Pyongyang's post-summit good behavior proves evanescent, but hope remains it's still a work in progress.
North Korea seems to have ramped up missile production and resumed work on its nuclear program. The first reports of renewed activity along these lines appeared early in July, and just this week the US Intelligence Community said it had clear evidence that Pyongyang was back in the long-range weapons-of-mass-destruction business. Thus the bilateral undertakings agreed to at the summit seem to have endured perhaps two weeks on the outside. President Trump has expressed public confidence that North Korean leader Kim will return to the good behavior they agreed to in Singapore, but sources within the US Administration say the President is privately showing considerable frustration. Negotiations continued over the month, with Secretary of State Pompeo urging North Korea to follow a Vietnamese model of development.
One of the more significant fears of expanded North Korean nuclear capabilities in particular surrounds concern that Pyongyang will be a willing enabler of proliferation. There are recent reports of some incipient blackmail along these lines directed toward the Middle East.
NATO summit: US pushes Allies for 4% defense spending.
At the NATO summit the Atlantic Alliance clearly put cybersecurity and an effective cyber deterrent on the table as central concerns. This is a particularly noteworthy development, given aggressive Russian hybrid warfare (especially in the Near Abroad). It also has implications for relations with Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic that's now NATO's newest member. Macedonia has been the subject of intense Russian attention in cyberspace. The European members of the Alliance doubt US commitment to this newest member.
For its part the US was most concerned that NATO members agree to double the Alliance's target of 2% GDP devoted to defense, asking for an increase to 4%. A much-feared declaration that the US would pull its forces out of Germany failed to materialize, and the US has reassured its partners that it remains as committed to the alliance as ever. The American calls for European governments to increase their military spending and to shoulder more responsibility within the Alliance were cold-shouldered by Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau, but were quietly welcomed in many quarters both within NATO and outside it.
Russian-American summit: misspeaking and clarification.
The Trump-Putin summit was conducted with only translators present. As far as is known, the US raised objections to Russian incursions into Ukraine and requested an explanation of Russian influence operations directed against US elections in particular. Russia refused to discuss its annexation of Crimea--a closed issue, in its view--and also denied having anything to do with cyber operations involving US elections. At a controversial joint presidential press conference at the end of the summit, President Trump appeared to say he accepted Russia's position on influence operations (not on Crimea). He backpedalled the following day in Washington, saying he meant to say the opposite of what he appeared to say, but this mollified few critics.
Tensions with Iran remain high.
Iran warned the US against "twisting the lion's tail." The US for its part has refused to budge on reimposition of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, and has resumed work on what some call an "Arab NATO": an alliance of Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf Arab states that would be directed against Iran. "Arab NATO" is too strong, as it's unlikely the collection of states, however coincidentally aligned they may be against Iran, would develop the enduring cohesion that NATO has maintained for the last six decades. Nonetheless Arab concerns about Iran's regional ambitions remain high. As July came to a close there were discussions of the possibility of high-level talks between US and Iranian leaders. President Trump indicated his willingness to hold a summit, but exactly who would represent Iran remained an open question.
Cyber espionage is up, yet again.
China, Russia, and Iran are showing renewed vigor in their cyber espionage efforts. All three are closely interested in industrial espionage, China for profit, Iran for technology, and Russia for both.
The convergence of cyber and electronic warfare continues.
The US Army is in the midst of one of its periodic rediscoveries of the importance of electronic warfare. It's been on the receiving end of Russian EW in and around Syria, and the Service is taking the lessons learned there to heart. The Marine Corps is on board as a partner, and the Army is working to push electronic capabilities down to tactical levels. This time around EW means cyber operations at least as much as it does the familiar contest in the electromagnetic spectrum. The surest sign that the Army is serious about pushing an array of such capabilities down to unprecedentedly low levels is its integration of them into National Training Center rotations.
Space Marines or Space Guards.
There's been some debate over whether the USMC or the USCG provide the better analogy for a proposed Space Force. As some put it, the question is whether US policy favors that projected force being more Ka-Bar or more Swiss Army knife. In the near term it will be neither: there's no allocation for a Space Force in the current versions of the Defense appropriations bill. But many in both Congress and the Administration continue to be drawn to the idea.
Commercial space launch market remains healthy.
SpaceX shows considerable vigor and its Falcon series remains a sector darling. The US Air Force seems to be all-in on the company's Falcon Heavy for the future. DARPA's developmental space plane has now conducted a series of successful tests, so that system at least seems to have found its propulsion solution. Other commercial launch services made progress, notably Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. Interest in offering space tourism has not abated, and successful flight and ground testing of systems that might deliver rubberneckers to suborbital holidays has made the prospect somewhat less far-fetched. (Still, expensive: it's a great view, but it won't compete with Pebble Beach or Telluride on price.)
The Europeans aren't giving up on the launch market, either: Ariane flew again this month, and governments on the Continent remain interested in keeping a share of this business. The European Space Agency and the governments who support it (led by France) remain fully committed to operating Kourou in French Guiana as a competitive spaceport. ArianeGroup remains an aggressive commercial champion, and, with Kourou's location at 5 North Latitude enabling it to take even more advantage of the earth's rotational velocity than either Cape Canaveral or Vandenberg, the facility expects to stay in business for the long haul.
The UK, whether still European in the political sense or not is at least geographically still there (more or less), has also advanced its own plans for a spaceport that will offer commercial launch services and quick-response military launches as well. The new spaceport, at Malness in Scotland, is expected to see its first launch in 2023. A Lockheed Martin-led consortium is preparing to put some cubesats in orbit that year. But if the military has its way, they'll get launches underway sooner than that.
Ave atque vale, JSTARS...
The venerable US Air Force C4ISR platform seems for now at least firmly on the path to retirement. The Air Force won't, as it had hoped, be able to rid itself immediately of all its E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft (several of which have been relegated to hangar-queen status). But under the 2019 Defense Authorization bill, the Service will be able to cancel the JSTARS recap program, and it will receive additional support for its coveted Advanced Battle Management System.
...but the U-2 will be with us for some time.
The US Air Force is putting a new developmental payload on some of its U-2s, so the Dragon Lady still has a lot of life left in her. A payload called "Symphony" will be mounted in an "Irascible" pod. What Symphony and Irascible will actually do is unclear, but speculation suggests that their capabilities are related to the "Triple Intelligence" concept Lockheed Martin has been advocating. This would integrate (at least?) three collection modalities into a single package. The U-2's high-altitude capabilities and long-range make it likely to remain in service for the foreseeable future.
JEDI is closer to reality.
The Pentagon is closer to awarding work under its multi-billion-dollar cloud contract.
Rapid acquisition of rapidly evolving technology.
Rapid acquisition of emerging technologies has long been a challenge for the Department of Defense. Its acquisition system has evolved to place a premium on procedural equity and the avoidance of petty fraud, waste, and abuse. This has tended to make it ill-suited to buying and fielding new technology quickly. Other Transaction Authorities (OTAs) have seen some use in procuring cyber and artificially intelligent systems. US Cyber Command intends to make more use of OTAs, and both the Department of Defense as a whole and the separate Service acquisition authorities seem likely to expand the practice. No one is quite sure just how much has been obligated under these more free-wheeling vehicles. Estimates over how much has been spent under OTAs over the last three years ranges from the $4.2 billion offered by the Federal Procurement Data System to the $21 billion reported by DoD public affairs officers. Other agencies, especially the Department of Homeland Security, are also making use of OTAs in the cybersecurity sector.
And companies wishing to sell systems to the Pentagon have been told they'll need to harden them against cyber attack.
Today's edition of the CyberWire reports events affecting China, the European Union, France, Israel, Japan, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, NATO/OTAN, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
How Artificial Intelligence Will Reshape the Global Order(Foreign Affairs) The debate over the effects of artificial intelligence has been dominated by two themes. One is the fear of a singularity, an event in which an AI exceeds human intelligence and escapes human control, with possibly disastrous consequences. The other is the worry that a new industrial revolution will allow machines to disrupt and replace humans in every—or almost every—area of society, from transport to the military to healthcare.
Northrop readies SIGINT for MQ-4C Triton UAV(Military & Aerospace) Signals intelligence (SIGINT) experts at Northrop Grumman Corp. are preparing to upgrade the U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with SIGINT capability to match that of the Navy's EP-3 manned SIGINT aircraft.
Northrop Grumman Announces CEO Transition(Northrop Grumman Newsroom) Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) chairman and chief executive officer Wes Bush announced today that he will step down from the position of chief executive officer effective Jan. 1, 2019. He will remain chairman through...
Raytheon eyes Army electronic and cyber warfare(Military and Aerospace) Electronic warfare (EW) and cyber security experts at the Raytheon Co. are expanding a U.S. Army EW planning system to include sophisticated RF spectrum management and offensive cyber warfare to exploit weaknesses in enemy battlefield electronics.
Dave Wajsgras: Raytheon in ‘Full Operational Mode’ on $1B DHS DOMino Cyber Contract(ExecutiveBiz) Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon’s intelligence, information and services business, told Federal News Radio executive editor Jason Miller in an interview published Friday that the company is now in a “full operational mode” on a potential five-year, $1 billion cybersecurity contract with the Department of Homeland Security. He said the Development, Operations and Maintenance contract...
Roll up for Axiom’s $55 million space holiday(Times) The year is 2023 and you are holidaying in space, orbiting at 17,000 mph 250 miles above Earth. Through the largest window observatory yet constructed for space transport (by humans, at least) you...
Lockheed Develops System to Link Air, Ground & Maritime Intelligence(ExecutiveBiz) Lockheed Martin has created an enterprise system designed to help military customers obtain intelligence from ground, sea, air and space platforms. DIAMONDShield employs an automated process that will allow users to analyze adversarial intent, use multidomain data in tactical decision-making and assign engagement tasks to theater operations, Lockheed said Tuesday. The system works to receive information from external sources...
The calculus of cheaper military comms satellites(C4ISRNET) The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Paul “Rusty” Thomas shares his thoughts on the Blackjack initiative to pilot a constellation of satellites that keep costs low and resilience high.
The coming cyberbattle will be worse than people think(C4ISRNET) The full integration of cyberwarriors into the Army and the ability to integrate cyber capabilities into the core functions of war fighting still face many cultural battles that could slow much-needed momentum.
Is it better to defend the Army’s network in the field or from afar?(Fifth Domain) An Army Cyber Command pilot program at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin is exploring the integration of cyber planners and tactical cyber operators with brigade combat teams, but also testing the effectiveness of defending battlefield networks from a remote location.
How the Army is training for the digital conflict(C4ISRNET) An Army Cyber Command pilot program at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin is using a closed network with mock platforms to exploit to simulate certain effects and test integration of cyber and EW capabilities with brigade staff and tactical units.
What the new defense bill means for cyber(Fifth Domain) U.S. House and Senate negotiators boosted funding for cybersecurity in the annual defense authorization bill, which serves as a repudiation of the Trump administration’s foreign policy.
Iran Adviser Says U.S. Must Return to Nuclear Deal for Talks(Bloomberg.com) Iranian officials reacted skeptically on Tuesday to President Donald Trump's comments that he's willing to negotiate with his Iranian counterpart, saying instead that if Trump wants talks, he needs to rejoin the international nuclear deal he unilaterally pulled out of earlier this year.
NATO Engages 2018(Atlantic Council) As the heads of state and government from the twenty-nine NATO member states gather in Brussels on July 11 and 12, the Atlantic Council will co-host NATO Engages: The Brussels Summit Dialogue—the official high-profile outreach effort for the...
NATO insists it’s united as Trump lashes allies over budgets(Military Times) NATO leaders pledged Thursday to stand united against foes like Russia despite a tumultuous summit that saw U.S. President Donald Trump rip into his allies for failing to boost defense spending, casting a dark cloud over the world’s biggest security alliance.
Our NATO Allies Just Got Trump's Wake-Up Call — Will Europe Pick Up?(Investor's Business Daily) The European Union has used hefty U.S. defense spending and its willingness to send American troops into harm's way as part of NATO to protect Europe. It is in effect a kind of social welfare subsidy. Time for Europe to pick up its fair share of the tab.
Was the Helsinki Summit Worth It?(The National Interest) The Helsinki summit set the right course for the United States and Russia in defusing tensions—until the last thirty minutes.
The Surprising Promise of the Trump-Putin Summit(Foreign Affairs) No matter the sensational headlines in the Trump-Putin summit’s immediate aftermath, a quiet yet substantive diplomatic process has the potential to yield real, and welcome, results.
Pompeo appeals for North Korea to replicate Vietnam’s ‘miracle’(Military Times) Undeterred by a blistering rebuke of his efforts to forge a denuclearization deal with North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday appealed for North Korea’s leadership to follow Vietnam’s path in overcoming past hostilities with the United States.