Stories by Frank O'Donnell

Expert Voices

U.S. anti-missile cyber defense could be less effective than claimed

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 19, 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Amid all the conversation around Bob Woodward’s "Fear," there was a small detail that largely escaped public notice: U.S. cyberattack capabilities against adversary missile programs are weaker than publicly claimed. Woodward reports President Obama had initiated an ongoing program that “pinpointed cyberattacks on the command, control, telemetry and guidance systems before and during a North Korean missile test launch," but "their success rate was mixed.”

Why it matters: Pre-emptive U.S. cyberattacks on conventional and nuclear missiles, and their supportive command-and-control and targeting systems, are at the heart of the U.S. defense strategy against China. But if the Pentagon is still obtaining only “mixed results” from the same kind of disabling cyber operations with North Korean missiles, which are less sophisticated than China’s, U.S. defense capabilities in this area might be less effective than advertised.

Expert Voices

China deepens militarization of One Belt, One Road initiative

China's Defence Minister Wei Fenghe in Moscow, Russia on April 04, 2018.
China's Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. Photo: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a meeting with Pakistan’s Chief of Naval Staff in Beijing on Friday, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe announced that China was “ready to provide security guarantees for the One Belt, One Road project” (OBOR).

Why it matters: Beijing has long pitched OBOR — a $4 trillion–$8 trillion integrated energy, transport and mega infrastructure project envisioned as a modern Silk Road — in economic terms. But this latest statement contrasts with Beijing’s earlier rhetoric, suggesting that the project has more important defense-related motives.

Expert Voices

Trump’s nuclear review could trigger a chain reaction in Asia

In line with its recently announced National Security Strategy (NSS), the Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) takes an aggressive stance toward China — a position already raising concerns in Beijing.

The NSS breaks with its predecessors by portraying China unambiguously as a global threat, at one point even lumping it in with ISIS. The NPR heaps additional pressure on Beijing by ordering the development of new low-yield warheads and cruise missiles. The Trump administration justifies such moves as a necessary response to the prospect of limited Chinese nuclear strikes. However, China’s policy calls for the use of nuclear weapons only in retaliation to a nuclear attack.