• Beijing Will Give You Cold War Nostalgia

    America’s twenty-first-century competition with China is likely to be more dangerous and more complex than the U.S. Cold War with the Soviet Union. Walter Russell Mean writes that this is the result of two factors: First, China’s economic power makes it a much more formidable and resourceful opponent than the Soviet Union was., and, second, the technological environment has changed dramatically in the past generation.

  • Promoting Cooperation Between Humans, Autonomous Machines

    The trust between humans and autonomous machines is a top priority for U.S. Army researchers — as machines become integral to society, it is critical to understand the impact on human decision-making.

  • Bio-Inspired Theoretical Research May Improve Robots’ Effectiveness on Battlefield

    In an effort to make robots more effective and versatile teammates for soldiers in combat, Army researchers are on a mission to understand the value of the molecular living functionality of muscle, and the fundamental mechanics that would need to be replicated in order to artificially achieve the capabilities arising from the proteins responsible for muscle contraction.

  • Why America Isn’t Equipped for the New Rules of War

    Sean McFate is a former paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division; he’s also worked as a private military contractor in West Africa. Today he’s a professor at the National Defense University and Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.  His book The New Rules of War, published earlier this year, dissects the ways warfare must change in order for America to succeed. MIT Technology Review’s war reporter Janine di Giovanni sat down to ask him about his vision for the future of conflict.

  • Autonomous Protection System to Defend Satellites against Attacks

    Satellites do a lot of things — they help people navigate from one place to another, they deliver television programming, they search for new stars and exo-planets and they enable the U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy. But until recently, one thing they haven’t done — or needed to do — is defend themselves. Sandia launches campaign to develop autonomous satellite protection systems.

  • Indecision in Washington Compounded the Kurds' Dilemma

    The American military presence in northeast Syria was always an anomaly, unlikely to be sustained indefinitely. The manner of its termination has nevertheless proven inept and unnecessarily costly. If the military advantages of partnering with the YPG were clear, it was equally clear that none of their neighbors would indefinitely tolerate an independent Kurdish state. Turkey was most agitated by this scenario given the Syrian Kurds’ links to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a designated terrorist group that has waged a low-grade insurgency against the state for decades. In the end it appears the Tump administration proved unable to choose among its competing interests in Syria, James Dobbins and Jeffrey Martini write. “Statesmanship requires the ability to choose between sometimes unpalatable alternatives. Statecraft requires a rigorous process of refining and a timely means of deliberating on those alternatives. These qualities have been notably lacking in charting the administration’s Syria end game thereby compounding the unavoidable costs of withdrawal with charges of betrayal and a retreat under fire.”

  • The Intelligence Fallout from Trump’s Withdrawal in Syria

    The chaotic nature of the U.S. withdrawal from Syria—following an impulsive, snap decision by President Donald Trump during a phone call with the Turkish president earlier this month—is unnerving those who have been involved in all levels of the fight against ISIS. This is because “forever war” in Iraq and Syria was built around the work done by local U.S. allies. The fight against ISIS was America’s, but it was also being fought by Syrians, Kurds, and Iraqis—a U.S. strategy known as “by, with and through.” These partnerships have proved invaluable to the war against ISIS – but at the same time, they have also opened a small hole in the secrecy which typically shrouds the U.S. special operations community—by giving the local partners who work with those forces a rare and up-close view of who they are and how they do their jobs. Experts worry that any potential deal between the Kurds and Assad will include “not just speaking with Syrian intelligence officers but Russians and Iranians,” one expert said. “It’s going to turn out that all of a sudden the ways that elite American counterterrorism forces operate are known to the opposition.” Another expert said: “None of these issues were thought through or prepared, no consequences considered. It’s a disaster.”

  • Forget North Korea's Nukes: A Dying Regime and Collapse Is Far Scary

    Starvation, loose nukes, chaos, and even a Chinese intervention are all likely. What is left to say at this point when it comes to that “Hermit Kingdom” everyone loves to hate? Harry J. Kazianis writes for Yahoo News that North Korea, or also known as the so-called Democratic People’s Republic, is the ultimate Pandora’s Box and every president’s worst nightmare: A-bombs, chemical toxins, biological weapons and missiles to lob them all over the world—including now at the continental United States. And yet, while North Korea flexing its atomic muscles is certainly a big deal, the world is missing the real story: What happens if someday North Korea falls apart through a mass uprising, economic disaster, or war?

  • 12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia.

    The Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria represents the Alawite minority (in 2011, about 75 percent of the Syrian population was Sunni , and about 12 percent were Alawites). Since the civil war in Syria began in 2011, the Assad regime, in the largest ethnic cleansing campaign since the end of the Second World War, has methodically, and successfully, pursued the goal of drastically reducing the number of Sunni Muslims in Syria. So far, the Assad regime has killed more than 500,000 Syrian Sunnis; has driven more than 5.6 million Sunnis out of Syria; and internally displaced more than 6.6 million Sunnis. One of the keys to Assad’s ethnic cleansing campaign has been the systematic destruction of hospitals and medical facilities in Sunni-majority areas and the killing of medical personnel. This strategy increases the number of dead and untreated wounded among the Sunnis, and along with the methodical destruction of water and sewage treatment facilities, makes life even more unbearable in Sunni areas of Syria. Since September 2015, the Russian air force has been doing most of the destruction of medical facilities and other civilian infrastructure in Sunni-majority areas.

  • Aerial Threat: Why Drone Hacking Could Be Bad News for the Military

    Unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly called drones, are now a fundamental part of defense force capability, from intelligence gathering to unmanned engagement in military operations. But what happens if our own technology is turned against us? As with all IT technology, manufacturers and users may leave the digital doors unlocked. This potentially leaves opportunities for cyber-criminals and perhaps even cyber-warfare.

  • Britain Is “At War Every Day” Due to Constant Cyberattacks, Chief of the Defense Staff says

    The Chief of the U.K. Defense Staff has said that Britain is “at war every day” due to constant cyberattacks from Russia and elsewhere. Russia and China’s “interpretation” of the rules governing international engagement threatened “the ethical and legal basis on which we apply the rule of armed conflict,” General Carter said. “Russia is much more of a threat today than it was five years ago.” He added: “There is still clearly going to be human interaction – warfare is essentially a political function - but it will be a much more sophisticated and will include the new domains [alongside land, sea and air] of space and cyber.”

  • The Strange Career of “National Security”

    National security—it’s an unusual phrase. Americans use it to frame war, terror, and everything else. Refugees fleeing violence and destitution are considered a “national-security threat.” So too are imported automobiles, as the Trump administration declared last year. Chinese ownership of the dating app Grindr “constitutes a national-security risk.” And Greenland, Senator Tom Cotton asserts, is “vital to our national security.” One might think the country has always been obsessed with national security. This is not the case, Dexter Fergie writes: “Americans didn’t begin using the phrase with any frequency until the 1940s. In fact, the Cambridge historian Andrew Preston has counted a mere four mentions of national security by U.S. presidents from 1918 to 1931. That is an average of one utterance for each of the presidents who served during that period. It’s also fewer than the number of times I wrote national security in the opening paragraph of this essay.”

  • “Big, Fat, Juicy Targets”— the Problem with Existing Early-Warning Satellites. And a Solution.

    In 2018, the US Air Force announced its intention to cancel the seventh and eighth space vehicles in the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program—a collection of satellites that provides early warning of incoming missiles—and declared its desire to transition over to the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program, which will serve the same purpose but which proponents say will be less expensive and more robust. “What went wrong with the SBIRS program, and what advantages might the Next Generation satellites have?” Jaganath Sankaran asks.

  • Trump Is Giving Iran More Than It Ever Dreamed of

    For the past six months, there has been plenty of reason to believe that Iran has primarily been motivated by fear, even desperation, in its confrontation with the United States. Lately, however, there are signs that Tehran has shifted to a strategy driven instead by a sense of opportunity and advantage. Kenneth M. Pollack writes in Foreign Policy that the trigger for this shift has been the Trump administration, whose misguided approach to Iran is on the cusp of splitting the United States from its Sunni Arab allies—a monumental geostrategic victory that Tehran has sought for 40 years.

  • Under the Radar, Iran’s Cruise Missile Capabilities Advance

    The recent attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia posed a major shock to the global oil market. How were the attacks conducted? Shahryar Pasandideh writes that while initially thought to have been exclusively carried out by aerial drones, more recent reports indicate that 18 Iranian origin drones and at least seven cruise missiles were used. Although much is uncertain about the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, the incident has directed considerable attention towards Iran’s cruise missile capabilities.