19 March 2017

*** Reimagining the Character of Urban Operations for the U.S. Army

Reimagining the Character of Urban Operations for the U.S. Army by Gian Peri Gentile, David E. Johnson, Lisa Saum-Manning, Raphael S. Cohen, Shara Williams, Carrie Lee, Michael Shurkin, Brenna Allen, Sarah Soliman, and James L. Doty III, RAND Corporation

Urban environments pose significant challenges for ground forces and have traditionally been avoided when at all possible, but increasing urbanization of the world's population seems to ensure that urban combat is in the Army's future. This report provides a historical analysis of the ways in which militaries have deployed light and mechanized infantry with armored forces during close urban combat, looking specifically at the U.S. Army in Mogadishu in 1993, the Russian Army in Grozny in 1994 and in 1999, the U.S. Army in Baghdad in 2003, the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army in Fallujah in 2004, and the U.S. Army in the Sadr City suburb of Baghdad in 2008. The authors assess the advantages and costs of this warfighting approach and identify lessons that can inform how the Army might confront similar foes in complex, urban environments in the future.

The authors find that urban combat operations have historically been among the most arduous challenges an army can face and that there are important gaps in the U.S. Army's capabilities to succeed in urban combat. The authors specifically discuss the critical role that effective intelligence plays in urban combat, and they offer broad recommendations on the implications of urban operations for Army warfighting challenges and for Army doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, and facilities.

** Preserving Order Amid Change in NAFTA

By Reva Goujon and Matthew Bey

It took more than a decade and three presidencies, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, to conceive and craft the North American Free Trade Agreement. Will a single presidency manage to undo the process of North American integration? While the risk is real, the reality may be less dramatic.

The Invisible Hand of Geopolitics

Just as in economics, there is an invisible hand in geopolitics that shapes the behavior of our politicians and business leaders. Individuals bend to the world, not the other way around. And North America has long been bending toward tighter integration.

The continent's combined population of 484 million is spread out across a landmass more than twice the size of Europe. At its heart is the world’s largest naturally integrated river system overlaid by arable lands, a foundation for an empire and a prize claimed by the United States. Massive oceans buffer a continent and extensive coastlines with deep ports serve as a launch pad for trade eastward and westward. Arguably, no other continent in the world is as blessed by geography.

An agreement that aims to reap the full benefits of the North American landmass and tighten economic integration was therefore a perfectly natural evolution. While NAFTA has its fair share of imperfections, as any aging trade deal would, it has also been a very sober and prudent exercise in transnational integration.



The idea of “peace through strength” can be traced back to at least Roman times and almost certainly goes back even further, but in U.S. history, it is associated with Ronald Reagan. In his essay, “The Ancient Foreign Policy,” historian Victor Davis Hanson salutes its origins and links this “common wisdom” to the concept of deterrence.

From Vegetius’s Si vis pacem, para bellum [If you want peace, prepare for war] to Ronald Reagan’s “peace through strength,” the common wisdom was to be ready for war and thereby, and only by that way, avoid war, not to talk bellicosely and to act pacifistically … Deterrence (and with it peace) often was not defined only in material terms; it rested also on a psychological readiness to use overwhelming power to confront an aggressor … Again, deterrence (“the act of frightening away”) rested not just on quantifiable power but also on a likelihood to use it.

Though Hanson’s article was not intended as a theoretical exposition on deterrence, he describes a psychological battle based on the threat of force with the goal of preventing war. For most Americans, there is no contradiction in pursuing peace through the threat or use of a strong military when vital national interests are at stake.

Manohar Parrikar’s Exit Leaves Defence Ministry At A Critical Juncture

Although Parrikar was largely successful, there were areas where he couldn’t break the ice.

While Manohar Parrikar’s appointment as the Chief Minister of Goa has averted a crisis for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state, his departure from the cabinet has left some critical business unfinished at the Ministry of Defence. As he returns to home turf 27 months after assuming office, Parrikar must be reasonably satisfied despite the uphill task that he leaves behind for his successor. And there are reasons for him to be.

During his two-year stint at the defence ministry, one that followed A K Antony’s unproductive tenure marred by allegations of corruption, Parrikar proved that he was capable of taking quick decisions. Procurement of vital equipment, which should have ideally been inducted during Antony’s tenure, was done under his watch. Deals that were stuck with the ministry’s byzantine bureaucracy, such as the procurement of Rafale Jets and M777 Howitzers, were signed during his tenure.

Parrikar was brave enough to cancel the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender for buying 126 aircraft. The manner of tendering, trials and cost calculations had become so complicated that any forward movement was found to be impossible.

How Nagas Perceive the Creation of Seven Additional Districts in Manipur

Sushil Kumar Sharma

On December 9, 2016, the Manipur government issued a gazette notification creating seven new districts by carving out and bifurcating the state’s existing nine districts. This took the total number of districts in the state to 16. The seven new districts are: Kangpokpi (a long standing demand by the Kukis for a separate Sadar Hills district carved out from parts of the predominantly Naga populated district of Senapati); Tengnoupal (carved out from the predominantly Naga district of Chandel); Pherzawl (earlier a part of Kuki-dominated Churachandpur); Noney (earlier a part of Naga-dominated Tamenglong), Jiribam (carved out from Imphal East), Kamjong (carved out from Ukhrul) and Kakching (in the Imphal Valley, to which some areas of Chandel have been added). The creation of these districts came against the backdrop of the ongoing indefinite economic blockade enforced by the United Naga Council (UNC) against an earlier proposal for creating two districts, Sadar and Jiribam.1 The UNC had launched the blockade only after its attempts to interact with the Manipur Government on the issue was stone walled. The aim of the blockade was to make the UNC’s voice on, and objections to the creation of the two districts, heard in New Delhi.

The Manipur government had announced the creation of the seven new districts post haste without having the basic infrastructure in place. While Chief Minister Ibobi Singh reiterated that the creation of these new districts is a response to the longstanding demands of the local people as well as for reasons of administrative convenience, Naga leaders feel that it was an attempt to divide the Naga people by merging them with non-Naga areas to form the new districts. Further, they have also taken exception to the Manipur government not consulting the Hill Area Committees before taking the decision. And they have questioned the timing of the decision, which, in their view, was driven by political considerations keeping the recently concluded assembly elections in mind.

Peace Education in Pakistan

This report measures the relative success of nine peace education initiatives in Pakistan. More specifically, the text grapples with six questions. 1) What types of interventions were most effective and in what contexts? 2) Were the implemented programs contextually relevant? 3) How was the quality of each initiative ensured? 4) What kinds of content and teaching formats worked best and where? 5) What differences and similarities exist between peace education programs and the curricula implemented in mainstream schools and madrassas? And 6) what lessons can those working in the peacebuilding field draw from the case studies selected here?

How Serious Is the Islamic State Threat to China?

By Nodirbek Soliev

Despite a recent ISIS propaganda video, local groups remain of more concern to Beijing. 

On February 27, 2017, Islamic State’s media house of al-Furat circulated an online propaganda video entitled “Children of the Caliphate.” The video was produced in the west of Iraq and featured around 30 Chinese Uyghur militants fighting in the battlefield, along with 20 children in a training camp and studying in a madrasa. The Uyghur fighters threatened to come to China to “spill rivers of blood as revenge on behalf of the oppressed” and to “plant the caliphate’s flag.”

The footage underlines the growing military and tactical strength of ISIS Uyghur fighters, who are now more unified, ambitious, and brutal than ever before. In spite of this evolving dynamic, an ISIS-centric threat to China remains less serious compared to the al-Qaeda-linked Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), which was formerly known as East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). It is unlikely that a propaganda video will influence Beijing to fundamentally reconsider its current counterterrorism approach. China’s priority has been to fight a “TIP-directed domestic threat” in the Xinjiang province rather than participating in the international military campaign against Islamic State in the Middle East.

How Great Is the ISIS Threat to China? 


By Vidya Sagar Reddy


China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, had put on a display of its skills recently as the carrier group transited the Western Pacific.Liaoning’s excursion, marking Beijing’s core interests, is a political message to the United States and the world as uncertainty grips them. It also marks the beginning of a new episode in the military history of Western Pacific, which has been dominated by American aircraft carriers since the Cold War, especially during the Taiwan Strait crises. Taiwan also believes that Liaoning represents China’s military ability to break through the first island chain.

Historical Context

A recount of Cold War history and Beijing’s narratives of its historical and maritime supremacy in the Western Pacific serves to put this development into a more sober perspective, informing future political and military balance in the region.

China’s civil war led to Communists controlling the mainland territory while the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan. Subsequently, the People’s Republic of China and Republic of China were established on either side of the Taiwan Strait. In the 1950s, the U.S. drew up security and mutual defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand as a bulwark of its containment policy against the spread of Communism in Asia. The U.S. also extended its diplomatic and military support to Taiwan while confronting China in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

China’s amazing capabilities threatens even US defence superiority in new battlefronts


Technology has changed the way wars would be fought and won. In the 20th century, wars were fought on three battlefields, namely, land, air and sea. In this century, three more battlefields have been added — space, electromagnetic, and cyber. Since China lagged far behind the United States and Russia (the successor state of the Soviet Union) in the traditional battlefields and a catch-up was not possible, Beijing has focussed on the new battlefields to challenge Washington. India’s technological capabilities in comparison to China’s are extremely modest.

Take space for instance. It begins at 40km above the earth where the atmospheric limit ends. In 2007, China demonstrated its anti-satellite capability by destroying its own legacy satellite with a land-based interceptor. This alarmed the US. Considering that the US has hundreds of military and commercial satellites in space, it desires good space situational awareness. China’s anti-satellite capability could smash satellites into smithereens, leaving clouds of debris, which would adversely affect much-needed situational awareness. While this cannot be construed as an act of war, it would play havoc with space supported Command, Control, Computer and Intelligence (C3I) systems. Moreover, in 2013, China launched three small satellites into orbit as part of Beijing’s covert anti-satellite warfare programme. These satellites have the capability to co-orbit, or enter into the orbit of other satellites, and with a retractable arm, they can be used for a number of things — to gouge out, knock off, or grab passing satellites. This is part of a Chinese ‘Star Wars’.

How China Plans to Win the Next Great Big War In Asia

Michael Raska

China’s cyber capabilities are continuously evolving in parallel with the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) ongoing military reforms and modernization drives. As the PLA invests in the development of comprehensive cyber capabilities, the character of future conflicts in East Asia will increasingly reflect cyber-kinetic strategic interactions.

In a potential conflict with Taiwan, for example, the PLA may put a strategic premium on denying, disrupting, deceiving, or destroying Taiwan’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems. This would be followed by the deployment of the PLA’s conventional air wings, precision ballistic missile strikes, and sea power projection platforms – all within the first hours of the conflict.

A key target for the PLA, for example, would be the highly-advanced US-made ultra-high frequency (UHF) early warning radar system located on top of Leshan Mountain near the city of Hsinchu. Activated in February 2013, the radar is reportedly capable of detecting flying objects up to 5,000km away, and provide a six-minute warning in preparation for any surprise missile attack from the Chinese mainland. The radar essentially tracks nearly every sortie of the PLA Air Force flying across China’s opposite coastline.

A New Strategy Against ISIS and al Qaeda

The Trump administration is set to supersize President Obama’s strategy to defeat Islamic State, sending more American forces to the region and lifting restraints on direct participation in combat and when to use armed force. Yet any victory under the current approach will be ephemeral. Even if American proxies, backed by U.S. military forces, wrest Raqqa, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq, away from ISIS, success will be fleeting.

The most important error is the near-exclusive focus on Islamic State at the expense of serious efforts against al Qaeda. Destroying ISIS is necessary but not sufficient. As the Obama administration turned its attention toward ISIS, al Qaeda learned from its failures. It has temporarily deprioritized spectacular attacks on the global stage and focused on embedding itself within Sunni communities in Syria, Yemen, North Africa and elsewhere to develop long-term strength and resilience.

Al Qaeda also has become more cautious in imposing its radical version of Shariah. It now indoctrinates populations over years rather than forcing immediate compliance with strict Islamic law. It does not demand that fighters place themselves formally and publicly under its command. Its affiliates in Syria do not even insist that local groups accept its ideology as long as they fight common foes. Al Qaeda today introduces its beliefs slowly and carefully, and the false message that it is more moderate than ISIS resonates around the world.

America's Way Ahead in Syria

Jennifer Cafarella, Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute conducted an intensive multi-month planning exercise beginning in November 2015 to frame, design, and evaluate potential courses of action that the United States could pursue to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.

ISW and CTP are publishing the findings of this exercise in multiple reports. The first described America’s global grand strategic objectives as they relate to the threat from ISIS and al Qaeda. The second defined American strategic objectives in Iraq and Syria, identified the minimum necessary conditions for ending the conflicts there, and compared U.S. objectives with those of Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia in order to understand actual convergences and divergences. RECOMMENDED READU.S. Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and al QaedaThe third report assessed the strengths and vulnerabilities of ISIS and al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria to serve as the basis for developing a robust and comprehensive strategy to destroy them.

This fourth report recommends a course of action (COA) that represents the best possible path forward for the United States that the ISW-CTP team could identify based on an evaluation of American interests, the current political-security dynamics, and forecasts of various actors’ plans. The ISW-CTP team tested 15 different courses of action to destroy both ISIS and al Qaeda without jeopardizing wider American interests or accepting undue cost or risk.

To read the full report, please click here

We Must Listen to Clausewitz

By Daniel DePetris

As the foreign policy establishment in Washington should have learned over the last 16 years, nothing in the Middle East is straightforward or clean. There simply isn't a black-and-white, good vs. evil paradigm that Americans can use to navigate the treacherous and complicated politics of the region.

Sure, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is undeniably a war criminal whose forces have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people, wiped out entire city districts through merciless bombing, and sent over 11 million Syrians to leave their homes. Assad is a bloodthirsty authoritarian, but his opponents in the Syrian civil war are not angels either.

Indeed, the moderate forces that many U.S. policymakers pinned their hopes on in the beginning of the civil war have largely been overtaken by events. This year’s anti-Assad rebellion is predominately Islamist in orientation, with the most militarily powerful being Al-Qaeda affiliates that have no compunction in driving a van full of explosives into a civilian neighborhood. How are Americans supposed to choose between those two forces? What long-term, sustainable political outcome can we achieve through deployments, arming various warring rebel groups, and sending the U.S. Army to keep Turks on one side of the city and Kurds on the other? As the last 16 years has proven time and time again, the answer is none.

Dawn of the Jihadi Drone Wars

By Patrick Megahan and John Cappello

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported February 23 that it had downed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Mediterranean after it was launched from the Gaza Strip. According to IDF sources, an Israeli F-16 shot down the UAV, which it said belonged to Hamas, before it was able to cross into the country’s airspace. Details of the type of drone and its mission remain sparse, but the flight demonstrates Hamas’s determined pursuit for UAV capability even after the death of its chief drone engineer last month in Tunisia. While Hamas’s nascent drone program has yet to produce any tactical or strategic advantage, the use of drones by terrorist organizations elsewhere in the region underscores the challenges they can pose.

Hamas reportedly tested its first drone in 2012, after which the IDF quickly targeted the site believed to house the program. A year later, Palestinian security forces foiled Hamas operatives in the West Bank plotting to launch UAVs packed with explosives that would strike targets in Israel. It was not until summer 2014, however, that Hamas launched a UAV that breached Israeli airspace, reaching the seaside city of Ashdod before being quickly downed by a Patriot surface-to-air missile. Hamas attempted to fly a UAV into Israeli airspace in June 2015, but it crashed just after crossing the border fence. Last September, another UAV appeared above the Gaza coast before also being quickly downed by an Israeli fighter.

Urban Security Is National Security

Raymond Odierno, Michael O'Hanlon

Violent crime rates are rising and should be treated as a matter of national security.

While news coverage about national security understandably focuses on issues such as the Syria and Ukraine crises, even bigger and broader forces are at work in today’s world. They are, in fact, redefining the very meaning of national security in ways that require new responses from policymakers at all levels of government. To secure our nation in this environment, we need much more than military power. Specifically, we need to ask with fresh eyes how Washington, DC can better help state and local governments in what used to be viewed as old-fashioned and largely local police work—but that should increasingly be understood as core national security policy. The United States should broaden its lens about how to secure the nation beyond military tools, and ask how the federal government can better support the work of state and local governments here in the United States.

Of all that is changing in today’s world, two forces stand out: urbanization and globalization. The first is happening gradually, but viewed over a generation, the changes are enormous. In the mid-twentieth century, there were some 2.5 billion humans on earth and a third lived in metropolitan areas. Today, there are 7.4 billion people, and 54 percent of that much larger number now live in or around cities. By 2050, there will be at least nine billion humans on Earth, of whom two-thirds will live in metropolitan areas, according to the UN. Several dozen megacities, each of ten million or more souls, will be scattered about the earth from the Americas and Africa to south Asia and east Asia.

The Future of U.S. Laser Weapons

By James Hasik,Julian Eagle-Platon

About what topic did Congressmen Doug Lamborn of Colorado and Jim Langevin of Rhode Island ask Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during his first week on the job? “Lasers,” of course, for they run the Congressional Directed Energy Caucus. That’s a thing, apparently, for as one of us wrote in November 2013, “lasers will save us all—if they ever work.” Directed energy has been a fetching technological idea for decades, but as Sandra Irwin wrote in National Defense in July 2015, the technology seemingly “has perennially been on the cusp of a major breakthrough.” Last summer, though, Jason Ellis of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory wrote a report for the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) about a coming “inflection point” in development. “Technically credible, operationally usable, and policy friendly directed energy weapons” could soon be available—if only the Congress would fund them, and the Pentagon would prioritize their adoption. So, if the congressmen get through to the secretary, what could be possible?

Lasers weapons have been overhyped and underwhelmed ever since the first beam lit up. For decades, most efforts at high-energy laser weapons, such as the US Navy’s Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL) and the US Air Force’s Airborne Laser (ABL), have been chemical lasers. These have not proven practical as weapons. To begin, deploying them means adding volatile chemicals to the logistics train. The cost of a shot is more akin to that of expensive cannon ammunition—though that’s still much cheaper than guided missiles. The systems are quite large, involving multiple full-size trailers to hold to the chemical storage tanks and associated equipment. The chemical reactions that produce the beams are intense. Northrop Grumman notes that the exhaust from its Skyguard chemical laser is non-toxic, but the exhaust is similar to that of a jet engine, with a no-go zone of 30 meters.


Bruce Blair, a research scholar in the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton, and a founder of Global Zero, a group opposed to nuclear weapons, had an Op-Ed in today’s (March 14, 2017) New York Times, regarding the cyber threat to nuclear weapons. I will say right up front that I do not share Mr. Blair’s view in opposing nuclear weapons. That kind of view sort of reminds me of the handgun argument. If you banned all handguns, the only people left with a handgun [down the road] would be criminals and the government. More on nuclear weapons later.

Mr. Blair raises an issue that I have written about on this blog before: the cyber threat, and network/critical infrastructure vulnerabilities surrounding the protection of our current, and future nuclear weapons arsenal. “Imagine the panic,” he writes, “if we had suddenly learned during the Cold War, that a bulwark of America’s nuclear deterrence could not even get off the ground — because of an exploitable deficiency in its [command &]control network? We had such an achilles’ heel not so long ago,” Mr. Blair contends. “Minuteman nuclear missiles were vulnerable to a disabling cyber attack; and, no one realized it for many years.” I suspect Mr. Blair is incorrect on that observation. When you peel the onion layer back on these kind of observations, you almost inevitably find someone who not only knew about the vulnerability; but, also warned and alerted senior management — but, the warnings were not heeded for whatever reason. Mr. Blair writes that “if it were not for a curious and persistent POTUS Obama, it [this vulnerability] may never have been discovered and rectified.” Sorry Mr, Blair, I do not believe that POTUS Obama was the first to highlight this potential catastrophic deficiency. He may however, been the first POTUS to do so.

New nukes? No thanks.


So far, President Trump has provided few details about his approach to his most important job as president: reducing the risks of unconstrained global nuclear competition and preventing a nuclear attack against the United States and our allies.

Instead, the new commander-in-chief has instructed the Pentagon to conduct another review of U.S. nuclear strategy, the fourth since the end of the Cold War and the first since President Obama completed a similar review in 2010.

The Nuclear Posture Review will, among other issues, assess how many nuclear weapons are necessary to deter nuclear attack and whether new types of nuclear weapons are necessary. The review may take a year or more to complete.

However, Trump's cryptic calls for the United States to "strengthen and expand" its already unparalleled nuclear capacity may encourage those who would like to overturn existing U.S. policy — which is to not develop new nuclear warheads or nuclear weapons for new military missions — in order to build new types of "more usable" nuclear warheads.

Last week, the House Armed Services Committee held hearings on nuclear deterrence strategy, including perspectives from members of a Defense Science Board panel that recommended in their Dec. 2016 report the development of a "tailored nuclear option for limited use."

Everything We Know About the U.S. Army's New Super Spy Plane

Kris Osborn

The EMARSS aircraft is configured to integrate a range of sensor packages such as Electro-Optical/Infrared cameras, full-motion video cameras and an imaging sensor technology known as Wide Area Surveillance System able to identify and produce images spanning over a given area of terrain, Army acquisition officials explained. 

EMARSS Follow-On Operational Test and Evaluation is coming up this month at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Smith said. 

The Army is also integrating EMARSS with several cutting-edge technologies, to include a Northrop Grumman-built Vehicle and Dismounted Exploitation Radar (VADER) radar imaging technology. VADER uses Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI).

The Army is testing a next-generation surveillance plane engineered to identify enemy targets quickly from the air with a high-tech datalink to connect on-board sensors and computers with a multi-source ground-based intelligence system.

The Army’s Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) is a fixed-wing surveillance plane with cameras, software, antennas, intelligence databases and electronic equipment.

Army moves toward fielding counter-UAS tools

With the amalgam of threats proliferating from small unmanned aerial systems — both from nation states and non-state actors — the Army is beginning to take steps at fielding countermeasures and aligning the formalization of integrating them into units. 

The most recent example is the fielding of the counter-UAS mobile integrated capability, or CMIC, which was tested during the Army Warfighting Assessment 17.1 over the fall. 

Briefing the development, fielding and exercising of the system at the Associated of the U.S. Army's Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, on Monday, Maj. Gen. Terrence McKenrick, commanding general of Joint Modernization Command, explained in broad terms four lines of counter-UAS efforts into which the Army is looking: 

Mission command: understanding how to integrate solutions into the force and make it effective. 

Detection: the ability to use radars and sensors to detect the threat of low, slow and small UASs. 

Determination: making the decision whether or not these UASs are a threat, friendly or unknown, and understanding how to respond accordingly. 

Defeat: being able to neutralize threatening UASs. 

Tomgram: Michael Klare, Winning World War II in the Twenty-First Century

by Michael Klare

The other day, I walked across much of Manhattan Island on the street where I grew up. Once upon a time, in a space of just four blocks along that very street there were four movie theaters (no small wonder in the 1950s). Only The Paris Theater, somewhat the worse for wear, still stands. Tao, a pan-Asian restaurant, has replaced one of them; the other two were obliterated, their buildings razed and built anew in a city that regularly eats itself for breakfast.

At one of those two, the RKO 58th Street, I spent a significant part of my childhood watching John Wayne, Audie Murphy, and other monumental war heroes of the big screen (and, in Murphy’s case, an actual war hero as well) go to hell and back defeating America’s enemies. It was, I have to say, thrilling. Sometimes I would be sitting there right next to my dad and who could have asked for better than that? After all, in World War II he had been operations officer for the First Air Commandos in Burma, so who knew better than he what war was all about? He took me to such films, watched them with me, and never, not once, told me that anything I had seen onscreen wasn’t the god’s honest truth about how it all went down.

The Importance of Cross-Cultural Capabilities to Win Armed Conflicts

by Magdalena Defort

“He [prince] should therefore never take his mind off military matters, and he should educate himself in them more in peace than in the time of war; As for the exercise, he should, apart from keeping his men well disciplined and trained, always be out hunting, and by that means accustom his bod to discomfort; and at the same time he must learn to understand geographical configurations, and see how mountains slope, how valleys open out and how plains lie…”

-- Niccolò Machiavelli[1]


This essay seeks solutions for how the Army can strengthen its landpower in terms of the comprehensible understanding and awareness of the human dimension (social, cultural and political systems) of the environment; therefore, it addresses the issues that pave the way for succeeding in every mission on foreign soil. An in-depth understanding of the diversity of cultures and their features strengthen the Army’s landpower influence. This can make it capable of supporting the regional aligned and local forces to address contemporary asymmetric threats. These include insurgency, violent extremists, civil war, organized crime, and instability from a variety of sources including spread of infectious diseases and resource competition.

Is Three-Dimensional (3D) Printing a Nuclear Proliferation Tool?

By Robert Kelley

Well, can 3D printers help produce a nuclear weapon? Robert Kelley believes that they provide few advantages to state or non-state proliferators who are trying to build a nuclear device on the sly. Nevertheless, our author recommends that European states should build up and maintain an awareness of cases where 3D technology could help bypass existing nuclear proliferation barriers.


Three-dimensional (3D) printing is an evolving technology that can produce objects from plastics and metals. It works by building up layers of material hardened by a laser. The process is driven by computers that generate the enabling laser beams from highly detailed computer drawings and models. The parts that can be produced can be accurate copies of the enabling drawings, but they will have different material properties from items produced by traditional manufacturing such as casting, forging and machining.

Popular press and more serious analysts have speculated that a complete nuclear weapon or gas centrifuge could be built using a 3D printer, detailed and accurate computer drawings, and appropriate materials. However, very specialized starting materials such as plutonium powder or high explosives would be required and are not readily available. In fact, there are many barriers to successfully manufacturing a complete nuclear weapon and in most cases 3D printing gives no advantage to a non-state proliferator, or even a state, trying to clandestinely build a weapon. This paper examines the technical limitations of the technology and makes suggestions for how European export regimes can build up and maintain an awareness of cases where it could enable the bypassing of nuclear proliferation barriers.

DARPA awards contract to rapidly restore power grid after cyberattack

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency set out in 2015 to mitigate the effects of cyberattacks on the U.S. electrical grid — one of the quintessential fears of modern cyberwarfare.

The research agency recently awarded BAE Systems a contract under this program, the Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization Systems, or RADICS, to develop technology that can quickly restore power to the grid following a fatal cyberattack.

DARPA’s program fits into three buckets, according to Victor Firoiu, senior principal engineer and manager of communications and networking at BAE: 

Technical area 1: detect anomalies and work to prevent cyberattacks. 

Technical area 2: assuming an attack was performed, isolate infected portions of the network and establish a secure emergency network to provide an alternative means of communication to other centers of the power grid. 

Technical area 3: forensics dealing with understanding the nature of the attack and cleaning up the network. 

BAE’s work is focusing on technical area 2, Firoiu told FifthDomain. The company’s solution, Firoiu said, doesn’t just isolate the infected portions of the network, but it also detects and disconnects unauthorized connections.

Who and why: Twin mysteries behind leak of CIA’s cybertools

It’s not just who did it, but why.

WikiLeaks’ release of nearly 8,000 documents that purportedly reveal secrets about the CIA’s tools for breaking into targeted computers, cellphones and even smart TVs has given rise to multiple theories about who stole the documents and for what reason.

Perhaps it was a U.S. spy or contractor who felt jilted. Maybe the CIA was exposed by a foreign country that wanted to embarrass U.S. intelligence. Could it have been a CIA insider worried about Americans’ privacy rights?

Some possible motives behind last week’s disclosure:
From the Source

In a statement released with the documents, the anti-secrecy group launched by Julian Assange in 2006 said the source told the organization that there are policy questions in urgent need of public debate Among them were “whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers” and the “problem of public oversight of the agency.”

The CIA, while not confirming that the documents are authentic, isn’t necessarily buying that explanation.