Small Wars Journal

06/25/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 1:47pm

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

1. Iraq AUMF repeal vote delayed until mid-July

2.  U.S. to begin evacuating some Afghan nationals as they await visa approval

3. US to keep about 650 troops in Afghanistan after withdrawal

4.  DoD Quietly Calls for Shutdown of 70-Year-Old Committee on Women in the Military

5. Time to re-examine Japan’s longstanding ambiguity over Taiwan

6. AC-130 crew awarded Distinguished Flying Cross for saving 88 lives in firefight

7. FDD | New Research Shows Extent of China’s Cover-Up of COVID-19’s Origins

8. Disaster Looms in Afghanistan

9. Opinion | The U.S. can’t save Hong Kong. But it must keep the spirit of freedom alive.

10. Mark Milley, Anti-Racist

11. The Challenge of Educating the Military on Cyber Strategy

12. U.S. State Dept OKs possible sale of F-16s, missiles to Philippines

13. NSA Releases D3FEND To Improve Cyber Defenses, Info Sharing

14. A racially motivated clash in England during WWII forced the US military to grapple with inequality

15. This Army Navy Country Club charges enlisted troops $77,700 to join — double the price for retired officers

16. On Tweetership: The Pitfalls Awaiting Military Leaders on Social Media and How to Avoid Them

17. It Was the Best of COIN, It Was the Worst of COIN: A Tale of Two Surges

18. The burgeoning US-China values war

19. US Troops on Base Less Likely to Seek Extremist Content Than Americans in General, Study Finds

20. WSJ News Exclusive | App Taps Unwitting Users Abroad to Gather Open-Source Intelligence

21. Did a Chinese Spymaster Defect to the US?

22. Claim that Chinese team hid early SARS-CoV-2 sequences to stymie origin hunt sparks furor

23. Researchers believe internet memes are being used as modern-day leaflet propaganda

24. Inside the ‘shadow reality world’ promoting the lie that the presidential election was stolen

25. BRICS could be the world’s economic beacon


1. Iraq AUMF repeal vote delayed until mid-July

Defense News · by Joe Gould · June 24, 2021


2. U.S. to begin evacuating some Afghan nationals as they await visa approval · by Leo Shane III, Meghann Myers · June 24, 2021

I wonder what happens to any of these Afghan who go to a 3d country and then are denied a special immigrant visa for entry into the US?  I wonder why any third country would want to risk accepting them?  Surely they could not send them back to Afghanistan and risk certain death?  I wonder if any of the refugee statutes apply here.  If they can show that a return to their country will result in violence would these third countries have to grant these Afghans refugee status?


3. US to keep about 650 troops in Afghanistan after withdrawal · by Lolita Baldor, Robert Burns · June 24, 2021

And where will the necessary air power be based to support them?


4. DoD Quietly Calls for Shutdown of 70-Year-Old Committee on Women in the Military · by Hope Hodge Seck · June 24, 2021

The buried lede (at least to me -I did not know DOD was shutting down all these advisory boards - I also did not know there were 42 advisory boards): “The committee's hollowing out was part of a sweeping move by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to dissolve all 42 DoD advisory committees pending a cost and efficiency review. The Defense Business Board, which had been populated with those loyal to Donald Trump in the final throes of his presidency, got the most attention in this move.


5. Time to re-examine Japan’s longstanding ambiguity over Taiwan · by Ayumi Teraoka · June 24, 2021

Excerpts: “In order to encourage China to continue thinking the issue of Taiwan can only be resolved through peaceful means rather than by force, Japan and the United States are facing an urgent need to consider and quietly prepare responses to possible contingencies in Taiwan and put them forward as part of a deterrence strategy toward China.


By leaving open the possibility that the U.S. might intervene militarily, the policy of strategic ambiguity seeks to deter China from attacking Taiwan while at the same time, by leaving the possibility that the U.S. might not intervene, it tries to deter Taiwan from taking provocative actions. In this way, the U.S. has attempted to establish “dual deterrence” and prevent unilateral change to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.


Japan, a U.S. ally that is geographically located in close proximity to Taiwan, has also remained ambiguous about how to respond in case of a contingency in the Taiwan Strait.

But one should note that Japan’s ambiguity was formed and maintained in a substantially different context from that of the U.S. Japan’s ambiguous position over Taiwan’s defense is neither based on a strategy of dual deterrence against both Beijing and Taipei nor maintained deliberately as a result of open strategic discussions.


Even if Japan and the U.S. work jointly to deepen cooperation with Taiwan, China could very well wage a campaign to criticize only Japan or go further to impose economic retaliation at Japanese firms, leading to geoeconomic confrontations.

If such a case occurs, it would likely create a stir and a divide among the Japanese public, especially the business circles, and as a result, could even cause discord, frustration or, if mishandled, distrust between Tokyo and Washington.

Moreover, if Japan fails to frame and present its preparations and cooperation for Taiwan contingencies wisely, it could also give the current Chinese leadership a political excuse to take aggressive steps against Taiwan.

The government must therefore repeatedly stress that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is key to protecting its people’s lives and properties, and that it strongly opposes all attempts to unilaterally change the status quo. Its stepped-up efforts on policies regarding Taiwan should all be explained based on these principles.


6. AC-130 crew awarded Distinguished Flying Cross for saving 88 lives in firefight · by David Roza · June 24, 2021

You have to love our gunships and crews.

Excerpts: “Task & Purpose requested more details from 1st Special Operations Wing about the specifics of the operation, including the objective of the mission, the number of enemy fighters involved and the number of casualties. We will update the story as the answers become available.

“I always say gunships are a team sport; you really can’t do something like this without a great team,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher McCall, Shadow 71’s aircraft commander. The commander is also usually the pilot of the aircraft. “Shadow 71 has talent from front-to-back.”

McCall received the DFC alongside Capt. Jasen K. Hrisca, weapon systems officer; Capt. Tyler D. Larson, combat systems officer; Tech. Sgt. Jake M. Heathcott, lead special missions aviator; and Staff Sgt. Kyle W. Burden, sensor operator.

The recipients of the Air Medal were Maj. Brian D. Courchesne, co-pilot; and three special missions aviators: Staff Sgt. Alex Almarlaes, Senior Airman Brianna S. Striplin and Senior Airman Thomas I. Fay.

“To the entire crew of Shadow 71: Thank you for who you are; thank you for being our examples; thank you for your service to the nation; thank you for your dedication to our mission,” said Lt. Gen. James C. Slife, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command, during the award ceremony on Tuesday.


7. FDD | New Research Shows Extent of China’s Cover-Up of COVID-19’s Origins · by Anthony Ruggiero · June 24, 2021

Excerpts: “Some information is already available about what Beijing is hiding. The March 2021 WHO-China joint report on the pandemic’s origins noted that China is not providing access to more than 76,000 records from patients who had illnesses similar to COVID-19 in the earliest phase of the pandemic. Likewise, Beijing has not allowed sampling of blood donations from that period, which could help determine whether the virus was circulating in the fall of 2019.

The State Department also issued a fact sheet just before Biden took office, explaining that Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers were sick with seasonal illnesses or COVID-19 in autumn 2019. That information has not been disputed by the Biden administration.

So far, the administration has not explained how it will increase the pressure on China to share the critical scientific data Beijing is now withholding. But the recovery of deleted records from the NIH database shows there may be information beyond the reach of the Chinese Communist Party that could help pinpoint the origins of the pandemic.


8. Disaster Looms in Afghanistan

WSJ · by The Editorial Board

Excerpts: Some argue that terrorism should be deprioritized in favor of great power competition with China. But as China builds up its air power in the region, Mr. Biden is abandoning useful air bases in Afghanistan, especially Bagram near Kabul. No one is arguing for a massive troop commitment. A few thousand troops in the country is manageable, and next best is enough troops to defend a residual force of private contractors to maintain Afghan air support for its forces.

The abrupt pullout has undermined NATO unity as some Europeans are unhappy with Mr. Biden’s decision. And what are the Taiwanese thinking as the U.S. walks away from this commitment? News reports say Mr. Biden has finally agreed to move thousands of Afghan translators to third countries as they await the U.S. visas they were promised. But this will have to be done fast to avoid a slaughter.

A Pentagon spokesman said this week that the pace of the retreat could change but that all U.S. forces would be gone by September. By completing the withdrawal that Donald Trump started, Mr. Biden shares responsibility for the bloody consequences.


9. Opinion | The U.S. can’t save Hong Kong. But it must keep the spirit of freedom alive.

The Washington Post · by  Henry Olsen · June 24, 2021

Excerpts: “The United States could go even further. In January, Britain offered Hong Kongers who hold a special passport the opportunity to flee their now repressive city and become British citizens. By mid-February, around 5,000 Hong Kongers had already taken advantage of this law. More are likely to do so now that freedom of the press has been effectively eliminated. President Biden could join Britain and offer our shores as a refuge for Hong Kongers desperate to live freely.

China’s rise as a global power has only been possible because of American forbearance. The United States led the effort to make China part of the global economy, largely based on the belief that greater wealth and exposure to Western ideas would weaken the last major Communist state from within. We now know that this won’t happen without sustained pressure, which only has bite if it carries economic consequences. China’s reneging on the promises it made to Hong Kongers that they could keep their democratic freedoms is only one of the obvious examples of the Communist Party’s perfidy — a perfidy that is financed by American dollars.


10. Mark Milley, Anti-Racist · by Kevin Baron

Congressman Gaetz has the maturity level of perhaps a high school kid. He really embarrassed himself.


11. The Challenge of Educating the Military on Cyber Strategy · by Erica Borghard, Mark Montgomery, and Brandon Valeriano · June 25, 2021

Excerpts: “The language in U.S. code that establishes these standards is vague by design, which will still provide the services with considerable latitude to interpret that requirement. However, absent specific references to the cyber domain in U.S. code, competing requirements may crowd out a focus on cyber security and strategy as curriculum and leadership change. Amending U.S. code is not an insurmountable hurdle: it was recently revised to include “operational contract support.” Therefore, on its face, there is little reason to deny similar adjustments to other emerging domains as they become necessary to improve the ability of the profession of arms to understand the evolving impact of technology on combat.

That said, amending U.S. code is not a panacea, especially given how the language in law is broadly construed. Therefore, additional measures, such as establishing common cyber education standards in the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Officer Professional Military Education Policy, which provides professional military education guidance across the services, can help institutionalize and refine cyber curriculum standards. This guidance is also more adaptable, as the environment — and the resulting operational needs and challenges — evolves.

Without meaningful change and investment in professional military cyber education, service efforts will likely remain in a state of flux and uncertainty. The potential consequences of maintaining the status quo are significant. For instance, academic research on military innovation has shown that military organizations adapt poorly to modern technology when they are not sufficiently educated on the dynamics of change. Budget cuts are a fact of life in the military community, but so are cyber and information operations. In the absence of strong educational foundations, the military is at risk of being unprepared to engage in rigorous thought about the future application of technology on the battlefield.


12. U.S. State Dept OKs possible sale of F-16s, missiles to Philippines

Reuters · by David Brunnstrom

Wow. F-16 for the Philippines. That will be quite an upgrade in capabilities.  The key will be spare parts and training.  And they certainly are not buying these for operations in Mindanao (I hope).  I wil take the OV-10s and the MD-500s there any day.


13. NSA Releases D3FEND To Improve Cyber Defenses, Info Sharing · by Brad D. Williams · June 24, 2021

Excerpts: “ATT&CK can be used to build threat models, as well as cyber kill chains of actual incidents, to include adversaries’ behaviors and their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), in part because ATT&CK is based on real-world threats.

Likewise, D3FEND can be used to develop cyber defenses by “illustrat[ing] the complex interplay between computer network architectures, threats, and cyber countermeasures… illuminat[ing] previously-unspecified relationships between defensive and offensive methods.”

Because D3FEND is so detailed, it can serve as a useful guide for architecting, designing, and implementing cyber defenses.

D3FEND is based, in part, on 500 countermeasure patents from the last two decades, according to its website. Notably, however, D3FEND and ATT&CK are vendor-agnostic frameworks, which can be applied to safeguarding a wide range of IT environments, including national security systems, Defense Department networks, and defense industrial base assets.


14. A racially motivated clash in England during WWII forced the US military to grapple with inequality

Stars and Stripes · by Chad Garland · June 24, 2021

Racism never existed in the military.  Right Congressman Gaetz?

You have to admire the British pub owners: Blacks in the service at the time endured “friction” over the use of recreational facilities, interracial dating and “the resistant attitude of some leaders which affected military justice and training,” Osur wrote in 2000. But the British public gave them “relatively fair treatment.”

Anthony Burgess, author of the book “A Clockwork Orange,” taught in Bamber Bridge after the war, writing in his autobiography that when U.S. military authorities demanded local pubs institute a “colour bar,” the owners barred white troops.

“There used to be one pub that had a notice saying, OUT OF BOUNDS TO WHITE SOLDIERS, but that was stopped by Washington or somebody,” Burgess wrote in a 1973 New York Times article.

Burgess also wrote that the locals would tell of the time during the war that “black troops held the camp with machine guns against whites, though this never got into the newspapers.”


15. This Army Navy Country Club charges enlisted troops $77,700 to join — double the price for retired officers · by Haley Britzky · June 24, 2021

I hope this is a case where the first report is always wrong.  I have to believe that is a typo.


16.  On Tweetership: The Pitfalls Awaiting Military Leaders on Social Media and How to Avoid Them · by Joe Byerly · June 25, 2021

Some good advice.

Excerpts: “At the End of the Day, We Represent Something Greater than Ourselves

Unfortunately, it seems that people move much more quickly to the sounds of outrage than they do professional discourse. The strength of Pericles rested in the fact that he understood he had to make a conscious effort not to allow himself to be energized by the emotions that moved through the crowd. We can make the same choice. By understanding there are psychological forces operating in the background of our minds that can pull us into fray, we can pause for a moment. We can then examine our thoughts by asking ourselves a series of reflective questions and avoid acting impulsively.

As US military practitioners, we represent the American people as part of a trusted organization that supports and defends the Constitution of the United States. We owe it to them to put our best foot forward and to show them we possess the presence of mind to not be enticed by trolls, that we can rise above online mobs, and that we continue to be worthy of the mission they ask us to do.


17. It Was the Best of COIN, It Was the Worst of COIN: A Tale of Two Surges · by Mike Nelson · June 24, 2021

Excerpt: “All warfare is political, and all warfare shifts on human decisions made in complex circumstances. But this is doubly true of counterinsurgent warfare. It is a complicated endeavor that requires deft understanding of the motivations and goals of multiple actors. America’s mistake, in two theaters, was in trying to reduce one of the more complex forms of conflict into something simple, uniform, and replicable without regard to the environment. While the United States should not shy away from studying, determining principles of, developing doctrine for, and preparing to conduct counterinsurgency, we must remember that these guidelines are only as good as the means by which they are adapted to the fight at hand.


18. The burgeoning US-China values war · by Mark Valencia · June 24, 2021

Excerpts: “China has belatedly recognized the danger of a Western-led united front against it and is sending verbal and military warnings of it opposition. President Xi Jinping recently told the Politburo that China needs “to tell its story better and win the struggle to be more lovable…. It is necessary to make friends, unite and win over the majority, and constantly expand the circle of friends [when it comes to] international opinion.”

As one of its “Wolf Warriors,” Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye, said, “The public-opinion war is a strength of the West but a weakness for us.” Indeed, China needs to step up its English-language public diplomacy. It needs to be less aggressive and avoid providing opportunities for the West to criticize its behavior, especially in the South China Sea.

It needs to match its soothing words with actions. And it needs to make better use of the ample ammunition provided by the hypocrisy of the US and the West. This values war will be a long-drawn-out contest that requires a long-term effective public diplomacy strategy. It is about time China stepped up its game.


19.  US Troops on Base Less Likely to Seek Extremist Content Than Americans in General, Study Finds · by Jacqueline Feldscher

Some good news here.


20. WSJ News Exclusive | App Taps Unwitting Users Abroad to Gather Open-Source Intelligence

WSJ · by Byron Tau

You do have to admire their creativity.  In the old days this would take deploying actual personnel to physically spot, assess, and recruit assets to do this kind of work.  The beauty of this is that "agents" may not have to be formally recruited and they can remain unwitting.  We can now conduct "virtual" intelligence operations and perhaps even virtual support to resistance in a hybrid manner - the external support and guidance may be virtual while actions on the ground will continue to be physical.

Excerpts:Premise began as a way to register prices in the developing world and help its customers better understand the needs of the population. But the company struggled to turn a profit in those markets, and the demand for its services was inconsistent, former employees say.

In 2018, the board brought in Mr. Blackman as CEO, hoping he could stabilize the company’s finances and bring in new business, according to current and former employees. Mr. Blackman had experience in the government contracting world, having earlier founded Accela, a company that developed software for government. He pushed to pursue more intelligence and military contracts, the employees said, which led to a culture clash within the company’s workforce, many of them veterans of the development world who objected to some uses of the military and intelligence contracts that were being considered for the platform. A spokesman for the company dismissed that account as coming from disgruntled former employees and said the company hasn’t departed from its original mission. David Soloff, Premise’s co-founder, who preceded Mr. Blackman as CEO, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In recent years, Premise’s data has been purchased by numerous defense contractors or government agencies working on defense programs, federal records show. The Air Force paid the company $1.4 million in 2019 to do “persistent ground ISR”—a military abbreviation that stands for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The Air Force Research Laboratory said the contract was focused on data science and machine learning work for military units but declined to provide additional details.

At least five other defense contractors working on intelligence or defense contracts have purchased the data, federal spending records show. Premise stepped up its presence in Washington in recent years, posting jobs requiring security clearances on LinkedIn and bringing on employees whose LinkedIn profiles say they are veterans of the intelligence community.


21. Did a Chinese Spymaster Defect to the US? · by John Jiang · June 24, 2021

I hope so.  But I would also worry about something that might be too good to be true.  It will take a lot of vetting to ensure he has really defected or has other intentions. 

But all we seem to have is some circular reporting here.


22.  Claim that Chinese team hid early SARS-CoV-2 sequences to stymie origin hunt sparks furor

Science · by Jon Cohen · June 23, 2021


23. Researchers believe internet memes are being used as modern-day leaflet propaganda · by Team Mighty · June 23, 2021

Yep.  The internet meme is the new PSYOP leaflet.  Someone finally recognized this.

Just imagine if we unleashed all the young PSYOP specialists (E4s) to create memes that resonate with the appropriate target audiences around the world.  I am sure that is what the Internet Research Agency in St Petersburg is doing.


24. Inside the ‘shadow reality world’ promoting the lie that the presidential election was stolen

The Washington Post ·  Amy Gardner, Amy B Wang, Alice Crites,  Scott Clement and Sheila Regan · June 24, 2021

Just unbelievable. Incredible.


25. BRICS could be the world’s economic beacon · by Ken Moak · June 25, 2021


Excerpts: “Recruiting new members

Lack of financial and economic muscles and determination to contain China might be the reason the G7 invited India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa to the 2021 meeting in the UK, hoping to turn it into a G11.

Adding South Korea to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue would strengthen its geopolitical position to counter China in the Asia-Pacific region. The G7 probably hopes that plying South Africa away from China would erode the latter’s influence in the African continent.

However, the G7 may have a problem recruiting those four countries into the alliance, particularly when it is intended to counter China.

South Africa is not only a member of BRICS, but also relies heavily on China for investment and trade. South Korea is crossing its fingers that the US will not pressure it into joining the G7 for security as well as economic reasons. The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare how badly India needs Chinese investment, trade and health-care equipment. Australia has shown signs that it wants to improve trade relations with China.

Furthermore, joining the G7 to counter China would not only risk the invitees’ economic interests, but could worsen their security positions.

As the 19th-century British statesman Lord Palmerston observed, countries have no permanent friends or foes, only national interests. Joining the G7 is definitely not in the invitees’ national interests.

Against this backdrop, there is no better time for Modi and Bolsonaro to rethink their China policies. Ongoing BRICS meetings present a golden opportunity for the leaders of the club to talk cooperation, instituting trade, investment, health, security and technology agreements to achieve their nations’ economic and geopolitical potentials.




On this 71st anniversary of the attack by the communist north to steal freedom from the Republic of Korea:


“Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.” 

- Korean War Memorial


"In my generation, this was not the first occasion when the strong had attacked the weak. [...] Communism was acting in Korea just as Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese had acted ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier. I felt certain that if South Korea was allowed to fall, communist leaders would be emboldened to override nations closer to our own shores."
- President Harry Truman


"All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal." -John Steinbeck


Categories: News