6 May 2018

F-35 Brains in an F-22 Body: Thinking Through Japan's Next-Generation Fighter Options

By Robert Farley

The aviation world went bonkers early this week when news emerged that Lockheed Martin has proposed offering a hybrid of the F-22 and F-35 to Japan. The fighter, which would come in addition to the purchase of at least 60 F-35s, would combine elements of the two fighters to presumably produce one of the world’s most formidable combat aircraft. Japan has previously adopted several American designs, including the F-15J and the F-2 (an outgrowth of the F-16). It sought F-22s, but could not acquire them because of the Obey Amendment, a law intended to prevent transfer of the Raptor. The future of Japan’s own stealth fighter project remains in grave doubt after news emerged last month that the country would seek external technological assistance with the program. Japan has already begun purchase of the F-35, but it wants an additional fighter to carry out interceptor duties across its airspace. The threat of incursions from China and Russia has driven this concern.

5 May 2018

Petro-Goods Under GST Is Not Going To Happen, So Why Bull***T About It?

by R Jagannathan

Faced with media and opposition pressure to bring down fuel prices by cutting petroleum taxes, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has been touting the need to bring petro-products under the goods and services tax (GST)It ain’t happening. While throwing in the red herring of GST may be a good diversionary tactic, it won’t work. Both Centre and states have too much revenue at stake to allow this to happen; and if petro-goods revenues must be protected even under GST, we will have an even more complicated GST structure than we now have. So, it is best to throw talk of petro-goods under GST out of the window. Outraging over high pump prices may give talking points for out-of-work former finance ministers like P Chidambaram, but it is neither good politics not good economics (for reasons why one says this, read here).

China-India Wuhan Summit April 2018: Competing Geopolitical Perspectives

By Dr Subhash Kapila

The China-India Informal Summit between Indian PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan, China on April 27-28 201 8 was high on hopes and media hype. Competing geopolitical ambitions, perspectives and politic narratives of China and India cannot be subsumed in hopes only. China-India relations could emerge as a global game-changer only when Chinese President Xi Jinping seizes a Nixonian-type moment by spinning China’s India policy on its head to put China on a more accommodative and respectful mode in its policy approaches to India. China has to come up with a dramatic geopolitical outreach to India completely divorced from existing policy templates.

In Canada, a Trade War Emerges

Source Link

No matter which party is in power in Ottawa or Edmonton, Canada and Alberta will be compelled to push for more pipeline options to unlock further growth for their energy exports. British Columbia's tendency to reject pipeline projects on environmental grounds will put it on a collision course with its neighbor and the federal government. While Alberta is threatening to cut off oil and fuel shipments to British Columbia, the courts will rule on the legality of such measures.

Taliban Control of Afghan Districts Remains Unchanged Despite Increased U.S. Military Pressure

Bill Roggio and Alexandra Gutowski

The latest report by the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) indicates that the Taliban’s control of districts as of the end of Jan. 2018 remains virtually unchanged. The Taliban continue to maintain its grip on half of Afghanistan, despite U.S. military’s reinvigorated effort to force the group from its strongholds. The U.S. Department of Defense and Resolute Support (RS), NATO’s command in Afghanistan, provides the district control data to SIGAR. SIGAR’s data is dated as of Jan. 31, 2018. According to the SIGAR report, the Afghan government controls or influences 229 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts (56.3%). The Taliban controls or influences 59 districts (14.5%). The remaining 119 districts (29.2%) are contested.

Will China Replace the US Global Role?

By Xue Li and Cheng Zhangxi

Our previous article suggested that China may be committed to building a world order governed by the ancient Chinese concept of li (礼). Such an order regards propriety as the key means to conducting relationships; is based on a concentric zone structure; and is open. While this order is compatible with the current international system, the majority of the members will be China’s neighboring countries, as well as a small number of countries from other continents. By the time this order is fully established, will China have replaced the global leadership role currently held by the United States? This depends on two factors. First, does China have such a desire? Second, does China have such a capacity?

Preparing for Future Food Needs, China Tries to Shed Its Past

Zach Montague 

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chinese leaders have struggled with an age-old problem: how to feed a growing population with a small amount of arable land. Despite the country’s agrarian beginnings and the ideological importance of the farmer in Maoist thought, nagging concerns about efficiency, food security and sustainable agricultural development have never been fully resolved. Even as China has dazzled the world with its technological progress in cutting-edge fields like artificial intelligence, renewable energy and bioengineering, to the government’s dismay, China has been slow to make similar advances in farming despite boasting the largest agricultural output in the world. An aging population of small landholders using traditional techniques is still responsible for the vast majority of farming in China, and the country has been forced to rely on large imports of foreign crops to meet its needs. But after years of contingency plans and investment in new farming technology, China now appears to be showing signs of revamping its uniquely fragmented agricultural sector.

One Belt, One Road, One Happy Chinese Navy


The Changbai Shan, a Chinese amphibious warfare ship that’s taken advantage of commercial ports for resupply, Jan. 26, 2015. Chinese leaders tout their trillion-dollar Belt and Road project, especially in the Indian Ocean, as a win-win commercial proposition meant to bring modern infrastructure and prosperity to an underdeveloped part of the world. In reality, Beijing’s acquisition of more than a dozen ports across the Indian Ocean is a state-directed effort to bolster Chinese political influence and extend its military reach from Indonesia to East Africa, according to a detailed new study released Tuesday.

Faced With Chinese Expansion, Kazakhstan Seeks Alternative Energy Markets

By: Farkhad Sharip

It could be assumed that the intensifying trade war between the United States and China would cause economic slowdown in China and result, in the long run, in the drastic reduction of Chinese imports of energy resources from Kazakhstan. But in his recent interview to Kazakhstani media outlets, Chinese ambassador to Astana, Zhang Hanhui, dispelled these fears. Rather, Beijing’s emissary announced that his country intends to increase imports of oil, natural gas and metals, as well as agricultural produce and raw materials from Kazakhstan. In his words, the trade war with the US will not affect in any way import volumes. He stressed the importance of the speedy implementation of the Chinese-proposed project of economic integration of states around the Altay Mountains (including Kazakhstan, China, Russia and Mongolia), as he put it, “to build a new international economic corridor” (Kursiv.kz, April 13). Such integration may arguably boost Kazakhstan’s agricultural, transport and industrial sectors. However, given Astana’s and Beijing’s substantial divergence of interests and differing export strategies, this project seems hardly feasible for the oil and gas sector.

Artificial Intelligence: China’s High-Tech Ambitions

By Sophie-Charlotte Fischer for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

China aims to become the world’s premier artificial intelligence innovation center by 2030. But does Beijing have the innovation capacity and strategy in place to achieve this goal? In this article, Sophie-Charlotte Fischer responds. She contends that while the US is still the global leader in AI, China’s ambitions should not be underestimated. Further, this is not just because of the state support behind Beijing’s plans but as Washington lacks an AI strategy of its own. This CSS Analyses in Security Policy was originally published in February 2018 by the Center for Security Studies (CSS). It is also available in German and French.

What Happens to a Cruise Missile Captured by the Russians

By Joe Pappalardo

This week the Russian ministry of defense showed pictures of what it claimed to be remains of U.S. cruise missiles used during the recent airstrikes on Syria. “They are now being examined by our experts,” said Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy. “The results of this work will be used to improve Russian weapons.” The debris shown is far from conclusive evidence, so we can't take Rudskoy's claim at face value. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume the Russians did capture significant parts of a long-range cruise missile including Tomahawks. What could its engineers do with the remains?

Who are Iran's 80,000 'Shi'ite' Fighters in Syria?

by Seth Frantzman

There are 80,000 Shi’ite militiamen in Syria, trained and recruited by Iran, so it has been claimed. Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon displayed a map Thursday at the UN, asserting that some of them were being trained several kilometers from Damascus. “They are trained to commit acts of terror in Syria and across the region,” he said. Danon’s map shows the Imam Hossein Iranian garrison on the road from Damascus to Lebanon near Dayr Qanun. The figures presented by Danon have been picked up throughout the world. Asharq al-Awsat, Sputnik, The New Arab, The Daily Star in Lebanon and others have reported on it. Eighty thousand Iranian-backed militiamen in Syria affects the entire region and is a concern for countries that oppose Iranian influence spreading. Danon calls these fighters “extremists from all over the Middle East who are members of Shi’ite militias in Syria under Iranian control.”

Can North Korea Really Give Up Its Nukes?

By Rodger Baker

North Korea's diplomatic outreach again raises the possibility that it is willing to use its nuclear program as a bargaining chip. With an eye toward regime survival and eventual Korean unification, Pyongyang could trade away the public face of its nuclear weapons program. Having offered such a concession, North Korea will demand a lot more than an easing of sanctions by South Korea and the United States in return.

Moscow Plans New Arctic Port to Bypass Baltics and Ukraine

By: Paul Goble

Because oil and natural gas are Russia’s largest exports (Gks.ru, accessed April 3), it is entirely understandable that Moscow’s efforts to build pipelines to the West bypassing the three Baltic States and Ukraine continue to attract a great deal of attention. But much less attention has been given to Moscow’s new efforts to develop infrastructure intended to allow it to export coal to global markets by bypassing these same countries. If these Russian plans prove successful, they will deprive Ukraine and the Baltics of the transit fees they have long depended upon. Indeed, judging from the comments of Moscow officials, the Russian government is more interested in using such new routes to apply political leverage on at least some of these countries than it is in ensuring Russia’s economic interests.

Beyond Syria and Ukraine: Wagner PMC Expands Its Operations to Africa

By: Sergey Sukhankin

The terrible defeat suffered by forces of the Wagner Group private military company (PMC) at Deir el-Zour (Syria), in early February 2018 (see EDM, February 15, 20, April 19, 23), did not lead to the demise of this increasingly famous Russian PMC. On the contrary, it may be expanding its operational area to the African interior—in particular, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan. On April 20, the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) presented satellite images demonstrating that Wagner may have established a training camp on the territory of the CAR. The images also seemed to show Russian-produced equipment (notably, the Ural-4320 off-road vehicle) that had already been spotted in the Tunisian port of Sfax, allegedly on their way to Syria (Citeam.org, April 20).

Time for a New U.S. Foreign Policy Narrative

By Ian Bremmer and Joe Kennedy III

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump told a powerful story about the United States’ role in global affairs. It was a dramatic narrative full of free-riding allies, unchecked globalization, and nuclear brinkmanship. Refugees and immigrants were cast as villains, repressive regimes like Russia and China were regarded with admiration, and human rights and democratic freedoms were pushed to the sidelines. As a candidate, Trump painted a gloomy portrait of American weakness and decline, trends that he promised to reverse.

Defending hospitals against life-threatening cyberattacks

By: Mohammad S. Jalali

Like any large company, a modern hospital has hundreds – even thousands – of workers using countless computers, smartphones and other electronic devices that are vulnerable to security breaches, data thefts and ransomware attacks. But hospitals are unlike other companies in two important ways. They keep medical records, which are among the most sensitive data about people. And many hospital electronics help keep patients alive, monitoring vital signs, administering medications, and even breathing and pumping blood for those in the most dire conditions.

The promise and peril of military applications of artificial intelligence

Michael C. Horowitz

Artificial intelligence (AI) is having a moment in the national security space. While the public may still equate the notion of artificial intelligence in the military context with the humanoid robots of the Terminatorfranchise, there has been a significant growth in discussions about the national security consequences of artificial intelligence. These discussions span academia, business, and governments, from Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom’s concern about the existential risk to humanity posed by artificial intelligence to Tesla founder Elon Musk’s concern that artificial intelligence could trigger World War III to Vladimir Putin’s statement that leadership in AI will be essential to global power in the 21st century.

Defense panels want the Pentagon to form a cyber reserve team to help states

By: Mark Pomerleau and Joe Gould  

The House Armed Services subcommittee wants to study the possibility of establishing cyber reserve components for each state that could also provide cyber support to civilian agencies. In a draft version of the annual defense policy bill released April 25 by the HASC subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities, lawmakers requested a study on the feasibility, advisability, and necessity of a reserve cyber team for each state. As part of the study, the committee directs DoD to consider a series of tasks, including responding to major network attacks, and gauging the U.S. cyber workforce capacity for both homeland defense and national power.

The Digital Vigilantes Who Hack Back

By Nicholas Schmidle

American companies that fall victim to data breaches want to retaliate against the culprits. But can they do so without breaking the law? Estimates suggest that ninety per cent of American companies have been hacked. Illustration by Golden Cosmos One day in the summer of 2003, Shawn Carpenter, a security analyst in New Mexico, went to Florida on a secret mission. Carpenter, then thirty-five, worked at Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque, on a cybersecurity team. At the time, Sandia was managed by the defense contractor Lockheed Martin. When hundreds of computers at Lockheed Martin’s office in Orlando suddenly started crashing, Carpenter and his team got on the next flight.

Cybersecurity and the New Era of Space Activities

by David P. Fidler

Governments, critical infrastructure, and economies rely on space-dependent services—for example, the Global Positioning System (GPS)—that are vulnerable to hostile cyber operations. However, few spacefaring states and companies have paid any attention to the cybersecurity of satellites in outer space, creating a number of risks. A Tesla Roadster automobile floats through space after it was carried there by SpaceX's Falcon Heavy.


Leap-Ahead Technologies: Could They Be the Army's Undoing?

By 2025, the Army sees ground troops conducting foot patrols in urban terrain with robots -- called Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport vehicles -- that carry rucksacks and other equipment. (US Army image)  Prototype 1 of the Non-Line of Sight Cannon was unveiled June 11, 2008 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The weapon was part of the Army's Future Combat Systems modernization program -- cancelled in 2009. (US Army photo/C. Todd Lopez) 



Israel is reportedly preparing for a direct military attack by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). These preparations come in light of the rising tensions between the two countries in Syria. It began in February when an Iranian drone flew into Israeli airspace and Israeli jets responded by attacking Iran’s T-4 airbase near Homs in central Syria that were shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire. The most recent incident occurred on April 9 when Israel struck the T-4 airbase again, which led to the deaths of seven members of the IRGC. In reference to the latter incident, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to the Iranian Supreme Leader, stated that Israel “should be waiting for a powerful response.” However, in order to determine how Iran might retaliate against Israel, it is important consider Iran’s military strategy throughout the broader region.

War, Business and ‘Hybrid’ Warfare: The Case of the Wagner Private Military Company (Part Two)

By: Sergey Sukhankin

On March 28, Russian media presented information that members of the Private Military Company (PMC) Wagner may have been spotted in the East Ghouta region (southwestern Syria), coordinating a “normalization of the post-war situation.” The same sources also claimed that Wagner forces are currently involved in fighting on the side of Omar al-Bashir in South Sudan (Lenta.ru, March 28). This information might have crucial meaning in ascertaining both the actual and prospective tasks performed by Wagner versus other Russian PMCs (see Part One, EDM, April 19).

Make Your Guiding Principles Useful

Early in my first tour in the Army I received a copy of an unusual document I’d never come across before. Two sides of A4, typed and headed; it was the Commanding Officer’s Command Philosophy. ‘His philosophy?’, I thought. ‘Does he think he’s Plato?’ Since then I’ve wised up. I’ve seen many more command philosophies, company directives and regimental ethoses. Some have been good enough that I’ve saved copies ready to perhaps use myself one day. The reality is that when you reach a certain level of leadership you need to communicate in writing how you want the team to work and what you want the team to value.

Demographics of the U.S. Military

by George M. Reynolds and Amanda Shendruk

Deployed around the world, the armed forces are a pillar of U.S. power and influence abroad. But many civilians are unfamiliar with their composition. How much does the military resemble U.S. society at large? Today, women represent 16 percent of the enlisted forces, and 18 percent of the officer corps. Ismael Ortega/U.S. The United States ended the draft for military service in 1973, transitioning to the all-volunteer force that exists today. At the time, the active component of the military comprised 2.2 million men and women. Now, this group comprises just under 1.29 million, or less than 0.5 percent of the U.S. population. Who are they? Where are they from? How diverse are they? Let’s dive into the demographics.

4 May 2018

Beyond Wuhan: India Should Establish A New Framework for Engagement With China

By Aman Thakker

Last week, efforts to “reset” India-China relations culminated in an “informal summit’ between Indian Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan, China. Reports of the summit drew comparisons to earlier such summits between Indian Prime Ministers and Chinese leaders, notably Rajiv Gandhi’s summit with Deng Xiaoping in 1988, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s summit with Hu Jintao in 2003. However, these comparisons, particularly with the 1988 summit, fall short of India’s objective for a reset leading up to and during the summit. Indeed, the 1988 summit was a crucial moment for both countries, leading to the establishment of a broad framework, or modus vivendi, for engagement between India and China where the two countries would “not to allow the border dispute to hold the rest of the relationship back.” The Wuhan summit, by contrast, did not hold the same ambition.

The China - India - Nepal Triangle

By Kamal Dev Bhattarai

While Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali was in China from April 16-21, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi asked India to be a part of new development projects in Nepal. “Whether it’s China or India, our two countries shall be happy to see Nepal’s new development after its political transition,” Wang said. China wants to invest in big connectivity projects in Nepal but prefers to bring its Asian competitor, India, on board. Some Nepali and Chinese scholars see this as an opportunity for trilateral cooperation between Nepal, India, and China, but Indian policymakers and academics have not shown much interest.

Is India ready for cyber war?

Prashant Mali

Cyber warfare involves an attempted or actual cyber attack, but for some in the media it means defacing some websites of important organisations. This is not really the case. In fact, I would term such hackers as ‘novice hackers’ in some corner of the world, looking to earn some brownie points amongst their non-hacker peers by fear mongering. Cyber warfare is something quite different. As a researcher, I would argue that cyber warfare involves actions by a state or non-state actor to attack and attempt to damage another nation’s computers or information networks through, for example, computer viruses, denial-of-service attacks, physical attacks and sabotage. 

India and China's Rapprochement Extends Only Skin Deep

The world's two most populous countries will continue their attempts to reset their diplomatic ties after last year's Doklam standoff, as India's prime minister focuses on upcoming elections and China's president presents a unified Sino-Indian front in the face of U.S. protectionism.

Stakes of ‘Islamic vote bank’ and religious politics in Pakistan


Under the enigmatic political leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan came into being in August 1947, a Muslim majority state but not an Islamic state. During Jinnah’s 13-month governorship, the name of the country remained only “Pakistan.” However, it was labeled as an “Islamic Republic” in 1956. After the demise of its founder, orthodox religious strata and state-supported radicalization emerged with the Objectives Resolution in March 1949, prepared by Liaquat Ali Khan and passed by the first National Assembly of Pakistan. This historic resolution was the first step toward legislation as well as the religious bias of all three constitutions categorizing Pakistani citizens as Muslims and non-Muslims.

ZTE's less-known roots: Chinese tech company falls from grace

TOKYO -- Chinese telecommunication equipment maker ZTE finds itself in a new, and undoubtedly uncomfortable, position: It is one of the most talked-about tech companies in the world following its recent ban by the U.S. government from purchasing American technology. In China, however, where free speech is limited but with almost 800 million internet users, the home-grown company appears to be gaining a wide range of support as most stories and comments from news media and netizens take on nationalistic overtones. Among the comments: "I believe in ZTE" and "Why can't we penalize Apple? Can't we stop Apple from selling in China?"

Space: The next frontier for US-China rivalry

Simon Roughneen

SINGAPORE -- With the U.S. government pledging to resume manned missions to the Moon, and eventually send a mission to Mars, Cold War-style competition over space exploration is re-emerging -- between China and the U.S. this time. China hopes to make its first manned lunar landing within 15 years, around six decades after the last American walked on the moon in 1972.  But China is not as far behind as those dates suggest. It hopes to make the first-ever landing on the dark side of the Moon by the end of 2018. This feat eluded the U.S. and Soviet Union during the heyday of their Space Race from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s.

Israel’s Got Its Own Refugee Dilemma: African ‘Dreamers’

By Thomas L. Friedman

TEL AVIV — It’s been obvious to me for some time that the Israeli-Arab conflict is to wider global geopolitical trends what Off Broadway is to Broadway. If you want a hint of what’s coming to a geopolitical theater near you, study this region. You can see it all here in miniature. That certainly applies to what’s becoming the most destabilizing and morally wrenching geopolitical divide on the planet today — the divide between what I call the “World of Order” and the “World of Disorder.” And Israel is right on the seam — which is why the last major fence Israel built was not to keep West Bank Palestinians from crossing into Israel but to keep more Africans from walking from their homes in Africa, across the Sinai Desert, into Israel.

Geo-Economics as Concept and Practice in International Relations: Surveying the State of the Art

By Sören Scholvin and Mikael Wigell for Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA)

Sören Scholvin and Mikael Wigell contend that China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Western sanctions against Iran and Russia, and much more demonstrate a clear trend: states are increasingly practicing power politics by economic means and military means appear to matter less. While this shift is captured by ‘geo-economics’, our authors contend there is no clear definition of the term. To help address this gap, Scholvin and Wigell here provide their conception of what ‘geo-economics’ means as an analytical approach as well as a foreign policy practice.

The Bear and the Eagle, Seen Through the Cyber Lens

By Bruce McConnell

The bilateral relationship between the United States and Russia is at its most dangerous point since the Cuban missile crisis. In some ways it is worse. As a Russian colleague recently observed, the management of Cold War tension was mathematical; today it is emotional. Further cemented by the chemical attack in Syria and by new sanctions, the hard lines both sides have drawn bode poorly for progress in reducing tensions. The immediate task is to keep communication channels open to avoid missteps or miscalculations that could lead to inadvertent or unnecessary escalation of conflict between the two nuclear powers.

5 Reasons Israel’s Army Wins Every War It Fights

Kyle Mizokami

In 1947, Israel’s low population but high level of education meant its citizens could train and organize a national army fairly quickly. Manpower limitations also meant the Israeli Army tended to gravitate towards technologically advanced, high firepower forces, and become more proficient at them than its neighbors. Much like the Israeli Air Force, the Israeli Army came from humble—but more established—beginnings. Israel’s ground forces had their origins in the Haganah, a Zionist paramilitary force created in the early 1920s to protect Jewish interests. The Haganah cooperated with British authorities, but turned hostile in 1944 when the Axis neared defeat and the need for a Jewish state became increasingly clear. In 1947 the Haganah was reorganized into regular army units, and renamed the Israeli Army two weeks after the founding of the State of Israel.

Everything You Need to Know about the Cruise-Missile Strikes in Syria

Dave Majumdar

Russia continues to insist that Syrian forces shot down a majority of the allied cruise missiles launched against the Assad regime by the United States, France and the United Kingdom on April 13, 2018. However, Moscow’s assertions are extremely dubious because low-flying cruise missiles are extremely difficult to intercept, particularly over land. The Pentagon maintains that all of the missiles launched against Syria hit their targets.

The Pentagon Could Get Self-Driving Vehicles First

By  Daniel Flatley

Forget Uber, Waymo and Tesla: the next big name in self-driving vehicles could be the Pentagon. “We’re going to have self-driving vehicles in theater for the Army before we’ll have self-driving cars on the streets,” Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, told lawmakers at a hearing on Capitol Hill this month. “But the core technologies will be the same.” The stakes for the military are high. According to Griffin, 52 percent of casualties in combat zones can been attributed to military personnel delivering food, fuel and other logistics. Removing people from that equation with systems run on artificial intelligence could reduce injuries and deaths significantly, he added.

How Russia Crafted a Three-Dimensional Strategy to Regain Global Influence

Steven Metz 

Near the end of a recent report on the resurgence of both the Islamic State and al-Qaida in Libya was an almost offhand mention of Russian special operations forces active along the country’s border with Egypt, helping provide weapons to Gen. Khalifa Haftar, whose forces dominate eastern Libya. This seemingly minor fact is, in reality, emblematic of important trends in Russia’s revanchist foreign policy. When Moammar Gadhafi controlled Libya from 1969 to 2011, he was an excellent customer for Soviet weaponry and military advice. But in the chaos after his overthrow and death, the Russian Embassy in Tripoli was attacked and all diplomats and their families withdrawn. Moscow seemingly had written Libya off. But it is now re-entering this chaotic political environment in North Africa as part of a three-dimensional global strategy designed to strengthen Russia politically, enrich it economically and allow it to punch above its weight in a rapidly changing security environment. 

Russia acting as buffer between Israel, Iran

Maxim A. Suchkov 

MOSCOW — As the standoff between Iran and Israel threatens to grow out of hand, Russia is apparently seeking a modus vivendi for the two regional enemies. Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi hosted April 25-26 its ninth International Meeting of High Representatives for Security Issues. The event, organized by Russia’s Security Council, brought together secretaries of security councils, presidential aides and heads of intelligence services from 118 countries. The meeting is becoming increasingly popular among international high-level security officials: The first year it was assembled, 43 nations attended the conference; last year, 95 states sent delegates.

Damn, Busted


Britain’s military should be growing. It’s not.

The Royal Air Force celebrated its 100th birthday last week with a gala program at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington. No one does pomp better than the British, but the presence of the Queen’s Colour Squadron had a larger purpose: to solemnize the reformation of 617 Squadron, the famous Dambusters, now flying the stealthy F-35. Those 16 fighter jets are among the best in the world. Given how few planes the RAF has, they’d better be. As a nation, Brexit Britain is stepping out of the shadow of the EU. But as a military power, it’s stepped into the shade.

House Russia report says major spy law has a cyber problem

By: Mark Pomerleau   

A new report from the House Intelligence Committee recommends Congress update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — a law that dictates procedures for electronic surveillance of persons engaged in espionage on behalf of nation states or terrorist entities ― to cover malicious international cyber actors. The recommendation comes as part of the House Intelligence Committee’s final report on its investigation into alleged Russian meddling efforts in the 2016 presidential election. The House panel’s final report, which is roughly 250 pages and heavily redacted, notes that Congress sought to address cyber concerns as part of this year’s statutory reauthorization of the FISA. Revising the bill is part of a highly contentious process more commonly referred to as Section 702.

Why do Trump’s announced trade policies keep coming up empty?

Geoffrey Gertz

Earlier this month, over the span of less than a week, President Donald Trump opened the door to joining the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement before promptly slamming it shut again. Many trade pundits and analysts were delighted when Trump announced he had directed his economic advisers to explore re-entering the TPP, only to have their hopes dashed again when the president tweeted out his repeated criticisms of the Asian trade deal. In the grand scheme, this brief flirtation with the TPP is unlikely to be remembered. But it does raise two broader questions: First, why do Trump’s big splashy trade announcements keep going nowhere? And second, why do the rest of us keep on falling for these empty pronouncements?

Federal 'turf war' complicates cybersecurity efforts


The issue took center stage this week, as senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee fretted that they had been unable to pass key cyber legislation requested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because of a disagreement with the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The reality of the situation is there is conflict here,” said Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) at a hearing Wednesday. “This threat is too significant to allow turf wars to get in the way of as efficient an operation as possible in terms of dealing with a very complex and serious problem.” 

What Happens When Your Bomb-Defusing Robot Becomes a Weapon


Micah Xavier Johnson spent the last day of his life in a standoff, holed up in a Dallas community-college building. By that point, he had already shot 16 people. Negotiators were called in, but it was 2:30 in the morning and the police chief was tired. He’d lost two officers. Nine others were injured. Three of them would later die. In the early hours of July 7, 2016, the chief asked his swat team to come up with a plan that wouldn’t put anyone else in Johnson’s line of fire. Within 30 minutes, their Remotec Andros Mark 5A-1, a four-wheeled robot made by Northrop Grumman, was on the scene. The Mark 5A-1 had originally been purchased for help with bomb disposal. But that morning, the police attached a pound of C4 explosives to the robot’s extended arm, and sent it down the hallway where Johnson had barricaded himself. The bomb killed him instantly. The machine remained functional.

DARPA wants to arm ethical hackers with AI

By: Brandon Knapp 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to leverage human-artificial intelligence teaming to accelerate the military’s cyber vulnerability detection, according to agency documents. The task of securing the Pentagon’s diverse networks, which support nearly every function of the military’s operations, presents a nightmare for defense officials. The current time-intensive and costly process involves extensively trained hackers using specialized software suites to scour the networks in search of vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited, but the scarcity of expert hackers makes detecting cyberthreats a challenge for the Defense Department.

Comms down? Don’t give up.

By: Adam Stone   

An artist concept of the distributed battle management system, an emerging solution to enable complex teamwork between manned and unmanned aviation even in comms-deprived environments. (BAE Systems). Adversaries are becoming ever more skilled at denying our communications links. That’s especially bad for pilots who need reliable comms for situational awareness. “Imagine you can’t talk to each other, but you still need to execute on a mission. It’s almost impossible,” said Jarrod Kallberg, distributed battle management technology development manager at BAE Systems. “A lot of times you have to scrub the mission because you are so reliant on the communication that you cannot proceed without that.”

Cyber warfare may be less dangerous than we think

By Benjamin Jensen and David Banks 

This February 2018 warning to the Senate from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats included a message that “there should be no doubt” that Russia, emboldened by its 2016 cyberattacks and informational warfare campaign, will target the U.S. midterm elections this year. We agree. However, our research suggests that, although states like Russia will continue to engage in cyberattacks against the foundations of democracy (a serious threat indeed), states are less likely to engage in destructive “doomsday” attacks against each other in cyberspace. Using a series of war games and survey experiments, we found that cyber operations may in fact produce a moderating influence on international crises. 

Can the Navy protect this ship from hackers?

By: Amber Corrin   

The Navy’s Expeditionary Fast Transport, or EFP, class of ships may be vulnerable to hackers and isn’t achieving key performance milestones, including some related to the cybersecurity of the ship’s systems, according to a new inspector general’s reportThe aluminum catamaran-style ships, which are designed to quickly move troops and supplies, “lacks capability,” an April 2018 report from the Department of Defense Inspector General found. One of those capabilities is securing control systems aboard the vessels.

Civilians and “By, With, and Through” Key Issues and Questions Related to Civilian Harm and Security Partnership

Working by, with, and through partners in military operations has become a preferred approach in U.S. security policy. Doing so without uniform controls governing conduct and the use of force can result in real consequences for civilians and compromise mission effectiveness. The real and perceived benefits of partnered operations can include limiting the extent of U.S. involvement and minimizing risk to U.S. personnel, tapping into the unique capacities of national and local forces, and burden sharing of costs, personnel, and assets. 
The risks of partnered operations can arise from the diffusion of responsibilities and diversion of shared interests and objectives. They may result in civilian casualties, damage to civilian infrastructure, human rights abuses, erosion of U.S. or partner legitimacy, reduction of U.S. domestic support for operations, and long-term humanitarian, economic, governance, and security consequences for civilians.