Small Wars Journal

07/06/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

Tue, 07/06/2021 - 3:22pm

News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs


1. Does the Pentagon Take China Seriously?

2. A professionalized military sexual assault and response program could be on the way

3. Explainer: When is the US war in Afghanistan really over?

4. Opinion | China Won’t Bury Us, Either

5. 2021 World Press Freedom Index | Reporters Without Borders

6. When Will China Rule the World? Maybe Never

7. Don't let dictators grandstand with world leaders in Tokyo. Reclaim Olympics values.

8. Special Operations News Update - Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | SOF News

9. UK May Keep Special Forces in Afghanistan: Media

10. Can Taiwan Provide the Alternative to Digital Authoritarianism?

11. Imposing Costs: Unconventional Warfare in the Information Environment

12. Want to Understand Asian Geopolitics? Go Back to Genghis Khan

13. New Tools to Create Time and Information: “Building the Bike While We Ride It”

14. Spies Like Us- The Promise and Peril of Crowdsourced Intelligence

15. Closing the Davidson Window

16. Here's how we can save Afghanistan from ruin even as we withdraw American troops

17. Counterintelligence is as American as Apple Pie

18. Japan deputy PM says need to defend Taiwan with U.S. if invaded--media


1. Does the Pentagon Take China Seriously?

WSJ · by Elaine Luria

Is a budget number the only indicator?  And is that the right indicator to assess the seriousness of the Pentagon toward China? And doesn't the Pentagon have to live within the budget guidance of the White House?  

I am also sure that if Congress thinks more money is required for dealing with China the Pentagon will put it to good use.  Congresswoman Luria can lead the effort to increase the budget.


2. A professionalized military sexual assault and response program could be on the way · by Meghann Myers · July 2, 2021

Kind of an awkward title which seems to emphasize "professionalized military sexual assault."  Not sure why the headline editor added the "and."

Excerpts: “Austin on Friday issued a memo to the department with a first wave of implementation instructions, including his sentiments that he believes the report’s recommendations should be implemented wherever possible.

“Our courage has to match in addressing this issue the courage and tenacity that survivors show every day when they work to rebuild their lives,” Rosenthal said. “That’s what this is all about.”


3. Explainer: When is the US war in Afghanistan really over? · by Robert Burns, Lolita Baldor · July 2, 2021

Excerpts: “The U.S. troop withdrawal doesn’t mean the end of the war on terrorism. The U.S. has made it clear that it retains the authority to conduct strikes against al-Qaida or other terrorist groups in Afghanistan if they threaten the U.S. homeland.

Because the U.S. has pulled its fighter and surveillance aircraft out of the country, it must now rely on manned and unmanned flights from ships at sea and air bases in the Gulf region, such as al-Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates. The Pentagon is looking for basing alternatives for surveillance aircraft and other assets in countries closer to Afghanistan. As yet, no agreements have been reached.


4. Opinion | China Won’t Bury Us, Either

The New York Times · by Bret Stephens · July 5, 2021

Excerpts: “How Beijing’s own apparatus of lies will eventually bring the system down is impossible to predict. But there’s little question that it profoundly enfeebles the system as a whole. Truth, in the form of accurate information, is essential to good decision-making. Truth, in the form of political honesty, is essential to generating the social trust that is the basis of healthy societies. China’s regime lacks both.

The free world has its own huge problems with misinformation and dishonest politics. Yet we still have a sufficiently competitive marketplace of ideas that the truth soon finds its way in. And we still have sufficient regard for political honesty that we eventually threw the bum out. As for vaccines, we developed the most effective ones because we shared information openly, collaborated freely, competed fairly, tested honestly.

Xi Jinping may think that, one day, a disciplined and directed Chinese system will bury an aimless, unserious free world. Nikita Khrushchev once had a similar thought. Something to remember in this time of Western self-doubt.


5. 2021 World Press Freedom Index | Reporters Without Borders

The entire ranking is at this link (look to the right sidebar): 

north Korea is only the penultimate despotic regime that restricts press freedom.  Eritrea is dead last.

What I find really interesting is that South Korea is number 42 and the United States is number 44.


6. When Will China Rule the World? Maybe Never · by Eric Zhu and Tom Orlik

Some interesting data and analysis.  As a pundit once remarked (though in a different context: 'it's the economy, stupid."


7. Don't let dictators grandstand with world leaders in Tokyo. Reclaim Olympics values.

USA Today

From my fellow board member and the chairman of the board of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Katrina Lantos Swett.

Don't let dictators grandstand with world leaders in Tokyo. Reclaim Olympics values.


8. Special Operations News Update - Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | SOF News · by SOF News · July 6, 2021

9. UK May Keep Special Forces in Afghanistan: Media


10. Can Taiwan Provide the Alternative to Digital Authoritarianism? · by Melissa Newcomb · July 5, 2021

I hope so.

Conclusion: “This all begs the question: Can we call Taiwan a digital democracy yet? “People are aware of Audrey Tang and what she does, but most people don’t know what digital democracy is,” said Ttcat.

“Taiwan’s government would say yes, but personally we still have a lot to work on. It is from a grassroots level,” said Lim. Likewise, Hioe cautioned that “digital democracy [could put] a veneer of new paint on bureaucratic processes which are still slow to change or [hide] that while some elements of government modernize and are brought into the digital age, other elements lag behind.” Creating new apps to provide discreet services is not the same as comprehensive modernization.

The digitization of Taiwan’s democracy may not be complete, but the efforts of its government and civil society point to a viable alternative to digital authoritarianism. The digital tools and policies to reform its government can be applied in other democracies.

“For China, maybe only one thing is certain, that the propaganda narrative they ran for years— that democracy is not for Asia— is no longer appealing under Taiwan’s progress,” said Ttcat.


11. Imposing Costs: Unconventional Warfare in the Information Environment · by Otto C. Fiala · July 6, 2021

An excellent article that should stimulate some discussion. We need to write a China companion article.

I would go back to the 2016 NDAA and Sec 1097 and counter UW.  Congress redefined UW to not require a guerrilla force (Congress chained the wording from "and" guerrilla force to "or" guerrilla force but DOD and the Joint Staff do not recognize this.  Also the underground and auxiliary are not required for UW but the when UW is conducted the functions of an underground or auxiliary will be performed.  It is the functions and not the organizations that are important.  But this requires knowledge of UW deeper than the DOD definition.

Excerpt:The annex also reaffirms irregular warfare–specific missions, like UW. Even though UW—as currently defined—requires underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla forces, a key UW objective is disruption, and we argue that disruption is the objective of Russian OIE. Additionally, in today’s interconnected world—where human perception is easily influenced—Russia’s use of witting and unwitting proxies (instead of underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla forces) to conduct its OIE achieves a similar effect. Indeed, disruption per UW is what Russian OIE accomplished during the 2020 US elections.

The authors make the very mistake of too narrowly defining UW.

2016 NDAA


(a) Strategy Required.—The Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the heads of other appropriate departments and agencies of the United States Government, develop a strategy for the Department of Defense to counter unconventional warfare threats posed by adversarial state and non-state actors.

(b) Elements.—The strategy required under subsection (a) shall include each of the following:

(1) An articulation of the activities that constitute unconventional warfare threats to the United States and allies.

(2) A clarification of the roles and responsibilities of the Department of Defense in providing indications and warning of, and protection against, acts of unconventional warfare.

(3) An analysis of the adequacy of current authorities and command structures necessary for countering unconventional warfare.

(4) An articulation of the goals and objectives of the Department of Defense with respect to countering unconventional warfare threats.

(5) An articulation of related or required interagency capabilities and whole-of-Government activities required by the Department of Defense to support a counter-unconventional warfare strategy.

(6) Recommendations for improving the counter-unconventional warfare capabilities, authorities, and command structures of the Department of Defense.

(7) Recommendations for improving interagency coordination and support mechanisms with respect to countering unconventional warfare threats.

(8) Recommendations for the establishment of joint doctrine to support counter-unconventional warfare capabilities within the Department of Defense.

(9) Any other matters the Secretary of Defense considers appropriate.

(c) Submittal To Congress.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees the strategy required by subsection (a). The strategy shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex. 

(d) Unconventional Warfare Defined.—In this section, the term “unconventional warfare” means activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, or guerrilla force in a denied area.

In addition, our Congressmen have been very forward leaning (or in this case Former Congressman)

•In a 2016 interview with CQ Roll Call, new House Armed Services Chairman MacThornberry, R-Texas, said he planned to focus the committee on unconventional warfare by the likes of China, Russia and others.

•As part of a larger talk on his agenda and philosophy, Thornberry said he would hold hearings on that subject.

“Another difficult topic I think we need to explore is, what are Russia, China, others doing in the way of unconventional warfare?” Thornberry said Tuesday. “Not troops in uniforms marching in formation across borders, but the subversion and other sorts of influence attempts.”

12. Want to Understand Asian Geopolitics? Go Back to Genghis Khan

The National Interest · by Steven M. Johnson · July 5, 2021

It is always important to study history.  We can always learn from it.

Here is what I recall most from Mongol history:“When the hour of crisis comes, remember that 40 selected men can shake the world” Yasotay (Mongol Warlord)


13. New Tools to Create Time and Information: “Building the Bike While We Ride It” · by Glen D. VanHerck · July 6, 2021

From a combatant commander:These cross-combatant command initiatives to create information dominance are critical to address conventional military threats to North America. Through the series of experiments, we are taking an approach focused on producing the elements most important to any decision maker: time and options. By integrating more information from a global network of sensors and sources, using the power of AI and machine-learning techniques to identify the important trends within the data, and making both current and predictive information available to commanders, NORAD and USNORTHCOM are creating time to make decisions and delivering the opportunity for senior leaders to choose better options.

The way the challenge is being solved is also important. Software-based solutions are allowing rapid and iterative development at a more affordable cost. Finally, the series of experiments, by actively including participation from every combatant command, is promoting adoption of the global perspective needed to compete in today’s strategic environment. The next experiment in the series, which will occur in July 2021, will build upon the framework and success of the two previous experiments with an even more complex strategic competition scenario using real-world live data. The experiment will also showcase how the software tools designed for cross-combatant command collaboration, assessment, and decision-making can be used to enable global logistics coordination in addition to intelligence sharing and operations planning.

The next step is to transfer the leadership for these efforts to an appropriate entity within the Department of Defense that will move beyond the combatant commanders and those that see the need, to one that can more effectively orchestrate and direct change across the entirety of the defense enterprise. With these efforts, the Department of Defense will close the gap between nuclear and conventional deterrence options and reduce the risk of strategic deterrence failure. The future credibility of the America’s deterrent hinges on whether or not this promising start can be turned into an enduring reality.


14. Spies Like Us: The Promise and Peril of Crowdsourced Intelligence

Foreign Affairs · by Amy Zegart · July 5, 2021

As you can probably tell I am a great believer in open source information.   But I think there is more promise than peril though Dr. Zegert provides us with wise counsel.

Excerpts:Maximizing the benefits and mitigating the risks of this open-source world requires action on three fronts. First, governments and nongovernmental actors need to develop closer partnerships to make it easier to collaborate and share open-source intelligence. Meanwhile, governments need to create intelligence agencies dedicated to open-source collection and analysis, which remains a peripheral activity in most intelligence bureaucracies. In the United States, the CIA, the National Security Agency, and other intelligence agencies have promising open-source initiatives underway. But these will not be enough: a new open-source intelligence agency is needed. Secret agencies will always favor secrets. Just as the U.S. Air Force was hobbled until it split from the army, open-source intelligence will remain underfunded, underpowered, and underutilized as long as it sits inside agencies whose missions, cultures, and capabilities are all designed for a classified world.

Finally, nongovernmental open-source groups such as Bellingcat have work to do. The ecosystem as a whole needs to codify and institutionalize best practices, create shared ethical norms, establish quality standards, and improve collection and analysis skills to reduce the risk of errors and other bad outcomes. Here, too, efforts are underway. Bellingcat is running training programs, and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security, a nonprofit, is convening international workshops with leaders in open-source intelligence to examine ethical challenges and develop recommendations for addressing them.

Today, open-source intelligence is dominated by Americans and the United States’ Western democratic allies. Many of the leading organizations are filled with experts who are driven by a sense of responsibility, who have exacting quality standards, and who work closely with government officials and international bodies. But the future is likely to bring more players from more countries with less expertise, less sense of responsibility, and less connectivity to U.S. and allied intelligence officials and policymakers. China already operates commercial satellites, and the internationalization of the commercial satellite business is expected to grow significantly in the next several years. The open-source world will soon be more crowded and less benign. Now is the time to prepare.


15. Closing the Davidson Window · by Jerry Hendrix

Conclusion: The solution is rather straightforward and has already been discussed elsewhere. In late 2018 the bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission recommended a steady three to five percent increase in defense spending year over year for the foreseeable future to maximize the nation's ability to invest in new research and development while simultaneously adding ships and aircraft to the current force. From the perspective of growing the Navy in the near term to deter Chinese aggression, such funding would allow the sea service to add new ships while also extending the lives and modernizing older ships currently within its inventory. Such investments will enable the Navy to grow quickly even as it modernizes. Admiral Davidson did the nation a great service by being frank with his assessment of the Chinese threat timeline. We should heed his warning and grow both the defense budget and our Navy to meet China’s immediate and long-term challenges.


16. Here's how we can save Afghanistan from ruin even as we withdraw American troops

USA Today · by Michael O’Hanlon

Here's how we can save Afghanistan from ruin even as we withdraw American troops


17. Counterintelligence is as American as Apple Pie · by John Schindler

Conclusion: Counterintelligence is as American as apple pie, indeed Patriots would have never prevailed against the British Empire had they not taken the business of rooting out enemy spies seriously. Vigilance about getting counterintelligence right by the Founding Fathers predated the birth of the United States itself and ensured that the Revolution prevailed. American patriots today should keep that in mind when they critique our Intelligence Community.


18. Japan deputy PM says need to defend Taiwan with U.S. if invaded--media

Asahi  · July 6, 2021




“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” 

- George Orwell


“In every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle, which we call Love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression, and pants for Deliverance.”

- Phillis Wheatley


“The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection … The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.” 

- John Stuart Mill

Categories: News