bila Krynytsya (on the western Inhulets River bank).[23] Russian forces are likely continuing offensive operations in the area to suppress the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River and disrupt Ukrainian threats to Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) along the T2207 highway. Russian forces have intensified their air campaign along the contact line in Kherson Oblast and reportedly launched airstrikes on 17 settlements.[24] Russian forces also continued to shell over 25 settlements along the Kherson Oblast administrative border, fired 60 missiles at Nikopol using Grad MLRS, and unsuccessfully launched Onyx anti-ship missile at Odesa Oblast that exploded in the air.[25]

Russian forces continued to redeploy military personnel and equipment from other axes to defend current Russian positions in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian General Staff Main Operations Deputy Chief Oleksiy Gromov reported that Russian forces transferred three battalion tactical groups (BTGs) that had been operating on the frontline around the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast administrative border to northeastern Kherson Oblast.[26] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command added that Russian forces have continued to transfer unspecified elements of the 35th Combined Arms Army (CAA) that have previously fought in Izyum and Kyiv Oblast to northeastern Kherson Oblast.[27] Gromov added that Russian forces also strengthened the Zaporizhia Oblast frontline with one BTG and are replenishing stockpiles of weapons and supplies in Melitopol. Russian forces will likely prioritize the defense of occupied positions north of Melitopol over the frontlines in Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast administrative border area. These BTGs and elements of the 35th CAA are unlikely to generate the necessary combat power for further offensive operations given that these units likely experienced significant losses of personnel and equipment on other axes. Gromov also noted that Russian forces are transferring large amounts of military equipment to Kherson Oblast via the Kerch Strait Bridge and are using Crimea as a “bridgehead for stockpiling weapons.“ Gromov stated that Russian forces are also regrouping aviation equipment from the Eastern Military District (EMD) in Crimea, and geolocated social media footage showed the movement of Russian military equipment across the Kerch Strait Bridge.[28]

Ukrainian forces continued to strike Russian GLOCs, positions, and military bases in Kherson Oblast. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian aviation struck two Russian strongholds in the areas of Blahodatne and Pravdyne, both located northwest of Kherson City. Ukrainian forces have also reportedly destroyed the command post of the Russian 22nd Army Corps during a strike on Chornobaivka, also northwest of Kherson City.[30] Advisor to the Kherson Oblast Administration Head Serhiy Khlan also reported explosions at a Russian ammunition depot in Nova Mayachka (approximately 48km southeast of Kherson City) but did not specify if Ukrainian forces struck the depot.[31] Social media users reported witnessing explosions near the Antonivskyi Railway Bridge, but it is unclear if Ukrainian forces attempted to strike the bridge on August 3.[32]

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

Russian military authorities continued to take measures to compensate for personnel losses in Ukraine. Ukrainian General Staff Main Operations Deputy Chief Oleksiy Gromov reported on August 4 that Russian forces are forming additional reserves to replenish units that have suffered losses in Ukraine, noting that Russian military officials are considering the redeployment of Russian troops from Syria to replenish the army.[33] Gromov also reported that Russian leadership is preparing legislative changes that prohibit the discharge of soldiers if martial law is declared in an effort to stop the outflow of military personnel.[34] Gromov added that there is a shortage of cadets for Russian military institutions, and there is “a low activity rate” of civilians signing military contracts.[35]

Russian federal subjects continued to form additional volunteer battalions to deploy to Ukraine. The Ministry of Social Protection of Karelia announced the procedure for volunteers of the “Ladoga” and “Onega” units to receive the promised payment of 100,000 rubles (approximately $1,612) upon enlisting.[36] Petrozavodsk Military Commissioner Vladimir Kudrik announced on June 27 that the Republic of Karelia will form the “Ladoga” and “Onego” units with over 300 total volunteers for deployment to Ukraine.[37] Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) Head Leonid Pasechnik announced that 200 volunteers from the Russian Special Forces University will deploy to Donbas from their training grounds in Gudermes, Chechnya, “in the coming days.”[38] These volunteers are likely recruits of unspecified volunteer battalions that underwent training in Chechnya.


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 authorities continued setting conditions for long-term Russian control of the occupied territories in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on August 4 that the Russian Ministry of Construction and Housing and Communal Affairs released a document titled “Concept of the Master Plan for the Development of the City of Mariupol.”[39] The report states that Russian occupation authorities intend to fully integrate Mariupol into the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) with a prospect of accession into Russia and that the Ministry plans to restore transport and social infrastructure “within the next few years.”[40] The report projects Mariupol’s population to grow to 200,000 by 2025. Its population had numbered approximately 500,000 prior to the most recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.[41]

Residents of occupied territories continued resisting Russian occupation efforts on August 4. Advisor to the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs Vadym Denisenko reported that Russian occupation officials have struggled to find volunteers to form standard 15-person election commissions and have instead established a 7-person committee in Kherson City.[42] Previous Kherson Oblast elections had 10,000 commissions while Russian officials are only planning to form 1,500, of which most will be staged for TV propaganda efforts.[43]

The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that Russian forces are illegally seizing businesses in Kherson City and that Ukrainian employees refuse to work for Russian-controlled enterprises.[44] Kherson Oblast Administration Head Dmytro Butrii reported that Russian authorities kidnapped Hornostaiv community head Dmytro Lyakhno and local volunteer Oleksandr Slisarenko for reportedly refusing to cooperate with occupation officials in Kherson Oblast on August 3.[45]

[3] https://t.me/mariupolnow/16921https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRlVAxTzUVo&feature=youtu.be; https://v-variant dot com.ua/v-ofisi-prezydenta-zaiavyly-shcho-ukraina-ne-prychetna-do-rankovykh-obstriliv-donetska/

[8] https://www dot rbc.ua/ukr/news/vsu-osvobodili-neskolko-sel-donetskoy-oblasti-1659615482.html; https://t.me/spravdi/14737

[9] https://suspilne dot media/267992-93-brigada-povidomila-pro-zvilnenna-vid-okupantiv-sela-dibrivne-na-harkivsini/

[10] https://www dot rbc.ua/ukr/news/vsu-osvobodili-neskolko-sel-donetskoy-oblasti-1659615482.html; https://t.me/spravdi/14737

[13] https://tsn dot ua/ato/okupanti-vitisnili-ukrayinskih-viyskovih-z-dvoh-poziciy-pid-doneckom-ta-bahmutom-genshtab-zsu-2126830.html; https://news dot liga.net/ua/politics/news/vsu-otoshli-v-rayone-avdeevki-i-bahmuta-no-osvobodili-dva-poselka-na-donbasse-karta

[16] https://www dot rbc.ua/ukr/news/rossiyane-vytesnili-vsu-dvuh-pozitsiy-donetskom-1659615972.html

[26] https://lb dot ua/society/2022/08/04/525295_vorog_prodovzhuie_pidgotovku.htm; https://ua dot interfax.com.ua/news/general/850517.html; https://www dot ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3543522-na-hersonsini-vijskovih-rf-lakaut-zagorodzuvalnimi-zagonami-cecenciv.html

[33] https://lb dot ua/society/2022/08/04/525295_vorog_prodovzhuie_pidgotovku.html; https://ua dot interfax.com.ua/news/general/850517.html; https://www dot armyfm.com.ua/ua/rosiyani-ne-pospishayut-pidpisuvati-kontrakti-dlya-vijni-v-ukraini/

[34] https://lb dot ua/society/2022/08/04/525295_vorog_prodovzhuie_pidgotovku.html; https://ua dot interfax.com.ua/news/general/850517.html; https://www dot armyfm.com.ua/ua/rosiyani-ne-pospishayut-pidpisuvati-kontrakti-dlya-vijni-v-ukraini/

[35] https://lb dot ua/society/2022/08/04/525295_vorog_prodovzhuie_pidgotovku.html; https://ua dot interfax.com.ua/news/general/850517.html; https://www dot armyfm.com.ua/ua/rosiyani-ne-pospishayut-pidpisuvati-kontrakti-dlya-vijni-v-ukraini/

[36] https://stolicaonego dot ru/news/ustanovlen-porjadok-vyplat-bojtsam-podrazdelenij-iz-karelii-kotoryh-gotovjat-k-otpravke-na-ukrainu/

[37] https://stolicaonego dot ru/news/voinskie-podrazdelenija-onego-i-ladoga-sformirujut-v-karelii-dlja-otpravki-na-ukrainu/

[39] https://gur dot gov.ua/content/smitnyk-i-kvituchyi-sad-na-ruinakh-azovstali-rashysty-namaliuvaly-kontseptsiiu-rozvytku-mariupolia.html ;https://drive dot google.com/file/d/110FqlratApY9ZENzrIloIFoK-Z1WnFtA/view; https://drive dot google.com/file/d/1_5Ljsvnf-sWgZTOl5MVgLlMXco37EFbE/view

[40] https://gur dot gov.ua/content/smitnyk-i-kvituchyi-sad-na-ruinakh-azovstali-rashysty-namaliuvaly-kontseptsiiu-rozvytku-mariupolia.html ;https://drive dot google.com/file/d/110FqlratApY9ZENzrIloIFoK-Z1WnFtA/view; https://drive dot google.com/file/d/1_5Ljsvnf-sWgZTOl5MVgLlMXco37EFbE/view

[41] https://gur dot gov.ua/content/smitnyk-i-kvituchyi-sad-na-ruinakh-azovstali-rashysty-namaliuvaly-kontseptsiiu-rozvytku-mariupolia.html ;https://drive dot google.com/file/d/110FqlratApY9ZENzrIloIFoK-Z1WnFtA/view; https://drive dot google.com/file/d/1_5Ljsvnf-sWgZTOl5MVgLlMXco37EFbE/view

[44] https://sprotyv dot mod.gov.ua/2022/08/04/v-hersoni-okupanty-zahoplyuyut-biznes-ale-praczivnyky-vidmovlyayutsya-praczyuvaty-na-voroga/

understandingwar.org



2. Chinese Disinformation Group Targeted Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit


I worry more about China's capabilities and efforts than I do Russia's.


Excerpts:


During Pelosi’s visit, the Taiwanese government was hit with a coordinated denial of service attack to block web users from accessing sites, which lasted for about 20 minutes, according to reports.

“The situation in Taiwan has already led to cyber threat activity, some of which is apparent, like [denial of service] attacks on websites in Taiwan. Two Chinese information operations we track have shifted their narratives in recent days to a focus on U.S. House Speaker Pelosi’s expected visit and the supposed dangers of the situation. We anticipate that Chinese actors are also carrying out significant cyber espionage against targets in Taiwan and the U.S. to provide intelligence on the crisis,” John Hultquist, the vice president of intelligence analysis at Mandiant, said in a statement that coincided with the visit.

“Chinese actors have responded with cyber attacks to political crises like the Belgrade embassy bombing and the Hainan island incident in the past, but compared to their peers, they have not heavily leveraged this capability. On rare occasion, Chinese state actors have been linked to [denial of service] capability, destructive attack, and possible probing of critical infrastructure. Nonetheless, we believe China is capable of significant cyber attacks inside Taiwan and abroad.”



Chinese Disinformation Group Targeted Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit

Efforts to attack critics of the PRC online have expanded in recent months.

defenseone.com · by Patrick Tucker

As international ​​attention focused on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week, a Chinese disinformation campaign used fake news sites and fake social media accounts to try to undermine US-Taiwanese relations. It’s the work of a new group that has used similar methods to promote false information on everything from the recent Supreme Court abortion ruling to bioweapons in Ukraine.

U.S. cybersecurity company Mandiant discovered that the Chinese group, dubbed HaiEnergy, had published “two articles critical” of Pelosi, D-Calif., “in response to reports that she may visit Taiwan in early August. The articles [published on August 1] assert that Pelosi should ‘stay away from Taiwan’ and highlight perceived tarnished relations between the U.S. and Taiwan,” Mandiant said in a blog post released Thursday.

The HaiEnergy group published fake articles across a variety of fake news outlets. HaiEnergy also attacked former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to Taiwan in March, using fake Taiwanese news sites, and pushed the narrative that the United States would be an unreliable partner to Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.

The group has also spread false information in Ukrainian, claiming that the United States was conducting biowarfare experiments in Ukraine that resulted in deaths. They’ve run articles in English claiming that pro-choice protestors in the United States met with police violence after the recent Supreme Court decision.

The group is also behind numerous posts and articles targeting academics who openly discuss China’s numerous and well-documented human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Mandiant asserts.

In one such occurrence, the group apparently created fake letters purporting to show that German anthropologist Adrian Zenz was receiving money from U.S. government sources. The group first tweeted a photo of the fabricated letter, which contained spelling and grammatical errors, and then used a fake Swiss news site to “report” on the tweet.

“The tweet and one of the letters argued that Zenz received financial support from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. The other two letters implied that the financial support came from grants awarded to Zenz from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in 2020 and 2021,” according to Mandiant.

In a message to Defense One, Zenz said “These letters and claims are fraudulent. I have never actually met either Marco Rubio or Steve Bannon in person, and never received letters from them. Since late 2019, I have been paid by the VOC as a part-time independent contractor, but not the amounts shown, and the posted letters are fraudulent.” He continued “Attacking my motivation has been a primary strategy of the Chinese state, because they cannot successfully attack my research, which is almost entirely based on their own documentation.”

It’s not the first Chinese information campaign Mandiant has caught recently. In June, Mandiant traced a coordinated information campaign around rare-earth minerals back to a separate Chinese group called DRAGONBRIDGE, but Mandiant believes the tactics and digital infrastructure used in both cases suggests that they are separate efforts.

HaiEnergy appears to be related to a China-based PR firm called Haixun. Mandiant says they don’t yet have enough evidence to show Haixun is intentionally involved. However, the fake news sites use hosting services from the PR company.

“Our analysis indicates that the campaign has at least leveraged services and infrastructure belonging to Haixun to host and distribute content. In total, we identified 72 websites (59 domains and 14 subdomains) hosted by Haixun, which were used to target audiences in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia,” Mandiant reports.

During Pelosi’s visit, the Taiwanese government was hit with a coordinated denial of service attack to block web users from accessing sites, which lasted for about 20 minutes, according to reports.

“The situation in Taiwan has already led to cyber threat activity, some of which is apparent, like [denial of service] attacks on websites in Taiwan. Two Chinese information operations we track have shifted their narratives in recent days to a focus on U.S. House Speaker Pelosi’s expected visit and the supposed dangers of the situation. We anticipate that Chinese actors are also carrying out significant cyber espionage against targets in Taiwan and the U.S. to provide intelligence on the crisis,” John Hultquist, the vice president of intelligence analysis at Mandiant, said in a statement that coincided with the visit.

“Chinese actors have responded with cyber attacks to political crises like the Belgrade embassy bombing and the Hainan island incident in the past, but compared to their peers, they have not heavily leveraged this capability. On rare occasion, Chinese state actors have been linked to [denial of service] capability, destructive attack, and possible probing of critical infrastructure. Nonetheless, we believe China is capable of significant cyber attacks inside Taiwan and abroad.”

defenseone.com · by Patrick Tucker




3. 11 Chinese Ballistic Missiles Fired Near Taiwan, U.S. Embarks USS America From Japan


A new chapter in the conflict over Taiwan?


11 Chinese Ballistic Missiles Fired Near Taiwan, U.S. Embarks USS America From Japan - USNI News

news.usni.org · by Sam LaGrone and Heather Mongilio · August 4, 2022

PLA Rocket Force fires missiles on Aug. 4, 2022. CCTV Image

The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force has fired 11 ballistic missiles into waters surrounding Taiwan as part of a series of military exercises, the Ministry of Defense in Taipei said in a Thursday statement.

According to the MoD, the PLARF fired 11 DF-15 short-range ballistic missiles into waters to the northeast and southwest of Taiwan.

The Taiwan military “have monitored the situation with various means, while our defense systems have been activated. We condemn such irrational action that has jeopardized regional peace,” read a Thursday statement from the MoD.

Additionally, the Chinese claimed to have conducted live fire drills in the Taiwan Strait.

“Long-range armed live fire precision missile strikes were carried out on selected targets in the eastern area of the Taiwan Strait,” the PLA announced, according to The Associated Press.

“The expected outcome was achieved.”

Five of missiles allegedly landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to a release from the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

China launched two of the ballistic missiles from inland China while the others came from the coast of the Fujian Province, according to the Japanese release.

The planned drills kicked off just after U.S. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan this week. The visit was part of a larger Congressional delegation trip to the Western Pacific.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan,”manic, irresponsible and irrational,” reported the BBC.

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B aircraft mechanic Lance Cpl. William Wiggins assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, currently attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), monitors an F-35B aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), in the Philippine Sea on Aug. 18, 2021. US Marine Corps Photo

In addition, the PLA Navy has deployed both its aircraft carriers CNS Liaoning (16) and CNS Shandong (17) this week, USNI News reported.

For its part, the U.S. has positioned a carrier strike group and two big deck amphibious ships embarked with Marine F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters are underway to the east of Taiwan, defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Thursday morning.

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), its escorts and Carrier Air Wing 5 and its escorts are underway in the Philippine Sea. USS Tripoli (LHA-7), which has embarked with up to 20 F-35Bs, is off Okinawa and USS America (LHA-6) has recently departed Sasebo, Japan, a defense official confirmed to USNI News on Thursday.

Neither the Chinese drills near Taiwan threatened the U.S. ships nor has the PLAN acted unprofessionally toward the deployed groups, a defense official told USNI News.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has directed the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to stay in the general area in order to monitor the situation, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at White House briefing Thursday afternoon.

“We will conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks consistent, again, with our long standing approach to defending freedom of the seas. and international law,” Kirby said.

The live fire drills are an escalation of Beijing’s actions, Kirby said, adding that China has doubled the number of aircraft it has flown over the line separating Taiwan and China compared to 2016-2020.

Kirby announced that the U.S. will postpone a intercontinental ballistic missile test in response to the increased tensions.

“China engages in destabilizing military exercises around Taiwan, the United States is demonstrating instead, the behavior of a responsible nuclear power by reducing the risks of miscalculation and misperception,” Kirby said.

Lines of communication are open between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Kirby said.

“Well we certainly would like to see the tensions deescalate, and if that’s best done through diplomacy, the United States would fully support that,” Kirby said. “We want to see the tensions come down. I would submit to you that they could come down very easily by just having the Chinese stop these these very aggressive military drills and flying missiles in and around the Taiwan Strait.”

Related

news.usni.org · by Sam LaGrone and Heather Mongilio · August 4, 2022



4. Why military aid to Ukraine doesn't always get to the front lines: "Like 30% of it reaches its final destination"


Logistics is hard.



Why military aid to Ukraine doesn't always get to the front lines: "Like 30% of it reaches its final destination"

BY ADAM YAMAGUCHI, ALEX PENA


AUGUST 4, 2022 / 7:04 AM / CBS NEWS

CBS News · by Adam Yamaguchi, Alex Pena

Watch the CBS Reports documentary "Arming Ukraine" in the video player above, or stream it on the CBS News app Sunday, Aug. 7, at 8 p.m., 11 p.m. or 2 a.m. ET.

In a war being fought largely in World War II era trenches, with Soviet ammunition, the vast influx of modern NATO weapons and military supplies from the West into Ukraine has proven to be among the largest determinants of whether territory is lost, or gained, along Ukraine's embattled border region with Russia.

The bulk of these weapons and military supplies make their way to the border of Poland, where U.S. and NATO allies quickly ferry it across the border and into the hands of Ukrainian officials. That's where U.S. oversight ends.


"All of this stuff goes across the border, and then something happens, kind of like 30% of it reaches its final destination," said Jonas Ohman, founder and CEO of Blue-Yellow, a Lithuania-based organization that has been meeting with and supplying frontline units with military aid in Ukraine since the start of the conflict with Russia-backed separatists in 2014.

"30-40%, that's my estimation," he said in April of this year.

The United States has committed over $23 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the start of the war at the end of February, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which has been tracking global commitments of aid to Ukraine. The United Kingdom has committed $3.7 billion, Germany $1.4 billion, and Poland $1.8 billion, with multiple other countries following suit.

A combination of Ukraine's constantly shifting front lines with its largely volunteer and paramilitary forces has made delivery of the military aid difficult for those attempting to navigate the dangerous supply lines to their destination. Some have raised concerns about weapons falling into Ukraine's black market, which has thrived on corruption since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ohman relies largely on unofficial channels to deliver his supplies, which can include anything from night-vision scopes and radios to Kevlar vests, ballistic helmets and modern drones, which have proven to be essential eyes in the sky for breaking through stalemates on the battlefield. His group's status as an NGO does not permit him to deliver "lethal weapons."

A drone is delivered to a Ukrainian military unit. CBS News

"There are like power lords, oligarchs, political players," Ohman said, describing the corruption and bureaucracy he has to work around. "The system itself, it's like, 'We are the armed forces of Ukraine. If security forces want it, well, the Americans gave it to us.' It's kind of like power games all day long, and so eventually people need the stuff, and they go to us."

Andy Millburn is a retired U.S. Marine colonel who served in Iraq and Somalia and recently founded the Mozart Group, a company dedicated to training frontline Ukrainian soldiers. He traveled to Ukraine after the Russian invasion and set up a base in the capital Kyiv.

"If you provide supplies, or a logistics pipeline, there has got to be some organization to it, right? If the ability to which you're willing to be involved in that stops at the Ukrainian border, the surprise isn't that, oh, all this stuff isn't getting to where it needs to go — the surprise is that people actually expected it to," said Millburn.

"If United States' policy is to support Ukraine in the defense of its country against the Russian Federation, you can't go halfway with that. You can't create artificial lines. I understand that means that U.S. troops are not fighting Russians. I understand even U.S. troops are not crossing the border. But why not at least put people in place to supervise the country? They can be civilians to ensure that the right things are happening," he said.

In July, Ambassador Bonnie Denise Jenkins, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. State Department, said "the potential for illicit diversion of weapons is among a host of political-military and human rights considerations."

But she added, "We are confident in the Ukrainian Government's commitment to appropriately safeguard and account for the U.S.-origin defense equipment."

A delivery of military supplies for Ukraine. CBS News

Ukraine has created a temporary special commission to track the flow of weapons inside the country. But still, weapons experts say they have seen situations like this before.

"Every country and every situation is very different, but certainly if I look back, Iraq is another country where there have been cyclical deliveries. We saw a lot of weapons come in 2003 with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and then 2014 happened when ISIS took over large parts of the country and took over large stocks of weapons that had been meant for Iraqi forces," said Donatella Rovera, a senior crisis adviser for Amnesty International who has been monitoring human rights violations in Ukraine.

"More recently, we saw the same situation occur in Afghanistan," she said of the U.S. withdrawal and Taliban takeover of the country. "Oversight mechanisms should be in place to avoid that."

"That's one of the reasons we have to win the war," said Ohman. "If we lose the war, if we have this kind of gray zone, semi-failed state scenario or something like that. If you do this — you funnel lots of lethal resources into a place and you lose — then you will have to face the consequences."

Dymtro Vlasov contributed to this report.

CBS News · by Adam Yamaguchi, Alex Pena


5. Xi Tries to Ride a Real-Estate Tiger, and We All May Get Mauled

Excerpts:


Mr. Xi’s policies have been so destructive of Chinese growth that many in China wonder if he doesn’t have a geopolitical objective rather than an economic one: hardening up the country for sanctions in advance of attempting to take Taiwan. But Mr. Xi can pull that off only if he can manage to stay on his economic tiger.
If the situation turns even more dire, he may face political opposition in the higher echelons of the party. But the danger isn’t to him alone. China’s economic turmoil might trigger a global debt crisis, which could embolden Mr. Xi to move against Taiwan, knowing he’s at political risk. Global financial markets, central banks and democratic leaders should brace for turbulence.


Xi Tries to Ride a Real-Estate Tiger, and We All May Get Mauled

The economic crisis roiling China’s property markets could spread, emboldening Beijing to move on Taiwan.

By David Asher and Thomas J. Duesterberg

Aug. 3, 2022 6:14 pm ET

https://www.wsj.com/articles/xi-tries-to-ride-a-real-estate-tiger-and-we-all-may-get-mauled-china-bubble-debt-evergrande-default-techno-capitalism-taiwan-11659557796



As Covid lockdowns and buyers’ revolts roil China’s real-estate market, Xi Jinping is attempting to ride a tiger—to maintain power while clinging to the foolhardy policies that put him in this position. But as a Chinese central banker said of the country’s real-estate bubble, the problem with riding a tiger is that if you fall off, the tiger eats you. What are the odds Mr. Xi ends up in its jaws?


China’s growth has been ravaged by Mr. Xi’s draconian Covid lockdowns. Last month Beijing announced the slowest annualized economic growth rate since the Covid crash: only 0.4% in the second quarter, down 2.6 percentage points from the first quarter. Services contracted by 0.4%. Youth unemployment was a record 19% in June.

In many respects China’s domestic growth trend is its weakest since the final days of Mao Zedong, with year-over-year retail sales declining by 11% in April and 7% in May before rebounding slightly in June, consumer confidence and domestic consumption falling, and both dollar and renminbi high-yield bonds at or near record lows. China’s only remaining bright spot is exports.

These headwinds have particularly affected the already weak real-estate sector. Chinese developers are massively leveraged and a substantial amount of their borrowing is in dollars. As the dollar surges while interest rates skyrocket, Chinese developers are defaulting on debts at record levels. Among the top 100 real-estate developers, 28 have defaulted on some of their bonds in the past year. A crisis that began with the overleveraged and notoriously speculative Evergrande has spread to major development firms known for good management, such as Sunac, Shimao and Kaisa. As China is the largest dollar borrower in emerging markets, and developers are unable to refinance their debt, its property implosion could trigger a broader crisis. Already emerging-market indexes have reduced their holdings of Chinese commercial bonds and equities.

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Lockdowns have also weakened the value of many urban properties, undermining a large industry of real-estate flippers. Property values in Chinese cities have largely risen for the past 25 years, but lockdowns, overbuilding and the Covid-spurred economic slowdown reversed that trend. As lockdowns become oppressive, many Chinese are fleeing urban centers. Sellers far outnumber buyers. Many of those affected, from property investors domestic and foreign to Chinese mortgage holders, expected a bailout from Beijing, but so far the government hasn’t delivered anything substantive. The People’s Bank also has declined to lower mortgage interest rates far enough to offset the sharp market downdraft.

Developers’ deteriorating finances have led to construction delays, setting off a mortgage boycott. Some 85% of Chinese apartments are bought through so-called presale transactions, in which mortgages are typically paid before occupancy. As developers face insolvency, they have suspended or abandoned work on presale-financed projects. Buyers financing more than 300 large projects are refusing to make payments. Roughly $350 billion in presale debt is at risk.

Five provinces are considering short-term mortgage suspensions or developer bailouts, but the crisis constrains their ability to help. Historically, local governments have relied on land-use sales for as much as half their revenue. Those sources of income are down by 31% so far this year, leaving most provinces drowning in deficits. Regional governments have also already used up more than 92% of the 2022 bond issuance authorized by Beijing, limiting their ability to launch a debt-fueled rescue effort. The central government is unlikely to help further; Beijing has said this is the provinces’ problem to manage.


At the same time, Mr. Xi has orchestrated a massive crackdown on tech entrepreneurs, who have sustained China’s economic miracle over the past decade, including the founders of Alibaba, Tencent and Didi. Bankers, too, are being arrested on corruption charges. The highly respected president of China Merchants Bank was recently locked up. Crushing corruption seems to equal containing capitalism in Mr. Xi’s mind. His ideology places the entire Chinese economic miracle model at risk.

Mr. Xi likely sees containing techno-capitalism, countering financial excesses and speculation, and deflating the property bubble as means of securing his “common prosperity” agenda for proletariat and Communist Party loyalists. Common prosperity is a party slogan for a reversal of the accommodating attitude Beijing has taken toward business since Deng Xiaoping. The party had been comfortable with allowing limited capitalism so long as it fed the nation’s appetite for prosperity and benefited Beijing. As Deng once quipped, it doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white so long as it catches mice. Mr. Xi wants to create a new class of militant red cats who corner the capitalist white cats and lock them up.

Mr. Xi’s policies have been so destructive of Chinese growth that many in China wonder if he doesn’t have a geopolitical objective rather than an economic one: hardening up the country for sanctions in advance of attempting to take Taiwan. But Mr. Xi can pull that off only if he can manage to stay on his economic tiger.

If the situation turns even more dire, he may face political opposition in the higher echelons of the party. But the danger isn’t to him alone. China’s economic turmoil might trigger a global debt crisis, which could embolden Mr. Xi to move against Taiwan, knowing he’s at political risk. Global financial markets, central banks and democratic leaders should brace for turbulence.

Messrs. Asher and Duesterberg are senior fellows at Hudson Institute.




6. Xi’s Great Leap Backward


Excerpts:


History suggests that Xi may very well pull a proverbial rabbit out of his policy hat, although big changes before this fall’s CCP gathering appear unlikely. In theory, and consistent with Mao’s push to deepen the party-state’s influence in the everyday lives of China’s citizens, Xi could order massive, costly, and highly unproductive hiring campaigns by state-owned enterprises to absorb the political uncertainty caused by the throngs of unemployed graduates. He could potentially funnel hundreds of thousands of workers into China’s vast military-industrial complex, although rectifying the skills mismatch for these new hires would be time-consuming and expensive. Xi has also dispatched emissaries to repair China’s badly damaged relationships with the European Union and Australia, in part to bolster China’s manufacturing base, but such efforts are unlikely to pay off as long as Beijing continues to back Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Still unclear is whether the United States and other countries can muster the political foresight and regulatory wherewithal to turn China’s brain surplus to their advantage, perhaps modifying asylum rules to lure China’s best and brightest into relocating permanently to the West. During World War II and the Cold War era, similar programs weakened the West’s adversaries by attracting top minds seeking refuge from Nazi and Soviet oppression, although new programs and vetting procedures would need to be adapted to account for the long arm of China’s espionage apparatus.
In the meantime, Xi may soon confront the practical limits of his attempts to glorify Mao’s legacy. While the official CCP narrative credits Xi’s hsia-fang experience with sharpening his eye for the concerns of ordinary people and helping his generation form the backbone of the “New China,” that is unlikely to mollify today’s youth as they confront their own impending great leap backward.

Xi’s Great Leap Backward

Foreign Policy · by Craig Singleton · August 4, 2022

Analysis

Beijing is running out of recipes for its looming jobs crisis—and reviving Mao-era policies.

By Craig Singleton, a senior China fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

A propaganda poster from the 1960s shows Chinese leader Mao Zedong.

A propaganda poster from the 1960s shows Chinese leader Mao Zedong. Corbis Historical via Getty Images

China, often dubbed “the world’s factory,” accounts for around 30 percent of global manufacturing output. However, there is one commodity China cannot produce fast enough: jobs for its millions of newly minted college graduates.

Amid China’s worsening economic crisis, nearly one-fifth of those between the ages of 16 and 24 are now unemployed, with millions more underemployed. One survey found that of the 11 million Chinese students who graduated from college this summer, fewer than 15 percent had secured job offers by mid-April. Even as many U.S. and European workers are seeing their salaries surge, this year’s Chinese graduates can expect to earn 12 percent less than the class of 2021. Many will make less than truck drivers—if they are lucky enough to find a job at all.

Put plainly, China risks falling off the employment cliff. And China’s leaders know it—even if their proposed policy prescriptions, such as sending urban students to work in the countryside, harken back to a bygone era. The problem for today’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is that yesteryear’s bag of tricks will only get it so far, regardless of how hastily Chinese leader Xi Jinping backtracks on the policies that triggered his country’s fiscal meltdown.

China, often dubbed “the world’s factory,” accounts for around 30 percent of global manufacturing output. However, there is one commodity China cannot produce fast enough: jobs for its millions of newly minted college graduates.

Amid China’s worsening economic crisis, nearly one-fifth of those between the ages of 16 and 24 are now unemployed, with millions more underemployed. One survey found that of the 11 million Chinese students who graduated from college this summer, fewer than 15 percent had secured job offers by mid-April. Even as many U.S. and European workers are seeing their salaries surge, this year’s Chinese graduates can expect to earn 12 percent less than the class of 2021. Many will make less than truck drivers—if they are lucky enough to find a job at all.

Put plainly, China risks falling off the employment cliff. And China’s leaders know it—even if their proposed policy prescriptions, such as sending urban students to work in the countryside, harken back to a bygone era. The problem for today’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is that yesteryear’s bag of tricks will only get it so far, regardless of how hastily Chinese leader Xi Jinping backtracks on the policies that triggered his country’s fiscal meltdown.

The stakes in the looming jobs crisis could not be higher for Xi, who is looking to have his post as CCP general secretary extended at this fall’s 20th Party Congress. It also serves as a stark reminder that China’s centrally planned system remains woefully ill-equipped to cultivate, employ, and retain top talent, even as China doubles down on technological innovation to try to outcompete the United States.

Just like many other countries, China has long faced employment booms and busts. For many decades, CCP leaders have demonstrated a remarkable ability to divine unemployment threats long before they manifested themselves. Some of these hazards resulted from the CCP’s own economic policies, such as its crackdown on China’s multibillion-dollar tutoring industry. Other crises stemmed from events outside of Beijing’s control, like the 2008-2009 Western financial crisis and the resulting drop in global demand for Chinese exports. Ever cognizant of the threat to regime stability posed by mass urban unemployment, the CCP has customarily sought to tackle these challenges head on, often striking grand bargains with the Chinese people to avert political disaster.

Today’s job crisis has less in common with the booming 1990s and more with Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, the last time China’s economy was in dire straits.

Following the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, for instance, the CCP mollified its restive youth by promising near-boundless opportunity amid what became the greatest economic expansion in history. The CCP’s fears about societal unrest did not result in a robust unemployment safety net but rather an affordable higher education system, so much so that student debt is virtually nonexistent in China. As of 2020, students at China’s top 10 universities paid around $800 in annual tuition compared to around $50,000 at the United States’ premier universities. A decade after the shock of Tiananmen, as China was facing a tight job market and getting ready to join the World Trade Organization, the CCP went further, codifying a long-term college enrollment expansion program designed to stimulate China’s economy. The result: a 47 percent jump in college admissions during the program’s first year.

But today’s job crisis is different. It has less in common with the booming, optimistic 1990s and more with Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, the last time China’s economy was in dire straits. Back then, amid growing public criticism of his economic policies, Mao’s infamous downward transfer (or hsia-fang) campaign aimed to ease urban unemployment by forcefully relocating tens of millions of young people from China’s crowded cities to its countryside. Mao’s strategy was rooted in the knowledge that each year millions of urban high school graduates would reach adulthood in China’s largest cities, but that jobs only existed for half of them. Hsia-fang also provided Mao much-needed cover to disperse ideological undesirables across the country while facilitating the separation of Chinese youth from their families, in essence binding them to the party. Xi, along with millions of his peers, spent years toiling in the countryside as a so-called rusticant—until Mao died and massive public outcry led to the campaign’s termination in 1980.

The CCP subsequently labeled Mao’s send-down policies a “catastrophe,” a rare historical rebuke. Yet this shame has not stopped Xi from reviving elements of Mao’s power play. Several years ago, Xi announced new programs to encourage young urban students to travel to rural areas over their summer vacations to volunteer their services. Similar programs for college students soon followed, culminating in a recently issued CCP decree dangling one-time start-up subsidies, government-backed loans, and other tax incentives for college graduates to start businesses in China’s countryside. To be fair, such programs are not yet mandatory. But neither were Mao’s, at least at first.

In another echo of the Mao era, Xi, too, was late to recognize the scale of China’s current employment crisis. For years, Xi held out hope that a concerted urbanization push, debt-fueled spending on yet more infrastructure, and meager structural reforms would revive China’s languishing growth. Now, having spent decades to build up its higher education system in response to political necessity rather than market demand, China faces, in the words of Xi’s political rival and outgoing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, a “complex and grave” jobs market seemingly at risk of collapsing under the weight of Xi’s never-ending zero-COVID lockdowns.

Xi’s jobs crisis has been made worse by his heavy-handed crackdown on Chinese tech giants, which resulted in massive layoffs in the very industry Xi proclaimed would drive the next phase of China’s development. Nor will job seekers find refuge in China’s troubled housing sector, which is itself shedding workers as China’s construction conglomerates reckon with spiraling debt loads and all but nonexistent demand for their risky bond offerings. China’s unskilled migrant workers, recognizing that Chinese factory employment peaked years ago, have already transitioned, in part, to low-end service sector jobs, mostly in the gig economy. Given that factory vacancies appear unlikely to rebound given the global economic slowdown, spiraling unemployment will likely further drive down most wages as desperate workers compete for what few skilled and unskilled jobs remain.

Already, there are growing indications that China’s population is reaching its breaking point. This July, violent protests were reported outside multiple Chinese banks after accounts were frozen without explanation. That same month, families in 24 of China’s 31 provinces were boycotting mortgage payments for unfinished apartment projects. Surveys show that some 10,000 wealthy Chinese, worth an estimated $48 billion, are looking to abandon China. The CCP has half-heartedly responded to these competing crises, instituting some incremental reforms. But make no mistake: More unrest is coming, and the tenuous trust that once existed between the CCP and the Chinese people will continue to fray.

History suggests that Xi may very well pull a proverbial rabbit out of his policy hat, although big changes before this fall’s CCP gathering appear unlikely. In theory, and consistent with Mao’s push to deepen the party-state’s influence in the everyday lives of China’s citizens, Xi could order massive, costly, and highly unproductive hiring campaigns by state-owned enterprises to absorb the political uncertainty caused by the throngs of unemployed graduates. He could potentially funnel hundreds of thousands of workers into China’s vast military-industrial complex, although rectifying the skills mismatch for these new hires would be time-consuming and expensive. Xi has also dispatched emissaries to repair China’s badly damaged relationships with the European Union and Australia, in part to bolster China’s manufacturing base, but such efforts are unlikely to pay off as long as Beijing continues to back Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Still unclear is whether the United States and other countries can muster the political foresight and regulatory wherewithal to turn China’s brain surplus to their advantage, perhaps modifying asylum rules to lure China’s best and brightest into relocating permanently to the West. During World War II and the Cold War era, similar programs weakened the West’s adversaries by attracting top minds seeking refuge from Nazi and Soviet oppression, although new programs and vetting procedures would need to be adapted to account for the long arm of China’s espionage apparatus.

In the meantime, Xi may soon confront the practical limits of his attempts to glorify Mao’s legacy. While the official CCP narrative credits Xi’s hsia-fang experience with sharpening his eye for the concerns of ordinary people and helping his generation form the backbone of the “New China,” that is unlikely to mollify today’s youth as they confront their own impending great leap backward.

Craig Singleton is a senior China fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former U.S. diplomat. Twitter: @CraigMSingleton



7. Money and Partnerships Matter in Cybersecurity


Excerpts:

While these measures demonstrate Washington’s willingness to work with allies and partners in the region, Congress can further strengthen America’s commitment by taking legislative action.
For example, the U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act — authorized in section 1551 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22 NDAA) — establishes a bilateral cyber cooperation program that provides grants for cybersecurity research and development. Congress should fully fund this program, which both builds on existing U.S.-Israel cyber cooperation programs such as BIRD’s and fosters innovative solutions to protect U.S. critical infrastructure.
Robust bilateral cooperation with trusted allies will ensure that the U.S. maintains a competitive edge as adversaries enhance their malicious cyber capabilities. Fully resourcing cooperative cyber defense programs should be a priority for Congress and the Biden administration.


Money and Partnerships Matter in Cybersecurity

thecipherbrief.com


August 4th, 2022 by Rear Adm. (Ret.) Mark MontgomeryJiwon Ma, |


Rear Adm. (Ret.) Mark Montgomery is a senior director at the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI) at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he is also a senior fellow. He directs CSC 2.0, which works to implement the recommendations of the congressionally mandated Cyberspace Solarium Commission, where he previously served as executive director. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCMontgomery

View all articles by Rear Adm. (Ret.) Mark Montgomery


Jiwon Ma is a program analyst at CCTI, where she contributes to the CSC 2.0 project. Follow her on Twitter @jiwonma_92.

View all articles by Jiwon Ma

EXPERT PERSPECTIVE – The White House’s recent announcement of a Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology with Israel and the Jerusalem U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration that was issued as President Biden visited the region last month, are meant to significantly improve bilateral collaboration on cybersecurity but what do they really mean?

The Joint Declaration includes commitments to an “operational cyber exchange” and to combating cybercrime while the Dialogue on Technology explains that the project will address key global challenges that include pandemic preparedness, climate change, implementation of artificial intelligence, and trusted technology ecosystems.

These initiatives build on similar efforts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate and its Israeli counterpart, the Israel National Cyber Directorate. The two agencies recently announced a new bilateral cyber program to be housed within the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation, a longstanding program that facilitates collaboration in a range of fields, including homeland security.

The new BIRD Cyber program invites participants to partner with companies and institutions to submit proposals that would improve the cyber resilience of critical infrastructure. Qualifying projects will receive a grant to address cybersecurity issues ranging from piloting “resilience centers” for small and medium enterprises to providing real-time risk assessments of critical infrastructure.

This scientific and technological cooperation with Israel and other allies improves Washington’s defense technologies and enhances the abilities of U.S. partners to boost their capabilities amid increased cyber risks. The new bilateral initiatives also signal unity in addressing cyber threats from shared adversaries like Iran, China, Russia, and North Korea. Information sharing and capacity building programs likewise help the global community enforce responsible state behavior in cyberspace.

President Biden specifically warned last month, about an increase in malicious Russian cyber activities targeting the U.S. and its allies and partners due to “unprecedented economic costs” imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. He emphasized the need for “creating innovative public-private partnerships” to address the threat to the critical infrastructures of both America and Israel.

Just how significant has Russian cyber action been in Ukraine and what does it mean for you? Register today for the Cyber Initiatives Group Summer Summit on Wednesday, August 17th.

While these measures demonstrate Washington’s willingness to work with allies and partners in the region, Congress can further strengthen America’s commitment by taking legislative action.

For example, the U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act — authorized in section 1551 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22 NDAA) — establishes a bilateral cyber cooperation program that provides grants for cybersecurity research and development. Congress should fully fund this program, which both builds on existing U.S.-Israel cyber cooperation programs such as BIRD’s and fosters innovative solutions to protect U.S. critical infrastructure.

Robust bilateral cooperation with trusted allies will ensure that the U.S. maintains a competitive edge as adversaries enhance their malicious cyber capabilities. Fully resourcing cooperative cyber defense programs should be a priority for Congress and the Biden administration.

Read more expert-driven national security insights, perspective and analysis in The Cipher Brief



8. U.S. Seeks to Reassure Asian Allies as China’s Military Grows Bolder


Strategic reassurance. Strategic resolve.  


Do we have it? Can we demonstrate it?


U.S. Seeks to Reassure Asian Allies as China’s Military Grows Bolder


By Edward Wong and Damien Cave

Aug. 5, 2022

Updated 7:21 a.m. ET

The New York Times · by Damien Cave · August 5, 2022

news analysis

The Biden administration says its commitment to the region has only deepened, but critics say the tensions over Taiwan show that Washington needs stronger military and economic strategies.

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Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meeting with the foreign ministers of Singapore and Vietnam during a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Thursday.Credit...Pool photo by Andrew Harnik


By Edward Wong and

Aug. 5, 2022, 5:57 a.m. ET

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Just a few hours after five Chinese missiles blasted into Japanese waters near Taiwan, the foreign ministers of China and Japan found themselves uncomfortably close together, in the holding room for a gala dinner on Thursday night at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, saluted reporters before stepping into the room, stayed for three minutes, then walked out to his motorcade. He had already canceled plans for a bilateral meeting with his Japanese counterpart in the Cambodian capital after Japan signed on to a statement by the Group of 7 nations expressing concern about Beijing’s “threatening actions.” But the prospect of even a casual exchange might have been too much; witnesses said Mr. Wang left and did not return.

All across Asia, it was seen as another sign of the more unstable and dangerous environment that has emerged since the visit to Taiwan this week by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Retaliatory exercises by the Chinese military continued on Friday around the self-governing, democratic island, which China claims as its own. American officials tried again to show they would not be intimidated by China, rallying other nations to denounce its actions, while looking for ways to de-escalate. With both great powers arguing that their efforts involving Taiwan were reasonable and justified, the conflict pointed to the accelerating risks of a wider conflict, possibly involving more countries and locations at sea and in the air.

The United States intends to heavily arm Taiwan, give Australia technology for nuclear submarine propulsion and possibly base more missiles throughout the region, as many analysts and officials worry that China’s growing military might will make brinkmanship more common and varied. Displays like the one this week give a hint of how far Beijing is willing to go in an area of the world with enormous economic importance that is becoming more militarized and experiencing more close calls with deadly weapons.

Taiwan Navy ships in Keelung, Taiwan, on Friday. The United States intends to heavily arm Taiwan as China’s growing military might is threatening the stability of the regionCredit...Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“We’re entering a period where China is more capable of and likely to use force to protect its interests, especially interests that it views as core and nonnegotiable like Taiwan,” said Bonny Lin, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. At the same time, Beijing has signaled to Taiwan, Japan and others, she added, that it is more willing to escalate against U.S. allies than against the United States itself.

If the eventual goal is to push the United States onto the sidelines in Asia, as many believe, China seems to think that scaring or luring other countries away from American ties would be more productive than a direct challenge. Even before Ms. Pelosi’s trip, China had begun pushing the boundaries of acceptable military behavior, especially with America’s allies.

In May, Chinese aircraft intercepted an Australian maritime surveillance flight in international airspace in the South China Sea, firing flares, cutting across its nose and releasing a bundle of chaff into the Australian jet’s engine. American and Australian defense officials called the altercation an extremely dangerous maneuver.

That same month, China and Russia conducted joint exercises over the seas in northeast Asia as President Biden was visiting the region, and Chinese jets buzzed Canadian aircraft deployed in Japan, forcing pilots into maneuvers to avoid a collision.

The actions around Taiwan go further — with Chinese missiles fired into the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone for the first time, and with missiles fired over Taiwanese air space. Together, the muscled-up moves carry what many in the region see as a two-pronged message from China’s leaders: You’re vulnerable, and China will not be deterred by the United States.

Chinese state media released this photo, purported to show a People’s Liberation Army missile being launched during drills near Taiwan on Thursday.Credit...Lai Qiaoquan/Xinhua, via Associated Press

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken sought to counter that argument on Friday in a speech to Southeast Asian counterparts in Cambodia.

According to a Western official in attendance, Mr. Blinken, speaking after Mr. Wang of China, highlighted for the group that Beijing had sought to intimidate not only Taiwan, but also its neighbors. Calling the Chinese government’s response to a peaceful visit by Ms. Pelosi flagrantly provocative, he referred to the Chinese missiles landing near Japan and asked: “How would you feel if this happened to you?”

Read More on the Relations Between Asia and the U.S.

At a news conference in the afternoon, Mr. Blinken said, “We will stick by our allies and partners, and work with and through regional organizations to enable friends in the region to make their own decisions free from coercion.”

There is some evidence of that. Senior American officials have been more frequent visitors to Asia this year, working out the details of expanded partnerships like the security pact called AUKUS with Australia and Britain, and announcing that new embassies would be opened in several Pacific Island nations.

But doubts about American resolve remain common in Asia. A backlash against free trade among many American voters has left both Republican and Democratic leaders reluctant to push for any ambitious trade agreements in the region, despite the pleas of Asian nations. That is a glaring omission as China’s economic clout grows.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the ASEAN meeting in Phnom Penh on Thursday.Credit...Kith Serey/EPA, via Shutterstock

Some analysts in Washington say recent U.S. administrations have been “over-militarizing” the China issue because they lack bold economic plans.

Others see stagnation and a lack of creativity with American diplomatic ideas and military adaptation. Sam Roggeveen, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute, an Australian research institute, noted that while China’s rise has accelerated, America’s military structure in the region remains essentially unchanged from the end of the Cold War.

“The whole security order in Asia has been overturned in that time, and yet the American military presence is unchanged,” he said. “Given all that has happened, their friends and allies in the region are quite reasonably worried about the eroding credibility of American deterrence.”

The apparent ambivalence in Washington about Ms. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan — with top White House security advisers suggesting that she steer clear of Taipei this month — only seemed to confirm that not even the United States is sure of its footing. And after four years of President Donald J. Trump, the possibility of another American president pulling away from Asia is never far from the minds of the region’s leaders.

They know what China wants: to rule over Taiwan and for other countries to stay out of what Beijing asserts are its internal affairs. And for many countries in Southeast Asia, that looks easier to accommodate than what the United States is likely to request, like stationing troops, being granted naval access, or basing long-range missiles on their territory.

A submarine from the Australian Navy in Perth last year. American officials have been working out the details of partnerships like the AUKUS security pact, which would give Australia technology for nuclear submarine propulsion.Credit...Richard Wainwright/EPA, via Shutterstock

“The No. 1 consideration is how to respond to China and how close to get to the United States,” said Oriana Skyler Mastro, a fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies who focuses on Chinese security policy. “They don’t want to be too forward leaning and find themselves too far out front.”

Indonesia, which is projected to have the world’s fourth-largest economy around 2030, is one country that could play a larger role in shaping regional relations, but it has yet to show much interest in stepping out of its nonaligned position.

Vietnam is a persistent conundrum for the Americans: U.S. officials understand its long history of animus toward China, exacerbated by continuing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, so it could be a natural partner. But its ruling Communist Party maintains close ties with its counterpart in Beijing, and some American officials say they are realizing that Vietnamese leaders want to straddle the fence with both superpowers.

Cambodia presents another quandary. China’s economic influence is felt throughout the country, and Cambodian leaders recently agreed to have China expand and upgrade a naval base, alarming Washington.

“There is a combination of what is the United States going to do, what is the policy of the United States over time, and what is Chinese power like — there are all these things they are trying to weigh,” said Ms. Mastro, who is also a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “And can they stay out of it?”

A joint military exercise between the Japanese and U.S. forces in May. Japan boosted its military budget by 7.3 percent last year.Credit...Joint Staff of the Japanese Self-Defense Force, via Associated Press

Many Asian countries seem to be betting that a stronger military will help by increasing their powers of deterrence. Japan increased its military budget by 7.3 percent last year, Singapore by 7.1 percent, South Korea by 4.7 percent and Australia by 4 percent, according to research from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Even combined, those increases were not enough to match China dollar for dollar. Beijing increased its military spending by 4.7 percent, to $293 billion, less than the $801 billion spent by the United States, but an increase of 72 percent over its spending a decade ago.

That trend line will continue to breed anxiety not just in Washington, but also among America’s closest allies in the region, Australia, South Korea and Japan — and in many of the countries that have tried not to choose a side.

Edward Wong reported from Phnom Penh, and Damien Cave from Sydney, Australia. Ben Dooley contributed reporting from Tokyo.

The New York Times · by Damien Cave · August 5, 2022


9. China sanctions House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over 'egregious provocation' in visit to Taiwan


China fears an octogenarian.




China sanctions House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over 'egregious provocation' in visit to Taiwan

China called Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan an 'egregious provocation'

foxnews.com · by Lawrence Richard | Fox News

Video

Rep. McCarthy slams Biden White House over Pelosi's Taiwan trip: 'America should always speak with one voice'

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy joined 'The Faulkner Focus' to discuss Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan and the Democrats' spending bill.

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

China has announced sanctions against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her family, following her visit to Taiwan which China strongly condemned.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced the sanctions on Friday, calling Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan an "egregious provocation" and a "gross interference" into the country’s internal affairs.

"In disregard of China’s grave concerns and firm opposition, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi insisted on visiting China’s Taiwan region. This constitutes a gross interference in China’s internal affairs," the spokesperson said. "It gravely undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously tramples on the one-China principle, and severely threatens peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."


Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., attends a press conference at the US Embassy in Tokyo on August 5, 2022, at the end of her Asian tour, which included a visit to Taiwan. (RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)

"In response to Pelosi’s egregious provocation, China decides to adopt sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family members in accordance with relevant laws of the People’s Republic of China," they added.

CHINA FIRES 'PRECISION MISSILE STRIKES' IN TAIWAN STRAIT DAY AFTER NANCY PELOSI CONCLUDES CONTROVERSIAL VISIT


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., shakes hands with Hiroyuki Hosoda, speaker of Japan's House of Representatives, during a meeting in Tokyo on August 5, 2022. (KAZUHIRO NOGI/Afp/AFP via Getty Images)

The statement was also shared by CCTV News, a state media outlet, and on China’s own social media platform Weibo.

PELOSI DEFIES CHINA DURING MEETING WITH TAIWANESE PRESIDENT TSAI ING-WEN: 'WE WILL NOT ABANDON OUR COMMITMENT'

After leaving Taiwan, Pelosi landed in Tokyo on Thursday, where she clarified her visit to the region was not intended to disrupt the "status quo."

"Our representation here is not about changing the status quo here in Asia, changing the status quo of Taiwan. It's about again the Taiwan relations and the U.S.-China policy, all of the pieces of legislation and agreements that have established what our relationship is, to have peace in the Taiwan Straits and to have the status quo prevail," she said during a news conference with at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.


Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, center, receives the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, right, at the president's office on August 03, 2022 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Handout/Getty Images)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

At the press conference, Pelosi also said China would not be successful in isolating Taiwan from the rest of the world.

"They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us to travel there," Pelosi said. "We will not allow them to isolate Taiwan," she added.

foxnews.com · by Lawrence Richard | Fox News



10. U.S. calls China's military action over Taiwan unjustified, Beijing sanctioning Pelosi



U.S. calls China's military action over Taiwan unjustified, Beijing sanctioning Pelosi

Reuters · by Yimou Lee

  • Summary
  • Taiwan plays down concerns
  • China staging unprecedented military drills around Taiwan
  • Follows visit by U.S. House Speaker Pelosi to Taipei
  • China says it will sanction Pelosi over 'vicious' actions
  • Pelosi, in Japan, joins PM Kishida in condemning China

TAIPEI, Aug 5 (Reuters) - China's firing of missiles during military drills around Taiwan was an unjustified escalation, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, as Beijing said it would impose sanctions on House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi for visiting the island.

Diplomatic relations spiralled further downward on Friday, as China's foreign ministry followed up by saying it would cancel dialogues between U.S. and Chinese military leaders, and suspend bilateral talks on climate and maritime safety. read more

Blinken said Washington has made it repeatedly clear to Beijing it does not seek a crisis, as diplomatic ructions continued over Pelosi's visit this week to the self-governed island that Beijing regards as its sovereign territory.

"There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response," Blinken said, speaking at a news conference during the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Cambodia. He added, "now, they've taken dangerous acts to a new level".

China launched its largest ever military drills in the seas and skies around Taiwan on Thursday, a day after Pelosi enraged Beijing by making a solidarity trip to the island, the highest-level U.S. visitor to Taiwan in 25 years. The live-fire drills are scheduled to continue until noon on Sunday.

On Friday, China's military conducted air and sea drills to the north, southwest and east of Taiwan "to test the troops' joint combat capabilities", the Eastern Theatre Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said in a statement on its official Weibo account.

Blinken emphasised that the United States would not take actions to provoke a crisis, but it would continue to support regional allies and conduct standard air and maritime transit through the Taiwan Strait.

"We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows," he said.

The White House summoned Chinese ambassador Qin Gang on Thursday to condemn escalating actions against Taiwan, the Washington Post reported.

Representatives for the State Department did not immediately reply for a request for comment on China's halting of talks or the report that Washington had summoned Beijing's ambassador

China's foreign ministry announced on Friday that it would impose sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family in response to her "vicious" and "provocative" actions. read more

"Despite China's serious concerns and firm opposition, Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan, seriously interfering in China's internal affairs, undermining China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, trampling on the one-China policy, and threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait," a foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement. read more

The foreign ministry said it was also suspending co-operation on cross-border crime prevention and counter-narcotics, and cooperation on repatriation of illegal migrants.

Speaking in Japan, Pelosi said her trip to Asia was never about changing the regional status quo. read more

'EVIL NEIGHBOUR'

About 10 Chinese navy ships and 20 military aircraft briefly crossed the Taiwan Strait median line on Friday morning, a Taiwan source briefed on the matter told Reuters. read more

Earlier, Taiwan's defence ministry said the island's military had dispatched aircraft and ships and deployed land-based missile systems to monitor the situation there.

On Thursday, China fired multiple missiles into waters surrounding Taiwan in an unprecedented escalation during live-fire exercises.

Japan's defence ministry, which is tracking the exercises, first reported that as many as four of the missiles flew over Taiwan's capital. It also said that five of nine missiles fired toward its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), also a first, prompting a diplomatic protest by Tokyo.

Later, Taiwan's defence ministry said the missiles were high in the atmosphere and constituted no threat. It gave no details of their flight paths, citing intelligence concerns.

Some Taipei residents, including Mayor Ko Wen-je, criticised the government for not putting out a missile alert, but one security expert said that could have been done to avoid stoking panic and playing into China's hands.

"It counteracted the effect of the Chinese Communist Party's psychological warfare," said Mei Fu-shin, a U.S.-based analyst. "The shock and fear were not as great as they could have been."

Asked to comment on the missiles, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang did not directly respond, but referred to China as the "evil neighbour showing off her power at our door." read more

"In my view, the larger threat is that China is doing a rehearsal for a blockade, demonstrating it can block Taiwan's ports and airports, and prevent shipping," said Bonnie Glaser, a Washington-based Asia security specialist at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

JAPAN'S WORRIES

Responding to the Chinese drills, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan would not provoke conflicts but would firmly defend its sovereignty and national security.

Taiwan has been self-ruled since 1949, when Mao Zedong's communists took power in Beijing after defeating Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang (KMT) nationalists in a civil war, prompting the KMT-led government to retreat to the island.

Beijing has said its relations with Taiwan are an internal matter. It says it reserves the right to bring Taiwan under Chinese control, by force if necessary.

In Tokyo, Pelosi addressed the diplomatic furore caused by the congressional delegation's week-long trip to Asia, and most specifically to Taiwan.

"We have said from the start that our representation here is not about changing the status quo in Taiwan or the region," she told a news conference after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

"I have informed speaker Pelosi that the fact China's ballistic missiles had landed near Japanese waters including EEZ threaten our national safety and security and that Japan had strongly condemned such actions," Kishida said.

China's foreign ministry said it had summoned the ambassador for Japan and a Canadian diplomat in Beijing on Thursday over an "erroneous" Group of Seven (G7) nations statement on Taiwan, and also made complaints to EU envoys.

Reporting by Yimou Lee and Sarah Wu in Taipei Additional reporting by Elaine Lies and Tim Kelly in Tokyo, Greg Torode in Hong Kong, Ann Wang in Liuqiu Island; Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Tony Munroe, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Simon Cameron-Moore and Frances Kerry Editing by Mark Heinrich, Frances Kerry and Toby Chopra

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Reuters · by Yimou Lee


11. After Griner gets jail, Russia ready to discuss swap with U.S.


We should start a betting pool. Will there be an exchange? If so when?



After Griner gets jail, Russia ready to discuss swap with U.S.

Reuters · by Reuters

  • Summary
  • Kremlin warns U.S. against 'megaphone diplomacy'
  • White House says swap proposal serious
  • Biden says Griner sentence 'unacceptable'
  • This content was produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.

MOSCOW, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Russia said on Friday it was ready to discuss a prisoner swap with the United States in private, a day after a Russian court jailed U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner for nine years for a drugs offence.

The case against Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, plunged her into a geopolitical maelstrom after Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden had previously agreed on a diplomatic channel that should be used to discuss possible prisoner exchanges.

"We are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that was agreed upon by presidents Putin and Biden," Lavrov said during a visit to Cambodia.

"If the Americans decide to once again resort to public diplomacy ... that is their business and I would even say that it is their problem."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was prepared to engage with Moscow through the established diplomatic channels. He said Griner's conviction highlighted her wrongful detention by Russia and further compounded the injustice that had been done to her.

The Kremlin has remained tight-lipped on the prospect of a swap, saying that if prisoner exchanges were discussed in the media, they would never happen.

"The Americans have already made that mistake, suddenly deciding to use megaphone diplomacy to resolve these issues," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"This is not how they are resolved."

Peskov declined to comment on the court's ruling on Griner. When asked if she could be pardoned, he said that the clemency procedure was coded in Russian laws.

Griner's sentence - which Biden called "unacceptable" - could pave the way for a prisoner swap that would include the 31-year-old athlete and a prolific Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison term in the United States.

The United States has already made what Blinken called a "substantial offer" to secure the release of Americans detained in Russia, including Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.

'A SERIOUS PROPOSAL'

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said after Griner's sentencing that the United States had made Russia a serious proposal.

"We urge them to accept it," he said. "They should have accepted it weeks ago when we first made it." read more

Kirby did not provide further detail on the U.S. proposal.

Washington has offered to exchange Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for Griner and Whelan, sources familiar with the situation have told Reuters. read more

Russia had tried to add convicted murderer Vadim Krasikov, imprisoned in Germany, to the proposed swap, a source familiar with the proceedings also told Reuters.

Russia and the United States staged a prisoner swap in April, trading former Marine Trevor Reed for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a 20-year sentence in the United States. read more

Griner was arrested on Feb. 17 at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.

The United States argued she was wrongly detained and being used as a political bargaining chip by Moscow. Russian officials dismissed the U.S. assertion, saying Griner had broken Russian law and should be judged accordingly.

Griner, who had been prescribed medical cannabis in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, said she had made an honest mistake by inadvertently packing her vape cartridges as she rushed to make her flight.

She pled guilty to the changes against her but insisted that she did not intend to break Russian law.

Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Mark Heinrich and Ros Russell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Reuters · by Reuters


12.  Putin can’t control his Ukraine cataclysm — and the US must get ready


Conclusion:


As the war continues, the opacity of Russia’s weaknesses is replaced by transparency. The West should take the fullest possible advantage.

Putin can’t control his Ukraine cataclysm — and the US must get ready

BY SETH CROPSEY, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR - 08/04/22 9:30 AM ET

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL

The Hill · · August 4, 2022

As the Russo-Ukrainian war grinds into its sixth full month, we must reckon with strategic reality. Russia is losing ground, and its strategic position will only deteriorate in coming months; further military reversals will intensify its strategic quandary. Three possibilities exist — revolution, a palace coup, or horizontal escalation — and the United States should prepare for each.

Russia faces a structural strategic impediment that goes beyond war-planning errors and the inefficiencies of an authoritarian kleptocracy. It simply lacks the manpower and capabilities to conquer Ukraine, or even to hold its current strategic position.

Russia’s military planned its invasion poorly because of a series of flawed assumptions. Its high command believed Ukraine was brittle and feckless with a divided, poorly coordinated army; it assumed the West had no stomach for even a brief confrontation. Hence, only a push would be needed to topple resistance: A multi-axis invasion would overwhelm Ukraine and the West, President Volodymyr Zelensky would flee Kyiv, and — by May 9 — Putin could announce the reconstitution of the Soviet-Russian Empire, Belarus and Ukraine included.

In the event, Ukraine fought with skill and tenacity. Russia’s greatest success came in the south, where it appears Russia compromised Ukrainian intelligence chiefs to facilitate its rapid capture of Kherson, Melitopol and Berdyansk. Russia’s invasion force, however, was too small to sustain a broad-front offensive for more than a few days. Although it captured much of Kherson and southern Zaporizhzhia oblasts, and took Mariupol following a vicious two-month siege, its momentum was spent. It withdrew from the north, abandoning its thrust towards Kyiv.

Since then, Russia has been stuck in an increasingly insoluble bind, stemming from two structural factors. It possesses tens of thousands of artillery pieces in various calibers, ranging from the 1960s-produced D-30 and 2S3 to the more modern Msta-b and 2S35, along with various multiple rocket launcher (MRL) systems. These systems are relatively inaccurate – Russian MRLs lack the precision guidance of Western-designed HIMARS and M270s, while Russian barrel artillery cannot match the American M777, French Caesar or German PzH-2000 with modern shells.

Still, many Western analysts and the Kremlin’s propagandists insisted Russia would shatter Ukrainian defenses if properly concentrated. And Russia did concentrate: It amassed well over half of its deployed combat power in the Donbas. But observers who predicted Ukraine’s collapse after an attritional conflict in June forgot the Great War adage, “Artillery conquers, infantry occupies.”

Short of nuclear bombardment, infantry are needed to take even destroyed cities and pummeled fortifications. Russia lacks trained, disciplined infantry and the command structure to coordinate multiple assaults, break through and then encircle defenders. Its solution was to increase artillery bombardment while restricting its infantry assaults. Casualties remained high, but Russia avoided the loss of ability to conduct offensive operations due to unit overextension and exhaustion.

However, Russia’s artillery-heavy strategy is increasingly ineffective. Ukraine’s Western-provided precision weapons have methodically destroyed Russian command posts, logistics hubs and ammunition depots throughout the occupied east and south.

Russia’s logistics system remains manpower-heavy, rail-dependent and centralized. Hence, pressure on it exposes its frailty: Russia’s military is intellectually and materially incapable of redistributing its supply depots and replacing rail with road transport. This has led to an appreciable drop in artillery fire in the east, where Russia benefits the most from a dense rail network, and in the south, with much longer logistical lines.

Manpower and logistical constraints prevent Russia’s military from regaining the operational initiative and make it severely vulnerable to even moderate Ukrainian pressure, which is building. Ukraine’s counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast is underway, although it remains in the “shaping” phase. It is dividing the Russian bridgehead on the Dnipro River’s north bank into segments and using long-range fire to disrupt logistics; over time, it will degrade Russian combat power. Ukraine’s hope is that Russia will cut its losses and withdraw, much as it did around Kyiv and from Snake Island.

A more consolidated Russian position in the south remains extremely vulnerable, too. Its logistics lines are long, and it must police significant territory for Ukrainian special operations and partisan activity. Ukraine, meanwhile, operates on interior lines, allowing it to shift forces far more rapidly and dictate the pace of operations. Moreover, given Russia’s manpower constraints, force shifts will be necessary to maintain even the more consolidated position; they have begun, but not in great enough numbers to stabilize the south or to counterattack.

The current Kherson counteroffensive is only the beginning. Ukraine will reset after driving Russia from the Dnipro’s north bank; continuing an offensive after this into Kherson Oblast is possible but difficult. The Dnipro is wide; crossing it would require a large-scale bridging operation that Russia would oppose — and even if it succeeded, losses would be high. Ukraine would then need to push towards the Crimea Canal, Russia’s second defensive line, assaulting fixed Russian positions for the first time.

More viable may be an offensive in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The ground is wider, partisan activity appears more intense, and Russian logistics are more exposed, given Ukrainian firing positions. Ukraine can mask a buildup because of its forces in the east; new units could be used for the Donbas and Kharkiv, forcing Russia to guess Ukrainian intentions and risk redeploying incorrectly. Moreover, a Ukrainian counteroffensive that reaches Melitopol, or simply maintains fire control of the M14 Road and attendant railways, would threaten all Russian forces to the west with logistical collapse, especially if Ukraine can disable the Kerch Strait Bridge. This would construct the war’s long-awaited first cauldron.

Regardless, Ukraine has a solid chance of retaking the south, or at least pressuring Russian positions hard enough to induce another controlled retreat to Crimea.

Despite prognostications on the failure of sanctions pressure, Russia’s economy is nearing implosion. Russia cannot sustain its economic interventions, and its industry is entirely starved of foreign-produced high-end equipment. Oil revenues alone are insufficient to prop up Russia and cannot procure necessary Western technology. A precipitous decline is probable between October and December — just as the purported Russian “commodity strategy” will bite the hardest, with the West placed under the greatest energy pressure.

Putin’s options are, therefore, limited.

Mobilization remains far too dangerous; arming tens of thousands of young Caucasian, Central Asian and Siberian Russians and shipping them through Moscow to Ukraine is a recipe for revolution. But seeking a limited peace, in which Russia retains the Donbas and Crimea regions, does not solve Crimea’s vulnerability nor save Putin’s domestic credibility. Most likely, the Kremlin will take this peace and Putin’s security services will batten down the hatches, hoping to outlast the economic downturn and maintain power.

The military, however, will be disillusioned. It will have completely eviscerated its combat power, and for what? A small bit of land in eastern Ukraine and some looted household goods. Russia’s piddling incentives for combat service, along with high casualties, will create a toxic domestic environment. We may very well witness the reassertion of an old Soviet dynamic that pits the security services against the military, which brought Nikita Khrushchev to power and eliminated Lavrentiy Beria in 1953.

The greatest danger, therefore, comes after a successful Ukrainian push. At this point, Putin will feel the most domestic and psychological pressure, or finally will come around to the military’s argument for either mobilization or extension of the war.

The U.S. and its allies must prepare accordingly and expect a confrontation in the next six months. Four steps are necessary:

First, the West should expand and diversify weapons deliveries to Ukraine. HIMARS and other long-range artillery systems are necessary, but aircraft should be included — both fighters and manned or unmanned aircraft with anti-submarine capabilities to undermine Russia’s Black Sea Fleet even further. The greater the military pressure Russia experiences, the more likely the failure of Putin’s twin attacks on Ukraine and the international order.

Second, as Putin becomes more desperate, the U.S. and willing allies should prepare to impose a no-fly zone in western Ukraine. Unlike earlier in the war, this is not to ensure Ukrainian civilians are safe from Russian bombardment. Rather, it would be to call Putin’s escalatory bluff, while deterring any attempted Belarusian intervention.

Third, the U.S. should apply pressure to those corporations still doing business in Russia. Putin’s regime is increasingly isolated and approaching economic collapse; more departures will accelerate its implosion.

Secret spending by the weapons industry is making us less safe The media and politicians overestimate Trump’s influence

Fourth, the U.S. should encourage Turkey, through positive and negative inducements, to permit a NATO or U.S. naval mission into the Black Sea. Ukrainian grain exports have resumed, though time will tell how much Russia allows to exit the country. Nevertheless, now is the time to push Russia’s naval position the hardest; absent control of the Black Sea, Russia’s position in southern Ukraine becomes untenable. This would not involve active combat operations, simply a demonstration of presence and force.

As the war continues, the opacity of Russia’s weaknesses is replaced by transparency. The West should take the fullest possible advantage.

Seth Cropsey is founder and president of Yorktown Institute. He served as a naval officer and as deputy undersecretary of the Navy and is the author of “Mayday: The Decline of American Naval Supremacy” (2013) and “Seablindness: How Political Neglect Is Choking American Seapower and What to Do About It” (2017).

The Hill · · August 4, 2022



13.  Michael Grinston's Quiet War to Help Make the Army More Lethal, Wokeness Hysterics Be Damned



I am with the Sergeant Major.  Dignity is not wokeness. I would turn the wokeness argument around. It is not the perceived woke ideas that make the military weak (which are really about treating people with dignity), it is the fear of wokeness and the attacks on wokeness that weaken our military. The irony is we are more afraid of wokeness than we fear China and Russia and our adversaries. But I know that argument will fall on the deaf ears of wokeness warriors.


Excerpts:


Those policy changes have frequently become the target of conservative commentators looking to claim that the Army has gone "woke," or become so fixated on diversity and inclusion that it has abandoned its responsibility to be ready to fight.
But Grinston sees most things, including those efforts to support a wide range of soldiers through policy tweaks, through the lens of boosting the service's ability to wage war.
"I couldn't care less about my legacy, what I'm known for or what people write about," he told Military.com. "What does concern me is, have I done my absolute best to make the Army more lethal?"
Grinston, who looks like he came off a salty noncommissioned officer assembly line with a chiseled jawline and graying hair, carries the weight of combat experience behind his words. He's an artilleryman with a thick combat resume, including four deployments to Iraq and two to Afghanistan, with two Bronze stars for valor.
...
Grinston enlisted in the Army in 1987, at a time when openly gay soldiers were not allowed to serve and women's opportunities were severely curtailed. He still struggles with his racial identity, being the son of a Black man and a white mother. His parents divorced when he was three years old.

A former drill sergeant and Ranger School graduate, Grinston's resume and personal biography place him at the intersection of valuing diversity in the ranks and emphasizing the need to improve the Army's standards for ground combat.

"Believe me, we have a kick-ass Army. … Nobody likes criticism," Grinston said. "I don't care who you are. … Personally, it's a little hurtful. I am extremely proud we have the greatest Army in the world."

He paused.

"When people say that we're not as good as we were, or we're not focused on the right missions, when you hear that, you know, I think anybody would be offended."


Michael Grinston's Quiet War to Help Make the Army More Lethal, Wokeness Hysterics Be Damned

military.com · by Steve Beynon · August 4, 2022

"Everyone leave the room," Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston told his entourage during a July barracks inspection at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The barracks room had a massive hole in the wall with exposed pipes, an issue unresolved by a long delayed work order. Local leadership had long claimed the barracks were suitable for soldiers to live in, despite ongoing mold issues, among other problems.

But even as Grinston wound up to dress down those who had tolerated the housing conditions, he maintained a slightly unnerving level of calm. He has the energy of someone who just completed a difficult workout -- levelheaded and humble. A casual observer might mistake his tone for fatigued, but he's routinely prepared with a razor-sharp quip, the kind that quickly puts soldiers under him at ease.

Barracks and quality-of-life issues for soldiers are a top concern for Grinston, the Army's top enlisted leader. Grinston has a year left in his role before his successor takes the baton. He's popular among the rank and file and respected by senior leaders. He is largely seen as the most transformational and progressive leader the Army has had in recent memory, overseeing radical changes to the service's core tenets of training while also making the Army a more inclusive force and zeroing in on soldier welfare.

Those policy changes have frequently become the target of conservative commentators looking to claim that the Army has gone "woke," or become so fixated on diversity and inclusion that it has abandoned its responsibility to be ready to fight.

But Grinston sees most things, including those efforts to support a wide range of soldiers through policy tweaks, through the lens of boosting the service's ability to wage war.

"I couldn't care less about my legacy, what I'm known for or what people write about," he told Military.com. "What does concern me is, have I done my absolute best to make the Army more lethal?"

Grinston, who looks like he came off a salty noncommissioned officer assembly line with a chiseled jawline and graying hair, carries the weight of combat experience behind his words. He's an artilleryman with a thick combat resume, including four deployments to Iraq and two to Afghanistan, with two Bronze stars for valor.


Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston talks to senior leaders at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, about the abysmal conditions of barracks. (Steve Beynon/Military.com)

At Fort Bragg, Grinston was followed by a huge group of people, typical for any of his installation visits. It included a sea of senior noncommissioned officers, brass, staff and, in this case, a reporter with Military.com. He typically has others speak first, regardless of rank, and patiently waits for them to make their point, even if the point begins to run afoul of facts.

His movement on a base resembles a "walk and talk" on "The West Wing," with a constant barrage of people coming in and out of his orbit, sometimes nervous about his visit or hoping to get a piece of his time to float their concerns.

July's tour at Fort Bragg did not go well and was finished with Grinston scolding local leadership for the disarray in the barracks. A week later, soldiers were removed from the barracks.

The Army and Fears of Wokeness

The military lately has found itself in an increasingly politicized culture. Conservative politics often hone in on so-called "culture wars" and lambaste individuals or institutions, using the "woke" shorthand to suggest acquiescence to progressive ideals. The critiques of the Army largely focus on efforts to improve the quality of life or boost the representations of minorities, women or other historically disadvantaged groups.

For the military more broadly, the criticisms gained new steam when Fox News' Tucker Carlson lampooned the Air Force's new maternity uniforms, using that effort as a cudgel against the Biden administration. During that March 2021 segment, Carlson said, "While China's military becomes more masculine, our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, more feminine."

Right-wing pundits and lawmakers piled on two months later when the Army released a recruiting ad featuring a real-life soldier who has two mothers and participated in Pride events. LGBTQ rights are considered a major priority among Gen Z, the demographic that the Army needs to court to build its ranks.

With a shrinking percentage of Americans even eligible to serve because of fitness and legal hurdles, the service has prioritized a message that encourages all Americans who can pass entrance tests to join up.

Meanwhile, the Army has made a series of changes to its personnel policy, such as relaxing grooming standards for women, allowing braids and revamping rules on parenthood and breastfeeding, aiming to boost the quality of life for the 400,000 parents in the Army, 29,000 of whom are single fathers. All of those changes were spearheaded or heavily backed by Grinston, largely quietly behind the scenes, according to multiple Army officials with direct knowledge of those efforts.

Grinston has steered away from political issues or topics in public, always returning conversations to Army needs. But he is sensitive to how that politicization is being absorbed by young soldiers, or potential enlistees.

"How does a 19- or 20-year-old respond when [they] hear that?" he asked. "That's my biggest fear.

Grinston enlisted in the Army in 1987, at a time when openly gay soldiers were not allowed to serve and women's opportunities were severely curtailed. He still struggles with his racial identity, being the son of a Black man and a white mother. His parents divorced when he was three years old.

A former drill sergeant and Ranger School graduate, Grinston's resume and personal biography place him at the intersection of valuing diversity in the ranks and emphasizing the need to improve the Army's standards for ground combat.

"Believe me, we have a kick-ass Army. … Nobody likes criticism," Grinston said. "I don't care who you are. … Personally, it's a little hurtful. I am extremely proud we have the greatest Army in the world."

He paused.

"When people say that we're not as good as we were, or we're not focused on the right missions, when you hear that, you know, I think anybody would be offended."

A More Lethal Army

During Grinston's three years on the job, the Army has revamped or placed a greater emphasis on core ground combat training: shooting, physical fitness, basic combat tasks and land navigation. All of which arguably set higher standards for troops than during the post-9/11 wars as leaders shift focus to conventional warfare and anticipate a much more challenging battlefield.

In 2020, the service ditched the half-century-old rifle test in which soldiers were stationary firing at 40 pop-up targets. Now, troops, regardless of their job, must pass a dynamic and fast-paced marksmanship qualification that tasks them to change firing positions, move to cover and reload while targets are still popping up.

The service has also implemented its new fitness test after a decade of research and skepticism from the troops, Congress and even Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. The previous 40-year-old test, which measured only running, sit-ups and push-ups, was not seen as a good evaluator of overall strength and endurance. Now, soldiers must perform deadlifts, sprints and a plank, among other fitness tasks. Grinston, with fitness a personal priority, told Military.com that test is probably one of things he is most proud of getting across the finish line.

Grinston, 54, hits a near-perfect score on his fitness test, deadlifting 340 pounds and running two miles in under 14 minutes. But he admits to needing work on his standing power throw, in which soldiers must yeet a 10-pound medicine ball over their head as far as possible. He's an avid runner, occasional swimmer and recently bought a Rogue Echo Bike for his home. He also likes to end most workout sessions with meditation, something he hopes the rest of the Army will pick up on. For fun, he likes to golf but demands the course to be walked.

Despite his commitment to the new fitness test, there have been hiccups. Army planners were effectively forced to implement gendered scoring standards after the data showed half of the service's women were struggling to pass the more grueling test. Some Republican critics pounced on that move as evidence the Army is lowering standards to accommodate women, despite the previous fitness test also having gendered scoring.

Grinston also wants to place greater emphasis on expert badges, prestigious awards soldiers earn after perfecting a gauntlet of combat tasks, something previously restricted to infantrymen and medics. The service recently introduced the Expert Soldier Badge, effectively the same as the infantry badge, but for soldiers in all jobs. The idea is to get all soldiers up to snuff on combat tasks so anyone can take up arms in a future conflict. Grinston also worked behind the scenes to get land navigation back into noncommissioned officer training.

But he didn't always plan a reinvention of the Army and never expected to be one of the Defense Department's most high-profile leaders.

He is still in awe of his role, coming from a humble background in Jasper, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham and a generally impoverished town. As a private, he went to barracks parties, was scolded by his own noncommissioned officers, and had a small footprint in the world. He said Pvt. Grinston is still a part of him.

"As a young man, I couldn't imagine [this]," Grinston said. "If you would have said one day [I] was going to meet that president and be in the Oval Office, I would say, 'Nah, not in my family.' I try to remember what it was like living in the barracks for seven years, and what it was like standing in PT formations, and I don't ever want to lose sight of that. When I was a battalion sergeant major and they told me to go meet and have breakfast with the secretary of defense, I wrote in my diary that, 'I can't imagine a young man from Jasper, Alabama gets to meet with the secretary of defense.' I was in awe of that. I was giddy."


Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston deadlifts during his visit at Camp Herkus, Lithuania, May 3, 2022. (U.S. Army photo)

He's an avid reader and frequently references a book called "Upstream" by Dan Heath, which argues that problems need to be solved before they occur. Grinston took those lessons to heart with how he wants to tackle suicide in the force. His idea is that if the Army can make a better environment for soldiers, such as higher-quality barracks, mental health will improve, leading to fewer suicides and a more effective fighting force. He believes that most people, including him, can be a suicide risk given a perfect storm of poor conditions.

"I think we need to rethink suicide. We want to put people in a box that behavioral health will solve," he said. "Maybe we need to look at it that everyone can be susceptible to a suicide thought or event."

He said the next big thing for the service will be its approach to holistic health, which includes physical, mental and spiritual approaches to health for soldiers. Part of that includes a focus on nutrition and upcoming plans on revamps to dining facilities. He said service planners are looking into wearable tech that could immediately identify a soldier's performance, including whether they are dehydrated or sleep deprived.

But those long-term ideas will have to come after his retirement, which is quickly coming for Grinston, who has effectively spent his entire adult life in the Army. The long list that populates his ambitious agenda for the Army likely won't be entirely crossed off during the waning days of his tenure, and the next sergeant major of the Army will face iterations of these same difficult, at times politically charged, issues.

As for what's next, Grinston doesn't plan to relax somewhere in a cabin -- though he does expect to take about a month just to sleep.

"There's a few things I'd like to do to help families," he said about how he wants to spend his retirement. "Something with housing because I've put a lot of effort into making our barracks and family housing better. I know that will come with a lot of work and a lot of headaches. But if it's hard, it's something we need to do. If it was easy, somebody would've already done it."

Despite all the changes he's ushered into the military, there is one difficult question that gets asked of him most often while he's still in uniform: Will the Army let soldiers have beards?

It's a popular topic of debate on social media and comes up at nearly every visit he makes. Grinston's message to soldiers is to not hold their breath.

"There's still no movement," he said. "I'm not saying it's not going to happen. I'm just saying right now, it's not going to happen."

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

military.com · by Steve Beynon · August 4, 2022


14. Representatives are Too Invested in Defense Contractors



POGO - yes the project on government oversight - but I like what Pogo says - we have met the enemy and he is us.


Some interesting information about some in Congress.


Conclusion:


Congress has a massive challenge ahead in trying to regain public trust. The military-industrial-congressional complex is a particularly glaring, odious example of how a lack of congressional ethics standards surrounding stock trading and campaign contributions and the resultant public distrust in Congress plays out. Of course, the defense industry is not the only one that wields undue and disruptive influence over lawmakers and the policymaking process: Wall Street, the pharmaceuticals industry, Big Dairy, and a slew of other powerful, entrenched stakeholders engage in similar practices and receive comparable perks at the expense of taxpayers. This dynamic is a form of corruption, plain and simple, but in the case of the military-industrial-congressional complex, nearly a trillion dollars in taxpayer money is at stake, as well as the public’s trust in their government. If Congress wants to serve as a responsible steward of both the people’s trust and their money, smashing the stranglehold of the military-industrial-congressional complex is a fine place to start.


Representatives are Too Invested in Defense Contractors

BY DYLAN HEDTLER-GAUDETTE & NATHAN SIEGEL | FILED UNDER ANALYSIS | AUGUST 04, 2022

8 MINUTE READ

pogo.org · by Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette

Corruption

By & Nathan Siegel | Filed under analysis | August 04, 2022


As Congress considers two monumentally important pieces of legislative business — the annual defense policy bill and a historic reform to congressional ethics rules — it is worth taking some time to consider just how deep the potential for corruption goes in both these areas and how they intersect with one another. In other words, congressional corruption and ethical failings are inextricably linked to the military-industrial-congressional complex — the unhealthy intersection between Congress and the defense sector. This situation calls for serious reforms, and Congress is the only stakeholder that can make that happen.

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A Cozy Relationship

There are few examples that better highlight the ethical dysfunction in Congress than the excessively cozy relationship between policymakers and the defense industry. Each year, including this one, members of the House and Senate armed services committees and the House and Senate appropriations committees craft the policy and allocate the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars that fund the Pentagon. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is the primary vehicle for defense policy. The accompanying appropriations bill allocates the money to operationalize the policy laid out in the NDAA. To put this in perspective, consider that the defense budget now clocks in at more than $800 billion and the Pentagon allocated $420 billion in contracts in fiscal year 2020 — over half the total defense budget and a contract dollar amount larger than every other federal agency combined.

In light of the scale and scope of defense spending, reasonable observers could be forgiven for assuming there might be some prudential rules in place to prevent corruption when it comes to Congress’s work regarding the defense industry. Unfortunately, there are virtually no such rules. In fact, the current framework around congressional conflicts of interest and campaign finance regarding industry relationships is so permissive as to all but guarantee the perversion of the policymaking process in this area.

There are few, if any, rules in place that restrict or prohibit members of Congress who sit on committees that oversee and legislate defense policy from holding direct personal financial stakes in defense companies, including through the ownership of stock. This means there is nothing stopping members of the House and Senate armed services committees (as well as each chamber’s respective defense subcommittee of the appropriations committee) from directly tying their own personal financial interests to the financial interests of defense contractors, all while passing laws that would steer billions of tax dollars to those very same companies. Again, these contracts total hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

Defense policy is supposed to be aimed toward promoting national security and long-term strategic stability, not the pecuniary wellbeing of a few lawmakers and the profits of an even narrower set of defense companies.

This scenario is not hypothetical. There are more than a dozen members of Congress who own stock or have some other direct financial investment in the defense industry while sitting on committees related to appropriations and defense, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets and Smart InsiderRepresentative Hal Rogers (R-KY) of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) of the House Armed Services Committee, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, and Senators Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Gary C. Peters (D-MI) of the Senate Armed Services Committee represent just a few of the coterie who have recently owned stocks that could be considered a conflict of interest given their positions.

It goes without saying that this reality alone poses a clear risk of corruption and of muddying the defense policymaking process. Defense policy is supposed to be aimed toward promoting national security and long-term strategic stability, not the pecuniary wellbeing of a few lawmakers and the profits of an even narrower set of defense companies. But even in the absence of any impropriety, the mere appearance of these conflicts of interest feeds into a cynical and disaffected public perception of how Congress works and whose interests it furthers.

A Cash Cow for Congressional Committees

Defense companies are active participants in the military-industrial-congressional complex and its many corrosive effects. Each election cycle sees the defense industry making millions of dollars in campaign contributions to top congressional leaders and key lawmakers, including some of the same members of the pivotal defense-related committees mentioned earlier, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets. Tracking donations from political action committees (PACs) to campaigns in 2020, Raytheon gave around $790,000 to members of defense committees, including individual checks of $18,000 to Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT), $17,000 to Representative Anthony Brown (D-MD), and $18,500 to Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) according to OpenSecrets Data.

Also in 2020, L3Harris donated around $624,000 to members of defense committees, including individual checks of $20,000 to multiple members of the relevant House committees, including Representatives Michael Turner (R-OH)Ken Calvert (R-CA)Elise Stefanik (R-NY)Donald Norcross (D-NJ)Derek Kilmer (D-WA)Charlie Crist (D-FL)C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD)Anthony Brown (D-MD), and Adam Smith (D-WA) according to OpenSecrets data. Some of these members hold critically important positions on the relevant committees, including Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

After Raytheon and L3Harris, the rest of the top ten defense companies donating campaign cash were Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, BAE Systems, General Atomics, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Boeing, and Leidos. These companies lined members’ campaign coffers with millions of dollars in PAC funding. In fact, Representative Sara Jacobs (D-CA) appears to be the only member of any defense committee who has not received defense PAC funds in any of the last three campaign cycles, and she only began her time in Congress last year.

Receiving campaign donations directly from the same companies and industries lawmakers are tasked with overseeing creates a looming threat of corruption, further undermining the process of making defense policy and spending public dollars.

An especially noteworthy example of how this nexus between Congress and the defense industry can potentially influence policy and spending involves Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), the top-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. Rogers is currently the top recipient of defense industry campaign contributions for the 2022 midterm election cycle. Rogers was also an outspoken proponent of increasing the defense budget by tens of billions of dollars more than what the Pentagon itself requested. Unfortunately, that more than $30 billion increase in the defense budget was ultimately adopted by the House Armed Services Committee by a wide and bipartisan margin and remained in the bill when it passed the chamber in mid-July.

Receiving campaign donations directly from the same companies and industries lawmakers are tasked with overseeing creates a looming threat of corruption, further undermining the process of making defense policy and spending public dollars.

The “Golden Amendment” to increase the defense budget by more than $30 billion was offered by Representative Jared Golden (D-ME), and was supported by 28 Republicans and 14 Democrats. Several committee members who voted in favor of the topline increase also own, or recently owned, stock or financial assets in the defense industry, including Representatives Blake Moore (R-UT)Mike Gallagher (R-WI)Mo Brooks (R-AL)Pat Fallon (R-TX), and Robert Wittman (R-VA). Committee members who voted in favor of the Golden Amendment received 1.72 times more campaign contributions than those who voted against the amendment in the 2022 election cycle, 1.44 times more contributions in the 2020 election cycle, and 1.36 times more contributions in the 2018 cycle.

We shouldn’t put the public in the position of constantly needing to check every member’s finances for conflicts of interest when legislation is under serious consideration, especially when that legislation implicates the tools and resources that affect national security and the safety of servicemembers, as well as nearly a trillion dollars of the public’s money.

Solutions

Because this is an institutional and bipartisan problem, the solutions must be institutional and bipartisan as well. One commonsense reform that Congress should immediately advance and enact is a flat-out prohibition on members of Congress (and their immediate families) from owning stocks and other financial assets. This would unequivocally eliminate any reasonable questions about whether a member’s own stock portfolio is driving their policymaking. The good news is that Congress is currently in the midst of robust negotiations about enacting just this kind of prohibition on owning or trading stock. The bad news is that the 117th Congress does not have much time left for legislating, and this particular reform effort is in very real danger of failing unless lawmakers act with urgency to get it done before the end of the year.

If Congress fails to enact this much-needed reform, the very least it must do is enact rules, either statutory or internal rules, that create commonsense restrictions on the committee assignments members of Congress can hold. This would prevent any appearance of a conflict between that committee service and a member’s campaign contributions or direct financial entanglements with industries and companies they would oversee on those committees. While a cleaner, simpler ban of stock ownership across the board is preferrable, at least this kind of contingent prohibition carries the potential to reduce conflicts of interest and corruption at the margins.

Because this is an institutional and bipartisan problem, the solutions must be institutional and bipartisan as well.

To address the potential conflicts of interest created by campaign contributions, there are myriad proposals aimed at addressing outsized and distortionary corporate influence in the electoral context, and they deserve careful consideration by Congress. While POGO has endorsed bills in the past that have, among other things, reversed the Citizens United campaign finance scheme that enabled bottomless dark money spending, we would also encourage Congress to create rules that shed more light into the murky recesses of campaign finance and limit what members can do in terms of raising funds from stakeholders with direct financial interests related to a member’s duties.

There are related areas that demand reform, including the revolving door between Congress and the defense industry. It is all too common for former members of Congress and staffers on committees related to the defense industry to immediately transition to employment with a defense firm, or to begin work as a lobbyist or consultant for defense firms before returning to Congress again (in the case of staffers, at least). This phenomenon calls into question the incentives and interests of congressional staffers and members on defense-related committees when they may be eyeing more lucrative employment with the sectors and companies they are ostensibly overseeing and regulating. It’s worth considering stronger rules surrounding cooling-off periods — the mandatory wait time between holding official positions and accepting employment with a related industry or company — and restrictions on employment-related communications between officials or staffers and potential future employers.

Conclusion

Congress has a massive challenge ahead in trying to regain public trust. The military-industrial-congressional complex is a particularly glaring, odious example of how a lack of congressional ethics standards surrounding stock trading and campaign contributions and the resultant public distrust in Congress plays out. Of course, the defense industry is not the only one that wields undue and disruptive influence over lawmakers and the policymaking process: Wall Street, the pharmaceuticals industry, Big Dairy, and a slew of other powerful, entrenched stakeholders engage in similar practices and receive comparable perks at the expense of taxpayers. This dynamic is a form of corruption, plain and simple, but in the case of the military-industrial-congressional complex, nearly a trillion dollars in taxpayer money is at stake, as well as the public’s trust in their government. If Congress wants to serve as a responsible steward of both the people’s trust and their money, smashing the stranglehold of the military-industrial-congressional complex is a fine place to start.

Center for Defense Information

The Center for Defense Information at POGO aims to secure far more effective and ethical military forces at significantly lower cost.




15. What’s Next for al-Qaeda?


Interesting analysis.


Excerpt:

The interaction of these factors—incremental or discontinuous change relative to the founder’s how and why—produces five types of successors: caretaker, signaler, fixer, visionary, and figurehead.
  • Caretaker: When the successor seeks to continue the trajectory of the founder with only incremental changes in framing and tactics/resource mobilization, the leader is a caretaker.
  • Signaler: When a successor makes discontinuous changes to the framing, meaning the rhetoric, propaganda, and messaging used to explain a group’s why, that type of leader is a signaler.
  • Fixer: When a successor oversees discontinuous changes to tactics/resource mobilization, which represents a group’s how, the result is a fixer.
  • Visionary: If a leader makes discontinuous changes to both the framing and tactics/resource mobilization, the why and the how, that leader is a visionary.
  • Figurehead: Lastly, when leaders do not actively choose change or continuity, they are figureheads. In this case, a leader exists, but is unwilling or unable to make the key decisions for the organization.
Lastly, the level of counterterrorism pressure can influence successors’ decisions and leadership type by shaping the operating environment. For example, leaders facing low counterterrorism pressure have the freedom to undertake fundraising, communication, training, and recruitment without the fear of strikes against them. In contrast, leaders’ roles may change in spaces where they are facing high counterterrorism pressure. A successor may want to enact dramatic changes but find themselves unable to due to counterterrorism realities.

What’s Next for al-Qaeda? - Modern War Institute

Tricia Bacon and Elizabeth Grimm | 08.05.22

mwi.usma.edu · by Tricia Bacon · August 5, 2022

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In a televised news conference this week, President Joe Biden confirmed the rumors that had been swirling: the United States had conducted an airstrike that killed the emir of al-Qaeda, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Though reports of his demise had circulated for almost two years, this strike eliminated the leader who had been at the helm of the group since the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011.

While many observers are seeking to predict who the next leader will be—some arguing that it may be veteran Egyptian jihadist Saif al-Adel or perhaps Abd al-Rahman al-Maghribi, head of al-Qaeda’s media committee—the focus on who the next leader will be is not necessarily the most critical question now. Rather, the focus instead should include what type of leader will follow Zawahiri and to what extent this successor will continue the trajectory established by bin Laden. Leaders matter a great deal for religious terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, but the kind of leader is equally as important as the person.

Our new book, Terror in Transition: Leadership and Succession in Terrorist Organizations, explores these terrorist leadership types. Our findings offer a means of understanding who Zawahiri was and what kind of leadership role he embodied for al-Qaeda, as well as a framework for assessing the current transition facing al-Qaeda.

Who was Zawahiri?

Some obituaries circulating about Zawahiri agree on certain aspects of his personality: he maintained a “plodding and pedantic style” and lacked charisma. Journalist Peter Bergen stated, “He had all the charisma of a boring uncle given to long, arcane monologues, someone that you would best avoid sitting next to at Thanksgiving dinner.” But despite lacking the charisma of bin Laden, Zawahiri—who was radicalized as a teenager out of anger at the secular Egyptian government’s execution of Sayyid Qutb and then created a cell that would become part of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ)—was a lifelong ideologue, though his ideology would change over the course of his lifetime. As emir of EIJ, he would ultimately move the group away from its founder Muhammad ‘Abd al-Salam Faraj’s mission—the personal duty to topple the regime in Cairo through a coup and establish an Islamic state in Egypt—and would instead refocus on using terrorism in the global mission against the United States.

Evaluations of Zawahiri, like his obituaries, have long focused on his personality. In fact, one of the early senior members of EIJ stated that there was “something missing” in Zawahiri that rendered him unsuitable to be a leader. But a focus on these characteristics misses a true evaluation of his leadership of al-Qaeda.

Unlike the major changes he made to EIJ’s tactics and mission while emir, he did not make similarly dramatic changes to al-Qaeda’s tactics and mission when he assumed leadership in 2011. Instead, he remained a steadfast caretaker of bin Laden’s goals, maintaining most of its alliances and even expanding to a new franchise in South Asia. Indeed, in Biden’s speech on the strike, he pointed to Zawahiri as “setting priorities, for providing operational guidance that called for and inspired attacks against U.S. targets”—an approach very much in line with bin Laden’s. Zawahiri’s personality has not changed in the last half a century. He has always been someone you would want to avoid sitting next to. But what has changed is the type of leader he was.

Types of Terrorist Leaders

Leaders are critical to religious terrorist groups. Their followers often believe that they possess a divine legitimacy. A leader interprets sacred texts for the followers, thus justifying the group’s actions and rendering the leader as the mouthpiece for the sacred. Terrorist leaders are not just leaders of their organizations but are perceived by their followers as religious or spiritual leaders as well. They are preacher and prophet.

Understanding the role of founding religious terrorist leaders and the type of their successors remains largely underexplored, even though killing them, as Zawahiri’s death this weekend reminds us, remains a counterterrorism priority.

The founder of a terrorist group creates the framing, tactics, and resource mobilization of the group—the why and the how of the group. In so doing, they create the foundation from which all successors operate. A successor who decides to implement changes can proceed with either incremental changes that evolve the group’s fundamental goals and means or discontinuous changes that dramatically upend the group’s framing of its mission, its tactics, the way it mobilizes resources, or all of these characteristics. Incremental changes slightly adapt to environmental or organizational realties. Discontinuous changes are game changers.

The why and the how are fundamental. First, every enduring terrorist group needs a convincing answer to the question why. Why fight? The why is the framing the leader uses to explain its mission. It drives the very existence of the organization. Founders weave the why—the group’s mobilizing frame—with their own worldviews and assumptions. And the framing of the why can help attract followers.

Second, the how of a terrorist group refers to the means the group uses to achieve the why framing. How will a group mobilize resources to achieve its mission? What tactics, both operational and nonoperational, will it use? In addition, groups develop resource mobilization processes to secure followers and manage revenue.

The interaction of these factors—incremental or discontinuous change relative to the founder’s how and why—produces five types of successors: caretaker, signaler, fixer, visionary, and figurehead.

  • Caretaker: When the successor seeks to continue the trajectory of the founder with only incremental changes in framing and tactics/resource mobilization, the leader is a caretaker.
  • Signaler: When a successor makes discontinuous changes to the framing, meaning the rhetoric, propaganda, and messaging used to explain a group’s why, that type of leader is a signaler.
  • Fixer: When a successor oversees discontinuous changes to tactics/resource mobilization, which represents a group’s how, the result is a fixer.
  • Visionary: If a leader makes discontinuous changes to both the framing and tactics/resource mobilization, the why and the how, that leader is a visionary.
  • Figurehead: Lastly, when leaders do not actively choose change or continuity, they are figureheads. In this case, a leader exists, but is unwilling or unable to make the key decisions for the organization.

Lastly, the level of counterterrorism pressure can influence successors’ decisions and leadership type by shaping the operating environment. For example, leaders facing low counterterrorism pressure have the freedom to undertake fundraising, communication, training, and recruitment without the fear of strikes against them. In contrast, leaders’ roles may change in spaces where they are facing high counterterrorism pressure. A successor may want to enact dramatic changes but find themselves unable to due to counterterrorism realities.

Why Does This Matter?

Zawahiri’s obituary is not al-Qaeda’s obituary. The loss of a founder is the most significant leadership succession an organization can experience, and al-Qaeda already survived it, in part due to a caretaker successor who faithfully adhered to the path set by bin Laden. In the more than ten years since bin Laden died, Zawahiri did not rejuvenate al-Qaeda, but we would not expect a caretaker to do so. Instead, he helped al-Qaeda survive and remain relevant despite the counterterrorism focus against it. In fact, since 2001, nearly all the major Sunni jihadist groups, have undergone leadership successions, often as the result of leadership decapitation. Most notably al-Qaeda’s once affiliate and now rival, the Islamic State, has lost three leaders and experienced two leadership transitions in less than five years.

This reality points to two conclusions. The first is that a significant degree of continuity exists in US leadership targeting policy, even through very different US presidential administrations. Leaders from across the political spectrum have made similar decisions about the utility of removing the leaders and members of terrorist organizations. Second, these groups’ ability to transition to successors provides tremendous insight into the ability of the founders to create a durable how and why for the group, a legacy that outlives them. Thus, removing the founder can significantly impact an organization, but not as much as counterterrorism decision makers might hope. And removing a successor like Zawahiri will likely not spell the death knell for al-Qaeda either.

Who will become al-Qaeda’s next emir? The group likely needs a visionary to regain the mantle of leadership in the Sunni jihadist movement, as it surely aspires to do. It is too soon to tell what type of leader will rise, but transition moments like the one facing al-Qaeda now provide critical counterterrorism opportunities, opportunities that can be exploited more fully if they account for the type of leader the next successor becomes.

Zawahiri’s location in an upscale district in Kabul in a building owned by Taliban interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, for example, highlights the benefits of low counterterrorism pressure in a terrorist safe haven—the opportunity to carefully plan, dictate the pace of operations, and flourish. Haven provided Zawahiri the caretaker the space and time to operate without fear of counterterrorism actions such as this weekend’s strike. His death in Afghanistan clearly demonstrates the need for more caution on behalf of his successor. However, the need for greater operational security may challenge the ability of a potential visionary successor to dynamically change the how and the why of al-Qaeda. So as observers watch for signs of al-Qaeda’s succession plans, they would be well served not just to focus on who might take charge, but to look for signs of the type of leadership—and the counterterrorism realities—that will guide the organization into its post-Zawahiri future.

Dr. Tricia Bacon is an associate professor at American University’s School of Public Affairs. She directs the Policy Anti-Terrorism Hub at American University. She is the author of Why Terrorist Organizations Form International Alliances (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and coauthor of Terror in Transition: Leadership and Succession in Terrorist Organizations (Columbia University Press, 2022). Her work has been published in Security Studies, Survival, Terrorism and Political Violence, Journal of Strategic Studies, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, as well as the Washington Quarterly, the Washington Post, War on the Rocks, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs. Prior to her employment at American University, Dr. Bacon worked on counterterrorism for over ten years at the Department of State. She is a nonresident fellow with George Washington University’s Program on Extremism and an associate fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism. Dr. Bacon serves on the Countering Terrorism & Extremism Program Advisory Council for the Middle East Institute. You can follow her on Twitter @tricbacon.

Dr. Elizabeth Grimm is an associate professor of teaching in the Security Studies Program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is the author of How the Gloves Came Off: Lawyers, Policy Makers, and Norms in the Debate on Torture (Columbia University Press, 2017) and the coauthor of Terror in Transition: Leadership and Succession in Terrorist Organizations (Columbia University Press, 2022). Her work has been published in Survival, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, as well as Lawfare, the Washington Post, and Just Security. Prior to her employment at Georgetown University, she worked in the defense and security sectors of the US government. You can follow her on Twitter @ProfLizGrimm.

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

Image credit: Hamid Mir, via Wikimedia Commons (adapted by MWI)

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mwi.usma.edu · by Tricia Bacon · August 5, 2022



16. Keys to Ukrainian victory? Logistics, heavy weapons and the ‘test of will’


Professionals not amatuers.




Keys to Ukrainian victory? Logistics, heavy weapons and the ‘test of will’

A former commander of U.S. forces in Europe believes Russia can be defeated — provided the U.S. and its allies stay the course.


Tom Nagorski

Global Editor

August 4, 2022

grid.news · by Tom Nagorski

Exactly four months ago, Grid spoke about the war in Ukraine with an American general who until recently had commanded all U.S. forces in Europe. In early April, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Hodges argued that beyond economic sanctions and condemnation of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, more needed to be done in terms of military aid to Ukraine. It was, Hodges said then, a matter not only of supporting the Ukrainian resistance but arming and training its armed forces to a level that would enable them to reverse Putin’s aggression.

Much has changed since then — on the front lines and the weapons supply lines, and there are questions about the staying power of global support for Ukraine.

We asked Hodges for an update on all these fronts and how he sees the next phases of the war unfolding. Hodges said he’s optimistic that Russia can be driven back — but only if the West continues to “stand with Ukraine.”

Hodges served as a brigade commander in Iraq, a director of operations in Afghanistan, and the commander of United States Army Europe and Africa from 2014 to 2018. He is currently the Pershing chair in strategic studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Grid: We spoke in the first days of April, about one month into the war, and you gave us general impressions about how things were going. Can you step back and give us your sense of how you think things are going now — whether from the perspective of the Ukrainians, NATO, the Russians or all together?

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Hodges: I remain optimistic about the outcome. And I say that because we know that war is a test of will and it’s a test of logistics. The Ukrainian logistical situation gets a little bit better each week, as the West continues to deliver ammunition and equipment. Ukrainians started from one point, and now here we are, almost six months in, and they’re much more mature in the development of their institutions, if you will, and structures.

On the other hand, the Russian logistical situation gets worse by the day. I think they’re exhausted, actually. I don’t know how much more ammunition they have — seemingly endless amounts. But they don’t have much else that they can do. And now that the Ukrainians have the ability to destroy ammunition storage points and [Russian forces] are having to move back, that significantly increases the load, the transportation requirement on their truck fleet, which has already been seriously damaged.

In other words, the logistics picture improves for Ukraine and gets worse for Russia.

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That said, on the Ukrainian logistics side, I do think we still have two major challenges. One, the distribution network inside Ukraine is being asked to do things for which it was never designed or properly equipped. The amount of ammunition, heavy equipment, troops moving all this stuff around inside Ukraine — it’s enormous pressure there. If we’re not going to put our own troops and logisticians on the ground there, certainly there are large commercial logistics companies that could do this. We depended on commercial logistics companies in Iraq and Afghanistan for 20 years. Transport expertise, forklifts, those kinds of things would be helpful.

The other thing is they still are not getting enough ammunition fast enough. The White House announcement that there’s another 50,000 or 75,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, more rockets for HIMARS, that’s good. But this is a challenge. Can we give them the ammunition that they need to continue to destroy Russian artillery, Russian rockets and Russian ammunition storage? Because that’s what causes most of the problems.

That’s the logistics test. And I believe the momentum is in favor of Ukraine.

G: From a distance, and a layperson’s perspective, it can seem like a miracle of logistics that the volume of heavy weaponry, HIMARS and all these other things can make their way into the country and across the country to the eastern front. But I gather from what you’re suggesting it’s not as streamlined or effective as it should be.

BH: I’m having to make that assessment based on understanding what the requirement is and also knowing, from some conversations I had before this all started back in February, the state of transport inside Ukraine.

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Fortunately, the Russians have not been able to interdict it. They launched some rockets and hit a few train stations, but they don’t seem to have the dynamic targeting capability to hit and identify convoys, trains, all this stuff, and then hit them along the way. I hear almost no reports of interdiction on the lines of communication. But what I’m concerned about is, are those lines robust enough that they can absorb some losses, they can adjust? Because eventually the Russians are going to try and figure out a way to interdict that. So, are they resilient and robust enough?

The other thing is the expertise. So much of logistics is anticipation and being able to forecast requirements, whether we’re talking about fuel, artillery, ammunition, maintenance repair parts. This is a challenge because they’ve gotten a lot of help from a lot of different places, but that means you’ve got multiple different types of repair parts that are needed for all the different systems.

The barrels for an artillery: normally between 2,000 and 2,500 rounds. The tube on a howitzer that has to be replaced. So, the logistics is not just about transporting ammunition or fuel, it’s also about the maintenance to back it all up. This is where I think having some expertise there that can manage this for them would be very useful.

G: About one month into the war, you were quite critical of NATO and Europe more generally. You said it didn’t appear that the West was really supporting Ukraine to win, it was more just to help them defend themselves. Do you still feel that way now?

BH: This is the other test I’m talking about, the test of will. Clearly Ukrainian soldiers and the Ukrainian population have a will superior to what Russian soldiers have. We see so many indicators of that. The real test of will is between the Kremlin and the United States, the U.K., Germany, France — the West.

This is the key. I think that clearly the White House has the will to continue doing this. Secretary [of Defense Lloyd] Austin said, “We’re going to help Ukraine win, and we’re going to weaken Russia so much they cannot threaten their neighbors anymore.” But after that, those words were never heard again. And I think this a mistake, that the White House continues to believe that if they do certain things, somehow Russia will be provoked to do something else. And I think this is an overstated concern about escalation that is unfounded.

The Russians don’t have anything else they can do except to use a nuclear weapon. Over 85 percent of their ground forces are in Ukraine. And after five months, they only control about one-quarter of Ukrainian territory, if that. Ukrainians are making progress in and around Kherson, the Russians are pulling troops out of the east to reinforce the effort, and this is with 85 percent of their land forces committed. They’re unwilling to do a mass mobilization because the whole world would then see that their mobilization system is a total failure. It’s corroded by corruption, and a lot of people won’t show up, so they can’t escalate.

Back in World War II, in 1944, at a critical time of the war, tens of thousands of Siberian troops came from behind the Urals, and all these fresh Soviet troops showed up and totally turned the tide against the German Wehrmacht. There are no Siberian divisions on the other side of the Urals coming now. There is nothing else out there, and the [Russian] navy and air force are terrified of Ukrainian anti-ship missiles. The Russian air force has been largely ineffective, except in launching cruise missiles from inside Russia and Belarusian airspace.

The escalation that they can do, of course, is to use a nuclear weapon. But I think this is very unlikely. It’s possible, but very unlikely. Why is that? For Russia, I think their nuclear weapons are actually only at their most effective if they don’t use them.

We in the West continue to hamstring ourselves and just kind of spoon out things rather than saying, “We’re going to push everything, all the chips on the table.” Instead, every two weeks, there’s an announcement of a few thousand more rounds, or “Here’s two more HIMARS.” The rest of the countries will follow the U.S.; if the U.S. says, “We’re going to help them win,” then I think you’ll see an increase in output from other countries as well. I think that we are making a mistake by hamstringing our own efforts and not going all in.

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G: You mentioned the HIMARS rocket launchers. Explain for the layperson — do you think they are making an appreciable difference already, and if so, how?

BH: What’s needed is long-range precision fire. That means whether it’s rockets or artillery, drones, missiles, things that can reach out and hit what is causing the most damage — that’s Russian artillery, Russian rocket launchers and Russian airfields from which aircraft take off and launch cruise missiles.

So, the Ukrainians need the ability to hit those targets, and that requires precision. A basic regular artillery is what we call an “area fire weapon.” That’s where you have six howitzers typically in a battery, because all six howitzers can fire at the target, and then the rounds would land within 200 meters of each other.

That’s obviously how the Russians do it, and you need enormous amounts of ammunition. But if you’ve got a rocket or missile that uses GPS retargeting, you can put it in the pocket of the guy that you’re trying to hit. And with a warhead, we’ve seen over the last few weeks how many Russian ignition storage sites have been destroyed because of launching one or two rockets, precision weapons, into those storage sites. So those make a huge difference.

We’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of Russian artillery rockets that are pounding away on Ukrainian positions. That’s the capability that’s needed.

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Where the White House, I think, has come up short is the reluctance to give the Ukrainians rockets called ATACMS — rockets that can be fired from HIMARS or other rocket-launch systems. It’s the one that has a range of 300 kilometers — and it’s exactly 300 kilometers from Odessa to Sevastopol. So, you could imagine if they started launching one or two of those things and hitting the [Russian] maintenance and refueling facilities at Sevastopol, the Russian navy would have to move from there.

The White House is concerned that the Ukrainians would use these launchers to go after airfields inside of Russia. Of course they would. Of course they should. That’s what I would do. But Ukrainians have said, “We won’t do that.” If you’re saying you won’t let this happen because you will shoot into Russia, causing this so-called escalation, I think this is a mistake.

G: Another potential game changer, depending who you talk to, is the looming Ukrainian offensive to retake Kherson and other areas in the South. Help us to understand how vital that part of the country would be.

BH: Ukrainians have done a masterful job of protecting information. I’ve been impressed. We know so much more about who’s doing what on the Russian side than we do on the Ukrainian side, at least in the public information space, which is as it should be. I should not know what Ukrainian plans are, what their actual status is, because that’s information they would want to protect from Russians.

Having said that, it does seem to be a lot of effort in the Kherson direction, which I think is significant. They have an opportunity to destroy a large number of Russian troops that are there. And I don’t think that most of the region around Kherson is friendly or supportive of the Russian occupiers. So, if in fact the [Ukrainian] general staff was planning a large strike in that region, part of it would be done in conjunction with partisan and/or special forces operations in the rear that can disrupt transportation reinforcement, go after leaders, things that would make it more difficult for the Russians to defend.

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I would imagine that the general staff has been working very hard to build up capabilities necessary for that. We’ll see. I hope they’re able to do it.

G: For some time now, since the Russians turned their military focus to the east and parts of the south, the war has been described as kind of a slog or war of attrition. Is that the way you see it in the weeks and months ahead? Or do you see opportunities for a breakthrough for either side?

BH: I don’t believe that the Russians have the capability to break through. They’ve lost so much capability. It would require them to fix almost every problem that they’ve shown in the last five months. They have not developed the ability to do joint operations where air, land and sea forces and special forces are integrated.

I don’t think they can do a breakthrough. So, what the Russians have settled for is attrition. Attrition of Ukrainian capabilities, just endless artillery rockets, but also attrition of our will.

Ukrainian people — their will is not going to be attrited. But the Kremlin, I believe, is counting on the U.S. to back down because of our own domestic issues, worries about China and all of that. As for the Germans, there’s a lot of anxiety about the impact on the German economy because of the gas cutoff. The U.K. is going through its own domestic issues right now, looking for a new prime minister and so on.

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So that’s the attrition that matters most from a Russian perspective.

If we, the West, deliver what we have said, if we can keep pushing ammunition to Ukraine, then I think this Ukrainian approach can be successful. But if we don’t stick together, if the West doesn’t stick together, if we don’t keep delivering what we said at speed, then attrition could win, or at least extend it longer.

That’s the advantage for the Russians. If this thing goes wrong, if most people in the West lose interest like we typically do, and the Russians wait for a couple of years, they’ll fix most of their problems or many of their problems, rebuild, and in three years you and I will be talking again about why the fighting is still going on here.

Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.

grid.news · by Tom Nagorski




17. US Special Forces conduct bold, new experiment to meet future challenges


AOB convergence? I had not heard about this. I recall a war college paper that COL Rich Todd in the late 1980s once wrote about reorganization SF along similar lines. I am sure there will be great pushback as the 12 person ODA is a sacred cow for some.


AOB Convergence potentially overhauls the traditional ODA structure by reducing the number of ODAs per company from six to four, but increasing the remaining four teams to 16 men each, according to two Special Forces sources who spoke to Connecting Vets.

US Special Forces conduct bold, new experiment to meet future challenges

audacy.com · by Jack Murphy · August 4, 2022

They call it AOB Convergence, or optimization within Special Forces Command, a bold experiment to be carried out across the active duty Special Forces Groups to test new ideas and build new capabilities to confront future threats to America that the Green Berets may be called to defend against.

U.S. Special Forces currently consist of five active duty groups with four battalions, each with one support battalion. There are three companies in each battalion and within a company of Green Berets, there are six numbered teams with 12 men assigned to each, called an ODA (Operational Detachment Alpha).


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This force structure has more or less remained the same since the inception of Special Forces in 1952, aside from a fourth battalion being added to each group during the War on Terror. The individual teams are task organized to operate behind enemy lines and conduct unconventional warfare.

AOB Convergence potentially overhauls the traditional ODA structure by reducing the number of ODAs per company from six to four, but increasing the remaining four teams to 16 men each, according to two Special Forces sources who spoke to Connecting Vets.

1st Special Forces Command public affairs officer Maj. Russell Gordon could not confirm any specific changes to the ODA structure but stated that “the intent behind this experiment is to inform change. It’s an iterative process inclusive of tactical-level leaders. The reality is modern irregular warfare is increasingly complex with nearly anyone and everyone having the ability to be a player. Special Forces has always adapted to the environment, added capabilities, and reevaluated operating concepts.”


Photo credit Photo by Spc. Caleb Woodburn

In addition to increasing the number of Green Berets per team while reducing the overall number of teams, several Special Forces soldiers explained to Connecting Vets that with the increase in personnel on the team it is hoped that additional capability can be added, specifically in the areas of electronic and cyber warfare.

“It’s the right skill sets needed for modern irregular warfare, which requires space and cyber capabilities,” Maj. Gordon explained.

The public affairs officer for Special Forces Command also pointed out that they are very much in an experimental phase, trying out new ideas to see what will work, and nothing is set in stone as they look for feedback from the force. Formally changing the task organization of Special Forces would require Congressional approval, but commanders can conduct experiments to test out new ideas and it's not the first time they have done so.

During the War on Terror, the 5th Special Forces Group created an intelligence-focused “ASO” company for a time, but without additional funding or title authorities, the idea fizzled. Later, one battalion in the 5th Group decided to ax their combat diver teams and instead have two military free fall teams per company, but this idea also went away.

Other capabilities and specialized elements have been formally stood up in Special Forces and changed forms over time, from “all-encompassing” Jedburgh teams to the Commander's In-extremis Force (CIF) which has transitioned into “hard target defeat” companies.

Joint Special Operation Command (JSOC) has also experimented extensively with so-called “blended teams” throughout the war on terror by combining different units and personnel in an interagency environment. In plain English, assaulters have been paired up with technical intelligence specialists and others who can conduct intel gathering, recon, target analysis, mission planning, and if approved can actually action a target.

“In 1952, SOF had to contend with three domains—air, land, and sea. Do we expect the same construct to be effective in 2022 with the addition of two domains—cyber and space and add the information environment?” Maj. Gordon said. “From this reality, it’s why the command is experimenting with optimizing for future modern irregular warfare. A lot of the input into these planning efforts were forged in the team room. It came from tactical level leaders.”

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: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.

audacy.com · by Jack Murphy · August 4, 2022



18. Observations from the Donbas Front Line


Observations from the Donbas Front Line 

By Colonel (Retired) Lee Van Arsdale and Daniel Rice

https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/observations-donbas-front-line

 

There is a certain immediacy to being on the wrong end of artillery fire. For thousands of Ukrainians, civilians and Soldiers alike, this is a reality they share every day. For many of them, it will be the last thing they ever share.

The authors on patrol in the Donbas as unarmed observers with a Ukrainian army T-72 main battle tank. The T-72 was recently gifted to Ukraine from Poland. The Ukrainian unit engaged and destroyed en enemy target which was confirmed by drone footage. 

To the American military eye, the first impression of the Ukrainian Army is that it’s more a quasi-uniformed biker gang than an army. An occasional pony tail, many beards in various stages of maturity, a variety of mixed uniforms, and footwear that ranges from combat boots to flip flops. However, this impression would be dead wrong. To an individual, these are totally committed Soldiers. Life on the front line is anything but easy, but the dedication and love of country is universal. There is an easy camaraderie, and all tasks are performed with professional efficiency. From the commanding general to the brigade and battalion commanders, to the front line troops, this is a dedicated, motivated, war hardened army. 

 

Few reporters have been to the front lines of the Russian - Ukrainian war in the east. For very good reason. The drive from Krakow to the Donbas is a challenging 18 hour experience, through Lviv, then Kyiv, and finally far out east on the Plains where the war is raging in an artillery dual. The brigade we were with, the 68th, has some mortars, which only have a range of about 4 kilometers. The Russian artillery has a far greater range, which obviously puts the Ukrainians at a severe disadvantage.

 

As we approached the front lines we could hear the thunder of rolling artillery barrages 30 km away, nearly all of which is inbound Russian 122 mm, 152mm and GRAD multiple launch rockets. We passed more and more destroyed homes, farms, and businesses, and then a large crop that was still smoking from the fire that ruined it. The Russian army apparently destroys that which it cannot steal. Several stray dogs roam the streets of the partially destroyed, evacuated village the 68th now occupies. Man’s best friend was left behind as the families fled the approaching Russian army. One can only imagine the poignancy of these farewells. However, the dogs have been adopted by the Ukrainian Army, and are doing quite well.  

 

The Russians have been firing 50,000-100,000 artillery rounds per day from 2,000 guns. The Ukrainians killed and wounded every day staggers the imagination.

 

We met with Colonel Oleksii, the 68th Brigade Commander. The unit can do little else but take the inbound artillery rounds all day and night, for the past three months. They have only small arms and the aforementioned mortar with a 4 Km range. Despite these obvious disadvantages, the Ukrainians find ways to stalemate the Russians. We were given full access to anywhere or anyone in the brigade. Everyone we asked, regardless of rank or job title, said they need more artillery, right now. We expected this. What we didn’t expect was the request for armored vehicles to evacuate wounded. Currently a wounded Soldier needs to be carried out by stretcher, as none of their wheeled vehicles can negotiate the soft ground. This litter method of evacuation takes up to 45 minutes, seriously eroding the Golden Hour for treatment. The unit took several casualties from indirect fire while we were there, one critical. 

 

Ukraine requested 300 M777 155mm Howitzers. The United States has sent 128 Howitzers, all of which are being utilized elsewhere on the front. Ukraine requested 100 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). The US has sent 16. These are ordered from the presidential draw down authority. They are used U.S. Army weapons out of our Army’s excess stockpile, which means they can ship as soon as the President signs the approval. 

 

The Ukrainian artillery men pick up quickly on any type of weapon or ammo and put them to good use immediately. We were invited to a battalion Tactical Operations Center (TOC) to observe several offensive operations and observed several direct hits with secondary explosions. The weapons used on the attack we will not disclose due to operational security. Drone footage confirmed several Russian casualties. We were invited on a mission as unarmed observers and witnessed a very successful Ukrainian attack on Russians. Drone footage later confirmed direct hits on the Russians from that mission and we reviewed the footage in the TOC immediately after the operation. 

 

The M777 Howitzers with precision guided munitions are working exactly as advertised. The M142 HIMARS are making a big difference on the battlefield, hitting command and control and weapons depots deep into Russian rear echelons within Ukraine. The universal assessment here is that the war would quickly change to the Ukrainian’s advantage were the US to ship the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). The ability to precisely target Russian command and control nodes and logistical hubs would indeed change the ground situation overnight. 

 

The Ukrainians are profoundly grateful to the US for the assistance sent to date, and stress the need for more as soon as possible. In an environment where casualties are experienced daily, this attitude is easy to understand.

 

Colonel Lee Van Arsdale is a 1974 West Point graduate, served 25 years total in the Army, 11 years in Delta force. Lee was CEO of Triple Canopy, the largest security company operating in Iraq with 6,000 employees. He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart from combat in Somalia.

https://www.thayerleadership.com/people/faculty/colonel-lee-van-arsdale

 

Dan Rice is President of Thayer Leadership at West Point, a 1988 West Point graduate, and co-author “West Point Leadership: Profiles of Courage”. Dan was awarded the Purple Heart from combat in Iraq. He is an unpaid Special Advisor to the Ukraine Commander of the Armed Forces General Valeriy and is registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent of Ukraine under FARA. 

Zaluzhny.

https://www.thayerleadership.com/about/founders/daniel-rice


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. 

SCHOLARLY WORK/PUBLICATIONS/AWARDS

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.

EDUCATION

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: https://www.thayerleadership.com/about/founders/daniel-rice















































De Oppresso Liber,

David Maxwell

Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Senior Fellow, Global Peace Foundation

Senior Advisor, Center for Asia Pacific Strategy

Editor, Small Wars Journal

Twitter: @davidmaxwell161

VIDEO "WHEREBY" Link: https://whereby.com/david-maxwell

Phone: 202-573-8647

email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com


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

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

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

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