• Future conflictReflecting on the past to counter future terrorism

    Warfare in the future will increasingly be about manipulating perceptions, whether by hostile states or non-state actors, according to terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins. The creation of fear and anxiety by terrorists, and foreign meddling in U.S. politics, are components of contemporary conflict. A major challenge facing the U.S. is how to get better at countering foes while strengthening national institutions, and U.S. democracy depends on it, Jenkins said.

  • Border securityWere women and children or a “mob” tear-gassed at U.S. border?

    In a briefing with reporters Tuesday, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said what happened Sunday — when suffocating tear gas was fired by CBP officials against Central American migrants — was a “routine border protection mission against a violent mob of 1,000 people” (the Mexican government puts the number at 500). But the choking tear gas, known as CS gas, is considered to be a chemical weapon that was outlawed on the battlefield by the United States and other nations in a 1993 agreement.

  • CybersecurityRevolutionizing cybersecurity through quantum research

    Scientists have found a novel way to safeguard quantum information during transmission, opening the door for more secure and reliable communication for warfighters on the battlefield. Recent advancements of cutting-edge technologies in lasers and nanophysics, quantum optics and photonics have given researchers the necessary tools to control and manipulate miniature quantum systems, such as individual atoms or photons - the smallest particles of light.

  • Chemical warfareQuick, precise method for detecting chemical warfare agents

    Sarin is a man-made nerve agent that can spread as a gas or liquid. According to the Center for Disease control, exposure to large doses will over-stimulate glands and muscles, and can lead to loss of consciousness or respiratory failure. Even small doses can cause a long list of distressing and dangerous symptoms. “Low-level nerve agent exposure leads to ambiguous signs and symptoms that cannot be easily discriminated from other conditions, which may result in a delay in treatment and permanent damage,” says an expert. “If trace amounts can be detected quickly, you can prevent permanent damage to human health.”

  • DeterrenceBolstering extended deterrence in a complex world

    A variety of threats from Russia, China and North Korea makes it critical that U.S. policymakers take a fresh look at what constitutes an effective strategy to deter interstate aggression, a new RAND report finds. The authors argue that growing opportunism in aggression seems less common than desperation through paranoia about growing threats to security or status. Large-scale aggression tends to emerge as a last resort, they find.

  • Chemical weaponsPreventing chemical weapons as sciences advance and converge

    Revolutionary advances in science and technology are threatening the ability of the Chemical Weapons Convention to prevent the development, possession and potential use of chemical weapons. Scientists warn of this increased chemical weapons risk, which is the result of rapid scientific change. Alarming examples of the dangers from chemical weapons have been seen recently in the use of industrial chemicals and the nerve agent sarin against civilians in Syria, and in the targeted assassination operations using VX nerve agent in Malaysia and novichok nerve agent in the U.K.

  • U.S. militaryWith military edge eroding, U.S. may lose military conflict with Russia or China

    A commission investigating Donald Trump’s defense strategy has said the United States could lose a military conflict with China or Russia. It argued that the U.S. ability to defend itself and its allies was in doubt. The report suggested that if the U.S. went to war with countries such as China and Russia, it may not win. “The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia,” the commission said. “The United States is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously.”

  • DronesBetter drone detection through machine learning, cameras

    Visual detection of drones has never been considered as effective as its thermal, radio or acoustic counterparts. The trouble is always discriminating between different moving objects in view. Typically, a bird or even a plastic bag caught in the wind might be mistaken for a drone, which is why most discrimination methods have primarily focused on heat and acoustic signatures in the past (though acoustic signatures also tend to become less useful in urban areas with higher levels of background noise). Combined with machine learning, however, a camera can tell a different story.

  • Considered opinion: The Russia connectionCountering Russian election hacks

    By Eric Jensen

    According to a Center for Public Integrity report, the “U.S. military hackers have been given the go-ahead to gain access to Russian cyber systems as part of potential retaliation for any meddling in America’s elections.” Eric Jensen writes in Just Security that this signals a significant change to the U.S. cyber policy and is a clear indication that cyber actions have now entered the mainstream of national security tools. “For years, the “newness” of cyber capabilities have caused the level of authorization to remain at very high levels and subject to extensive interagency dialogue before even simple cyber tasks could be taken. These procedural requirements undoubtedly had the practical effect of limiting the number of cyber activities undertaken. By allowing DoD and other government agencies to function more autonomously within pre-approved guidelines reflects a normalization of cyber capabilities that has been too long in coming.”

  • Molecular alliesDiscovering new molecules for military applications

    The efficient discovery and production of new molecules is essential for a range of military capabilities—from developing safe chemical warfare agent simulants and medicines to counter emerging threats, to coatings, dyes, and specialty fuels for advanced performance. Current approaches to develop molecules for specific applications, however, are intuition-driven, mired in slow iterative design and test cycles, and ultimately limited by the specific molecular expertise of the chemist who has to test each candidate molecule by hand. DARPA’s Accelerated Molecular Discovery (AMD) program aims “to speed the time to design, validate, and optimize new molecules with defined properties from several years to a few months, or even several weeks,” DARPA says.

  • SyriaAfter downing of Russian plane, Moscow to supply S-300 missile system to Syria

    Russia has announced it will supply Syria with an S-300 ground-to-air missile system, saying it will improve the allied country’s defenses and help avert a repeat of the downing of a Russian warplane by Syrian forces a week ago. Speaking on 24 September, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Moscow will deliver the S-300 within two weeks and will also provide Syrian government forces with updated automated systems for its air-defense network.

  • Cyber operationsWhy it’s unwise for the U.K. to boast about its cyberattack capability

    By Joe Devanny

    The U.K. government is very publicly investing more money in its ability to conduct cyberattacks and, at the same time, it is becoming increasingly open in talking about the attacks it has conducted in the past – and those it might conduct in future. There are risks involved in publicly signaling the imminence of cyber and other attacks, especially against capable adversaries with a demonstrable appetite for taking risks and a cavalier attitude about collateral damage. The U.K. needs to think more carefully about how it integrates cyber operations, and communication about them, into its wider approach – not only towards Russia but across the whole spectrum of national security operations.

  • BiosecurityDOD lagging on lab biosecurity: GAO

    For three years, the DoD has been attempting to implement security reforms after reports revealed that an Army lab at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah accidentally sent 575 live samples of Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, to 194 labs over the course of a decade. The GAO says the Department of Defense (DoD) is still short of meeting goals meant to improve the department’s biosafety and biosecurity programs, leaving government labs still at risk.

  • Cyber strategyU.S. prepared to strike in cyberspace

    The United States is prepared to go on the offensive in cyberspace to ensure adversaries know there is a price to pay for hacks, network intrusions and other types of attacks. President Donald Trump signed a new National Cyber Strategy on Thursday, calling for a more aggressive response to the growing online threat posed by other countries, terrorist groups and criminal organizations.

  • Chemical weaponsUN confirms 33 chemical attacks, constituting war crimes, by Syrian regime since 2013

    The United Nations reported Wednesday that the Assad regime in Syria continues to use chemical weapons against civilian targets, including three chlorine gas attacks on a rebel-held Damascus suburb and on Idlib province this year that constitute war crimes.