31 July 2017

The U.S. Army Needs a New Tank (Maybe Armed with Railguns and Lasers?)

Dave Majumdar

The main battle tank is not likely to disappear into the history books as the horse cavalry units of old did during the early part of the 20th Century, but technological advancements might fundamentally change the nature of future armored vehicles. The U.S. Army is currently conducting an analysis of alternatives on what a future family of armored vehicles might look like.

“Are we sort of at that point in history where armored mechanized vehicles are going the way of horse cavalry?” U.S. Army chief of staff Gen. Mark A. Milley told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t think so, but I’m skeptical, so I’m going to continue to ask that.”

The 40-year-old M1 Abrams main battle tank remains a capable tank, but it is starting to show its age. As Milley noted, the long-serving vehicles have been extensively upgraded over the years and bears little resemblance to their original configurations under their skins. Almost everything on the vehicles have been completely revamped.

But the Abrams is likely at the very limits of its capabilities—the service needs a new tank.

“We do need a new ground armored platform for our mechanized infantry and our tanks,” Milley said.

The Nuclear Spirit of Iran



One almost has to admire Iran’s chutzpah. On Wednesday after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, 419-3, which would impose sanctions on Iran’s ballistic-missile program, its foreign ministry called the legislation “illegal and insulting.” On Thursday Iran made a scheduled launch of a huge missile, which it says will put 550-pound satellites into orbit.

The only people who should feel surprised or insulted by this are Barack Obama and John Kerry, who midwifed the 2015 nuclear-weapons agreement with the untrustworthy Iranians. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert rightly called the missile launch a violation of the spirit of that agreement.

That is as far as she can take it because Iran’s ballistic-missile program wasn’t formally in the nuclear agreement, despite Mr. Kerry’s statements of concern during negotiations. In the end he wanted a deal more than limits on those missiles. We assume Iran’s missile engineers are at least as competent as those in North Korea, which is approaching the ability to deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Advocates of the nuclear deal persist in arguing that Iran is in compliance with its provisions. It takes considerable credulousness to believe that over the course of this agreement the Iranian military won’t adapt technical knowledge gained about launch and guidance from projects like its “satellite missile” program. With or without compliance, Iran is making progress as a strategic threat.

Trump's Love of 'Winning' Could Lead America into a Costly War

Christopher A. Preble

A grim reality is sinking into the minds of the average American—“We don’t win anymore.”

This notion doesn’t sit well in a country that bested Nazi Germany and the Empire of the Rising Sun, put a man on the moon, outlasted the Soviet Union in the Cold War and drove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in a matter of days. Thatcountry shouldn’t struggle so mightily to defeat insurgent groups whose most lethal weapon is explosives fashioned from common household items and discarded artillery shells or old landmines. 

Our failure to win was a frequent refrain during Donald Trump’s successful campaign. And it resonated. His solution was elegantly simple to say, but devilishly difficult to implement: Fight harder, or stop fighting.

Once in office, the commander-in-chief continued to lament the sorry state of the nation’s military, and hinted that he wasn’t above walking away from a hopeless contest. “We never win, and we don’t fight to win,” he told the nation’s governors in February. And he promised, “We’ve either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.”

But, five months later, Donald Trump is learning how hard it is to leave. That doesn’t mean, however, he has figured out how to win.

The Operational Environment and the Changing Character of Future Warfare


The Operational Environment and the Changing Character of Future Warfare

The U.S. military, and therefore, the U.S. Army, finds itself at a historical inflection point, where disparate, yet related elements of the Operational Environment (OE) are converging, creating a situation where fast moving trends across the Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic (DIME) spheres are rapidly transforming the nature of all aspects of society and human life – including the character of warfare.

In The Operational Environment and the Changing Character of Future Warfare, the first part of this paper describes how technology will impact how we live, create, think and prosper. The authors use this description to make an assessment on the OE and its implication on the future of warfare through 2050, which in their view is a continuum divided into two distinct timeframes:

- The Era of Accelerated Human Progress, 2017-2035, which relates to a period where our adversaries can take advantage of new technologies, new doctrine and revised strategic concepts to effectively challenge U.S. military forces across multiple domains.

- The Era of Contested Equality, 2035-2050, which is marked by significant breakthroughs in technology and convergences in terms of capabilities leading to significant changes in the character of warfare. During this period, traditional aspects of warfare undergo dramatic, almost revolutionary changes which at the end of this timeframe may even challenge the very nature of warfare itself.

Sebi to meet bourses, discuss cyber security, technical glitches


Regulator Sebi will discuss with stock exchanges tomorrow measures that need to be taken to avoid recurrence of 'technical glitches' at bourses, as also steps to bolster cyber security framework, regulatory and market sources said.

Regulator Sebi will discuss with stock exchanges tomorrow measures that need to be taken to avoid recurrence of ‘technical glitches’ at bourses, as also steps to bolster cyber security framework, regulatory and market sources said. The move comes in the wake of a technical glitch at country’s largest stock exchange NSE, which led to halting of trading activities for over three hours on July 10. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) will discuss issues, including the exchanges’ back-up arrangements, disaster recovery plans and what more needs to be done to avoid such recurrences, regulatory sources said.

Among others, the regulator may also review norms pertaining to improve risk management to tackle volume at stock exchanges. Besides, the regulator will discuss measures to strengthen cyber security framework. Recently, slew of dreaded ransomware attacks, like WannaCry and Petya, had impacted the computer systems worldwide. Meanwhile, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) has already submitted its report on the technical glitch to Sebi.

U.S. Cyber Diplomacy Requires More than an Office

By David P. Fidler

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s decision to close the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues and fold its responsibilities into the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs has provoked widespread criticism. Critics often express two arguments. First, the decision signals that the Trump administration is downgrading cyber’s importance in U.S. foreign policy. Second, the decision means the United States will forgo the benefits a cyber-focused unit within the State Department can generate. Neither argument is persuasive, which undermines calls for the Trump administration to maintain the office.

It was clear well before Secretary Tillerson’s decision that the Trump administration was not going to emphasize cyberspace in foreign policy as the Obama administration did. Closing the cyber coordinator’s office is consistent with the Trump administration’s marginalization of cyber issues in foreign policy. Nothing communicates this attitude better than the White House’s refusal to confront Russia’s cyber interference in the 2016 election and, instead, express a desire to establish a joint cybersecurity unit with Russia. Closing the office is also consistent with the administration’s marginalization of the State Department in its “America First” foreign policy.

Army Chief of Staff Milley Meets the Press

By Sandra Erwin

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley came to the National Press Club Thursday to push his case for a bigger Army and to call for greater public support for a larger defense budget.

But it was hard to get that message across in the wake of President Trump’s recent Twitter controversy that engulfed the Pentagon. The president tweeted Wednesday that transgender people would no longer be allowed to enlist or serve in the military.

Milley confirmed what other senior officials told various news outlets: The Pentagon was completely blindsided by the presidential pronouncement. Milley and his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff were in reaction mode Thursday; he said he learned about Trump’s order, like everyone else, from the news.

A transgender ban, he noted, is a “complex issue” that requires a thorough policy review that would be led by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. Whatever policy is agreed to by the civilian and military leadership would then be implemented by the armed services. “So that’s where I’m at right now,” Milley said somewhat apologetically, knowing that he was going to disappoint an audience that wanted more details.

30 July 2017

Doklam is not about a road

by Praveen Swami

Doklam, like other recent stand-offs in Depsang or Demchok, is not about a road: It is is a message about China’s ire at India building alliances with its adversaries in Asia, and with the US. Beijing seeks, through the threat of force, to instruct India on how countries ought to conduct themselves.

Europe’s wars of the future, the Spanish general Manuel Fernández Silvestre y Patinga wrote in 1910, “will be concluded in one day’s hard fighting”. He had observed the Japan-Russia war, where armies fighting with new technologies like rapid-fire field guns and repeating small arms had become locked in entrenched, positional warfare. For him, like most contemporaries, the Japanese victory showed élan would overcome the machine: “The officers quit shelter with ringing shouts of Banzai,” wrote an enthused French observer, “wildly echoed by all the rank and file”.

The general, the millions sent to their death in the First World War showed, had learned the wrong lesson: In fact, Russia had been brought to its knees by economic crisis and political revolution. Even at the battle of Mukden, the collapsing Russians inflicted 70,000 casualties while losing 20,000 to the attacking Japanese.

Banker and part-time war theorist Jan Bloch, in an 1898 book, had predicted just this: “The future of war”, he wrote, “is not fighting, but famine, not the slaying of men, but the bankruptcy of nations and the breakup of the whole social organisation”.

Geopolitics, home stress in Colombo’s new Hambantota deal

by Nirupama Subramanian

On Tuesday, the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe finalised an agreement to sell an 80% stake of the Hambantota Port's operations for $1.1 billion to China Merchant Ports Holding Company Ltd, which also has the contract for the Colombo Port.

Inaugurating the first phase of the Magumpura Mahinda Rajapakse Port at Hambantota on his birthday on November 18, 2010, Rajapakse, who was then the President of Sri Lanka, said the port, named after him, symbolised Sri Lanka’s aspiration to be part of Asia’s emergence.

“We have shown this by completing this stage of the Magumpura Port even before its target date. This was possible due to the total commitment of the people of China and Sri Lanka. The people of Sri Lanka offer their warmest gratitude to the people and government of China,” Rajapakse said.

On Tuesday, the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe finalised an agreement to sell an 80% stake in the port’s operations for $ 1.1 billion to China Merchant Ports Holding Company Ltd, which also has the contract for the Colombo Port. Sri Lanka took this step to service the debt on the loan it took from Exim Bank China to build the port, the repayment amounting to SL Rs 9.1 billion ($ 60 million) annually. The cabinet paper on the agreement will be discussed in Parliament on Friday, and the agreement is expected to be signed on July 29.

Will Donald Trump Privatize the Afghanistan War?


Is the Trump administration going to hand over U.S. peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan to private mercenaries?

This is now the big question in national security policy circles. It follows last week’s The New York Times report that Erik Prince, the founder of private security firm Blackwater, and Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire financier who owns defense contracting giant DynCorp International, have been lobbying the Pentagon to replace troops in Afghanistan with contractors.

Prince outlined his proposed solution in a recent The Wall Street Journalop-ed. A “MacArthur model,” with an “American viceroy” leading a force of “private military units.”

Feinberg’s plan, according to the Times, calls for more collaboration with the Afghan government, but it would also use private fighters—possibly even DynCorp employees—and would put the CIA in command.

Both men pitched their ideas directly to Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the behest of Pres. Donald Trump’s advisors Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner.

The news is deeply troubling. There is an obvious conflict of interest in letting contractors devise a military strategy that relies entirely on contractors. In addition, the two pitchmen who stand to profit from it symbolize the worst aspects of outsourcing.

What would happen if the United States totally disengaged from Afghanistan?


By Max Bearak 

KABUL — The United States' longest war doesn't look like it will end anytime soon. 

Sixteen years have passed. Nearly 2,400 U.S. troops have died. More than $700 billion has been spent. But talk of “winning” is scarce. 

The goal now seems more akin to “not losing.” 

The Taliban is present in nearly half the country's districts, and the group regularly attacks Kabul and provincial capitals. A fledgling Islamic State affiliate is proving hard to eliminate in the mountainous east. The popularity of the American mission here has eroded into cynicism as the war grinds on. Afghan civilians and security forces are dying in record numbers — and more than 600 civilians were killed by NATO or government-aligned forces last year. Casualties among Afghan security forces soared by 35 percent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed, according to U.S. government watchdog SIGAR. 

Perpetual conflict and lack of opportunity are driving thousands of Afghan youths to either flee the country or join militant groups. Discontent with the government and the revival of ethnic rivalries are threatening to plunge the country into political chaos, or worse. Regional powers such as Iran, Pakistan and Russia advance their own strategic interests in Afghanistan, often at the cost of American objectives. 

Will Afghanistan's Minerals Shape Trump's Policy Toward the Region?

By Ahmad Shah Katawazai

Afghanistan’s mineral wealth could help kickstart the economy, but beware of the resource curse. 

In addition to Afghanistan’s geopolitical and geostrategic importance, its lucrative mineral resources — estimated to be worth between $1 and $3 trillion — could be one of the major justifications for the United States to remain in the fragile state.

Afghanistan is considered to be sitting on one of the richest troves of minerals in the world. The abundance and wide range of natural resources in the country have the potential to provide the backbone for a sustainable economy. While strategic minerals may give Afghanistan a special advantage in attracting international investment, those mineral resources could turn into a resource curse as Afghanistan struggles with the hostility of its neighbors, internal ethnic fractions, rising insecurity, active insurgency, corruption, warlordism, absence of proper and effective institutions, and more importantly the absence of necessary precautionary measures.

Afghanistan has long been a foreign aid dependent country. With the economy in very poor condition, there is one thing that can possibly shift Afghanistan’s unstable economy into a stable one: the proper exploitation of its mineral wealth. At the time when critics are frustrated with the United States’ role in Afghanistan after 16 years of war and billions spent in the country, there is a hope that Afghanistan’s untapped mineral wealth will kick-start the economy, reduce its dependency on foreign aid, and ultimately help the country stand on its feet. The revenue generated through commercial mining projects will pave the way for the country to end their reliance on foreign aid, promote industrial socioeconomic development, and engender positive economic conditions at the national level, which will undermine insurgency and provide alternative economic development while ensuring stability.

Afghanistan: All That Glitters Is Not Gold

By Catherine Putz

The Trump administration would benefit from recalling the cautionary adage “All that glitters is not gold” when contemplating the theoretical wealth of resources hidden in Afghanistan’s hills.

The administration — which has delayed unveiling an Afghanistan strategy so far — has apparently become enamored with estimates of what minerals lie buried in the graveyard of empires. The New York Times reported earlier this week that Trump, “searching for a reason to keep the United States in Afghanistan after 16 years of war, has latched on to” the prospect of capitalizing on the country’s mineral wealth. The president’s advisers, and Afghan officials, the Times says, “have told him [these resources] could be profitably extracted by Western companies.”

The Times’ report links the president’s ambivalence about remaining engaged in Afghanistan or sending additional troops with his dealmaking bravado. “Mr. Trump,” the Times writes, “… has suggested that this could be one justification for the United States to stay engaged in the country.”

And indeed, Afghan officials push a similar line, emphasizing that mineral resource extraction could provide the kind of revenue that weans Kabul from foreign aid. But neither party in this debate is quite objective about the challenges, clear about their own intentions, or honest about the knock-on effects of attempting to reorient U.S. engagement in Afghanistan toward resource extraction.

China's Artificial Intelligence Revolution

By Elsa Kania

A new AI development plan calls for China to become the world leader in the field by 2030. 

On July 20, China’s State Council issued the “Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan” (新一代人工智能发展规划), which articulates an ambitious agenda for China to lead the world in AI. China intends to pursue a “first-mover advantage” to become the “premier global AI innovation center” by 2030. Through this new strategic framework, China will advance a “three in one” agenda in AI: tackling key problems in research and development, pursuing a range of products and applications, and cultivating an AI industry. The Chinese leadership thus seeks to seize a “major strategic opportunity” to advance its development of AI, potentially surpassing the United States in the process.

This new plan, which will be implemented by a new AI Plan Promotion Office within the Ministry of Science and Technology, outlines China’s objectives for advances in AI in three stages.

Italy Looms On The Eurozone's Horizon

by Adriano Bosoni

The skies may not be clear, but these days Europe's leaders are more relaxed than they were when the year began under foreboding clouds. Economic growth is gaining momentum and unemployment is slowly going down. More important, voters in France rejected candidates opposed to the European Union, and moderate forces will remain in power after September's general elections in Germany. But while things are relatively calm in the eurozone's two main economies, the next big challenge for the currency area will come from its third-largest member, Italy. The country has to hold general elections by May, and the vote will take place amid discontent with the status quo, which in many cases includes skepticism about the euro. Given the size of the Italian economy and the depth of its problems, the country's politics could have consequences far beyond Italy's borders.

Italy was one of the founding members of the eurozone in the late 1990s, and its decision to join the bloc was controversial both at home and abroad. Some observers argued that Italy was not prepared to enter the currency area, while others warned that abandoning the lira, which Italian governments would often devalue to regain competitiveness in times of crisis, could adversely affect the economy. More optimistic commentators said eurozone membership would force the Italian authorities to be more fiscally disciplined. In the end, Rome made the geopolitically driven decision to be among the currency area's founders, in the same way it had been for the European Communities in the 1950s.

The Surprisingly Simple Reason North Korea Has Nuclear Weapons

Robert E Kelly

Pyongyang knows there is no way to use their weapons for gain that would not immediately provoke massive counter-costs.

Since the launch of a North Korean medium- to long-range intercontinental missile this month, there has been much anxiety about Pyongyang’s ability to strike U.S. cities. It seems likely that North Korea can at least strike Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage. Some analysts have suggested Pyongyang already has the capability to strike the east coast of the United States. Skepticism may be warranted. North Korea may have trouble with missile reentry, guidance, warhead miniaturization and other technical issues. But nonetheless, it appears quite likely that if Pyongyang does not yet have the ability to strike the lower forty-eight American states, it will soon. Last month, I suggested the United States is on countdown of sorts. North Korea is rushing toward a nuclear ICBM, and Americans will soon be forced to adapt to it, or fight. It seems that decision fork is coming sooner than many expected.

Striking North Korea would be incredibly risky, and the United States has learned to live with other states’ nuclear missilization. Russia, China and Pakistan are powers whom Washington would almost certainly prefer were not nuclear. Yet the United States has adjusted. Each of those three, including Pakistan, has treated its weapons reasonably carefully. There has not been the much-feared accidental launch or hand-off to terrorist groups. All appear to think of their nuclear weapons as defensive and for deterrence purposes. Indeed, the offensive potential of nuclear weapons is curiously constrained. They would so devastate an enemy that conquest of said enemy would be pointless—who wants to take-over an irradiated wasteland? Plus, nuclear use would likely bring nuclear retaliation on the attacker, in which case any benefit of a war would be lost to the huge costs of nuclear destruction in the homeland.

North Korea's New KN19 Coastal Defense Cruise Missile: More Than Meets the Eye

By Ankit Panda

North Korea’s new coastal defense cruise missile is notable for more than its integrated all-terrain launcher. 

On June 8, 2017, North Korea carried out the first-ever test of its Kumsong-3 coastal defense cruise missile (CDCM) from near Wonsan, on the country’s east coast. The system, which is known by the U.S. government as the KN19 and was first seen at the April 15, 2017, parade in Pyongyang, is based on a much older ship-based Kumsong-3 anti-ship cruise missile (known by the U.S. government as the KN01), which is itself based on the Soviet-designed Zvedza Kh-35 anti-ship cruise missile. The new CDCM configuration is recognizable by its distinct integrated, all-terrain launcher, which features four missile canisters.

North Korea has had a stockpile of Russian Kh-35 Uran missiles in its possession since at least the mid-1990s and has even exported it to third countries, including Myanmar, whose navy has incorporated Kumsong-3 launchers on its F11 Aung Zeya-class frigate.

The Korean People’s Navy also features the Kumsong-3 as a primary weapon system on its new corvette and, in February 2015, Kim Jong-un observed a ship-based test launch. Despite the long-known status of this system, the June 2017 test of this system generated some attention, given the novelty of the caterpillar-treaded transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) configuration.

The Case for Cursing

By KRISTIN WONG

You know when you stub your toe and involuntarily utter an expletive? You probably didn’t give it much thought, but you might have been on to something.

As children we’re taught that cursing, even when we’re in pain, is inappropriate, betrays a limited vocabulary or is somehow low class in that ambiguous way many cultural lessons suggest. But profanity serves a physiological, emotional and social purpose — and it’s effective only because it’s inappropriate.

“The paradox is that it’s that very act of suppression of the language that creates those same taboos for the next generation,” said Benjamin K. Bergen, author of “What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains and Ourselves.” He calls this the “profanity paradox.”

“The reason that a child thinks the F-word is a bad word is that, growing up, he or she was told that it was a bad word, so profanity is a cultural construct that perpetuates itself through time,” said Dr. Bergen, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego. “It’s an affliction of its own creation.”

Management vs. Leadership...Are they mutually exclusive?


FollowKirk A. Johnson

What is the distinguishing characteristic between management and leadership? Are they mutually exclusive from each other? The distinction between management and leadership has often been based on viewing management as “doing things right” whereas leadership is seen as “doing the right things”. Management is often described as a mechanical and administrative activity, whereas leadership is viewed as involving change and developing more effective organizations. Managers are often viewed as applicants of rational problem solving, sometimes referred to as “organizational engineers” who use objective technical criteria to achieve well-known goals. Leadership however, is viewed as the process of creating a social organism or “living enterprise” that is active, capable of changing, and responsive to the environment.

Each of these views is incomplete in its description of the management/leadership role in real organizations. Each perspective emphasizes certain aspects of the management/leadership role while ignoring other interpretations. These incomplete views have inhibited our ability to understand the increasingly complex management/leadership process.

THE NUCLEAR BAN TREATY IS WAY OFF TARGET

MATTHEW COSTLOW

A coalition of nations and non-government organizations recently concluded negotiations at the United Nations on the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” an internationally legally-binding document that would ban the signatories from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, possessing, transferring, stockpiling, hosting, or using nuclear weapons. The treaty will be open for signature on September 20 and is expected to easily pass with one, make that, over 35 major caveats.

No nuclear weapon-possessing state, or any state covered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella of extended deterrence, is expected to vote in favor of the treaty. The only state from this group to even attend the negotiations, the Netherlands, voted against the treaty language.

When the treaty is formally adopted, it will indeed be a historic accomplishment. But, it will remain to be seen whether it will attain the historic fame of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty — which successfully banned an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons — or historic infamy, like the Kellogg-Briand Pact — which (very) unsuccessfully banned war as an instrument of the state.

Women, Peace and Security in Professional Military Education

by Joan Johnson-Freese

The first US National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace & Security (WPS) was issued in 2011, as a call to action “to accelerate, institutionalize, and better coordinate efforts to advance women’s inclusion in peace negotiations, peacebuilding activities, and conflict prevention and response; to protect women and girls from gender-based violence; and to ensure safe, equitable access to relief and recovery assistance in areas of conflict and insecurity.” The NAP substantively drew its goals from United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), passed with US support, and was updated in 2016.

Any call to action requires an implementation plan. Key elements of the WPS NAP include raising knowledge about the WPS agenda within the US Defense Department, including through educational curriculum at regional centers and senior service schools. The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) in Honolulu, HI, for example, is cited in the 2016 NAP for having issued an implementation strategy in 2014 that includes objectives ensuring WPS elements “are incorporated into the curriculum, promoting and maintaining a WPS community of interest, and achieving a goal of 25 percent female participation in all resident courses.” The 2016 NAP also states, “Senior Service Schools have established WPS leads that work to enhance WPS coordination, implementation, and accountability within specific sectors and contexts.”

"Steeling" For A Trade War

by Dan Steinbock

Steel is Becoming a US Security Concern - and Global Trade War Threat

As the White House seeks to turn steel overcapacity into a national security matter, the issue is alienating not only China but America’s NATO allies.

US President Donald Trump declared during a recent flight from the US to France, on the eve of his administration’s first Sino-US Comprehensive Economic Dialogue (CED), also known as Diplomatic and Security Dialogue (D&SD):

'They're dumping steel and destroying our steel industry, they've been doing it for decades, and I'm stopping it. It'll stop. There are two ways: quotas and tariffs. Maybe I'll do both."

Only days after China’s US Ambassador Cui Tiankai warned the US on “troubling developments" that could derail the bilateral relationship, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he would present Trump a range of options to restrict steel imports on national security grounds - even as Europe’s NATO leaders were already lobbying against the White House’s steel efforts.

Steel overcapacity as a national security threat

After the Trump-Xi Summit in early April, the US and China announced a 100-Day Action Plan to improve strained trade ties and boost cooperation between two nations. “This may be ambitious, but it’s a big sea change in the pace of discussions," Wilbur Ross said at the time.

The US Army’s Next Big 5 Must Be Capabilities, Not New Platforms

BY RHYS MCCORMICK

The service’s weapons are increasingly unsuited for tomorrow’s battlefields, but there’s too little time and money to start from scratch.

One of the most confounding discussions in defense circles these days is how to go about modernizing the Army. Almost everyone supports it in principle, but several critical questions remain: What should the future of the Army be, why is that Army needed, how and when should we build it, and how can we afford it? This state of confusion is particularly dangerous because threats to land forces are growing even as the Army’s modernization program has been hit with a triple whammy: steep modernization funding reductions, vanishing investment in new systems, and a missed procurement cycle during the last buildup. The Army finds itself today at a precipice where it can no longer continue to underinvest in modernization without significant risk to tomorrow’s warfighter. Army leadership needs a strategy for modernization that establishes clear, compelling priorities for increased investment that can deliver more resilience, mobility, and lethality to Army units in the near, medium, and longer terms.

Hyten Outlines STRATCOM Overhaul; Nukes Sooner For F-35?

By COLIN CLARK

OMAHA: Strategic Command chief Gen. John Hyten today confirmed, more than two months after news first broke of a shift, that he’s ordered a series of sweeping changes at STRATCOM.

Basically, he got rid of the Joint Functional Component Commands for space, global strike, cyber, integrated missile defense, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and whittled them down to one for space, one for air, one for maritime and one for missile defense. (Actually, Congress got rid of one component for him by making Cyber Command independent). They are also now called Joint Force Component Commands, so we’ve got the same acronym but a different name. That will drive people mad until Hyten, with his crystal clear mind, realizes they must be changed.

In addition to the JFCCs, Hyten abolished the six nuclear task forces that were responsible for airborne tankers, Atlantic and Pacific nuclear missile submarines, strategic communications, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft, and land-based ICBMs. Instead, they are grouped, logically, within the four commanders now responsible to him.

The biggest command change involves Gen. Jay Raymond, the head of Air Force Space Command. As Breaking D readers know, the position was elevated to a four-star billet and became the space JFCC.

3D-Printed Gun Designs Are Selling for $12 on the Dark Web

BY PATRICK TUCKER

A new report shows just how easy it is becoming to download designs for difficult-to-trace arms.

In the darker corners of the Internet where search engines cannot go, black markets offer pistols, machine guns, even explosives — and most worrisome to security researchers, computer aided design, or CAD, files for 3D-printed guns.

A new report from RAND looked at 811 weapons listings on a dozen dark-web markets, which continue to thrive despite the shuttering of sites like the Silk Road and, just this month, AlphaBay. Firearms were the top-selling category, with was 339 active listings, roughly 42 percent of the market. But the next-largest share, with 222 listings, was a variety of digital products, from build-it-yourself explosives manuals to CAD files. 

The researchers note such digital products pose “additional challenges,” to law enforcement.

“While guides and manuals on how to make bombs at home were illegally circulating on the web well before the establishment of cryptomarkets, the level of accessibility provided by these platforms represents reason for high concern among policy makers and practitioners,” they write.

Arms watchers have been fretting about 3D-printed guns for years. In 2014, European researchers with the Small Arms Survey presented a working paper to the United Nations that featured an entire chapter on the 3D-printed future.

How The IPhone Changed Apple In 10 Years


When the iPhone came around in 2007, there were many sceptics.

Please share this article - Go to very top of page, right hand side, for social media buttons.

Would people really spend so much money on a phone? Would the touchscreen interface really work? And would people be willing to adapt to life without physical buttons?

Ten years later, buttons are a thing of the past, smartphones are at the center of many people’s lives and Apple is the most profitable company in the world.

Our chart illustrates how Apple has changed since the iPhone release in 2007 by comparing key metrics for the company's fiscal years 2006 and 2016.
You will find more statistics at Statista.

US Cyber Diplomacy Has Bigger Problems Than the Closure of its Coordination Office

BY DAVID FIDLERV

The Trump administration isn’t making it a foreign policy priority. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s decision to close the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues and fold its responsibilities into the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs has provoked widespread criticism. Critics often express two arguments. First, the decision signals that the Trump administration is downgrading cyber’s importance in U.S. foreign policy. Second, the decision means the United States will forgo the benefits a cyber-focused unit within the State Department can generate. Neither argument is persuasive, which undermines calls for the Trump administration to maintain the office.

It was clear well before Secretary Tillerson’s decision that the Trump administration was not going to emphasize cyberspace in foreign policy as the Obama administration did. Closing the cyber coordinator’s office is consistent with the Trump administration’s marginalization of cyber issues in foreign policy. Nothing communicates this attitude better than the White House’s refusal to confront Russia’s cyber interference in the 2016 election and, instead, express a desire to establish a joint cybersecurity unit with Russia. Closing the office is also consistent with the administration’s marginalization of the State Department in its “America First” foreign policy.

US 'approach to defending our country in cyberspace ... is broken'

By: Mark Pomerleau

Why are the protocols and rules of engagement for defending cyberspace seemingly different than in the physical world? Especially when it comes to defending the private sector?

If a missile hit a private company, there is no question what the protocols would be. However, cyberspace offers a different paradigm, leading retired Army Gen. Keith Alexander, the former National Security Agency director and U.S. Cyber Command commander, to say “our approach to defending our country in cyberspace is not where it needs to be. It’s broken.”

During an appearance at an event hosted by the Aspen Institute July 18, Alexander outlined his vision for defending the nation in cyberspace, noting that the gist of this plan is what he briefed to President Trump during a recent meeting on securing the nation.

Alexander explained that most agree the government and private sector own this responsibility; however, for the private sector, if they can’t see what or who is attacking them, they can’t ask for help.

“If a nation state were to throw a missile into Sony it would be Northern Command’s responsibility to stop that missile because Northern Command can see the missile coming in. NORAD would see it, they would work and shoot down that missile, hopefully. That’s a military response,” he said. “In cyber, the issue is how do you create the rules of engagement that go at network speed? Remember shooting down a missile you got 25-30 minutes … In cyber it can go around the world [in] 134 milliseconds.”

Exclusive peek inside Cyber Command's premiere annual exercise: Cyber Flag


By: Mark Pomerleau

Practice makes perfect. For America's cyber teams, the last stage of their validation and certification to achieving full operational capability occurs at the annual Cyber Guard and Cyber Flag training exercises.

While Cyber Guard games whole-of-nation defense in a simulated disaster. Cyber Flag is "a joint and combined military exercise focused on training and validating the Cyber Mission Force's capabilities and readiness to execute all phases of conflict across defensive and offensive capabilities of USCYBERCOM's assigned mission area responsibilities in support of Combatant Commands," according to U.S. Cyber Command.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. David Dermanelian, director of exercises and training with CYBERCOM J7, detailed for Fifth Domain the four primary training objectives at Cyber Flag this year during an exclusive walk-through of the exercise:

Identify how the military can include cyber effects in an operation. 

Determine if teams can identify characteristics of the terrain — either in an offensive or defensive environment, depending on the team's mission set. 

CYBER ATTACKS ON CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE: INSIGHTS FROM WAR GAMING

JACQUELYN SCHNEIDER

An April 2017 issue of The Economist headlined with the dire warning: “Computers will never be safe.” The headline seems especially prescient given the last few months, as reports of major cyber attacks have flooded international media. From Wannacry, Petya, and attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure to reports of Russian hacking attempts on U.S. nuclear reactors and electoral hacking, cyber vulnerabilities are outpacing our ability to defend against malicious cyber threats.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team says it has never seen so many successful exploitation attempts on the control system layer of industrial systems. That means hackers are increasingly infiltrating the networks of major industrial operations all the way down to the sensors and systems that manage our digitized worlds. Major U.S. infrastructures — electric grids, dams, wastewater, and critical manufacturing — are vulnerable to physical damage from cyber attack.

This has created a unique national security problem for the United States. For the first time in modern American history, a prolific set of adversaries can target the homeland with little warning and at low cost. This creates a soft-underbelly target for state and non-state actors motivated by greed, opportunism, radical beliefs, or good old-fashioned state coercion.

Counties Are on the Front Lines of Cyber War


BY MITCH HERCKIS

That was his message to a roomful of county officials at the National Association of Counties Tech Town Hall on Saturday and in an interview with Route Fifty, a Defense One sister publication, afterward.

Allen is no slouch on these issues. Perhaps best known for his command of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces in Afghanistan over his 38-year military career, and service as Deputy Commander of U.S. Central Command, he has significant expertise on cyber warfare. He currently serves as co-director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence.

On Saturday, he laid out for the participants a world where advanced cyber spies across the world were actively laying the groundwork for cyber-attacks and information operations against our nation to weaken the United States. He focused on the “4 plus 1”—consisting of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, as well as extremist groups that are “taking advantage of the weaknesses in our system.”

Allen made it clear that he is in the camp that agrees with the intelligence community’s assessment that, when it comes to our election operations, “we know that Russia was deep in our systems.”

This is How the Space Race Changed the Great Power Rivalry Forever

Martand Jha

The zeal the United States and USSR had to outperform one another in the Space Race was beneficial to scientific progress.

The Space Race between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics post World War II was a tipping point in the history of mankind. This superpower race intensified the Cold War rivalry because for the first time mankind was looking to compete in the arena of space. Dominance over space and the race to outdo one another became a matter of pride for both the United States and USSR.

The competition to conquer space was so huge that a new benchmark was set by one of the two superpowers almost every year throughout 1950s and 1960s. There were many “firsts” during the Space Race. The first intercontinental ballistic missile in 1957, the first artificial satellite (Sputnik 1) in 1957, the first dog in orbit (sent by Sputnik 2) in 1957, the first solar-powered satellite, the first communication satellite, etc.

The Space Race didn’t just leave an impact on the area of space research, it left a wider impact in the field of technology. The technological superiority required for the dominance of space was deemed a necessity for national security, and it was symbolic of ideological superiority. The Space Race spawned pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites. It prompted competitive countries to send unmanned space probes to the Moon, Venus and Mars. It also made possible human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon.