• Chemical weaponsUN Watchdog Confirms Assad Used Chemical Weapons against Civilians

    The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Monday released the findings of the second report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT). IIT concludes that units of the Syrian Arab Air Force used chemical weapons in Saraqib on 4 February 2018.Since 2011, the year the civil war in Syria began, the Assad regime has launched atleast 336 chemical attacks, using Sarin and chlorine, against Sunni civilians.

  • Communication technologyResearchers Developing Tech to Mitigate Interference for Wideband RF Systems

    The radio frequency (RF) spectrum is a scarce resource that is becoming increasingly congested and contested as demand for spectrum access continues to grow. Within this crowded environment, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) RF systems are hampered by mission-compromising interference from both self- and externally-generated signals. Researchers aim to develop new tunable filter, signal canceller architectures to protect wideband radios.

  • Security challengesGlobal Security Trends

    The National Intelligence Council (NIC) on Thursday released the seventh edition of its quadrennial Global Trends report. Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World is an unclassified assessment of the forces and dynamics that the NIC anticipates are likely to shape the national security environment over the next twenty years. Global competition for influence will intensify. “During the next two decades, the intensity of competition for global influence is likely to reach its highest level since the Cold War,” the report notes.

  • Rare Earth elementsThe U.S. Is Worried about Its Critical Minerals Supply Chains – Essential for Electric Vehicles, Wind Power and the Nation’s Defense

    By Jordy Lee and Morgan Bazilian

    When U.S. companies build military weapons systems, electric vehicle batteries, satellites and wind turbines, they rely heavily on a few dozen “critical minerals” – many of which are mined and refined almost entirely by other countries. Building a single F-35A fighter jet, for example, requires at least 920 pounds of rare earth elements that come primarily from China. That level of dependence on imports worries the U.S. government.

  • Nuclear wasteRetaining Knowledge of Nuclear Waste Management

    Sandia National Laboratories have begun their second year of a project to capture important, hard-to-explain nuclear waste management knowledge from retirement-age employees to help new employees get up to speed faster. The project has experts share their experience with and knowledge of storage, transportation, and disposal with next generation scientists.

  • China & bioweaponsBiohazard: A Look at China’s Biological Capabilities and the Recent Coronavirus Outbreak

    By Corey Pfluke

    When people think about weapons of mass destruction (WMD), they tend to think of things that go “boom.” The bigger the weapon, the bigger the boom, and the worse the impact. However, not all weapons need a big boom to be effective. Every day, millions of people are affected by a weapon that has the potential to do far more damage than a nuclear bomb, a weapon we cannot see, a weapon we call germs.

  • ARGUMENT: Autonomous weaponsAdding AI to Autonomous Weapons Increases Risks to Civilians in Armed Conflict

    Earlier this month, a high-level, congressionally mandated commission released its long-awaited recommendations for how the United States should approach artificial intelligence (AI) for national security. The recommendations were part of a nearly 800-page report from the National Security Commission on AI (NSCAI) that advocated for the use of AI but also highlighted important conclusions on key risks posed by AI-enabled and autonomous weapons, particularly the dangers of unintended escalation of conflict. Neil Davison and Jonathan Horowitz write that “The NSCAI recommends that the United States excludes the use of autonomous nuclear weapons.”

  • BOOKSHELF : Nerve agentsToxic: A History of Nerve Agents, from Nazi Germany to Putin’s Russia

    By Chris Quillen

    Nerve agents are very much in the news these days. Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria repeatedly used Sarin against its own people during that country’s civil war. The Putin regime employed Novichoks in both Russia and the United Kingdom against citizens it deemed insufficiently loyal to Moscow. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un utilized VX in the assassination of his brother at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Across the globe, the use of nerve agents is challenging the international nonproliferation regime in numerous ways.

  • Military reformU.K. Launches Military Revolution

    The British government has unveiled its new, post-Brexit military strategy on Monday, highlighting a major reform of the British armed forces which aims to adapt the British military employ new tools to face new threats. The number of soldiers will be reduced – making the post-reform military the smallest British army in 300 years – with hundreds of tanks, armored troops carriers, and jet fighters mothballed. Money will go toward developing and deploying innovative capabilities, including satellites, electronic warfare, cyber, drones, and robots.

  • ARGUMENT: Cyberspace spooksCovert Action, Espionage, and the Intelligence Contest in Cyberspace

    In recent months, the world learned that China carried out an indiscriminate hack against Microsoft Exchange, while Russia hacked U.S. information technology firm SolarWinds and used cyber capabilities in an attempt to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Michael Poznansky writes that the attacks raise important questions about how best to characterize these and other kinds of disruptive cyber events. Cyber-enabled espionage and covert cyber operations both qualify as intelligence activities, but they are also distinct in key ways from one another. “Failing to appreciate these differences impedes our ability to understand the richness of cyber operations, underlying motivations, the prospect for signaling, and metrics of success,” he writes.

  • ManufacturingExpanding Domestic Manufacturing of Secure, Custom Chips for Defense Needs

    DARPA announced the Structured Array Hardware for Automatically Realized Applications (SAHARA) program, which aims to expand access to domestic manufacturing capabilities to tackle challenges hampering the secure development of custom chips for defense systems. DARPA selected Intel and university researchers to automate conversion of Structured ASICs with leading-edge, domestic foundry capabilities for defense electronic systems.

  • CybersecurityAmerica's Place in Cyberspace: The Biden Administration’s Cyber Strategy Takes Shape

    By David P. Fidler

    In cyber policy, the SolarWinds and Microsoft hacks have dominated the first weeks of President Joseph Biden’s administration. Even so, the administration has outlined its cyber strategy in speeches by President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken and in the president’s Interim Strategic National Security Guidance [PDF]. The emerging strategy is anchored in, and is reflective of, the ideological, geopolitical, technological, and diplomatic pillars of Biden’s broader vision for U.S. foreign policy and national security.

  • Middle EastSyria's Hospitals Face Systematic Attacks: Report

    Over the past decade, hospitals across Syria have been attacked more than 400 times. The attacks formed part of a larger strategy by the Assad regime and Russia to cripple access to medical facilities in rebel-held areas.

  • China watchChina Speeding Up Plans to Overtake U.S. on World Stage, Says U.S. Commander

    By Jeff Seldin

    The inability of the United States to adequately push back against China’s growing military might is spurring Beijing to accelerate its plans to remake the current international order in its image, a top U.S. military commander told lawmakers Tuesday.

  • BOOKSHELF: Syria’s chemical weaponsThe “Red Line” That Wasn’t

    By Chris Quillen

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons (CW) against his own people is the greatest challenge the Chemical Weapons Convention has ever faced. This breach of the taboo against CW use sparked numerous national and international investigations to determine the details of exactly what happened and who had done it. Joby Warrick’s Red Line is a useful addition to this debate, but the definitive book on the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war remains to be written.