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

Open newsletter – march 26, 2022

OUR MAIN TOPIC IS THE GEOSTRATEGY OF RISK

The real risk we face is that we don’t seem to understand its ongoing  metamorphosis. Because risk, in the third millennium, is very different than that  we knew. Starting with war, the most evident and most terrible risk: today’s war in Ukraine can only be defined as hybrid because it is a war of weapons and disinformation. We consider it as a “war on life”, which is fought on the ground (at the same time as land and cyber) and because it is a war (in this, dramatically equal to the others) that uses human bodies as shields and which is causing an immense flight of refugees (besides the dead and the wounded, of course). The war in Ukraine, while reiterating that the aggressor (Putin and his power group) and the attacked (the Ukrainian people) are clear, is strange: it is a war in which the past “weighs” heavily (in the nostalgia, variously analyzed, of Putin and, likewise, in the errors committed by the so-called “international community” which, in various forms in the last decades, has maintained strong relations with the Russian autocrat). The risk of this war is that, even if it stops on the ground (hopefully as soon as possible), it continues for years in various forms. Because, we are convinced, there is something at stake that goes beyond Ukraine: we will write about it.

TODAY

  • RUSSIA  – UKRAINE (impact, reactions, consequences)
  • AROUND THE WORLD. CRISIS AND CONFLICTS
  • DEFENSE
  • ON LIFE (technology, the future of the internet, cybersecurity, data)
  • HORIZONS

 

RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact, reactions, consequences)

  • The Russian General Staff issued a fictitious report on the first month of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on March 25 claiming Russia’s primary objective is to capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.Sergei Rudskoi, first deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, gave a briefing to Russian press summing up the first month of the Russian invasion on March 25.[1] Rudskoi inaccurately claimed Russian forces have completed “the main tasks of the first stage of the operation,” falsely asserting that Russia has heavily degraded the Ukrainian military, enabling Russia to focus on the “main goal” of capturing Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. (read more) Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 25Mason Clark, Fredrick W. Kagan, and George Barros – ISW
  • Following the launch of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the United States, Europe and some Asia Pacific nations have imposed an extraordinarily tight sanctions regime on Moscow. Although the United States and its allies refused to counter Russia’s offensive militarily, the severity of the new sanctions regime can arguably be seen as a declaration of economic war on the Russian state. (read more) The new sanctions regime and Russian defence exports in the Indo-PacificAlexey D Muraviev – East Asia Forum
  • The G20 summit will take place in Bali in November 2022 under the theme ‘Recover Together, Recover Stronger’. Indonesia had hoped to use its G20 presidency to encourage all countries to work together towards a more sustainable world recovery as the global pandemic continues. But the framing for this year’s summit occurred before Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. (read more) What Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means for the G20 –  Alan Alexandroff – East Asia Forum
  • A month into its invasion, Russia appears to be reducing its war aims from capturing all of Ukraine to merely holding the Donbass region–which a top Russian military officer said Friday was the goal from the start, but which Pentagon said may be a result of Russia’s intelligence failures. “Our forces and equipment will focus on the most important thing, the complete liberation of Donbass,” Russian General Staff head of military operations Sergei Rudskoi said at a Friday briefing in Moscow, as reported by Interfax. Rudskoi said the month-long invasion had completed its first phase and achieved its purpose: keeping Ukraine from retaking the separatist-controlled Donbass territories. (read more) Russian Forces Halt Kyiv Advance as Kremlin Says Donbass Was Only Goal All AlongTara Copp – Defense News

AROUND THE WORLD – CRISIS AND CONFLICTS

Africa

Algeria

  • The third anniversary of the birth of the Hirak Movement in Algeria occurred on February 22, 2022. Three years earlier, in early February 2019, the then Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika officially announced his decision to run for a fifth term, despite his obvious poor health (Bouteflika subsequently passed away on September 17, 2021) (Algérie Press Service, February 10, 2019, Jeune Afrique, September 18, 2021). His decision triggered nationwide protests and showed how the Algerian government might have been formally stable but had grown increasingly unsustainable under the surface, particularly among the country’s younger population. (read more) A Weak AQIM and a Paralyzed Hirak: Algeria’s Moment of StabilityDario Cristiani – The Jamestown Foundation 

Pakistan

  • On February 14, Iran’s interior minister Dr. Ahmad Vahidi paid a visit to Pakistan against the backdrop of a recent spike in terrorist attacks by Baluch separatists on Pakistani security forces in Baluchistan, which shares long borders with Iran and Afghanistan. Vahidi held meetings with Pakistan’s top political and military brass, including Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to discuss security mechanisms at the Pakistan-Iran border. Both sides agreed to form a joint working group to oversee border management and security issues between the two countries (Express Tribune, February 15;Al Jazeera, February 15). (read more) Is There an Iranian Connection to the Militancy in Pakistan’s Balochistan?Syed Fazl-e-Haider – The Jamestown Foundation
  • Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, faces a unified opposition coalition and a vote of no confidence in parliament next week. Whether Khan’s government survives the challenge or not, Pakistan’s democracy will suffer as political instability undermines public confidence in the electoral process, argues Madiha Afzal. (read more) Why is Pakistani PM Imran Khan facing a no-confidence vote? – Brookings

Singapore

  • Days before his 70th birthday on 10 February, Lee Hsien Loong announced that he wouldn’t be stepping down from his position as Singaporean Prime Minister. Lee had previously marked this date as the end of his tenure as the city-state’s prime minister and leading figure of the People’s Action Party (PAP). (read more) Doubt continues over Singapore’s leadership transition – Robin Vochelet – East Asia Forum

Somalia

  • On January 18, al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab conducted a suicide bombing outside of a Turkish military base in Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu, killing at least four people and injuring around 14 others (Garowe Online, January 19). The group claimed responsibility for the attack through the official Shahada News Agency and touted the success of the operation against “Somali Special Forces who were trained by Turkish Forces.” Al-Shabaab’s target selection, and the three separate mentions of Turkey in the statement, runs consistent with the group’s ongoing guerilla campaign against Turkish soldiers, nationals, and commercial interests in Somalia. The group views Turkey as an influential supporter of the Somalian government and looks to drive the Turks out of Somalia with force. Al-Shabaab has accordingly excoriated Turkish troops stationed in Somalia as foreign “invaders” and “occupiers” (Ahval News, December 31, 2019). (read more) Al-Shabaab’s Expanding Anti-Turkish Campaign in Somalia – Lucas Webber – The Jamestown Foundation

USA

DEFENSE

  • With the Pentagon demand for new satellites and spacecraft growing by the day, the new head of Lockheed Martin’s $12 billion space business said he wants his 21,000-person team to hustle. “We’ve got to establish a sense of urgency around all this,” said Robert Lightfoot, who in January was named executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s space business unit(read more) Work Urgently, Lockheed’s New Space Chief Tells His Team – Marcus Weisgerber – Defense One

  • The billions of euros in additional defense spending promised by European governments after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have made the German phrase “Zeitenwende,” referencing a turning point for a more muscular military posture, look like an understatement. Germany announced it will spend an extra 100 billion euros on armaments over five to 10 years, while even the Italian parliament — traditionally dubious about defense — backed a vote to push Italian spending to 2% of GDP, making clear just how fast things are moving. (read more) Budget hikes test shared European Union spending goalsTom Kington – Defense News

  • Estonia has approved a €476 million (U.S. $523 million) defense spending hike, the majority of which is for short- to mid-range air defense systems. The decision comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has served as a catalyst for other Eastern European nations to boost their own air defense capabilities. Estonia aims to acquire the systems no later than 2025. (read more) Estonia increases defense spending to buy air defense systems, more weaponsJaroslaw Adamowski – Defense News

  • The production of critical Stinger and Javelin missile systems can be boosted, said the U.S. Army’s acquisitions and logistics head, allowing the United States to refill its arsenals after sending thousands of the systems to Eastern Europe in support of Ukraine. “I think, really, those are two opportunities for the Army to rapidly move ahead, the way Congress wants us to replenish those stocks,” Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Doug Bush said during a March 25 Defense News event. “I think we can do it.”.  (read more) Stinger and Javelin production can be boosted, says Army acquisitions chiefColin Demarest – Defense News

  • The U.S. Navy and 26 partners and allies have concluded a final planning conference for this year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise, the largest international maritime exercise. The biennial RIMPAC exercise was scaled down in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event is meant to convene navies and armed forces from the Pacific region as well as others interested in operating in the area. It includes anti-submarine warfare exercises, amphibious operations, humanitarian assistance training, missile shots, ground forces drills and much more, with a focus on interoperability among forces that might work together in the future. (read more) Navy finalizes plans for next Rim of the Pacific exerciseMegan Eckstein – Defense News

  • A competition to supply Europe’s new flagship drone with an engine has been won by a GE-owned company despite criticism it is not a sufficiently European solution for the aircraft. Prime contractor Airbus announced on Friday it had selected the Catalyst, an engine developed by GE-owned Avio Aero, to power the Eurodrone, which is due to be procured by Italy, France, Germany and Spain. (read more) US-owned Avio Aero wins race to make ‘Eurodrone’ engines – Defense News

  • The U.S. Air Force expects to improve research and training around information warfare with a new organization established March 22 by Air Combat Command. The Information Warfare Training and Research Initiative Detachment is a hybrid wing-level organization designed to connect airmen from multiple locations as they accelerate readiness. It is a subordinate unit of the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. The wing provides intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, communications, and nuclear command and control. (read more) US Air Force establishes new information warfare detachmentNathan Strout – Defense News

ON LIFE (technology, the future of the internet, cybersecurity, data)

Cybersecurity

  • As a society, we are heading into a more turbulent period with increasing geopolitical conflicts. With that, new lines of attack are being opened which will be more coordinated, more complex and better funded than any we have seen before. The era where cyberattacks are limited to obvious finance and military targets is also over. While past attempts to breach water organization networks and compromise American water supplies haven’t had much success (yet), the threat of a cyberattack happening anywhere at any time is enough to warrant throwing the full weight of technology and expertise behind securing America’s water infrastructure. Only one problem: water and wastewater cybersecurity is largely the responsibility of traditionally sub-federal utilities and plants that are often forced to make do with limited resources, operating across a patchwork of aging software systems. (read more) Why the White House is Focused on Community-Level Water Cybersecurity – David Lynch – Nextgov

  • Amid increased concerns over a potential Russian state-sponsored cyber attack on U.S. systems, two senators introduced a new bill to specifically protect the healthcare industry. (read more) Lawmakers Move to Protect Healthcare Infrastructure from Potential Russian Threat – Alexandra Kelley – Nextgov

Data

  • The Biden administration plans to issue an executive order to oversee limitations on U.S. government surveillance activity that it believes will satisfy the Court of Justice of the European Union in consideration of U.S. companies’ data management and their citizens’ privacy rights. The “Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework,” announced in a joint statement from the White House and the European Commission Friday, is the third iteration of an arrangement the governments—along with industry—have tried to establish over the last decade to allow U.S. companies to handle Europeans’ data, despite a gap in their respective privacy laws. The administration expects an “agreement in principle” on the new arrangement will succeed where the “U.S.-EU Privacy Shield” arrangement of 2016 and the “Safe Harbor” arrangement of 2000 have failed.  (read more) Executive Order Coming to Facilitate European Input on U.S. Government Surveillance – Mariam Baksh – Nextgov

Technology

  • General Electric Company’s central technology development arm, GE Research, is steering the making of an advanced assurance model to accelerate certifying software for critical military and industrial systems. Currently, it can take one year and millions of dollars to re-certify even modest code changes—but through a fresh $10.5 million project via the Defense Advanced Research Agency’s Automated Rapid Certification of Software or ARCOS program, GE Research intends to dramatically reduce that time and cost.  (read more) Software Certification Could Get A Little Simpler Under Evolving DARPA ProjectBrandi Vincent – Nextgov

  • Arizona will be the first state to offer residents the option of presenting driver’s license and state ID verification at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints through Apple Wallet. Users can add their license and ID information to the Wallet app and use their iPhone or Apple Watch to selectively present identity information at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) checkpoints. Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Ohio and Puerto Rico will soon add this feature for its residents as well, in addition to seven other states Apple announced in September. Apple Wallet goes live for ID verification at TSA checkpointShourjya Mookerjee – Nextgov

HORIZONS