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Thread: Russia, jihadis or cyberwarfare – which is the most urgent, new threat?

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Russia, jihadis or cyberwarfare – which is the most urgent, new threat?

    It's time to ask. Paul Mason is the economics editor for C4 TV and a columnist for The Guardian and his article - even if written for a British situation and audience - has a far wider relevance:http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...-urgent-threat

    The actual title is 'Russia, jihadis or cyberwarfare – which is the most urgent of the new threats we face?' and asks a really awkward question how do we separate real threats from imagined ones?

    He ends with:
    Finally, what is the point of conventional armed forces at all, when so many threats originate inside UK borders, or on cyber networks? If those (UK) forces only properly work when interacting with the US or Europe, what do you do when those allies exhibit strategic incoherence.
    Politicians find these questions difficult to ask, let alone answer. For the military establishment, its practice mapped for generations on to cap badges and regimental tartan, these are literally existential questions. But it’s time to ask them.

    The last British strategic defence and security review in 2010 is now widely seen as failing to adjust what we did. Yes the UK, along with many NATO members, was at war in Afghanistan, with a plethora of 'small wars' scattered around in the fragile zones. With an 8% real decrease in defence spending, with the prospect if not reality the UK will spend less than 2% GNP (a NATO goal), decisions are needed.
    davidbfpo

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    Russia, cyber, and jihadists are not new threats. Russia has been challenging international norms since their invasion of Georgia in 2008 (hard to believe it has been close to seven years already). The jihadists have been around since Mohammed, but more recently the new wave of attacks started in 1979. The ability to conduct cyber-attacks has been around over two decades now.

    Cyber-attacks, like WMD, don't describe an actor (the threat), they describe the means and ways the threat can use to threaten UK's interests. What exactly do any of the above threaten? They all threaten the lives of your citizens, your economic interests, and they undermine the international order that serves your security and economic interests. How do you defend against them and a host of other threats is the operative question for defense planners. I think both of our countries tend to describe threats in ways that make them vulnerable to our traditional military forces, but for the most part they're not.

    We all need to move past the point that there is only one threat, only one priority, that we need to defend against. We also need to relearn the merit of defense, even CvC argued defense is superior to offense. Projecting power into an abyss does little to protect national interests. How we wield power is more important than the type amount of military power we decide to fund. We bleed out a fair amount of our national wealth and took our eyes off the rest of the world to focus on COIN in two locations, both under resourced, for multiple years. We accomplished little that was beneficial at the strategic level, and allowed multiple other threats around the world to emerge unchallenged.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Russia, cyber, and jihadists are not new threats. Russia has been challenging international norms since their invasion of Georgia in 2008 (hard to believe it has been close to seven years already). The jihadists have been around since Mohammed, but more recently the new wave of attacks started in 1979. The ability to conduct cyber-attacks has been around over two decades now.

    Cyber-attacks, like WMD, don't describe an actor (the threat), they describe the means and ways the threat can use to threaten UK's interests. What exactly do any of the above threaten? They all threaten the lives of your citizens, your economic interests, and they undermine the international order that serves your security and economic interests. How do you defend against them and a host of other threats is the operative question for defense planners. I think both of our countries tend to describe threats in ways that make them vulnerable to our traditional military forces, but for the most part they're not.

    We all need to move past the point that there is only one threat, only one priority, that we need to defend against. We also need to relearn the merit of defense, even CvC argued defense is superior to offense. Projecting power into an abyss does little to protect national interests. How we wield power is more important than the type amount of military power we decide to fund. We bleed out a fair amount of our national wealth and took our eyes off the rest of the world to focus on COIN in two locations, both under resourced, for multiple years. We accomplished little that was beneficial at the strategic level, and allowed multiple other threats around the world to emerge unchallenged.
    Bill--agree with much that you say but here is the problem and as strange as it sounds it has to do with the English language itself and how the ruling elites in all western countries especially the US use the language.

    We have fallen with the current administration into a void of trying to use the Webster's to define a problem just in a way that avoids the forcing of decisions to be made for whatever reasons known only to them.

    This word selection often flies in the face of the actual problem and causes confusion among the population that is asked to support whatever strategy is developed.

    We see it here ie terrorists vs revolutionaries, war vs civil unrest, incursion vs invasion, separatists vs mercenaries, unconventional warfare vs irregular warfare, COIN vs the world, cyber warfare vs the actual term hacking, information warfare vs propaganda, and the list can go on forever.

    This choice of words simply fogs the problem making it appear to be far more complicated than it really is.

    BUT and here is the BUT this current administration deliberately choose words to avoid action and by avoiding action it just increases the problem to a level that it appears to be unable to do anything and actually it freezes them.

    By not full understanding the difference between say terrorism and revolutionaries we have a major conflict now in the ME, but not calling the use of any chemical weapons on civilians we place a red line that is never meant to be held to instead of simply stating the use of chemical weapons has been forbidden under international law and agreements and the use on civilians is simply put chemical warfare.

    By stating we are against terrorists and we will send trainers we ignore the simple fact that a nation state can under that definition also be a terrorist--EXAMPLE we get totally upset over Paris but the GRAD shelling of a civilian bus killing 12 and wounding 17 fired by Russian mercenaries or even Russian troops is again WHAT not terrorism==why the difficulty--we called the Russian invasion an incursion thus avoiding the term war between two countries.
    Why because the word war determines then a set of counter actions all actually based on international laws and agreements that we always swear we support.

    Since 9/11 we have been wrapped into word usage by administrations that are really not interested in solving rather than actions and now we have an administration that loves words but no actions---and we wonder why the world does not understand us--we do not understand ourselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
    Bill--agree with much that you say but here is the problem and as strange as it sounds it has to do with the English language itself and how the ruling elites in all western countries especially the US use the language.

    We have fallen with the current administration into a void of trying to use the Webster's to define a problem just in a way that avoids the forcing of decisions to be made for whatever reasons known only to them.

    This word selection often flies in the face of the actual problem and causes confusion among the population that is asked to support whatever strategy is developed.

    We see it here ie terrorists vs revolutionaries, war vs civil unrest, incursion vs invasion, separatists vs mercenaries, unconventional warfare vs irregular warfare, COIN vs the world, cyber warfare vs the actual term hacking, information warfare vs propaganda, and the list can go on forever.

    This choice of words simply fogs the problem making it appear to be far more complicated than it really is.

    BUT and here is the BUT this current administration deliberately choose words to avoid action and by avoiding action it just increases the problem to a level that it appears to be unable to do anything and actually it freezes them.

    By not full understanding the difference between say terrorism and revolutionaries we have a major conflict now in the ME, but not calling the use of any chemical weapons on civilians we place a red line that is never meant to be held to instead of simply stating the use of chemical weapons has been forbidden under international law and agreements and the use on civilians is simply put chemical warfare thus we will bomb period end of story.

    By stating we are against terrorists and we will send trainers we ignore the simple fact that a nation state can under that definition also be a terrorist--EXAMPLE we get totally upset over Paris but the GRAD shelling of a civilian bus killing 12 and wounding 17 fired by Russian mercenaries or even Russian troops is again WHAT not terrorism==why the difficulty--we called the Russian invasion an incursion thus avoiding the term war between two countries.
    Why because the word war determines then a set of counter actions all actually based on international laws and agreements that we always swear we support.

    Since 9/11 we have been wrapped into word usage by administrations that are really not interested in solving rather than actions and now we have an administration that loves words but no actions---and we wonder why the world does not understand us--we do not understand ourselves.
    Here is the perfect example--flame weapons against civilians has been banned for years under the GC and the Law of Land warfare---it thought was heavily used by Russia in AFG, Chechnya, and now the Ukraine---and you cannot tell me the US with it's far superior ISR did not see the launchers cross into the Ukraine---but it is picked up by open source bloggers even before they crossed over. BUT if not seen then we need to ask why the billions for an IC that did not "see".

    We ourselves after VN do not use it and yet when used we remain silent--WHY is that?

    So would this be capture of infamous (camouflaged) Buratino on UA Cyber Force webcam Donetsk?
    http://youtu.be/P2myCdWZqCU?t=5m25s
    pic.twitter.com/QHAswENlFo
    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 01-20-2015 at 06:36 AM.

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    Bill---this is what I mean by the use of words---there has been a distinct lack of even a word on the Ukraine and Russia especially Russia out of the WH in over six to eight weeks now.

    I am not the only one seeing that distinct lack---and then this today via WSJ tends to explain that silence---we seem as a government to be willing to confront the IS as alleged "terrorists" but when a nation state goes rouge then "silence".

    If the article is anywhere close to being correct and I believe it is then pack the US up and ship it home as it has then no business to be anywhere near Europe and or NATO---but we already saw this in the US/UKs distinct lack of willingness to support their own Budapest Agreement.

    West will do anything to avoid a confrontation with Putin, even if it means giving up on #Ukraine, argues this piece
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/john-vin...ine-1421702240 …

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    Putin’s #Russ.Do traces of KGB,FSB & GRU lead to #IS?
    http://bit.ly/1BzPlkl
    by @LaurinaviciusM

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Jihadi's and Russia are both actors, and cyberwarfare is a mixture of a operational capability and terrain. Since threats are actors, entities, and capabilities acting upon a theater, operational sphere, or entity cyber warfare is not a threat.

    Well that leaves Jihadi's and Russia. Russia is a nation state. Even if it is a rogue nation state there is a well documented history of how to deal with it. We might not like the answers, but there is a regime and capacity for action.

    With Jihadi's and other religious zealotry we have less capability and more chance to screw it up. My vote is the rising threat du jour is jihadi and other religious actors against common societal interest.

    IMHO
    Sam Liles
    Selil Blog
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    All opinions are mine and may or may not reflect those of my employer depending on the chance it might affect funding, politics, or the setting of the sun. As such these are my opinions you can get your own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    The last British strategic defence and security review in 2010 is now widely seen as failing to adjust what we did. Yes the UK, along with many NATO members, was at war in Afghanistan, with a plethora of 'small wars' scattered around in the fragile zones. With an 8% real decrease in defence spending, with the prospect if not reality the UK will spend less than 2% GNP (a NATO goal), decisions are needed.
    Even at the time the SDSR was seen more as a strategic spending review, more than a defence review; it maintained the myth of no change to strategic posture while eviscerating strategic capability (both hard and soft).

    I think Mr Mason is asking the wrong questions, focusing as he does mostly on types of threats (the means) and not from where they emanate (the who) and to what purpose (the ends). The first question should be what are the UK's national interests (in priority order), then what are the most likely threats against them, then what means do we need to defend/maintain these national interests. For instance is it in the UK's national interest to maintain a seat on the UNSC P5? If so, how much of a priority is this and can we afford it? UNSC P5 status can only be maintained through credible hard and soft power.
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

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