• DoD “Precariously Underprepared” for Security Challenges of Climate Change

    The United States Army War College recently released a report exploring the broad impact climate change will have on national security and U.S. Army operations, and offering what it describes as urgent recommendations. The second sentence of the report captures the report’s tone and argument: “The Department of Defense is precariously underprepared for the national security implications of climate change-induced global security challenges.”

  • Winning the Cyber War Is Not a Job the Army Can Do Alone

    Britain has not been legally at war since 1945. Despite this, we have been in perpetual conflict since then and, apart from 1969, have lost soldiers on operations every single year. Today the sphere of that conflict now very much includes the online world where our adversaries – from Russian disinformation disseminators to IS’s terrorist cyber warriors – are a shadowy, but perpetual threat. In this increasingly antagonistic world, we must organize ourselves accordingly.

  • British Army to Engage in Social Media Warfare as New Cyber Division Unveiled

    The British Army is to engage in social media warfare, its most senior soldier has announced as he launched a new division of the military dedicated to fighting cyber threats. The new formation, titled 6 Division (6 Div), will seek to influence the behavior of the public and adversaries by specializing in “information warfare.” It is expected to react to social media “attacks” on Britain, and proactively launch similar offensives.

  • Americas’ Longest-Running Insurgency: Lessons for U.S. Longest-Running War

    In 2016, Colombia achieved a remarkable success by seemingly bringing to an end the Western Hemisphere’s longest-running insurgency. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been at war with government forces for more than fifty years. And yet here was a negotiated settlement by which two parties that had been fighting for generations agreed to lay down their arms—by which the guerrilla organization itself would be brought into the government’s formal power structures. The case raises important questions—not least for a U.S. government that watches the clock on its own counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan tick ever closer to two decades. How was this possible? And are there lessons that can be exported and applied to other intransigent conflicts, like Afghanistan?

  • Sounding the Alarm about Another Kind of 9/11

    Richard Clarke knows some things about clear and present dangers. As the first U.S. counterterrorism czar, he tried to alert important White House decision-makers before September 11 about the threat of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, but those warnings were largely ignored; afterwards, he famously apologized publicly for the government’s failures. These days, Clarke is trying to get people to think hard about the next big attack—the cyber version—and all the ones that have already happened.

  • Bashar al-Assad’s Updated, Sinister Version of Biological Warfare

    Biological warfare is generally understood as the deliberate wartime introduction of a lethal pathogen with the intent to kill or maim. Syria under President Bashar al-Assad is pursuing a sinister variation—one with long and dangerous historical precedents. Assad’s government has allowed pathogens normally controlled by public health measures—such as clean water, sanitation, waste disposal, vaccination, and infection control—to emerge as biological weapons through the deliberate destruction and withholding of those measures. The conflict has in effect reversed public health advances to achieve levels of disease not seen since the Napoleonic era.

  • The Threat of an Electromagnetic Attack

    When much of Venezuela was plunged into darkness after a massive blackout this week, President Nicolás Maduro blamed the power outage on an “electromagnetic attack” carried out by the U.S. The claim was met with skepticism, but Maduro’s claim has raised questions over what exactly is an electromagnetic attack, how likely is it to occur and what impact could it have.

  • Jettisoning Arms Control Endangers America’s Edge in Great-Power Politics

    The Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy identified the “reemergence of long-term, strategic competition” with China and Russia as the foremost threat to U.S. national security. Both the White House and Pentagon insist that the U.S. military needs enhanced capabilities to counter growing threats such as Russian hypersonic missiles and new Chinese warships and submarines. Yet, as the Trump administration escalates its hard-power focus, it is systematically eroding the restrictions on hard power that historically have limited the strength of potential great-power challengers.

  • No, Lyme Disease Is Not an Escaped Military Bioweapon, Despite What Conspiracy Theorists Say

    Could Lyme disease in the U.S. be the result of an accidental release from a secret bioweapons experiment? Could the military have specifically engineered the Lyme disease bacterium to be more insidious and destructive – and then let it somehow escape the lab and spread in nature? Is this why 300,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with this potentially debilitating disease? It’s an old conspiracy theory currently enjoying a resurgence with lots of sensational headlines and tweets. Even Congress has ordered that the Pentagon must reveal whether it weaponized ticks. And it’s not true.

  • What Dragonflies Can Teach Us about Missile Defense

    Dragonfly brains might be wired to be extremely efficient at calculating complex trajectories: Dragonflies catch 95 percent of their prey, crowning them one of the top predators int he world. Sandia Lab scientists are is examining whether dragonfly-inspired computing could improve missile defense systems, which have the similar task of intercepting an object in flight, by making on-board computers smaller without sacrificing speed or accuracy.

  • Missile Strike False Alarm Most Stressful for Less Anxious Hawaiians: Study

    After learning that a warning of a missile headed to Hawaii was a false alarm, the most anxious local Twitter users calmed down more quickly than less anxious users, according to a study of tweets before, during and after the event. “Can a false alarm of an impending disaster itself be a form of trauma? Our results suggest that the experience may have a lingering impact on some individuals well after the threat is dispelled,” says an expert.

  • Epigenetic Tool for Detecting Exposure to WMD

    With a $38.8 million award from DARPA, researchers are working on developing a field-deployable, point-of-care device that will determine in 30 minutes or less whether a person has been exposed to weapons of mass destruction or their precursors. The device will be capable of detecting the health effects of a number of substances associated with weapons of mass destruction, including biological agents, radiation, chemicals and explosives. The detection devices will scan potential exposure victims for epigenetic changes, that is, chemical modifications that affect genes, altering their expression while leaving the genetic code intact.

  • FBI Director: China No. 1 Counter-Intelligence Threat to the U.S.

    The FBI has more than 1,000 investigations of U.S. intellectual property theft in all 50 states with nearly all leading back to China, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, calling China the No. 1 counter-intelligence threat to the United States. Wray described the threat as “more deep, more diverse, more vexing, more challenging, more comprehensive and more concerning than any counter-intelligence threat that I can think of.”

  • 40 U.S. Diplomats in Cuba Have Suffered Brain Damage: Medical Report

    Brain imaging of 40 U.S. government personnel who served at the U.S. embassy in Havana in 2016, and who experienced a host of neurological symptoms after possible exposure of an unknown source, revealed significant differences in brain tissue and connectivity when compared to healthy individuals, according to a new report. Images reveal key brain differences, particularly in the cerebellum, between impacted patients and healthy individuals, which may underlie clinical findings previously reported by brain experts.

  • The U.S. Is Unprepared to Mobilize for Great Power Conflict

    The “fully mobilized Joint Force,” the National Defense Strategy tells us, will be capable of “defeating aggression by a major power; deterring opportunistic aggression elsewhere; and disrupting imminent terrorist and WMD threats.” Yet neither that document, nor U.S. planners in general, are sufficiently grappling with certain mobilization challenges that could prove decisive in a future great power conflict. The attacks of an adversary against U.S. critical infrastructure could cause major damage and disruption in ways that could undermine overall morale and create major impediments to mobilization. Given these threats and these apparent vulnerabilities, the resilience and survivability of the U.S. homeland must remain a core priority. So too, the U.S. military, which has become accustomed to operating in much more permissive environments in its recent history, must also be prepared to mobilize and operate under such demanding conditions.