• Bring Back the Seaplane

    On 8 December 1941, Japan attacked the Philippines and destroyed nearly half of the U.S. Army Air Corps’ bombers along with a third of its fighters on the ground. Yet, 43 of 45 Navy patrol aircraft survived the day. David Alman writes that the reason for such a stark difference in survival is simple: In accordance with pre-war plans, the 45 aircraft of Patrol Wing 10 had dispersed to various lakes, beaches, rivers, and bays throughout the Philippines. Japan was left hunting for small groups of seaplanes over thousands of square miles of water and coastline, and eventually gave up. Alman argues that seaplanes should be seriously considered – or rather, reconsidered – as one measure to mitigate China’s growing capabilities in east Asia and the Pacific: Seaplanes do not rely on runways or fixed bases. They do not rely on basing rights. They can operate over long distances at relatively high speeds and, contrary to popular opinion, can do so in bad weather.

  • Settling the Debate over Whether the Modern World Is Less Violent

    While the first half of the twentieth century marked a period of extraordinary violence, the world has become more peaceful in the past thirty years, a new statistical analysis of the global death toll from war suggests. The study, by mathematicians at the University of York, used new techniques to address the long-running debate over whether battle deaths have been declining globally since the end of the Second World War.

  • Nuclear Weapon Modernization Continues but Outlook for Arms Control Is Bleak: Report

    The just-released annual report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament, and international security. The report finds is that despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2019, all nuclear weapon-possessing states continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals.

  • Military Prestige during a Political Crisis: Use It and You’ll Lose It

    Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walked himself into a civil-military problem when he walked across Pennsylvania Avenue – in his battle fatigues! – last week. Jim Golby and Peter Feaver write that Milley was literally following President Donald Trump, who was on his way for a photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in order to counter stories about the president holed up in his basement while riots raged outside. “Presidents who are struggling politically have a powerful incentive to wrap themselves in military garb precisely because the American public holds the military in high esteem. But, when the language of national security is stretched to provide cover for what is otherwise viewed as a nakedly partisan effort, it jeopardizes the very esteem for the military on which the administration relies,” they write.

  • Drones, Machine Learning to Detect Dangerous “Butterfly” Landmines

    It is estimated that there are at least 100 million military munitions and explosives of concern devices in the world, of various size, shape and composition. Millions of these are surface plastic landmines with low-pressure triggers, such as the mass-produced Soviet PFM-1 “butterfly” landmine. Nicknamed for their small size and butterfly-like shape, these mines are extremely difficult to locate and clear. Using advanced machine learning, drones could be used to detect these dangerous “butterfly” landmines in remote regions of post-conflict countries.

  • Venezuela Failed Raid: U.S. Has a History of Using Mercenaries to Undermine Other Regimes

    In early May, the Venezuelan military intercepted a group of dissidents and American mercenaries. These events in Venezuela echo past U.S. secret sponsorship of private armies to overthrow governments elsewhere. The U.S. has an extended history of sponsoring insurgents and mercenaries to undermine unwanted foreign regimes.

  • Russian, Syrian Forces Continue a Campaign of War Crimes in Syria: Amnesty

    In a new report, Amnesty International offers details of a continuing Syrian and Russian campaign to destroy hospitals, clinics, and schools in the Sunni-majority province of Idlib, in order to drive as many Sunnis as possible out of Syria. Since 2011, the Assad regime has conducted the largest ethnic cleansing campaign since the Second World War, aiming to change the ethnic composition of Syria. “Even by the standards of Syria’s calamitous nine-year crisis, the displacement and humanitarian emergency sparked by the latest onslaught on Idlib has been unprecedented,” said Amnesty.

  • Second Skin Protects against Chem, Bio Agents

    Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of chemical weapons in the Syria conflict have provided a stark reminder of the plethora of chemical and biological threats that soldiers, medical personnel and first responders face during routine and emergency operations. Researchers have developed a smart, breathable fabric designed to protect the wearer against biological and chemical warfare agents. Material of this type could be used in clinical and medical settings as well.

  • Iran Pulling Military Out of Syria in Response to Intensified Israeli Attacks

    Israeli defense officials told reporters Tuesday that Iranian forces are pulling out of Syria and closing military bases, arms depots, arms manufacturing facilities, and military research labs there. In recent months, Israel has intensified its air attacks against Iranian forces, and against Hezbollah targets, in Syria, as well as against the Assad regime forces protecting Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

  • Predicting and Countering Cyberttacks

    The U.K Defense and Security Accelerator (DASA) announce nearly £1m to further develop technology that predicts and counters cyber-attacks. “This work will develop, adapt and merge the novel approaches explored in Phase 1 of the competition, to proactively defend deployed U.K. military systems and networks from the rapidly growing threat of offensive cyber action from aggressive adversaries,” DASA said.

  • The Department of Defense Should Not Wage Cyber War Against Criminal Hackers During the Coronavirus Crisis

    Politicians and pundits in the United States have frequently described the challenge of controlling the COVID pandemic with the language of waging war. Erica D. Borghard writes that given this terminology, it can be tempting to look to the Department of Defense (DOD) to solve problems it was not meant to address. While nefarious actors in cyberspace are seeking to capitalize on scared and vulnerable individuals during the pandemic for criminal gain and national strategic objectives, “any efforts to leverage DOD capabilities in combating these efforts must distinguish between nation-state and criminal activity,” she writes.

  • Global Military Expenditure Reaching $1917 Billion in 2019

    Total global military expenditure rose to $1917 billion in 2019, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The total for 2019 represents an increase of 3.6 percent from 2018 and the largest annual growth in spending since 2010. The five largest spenders in 2019, which accounted for 62 percent of expenditure, were the United States, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia. This is the first time that two Asian states have featured among the top three military spenders.

  • How Will the Pandemic Affect National Security Innovation

    The second week of March was an inflection point for many across the world. Rachel Olney writes that as a founder of a tech company with commercial and defense customers, she has concerns for the early-stage companies with defense applications. With the massive economic downturn came panicked investors trying to determine which companies in their portfolios would survive. “They reached out to learn how much cash we have, if we can do layoffs, and if we would ultimately survive,” she writes. “My experience was not unique.”

  • National Security in the Age of Pandemics

    For the first time since the Second World War, an adversary managed to knock a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier — USS Theodore Roosevelt — out of service. Only this time the enemy was a virus, not a nation-state. Gregory D. Koblentz and Michael Hunzeker write in Defense One that the fact that we “lost” the ultimate symbol of American military power to an invisible opponent should send shock waves through the national security community, because in its race to prepare the country for renewed great power competition with Russia and China, it has largely ignored a potentially greater threat: pandemic disease.

  • Why China's Coronavirus Lies Don't Matter If It Plays the Long Information Game

    The world will never be the same after COVID-19 –but Mark Payumo writes that this will not be because people sheltered in place and reacquainted themselves with traditional family bonding, but because China opened a new front in information warfare. “This front is global in scale and one that Beijing has laid the groundwork for a decade prior to the pandemic,” he writes. “As it unravels, it underscores one fact that we already know: that the world, especially truly-functioning West democracies, continues to fail in responding to Chinese global statecraft that may threaten civil liberties as we know it.”