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As the U.S. and China Wage a New Cold War, They Should Learn From the Last One
Washington and Beijing need to reach a detente, establishing buffers and guardrails to avoid outright conflict

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands at a news conference after meeting at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017.
Photo: Artyom Ivanov/TASS/Getty Images

By David Shambaugh
July 31, 2020 3:19 pm ET

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On Monday, the American flag was lowered from over the U.S. consulate in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu. The Chinese foreign ministry called the closure a “legitimate and necessary” response to the recent U.S. decision to shut the Chinese consulate in Houston, which the Trump administration alleged had been engaged in an escalating pattern of economic and technical espionage.

The consulate closures were just the latest tit-for-tat steps taken by each government in a rapidly deteriorating relationship. Over the past few weeks, the geopolitical fracture has worsened markedly. The U.S. has issued a blacklist of Chinese officials now barred from entering the country and slapped sanctions on 11 Chinese companies complicit in China’s human rights abuses against its Muslim Uighur minority. Beijing has sanctioned Lockheed Martin for selling arms to Taiwan. The U.S. has pulled the Peace Corps out of China and canceled the storied Fulbright program there. U.S. officials have stepped up arrests of Chinese citizens for alleged espionage, intellectual-property theft and visa fraud.

Meanwhile, China’s ominous new “national security law” for Hong Kong has cast a pall over the territory and spurred many U.S. companies and citizens there to seriously consider leaving. In retaliation, the Trump administration has rescinded Hong Kong’s special trade status with Washington, annulled its extradition treaty and canceled other forms of preferential treatment.

China’s foreign minister said that the U.S. ‘has lost its mind, morals and credibility.’

One can also hear the echoes of a new Cold War in a series of recent speeches from top Trump administration officials—Attorney General William Barr, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—that harshly indict the Chinese Communist Party on multiple fronts. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded by telling his Russian counterpart that the U.S. “has lost its mind, morals and credibility.”

As the relationship between the two major powers rapidly deteriorates, it is time to acknowledge the obvious: The U.S. and China are now engaged in a new Cold War. Historians will debate exactly when it started, but the signs were there long before staff members at the two consulates found themselves hastily destroying documents. Both sides urgently need to find ways to manage this new Cold War—and to prevent it from getting hot.

Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and U.S. President Richard Nixon signing the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, Washington, D.C., June 22, 1973.
Photo: TASS/Getty Images

As in the U.S.-Soviet Cold War that dominated world politics for decades, both Washington and Beijing view the other as strategic adversaries. Both are engaged in a global competition, maneuvering in many regions—and above all in Asia—to cultivate partners and clients and deny them to the other side. Both conduct war games against the other and prepare for a possible direct clash or a proxy conflict. Both militaries procure weapons specifically to deter or fight the other. Both governments think that the other is trying to subvert its political system. Senior officials on both sides view the other with deep suspicion (as Mr. Pompeo said in his July 23 speech, “Distrust and verify”), and both governments collect intelligence against the other.

Nor are the tensions just limited to governments. Academic exchanges and other U.S.-Chinese societal linkages are breaking down. News media and social media are increasingly scathing toward the other country, and public-opinion polls show all-time highs in unfavorable perceptions of the other. Trade and investment—long the ballast of the U.S.-Chinese relationship—are now subject to Cold War-type strictures.

Most Americans now see a contentious competitive relationship with China as the new normal. Even if Joe Biden defeats Mr. Trump in November, his administration’s tactics might differ, but its overall strategic approach would probably be strikingly similar to that of the Trump administration.

China’s intelligence analysts failed to predict or understand the deep changes in U.S. thinking about China.

For its part, the Chinese government needs to ask itself why it didn’t see this major U.S. shift coming. China’s America specialists and intelligence analysts badly failed to predict or understand the deep changes in U.S. thinking about China over the past decade, and they still fail to see any fault on China’s side. For its part, the U.S. also engaged in wishful thinking about China’s evolution and failed to forecast Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s return to totalitarian rule.

Important as such introspection is, the question now for the rivals is how to keep their Cold War cold and manage the mounting tensions.

As in the U.S.-Soviet relationship, the two countries need to adopt a framework of detente amid a relationship of rivalry. Even as they compete, they must establish buffers, guardrails and stabilizing mechanisms that can contain their enmity and deter provocative behavior. Of course, the conditions differ from the first Cold War; China’s economy and global position are far stronger than their Soviet counterparts. Yet many of the lessons and instruments from the original Cold War are still useful.

The U.S. and China need precise procedures to prevent an accidental military encounter from escalating into full-scale war.

The U.S. and China are nuclear-armed powers, but unlike the U.S. and the Soviet Union, they have no bilateral strategic arms-control accords or “rules of the road” for managing conflicts. This is gravely dangerous. The priority must be to build communications mechanisms between the two militaries and national-security establishments, and to establish precise procedures to prevent, say, an accidental military encounter from escalating into full-scale war. A mutual pledge of “no first use” of nuclear weapons would be a good first step.

During the original Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union also adopted various measures to build confidence, including cultural programs. Unofficial “track two” exchanges among experts helped to narrow mutual misperceptions. I vividly recall meeting with Soviet experts on the U.S. in 1986 and watching “Dr. Strangelove” together.

The U.S. and China have had four decades of direct exchanges of experts and students. But the expert exchanges have atrophied badly in recent years and need to be rebuilt. Those that do continue tend to bring together committed proponents of U.S.-Chinese engagement and cooperation. The Chinese side is talking with the wrong Americans, and such discussions tend to create echo chambers of the like-minded. We need to get those on both sides who advocate vigorous competition in the room together for frank conversations, without propaganda slogans.

More From Ideas

To defuse tensions, some American scholars argue that the U.S. and China need to strike a “grand bargain,” as Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger did with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. But the relationship is too complex and fraught now for such overarching schemes. Over time, the sides could explore an agreement reminiscent of the 1975 Helsinki accords, which established a framework for Washington and Moscow to manage their differences on a range of issues, including human rights.

The U.S. and China are going to continue to compete across the board. Their rivalry is only going to intensify over time. So we need to accept the new Cold War, even as we work pragmatically to manage and constrain it.

—Dr. Shambaugh is the Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science and International Affairs and director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University.


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Poland Wraps Deal For Permanent US Troops, Drones, Special Ops
Poland is excited to have more US troops on the way, but military leaders warned this week that the effort to move 12,000 US troops out of Germany will take months for the planning along.

By Paul McLeary on July 31, 2020 at 1:45 PM

WASHINGTON: The United States will station a permanent garrison of troops in Poland, according to an agreement reached today between Washington and Warsaw. The announcement of the pact came just days after the Pentagon announced it was pulling 12,00 troops out of Germany.

It’s not clear how long it will take to implement the growth of the US footprint in Poland from the current 4,000 troops to 5,500. But the move will require some heavy logistical lifting, including new facilities for US drones, helicopters, an armored brigade combat team, and special operations forces.

Details remain scarce, but the Polish government has long pushed for a larger American footprint, and the Trump administration’s frustration over Germany’s failure to reach NATO-suggested funding goals has forced the Pentagon to look elsewhere for basing options.

“A deeper, more collaborative U.S.-Poland security partnership is critical in meeting current security threats and challenges,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Jessica Meyeraan, European Command’s deputy director of partnering, security cooperation and missile defense.

Poland’s Minister of National Defense Mariusz Blaszczak emphasized the importance of this agreement, saying Friday, “we’ll soon sign a final agreement on the endur[ing] presence of U.S. troops in Poland.”

There were expectations that the deal would be signed with Policy President Andrzej Duda visited Washington last month, but negotiations stretched on longer than anticipated.

Agreements like this are difficult to hash out, given the complex legal considerations that require host nations to accept having US government-run facilities off-limits to its citizens, along with the safety, force protection, logistics, and housing requirements of the US military.

Air Warfare,
Game Changer
As tensions rise, ISR demand will increase exponentially as will the need for kinetic response to threats.
From Gen. Frank Gorenc, USAF (Ret.)

Under the agreement, a division command will be housed at Poznań, while a training center will be located at Drawsko Pomorskie, a frequent host of multinational NATO exercises. There will also be an Air Force logistics hub, a headquarters for a rotational Combat Aviation Brigade, two separate special ops facilities, and another base near the German border that will house an Armored Brigade Combat Team.

The new bases come in addition to the work that will need to be done by European Command in the coming months to begin moving 12,000 US troops out of Germany to bases in Belgium, Italy, and the United States. An outline of the German pullout plan was delivered by Defense Secretary Mark Esper this week, calling for 2,000 troops from the EUCOM and special operations headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany to relocate to Mons, Belgium.

In addition, 4,500 members of the Second Cavalry Regiment in Germany will return to the US, and then begin rotations in the Black Sea region. Elsewhere, the 2,500 airmen scheduled to deploy to Germany from the U.K. will remain in the U.K., while an F-16 squadron will be sent to Italy.

Despite the urgent tone of Esper’s address, it doesn’t appear much of this movement will happen soon.

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“Coordination, approval, funding and execution will take time,” European Command head Gen. Todd Wolters said in a memo to the force Friday.

AFRICOM commander Gen. Stephen Townsend also issued a statement Friday affirming the process is in its infancy, and decisions are months away. “It will likely take several months to develop options, consider locations, and come to a decision,” on where the Stuttgart-based command will move, though “the command has started the process.”

The statements track with comments made by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. John Hyten, earlier this week, where he underscored the reality that no movement will happen quickly.

“What we have right now is really a concept ― a concept that we’ve shared with our allies, shared with the Congress, and we shared inside the department fairly widely. We now have to turn it into plans. As you turn [it] into plans, we have a very structured process involving the Joint Staff, the office of the secretary, and the combatant commands and the services, to make sure we understand what those are, then we’ll lay in the costs.”

While Esper estimated the costs to be less than $10 billion, the movement of so many forces will be time-consuming, complicated, and expensive. Moving to Mons will likely require building entirely new facilities to replace or add to the handful of aging, 1960s-era buildings that exist there now.

Former DoD official Jim Townsend, senior fellow in the CNAS Transatlantic Security Program, said that the proposed movements to Belgium and Italy — if they’re possible — will be unlikely to happen quickly, and will have to wait on political agreements to be signed first.

Mons “is a village where they’re going to have to do a lot to account for all these people coming,” he said. “The Pentagon hasn’t even put out an RFP [Request For Proposals] to build a new housing and facilities.” Without those basic logistical hurdles, any larger movements are years away, he said.

Likewise, he said, moving the air wing from Germany to Aviano, Italy, “will require new hardened shelters, fuel storage facilities, and additional housing at the base.” None of that planning has happened yet.

The words of caution from the uniformed military about the proposed moves underscore the massive political, logistic, and physical lift the movement will entail. And as shown by the two-plus years of negotiations with Poland to move 1,000 more US troops there, forging new legal agreements with the Belgian and Italian governments will take time, with no guarantee that an agreement can be reached.



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US Navy prepares major surge of littoral combat ship deployments

By: David B. Larter   1 day ago

The Independence-class LCS Gabrielle Giffords operates in the South China Sea on July 1, 2020. The U.S. Navy's top officer is leading an effort to increase the deployments for the small surface combatants. (MC2 Brenton Poyser/U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy is taking major steps in an attempt to shake off years of false starts and setbacks with the Littoral Combat Ship program, an effort Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said he’d oversee on his watch.

In an exclusive interview with Defense News on July 16, Gilday listed LCS as a major priority, saying he will turn up the heat on efforts to get the ship to become a major contributor to fleet operations.

“There are things in the near term that I have to deliver, that I’m putting heat on now, and one of them is LCS,” Gilday said. “One part is sustainability and reliability. We know enough about that platform and the problems that we have that plague us with regard to reliability and sustainability, and I need them resolved.”

“That requires a campaign plan to get after it and have it reviewed by me frequently enough so that I can be sighted on it. Those platforms have been around since 2008 — we need to get on with it. We’ve done five deployments since I’ve been on the job, we’re going to ramp that up two-and-a-half times over the next couple of years, but we have got to get after it,” he added. “LCS for me is something, on my watch, I’ve got to get right.”

Fixing first four littoral combat ships not worth it, US Navy says

Fixing first four littoral combat ships not worth it, US Navy says
Future testing and training will be conducted on newer and modernized vessels.

By: David Larter

Gilday’s renewed focus on LCS comes after years of fits and starts as the Navy struggled with almost every aspect of the complicated program: from manning and maintaining the hulls, to keeping the gear running or even fielding the sensor suites needed to perform the missions for which they were built.

The ship has become a perennial whipping boy for a Congress frustrated by the service’s struggle to field new technologies, such as those built into the LCS or the Ford-class aircraft carrier, conceived in the early 2000s.

Two of the technologies the Navy has yet to field are the mine-hunting mission module, intended to replace the service’s aging minesweepers, and the anti-submarine warfare mission module. Both are years overdue, though they have made significant progress. Getting those fielded is among Gilday’s top priorities.

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“I have to deliver ... both the mine and ASW modules,” Gilday said. “These ships are probably going to [start going] away in the mid-2030s if the [future frigate] FFG(X) build goes as planned. But I need to wring as much as I can out of those ships as quickly as I can.”

The LCS program comprises two hulls: a monohull version built in Marinette, Wisconsin, by Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri; and a trimaran version built by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. Congress funded 35 of the ships and has commissioned 20 of them, but deploying the ship has been a challenge because of reliability problems with the complicated propulsion systems designed to meet the Navy’s 40-knot speed requirement.

In 2016, the Navy fundamentally reorganized the program, jettisoning the signature modularity of the program where a single LCS would have a small, permanent crew and switch out anti-surface, anti-submarine or mine-warfare mission packages on the pier depending on the mission. Each mission package would then come with a group of specialists to operate the equipment.

After a series of accidents, the Navy sought to simplify the concept; semi-permanently assign mission packages to each hull; and change a complicated three-crews-for-two-LCS-hulls model to a blue-and-gold crewing model used in ballistic missile submarines as a way of boosting operational tempo.

The reorg was in response to concerns that the rotational crewing model reduced crew ownership of the vessel, potentially contributing to some of the accidents that plagued the program. One of the major accidents wrecked the then-forward-deployed Fort Worth’s combining gear (roughly the same as the clutch on a car) when the crew started up the system without lube oil running.

Prior to the Fort Worth accident, the combining gear onboard the Milwaukee encountered problems on the ship’s transit from the shipyard to its home base in Florida and had to be towed into Norfolk, Virginia.

Mission packages

Gilday’s goal of fielding the mission modules is well along already, according to two sources familiar with the progress, who spoke to Defense News on condition of anonymity.

The mine-warfare mission module is on track for a final test and evaluation by the end of this year, a source with knowledge of the program told Defense News, and the individual components have already passed testing and are in initial low-rate production.

End-to-end testing of the mine-warfare mission module is set to begin in fiscal 2021 and is on track to have its initial operating capability declared in 2022, another source said.

The status of the ASW mission module, which has been a regular target of Congress-imposed budget cuts, is a little less clear. The next major milestones for the ASW mission package will likely slip to next year due to budget cuts, a source with knowledge of the program said. The mission module has been integrated into the LCS Fort Worth and testing began last fall. It’s unclear if the testing will be delayed or interrupted if the Navy is able to carry through its plan to decommission the first four littoral combat ships.

For the Independence variant — the trimaran hull — testing for the ASW mission module is slated to be installed on the LCS Kansas City, but there is no fixed date yet, according to a Navy official.

An MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV conducts flight operations alongside the Freedom-class LCS Milwaukee in the Atlantic Ocean. (MC2 Anderson Branch/U.S. Navy)
An MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV conducts flight operations alongside the Freedom-class LCS Milwaukee in the Atlantic Ocean. (MC2 Anderson Branch/U.S. Navy)


Aside from the issues with a buggy propulsion train and the delayed mission modules , Gilday said he was happy with where LCS is with regard to manning, and said the blue-gold crewing was giving him a lot of availability to play with.

“I do think we have it about right with manning,” Gilday said. “We were honest with ourselves that the original design wasn’t going to do it. I really like the blue-and-gold construct because I get way more [operational availability] than I would with just the single crew.

“So I can get these ships out there in numbers doing the low-end stuff in, let’s say, 4th Fleet where I wouldn’t need a DDG.”

The Navy deployed the LCS Detroit to South America — the 4th Fleet area of operations — last year on a counternarcotics mission, and it returned earlier this month. Those are the kinds of missions for which the LCS is perfectly suited, Gilday said.

“I can deploy these things with a [law enforcement detachment] and a signals intelligence capability, and I can do that on LCS with carry-on gear,” Gilday said. “It’s the right kind of platform for that. Also in 5th Fleet, those maritime security missions that we were heavily sighted on in the late 1990s and early 2000s: They still exist, I’d just prefer to do them with an LCS instead of a DDG if I can.”

But without getting more reliability out of the propulsion system, even the low-end missions the Navy wants of the LCS will be a challenge. The heart of the issue seems to lie with long ocean transits, such as the one from San Diego, California, to Singapore, where the ships are supposed to be forward based.

Cutting back on that transit, and the wear it puts on the ship, should be core to the Navy’s strategy to getting more from LCS, said Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

“The propulsion architecture’s unreliability means you are going to have to come up with a different way to deploy the ship that doesn’t require every deployment to be transoceanic,” Clark said. “By the time the ship gets to Singapore, it needs a lot of work done to it and your deployment time is cut down by the fact that you have to repair the ship once it arrives. Then it has to return to the U.S. So both those trips are so fraught that the Navy ends up devoting a lot of time and resources to it.”

The littoral combat ship Gabrielle Giffords. (Brynn Anderson/AP)
The littoral combat ship Gabrielle Giffords. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

One alternative would be to forward-station the ships for a longer period of time than the 16-24 months the Navy envisioned, and place them in Sasebo, Japan, rather than Singapore, Clark said. Sasebo has always been in the cards for LCS as a home for the mine-warfare LCS hulls.

When it comes to the delays on the mission modules, Clark said, the Navy should consider fielding those capabilities in the mine-warfare mission module that are already workable, or consider an alternate structure based on the model used by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians.

“The other thing they need to do is come up with a way for the mine-warfare capabilities to the degree they are available. And come up with the concept of operations for that, meaning the warfare folks in San Diego would need to come up with concepts for the equipment they do have rather than what they want to have,” he said.

As for the ASW mission module, that might be something the Navy will want to revisit, he added.

“They need to decide if the ASW mission package is going to be part of LCS,” Clark explained. “The ASW module is the module with the most proven capability in it and is the one that would offer the best improvement in LCS contribution to the fleet.

“But it’s also the most expensive. And if LCS is not deploying, then why spend the money on it? And with the frigate coming along, it’s going to be doing the same missions with the same kind of systems, so why invest in the LCS version?”

What is clear is that leadership from the upper echelons of the Navy should help move things along, Clark said.

“It’s good to hear Gilday is taking it on,” he noted. “But I think part of that is going to be accepting that we’re never going to get where we wanted to be on LCS, and accepting second best is probably the best way to get the most from LCS.

“You’ll have to say: ‘We accept the fact that we’re not going to have a full mine-warfare mission module. We accept that we’ll have to deploy them forward and eliminate these long transits and ASW is probably out the window.’ So it is about making hard choices like that and taking the heat.”

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Relevancy of Russian Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons in current NATO-Russian threat environment

3 days ago
on July 29, 2020
By Asima Ashraf

Non-strategic nuclear or tactical nuclear (NSNWs) weapons are basically battlefield weapons and used to hit counterforce (Command and control, nuclear facilities etc.) target of enemy and they are used for limited purpose. NSNWs include Artillery, mines, SRM (small range missile), bombers, ships and submarines etc. There is no exact definition of range and yield of tactical nuclear weapons but just that tactical weapons have smaller yield than strategic weapons[1]

During cold war era there was clear distinction between strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons in term of range and yield. Non-strategic nuclear weapons had low yield and range and were used to target any specific area. But after cold war there is blur line or we can say now there is no more clear distinction between both strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons as their delivery system, range and yield have been improved. Now they have same capability as strategic weapons and can create huge destruction on large scale.[2]

Russia use term ‘Non-strategic nuclear weapons for its tactical or conventional nuclear weapons. It is clear indication that Russian perspective on Tactical nuclear weapons is far different from American perspective. What is the definition of non-strategic nuclear weapons still there is no common consent on it. But it is the fact that Russian tactical weapons are strategic as they have same capability or yield as one strategic weapon has and some weapons have more destructive capability than the bombs which were released on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Basically these non-strategic nuclear weapons were not covered in strategic Arms Reduction Treaty START and Intermediate nuclear force INF.[3]

Russia justify its non-strategic nuclear weapons in this way that its survival is under threat due to European countries whom US has provided extended deterrence and there is huge conventional asymmetry vis-a-vis US and NATO countries. Due to this reason Russia wants to keep NSNWs. There is a ratio of almost 3,000-6,000 NSNWs which can be delivered in counter response to NATO or European theatre. Russian stance towards non-strategic nuclear weapons is that she is relying on these weapons to make deterrence effective and to give message to US and its NATO allies that in case of any armed aggression, Russia will use nuclear strike against them.[4]

United States was the first to start arms race as she developed its nuclear weapons and then Russia followed the same suit. In the early 50’s both started to develop tactical nuclear weapons to use in battlefield as there was nuclear rivalry between soviet and US so there was huge competition between both of them. In mid-1970’s soviet was ahead in term of mega tonnage then USA[5].After the dissolution of USSR, geo-politics had changed the dynamics of the world and according to particular strategic environment soviet adapted the method of limited use of atomic weapons to deter its potential adversary (US and NATO) as soviet was comparatively weaker than US in term of conventional weapons that’s why for soviet this was the only way to curb the crisis. Russia realized non-nuclear but strategic conventional armaments as being of potential use in such scenarios[6]

Throughout the cold war nuclear weapons were central to strategy of the US and Soviet as both states had focused on limited war so both decrease the number of nuclear weapons These Include long-range missiles, magnitude bomb, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMS), submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMS) and heavy bombers etc. These were basically to hit counterforce target of enemy forces and side by side they also positioned number of strategic weapons beyond their own zones along with the troops.
Respective weapons typically had less Yield and range so they had less power than nuclear weapons. These weapons were used for battlefield to achieve tactical and limited purpose.

In 1987 soviet and the US signed Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, removed intermediate and middle range cruise missiles. But after the disintegration of Soviet Union there was huge security concern and soviet economy was also collapse and the conventional superiority which soviet had on US during cold war but after cold war Russia get weak in terms of technology and conventional weaponry and according to particular geopolitical circumstance the US also alter its weaponry. Due to further advances little attention was given to tactical nuclear weapons or strategic nuclear weapons. It is clear from the fact that in Presidential nuclear initiative (PNI) from 1991-1992, little attention were given to tactical nuclear weapons and in START, non-strategic weapons were also not included.

Non-Strategic Nuclear weapons (NSNWs) during cold war
US Doctrine and military strategy
NSNWs were installed for protection of the U.S. allies against hostility which was posed by the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact allies, side by side these weapons were against other adversaries as well. For the US and its NATO allies it was under the strategy of flexible response. According to this strategy, NATO did not claim that they will use nuclear weapons against any sort of attack but they preserved the capability to deter the escalation of war. This was a sort of balance of resolve under which US and NATO influenced the perception of soviet so that soviet don’t escalate the crisis but give up.[7]

As the Cold War was about to an end, NATO recognized that now there is no need of having nuclear weapons at large scale or to defeat ant tactical attack from the side of soviet. As now Soviet is not able to launch full scale war on NATO. Side by side NATO also understand that these weapons would continue to play a crucial political role in NATO’s strategy by putting ambiguity in the concentration of any potential adversary that in case of any aggression NATO can use its nuclear arsenal.[8]



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US Force structure:
During cold war US shaped and resize its non -strategic nuclear weapons according to particular security threat environment.US had deployed these weapons on zones of NATO and Asian allies in order to provide extended deterrence. In l970, US started to reduce its non- strategic nuclear weapons about more than 7,000 and in late 1980 NSNWs were less than 1,000.US reduced because its NATO allies were also agreed that less number of weapons are enough for the purpose of deterrence but having a good quality .Now US focus was on upgradation of its arsenals as she was not perceiving any immediate threat from Soviet .Between 1980-1988 US developed and upgrade its nuclear arsenals, which include, GLCM (ground launched cruise missiles) ,IRBM (intermediate range ballistic missiles), SRBM(submarine range ballistic missiles),and also build new bombs for navy but after the collapse of soviet Union, US stopped its modernizing programs and both soviet and US signed intermediate nuclear force(INF) to eradicate all short and medium range cruise and ballistic missiles[9]

Soviet doctrine and military strategy:
Like US, Soviet reliance was also on nuclear weapons as a military strategy[10]. During cold war soviet has doctrine of NFU (no first use) but this doctrine can be changed anytime by any state according to particular circumstances. The other thing was that soviet strategic nuclear weapons were more cohesive than US and these arsenals were also useful in case of any astonishment attack or preventive attack[11] .In 1980, Russia also started to reduce nuclear arsenals as they said that strategic weapons have shattering effects but at the same time they are used for deterrence.

Force Structure:
During cold war, Soviet Union had installed number of delivery vehicles to deliver NSNWs (nonstrategic nuclear weapons). In different periods, it installed devices that were so minute that they could adjust in little container, nuclear mines, shells which were used for artillery, short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, short-range air-delivered missiles, and gravity bombs. The USSR installed these arms on almost 600 centres, some of which were positioned in Warsaw Pact states in East Europe including some western and southern outside of the nation and all over in Russia. In 1991, after disintegration soviet was left with about 20, 0000 of non-strategic nuclear weapons before dissolution of Warsaw pact it was almost 25, 0000 NSNWs. [12]

Non-Strategic Nuclear weapons after Cold War
US strategy and doctrine

NSNWs are still central to strategy of US and NATO policy and US maintained its doctrine of First use (FU) and US relies on amalgam of conventional and nuclear weapons maintaining both offensive and defensive posture and continue to deter and providing extended deterrence . “New Strategic Concept” which were retained in April 1999 specified, “To defend concord and to prevent conflict or intimidation, the Coalition will maintain amalgam of both strategic and conventional weapons. Strategic weapons make a unique contribution in interpretation the dangers of belligerence in contradiction of the Coalition in numerable and offensive”.[13]

Furthermore, the 2010 Strategic Concept stated more reductions in nuclear weapons, in the upcoming future. The allies are “strongminded to follow an inoffensive world for all, in a way that promotes international stability according to Non-proliferation treaty, and is grounded on the belief of security for all.” Whereas coalition had “affectedly concentrated the quantity of strategic weapons based in Europe” and also reduced the role of strategic weapons in NATO plan.” Besides, the arms control progression “should concentrate on the discrepancy with the superior Russian stocks of short-range nuclear weapons.” so, nevertheless NATO no more watched Russia as an opponent, the coalition deceptively arranged that the discrepancy in NSNWs (Non-strategic nuclear weapons) could generate security apprehensions for some supporters of the coalition.[14]

Force structure:
From side to side, the late 1990s, George W. Bush Government, the United States preserved almost 1,100 non-strategic nuclear weapons in its dynamic stock. Around about 500 were air-delivered bombs organised at centres in Europe. Whereas the rest of arsenals, counting some extra air-delivered shells and almost 320 strategic equipped sea-launched cruise missiles, were apprehended in storing zones in the United States[15].US has condensed the quantity of its centres in Europe that stock strategic arsenal from over 125 centres in -1980s to 10 centres, in seven countries, in 2000.[16]

Russia military doctrine strategy
In past, 20years, Russia has reviewed its strategic and conventional weapons with succeeding varieties looking to dwelling a huge dependence on strategic weapons. Like, the armed doctrine delivered in 1997 permitted for the use of strategic weapons “in case of a riskto the survival of the Russian Coalition. “Doctrine printed in 2000 prolonged the environments when Russia may be used strategic weapons to comprise outbreaks using weaponries of mass destruction in contradiction of Russia or its partners “and side by side in rejoinder to large-scale hostility exploiting non-strategic nuclear weapons in circumstances serious threat to the security and sovereignty of the Russian Alliance[17]

In 2010, it did not definitely approve the preventive use of strategic weapons. But also specified that “Russia assets the precise to usage of strategic arsenal in comeback to a use of strategic or any sort of additional weapons of mass destruction; biological and chemical weapons in contradiction of her and her supporters, and side by side in a case of an hostility in contradiction of her with conventional weaponries that would place in risk the survival of the state.[18]So, there is little indication that Russia strategies to practise strategic armaments at the very start of a clash, before it has involved with conventional armaments. Russia might recourse to the practice of strategic weaponries first, in ongoing limited war.[19]

Force structure:
Non-strategic nuclear weapons in Russian storage, it is very difficult to get idea about that how many NSNWs Russia possess. This ambiguity originates from various factors: improbability about the quantity of nonstrategic nuclear weapons (NSNWs) that the Soviet Union had positioned and stored during 1991, in this year President Gorbachev broadcast his PNI; improbability about the speed of warhead abolition in Russia; and thirdly, ambiguity almost whether all warheads detached from positioning are still programmed for exclusion. Soviet Union might have installed 15,000-25,000 NSNWs(Non-strategic nuclear weapons) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Through the 1990s, Russian administrators specified that they had finished the arsenals extractions authorized by the PNIs and had ensued to eradicate weapons at a degree of 2,000 each year.[20]

Russia had also seemingly concentrated the quantity of armed centres that could install nonstrategic nuclear weapons (NSNWs), has merged its storing capacities for these arsenals. According to an estimate, the Soviet Union may have almost 500-600 storing locations for strategic armaments by 1991. By the end of this particular period, this amount may have deteriorated to almost 100. In previous 10centuries, Russia might have additional amalgamated its storing positions for strategic arsenals, recollecting almost 50 in manoeuvre[21]



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21st century: Relevancy of Russian Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons in response to current NATO threat environment
The strategic balance in Eastern Europe turned a dramatic turn following collapse of Soviet Union in 1991. Newly born Russia was far-cry of previous super power. Though threat was gone, but NATO instead of restricting its capabilities and influence continued to expand, ultimately absorbing more states in Eastern Europe. After Global war on terror, NATO-Russia tensions eased down to great extent but after American with drawl from Anti-Ballistic treaty in 2002, Russia decided not to give extra leverage to arms control agreements with NATO, one of it was maintenance of credible fleet of Tactical Nuclear Weapons which in Russian perspective are called Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons (NSNWs).

Russia is economically far behind from Western Europe and US .Russian has about 30% of world’s natural resources which include precious metals, oil and gas. By exporting these resources, Russia produce a huge revenue but in 2014 after decline in oil prices and sanctions which were imposed by US and European countries on Russia on its defence and energy sectors, due to its annexation of Crimea and these all circumstance lead towards deterioration in Russian rubble .[22] Another aspect is, Russia exported its Gas and oil to European countries and during Ukrainian crisis Russia used gas as a mean to blackmail European states[23]. Europe made 75% of Russian export and it was huge share in Russian economy[24].After sanctions imposed by US and European Union (in term of technology and shale oil production and other sectors) in response to that Russia cut down its supply of gas to European nations due to which it effect the gross domestic product(GDP) of Russia[25]

European states are now relying on renewable energy resources; fossil fuels and shale oil etc.[26] Now Russia is no more able to blackmail European states to fulfil its own geopolitical interests and European states has freed them from the Russian import of oil and gas. Due to such economic conditions, Russia has only option of non-strategic nuclear weapons for the purpose of deterrence against its adversaries as she don’t has enough to build new arsenals as US. Russian defence budget is just 5% of American defence budget[27].

Another justification provided by Russians on its non- strategic nuclear weapons is NATO’s drill inside Baltic States, Russia provides another justification of its non-strategic nuclear weapons as NATO is expanding towards eastern European states and Baltic States and it’s a severe threat for Russia .NATO is doing agreements and improving conventional and nuclear competences and deploying nuclear capable missile on Eastern Europe and Baltic states near to Russian territory not only this NATO and US are also supporting oppositions inside Russia. NATO is also agree to support Allie’s forces in term of readiness, training and command and control whereas US pledged under European Reassurance initiative (ERI), in which US will provide security assurance to its European allies, on its eastern border to deter and provide advancing resistance against a Russian conventional attack. But NATO maintained a comparable force in West Berlin to serve same interest as US, and it was fruitful for more than forty years in dissuading a Soviet (Russia) endeavour to alteration the status quo by might or coercion. [28]

Russia is facing adversary which is far ahead in every aspect; smart weaponry, long range missiles which are highly conventional capable, well trained soldiers, nuclear weapons kinematic and non-kinematic means of warfare etc. In response to it Russia has its non-strategic nuclear weapons and side by side building its offensive and defensive capabilities, conducting military exercises, verified delivery system of nuclear and conventional weapons and it seems that Russia is signalling US that though there is asymmetry between them but still Russia can respond US and her allies with its present capabilities. [29]

The Russian nuclear arsenal is not just for outdated nuclear deterrence, just to prevent the status quo but it is also to be used as a tool of bullying. At the same time, Russia’s nuclear bluffing has generated the perception that a nuclear attack in Europe is once again possible. And it has upraised concerns about Russia’s supposed “escalate to terminate “strategy – a strategy that forecasts forced threats which include concrete limited nuclear use, to sack conventional war on Russia’s standings [30]

In a situation that would echo in the West, Russia might decide to slice out territory from one of the Baltic States through amalgam of both conventional and nuclear weapons, opening with an instant conventional interchange to generate a “fait accompli” and will hit counterforce target and in turn it will hit adversary’s capabilities. Russia will try to do limited war but in case NATO react to this strike rapidly and Russia feel its conventional defeat than there is chance that Russia will go for nuclear strike. [31]

Russia didn’t declare what is its nuclear threshold but Russia has military doctrine of first use (FU) and she can launch attack on NATO due to miscalculation as this is game of perception or misperception.
Withdrawal from the ABM (Anti- Ballistic Missile) treaty by US in 2002.This is also tremendous security concern for Russia as US is building Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) and US has deployed BMD in Europe and to counter BMD, Russia has deployed non-strategic nuclear weapons[32]. Deployment of missile shield in Europe means that, “there is preparation of first strike capability”, according to Putin. Russia has its Iskandar program in response to BMD and current status of this program is not clear up till now.[33]
Due to lack of precision guided non -strategic nuclear weapons like submarine launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) maintained by space technology, don’t have effective command and control C4ISR (computer, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance).Still Russia needs to work on all of these aspects.

Russian outlook on its Non –Strategic Nuclear Weapons, deal with both of political and military aspect. Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons have played a central role in the military strategy of Russia against its potential adversary US and NATO after the disintegration of Soviet Union. Russian armed forces still lag behind in term of hi-tech weaponry; unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),Precision guided conventional weapons and electronic warfare competences with respect to US and NATO. Russia is relying on old soviet military hardware though she is investing in building new military hardware but full implementation is not happening as Russian economy is weak after its dissolution. Russia has capability to attain limited territory with limited options but to fight with major rival, it will take a long way to go.

Though there is asymmetry between Russia and NATO. Russia is behind in terms of technological development but both are doing tit for tat mechanism like US has deployed BMD in response to which Russia launched Iskander missile though it is short range but can cover eastern European states. Both states are doing this for their survival according to realistic perspective but this is engaging both of them in arms race which is very disastrous as it can instigate crisis.

Agreements like INF (Intermediate nuclear forces), PNI (Presidential Nuclear Initiative) and START treaty didn’t pay attention towards Non- strategic Nuclear weapons which was very crucial to discuss but to different other developments NSNWs were ignored. There are chances that both Russia and US will extend New START treaty but it remains to be seen that whether they will include Non –Strategic Nuclear weapons or not.
[1] Brian Alexander, Alistair Millar, ed. (2003). Tactical nuclear weapons: emergent threats in an evolving security environment (1. Ed.). Washington DC: Brassy’s. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-57488-585-9. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
[3] Robert M.Gates,(senior fellow at centre for a new American security), “Russia’s Evolving nuclear doctrine and its implications’’, Foundation pourla recherché strategique, 2016
[4] Tom Nichols, Douglas Stuart, Jeffrey D. McCausland,BOOK, Tactical nuclear weapons and NATO, 2012
[5] “US and Russian Tactical nuclear weapons: A forgotten threat”, enter for global and health security”,PSR,2016
[6] Robert M.Gates,(senior fellow at center for a new American security), “Russia’s Evolving nuclear doctrine and its implications’’, Fondation pourla recherché strategique, 2016
[7]“The United States retains substantial nuclear capabilities in Europe to counter Warsaw Pact conventional superiority and to serve as a link to U.S. strategic nuclear forces.” National Security Strategy of the United States, White House, January 1988, p. 16
[8] North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “The Alliance’s Strategic Concept,” NATO Office of Information and Press, Brussels, Belgium, 1991, para. 8.
[9]CRS Report RL30033, “Arms Control and Disarmament Activities: A Catalog of Recent Events”, by Amy F. Woolf
[10]CRS Report 97-586, “Russia’s Nuclear Forces: Doctrine and Force Structure Issues”, by Amy F. Woolf and Kara Wilson
[11]Ivan Safranchuk, “Tactical Nuclear Weapons in the Modern World: A Russian Perspective,” in Alexander, Brian and Alistair Millar, editors, Tactical Nuclear Weapons (Washington DC: Brassey’s Inc., 2003), p. 53
[12]Joshua Handler, “The 1991-1992 PNIs and the Elimination, Storage and Security of Tactical Nuclear Weapons,” in Alexander, Brian and Alistair Millar, editors, Tactical Nuclear Weapons (Washington DC: Brassey’s Inc., 2003), p. 31.
[13]The Alliance’s Strategic Concept, approved by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Washington DC, April 23-24, 1999.
[14]ibid., pp. 7-8
[15]“NRDC Nuclear Notebook: U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2007,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 2007.
16USNuclear Weapons in Europe, 1954-2004, by Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen. Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists. November/December 2004
17Joshua Handler, in Alexander and Millar, Tactical Nuclear Weapons, pp. 23-25
18 “Russia’s Military Doctrine,” Reprinted in Arms Control Today, May 2000
19New Russian Military Doctrine, Available at Opensource.gov, February 5, 2010.
20Pavel Podvig, “New Russian Doctrine and Preventive Nuclear Strikes,” Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces, October 14, 2009, New Russian doctrine and preventive nuclear strikes - Blog - Russian strategic nuclear forces
21Lewis Dunn, “Non-strategic Nuclear Weapons Control: What is the Problem?,” in Larsen, Jeffrey A. and Kurt J. Klingenberger, editors, Controlling Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons: Obstacles and Opportunities, United States Air Force, Institute for National Security Studies, July 2001, p. 17.
22 Hans M. Kristensen, Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons, Federation of American Scientists, Special Report No. 3,Washington, DC, May 2012, p. 68, http://www.fas.org/_docs/Non_Strategic_Nuclear_Weapons.pdf.
23Julian Cooper, “The Russian economy twenty years after the end of the socialist economic system”, journal of Eurasian studies, 2012.
24Andrea Thomas, “Russia and Ukraine Mustn’t Use Gas as Blackmail Tool, Says EU Official”, The wall street journal, 2014.
25Sam Meredith, “US ratchets up pressure to break Russia’s stranglehold over Europe’s energy market”, CNBC, 2017.
26Kimberly Amadeo, “Ukraine Crisis: Summary and Explanation, How Ukraine crisis threaten the EU, 2017.
27Fiona Harvey, “Shale and non-Russian gas imports at heart of new EU energy strategy”, 2014.
28Julian Cooper, “The Russian economy twenty years after the end of the socialist economic system”, journal of Eurasian studies, 2012.
29Richard sokolsky, “The New NATO-Russia Military Balance: Implications for European Security”, 2017.
30Jacek Durkalec, “Nuclear-Backed ‘Little Green Men:’ Nuclear Messaging in the Ukraine Crisis”, Polish Institute of international Affairs, July 2015, www.pism.pl.
31Nikolai N. Sokov, “Why Russia calls a limited nuclear strike “de-escalation“,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March 2014, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
32Paul Goble, “Putin Believes He Can Win a War with NATO, Piontkovsky Says”, The Interpreter, 10 August 2014, www.interpretermag.com.
33Alexel Arbatov, “A Russian Perspective on the Challenge of U.S., NATO, and Russian Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons”,
34Andrei Akulov, “Iskander – Response to BMD. Should West Further Provoke Russia? (II)”,strategic culture foundation, 2013.


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‘Nigerian Troops kill 80 bandits, rescue 17 kidnapped victims’

By Kehinde Abdulsalam 9 hours ago

Troops conducting operation Sahel Sanity in the Northwest of the Nigeria have killed 80 bandits, recovered 7 rifles and 943 cows, the acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko disclosed on Saturday.

He said the feat was achieved after several operations, adding that the people of the North-West Zone felt immediate impact of the operation with the tremendous successes within the short period of time.

“The gallant troops of operation Sahel Sanity carried out series of clearance operations, ambushes and other aggressive and confidence building patrols within Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara States.

“These operations have led to the rescue of kidnapped victims, recovery of rustled cattle, arrest of suspected armed bandits, arrest of bandits informants and collaborators.

“Furthermore, there were recoveries of large cache of arms and ammunition as well as recovery of motorcycles and other bandits logistics”

“So far, in all the operations conducted, 80 armed bandits have been neutralized, a total of 943 cows, 633 sheep/rams recovered; 33 suspected bandits arrested; 7 AK47 Riffles, 1 GPMG and 16 Dane guns captured; 17 kidnapped victims rescued and 14 bandits informants and collaborators arrested.

“Also, several bandits’ camps, including the notorious Dangote Triangle and their logistics bases, were destroyed by troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY,” he added.

Brigadier General Onyeuko said the aim of the operation was to support Operation HADARIN DAJI in stemming the tides of the activities of armed bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers, incessant killings and other sundry crimes in the North-West zone of the country which had before now crippled the agricultural, social and economic activities of the people of the zone.

“There is no gainsaying, therefore, that within the first month of Operation SAHEL SANITY from 1-31 July 2020, troops have recorded several successes in line with the aim of the operation.

“The gallant troops continue to dominate volatile areas with confidence building patrols, ambushes and clearance operations to deny the bandits and other criminal elements freedom of action,”

“This achievement is further evident by the active resumption of farming, social and economic activities by the locals with reduced fear of threats in their localities.,” he added.

The post ‘Nigerian Troops kill 80 bandits, rescue 17 kidnapped victims’ appeared first on Breaking News.

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Aug 1, 2020
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TroopsArmy kill seven bandits, destroy hideouts in North-West
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US to have permanent military presence in Poland as defense pact agreed
Aug 01, 2020 08:52 UTC
  • US to have permanent military presence in Poland as defense pact agreed
The United States and Poland have agreed for the US to deploy at least 1,000 additional American troops and have a permanent military presence in the European country.
The agreement, which was announced by Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak on Friday, would probably arouse Russia’s indignation against the backdrop of NATO-related tensions between Moscow and Washington.
The deal would have Washington station a permanent garrison of troops in Poland to oversee forces on NATO's eastern flank, Blaszczak said.
"At least 1,000 new soldiers will be deployed in our country. We will have an American command in Poland. This command will manage the troops deployed along NATO's eastern flank," Blaszczak said in a press release.
"It will be the most important center for ground forces in our region," he added, stressing that Warsaw and Washington had sealed the deal on military cooperation and would soon sign the final pact on the enduring presence of US troops in Poland.
The bilateral agreement also entails training of Polish forces in the areas of reconnaissance and command, with the possibility of more US forces coming to Poland in case of an increased potential threat in the region, according to the press release.
Blaszczak made the remarks a day after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon had plans to send home about 6,400 of the 11,900 military personnel from Germany, and move nearly 5,600 to other NATO countries, including Italy and Belgium.
Esper underlined that the move was part of Washington’s broader plan to redeploy American forces across the world to better address what he called the key threats from Russia and China.
Since last June, Washington and Warsaw have been negotiating the military cooperation deal but the talks came to a halt over where the troops would be stationed and how much Poland would have to pay.
US President Donald Trump has long criticized NATO members for spending too little on defense and complained that the US is paying much of the alliance’s costs. He told a NATO summit in Brussels in 2018 that Washington would “go its own way” if the allies failed to meet his requirements.
Poland has constantly demanded a boost in US military assistance particularly after the Ukraine crisis and the rejoining of Crimean peninsula to Russia following a referendum in 2014.
The United States, which currently has 4,500 rotational troops in Poland, has always sought to expand its military presence by deploying missiles in Eastern Europe and Russia’s doorstep despite repeated warnings from Moscow.
Russia has formerly warned that any increased military presence in Poland could provoke Moscow’s retaliation and prompt it to step up its military presence in neighboring Belarus.


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The Quad Is Poised to Become Openly Anti-China Soon
Just one defection to a softer line on China could easily spell doom for the Quad all over again.
The Quad Is Poised to Become Openly Anti-China Soon

Quad leaders (L-R): Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters/The Wire
Derek Grossman

Derek Grossman

One of the most heavily scrutinised aspects of the Donald Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy is the role played by the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” comprised of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. Since the Quad’s resurrection from a decade-long hiatus in November 2017, the group has met five times and has emphasised maintaining the liberal rules-based international order, which China seeks to undermine or overturn. As I have previously argued, the Quad signals unified resolve among these four nations to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.
What has been striking about the Quad thus far, however, is that it has resisted openly identifying China as the primary target it seeks to rein in. Indeed, Quad press releases from the respective foreign affairs establishments of each country have never once raised the word “China,” nor did the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, in mentioning the Quad, directly link Quad consultations to addressing China.
This is not a trivial issue as the first iteration of the Quad, in 2007, fell apart largely because Australia and to some extent India got cold feet over how much to push China without impacting other dimensions of their bilateral relationships with Beijing (Japanese and Australian electoral politics and America’s reorientation toward trilateral engagement with Japan and Australia contributed as well). Thus, if the Quad is to be sustained this time around, it will likely have to come to grips with a forward-leaning approach to opposing Chinese activities throughout the region. Just one defection to a softer line on China could easily spell doom for the Quad all over again.
At least for now, this go around appears to be different. For the first time in the Quad’s history, the stars are aligning for a harder line on China, and the implications going forward could be significant.
Beginning with Australia, perceptions of China have progressively dimmed in recent years. A variety of tensions arising from Beijing’s South China Sea and Taiwan policies, promotion of Huawei in Australia, growing influence in Australian politics and academia, harsh treatment of Hong Kong protests, and threats of economic retaliation amid Australian calls to hold China accountable for coronavirus have all soured the mood among leaders in Canberra. So much so that Australia on July 1 released a defence strategic update and force structure plan that, while reiterating from the 2016 paper the paramount impact of US-China great power competition on Australian national security, further assessed that “since 2016, major powers have become more assertive in advancing their strategic preferences and seeking to exert influence, including China’s active pursuit of greater influence in the Indo-Pacific.”
Watch | National Security Conversations: India, Indo-Pacific and the Quad
According to one Australian commentary, Canberra’s decision to publish such a pointed defence update represented “a pivotal moment in modern Australian military history” as it was a stark departure from “the evasions, platitudes, and niceties of normal diplomatic discourse.” Whether this is hyperbole or not, it is certainly notable that Australia appears more prepared than ever to rock the boat with China in spite of the economic retaliation that is sure to follow – traditionally of deep concern to Canberra.
Since arguing in July 2018 that India was the “weakest link in the Quad,” I and other observers have seen an incremental reversal in New Delhi’s approach to the group. Starting in May 2019, India appointed former foreign secretary, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, to the position of minister of external affairs. Jaishankar is a supporter of the Quad, and he was able to persuade Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2019 to accede to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s request that all four Quad country leaders sit together across from Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 – a symbolic, albeit implicit, show of Indian support for the Quad that previously would have been unthinkable.

In recent months, India’s relationship with China has also deteriorated markedly, particularly along their disputed land border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), in the Himalayas. Although the two sides on July 5 agreed to end their military standoff, the damage appears to have already been done. Even the most ardent supporters of maintaining balanced China ties are hardening their positions, which makes it increasingly likely New Delhi will turn to the Quad to counter China. Indeed, the months-long military standoff in 2017 between India and China at Doklam, a tri-border junction including Bhutan, may have been the tipping point for New Delhi to return to the Quad later that year.

Japanese support of the Quad has never been in doubt, namely because it was Abe’s idea in 2006 to convene like-minded democratic partners in a quadrilateral format to counter China. Nevertheless, while Australia and India become more comfortable in the arrangement, Tokyo is wasting no time to improve its ability to be a better partner within the Quad framework. For example, late last month, Japan revised its intelligence sharing legislation to allow for sharing with Australia and India (and the UK as well). Japan already regularly shares intelligence with its US ally. In addition, and also last month, Tokyo officially established a new division within its Ministry of Defence to enhance coordination with New Delhi and Canberra on ASEAN and Pacific Island issues. And on July 14, Tokyo released its annual defence white paper in which it stated that “China has relentlessly continued unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion in the sea area around the Senkaku Islands, leading to a grave matter of concern.”

Finally, the US under the Trump administration has embraced the Quad as a mechanism to maintain a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region in the face of rising Chinese assertiveness. Of the four countries, the US may be the most anti-Chinese as bilateral relations rapidly spiral over a range of challenges including coronavirus fallout, Taiwan, the South China Sea, trade, human rights in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, intellectual property theft, press freedoms, and others. Indeed, Washington is the only country to directly label China an “adversary” in its National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Indo-Pacific Strategy Report. However, to date, the US has resisted the urge to convert the Quad into an anti-China grouping, probably at the behest of other, more hesitant participants. This looks like it is set to change because the others want change.

Also read | Why India Should Be Wary of the Quad
There are also signs that the Quad may be on the verge of taking actions that would strengthen their position as a security group. For example, the US is contemplating a decision to invite the air forces of Australia, India and Japan to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to conduct training and elevate interoperability between Quad air forces. India is also likely to extend an invitation to Australia to this year’s Malabar naval exercises, which also traditionally includes Japan and the United States. New Delhi’s strained bilateral ties with Canberra have prevented invitations in past years, but doing so in 2020 would send a strong message to Beijing that its recent behavior in the Himalayas is increasingly pushing India into the Quad’s embrace. Regardless of these outcomes, all four nations continue to deepen their bilateral defence and security partnerships with each other as they agree that a “free and open” Indo-Pacific is necessary to preserve in the face of rising Chinese assertiveness throughout the region.

A more openly anti-China Quad is likely to both harm and help the group in the future. It could harm the Quad because it will fuel Beijing’s narrative that the Quad is a military alliance meant to “contain” and threaten China, and that this approach is destabilising to the region. An anti-China Quad might convince Russia to more closely align with China, or Beijing could reinvigorate competition in Southeast and South Asia as well as elsewhere to oppose Quad objectives.
Indeed, I have previously noted that Quad enlargement, especially including a Southeast Asian maritime counterclaimant in the South China Sea, such as Vietnam, would boost the Quad’s credibility. Vietnam, however, would almost certainly not join the Quad if it seemed like a military alliance against China. The Quad may also encounter resistance to continuing the so-called “Quad Plus,” including Vietnam, South Korea and New Zealand, that met over the last few months to discuss coronavirus responses. None of these additional countries are keen in singling out China in any way.

On the positive side, however, the Quad would finally have a concrete objective, to counter China, which has been severely lacking in the past. Critics have often argued that the Quad mission is disjointed due to differing interests among the participants. Fixing this problem alone should help these nations to better hone and coordinate their strategies to achieve their unified goal.
Most importantly, Quad resolve would also no longer be symbolic, but concrete, and this should enhance the deterrence value of the group toward China. To be sure, there is no need for the Quad to elevate its status to that of a formalised military alliance – nor would the countries want to. Instead, simply signalling that Quad nations do intend to at least help each other in the event of tension or armed conflict with China would probably be sufficient.

Derek Grossman is a senior defence analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation, an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California, and a regular contributor to The Diplomat. He formerly served as the daily intelligence briefer to the assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific security affairs at the Pentagon.

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Army Guard begins to reorganize force into eight divisions to prepare for possible fights with Russia and China

By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 1, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Army National Guard will move most of its brigades under the command of its eight division headquarters as it reorganizes its fighting formations to give the force more combat power and some soldiers new career opportunities, officials said.

The Guard move will mark a substantial increase in the number of fully manned divisions that the Army can deploy, as only the service's 10 active-duty divisions are now filled out with subordinate units, said Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the director of the Army National Guard. The increase to 18 complete Army divisions comes at a time when service officials believe a major conflict with a near-peer rival — namely Russia or China — would require the employment of full divisions, he said.

For the last two decades, the Army has focused on its smaller brigade combat teams as its primary fighting elements for counterterrorism operations and deployments focused on assisting the forces of other nations.

“When you look at the [2018] National Defense Strategy and competition among near-peer competitors, peer competitors — that great power competition, there is a potential for large-scale combat operations … [and] it could actually be division level fights,” Hokanson said in an interview Thursday ahead of the Guard’s planned announcement Saturday. “We wanted to make sure that everything that the Army National Guard did was in support of the total Army and the NDS, and one issue was that our divisions are just headquarters they don’t have brigades under them.”

The National Defense Strategy, crafted by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, guides the Pentagon on future planning, placing the potential for major conflict with rivals China and Russia as the nation's primary national security threat. For the two decades prior, the military had focused almost exclusively on fighting transnational terrorist organizations, which the strategy defined as a lesser threat than those posed by nation-state competitors.

The Army National Guard now has eight headquarters elements stationed in Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Kansas, Indiana, California and New York, which are each made up of about 300 or so soldiers. Some have established relationships with subordinate units, but none are manned in the way the Regular Army has built its divisions, which boast about 20,000 soldiers.

After studying the formations, Hokanson found the Army Guard had plenty of brigades and battalions to staff those divisions, which would allow the formations to train together and establish critical bonds should they be needed to deploy together into combat.

The actual division alignments have yet to be finalized. This week, officials notified key lawmakers and stakeholders in the 54 U.S. states and territories that host Army Guard formations about the plans, Guard officials said. They will require governors and other top state leaders to agree to partnerships with some units falling under the control of headquarters in other states.

But Hokanson said the new alignment will have no impact on the governors’ and state adjutant generals' control of the forces assigned to their home states. He also said the National Guard has not asked Congress to provide additional funding for the changes.

The plan calls for more brigades to align with other divisions in their general regions of the nation.

In one example, Hokanson said New Mexico’s 1-200th Infantry Battalion would become part of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in Oregon, which would become part of with the 40th Infantry Division based in California.

The new alignment, the general said, will actually provide new opportunities for soldiers serving in units such as the 1-200th, where states have no higher headquarters in a combat unit. Under the reorganization, a battalion commander or a battalion sergeant major who performed well would have an opportunity for promotions to serve in higher commands within the new division — potentially even becoming a brigade commander or division commander of a unit based in another state.

“So, if you’ve got a lieutenant colonel or sergeant major out there in New Mexico, and one of them is absolutely, potentially the best battalion commander or senior [noncommissioned officer] in the entire division [right now] really wouldn’t matter — there’s no opportunity for them to advance,” Hokanson said. “This would provide us the ability to better manage our talent across the National Guard by providing opportunities to those officers and NCOs that demonstrate the greatest potential and capability — we then give them the potential for opportunities beyond where they might normally get if they just stayed in their [home] state.”

He said he hopes to have all the National Guard divisions established in the coming months and reach initial operating capability — meaning they have trained enough together to be certified as minimally effective to deploy and fight as a unit — by Oct. 1, 2021.

Hokanson on Monday will receive a fourth star as he is promoted to the director of the National Guard, making him one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The new plan will then be overseen largely by his replacement, Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, who is now adjutant general for Minnesota. Jensen will be promoted to lieutenant general and also become Army Guard director Monday.

Like the bigger Army, Hokanson pointed out the National Guard has been heavily used during the last 20 years, at home — where Guard soldiers have responded to myriad natural disasters, civil unrest and the recent coronavirus pandemic — and abroad, where they have regularly deployed to the Middle East and Afghanistan. He wants those units to be well-prepared for the next kind of fight they could encounter with a major military power.

“We never want to fight,” he said. “The goal is to prevent conflict.”

But if that fight does come, he wants the Army Guard soldiers ready to deploy as a full division that has spent time working together, instead of having to piece together a division at the last minute. He compared it to a basketball team where the players have spent years playing together as opposed to a pickup game where teammates might not know one another.

“When you go out on the playground and everyone picks players and you just go versus having a team, and you may only practice once a month and two weeks over the summer, but over the course of months and years you know your strengths and weaknesses, you’ve worked together and as a team, you would play much better together,” Hokanson said. “That’s what we’re looking at with this.”

Twitter: @CDicksteinDC


passin' thru
As Mountain Stand-Off With India Continues, China Stages Bombers And Cruise Missiles
David Axe
David Axe
Aerospace & Defense
Aug 2, 2020,04:58pm EDT


Chinese internet
The Chinese air force apparently has deployed bombers to an air base in the country’s far west, placing the warplanes within striking distance of Indian forces along the disputed Chinese-Indian border in the Himalayas.

But conditions undoubtedly are difficult for the bombers and their crews.


Twitter-user @detresfa, a so-called “open-source intelligence” practitioner, noted commercial satellite imagery depicting six H-6 bombers on the tarmac at Kashgar airport in the Uyghur autonomous region of Xinjiang.

The H-6 is a Chinese development of the twin-engine Soviet Tu-16 medium bomber. Chinese industry has greatly improved the basic Tu-16 with new sensors, avionics, engines and weapons.

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Kashgar lies around 500 miles from Ladakh, the region of northern India along which runs the Line of Actual Control, the demarcation between Indian and Chinese forces in the Himalayas. Diplomats drew that line as part of truce talks following a bitter, bloody border war in 1962.


H-6s at Kashgar.
Image Maxar Technologies via Twitter
It’s unclear when the H-6s arrived in Kashgar, but it could be as recently as July, based on the dates on the satellite imagery.

In early June, Chinese forces killed 20 Indian soldiers in a skirmish along the Line of Actual Control. Forty-three Chinese soldiers also were injured or died, according to press reports.

Indian and Chinese warplanes and helicopters are patrolling the border zone as the stand-off continues. India has deployed Su-30, MiG-29 and MiG-29K fighters. Satellite imagery depicts Chinese air force J-16 fighters sharing the tarmac with the H-6s at Kashgar.

The satellites photos of the bombers appear to depict what aviation-expert Andreas Rupprecht surmised to be KD-63 land-attack cruise missiles under the H-6s’ wings. The KD-63 boasts a range of around 125 miles.


An H-6 launches a KD-63 in testing.
India and China’s bases near the Line of Actual Control lie many thousands of feet above sea level. Kashgar is situated 4,000 feet above sea level.

The high, thin air can pose challenges to combat aircraft. A lack of lifting power can reduce payload on fighters to minimal fuel and just a few small missiles. Bombers could face some of the same constraints.

Less fuel means less range. For the Chinese, aerial refueling isn’t really an option, as the Chinese air force operates at most a couple dozen tanker planes.

All that is to say, western China—especially the Himalayas with their 20,000-foot peaks—is a less-than-ideal zone for air-combat operations.

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passin' thru
Well here's a naked "DOT".....

Posted for fair use.....
:: tossing scarves o'er the nekkie things coz they elicit the wrong kinda butterflies :: On the other hand, a monthly WoW companion piece or utube detailing the the "top naked Dots o' the days" might make a good hobby for all those xtra hrs in your day


passin' thru
Beijing pushing New Delhi toward a hard choice

China is in no rush to solve its border disputes with India but is using them as a geopolitical ploy

by Bhim Bhurtel August 3, 2020

An Indian Air Force aircraft is seen against the backdrop of mountains surrounding Leh, the joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh, on June 27, 2020. Photo: AFP

Comprehending Beijing’s short-term tactics and long-term strategies is a very tough job because of the opaque Chinese governance system. However, Chinese policy on India after the Ladakh military standoff appears lucid and very straightforward.
China has sent an unequivocal message to India that the demarcation and finalization of their boundaries, either on the map or on the ground, are unlikely to happen soon, as reported on Friday by one of India’s less jingoistic and more reliable digital journalism outlets, The Wire.
China’s ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, conveyed such a message to India, speaking on “India-China Relations: The Way Forward” at a webinar held by the Institute of Chinese Studies on Thursday.
Responding to a question on why China does not want to settle the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with the exchange of maps, Sun said Beijing was still not keen to restart the border-demarcation process with India.
The Wire quotes Sun as saying, “The purpose of clarification of [the] LAC is to maintain peace and tranquility. When we look back into history, if one side has unilaterally [stated] its own perception on the LAC during the negotiations, that will lead to disputes. That’s why this process cannot … move on. I think that this is a departure [from the] original purpose.”

The process of demarcation and clarification of the Sino-Indian border was halted in 2002. China and India agreed to engage to improve bilateral ties in trade and economic cooperation, and building consensus on global issues, keeping their differences on the border issue aside.
Sun Weidong’s remarks, as reported by The Wire, support the conclusion that Chinese strategists do not consider a final settlement of the border a priority at this time. According to Sun, the main issue is for India and China to maintain peace and tranquility on the border in alignment with the agreements of 1993 and 1996 and other confidence-building measures.

Sun also hinted that Chinese strategists take the view that the 1993 and 1996 agreements with India were the outcome of the particular historical contexts of the 1990s, and the strategic setting has changed drastically since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in May 2014.
The border settlement cannot be made according to agreements reached under different circumstances in the past. That is, the changed context for Chinese strategists is India’s strategic “tilt” toward “the West” after August 2016.
Thus Beijing wants to say clearly to New Delhi that border-demarcation issues are irrelevant if India wants to pursue a strategic alliance with the US.

“The important thing is that we must follow those agreements and continue our discussion and consultation along the diplomatic channels and also among corps commanders, [and] also find out a way to de-escalate the situation and restore peace and tranquility,” The Wire quotes the Chinese ambassador as telling the Indian government.
In other words, the Chinese ambassador to India has indicated that Beijing wants to maintain peace and tranquility on the border as a short-term tactic, but does not seek a permanent solution right now or in the near future but only as a long-term strategy.

Thus China has left India to choose between two options on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.
The first option is to fulfill the “agreements and consensus” reached between India and China at their informal summits in Wuhan, China, in April 2018 and in Mahabalipuram, India, in October 2019. Beijing wants New Delhi to decouple from its strategic alliance with Washington. It also wants India to join hands with China in building an open, multipolar, pluralistic, and participatory global economic order.
The second option is to demarcate the border with China by force. That would mean waging a full-scale war with China, and winning the battle, forcing to Beijing accept the border as defined by New Delhi.

However, if India chooses this second option, it will be suicidal. India cannot afford a war against China because of the vast disparity in power between the two countries in terms of both economic and military capabilities.
The military and economic costs of war would be far higher for India than for China, especially right now; in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, India is struggling to meet its regular defense and development budgets.
About 2,500 years ago, the Chinese military thinker and philosopher Sun Tzu rightly said, “Who wishes to fight must first count the cost.” How it would pay for a war is a very crucial question for India at this moment.
More important, if war breaks out between these two Asian giants, the political setbacks will be far more significant for India than for China because of the differences in their governance systems. If India faces a defeat in such a war, the BJP won’t likely retain power.
Thus if the BJP-led government chooses war, it will be shooting itself in the foot.

Ambassador Sun Weidong’s remarks at the webinar indicate that China sees a clear strategic advantage over India as long as the border dispute drags on. With the deployment of 20,000 to 40,000 troops, China can keep India’s political and military leadership occupied by border issues.
The Ladakh episode has shown that China can keep India busy by prolonging border tensions. China has also gotten India to waste its scarce financial resources, political and military energy, time and effort to protect a tract of barren borderland in the Himalayan highlands.

As a nation, India will miss the opportunity for economic development because of resources diverted to maintain the Line of Actual Control. As a result, New Delhi will fail to prioritize socioeconomic development, divert its scarce financial resources to protect barren territory, and derail the nation’s economic progress.
As a result, India will shrink economically and politically on the global stage. Overall, it is apparent that Beijing’s strategists reckon India could end up being about a half-century behind China and they can prevent India from emerging as a rival in the future.
Chinese strategists are well aware of the history and psyche of Indians, willing to fight for their territorial pride over barren land.

These strategists want to contain India for the long term by exploiting Indians’ territorial nationalism as a crucial weakness. They believe they can fulfill their long-term strategic objective – to prevent India from evolving as an aspirant superpower – as long as the border issue lingers. China wants to hang an albatross on India’s neck by prolonging the border dispute.
A final agreement on India-China border demarcation will be possible only when the military and economic capabilities between these two countries are at parity. Then, no force will be needed to settle their border disputes.
Until then, China is making strategic moves on the geopolitical chessboard, and it is India’s turn to make an appropriate counter-move by making a tough choice.

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Veteran Member

World’s largest airplane delivers military chassis from US to Israel

Dylan Malyasov
ByDylan Malyasov Aug 4, 2020

The Antonov AN-225 Mriya, the world’s biggest fully operational plane, has landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel delivering Oshkosh military chassis from the United States.

Ukrainian giant aircraft delivered U.S. military military chassis, the exact number of which is undisclosed, which intended to be fitted with an Israeli-made Iron Dome missile defense system.

In 2019, the U.S. closed a deal to buy two Iron Dome batteries. The U.S. military is expected to begin inducting a first Iron Dome missile defense system in December 2020.

Deliveries of the first two Israeli-made Iron Dome air defense system on order for the U.S. Army are expected to commence in December 2020 and February 2021.

The Iron Dome system is a battle-proven, highly-accurate weapon and for years it has helped safeguard locations around Israel from rocket fire. Rafael’s website said their air defense systems are the world’s most deployed missile defense system, with more than 2,000 interceptions and a success rate greater than 90%.


On TB every waking moment
Posted for fair use.....

Beware the Guns of August—in Asia
How to Keep U.S-Chinese Tensions From Sparking a War
By Kevin Rudd
August 3, 2020

Xi Jinping inspects a PLA honor guard in Qingdao, China, April 2019
Li Gang Xinhua / eyevine / Redux

In just a few short months, the U.S.-Chinese relationship seems to have returned to an earlier, more primal age. In China, Mao Zedong is once again celebrated for having boldly gone to war against the Americans in Korea, fighting them to a truce. In the United States, Richard Nixon is denounced for creating a global Frankenstein by introducing Communist China to the wider world. It is as if the previous half century of U.S.-Chinese relations never happened.

The saber rattling from both Beijing and Washington has become strident, uncompromising, and seemingly unending. The relationship lurches from crisis to crisis—from the closures of consulates to the most recent feats of Chinese “wolf warrior” diplomacy to calls by U.S. officials for the overthrow of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The speed and intensity of it all has desensitized even seasoned observers to the scale and significance of change in the high politics of the U.S.-Chinese relationship. Unmoored from the strategic assumptions of the previous 50 years but without the anchor of any mutually agreed framework to replace them, the world now finds itself at the most dangerous moment in the relationship since the Taiwan Strait crises of the 1950s.

The question now being asked, quietly but nervously, in capitals around the world is, where will this end? The once unthinkable outcome—actual armed conflict between the United States and China—now appears possible for the first time since the end of the Korean War. In other words, we are confronting the prospect of not just a new Cold War, but a hot one as well.

The risks will be especially high over the next few critical months between now and the November U.S. presidential election, as both U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping confront, and exploit, the messy intersection of domestic politics, national security imperatives, and crisis management. Domestic political opinion in both countries has turned toxic. The list of friction points is long, from cyber-espionage and the weaponization of the dollar to Hong Kong and the South China Sea. The channels for high-level political and military dialogue have atrophied when they are needed most. And both presidents face internal political pressures that could tempt them to pull the nationalist lever.
In this environment, both Beijing and Washington should reflect on the admonition “be careful what you wish for.” If they fail to do so, the next three months could all too easily torpedo the prospects of international peace and stability for the next 30 years. Wars between great powers, including inadvertent ones, rarely end well—for anyone.

Multiple factors have brought the relationship to its current precarious state. Some are structural, others more immediate. The most fundamental is the changing balance of military and economic power between the United States and China. Thanks to the uneven pattern of U.S. military and economic growth, the United States’ sustained strategic distraction in the Middle East, and the cumulative effects of the 2008–9 financial crisis, Beijing has concluded it has much more freedom to maneuver in prosecuting its interests. This tendency has accelerated under Xi, who since coming to power in 2013 has shifted the politics and economics of his country to the left, pushed nationalism to the right, and adopted a much more assertive strategy abroad, both regionally and globally.

The United States has responded to this changing Chinese posture with increasing levels of aggression. Its declaratory policy has made plain that 35 years of strategic engagement are over and that a new, and as yet not fully defined, era of strategic competition has begun. Diplomatically, it has unleashed a human rights offensive over Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Xinjiang. It has launched a trade, technology, and talent war, and the beginnings of a finance war as well. And the two country’s armed forces have been engaged in an increasingly aggressive game of push and shove on the high seas, in the air, and in cyberspace.

While Xi’s strategy has been clear, Trump’s has been as chaotic as the rest of his presidency. But the net effect is a relationship stripped of the political, economic, and diplomatic insulation carefully nurtured over the last half century and reduced to its rawest form: an unconstrained struggle for bilateral, regional, and global dominance.

In the current political season, domestic pressures at work in both Beijing and Washington make crisis management even more difficult. In China, an already slowing economy, the ongoing impact of the trade war, and now the COVID-19 crisis have placed Xi’s leadership under its greatest internal pressure yet. Many in the CCP resent his brutal anticorruption campaign, which has been used in part to eliminate political enemies. His massive military reorganization has encountered resistance from the hundreds of thousands of veterans who lost out. The degree of opposition he faces is reflected in the large number of major personnel changes he has engineered in the party’s intelligence, security, and military hierarchies. And that was before the “party rectification campaign” that he launched in July to sideline opponents and further consolidate his power.

In the current political season, domestic pressures at work in both Beijing and Washington make crisis management even more difficult.
China’s political leadership has once again decamped to the coastal resort town of Beidaihe for the CCP’s annual August retreat. There, party veterans may well challenge Xi’s handling of the economy, foreign policy, and public health. Xi, however, is a master politician, steeped in the dark arts of his Machiavellian craft. Any significant challenge to his authority is likely to be met with preemptive force—hence the party rectification campaign. But under these circumstances, Xi will also be tempted to take an ever harder line abroad, particularly against the United States.

Domestic politics are driving U.S. policy, as well. With American voters heading to the polls in three months, China has become central to the race like never before. It now frames presidential politics across nearly all major campaign issues, including the origins of COVID-19 and the United States’ disastrous response, which, as of mid-2020, has left more than 150,000 Americans dead; an economic crisis marked by 14.7 percent unemployment, a 43.0 percent rise in bankruptcies, and eye-watering public debt; not to mention the future of American global leadership.

In its first three years, the Trump administration was divided over China, with Trump himself regularly intervening to frustrate the full implementation of the hard-line policy laid out by his former national security adviser H. R. McMaster and articulated in the National Security Strategy released in December 2017. But since March, prompted by collapsing support in national polls, Trump has blamed China for the full range of his domestic political, economic, and public health calamities. His heated rhetoric has been matched by actions on the ground: U.S. military forces, for example, have begun responding more forcefully to Chinese actions in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. Meanwhile, Trump’s opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, is determined not to be outflanked by Trump on China, making for a uniquely combustible political environment. That leaves little room for foreign policy nuance, let alone military compromise, should any crisis arise.

When added to the deeper changes underway in the relationship, all this makes for a dangerous political and strategic cocktail: a weakened Trump, an uncompromising Biden, and an under-pressure Xi ready to pull the nationalist lever. Both sides, therefore, should consider carefully the crises that could arise over the next several months (in particular over Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the South China Sea) and how any one of these could spiral into something much worse. Are Beijing and Washington seriously prepared to escalate in a crisis to protect their domestic positions, conscious of the political price in each system for being seen as weak? Or are they institutionally equipped and politically willing to de-escalate to avoid disaster?

On July 1, China implemented its draconian Hong Kong national security law, which criminalizes “secessionist,” “seditious,” and “terrorist” activity, as well as any collaboration in such activities with “foreign powers.” Using the 2019 Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had already judged that Hong Kong no longer enjoyed a “high degree of autonomy” as provided under the “one country, two systems” principle. This determination was followed on July 14 by Trump signing the Hong Kong Autonomy Act. Over the next 12 months, the new law will result in “the imposition of sanctions on foreign persons who materially contribute to the undermining of Hong Kong’s autonomy by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, and foreign financial institutions who engage in significant transactions with such foreign persons.” For individuals, those sanctions will involve travel and transaction bans; for financial institutions dealing with listed individuals, a range of damaging punitive measures will follow, potentially risking their ability to operate within American jurisdictions.

It is not yet clear which Chinese officials will be listed under the law, but given that the decision on the national security law involved the Politburo Standing Committee, the top CCP decision-making body, all seven members (including Xi) are potentially vulnerable. Similarly, Chinese financial institutions that service Chinese leaders may be barred from operating in the United States or other cooperating jurisdictions. There is also a risk of institutions being barred from the dollar-denominated international trading system (although this continues to be debated between senior Treasury Department and White House officials). Chinese officials are now openly considering how to reduce their country’s vulnerability to a global financial system that remains overwhelmingly dependent on the greenback. They have begun highlighting to foreign interlocutors “financial red lines” that if crossed, could precipitate a major crisis.

If Hong Kong radically deteriorates in the months ahead, the United States is likely to respond with dramatic diplomatic and economic sanctions and push its allies to do the same.
If Hong Kong radically deteriorates in the months ahead—bringing the incarceration of democratic leaders such as Joshua Wong, the suppression of remaining free media, or even large-scale violence—the United States is likely to respond with dramatic diplomatic and economic sanctions and push its allies to do the same. But Hong Kong itself is unlikely to result in a full-blown crisis; the United Kingdom, not the United States, is the external treaty power on the question of Hong Kong’s political status, and so no matter how bad the situation becomes, there would be no international legal basis for any form of U.S. intervention. Still, a deterioration and a U.S. response would render the U.S.-Chinese relationship even more brittle than it currently is, making other crises in the bilateral relationship more difficult to manage, including in the security domain.

Taiwan has long been the single-biggest challenge in the U.S.-Chinese relationship. From the CCP’s perspective, one grounded in both ideology and nationalism, the “return of Taiwan to the motherland’s tender embrace,” as party veterans would put it, would complete the revolution of 1949. But for Taiwan, the evolution of a separate identity over the last several hundred years, the progressive democratization of the island over the last 30, and the continued electoral success of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have made the prospects of a peaceful reunification increasingly remote.



On TB every waking moment

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has continued to reject China’s version of what is called the “1992 consensus”—an agreement that there is only “one China,” even if both parties disagree about what the term “China” actually means. Beijing, in turn, holds that the DPP’s refusal to accept this consensus rules out any negotiation on the specific form of one country, two systems that could apply to Taiwan in the future. Already, China’s perceived trashing of the one country, two systems principle in Hong Kong played a major part in Tsai’s reelection last November. It has also contributed to the general hardening of Taiwanese sentiment to any form of reunification with the mainland; recent opinion polls indicate that a record 90 percent of people in Taiwan now self-identify as Taiwanese rather than as Chinese.

In the U.S.-Chinese relationship, the Taiwan issue has been managed under the terms of three communiqués negotiated between 1972 and 1982 over the course of the opening and normalization process, along with the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. The TRA states that “the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” It also states that the United States will “consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.” And it requires Congress “to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.” Although the TRA is not a mutual-defense treaty, successive U.S. administrations have relied on the “strategic ambiguity” embedded within it to deter any Chinese consideration of reunification by military means.

The Trump administration has increased the scale and frequency of arms sales to Taiwan, including expanding the island’s Patriot missile defense system and offering new offensive capabilities such as the F-16V aircraft. It has also begun changing the relationship’s formal nomenclature — for the first time referring officially to Tsai with the honorific “president”—and increasing public contact between U.S. and Taiwanese officials. And Washington has released provocative video footage of previously undeclared U.S.-Taiwanese military exercises.

Beijing argues that Washington is getting dangerously close to crossing Chinese red lines on Taiwan’s international status, thereby jeopardizing the basis for the entire U.S.-Chinese relationship.
Beijing argues that Washington is getting dangerously close to crossing Chinese red lines on Taiwan’s international status, thereby jeopardizing the basis for the entire U.S.-Chinese relationship. In turn, and reinforced by China’s general displeasure with the current Taiwanese leadership, Beijing has increased diplomatic, economic, and military pressure on Taipei. People’s Liberation Army exercises, maneuvers, and deployments around the island and its airspace have become both more intense and more intrusive. China also has begun reducing mainland tourism to Taiwan to increase pressure on the economy, in direct retaliation for Tsai’s policies.

It is increasingly plain from the impatience in Xi’s language that he wishes to see Taiwan return to Chinese sovereignty within his own political term. Whether he can do so or not is a separate question. If Xi were to succeed, he would match, and perhaps even surpass, Mao’s place in party and national history. (Of course, this raises the question of just how long Xi’s term will be: he reaches the two-term limit adhered to by his predecessors in 2022, but a decision at the 19th Party Congress in 2017 abolished term limits, and Xi currently appears poised to remain until the mid-2030s, when he would be in his early 80s.)

Although both Chinese and American war-gaming exercises suggest that China would prevail in any major conflict in the Taiwan Strait, Beijing remains cautious, seeking to avoid unnecessary political or strategic risk. After all, to fail in such an attempt, or to succeed at great cost, would potentially end Xi’s leadership and undermine the party’s legitimacy. Accordingly, any Chinese military push against Taiwan is more likely to come later in the 2020s, when Beijing thinks the military balance will have shifted even further in its favor—enough to effectively deter the United States and perhaps cause Taiwan to capitulate without a fight.

For now, all three parties—Beijing, Taipei, and Washington—have chosen to remain just within the broad parameters of permissible conduct. And while the DPP administration in Taipei is bold, it is not reckless. Still, in the current political environment, the Trump administration could choose to escalate—by, say, allowing a U.S. naval visit to a Taiwanese port. The incendiary effect of such an action would be politically impossible for the Chinese leadership to ignore. It is conceivable that China could retaliate by starting a “low-intensity” conflict centered on Taiwan’s offshore islands, such as the Dongsha Islands or Taiping Island (both in the South China Sea) or Wuqiu Island (just off the coast of the mainland).

The South China Sea presents a far greater risk of military mishap in the months immediately ahead. Seven countries claim various overlapping terrestrial and maritime segments of it: Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled on a case brought by the Philippines that comprehensively rejected the legal and historical basis of China’s sovereignty claim (the “nine-dash line”) over much of the South China Sea. Although it angrily rejected the ruling, Beijing simultaneously embarked on a political and economic charm offensive (particularly with the new Philippine government of Rodrigo Duterte) while sustaining naval, coast guard, and fishing activities in disputed areas. The sea has become a case study in China’s “grey zone” strategy: using coast guard and fisheries operations to establish de facto territorial and maritime claims while avoiding the direct deployment of naval assets unless absolutely necessary. China has thereby entrenched its claims over time without risking open military conflict with its neighbors.

Until 2016, the United States took negligible military action in response to China’s island reclamation projects in the South China Sea. (Beijing constructed seven artificial islands between 2013 and 2015 and subsequently militarized some of these outposts, contrary to Xi’s assurances to U.S. President Barack Obama.) Since then, the U.S. navy has ramped up its semiregular freedom-of-navigation operations in the area, going from two in 2015 to nine in 2019. The United States has also continued air reconnaissance flights along the Chinese coast and across the South China Sea.

As the coronavirus crisis unfolded in 2020, both Chinese and American postures in the South China Sea started to harden further. In April, China announced the establishment of two additional administrative units—consistent with its general strategy of combining grey zone paramilitary operations to assert de facto sovereignty claims with de jure assertions of legal and administrative control. More significantly, the tempo and intensity of U.S. naval and air reconnaissance missions increased markedly; Washington deployed two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea, and they were joined by allied naval units from both Australia and Japan. China, in turn, deployed an additional squadron of fighter-attack aircraft to the Paracel Islands in the northern reaches of the South China Sea.

As the coronavirus crisis unfolded in 2020, both Chinese and American postures in the South China Sea started to harden further.
Then, on July 13, Washington announced a major change in its position on the legal status of China’s long-standing nine-dash line claim to sovereignty in the South China Sea. In the past, Washington—itself having not ratified the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea—had remained neutral on the legality of individual claims. Now, for the first time, Washington was formally rejecting the international legal validity of all Chinese maritime claims. (Australia followed suit ten days later, with a formal statement to the United Nations.) This change formally aligns the United States with the Southeast Asian states that have challenged China’s extensive maritime claims; previously, the United States had acted only in defense of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, not on the legitimacy of individual claims.

This set of U.S. moves has further raised the temperature between the U.S. and Chinese militaries. China retaliated in late July: An administrative amendment to long-standing shipping regulations changed the designation of an extensive area of the South China Sea from “offshore” to “coastal,” and the Chinese air force began deploying long-range bombers for aerial surveillance flights over these disputed areas.

The existing memorandum of understanding on agreed protocols for avoiding and managing collisions in the air and at sea was negotiated during the Obama administration, before the nearly complete collapse in trust between Beijing and Washington. It is far from certain that these protocols will be effective with the rapid increase in air, naval, and other military assets in the area, where there is already a history of near misses between U.S. and Chinese military ships and planes.

The South China Sea has thus become a tense, volatile, and potentially explosive theater at a time when accumulated grievances have driven the underlying bilateral political relationship to its lowest point in half a century. The sheer quantity of naval and air force hardware deployed by both sides makes an unintended (or even intended) collision increasingly probable. Standard operating procedures and rules of engagement for both the Chinese and U.S. militaries are typically highly classified documents. The general pattern of near misses in the past has shown U.S. aircraft or naval vessels swerving and changing course at the last minute in order to avoid collision. It is not clear, however, whether these procedures, or those of the Chinese navy and air force, have now been adjusted to a more offensive posture.

The question for both U.S. and Chinese leaders is, what happens now in the event of a significant collision? If an aircraft is downed, or a naval vessel sunk or disabled, what next steps have been agreed in order to avoid immediate military escalation? A Chinese interlocutor recalls a recent desktop exercise hosted by an independent think tank that brought together retired Chinese and American policymakers and military officers to consider such a scenario. The results were disturbing. Although the military officers from both sides could agree on a protocol to extract a damaged naval vessel safely, the nonmilitary participants, more attentive to the political interests of their governments, failed miserably in this task. One set of practitioners managed to de-escalate; the other set did precisely the reverse.

In a real-world scenario, beyond the clinical environment of a desktop exercise, the prevailing domestic political circumstances in Beijing and Washington could all too easily drive both sides to escalate. Political advisers might argue that a localized military escalation could be “contained” within defined parameters. Nonetheless, given the highly charged public sentiment in both countries and the high political stakes in play for each country’s leader, there is little reason to be sanguine about the possibilities for restraint.

We are often enjoined to remember the lessons of history. The truth is history rarely repeats itself in precisely the same form. But for the nationalists in both Beijing and Washington who may not realize how serious the stakes have become, a good weekend read would be my compatriot Christopher Clark’s book on the failures of crisis management and diplomacy in 1914, evocatively titled The Sleepwalkers.

The core lesson in the events leading to World War I is that a relatively minor incident (the assassination of an Austrian archduke in Sarajevo in late June 1914) can escalate into a war between great powers in a matter of weeks. Clark’s graphic account is one of relentless escalation, inadequate diplomacy, and crude nationalism, along with a disbelief by populations and leaders alike that actual conflict was even possible—until the “guns of August” grimly proved otherwise.

For the United States, the China challenge is real and demands a coherent, long-term strategy across all policy domains and in coordination with allies. It also requires a new framework for the U.S.-Chinese relationship, one based on the principles of “managed” strategic competition: political, economic, technological, and ideological competition with mutually understood red-lines, open lines of high-level communication to avoid an accidental escalation, and defined areas of global cooperation where it is mutually advantageous (such as on pandemics and climate change). But the foremost task now is to safely navigate the next several months, to avoid stumbling into conflict in the midst of a presidential campaign in the United States and a period of contested internal politics in China. Leaders on both sides should remember that nationalistic jingoism tends to become more muted after the shooting starts.


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Poland Agrees To Pay Almost All Costs of US Troop Presence
As the Pentagon starts planning to pull troops out of Germany, and demands more money from South Korea, Poland is opening its wallet to bring more Americans in.
By PAUL MCLEARYon August 03, 2020 at 5:14 PM

WASHINGTON: The Polish government will pay the majority of costs associated with stationing 5,500 US troops at bases within its borders as part of a new security cooperation pact, the Pentagon has confirmed to Breaking Defense.

The deal comes as the Trump administration keeps prodding longtime allies like South Korea and Japan to pay more of the costs of tens of thousands of US troops within their borders, while President Trump has complained that countries like Germany don’t meet defense spending goals outlined by NATO.

But Poland, which already meets the NATO-mandated goal of spending 2 percent of GDP on national defense by 2024, has agreed to take more US forces, aircraft and drones while footing what is likely to be a hefty bill to build infrastructure for those forces as they flow in and out of the country on a rotational basis.

Warsaw “has agreed to fund infrastructure and logistical support to U.S. forces in Poland, including the current 4,500 rotational forces and the planned increase of 1,000 additional rotational forces,” Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesperson said.

The final amount isn’t clear. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement has been agreed to, but will not be signed for several weeks yet, and no infrastructure improvements that might be needed have not been started. Iin broad terms, Poland has agreed to fully fund infrastructure for:

  • A command post of the Army’s V Corps headquarters
  • A US division headquarters in Poland
  • A joint-use Combat Training Center in Drawsko Pomorskie, among other training locations
  • Facilities for an Air Force MQ-9 drone squadron
  • An aerial port of debarkation to support the movement of forces in and out of the country
  • Facilities to support special operations forces so they can conduct air, ground and maritime operations
  • Infrastructure for an armored brigade combat team, a combat aviation brigade, and a combat sustainment support battalion
In a Monday morning statement, Esper said the new deal “will enhance deterrence against Russia, strengthen NATO, reassure our Allies, and our forward presence in Poland on NATO’s eastern flank will improve our strategic and operational flexibility.”


As CMMC Enters the Readiness Phase Will Subcontractors be Ready?
As CMMC, the DoD cybersecurity compliance program, continues to evolve, will prime contractors and their subcontractors be ready for assessment and certification?
The Polish deal comes as the US is in the early stages of planning to pull 12,000 troops from Germany and remains locked in a spending dispute with South Korea over Trump’s demand Seoul pay more to keep the 28,500 American forces in the country.

During a Pentagon briefing last week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs John Hyten repeatedly made the case that moving the Germany-based troops back to the US, Belgium and Italy, is a strategic decision that will benefit the US and NATO. Within minutes of that press conference however, Trump contradicted his military leaders from the White House lawn, saying he ordered the pullout so the US won’t be “suckers…so we’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills. It’s very simple, they’re delinquent.”

Trump again conflated the 2 percent NATO pledge with payments to the alliance itself. Germany, despite being the wealthiest nation in Europe, continues to fall well below that mark.

Relying on Polish construction efforts has recently cost the Pentagon about $100 million in cost overruns however.

Army Starts Construction On Prototype Lasers
Contractors are already “bending metal” on components for both 50-kilowatt and 300-kW lasers, Army scientist Craig Robin said.
Europe’s second Aegis Ashore site based in Redzikowo, Poland, was supposed to be up and running in 2018, but problems with local contractors have pushed that back to 2022 and will cost the US an additional $96 million in 2021, according to budget documents. The Missile Defense Agency stopped paying the contractor in the spring due to the schedule slippages; work has since resumed.

Stepping in to foot the bill — while fulfilling its NATO pledge — Warsaw is ticking off all the boxes demanded by the White House to maintain and improve its relationship with Washington.

Esper has recently acknowledged he is considering “adjustments” to the American military presence in South Korea, but clarified that he has issued no order to withdraw troops, despite reports suggesting a drawdown is being considered by Pentagon leadership.

Under the previous agreement between the US and South Korea, which ended in December, South Korea agreed to pay $870 million for 2019. The Trump administration originally demanded $5 billion in 2020 to keep the US footprint as is. That was rejected by the South Korean government, who then agreed to pay the salaries of thousands of Koreans who had been furloughed from their jobs on American bases. Since that tweak, talks between the two sides have stalled.


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Negotiating with Great Powers on Nuclear Arms
By Frank Klotz, John Lauder & William Courtney
August 03, 2020

The Trump Administration has yet to decide the fate of the sole remaining U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty, New START, which expires in February. Among other conditions, it insists that any follow-on nuclear accord with Russia must also include China.

Striking a deal with Beijing in the next six months is highly unlikely. Accordingly, if the U.S. should agree to extend New START it could help ensure current limits on Russian nuclear forces remain in place. It might also adopt a different, multilateral approach to engaging China in arms control talks.

The administration has a valid point about China. Under New START, the U.S. and Russia further reduced their nuclear-equipped heavy bombers, long-range missiles, and deployed warheads. China, which is not a party to the treaty, has meanwhile steadily expanded its smaller but still potent nuclear force. This build-up calls into question Beijing's intentions regarding its long-held policies of "no-first-use" and maintaining only a minimum deterrent force.

China has repeatedly rejected calls to join nuclear arms control negotiations with the U.S. and Russia and did so again earlier this month. Beijing asserts that the two nuclear superpowers must first slash their arsenals to even lower levels. Likewise, it has been reluctant to be more transparent about its nuclear intentions, claiming that secrecy is essential to the survivability of its smaller force.

But there are reasons to believe that China could be persuaded to be more open to discussions on controlling nuclear arms, particularly if they involved a broader set of negotiating partners and if a formal arms limitation treaty were not the immediate objective.

First, the timing may be propitious. China has become more isolated internationally as a result of its repression in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet, large-scale theft of intellectual property, and early mishandling and cover-up of the COVID pandemic. Beijing might be looking for ways to appear more cooperative on the world stage.

Second, China has played constructive roles in other nuclear-related negotiations. For example, it signed the multilateral 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and participated in the international monitoring system to detect nuclear explosions around the world. Five of the system's seismic stations are on Chinese territory.

China also played a constructive role in negotiations leading to the 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear deal aimed at limiting that country’s pathways to developing nuclear weapons. With U.S. encouragement, China took a lead role in redesigning an Iranian heavy water reactor that could have been used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Third, China may be more willing to participate in negotiations if the U.S. can persuade France and the U.K. to do likewise. All five officially recognized nuclear weapon states (the so-called "P5") collaborated successfully in the Iran negotiations. As Beijing has publicly signaled, a P5 format might be more conducive to Chinese participation than the prospect of negotiating alone with the two nuclear superpowers.

Fourth, some Chinese analysts have suggested that their country’s views on nuclear transparency may be evolving due to growing confidence in the survivability of its nuclear forces and because secrets are increasingly hard to keep in a world of high-resolution commercial satellites and widespread sharing of information on the internet.

These considerations offer some hope that Beijing might be open to dialogue on nuclear transparency, monitoring, and verification measures akin to those the U.S. and Russia have long accepted.

For example, merging the separate U.S.-Russian and Russian-Chinese agreements to notify each other of long-range ballistic missile launches and expanding the concept to include all members of the P5 might be a good place to start building confidence and setting a useful precedent.

Likewise, P5 joint verification experiments or mock inspections might increase understanding of the modalities and value of measures to increase nuclear openness and predictability. Similar activities in other contexts, such as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces and Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaties, have helped international participants gain experience and work together. The inclusion of all five countries might bolster a sense of inclusion and fairness as well as help lay groundwork for cooperation on more challenging issues, eventually including verifiable agreements to limit nuclear arms.

Overcoming China’s reticence to engage in nuclear-related talks will likely take deft diplomacy, time, and patience. Washington may need to weigh the importance of China’s cooperation in nuclear arms control with other U.S. goals. The issue of participating in five-way nuclear negotiations could also require debate and consensus-building within France and the U.K.

In the meantime, the threat posed by Russian nuclear forces remains. Extension of the 2010 New START Treaty does not require Senate ratification, only presidential approval. Failure to take such a simple and prudent step could be a mistake of epic proportions.

Frank Klotz, a retired lieutenant general, is an adjunct senior fellow at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. He was the first commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. John Lauder is an independent consultant and retired senior intelligence officer. He was chief of the Intelligence Community’s Arms Control Intelligence Staff and Nonproliferation Center and a deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office. William Courtney is an adjunct senior fellow at RAND and was U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan, Georgia, and the U.S.-Soviet commission to implement the Threshold Test Ban Treaty.


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Test Of Minuteman III ICBM With Three Reentry Vehicles Sure Seems Like A Warning To Russia (Updated)
The Air Force currently fields operational Minuteman IIIs with just one warhead each to help meet international treaty obligations.

The U.S. Air Force has conducted a scheduled test launch of an LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile with a very unusual load of three unarmed reentry vehicles. All operational Minuteman IIIs are presently armed with only one warhead in a single reentry vehicle as part of the United States' obligations on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, making this a unique, but timely test considering the geopolitical landscape.

Air Force and Navy personnel onboard an E-6B Mercury airborne command post aircraft actually fired the missile in this particular case using a specialized launch control system. The joint crew of the E-6B launched the Minuteman III from a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California using the aircraft's Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS) at approximately 12:21 AM local time on Aug. 4, 2020. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), which oversees America's intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force, as well as the service's heavy bomber fleets, both nuclear-capable and conventional, said that the launch was otherwise routine and had been planned between six months to a year prior.

By Joseph TrevithickPosted in THE WAR ZONE
By Tyler RogowayPosted in THE WAR ZONE
By Joseph TrevithickPosted in THE WAR ZONE
By Joseph TrevithickPosted in THE WAR ZONE
By Joseph TrevithickPosted in THE WAR ZONE

"The flight test program demonstrates one part of the operational capability of the ICBM weapon system," Air Force Colonel Omar Colbert, head of the 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg, said in a statement. “This visible message of national security serves to assure our allies and dissuade potential aggressors."

At the core of the concept of nuclear deterrence is ensuring that no opponent feels confident that they can launch a nuclear attack and escape retaliation. As such, regular testing, at least of delivery platforms, is generally required to both make sure that everything is working properly and to demonstrate this clearly to potential adversaries.

The ALCS onboard the E-6B is an important component of this deterrent capability, providing an alternative means of launching the missiles remotely if other command and control nodes get destroyed. You can read more about this particular system and the rest of the command and control apparatus that supports the ICBM force in this past War Zone piece.

An E-6B Mercury.
But if the test was entirely routine, the detail that the missile was carrying three unarmed reentry vehicles, in this particular instance, was not. Under the New START treaty, both the U.S. and Russian governments agreed to limit how many warheads they had deployed at any one time, among other things. While the agreement does not prohibit the deployment of ICBMs with Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRV), the United States has decided to field some 400 Minuteman IIIs, at least publicly, with just one warhead each inside a lone reentry vehicle. This keeps the overall warhead total down, but the number of missiles up. This makes sense considering the U.S. strategy of using its ICBM force as a 'nuclear sponge' that would absorb Russian warheads on purpose should the apocalypse come. You can read more about this bizarre arrangement in this past piece of ours.

The Air Force first developed the Single Reentry Vehicle (SRV) modification for the LGM-30G as part of preparations for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II (START II) treaty, which banned MIRVs. Minuteman III, which first entered service in 1970, was America's first MIRV-equipped ICBM. Though signed in 1993, START II never truly entered force, with Russia completely withdrawing in 2002 in protest to the United States' pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The subsequent Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) and New START agreements do not have specific provisions for MIRVs. The Navy's Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles do have MIRVed warheads.

Workers maintenance and Minuteman III in its silo.

It's not clear when the last time the Air Force tested a MIRVed Minuteman III was, but typically these types of tests involve only a single unarmed reentry vehicle, as would be the case in an actual operational launch. It is not entirely unheard of for these launches to involve more than one reentry vehicle. Another official press release says that the LGM-30G test launch on Feb. 8, 2017, also involved "test reentry vehicles," plural, but did not say exactly how many.

It's unclear why this latest launch featured three reentry vehicles. It is possible that it could be part of a research and development effort and it was simply easier to collect certain data by launching three re-entry vehicles at once, rather than over the course of three separate missile tests. Still, this wouldn't be reflective of the actual deployed configuration, with puts this possibility into question. In October 2019, the Air Force awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to continue the development of the Mk 21A re-entry vehicle, an improved version of the Mk 21 that sits atop some Minuteman IIIs now.

Each Mk 21 holds a W87 thermonuclear warhead, a combination that was originally developed for the now-retired LGM-118A Peacekeeper ICBM and that you can read about in more detail in this previous War Zone piece. Other Minuteman IIIs are armed with one W78 thermonuclear warhead in a different reentry vehicle. The Mk 21A, which will hold an improved W87-1 warhead, is set to be the primary armament of the Air Force's future Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) ICBMs, which are in development now to replace the existing LGM-30Gs. The Air Force expects to begin fielding the GBSD sometime in the late 2020s or early 2030s.

Unarmed Mk 21 reentry vehicles on a payload bus from a now-retired LGM-118A Peacekeeper ICBM on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force.

The Air Force could have also tested the MIRVed LGM-30G to highlight that it retains the capability to arm missiles in this way should the need or desire arise, which would be in line with both the uncommon payload and the service's decision to highlight it very specifically in the official press release. This test does notably come at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is in negotiations with their Russian counterparts about extending New START with amended terms. The treaty is set to expire next year unless both parties agree to extend it out to 2026. After that, it will be necessary to negotiate an entirely new deal.

The Trump Administration has been focused on getting Russia to agree to limits on various novel strategic systems, including nuclear-armed hypersonic missiles, as well as nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed cruise missiles and long-range torpedoes, as part of discussions about extending the agreement. The U.S. government also wants China to join this strategic arms control regime, which authorities in Beijing have repeatedly expressed little desire to do.

If New START were to collapse without a replacement treaty in place, the United States would have a free hand to re-MIRV all of its Minuteman III missiles, as well as develop that capability for the new GBSD. There could be a perceived incentive to do so given Russia's own deployment of various MIRVed ICBMs, which could expand in the absence of any armed control agreement. Adding two more reentry vehicles to each deployed LGM-30G would increase the total number of deployed warheads across the ICBM force from 400 to 1,200 with minimum effort.

As such, it's very possible that this could have acted as both a test of the weapon's latent MIRV capabilities and as a message to Russia that without New START, America's ground-based nuclear deterrent could become exponentially more destructive.

We have already reached out to the Air Force for more information about this particular test and will be sure to update this story with any new information we receive.

Update: 2:25 PM EST—
A spokesperson for Air Force Global Strike Command has now confirmed to The War Zone that a test launch of a Minuteman III ICBM with three reentry vehicles is not common and that that the last time one occurred was on Apr. 25, 2018. AFGSC conducts between four and five LGM-30G test launches each year to support various requirements.

Contact the author: joe@thedrive.com


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Russia deploys tanks to Belarus’ border amid unprecedented escalation of tensions

Colton Jones
By Colton Jones

Aug 5, 2020

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Russia has deployed additional armed vehicles and soldiers to its border with Belarus amid an unprecedented escalation of tensions between Moscow and neighboring Minsk.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has reported that about 3,000 troops and over 800 main battle tanks and combat vehicles will deploy to military training grounds along the border with Belarus.

“Over 3,000 personnel of the Guards Combined Arms Army of the Western Military Districе and about 800 military vehicles and special equipment involved in exercises at training grounds in the Voronezh, Moscow, Bryansk, Belgorod, Smolensk and Kursk regions,” according to a recent service news release.

At the same time, Belarus kick off military exercises near the Russian border. The Belarus military is deploying additional troops to the border with Russia in the Vitebsk region.
Official Minsk fears that Russia may take advantage of the instability in the country and carry out the Ukrainian scenario to occupy part of the territories ahead of August’s presidential election.
Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s president for the past 25 years, has publicly accused Russia and the west of seeking to interfere in the country’s elections. He claimed last week that Russian mercenaries could be sent to the country to organize a “Maidan”, a reference to the 2014 Ukrainian revolution that overthrew the then president, Viktor Yanukovych.
If you wish to report grammatical or factual errors within our news articles, you can let us know by using the online feedback form.

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Hybrid Warfare
7 October 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin and General Valery Gerasimov
Russian President Vladimir Putin and General Valery Gerasimov
Since the recent Russian incursion in east Ukraine I have been seeing the term “hybrid warfare” being used. I first encountered this in the Financial Times on Friday 29 August 2014 (“Russia’s New Art of War”), which shows how far behind the curve I am, as when I looked up the term I frequently found hybrid warfare referred to as a “buzzword” (and, until now, I had heard none of this buzz). There is already an anthology of essays on hybrid warfare, Hybrid Warfare: Fighting Complex Opponents from the Ancient World to the Present, edited by Williamson Murray and Peter R. Mansoor, which takes a primarily historical perspective and focuses on hybrid warfare as the combination of conventional and irregular forces employed in tandem. In any case, here is how the FT article characterized hybrid warfare:
“The phrase refers to a broad range of hostile actions, of which military force is only a small part, that are invariably executed in concert as part of a flexible strategy with long-term objectives.”

The article also quotes General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation, from an article that appeared in the Russian defense journal VPK, as follows:
“Methods of conflict,” he wrote, have changed, and now involve “the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian and other non-military measures”. All of this, he said, could be supplemented by firing up the local populace as a fifth column and by “concealed” armed forces. Mr Gerasimov quoted the Soviet military theoretician Georgii Isserson: mobilisation does not occur after a war is declared, but “unnoticed, proceeds long before that.”
In the Times of Malta article about General Gerasimov’s appointment as Chief of Staff, Putin appoints a new army chief, Putin is quoted as saying, “new means of conducting warfare are appearing.” It would seem that Putin’s choice to head Russia’s military has taken it upon himself to formulate and refine these new means of conducting warfare, which may prove to be ideal for implementing the Putin Doctrine.

The Georgii Isserson mentioned in the above quote in the FT was a theoretician of “deep battle” (about which I wrote in Deep Battle and the Culture of War) and the author of two important treatises, The Evolution of Operational Art, 1932 and 1937, and Fundamentals of the Deep Operation, 1933. (The former has been translated into English and is available in PDF format.) Thus we see that Gerasimov is drawing on an established tradition of Russian strategic and tactical thought, and we might well ask, in an inquiry regarding hybrid warfare, if the latter constitutes the contemporary extrapolation of the Soviet conception of deep battle.
Isserson’s The Evolution of Operational Art is a highly ideological book, at the same time as being both a theoretical and practical military manual. Throughout the text he employs the language and the concepts of Marx, Engels, and Lenin in a way that is familiar from many Soviet-era books. While some Soviet-era texts following this pattern are a worthless Hodge-podge, fawning for Party approval, in the case of Isserson’s book, the intermingling of revolutionary communism and organized, large-scale military violence works quite well, and this is one of our first clues to understanding the nature of hybrid warfare. There is a continuum that extends from revolutionary violence to military violence, and it is not necessary to limit oneself to any one point on this continuum if one has the ability to act across the spectrum of operations.
A translation of the above-quoted article by General Gerasimov has been posted on Facebook by Robert Coalson (the original Russian text is also available). It is a work of great military insight, admirable in its analytical clarity. In this translation we read:
“The focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures — applied in coordination with the protest potential of the population. All this is supplemented by military means of a concealed character, including carrying out actions of informational conflict and the actions of special-operations forces. The open use of forces — often under the guise of peacekeeping and crisis regulation — is resorted to only at a certain stage, primarily for the achievement of final success in the conflict.”
If the methods of warfare described by General Gerasimov are to be understood as the definitive statement — so far — of hybrid warfare, then we can see from his article that this is a highly comprehensive conception, but not merely eclectic. The general states that, “Frontal engagements of large formations of forces at the strategic and operational level are gradually becoming a thing of the past.” This is undoubtedly true. I have observed many times that there have been no peer-to-peer conflicts since the middle of the twentieth century, and none seem likely in the near future. So while hybrid warfare is a comprehensive conception, it is not about peer-to-peer conflict or frontal engagements of large formations. Hybrid warfare is, in a sense, about everything other than peer-to-peer frontal engagement. One might think of this as the culmination of the mobile small unit tactics predicted by Liddel-Hart and Heinz Guderian, practiced by the Germans with Blitzkrieg, and further refined throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, but I don’t want to too quickly or readily assimilate Gerasimov’s conception to these models of western military thought.

Gerasimov, true to the Russian concern for defense in depth (a conception that follows naturally from the perspective of a land empire with few borders defined by geographical obstacles), places Isserson’s concern for depth in the context of high-technology implementation, as though the idea were waiting for the proper means with which to put it into practice:
“Long-distance, contactless actions against the enemy are becoming the main means of achieving combat and operational goals. The defeat of the enemy’s objects is conducted throughout the entire depth of his territory. The differences between strategic, operational, and tactical levels, as well as between offensive and defensive operations, are being erased.”
The erasure of the distinction between offensive and defensive operations means the erasure of the distinction between defense in depth and offense in depth: the two become one. General Gerasimov also demonstrates that he has learned one of the most important lessons of war in industrial-technological civilization:
“A scornful attitude toward new ideas, to nonstandard approaches, to other points of view is unacceptable in military science. And it is even more unacceptable for practitioners to have this attitude toward science.”
Science and its applications lies at the root on industrial-technological warfare no less than at the root of industrial-technological civilization, both of which are locked in a co-evolutionary spiral. Not only does the scope of civilization correspond to the scope science, but the scope of war also corresponds to the scope of science. And not only the scope of science, but also its sophistication. If Gerasimov can imbue this spirit into the Russian general staff, he will make a permanent contribution to Russia military posture, and it is likely that the Chinese and other authoritarian states that look to Russia will learn the lesson as well.

That the idea of hybrid warfare has been given a definitive formulation by a Russian general, drawing upon Soviet strategy and tactics derived from revolutionary movements and partisan warfare, and that the Russian military has apparently implemented a paradigmatic hybrid war in east Ukraine, is significant. Even as a superpower, the Russians could not compete with US technology or US production; Soviet counter-measures were usually asymmetrical — and much cheaper than the high-technology weapons systems fielded by the US and NATO. Even as the US built a carrier fleet capable of dominating all the world’s oceans, the Soviets built supersonic missiles and supercavitating torpedoes that could neutralize a carrier at a fraction of the cost of a carrier. This principle of state-sponsored asymmetrical response to state-level threats is now, in hybrid warfare, extended across the range of materiel and operations.
How can hybrid warfare be defined? How does hybrid warfare differ from MOOTW? How does hybrid warfare differ from asymmetrical warfare? How does hybrid warfare differ from any competently executed grand strategy?
It is to Gerasimov’s credit that he poses radical questions about the nature of warfare in order to illuminate hybrid warfare, as when he asks, “What is modern war? What should the army be prepared for? How should it be armed?” We must ask radical questions in order to make radical conceptual breakthroughs. The most radical question in the philosophy of warfare is “What is war?” The article on war in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy characterizes war as follows:
‘War’ defined by Webster’s Dictionary is a state of open and declared, hostile armed conflict between states or nations, or a period of such conflict. This captures a particularly political-rationalistic account of war and warfare, i.e., that war needs to be explicitly declared and to be between states to be a war. We find Rousseau arguing this position: “War is constituted by a relation between things, and not between persons… War then is a relation, not between man and man, but between State and State…”

Any definition of war is going to incorporate presuppositions, but in asking radical questions about warfare we want to question our own presuppositions about war. This suggests the possibility of the via negativa. What is the opposite of war? Not peace, but non-war. What is non-war? That is a more difficult question to answer. Or, rather, it is a question that takes much longer to answer, because non-war is anything that is not war, so in so far as war is a limited conception, non-war is what set theorists call the complement of war: everything that a (narrow) definition of war says that war is not.
Each definition of war implies the possibility of its own negation, so that there are at least as many definitions of non-war as of war itself. Clausewitz wrote in one place that, “war is the continuation of politics by other means,” while in another place he wrote that war is, “an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.” Each of these definitions of war can be negated to produce a definition of non-war, and each produces a distinct definition of non-war. The plurality of conceptions of war and non-war point to the polysemous character of hybrid warfare, which exists on the cusp of war and non-war.
Although the US DOD declines to define hybrid warfare, NATO has defined hybrid threats as follows:
“A hybrid threat is one posed by any current or potential adversary, including state, non-state and terrorists, with the ability, whether demonstrated or likely, to simultaneously employ conventional and non conventional means adaptively, in pursuit of their objectives.”


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NATO Military Working Group (Strategic Planning & Concepts), February 2010
Let us further consider the possible varieties of warfare in order to illuminate hybrid warfare by way of contrast and comparison. The following list of seventeen distinct forms of warfare recognized by the US DOD and NATO is taken from Hybrid Warfare: Briefing to the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, by Davi M. D’Agostino (hybrid warfare is not on the list because it is not officially defined):
● Acoustic Warfare (DOD, NATO) Action involving the use of underwater acoustic energy to determine, exploit, reduce, or prevent hostile use of the underwater acoustic spectrum and actions which retain friendly use of the underwater acoustic spectrum.
● Antisubmarine Warfare Operations conducted with the intention of denying the enemy the effective use of submarines.
● Biological Warfare (DOD, NATO) Employment of biological agents to produce casualties in personnel or animals, or damage to plants or materiel; or defense against such employment.
● Chemical Warfare (DOD) All aspects of military operations involving the employment of lethal and incapacitating munitions/agents and the warning and protective measures associated with such offensive operations. Since riot control agents and herbicides are not considered to be chemical warfare agents, those two items will be referred to separately or under the broader term “chemical,” which will be used to include all types of chemical munitions/agents collectively.
● Directed-Energy Warfare (DOD) Military action involving the use of directed-energy weapons, devices, and countermeasures to either cause direct damage or destruction of enemy equipment, facilities, and personnel, or to determine, exploit, reduce, or prevent hostile use of the electromagnetic spectrum through damage, destruction, and disruption. It also includes actions taken to protect friendly equipment, facilities, and personnel and retain friendly use of the electromagnetic spectrum.
● Electronic Warfare (DOD) Military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy. Electronic warfare consists of three divisions: electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic warfare support.
● Guerrilla Warfare (DOD, NATO) Military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by irregular, predominantly indigenous forces (also called Partisan Warfare).
● Irregular Warfare (DOD) A violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population(s). Irregular warfare favors indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it may employ the full range of military and other capacities, in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence, and will.
● Mine Warfare (DOD) The strategic, operational, and tactical use of mines and mine countermeasures. Mine warfare is divided into two basic subdivisions: the laying of mines to degrade the enemy’s capabilities to wage land, air, and maritime warfare; and the countering of enemy-laid mines to permit friendly maneuver or use of selected land or sea areas. (Also called Land Mine Warfare)
● Multinational Warfare (DOD) Warfare conducted by forces of two or more nations, usually undertaken within the structure of a coalition or alliance.
● Naval Coastal Warfare (DOD) Coastal sea control, harbor defense, and port security, executed both in coastal areas outside the United States in support of national policy and in the United States as part of this Nation’s defense.
● Naval Expeditionary Warfare (DOD) Military operations mounted from the sea, usually on short notice, consisting of forward deployed, or rapidly deployable, self-sustaining naval forces tailored to achieve a clearly stated objective.
● Naval Special Warfare (DOD) A designated naval warfare specialty that conducts operations in the coastal, riverine, and maritime environments. Naval special warfare emphasizes small, flexible, mobile units operating under, on, and from the sea. These operations are characterized by stealth, speed, and precise, violent application of force.
● Nuclear Warfare (DOD, NATO) Warfare involving the employment of nuclear weapons (also called Atomic Warfare).
● Surface Warfare (DOD) That portion of maritime warfare in which operations are conducted to destroy or neutralize enemy naval surface forces and merchant vessels.
● Unconventional Warfare (DOD) A broad spectrum of military and paramilitary operations, normally of long duration, predominantly conducted through, with, or by indigenous or surrogate forces who are organized, trained, equipped, supported, and directed in varying degrees by an external source. It includes, but is not limited to, guerrilla warfare, subversion, sabotage, intelligence activities, and unconventional assisted recovery.
● Under Sea Warfare (DOD) Operations conducted to establish and maintain control of the underwater environment by denying an opposing force the effective use of underwater systems and weapons. It includes offensive and defensive submarine, antisubmarine, and mine warfare operations.
To each of these “officially” recognized types of warfare we can dialectically oppose a type of non-war or peace (the latter for ease of reference), as, e.g., “unconventional warfare” implies the possibility of “unconventional peace.” With so many varieties of warfare, it is inevitable that some of these categories will overlap with other categories of warfare, so that one particular species of peace may be another species of warfare, and vice versa. For example, one might be at “peace” in regard to a clearly delimited conception of “multinational warfare” while simultaneously being in a condition of open hostility in regard to an equally clearly delimited conception of “irregular warfare.”
One of the ways in which we might understand hybrid warfare is as accepting prima facie this diverse admixture of types of warfare that, in Wittgensteinian terms, overlap and intersect. Hybrid warfare, then, may consist of selectively, and at times simultaneously, pursuing (or avoiding) any and all possible forms of warfare across the spectrum of conflict.
Given the comprehensive scope of hybrid warfare, the resources of a major industrialized nation-state would be a necessary condition for waging hybrid warfare, and this clearly distinguishes hybrid warfare from irregular, partisan, or unconventional warfare in the narrow sense. Only the most successful and well-funded non-state entities could aspire to the range of operations implied by hybrid warfare, and in so far as one of the essential feature of hybrid warfare is the coordinated use of regular and irregular forces, a non-state entity without regular forces would not, by definition, be in a position of wage hybrid warfare. But it would be a mistake, as we can see, to get too caught up in definitions.
As we can see, trying to answer the question, “What is hybrid warfare?” (much less, “What is war?”) raises a host of questions that could only be dealt with adequately by a treatise of Clausewitzean length. Perhaps the next great work on the philosophy of war will come out of this milieu of hybrid conflict.
. . . . .
Hybrid Warfare venn diagram
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Army to Speed Up Testing of Planned Hypersonic Missile

A common hypersonic glide body launches from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai.

A common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) launches from the Pacific Missile Range Facility during a Defense Department flight experiment, Kauai, Hawaii, March 19, 2020. (U.S. Navy/Oscar Sosa)

5 Aug 2020
Military.com | By Matthew Cox

The lieutenant general overseeing the Army's hypersonic weapons program said the service will soon accelerate testing of the ultra-fast missile effort to compete with Russia and China in the race to field the deadly new technology.
In a joint effort with the Navy, the Army has been designing the Common-Hypersonic Glide Body, which will be used by all U.S. services, and is preparing to transition it to the defense industry, which will mass produce the technology.

The Army will soon begin ramping up the testing schedule so it can field the first operational hypersonic missile battery by fiscal 2023, Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, director of Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space, and Rapid Acquisition, said Wednesday during a Defense News space and missile defense webinar.
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"The flight test program is very aggressive, and we need to be aggressive in order to keep on case and be competitive with our near-peer competitors, namely Russia and China," he said.

Following a successful test in March, "we will actually accelerate our program; our next flight test will be mid-year of 2021, followed very quickly by two shots later in 2021," Thurgood said, adding that, until now, tests had been completed every three years.
The Pentagon's hypersonics effort is under real pressure to create a new class of ultrafast, maneuverable, long-range missiles capable of flying at five times the speed of sound. The Defense Department made hypersonic technologies a priority, nearly doubling its long-term investment, with almost $5 billion more in fiscal 2020 funding for hypersonics development alone in the next five years.

The increased funding follows advancements made by adversaries such as Russia, which claims to have unveiled a hypersonic glide vehicle capable of traveling more than 20 times the speed of sound.
Over the next 12 to 14 months, the Army will transfer the high-priority glide-body work from government laboratories to Dynetics Technical Solutions, the firm selected last August to produce the first commercially manufactured set of prototype Common-Hypersonic Glide Body systems.
"We have to transition the technology ... from the government labs to our commercial industrial partners who can build this kind of weapon system in quantity," Thurgood said.
Over the past year, teams from Dynetics have been based at Sandia National Laboratories, training to build the glide bodies.

The Army has a plan to select and train a second firm if demand goes up for more glide bodies, Thurgood said.
"At the same time, we are about 14 months away from getting our first set of support equipment to the first unit, so it's happening very, very quickly," he added.
If all goes well, soldiers from the unit scheduled to receive the first hypersonics battery -- consisting of four trucks with launchers, hypersonic missile rounds, and a command-and-control system -- will participate in the flight test scheduled for the fall of 2021, Thurgood said.
"It is our intent to use those flight tests not just for engineering work but also for training work for our soldiers," he said.
In a parallel effort, the Army is also working to develop the training and tactics units will need to take this new weapon system into the fight, Thurgood added.
"It's not sufficient to show to a unit and give them a piece of kit; we have to give them the training that goes with it, we have to give them the doctrine that goes with it, the leadership training, the policy -- all of those things have to be provided in parallels to just providing them kit," he said.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.
Related: Navy, Army Flight Test a Common Hypersonic Weapon Glide Body

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US Missile Defenses Are About to Level Up
Laser-armed Strykers, new Eastern European batteries, and sea-based interceptors are all coming in the next two years, Pentagon officials say.

Patrick Tucker
August 4, 2020

Over the next two years, the U.S. military expects to stand up its first "laser battalion," demonstrate that sailors can knock down ICBMs with missiles fired from surface ships, and establish two counter-Russian missile defense sites in Eastern Europe.

It’s all part of a series of soon-to-come innovations in missile defense aimed at deterring Russia, China, Iran, or any other adversary, outlined at the virtual Space Missile Defense symposium on Tuesday.

Among the key ones is the Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense, or MSHORAD, basically a Stryker vehicle outfitted with anti-missile defenses, including the laser-equipped DE-MSHORAD. “Expect to have the first battalion fielded in 2021 with four battalions by 2023,” Lt. Gen. Dan Karbler, commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, told the audience.

Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, director for Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, said that the 50kw laser-mounted Stryker was coming in 2022. The service is also working on a 200kw truck-mounted laser dubbed IFPC-HEL that Thurgood said would be deployable (although not necessarily deployed) with platoons in 2024. By the next year, the Army wants to field an even more powerful laser, the 300kw Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High Energy Laser, or IFPC-HEL.

The Army also wants to outfit maneuvering units with mobile microwave weapons, which, Thurgood said, are more useful against drone swarms than lasers, as microwaves can destroy the electronics of more targets at once. But directed microwaves, built at scale, don’t fit easily on a truck. Scientists are reducing the size and weight and making this more feasible.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency hopes that by the end of next year in Europe, a new Aegis Ashore missile interceptor site will have been completed in Poland (after delays due, in part, to COVID-19). “We are seeing an uptick in terms of the Army Corps construction,” said Adm. Jon Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency. “We’re really going to go hot in 2021” toward a projected 2022 completion.

Next year will also see the Navy test its ability to down ICBMs with SM-3 missiles fired from an Aegis destroyer and guided by off-ship radar via the Sea-Based Weapons System, or SBWS, Hill said.

MDA and the Navy also will test the SBWS against a medium-range ballistic missile, and in a separate test against two separate short-range ballistic missiles, he said.

Next year will also mark a key one for the new next-generation interceptor program, an effort to build new missiles capable of hitting more advanced ICBMs that deploy decoys or multiple warheads. MDA went back to the drawing board on the project last August, canceling the program. It drafted a new request and re-awarded it to Northrop Grumman in May.

MDA has “paused” its program to design an interceptor that could take out hypersonic missiles, Hill said, to look at near-term options. But the hypersonic threat is only building. That means that a new request could emerge next year, which could speak to the feasibility of different concepts for countering hypersonic missiles.

All of this activity reflects the growing importance the U.S is placing on deterring and defending against missile proliferation worldwide. Congress put missile defense under the defense undersecretary for research and engineering in 2018. MDA's budget requests and appropriations have shrunk as services have taken on more of the “missile defense” role for themselves.

New missiles and missile defense technology are highly desired by U.S. allies in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, as Russia, Iran, China and others have armed with the fast and low flying weapons, some threatening to top them with nuclear warheads, and as arms control agreements have expired or are set to, shortly. At the end of July, for instance, Russia announced that nuclear-armed hypersonic missiles would be deployed aboard ships.


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Is China helping Saudi Arabia to build a nuclear bomb?
By Simon Henderson, opinion contributor — 08/05/20 01:00 PM EDT 196 Comments
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

Tuesday’s horrific blast in Beirut was too small to be an atomic bomb, but the prospect of a Middle East devastated by a nuclear exchange still should go up several notches because of news in the Wall Street Journal that Saudi Arabia, with Chinese help, has built a plant to process uranium ore. Although the story made the front page, the Journal may have underplayed its significance.

The plant, near the remote town of AlUla, is in the northwest of the kingdom, about midway between the holy city of Medina and Tabuk, the side furthest from Iran. Apparently U.S. officials have known of the plant’s existence for months, perhaps years, and appear to have leaked or briefed their concerns to the Journal’s reporters. The role of the plant is to produce “yellowcake,” a semi-processed form of uranium, itself the crucial ingredient for both nuclear power reactors and atomic bombs.

The name comes from its color when it was first made decades ago. These days, yellowcake still may have the consistency of cake but is black or brown. It is an oxide of uranium — U3O8 — but its significance is that it is a necessary intermediate step to making uranium hexafluoride, the gas that can feed an enrichment plant. Depending on the layout of the centrifuges and the time spun, the resulting enriched uranium is either good for a power plant or a nuclear weapon.

Until Journal reporters asked the Saudis for comment, Riyadh had not acknowledged the existence of the plant. In terms of international protocols, that’s sort of OK — but it suggests a lack of openness inconsistent with peaceful intent. China wasn’t a comforting choice as a partner in this respect, either. Beijing can provide the necessary expertise, but its previous experience with such facilities has included Iran and Pakistan.

More to the point, processing uranium is linear. It goes from mining to processing (yellowcake), to conversion into dioxide and metal, to gasification (hexafluoride), to enrichment. Saudi Arabia has now ticked the first two boxes. Worse, from a proliferation perspective, it is not a step process in which one skill is mastered before starting on the next. The chances are that — in other remote parts of the kingdom, or hidden in plain sight — there are, in various states of completion, a conversion plant, a gasification plant, and an enrichment plant or two.

The kingdom has not been good at putting Washington at ease. In 2018, while visiting the U.S., Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, or MbS, told 60 Minutes: “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” Especially after the recent hospitalization of his father, King Salman, the 34-year-old MbS is the de facto leader of his country. American officials, particularly those wanting to back the prospective sale of U.S. civil nuclear technology for proposed Saudi power plants, previously have tried to minimize MbS’s words as not being a definitive statement of policy. Unfortunately, they do appear to be a valid statement of intent.

Justifying Saudi behavior in terms of Iran’s assumed continuing determination to have the capability to make nuclear weapons is an explanation, but it does not help U.S. policy. For example, a different path appears to have been taken by Riyadh’s close ally, the United Arab Emirates, which has forsworn enrichment and is just starting up the first of four South Korean nuclear power reactors.

An additional concern is that Saudi Arabia continues to have an arsenal of Chinese long-range missiles. They reportedly have been updated since the 1980s when, to the consternation of the U.S. and Israel, the type supplied was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Anxieties were further tweaked last year, when China was discovered to be building a nuclear missile factory in the Saudi desert. The layout of that plant was virtually identical to one constructed in Pakistan in the 1990s.
The ultimate historical twist is that when Pakistan was racing toward a nuclear weapon capability in the early 1980s, its uranium conversion plant wasn’t working properly. The bottleneck was temporarily overcome in May 1981 by China gifting enough highly-enriched uranium to make two atomic bombs (as well as the designs to construct the device). It was months before Western intelligence realized what had happened.

Once again, now in Saudi Arabia, it would appear that time is of the essence.

Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is the co-author of the Institute’s 2015 report, “Nuclear Iran: A Glossary.” Follow him on Twitter @shendersongulf.