Category Archives: Geopolitics

Pandemic And Diversity Objectives Mean Allies And Partners More Important Than Ever

Standard
Image: “Istock

NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE

The globalized pandemic reminds Americans of their inextricable ties to the rest of the world. We do not live or operate in isolation. Strength in numbers, based on common values and amplified by shared decision-making and interoperability, ensures effective deterrence, denial and, when required, defeat of those who would oppose our way of life. 

___________________________________________________________________________

“Now, more than ever, engagement and interoperability help us maintain and extend competitive advantage. As much of the world turns inward to deal with the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. competitors and adversaries seek advantage. National security professionals must continue to look outward, to deter, deny and, when necessary, defeat potential adversaries.

Deterrence, denial and defeat are always made easier with friends. Burden sharing at any level lessens the load the United States might otherwise bear alone. Demonstrating resolve across national boundaries also pays dividends, since potential adversaries may reconsider bad actions if they believe many countries will act together to oppose those actions.

Additionally, cognitive diversity — exploring strategies and courses of action that draw from multiple cultures and experiences — can help us outthink, rather than outfight, potential adversaries.

Finally, interoperability across the spectrum of conflict ensures the combined efforts of the United States and its allies and partners can deter, deny and defeat effectively.

Many U.S. politicians decry what they see as European allies failing to shoulder an equitable resource burden to maintain NATO’s relevance and strength. While there is always room for friends to talk about how best to split the bill, all allied contributions ultimately eliminate some national security burdens that might otherwise fall solely on the United States. Since the nation’s founding, American economic success has in many ways depended on free and open trade with allies and partners across the globe.

When Europe faced ruin from an incredibly destructive world war, U.S. forces helped catalyze an ending. And when a world war came to Europe a second time, America provided equipment and eventually forces to ensure a democratic, free market future for the western world.

The United States also played a lead role in winning the war in the Pacific, establishing the conditions for significant trade and national security relationships that continue to define international engagements.

Since that Second World War, U.S. economic and military strength has been inextricably tied to the maintenance of peace in Europe and the Pacific. These security relationships enabled economic growth with no known historical counterpart. U.S. presence and engagement through military and economic partnerships serve as the best guarantor of future peace and economic prosperity across the world.

American presence and engagement help guarantee peace and prosperity because of the inherent strength in numbers. While the United States may, in good faith, argue and disagree with its allies and partners, ultimately its interests align; we all want free and open societies based on democratic values where everyone has the opportunity to work to make a good life for their families. These shared bedrock ideals buttress alliances and partnerships as we work to deter, deny and defeat state and non-state actors who would attack those ideals. Collective resolve — backed by collective action — forms the foundation of a world order that has benefited nations across the globe with economic growth and prosperity.

But allies and partners bring more than simply burden sharing and numbers; most importantly they bring cognitive diversity to U.S. strategy, operations and tactics. Academic studies, as well as practical experience, clearly demonstrate that diverse, inclusive teams make better decisions. American warriors don’t own a monopoly on insights that can provide advantage across the spectrum of conflict.

Different experiences — cultural, educational and professional — frame approaches to tough challenges. We operate more effectively when we consider a broad array of alternatives, and we benefit from partners’ insights when we include them in all facets of operations, from determining strategy, to planning operations, through execution and finally evaluating effectiveness.

My experiences in my last assignment in Japan confirmed for me that our unique network of allies and partners is a force multiplier to achieve peace, deterrence and interoperable warfighting capability. The Defense Department is reinforcing its commitment to established alliances, while also expanding and deepening relationships with new partners who share our respect for self-determination, fair and reciprocal trade, and the rule of law.

Building partnership capacity in our long-standing security alliances is the bedrock on which U.S. strategy rests. It provides a durable, asymmetric strategic advantage that no competitor or rival can match. Expanding interoperability will ensure respective defense enterprises can work together effectively during day-to-day competition, crisis and conflict.

Through focused security cooperation, information sharing agreements and regular exercises, we connect intent, resources and outcomes and build closer relationships between militaries and economies. Increasing interoperability also involves ensuring military hardware and software can integrate more easily with those of our allies, to include offering financing and sales of cutting edge U.S. defense equipment to security partners.

The National Security Strategy calls on the United States to pursue cooperation and reciprocity with allies, partners and aspiring partners; cooperation means sharing responsibilities and burdens. The United States expects its allies and partners to shoulder a fair share of the burden to protect against common threats. When we pool resources and share responsibility for our common defense, the security burden becomes lighter and more cost-effective.

The globalized pandemic reminds Americans of their inextricable ties to the rest of the world. We do not live or operate in isolation. Strength in numbers, based on common values and amplified by shared decision-making and interoperability, ensures effective deterrence, denial and, when required, defeat of those who would oppose our way of life. “

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2020/5/26/allies-partners-more-important-than-ever

Cool It With the ‘America In Decline’ Talk

Standard
Image: AP/ Rich Pedroncelli

DEFENSE ONE

The bottom line: the notion that the United States is shrinking to a shell of its former glory or somehow withering in the face of challenges from its strategic competitors leaves out all nuance and simplifies a highly complicated world into clickbait.

______________________________________________________________________________

“With more than 40 million Americans out of work, demonstrations rocking cities coast-to-coast, and projections for a dire economic picture this summer, you can be forgiven for believing the United States is on a rapid decline. 

The conventional wisdom now emerging is one of a distracted, bumbling, and fumbling America ceding the international playing field to strategic competitors and outright adversaries. In the words of a featured June 2 report in the New York Times: “with the United States looking inward, preoccupied by the fear of more viral waves, unemployment soaring over 20 percent and nationwide protests ignited by deadly police brutality, its competitors are moving to fill the vacuum, and quickly.”

While this “U.S. is in decline” narrative is exceedingly popular today, it also happens to be inaccurate — and dangerous. If it becomes widely accepted as fact that Washington is “retreating” and leaving adversaries to “fill the vacuum,” then U.S. policymakers responsible for formulating and executing foreign policy will be increasingly susceptible to making bad policy.

We need to clear the record: discussions about the United States losing its luster, or on its way to meeting the same fate as the Roman Empire, are vastly overblown. To continue making these arguments is to wipe away all context and ignore recent history.

Much has already been written about China’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea, perhaps the world’s most important shipping lane and an area where multiple countries have set out competing sovereignty claims. This year alone, the People’s Liberation Army-Navy has sunk a Vietnamese fishing vessel in disputed waters off the Paracel Islands and engaged in a month-long standoff with a Malaysian oil exploration ship in waters claimed by China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Beijing has become noticeably more confrontational with Taiwan, dropping the word “peaceful” from its reunification plans and reportedly preparing a military drill simulating the seizure of Taiwanese-held Pratas Island. And as Beijing´s move on Hong Kong last week shows, the Chinese Communist Party is getting bolder and asserting itself on issues it has long considered as vitally important to its national security, despite universal international condemnation. 

We are led to believe that China’s recent activity in the South China Sea is some direct product of a U.S. seemingly incapable of maintaining a global leadership role. This, however, discounts the fact that Beijing has long viewed the waterway as its exclusive domain and has in fact spent the last 25 years coercing, cajoling, and otherwise chipping away at its neighbors’ competing claims through various military maneuvers. To chalk up China’s activity in the Pacific to a lack of U.S. resolve or leadership is to overstate Washington’s ability to deter Chinese behavior in this domain. If this mistaken premise is accepted outright, it will almost certainly convince Washington that a more intensive U.S. military response would be deter future Chinese assertiveness.

It’s important to note that China has continued to improve its posture in the South and East China Seas despite an uptick in U.S. freedom-of-navigation operations and B-1 bomber flights in international airspace. 

Nor does the present narrative explain the recent spate of Russian interceptions of U.S. aircraft in international airspace, which are not exactly a new phenomenon either. On May 26, Russian Su-35 aircraft challenged a U.S. Navy P-8A flying in the eastern Mediterranean in what the U.S. Navy called an “unsafe and unprofessional” operation. Five weeks earlier, a similar Russian aircraft intercepted another U.S. surveillance plane in the same area. The U.S. Air Force has reciprocated; on April 9, U.S. F-22s escorted two Russian maritime surveillance aircraft after they entered the Alaskan Air Identification Zone. Such encounters are likely to continuee, which is precisely why it is urgent for U.S. and Russian officials to establish far more durable channels of communication in order to deescalate the situation and ensure these types of relatively regular incidents don´t result in a miscalculation or mid-air collision. 

Over the previous week, U.S. officials have suggested Russia is making a power-play in North Africa and establishing its own strategic base in Libya. According to U.S. Africa Command, more than a dozen Russian warplanes recently flew to Eastern Libya purportedly to assist its partner in the civil war, renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, after a series of humiliating setbacks on the battlefield. Russian investment in Libya´s conflict, however, hasn´t exactly panned out the way the Kremlin anticipated. 

Haftar has turned out to be an unreliable, mercurial, stubborn wannabe strongman whose  with other armed, tribal factions is fueled by little more than contempt for the U.N.-recognized government in Tripoli. Russian President Vladimir Putin was publicly embarrassed last December, when Haftar walked out of a Kremlin-orchestrated peace conference. Negotiations remain practically nonexistent, which suggests Russia will soon face an unenviable choice between doubling down on a war that shows no signs of abating or disengaging and looking feckless.

As for Russia´s presence in Syria, this too has become an albatross around Moscow´s neck. While Russian air support in 2015 turned the war around and saved Bashar al-Assad from death or exile, Moscow´s investment in Syria since the conflict erupted more than nine years ago has yet to translate into concrete security benefits for the Kremlin. Notwithstanding the establishment of a few Russian airbases and friendly lease terms for the warm-port in Tartus, Moscow´s so-called victory in Syria consists of nothing more than a broken country led by a government that is corrupt, largely isolated from the West, and woefully incompetent in delivering basic services. Syria´s economy is in utter shambles as a result of the war, a rash of international economic sanctions, and outright mismanagement. Assad, the man the Kremlin has backed despite significant harm to its reputation, remains intransigent on even the slightest compromise with his opponents—leading Russia itself to question whether its support of the Syrian dictator was worth the cost.  

Developing a foreign policy that meets U.S. interests requires working from accurate assessments and the world as it really is. Relying on a black-and-white view of international affairs is risky business and could very well produce policies that will truly weaken the United States.”

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/06/cool-it-america-decline-talk/165913/

Is Short Term Economic Focus On Earnings Killing U.S. Innovation?

Standard
Image: “Saracanaday.com

DEFENSE SYSTEMS

The U.S. risks losing its competitive edge over China in terms of technology because companies care more about quarterly earnings than research and development.

Solutions involve incentivizing U.S. companies to focus on long-term investments and research.

______________________________________________________________________________

“That’s the message Michael Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit, the Defense Department’s innovation arm, shared at a Brookings Institution virtual event May 8 on China’s technological impact worldwide.

“You’re never going to win in a technology race with defense,” Brown said. Instead, the U.S. needs to focus on being more productive and “invest in itself” with more basic research.

“What do we do to reform our business thinking and our capital markets to move away from short-term thinking to be more long-term oriented,” Brown said. Ways to focus U.S. companies on building and maintaining a competitive edge include stricter export controls and more scrutiny of foreign investments in U.S. companies, particularly technology startups.

Brown, formerly CEO of Symantec, said the corporate focus on quarterly earnings and stock prices is counterproductive to competing with China.

“They all feed into this short-term thinking in our business community,” said Brown, “we have to reform this or we’re not going to be successful in competing with China.”

Incentives could include tax advantages for focusing on long-term growth and research and development, Brown said. And on the punitive side, there is the possibility of establishing penalties for U.S. companies that off-shore manufacturing or spinning off hardware businesses whose domestic presence can support U.S. jobs and military production.

“The irony is that U.S. companies focus on profits often driven by market dominance ends up aiding China’s cause,” Tom Wheeler, former Federal Communications Commission chairman, said during the event. “The market control, market dominance that we’ve seen from the principal big tech companies thwarts competition driven innovation.”

“It is doubtful that we will be able to out implement China,” said Wheeler, referencing that country’s tightly controlled, one-party system of government. “But we can out-innovate China if we have policies that will encourage this competition driven innovation.”

The big question for DIU is whether it can take advantage of U.S. tech talent, startups and research dollars to maintain a long term advantage over China, which is able to dictate its priorities to industry.

“The Defense Innovation Unit spends all day every day trying to encourage innovative companies to work with the Defense Department,” Brown said. “And General Secretary Xi [Jinping] accomplishes this by fiat. So we have to recognize that there are some advantages to their system.”

Brown said he maintained some doubts about the ultimate success of the “civil-military fusion” practiced in China.

“I don’t know how well that’s going to work for them, but that certainly keeps me up at night,” he said.”

F-35 Full Rate Production Challenges Include Failing Engine Tests And Replacing 1,005 Turkish Parts

Standard
 Image: Senior Airman Quay Drawdy/U.S. Air Force

DEFENSE NEWS

According to the GAO, the number of F-35 parts delivered late skyrocketed from less than 2,000 in August 2017 to upward of 10,000 in July 2019. At one point in 2019, Pratt & Whitney stopped deliveries of the F135 for an unspecified period due to test failures, which also contributed to the reduction of on-time deliveries.

And those supply chain problems could get even worse as Turkish defense manufacturers are pushed out of the program, the Government Accountability Office said in a May 12 report.

__________________________________________________________________________

 “Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is on the verge of full-rate production, with a decision slated for early 2021. But a congressional watchdog group is concerned that as the company ramps up F-35 production, its suppliers are falling behind.

The number of parts shortages per month also climbed from 875 in July 2018 to more than 8,000 in July 2019. More than 60 percent of that sum was concentrated among 20 suppliers, it said.

“To mitigate late deliveries and parts shortages — and deliver more aircraft on time — the airframe contractor has utilized methods such as reconfiguring the assembly line and moving planned work between different stations along the assembly line,” the GAO said.

“According to the program office, such steps can cause production to be less efficient, which, in turn, can increase the number of labor hours necessary to build each aircraft,” which then drives up cost, the GAO added.

Those problems could be compounded by Turkey’s expulsion from the F-35 program, which was announced last year after the country moved forward with buying the Russian S-400 air defense system. Although Turkey financially contributed to the development of the F-35 as a partner in the program, the U.S. Defense Department has maintained that Turkey cannot buy or operate the F-35 until it gives up the S-400.

The Pentagon has also taken action to begin stripping Turkish industry from the aircraft’s supply chain, a process that involves finding new companies to make 1,005 parts, some of which are sole-sourced by Turkish companies.

Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, had hoped to stop contracting with Turkish suppliers by March 2020, but in January she said that some contracts would extend through the year, according to Defense One.

While the Defense Department has found new suppliers to manufacture the parts currently made in Turkey, it is uncertain whether the price of those components will be more expensive. Furthermore, as of December 2019, the new production rates for 15 components were lagging behind that of the legacy Turkish producers.

“According to program officials, some of these new parts suppliers will not be producing at the rate required until next year, as roughly 10 percent are new to the F-35 program,” the GAO said.

“Airframe contractor representatives stated it would take over a year to stand up these new suppliers, with lead times dependent on several factors, such as part complexity, quantity, and the supplier’s production maturity. In addition, these new suppliers are required to go through qualification and testing to ensure the design integrity for their parts.”

The F-35 Joint Program Office disagreed with the GAO’s recommendation to provide certain information to Congress ahead of the full-rate production decision, including an evaluation of production risks and a readiness assessment of the suppliers that are replacing Turkish companies.

In its statement, the JPO said it is already providing an acceptable number of updates on the program’s readiness for full-rate production.

Hard times for the F-35’s engine supplier

Not all F-35 production trends reported by the GAO were bad for the aircraft. Since 2016, Lockheed has made progress in delivering a greater proportion of F-35s on schedule, with 117 of 134 F-35s delivered on time in 2019.

However, one of the biggest subsystems of the F-35 — the F135 engine produced by Pratt & Whitney — drifted in the opposite direction, with a whopping 91 percent of engines delivered behind schedule.

At one point in 2019, Pratt & Whitney stopped deliveries of the F135 for an unspecified period due to test failures, which also contributed to the reduction of on-time deliveries.

According to the Defense Contracts Management Agency, “there have been 18 engine test failures in 2019, which is eight more than in 2018, each requiring disassembly and rework,” the GAO wrote. “To address this issue, the engine contractor has developed new tooling for the assembly line and has established a team to identify characteristics leading to the test failures. Plans are also in place for additional training for employees.”

https://www.defensenews.com/air/2020/05/12/some-f-35-suppliers-are-having-trouble-delivering-parts-on-schedule-and-turkeys-departure-could-make-that-worse/

The Heavy Cost of Ignoring Biosurveillance

Standard
https://dod.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/1012_biosurveillance/

NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE”

It’s crucial that any such network be independent of governments and left in the hands of public health officials. The data it gathers should not be filtered through bad actors such as the Chinese Communist Party, or elected officials who may have a political agenda.

One day — hopefully soon — big international meetings will return and the next Biosurveillance Conference will be held in a bigger venue with a lot more participants.”

__________________________________________________________________________

“It was Aug. 28, 2012 in a Washington, D.C., hotel near Union Station where the National Defense Industrial Association held its first and only Biosurveillance Conference.

It was lightly attended — if memory serves. I’ll be charitable and say there were 75 attendees in the smallish room.

At least one of them — myself — was in the wrong place. Biosurveillance? I thought it would be about sensors. I was expecting to hear about typical defense and homeland security technologies designed to detect bioweapons — something akin to the Department of Homeland Security’s BioWatch program, or what the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense wanted. The agenda included Defense Threat Reduction Agency personnel.

No, actually, the attendees were mostly in the public health field, and they were talking about a worldwide database where doctors, public health officials, veterinarians and the like could report what they were seeing as far as new infectious diseases.

They likened the concept to weather reports. The world has a network of sensors that tells meteorologists what’s happening in the atmosphere. With the data, they can warn people if a storm is coming and citizens can prepare. The public health officials wanted to do the same for infectious diseases: manmade or natural. And the far-term goal would be to do predictive analysis — just like weather forecasts.

Here is an example: let’s say a doctor in China — let’s just say Wuhan, China — noticed an unusual number of cases of patients with a new respiratory disease marked by an unusually high fatality rate. He would then input that information into a database accessible to public health officials throughout the world. Then, let’s just say, doctors in South Korea or Italy, noticed the same thing. Analysts could connect the dots and sound the alarm. Hospitals could stock up on items such as, let’s say, face masks and respirators.

What I learned at that one-day conference ended up being part of a story that ran in the November 2012 issue. NDIA members with their expertise in information technology could have a lot to offer building such a network, I reasoned, so it was worth reporting.

Let’s pull some quotes out of that 2012 story.

Harshini Mukundan, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said diseases emerge from people, plants and animals.

“They are all interconnected, and having separate agencies monitoring each one defeats the cause.”

Laurie Garrett, an analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the technical part of setting up a biosurveillance network could be completed in five to 10 years. Policies and procedures were the roadblocks. “I don’t believe we have the capacity or the will to implement” it, she said. U.S. political gridlock would prevent the idea from moving forward, she predicted.

Jason Pargas, special assistant to the DTRA director, sounded an optimistic tone. It could all come to fruition in five to 10 years. Prediction models, applied math and advanced computing would make it so.

The reporting that emerged from this conference ended up in the article, “Top Five Threats to National Security in the Coming Decade.” We ranked “Bio-Threats” as No. 1. Yikes. I don’t even want to mention what the other four were for fear of a jinx.

I would like to say that National Defense consistently reported on this issue and that we kept up a constant drumbeat for the need of a worldwide biosurveillance network, but that is not the case. Public health really isn’t in our wheelhouse.

However, two years later in 2015, we did an update online, which was reported from an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association homeland security conference.

No progress had been made on a biosurveillance network, Jeff Runge, former chief medical officer at DHS, said at the conference. That year saw a deadly strain of the flu that killed many children and an Ebola outbreak.

“The rate and scope and spread of the illnesses were not detected before severe consequences occurred,” he said. “These are cautionary tales underscoring the need for better biological intelligence.”

Navy Cmdr. Janka Jones, then the director of medical programs in the office of the assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense, said, “We’ve got a lot of capability. We don’t have a lot of money to build new capability.”

Transparency, openness and data sharing would be key, she said. Jones helped the Obama administration in 2012 put together the first-ever national strategy on biosurveillance. It was released in July, shortly before the NDIA Biosurveillance Conference. It included a technology roadmap on how to build the information-sharing network.

“Biosurveillance — including early detection — is one of our first lines of defense against these threats,” President Barack Obama wrote in the introduction to the strategy.

National Defense took its eye off the ball when it comes to biosurveillance — but so did a lot of people, apparently. That won’t be the case in the future.

Granted, there are policy, procedure and diplomatic hurdles to overcome, but how much funding would it have cost to set up an initial biosurveillance network — $100 million, $200 million? Seems like a paltry investment when more than $1 trillion is being spent on an economic bailout, lives have been lost and entire industries brought to their knees.”

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2020/4/21/the-heavy-cost-of-ignoring-biosurveillance

COVID – 19 Adversarial Capital Threat to Defense Industry Small Business

Standard
Image: Investors Business Daily

FCW

“Adversarial capital” is the latest buzz phrase used to describe the security problem that can occur when foreign rivals, especially China, take advantage of the relatively open U.S. investment marketplace.

“We simply cannot afford this period of economic uncertainty to lead to loss of American know-how on critical technologies,” – Jennifer Santos, DOD’s deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy.”

______________________________________________________________________________

“The Defense Department is hoping steadily engaging small businesses will help shield them from shady foreign investments during the global COVID-19 crisis.

[At risk are] nascent technology firms whose work may have security applications but don’t yet fall under the aegis of the cross-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

“We simply cannot afford this period of economic uncertainty to lead to loss of American know-how on critical technologies,” Santos said during an April 28 webinar on coronavirus supply chain challenges hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Additionally, DOD has been hosting teleconferences multiple times per week with industry trade associations and continued to host virtual Trusted Capital Marketplace events to help ensure companies have access to “clean capital” and avoid foreign investment conflicts.

Ellen Lord, DOD’s acquisition chief, warned in March that the defense industry base, their technology, and intellectual property were vulnerable to “nefarious” foreign investors.

As the coronavirus pandemic worsened, DOD has struggled with multiple plant closures — 93 out of 10,509 prime companies with 141 that closed and reopened and 427 out of 11,413 vendors, with 237 that have closed and reopened. Those closures have significantly affected aviation, shipbuilding and small space launch supply chains.

Santos said several companies in Mexico have “impacted our major primes” and DOD is working to identify those companies and work with the Mexican government supporting various technologies, including airframe production.

But foreign investment remains one of the more pressing priorities in defense acquisition, Santos said, adding that suspicious transactions in vulnerable areas are mitigated or blocked if a risk is found regardless of the pandemic.

That is an acute problem for small manufacturers, Lord said.

“Typically the most problematic areas we have now are some of the smaller manufacturers who, maybe from a dollar value, don’t do huge numbers but they are providing critical components across aircraft and naval applications. That’s where my biggest concern is; sort of the weakest link in the system,” Lord told reporters April 30.

The acquisition chief also worried some smaller companies “might end up with some significant financial fragility” and is looking across interagency and in the Trusted Capital Marketplace, a partnership that links private investors with defense companies, to keep those with “critical technology, talent, and facilities together with those investors.”

Lord’s concern extends overseas, as well, particularly in Europe, regarding what Lord called “nefarious” mergers and acquisition, where shell companies have known U.S. adversaries as beneficial owners. To protect against that, the Pentagon wants stronger foreign legislation from Congress to make the CFIUS process more stringent, Lord said.

In addition to pursuing stronger legislation, DOD has bolstered and expanded national security investment reviews, which can take 45 days and are reviewed by the Director of National Intelligence, and increased engagement with businesses using the newly stood up industrial base council.

Santos said the council helps address the industry base’s existing gaps and risks by aligning their priorities with DOD’s, identifying authorities that can be used to solve any issues, and drawing up policy as needed.

“We need to protect our industrial base from what could be adversarial capital and during COVID, we maintain the same due diligence,” Santos said, “It’s what keeps me up at night most nights.”

https://fcw.com/articles/2020/05/04/dod-adversarial-capital-williams.aspx?oly_enc_id=

Citizen-Soldiers Vs. Soldier-Citizens

Standard
Image Courtesy “Spike.com”

“THE PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT (POGO)”

The divide between America’s soldier-citizens and the society they serve has a significant impact on policy decisions and military budgets.

Exploring the differences between the citizen-soldier and the soldier-citizen in “Killing for the Republic” with  Dr. Steele Brand.”

__________________________________________________________________________

“The veneration of service members in the United States today manifests benignly in the refrain, “Thank you for your service,” and the much appreciated discounts at the local home improvement center, but this reverence can also have less benign effects. The number of retired flag officers serving in high government positions, sitting on the boards of defense contractors, and appearing as talking heads on television shapes policy, which in turn drives Pentagon budgets.

Dr. Steele Brand, a professor of history at The King’s College in New York City, explored the differences between the citizen-soldier and the soldier-citizen in his recent book, “Killing for the Republic.Republican Rome produced highly adaptive armies with farmers who would moonlight as effective soldiers during the campaigning season and then return to their families and plows—a practice that helped to remove the barriers between the military and the society it served, according to Brand. He says Rome’s part-time soldiers faced an uphill battle against enemy professionals, but that their ability to adapt meant they usually prevailed in the end. In this interview, Dr. Brand explains the differences between the Roman and American models of training soldiers and how those differences contribute to the civilian-military divide.”

https://www.pogo.org/podcast/citizen-soldiers-versus-soldier-citizens-with-dr-steele-brand/

“Tracing”Challenges Using Tech To Combat COVID-19

Standard
Image: “FCW

FCW” By Steve Kelman

This refers to gathering information about those with whom newly infected people have been in touch, in order to notify them that they might have been infected.  The most-interesting example of this is a recently developed Singapore app called TraceTogether.

It is impossible to mention systems such as these without some raising concerns about privacy. These efforts are still in the earliest stages — but we should be tracking how combating coronavirus has entered the digital age.

______________________________________________________________________________

“Recently there has been attention to the importance of what is called “contact tracing” for fighting the coronavirus.

This has come up in the discussions of “reopening the country” after recent lockdowns, with the argument that slowing disease spread depends heavily on being able to do this, though it did not appear in the president’s re-opening plan.

But contact tracing has historically been a resource-intensive and very imperfect process. Officials have had to go to newly infected people and interview them about whom they have been in contact with over the previous two weeks. Memories of course are often imperfect. People may not even know everyone with whom they interacted. And the interviewing itself takes significant time and manpower.

In just-published guidance of contact tracing, the Centers for Disease Control has stated that “contact tracing in the U.S. will require that states, tribes, localities and territorial establish large cadres of contact tracers.” Reaching people to interview about contacts can be slow, and contacting those contacts delays things further. Meanwhile, there is a limited window between infection and illness to catch contacts with problems, so speed is important.

However, since the Ebola outbreak in 2014, mobile telephone technology and especially smartphone penetration have dramatically improved. We are now seeing, mostly in Asia, the use of tech to provide quicker, more accurate, and more economical contact tracing in response to the coronavirus pandemic. I blogged a number of years ago on the theme of areas where Asia was overtaking the U.S. in tech apps, which I illustrated with the widespread use in China of mobile payment apps using smartphones and QR codes. We are now seeing Asian superiority with digital coronavirus apps in Asia as well.

This was the theme of a recent piece in the Daily Alert, a publication of the Harvard Business Review that publishes short management-related articles, called How digital contact tracing slowed covid-19 in East Asia, by MIT Sloan School professor Yasheng Huang and grad students Meicen Sun and Yuze Sui.

I think the most-interesting example of this is a recently developed Singapore app called TraceTogether. For those choosing the use the app, Bluetooth tracks smartphones that have also installed the app. The app then tracks when a user is in close proximity with these other persons, including timestamps. If an individual using the app becomes positive to Covid-19 they can choose to allow the Singapore Ministry of Health to access the tracking data — which can then be used to identify and then contact any recent close contacts based on the proximity and duration of an encounter. This is tech-enabled quick and accurate contact tracing. Apple and Google recently announced ago that they are developing a similar Bluetooth-based app, but rolling it out is apparently still a few months away.

Other Asian countries have used tech in other ways to help fight the virus. Taiwan has created a “digital fence,” whereby anyone required to undergo home quarantine has their location monitored via cellular signals from their phones. Venturing too far from home triggers an alert system, and calls and messages are sent to ascertain the person’s whereabouts. South Korea has an app called Corona100, which alerts users of the presence of any diagnosed Covid-19 patient within a 100-meter radius, along with the patient’s diagnosis date, nationality, age, gender, and prior locations. (A map version of the app called Corona Map similarly plots locations of diagnosed patients to help those who want to avoid these areas.)

Preview(opens in a new tab)

It is impossible to mention systems such as these without some raising concerns about privacy. The Singapore SmartTracker will save data for only 21 days, and the names of the ill and their contacts will not be shared with others. Wired ran an article on privacy risks of the Google/Apple system and concluded purported risks were quite small.

A bigger question is whether the government should be allowed under any circumstances to require people to sign onto a new contact-tracing app. Observers worry that without very widespread adoption, the benefits of such apps will dramatically decline. One can make an argument, which underlines the general case for disease quarantines, that if people do not quarantine themselves and then become sick, the costs fall not just on themselves but on others they might infect. However, even Singapore, a country without the robust culture of privacy we have in the U.S., has not been willing to require people to install SmartTracker, and only about 20% have done so.

In other words, these efforts are still in the earliest stages — but we should be tracking how combating coronavirus has entered the digital age.”

Surveillance In A Pandemic: Preserving Civil Liberties

Standard
Image: POGO

THE PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT

Surveillance is unlikely to provide much value in the United States until testing dramatically improves. Cell phone tracking faces significant technical hurdles. Surveillance programs must have guardrails. There are lessons we can learn from other countries that are enacting a variety of surveillance measures. 

______________________________________________________________________________

“In this virtual briefing, we examine surveillance measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion looks at the obstacles to effective contact tracing systems, and what principles should guide the government if it does choose to enact public health surveillance measures as part of its pandemic response. 

Some key takeaways include:

  • Surveillance is unlikely to provide much value in the United States until testing dramatically improves: Without a quick and robust testing system it will be impossible to create an effective contact tracing system, even with intensive surveillance measures.
  • Cell phone tracking faces significant technical hurdles: Measures currently being considered, such as the Apple and Google Bluetooth project, have a limited ability to accurately identify the types of contacts that pose a high risk of infection, which could lead to an ineffective system that generates false alarms and loses the public’s trust.
  • Surveillance programs must have guardrails: There are numerous limits that could be placed on any surveillance measures to protect civil liberties and prevent mission creep, such as prohibiting use other than for public health purposes and creating a timeline for deleting data.
  • There are lessons we can learn from other countries that are enacting a variety of surveillance measures. Some of those programs may be effective, but others appear more designed to facilitate draconian enforcement and support repressive regimes.”

Technology Alliances And Our Post-Pandemic Future

Standard
Image: “Democomp.com

C4ISRNET

No one country can expect to achieve its full potential by going it alone, not even the United States.

An alliance framework for technology policy is the best way to ensure that the world’s democracies can effectively compete economically, politically, and militarily in the 21st century.

________________________________________________________________________

“There’s no question the post-corona world will be very different. How it will look depends on actions the world’s leaders take. Decisions made in coming months will determine whether we see a renewed commitment to a rules-based international order, or a fragmented world increasingly dominated by authoritarianism. Whomever steps up to lead will drive the outcome.

China seeks the mantle of global leadership. Beijing is exploiting the global leadership vacuum, the fissures between the United States and its allies, and the growing strain on European unity. The Chinese Communist Party has aggressively pushed a narrative of acting swiftly and decisively to contain the virus, building goodwill through ‘mask diplomacy’, and sowing doubts about the virus’ origin to deflect blame for the magnitude of the crisis and to rewrite history. Even though the results so far are mixed, the absence of the United States on the global stage provides Beijing with good momentum.

Before the pandemic, the world’s democracies already faced their gravest challenge in decades: the shift of economic power to illiberal states. By late 2019, autocratic regimes accounted for a larger share of global GDP than democracies for the first time since 1900. As former U.K. foreign secretary David Miliband recently observed, “liberal democracy is in retreat.” How the United States and like-minded partners respond post-pandemic will determine if that trend holds.

There is urgency to act — the problem is now even more acute. The countries that figure out how to quickly restart and rebuild their economies post-pandemic will set the course for the 21st century. It is not only economic heft that is of concern: political power and military might go hand in hand with economic dominance.

At the center of this geostrategic and economic competition are technologies — artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, and 5G — that will be the backbone of the 21st century economy. Leadership and ongoing innovation in these areas will confer critical economic, political, and military power, and the opportunity to shape global norms and values. The pre-crisis trajectory of waning clout in technology development, standards-setting, and proliferation posed an unacceptable and avoidable challenge to the interests of the world’s leading liberal-democratic states.

The current crisis accentuates this even more: it lays bare the need to rethink and restructure global supply chains; the imperative of ensuring telecommunication networks are secure, robust, and resilient; the ability to surge production of critical materiel, and the need to deter and counteract destructive disinformation. This is difficult and costly — and it is best done in concert.

Bold action is needed to set a new course that enhances the ability of the world’s democracies to out-compete increasingly capable illiberal states. The growing clout of authoritarian regimes is not rooted in better strategy or more effective statecraft. Rather, it lies in the fractious and complacent nature of the world’s democracies and leading technology powers.

In response, a new multilateral effort — an alliance framework — is needed to reverse these trends. The world’s technology and democracy leaders — the G7 members and countries like Australia, the Netherlands, and South Korea — should join forces to tackle matters of technology policy. The purpose of this initiative is three-fold: one, regain the initiative in the global technology competition through strengthened cooperation between like-minded countries; two, protect and preserve key areas of competitive technological advantage; and three, promote collective norms and values around the use of emerging technologies.

Such cooperation is vital to effectively deal with the hardest geopolitical issues that increasingly center on technology, from competing economically to building deterrence to combating disinformation. This group should not be an exclusive club: it should also work with countries like Finland and Sweden to align policies on telecommunications; Estonia, Israel, and New Zealand for cyber issues; and states around the world to craft efforts to counter the proliferation of Chinese surveillance technology and offer sound alternatives to infrastructure development, raw material extraction, and loans from China that erode their sovereignty.

The spectrum of scale and ambition this alliance can tackle is broad. Better information sharing would yield benefits on matters like investment screening, counterespionage, and fighting disinformation. Investments in new semiconductor fabs could create more secure and diverse supply chains. A concerted effort to promote open architecture in 5G could usher in a paradigm shift for an entire industry. Collaboration will also be essential to avoiding another pandemic calamity.

Similar ideas are percolating among current and former government leaders in capitals such as Tokyo, Berlin, London, and Washington, with thought leaders like Jared Cohen and Anja Manuel, and in think tanks around the world. The task at hand is to collate these ideas, find the common ground, and devise an executable plan. This requires tackling issues like organizational structure, governance, and institutionalization. It also requires making sure that stakeholders from government, industry, and civil society from around the world provide input to make the alliance framework realistic and successful.

No one country can expect to achieve its full potential by going it alone, not even the United States. An alliance framework for technology policy is the best way to ensure that the world’s democracies can effectively compete economically, politically, and militarily in the 21st century. The links between the world’s leading democracies remain strong despite the challenges of the current crisis. These relationships are an enduring and critical advantage that no autocratic country can match. It is time to capitalize on these strengths, retake the initiative, and shape the post-corona world.”

https://www.c4isrnet.com/opinion/2020/04/14/technology-alliances-will-help-shape-our-post-pandemic-future/