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Cyber Security, Digital Transition, Technology Geopolitics & Worlds In-Defense In-Security Pensiero Strategico

Open newsletter – march 11, 2022 a.m.

AFRICA

BURKINA FASO

  • In 2014, when millions of Burkinabes ended the 27-year rule of Blaise Campaore by forcing him to step down, observers and analysts dubbed the occurrence West Africa’s version of the “Arab Spring”. The following year, sustained nationwide protests also deterred an elite force he founded to stage a coup against the interim government. As Roch Marc Christian Kabore was elected as president in the 2015 elections, hopeful masses were chanting, “nothing will be like before.”. Mucahid Durmaz – Al Jazeera – How Burkina Faso became the epicentre of conflict in the Sahel

CHINA – INDIA

  • China continues to strengthen its position along its disputed border with India. At several locations on or near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has amassed troops and fortified many of their installations. Beijing is also bringing much-needed infrastructure to the region. Key among these investments is a new bridge designed to span a section of Pangong Lake (also known as Pangong Tso), which promises to support the movement of personnel and goods in one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet.  Matthew P. Funaiole, Brain Hart, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. – CSIS – Big Military Upside to China’s New Bridge across Pangong Lake

CYBER SECURITY

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not just capturing the world’s attention—it’s drawing a massive amount of activity in cyberspace. Nearly 9 in 10 cyberattacks currently occurring worldwide are targeting Russia or Ukraine, according to data from California-based cybersecurity firm Imperva. Frank Konkel – Nextgov – More Than 80% of Cyberattacks Worldwide Happening in Russia or Ukraine

INDIA

  • Two issues dominated the political discourse in 2020–21; the pandemic and the farmers’ protest against the reform-oriented farm laws. The farmers’ protest, which lasted for more than a year, compelled the popular government to repeal the farm laws in November 2021. The epicentre of the farmers’ protest were Punjab, Haryana, and districts in the Northern Upper Ganga Plains (NUGP) in Uttar Pradesh. However, what remains a puzzle is that these are the states or regions of the country with the least number of farmers! The share of the labour force in the agriculture sector in all these three regions of the country is the lowest amongst large states and significantly lower than the national average. Shamika Ravi – ORF – The puzzle of farmers’ protest
  • India marked a rare milestone in January, securing a $375 million order from the Philippines to supply three coastal defense batteries of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, along with training and support. The weapons are the product of an Indo-Russian joint venture, which takes on further significance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. India remains dependent on Russia for arms transfers and abstained from condemning Russia’s aggression at the United Nations General Assembly. New Delhi faces an increasing dilemma when it comes to balancing between its defense interests and growing closeness to the West. Harsh V Pant, Angad Singh – ORF – Can India’s Defense Industry Make It on the Export Market?

INDONESIA

  • According to the World Health Organization, the link between climate change, biodiversity loss and pandemics is crystal clear. Emissions, pollution, land-use change, livestock overproduction and wildlife exploitation severely impact biodiversity. These environmental changes may be the key drivers of zoonotic disease outbreaks in humans, including the current coronavirus pandemic. Agung Endika Satyadini – East Asia Forum – Indonesia reaching for green shoots

INDO PACIFIC

  • The Indo-Pacific region is confronting emerging challenges that go beyond the traditional definition of “security.” Among the most crucial are threats to the environment, including natural hazards such as cyclones and tsunamis; illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and overfishing; and marine pollution. This report underlines the strategic implications of these environmental issues in the Indo-Pacific. It outlines the measures that must be undertaken to reduce their toll and emphasises the benefits of both bilateral and multilateral initiatives in mitigating these challenges. Sohini Bose, Sayanangshu Modak and Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury – ORF – Threats to the Environment in the Indo-Pacific: Strategic Implications

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

  • The Iran nuclear talks are on the precipice of collapse over last-minute Russian demands for sanctions protection, according to two diplomats. Negotiations have reached an impasse over the Russian requests, diplomats said, imperiling the revival of a 2015 landmark deal under which Iran limited its nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief. Russia is requesting that any return to the agreement include guarantees that any future Russian business with Iran be exempt from EU and U.S. sanctions — a late curveball from Moscow in response to the crippling penalties the country is facing over its invasion of Ukraine. Stephanie LiechtensteinNahal Toosi – Politico – Iran nuclear talks close to collapse over Russian demands

JAPAN

  •  Japan has commissioned the first of a new class of diesel-electric submarines, bringing the planned expansion of its submarine fleet to 22 boats when it enters service. The Taigei, meaning Big Whale, was commissioned Wednesday at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in the city of Kobe. It is the first of a successor class to Japan’s current Soryu-class boats. Mike Yeo – Defense News – Japan commissioned first of new submarine class

LIBYA

NUCLEAR

  • New uncertainties surround the outcome of the war in Ukraine. Will Russia’s President Vladimir Putin further tighten military pressure or accept assurances about Ukrainian neutrality? Will he settle for a corridor to the Crimean Peninsula or insist that Kyiv falls? Whichever way the conflict ends, one outcome is clear: Nuclear weapons are here to stay and any prospects for nuclear arms control and nuclear disarmament have receded further. Rakesh Sood – ORF – As prospects of arms control wane, the rise of nuclear risks
  • Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it had lost today all communications with the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), the day after the Russian-controlled site lost all external power supplies, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said. IAEA – Update 17 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact, reactions, consequences)

  • For decades, Finland refused to take sides for or against Russia, a position that kept the peace but also confined its sovereignty. In light of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, its neutrality policy may soon change as the Nordic country that shares a 1,340km (830-mile) border with Russia contemplates joining the NATO military alliance. Niko Vorobyov – Al Jazeera – Finland mulls joining NATO after Russia’s war in Ukraine
  • Economist and author Sergei Guriev on the political and economic implications of Western sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine. Al Jazeera – Will sanctions on Russia fuel dissent against Putin at home?
  • A shrinking number of well-known companies are still doing business in Russia, even as hundreds have announced plans to curtail ties. Burger King restaurants are open, Eli Lilly is supplying drugs, and PepsiCo is selling milk and baby food, but no more soda. Al Jazeera – The Western firms that have not cut Russia ties over Ukraine
  • Russian forces continued to surround Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, on Friday as civilians gave accounts of soldiers forcing people from homes and shooting at those fleeing cities nearby. Svitlana Dekhtiar from Bucha, about 60km (25 miles) northwest of Kyiv, said she and her family, along with other residents of her apartment complex, were assured that they would not be harmed after Russian troops occupied the city. Al Jazeera – ‘What are you doing here?’: Ukrainians recount Russian occupation
  • The Russian government says it has drafted legislation that introduces an “external” administration if international owners decide to close their companies in the country over its decision to invade neighbouring Ukraine. Growing numbers of Western companies have suspended or ended operations in Russia after the United States and European countries imposed crippling economic sanctions that have already dealt a severe blow to the Russian economy, causing the rouble to plunge and prices to rise significantly. Al Jazeera – Putin: External management necessary if foreign firms exit Russia
  • Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has temporarily eased its policy on violent speech following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it will allow statements such as “death to Russian invaders” but not credible threats against civilians. The policy decision was met immediately with controversy, with Russia’s embassy in the United States demanding on Friday that Washington stop the “extremist activities” of the Facebook owner. Al Jazeera – Facebook allows posts urging violence against invading Russians
  • A huge Russian military convoy that had been stationed outside the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, since last week appears to have dispersed, according to a United States-based company, as the city braces for a possible ground assault. Maxar Technologies said satellite images taken on Thursday showed that the 64km (40 miles) long line of vehicles, tanks and artillery has broken up and been redeployed. Al Jazeera – Satellite images show Russian army convoy near Kyiv has dispersed
  • Civilians trapped in Ukraine’s Mariupol have gone through “two days of hell”, a local official said on Friday, claiming Russian attacks “every 30 minutes” have scuppered any attempt at evacuations from the besieged port city. Some 400,000 people remain in Mariupol, where Mayor Vadym Boychenko said Russian forces were continuing to “cynically, ruthlessly and purposefully” attack apartment buildings. Al Jazeera – ‘Hell’ in Ukraine’s Mariupol as Russians ‘attack every 30 mins’
  • The Russia invasion of Ukraine has come at a time when countries in Africa are already struggling to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Despite the war breaking out in a geographically distant region, it still entails several repercussions for the African continent. Given that both Russia and Ukraine play important roles in the continent, this episode is now going to have both immediate and lasting implications for Africa’s economics and politics. Abhishek Mishra – ORF – Between a rock and a hard place: African position on the Russia–Ukraine conflict
  • On 21 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine as independent states. Two days later, Ukraine declared a state of emergency in response to the ‘unprovoked’ military action by the Russian troops. The full-scale attack on Ukraine from three directions, including on the capital city Kyiv, set off a domino effect of heavy sanctions, international condemnation, and economic isolation against Russia. Despite western efforts to push a globally resolute diplomatic, economic, and political isolation of Russia, countries of Latin America remain divided in their response, with a few condemning the Russian invasion while others supporting Russia tacitly. Ayan Barman – ORF – The Ukraine Crisis and Latin America’s response
  • As Russia invades Ukraine, South Asia has responded distinctively to this crisis. Although a lot has been discussed about India and Pakistan’s realpolitik, less has been analysed about the responses from other South Asian states. These responses range from neutrality to calling out on Russia’s aggression, and are largely being shaped by the state’s individual interests. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voting on the 2nd of March 2022, further explains this division (refer to Table 1). Nonetheless, these responses are tactical in nature and incapable to help these states navigate through the new systemic and strategic shifts emanating from Russia’s invasion. Aditya Gowdara Shivamurthy – -ORF – Assessing South Asia’s responses to the Ukraine crisis
  • We are witnessing Russian attempts to brutally subjugate Ukraine, even going so far as to threaten the world with nuclear Armageddon. Clearly, leaders from the US, its European allies, the Russian Federation and Ukraine have badly miscalculated and put the world in grave danger. Probably, a rapid regime change and the rather fanciful wish to assimilate Ukraine into Mother Russia was what Putin hoped to accomplish. Things have obviously not gone according to plan as his Generals completely miscalculated Ukrainian resistance. While he may still succeed, any new regime will likely last as long as it has Russian military support to back it up. This seems uncertain, given that the ability of the Russian military to control a restive population over time seems extremely doubtful. Putin may, therefore, have to be satisfied with the capture of sufficient territory in the Donbas region that would provide a land corridor connecting Russia to Crimea. Deepak Sinha (Retd.) – ORF – India’s big dreams or plain hallucination?
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine crystalizes key shifts underway in global governance. Among others, it will cripple the G20 and elevate the G7. Mark Sobel – CSIS – Ukraine Conflict Cripples G20 but Unifies G7
  • On Thursday, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss joined the Atlantic Council for the 2022 Christopher J. Makins Lecture to address the global ramifications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression. Below, edited for length and clarity, is her conversation with Frederick Kempe, president and chief executive officer of the Atlantic Council. Atlantic Council – UK foreign minister: Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a ‘paradigm shift on the scale of 9/11’
  • On Friday, President Biden is expected to call for an end to Russia’s “Permanent Normal Trade Relations” (PNTR) status, allowing for higher tariffs on goods coming from Russia, several news outlets reported. People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News, the first to report the news, that Biden will make the announcement along with European Union leaders and the Group of Seven nations. Caroline Vakil – The Hill – Biden expected to call for nixing normal trade relations with Russia
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) notified Ukrainian officials that it would be prudent to destroy dangerous pathogens in the country’s public health laboratories to avoid “any potential spills” that could lead to disease spreading among the Ukrainian population, the WHO told Reuters on Thursday. Chloe Folmar – The Hill – WHO told Ukraine to destroy pathogens in public health labs to avoid spills spreading disease: report
  • Biden administration officials are raising alarms about the threat that Russia will escalate its war on Ukraine with chemical weapons, but are stopping short of establishing red lines that would involve U.S. military intervention. Brett Smuels, Ellen Mitchell – The Hill – Fears grow over Russian chemical threat to Ukraine 
  • EU leaders on Friday condemned Russia for “unprovoked and unjustified military aggression” and pledged unwavering support for Ukraine and for refugees fleeing the war, but they stopped short of putting Kyiv on a fast track to EU membership as requested by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In a statement published after hours of debate at a European Council summit at the Palace of Versailles, the leaders “acknowledged the European aspirations and the European choice of Ukraine” and noted that its membership application had been “swiftly” transmitted to the European Commission for “its opinion” — the initial stage of a long process toward being declared a candidate country and beginning membership talks. However, they also signaled a willingness to bring Ukraine closer to the EU politically while that process takes place: “Pending this and without delay, we will further strengthen our bonds and deepen our partnership to support Ukraine in pursuing its European path. Ukraine belongs to our European family.”. David M. Herszenhorn, Jacopo Barigazzi – Politico – EU leaders back Ukraine but balk at fast-track membership
  • Two weeks ago, Ukrainian entertainer Serhiy Prytula was planning to launch a new political party that would challenge another TV star-turned-politician, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  Now, as Russian forces edge closer to Kyiv, Prytula is running a very different campaign — supplying the Ukrainian army and civilian volunteers so they can fight for Zelenskyy against Russian invaders. Prytula’s supply center was established on the fly the day Russians first sent troops into Ukraine, February 24. It started with a core group of activists, some of whom had been working together for several years. Dozens of others soon joined. Lily Hyde – Politico – Zelenskyy is arming Kyiv residents — a former rival is helping supply the rest
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine is one of those events that everyone says “changes everything.” But there are many such events, and often not much changes at all. In the case of Putin’s war, it certainly looks like an inflection point in Europe, with Germany saying it’s going to rearm and Europe talking of weaning itself from Russian energy. The question is whether Russia’s brazen act of aggression, coupled with Moscow’s de facto alliance with another revanchist power, China, sets in motion needed changes here in the United States. Rich Lowry – Politico – The Market Is Not Enough

  • As if echoing the passions of the Spanish Civil War when thousands of idealistic foreigners came to fight fascism, the Ukrainian government’s fight against Vladimir Putin has now begun to attract foreign volunteers ready to defend Ukraine’s democratically elected government. Naureen C. Fink, Colin P. Clarke – Politico – Foreign Fighters Are Heading to Ukraine. That’s A Moment for Worry
  • Moldova is responding with utmost caution to Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine since late February. The Moldovan leadership, which took over not long ago (see EDM, November 17, 2020 and July 13, 2021), is Western-oriented in every sense, deep faith included. But it lacks the means to adopt foreign, security and defense policies that would fully reflect the leadership’s commitment to the Western orientation. Vladimir Socor – The Jamestown Foundation – Moldova Keeps out of Russia-Ukraine Fray (Part One)
  • Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow has worried about maintaining transportation links with its non-contiguous exclave of Kaliningrad. These worries intensified when the two countries cutting Kaliningrad off from the rest of the Russian Federation (and Moscow-aligned Belarus)—Poland and Lithuania—became members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union. Moreover, the conduct of Russian military exercises last fall spotlighted the Kremlin’s anxieties that, in the event of war, the West would at a minimum blockade Kaliningrad by sea and might even seize this heavily-fortified Russian outpost outright (see EDM, October 12, 2021 and November 2, 2021). Now, because of Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine and the West’s sharp response, Moscow’s fears about its vulnerable links with Kaliningrad have reached a crescendo. And so the Russian authorities are taking a variety of steps, both defensive and offensive, to ensure that it will maintain supplies to and control of a region that historically was part of Germany but was annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. Paul Globe – The Jamestown Foundation – Moscow Preparing for Possible Blockade of Kaliningrad
  • After two weeks of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, the majority of Russian society apparently still supports the aggression. Pro-government opinion poll organizations cheerfully report 71 percent backing for the “special operation” and 84 percent of Russians trusting their military (ЕADaily, March 6). The conclusions of independent sociologists, based on browsed social network content, suggest those figures are only somewhat inflated.  Kseniya Kirillova – The Jamestown Foundation – Putin Is Losing the War, but Russians Have Stockholm Syndrome
  • The five largest U.S. cloud service providers are taking action against Russia following the country’s invasion of neighboring nation Ukraine. The cloud giants—Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and Google—host everything from government workloads to many of the global apps and services used by tens of millions of people each day within their data centers. Like most governments, major companies and other tech firms, the cloud providers are using their actions to condemn Russia’s invasion. Frank Konkel – Nextgov – U.S. Cloud Service Giants Take Action Against Russia
  • Pentagon officials will not send the advanced Patriot air-defense system to Ukraine, saying Thursday that U.S. forces would need to enter Ukraine to operate it, which is a non-starter for the Biden administration. The decision comes one day after U.S. officials rejected a proposal from Poland to have the United States and NATO transfer Polish MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Tara Copp, Marcus Weisgerber – Defense One – Why the US Won’t Give Patriot Interceptors to Ukraine

  • For more than two decades, U.S. military leaders have argued that a combination of stealth aircraft and missiles, combined with invisible electronic weapons, would be needed to defeat Russia’s sophisticated air defenses. But two weeks into Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces still don’t have control of the skies, allowing decades-old, non-stealthy, Ukrainian Air Force MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets to keep flying. Still, U.S. officials are hesitant to question the technical abilities of Russia’s surface-to-air missiles. Instead, they point to a slew of other factors that have allowed the Ukrainian military to blunt Moscow’s advances. They also point to Ukraine’s successful use of Russian-made weapons in their possession. Marcus Weisgerber – Defense One – US Officials Not Ready to Dismiss Russia’s Anti-Aircraft Missiles, Despite Shortcomings in Ukraine

  • Almost immediately after Russian forces invaded Ukraine two weeks ago, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy began calling for NATO to implement a no-fly zone over his country to negate the effects of Russian airpower. It’s a call that NATO leaders have resisted. Why is Ukraine’s government so eager for a no-fly zone? And why are leaders in the United States and other NATO members so hesitant to undertake such a course of action? That’s the subject of this episode of the MWI Podcast. John Amble is joined by retired US Air Force Colonel Mike Pietrucha. A veteran aviator, he has directly relevant experience with no-fly zones—he was part of enforcing several of them over both northern and southern Iraq and in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. He shares his experiences and describes both the appeal and effectiveness of no-fly zones as a policy tool and the practical requirements and challenges of implementing them. He also explains what is required for no-fly zones to achieve their objectives and details the implications of declaring one in the airspace over Ukraine. – Modern War Institute – MWI Podcast: Understanding No-Fly Zones
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has gone slower than many Western analysts anticipated. In some areas, Russian forces advanced up to 120 miles in the first two days before coming to a halt. In other areas, especially around Kharkiv, the Russian offensive failed right away. While some delays are the result of successful Ukrainian resistance, especially around Kharkiv, others are the result of logistical challenges encountered by the Russian army; some US officials have suggested that logistics are a “definite vulnerability” for Russia. – Modern War Institute – Russia’s Logistical Problems May Slow Down Russia’s Advance—But They Are Unlikely to Stop It – Modern War Institute
  • On February 24, Vladimir Putin launched the Russian military on what he termed a “special military operation,” his euphemism for a massive invasion of Ukraine. Two weeks later, the Russian military has fallen well short of expectations, in large part due to the Ukrainian army’s courage and tenacity. The fighting could continue for weeks or longer, taking more lives on top of the thousands already lost. The Kremlin has expressed maximalist demands as the price for a cease-fire and did not react positively when Kyiv hinted at some readiness to compromise. The key question: Will Putin agree to a real negotiation, or will he continue to press on with his war of choice? Steven Pifer – Brookings – Russia vs. Ukraine: How does this end?
  • Two weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian tech and media ecosystem is being battered from two directions—an unprecedented Western sanctions regime and an increasingly authoritarian Russian state. Technology companies and workers are fleeing Russia, Western media and information is being severely restricted, and Russian access to key technologies is being significantly curtailed. Between the force of sanctions and the Russian government’s moves to consolidate power, we are witnessing a radical restructuring of the Russian economy and Russia’s relationship with the West. Brookings – The TechStream newsletter: Russia’s darkening tech landscape
  • Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle grilled Biden administration officials Thursday over the Pentagon’s rejection of Poland’s surprise plan give the United States its MiG-29 fighter jets for use by Ukraine to repel Russia’s mightier forces. The hearing, in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, let lawmakers vent their anger that Ukraine’s pleas for the aircraft to combat Russia were going unmet. U.S. defense officials have called a potential three-way deal untenable and suggested Ukraine would benefit most from more of the U.S.-supplied weapons it uses effectively every day, including anti-aircraft Stinger and anti-tank Javelin missiles. Joe Gould – Defense News – Frustrated lawmakers blast stalled transfer of European aircraft to Ukraine

SAUDI ARABIA

SOUTH KOREA

TURKMENISTAN

  • Turkmenistan is set to hold an early presidential election on 12 March after President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov at the session of the Khalk Maslahaty (People’s Council) indicated that he is stepping down so that the political power can be turned over to “young leaders” though, he intends to remain as the Chairman of the Parliament’s Upper Chamber. At his insistence, the Parliament proclaimed that the snap election be held early this month. President Berdymukhamedov, who is also the Prime Minister of the former Soviet republic and the Speaker of the Upper House of the Parliament, was re-elected to a seven-year term in 2017 and has been the President of the Central Asian state since 2006, with no constructive opposition in place. His son, Serdar Berdymukhametov, is expected to succeed him. Pritish Gupta – ORF – Turkmenistan’s presidential elections: No surprise in the offing

UK

  • The British government has updated its strategy to revive the maritime industry here by broadening the scope of a potential 30-year order pipeline and targeting more exports, but it failed to give any guarantees that shipbuilding work will actually go to local industry. The long-awaited publication of a refreshed national shipbuilding strategy, which was originally published in 2017, details a pipeline of potential orders under government control for vessels ranging in scope from logistics ships and destroyers to tugs and pilot vessels. Andrew Chuter – Defense News – Fresh UK shipbuilding strategy seeks to tap new markets

USA 

  • Over the years, Joe Biden has come to the Democratic National Committee to express regret, as he did in 2007, after calling Barack Obama “articulate” and “clean.” He has come to rally his party, as he did during the bleak midterm year in 2010. David Siders – Politico – Dems see midterm hope in Biden bounce
  • U.S. defense researchers recently moved to partner with the private sector to strategically explore building the world’s first practical quantum supercomputer. “There’s a lot of hype in the commercial space and there’s a lot of people claiming that they’ve figured out a path to a really big, really useful quantum computer. And we would like to listen—like, if somebody thinks that they cracked the secret code to make any quantum computer, then we would love for them to apply for this program,” Joe Altepeter, a program manager in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Defense Sciences Office told Nextgov this week. “And we want to be really flexible in how we work with companies.”. Brandi Vincent – Nextgov – DARPA Taps OTAs to Accelerate the Making of a Useful Quantum Supercomputer
  • Legislation requiring private companies to report cybersecurity incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastrcucture Security Agency could hitch a ride to the president’s desk in an omnibus spending bill set for consideration in the Senate Thursday following House passage. Mariam Baksh – Nextgov – Cyber-Incident Reporting Legislation Clears House in Bipartisan Spending Bill
  • After nearly six months of continuing resolutions, Congress is finally poised to send a $1.5 trillion full-year appropriations package to President Biden for his signature. The measure includes funding boosts for nearly every agency in government, setting line-by-line spending levels across each federal agency and program. The bill would increase non-defense discretionary spending by 6.7%, while defense spending would jump by about 6%. President Biden in his budget request sought a 16% boost for domestic agencies, but Democrats reluctantly agreed to bring that total down and meet Republican demands for parity in defense and domestic spending.  Eric Katz – Nextgov – Here Are 10 Major Takeaways From the $1.5 Trillion Omnibus Spending Bill
  • On Feb. 3, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved S.2710, the Open App Markets Act, with an impressive bipartisan vote of 20-2. The bill’s narrow focus on competition problems in the mobile app ecosystem might give it a better chance of moving forward than the broader non-discrimination bill that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 20 with a smaller bipartisan vote of 16-6. Mark MacCarthy – Brookings – The Open App Markets bill moves out of the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Thanks to historic commitments by Congress and resilient local economies, the next five years have the potential to be a grand era of reinvestment in metropolitan America. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) have committed billions of dollars for communities to modernize their infrastructure networks, ranging from older water systems to cutting-edge broadband. Meanwhile, the House and Senate are set to make big bets on innovation-focused growth centers and targeted industries. State and local budgets also performed better than expected through 2020 and 2021, leaving additional fiscal resources available for economic and community development. Adie TomerJennifer S. Vey, and Caroline George – Brookings – With historic federal investment incoming, regions must collaborate on planning
  • As public debate heats up over whether the United States should create a central bank digital currency (CBDC), there is another option that deserves consideration:  Treasury Accounts.  The Treasury Department could, relatively quickly, create digital accounts to provide payment services that would be especially valuable to unbanked and underbanked individuals. Howell Jackson and Timothy G. Massad – Brookings – The Treasury Option: How the US can achieve the financial inclusion benefits of a CBDC now
  • A fiscal year 2022 funding package making its way through Congress includes millions of dollars more than requested for the Advanced Battle Management System, the U.S. Air Force’s contribution to the Pentagon’s communications-and-networks overhaul. Nearly $269 million is allotted for the ABMS, documents show, some $65 million more than the Air Force initially sought. The bundle includes $728.5 billion in military spending for the year. Colin Demarest – Defense News – Congress wants to give Air Force an extra $65 million for ABMS
  • The U.S. Missile Defense Agency successfully launched the most advanced version of the Patriot missile from a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in a Feb. 24 test at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, Lockheed Martin told Defense News. The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhanced — or PAC-3 MSE — was fired using the THAAD system against a simulated incoming target, Scott Arnold, vice president of integrated air and missile defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a March 9 statement. Jen Judson – Defense News – Missile Defense Agency fires Patriot missile from THAAD system
  • Congressional appropriators are scuttling the Air Force’s plans to buy hypersonic missiles this year after a series of testing failures and delays. The compromise spending bill for the rest of fiscal 2022, unveiled Wednesday and passed by the House that evening, strikes the nearly $161 million in procurement funding the Biden administration sought for the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon. Stephen Losey – Defense News – Congress nixes Air Force plans to buy hypersonics this year after test failures

  • A recent Pentagon report called for more arms manufacturers to bolster competition in the shipbuilding-, aerospace- and defense-industrial base. Citing examples of the reduction of suppliers over the past 20 years for major weapons categories, the report laments the drop in tactical missile suppliers from 13 to just three; fixed-wing aircraft falling from eight companies to three; and satellites tumbling from eight contractors to four. Given the sorry state of industry, it is all the more surprising that there’s one glaring omission from the solution set: buying more equipment.  Mackenzie Eaglen – Defense News – The Pentagon must pay for competition
  • As the U.S. Department of Defense’s laboratories and testing organizations grapple with a multibillion dollar infrastructure funding gap, lawmakers want to boost fiscal 2022 funding for the most critical projects by nearly $800 million. The funding — included in the fiscal 2022 compromise defense spending bill released this week — targets key technology development and testing infrastructure like space, hypersonic weapons, directed energy, electromagnetic spectrum and targeting, adding $422.7 million across multiple defense-wide and Navy research and development projects. Courtney Albon – Defense News – Lawmakers recommend $800 million budget increase for defense lab and testing infrastructure

USA – COLOMBIA

  • U.S. President Joe Biden announced Thursday he intends to designate Colombia as a major non-NATO ally, a step that will provide the Latin American nation with certain benefits in the areas of defense, trade and security cooperation. Biden made the announcement during a White House meeting with outgoing Colombian President Iván Duque. Darlene Superville, AP – Defense News – Biden announces major non-NATO ally status for Colombia

USA – NORTH KOREA

YEMEN

  • Saudi Arabia says it has rescued two young American women from Yemen in a joint special operations mission with the United States. The women, both Yemeni-American teenagers, were being held by the Houthi rebels in Yemen’s capital Sanaa after having been taken captive while visiting their grandmother, the Saudi defence ministry said on Thursday. Al Jazeera – Two American women rescued from Houthi-rebel captivity in Yemen