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04/02/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

04/02/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

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

1. Japan’s Suga to Be the First Foreign Leader to Meet With Biden

2. US touts ambassador’s historic visit to Taiwan, despite China’s ‘red line’ threat

3. Closer Taiwan-US ties are stabilising the region, not the opposite

4. Former US military adviser’s tweets help injured Afghan pilot get surgery

5. U.S. defense officials reassure Ukraine of support amid tension with Russia

6. Opinion | What if the former CDC director is right about the Wuhan labs?

7. Historic Marine Plan to Reinvent The Corps EXCLUSIVE

8. The United Kingdom Doubles Down on Covert Operations

9. FDD | A Diplomat’s Trip to Taiwan Draws the Ire of the CCP

10. The three Rs: A case officer perspective on future CIA-special operations forces relations

11. One of Army’s first female Rangers speaks during Founders Day dinner

12. A Future Chinese Indian Ocean Fleet?

13. Violent Extremism in America: Firsthand Accounts

14. Analysis: How Russian hackers were able to access DHS secretary’s email

15. What Is DevSecOps, Anyway?

16. Let’s Get Real About US Military ‘Dominance’

17. America Is Four Years Away From Being Outmatched By China


1. Japan’s Suga to Be the First Foreign Leader to Meet With Biden

Bloomberg · by Isabel Reynolds · April 2, 2021

Excerpts: “Suga, a diplomatic novice, has come under pressure, including from lawmakers in his own party, to join other major democracies in imposing sanctions on China over human rights abuses against the Uyghur ethnic group in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang.

The U.S., Canada, the European Union and the U.K. have all imposed such economic penalties, spurring calls for Japan to follow suit, particularly with the Group of Seven summit in the U.K. coming up in June. While Japan has expressed concern about the situation in Xinjiang, it lacks a legal framework to impose sanctions.”


2. US touts ambassador’s historic visit to Taiwan, despite China’s ‘red line’ threat

Washington Examiner · by Joel Gehrke · April 1, 2021

Excerpts: “Such meetings are likely to continue and involve other governments when possible, to judge from other statements this week by U.S. officials.

“We're also working to enlarge Taiwan's ability to interact with the international community in a way that reflects Taiwan's potential contributions,” U.S. Charge d'Affaires Mike Goldman, the top American diplomat in Australia pending the absence of a Senate-confirmed ambassador, said in a newly released Australian National University National Security College podcast.

Those efforts have intensified during the pandemic, particularly following China’s successful insistence that Taiwan remain barred from participating in World Health Assembly discussions of the emerging public health crisis — an “appalling” exclusion, Goldman said.

“We're also committed to supporting Taiwan's ability to have its legitimate voice heard in international fora,” the diplomat said.


3. Closer Taiwan-US ties are stabilising the region, not the opposite · by Natasha Kassam

Excerpts: “China’s calculation about Taiwan’s future will shift as the confidence of the PLA grows. This situation is made more dangerous by what appears to be a looming gap in perception, as China sees itself as becoming more powerful while the US is in terminal decline.

In this context, it would be possible for US support to cross an invisible line in Beijing’s eyes. Some have called for the US to change its approach to Taiwan from “strategic ambiguity”, where it remains unknown whether the US would defend Taiwan if attacked, to “strategic clarity”, where the US makes explicit it would respond to any use of force against Taiwan. This change risks undermining decades of successful deterrence, and carries a high risk of escalation, where China’s leaders would no longer see time as on their side.”


4. Former US military adviser’s tweets help injured Afghan pilot get surgery

Stars and Stripes · by JP Lawreence and Zubair Babakarkhail · April 1, 2021

The power of twitter and a committed military advisor.

Excerpts (and advice for all professionals committed to the mission): “Taking care of your people is the primary duty of any military officer, and regardless of whether I am with him or not, if I had the capability to do something, I was going to,” he said.


5. U.S. defense officials reassure Ukraine of support amid tension with Russia · by Christen McCurdy · April 1, 2021


6. Opinion | What if the former CDC director is right about the Wuhan labs?

The Washington Post · by Josh Rogin · April 1, 2021

"unpleasant facts."

Conclusion: “If Redfield is right, that would mean China bears some accountability for the outbreak, which will greatly complicate already tense relations. If Redfield is right, that would also mean the U.S. government had a big role in supporting the research that resulted in the pandemic outbreak. If Redfield is right, the current response plan could greatly increase, not reduce, the risk of another pandemic.

These are all very unpleasant facts. But facts are stubborn things. And we have no choice but to pursue all possible theories and accept whatever truth the facts lead to. This must be done in a nonpolitical way, to show Beijing and the world that we still have the ability to place public health and truth above the narratives to which we have become beholden.


7. Historic Marine Plan to Reinvent The Corps EXCLUSIVE · by Paul McLeary

Excerpts: “Changes of the scale that Berger is proposing won’t come without a fight however.

Over the past two years, the commandant has outlined by far the most sweeping changes to the size and composition of his force of any of the Joint Chiefs, and will have to make that case again this spring to Congress when the 2022 budget is released. Recently, Berger sent a memo to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin advising him he will not request any more money in the 2022 budget.

To pay for these new drones, ships, and missiles, Berger has said he plans to divest of the Corps’ inventory of Abrams tanks and shed 12,000 Marines, along with towed artillery, aircraft and helicopters. He has also pledged to reduce the number of F-35s in squadrons while questioning the role the aircraft will play in his plans going forward. Those ideas will now run into the desires of members of Congress with jobs, and prestige at home, on the line.


8. The United Kingdom Doubles Down on Covert Operations · by Rory Cormac · April 2, 2021

Conclusion:  Perhaps these answers lie in more detailed documents that remain classified; perhaps not. But if covert operations are to succeed, policymakers need to think carefully about three things: First, what do they actually want covert operations to achieve? What does success look like? Clear and concrete objectives are essential, as is a recognition that disruption alone does not solve problems. Covert operations need to be integrated into broader policy. Second, policymakers need to balance this integration and interdepartmental coordination with the need for a quick and flexible response—a challenge that has proved difficult in the past. Third, parliament’s oversight bodies need to play a greater role in monitoring special operations activity, especially the use of partners and proxies. While pragmatism is essential in international relations and irregular warfare more specifically, picking the wrong proxies can be disastrous. The reviews are a good start to many of these issues. But the devil will be in the details.


9. FDD | A Diplomat’s Trip to Taiwan Draws the Ire of the CCP · by Thomas Joscelyn · April 1, 2021

Excerpts:Other diplomatic moves may be in the works as well. On March 25, the House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced a bipartisan bill led by Republican Rep. Young Kim and Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman, both of California, urging the State Department to restore Taiwan’s observer status at the World Health Organization. Taiwan had such status until 2017, when Beijing forced it out of the WHO. During a press briefing the day after the bill was introduced, the CCP’s Hua blasted the bill as a “serious breach of the One China principle” and urged the U.S. “not to help the Taiwan region to expand its so-called ‘international space.’

”The U.S. and Taiwan also signed a memorandum of understanding this week that will pave the way for greater coordination between their respective coast guards. The intent is to make the porcupine a bit pricklier should Beijing seek to take it in the near future. The increased cooperation is also intended to serve as a response to the CCP’s increasingly hostile maritime actions. Naturally, Hua was not amused, telling reporters that the U.S. should “stop official exchanges and military interactions with Taiwan and be prudent on Taiwan-related issues.” Hua also urged “Taiwan not to try to add to its importance by soliciting U.S. support.”

The increasing tension is easy to see. Speaking at China’s annual National People’s Congress earlier this week, Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned the Biden administration that the CCP’s claim on Taiwan is an “insurmountable red line” that shouldn’t be crossed.

It may only be a matter of time until the CCP decides to erase the red line altogether.


10. The three Rs: A case officer perspective on future CIA-special operations forces relations

Washington Examiner · by Marc Polymeropoulos · April 1, 2021

Excerpts:I view this issue from the unique perspective of my old job as a CIA case officer in the field, where the rubber meets the road with a front-row seat to how we both collect intelligence and fight. I suggest that we look at the three Rs, relationships, resources, and Russia (and similar foes), as we assess the future CIA-SOF relationship.


True, there are challenges to overcome. This shift may take a change in mindset for SOF because there is no kinetic finish component to such operations. Truth be told, the "three F" fight had become a drug for many of us in both outfits. We relished the finality of the finish portion, as the target was neutralized and one less terrorist was alive to threaten our fellow citizens. The near-peer world is not like this at all, and SOF will need to adapt. For example, manhunting on near-peer entities is just one part of an operation. Compartmentalization, or person-to-person limitation of access to intelligence, will necessitate that SOF units may never know the fruits of their labor. If SOF obtained a pattern of life profile for a Chinese intelligence officer and then passed this targeting package to the CIA for a potential recruitment approach, it is likely that SOF will never know the results. There are no Zero Dark Thirty movies made after conducting a month of surveillance on a hostile intelligence officer.

I'm confident these three Rs can be the foundations of the future CIA-SOF relationship. We proved to be outstanding partners in the two decades following 9/11, and there is no reason why this relationship should not flourish in the post-2021 environment.”


11. One of Army’s first female Rangers speaks during Founders Day dinner · by Jorge Garcia

Good words and lessons, Ranger. One of my most vivid memories of the swamp phase at Ranger School is carrying the M60 through the swamp, the sling breaking, and the blank adapter and leaf spring coming off. The previous M60 gunner received a major minus spot report for losing the blank adapter. Fortunately we came to a halt on one of those little islands in the swamp and I was able to repair the sling (550 cord) and get the leaf strong reattached and secured and the blank adapter tightened down. Murphy was all over us at that time.


12. A Future Chinese Indian Ocean Fleet? · by Christopher Colley · April 2, 2021

Conclusion: Overall, China’s increasing ties to the Indian Ocean and beyond have expanded enormously over the past two decades, and in a future post-COVID-19 world, this will continue. Chinese analysts and government entities are increasingly calling for some form of Indian Ocean fleet/force that can protect and project China’s interests. Crucially, based on the available evidence consisting of port infrastructure projects, various statements from the government and China-based scholars/analysts, as well as new naval hardware, it appears that China does intend to develop some sort of Indian Ocean force. While China will never establish full sea control in the Indian Ocean, it will likely possess the ability to provide a credible deterrent to other states that may threaten Chinese sea lines of communication or entities. However, while China increasingly has the surface combatants to conduct meaningful power projection in the Indian Ocean and has even carried out live-fire exercises in the northern Indian Ocean, critically the PLAN lacks the requisite protection of air power. Beijing will eventually solve the hardware component of its “Indian Ocean Dilemma.” However, the political dilemma of what to do about bases and, of greater strategic importance, what to do about the growing security relationship between India and the United States, which is driven by Chinese activities, may prove to be the biggest obstacle to China’s long-term Indian Ocean ambitions.


13. Violent Extremism in America: Firsthand Accounts · by Ryan Andrew Brown, Todd C. Helmus, Rajeev Ramchand, Alina I. Palimaru, Sarah Weilant, Ashley L. Rhoades, Liisa Hiatt

The 135 page report can be downloaded here.  


14. Analysis: How Russian hackers were able to access DHS secretary’s email · by J.J. Green · March 29, 2021

Excerpts: “The problem, according to the source, is that top nation-state hackers, such as Russia and China, never reuse those IP addresses — thus, they circumvent the system designed to detect them.

The DHS spokesperson said, “As we consider lessons learned, we have identified a number of steps we must take to modernize federal cybersecurity defenses and build back better. We have shared these lessons learned with the White House and other agencies, so that they can be fully integrated into cybersecurity modernization efforts.”

The Einstein system cost approximately $5.7 billion, but according to some national security sources, it was never intended to do what some expect it do, all by itself.

It is supposed to work with components deployed by other U.S. national security agencies.

However, there are concerns that some of those agencies may not want to expose what they know about certain cyber threats because then the actors behind them might disappear, eliminating their ability to be tracked.


15.  What Is DevSecOps, Anyway? · by Gerry Morelli

Excerpts:By replacing a waterfall culture with a DevSecOps culture, the Air Force’s CVA/H DANS effort combined three independent contracts—feature development, product delivery, and sustaining fielded systems—and merged them into one unified work structure. The program, which had released just two new versions in three years of waterfall operations, released four versions in its first year as a DevSecOps effort.

All in all, this experience reminded us of a simple, but important point: just calling a program Agile doesn’t make it Agile, but when it’s done right, Agile paired with DevSecOps gets the job done in some pretty impressive ways.”


16. Let’s Get Real About US Military ‘Dominance’ · by Collin Meisel

Actually I am not sure this is really the case. I think most military planners are worst case planners and do not assume that we are superior in every case. This is why the military continues to try to pursue new capabilities and concepts because there is the belief that our adversaries will develop counters or new capabilities of their own. Despite all the rhetoric in the media, I do not think our military leadership assumes our superiority and certainly not across the board. 


17. America Is Four Years Away From Being Outmatched By China

The National Interest · by Stavros Atlamazoglou · April 2, 2021

Conclusion: “The Indo-Pacific is vitally important to the US, both in terms of the economy and national security. Currently, the region accounts for 60 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, and if current rates of economic and population growth continue, by 2031, the region will contain 2/3 of the world’s economy and population.

China might be the biggest threat to US national security but it’s also the largest opportunity. Conflict with Beijing isn’t predestined nor necessary. However, a potent US military and strong regional and global partnerships are crucial in deterring China.




When (John F.) Kennedy became president, the Special Forces numbered about 2,000 and had as their primary mission the organization of guerrilla units behind enemy lines during conventional war. BY the late 1950s, the Special Forces mission had begun to take on certain features of counterinsurgency. Kennedy accelerated this transformation, upgraded the Special Warfare Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to the Special Warfare Center under a brigadier general, authorized the wearing of the green beret, and increased Special Forces strength to about 12,000 by 1963. He also insisted that Green Berets be trained not only in counterguerrilla operations but in civic action, engineering, communication, sanitation, medicine, and a variety of other skills that would win the allegiance of the people in countries requiring Special Forces assistance. The president pushed through these measures over the objectives of many U.S. officers who found elite units distasteful and who believed any well-trained soldier could perform the unconventional tasks assigned the Green Berets.

 - Lawrence W. Yates


"History is like philosophy teaching by examples."

- Dionysius


"If every prospective writer on international affairs in the last twenty years had taken a compulsory course in elementary strategy, reams of nonsense would have remained unwritten." 

- E.H. Carr, The Twenty Year Crisis, 111.


DanielRiggs Fri, 04/02/2021 - 10:22am

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