06/08/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

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

1. How A New Team Of Feds Hacked The Hackers And Got Colonial Pipeline’s Bitcoin Back

2. Retired Army major general reduced to second lieutenant for sex crime conviction

3. Bitcoin Tumbles 9% on Fears that US Law Enforcement “Hacked” the Network

4. Our Digital Vulnerability Laid Bare: The Opening Gambit of the Next War

5. US recovers most of ransom paid after Colonial Pipeline hack

6. He spent years at war in Afghanistan. Now he commands the U.S. withdrawal.

7.  No, China will not invade Taiwan

8. The G7 is the west’s last chance to lead

9. Can Afghan forces hold off the Taliban after American troops leave?

10. Coronavirus Origins: What Happens When We Have the Answer?

11. Pentagon Faces Tense Fight Over Pacific Pivot

12. China Is Not Outspending US On Defense; ’22 Budget Is Enough

13. India’s suspect ‘Quad’ credentials

14. Report: Capitol Police were warned Trump backers would breach Capitol

15. Analysis: On Biden’s trip, a foreign policy for domestic consumption

16. Pipeline exec to face Congress as US recovers most of ransom

17. Pentagon creates world’s largest clandestine force for “nefarious” operations: Newsweek – Xinhua

18. In Major Promotion Shift, All Soldiers Will Serve as a Corporal Before Moving to Sergeant

19.  MC-130J Commando II Simulated Launching A Pallet Of Cruise Missiles During A Mock Strike Mission

20. Marines out of new infantry school are ‘more competent’ ― but more tests await

21. Major websites experience outages, including the New York Times, CNN and Amazon Web Services

22. Indo-Pacific Powerhouse: The Quad is Shaping Up

23. Phones and fitness devices that make it easier to track US troops are a new headache for special operators overseas

24. #Reviewing How to Prevent Coups d’Etat

25. At the Dawn of Special Operations – Lucien Stervinou | SOF News

 

1. How A New Team Of Feds Hacked The Hackers And Got Colonial Pipeline’s Bitcoin Back

NPR · by Vanessa Romo · June 8, 2021

Great work. Whether it is true or not this is great IO. If we can (or they believe we can) reach out and hack the hackers and take their money maybe that will have a deterrent effect.

 

2. Retired Army major general reduced to second lieutenant for sex crime conviction

armytimes.com · by Todd South · June 7, 2021

Wow. Who says a retired officer cannot be disciplined?

 

3. Bitcoin Tumbles 9% on Fears that US Law Enforcement “Hacked” the Network

decrypt.co · by Liam J. Kelly · June 8, 2021

2d and 3d order effects. Let us gain and maintain the initiative and achieve effects that will secure the cyber domain for the US.

 

4. Our Digital Vulnerability Laid Bare: The Opening Gambit of the Next War

mwi.usma.edu · by Thomas G. Pledger · June 7, 2021

Time to get serious about cyber!

Conclusion: As former national security advisor H.R. McMaster noted, “There are two ways to fight the United States military: asymmetrically and stupid.” It is most likely that an adversary will create confusion, turmoil, and strategic and operational dilemmas before conducting aggressive actions—similar to Russia’s actions in Georgia in 2008. Recognizing, reducing, and building resilient physical and digital systems will not prevent all vulnerabilities, but will increase the cost of asymmetric operations—increasing safety, security, and stability for the United States and its population.

 

5. US recovers most of ransom paid after Colonial Pipeline hack

AP · by Eric Tucker

Again, great work. We need more of this.

 

6. He spent years at war in Afghanistan. Now he commands the U.S. withdrawal.

The Washington Post · by Dan Lamothe · June 7, 2021

A good man with a tough and thankless job. He will be forever tied to the events of 2021 in Afghanistan but he should be a study in leadership when the entire history is written.

Excerpts: “Michèle Flournoy, a senior defense official during the Obama administration, said military literature suggests that “one of the most dangerous moments in any campaign is during a retrograde or a withdrawal under fire.”

“We don’t know if they’ll be under fire, but it’s possible given the way the Taliban is behaving,” said Flournoy, who has known Miller for years. “I think that has got to be the focus right now, is how to do this in a way that reduces risk to our forces that are pulling out.”

Miller, who will have spent a total of about seven years in Afghanistan by the completion of the withdrawal, said the military has the means to protect itself if attacked.

“To date — and it’s to date — we have not seen that. But that’s only as good as until somebody decides to attack coalition forces,” Miller said. “We do think it’s very dangerous, and we take it seriously and it’s something we talk about every single day.”

 

7. No, China will not invade Taiwan

supchina.com · by Stephen J. Hartnett · June 7, 2021

But we would be wise to heed Sun Tzu’s advice: Never assume your enemy will not attack. Make yourself invincible. 

Excerpts with an incredible conclusion.  So that is how he describes America:

“…just another power-hungry and ethics-free monster, grabbing what it wants by crushing the rights and lives of others.”

My argument hinges on an assumption about how the PRC views itself, and how it wishes to be seen by others. At the root of this national identity lies a sense of China as a post-colonial entity that successfully threw off the shackles of the “century of humiliation” to begin its rise back to greatness. For Mao and the revolutionary generation, China was not only anti-colonial but pro-independence. These principles were expressed in the 1972 Shanghai Communique: “All nations, big or small,” the Communiqué pledged, “should be equal. Big nations should not bully the small and strong nations should not bully the weak.” Chinese nationalism was rooted to a sense of anti-colonial activism; China was not just an emerging power but an advocate of justice.

Invading Taiwan would mark the end of that sense of the nation as a force for good. China would henceforth be just another imperial power crushing a smaller neighbor. No one in the Indo-Pacific would feel safe. The feel-good “win-win” propaganda surrounding the One Belt, One Road initiative, a project Eyck Freyman dismisses as a trillion-dollar branding effort, would evaporate in a cloud of bombs.

Invading Taiwan would show that China has become — like Britain, France, America, Japan, and Russia before it — just another power-hungry and ethics-free monster, grabbing what it wants by crushing the rights and lives of others. This would mark the evolution of China from being a post-colonial nation into an imperial one. Losing its sense of self is much too steep a price just to appease the ultranationalists within its ranks.

No, China will not invade Taiwan – SupChina

In mainland China, fear of Taiwanese independence feeds the fever of traumatized nationalism, unites domestic rivals around a shared national dream, and serves as a never-ending threat that justifies enormous military expenditures — but not for war.

 

8. The G7 is the west’s last chance to lead

Financial Times · by Gideon Rachman · June 7, 2021

Last chance?

Excerpts:The G7 summit will also send an indirect message to China. The propaganda line pumped out from Beijing is that the west is in inexorable decline. A successful G7 summit could reinvigorate the idea that the west can provide global leadership in alliance with fellow democracies in Asia and around the world.

It is the G7’s identity as a club of democracies that gives it renewed significance in an era of rising tension between China and the west. The core seven countries — the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada — first met in the 1970s. At the end of the cold war, Russia was invited to join the group, turning the club into the G8. But the Russian Federation was booted out again after its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The great challenge to the relevance of the G7 is the declining share of the world economy represented by those seven core nations. As Renata Dwan of Chatham House, a UK think-tank, points out, in the 1970s the G7 nations accounted for some 80 per cent of world gross domestic product. That is now down to about 40 per cent.

 

9. Can Afghan forces hold off the Taliban after American troops leave?

The Economist  · June 6, 2021

Interesting subtitle.

Excerpts: “American generals say they are keen not to repeat Russia’s mistake by cutting funding prematurely. Yet exactly what support they will provide once they have left is unclear. The Pentagon said on June 2nd only that its backing would be largely financial—to help pay the salaries of security forces—with some aircraft maintenance thrown in.

After the Soviet Union departed, Najibullah’s unexpected longevity was not only thanks to his army and their money. He also proved a surprisingly flexible and astute politician, who was given a largely free hand by Russia to do what was necessary to survive, says Mr Schroden. Here Mr Ghani may be in a more precarious position. He must unite the opportunistic and bickering factions of the Afghan state, all the while under pressure from the Americans to cut a deal with the Taliban. His chief task in the next few months will be to keep Afghanistan whole and prevent it from fracturing into competing fiefs.

With the Taliban buoyant and forecasts from Washington looking sombre, military morale may be key. “It is mainly psychological now. If we can get through the pressure of this summer, then we will be fine,” reckons one Afghan diplomat. Mr Amarkhel agrees: “If our forces can last for two months, they can survive.”

 

10. Coronavirus Origins: What Happens When We Have the Answer?

19fortyfive.com · by Wallace Gregson · June 6, 2021

Wise words from LtGen Gregson: “The death and illness toll in the U.S. and around the world was tragic. We must ensure that the post-mortem analysis contributes more to the healing of the world than to the further souring of relations.”

 

11. Pentagon Faces Tense Fight Over Pacific Pivot

Foreign Policy · by Jack Detsch · June 7, 2021

Excerpts:The Pacific Deterrence Initiative was created by the Republican staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee last year to prod U.S. military services that usually eye big-ticket assets with their budget dollars to begin rotating forces to Asia, the former Senate aide said. Since the Pentagon’s base budget is subject to caps enacted during the Obama years, the measure would put pressure on services to cut elsewhere and move forces to Asia.

In the last days of the Trump administration, top officials in the policy shop had hoped to split the difference, keeping a mix of military weight on both sides of the international date line. But the administration remained distracted by threats from Iran and elsewhere. And with the Defense Department ordering the USS Ronald Reagan—the only American carrier strike group in Asia—to sail out of Japan to cover the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, some fear that the pivot is once again pausing.

“You want to be inside so that you have forces there if and when the fight starts, as opposed to trying to fight your way back in,” said Heino Klinck, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia until January. “On the other hand, you want to have forces outside of the [Chinese military] strike envelope. That’s the dilemma.”

 

12. China Is Not Outspending US On Defense; ’22 Budget Is Enough

breakingdefense.com · by Lawrence Korb

Excerpts:While the US, as Greenwalt points out, spends 16 times as much on its military recruits as China, are not our troops much better than their Chinese counterparts, who receive an average of $30,000 a year, which is less than half of what our troops get? Moreover, even with our smaller budget, the US has 20 times the number of nuclear warheads as China, three times the number of modern fighter jets, twice the tonnage of warships at sea, three times as many modern fighter jets, 800 overseas bases compared to China’s 3, and spends twice as much of GDP on defense as China.

Even if one accepts Greenwalt’s argument that the claim that the US spends more then the next 13 countries in the world combined is a trope, the fact of the matter is that most of those other countries on the list are US allies or friendly countries.

A much better comparison for determining whether we need to increase or decrease defense spending is to compare, in real terms, what we spent during the Reagan buildup or the peaks of the Korea and Vietnam Wars to our current level. Doing so shows that $753 billion, which is the proposed budget of the Biden administration for 2022, is substantially higher. While there is no doubt that Chinese military power is increasing, it is still nowhere close to that of the former Soviet Union, and somehow we won the Cold War even though the Soviets theoretically outspent us.

Moreover, the Reagan defense buildup was needed because of the severe cuts in defense spending in the 1970s, primarily by the Nixon administration. Biden is inheriting a defense budget that Trump increased by $100 billion over his four years in office. The Pentagon’s problems are not the amount of money it receives but how it spends it.

 

13. India’s suspect ‘Quad’ credentials

japantimes.co.jp · by Ramesh Thakur · June 5, 2021

Excerpts: “COVID-19 has brutally exposed the hollowness of India’s pretensions to power, status and influence and boasts of being a vaccine superpower and pharmacy to the world.

March’s virtual Quad summit already seems a distant dream. Echoing its birth amidst the humanitarian crisis of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, the four leaders agreed to partner in the production and distribution of “safe, accessible and effective vaccines” in collaboration with the World Health Organization.

India committed to accelerate and expand production of U.S. vaccines; Japan vowed to help with finance; the U.S. promised to put its scientific-technological shoulder to the collective effort and Australia said it would assist logistically with the distribution in Southeast Asia.

After seven years of unchecked exercises in power, the Modi government cannot credibly blame predecessors or foreign mischief-makers for the sorry state of affairs. Sadly, the biggest indictment of India is the absence of a viable national alternative to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress Party is the one other national opposition group, but the only glue holding it together is the Gandhi family. Far from inspiring the people and infusing them with hope for the future, this sad reality fills them with despair. Nor can Congress match the BJP’s fundraising, organizational and public communications skills.

Still, if by some miracle the exogenous COVID-19 shock breaks the government’s hubris and arrogance, encourages it to undertake urgently needed economic and governance reforms, shifts it to a more accommodative and pluralistic policy posture at home and a greater openness to free trade, its attractiveness as a Quad partner will grow. Just don’t hold your breath for this triumph of hope over experience.

 

14. Report: Capitol Police were warned Trump backers would breach Capitol

NBC News · by Ken Dilanian and Frank Thorp V · June 8, 2021

Some damning information:The Capitol Police’s possession of the specific intelligence had been previously flagged by the department’s inspector general in a report that has not made public, NBC News and other news organizations have reported. But the Senate document sheds new light on it. The failure to distribute the information widely, the report says, left rank-and-file Capitol Police officers unprepared to defend themselves from the armed mob.

“The objects thrown at us varied in size, shape and consistency,” an officer said. “Some were frozen cans and bottles, rebar from the construction, bricks, liquids, pepper spray, bear spray, sticks of various widths, pipes, bats.”Another officer told Senate investigators: “We were ill prepared. We were NOT informed with intelligence. We were betrayed.”

The 100-page Senate report, the results so far of a joint investigation by the Homeland Security and Rules committees, offers new details about what Capitol Police leaders knew and when they knew it. It recommends an overhaul of what it calls the “opaque” structure of the board overseeing the Capitol’s security apparatus, with a specific provision to allow the Capitol Police chief to request National Guard assistance immediately, after it found that Washington, D.C., National Guardsmen didn’t arrive at the Capitol for nearly three hours after they were first requested.

 

15. Analysis: On Biden’s trip, a foreign policy for domestic consumption

NBC News · by Mike Memoli and Carol E. Lee · June 8, 2021

Our foreign policy must make sense to middle America and Americans in general.

 

16.  Pipeline exec to face Congress as US recovers most of ransom

AP · by Eric Tucker and Ben Fox

I would not want to be on his hot seat.

 

17. Pentagon creates world’s largest clandestine force for “nefarious” operations: Newsweek – Xinhua

xinhuanet.com

A short summary from a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece of the recent Newsweek article about the Pentagon’s “secret army.” It uses Newsweek’s words to criticize the US.

 

18. In Major Promotion Shift, All Soldiers Will Serve as a Corporal Before Moving to Sergeant

military.com · by Steve Beynon · June 7, 2021

An interesting development.

Excerpts: “Because corporals and specialists earn the same pay, corporal is a relatively rare rank in the Army. Both ranks can hold junior leadership positions, typically as a team leader responsible for three to six soldiers. Previously, specialists were promoted straight to sergeant in most cases, skipping the corporal rank.

“This is a change in culture,” Sgt. Maj. Kenyatta Gaskins, directorate of Military Personnel Management sergeant major, said in a statement. “This is not something we’re used to. … It’s a visual reminder that the soldiers have transitioned from junior ranks to become a member of the NCO Corps.”

The Army also announced that troops must be recommended by a promotion board before attending BLC. That goes into effect June 1, 2022, for active-duty and full-time Guard and Reserve soldiers, and Oct. 1, 2022, for part-time soldiers.

 

19.  MC-130J Commando II Simulated Launching A Pallet Of Cruise Missiles During A Mock Strike Mission

thedrive.com · by Joseph Trevithick · June 7, 2021

Innovative and creative solutions to complex military problems?

 

20. Marines out of new infantry school are ‘more competent’ ― but more tests await

marinecorpstimes.com · by Philip Athey · June 7, 2021

 

21.  Major websites experience outages, including the New York Times, CNN and Amazon Web Services

The Washington Post · June 8, 2021

 

22. Indo-Pacific Powerhouse: The Quad is Shaping Up

The National Interest · by James Holmes · June 8, 2021

Excerpts: “As a strategy—in particular a military and naval strategy—containment is a fitting metaphor. This is clearest in East Asia, where the U.S. armed forces are reconfiguring themselves to fight among the islands, denying China’s navy and air force control of sea and sky. This approach comes straight out of the Cold War playbook, from the days when Secretary of State Dean Acheson called for making the first island chain America’s “defensive perimeter of the Pacific.”

The approach applies in the Indian Ocean as well, albeit in a fashion that is more scattered and not so visually striking when plotted on the map. Curbing Beijing’s effort to gain military access to Indian Ocean seaports is itself a way to contain China’s martial reach—and one well worth pursuing.

Quad members may shy away from the containment metaphor, and that is understandable. They mainly need to be precise when explaining their purposes and how they intend to put power to work attaining them. That means being circumspect about the terms they use to describe China policy. But they should own it on the military side.

Let’s dust off the Cold War playbook—and be candid about it. Lord Ismay would smile.

 

23. Phones and fitness devices that make it easier to track US troops are a new headache for special operators overseas

Business Insider · by Stavros Atlamazoglou

 

24. #Reviewing How to Prevent Coups d’Etat

thestrategybridge.org · June 7, 2021

Excerpt: “To those with a background in coup studies or civilian-military relations, How to Prevent Coups d’état draws parallels to Naunihal Singh’s Seizing Power, particularly as an extension of coordination games applied to the field of coup studies. I found it interesting that this work applied coordination problems and commitment problems, two often-discussed game theoretic explanations for conflict, but other game theoretic explanations of conflict, such as issue indivisibility and incomplete information, or incentives to misrepresent, are not fully fleshed out, even as analytic narratives. In an event with such a profound impact on the professional and even personal lives of counterweight force members, rapport and unwillingness to compromise might play a large role, be it rapport with other branches of the armed forces, rapport with the leader, or rapport with the other civilians potentially impacted by regime change or lack thereof. Likewise, transparency issues seem to abound in the narratives given in each of the case studies, ultimately suggesting that these could play a role, but they are not a central emphasis of this work. This book is a great addition to the literature as it paves the way for further exploring rationalist explanations of both coup-proofing and coup success, implementing what we know from bargaining models of war to other sorts of political conflict and civilian-military relations.

 

25. At the Dawn of Special Operations – Lucien Stervinou | SOF News

sof.news · by SOF News · June 6, 2019

Still so much to learn from our history. And the OSS was an organization that punched well above its weight both while it was in existence and later as continued contributions by its former members.

 

—————–

 

“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves ; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

– Thomas Jefferson

 

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

– Abraham Lincoln

 

“The greatest threat to our Constitution is our own ignorance of it.”

– Jacob F. Roecker

DanielRiggs
Tue, 06/08/2021 – 9:23am

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