24 February 2017

*** NATO, the Middle East and Eastern Europe

Friedman's Weekly 
By George Friedman 

NATO's mission has shifted, but are its members willing to meet the new challenges?

Over the past week, American officials have attended meetings of NATO and the Munich Security Conference. The topic has been the future of NATO, with the United States demanding once more that the Europeans carry out their obligation to maintain effective military forces in order to participate in the NATO military alliance. At the same time, many European countries raised the question of whether the United States is committed to NATO. The Europeans are charging that that Americans may have military force but lack political commitment to Europe. The Americans are charging that the Europeans may be politically committed to NATO but lack the military force to give meaning to their commitment.

The real issue is that NATO has achieved its original mission, and no agreement exists on what its mission is now. NATO’s original mission was to block a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. That was achieved in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Having achieved the mission, NATO could have dissolved, but the problem with multinational institutions is that they take on a life of their own, independent of the reason they were created. Disbanding NATO because it had achieved its goal was never an option. So it continued to exist, holding conferences, maintaining planning staff and acting as if there was political agreement on what it was supposed to do.

*** How Trump Donor Peter Thiel’s Palantir Technologies Helped NSA Spy on the Whole World

Donald Trump has inherited the most powerful machine for spying ever devised. How this petty, vengeful man might wield and expand the sprawling American spy apparatus, already vulnerable to abuse, is disturbing enough on its own. But the outlook is even worse considering Trump’s vast preference for private sector expertise and new strategic friendship with Silicon Valley billionaire investor Peter Thiel, whose controversial (and opaque) company Palantir has long sought to sell governments an unmatched power to sift and exploit information of any kind. Thiel represents a perfect nexus of government clout with the kind of corporate swagger Trump loves. The Intercept can now reveal that Palantir has worked for years to boost the global dragnet of the NSA and its international partners, and was in fact co-created with American spies. 

Peter Thiel became one of the American political mainstream’s most notorious figures in 2016 (when it emerged he was bankrolling a lawsuit against Gawker Media, my former employer) even before he won a direct line to the White House.Now he brings to his role as presidential adviser decades of experience as kingly investor and token nonliberal on Facebook’s board of directors, a Rolodex of software luminaries, and a decidedly Trumpian devotion to controversy and contrarianism. But perhaps the most appealing asset Thiel can offer our bewildered new president will be Palantir Technologies, which Thiel founded with Alex Karp and Joe Lonsdale in 2004.

Palantir has never masked its ambitions, in particular the desire to sell its services to the U.S. government — the CIA itself was an early investor in the startup through In-Q-Tel, the agency’s venture capital branch. But Palantir refuses to discuss or even name its government clientele, despite landing “at least $1.2 billion” in federal contracts since 2009, according to an August 2016 report in Politico. The company was last valued at $20 billion and is expected to pursue an IPO in the near future. In a 2012 interview with TechCrunch, while boasting of ties to the intelligence community, Karp said nondisclosure contracts prevent him from speaking about Palantir’s government work.

The Tragedy of Tejas

Bharat Karnad

Bharat Karnad is Professor for National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, author, most recently, of Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet), and blogs at Bharatkarnad.com

The Government doesn’t see that the commercial bonanza for foreign countries is choking off funds for home-grown aircraft 

DEPENDING ON WHAT’S involved, legacy can be a good thing or a bad thing. In the case of the Indian state, bureaucracy, and especially the military, legacy has proved a liability. The colonial system and approach were retained in every aspect of government for want of ready alternatives and the fear of disruption. It has particularly hurt the armed services because they have stayed stuck in time. Thus, the Army’s main force is arrayed northwestward, the Air Force thinks as a tactical regional adjunct of another out-of-area air force (with the Royal Air Force missing), and the Navy imitates the attitude and outlook of the US Navy, which replaced its British counterpart, replete with a tilt towards big ships at a time when supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles and remote-controlled mini-submarines and attack boats are making them obsolete. 

Why India’s military needs to move to theatre commands now

Source Link

Fire Power and Manoeuvre Exercise organised at Ahmednagar

The Indian armed forces are likely to see a major overhaul in the coming months, if media reports are to be believed. The armed forces have briefed the government on the creation of ‘theatre commands’ for better coordination among the three services. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly directed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to start working towards creating these commands.

The Prime Minister has been very vocal about the lack of coordination among the services in India and has been pushing for greater ‘jointness’. Presiding over the Combined Commanders Conference in 2015, Modi had lamented:

We have been slow to reform the structures of our armed forces… We should promote jointness across every level of our armed forces. We wear different colours, but we serve the same cause and bear the same flag. Jointness at the top is a need that is long overdue. 
Why Theatre Commands?

Major military powers like the US and China, who are serious about their war fighting capabilities, operate via theatre commands as it is seen to be a better means of pooling resources and improving efficiency. China restructured its military in 2015 to come up with six theatre commands, whereas America’s theatres – the Unified Combatant Commands – are global in scope.

Dark ‘State’ Called Nagalim: Arunachal’s Evangelists Pose Grave Threat To National Security

Jaideep Mazumdar

It is only a matter of time - a decade or so at best - before the Christian missionaries’ gameplan of convincing the indigenous tribes of Arunachal that they are, in fact, Nagas succeeds. 

The alarming changes in the demographic composition of the strategically placed north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh that borders Tibet has been pitchforked to national consciousness two days ago by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju. The minister, who hails from that state, has rightly ignited a debate on the unbridled activities of Christian missionaries who have been proselytising poor tribals of that state with monetary and other enticements.

But what also needs to be highlighted is that these Christian evangelists pose a grave threat to national security. Not only have they been converting the simple tribals, the proselytisers have been implanting the seed of rebellion in their heads. In doing so, these evangelists have followed a long tradition of creating a sense of alienation between the newly-baptised tribals from the rest of India. This sense of alienation is what led to the birth of many insurgencies in north-east India.

The church in states like Mizoram and Nagaland has always played a nefarious role in aiding and abetting insurgencies and even providing the insurgents a global platform to plead for secession from India. The diabolic role played by Michael Scott, a Christian priest, in aiding the Naga rebels in the name of negotiating peace between them and the government Of India, is well known. Mizo insurgent leader Laldenga and Naga insurgent leader A Z Phizo received a lot of help from the Church of England.

In Pakistan, tolerant Islamic voices are being silenced

William Dalrymple

The Sehwan bombing is a result of the Saudi-funded fundamentalism that has taken a grip in the country 

Last week, only three days after a suicide bomb went off in Lahore, an Islamic State supporter struck a crowd of Sufi dancers celebrating in the great Pakistani shrine of Sehwan Sharif. The attack, which killed almost 90, showed the ability of radical Islamists to silence moderate and tolerant voices in the Islamic world.

The attack also alarmingly demonstrated the ever-wider reach of Isis and the ease with which it can now strike within Pakistan. Isis now appears to equal the Taliban as a serious threat to this nuclear-armed country.

The suicide bombing of the Sehwan shrine is an ominous development for the world, in a region that badly needs stability. It is an Islamic shrine where outsiders, religious minorities and women are all welcomed. Here, 70 years after partition and the violent expulsion of most of the Hindus of Pakistan into India (and vice versa with Muslims into Pakistan), one of the hereditary tomb guardians is still a Hindu, and it is he who performs the opening ritual at the annual festival. Hindu holy men, pilgrims and officials still tend the shrine.

But the wild and ecstatic night-long celebrations marking the Sufi saint’s anniversary were almost a compendium of everything Islamic puritans most disapprove of: loud Sufi music and love poetry sung in every courtyard; men dancing with women; hashish being smoked. Hindus and Christians were all welcome to join in the celebrations.

How America Can Avoid a War with China

Joe Renouard

A blueprint for American policymakers to improve the U.S.-Chinese relationship.

Sino-American relations seem to be at a crossroads, though exactly where the relationship is headed is anyone’s guess. President Trump’s scattershot approach to public diplomacy and policymaking has thus far sparked more questions than answers. Is he acting irresponsibly and provoking unnecessary conflicts, or is he shrewdly testing Beijing’s resolve before he challenges it on trade and security matters? Will he successfully maintain America’s leading regional role, or will his nationalism encourage the other Asia-Pacific nations to make their own deals with China? Will these nations be gradually drawn into a China-led regional order?

There is no denying the sheer scale of U.S.-China relations. As former secretary of state John Kerry stated in 2014, “The U.S.-China relationship is the most consequential in the world today, period, and it will do much to determine the shape of the 21st century.” Yet “consequential” does not mean “amicable” or “mutually beneficial.” While advocates for greater bilateral engagement can cite many reasons for optimism, especially the formidable economic ties between the two nations, others make a plausible case that the importance of these ties is overstated.

The root causes of bilateral friction outnumber the sources of cooperation, though a U.S.-China military conflict is by no means inevitable. This essay suggests that the new administration can maintain a balance in the Western Pacific if it actively engages China in a few key areas of mutual interest.

2nd carrier almost complete

China is close to completing its second aircraft carrier, which will begin service by 2020, experts said.

China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's Type 001A class aircraft carrier's scaffold has been removed and red undercoat has been painted below the ship's waterline in Dalian, northeastern Liaoning Province, and that a launching ceremony will soon be held.

"Unlike the Liaoning(Type 001), China's first aircraft carrier, a refitted ship built by Ukraine (under the former Soviet Union), the 001A is China-built, and its design, combat capability and technologies will be much more advanced," Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the Global Times.

"One key difference is the design will be more 'humanized,' which means all personnel on the carrier will enjoy a more comfortable and modern environment," Song said.

However, "there's still a long way to go from its launch to enlistment, which normally takes two years," Yin Zhuo, a senior researcher at the PLA Navy Equipment Research Center, told CCTV.

Song said "its status can be compared to a house whose paint job has been completed but requires decorating, which, in military terms, is called the 'outfitting stage.'"

It means all weapons and equipment, including the radar system, air defense system and communications system will be outfitted on the carrier. After this, the carrier and aircraft on it will be tested, and then the carrier will be ready to serve, Song said.

China's J-10 Fighter Now "Roughly Comparable" to America's Lethal F-15 in Battle

Kris Osborn

The F-15 is also being engineered for additional speed and range, along with weapons-firing ability. The weapons-carrying ability is being increased from 8 up to 16 weapons; this includes an ability to fire an AIM-9x or AIM-120 missile. In addition, upgrades to the aircraft include adding an increased ability to integrate or accommodate new emerging weapons systems as they become available. This is being done through both hardware and software-oriented “open standards” IP protocol and architecture.

The Air Force is revving up electronic warfare upgrades for its F-15 fighter as a way to better protect against enemy fire and electronic attacks, service officials said.

Boeing has secured a $478 million deal to continue work on a new technology called with a system called the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System, or EPAWSS. 

“This allows the aircraft to identify a threat and actively prosecute that threat through avoidance, deception or jamming techniques,” Mike Gibbons, Vice President of the Boeing F-15 program, told Scout Warrior in an interview a few months ago. 

Mosul assault: Iraq troops make headway against ISIS

Iraqi government forces have seized several villages as they move towards an assault on the last area held by the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Mosul.

Hundreds of military vehicles, backed by air power, rolled across the desert towards IS positions early on Sunday.

The progress on Sunday in the south of the city, the second biggest in Iraq, takes them within striking distance of Mosul airport.

Fears have been voiced about the safety of many thousands of trapped civilians.

The offensive was formally announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi early on Sunday.

Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah said in a statement that elite Rapid Response units captured the villages of Athbah and Al-Lazzagah - two villages south of Mosul airport.

Government forces retook the eastern side of the city, the last major IS stronghold in Iraq, last month. But military officials say the western side, with its narrow, winding streets, may prove a bigger challenge.

For now, there is no advance from eastern Mosul as all bridges from there to the west of the city, across the Tigris river, have been destroyed.

Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the US-led coalition forces, said in a statement on Sunday: “Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world.”

Why Would America Deploy Troops to Syria If ISIS Is Already in a Death Spiral?

Daniel L. Davis

Numerous sources reported earlier this week that the Pentagon presented the president options for defeating the Islamic State (ISIS) by sending conventional combat troops into Syria. The president should reject such advice out of hand. The introduction of American combat troops into Syria would add substantial strategic risk to the United States while offering virtually no upside.

Unnamed Pentagon sources revealed to CNN on Wednesday, “It’s possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time.” Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis later admitted that the Pentagon was “considering a number of measures to accelerate the campaign as part of that review, but no decisions have been made.” Let us hope that no one in the White House will act on this advice. Such a course of action is riddled with risks, some of which could greatly harm U.S. national security.

Damascus’s enthusiastic reception of this news does not bode well. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad said, “We agree about this priority”—that is, sending U.S. troops to Syria to attack ISIS. “That’s our position in Syria, the priority is to fight terrorism. . . . [Such action] must be through the Syrian government,” Assad added. He offered to help U.S. troops succeed: “We own this country as Syrians, nobody else, nobody would understand it like us.” The idea of American troops fighting and dying for a mission that will ultimately benefit Bashar al-Assad is not a policy the White House should adopt.

Consequences of the Deterioration of the Situation in Donbas

By Anna Maria Dyner and Daniel Szeligowski 

In this bulletin, Anna Maria Dyner and Daniel Szeligowski analyze the deteriorating security situation in the Donbas region of Ukraine and its potential consequences. They conclude that Russia will continue to leverage the ongoing conflict as a way to maintain its influence over its neighbor and break existing Western sanctions. In response, EU countries will need to back Ukraine more vigorously and extend additional humanitarian aid to its people.

The recent exacerbation of hostilities in Ukraine’s Donbas is a reaction by Russia-backed irregular forces to actions taken by the Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF), who since December 2016 have been gradually restoring control over territory along the Minsk-agreed separation line. Russia accuses Ukraine of breaching the Minsk agreement and blames the Ukrainian authorities for the outbreak of fighting. The argument will be used by Russia to lift sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the EU. However, the Ukrainian authorities claim that the UAF’s actions have not violated the Minsk agreement since it provides for the territory in question to be under Ukraine’s control.

Deterioration of the Situation in Donbas

On 29 January, Russia-backed irregulars launched a massive attack on Ukrainian positions around Avdiivka, 10 km north of Donetsk. The offensive was repelled, but more than a dozen Ukrainian soldiers were killed and several dozen more were wounded. Shelling of the city also resulted in civilian casualties. The situation stabilised on February 4 and 5, which allowed some basic infrastructure such as electricity, water and heating to be restored. However, the two sides continue to exchange fire.

Europe Trying to Combat a Massive Wave of Russian-Made Disinformation (Fake News)

BRUSSELS — They scan websites and pore over social media, combing through hundreds of reports a day. But the bogus claims just keep coming.

Germans are fleeing their country, fearful of Muslim refugees. The Swedish government supports the Islamic State. The European Union has drafted rules to regulate the ethnicity of snowmen.

In their open-plan office overlooking a major thoroughfare in Brussels, an 11-person team known as East Stratcom, serves as Europe’s front line against this onslaught of fake news.

Created by the European Union to address “Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns,” the team — composed of diplomats, bureaucrats and former journalists — tracks down reports to determine whether they are fake. Then, it debunks the stories for hapless readers. In the 16 months since the team has been on the job, it has discredited 2,500 stories, many with links to Russia.

In a year when the French, Germans and Dutch will elect leaders, the European authorities are scrambling to counter a rising tide of fake news and anti-European Union propaganda aimed at destabilizing people’s trust in institutions.

NATO's Military Buildup In Eastern Europe

by Niall McCarthy

Germany sent its first tanks to Lithuania a few days ago as part of a NATO mission to reinforce and defend member states in Eastern Europe.

70 years on from World War II, the deployment of German troops to the region remains a sensitive issue. They will lead a battalion with forces from Belgium, Croatia, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in Lithuania. The UK will lead a battalion in Estonia while Canada will lead one in Latvia.

The U.S. Army has also deployed thousands of soldiers equipped with main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to Poland, its largest military buildup since the Cold War. As a result of Russian actions in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, NATO decided to deploy four battalions totalling approximately 4,000 troops to the Baltic States who fear possible military action by Moscow. Russia has denied it has hostile intentions and denounced NATO's military buildup as aggressive and threatening.

This chart shows the composition of NATO forces stationed in Eastern Europe.

Why Is Asia Returning to Coal?

By Grace Guo

Just a few short years ago, few would have dared to predict that coal could have a future in the energy policies of emerging and developed countries alike. Yet the fossil fuel is undergoing an unexpected renaissance in Asia, buoyed by technical breakthroughs and looming questions about squaring development with energy security.

For Japan, coal has emerged as the best alternative to replacing its 54 nuclear reactors, which are deeply unpopular with the population and seen as symbols of devastation after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster six years ago. Mindful of the public mood, the government of Shinzo Abe has completely given up on the country’s dream of nuclear self-sufficiency, and pulled the plug in December on the $8.5 billion experimental reactor project at Monju. On February 1, the government pledged to decommission all reactors and replace them with 45 new coal-fired power plants equipped with the latest clean coal technology. In this, Tokyo seeks to achieve two overreaching goals: preserve its energy security and stay on course to fulfill the obligations set forth by the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement.

But why did Abe go with coal and not renewables or, say, natural gas? After Fukushima, Japan initially ramped up its imports of liquefied natural gas, but realized that LNG would be prohibitively expensive in the long-term. Cost-conscious, the government has instead opted for high-efficiency low-emissions (HELE) coal plants and plans to market its clean coal technologies abroad in addition to implementing them at home. Coal power already made up 31 percent of Japan’s energy mix in 2015 but under the current plan, the fossil fuel will become the country’s primary power source by 2019.

Could America Really Win a "Limited" Nuclear War?

Geoff Wilson, Will Saetren

As Donald Trump’s first three weeks in office come to a close, critics are pointing out that his iconic slogan, “Make America Great Again” is starting to look more and more like an attempt to bring American society back to the 1950s. What most people haven’t realized yet is that his vision of turning back the clock also applies to America’s nuclear arsenal.

Just this past week, CQ Roll Call reported that a blue-ribbon Pentagon panel urged the Trump administration to make the U.S. arsenal more capable of fighting a “‘limited’ atomic war.”

According to the report, “The Defense Science Board … urges the president to consider altering existing and planned U.S. armaments to achieve a greater number of lower-yield weapons that could provide a ‘tailored nuclear option for limited use.’”

The strategy behind limited nuclear use sounds deceptively simple. You need to escalate a conflict just enough to end it.

As the theory goes, using low-yield nuclear weapons against an adversary’s conventional forces will demonstrate that you mean serious business and might be crazy enough to launch an all out nuclear attack. This will cause the enemy to “blink” and ultimately back down, rather than risk global thermonuclear war or continue conventional hostilities.

But if you think “limited atomic war” sounds like a colorful milspeak euphemism, you would be right. Dropping a nuke on someone is still dropping a nuke on someone, even if it is just a little one. And fighting a “limited atomic war” with the Chinese or Russians would almost certainly involve absorbing retaliatory nuclear counterstrikes.

Restoring Faith in Globalization


MUNICH – I must confess that I am a firm believer in the benefits of globalization. To my mind, the gradual interlinking of regions, countries, and people is the most profoundly positive development of our time.

But a populist has now assumed the United States presidency by campaigning on a platform of stark economic nationalism and protectionism. And in many countries, public discourse is dominated by talk of globalization’s alleged “losers,” and the perceived need for new policies to stem the rise of populist discontent.

When I was born, the world’s population was 2.5 billion. I vividly recall a time in my life when many people feared that starvation would soon run rampant, gaps between the rich and poor would grow ever wider, and everything would eventually come crashing down.

We now live in a world with 7.5 billion people, and yet the share of people living in absolute poverty has declined rapidly, while the gap between rich and poor countries has steadily closed. Around the world, average life expectancy has increased from 48 to 71 years – albeit with significant differences between countries – and overall per capita income has grown by 500%.

Just looking back at the last 25 years, one could argue that humanity has had its best quarter-century ever. Since 1990, the share of people living in extreme poverty in the developing world has fallen from 47% to 14%, and child mortality – a critical indicator – has been halved. The world has never seen anything like this before.

Incomprehensible position on N-testing

by Bharat Karnad

In an interesting Meet on “Revising the N-doctrine”hosted by the Foundation for Integrated National Security headed by Lt Gen DB Shekatkar, former chairman, AEC, Anil Kakodkar, and SK Sikka ex-N weapons group, maintained that there was no need whatsoever for renewed explosive testing if, per Sikka, one has only “evolutionary” weapons in mind to develop rather than “revolutionary” weapons, which will require new tests. Further, Kakodakar mentioned in an aside to me, that simulation and hydronuclear tests, etc. can, more than adequately, replace actual testing. He also denied — and this is a digression — that at least during his tenure in office CAT, Indore, where the Indian Inertial Confinement Fusion unit is in great disrepair, was in fine fettle, when actually owing to active discouragement, deliberate under-funding, and lack of interest, the ICF had, when Chidambaram headed the DAE 20 years back, already slid into a state of rack and ruin. ICF is integral to fashioning new thermonuclear weapons w/o testing by facilitating miniature fusion explosions using a multitude of laser beams. The most talented scientists in Indore were hounded out, at least one of whom that I know, is right now packing his bags to re-locate to Beijing where he is promised oodles of money, a brand new lab, and a select team of bright local scientists to aid him in his researches in complex networks and similar cutting edge areas!

But to revert to the theme of this post, Sikka during lunch explained to me that in-built scalability in the nuclear and thermonuclear weapons designs tested in 1998 and enhanced simulation techniques together have made testing redundant, and referred to the correlation between the decline in testing generally with the phenomenal rise in computing speeds. He said — and this astonished me — that based on the 1998 data Indian designers could even design “yield-dialed” weapons by, as Sikka said, simply reducing/increasing the fissile material and changing the mass of chemical explosives to set off the fission implosion in the first stage.

Bill Gates: Bioterrorism Could Kill More Than Nuclear War — But No One Is Ready To Deal With It

By Avi Selk

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Feb.18, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said the next global epidemic has a “a good chance” of originating on a computer screen. (AP)

A genetically engineered virus is easier to make and could kill more people than nuclear weapons — and yet no country on Earth is ready for the threat, Bill Gates warned world leaders Saturday.

No one on his panel at the Munich Security Conference argued with him.

“The next epidemic has a good chance of originating on a computer screen,” said Gates, who made a fortune at Microsoft, then spent much of it fighting disease through his global foundation.

Whether “by the work of nature or the hands of a terrorist,” Gates said, an outbreak could kill tens of millions in the near future unless governments begin “to prepare for these epidemics the same way we prepare for war.”

His co-panelists shared some of the same fears.

“Disease and violence are killing fewer people than ever before, but it’s spreading more quickly,” said Erna Solberg, the prime minister of Norway. “We have forgotten how catastrophic those epidemics have been.”

Darker Shades of Gray: Why Gray Zone Conflicts Will Become More Frequent and Complex

By Nora Bensahel

In this article, Nora Bensahel looks at how the US’ military dominance has led opponents to adopt ‘post-heroic’ strategies that have been lethal and effective, but also designed to avoid tipping into war. Given the Trump administration’s widely advertised ambivalence about multinational cooperation, our author expects America’s opponents to intensify their ‘gray zone’ efforts, particularly in the former Soviet space and the South China Sea.

The United States has long fielded the world’s most capable armed forces. It spends more on its military than the next nine nations combined, of which five are U.S. treaty allies.1 It fields more active-duty military personnel than any country other than China,2 and its weaponry and technological capabilities are peerless. U.S military superiority has helped deter major power wars, secure the global commons, and maintain the global order for many decades, and it continues to do so today.

Yet, every strength has a corresponding weakness, every advantage a corresponding vulnerability. Perhaps paradoxically, this conventional military dominance means that few adversaries are likely to directly challenge the United States with the use of force, since doing so risks complete military defeat. As Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster has often quipped, “there are two ways to fight the U.S. military – asymmetrically and stupid.”3 Fighting asymmetrically can mean fighting at the lower end of the conflict spectrum, through terrorism and insurgency. But it also can mean fighting in what has become known as the “gray zone,” which may not involve military forces at all.

Local Conflict, Local Peacekeeping

This report examines how local conflicts undermine the mandates and effectiveness of UN peacekeeping missions. To help deal with the problem, the text’s authors 1) provide a framework which prioritizes the conflicts peacekeepers should address; 2) describe the ‘whole-of-mission’ approach UN missions should adopt in managing local struggles; and 3) recommend ways to strengthen the capacities and mandates of UN missions.

Author   Aditi Gorur, Madeline Vellturo 

Publisher  Stimson Center

Searching For Digital Hilltops: Doctrinal Approach To Identifying Key Terrain In Cyberspace – Analysis

By Scott Douglas Applegate, Christopher L. Carpenter, and David C. West*

During the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. military delivered a crushing defeat to the Iraqi army in one of the most one-sided battles in history.1 A concept known as net-centric warfare was partially responsible for this victory and marked the first real integration of information technology (IT) into combat systems on a large-scale basis. Net-centric warfare is characterized by the integration of computer and networking technologies into every functional area of operations, which can increase performance, enhance intelligence, and improve efficiencies in order to greatly increase combat power.2 While still in its infancy, net-centric warfare increased commanders’ situational awareness and enhanced their ability to deliver overwhelming combat power to decisive points on the battlefield. However, the pervasive introduction of IT into combat systems has created both opportunities and vulnerabilities. The need to defend or exploit these systems eventually led the Department of Defense (DOD) to designate cyberspace as a new warfighting domain through which combatants are able to conduct a new breed of military operations.

Just as planners must characterize the operational environment in the physical domains, cyberspace operators and planners must do so in this new warfighting domain. Defining the operational environment includes identifying critical assets, centers of gravity, avenues of approach, decisive points, and key terrain. Particularly problematic issues such as the misidentification of key terrain in cyberspace, the absence of effective cyberspace doctrine that defines concepts and terms in coordination with the other warfighting domains, and the lack of cyberspace knowledge by operational planners within the joint force have greatly stymied the ability of the U.S. military to operate effectively in this domain. To do so, the military must create a common lexicon and clarify the concepts and processes of identifying key terrain in cyberspace within joint doctrine.

Cyberwarfare: Royal Navy now training sailors to use AI and IoT to counter threats

By India Ashok

The Royal Navy's training exercise, dubbed Information Warrior 17, will see forces trained for battle with tech weapons.

The Royal Navy is all set to train its warriors on how to counter and conquer threats in cyberspace. A major military training exercise will reportedly see the Royal Navy use AI (artificial intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things) and such to train sailors in cyberwarfare techniques in efforts to ensure full combat readiness.

The Royal Navy's training exercise, dubbed Information Warrior 17, will see forces trained for battle with tech weapons. The military exercise is slated to take place in late March and last around two weeks, ending in early April. It has been designed to ensure that the navy is prepared for various challenges posed by the threats in cyberspace.

"The pace and scale of technological change in the world today is breath-taking. The Royal Navy is no less affected than anyone else by the challenges of cheap, smartphone computing power with high-grade encryption. And more is coming in the Internet of Things," said project director Colonel Dan Cheesman of the Royal Marines, the Inquirer reported.

He added: "AI, robotics, automation and quantum computing are all future uncertainties. As a result, the Royal Navy, priding itself on its long history of world-leading innovation, is focused on the implications for maritime and littoral warfare in the Information Age."

Israel’s SIGINT Organization, Unit 8200, Has Helped Make Israel a Leader in Cybersecurity and Surveillance Technology

Israel, with a population of just eight million people, has become a powerhouse in cybersecurity. Only the United States has greater strength in the field.

“In Israel, there are 420 companies in the field of cybersecurity that get funded by venture capital,” said Lior Div, chief executive and co-founder of Cybereason, a company with offices in Boston and Tel Aviv.

A good number of the Israeli companies have one thing in common: Their founders emerged from an elite division of the Israel Defense Forces known as Unit 8200, a legendary high-tech spy branch that also has become a prolific technology incubator.

Unit 8200, which comprises several thousand cyber warriors, is the Israeli equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency and is under the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Among the unit’s missions are offensive strategy, cybersecurity, encryption and signals intelligence.

Most of its members are still teenagers, selected for their math and science skills but still untrained at formal universities. Nearly all Israelis must serve a stint in the IDF but only a select few are recruited into 8200.

“This is a unit that has first pick to take the one percent of one percent of people who have a specific capability,” said Div, who won a medal of honor for his work in the unit.


Nuclear command and control increasingly relies on computing networks that might be vulnerable to cyber attack. Yet nuclear deterrence and cyber operations have quite different political properties. For the most part, nuclear actors can openly advertise their weapons to signal the costs of aggression to potential adversaries, thereby reducing the danger of misperception and war. Cyber actors, in contrast, must typically hide their capabilities, as revelation allows adversaries to patch, reconfigure, or otherwise neutralize the threat. Offensive cyber operations are better used than threatened, while the opposite, fortunately, is true for nuclear weapons. When combined, the warfighting advantages of cyber operations become dangerous liabilities for nuclear deterrence. Increased uncertainty about the nuclear/cyber balance of power raises the risk of miscalculation during a brinksmanship crisis. We should expect strategic stability in nuclear dyads to be, in part, a function of relative offensive and defensive cyber capacity. To reduce the risk of crisis miscalculation, states should improve rather than degrade mutual understanding of their nuclear deterrents.


In the 1983 movie WarGames, a teenager hacks into the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) and almost triggers World War III. After a screening of the film, President Ronald Reagan allegedly asked his staff, “Could something like this really happen?” The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff replied, “Mr. President, the problem is much worse than you think.” The National Security Agency (NSA) had been hacking Russian and Chinese communications for years, but the burgeoning personal computer revolution was creating serious vulnerabilities for the United States too. Reagan directed a series of reviews that culminated in a classified national security decision directive (NSDD-145) entitled “National Policy on Telecommunications and Automated Information Systems Security.” More alarmist studies, and potential remedies, emerged in recent decades as technicians and policymakers came to appreciate the evolving threat [1–3].


Andrew Fishman, Morgan Marquis-Boire

The National Security Agency and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, have worked to subvert anti-virus and other security software in order to track users and infiltrate networks, according to documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The spy agencies have reverse engineered software products, sometimes under questionable legal authority, and monitored web and email traffic in order to discreetly thwart anti-virus software and obtain intelligence from companies about security software and users of such software. One security software maker repeatedly singled out in the documents is Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, which has a holding registered in the U.K., claims more than 270,000 corporate clients, and says it protects more than 400 million people with its products.

British spies aimed to thwart Kaspersky software in part through a technique known as software reverse engineering, or SRE, according to a top-secret warrant renewal request. The NSA has also studied Kaspersky Lab’s software for weaknesses, obtaining sensitive customer information by monitoring communications between the software and Kaspersky servers, according to a draft top-secret report. The U.S. spy agency also appears to have examined emails inbound to security software companies flagging new viruses and vulnerabilities.